Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Steak Knives.

I sat there admiring my handiwork.  Four straight lines, parallel to one another, each one with just a few beads of blood.  They hurt far worse than they looked, the pain giving me an odd sense of pride.

I had to stand up.  I had been sitting on the couch with my legs curled beneath me for too long and both were now asleep.  I grabbed the knife and the bloody paper towel from the couch and began limping towards the kitchen.  Mom would be home soon from my brother's karate class and I needed to clear out of the living room before she got there.

I hated our steak knives.  They had brown handles that were asymmetrical and roundish.  The brown was dark, with flashes of red placed haphazardly throughout. My mother claimed the dark brown, like all of the other dark brown decor of our house, was "the Spanish style."  I thought it just reeked of the 1970s.  She'd argue with me that it was popular when she and Dad got married and that she wasn't about to replace everything in our house because styles change.  The Spanish style was classic and would always be popular.

The knives were serrated.  Mom said that meant they'd never need to be sharpened. She said they were good knives, expensive knives.  It seemed stupid to me that of all the shitty things we owned, the only good, expensive thing we'd have would be ugly knives.

My arm was starting to throb.  Each slice was swelling just around the edges.  The blood was already drying.  I rolled down my sleeve gently and flexed my fingers.

I'd read of people who cut themselves and said they did it so they could feel something.  I felt lots of things; I really didn't understand needing to hurt myself to feel. I did see the value in hurting myself to feel physical pain to take my mind off the throbbing ache in my soul.  Maybe that's what they meant.

The next day, I made sure to wear long sleeves.  I didn't want to talk about what I had done.  There was nothing to say.  People would either understand or they wouldn't, and I didn't want to find out which side they were on.  Most of my friends already thought I was being dramatic for attention.  I didn't want anyone to think I did it for them to notice.  I didn't want anyone to think it was cool or mysterious or dark or weird.  I didn't want to be labeled.

I didn't want people to think about me at all.

Within a few days, the cuts scabbed over and itched.  In a moment of weakness, while changing for gym class, I scratched at them and one started to bleed.  I blotted it with a crumpled tissue from my locker.  I wasn't paying attention to the classmate changing next to me.  She wasn't a close friend.  I'd known her too long to call her an acquaintance but like most in our small town and ultra-small high school, we were friends at some point and by that time we weren't really friends anymore.

She looked at my arm, eyebrows raised in curiosity.  "What happened there?"

"My cat scratched me," I said.  I finished dressing, turning my back to my once-friend.

"They don't look like cat scratches," she said, her skepticism apparent and insulting.

I grunted and walked away, carefully pushing my sleeves back down, hiding my scars, if not my wounds.

Linking up with Yeah Write once again. Please head over and check out the other blogs.  If you feel so inclined, read them all then vote for 5 favorites on Thursday. Also, it's the birthday of one of Yeah Write editors, so Happy Birthday Flood!!

Edited to add...  This post placed 3rd on the challenge grid.  Thank you to everyone who read and voted.

Monday, February 18, 2013

I Am Now A Believer.

OK, so Carmen didn't kill me, but she got her revenge just the same.

Let me set the stage.  Husband was in the shower and I was just about to throw laundry from the washer into the dryer.  As I descended the basement stairs, a strange odor slapped me in the face.  It was vaguely reminiscent of a pile of shit.

This is not the first time I've smelled shit in my own basement.

Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, I heard gurgling.  I can name two things, right off the top of my head, that shouldn't gurgle.  One is your sewer drain.  The other is your toilet.

One quick peek at both indicated a problem I wish I could tell you I was unfamiliar with.  Our sewer line was backed up.  Again.  This is about the fourth time since we moved in two and a half years ago.

Being the resourceful and frugal gal that I am, I decided I would try to take care of this myself.  I grabbed some gloves, some plastic bags, a bucket and a wire hanger.  I gently removed the cap to the drain and guess what came oozing out?

You guessed it.  Sewage!  Hurray!

If you guessed massive clumps of toilet paper, I will also award you some points.

I used the hanger to remove the paper into what I found out was aptly named "the pit" around the drain.       Upon doing so, we went from ooze to rush.  I now had, oh, about a gallon or so, of slime spewing forth from a hole in my basement floor.  Since I'm pretty good at thinking on my feet, I had the wherewithal to slam the cap back on the pipe and call a professional.

For the low, low price of two hundred and thirty five dollars (and forty cents!), you too can have a sewer pipe free of shit and toilet paper!

So, John of Royal Flush popped on over.  He told me that I was lucky that it wasn't backed up worse and that I didn't "get a face full" when I opened the cap.  Lucky, indeed.

He stuck some things down the pipe and now we're good.  Good, except you know, for the smell of a porta-potty in my house.  John suggested that I pour some disinfectant in the pit.  We had some Mr. Clean and now my house smells like shit and lemons.

As someone who knows, take it from me.  Don't open your sewer drain if it's bubbling.  There are some things you simply cannot unsee.  Or unsmell.  Don't use thick and fluffy toilet paper if your house has a history of sewer back ups, even if that toilet paper is on sale.  And if you happen to read a story on Facebook about a girl who died in a sewer drain, just repost the damn thing.

This is a little different from the kind of post I'd normally link up with Yeah Write, but, well, I did it anyway.  Head over there for a collection of great blogs and then on Thursday vote for your five favorites.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Don't Kill Me, Carmen!

Anyone who hangs around this blog long enough knows that I am a ridiculous person.

I woke up on my couch, as I often do, around 11:45 last night.  I caught the last few minutes of Bill Maher, took a decongestant and headed up to bed.  I hoped I wouldn't be up for long since I really need my beauty sleep.

On my way up the stairs, I checked Facebook from my phone.  I don't know why I do this.  I suppose it's just a bad habit.  Someone shared a picture with lots of text above it.  The update my friend put said, "They hurt her."  Like an idiot, I clicked on the picture.

This is the picture from the Facebook post.  

The story was about a girl, Carmen Winstead, who was pushed down a sewer drain and died.  She exacted her revenge upon her assailants, one by one each ending up dead in the drain.  But that didn't satisfy Carmen, oh no, it did not.  Anyone who did not believe she was pushed, since the police found that Carmen's death was accidental and she had fallen, would suffer the same fate.  To prove you believe Carmen was murdered, once you learn of her story, you need to repost it with the phrase, "They hurt her."  If you don't, once you fall asleep, Carmen will come out of your toilet or shower drain and kill you.  You will be found dead in the same drain she was pushed into.  We know this because it happened to some guy named David.

Ordinarily, in the light of day, I'm a pretty rational girl.  Let's think about this story for a minute.  First, dead people, once dead, generally cannot kill other people.  Also, how did all these people know to keep looking for dead teenagers in the same drain some random girl died in?  Finally, how did the people who found David's body know to look in that drain since, as the story would lead you to believe, David had no prior connection to Carmen?

Wait, there's one more thing.  Usually I don't believe that people, particularly dead ones, can come out of the shower drain or toilet and kill other people.

Except when it's midnight and I'm overtired apparently.  Because I spent the next 3 hours worried Carmen would kill me because I didn't repost.

I won't say I don't believe that she was pushed.  Maybe she was, how would I know?  But I tried to find the story on Snopes and in my fuzzy-minded haze, I couldn't.  I should note here that I was checking to see if there really was a girl named Carmen who died in a sewer drain.  I was NOT checking to see if she came out of toilets for murderous revenge.

I started to think about how silly it is to be worried about this and then it hit me.  Maybe this is how she gets to people.  The story is so preposterous that intelligent people such as myself don't give it credit and the next thing you know, there's a news story that a wife and mother of one from New Jersey was inexplicably found in a sewer drain with a broken neck and her face ripped off, floating in the "muck and poop."

I poked around Snopes a bit more, getting myself more and more freaked out because Snopes is the source of all of my irrational fears.  I generally do not go on that site at night because I'm afraid all of the fake missing children are going to kill me.*

I got myself so worked up that when the freezing rain began to hit my bedroom window, I was concerned it was Carmen's fingernails scratching to get in.  I wouldn't put it past her to try to outsmart me by coming in my bedroom window instead of out of my toilet.  That's probably why those girls pushed her in the first place since she was so sneaky.  And that's when I decided that making fun of her was a surefire way to get her pissed enough to kill me.

So I turned over onto my back, making sure I could keep an eye on both the bedroom door and the bedroom window, and I watched two hours of Hoarders.

Needless to say I'm tired this morning.  And I'm going to be extra careful when I clean the bathrooms today.

*You can read about my irrational fears here.  It's a bit long and rambles on, but if you're looking to make fun of someone, this will definitely give you necessary ammunition.  And, you can find out the name that strikes fear in my heart because I just know one of these days this creepy kid is going to end up in my house trying to kill me.

Edited to add:  You can read what happened just 2 days later here.

I'm linking up with the weekend moonshine grid of yeah write.  Read other bloggers, link up your own stuff.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Nothing Says I Love You Like a Sinus Infection.

Hey, Happy Valentine's Day, people!

I actually don't really care about today.  Sure, it's sort of an anniversary, but mostly it's a regular day.  And, as seems to be the case for me these past few years, I'm sick.

I've had cold-like symptoms on and off for a month now.  I think Nathan and I have been passing the same cold around and for a day I even had flu-like symptoms remarkably similar to what Nathan had not too long ago.  I had to call in sick to work one day, which I never do.  That's how you know things are not good.  Then I stayed in bed all day watching Bunheads and Gossip Girl.  I guess there was a perk.

But today, I woke up with the tell-tale face pain that leads me to believe that I now have a sinus infection.  I can deal with being sick.  I can even deal with being sick for a month.  But for the love of all that is good, I cannot deal with having to go to the doctor.

Any person who does anything other than sit around all day hoping to get sick so they have something to do will understand when I say that I do not have time to go to the doctor.  I work and I have a kid.  There is no time for sick and there is certainly no time for me to sit around a waiting room for 40 minutes, then an exam room for 20 minutes, for a 5 minute conversation so the doctor can write me a script for a Z-pak.

You see, all I want for Valentine's Day is reduced chaos.  Instead, it looks like I'm going to have more crazy than a regular Thursday.  Sigh.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I Don't Want To Play.

"Mama, do you want to play with me?"

My first inclination is to simply say no, because the truth is right now I do not want to play with my kid.    It's Saturday, I'm tired and I would much prefer to spend the day lounging on my couch, cheating on my diet and Pursuing My Own Interests.

It's not that I don't like my son, it's just that he is 6 and we do not share the same hobbies.  We have remarkably little in common, actually.  For example, he likes dumb kid stuff and I like fascinating adult stuff.  He likes to do things and I like to sit around and do nothing.

He's been bugging me since 4:53 this morning to go outside and play in the snow.  I'm not a fan of snow and I find it offensive that Mother Nature would flaunt something so despicable in my son's face so that I have to be the bad guy and say no about going out in it.  It's like when some jerk buys your kid a super loud toy that drains batteries faster than you can buy them and then requires a screwdriver to actually get to the batteries that need replacing every five minutes.  That "friend" is all look how great I am, I bought your kid a gift but the second they walk out your door, you are left with that stupid toy and a kid that's whining because the damn thing is broken again and now you have to stop what you're doing, find the batteries and the screwdriver and fix it and then, yeah, probably play with the kid, too.  Isn't that what toys are for?  For the kid to play with?  Why do these toys always require so much involvement on my part?

I a am a grumpy woman and I refuse to pretend otherwise.  Actually, I pretend otherwise quite a bit, because really no one likes grumpy people and I do want people to like me.  But I don't really like toys or playing or snow or work (like changing batteries).   Now that I think about it, I pretend to like all these things because it seems that's what moms do - pretend to like a lot of dumb stuff.

I have tried suggesting to my son that he try out some of the activities I enjoy.  He doesn't seem interested in watching me blog, doing chores for me or catching up on Homeland.  He doesn't want to sit quietly while I read.  He doesn't want to entertain himself safely while I nap.  I must not be raising him right.  He doesn't want to do anything good.

He and I are going to have to have a little talk I think.  As soon as I get done playing some stupid game with stuffed Angry Birds and then playing in the snow.

Hanging out at the first yeah write moonshine grid.  Go see what all the hype is about, why don't you?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I Have A Decision To Make.

My grandmother had a great laugh.  It would start out ordinary, but before you knew it, she was crying and bouncing and gasping for breath.   Even if you didn't know what was so funny, you would likely be crying along side her because it was contagious.

I don't quite know when it started, but at some point everyone noticed her voice grew increasingly raspy.  In time, her voice was gone.  She could communicate in only a whisper.  Grandma distrusted doctors, so it was no surprise that she dismissed her inability to speak with a wave of her hand and a roll of her eyes.

Someone found out that she was no longer eating full meals.  A piece of toast and a cup of tea was all she could manage to swallow over the course of a day.  Recognizing that it was time for help but continuing to refuse to visit an MD, Grandma agreed to allow my aunt to take her to a dentist.  It was a step in the right direction but all of us knew he could do nothing to help what was really happening.

As a smoker of at least 50 years, we all knew what was coming.

The dentist took one look inside her mouth and saw her throat had closed to the size of a dime.  He surmised that if things had continued any longer, she'd either suffocate or starve to death.  Tumors had overtaken her.

Grandma underwent surgery and radiation and was left with a hole where the tracheotomy was performed.  She brought home one of those machines from the hospital that was meant to become her new voice.  In spite of the hospital personnel's best efforts, she never got the hang of it.  No matter how she positioned the microphone, her words were unintelligible.  

One night, she sat visiting with my mother.  I joined them briefly before heading out for the night.  Grandma was showing us how she had been practicing with her machine. Over and over she tried to eek out a sentence that either of us could understand, but to no avail.  Her frustration mounted as did our discomfort watching her struggle.  She slapped her hand down on her thigh in anger and I said, as gently as I could, "Grandma, I'm sorry, but you sound like Charlie Brown's teacher."

That did it.  She started to laugh.  Mom and I did, too.  The three of us laughed so hard that we shook and bounced.  We laughed because the three of us were rendered equally speechless, poking fun at someone who, once she was done laughing at herself, wouldn't regain the ability.  We gasped and coughed, choking on the knowledge of what the future held.  

Sometimes you laugh so you don't cry. Others you laugh until you do.  This was a little bit of both.

When the uproar diminished, bellies stopped jiggling, breaths were caught and eyes were dried, Grandma placed the microphone on her lap, all humor gone from her face and staring me down with an intensity I'd never seen in her before, she opened her mouth slowly and deliberately.

"You're not smoking anymore, are you?" she mouthed each word, making certain I got every bit of it.

The world stopped in that instant.  This wasn't an update request.  This was a directive.

"No.  I quit for the new year," I replied, feeling the weight of her regret and sadness.

That was in 1998, the same year that she died.

Last night I stood out on my deck, lighting my fourth cigarette of the night.  Up until about a year ago, I could count every relapse I've had on one hand.  I knew where I was and what I was doing that lead to the smoking.  Lately, I've lost track.  I have my excuses and my reasons and my explanations about how it's different this time.  It is different this time, but I'm at a crossroads.  This habit of mine, this thing I'm doing, it could go either way.  

Bracing against the snow and wind, gloved hands already smelling of old nicotine, I shivered and said out loud that I need to stop.

Linking up with Yeah Write.  Stop by to read new-to-you bloggers and return Thursday to vote for 5 favorites.

Edited to add:  I'm honored to have been selected as the Jury Prize Winner and to have landed second in the popular vote.  Thanks to everyone who voted and enjoyed the post!