Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Rant Week: Pardon My Unintentional Ethnicity . . .

Alright. I’ve had enough.
This does it.

It’s only Tuesday. Tuesday, I tell you.
And already I’ve had four, yes four, people tell me I’m “black.”

I’m not offended by this. Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m simply confused. Highly confused. Confounded, even.

If you were to know me in real life, you would quickly say I was the whitest person on the planet. Unless, of course, you did one of two things: Looked in my R&B and Rap CD case (yes, as of Saturday, they are officially in their own 208 containing case) OR watched me dance.
And a certain male acquaintance would also point out that I can throw gang signs. Look, I spent most of my junior high and high school years in a predominately black populated town with an unusually high gang incidence. Yes, in Arkansas. Haven’t you people seen the classic 1992 HBO Special “Bangin’ in Little Rock”?

I do, readily, admit that I pull into the parking lot with my sunroof open and – sometimes – rap music playing. Yesterday, I was playing Jimmy Buffet. Can you get whiter than Jimmy Buffet without crossing into Country?

Today, however, I admit that I was playing Three 6 Mafia. And I may have slipped when Felicia asked “Girl, whatchu bumpin over there?” and threw out our old high school version with “Some triple-six!”

Felicia had told me on Monday, when she heard my phone ring with old school Bone, Thugs and Harmony “Crossroads”: “Meghan, girl please, you black. Face it.”

Shonda said the same thing yesterday afternoon when she saw one of my therapy kids and I dancing.

Then Ms. Harvel said it this morning when she saw me “waggle yo head” when I was on a phone call and getting highly irate with Medicaid.

The last straw was just now when Therese said it again because they were talking about Tyler Perry and I knew who he was. I’m sorry, ummm, but doesn’t EVERYONE know who he is now? It’s not like Diary of a Mad Black Woman wasn’t a box office smash.

Do these things really qualify me as “black”, I ask you?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Some People Have Therapy; I've Got This

I’m a ranter. It’s a sad, but true, fact.

If something annoys me or aggravates me, I rant. Typically, they’re pointless soliloquies that only serve to vent my frustrations. Such as this morning when the idiot in front of me on I-40 slammed on his brakes for absolutely no reason in the world and I used all the breath in my lungs to chew him out with phrases such as “Are you serious? There isn’t even anyone in front of you! Are you trying to kill us all? Where’d you get your license? A cracker-jack box? IQ tests should be required of all drivers. You, sir, would fail miserably. I’m certain of it. Idiot.

Ranting isn’t the greatest thing in the world. I have friends who are offended greatly by it. I tell them to ride with other people or make new friends.

Such as the incident with Beth on the way back from a bachelorette party in Memphis:

There was a very ignorant individual who kept weaving in and out of traffic. Typically, his weaves were directly in front of me – thus effectively cutting me off, about every 4 to 5 miles.
My friend Rebecca and I are both ranters. And, it just so happens that we were driver and front seat passenger for this trip. This was bad. Very bad. It allowed us to feed off one another.

So, every time ignoramus cut me off, we both launched into tirades about idiot male drivers and their inability to notice others on the road.

Beth finally loses it: “Why don’t you both shut up? What good does it do to yell at the moron who can’t drive? All it serves to do is annoy the people in the car with you.”
I noticed a couple of the other passengers for our trip nodding along in agreement.

You would think the fear of alienating my friends would be enough to shut me up. But, instead of stemming my rant, it caused another one: “Well, if you guys have such a problem with it, maybe you should drive once in a while. It’s not like I enjoy being the taxi-driver at all times. Yes, I have the largest vehicle, but that doesn’t automatically mean I should have to drive. First of all, I get sick of paying for all the gas. Second of all, it wouldn’t kill us to split up and drive two vehicles every now and again. Let’s face it, 8 females in one automobile is a bit too much estrogen for anyone. Particularly after 3 days and 2 nights in the same hotel room. Say one more thing about how I choose to act in my own vehicle and we can pull over and you people can hitchhike back to Little Rock. See how much you like that.

I’m not proud of this trait. Not at all. I’ve tried to alter it. Really, I have. But it is to no avail.
I’m a ranter at heart. And if this is one of my few vices, I’m sure you will forgive me.
Or ride with someone else.


I promise that I'm working harder at making my rants INTERNAL only.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill; But Jill's Tumbling All Alone

Though it may not seem like it at the outset of this story, this is in memorial of my friend Jack. He was an amazing man who was taken from us far too early in life. Three years ago, during Christmas break, he was involved in a car accident that took his life. This may not be the most memorable Jack story, but it’s the one that always comes to mind when his name is mentioned:

Junior year of college, JD, Steffan and I signed up for the same Honors course.
Though there were a veritable plethora of reasons for this, the following were the most important:

1) The class would be held in the Honors Forum. Which meant that instead of a stuffy classroom with rigid desks, we would be seated in a living room environment with our own kitchenette. Plush couches, rocking recliners, pillows, throws and a never-ending supply of cookies and juice.

2) Dr. Adams was teaching the course. He was notoriously easy. As long as you showed even the slightest modicum of effort on something, no matter how wrong it was, he gave you an A.

3) It was a Science Fiction class. We had no love for the genre, but knew that the readings would be more interesting than the Philosophy or Ethics classes and that at least once a week we could sleep on the couch while Dr. Adams had the class view clips from Bladerunner, Pitch Black and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

4) It also helped that the class was at 11:00 AM. Prime college time. Late enough that you could sleep in, early enough that you didn’t waste your whole afternoon.

Two weeks had gone by when Jerry (Dr. Adams) decided that we should dissect certain passages of Childhood’s End in “teams”.

Teams – a term professors use to try and trick college students into feeling like adults instead of third-graders who’ve been placed into reading groups.

Since the class had 18 people (very large for an Honors group - - guess we were all wanting to be slackers that year), we were to be divided into 6 groups of 3. Fate was with us that day. I had gotten to class early and saved a couch. JD and Steffan were on either side of me when Jerry began his divisions. He pointed his finger at us and said “You, you and you. You’re Team One.”

JD, in a vain attempt at humor, looked up forlornly and exclaimed “Why do we have to have a girl in our group?

Jerry looked pointedly at JD and Steffan and then said “You guys are rowdy. I think she’ll be a calming influence on you.”

Cue the confused look from me. Followed immediately by dumbfounded stares of the entire class and then Steffan saying, “Meghan??? A calming influence? Ummm, Jerry, did you take your medications this morning?

This is why I loved Honors classes. Not only was this type of banter condoned, it was encouraged. They wanted us to feel that we were equals with our instructors. Peers instead of lowly students to exalted professors. They thought it would facilitate more enlightened and open discussions. Instead it just promoted pure chaos - - but it was fun, none-the-less.

Jerry, ever the optimist, came back with: “Yeah, she can be a little rowdy herself. But her thought processes are good, her writing is impeccable and she seems to keep a pretty tight reign on you two when you’re in here.

This was interrupted by JD making the whinnying sound of a horse followed by an up-and-down movement of his head.

Guys, you both know if I’d let you pick your own group, you would have picked each other. Quit being assholes and let me get on with the rest of the class.”

JD smartly saluted him, I smacked JD’s leg and Steffan just sat there shaking his head in mock dismay.

Though, in hindsight, it probably wasn’t mock. Steffan and I both have very strong opinions about writing styles and interpretations of readings. He was probably worrying that we were going to butt heads on a few issues and that I would try and take control. Which, of course, I would. Have you met me? Control freak, extraordinaire.

Twenty minutes later, Jack entered class. Not only was he severely tardy, he was carrying enough food to feed an army: Two Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwiches, one twelve pack of nuggets, two snickers bars and the largest coke I’ve ever seen.

A little back story – There was a girl that lived in our dorm named Laura McAffey. Laura was, at least, 300 lbs. Now, we probably would have tried to work up some sympathy for her if this were medically related. But it wasn’t. She was just a fat, lazy cow. The most active she got was stomping around to the polka music she played at unbelievably high volumes in her room.

And her eating habits were worse than atrocious. We once sat in the lobby and watched her eat an entire jar of peanut butter – WITH HER HANDS. Her hands, I tell you!

So anyway, Jack walks in - late as can be and loaded down with more food than a cattle drive’s chuck wagon. I, naturally, could not let this go without comment. Regardless of my “calming” influence on the males.

So nice of you to join us, Jack. Well now, that’s a lot of food! Who do you think you are? Laura McAffey?!” The entire class bursts into laughter, including Jack – who had one of the most beautiful smiles you could ever imagine.

JD, never one to miss an opportunity to prove himself right, looked at Jerry and over the din of laughter stated: “Yeah, Jerr, SHE’s going to reign us in! Calming influence my ass!”

Jerry never regained control of the class that day. And that’s the last time I can remember seeing Jack's smile.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I Wish I Was Able to Hate You, But I Have This Instead

This is because you asked. And I told you I wouldn’t.

If I could write you a letter, this is what it might say:

I don’t know how we got where we are. If I’m honest, I was never sure where we were. The nature of our relationship was, to say the least, unclear.

I think we both preferred it that way. No definitions meant no rules. No rules meant no obligations. But somewhere along the way, I developed expectations. And floating on their glossy surface was hope.

I know it wasn’t right.
You should know . . . it wasn’t intentional.

An outsider looking in on us could never understand. They may try and rationalize it, they may say you hurt me. The truth of the matter was that I hurt myself. Our unclarity, if you’ll permit me to invent words, was clear. An odd connection was forged that couldn’t be maintained for reasons neither of us would divulge. Not to each other and, most likely, not to ourselves.

You never truly denied me anything I asked for. But I never asked for anything I wanted. I feel the urge to ask now. But it feels like it’s too late.

Though I shouldn’t say this: I miss what we had.
Whatever that was. Today, I would say, it was the promise of something. But maybe yesterday, the word would have been idea. The hope is still floating but the possibilities are dwindling.

So today, when I’m driving, I’ll think of the letter I denied you – and posted anyway.
I’ll play the song that you don’t know reminds me of you.
And I’ll get a little farther from you, as far as miles go, but the distance between us will remain the same.

Realize that reality is what you make it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Slacker, Thy Name is Meghan

Warning: Rambling Ahead

I would argue that I'm not truly a slacker, but you wouldn't believe me.
I could offer excuses of mountains of paperwork, a batch of new therapy kids, family visitations and relationship obligations, but you could care less.
You want a new post, you want it now and you don't care what it's about.

Okay, so only two of you have emailed me missives to that extent, but two counts as a mob these days!

I've been slacking. At least in regards to my house and my blog.
Thank heavens for the maid or I would be living in filth. This is completely untrue, I'm a neat freak . . . but I do abhor dusting, mopping and vacuuming - so filth in the sense of dirt.

Ms. Sizzle will have a heart attack but, brace yourself, my Christmas tree is still up.
I keep meaning to take it down, honestly, but it makes me sad and I don't have the time.
They should put trees on casters so you can just roll it across your house into an unused room or spacious closet to hide it from the view of those who may be offended. I know I said I would have it down by Valentine's, but forces conspired against me. It's not my fault! I can't be held accountable. Ummm . . can I move that deadline to Easter?

Imagine there's a transition here.

I hired a new therapist for the company - R. He's magnificent. Unfortunately, one of my other therapists (a 30-yr old male) has developed a case of hero worship that's bordering on stalking. Here's a brief glimpse:

This morning, I enter the office where - typically - C has boiled some water and made us all Chai Tea or Green Tea or Earl Grey. Whatever he feels like that morning. But not this morning, no.

I notice something that smells alluring . . . and should not be ingested because I don't NEED it!

Me: C, ummm, that doesn't smell like tea.

C: R. prefers cocoa.

Me: So . . . you made cocoa. Because R. prefers it. I see. Out of curiousity what does your wife prefer?

I look to C's wife - also a therapist - and she just rolls her eyes, sighs and says: "Like it even matters." She's been putting up with this for two weeks now, I think she's given up hope.

She mentioned something the other day about wondering if her husband had bi-sexual tendencies. I laughed - as was appropriate - but I also secretly wondered it, myself. One morning last week I walked in to find him sitting achingly close to the new therapist, with his hand under the table. "Are you guys holding hands?" I asked, seemingly jokingly. But it looked like a possibility.

So, C. made cocoa. For R. And apparently the rest of us. And force fed me two huge mugs full.
After I'd already had my morning bottle of Dasani. By the time I got to my first center, my eyeballs were floating.

Let's just say that no child had more than 30 minutes of continuous therapy.
Apparently, in my old age, my bladder has shrunk to the size of a peanut.
I haven't spent that much time in a bathroom since I was a barhopper in college. And grad school. And for a brief stint afterwards.

It's relatively obvious that I'm a little too discombobulated to be writing at the moment.
But at least I have a post up! :)
I promise to stop being a slacker soon and put up an actual post that makes some sense.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

After the Rain, There Must Be Some Sun

I think the picture says it all.

Exactly two years ago, a man decided to take his life by swerving head-on into traffic.
We were both traveling 65 MPH. There was no opportunity to even tap the brakes, let alone stop.

He died on impact. I was, miraculously, only slightly injured.
And by slightly, I mean I was able to leave the hospital on my power.

I pray for his family and friends.
I pray to remember, everyday, what this wreck did to change my life.
And I pray to be thankful for all that I have and everyone in my life.

This vehicle DID save my life. I have no doubt. Which is why I purchased the one below the day after the wreck:

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hit and Run

Gitano or Get-On-Me

So, I’m minding my own business this morning, perusing the online news before reading my daily papers when I discover an article entitled Love is . . . a pair of really good jeans.” According to Reuter’s “for most women, the choice between sex and a new wardrobe is simple - - they go for the clothes.” What???

The article went on to say that women polled stated they would give up sex for 15 months for a closet full of new clothes. Three percent said they would give up sex for three years for new clothes! And again, I exclaim, What???

Now, typically, I attempt to refrain from discussing sex on my blog. I don’t want relationships or fornication to be the focus here. That’s not to say I’m against either of them, or blogs that are about them, not at all. It’s just to say I don’t want that to be my content base. However, I’m breaking that rule today.

Are these women INSANE?? I can barely go two weeks without sex. Particularly if it’s GOOD. Let alone great. I’d trade my complete wardrobe – and it’s a pretty damn good wardrobe, if I do say so myself – for ONE night of mind-blowing sex.

Luckily, I don’t have to. I manage to have both. But that’s not the point.

The point is that these women have lost their ever lovin’ minds. This part:

Sixty-one percent of women polled said it would be worse to lose their favorite article of clothing than give up sex for a month.

"Some people say clothes make the man, but the right clothes can even replace him," fashion designer, stylist and TV personality Carson Kressley from the reality TV show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" said in a statement accompanying the poll.

The study also suggested that clothes often wear better than relationships.

Well, let’s just say that this part bowled me over. Men being replaced by clothes??? Is THIS what we’re coming to?? Honestly . . . Seriously. . . No kidding . . .

No wonder marriage is at an all-time failure rate. Apparently, a vast majority of women would rather have an amazing pair of Melani shoes than an outstanding man.

Well, to those women, I want to say thank you. Let me reiterate – THANK YOU! You take your new jeans and stilettos. Leave the outstanding men out there for those of us with SENSE to find.

While I'm Internally Yelling "WHAT?????" . . . .

One of my six year old therapy kids wowed me with this lyrical masterpiece during "Song Time" in therapy today. Brace yourself. This is strong stuff:

My girl's got a girlfriend
And we be breakin' girls in
If you don want my dick up in her
Keep her way from here then

I would like to thank Young Dro and the (cough, cough) parents of this child for that musical highlight of my day.

My Mom's Insane, It's a Good Thing I'm Nothing Like Her, or ummm Exactly Like Her, Whichever

My mother purchased a brand, spankin', new Toyota 4-Runner in August.
She has maybe 7,000 miles on it TOPS.

She calls me Saturday to inform me that she wants to trade it in.
"I'm just not happy with it. I should have bought the Sequoia like yours, but I couldn't see spending an extra $15,000 for it."

Ummm, yeah, so, umm, what's changed now? Other than the fact that you're going to spend MORE money. You're gonna go upside down in the 4-Runner AND pay the extra $15,000 for the Sequoia, so instead of just the extra fifteen to begin with you're now probably talkin' an extra eighteen or twenty.

Whatever, chick. It's your retirement fund. When it's gone, it's gone. Don't come cryin to me. You and dad can sell the house and live in your ginormous vehicle. I'll bring you cans of food from Price Saver and extra blankets when it's cold. Kisses!

And, yes, I realize I drive the exact same ginormous vehicle - but there's (to quote my brother) "still a chance she might have a family some day and need all that room." She's had her family. Us. And, in case she hasn't noticed, we've been out of the nest for a while.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Carolyn G. Keene Would Be So Dismayed

The wind was cold that day. I can remember that much. I stood at the top of the fire escape looking down to the windows of the quickly filling classroom and waited. As always, Professor McClintock came to the three windows lining his room and opened them wide. “The sounds of nature are always inspiring, “ he would say, “and if not those sounds, maybe we can eavesdrop on some conversations going on outside.” I was careful not to move. Afraid my feet would rattle the cages of metal forming precarious stairs. I counted silently to twenty-three. The number of seconds I thought I should wait before carefully moving closer to the open windows. The number of days since I had, reluctantly, dropped the class.

I had always wanted to be a writer. My mother has “books” that I wrote when I was seven. Nancy Drew and the Drug Dealers (boy, I was an inventive titlist, wasn’t I?), The Longest Race (based on a footrace I had won against the meanest kid in our neighborhood) and various others that are too embarrassing to list. I was never sure I had the talent to be a writer, but I certainly had the drive.

As I grew older, however, I grew wiser. Dreams were fine, but student loans and mortgages were the reality. I’d claimed my major as Speech Language Pathology, but I was doubling in Creative Writing on the side. My passion, my hope, was to write things that moved people. Fiction, non-fiction, prose, poetry, anything made of words, anything from my heart or my mind, I just wanted to write them and have others read.

But I knew how unlikely it was that I would make a living at that. Even the best of writers sometimes never get published. These were facts that were drummed into our heads from the beginning of every writing class, every literature class, I ever took. “Don’t expect to make a living of this. Not creatively. You will find jobs as professors, journalists, over the counter medication description/instruction writers, but not creative writers. Very few ever make it.”

Speech Pathology was the logical route. Medically related – something I’d always had a great desire for – and stable. A very manageable income combined with the fact that I would be helping people everyday. I loved the thought. But it was tempered by the fear of never being able to write. So I kept taking both sets of classes. Eighteen to twenty-four caseload hours a semester; I killed myself to keep both my dreams alive. But you can only feed off hope so long before your plate is empty. My senior year, I realized where my focus should be.

So, I dropped my Advanced Writing course to allow more time to study for the GRE and the completion of my thesis. But I couldn’t stop attending. For a week after I’d dropped the course, I continued to go to class. It wasn’t long, however, until the red tape of the university lifted and Professor McClintock was made aware that I had dropped his course.

He pulled me into his office after class that morning and expressed his disappointment. “You’re one of the most talented writers in my class. If I’m honest, you’re the best writer. You are one of the few who could make it. Why are you dropping this class?” I explained the reality of my situation, my fears and my belief that I could STILL be a good writer, only in my spare time instead of as my main focus. He said he understood, but that he would have to ask me to no longer attend the class. “If you’re not going to be serious about writing, then I need to focus my attention on those students who ARE serious about it. I can’t help you if you won’t help yourself.” And that was that. At least as far as he knew.

Three mornings a week, I climbed the fire escape. Content to just listen to his advice. Thrilled to hear the readings of the other talented writers in the course. Moved by the open criticism and honesty that was expressed. I took notes more dutifully than I had when I was actually in the class. It seemed more important now, more urgent. Before, I thought I had all the time in the world to learn these things. That Professor McClintock and the other instructors would always be there for me with a quick smile and a fast red pen. But now . . . it looked as though I’d burned my bridges.

So for fifty minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I made my perch on the cold metal stairs and listened intently to the words drifting out the windows.

Holding on, the only way I knew how, to my dying dream.