Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, Feliz año Nuevo, Щастлива Нова година!

 Felice Anno Nuovo, Heureuse Nouvelle Année, 

Glückliches Neues Jahr, 明けましておめでとうございます, 

Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku,  שנה טובה ומבורכת, 

ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος,  с Новым годом,  godt nytår, 

and Happy New Year to anyone I may have missed!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Greatest Christmas Gift Of The Year!

Merry Christmas
        I was officially orphaned in 1999. Since then, my Christmas spirit has been spiked with the bittersweet taste of melancholy. While I celebrate the season with fervor, I can’t seem to quell the emptiness I feel in the pit of my stomach. I believe it to be caused by “the sense of family” that seems to have lessened since my parents have moved on to a better place.
My sister and I 
    My sister and I both admit we don’t cut the mustard in the family unity department. We barely graduated from the kid’s table before we were thrust into the position of patriarchs.  In our defense, we are geographically challenged. We have sisters, brothers, daughters, granddaughters, and cousins living all the way from Baltimore, Maryland to San Diego, California. And this year, none of us can be together. For one reason or another, we all are staying home.
Mom and Dad with my daughters Kirby and Dustan 
     I miss my parents, the glue that held the family together. Every Christmas, my thoughts always drift back Omaha, Nebraska, a time when all seemed right in my world. (Mom and Dad always bragged they made life-long friends in Nebraska. We all agreed that was the place we were happiest as a family.)  My lips curl up at the edges and my heart pangs with a combination of angst and joy when I think of the Christmas mornings of yore spent in our happy Nebraskan home.
     Every year, Dad made my sister and I wait impatiently at the top of the stairs holding back the dog while he set up his Super 8 camera. (Thank you Dad, we still have the movies.) When he finally gave the word, we would run down stairs, tear open our bounty of gifts, and then hit the streets to compare toys with our many friends.
     This year, feeling nostalgic as usual, and longing to open a window into the past when my family was intact, and Christmases were magical and my dreams were boundless, I hit the internet in search of one Nebraskan family that held a special place in my heart.
The twins and Nanny
    The T’s lived directly across the street. Mr. and Mrs. T had three children. I was eight-years-old when the twins, two adorable towheaded girls with ice blue eyes, were born, and nine-years-old when their equally adorable, sandy, brown haired sister Nanny came along.  I patiently waited for them to walk, and then dressed them in ballet costumes and taught them to dance. I took them trick-or-treating every Halloween. I snapped many photos, for which they eagerly posed. I starred them in my Super 8 movies and many, many theatrical basement plays. They were smart little girls, willing actors, and always adorable. (I still have the movies and the pictures.) I enjoyed the twins and Nanny’s company as much as they enjoyed mine. When I was twelve, I talked their mother into allowing me to babysit while she ran errands. And by the time I was 13, I was the T’s regular babysitter. Though, I’m sure Mr. and Mrs. T were comforted knowing Mom was right across the street.
     The last time I saw the T girls, as I called them, the twins were 7 and Nanny was 6. I remember that cold day in November of 1974 as if it were yesterday. The early morning sun glistened off the dusting of the new fallen snow. I stood in my front yard knee deep, with a smile on my face and a lump in my throat, staring at the house I had loved for six years--a lifetime in my young eyes. 
    I felt emotions ranging from excitement to remorse as the moving men loaded the last box on the truck. I crossed the street to say goodbye one last time to the little girls I wished were my own. I still remember their smiling faces as they waved good-bye, them too young and me to naive to understand the finality of our words. And then, my family drove off, in our blue Chevrolet station wagon with wood grain paneling, never to return.  
     My parents kept in touch with the T’s over the years. I believe I wrote a letter or two, but boys and teenage things got in the way and I moved on with my life. We all did. Although the three little girls, that I once wished were mine, were ingrained in the back of my mind.
      I began my Christmas Google soul-searches about two years ago, locating one friend after another, but the T family remained a mystery. I almost gave up, until two days ago, when, like a Christmas miracle, two of the names of the little girls I once wished were my own, popped up on Facebook.
      I consulted my sister, prior to pushing that friend request button.
     She said, “You should definitely try, but don’t be upset if they don’t respond. You were older and you really loved them, but they were so young when we left they may not remember you.”
      With butterflies in my stomach, I left a little note, enclosed a vintage picture, and sent out two friendship requests. Within a day, my requests had been accepted, and I received a message of acknowledgement from both.
      And now, not only do I have the peace of knowing their family is well and intact, but to paraphrase Nancy, I also have this: “I remember you dressing me like a mouse for a Christmas movie. You had the moms come to see it, and you made cookie cutter sandwiches. I did that for my kids because of that memory.”
    After reading Nancy's words, just like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes. My mouth bowed into a smile, and something warm rolled down my cheek. I had forgotten about my basement production of “Santa Mouse” starring Nanny, and the cookie cutter sandwiches Mom taught me how to make.  Nancy's memory will be my greatest Christmas gift this year.
    I am elated we have reconnected, but there is one thing I am finding hard to fathom. The precious little girls that I once wished were mine, who have been frozen in time for thirty-six years, are now beautiful adults with children of their own. I am slowly, but surely, getting used to the idea.
     Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, and peace and love to all!

© 2010-2011 Each Head Is A World - All Rights Reserve

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My House Smells Like Garbage! Part Two.

     As I mentioned earlier, my husband stunk up the house a week ago attempting to manufacture sauerkraut in our garage. After I convinced him to store the stuff out in the back yard, I figured that would be the end of it.  Humph.

    Well, yesterday, he snuck a couple heads of cabbage into the house while I was outside hanging Christmas lights with my kid. When I opened the front door, it only took a second for me to smell what he was up to. I ran to the kitchen, and sure enough, he was chopping away. I stared at the uncut half of the cabbage. The outer leaves were a combo of black and hunter green, the middle was salmon pink, and the whole downstairs reeked of methanethiol. (The gas that causes farts to smell.)

     When he saw me, he smiled brightly and said, “I am making a few jars of sauerkraut. I am going to give them to my friends as gifts.”

    My jaw dropped so far the bone popped. “As gifts?" I said slowly, with my voice rising on the word gifts.  "If you let your friends eat that, the only thing you’ll give them is food poisoning."

    His face twisted, he chopped a few more slow deliberate chops, and then froze; he seemed to be deep in thought.  “You know, the cabbage here is not like the cabbage in Bulgaria. There is something wrong with it. It’s been sitting in the brine for almost a month, and the outside is soft like it’s suppose to be, but the inside is still hard. If this were Bulgarian cabbage the whole thing would be soft by now. You just can’t get good vegetables in America like you can in Europe. 

   "Uh, huh. Well, whatever, but that cabbage is rotten," I smirked.
    My husband's eye narrowed. "Or maybe it didn't work cause you made me put my cabbage outside,” he accused. (Refer to earlier blog)

    Not up for another fight, I left, leaving the front door wide open. A couple of minutes later, I heard the disposal running, and my husband flew by with a bag of garbage. I flipped him the bird, but he didn't see me. 
     Curious, I peeked around the corner and saw the cabbage was no where in sight.  I had to giggle. With my husband’s intense aversion to wasting money, throwing out that cabbage must have killed him. (Can you picture me snickering behind my hand?)

P.S. My son and I were headed to the Walmart and my husband called down the stairs, "While you're out, could you pick up a couple of jars of sauerkraut, please. I did so, gladly.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Fort


     When my mother took me off the meds the doctor prescribed for me because I had an attention span of about an inch long, my school worked suffered, but my imagination tripled. Being a child with an ADD afflicted mind can be a disability, and a wonderful thing. Millions of adventures were at my fingertips because of my ever-churning brain and massive imagination. My world was an intriguing conundrum of colors, movements, and ideas, many of which I interpreted differently than the majority of neurotypical brains around me. Something so simple as a spare mattress mounted on the ceiling could become a magical fort that carried me into a world of fantasy. And consequences were eye-opening experiences that I realized only after the fact.
     I am going to take you back to the summer of 1968 in Omaha Nebraska. Lyndon B. Johnson was president, Richard Nixon was waiting in the wings, and the protests against the Vietnam War were escalating. I was just shy of nine-years old and not much interested in the news. My world consisted of playmates, mulberry trees, and mischief.
    My best friend Gayle lived directly across the street. She was a grade below me, but her birthday was early, and mine as late, so we were the same age most of the year. Gayle was the third born child out of four.
My sister Donna, my dog Sam, and Gayle, standing Mary
    Although I was welcome in Gayle’s house, her mother never smiled at me as broadly as she smiled the other kids who came over to play. This bothered me. Mrs. H. was “a cool mom” and I vowed to figure out why, but on this particular day, I had more important things on my mind.
     After an hour or so outside, Gayle, Stevie, (her five-year-old brother) and I came inside to play. Mrs. H. promptly escorted us down to a finished room in the basement and told us to behave ourselves and not make a mess. The room was 60’s mod! It had a poster of Jim Morrison on the wall, a record player, and indoor/outdoor carpeting on the floor. It was cool enough, but to my right was a door that remained shut, making it an all consuming point of interest to me.
     “What’s behind the door?” I asked.
     “That’s my dad’s workshop.” Gayle answered.
     “Wow! Can I see it?”
    “We’re not supposed to play in there.” Gayle shook her head warily. Stevie mimicked her.
    “Okay, we won’t play, but it couldn’t hurt to just take a look around. Could it?” I persisted.
     Gayle shrugged.
    Now, Gayle and I got along really well, I came up with lots great ideas, and she was always a willing accomplice. Without giving it another thought, she opened the door and the three of us entered one of the most fantastic rooms I had ever seen in my life. There was a workbench with a slew of power tools. Along the wall, was a metal shelving unit with hundreds of little glass jars with all different sized nails, screws, and small metal hardware Gayle’s dad had meticulously labeled and organized.
     My eyes followed the line of the shelf past the jars, and all the way up. That’s when I saw it, our next fort. Mounted to the ceiling with two-by-fours was a spare mattress. At one time, the bracket must have contained two mattresses because there was a space of about two feet between the hanging mattress and the ceiling.
    “Look you guys!” I said. “We need to climb up there. That could be the neatest fort in the world. We could bring food and clothes, we could stay up there all week and our parents would never find us.”
     Gayle and Stevie thought it was a great idea too. The three of us were always concocting ways to live parent-free.
     I put my brain to work. “Before we get all our stuff, lets climb up and check it out so we know how much we can bring. Once we reach the top of the shelf, we can get on the mattress with no problem. It’s your house, so you go first Gayle.”
     Gayle began her ascent. Stevie and I stood directly below her to catch her, incase she fell. She made it all the way to the top in a minute or so, and slowly tried to maneuver her body onto the mattress. At that moment, something went terribly wrong. The metal shelving unit began to quake. Loosing her balance, Gayle latched on to the outer rail of the shelving, wrapping her leg and arms around it as if she were a bear hugging a tree. The shelving unit rocked forward. Stevie and I tried to hold it in place, but Gayle’s weight on the outer rail was more than we could handle. The unit began to tip over.
   The glass jars, that Gayle’s dad had so meticulously organized, began fall off the shelf one by one and then six by six. Glass was breaking all around us, sounding like an out-of-tune version of Tubular Bells (The theme song from The Exorcist) Hundreds of jars crashed to the floor, sending shards of glass and a millions tiny screws, nails, nuts and bolts sliding across the floor in different directions. Stevie and I were quickly losing our battle with the shelving unit, as Gayle watched from above with a look of terror on her face.
    “What the heck is going on in here?”  Mrs. H. screamed as she flew down the stairs.
     Her eyes popped and she gasped when she saw Stevie and I with panic stricken faces about to be crushed by the shelves, while her second born daughter dangled from above.
    She sprang into action and rescued Gayle first, and then she helped Stevie and I push the shelving unit back into place.
     “Steven! Gayle! To your rooms,” she growled. They ran.
    I was alone with Mrs. H. whose face was red as a beet. She looked around at the glass and metal all over the floor and then her eyes shot flames directly at me. I got the uncomfortable feeling that she knew I was the instigator of the disaster.
     In an attempt to calm her down, I asked, “Do you want me to help you clean up?”
     “Susan, the only way you can help me is to go HOME!”
     I crunched though the broken glass and quickly fled out the back door, leaving Mrs. H with a broom and dustpan in her hands.
     This was not my last visit to Gayle’s home. After a couple of weeks, I was allowed back in, but it was quite a few years before I got any kind of smile out of Mrs. H. again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My House Smells Like Garbage!

     My husband only allows a 1-gallon trashcan in the kitchen, and I had to fight like a tiger for that. He insists the regular size trashcan must be placed in the garage. It’s not a terrible idea, but it is a considerable inconvenience. I’m not sure if this is a Bulgarian thing, or a him thing, but he thought hanging a plastic grocery bag full of trash on the knob of the faux-cabinet drawer in front of the sink was a better idea.
     Pissed off by the continual eyesore, and my husband’s stubbornness, I refused to haul the rogue bag out to the garage when it became full. I just hung more bags. Everywhere. After a few days, there were Food Lion bags full of trash hanging off all the cabinet doorknobs in the kitchen. He finally caved in. 
     Because my husband also complains when I use the garbage disposal, (The majority of people in Bulgaria don’t even have a disposal.) I keep him shut up, by tossing vegetable peelings into trash.

    Three days ago, when I entered the garage the smell of rotting vegetables nearly knocked me out. I quickly hauled the hefty bag outside to the large trash receptacle in the backyard. But for some reason the smell did not go away. In fact, every time I walked into the garage, it seemed to get worse.
      I confronted my husband. “Something stinks. Did you leave the garage door open again?"

      He waved me off. “Oh, don’t worry about it. I’m making homemade sauerkraut. It always smells like that.”  
      One of my eyelids drooped and I took a deep breath. Everything would be okay in a couple of days once he jarred the stuff. No need to start World War Two million and thirty-three, right? And yesterday, just as I had hoped, I watched my husband fill four jars with homemade sauerkraut. The stinky garage  was now a thing in the past.

      Well, when I returned home today, and walked into the house, I gagged. The entire house smelled of rotting garbage. Swearing under my breath, I went out to the garage, and removed the four jars of sauerkraut he made the night before. I put them on the porch until I could figure out what to do with them. Then, I promptly put on a jacket and opened up the windows and the garage door to air out the house.
      Brushing my hands together I muttered, “That’ll take care of that!”

     Knowing my husband would be distraught if he found his jars of sauerkraut on the porch, I set about finding a container to suffocate the smell. Luckily, I had a plastic thirty-gallon container in the garage that I purchased for storage. That would be a good of a place as any to put the saurcraut until my husband could gobble it up. When I removed the lid the container, I was smacked in the face with a scent so awful,  tears to pooled in my eyes.

      Inside the container was a dozen or so of rotten cabbage heads bobbed up in down in water, looking, and smelling like victims of the mob. I dragged that container out of the garage quicker than you could say Tony Soprano.

    When my husband returned home he greeted me with a scowl.  “Why did you put my cabbage outside on the driveway. Someone is going to steal it!”
      “Steal it?” I tried control the smirk busting out on my face. “No one will go near that container; it smells like there is a dead body inside.”

      My husband’s forehead scrunched together until he formed a unibrow. “I have to work hard to make sauerkraut. I have to remove the lid everyday and blow bubbles into the water with a straw. I know it stinks, but you're a control freak. Removing that container from the garage was a violation of my rights.” 

     My husband told me that he attended four years of college while he lived in Bulgaria, but I have my doubts.
     I smacked myself upside the head and  tried to find another way to reason with him. “If I had taken the stuff and thrown it in the garbage where it belongs, that may have been a violation of your rights. But I want you to listen carefully; I had to leave the windows open for over two hours while the heat was on just to get the smell out of the house.”
         My husband gasped. And I knew I had him.

      (If there is one thing my husband hates more than losing an argument, it's wasting money.) Reluctantly he agreed to leave the rotting cabbage outside, and I willingly helped him carry the container to a safe place in the backyard. But I still have a problem.

      Even though I won the battle, I am not sure I won the war.  Unfortunately, sauerkraut is a gift that keeps on giving. The thought of the smell I am going to have to deal with after my husband ingests a year's worth of the crap is even more troublesome.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Rebel Trait

 (A family story)

     My adventurous, offbeat, and sometime stupid behavior in regards to marriage isn’t my fault!  I inherited a rebel trait. And the mutant gene my family slipped me is a doozy. It decodes something like this: If there isn’t some big ass controversy surrounding the guy, the guy ain’t worth marrying.  For me, the something big and exciting has got to be almost out of this world to make me want to get married, and I’m not talking a gargantuan diamond ring. (Evidently, I'm not that smart.) 
     My first husband and I ran off and eloped when I was just seventeen. I strong-armed my parents into signing the consent form by getting pregnant. Boy, did I teach them a lesson. The things I could tell Bella about controlling men.
     My rebound number two was just a blip in my life who turned out to have a multiple personality disorder. Yikes! Shudder. Restraining order. That’s all I have to say about that.
     My current hubby is the prize I won after duking it out with the Immigration and Naturalization Service for a year and a half. (I'd had enough of American men.) I won the battle, but they got the last laugh. (Refer to my earlier blogs for clarification).
      So where does this mutant gene come from?
After many happy years.
     Let me start with my paternal grandparents. Now, I’d heard the family lore, as told from my dad's perspective, but, over the years, it had become so sugar-coated, it was way too sweet to swallow. So, at my therapists advise, I interviewed older family members one by one, pieced all the different stories together, and came to a feasible conclusion by myself. 
    My grandmother—from whom I inherited the blue eyes and blond hair—was the child of Catholic Czechoslovakian immigrants who lived in Baltimore. Both her parents died when she was twelve or thirteen. Another Czech family who lived nearby took her in and raised her to adulthood. Her life was riddled with sadness, and she was educated sporadically, but she was a beauty—which was certainly an indispensable asset in the days before the Woman’s Suffrage victory.
      My grandfather was the boy next door, and the son of German immigrants. He was studying voraciously to be a Methodist minister. But the stars crossed, and Grandma and Grandpa fell in love. When they expressed their desire to get wed, both were directly excommunicated from their churches due to their relationship outside their respective religions. To make matters worse, both their families disowned them for a time, as well.
     This did not stop their love, a true love that was so strong, they fled to Kingston, New York to “escape religious persecution.” They said. Several months later their first child was born. She was named Juanita May after a woman who had helped them out while they were in Kingston. (Does anyone see the synchronicity here?)
        My grandmother must have discarded any information related to the exact date of her wedding day, with the same fervor she cut the size tags out of her clothing. I couldn’t find any supporting documentation, but I strongly suspect that it was after Juanita’s conception—just as I strongly suspected she was no longer a size 14 as she had claimed in her later years. This theory would explain the families’ temporary rejection and the sudden flight to New York.
     My grandparents eventually resumed residence in Baltimore where my educated and verbose grandfather became a milkman to support his new family. They raised five children,  my father being the youngest born after his mother thirty-ninth birthday, eighteen years after the birth of Juanita May.    
      My grandparents never went back to church, but they didn’t give up on religion all together. Even though, they had both been excommunicated, they were Christians and didn’t want their children to go without, so they sent the kids to the Lutheran church down the street because it was closest to the house.
     Now, the rebel gene is a strong one and recurs quite often in my family—it has yet to skip a generation. The next in line was my Grandma’s youngest daughter Maynard.
Before Uncle Joe
     Always a feisty, adventurous child, Maynard grew up tall and beautiful. She became a fashion model and was the pride of the family until she brought home Uncle Joe Shapiro. Don’t get me wrong, Uncle Joe was a well-to-do business owner and devilishly debonair. There was just one little problem in Grandma’s eyes, he was Jewish.
       I need to back up a moment because this is the clincher.  I don’t  see where Grandma's head was at, because she had first-hand experience with religious persecution in her early life, and one might have thought she would have understood. But history repeated itself, and Grandma threatened to disown her own daughter if she defied her and married a Jew.
      Maynard’s rebel gene kicked in and instead, she disowned her mother, converted to Judaism, and ran off and married Uncle Joe anyway. Grandma stomped her foot and temporarily disowned her back, but the feud didn’t last long.  Uncle Joe, the peacemaker, sent Grandma a round-trip ticket for a visit to their humble home in Beverly Hills.  
     While she was there, Grandma met her idol Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Uncle Joe and Aunt Maynard’s next door neighbor Frank Sinatra—they all shared a maid.  I guess that must have evened the score, because Grandma accepted Maynard and her Jewish husband back into the family with open arms. Aunt Maynard got the guy and the ring. (Don’t believe me? Google Bomber Shapiro, Nancy Sinatra writes about him in her memoir. Bomber was Uncle Joe and Aunt Maynard’s first child. His real name was Douglas after the WWII bomber. )
    Anyway, the rebel gene that resided in my grandparents and then my aunt in generations wound far more tightly than mine, was the family jewel that was genetically passed on to me to carry to our future clan. I think that it is essential to mention that though I was not the first child to make my grandmother grand, my father always told me that I was innately always her favorite.
     I have one more thing to say before I sign off. There was a slight mutation in the gene before it was passed on to me. The part about happily ever after was lopped off. However, that may have come from my mother’s side, but I am not sure. I don’t know Mom’s history since my  biological maternal Grandmother gave Mom up for adoption. I heard she never married. Ever. Hmm…..

© 2010-2011 Each Head Is A World - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Artwork is Subjective!

     My mother always told me that ones taste in art was subjective, and she was right. I am not a huge art collector, although I would be if I had the money. Who wouldn’t love an original Picasso? But because I can’t afford real artwork, and the majority of the furnishings in my home are collectible Mid Century Modern pieces, I hunt for moderately priced Carlo of Hollywood, Ran Su and other rare finds from the Eames era.
     Unfortunately for me, I married the Neanderthal of the world of art and design. Until we tied the knot, my husband pretended to like my style. I should have known our tastes would clash when I saw the bad print of the Mona Lisa mounted in a plastic frame on his parent’s living room wall. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. (Wink, wink.)
     I’m not a complete snob.  Having cheap artwork hang on the wall of ones own home does not make one a bad person, but if one wants to hang the cheap shit on my wall, it does.
     The big problem here is that every time my husband returns from a trip Bulgaria, he brings home some fake gold framed piece of junk he tries to pass off as artwork. And then he insists we have to hang it on our walls somewhere. I gave him two rooms plus the garage where he can have all the bad taste he wants to, but that is not good enough. Now, he wants to hang the latest junk in the rooms that other people see.
     I know that there are wonderful artists in Bulgaria who paint pictures that would match the colors and the themes of our rooms. It’s just that my husband never seems to find them. He would rather spend his nickels buying cheap oil paintings or mass-produced prints of famous Roman Ruins sold in the tourist shops of every city.
     The latest piece of trash he brought home and called art was a painting by a famous artist stamped on a two-dollar post card. He mounted it in a plastic frame from Staples and placed it on my dining room buffet for all to see. When I asked him why he thought a cheap framed postcard was worthy of a place in our dining room, he said, “It may be two dollars in Bulgaria, but in the US it is worth a fortune. Americans will be impressed by this picture.”
     Let me see, I am not sure of the daily exchange rates today, but the last time I checked, 1.5 Bulgarian Lev equaled one dollar, so that makes his piece of artwork worth whole three dollars including the frame he bought at Staples. You get the gist.
    Somebody hand me a big gun! I want to blow the brains out of that postcard. 
    My daughter warned me that because I choose to stay with my husband it is just something I will have to put up with. And I will--over my dead body--which may be the case since my husband out weights me by sixty pounds. But I've been thinking. What if we had a mini earthquake right beneath our house that no one else feels and all his crappy art work accidentally falls of the wall and breaks? Whose fault would it be?

Monday, October 25, 2010

We Are Over One Hundred Strong!

     I belong to a special group within the Writer’s Digest Community website created by Nathalie Bleach. We have recently become over 100 strong. Inside our group, you will find an eclectic mix of writers who share at least one thing in common, the stories we tell fall under the umbrella of the genre Young Adult/Crossover.

     Our members are extremely supportive, and most always offer constructive criticism when asked. We are all at different stages in our writing careers, varying from just dipping our toes in the water to professional writers; everyone is welcome. I have made quite a few friends within the group and have received encouragement, and advise when I needed help.

    As our numbers show, we are growing in popularity, and I am proud to be a one of the bunch.  If you are interested in checking us out, click on the badge below and visit our discussion page.

Friday, October 22, 2010

He Did WHAT On My Couch?

My love affair with my couch began in the year 2000 when I trotted out to a well-known furniture store in the area. I painstakingly looked though tome after tome of furniture pieces in search of the perfect couch for a cozy room in my house. After I found the frame, I spent two days going through fabric swatches with the hopes of bringing some color into the room, and perfectly matching my two scalloped ecru chairs. I found a multi-colored fabric I loved in a high-grade material, which I didn’t mind, it would last, right? I handed over my hard-earned dollars (a lot of them) and waited for my couch to be born.

From the moment it arrived on my doorstep, I was absolutely in love with my couch. When we moved into a larger house several years later, I vowed to make it work. No seven year itch for me, I was still madly in love with my couch. I made it fit in my new home, arranging and rearranging my whole living room around it.

One day sometime later, I arrived home from work and my husband said, “A good friend of mine, “John” from Bulgaria, is driving a truck through Charleston tonight. I’ve invited him to come over.”

“How do you know him?” I asked. I'd never heard him mention John's name before.

My husbands eyes lit up like a little child. “He lived in my neighborhood when I was a kid. He used to be a football player (soccer in American) on a professional team.”

(Being European, my husband gets goo-goo eyed over football players and views all of them with  admiration and esteem.)

I thought it was odd that a successful professional soccer player would be driving a truck in America, but I shrugged it off reminding myself people had done stranger things for a green card.

So anyway, my husband picked up John at the truck stop, and brought him to our home. He was a short, stocky guy with long curly, grey/blond hair. I guessed him to be near fifty. I remember he had an annoying looking mole on his nose that looked like it belonged to a wicked witch, but he couldn’t help that. (I'm just being spiteful.)

I didn’t speak to John much as it was getting late and I had no intention of entertaining on a week night, but I did ask him if he was married or had any kids and he told me, “No, I just haven’t met the right woman yet."

This should have been clue number two. I should have caught on that something was just not quite right, because it is extremely unusual to find a heterosexual man approaching fifty to have never found the right woman or procreated at least once. But, again, I shrugged it off, grabbed my five-year-old son, and headed off to bed, leaving my husband and his friend to have a few drinks and catch up.

The next morning at around 6:00AM my husband jostled me awake.  He told me to hurry downstairs because our son was down there alone with John.

“Why didn’t you let John sleep in the guest room? And, what are you so worried about?” I asked perplexed by his panic stricken voice.

“Just hurry up and go down stairs so I can get dressed.”

I threw on some sweatpants and a tee shirt and scooted downstairs in pursuit of my son.

John was lying on my couch, covered from head to toe by a large blue quilt. He didn’t wake up even though my son was standing two feet from him. I herded my son into the kitchen, feeling uncomfortable in my own home, around this sleeping stranger.

In the mean time, my husband gathered his work gear and rushed to get John up and out the door.

After a few shoulder shakes, John woke up and stumbled groggily to his feet, leaving the quilt on the floor as my husband hustled him out of the house.

When the two of them were gone, I went to pick up the quilt from the floor to throw it in the wash.  That was when I saw it. The couch, which I had created and loved for seven years, was desecrated with big round pee stain that had to have been eighteen inches in diameter.

Blood shot to my head and pressed against my skull so hard, I felt like my brains would blow out the top. “Noooooo!" I screamed.

My young son ran into the room to see what was wrong and then darted straight for the pee-soaked couch. Acting like a cross between a protective mother and The Incredible Hulk, I dove behind the couch and flipped it over before my son pounce on the pee. Instantaneously, I felt moisture seep into the material of my socks. Realizing I was standing in urine, a wail that sounded like a wounded animal rose from my gut and bled out of my mouth.

“What’s the matter, Mommy?” my son asked.

I want to vent for a moment. I want you to know that I partied straight through the seventies and most of the eighties like it was 1969. (Any of you who were there by my side, raise your hand in a show of solidarity) Many, many, many people crashed at my house for one reason or another. Never once, did I ever have anyone, not one single person, pee on my couch. (The person who puked on my carpet after a trash can party will remain nameless.) And, now that I am older, and in a nicer home, and only a smidgen of the partier I once was, I'm supposed to be okay with some idiot who thinks it's acceptable to pass out and pee on my couch?

My husband, and part-time nemesis, returned home and was greeted by possessed woman who had been pacing back and forth in front of the door like a caged animal. (Me.) I admit I lost it like I never had before. I was livid, to put it mildly.

“What in the hell did you put him on the couch for?” I squealed.
 My husband didn't answer.

Then my voice dropped and octave in tone, not decibel, “That jerk peed on my couch!”

My husband jumped like he’d been tazered and held his hands protectively in front of his face. "He wouldn’t quit drinking. He kept drinking and drinking until the entire bottle of whiskey was gone. I only had two glasses. When he passed out in the lawn chair, I carried him in and put him on your couch.”

A blood vessel burst in my eye. “Why, didn’t you put him in the guest room? I have a mattress protector on the bed. Why the hell did you put him on my couch?”

After this question, the truth came out.

“I didn’t want him upstairs. I barely know him. He lived in my neighborhood in Bulgaria, but he was a lot older than me. I barely know the guy, honest.”

Why my husband thought the fact that he barely knew the guy would make the situation better is beyond me. I spoke to him slowly, like he was mentally handicapped. “You brought a person you barely know into the house to spend the night with your wife and child?” My voice shot back up an octave on the word child.

“But, he was a football player from Bulgaria.”

This is when I really lost it.

“At one time the guy may have been a B rate soccer player, though I seriously doubt he was that good, but now he's a drunk. Just because someone comes from Bulgaria and plays soccer does not make them a good person. I want you to take that peed-on couch outside and put it by the curb, and then have the carpet cleaned."

I poked my six-foot tall two-hundred and ten pound husband in the chest. "You owe me a couch, asshole.”

That day, my love affair with my couch (and almost my husband) ended. However, two good things came out of this incident. Firstly, my husband swore on his life that he would not bring anymore friends  home to spend the night; And secondly, I a newer, younger love, paid for by money ( a lot of it) pulled from my husband's personal savings account.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

1977 A Reno Wedding (An excerpt) 1st draft.


     We drove for an hour or so before we hit the city of Reno. Robert parked the car in front of a white brick building with a railed porch. The place looked like a church, well sort of. A small steeple with a white cross, stood right directly above a neon sign flashing WEDDINGS. To the right of the door was a stained glass window with the word LOVE etched between two pink hearts; black silhouettes heads of a man and woman facing each other, decorated the next two adjoining windows. But the most noticeable thing about the place was the big red OPEN sign on the door. Realizing what my surprise was, my jaw fell wide open.
    “Come on. Let’s do it!” Robert said.
     He looked so cute with his usual infectious grin, I could have carried him over the threshold, but I restrained myself. I was happy as a yellow smiley face icon, anticipating my very near future. Once we were married, there would be no way our parents could tear us apart. We would belong to each other forever. My heart thumped as we walked hand and hand toward the Chapel of Love.
    Robert propped the storm door open for me. “Brides first.” He bowed slightly, and grandly gestured with his arm.
    I skipped across the threshold, taking my first step toward becoming a married woman, only to stumble onto an ox-blood red carpet that covered every inch of visible floor space. My eyes popped. It was the gaudiest place I’d ever seen. My mouth watered in distaste at the clashing muli-mirrored, Pepto-Bismol colored, hearts spattered on the walls and dangling from the ceiling, sparkling, and reflecting rain showers of light around the room. But, that wasn’t all. Just when I thought the place couldn’t be tackier, I eyed a humongous fake gold heart encapsulating a white podium, where I presumed the vows of matrimony took place. For the first time, in a long time, I was rendered speechless.
    No sooner, had the door rattled shut behind us, and a short fat man in a navy blue banker’s suit appeared.
     He cleared his throat. “Hello, how may I help you?” He asked.
     He didn’t look like a minister at all to me. His fat lips puckered outward, squeezed out of position by his chubby cheeks, and he had a funniest looking comb over I’d ever seen. I glanced down at the floor, then at his nose, and then over at the wall, to curb the urge to stare directly at his head and giggle. One big gust of wind and he’d have hair down below his shoulder, at least on one side. By the shocked expression on his face, I was sure we didn’t look like the clients he expected either. Robert’s uneven hair had grown well below his shoulders and his multi-patched, faded, jeans looked ragged. I was in my dirty green down jacket and carpenter pants. I’ll admit we looked terribly out of place in this pristine pink wedding chapel. The fat man’s phony smile didn’t fool me either; I could see the fear in his eyes. He probably thought we were going to rob the joint.
     “We want to get married,” Robert said grinning from ear to ear, breaking the momentary silence.
     The fat man let out a guarded sigh, his stance relaxed somewhat, as he dabbed at his forehead with a white, silk, handkerchief. “Well son, you are in the right place,” he said.
    “How much does it cost?” Robert asked guardedly.
    He offered Robert a brochure. “We have different packages. It all depends what you want.”     
     “We just want the piece of paper, nothing special.”
      “Our most economical package, which includes the ceremony, complementary music and the marriage certificate runs only twenty-five dollars.”
      Robert’s jaw dropped open. “Twenty-five bucks! That’s expensive.”
     “Well, son it is for life. We wouldn’t want you to make a hasty decision.”
      “I guess that makes sense,” Robert said shaking his head.
       I could see he was still trying to swallow the cost of the whole thing.
        “Come on in and have a seat. Miss Swan will get your paperwork ready for you,” the man said, leading us to two chairs in front of a nearby desk. Behind the desk sat a woman with glasses, an up-do, and an air of superiority to match her hair. She eyed us up and down cautiously and then a big fake smile stretched across the thin skin of her face, creating ruts on either side of her mouth. She plopped down a contract in front of us.
     “Fill out these forms, and in the meantime, I will need to see your driver’s license.”
       “Um. I don’t drive,” I said reflexively.
      “Do you have birth certificate or some other form of identification?”
       I pulled my birth certificate out of my blue bag. Thankfully, I had been smart enough to pack it when I left.
    The woman shook her head and frowned. “I’m sorry. We cannot marry you. You’re not old enough.”
     I stared at the woman baffled. “I thought everyone could get married in Reno.”
    “Not until you are eighteen. You have to have your parent’s permission,” she informed us in firm tone.
     “That’s the problem. Our parents don’t want us to get married. Can’t you help us?” Robert pled.
    She inhaled deeply and her nostrils pinched together. “Sorry, the law requires you to be eighteen to marry without parental consent. Have you tried Tennessee or Alabama, some place like that?” She asked.
     I didn’t like the sarcasm in her voice, or the suspicious look on her face. I got the distinct feeling she might be one to call the cops.
    “Let’s go Robert. I will ask my parents tonight,” I said, attempting to cover our tracks.
     Robert looked at me funny for a moment, stiffened, then shifted his eyes toward the door when he caught on to my ruse.
     “I’m sorry we couldn’t help you,” the fat man called after us as we fled the pink house of horrors.
     Robert and I beat it to the car and not a minute too soon as far as I was concerned. I didn’t want to get married by a fat guy with a comb-over in that ridiculous pink nightmare of a place anyway.
    Robert draped his arm over my shoulder. “I’m sorry things didn’t work out, I tried,” he said regretfully. His eyes clouded over and I knew her meant it.
    “Don’t worry about it,” I snorted. “That place was so gaudy, I kept waiting for Elvis Presley to come through the door in a white sequined jumpsuit to marry us himself.”
     Robert let out a loud belly laugh. “Mary, what an imagination you have,” he said shaking his head. “Elvis. Ha! That’s a good one.”
  © 2011 Susan Antony THE IN BETWEEN ERA - All Rights Reserved


Monday, October 18, 2010

The Accident (From a childhood memory)

I hated the hair, but  like Shiloh Pitt, I loved dressing in boy clothes. 
     I am going to take you back to the year 1966, when large, steel, American muscle cars were parked in almost everyones driveway, and kids could sit in the front seat, and the only seatbelt required was your mom's arm slapped across your chest when she slammed on the breaks. (Are you there yet? If you're too young to remember you will just have to take my word for it.)

      Anyway, my three year old sister and I were driving with Mom in our chocolate brown Chevy Malibu. Being the oldest, and the fact that Mom believed in the concept of pecking order, I got to sit in the front seat. Something along the way caught my fancy, and I started cutting up and jumping around with unbridled exuberance. (I'm sure any of you who know me personally can mentally picture this.)

      "Susan, stop it, please. I can't concentrate." my mom begged.
      (Did I listen to her? I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count. If you said, Hell no! Your right.)

       Encouraged by my mother's angst, I continued laughing and pointing at the contorted angry faces she was shooting at me. You see, I had a "nice Mom" it took a lot to piss her off. And, the large coils in the seats way back then made such terrific spring boards, I could almost bounce up and hit my head on the roof. In fact, I was so caught up in my self-induced hysteria that I didn't pay any attention to Mom's continual reprimands, or much else for that matter, but I do remember the light changing to red.

      There was a horrible screeching noise, as the wheels of the car locked up and slid across the pavement.  Simultaneously, an arm shot across my chest. My head flew back against the seat as the car came to an abrupt stop just before the intersection. The smell of burning rubber permeated the cab of the car, and the view from my window was a blurry haze of smoke and dust from the road.

      Flames shot out of my "nice Mom's" eyes. Her mouth trembled with anger, and then she screamed at a deafening level, louder than the screeching wheels, "DAMN IT, SUSAN! QUIT HORSING  AROUND OR YOU'RE GONNA MAKE ME HAVE AN ACCIDENT!" Her words spewed out one at a time, with a demonic inflection, that gave them even more impact.

      After Mom's head quit spinning around, the car became stingingly silent. I stiffened and sat wide eyed, afraid to make a wrong move. And then, my brave little sister popped her head up from behind.  She rested her chin on on the  the seat by Mom's ear and said, "Don't worry Mommy, if you have an accident, you can wipe it up."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

When In The Hell Did I Morph From A Babe To A Ma'am?

      A few weeks ago, I was waiting in line at the ATM machine outside the bank. A good-looking man, about thirty-five with long blond hair, was heading toward me on the sidewalk. He looked me dead in the eye, smiled, and said, “Excuse me ma’am,” as he passed in front of me.
     For a minute, I was perplexed. I even turned around to see if there was an older lady standing behind me, but all too soon, I realized he was talking to me. It seemed like only yesterday I was dating men his age and younger, and now they were addressing me with a matronly title of respect. ‘When in the hell did I morph from a babe to a ma’am?’

    Shaken up, I pushed the incident into the back of my mind and tried not to think about it. But, unfortunately, it happened again all too soon.

    The day started like any other day. I was minding my own business, buying a lottery ticket when an overly kind, young convenience store clerk told me  “You know ma’am, you look like…um what’s her name? Oh, yeah, Edie on the show Desperate Housewives.”

    Now, don’t get me wrong, in hindsight I realized it was a huge complement. Who wouldn’t want to look like Nicolette Sheridan? But, at the moment, I was too busy trying to stop the word “ma’am” from reverberating between my brain and my skull. I took a deep calming breath and it worked, at least momentarily, until a proverbial bell went off in my head and I was stung by the realization that I was no longer like the “Sex in the City” single chicks that I totally related to a few years back. I was now a desperate housewife. I was my mom’s age. Yikes!

      So tell me, when in the hell did I morph from a babe to a ma’am? Was it when I became older that more than half the people on the planet? Exactly what time, did this occur? Was it at thirty-eight, forty, or forty-five? (I’ll stop here before I divulge my actual age; it’s hard to swallow.)

     I’ll admit, I’m having a tough time accepting myself in this strange new category. Like a lizard, I have shed my skin many times, but  this time the skin underneath is not new. It’s loose in some places, and lined in some from too many years of happiness, tears, heartbreak, and love.
     Sometimes I long to go back, flog myself, and redo the past, now that I am old enough to realize that I wasted too much time on stupid stuff. For example, in high school I spent so much time trying to grow up I didn’t realize how cool it was to be there. In my twenties I was raising two kids ( because of my choice to grow up fast) and dreading becoming thirty. A few years into the big 3,0,  I realized thirty wasn't old at all.  In fact, my thirties ended up being period of rebirth for me. By the end of the decade, I was comfortable in my own skin for the first time. And, forty wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be even though I acquired a few rogue aches and pains. Hell, I had my third child a few years later. But right now I am like a teenager again, unsure of myself and not quite comfortable in my aging skin. I suppose if I am lucky enough to be around twenty years from now, I’ll look back and tell myself what a young fool I was for blogging on this topic in the first place, but until then, I guess I’ll just have to get used to this matronly title of respect thingie.


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