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Archive for November, 2003

|| November 24, 2003 || 12:15 am || Comments (22) ||

“Hey man, my mom can do a lay-up. For real.”

Friday night found me being screamed at by a pregnant wirehead in the parking lot of a Dairy Queen while her three (the-state-saw-fit-to-remove-but-ma’n'pa-cain’t-figger-out-whyyyyy) children waited in all their carseated glory, for me to make the forty-five minute drive to take them home. In the dark. Up windy, mountainous terrain where my cellphone doesn’t carry a signal. And oh yeah, where mom and dad have lots of little tweaky friends who don’t require much in the ’setting off’ department.

Have I mentioned that I’m not allowed to carry a weapon on this job? Besides my to-the-bone wrath, that is.

“SUPERVISED VISITATION JUST MEANS THAT YOU HAVE TO SEE ME, IT DOESN’T MEAN THAT YOU HAVE TO HEAR ME AND TAKE NOTES SO’S YOU CAN RUN OFF TATTLING ON ME SO THAT I LOSE TIME WITH MY KIDS!” Hmmm, let me see….that losing time thing doesn’t have anything atall to do with the drug tests you both fail with a keen regularity, now does it?

“Look, we need to talk,” I said calmly shortly after I’d buckled the kids in and closed the doors.

“So TALK,” she spat.

“Number one,” I went on, “we can’t be having these Scenes From A Public Restaurant displays. Number two, they absolutely cannot happen in front of these kids. Save the irate for the ISP meetings.”

“I’maboutta show you irate here in five minutes.”

“You threatening me?” I asked, narrowing my eyes. Watch me when I get quieter, ole gal. Just watch me. That means I’m about to latch on to that there jugular and/or pound some pavement with your fucking white-trashy head. I try like hell to be compassionate in this job. I am patently non-judgemental. Agog many times, but non-judgemental. There but for the grace of God, you know? I coulda been born inbred, too. But I got NO KINDA SYMPATHY for this bitch. My monitoring was non-invasive before. Now I’ma be up her ass and smiling like I OWN the fucking catbird seat. I’d like to be everybody’s friend in this sort of situation, but if you make me choose, I’m gonna come down on the side of the wee ones every time. You hear me? Every last time. Make bank on it.

Saturday morning found me at the Juvenile Woo-hoo Hospital playing a comical bit of volleyball with the Sixteen-And-Under Certifiable Set. I’m ass at volleyball, let me just tell you. The kids all thought I was National Lampoon Set Point On Wheels.

I had taken Sam and Scout with me to meet the kid that I was taking to visit his brother (mentioned him here before). Yes, in a further bout of crazed philanthropical fervor (my uterus, ow, my uterus), we are entertaining the notion of fostering this kid, and it’s important that my kids have the opportunity to interact with him for a time so that everyone is fully informed. The kid is great, and by great I mean exceptionally superb. He’s thirteen and witty, intelligent (“Did you know that ‘Ring Around The Rosy’ is actually about the black plague?”), musically inclined (plays the trumpet), a voracious reader (he gobbles up everything I bring him to read….recently has started on ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ series) and very not wanted by his own family. They (his mom, dad and brother) are all “Hyuck-hyuck” and no-teethy and have a cumulative IQ of about seventy. I swear, it’s like he was dropped into their midst by aliens in some twisted sort of social experiment.

They all have dark eyes and hair. He is blonde and blue-eyed. It’s like he’s destined to be a Superior kid. Crazy.

So anyhoo, Sam and Scout are along, and because I anticipated us being locked in a room with the Big Leering Swamprat and his family, I requested a grounds visit. What the hell, right? The day’s pretty, I’ve got a handle on three mostly normal kids and one borderline one. Yeah, well, no sooner than we piled onto the volleyball court did the big metal doors to the lawn clang open and out came pouring all our Fine Young Mostly-Imprisoned Friends. In such situations one must adapt. I divvied up all the Adolescent Crazies and proceeded to taunt them. What I lack in skill I can most assuredly make up for in mouth. I warnt there just to get my tennyshoos dusty, friend.

So when I’m patently at the pinnacle of Net Suckitude, young Sam (oh he of the chivalrous and wave-all-his-cards-in-front-of-him-where-everybody-but-everybody-can-see-’em nature) comes to rescue my honor with the bold statement that you see in yon title line. Rock. So of course, we are fully expected to traipse over to the neighboring basketball court, even though I was quite okay in my volleyball ineptitude. Quick little pick-up game, okay then, okay.

What commenced was a lesson in White Girls Can Sometimes Jump, No Matter That They Neglected To Don A Sports Bra That Day….too bad the Big Leering Swamprat wasn’t in attendance. I left that day having been pronounced ‘Not Bad For A White Girl’ by a kid named Tometrius (I even asked him how to spell it, in fine journalistic fashion, yo). I’ve only received this title one other time; that was at a high school dance in the tenth grade and it was bestowed upon me by one Kenny Bullard, a lanky and handsome black fella who could appreciate a fine dancer no matter the hue of their skin.

Later that afternoon I dropped Sam off to his dad; Scout elected to finish out the day’s work with me. I’d picked up a seven-hour supervised ‘Thanksgiving Dinner’ visit from a worker that was vacationing. There are nine kids, only six of whom were attending, and one other worker was covering the visit with me.

Now, this family is fucking NOTORIOUS in social work circles, and I was really unsure as to what to expect. I was picturing the Herdmans with a frenetic mother and that’s pretty much what I got. With ham. And green bean casserole. And a cat-smelling double-wide trailer whose door facings had been quite aesthetically ripped out, leaving that shabby-chic, nails-poking-from-the-frame thing. The kids ranged from sixteen down to four and were all quite strikingly beautiful. They each had a different father.

“Yeah,” Quinn –the middle boy– told me, “when mom’s not working, she likes to interact.” Oh boy. Ohboy ohboy.

There was a great-aunt and a grandmother, both quite refined, and somewhere down the line a van full of Holiness girls emptied into the trailer, impossibly long and uncut hair a-swingin. Oh yes, a three-hundred-fifty pound aunt (who kept announcing to us that she’d already lost one-hundred and eighty-five) and her two boys (one sixteen, two-hundred fify pounds, a unibrow and limited reasoning capabilities and one three and quite cute, markedly smarter than mother and brother) showed up. The other worker? She was a Yankee woman built like a drill sergeant who had recently retired from Juvenile Corrections in Florida.

It was like I was trapped in a John Waters film, I swear. I swear.

The normally low-key friendly Scout sat, eyes wide and expressionless, most of the visit. Sweeeeet mother of something. When they informed me that the slate for the evening’s entertainment was to posse up and head for a local family karaoke joint, I nearly lost it. The evening folded with me sitting in this place, watching people of various degrees of inbreeding dance with one another while one or two of the other inbreds sang things that contained lyrics like ‘…If that good-lookin’ thang in the corner keeps smilin’ back at me…’ and ‘…Just once more I wish you’d love me on a blanket on the ground…’

There was a fella there with a book –a whole hotdanged BOOK– filled to the brim with carefully-compiled karaoke ceedees. One girl, cute with butch-cut hair, but about as big around as she was tall, began dancing a furious mountain reel; I don’t know how in the fuck she defied both sweat and gravity. One boy with a square, lumpy head (adorned with an impossibly flat face) set atop a square, lumpy body channeled Elvis repeatedly as the night wore on. Holy Heartbreak Hotel! I’m from Memphis, and I detest Elvis. Destest him, you hear me!??

Scout leaned in once or twice and asked me why I didn’t get up there to rock the house. Finally I told her, while trying not to sound too very imperious: “Look, Scoutypoo, ay) you can only throw a good karaoke meetin’ with the addition of some fine tequila and bee) karaoke ain’t supposed to be serious, for geese and gravy and cee) you don’t bring caviar to a catfish fry. It’s a bit uppity.” She nodded sagely. Scout digs okay, baby.

About that time a young member of the house band headed toward the stage, pulling at the mic and gesturing to a guitar player present.

“Play me somethin’, Thumpy.” is what he said, but I misinterpreted it as ‘Play me something thumpy.’ Hell, how was I to know that was the guitar player’s name? Silly me. Young Member Of The House Band then turned to sidestage, got on one knee and commenced to asking the jig-dancing girl, who now held her five-month-old baby (and a pretty baby she was) to marry him. He had no ring to offer, only his heart.

“Amanda, we been together a long time, and you know I love you.” Sounded for all the world like he was on Jerry Springer and about to confess an affair with her cross-dressing cousin Bubba.

How was YOUR weekend?

This won’t make ary a bit of sense to most of you, but it usually doesn’t, so what’s the difference anyway?

Dear Friend:

You write these things to me, these things that mean such a great deal and so little and I’m left with one million (and perhaps plus one) things to say. Then I think: This is so much rubbish…who knows what on earth it is you need? Nothing, that’s what. You need nothing, least of all reams and reams of written word from me, and maybe then we are in luck because I think I have nothing to give. Not for lack of want, oh no, but you have me over a barrel, looking askance at the sunset, because nighttime is the righttime, hoo-wee. I am magical in the night and I always have been.

Yes, and I do ‘get’ things, but they are not typically the stuffs of which people would like to partake and if they do, they may complain that they are ‘not seasoned properly’. How can I help that I’ve spent my whole life growing salty? Or firebrand peppery? There’s nothing sexy about meat and potatoes, but so many people feed richly off of them and even chance to crave more.

The crave, that’s what I was getting at: You speak in such a way that I think you maybe have it and perhaps will run all over seeking the sweet muted things that life has to offer even though Divine Apathy (so you express) often catches you speaking with pith and vinegar. You’d like a warm bosom, as would we all….maybe it lies with someone else, maybe it lies in yourownself? That, I cannot surmise –not at this early a juncture–, nor would I hazard to. But I should warn you: A warm bosom is not a matter of convenience, oh no. It’s quite the opposite, but I think that maybe you already have that nugget of wisdom sewn up, even if you might disregard it a tad.

I have this cousin –one I’ve not spoken with in at least two decades, and last I heard he was off making his way learning a dozen some-odd languages and taking a gentle Japanese woman for a wife– with whom I had the occasion to lie in a ditch with one day from ten in the morning to far past dark; we stared at the sky blankly and spoke in impassioned monotones about dissatisfaction and worth(lessness) and drive and distinction and the mad way that life digs into your middle and sends you shriekless into the undertow. We lie in that ditch for all those hours wanting for nothing, not food, not drink, not salve for wayward bugs gnawing at our skin, save for the conversation at hand. It flowed and flowed and I remember thinking “FINALLY. Finally there is someone who is a walking blank, too.” I didn’t yet know that the trick to not falling over is to make friends with your insane bits so as not to be overtaken (or, at the very least –and what comfort this– frightened) by them. This really doesn’t apply to you. You have, quite clearly, shaken hands with your insane bits and bought them a drink, to boot. You’re quite alright in that department. Maybe that’s a big part of the reason we have this begrudging affection for one another. Like knows like.

So we lie there in that deep crevice of a ditch, God’s Own Recliner, not being seen by others, not even passing one glance between us, but being heard by one another in a way that I’d not experienced before and have not since. We chewed on the sweet stalks of grass and it was there I figured out that okay, just as if life were a Gigunda Magic Scrabble Board, blanks have the edge. Blanks complete other things, join things, are flexible enough to be just about anything at anytime, wherever needed. They truck no score, but they are invaluable in a clinch. The blanks don’t take a score, but they can absolutely make a score. And blanks are smooooth. They are fairly rare.

I’m a Blank, baby. You just might be one, too. We’ve yet to have the occasion to lie in a ditch, but I feel that some day we just might, if we can both put our egos (derived from different places, naturally, but one no more meager than the other) aside and sit there talking without so much as a glance at one another for a time. Yes, I feel quite strongly that you might be a fellow blank.

You ask in a roundabout way what I know, and what I know seems trite, but it gives me comfort: There is music, there are words and lots of times there’s an internal fire to warm me. There is thinking, and there is feeling, and the two don’t make perfect bedfellows, but they make mighty powerful lovers. So the list of things you don’t like is longer than the one that cites the things you do in fact care for. So what? The numbers are trivial, trite, without merit in this instance. Here is the thing that matters:

How passionate are you about the things on both lists?

And ye-esss, discontent is an aside. You’re missing the point…aren’t all beings that truly, truly immerse themselves in the folly of thought and emotion discontented? At least to some degree? Of course people aren’t forthcoming. Maybe you’ve not asked in the right way or even asked at all. Maybe you’ve not been still enough to grasp what it is they’re saying in word or in deed (I’m thinking that p’raps, just like me, you fill the periods between cavernous introspection with frenetic activity). Maybe, just maybe, they aren’t so vain as to imagine their truths to be universal. The breeze that blows their skirts up with gale force might not even stir your hem, you dig?

You asked for one thing, even one, and this is the one I can give you without flinching or turning away: ‘Blackbird’ is a Beatles song. All the rest is just ditch talk, and I look forward to that, as I hope you do.

Warmly (and I do mean that),


To the fucker that signed me up for the Daily Bible Verse spam:

Ha-ha. Funny.

Very clever, very witty, veryveryvery.

Look, bitch, I read my bible every morning! How the fuck else do you think I’m able to cope with being fixed to a planet alongside the likes of spamming assberries such as yourself??

(I started to close this post with the exclamation, ” ‘JESUS WEPT!!’, John 11:35″ but thougt that it was a bit too over the top for comedic effectiveness.)

Y’all have a goodun.

|| November 19, 2003 || 11:01 am || Comments (4) ||


becky: ‘Oblivious

Welp, there’s three minutes of my life I can’t fucking get back. It does appear, however, that Keanu lives up to the hype: He can thump a pretty convincing bass (…and please recall here that I am a Lover Of Bass Gods from way back, so I know of what I speak). Too bad he’s hitched his basshorse to this tripewagon.

Rebecca Lord, you are no Jill Cunniff!….even if your voice has been ProToolsed all over hell and half of Georgia. And allow me to share with you one wee bit of insider knowledge: What one lacks in talent one can make up for (even a tad) in energy. Step away from the mic, girl! Move them there feets! Go a little nuts, and do it with verve. If that left hand just has to be touching the mic at all times, well…that fucker comes out of the stand, did you know that? It’s notoriously portable. Shake your shimmy. Make something work in your favor. Thanks so much.

These are the sorts of things I would write were I to craft a novel.

“Here now,” he said, handing her back the lighter he’d borrowed from her so long ago.

Then he looked her in the eye, masking his fear with the controlled mirth that was so well-practiced. The mirth that no one except her managed to dissect for what it was. I see you. I see you in the one way that counts.

He came all this way? He came all this way, across all these miles and all these feelings, all this fucking time to return a lighter?

“Look,” and he paused, his bottom lip full, his top lip a thin curl at one side, “If I drink too much more I will become very fond of you and that is something I would like to avoid at all costs.” He slid the lighter across her upturned palm and she flicked it open, fingering the wheel of it with her thumb as she looked at him fixedly. She was wrestling with the very real desire to throw it at him.

While it was lit.

After he’d bathed in some sort of flammable liquid.

Any flammable liquid.

And this was the way they were, from the first minute that they’d met. It has been said that if a man and a woman look into each other’s eyes for more than about twelve seconds they are either going to kill each other or make love. Never was a truer example set forth than the two of them while they were in close proximity to one another.

“Bartender,” she called over her shoulder while gesturing two fingers toward his glass, “set us up about ten of these. I’m gonna teach this man how to lose gracefully.”

“Either that,” she said and then turned to meet his gaze again, “or how to get good and drunk and then walk away.”

|| November 16, 2003 || 4:44 pm || Comments (10) ||

Because melly needs a laugh:

This is dedicated to her.

|| November 16, 2003 || 4:09 pm || Comments (5) ||

My exit polls are hiiiigh.

Sam spent the bulk of the evening-before-last (okay, all of it) carrying around a notebook containing various polls on each family member. I ranked off the charts, Mathias ranked off the charts, and Maxim was on up there. Sam remarked to me that he’d already informed Maxim, whose rating was pretty decent, that Maxim could grease it on up there by sliding a sawback into Sam’s pocket. Technically, the kid’s ignorant of ‘the system’, so it disheartens me greatly to know that he’s a natural politician.

Scout came in somewhere in the fortieth percentile. As you might imagine, this sorely vexed young Scout. To further increase her ire, Sam crafted a page full of little columns of checkboxes with headers like ‘Yelling’ and ‘Getting Up In My Face’ and ‘Smart A’ (he swore the ‘A’ stood for aleck, but he didn’t know how to spell it correctly and he wanted his data sheet to be accurate. I replied that in all honesty no data out there is completely accurate, whereupon he gave me A Looktm). Of course no one else had a page of checkboxed standards to live up to.

For someone who knows nothing of politics and poll rankings, this was a pretty inventive little way for Sam to get Scout’s goat. I’m kinda jealous that I didn’t think of it as a kid.

I’d really like to call up my younger sister and torture her a little bit, but it’s just not as fun when your sibling is grown and really is a loser.