Tuesday, September 22, 2009

You can take the girl out of Texas, but the Texas memories still linger...

It's true...funny, but when I lived in Texas (for entirely too long) I felt every inch the misfit. In Texas, the earth, moon and sun revolves around one thing and one thing only; High School Football. I kid you not. Sort of like College football in Tennessee. I'm still scratching my head over that one.

Are you getting a feel for why poor Janis Joplin didn't quite fit in Port Arthur, Texas in the 50s and 60s? She was decades ahead of her time, bless her heart. I never met her, as she was already a star and living in San Francisco by the time I was old enough to meet her. It seems strange though, to have gone to the same college she did (Lamar University) and hear some of the stories about her. Believe me, they were very unkind. In fact, I remember one of my professors in the Music Bldg told some of the most hurtful stories about her and relished the telling and retelling of his sordid tale. I let him know that I didn't care for his "story." He simply grinned and gave his eyebrows a shrug. He was a very handsome man with a slew of college girls swooning at his every move. I found his reliance on his looks to be sophomoric and extremely troubling behavior for a 30ish year old professor. I guess I felt a kinship with Janis and didn't even really know why at the time.

Nonetheless, Texas wasn't an easy place to live amid the rednecks, refinery workers and cowboys. But, I do have fond memories of the local landmarks such as Lubys Cafeteria, Port Neches Park, Jefferson City Mall, The Sea Wall, Nearby Sabine Pass, Satin's Restaurant (demolished by Katrina) and Gulfway Drive ("The Drag" for teenagers to drive up and down on the weekends). And, those crazy friends we had courtesy of parties, CB Radio and more.

One of my fondest memories is when a large group of us would pile into a couple of cars (where we communicated with each car by CB) and drive to Port Neches on a Saturday night around 11:30pm to "Sara Jane Road." The road was known to the locals and no one else. If a tourist came through this area, then they were lost.

The following is a brief synopsis of "The Legend of Sarah Jane Road":

A young mother driving a horse-drawn carriage down the roadway at midnight, many years ago.She had her baby daughter, named Sarah Jane, in a basket beside her. Heavy fog had descended and when she crossed the middle of the bridge the horse spooked and the carriage overturned — throwing the baby into the water. Sara Jane was never found. The tale goes on to say on Halloween night when it’s dark and foggy you can hear the mother calling, “Sara Jane, Sara Jane”, looking for her baby.

Of course, the guys would be extremely quiet as we creeped along the bridge listening for the haunted voice where one guy in the other car would hide in the woods and do his best creepy moan for Sarah Jane. It scared the crap out of us, which always erupted in screams and laughter. Little did I know that one day, they would even have a My Space page dedicated to this legend! See for yourself.


The Legend of Swamp Witch
In Acadian tradition, and on their usual visit to the swamplands, they stumble upon the fabled Swamp Witch. No one had actually seen the Swamp Witch before, she was not only insane, but she was violent as well. No one dared to cross her path for fear of what would happen.

We also visited "Swampwitch" where she lived near the Louisiana border of Texas. Again, we traipsed to this location trying to see her. The driver of our car whispered to us to be quiet as he was going outside the car to investigate. All of the sudden, he grabbed a figure that had a billowy robe on in the night sky and threw her on the hood of the car pretending to fight. Relief, laughter and plenty of beer was consumed during our rides to these outlandish places. We knew they were legends, but it was fun just the same.

The Beach
Years ago when I was in high school; I was friends with a few young men that were gay. Of course, I was clueless about myself, but I did enjoy my friends! Flying down the freeway until we heard that wonderful, unmistakable ebb and tide of the ocean. It was beautiful...the moonlight danced on the top of the ocean like diamonds sparkling in the sun. As we sat in the car listening to the ocean, one friend turns to me and says, "Let's skinny dip!" I am horrified and shout back, "Are you crazy? NO!" He turns back to me and says, "C'mon! we'll have a story to tell our grandchildren!"

Although I knew the only grandchildren he would be having would be poodles, I reconsidered. We ran toward the ocean, stripping clothing as we went. My 2 best friends and me.

Running into the ocean was exhilarating and exciting. It was a rebirth of sorts. One where I felt so comfortable being ME. Doing something daring and spur of the moment.

It was the moment that I was really...living. That's what it's all about, isn't it?

Friday, September 18, 2009

When the Crap Rains Down, It's Nice to Know there's a Roof over your Head...

  • Lately, I've had the feeling that crap has been raining down on me with the force of a Texas thunderstorm. And, if you've ever visited Texas during a thunderstorm, it can be summed up in 1 phrase, courtesy of Moby, a DJ of Houston's yesteryear: "It's raining just like a cow peeing on a flat rock."
  • So, you get the gist of my comparison. Why did I feel this way? Lord, let me count the ways:

Crappy Economy which directly affects my and my partner's income

  • Income problems leads to arguing with mate

  • Lack of income requires us to sell everything that isn't nailed down.

  • Insurance is running out in December for us...we are the Pre-existing poster children

  • Insurance is expensive...which full circles back to lack of income

  • See arguing with mate

  • More health crap - more pills, more steroids, more blood tests.

  • Paying notes to hospital already for Dec 08 hospitalization, should be paid off in 2 years.

  • Lack of income making it difficult

  • There's that full circle shit again.

  • Steroids are causing severe depression...cry at the drop of a hat, very grumpy.

  • Apathy sets in which is a scary place to be.

  • Then placed on more medication...gotten to where I don't much care about money or lack of it anymore.

  • Slowly climbing my way out of Apathyville

  • Starting to feel like me again, although still feel sick.

  • I begin to set personal goals for myself. First time in a long time. Apathy is losing it's grip.

  • I got news that my sister is CANCER FREE. I cry with joy.

  • Feeling crappy has made me more emotional. That's not all bad.

  • I realize that contrary to my popular belief, I'm NOT all that easy to live with . Particularly when I'm on steroids.

  • Come to find out, I suddenly realize my partner has been and is being patient with me. In her own, gruff, adorable way.
I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I realize how lucky I am that I have a roof over my head right now. I'm grateful to have objectivity about myself. It stings sometimes, but other times it's healing. I'm looking forward to having Earl Grey Tea when it becomes cold at night.

Goodbye, Apathy.

More Musings Later-

Saturday, September 05, 2009

"Daddy" is Retiring

No, Charles Gibson is not my daddy. After watching him for years on GMA and now the ABC Evening News, I have always wished he was.

Why? The answer for me is easy. My own father was noticeably absent from my life growing up and so when I see doting fathers, I sometimes feel a twinge of longing. I remember one time when I was watching GMA and Diane Sawyer and Charlie (he was Charlie in the morning and Charles in the evening...go figure) were outside Times Square with the crowd. Diane asked the cameraman to get a long shot of Charley and his daughter in the crowd. It seems that she had just gotten her first important network gig and the smile and warm embrace from her Daddy spoke volumes.

Another time, Charley was at the news desk giving facts and figures regarding the Afghanistan war, Vladimir Putin's views of the latest U.N. Treaty, and Congress's continual battles on the hill. He paused and glanced down at his notes and considered his news tone by stating:

"On the local front, I am proud to announce that my daughter has given birth to our first grandchild. Or, I should say, grandson. And, that's the news at this hour." He never broke the news tone or demeanor, but once he delivered the news, the cameraman put the camera on Charlie instead of Diane and Robin. He caught an uncharacteristically ecstatic Charlie Gibson grinning from ear to ear as they showed a picture of his grandson from just hours ago.

That was it...I dubbed him 'My Daddy'. When the nightly news appears on my screen each evening, my friends, partner and I exclaim with excitement, "Daddeeeeeeee!"

You also have to love a guy that professed his love for Julia Child on national television. Together they laughed, giggled and traded barbs as Julia cooked her French specialties on morning television. And as usual, they both would yodel the familiar "Soup de Jour!" upon completion. He wasn't afraid of acting silly...it seemed natural and fun.

And now Daddy is retiring. You'll never guess why. His daughter moved to Seattle and of course has that grandson with her. You can't separate Daddy from his beloved daughter and grandchild now can you?
I'll miss you, Daddy.

More Musings Later-

Friday, September 04, 2009

The People You Meet when You Pay Attention

Yesterday afternoon I hung up after speaking with a Social Security rep who informed me that the paperwork that I hand delivered to my local SSA office was missing. I was livid. Because it was the end of my world? No, I realize that it is just that: a minor inconvenience, however it doesn't quite feel like it when I tell my stiff, painful joints and unsteady gait that I must make another painful trip downtown. I take a deep breath and tell myself to stop being such a pansy-ass about it and get over it. For God's sake, so many others have it so much worse than I, who am I to bitch and complain?

The Nectar of the Gods

The next morning I wake up and am painfully aware that I didn't sleep well the night before. I grump and begin shuffling to the fridge with swollen feet the size of Bozo shoes to fetch my YooHoo-esque protein drink that helps the immune system stay strong and a Diet Coke to swallow all my flippin' medication for the day. As I grunt and groan and move about like an arthritic 75 year old, I flop in my chair and begin swallowing protein drink, pills and Diet Coke. Once those 2 cans are empty, I wait as if a lightening bolt is going to strike me with the power and agility of a gymnast. It doesn't but at least I know I have the meds down my throat, now off to the Social Security Office to hand deliver a form for the second time.

I hobble into the local office, touch a screen and rip a number from the machine and sit down. I casually survey the scads of people sitting around me. I find that even though there are plenty of younger people here along with the elderly, everyone's eyes are transfixed on nothing. Some look as though they haven't had a meal in a few days, some are lost in thought that tells me that the memory or situation is painful. People are talking in low tones and shushing their children. I look over at the Social Security Reps and see the protective hardness in their eyes as they explain for the one millionth time to their customers that they didn't receive the form or don't qualify for benefits.

I notice a woman sitting next to me who has her head resting on her cane and finally looks up to see who is staring at her. Her temper is short and physical pain is tender to the touch. When the SSA Rep announces the next number over the loudspeaker, the continuing conversations among those waiting and the impatience of children fill the room with audible life. The woman frowns and furrows her brow and shouts a bit too loudly; I can't hear the number! What was the number they called? The crowd's conversations were evacuated and ushered out immediately for a more appropriate time to be determined by a more friendly stranger.

The cross woman was oblivious to her rudeness and continued to stand, walk, sit and change position in order to find a more comfortable position. Her number was called and I watched her hobble to the window. Her irritation was apparent and the SSA rep's defenses were held firmly in place as a shield for protection against customers such as these. After her business was complete, she shuffled her feet toward the door and eased herself into the car for the trip home.

I shook my head and told myself, I hope I never get like that. But, at the same time, I remember when my grandmother would be in such pain from her ailments and became uncharacteristically irritated and even at times, angry without provocation. At the time, I remember watching store clerks become visibly upset or taken aback at her behavior not knowing why she was behaving as harshly as she was. My thoughts brought me back to present day and I watched the woman pull away from SSA in her car and saw her face rumpled in pain.

Pain can be an ugly creature to contend with and to watch others suffer from.

Somehow, I came to meet and know my grandmother in a totally different way by observing that woman. So, I guess if you pay attention, you can understand others a bit better.

By the way, 'that woman' was me.

More Musings Later-