Thursday, October 29, 2009

Big Flakes

Last week, we had our biggest snow of the year. And because I suck at paying attention to many adult responsibilities I didn’t realize just how bad my tires were until I drove Beav to school. My SUV became a lethal weapon on those streets yesterday morning and I found myself driving much like I once skied: almost at the brink of complete loss of control, any misjudgement would result in a specatacular yard sale and a flalling tumble leaving gloves and hats behind me on the hill. So my first stop after dropping Beav off was not my crack dealer or a coffee shop but the tire store. Luckily, despite my procrastinating style, the people at the tire store didn’t see me swirve into the parking lot and skid to a stop because if they had, they could have charged me oh maybe a thousand bucks for tires and I would have said, “Ok, I‘ll take them.“ Because spending a grand on tires was better than driving anywhere ever again on the tires I had. And I must be living right because the price was actually under what I had saved for this shopping trip. It wasn't like I was completely clueless to the state of my tires, I had actually saved money for them and I put it off because I like seeing the over inflated balance in my account. That extra cash made me feel as if I really could walk into Sundance and buy the cute $200 blouse without a second thought of: “Dude, what about tires?.“ So I waited until the situation was critical--three inches of snow on the ground with maybe eighteen more coming--and bought tires. I have a tendancy to forget things like buying school supplies and school clothes. I am alwaysalways, ALWAYS stunned it’s the end of August and everyone needs new shoes and backpacks and pencils and crap. I blame absolute denial on not having winter clothing unpacked in October because I hate winter that much. Or when the kids were little, summer would roll around and I would be STUNNED I hadn’t signed them up for swimming or replaced their summer clothing or laid up pool food and extra beer for me (the afternoons, they were long with a three year old and a seven year old, just sayin’) And how dare that cute little oil can light be on, I just put oil in the truck, what, six months ago? But yesterday morning, I knew the Universe wasn’t going to send me out the door and onto the street with protection and blessings so I wouldn't kill, maim, hurt or distroy anyone or anything in the SUV Of The Bald Tires. Once I crawled to the tire store, I was truly surprised to see I wasn’t the only person who had waited until the first big snow was actually hitting the ground to do something about the safety of their vehicles and I felt lucky the store had the tires I needed and came in under budget. I was so pleased about these things I didn’t mind the--I kid you not--four hour wait.

Worth every second of waiting because I love my new tires and they have the most remarkable feature called "tread". The grooves are deep and symmetrical with small grooves interlaced around and next to the crevices. I was offered spikes for the little holes but that was pushing this whole driving in deep snow thing so I opted out on the spikes. Which, in hindsight would have been a nice butch BDSM touch to my Big Ass Tires. Now snow is my special Bitch. Driving home yesterday afternoon I was enraptured with my new toys tires. Even Beav noticed. I had to stop on a dime behind someone and his comment was: “Oh yeah, this morning, we would have hit that guy.” And then he looked up from his endless text messaging to tell me: “Mom, you didn’t skid to the right that time.”

I’m still having a Near Dyke* Moment about these tires. I think I’m in love with them, too. Which is completely unlike me. I fall in love with lipstick, blouses and chairs. Cars aren’t that important to me, I see cars that catch my eye and I have a secret crush on these guys and their cars, so I’m not a complete idiot but I’m not terribly keen on driving . My parents had to force me to learn when I was seventeen and I still don’t have a lot of confidence in my abilities. But these new tires. Wow. I’m almost cocky behind the wheel of my truck. Uh oh you are thinking, watch out for the old green Mitz, June is one of those SUV drivers. You know the type, owning the road, following too close, going too fast on snow and through water? Fortunately, Mitzy still reins it in and moves like a little old lady in the snow but she moves like a little old lady wearing killer snow boots.

It's a good thing they cancelled school last Thursday because Beav was up banging around until about midnight or so and 0600 wouldn’t have been pretty if there had been school. Wally’s Honda was almost buried and too bad it melted before I could dig it out because I love snow so much. (/sarcasm) Nothing I hate more than being wet and cold. And please don’t tell me “you just need the appropriate clothing and then you would enjoy it.“ I have such clothing and nope, don’t enjoy it. If today is any indication it's going to be a long winter. Usually, this sort of storm saves up it’s wrath for March, and this storm is making a March dump look like a dusting which is why I'll be in my room weeping if anyone needs me.

We leave for Mexico in ninety two days. Not that I’m counting.

*being a Dyke is not a bad thing, I mean this in the political sense of the word.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Faded Photographs

Even though I have a lot of blog worthy ideas swirling around in my head; I promised myself this week, before I launch back into the world of nursing, I will finish Wally’s scrapbook. It’s about time isn’t it? I thought it would take maybe six months of diligent work but it took me eighteen months! I kept hitting creative or emotional walls and then came summer with the advent of my other writing project and gardening. The picture on the blog is the last image in the album. It was a very weird picture of him standing next to my dresser in my messy bedroom when he was two. Why I took his picture at that moment I’ll never remember. What makes this picture strange is it is triple exposed and in the shadows you can see Christmas as well as a fragment from an image on a deserted highway outside of Taos. Even in the 90’s with point and shoot cameras it was hard to double expose film. This film was exposed three times. I remember talking to the guy at the camera store who told me chances are the film didn’t advance in the camera and it was a small miracle any images were visible.. Much less a collage of images which capture our busy life, and at the time, happy life as a family. The Beav came downstairs Tuesday night when I was laying out the last pages and asked me if this was Wally’s Christmas present. I laughed the idea off because, please, would a 19 year old really want a baby book and scrapbook of their school years as a gift? Beav assured me that Wally has changed so much over the last two months that he would probably think it was “cool” I had finished the book. When I finished this afternoon, I was a little choked up like someone who had finished their first marathon. It was a relief to have completed the task but at the same time I was really saying good-bye to the little boy.

One boy album down, one to go.

I think Beav is secretly hoping I start on his book this winter but I’m a tired of looking at little boy pictures so I think the next project will be to put the very old and very fragile family photos Dad recently gave me in an album. Just a simple acid free album, no embellishments and the journaling will be limited to identifying (if I can) people in the photographs. Some of these photos are unspeakable funny and sweet: my cousin and Sister playing with Hula Hoops, baby me pulling Sister’s hair, my mother and her sisters over the years grouped together, the body language apparent which sisters had just fussed with one another. Many of the photos I’ve seen over and over again but one picture was a surprise. It’s a candid snapshot of my father and mother standing together, he is standing behind her and his face is almost shadowed by her hair blowing back. They are bundled up and probably huddled close against a chilly Kansas wind. Their hands are gently intertwined one with the other making this beautiful candid photo sweetly intimate. I love stealing glimpses at the past before I was born. I also have a set of photos from a particularly rowdy party my parents had when I was about two. Who knows where I was that night, probably locked in my room with my eight year old sister supervising me, giving me Kool-aid and animal crackers when she wasn’t trying to convince me to stick my head between the very wide slats. I’m kidding I was probably not in a playpen but playing with a screwdriver and an electrical outlet [wink]*) Anyhow, those crazy kids were having fun, drinking their very strong cocktails and smoking their strong cigarettes. Those were the days, weren’t they when you could put your two year old in a play pen, get drunk and smoke. Damn, I was born too late.

*for the record, I was at my grandmother’s house and was no doubt being indulged by her and teased by my older cousins.

Friday, October 16, 2009


We walked the National Mall today. The whole thing. From the Smithsonian to the Lincoln Memorial down and around the Jefferson Memorial and back to the Smithsonian. It was a big walk for these old legs and it was rainy, windy and cold. I'm so glad I did it, too because it was one of the most humbling and moving days of my life. Beav and I saw all of the memorials and I cried at three of them. Which is sort of melodramatic and ridiculous because I've never lost a family member to war. My late uncle was a decorated WWII soldier, my cousin was married to a medic in Vietnam, I have multiple cousins who were in the service, my ex brother-in-law ran the officer's club in Germany in the late sixties (Hooah!). So it isn't like my loss is extreme. I can't imagine the emotions running through people as they saw this and there were people looking for their loved one's names and they wept and prayed over them. There were too damned many names:

If that wasn't enough we stumbled onto the Korean memorial and the artist explicitly depicts a look of betrayal and loss in each of the statue's eyes.

But more evocative is the wall running along the statues with faces which aren't visible until you are very close. At first I wasn't sure I was seeing faces and I thought it was an optical illusion but then I stood very close and I could see the faces which still weren't really clear until I reviewed today's pictures and they are very clear. You only notice them later in the form of memory. Which is exactly how we have noticed the Korean veterans. But they are from the generation that survived the Great Depression and later watched older brothers march off to WWII so it wasn't like them to speak up and say they suffered in Korea and didn't come home whole. It is perhaps the most poignant statement I've ever seen in a work of art. Our shadow veterans.

By this time on our long long walk in the rain, I'm trailing behind the Beav because I'm about to cry and I don't want to embarrass or upset him. Again, I've not lost anyone to war and I barely remember Vietnam. We are plodding along the path when I see a cluster of people gathered and it took a minute for me to realize why they were stopped: The Vietnam's Nurse's Memorial. As crazy as my calling can make me, I am deeply proud to be part of this brave sisterhood and I remember how hard women fought for this memorial to be a part of the National Mall after they have been passed over for medals time and time again. I urged the Beav to follow me as I almost break to a run. I was wet and I was cold and the urge to just find a cab and go back to our hotel was strong but I was graced with standing next to a memorial for my sisters who volunteered to fight in a war most didn't understand and many protested. Aesthetically, the bronze statue is unspeakably beautiful and the tenderness of the nurse's touch is unmistakable. The artist gets to the heart and art of being a nurse. I felt the tears well up and spill onto my cheeks, Beav wasn't sure what the statue was all about and I tearfully explained to him it was hard fought but a well deserved tribute to nurses in war. He had the good sense to walk ahead of me while I sobbed on the path behind him. Had I been alone or with TG, I would have sat on the bench and wept for all the lives lost and the disrespect and discount of the sacrifices made. I doubt I would have been so brave to fight in a misunderstood war. Or any war for that matter.

It was a memorable day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bad Fashion Judgement and Cute Little Planes

Thus in silence in dreams' projections,
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals;
The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all dark night - some are so young;
Some suffer so much - I recall the experience sweet and sad...
Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass, 1876

photo courtesy of agnosticpreacherskid

DC? Seriously cool. Like raising the cool bar and wiping out NYC for the coolest place I've ever been. Dupont Circle? So cool there needs to be a velvet rope around it and Brooklyn has to wait in the back of the line for the head tilt and nod to join the party. So cool that San Francisco hangs her head in shame because despite her best efforts they are furtive and even the tragically hip of The Mission can't keep up with DC.

What a day! Me and the Beav powered through The Freer Gallery, The American History Museum and The Natural History Museum after we toured the Air and Space Museum.

It's like my brain had a big meal and all it can do is sit back, sigh and belch.

Love at first sight yesterday. The quote on the walls of the north entrance of the Dupont Circle metro station got my attention (never mind the escalator is terrifically steep and like Orpheus' Descent to Hell) but the people here have me hooked. We were standing on a street corner and heard three separate conversations in three different languages. The diversity is wrapped in the lovely facade of old buildings--most of them older than the oldest ones in my city--topped of with a friendly southern vibe. The only other place I fell for this hard was Baltimore. The locals here are very patient with tourists, too. Millions of people stumble through their city and yet, they smile and tell you you are walking in the wrong direction like they have never been asked a question before.

The Beav has never been to the east coast before and coupled with the foreign landscape are masses of people. Many more than he is used to on most days in our city. On the airplane, as we made our descent Beav noticed the wide rivers and the lush landscape. I agreed with him and told him this foreign feeling makes me feel like a hick, especially if I'm on the east coast.

"Golly, Lookat fancy old building! They is big an' old, ain't they?"

"Hot diggity! I'm from the Western US of A! All y'all is so fancy!"

"Woo Doggies! Look at all these folks! An' all of 'em so diff'rent, too!"

Coupled with feeling like a hick I am also an idiot when it comes to directions and I can't find my way out of a paper bag without directions and maps. My family thinks I'm completely OCD because I have itineraries complete with walking directions to and from sites when I travel. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. I don't mind getting lost, some of my best times traveling are when I'm lost. Fortunately, the kids and TG are like human GPS units so I can leave the directions to them. But today, even Beav was confounded and we spent thirty-five minutes--in the rain--wandering in circles looking for a metro station (this is how I discovered the people here are very patient with tourists).

Aside from the kindness of strangers and the scary escalator the four things which made the most impression on me:

1. Julia Child used The Joy Of Cooking more than any other cookbook.

2. Mamie Eisenhower wore the wrong dress to the inauguration. The dress she chose accentuated her thick torso and the foofy ruffle thingy over her left hip made her look fat.

3. There was a motorcade of Secret Service agents with a shiny but sinister looking Cadillac moving down Connecticut Avenue today. It was cool.

4. Amelia Earhart's airplane is the perfect shade of red and if I didn't know Earhart was a serious aviator, I would assume she chose the airplane strictly based on the pretty shade of red.

Beav, being the adult on this trip, was moved by the majesty of the capital building, The Wright Flyer and The Spirit of St. Louis. He assumed they would be models and was thrilled to stand next to the first biplane and the first airplane to cross the Atlantic. When I cooed: "Oh look at the cute little red airplane, why is that here?" I could hear his eyes roll.

It wasn't the first time this week and I promise it won't be the last.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Good Morning Yesterday

I swear, my Texas accent returns the second I step off that airplane. Hell, I even start thinking with a Texas accent. Years ago, when I was an even bigger bitched up snob than I am now, it would have unnerved me slide back into that drawl! Now it just cracks me up to hear the stuff coming out of my mouth. I’m never about to do anything. Nope, immediately, I’m fixin’ to do something or go somewhere. I’m not southern enough to “bless” someone’s heart but that will probably happen after I visit Wally on family day in the Deep South. TG is from the Midwest and she thinks the accent is charming. I must admit Sophocles sounds preposterous with a Texas accent and it was at that point when we were doing this play in high school my accent began to fade. Mr. Evans, bless his heart (snerk) tried to educate it out of us.

Which brings me to the real subject of this week’s entry: my high school reunion (nice sequay, huh!)

I was one of those rare people who really enjoyed high school. Yeah, there were days I thought the world was ending. I had my heart broken in small pieces on two momentous occasions. I broke a heart. I was teased about my height, my skinny and endlessly long legs and returned the teasing in kind. Despite all of this, I loved high school and was lucky enough to make lifelong friends. So I always look forward to these ten year reunions. Each gathering has been completely different, too. Each one better than the last in some ways and I always learn something about me and people I was lucky enough to grow up with.

This year, I got to see a woman whom I never fail to remember when I see a Goth chick walking into my boys’ preppy high school. My high school was all about preps and sports and I thought the key to survival and therefore happiness was to be just. Like. Everyone. Else. She was a little bit hippy and a little bit punk and had the most amazing hair I have ever seen. When we were all ensconced in our helmet head Farrah do’s, Her hair was dressed simply and spilled down her back without a drop of AquaNet on it. When we were girls, She genuinely liked and got on with everyone because she was such an individual everyone knew her not because she was the girl who got pregnant or busted for dope or had to miss school because she lived in a terribly abusive situation but because she was just She and completely unlike the rest of us desperately trying to conform. She is still wildly original and creative. She’s also extraordinarily beautiful and appears to have been cryogenically sealed and frozen for the last thirty years because she looks absolutely the same only with a touch of experience around her eyes. What a pleasure to talk to this woman who wasn’t afraid to just be herself. Too bad I said something terribly awkward and goofy (I haven't changed, either) I hope I can fight the urge to stop one of the art chick’s at Beav’s school to tell them this story! (can you imagine the level of humiliation I would visit upon him if I did this…hmmm maybe I can use it as a threat to get him to make his bed)

Another amazing woman, shares my name but with a sharper edge. EdgierJuneCleaver has five children. Five. That’s a lot of children. I would be drunken-in-and-out-of-rehab JuneCleaver if I had five children. And while she is proud of them and has nursed one of them through the unspeakable experience of cancer, Edgier has her own life and a career. Edgier is the Quiescental Texas Girl: smooth as butter but can cut you like a knife. She also has those classic Texas looks: beautiful and leggy.

I was lucky enough to be escorted to both parties with my original Prom Date (PD). I was his galpal in high school and we spent a lot of time hanging out together. PD always had an opinion about what I was wearing or my hair. So he was better than a girlfriend because he would tell me the truth. One day, I was fussing about my hair or something stupid and he gave me--to date--the funniest compliment I’ve ever received: “June, out of all the girls I know you always look consistent [this was good, really!].” It’s the “consistent” word that cracks me up. He was a Mathy boy so variables are something he spent time thinking about.

This year neither of us had dates or spouses in tow and we talked to one another like we did all those years ago: as one another’s sounding boards and confessors. I learned to trust him when we were kids because he was the only person out of all my friends who had the courage to tell me the boy I had dated for almost two years was also seeing one of my friends. He of course shrugs it off as, “It was a question of loyalty.” Loyalty in friends goes a long way with me. So months later, we find ourselves without dates to the prom; we decided to go together. The people we wanted to go with had other dates. But I don’t remember feeling like a consolation prize because PD was one of the people I most liked spending time with. Besides that, he borrowed his brother's hot car and wasn't afraid to wear a baby blue tuxedo so we matched. And I knew he was a gentleman.

He still is a gentleman. Thankfully he left his baby blue tuxedo at home.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Stopping in the Bar on a Snowy Evening

Last night--

I was waiting at the airport last night, sitting in a bar and text messaging with one of my dear friends from high school who couldn't join me for our reunion this weekend. Next to me was a nice looking man, about my age maybe a scosh younger and the woman sitting next to me was a bit older. All three of us were engaged in our blackberries or--in my case--mobile phone chatting with people far removed from the bar rather than chatting with one another like in the good old days of fleeting airport lounge connections. Technology has changed all of that. In the past we would have maybe exchanged a few words, lightheartedly discussing the baseball game on the television. But nowadays we are exchanging disembodied Tweets or texts. Thankfully, text messages have made things a little quieter and I don't have to listen to someone else's intimate details. But it's now so quiet we forget to interact with one another and we have become a small planet of strangers. It occurred to me to break the silence of the tapping fingers but I didn't really want to talk to either person near me aside from proving the art of small talk between strangers in the airport on a snowy evening is not going the way of print journalism or civility.