Have you ever been an editor?

I have thought for years that I would like to write a book. It’s taken me a while to get started. Self esteem issues and the certainty that no one would ever read anything I wrote, put a damper on this particular dream.

Then I began writing my blog. I really enjoy it! I also seem to be an ok writer! So I am making the leap.

I have the first chapter done. I am publishing it on here for a few reasons. To see what you think. Does it capture your attention? Are yu curious? What needs to be changed? Or, does it just suck so bad??

I don’t have a title yet. It is based loosely on a true story. One of mine. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty, ha. 

I think this will be the only chapter I will publish on here. You will have to wait for the book to come out. God has put on my heart that it will. 

This book is about me. It’s about when I changed. When I forgave, and although I forgave, I said “No more”. It’s about setting myself free.

Please let me know what you think. There has been no editing yet, so please spare me the grammar and punctuation issues. I will fix all of that later. I just want to know what you think about the story. Or, rather, the beginning of it. 

Thank you, as always, my stead-fast reader. I hope you enjoy this and I can’t wait for you comments.

Tracey Haines Soden-Voyles

Chapter One, cont. Part two

6.

I got out of bed bright and early. I had my chicory coffee out on the front porch with my hounds. I have seven dogs. House dogs. I have three dachshunds, a basset, a shih-tzu, a border collie and a coonhound. I also have a cat. She runs the show. I was sitting on the swing, a blues station tuned in on the radio and tossing a ball for the dogs. I was praying to take the dread out of my heart. I was a mad woman today. Getting up to go and refill my coffee, I grabbed my cell phone. The only person who could truly pull me out of my funk was my Mother. Ivy Arden Addison was a pistol. She had been married five times and was the hottest ticket in Meridian. She was seventy years old, looked fifty and acted forty, on a good day. She still worked full time at the local beauty shop. She had worked there since the year before I was born. Hairspray and gossip were like home to me. Ivy loved clothes, shoes, purses and jewelry. She dressed better that Jackie Kennedy. She had five closets in her house and they were all stuffed full with her clothes. She also had about three hundred pairs of shoes. Wren and Ivy were best friends. They loved each other more than anything, but the shoes and clothes sealed the deal.

Ivy picked up on the first ring. “Hi! What are you doing this hot and sticky morning?”

“Packing. I am coming home for a couple of days. Webb called and Delilah shot herself in the head and Dax has asked me to come home. Park and his girlfriend are already there, they are staying at Webbs.”

“Well then, I guess I’ll change the sheets in grandma’s room.”

“That’s it? Really?” exasperated, I went looking for my cigarettes

. No I don’t smoke. I just keep some around in case I need some. I walked out to the well house and stuck my hand inside the door. I kept an old Donny Osmond lunch box that I stole from a kid when I was in fourth grade in there. It had cigarettes, a lighter and a wad of cash.

“Well, I don’t want to set you off. You know how you are” Clearly mother was trying to ‘handle’ me. I hated that shit. Everyone acts like I am so high strung. Dammit!

“Dammit Mom!! I need to have a fit.”

“Okay then! What in the hell are you coming here to put yourself through that for? You’re just asking for it! That whole family is nothing but a pile of snakes in the grass and you’re going to voluntarily step right into it. I don’t know why you do this crap!” Ivy said crap. If she says ‘crap’ or ‘damn’, she is pissed. Ivy never cusses.

“Dax asked me to. I am coming for him. He’d do the same for me.” I was going to cry. I hated to cry. I hated more that she was right.

“Would he? Who all is coming?”

“Just Wren and I. We are leaving in the morning. I am having my Xanax filled today. I’ve already called Dr Kepner. And I am bringing the Camero. I don’t want to hear about how it’s a death car. I like it and I like how fast it goes. So you just hush before you even start.”

“Whatever. What do you want from the grocery?” She was giving in way to easily. I’d hear about all of this when I was in her living room and couldn’t hang the phone up.

“Chicken salad and fruit. I want a sugar cream pie and Wren will want ice cream and kettle chips.”

“That’s about what I thought. Gene’s is open. We will go get a hotdog when you get here. That would cheer anyone up.” This brought a smile to my face. Gene’s is a hotdog stand that has been there since before I was born. They have the best damn coney dogs in the world, I guess. Their root beer compares to none and their onion rings are to die for. I was going to have to bring my fatass underwear, the ones that suck all of me in. I can’t help it. Gene’s is my favorite.

Hanging up, I felt a bit better. Knowing that through all the crazy that was about to take place, I could run back to Ivy’s and hide. Thank God.

7.

I had to go upstairs in the attic to get the suitcases. This is my favorite space in the house.  Brick’s father started remodeling this for Sissy, Brick’s mother, several years ago. It was now half new, half old, you could see the sparkle had just started to shine, then dulled.. Brick’s parents were killed in a plane accident twenty years ago, they were flying home from Allen, Texas, where they kept a farm that we now own but never visit. Brick pays a family to maintain it and we send them great chunks of money to take care of it all. When we first moved into the home, I wanted to make this space mine but Brick wouldn’t have it. He wanted it shut off just like the farm in Allen.

The room is huge, there are windows all across the back, which overlook the backyard and lake. The ceilings and walls are covered in old barn material and the floor is ceder. It smells of mothballs up here, moth balls and bat leavings. There are bats up here.

I freaking hate bats. Can you think of anything more nasty? My Grandmother Arden always told the story of her mother getting one stuck in her hair and they couldn’t get it out. Someone had to cut the live, squealing thing from her hair and kill it. Oh My God! I would lose my mind. My grandmother used to find them upstairs in her trash cans in the bedrooms. She would call me and say with much disgust, “Ruth Grey!! I found another bat in my belfry! It was dead too!! Where in the world are they coming from?”, as if I had a chart that traced some sort of crazy nocturnal pattern of suicidal bats. It creeped me out to stay upstairs in her home. Now Mother lives there. Ironically enough, she called me last week and told me a black thing flew through her living room and into her kitchen. “I thought it was a bat but then I thought it was a bird. It was really black and it was really fast. It went so fast, I couldn’t really tell what it was. It unnerved me terribly. I got my broom after it but it kept flying from room to room really fast. I finally got it to fly out the door by waving the broom and yelling at it. The whole time I kept thinking, where did it come from? I mean, I was sitting here and hadn’t been anywhere all day. So it came from in the house!” Holy shit. This is where I am going to stay.

Harrison put about twenty traps in the attic to try to resolve the situation. They did nothing. I put rat poisoning up here, certain that’s what was going to work. Sayar’s cat ate it. Jesus. That cat bawled and squalled. I took it to the vet and Doc Baker, patting Sayar on the shoulder, said it appeared the cat had been poisoned. Holy shit, Sayar threw himself on Doc Baker’s linoleum floor and called me a murderer about a hundred times and I felt like a turd for a month. Sayar took to  calling me Lizzie Borden and Lucretia Borgia every chance he got. Last fall, we were at the Methodist Women’s luncheon/coat drive and he called me a murderer when I wouldn’t let him have a fourth cup of cocoa. I hissed at him that if he didn’t shut up, I was going to poison him. I got a lot of looks from all the big hat ladies, but I didn’t hear another word about that damn cat from Sayar.

I came to the attic prepared today. I found a badmitten racket in Finn’s room and I found a red can of hairspray with the words Big Sexy written on it. I can only assume this is Princess Pigpen’s. I figure as rigid as it holds her hair, it will paralyze a bat on contact. I have my pant legs tucked into my rain boots and a turtleneck on . I found a swatch of mosquito netting left over from a porch project that I fastened into a shroud to protect my face and hair.  Hair bobs around the wrists of my shirt completed my ensemble. I crept up the stairs and flicked the light on, wincing.

I quickly found the suitcases and pushed the ones I needed with my toe, scooting them around to where I wanted them. I was going to have to make several trips up and down the stairs without my weapons to get all of these to the first floor. That scenario gave me goosebumps. I went over to the long row of windows that overlooked the backyard. There below, perfectly placed, was Wren’s trampoline. I looked at the suitcases and made my decision. I elected to lay the racket down, determining that the hair spray would pose more of a threat to a bat. The way it cemented Pigpen’s hair, it would stop a bat mid flight. I opened the biggest window and looked down, gauging the distance I would have to throw the suitcase to hit the trampoline. I picked up the smallest case and hurled it out the window. It landed square in the middle of the trampoline. I proceeded to throw each of the bags down. When I got to the last one, the biggest one, I picked it up. By this time, I was a hot and sweaty mess. My hair was falling out of my hat and was clinging to my face in great sticky clumps, my sleeves had worked their way loose of the hair bobs that secured them and  I was wide eyed from fear of the bats. I was just tipping the case over the edge when Harrison came running out into the back yard. He was looking up, shielding his eyes. “Oh Lord Miss Grey! What the hell are you doin up there?”. I got tickled. Dammit. I pee when I get tickled. I threw the last suitcase out, missing the trampoline entirely, slammed the window shut and locked it. I picked up my racket and stork-ran towards the stairs. Oh my God!! I heard something. Holy Crap! The terror of ‘what if’s’ took over completely. I  ran then. I tripped on the stairs and went sprawling down them. I looked like I was on a slip-n-slide with no water.I was peeing now. Not just a tinkle. Peeing. I slid down the first flight, hit my head on the banister and tumbled down the second flight. I landed on a wood floor that was way  more than a hundred years old. I continued to empty what was left in my bladder. There was no use even trying to stop it now. When Harrison got back around in the house, he found me sitting in a puddle of piss, dressed like a bee keeper, holding a badminton racket and wait, where the hell was the Big Sexy? No freakin way was I going back up there now. Screw it.

“Well shit. Harrison, are you just going to stand there or what?” Harrison scurried over and put his hands under my arm pits. My rubber boots couldn’t find purchase on the urine soaked floor but Harrison finally got me up. Rubbing his forehead in the exasperated way he does sometimes when I irritate him. He asked, “Why can’t you ever just ask for some damn help?”

“Don’t you cuss at me Harrison Moss. You’re in my house.”

“Yeah, yeah. Git on outta here so I can clean up this mess.”

Under his breath I could hear him mumbling. I strained to hear, I loved Harrison’s tirades. They were just too quiet. Unfortunately, he did all of his yelling in a whisper. I went into the mud room and stripped down. I put my stinky clothes in the washer and and grabbed one of the tee shirts I kept for the boys.

I ran upstairs to get dressed. I threw on old jeans and I kept on the work shirt. My old Birkenstocks would do for know. Macon called these my Jesus shoes. I couldn’t live without them. I started downstairs to begin putting things in order for my trip, my foot hit the third step or so and Miss Pigpen came running out of the big hall bath having a hysterical fit.

“Miss Grey! I can’t find my hairspray! I can’t find it anywhere! It’s a red can with Big Sexy written on it! I am not leaving with out it! I will not go! I mean it! I. Will. Not. Go. This will be the first time Webb sees me! What will he think?? Oh my God!”

Clenching my fists, I replied, through gritted teeth,”He will think you have huge tits. He will ogle your big tits the whole time you are there. He won’t even notice you have hair. Now, I want you to shut the hell up. I mean it. Not one more word. Every one is stressed and no one gives two shits about your red can of sex. Get your ass upstairs and get your shit together.”

Starting to say something, I held my hand up my hand, turned around and walked off. I could hear her stomping off. Horny little cow. She had to go. Now.

8.

I spent the next three hours running from the third floor bedrooms to the first floor laundry room and back trying to gather everything. I had to wash and iron and even remove spots from Wren’s dress I wanted her to wear to the funeral. It was navy blue and had a sweet little Peter Pan collar. At some point, she had dripped chocolate ice cream on the collar and hung the dress back in her closet. Most likely when I threatened to turn off the cable in her room if she didn’t clean it. I made a sticky note and put it on the bathroom mirror, reminding myself to spank her when she came in from outside.

When I finally finished taking everything out of my closet, bureau and dresser that I thought I might want to take, there were about a hundred and thirty pieces of clothing on the bed. Holy shit Grey, you’re going to be gone four or five days. I began eliminating. I broke it down into going’s on. Slouching around mom’s house, hanging with Betsy, Lucy and Mikie and (my three best friends), dinners, funeral , days at dad’s cleaning, extra clothing for unforeseen shit. Forget it! I was taking it all. I got two garment bags from the closet and the suitcase that missed the trampoline. I meticulously folded and hung everything. I filled my little train case with all of my toiletries and things that would make me look not quite as old. I paced around for twenty minutes wondering if I’d forgotten anything. Oh hell, if I did, I’d go to Marshall’s or Dillard’s and buy it.

Now to tackle Wren’s. This would be even harder. I wore black. Sometimes grey. If I was feeling froggy, I might throw some navy on. Wren wanted leopard stripes and sparkles and glitter. She had her own ideas about what matches and what doesn’t. I know nothing about the fashion intricacies that go on in this birdy’s head. I take a few things from her closet that I know are her favorites and a few things that I will insist on. Sometimes her outfits are a little flamboyant for public, and we live in the south, where ladies where men’s pants and huge hats. Frequently at the same time. I get her black and white polka dotted bag for her shoes. Wren loves shoes. The first time Mother and I took her to Shoe Carnival she was just two. She stood just inside the door and clasped her hands together, staring in wonderment. She said only two words, “Oh! Shoes!” I picked out eight pair. Surely that would hold her. I got her Fancy Nancy dolls and books and anything else I thought she might deem a necessity. I laid an outfit out on Wren’s bed for her to slip on in the morning. Feeling as if I had this job fairly tied down, I decided to sit on the porch for a bit with some tea.

9.

I went downstairs and into the kitchen and stopped dead. Every so often, I wish I could act like a four year old. At this particular moment, I would have thrown myself on the tile floor and kicked my heels and pulled my hair and wailed. Finn and Sayar had company. That may be an understatement. There were, at first glace, at least twenty kids in my kitchen. They were sitting Indian style on the counter, backwards and forwards in the chairs, two kids were under the table, tying what seemed to be firecrackers to Wren’s Dora the Explorer kite. Ice cream, the cake I baked for Odette Wilson’s family to welcome the new baby and all of my Klondike bars were all gone. Wrappers, dirty spoons and my crumb filled cake plate were all that was left. The back door was open, letting all the cool air out and two of the boys had Macon’s bras on, I’m guessing they took out of the laundry room where I had hung them to dry. I snatched those first.

“Get out! Get the hell outta my house or I’m gettin my gun! Oh no! Not you two!” I pointed a finger, now stuck to a Klondike wrapper, at my asshole offspring. “You two dipshits get you asses back here and clean up this mess or I’m going to get something to beat on you with!!”

As the kids started to scatter, all of them laughing and poking fun at my boys, I picked up all of Macon’s under things and took them into the laundry room. I was no more than two steps in,when I heard the door slam shut behind me. I whirled around and ran at the door, banging on it. It wouldn’t budge. I started screaming obscenities and threatening to pull tender and much needed body parts off of my overgrown, undereducated spoiled children. I kicked and pulled and screamed until I was horse. I could hear the four wheelers start and peal away. Shit. They were so dead. And they didn’t even freaking care. Dammit!!

About an hour later, Harrison found me laying on a pallet I made out of some old quilts and towels I had stuck up on a shelf. I was sweaty again and thirsty as hell. I wanted to cry. I may have. Who the hell knows. Harrison peeked his head in and raised his eyebrows. “Don’t ask!” I warned him. I took the knife he had in his hand. One of the idiots had wedged in the door to keep me in. I tucked it in my back pocket. They were toast.

10.

Later that evening, right before supper, I stolled outside as Park was fastening his bike onto the bracket on the back of his jeep. Dumb and Dumber were working their way down the driveway with grade school scissors, trimming the grass. This was their punishment for locking me in the laundry room. This is the one they knew about. The punishment they hadn’t seen yet was the picture I posted of them on Facebook. They woke up late last week and Brick was yelling about grounding and beheading if they didn’t hurry up. So they jumped in the shower, together. I took a picture. I thought I’d put it in their scrapbook. At the time, I just thought it was sweet.  Today, I thought it was revenge. I tagged both boys and several of their friends. I currently had two hundred and nineteen likes! I’d be in Mississippi before they had a clue.

“I’ll call you when we get there, Momma. I hate things like this. I’m sorry you have to go.”

“I’ll be fine. You take care of you.” Rubbing my oldest child’s shoulders and giving him all of the obligatory safety precautions, he jumped into his jeep. I heard Clarissa start something in her whiniest voice, my son cranked a Dave Matthews CD and started on his trip. Smiling, I was very proud.

I turned to head back into the house when a great caterwauling began. Wren must have seen the clothes I laid out for her. Sigh. Macon was already up there with her by the time I appeared and had already negotiated a compromise.

“Momma, Wren is going to wear the jean shorts with the blue ribbons and her pink sparkly top. She also gets to wear her hawkin shoes with the understanding that she has to slip on her Keds when y’all stop anywhere.” Winking and nodding her head, Macon was pleading with me to let go and just accept. Wren’s ‘hawkin’ shoes were her princess shoes that were plastic and three sizes to big. She named them that because of the noise she makes when she walks.

I was too tired to fight. Sighing, I patted Wren’s head, “You win. Kiss your sister thank you. Macon, come fix supper with me. I haven’t seen you all day. I’ll show you the mean, horrible thing I did to the boys.” I laughed and headed toward the kitchen.

Chapter one, cont part 3

11.

The next morning, long before I was ready to actually get out of the bed, Brick was standing beside me, poking me softly and whispering my name.

“Grey. Grey, honey.”

Groaning, I rolled over. I had to be careful to not squash any of the dogs. “What? What’s happened?”

“Why aren’t you in bed with me instead of in here with the humane society? Remember that movie with Goldie Hawn in it? The one where she is a lawyer and he husband robs a bank? You’re like her with those dogs.” Smiling he snatched at my blanket.

“It was her ex-husband, Chevy Chase. Seems Like Old Times. I love that movie. You might be an ex-husband if you don’t have an excellent reason for waking me up at the butt crack of dawn.”

Handing me my phone, “It’s been blowing up for an hour. I looked to make sure it wasn’t Park or Christen.”

“Clarissa.” I corrected him.

“Whatever. Anyway, it’s Juniper. She’s probably wanting to ask you some questions since you’re leaving.”

“Shit.” I didn’t want to adult yet. I wanted to lay in my child’s pillow bed with my dogs. I stretched, pushed three of the seven dogs out of the way and climbed out of bed. Good grief, I had to pee! Every time I stand up. Five kids is hell on your bladder.

Grabbing my robe, I headed downstairs to have my morning meeting with Jaun Valdez. I picked up my phone and called the restaurant, Juniper answered on the first ring.

“I’ve been calling you for an hour! Where the hell have you been?” She was clearly irritated with me, which only made me smile. As calm and soothing as Harrison was, Juni was on the opposite end of the spectrum. She was as high strung as they come and she was the only person in the world I allowed to boss me around. Besides Ivy. She was just over four feet tall and wore a wig she got out of the Sears catalogue. She carried a wooden spoon around as a weapon and always had a clean apron on.

“Well Juni, I was sleeping. Shit, it’s still dark outside!”

“Then you shoulda known something was bad wrong and called me right back. I don’t bother you for nothin, do I?”

She had a point and suddenly I sat up straighter. “What?”

“That damn Toomey girl you hired got a snake in her car this morning when she came early to make the biscuits. The fool left her windows down and when she snuck out back to smoke a Pall Mall, she opened her door and there was a chicken snake on her seat. She pissed down both legs and called the law. That shit’ll be in the police blotter again. Last time it took two months for folks to calm down and eat here again. It hurt our business! I smacked her on the ass with my spoon and told her to git inside and quit smokin those nasty things and to ROLL HER WINDOWS UP! Probly didn’t come from here anyway. She proby drove that thing here from her house. What the hell are we gonna do?”

Biting my lip and keeping my voice as even as possible, “I’ll call Shep and ask him to not put it in the police blotter this time. And Juni, it really didn’t affect business last time. The Chamber Women wouldn’t park on that side of the building for a while but they eventually got over it. Give that girl a chance. She’s sweet and a hard worker. She needs taught. You are the one to teach her.”

“I didn’t sign up to be no teacher.” She hung up on me and no doubt was already barking orders at Tina Toomey. That girl was an accident waiting to happen. I liked her. She was smart. Her parents were trash and she needed some direction. She graduated next year and if I had anything to say about it, she’d be signed up at the community collage in the fall. Like Juniper, I can be stubborn too.

Poor old Shep. My high school sweetheart. His family owned our county paper the Lake Charles Independent. I was forever asking him to keep something quiet. It was usually about a waitress getting into a snippet of trouble. Last year when Finn hopped in one of his buddy’s trucks that had been left running and did donuts in the town park, I requested that be on the front page. Finn left huge ruts and scared the shit out of all of the kids, finally crashing into the curly slide and knocking it completely off it’s cement slab. It broke it completely in two. The kids cried and parents were pissed. Brick and I had to pay for a new one.  The kicker? The park sits behind the Mayor’s office and across from the fire department. The chief of police was parked at the firehouse, bullshitting and saw the hole thing. Being friends with people in charge often has it’s benefits. I can pull quite a few strings and I throw a lot of fits if I don’t get my way. The Chief and Shep throw their hands in the air and give in pretty quickly. I’m not worth the fight. However, I can also use my powers for evil. Finn was sentenced to sixty hours of public service for the county. He had to paint all of the bridges, removing the graffiti. Hells belles, he and his friends put most of it on there. I told him to consider it Karma. He got to wear a black and white stripped jail shirt just like out of a Paul Newman movie. Being a juvenile, no names were used, but Finn is unmistakeable in the picture. I got a huge kick out of this. Finn died a few times. I had the newspaper article and picture matted and framed and it now hangs above the living room fireplace. I even bought a darling set of pillar candles to match the frame. It’s a nice little vinget.

So I would call Shep, for Juniper’s sake. I’d ask him to keep this bit of drama out of the police blotter. I’d also ask him if he had any good gossip. He’d share. He knew I’d keep my mouth shut. I hate a gossip. Now, I’ll talk to my Mother or Juniper about things, but that’s not stirring shit. That’s having a conversation.

12.

As bad as I hated it, it was time to hit the road. Daylight was coming on and it was hotter than the devil’s knees already. I grabbed my cooler tote and filled it with waters and juice. I glanced longingly at the beer left from last night and with more than a little regret, shut the refrigerator door. I went upstairs and changed into a long skirt and an old band tee shirt. Keds finished my look. This was my usual attire. It was comfortable and my weight yo-yo’d so much, this was the perfect clothing to yo-yo with me. I had packed last night, I grabbed my suitcase and the garment bag that held two black dresses. It depended on how much Pizza King I ate, which one I would wear. I also grabbed the tote I had thrown my shoes and toiletries in. I had my make-up bag. Although I had no make-up on now. I don’t wear any. I hate it. It makes Mother furious when I don’t wear it. She won’t go to the mailbox without freshening her lipstick. I only wear lipstick at gunpoint. I cringed at the poor choice of words. I’d wear the shit. If I didn’t, Mother would say, “When you wear make-up, you look like me. When you don’t, you look like your dad. I would think that would be inspiration enough.” I’ve heard that since she bought my first pink lipstick at the makeup counter at Carson’s. It’s just easier to wear it. Ivy Arden can be a bit tenacious, I am way too tired for any battle waged with her.

“Wren! Come on little bird!! We gotta go!” I’ll be damned if she didn’t flounce in the foyer wearing that freaking Fancy Nancy dress. “I thought we agreed Wren! Please be good!”

“I am good Momma.” She lifted up the dress and underneath was her shorts and sparkly top. “When I get all itchy, I can just take it off!” Her hawkin shoes glittered in the sun as she walked out the front door. She stopped to admire them and asked me to take a picture of her since she looked so ‘acoming’.  The back of her tulle dress was tucked into her shorts and her velcro was closed crooked. I had never seen anything more cute. I snugged her into her car seat. Showed her where all of her goodies were. Folded down her desk that was fascined to the back of the passenger seat and set her bag beside her.

“Movie?” I asked.

“Yes, please. Legally Blond. Then I want Old Yeller.” I put her first movie in and handed her the silky blanket she was never without. Her bear, Hubert, was beside her, his seat belt buckled up to keep him safe. And we were off.

13.

Although it was hot and humid out, the air smelled sweet and I wanted the windows down. Getting Wren’s permission, I rolled down the windows and turned up the radio. Sweet Talk Radio was on my playlist on Pandora. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow was playing. The wistful music was exactly what my soul needed. I was nervous and anxious and mad. I didn’t handle shit like this well. Everyone thought I did. I never complained. I didn’t fuss at anyone. I wasn’t grumpy or short with people. I did what had to be done. I did it with efficiency and a determination to handle the situation and handle it well. When it was over, I would smoke an entire pack of cigarettes and have a headache for three days.

I had six hours to dwell on the douchebag that was my biological nightmare of a father. Putting the car in gear, I started down the long drive. leaving a trail of dust behind me. God help us all.

Chapter One, Part one

1.

“Hello?” Silence on my end. I’m not blinking or crying. I’m sure my face is as blank as if I were listening to a reminder call about a doctor’s appointment. When the caller is done with what he has to say, I push the off button on my clever little phone and go outside.

I had been sitting in the front yard, in my favorite chair, padded with chintz pillows and an old quilt my Grandmother made when she was twelve. My chair is settled under an oak tree that has to be two hundred years old. I was drinking homemade sun tea,  it was still on the yellow tin table that once sat on my Grandmother’s back porch.  I picked up a book yesterday at the flea market in town, one of those with a lonely cottage, surrounded by the raging sea on the front cover. I love anything that takes place by the ocean. Nicholas Sparks is one of my favorites, him and Stephen King. What a pair, huh? I also love all the classics, Steinbeck, Alcott, Faulkner. My kids all read and they are forever bringing me something to read with them. Naturally I had to read the Twilight series and Harry Potter. I am a true Potterhead now. I even have the Hufflepuff flag hanging on the side porch. I had planned on sitting in my chair and reading my by-the-sea novel today. That plan is now shot to sunshine.

Rubbing me temples, I watched my two middle boys riding up and down the long drive, weaving in and out of the double line of  magnolia trees planted on either side. Hazardly maneuvering the new motor bikes their dad bought them, making ruts in my grass and narrowly missing the towering trees. I needed a xanax after about two minutes of watching that. Finn and Sayar. They are seventeen and thirteen, respectively. They are the most horrible children ever. If there is something perilous to get into, they’re your guys. I’ve gotten used to calls from mad parents, hysterical girls and the occasional visit from the police. They don’t care. No punishment works, I have tried everything. They like to fight and they are good at it. They don’t bully, but they never miss a chance to jump into any brawl they can find. Finn was stout and frightening, he had thick, unruly hair and always looked like he was working on something devious. He loved a good brawl and was ready at any time.  Sayar was another story. He was tall and skinny, silky blond hair and looked like an angel. Looks are deceiving. He had a big mouth which usually overloaded his little ass. He thought nothing of this. Finn was only but a phone call away. Nobody messed with Finn.  I keep telling myself that one day I will laugh at all of this. I’m usually crying when I say that though. I tried to be a good mom. I grounded them. I talked to them. I read the Bible to them. If all else failed, and I lost my mind a little bit, I would pummel them with what ever was handy at the time. Their father, Brick Carling, enjoyed every minute of this. I made him bring home five gallon stir sticks from the paint store for me. They hurt and they had a good reach if the boys were running. If they broke, I just had Brick bring home some more. The paint sticks really didn’t deter the boys, but my goodness, some days they made me feel so much better. Working out my aggression, I guess. The boys owned a big chunk of my heart. They loved me, they loved their family and they loved each other. As awful as they were one minute, they were that good the next. It was hard to stay mad at them for too long. Neither of them had to work today, they won a bet with their daddy. My men will bet over anything. At least they have something in common. Bets and milk bottles. The bet was who could hit a baseball the farthest, Brick or Sayar. They loaded up their baseball bags and went down to the new baseball field at the school. The girls and I piled in the back of the truck to ride along and watch. All the boys hit ball after ball over the fence. They were all marvelous ball players. Baseball, basketball, football, soccer. There wasn’t a sport they didn’t excel at. Their father still won most contests. I secretly rooted for the boys. Today they won. The girls and I hooped and hollered!! And the boys got a day off the play.

Macon was the middle child and the oldest daughter. She was quiet and thoughtful. She wrote constantly in journals she kept under lock and key. If she wasn’t writing, she was on her phone. She had more friends than you could count. Boys and girls. She is funny and loud. Really loud. She gets in trouble a lot for being so loud. She will whine and say “Momma, I can’t help it! God made my voice like this!”. She’s right. She does try. But God love her, sometimes it just embarrassing! At this moment, she  was hanging upside down from the tire swing talking on the phone. She had chocolate brown hair that was sweeping the ground back and forth with the rhythm of the swing. She was as brown as a coffee bean from being in the river every chance she got. She was stunning. Everyone noticed her. She had remarkable eyes. They were the the color of a bluejay and they held a surprise. This is where her birthmark landed. A quarter of her left eye was mahogany brown. It was as if she had been kissed by an angel. I felt it summed up her whole personality, exotic. She was chattering into her phone breathlessly.  I remember being 15 and on the phone for hours,  but for crying out loud. She never puts her phone down. It’s a constant argument. She’s talking on a new phone right now. I stomped on her old one last Tuesday when she wouldn’t quit texting while I was talking to her. Her daddy bought her a new one. Dick. Cell phones suck ass. I’d throw mine in the river if everyone wouldn’t have a freaking breakdown.

Wren, my four year old, was in her kiddie pool she insisted we buy at Walmart today even though we have a perfectly good pool in the back yard. She has all of her floaties in the ridiculously small pool. She is a spoiled little bird. She was our surprise. Her hair was the color of a ripe peach. She had fairy kisses across the bridge of her nose. Her green eyes she inherited from me and they always had something cooking in them.  Wren was mean. She clobbered whoever crossed her. Last week, it was one of Sayar’s friends. He was on her tire swing and wouldn’t get off. After taunting her endlessly, she walked off in apparent defeat, only to return with Sayar’s metal baseball bat which she promptly walloped Cody in the head with. Cody was on the ground squalling when I got to the side yard. Always defiant, twirling her bat, she announced that he should have moved. This incident earned Miss Wren a switching. Cody went home with an ice pack and a pissed off mom.  You have to give it to the little witch, she stood her ground. Much to everyone’s consternation.

My husband and my oldest son are out on a job today. We own a painting company and the only restaurant in town. I took  the day off from work life and planed on spending it quietly here at home with the rest of the kids. I decided to open a little restaurant ten years ago. The plan was to have a toy for myself. Something that I could go and play at while my husband painted and the kids were at school.  I named it Ruth Grey’s after myself. (I don’t have a humble bone in my body) I bought the old drugstore in town and we gutted it. Brick and his crew completely remodeled the inside. I went to a local antique mall a friend of mine owned and he filled my eatery with antiques of all kinds. I used that to decorate and he had free advertisement. It was a benefit to both of us. When something sold, I just went shopping again. It didn’t cost me a dime and he sold a little more. Win-Win. I had a gift shop in the front. I sold things that women think they can’t live without. Velvet clutches with birds embroidered on them in silk, hankies with initials on them, extrinsic perfumes I searched the world for, lavish stationary that felt like satan.  I found things that I loved and wanted and I knew others would fall in love with too. My little corner of the store was as popular as the restaurant.general. Brick built a little stage for me. We had live music on Friday nights. We had several local blue grass and country music bands that played for tips. In a community this small, most things were done just for fun. I had a large office upstairs that I furnished like a living room. I have a sectional couch, table and chairs, a desk for homework, TV and game systems. The kids could come up there while I was working and hang out to be near me. What was going to be a diner, opening for breakfast and lunch only, turned into a full service restaurant that sat two hundred and twenty six people. I catered every event in our county and most in the surrounding counties. My food was amazing and I demanded perfection. Juniper Jude was a local woman I hired before the restaurant was even open. She helped me every step of the way. She told me what I needed and how much of it I needed. She told me who to hire and who would steal me blind. She was my right hand at the restaurant. Harrison Jude was her husband and we hired him to help  me around the house. He catered to my every whim and took care of things before I even considered them. I would be lost without either one of them. They kept our family functioning and me sane. Well, more sane than the alternative.

2.

I heard the wooden storm door slam on the side of the house, making me cringe and fight not to throw my tea glass across the front yard. I could smell her before I could see her. The cocoa butter she had no doubt dunked herself in, dippity doo style, was always a cloud around her. She was like that Peanut’s character, Pigpen. Oh my God. I’m calling her that from now on. No one will have a clue what I am even talking about. Well, Macon will. She and I operate on the same wave, but no one else will. It will make me feel better. I was originally going to try Bitchypoo but Wren kept saying it and no explanation sounded legitimate. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to hurt my oldest child’s feelings, Park was sensitive when it came to his girlfriend, but she  was a horror. She was never dressed. She came to the dinner table in one of her damn bikinis every evening. Last night she asked if she could have another one of my rolls and I told her only if she could catch it between her tits. Park was pissed. I told him to tell her to put some freaking clothes on or suffer the consequences. Park brought this particular gem home with him about three months ago. He met her in Tunica on a drunken, gambling weekend with his best friend, Argus. I’m blaming this whole debacle on Argus. Damn him. He is always dragging Park off on some foolhardy mission. This mission was to see who could get laid more. I keep telling my son and his friends that these are the things you hide from your mother. No dice. They tell me everything. This time was a total disaster. They came home with Clarissa. She was going to be ‘staying with us a few days’. The horny bitch has been here three months. She has tits like bullets and is very proud of them. She was a spoiled brat. She had no respect, for us, her things, my son. She threw her two hundred dollar jeans on the floor and left them there until Macon snagged them.  Macon wore them in front of her, asked her if they looked ok and sashayed about like Miss Arkansas and the dingbat didn’t even realize they were hers. She gushed to Macon that those were ‘the cutest jeans I’ve ever seen!” Then actually asked her where she had gotten them. Good gravy. Last week I found a half eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich squashed on  the bottom of a pair of Jimmy Choos! Who does that?? I opened the window in Park’s bedroom and threw them out in the back yard. Two days ago I saw our coonhound, Sam, toting one around in his mouth. The heel was gone and so was the peanut butter. Good for Sam.

“Hey y’all!”  bellowing as if I was on the verge of deafness. Counting to a hundred, I answered sweetly, although my teeth were clamped down tight. “Hello Clarissa, off to a day around the pool again? I left yours and Park’s laundry on the bottom step. Do you think you could handle getting the basket into the room? I’m sure Park will put it all away.” (as usual, you big ol’ slutty harlot). I never lost my grin as she shrugged her shoulders at me, flipped my favorite beach towel over her shoulder and mumbled something. I was going to have to burn that damn towel. I’d never get the smell of Palmer’s cocoa butter out of it now  Every time I laid on it, I’d get a murderous headache. Do you ever get those? I think it’s a special kind of migraine when you want to murder people and can’t.

3.

Finn and Sayar, came skidding up the drive, announcing that dad was almost home and did I have supper on the table yet. Seeing the look on my face, they both came to a dead halt. “What’s wrong, Momma?” they spoke in unison. “You’ll know soon enough, go wash up. I’ve called Juniper at the restaurant and she is fixing barbecue plates for all of us. Supper outside on the patio tonight.” Turning around and running for the front steps, punching and tagging each other with their wet shirts I was sure to find laying in the bathroom later. I hollered at Macon to hang up that damned phone and at Wren to get out of the pool. As I reached for my iced tea glass, still half full and my unopened book I was so excited about, the protesting began. I turned around and gave them that stare that only a mother on the edge can give. “Get your sweet little behinds in the house now. You can count on a bit of drama at the supper table, so you better hurry.” Both girls ran for the front door. They were so much alike in the drama department. Anything provocative always garnered their unwavering attention.

I walked into the house, the house I love, and began to gather paper plates and napkins. I yelled for Harrison to go out to the shop fridge and grab some pop. I also invited him for supper, telling him I had news and could use a pretty face to focus on. I wasn’t really sure about Harrison’s age. I’d guess somewhere between sixty and one hundred and four. He was cranky and quiet. He had the most beautiful head of gray curly hair. His skin was as grey as his hair and he walked with a limp. I asked him one time what had happened to him and he told me he couldn’t tell me for fear he would ‘offend my womaness’. Let me clarify one thing, I cuss like a sailor. And if I get on a verbal tangent of some sort, it’s usually best just to stand clear and agree. So if he thought he was going to offend me?? Oh I wanted to hear it all. I haven’t gotten it out of him yet. I keep threatening to fire him and hire Frankie May Malone, a gal from town I had babysit one time, he just laughs at me. He knows I’d slap the piss out of her within the first hour of her being in my home. She was lazier that Addie, our basset hound, and twice as fat. Don’t you worry though, I’ll have it.

5.

Finally, I could see the dust from the work truck barreling up the drive. I grabbed clean tee shirts I kept at the back door for Brick and Park to change into every day when they came in from work. They were always dusty, dirty and paint covered. I didn’t want to dawdle this early evening. I had a lump in my stomach and the murder headache was still raging.

Filing out of the truck, two workers in tow, Brick announced that they would be going back to work after supper. I told him that, no, today they would be staying home. Standing akimbo, waiting for an argument, Brick looked up and into my eyes and understood at once that there was an issue. Sighing, he threw the work truck keys to the nearest hired hand and told him to take the truck home and be here at 5:00 the next morning.

As Harrison went around gathering the rest of what we would need for supper, I sent my sweet little Wren around to gather everyone else. This was her job every day. I told her this was the only time she got to be boss. She relished it. As this was the only time her siblings were ordered to listen to their fiery little red headed sister, she made the most of it. She marched upstairs to gather the troops.

I went outside and sat on the porch. Harrison had laid out the spread, placing little wire tents over the food to keep the insect population from carrying our supper away. There was a metal cooler filled with ice and pop and a few beers for Brick. I had a bottle of wine and a wine glass at my spot, to the left of my husband. Sigh. This is why I love my Harrison. As my gaggle of geese came filing out of the house, freshly washed and smelling like summer, all giggles and smiles, I admired my blessings.  Everyone took their seats, we grasped hands and Brick led us in a short prayer thanking God for our food. As the lump in my stomach loosened and everyone dug in, I was preparing the news I was going to deliver shortly.

“Well what the hell!! Y’all didn’t even tell me it was supper time!” There stood our little Kardashian wannabe, the smell of cocoa butter and sweat infuriating me. One huge nipple was hanging out of her top and if there was any question about whether or not she shaved her nether regions, that particular query had now been laid to rest. Macon was making gagging sounds, Brick had his hands over Wren’s eyes and the two stooges at the end of the table were making jerk-off motions and delightfully provoking Park into red hot furry. “No one here even likes me!!” Clarissa wailed and  Wren said under her breath, “Well, no shit” which earned her a pinch on the leg from her dad. The whole ludicrous situation was causing my legs to cross. I pee a little from time to time when I laugh too hard. The little leech turned to run off into the house and Park got up to follow her, glancing back at me with condemnation. “What?? You didn’t notice she wasn’t here either! We have news, we are going to talk. She can miss a meal, maybe her tits will fit in the top of that suit.” I was now standing and pointing at his spot. Starting to argue, then gauging my mood and thinking better of it, Park sat back down. Wren was bouncing up and down, Macon was unsuccessfully trying to get around my no phone at the table rule and Finn and Sayar were conspiring about something at the end of the table. Brick had dug in and was oblivious to everyone. A comical wail of distress wafted out of the upstairs window. “Well shit. I was going to break this news with some finesse, but you assholes make that impossible. Your grandfather, Webb, called today. Delilah committed suicide last night.” Everyone stopped. It seemed like everything stopped. I should have had my phone out. We would have captured the perfect mannequin challenge. Thinking this, I almost laughed. That would have been more than Park could have handled. Only Park was truly upset. He was the only one that had any sort of relationship with Dad and Delilah anymore. Everyone started barking questions and Park put his head into his hands. “I have no details. He was very short and to the point. I don’t even know if there are arrangements made yet.” Raising his head, wiping away tears, “I’m going home. Webb will need me.” I nodded my understanding. Park still had his rose colored glasses on when it came to Webb. I was still fighting myself constantly about my relationship with Webb. Brick, in his most fatherly, concerned tone, looked at Park and said, “So she killed herself, did she? Do you blame her?” Park laid his napkin on his uneaten plate and got up from the table. The rest of the kids started talking among each other and Wren crawled into my lap. Harrison came down, opened my wine and filled the glass up with as much wine as the glass would hold. I smiled at him and sunk back in my chair. Wren took my chin and turned my face to hers, Wren speak for ‘listen to only me’. “Momma, how did she kill herself?” Everyone got quiet and looked to me for an answer. I shook my head “Little kittens don’t need to know such ugly stories.” Macon and her brothers stood up and came to me, one by one,  kissing the top of my head saying, “I love you, Momma.” Brick finished eating and pushed back in his chair. “Well, if Park is going home for the funeral, I’ll have to find some temporary help. I’m going into town.”

Alone we sat, my little bird and me and I began to think. What the hell? Why? Why not? Fury began to build. I didn’t want to be drug into this soap opera that Webb always managed to be the star of. I hated that Park would be going to him. I resented that he was excepted and I wasn’t. I didn’t resent my Park. Just all the other asshats on my father’s side of the family. Then, my phone rang. Jolting me out of my pity party, “Hello?” “Oh my God, Sis. You have to come. I’ve been here for twenty four hours and I need all the vodka Meridian has. Webb is drunker than a skunk and right now he is making a profile on Match.com. I can’t do this without you. Come for me, not him. I need you.” My brother, Dax, pleading for the one thing in the world that would make me insane right now. I wouldn’t deny him. I never could. He was my best friend. I patted Wren on the behind and scooted her into the house. Harrison was cleaning up the half eaten meal. “Take all the leftovers home with you. You and Juniper can eat for three days on that.” He nodded and started for the house, pushing his little cart he hauled all of my demands on. The mosquitoes were coming out, the lightening bugs were already sparking the night. The breeze was blowing and I still had a full glass of wine. Here was a good place to stay a bit. The chaos I could hear emanating from inside the house seemed too much for me right then. The hot, sticky night seemed much more comforting.

When the mosquitoes came out full force, I went inside. I had an early morning. Park and I would both be traveling so I had a lot to organize. The whole thing made me want my mom.

The Queen of May

When I was a little girl, I loved going to my Aunt Vickie’s. Her home and business were in the same building. My Uncle Gene always had a car lot and a garage but my Aunt had different businesses at different times. As a child, there was no place any more fun than their house.

The house itself was always a fascination to me. It was so different from our own. She had red velvet curtains and black leather furniture. She had big metal bulls with gold rings in their noses and matadors that were four feet tall with sweeping red capes that seemed to truly taunt the imitation bull. She had hanging bird cages with considerable winged imitation birds that I was sure was looking at me no matter where I was in the room. There was a large stereo with more velvet that lined the doors. There was always twangy country music coming from it.

Vickie was just as colorful as her home. She always had her hair piled high. She always wore a hair piece that was curled into sausage like ringlets. Wisps of hair curled and set just so around her face. She always wore false eye lashes, her eye make up matching every outfit. Her clothing was always so bright and colorful and I can remember her kicking her shoes off and dancing around the room to some old song that came on the radio. She wore rings on every finger and lusty over-sized earrings. She would get so tickled. She always seemed so uninhibited to me. She seemed so fearless.

I remember her having a restaurant, I was really little then. I don’t remember much about it other than the wonderful smells of home cooking. However, she then had a beauty shop. Mother was also a beautician and I went to work with her a lot. Here, though, I could really play. It was in the 1970’s and wigs were all the rage. There were a row of chairs that pumped up much higher than I was really allowed to pump them. There was a long mirror behind the chairs with an eclectic group of ephemera. Advertisements for hair products, Final Net, Toni Perms, Dipity Doo. Pictures of up-dos and beehives and of course, the famous Farrah hair. On a shelf above the mirror, I guess it may have more of a ledge, there were little white Styrofoam heads lined up. Some had little wiglets, some had hair pieces to make the tallest hives. Little brown or grey heads of hair, rolled up in pink and blue rollers, netted in little green hair nets, just waiting on their owners to come in so Aunt Vickie could fashion their hair in the latest trend.

On the counters, combs, brushes, clippies, bobby pins, things to tease hair, things to smooth hair, things to section and wave hair. The glass jar of blue liquid that cleaned the combs. The toaster oven thing that dried the hair brushes after they had been washed. The stacks and stacks of towels. A job I have loathed my whole life, folding all of those miniature towels. I would give anything to fold those towels today.

Oh! The magazines! Gossip magazines! Donny and Marie Osmond, Sonny and Cher, Starsky and Hutch, Shawn Cassidy, David Bowie. The actual TV Guide! Better Homes and Garden’s magazines filled with jello salad recipes. Cosmopolitan, which I was in no way allowed to read.

It was so much fun. Playing Beauty Shop. Answering the phone and making pretend appointments, working our customers appointments in the way we had heard the grown ups do.We would wash each other’s hair in the shampoo bowls, roll up strands of hair, using six clippies on each roller because we could never get the rollers to stay in place. We sat on the booster seats at the dryers, reading the magazines, having pretend conversations about all the drama we could think up. We played grown up. We played  Mom and Aunt Vickie.

There was a little store between the house and the businesses. It was where you paid for your gas or bought a snack or pop for the road. There was an adding machine, a cash register, phone, a bell that rang for someone to come to the register. There was a cabinet full of glass shelves that held truck-stop fare. Rolaids, tooth brushes, hair nets, pantyhose, candy, gum, matches, nail files, rain bonnets, chapstick, pens and pencils, little spiral tablets and assorted cigarettes. We would play store, taking turns being the cashier. We ate all the candy and gum we wanted and made terrible messes, Aunt Vickie didn’t care. She just wanted us to have fun.

When we got a little older, she had a camper set up at a camp site each summer. We would go and have cookouts and swim. We played games and rode bikes. We ran around in bare feet and swimsuits, begging money for the concession stand. We always had fireworks and flashlights. There was always tons of food and cans of Faygo. We piled into a small bed, dirty feet and wet heads, laughed until the wee hours of the mourning, then got up with the sun. She made sure we had everything we wanted. She ran around attending to all of us, kids and adults, making sure every need was met.

Eventually she put a pool in at her house and they built a pond. She was always all about having fun. Having the whole family over. Having all the kids over, their friends, the more the merrier. She would run around and yell at Uncle Gene to hurry up and get something done and laugh at everything.

I have talked a lot about the strength of the women in our family. She was no different. She lost her only son and then raised her grandson. She held everyone together as best she could for so many years. We would get together for a holiday and something horrible would be going on and she would sit at the table, playing rook and laughing until tears ran down her face at something one of us was telling her. She was a rock.

I had my first child when I was nineteen. She was there. She was always there. The only one she missed was my last one. Belle came to quickly for anyone to be there.

When Kennedy was born, she was almost seven weeks early. I was in the hospital in Anderson and they were taking us to Indianapolis because of their neonatal unit. Mother, Grandma and Aunt Vickie came. I was in labor for five days. They never left me. The first few days, the doctor’s were trying to stop my labor. They had so much medicine coursing through my veins, they also kept me fairly high on a new pain medication that had just come out. Nubane. Good gravy. I’ve never been happier in my life. I had a constant grin on my face. That shit was awesome. It also made me HOT!! It was February. In Indiana. It was probably two degrees outside. I was lying in my hospital bed, in my gown, no covers. I had the air conditioning on in the room and a fan the size of an airplane rotor at the end of my bed. Still, I was hot. My family of women sat in a row on the couch in the room, in their winter coats, covered up with blankets, and never left me. They kept me entertained the whole time. Vickie had become a nurse by this time. I was freaked out a bit, to say the least. Happy…but freaked none the less. Every time they wanted to do something to me, I’d look at her and raise my eyebrows. This was secret code for, ‘What the hell does that mean??’. Eventually, thing started to decline and they decided to go ahead and let me have Kennedy. They were going to put an interior heart monitor on her head and they explained that I wouldn’t be able to tolerate it without an epidural. I was scared to death. I asked if my Aunt could stay. I sat up on the edge of the bed and leaned over the bedside table. Aunt Vicki was on one side of me, shivering, and the anesthesiologist on the other. He explained step by step each part of the procedure as he did it and Vickie would dumb it down for me. Tana used to call this ‘Tana’s terms’. My Aunt would start explaining something medical and Tana would say “Tana’s terms please”. She got me through it and she had everyone in the room laughing. Because that’s what we do. We get through it and we do it with humor and tears.

My Aunt Vickie died yesterday. I can hardly stand it. She has always been my go to person when I needed something medical explained. She has always been my second opinion. She is where we have Thanksgiving and Easter. She is truthful to the point of ass sometimes. She was part of a group of women who raised me to be who I am today. She also raised tw o young women who I love so dearly,

Vickie Ebbert Christie was ornery, witty, tenacious, unshakable, unwavering, veracious and my favorite Aunt. I will miss everything about her. She is in Heaven today, most likely dancing with my Uncle Gene and she is so happy to see Shad. She never stopped missing him, I don’t think it ever even lessened. She is with them now. She is with my Grandparents. My Grandma and Grandpa were so glad to see her, I have no doubt. And I’ll bet you a dollar, she went and found Elvis as soon as she said hello to the family. If you knew her, you were so lucky. If you didn’t, I hope you got a little taste of her here. She was a bright light that never dimmed. Rest in peace, Aunt Vickie. I love you.

Pantsuit Nation is saving my life

I will be fifty years old in January and I no longer have a uterus. I wake up every morning feeling ill. It’s as if I am pregnant again. I have to slowly acclimate to the reality I now live in. One of fear and astonishment.

I live in rural Arkansas. My kids and I are with Hillary. Not a lot of people around here are. Let me rephrase that, it’s us and like six other people.

I have used this blog for a way to purge my soul. I haven’t posted in it in a while. Life, Multiple Sclerosis, the insanity of this election, it’s been hard to be motivated. This monstrosity has motivated me.

I have two daughters, two daughters in law and countless young women in my life. I have tried to be a good example and a strong advocate for them. I am a talker. I want to talk with them about everything. I feel as if they need the guidance of someone who cares deeply about everything in their lives. I don’t know how to talk to them about this. How do you explain that someone who is so disrespectful to women is our President? There is no way to make sense of that. How do I talk to my sister-in-law and niece who are from India. Because their skin is brown, so many people tell them to go back where they belong, call them terrorist. They live in New Jersey!! If this is happening there, what do you think is happening in Arkansas. What do I say to my sister-in-law and my two nieces and my great-nieces who are Mexican? They are scared to death. They are here legally but that makes no matter. Idiots scream about building a wall to keep them out and sending them home. They live on Hilton Head Island. I have mixed race cousins and friends of all races. What in the hell do I tell them??

As a white women with a white husband and white children, I don’t want any of them to think that I don’t empathize. I cannot say I know how they feel, I never will. However, I am afraid for them. I am afraid for me.

This election has validated everything wrong in this United States. It told the ass hats in Northeast Arkansas, along with everyplace else in America, that is okay to spout racial slurs at anyone who isn’t white. It has spoken loudly that men may treat their women with disrespect, that is okay to grab what they want and take what they want. How do I tell my daughters that it’s all going to be okay?

How do I embrace any of this pathomania? How do I lead? I have fervently prayed about how to lead and teach all of my girlies. The answer has been simple. Talk. Help. Wear the safety-pin. Keep up with the things that our Government will spend it’s time doing for the next four years. Educate yourself. Consider running for office. Find a way to make a difference, everywhere you go and with anyone you see.

I also think that it is important to remember that not all Republicans feel a warm fuzzy for Donald Trump. I will tell my girls to not be mean. Trump supporters can be mean. They can be rude and hateful. I want them to know that they can disagree and stand their ground without being ugly. When confronted with bigotry or misogyny, stand firm. Use mace if you have to, but don’t sink to their level. Calling someone a ‘dumb f***ing redneck a**hole, whose sister is his mother’ isn’t appropriate. That makes you just as ignorant as they are. You can’t preach equality and standing together if you seek to annihilate people we have to share the world with.

I want to touch on one more thing. Being a Christian. I am a God-fearing woman. I was raised in the church and I have a love of the gospel. I am also a liberal. Those two things can actually go hand in hand. I am so sick of the idea that if you are a liberal, you are a Satanist. I know that there are Satanist out there, I respect your right to practice your religion as you wish. Just as I have the right as a Christian to be liberal in my beliefs and practices.

This has to start with you. Yes you. Only you can turn the tide of hatred in this country. Only you can make someone feel welcome and secure in your presence. Only you can make sure every one you come into contact with knows you are a safe place to fall. Only you can step in and stand firm when you see people being mistreated. We have to make our voices heard. Right now, we can’t hear anything over the clamour of last Tuesday’s debacle. Be louder. We have to be so loud that the love drowns out the hate.

Peace and love to you all. Find a friend and make a plan how you are going to wade through this sludge together. Looks for ways to overcome the obstacles that will most likely surface. Talk about what is going on. Purge yourself. It helps to release the demons. Hold your head high. Young people are looking to you. Act accordingly. Start a movement. Start a blog. Start talking. Turn the tide.

Scream a little scream

I haven’t written anything in a while. I get into this downward funk and it’s hard to be creative. It’s actually hard to breath, walk and talk. Creative is Jupiter and I am a stone on the beach. I use the beach as an analogy a lot. It feels right to me. I am standing in the water, enjoying the water and sand on my toes and the next minute I am on my ass. The tide is a wonderous thing. It’s also a scary thing. It’s fun if you can keep your footing, not so much if you are out of breath and upside down and sucking salt water through your mouth and nose. To suddenly feel as if you are drowning is paralyzing.

Being overwhelmed all the time is awful. I don’t want to talk about it all of the time, but I do. I am anxious. I am nervous. I am depressed. I am stressed. Then, I try not to talk about ir, I know it drives everyone crazy. That adds to the stress. So now I’m stressed and I’m making myself more stressed trying to keep my mouth shut. So I go through all of this in my mind and now I’m crazy. Then someone wants to talk about something. Like what’s for supper or world peace or whether the mosquitoes are all gone yet. It makes no difference. That is ALL going to stress me to discuss. I have started saying, ‘I need to quit talking about this now, it’s making me very anxious.’ Then my family looks at me as if I have started bleeding from my eyes. They ask HOW this conversation could be stressing me?! So I try to explain that I don’t KNOW why, it just is. After discussing why or why not I should be upset, stressed, crazy, freaking out, I just want everyone to shut up. Please just quit talking. Shhhhhh. So they apologize and tell me they weren’t trying to make me upset. Then I feel bad. So know I just want to crawl into some place small and have it be silent. The anxiety level at this point is actually palpable. You know in the movie ‘Crazy, Stupid Love’ when they are in the car and Cal just asks her to please quit talking. She doesn’t and he jumps out of the car. That’s my life right now. I’m just hanging onto the car door of life trying not to jump.

I can see you getting bored. I don’t blame you. Being down is a downer. Being crazy isn’t fun for anyone unless there is alcohol involved. The irony here is, for whatever reason, alcohol doesn’t work on me anymore. I have never been one to imbibe on a regular basis, but the occasional beer on a hot night was awesome. I can’t drink beer anymore. It tastes bad. Oh, you dumb non-beer drinkers, I don’t want to hear it always tastes bad, because it doesn’t. Or didn’t… I think I’ve gotten off subject here. My point is, all this poor me, boo hoo. ‘I’m so sad’ crap is exhausting. Let me clarify, it’s exhausting for you. For me, it’s life right now and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.

Heartbreak, divorce, death, disappointment, havoc, chaos. All horrible things. Feeling as if you are about to drop your basket every minute of every day is unbearable. Will this fresh hell ever end??

I am a rainbow finder. I am always looking for the silver lining. Someone always has it worse than you do, so be thankful. I am always grateful. I have pounded this into my children’s’ heads. Ask them what’s the best thing about being mad. Ask them what happens when they complain. I don’t tolerate ‘poor me’s’. Be happy, be grateful, be thankful. (insert thirty minute lecture here). I sincerely just want to be happy and I want you to be happy with me.

And then, suddenly, with no provocation, I’m Morticia Adams. No, she is dark but she is happy. Who am I? Hold on, I have to think a minute.

Listen to something sappy and happy and go get a tea for this special moment in our lives and let me think.

OK!!! I’ve got it!! Mix Baby Jane, Virginia Woolf and Alex Forrest together and throw in a little Sybil. That’s whatcha got right here.

I hate feeling like this. It robs my of my time. I hate wasting time. I don’t enjoy the things I should. I hate that every little thing in the world makes me think I am having a nervous breakdown. I know that sounds melodramatic, it’s not meant to.

I have tried meditation, medication, natural remedies, crying, screaming, sleeping, solitary confinement, pushing through, scary movies, cupcakes, walking, talking, not talking, pounding my fists, and I fervently pray every day for relief. I know there must be a lesson here, God hasn’t brought me to it yet. Of all of the things I live with, the anxiety caused by MS is the worst. Who knew the crazy things that this disease would cause??

I’m not doing well this morning. It’s absolutely beautiful out this morning. I am making potato soup and pecan pie. I bought apples and pumpkins yesterday. I am drinking my pink drink and took my happy medicine. My dogs are in my lap and Kennedy is at home with me. What more could I ask for?? Tranquility. Serenity.  A moment of calm. I hope I have that today.