Tag Archives: Acceptance

That Time I Shot a Piano

Or very nearly did, anyway.

I’ve developed a new psychiatric disorder: Dysfunction Envy.

The other day I started reading The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr. In her introduction, Karr relates an anecdote about bullet holes in her mother’s kitchen walls. This is on the first page, and she hasn’t even started the memoir portion yet. What a hook.

Although I’m enjoying the book, I’ve fallen into a funklet (not bad enough to be depression, but I’m not giddy either). I’ve recently written a few things I’m not happy with, which is okay. I don’t mind trashing or savagely editing stuff. But for some reason, Karr’s book has me worried.

Have I run out of dysfunctional material to mine for my memoir? Is my nine-month class this fall going to consist of me sitting there, doing nothing, while my classmates turn their trauma into gold? Where’s the gunplay in my story?

Then I remembered that time when I was twelve, and I found the .22 pistol that Mom kept under her pillow, loaded, with the safety off. For my protection.

As you know, I’m not able to offer much defense for my parents’ exciting decisions, but there was an incident that caused her to believe that a loaded firearm in our house was the best choice for her daughter. I’ll talk about that situation another time.

So I’m standing in the living room with the pistol aimed at my piano. My finger’s on the trigger. The whole room’s in soft focus except for the piano, and everything gets quiet like our house is made out of a giant pillow fort.

When I decide to pull the trigger, it occurs to me that if I shoot the piano, I might not be able to practice my lessons, and my teacher will be disappointed in me.

As the rest of the room becomes visible again and the sounds of the world return, I switch the safety on the pistol so that at least it won’t blow Mom’s head off while she’s sleeping, and I tuck it under her pillow.

I never told her how close I came to shooting the piano, mostly because she was busy with Glen, the womanizing truck driver she pretended to marry in Tahoe, who later left her for a gum-smackin’ poodle groomer with a platinum up-do, frosted nails and lipstick, and leopard print miniskirts. Her reason for the sham marriage is part of yet another story.

I also believe Glen was Mom’s last-ditch effort to be heterosexual, and that leads to another story for another time.

The tales I’m telling now are reminding me of so many I’ve forgotten, and there’s no evidence that this twisted river will run dry in the near future. What a relief. It seems I’ve got what it takes to compete in Dysfunctiondome.

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At least my finger isn’t on the trigger. Yet.

Of Rodeo Clowns and Waterboarding

Acceptance

I accept that:

I’ve aged enough to become invisible, which I agree is a superpower.

I’ll never understand someone else’s delusions because I’m busy with my own.

When I sing, I hear a blend of Amy Winehouse and Billie Holiday, and everyone else hears cats being waterboarded.

When I dance, I see the love child of Gene Kelly and Martha Graham, but everyone else sees a rodeo clown who’s amped on cocaine while doing interpretive dance and running from a bull.

I’m on fire!

The Latent Accountant

I’ve been chastising myself lately, and not in a fun, sexy way.

It’s about money management. I keep wondering why it’s taken me half a century to focus on financial responsibility in a somewhat grown-up way. My mother modeled great fiscal behavior, and my father offered sound advice, but I suppose when we’re young, that sort of thing doesn’t get through.

My mother taught me how to stick to a grocery list, fiercely, so that I could plunder the impulse purchase area at the grocery checkout. This resulted in a lot of quality time with my dentist.

And when I was fifteen, she was generous enough to hook me up with the guy who had the best pot prices in town. There’s no sense in overspending when you can avoid it. Such an important lesson.

My father didn’t model anything until his last years of life, when he married a woman who took him from the edge of bankruptcy to wealth (and back to bankruptcy and a fatal level of debt without his knowing it; he died believing he was a rich guy. She was a great wife and stepmom, bless her).

He did offer several pieces of monetary and general life advice, though:

“Marry someone safe, and be a secretary.”

He offered this advice when I was ten. For years after this statement, I thought of myself as a rebel. No way was I going to do what my father said – until I married an Air Force officer and became a secretary. But I was steadfast in my belief that his words had no influence on me. Such an unappreciative daughter.

“If you want to go to college, get a scholarship.”

He tossed this ditty at me as he strolled through the living room and disappeared down the hallway, and he lovingly allowed me the room to figure out what a scholarship is. I was also ten with this one, so there was plenty of time to research it.

He had a habit of offering life tidbits as he was passing through rooms.

“You should take up the clarinet” was one. He was thoughtful enough to suggest this when I was wearing braces. I remember lots of tears. Probably of joy.

“You should take up stamp-collecting,” whoosh, gone. Although this is possibly the most boring sport in the history of humankind, there is a bonus: I learned what “philately” means. It’s an awesome Scrabble power word, and someone always insists on challenging it.

“Buy real estate from women who just became widows. They’re vulnerable and ready to sell at any price.”

I was so lucky to be thirty-two when he imparted this one – and even luckier that he didn’t leave the room this time, so we could finally have a great father-daughter talk. I could appreciate the point he was making even though I didn’t fully grasp the wisdom of it in the moment.

We were sitting in his den, waiting for his mother’s wake to begin, so my grandma’s death was pretty much on my mind. My father and I were getting into the innocuous sort of chitchat that happens right after death, kind of catching up on family members. He mentioned that my stepbrother was going to visit Seattle.

I said, “Oh, Ricky will love it. It’s so beautiful.”

Dad said, “Yeah, and I told him he’s going to find great pussy there.”

Instead of berating myself, I’m going to appreciate that I’m now paying attention to my finances and be thankful for the nurturing guidance of two caring parents.

 

Accepting my Inner Slob

I just lost another round of Compare Yourself to Someone Else: You’re sure to win this time!

Yesterday one of our condo board members was distributing new building keys, so I went to his unit. I like this guy, but I hate his place. Everything is impossibly aligned with everything else. Knickknacks are set askew with perfection, and I think he organizes his shoes in the entryway with a T-square.

And everything’s so clean. It’s blinding. Even the floors. He could employ a five-day rule in the kitchen.

Then I come back to our place, with the empty plastic litter bins lined up in the front hall, judgmentally waiting for someone to recycle them.

There’s the occasional piece of kibble that bores into my heel when I step on it, sixteen feet away from the food dish because Molly enjoys her dinner to go.

I accept that I’ll never be like Martha Stewart, even if I had a rap sheet, but I’m afraid of dying in this mess and somehow still managing to be embarrassed when people discover my body nestled between a mountain of dirty laundry and a pile of clean, unfolded clothes.

Serenity is just a Word to Me

The other day Paul met a cheese he didn’t like. I never expected this. I’ve seen him savor cheese platters that smell like an autopsy being performed in a college locker room during a natural gas leak. My world suddenly made much less sense.

Just as I was recovering from the shocking cheese aversion, he made the bed. For the first time in twenty-two years. I panicked and asked, “Why would you do that?” in the same voice I’d ask a home invader, “Why here?”

Paul said, “Because the people across the street can see our bedroom.”

I blurted, “But they’ve been able to see our unmade bed for five years. Why is this important to you now?”

He shrugged and ambled away, leaving me reeling in confusion and anxiety, somewhat like when my surgeon told me I had cancer. The fact that I’m reacting at all similarly to a bed-making crisis and life-threatening health news may surprise you, but not me. I have a long track record of overreacting.

Like that time in Buffalo, New York as it was approaching Christmas during our first year there. I heard a fire engine siren a couple doors away, so I chucked Muriel the cat into her crate, jammed my arms into a coat, and shouted at Paul, “Fire! We have to evacuate! Now!”

Paul complied, taking what felt like an ice age to get his coat and shoes on.

I burst into the foyer of our duplex, wide-eyed and sweaty, Muriel’s cage dangling from my hand. Her eyes bulged with terror as Paul slouched behind me with his hands in his pockets.

The couple next door were standing just inside the main front door with their three young children, all relaxed and smiling. None of them were dressed to evacuate during an Upstate New York winter. I understood nothing at this point.

They turned from gazing at the fire truck, and I shouted, “Where’s the fire?!”

The littlest kid pointed toward the truck as the vehicle slowly made its way toward us. He said with glee, “It’s Fire Truck Santa!”

I looked again, and sure enough, that sadistic holiday bastard was waving his Christmas cheer at all the happy kids in the neighborhood.

The three of us slunk back into our unit (as much as a cat trapped in a crate can slink) to the sounds of laughter. I mumbled, “Merry Christmas” as my face turned a bright Rudolph-nose color.

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Yes, I am Chicken Little, although I’ve never been this adorable.

I suppose that wasn’t as bad as the escalator incident at Sea-Tac Airport. A tank-sized drunk guy passed out at the top and hurtled backwards, landing on a tot and his mother (they were fine).

Paul and I were standing nearby, and as I was unaware of the embarrassingly obvious red emergency stop buttons on escalators, I did the next best thing. I spread my arms out at an angle, and in my most commanding voice yelled, “Stand back! My husband is an occupational therapist!”

At six-foot-five, Paul did his best to be invisible as he slowly sidled away from me. Sadly for him, at this point there was no hiding. He came forward to help—which he would’ve done anyway—but his facial expression said, “Good God, I hope no one thinks I’m the guy she’s talking about.”

I probably should work on the overreaction thing, but I worry that Paul might be staying with me just for the entertainment value.

 

I am a BLT

I have a confession about one of my biggest fears: becoming a bag lady, with cats. It isn’t like having cats is a fear, but combine that with bag lady, and there’s something disquieting and stereotypical happening there.

I can’t even look elderly female panhandlers in the eye because I’m terrified they’ll peer into my soul and see the future bag lady within, give a little wink, and say, “See you soon, dear. Just remember this is my corner. And I have a knife.”

Recently I told Paul, “I need a little wheeled cart for all my trips to the store.”

He freaked and blurted, “You’re not that old!” But when I assured him that he didn’t have to be seen with me and the cart at the same time, he started breathing again.

I’ve found a pretty stylin’ trolley that can handle the thousand pounds of cat litter we have to buy every week for Mimi, so I’ve been feeling kinda hip as I trundle around the neighborhood.

That is, until I came home from getting groceries and Amazon packages the other day. Then it hit me: I’ve become a Bag Lady in Training, and I might need to accept my destiny:

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Just need a hairnet and some semi-used tissue in my pocket for a complete ensemble.

* By the way, my cart is called “The Sholley Trolley.” I’m not getting anything for telling you about it, but I just have to share the info ‘cause it’s great for local shopping without a car: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00S75L252/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Also I think some people assume I’m pushing a baby stroller around. I’ve noticed a little smile until they get closer. Then there’s a look of dismay as they begin to suspect I’ve got a child in there, and it’s not allowed to breathe. Just another bonus.

Paranoia and Predictability

I recently came home from the store that’s one block from our house, and I saw Paul’s car parked in our spot. So when I opened the front door, I shouted the usual “Hello!” There was no response, so I assumed that he was on the floor in the bedroom, cyanotic, eyes wide open. Dead.

I was so certain he’d dropped that I couldn’t move. I stood in the foyer with my grocery bag dangling from my hand, trying not to panic. I knew I needed to check the bedroom, and I’d have to call 9-1-1. But I didn’t want to see him lying there.

A few seconds went by, and I heard a key turn in the front door. Paul ambled in and smiled.

I blurted in a voice that was straining to sound casual, “Oh! There you are! Hah-hah!”

Paul asked, “Thought I was dead?”

“Yep.”

He chirped, “Of course you did.” Then he took both of our grocery bags and shuffled to the kitchen.

I’m torn between gratitude for Paul’s acceptance of my paranoia and dissatisfaction for having become predictable, but I believe paranoia rules.

When I asked Google what I should request from Paul for Christmas*, it suggested the Car Hammer. I’m not sure if “passive security system” is a commentary about the driver’s character, but I still like this product. The description in Amazon is:

“Car Hammer: Vital Safety Seatbelt Cutter Survival Kit: Window Punch Breaker Tool for Family Rescue & Emergency Escape, Great Christmas Gift”

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Nothing evokes Christmas cheer like saying, “Next time you drive off a pier, you’ll be ready. Love, Santa.”

 

 

* Yes. I Googled “great gifts for women” because I couldn’t think of a damned thing.