Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Making Believe

It was cold. Or maybe it was just the way the bright day didn't match the way she was feeling. Somehow, it felt like it should be raining; that the sky should share her sorrow and shed the tears she was unable to shed herself.

She'd not come empty handed to this bitter reunion. In her mind, she brought all the things she'd wanted to say. In her hands, photos of their time together; in her heart, the despair that'd taken root when he exited her life. Flowers would have been more appropriate, she thought idly, but he'd never been one to sentence beauty to death as a token of affection.

She lay down on top of him to be closer. She closed her eyes and remembered his hands in her hair, heard his whispers in her ear. She murmured to him, and imagined his teasing replies. Her lips began the ghost of a smile, when her eyes opened, shattering the brief sanctuary her mind had created for her. Grief welled up in her, dry as her eyes, and she released her grip on the photos, leaving their memories on the grass beneath her.

Saturday, June 27, 2009



No Justice for Jada

I've had difficulty this week focusing on the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett because of a local piece of news that's been unfolding over the last couple of weeks, the tragic culmination of which occurred the same day as the King of Pop's demise. The investigation is ongoing, but this is what we've been told so far:

Jada Justice's parents left their two year old daughter in the care of her cousin, Engelica Castillo and her boyfriend Tim while they went out of town for a couple of days. During some potty training issues, Engelica beat Jada to death, and then placed her in some plastic bags. She and her boyfriend then tried to set fire to Jada's body, but succeeded in burning Tim instead. Then they placed her body in a plastic tote, poured concrete into it, and dumped it in the place where Tim's father had killed his mother and then himself six years earlier. Three days later, Engelica reported Jada missing, claiming to have left her in her car while she went into a convenience store to buy milk and cigarettes. She told police that when she returned to her car a few moments later, Jada was gone.

The search began. The convenience store in question is on my route home from work, and for days, i passed volunteers handing out flyers with Jada's face and description, begging for information and prayers. I felt sad for these people, and for Jada, whom i was losing hope for as time went on.

Engelica has a long history as a troubled child, including drug abuse at an early age, running away from home with older men, and run-ins with the law, including commitment to a mental facility.
I wondered what sort of parent would voluntarily leave their child in the care of such a person. I felt that finding Jada alive was probably not going to happen, but i tried to remain hopeful.

Then late Thursday afternoon, news that the Hobart police department had found the burned remains of a toddler broke. Police were sure that it was Jada's body, and were only waiting for forensic confirmation. Over the next couple of days, we learned that while Engelica stuck to her initial story, her boyfriend Tim is the one who told police where to find Jada, and the real events leading up to the little girl's death. He told the police that after they put her in plastic bags, the two of them put her in the car, and went out to buy drugs and got high before attempting to conceal their crime.

I've been incredibly sad since learning that Jada is dead. I can't make sense of the violence someone could do not only to a small child, but a relative. Engelica is the worst kind of thief there is- she's stolen something that can never be repaid. She's stolen seventy five years of triumphs, failures, love. . . she's stolen an entire future, and pieces of the futures of the people who would've shared Jada's experiences with her. A whole life wasted by a complete waste of life.

Engelica will go to jail, and so will Tim, but where's the justice in that? We live in a capital punishment state, and as far as i know, neither will be charged with ultimate punishment. But it doesn't matter- detaining or killing these thieves won't bring Jada back or avenge her. It won't restore missing years or her presence to her family. Where murder is concerned, i don't think the concept of justice exists.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I lay in my room the other night, waiting patiently for Sleep to come and lay with me. My mind does funny things when i give it free reign to go skipping in whatever direction it chooses, and that night, it made nonsense of the English language.

Sponge. Sponge, i thought. Spun-j.

"Sponge," i whispered out loud.

I rolled it around in my brain. Around the twists and turns, down into my mouth. I poked at it with my tongue, tasting it and feeling the texture of it against my palate. Sponge. I opened my mouth and released it in a soap bubble and let it pop. Sponge. It rained back down on my face, seeped into my pores and bored its way back into my mind.


It stopped sounding like a real word. It felt wrong in my mouth; the shape was amorphous, the consonants didn't match, and the j-sound was positively obscene, because it was the end-sound, but not the end-letter. The e at the end was like a third nipple: freakish and unuseful. I averted my mind's eye from it.


I couldn't anchor it to its definition anymore, or even to a picture of it. It was disconnected, floating around in the ether, an amnesiac word that lost its meaning in a freak collision with my uncomprehending intellect. I worried at its purpose with my restless thoughts, and unraveled it, slowly and methodically, like a poorly knitted afghan.


I reduced it to gibberish. Mere linguistic ruins.

I was concerned about the destruction i wreaked on that word. Could i empty any word? All words? Could i unmake language as easily as it was created? By being too mindful, i think i could. I could dissect them into alphabet soup and swallow them, with comprehension broth, and fathom no more.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Howie Mandel is NOT Your Friend

Lucky Contestant: Number 11, Howie! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Case-Holder [to Lucky Contestant]: It's a low number, i can feel it!
Howie [to Case-Holder]: Open the case.

[Queue the suspense music as the Case-Holder slowly opens the case, shoving his huge, impatient head in the way in the attempt to glimpse the amount before everyone else. The Disappointment Sound Cue tells us to "AWWWE!" as the $500,000 is revealed, and the Lucky Contestant loses the $81,000 deal she opted not to take.]

[Cringing] Case-Holder: I'm so sorry!
[Keeping a stiff upper lip] Lucky Contestant: It's okay, it's okay!
Howie: It's okay! The $100,000 is still in play, and you only have four cases to open! You could have that $100,000 right here!
[Howie takes a call from The Banker]

The mistake Lucky Contestant most likely made here was listening to Howie Mandell. The banker called up, offered $81,000, and Lucky Contestant probably leapt on the inside, thinking of all the improvements that money could bring to her life. Then Howie craftily put in his two cents. He said little things like, "Do you BELIEVE the half million is here?" (as if belief had anything to do with the amount in her case), and delivered the Banker's taunts. He emphasized the odds of opening small amounts,making them sound almost guaranteed.

Lucky Contestant is too distracted by large sums of money to realize that Howie is not on her side. Howie's whole job is to keep her slamming that cheap little plastic box, yelling out "NO DEAL! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Even when things go south, Howie's there to make her feel better. When she loses her $81,000, Howie is there to help her get over it as quickly as possible, probably by convincing her she actually has a good chance at the hundred grand. Howie is there to conquer her inner voice of reason.

She's falling for the old Good Cop/Bad Cop routine. Is Howie really that good at his job? Or is she really that greedy? They probably wouldn't even televise my episode if i made it on that show. I'd take the first deal they offered and run. I would defeat you, Howie!


Sunday, June 14, 2009

General Ramblings About Dental Hygiene

From Urbandictionary.com:


1. Showing off an object which usually possesses great value.
2. Rolling in a fine ride with the general intent to enjoy ostenstation, prestige.

But that's not really what i'm talking about. I'm talking about flossin' in the dental context of the word.
That's right, the piece of string, the bathroom sink, and a prayer that it really is just a mirror, and not a pane of two-way glass concealing some asshole with a video camera and too much time on his hands. Nobody likes to be blackmailed.

Since early childhood, i've heard them say it to me at the beginning of every checkup, "Have you been flossing after each meal?"

"Yes," i would lie. I'm sure they knew, and they knew that i knew that they knew. You really can't bullshit a dentist, especially at ten years old.

Besides, what self-respecting ten year old has the kind of time to blow standing in front of a mirror, yanking a piece of string back and forth between their teeth?! Not this one, i asssure you (or would have assured you, if i were writing this when i was ten). There were frogs to be caught, dirt to be made into mud, and mud to be made into pies, for Biff's sake! Taking time out of my urgent plans to further explore the wheat field across the street (against the express wishes of the owner of said wheat field), just for basic hygiene every day was distraction enough- that dentist better be glad i spared fifteen seconds to push a brush across my teeth at all.

Priorities, man.

My oral hygiene life went about like that until i got my first cavity when i was. . . fifteenish. I was mortified. Inevitably, the dentist asked the question i'd been sweating since he first pronounced the dreaded C-word (no, not THAT C-word, stay focused!):

"Have you been flossing after each meal?"

I hung my head, and finally confessed my life-long lie: the only times a bit of string ever passed through the between-parts of my teeth were when i had celery and peanutbutter packed in my lunch, and when the dentist himself did it every six months. The dentist frowned with a surliness any Catholic school marm would have been proud of, and gravely told me that this cavity could have been prevented if i'd only taken a little time out of my day to floss.

Oh, fine. Rub my nose in it, why dontcha?

Then he delivered the REALLY bad news- if i didn't start flossing, i was going to be wearing full dentures before my senior prom.

I was fairly sure he was making this up, but he DID have that dour countenance, and all those frightening pictures of gingivitis and rotting teeth festooning the walls like the disease wing of a periodontal art gallery. Before i could stop it, a vision of my top dentures coming loose in my boyfriend's mouth when he kissed me for our prom pictures popped into my head. I could already see the revulsion in his face, and the corner of pinky-fake gums and back molars hanging out of his mouth, immortalized on celluloid. Making shit up or not, this was not a vision i was willing to risk seeing become reality, and i gave in. I resolved to give this flossing thing a try.

Flash forward to the present day, i now go insane if i don't have any dental floss available right after i eat. I can just feel my teeth starting to decay right in my head; i can envision all the bacteria swarming and descending on my undefended enamel with their little jackhammers and hard hats, trying to get under my gums and rob me of my ease of mastication. I will even ask random strangers if they have any floss, to escape this feeling. You'd be surprised at the number of people who sympathize with my paranoia, and break me off a bit of waxed, mint-flavoured oral salvation before going on their way.

Or maybe it's their way of distracting me in order to make good their escape, like a wolf gnawing off a paw stuck in a trap.

Either way, I will not succumb to a life of polident and sea bond so easily. I'd like to thank that nameless, faceless dentist of my childhood for assisting in the birth of one of my first OCD fixations.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Late Again

I tossed back onto my other side again. My neck was starting to get stiff from the effort of craning around and looking at the clock. 11:45. He's late again. You should move the clock where you can just see it, my neck protested at me, my hand moving to gently caress the kink that'd developed there an hour ago. I reached toward the clock, thinking that my neck definitely deserved a reprieve, but stopped. If i moved it into my line of sight, then i'd just stare at it. 11:47. Damn. I let my hand fall uselessly back to the bed.

I turned over again and drew the shutters on my eyes, resolutely thinking of something else. We're out of bread and eggs, which means a trip to Wise Way. I do hate their prices, but they're the only ones around here who carry that whole grain Aunt Millie's bread that my husband likes so much.

I promised myself i'd never wait up for him again.

Ryan asked to go to Illinois to see his girlfriend this weekend, but he has yet to find a job, and i know damn well he's used up the gas money his mom sent for his birthday.

Where is he???

It's all fine and good that he decided not to make friends here in Indiana since it's so close to his old friends in Illinois, but damn it, that does NOT mean i'm responsible for financing his long-distance social life.

I've been lying here for two hours now.

Why don't THEY come out HERE for a change?!

I've been lying to myself for two hours now.

I jerked over onto my my back, abandoning my attempts at marshaling my mutinous thoughts. Angry, unshed tears stung at my eyes with their sharp, spiteful little fingers as i teetered on the blade-thin, blade-sharp edge between anger and despair. Why was i always the one left waiting up for him?! I let myself fall over the edge of despair, gliding gently downward on gossamer wings of self-pity. It just wasn't fair.

I felt my limbs grow heavy, and heard the nonsensical tangent of an unrelated thought whisper through me and did my best not to get excited. He was coming, after all. Weightlessly, i felt him press me down into my bed, and then out of myself. I felt him tether my arms to my body, wrapping me in his warmth, kissing the thoughts out of my mind and scattering them into the night air. I heard my husband snoring quietly next to me, and felt a vague, half-pang of jealousy that sleep always visited him first. I forgave them both, and let my consciousness slip out to go and play amongst my thoughts swirling around over my head.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I Know It Isn't All About Me

I have lots of annoying personality traits. I mean, when my parents conceived me, it's like they intentionally waited until my mom felt like this particular egg contained five eggs' worth of irritating personality traits. That way, no matter which swimmer reached the prize, the result would be an individual guaranteed to make people want to get away from it within moments of having met it. Those dumb enough to befriend it would wish they'd heeded their first instincts.

Yes, indeed, folks, you are reading the ramblings of just such an individual. Save the "Awe, you're not that bad" type sympathies (and if you're having a "You sure the fuck are!" antipathy, save that too, because i don't want to fucking hear it), because i'm about to tell you about one of my least favourite flaws. I think most people have at least one aspect of their personality they'd be willing to undergo an exorcism for, if it meant they'd quit being like that, and mine is the habit of making everything about me, in conjunction with my habit of interrupting people.

Half the time, i don't even realize i'm doing it. Someone will be telling a story or sharing an experience, and i just cut them right off to tell them about my similar experience. Sometimes i don't interrupt, but i still tell them my experience after they're finished. After half an hour with me, i come off as a one-upping Been There Done That bitch who can't shut the fuck up for five minutes.

I think about it later, and i just can't figure out what it is about me that can't listen to someone's weekend recounting without putting in my two cents. Why can't i just say, "Oh that sounds like fun" and ask questions? I mean, they didn't ask about my weekend, i asked about theirs; now i look like i only asked as a segue to my own weekend activities, when i genuinely was interested in their weekend.

I'm thinking it must be because i have difficulty relating to others, and that's my pain-in-the-ass way of compensating. I want that person to know that i understand, and here's why [insert my similar situation here]. I don't mean to make it all about me. I really don't.