This is the last post on Edgyjunecleaver It’s been both heaven and Hell to keep up blogs over the last five years. Thank you for your support. I was never “viral” and I’m ok with that. SEO was beyond me or something like that or maybe I didn’t want to sell out on the keyword stuffing. Have no fear, I’m still writing. I’m contributing to a couple of great publications and I’m working on a book.
I’m not traveling much. In fact the local places I had planned for this summer either burned, were swept away in a flood, or both. The landscape around me looks like the landscape of my personal life. But it’s ok I’m not traveling because I have a new career which is so fulfilling that I am humbled to deserve such a thing when most people have “jobs”. I am crossing my fingers for Mexico this winter and hopeful for a big adventure later in 2014. (Cuba anyone? I’m looking for a travel companion.) I will be contributing to Watchboom just about every month. It’s a great publication and I’m honored to be a part of it.
But least you think I’m not going to leave you with a rant…
A month ago I got a text message from The Girl insisting I take down the post about the wedding I attended. It seems a friend thought it was about her and the actual wedding we attended. Heh…most content I’ve posted is on a strict publication schedule and it’s composed at least two weeks before posted. And I would never EVER post something derogatory about a friend. Weird or sociopathic coworkers? Yes. But friends never. Unless I’m going on about how awesome and fabulous you are.
She won’t be getting any accolades from me because we aren’t friends anymore and her actions seriously compromised my friendship with The Girl. She didn’t have the grace to ask me to censor my work or even give me a chance to explain that post was a composite of my first set of in-laws and other people from years ago. Rather she contacted The Girl and put her in a terrible position. (See the part about floods and fires) It was one thing to demand censorship; it was another to ask a third party. I think I’ll never forget this. Forgiving it isn’t coming easy, either.
So here’s the rant:
If I got upset and demanded someone take shit off the ‘net because it hurt my feelings or pissed me off I would have a full time job. Because whoa! There’s a lot of stuff out there I don’t agree with.
Scrolling is a beautiful thing.
Please before you scroll past this post, bookmark the beautiful sites I’m writing for. My column at Zen Dixie is going to challenge you and probably piss you off. The Tumblr is going to make you throw up in your mouth a little. Watchboom is going to make you want to sell all the things and see the world.
Peace out people.
Thanks for taking me through rough teenaged years, the loss of both parents, and my sweet dog. And now this.
I know this extremely malevolent confession makes me The Grinch and Cruella deVille’s impossible love child. What’s next on my agenda, confessing how much I loathe kittens and chubby babies?
How many of you are thinking: “OMG June, how can you hate weddings! Because cake!”
My answer to the Cake Defense: “No cake. Pie”
I does seem impossible that I hate weddings. I love beautiful dresses, hats and dressing up. I’m possibly the most sentimental person I know and cry about something “touching” almost daily. I love a sappy love stories about weddings! The Wedding Singer and Four Weddings and a Funeral are two favorites. (I’m pretty sure the sound track and beautiful hats have more to do with this than the subject) I read romance novels for pete’s sake and they always end in a wedding. (I skip the wedding parts and go for the consummation scene)
If you want to get all Mean Girl on me about this you could ask me:
“June, if you hate weddings so much why did you have two of them.”
But the truth of the matter is I was an unwilling bride both times. I mean, I wanted to get married. Let me rephrase that, the second time I wanted to get married; the first time we wanted to shut his parents the fuck up about our living together. But I wasn’t all that in to being a bride which made the planning relatively easy. My future mother-in-law planned Wedding Number One. It was lovely with maybe 60 people, I wore a tea length silk dress with a silk chiffon over dress and a big hat heaped with organza. My mother made the dress and it was stunning. The church was an old Methodist church in downtown Dallas. I still have my favorite picture from that day: A beautiful candid photo of us standing on the steps in front of the beautiful church. The second wedding was just as simple because Ward planned that one. It’s was a bigger affair with a little over 100 people. I wore a Fortuny silk gown made from an Art Nouveaux Poirot pattern and a simple flower crest in my hair.
I sound a little sentimental about these two events, don’t I? I’m not a complete soulless jackass.
So why at the heart of it am I such a curmudgeon about it all?
Weddings are a ridiculous waste of money and emotional energy. And in the last thirty years I’ve noticed the more time, money, and energy spent in the wedding plans: the shorter the marriage. And people go fucking nuts over the plans. Really? Dude, it’s a big party. Only you aren’t making the food! It’s not launching a space shuttle. I’ve seen weddings planned more carefully than the launch of Apollo 11.
I can usually find creative excuses to get out of going to weddings, too. I’ve had to wash my dog, or my hair, struck down with a sudden and miraculously short case of the ebola virus…but this month I couldn’t get out of a wedding. Fortunately it didn’t kill me to go and yes, there was fucking cake. But there were also painfully long toasts that were more about the the parents of the bride and groom than the young couple. I really hate that. I hate weddings to begin with but if the wedding is more about what the parents want: I “Sideshow Bob shutter” with ire. I shuttered a lot.
Oh those toasts.
If I had to give a toast it would sound something like this.
“In about five years you’re going to wish you had all this money. The toothpaste won’t be closed properly; you’re going to hate that new haircut; and with any luck you will never say unforgivable things to one another out of anger. Best of luck to you! Glad it’s you and not me.”
Fortunately no asked me to give a toast or forced my hand by asking me:
“Don’t you just love a wedding?”
Because I wouldn’t lie and then there would be an awkward silence.
I hate awkward silences more than weddings.
Last Saturday when my legs were threatening a coup at mile fifteen I looked up and thought I was having a hypoxic hallucination. The trees are starting to turn! What??? But I caught my breath and realized the light and my eyes weren’t lying to me. Bastard trees, changing colors. I had originally planned an extremely lyrical blog post about Demeter’s grief as Persephone is beckoned at Hades’ door. But then I threw up a little in my mouth; it was possibly the most cliché steaming pile of hackneyed words I had ever stooped to write. I could hear a beloved professor (rest in peace, Bill) extolling us to write in our own voices because “even if you’re boring as Hell it’s going to be better than any half-assed attempt you make to sound like Ginsberg or God forbid Kerouac.” I was going for Louise Gluck who retells myths in her pointed and delightful poems. I couldn’t hit delete fast enough after I realized my terrible mistake. It was so horrible I wanted to cut off my fingers and burn my computer to fully protection against the travesty of a half-assed attempt ever happening again.
Instead, this is what happened.
NoooOOoooOoooooooo.NooooOOoOOOOoooo.NooOOOOoOOOOOOOOO I need summer. Just summer. Please just a little longer. A little more time.
Then I pictured myself reaching out towards summer much like Neely O’Hara reaching for her “dolls”.
Excuse me but I need to mainline some sun.
“Lau-RA Laaaaaaaa-raaaaaaaaa LAURA! LAURA!!!!”
My mother’s voice drenched in a South Texas drawl.
How I hated that call. Remember what it was like when you were eight and it was late summer but school had already started so you had maybe two hours to play after dinner and before bath? So you rushed home pretended to do ALL the long division problems so you could go outside and play with your friends. Squeezing time in the thicket just outside our backyard was a priority and I knew exactly how far “earshot” shot was even though I would often wander farther, just minding the light. But always always always without fail, that call would come just as the battle for the big tree was heating up; the casualties were coming in as we played war and built forts against the “Japs”. War meant WWII,. It was the heroic war. We didn’t know anything about Korea, our father’s didn’t talk about it much, or at all. Vietnam was too real and all of us knew someone who was for real playing war in the black and white jungle that starred in our living rooms every evening. We certainly couldn’t pretend to be vanquishing Germans. One of the kids had a German mom and there were whispers his Grandfather was a real live Nazi. We couldn’t be insensitive. It would be mean to wage war against people we knew.
But the war was always over for me when I heard Mother. God forbid I would be late for dinner. And if one mother called; it was just a matter of minutes before we heard other calls or dinner bells clanging from low hanging branches in some backyards. We had to call a truce until the next time. The Japanese and American troops suddenly of one accord as they chased the “nurses” to the road where our bikes waited. (Girls were nurses and not soldiers it was the rule) We raced all the way home along the streets lined with statuesque pine trees just beginning to make deep and uneasy shadows. It was that time of the evening in late summer when snakes would wake up in the shallow ditches muddied by traces of murky water and start the slither to the sun warmed road.
That’s how I feel when the alarm goes off on my phone as I ride these late summer evenings. I know how much time I have before I’ll have to dodge shadows and maybe the coyotes. So many decades later, I feel the ache of disappointment when I hear that sound telling me to head for home. It sounds nothing like my mother calling but it evokes the same disappointment.
Playtime is over.
I spent the better part of a Saturday with Ms. A. at her: “WooHoo! I’m leaving home!” garage sale. She’s unsure where she is going but she’s going. I love this. This is the woman who—when writing to me about her divorce—said something to the effect:
“I don’t want to be one of those women, thickening about the waist, damp in the small of my neck; looking forward to a potluck with her lady friends.”
That was eight years ago. So far she has more to live for than a bigger dress size and potlucks. I’m not surprised.
It was bittersweet to see her lovely home a little disheveled by boxes, half decorated surfaces, and walls empty of their art. I volunteered to help but really that day she was helping me. My Saturday was completely empty. The idea of a day completely without responsibility didn’t bring any joy. I had had enough of my own company and my own company wasn’t any great shakes. So it was win-win. I moved boxes, answered questions, collected money, and offered silly sales pitches. Much to her consternation, I talked her out of selling a few things I know she would regret later: tablecloths and art from their two years in The Ukraine. I got the eye roll but in a few years when she has a daughter-in-law that table cloth will make the perfect welcome to the family gift. That seems so far off. But once upon a time the prospect of moving forward with one’s own life was a fairytale we whispered in our private hearts. It’s hard to see the future much beyond naptime when you are sheparding small boys. It’s probably better you can’t because that would just make often monotonous days with babies that much harder.
Our history seems more fantastical and unbelievable than our present. Of course she’s moving abroad on her own. Of course I’m considering climbing the corporate ladder and moving to the east coast. What else would we be doing?
The alternate reality makes my heart heavy. Both of us stuck in relationships long past their expiration date to men who didn’t or couldn’t or wouldn’t honor and own our talents and gifts. Strangers. We would be sharing empty nests with strangers. If this had happened, I would have dissipated into a big Gin Bag. One of those housewives. Short of death, the thickened waist, sweaty neck, and potlucks sounds like the better deal if I had to choose.
I’m almost ready to sell all the things. Almost. I certainly threaten and talk about it enough. Poor Beav expected me to show up to his high school graduation with a Uhaul and a one way ticket to Elsewhere. I really admired Ms A’s tenacity with this sale. She was completely without sentiment as she pulled out and priced Christmas decorations; her son’s flawless and imaginative art work from high school; and bits of their life in Costa Rica. I got a little choked up about it as I drove home that afternoon. Obviously, I’m not there yet. The idea I’m not ready scares me. What if my possessions become rocks in my pockets; the type of rocks that drown Virginia Woolf. I would rather long for that thing I once had and probably shouldn’t have sold than see what life without it is like.
So I should probably put a price on that wedding crystal I never use. Move on. Shed the weight of a distant past towards the whispered fairy tale of my future.
I had a long assed and tipsy conversation with a friend a couple of weeks ago. It was like a faucet had been turned on and suddenly I can write again. Or want to write again. Remember that Buffy episode where everyone lost their ability to speak but could sing. It was like that. Only I still can’t sing. You can blame him for the revitalization of THIS blog.
One of the details I love about my new gig is the absolute absence of responsibility other than taking care of my assigned patients/members. I am no longer the most experienced system user in the room. No one asks me how to do something. I am not constantly interrupted with questions. And if someone has a clinical question for me it is handed to me politely in an Instant Message rather than a pensive stare from across the desk. I am the dung beetle on the bottom of the shoe at this company and I like it. A lot.
When I’m not talking to patients/members My earbuds are frimly in place. Some days I listen to the radio and let NPR choose for me. Other days I preview music and that ranges from Americana to German Trance. That’s was Monday’s soundtrack. I bet a lot of people think this kind of electronica is the synthpop of the this century’s teen years. Whatever. I’m facile. I also listen to Abba without a shred of irony.
This spring when I was in Las Vegas, one of the events took place at Body English, an uber hip disco. I stood in the wings watching the DJ. I’m sure people thought I was oogling the mediocre go-go girls. During Denver’s Underground Music Showcase I went to a couple of DJ sets. I liked watching these kids work the computer mouse and sound boards. That music comes out of these boxes adds to the magical sci fi quality of this era in our civilization. The young man hunched over the board and the laptop, fingering this and jiggling that while his legs bounced and his torso swayed to the music. Snippets stolen from his granny’s vinyl, his dad’s CD’s and his own fevered imagination.
The music helps in the office. I keep the volume where I can hear my phone ring without listening to the random bullshit conversations littered with anacronyms–I’m learning to speak–seeping in from the other side of the wall.
A couple of weekends ago, we made an inaugural trip to our new Super Target. (When you read “super” draw out the “u” sound and picture a little kid running around with a bath towel cape because I love Target that much) We had specifics in mind for Beav’s birthday which resembled a bridal shower more than a 19 year old’s birthday. Once upon a time Beav would get the latest video game or accessory. Now the poor kid gets electric kettles, bowls, mugs, and glasses.
Did I mention I was skipping, chortling, and explaining myself to everyone in the store because I am just that happy he is going away to college? The dude in the checkout in front of us looked like he was going to cry when I stage whispered to him as he wrangled young sons: “Before you know it, they go to college.” I swear his eyes were moist when he said: “Not soon enough.” Moist from the ridiculous frustration of herding kids.
I was acting like a demented shut in. Or maybe I was just acting like a mom who is excited her son gets to have an adventure she never had. I think my joy over this empty nest is more about this than the actual empty nest. My nest has been half empty for the last 13 years. It’s not like I’ve seen my kids every day of their lives. This isn’t so much about the end of his childhood and my retirement from the role of capital “m” mothering; as it is a metaphor of the beginning of the rest of his life.
Or how I learned to say fuck SEO and the horse it rode in on.
Recently, all of my internal dialogues explaining why I’m not writing have been little more than rants and outbursts. It takes tons of energy to mutter bitterly, too. There’s a great excuse for not writing, eh? I’m not too busy, or happy or sad. I’m too angry. The current bee in my bonnet is the sheer amount of noise on the internet. Heh…and I’m adding to it nicely, aren’t I?
Have you looked around lately? There’s a lot of shit writing getting a shitload of attention.
It’s not the noise I object to it’s the type of noise. It’s all this SEO singing to the back of the house. I propose a revolution. I propose we start reading every single article on the ‘net that DOES NOT include: “Top [insert SEO friendly number here] [insert keyword here]”
I’m so fucking sick and tired of seeing the numbers on these things. We’re being reduced to readers of lists and catalogues. Where’s the art in that?
And what galls me most:
The writing on sites which get a bazillion and eleventy million hits a day? It sucks. Totally sucks.
Good thing no one will find this post buried on page 5,339,222,999 of a google search for: “Shit that pisses me off today”. Otherwise I might upset precious snowflake bloggers.
Tell me a story. Don’t give me a list from your fucking tale to boast your numbers. Stop with the Big Box Store approach to writing.
I mentioned Monday it’s been a weird fucking summer.
I was coasting along, mothering taking a backseat and then Beav did something completely in character for a teenager and utterly stupid and poorly thought out. Of course he did. Just because he’s intelligent and thoughtful doesn’t mean his lizard brain won’t kick in from time to time.
A week before finals Beav decided it was a good time to experiment with substances. I wasn’t upset by this. Because, hello? Wally the risk taker had broken me in for just about everything a teenager could possibly do short of the other side of the law or making a baby. Not my first rodeo with youthful experiments. But his experiment left him an anxious mess and it was scary to think he might have altered his brain chemistry. It happens. Fortunately, it just brought to the forefront an underlying anxiety disorder he comes by honestly via my genetics.
“Mom, something is wrong with me. I need a CT scan of my brain.”
Why we couldn’t have this conversation over dinner at a reasonable hour is beyond me. Well actually, it’s not beyond me because I am the champ of lying awake in the middle of the night creating mountains out of molehills (I went from sore throat to thyroid cancer one night this spring.) But really, doesn’t this kid know the gauntlet I braved just to bring him into this world and then I spent two weeks with him in the ICU watching him trying to breathe on his own? Doesn’t he know I’ve seen his brain via ultrasound and it was/is a thing of beauty perfectly formed with complete sulci, ventricles, and probably way too much gray matter for his own good.
But I listened. And then I reassured him if I thought for a minute there was something wrong with his brain aside from a chemical issue, he would be in an MRI tube bitching about the hammering sound over his head before the sun was up. Beav is a brave kid and he’s stoic as all Hell, too. That he had these somatic complaints perked my ears up but I don’t do well with a bunch of drama related to physical complaints. He was so whiney I was ready to set him out for the gypsies the next day. But I was still scared to death.
Of course I was frightened. What if it wasn’t a simple matter of anxiety? What if those subtle symptoms: vertigo and the inability to focus his eyes were the beginning of a tiny bit of something that doesn’t belong about to mushroom and take over his brain? Knowing too much is never a fun thing. But we watched and waited until we had actual health insurance again. I would check in with him every few days that long month of June. Giving him a secret side eye; watching over him because horrible things happen to kids. One day they are college bound and the next they need chemo.
Again, I know way too much.
But he didn’t need chemo or a gamma knife, He needed a small dose of Vitamin Z and a normal CT scan. I’m told his gray matter is just as beautiful as it was 19 years ago when we watched him suck his thumb under the ultrasound’s gray glow.
Happy birthday Beav. Thank you for having a perfectly formed brain.