TMI Thursday: Bare Jam

TMI Thursday

Every year in late April, Smoky Mountain National Park has its annual Wildflower Pilgrimage. Tourons (tourist + moron) pay hundreds of dollars to be led around the park by rangers and volunteers, to see all of the spring wildflowers in their glory. Which is funny to me, because if you’re hiking the right trails, you can’t miss even the rare ones.

The ex and I went out to one of the best trails in the park for spring wildflowers. We split up, and he spent the morning fishing the river, while I hiked seven miles round trip and took several hundred pictures, one of which is the thumbnail in my right hand column over there.

We met back at the truck, pulled our lunch out of the cooler, and hiked off trail to a nice spot by the river. It was fairly far from the road, back in the woods, next to a good run for him to fish after lunch, and a beautiful plunge pool.

I spread out the ground cover, and we had lunch. It was a little past noon, and the sun was high overhead. We were both tired in the best way- that tiredness that comes from catching lots of fish and finding lots of wildflowers. We were not so tired, though, as to be completely uninterested in each other.

We seemed far enough from the road, which was not busy,  and though the trees were not completely leafed out, there was some cover between the blanket and the road… and so we decided to have each other for dessert. It was necessarily short, but not so short as to prevent me from enjoying the sun and breeze on my mostly bare skin. I sat up to put my shorts back on, and that was when I realized.

Apparently, I overestimated the amount of cover we were afforded, and possibly the distance from the road. When people can see a bear from the road, all traffic stops until the bear ambles off out of sight. We locals, as well as park officials, call this a “bear jam”. Well, it would appear that the ex and I created our own little “bare jam”, because as I slipped my shorts back on, I noticed several cars stopped on the road in direct sight of our picnic blanket. It was right about that time that the “bare jam” moved along and the road was quiet again.

Funny enough, that didn’t stop me from skinny dipping in the plunge pool after the ex wandered off for more fishing. That was easier to get away with, though, because the river bank was tall, and you couldn’t see the water from the road. We should have had our little rendezvous on one of the large boulders next to the plunge pool. Live and learn, I guess.

We’re lucky that we didn’t get heckled, photographed, or ticketed. No, the only consequence was a little sheepishness, and a bruise the exact size and shape of a sweetgum ball on the small of my back. 😉

TMI Thursday: Don’t Stand So Close To Me

I know, lovelies, I’m late to the party. Better late than never, yes?

TMI Thursday

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. This little girl was always breaking out in poison ivy, oak or sumac. (this little girl is in no way my baby sister, evar, no way, it’s a dirty lie). Her Mama was a working girl (not THAT kind, ya’ll, I mean all corporate and stuff) who left at the ass crack of dawn to get the office early.

So that was how this little girl found herself packing her book bag for a field trip all alone. She had a nasty patch of the Ivy on the small of her back, and it was itchin’ like a bitch. The little girl is in second or third grade maybe. She called her Mama and asked where the poison ivy medicine was so she could take it on her field trip. Her Mama told her to look for the cream with hydro-cortisone in on her bathroom counter and rushed her off the phone, because Mama was IMPORTANT and couldn’t be bothered with the little girl’s rash issues at the moment.

The little girl was a smart cookie- she found the tube that said “whatever % hydro-cortisone” on the front, threw it in her backpack and caught the bus to school.

Later that day at where ever the hell the field trip was, she walked up to her favorite teacher. Her favorite teacher was the new one- the cute young guy that had just started at the school and was very sweet to all the kids. The little girl just thought this teacher hung the moon, she loved him so.

You can imagine how it hurt her feelings when she handed him the tube of cream, asked him to help her with the itching, and turned her back on him and he ran away. Ran away to an old lady teacher and muttered something and threw the tube at the old lady and disappeared for awhile…

Well, it hurt her feelings real bad. Really bad enough that when her awesome sauce big sister got home from school, she had to cry and snot all over her and tell her all about it. Because her awesome big sister is an EVEN smarter cookie than she is, she said to the little girl- “bring me the cream you took to school today. RIGHT NOW.”

That big sister was still an angsty teenager with a liver full of sibling rivarly and hatred. So when the little girl produced a tube of Preparation H? She could only roll around on the floor, convulsing in a fit of pee inducing laughter.

Because she truly was an awesome sauce big sister, she found the REAL poison ivy medicine for the little girl, and the little girl and the old lady teacher talked to the very cute and thoroughly disturbed new male teacher the next day and everyone was happy…..

This may seem a little immature, now that I’m almost thirty and I love that little girl so much it makes my heart hurt, but…

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! She asked her teacher to help her with hemorrhoid cream! BWAHAHAHA!

Pictures and Presents

You simply must see what arrived in my mailbox a few days ago….

i wish the internet had smellovision...

i wish the internet had smellovision...

Someone… someone whom I have a deep set adoration for knows my penchant for hot baths. So she loaded me up with a ton of Raspberry Mango Tango bath stuff and lip gloss too, for good measure. As if that wasn’t enough?! She also sent me something of a sampler pack of her other flavors and scents. Get your hands on some of this stuff. Seriously. It’s like heaven in your bathtub.

I also thought I would share some office pics. You know, where the magic happens.

this why they call my office "the jungle"...

this why they call my office "the jungle"...

Yes, that is an electric tea kettle sitting on top of my mini fridge. I’m one of those.

my kingdom for a trellis...

my kingdom for a trellis...

Picture 005

Please to notice the growed up office chair and the mirror on the wall by the door, perfect for putting my makeup on before I go out at night, and not a minute sooner. 😉

internet, meet b!

internet, meet b!

This is the view from the door. B is pretty much always in that chair. I’m not sure she doesn’t sit there all night while I’m at home asleep….

uh, how did facebook get onto my work monitor? ;)

uh, how did facebook get onto my work monitor? 😉

This is the exact view that I enjoy for the majority of my waking hours. Life certainly could be worse.

As scintillating as I’m sure you’re finding this, I only have one more photo for you. It’s important though.

"Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want."

"Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want."

Since you can’t read the words at the bottom, I made it the caption. I find this piece very indicative of my nature, and that’s why I’m so compelled to share it with you. My boss got a good laugh out of it.

There you have it. Pictures and presents, and now you know what my office looks like.

By the way, do you need a wedding dress?

Happy Friday, lovelies!

TMI Thursday: In Which I Discover FWB

TMI Thursday

At the tender age of sixteen, I was hanging out with a group of people who were at least five years older than I was, which I would recommend highly to any teenager, so long as their parents aren’t around to hear me say it.

There was a guy in our little gang who was so handsome, so hot, so incredibly attractive that I was smitten the moment I saw him. As I got to know him a little better, I realized how wild he really was. He was passionate about everything, was a risk taker, was always pushing the envelope. He was the guy that you begged not to talk when the cops showed up, because it would only lead to unmitigated disaster.

I will explain at this point that this guy was Icelandic. He had white blond hair, ice blue eyes and chiseled everything. He was six foot tall and I only wish I had a picture, could post a picture, because my description doesn’t even do him justice. He was smokin’ hot.

So it happened that one night that we found ourselves quite drunk and rather alone. One thing led to another (as it so often does when one finds themselves quite drunk), and the next thing I knew, I was having sex with the hottest man to ever walk the Earth. Of course, because this is my life and not a Molly Ringwald movie, a very irritating chick who was visiting a friend from some other town interrupted us. Which killed the mood, because not two hours previously, she informed us that she was covered in little white bumps, which her doctor told her was a fungal infection she caught from the tanning bed.

It mattered little to me. I had taken advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime.

Until I realized that Fungal Infection told all of our friends what happened.

My girlfriends (again, these girls were at least five years my senior) were horrified with him. They asked me- “So are the two of you dating now?”, and I thought about it for a minute.

“No, I don’t really think so. I really don’t think he has any interest in dating me.”

“Then why did you sleep together? Why did he sleep with you? Why in the blue fuck did you sleep with him, then?”

“Um, because I could? Because I know that he’ll never date me, but who would turn him down?!”

I will admit, I was as confused as they were. I didn’t understand why they were so outraged. We’re friends, I have a huge crush on him, we got drunk, we had sex, end of story. Should I have not slept with him because I knew what was up? But then I never would have slept with the hottest man to walk the Earth, evar?

“This was so wrong of him. He knows how much you like him!”

Okay, but he didn’t tell me that he loved me? He didn’t say that we would be together. He just started nibbling on my ear, and I didn’t stop him. I encouraged him. It never occurred to me at any point to stop and say “hey, what are the chances of you ever buying me dinner”?!

He and I spoke about it once, briefly. He asked me if I understood that our little escapade was not the beginning of a beautiful relationship. I nodded. He asked me if I was okay with that, or if I felt taken advantage of. I told him that I was fine with it, that I would have loved to date him, but that I knew that was unrealistic, and had never really thought otherwise?

We remained friends for years afterward, and there were a few inappropriate moments peppered here and there, but nothing as glorious as that first night. I think he was afraid of my friends.

So that, my lovely freaders, is when I figured out a few important things:

Sex and love are two very, very different things, and you can have one without the other- in fact, I would gain to say that having the two of them together is something of a rare bird.

Women have to have a connection with a man to sleep with them, no matter what you try to tell me. If you don’t care about someone on a very basic level, it’s not happening.

That feeling that you get from having sex without love- that gnawing guilty/wanting to turn his spare bedroom into a nursery feeling? It’s biology, folks. In case you get knocked up. What do you do with that feeling? Acknowledge it and dismiss it. It’s not doing you any good unless you are, in fact, knocked up.

The ending of this story might be better than the story itself.

Two years later, when the ex and I crossed paths with this guy as a couple? We chatted idly for a few minutes, and he asked my new boyfriend if we were dating. When the ex confirmed that we were, he smiled, leaned over and said: “Good for you, man, you’ve got a live wire there…”

Not only did I sleep with one of the hottest men in the world, but I got a rave review.  Does it get any better than that?

Happy TMI Thursday!

TMI Thursday: In Which I Serve My Country

TMI Thursday

Yes, lovely freaders, it’s TMI Thursday! Today’s story takes place in the long, long ago when I was about sixteen. My friends were a group of people at least four years older than I.

One of our friends was leaving to join the Marines, so we threw him a party. His last hurrah. Much booze was consumed, and I don’t really remember how Mr. Marine and I ended up on the pull out sofa bed together, but we did.

Like any good and patriotic American girl who finds herself drunk and cuddled up to a soon to be Marine, I felt compelled to give him a decent send off. I mean, doesn’t he deserve to go into basic training with the highest morale possible? The fact that he was handsome and halfway charming didn’t hurt at all.

I gave him such a good send off that we never made it to the main event. Which surprised me, because at the tender age of sixteen, I had no clue what I was doing. I woke up the next morning with a sticky t shirt and feeling a little sheepish.  I was also a little sensitive about my lack of experience- had I made a fool of myself? My consolation was that at least he had left town, so I wouldn’t have to deal with any aftermath, and to this day, I still don’t know that anyone else at the party knew about what happened that night.  I went on about my sweet sixteen business and after a while, I mostly forgot all about it.

Fast forward several months, to Mr. Marine’s first visit home on leave.

I’m sitting in the same house the send off party was held in, drink in hand, talking to a friend when he walked through the door. I turned to see who it was, and he saw me, and I must have blushed harder than I’ve ever blushed since. What do you say to a guy in this situation? All the worry and doubt and sheepishness came flooding back like a day hadn’t passed between our encounter and his return.

Turns out, I didn’t have to say a thing. He picked me up into a huge hug and twirled me around, going on and on about how much he had missed me?! I mean, it could have been a scene from a World War Two movie! We were not great friends before his send off, so his enthusiasm had to be about his farewell party.  So, not only did I not make a fool of myself, but apparently the memories of that night kept me on this guy’s radar for almost a year afterward, which made me feel a lot better about the whole thing. That was also when I realized what a simple and grateful creature the male human can be at a basic level. Nothing else ever happened between us; we talked that night and I never saw him again.

How’s that for serving your country? 😉

M. A. C.

The day we put him in his final resting place was bright, clear and hot. We gathered at the cemetery in the late morning, before the heat of the day, and still the air was damn near unbearable, wet and hot and heavy, like a dryer full of hot wet towels.

The day before was the first day that I had stopped at the scene of the accident. It was everything I was afraid it would be. Heartbreaking. Standing on the side of the road, reading the spray paint markers left for the investigators. Seeing the permanent marker my sister’s friends placed- a cross marked simply with his initials and the day he was so cruelly taken from us, wound with English ivy. Looking at the entire scene and wondering what might have been.

If only that woman had taken one more look, if only she had hesitated before pulling out in to the road at the top of a blind hill. There is no other conclusion to come to, not after looking at the intersection, looking at the spray paint marks- the line with PoI written underneath, and five feet from it, another line, marked F and a circle marked Helm., as if the shorthand somehow erased the obvious. “Look Twice, Save a Life”- it really is that simple. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t take some pleasure in the permanent marker being perfectly situated so that this woman sees it every single time she leaves her neighborhood. Even that is a light sentence, compared with my baby sister, who is reminded in every breath and step that she’s alone in this world. Look twice, save a life. But she didn’t. She didn’t.

And so that is why we were all standing in the marble walled courtyard of the cemetery, shielded from the road but also the breeze, and grateful for the small patches of shade afforded by the stunning Japanese maples planted in the center.

The ceremony is short. We all cry quietly. We file out one at a time, each of us stopping to lay a flower at the foot of the wall, to say goodbye before the urn is sealed in the vault and the nameplate is installed. My turn comes, and I can feel my chin quivering as I lay my rose on top of the pile. It is both comforting and disturbing to see that blue marble urn tucked so carefully into the vault space; knowing that his remains will be here forever, and disturbed to see his earthly body fit into such a small space. The irony of that. His spirit, his energy, his smile, his heart- these were all far too large to fit in there. Mark was like the smell of perfume in the air- he expanded and dissipated through out the entire room, his energy filling every available space.

I know that his spirit and energy do not have to fit inside that vault. Thank goodness.

We stopped outside of the courtyard to wipe our tears away, to take deep breaths and give and get hugs and to give my sister a few moments alone with her beloved. She came out of the courtyard, and that was it. We went back to the house, where she showed people to carefully sorted piles of his things.

And so it goes. The troubled but promising and stunningly vibrant life of a 25 year old man ended on April 12th, 2009. He was laid to rest on June 27th, 2009. Quietly and privately. Soundlessly, almost. In those single moments, a handful of lives were changed forever. He will be remembered fondly, and is already missed so very much. What I wouldn’t give for one more glimpse of that thousand watt smile directed at me. To see my sister’s face shine with happiness, love and pride.

Look twice. Save a life.

Friday Salad

I was driving to work this morning, in my still-damp car. (If you’re my friend on the Facebook, or you follow me on Twitter, you already know I left my windows down during the mother of all thunderstorms yesterday afternoon.) My CD player was screwing up, so I switched CDs, since this usually “fixes” it. (I’m a girl, with no mechanical inclination.) The CD I pulled out was an old favorite from my childhood, and no, I will not tell you what it was, because it’s irrelevant and embarrassing.

The music poured out of the speakers- music from the long, long, long ago. Before we moved from Michigan to Atlanta. Before I lived without my Dad for three years. Before high school.  Before having to start over in a new region, a new state, a new city and a new culture. Before MH. When I was a child. When I was still a child (as much as I have ever been a child, which is debatable.) Before moving out on my own. Before marriage. When there was no cancer, when there was no mortgage (for me to pay at least), when I still thought I would be a teacher or a flight attendant when I grew up. When things were a lot more simple. Or at least they seemed that way.

My thoughts wandered to my sister. To the one person who would understand these songs, the lyrics, the words. To the one person who would dance with me to this music, who has seen nearly everything I have since then, albeit through different eyes. I thought about my upcoming trip to Atlanta, back to the little town I finished growing up in, back to my sister. To be there for her as her boyfriend’s urn is interred in the local cemetery.

We’ve been taking care of each other for twenty four years now, since she was born, and while I’ve done most of the care taking, she’s held her own. We’ve certainly had our differences, and when we have, there hasn’t been enough space in one state for the both of us, much less one room or one house. In trademark style, however, we are now as close and protective and supportive as we once were embittered and mired in resentment and hatred.

When I think of that, I can’t bear for one second the thought of only ever having one child, and preventing them from ever knowing all that I’ve learned and have in our sisterhood.

This trip already feels epic. The reason we’re going- the last step in putting someone to rest, and another step in helping someone find some peace. Reuniting with old friends, after years of living our own lives and having only memories between us. Realizing that those connections to the past run a little closer and deeper than we thought. Seeing my father again, oh, it’s been too long. Way too long. This is MH’s first visit since April’s tragedy, and though that pain has lessened some, there’s still just a little unfinished business there that he will attend to, I’m sure. Having him there somehow rights some of the wrong I felt in being there alone last time.

A friend from the blogosphere is doing something incredible for me. I can’t and won’t discuss it yet. It amazes me sometimes, the way that people take care of each other. The way that people take care of me.

The present and the past and the future are all melding together in some sort of cosmic soup that is comforting, yet strange, welcome, yet frightening. The overriding emotion I’m left with is a mix of nostalgia and gratitude, with a touch of wonder.

The people in my life are incredible and amazing. My family (most of them, anyway, and most of all my husband), my childhood friends, my long time friends, my new friends, friends I’ve never hugged or shared a knowing glance with but that have carved out a place in my heart. People I’ve only just met whom I already adore. Friends that I’m getting to know better and love more.

Whatever else I don’t have, whatever else I’m in danger of losing, I can’t help but weep with gratitude to have such incredible people in my life. Having their support as a shield from this often cruel world, and their love as a balm for my wounds is what makes me believe in tomorrow, in forever, in love and luck and fate and meaning and justice. They are my faith and my hope, and those are two things I’m holding very dear lately.

Turning the profound meter down a few notches, we have weekend plans. I have no idea what we’re doing tonight, and I’ll tell you- as much as I love me some planning, it’s kind of nice to not already know how the night will turn out.

Tomorrow night, we’re going to another bonfire. Because last week’s was too much fun not to do it again, you know? Of course you know.

I’m out of the office all next week. This is incredibly exciting, if only because I’m my own timekeeper. I love a good break from the rat race.

We don’t leave for Atlanta until midweek, so that’s four days of lazy homemade bliss.

Don’t worry about missing me, lovelies, because I’m taking you with me. I could never leave you.