About this blog....

Welcome to Things In My Rear view Mirror. This is a collection of stories based on true events throughout my life. Some are very good memories, some are not so good. However, all are written from my point of view at the age they occurred. No harm, pain or otherwise negativity is meant with my writing. This blog is intended to help me heal as well as share with those important in my life the good, the bad, the ups and the downs that make me who I am and who I am proud to be today.
And no, I do not and will not change names.
All material, stories, pictures, videos on this blog and all it's pages are completely and fully the original work of Janet Jones and are not permitted to be used in any form without express written permission of the author Janet Jones. Protected by Copyscape DMCA Takedown Notice Infringement Search Tool

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Trip Home......Part 2... We lay in wait

As we reached the road my heart is securely pounding as if it will explode from my chest at any moment. I couldn't believe that neither of you did anything as in the past. Was it because my husband, Charles was there? Or was it because you are older and less capable of doing me physical harm? Either way I couldn't believe things had gone so smoothly.

It was getting more and more difficult to block my mind from allowing my heart to think it felt a connection again. My mind knows that it's not possible. It's all what I have many times called your mindfucking tricks. You play it up that you care. You play it up that I mean something; that you miss me; that you love me. And then like clockwork you turn into Jeckyl; laughing in my face and at my broken heart. I wouldn't allow it this time. I would remain strong and steadfast.

Just then I remember that this is really the first time that my husband, Charles has seen the craziness of my past, what I had been cursed to have as parents. What does he think? What is going through his head?

The phone rings and quickly startles me out of the traps of my mind. It's Julie and we discuss where to meet so that we can wait for you both to leave for the night. The decision is made to park at the old metal shop down the road where we can get a clear view of the property, house and driveway.

And so the wait begins.

The Trip Home......Part 1........So we meet again....

So much hurt. So much pain. So many memories both good and bad. I haven't seen either of you in around 8 years now. The last time I saw you mother you were laying in a hospital bed seemingly wishing you were dead. The last time I saw you dear stepfather was the same night when you realized it was me in the hospital room and you attempted to physically throw/push/shove me out of the room.

I really could have done without seeing either of you today. However, circumstances did not permit the pleasure of avoidance I have enjoyed for so many years. I would have waited all night long before attempting to go onto the property with either of you there, but my sister and her mother in law were on a time schedule and needed to get things done.

With several deep breaths I made the decision to just do it. Climbing in the van and following Julie down the long driveway my heart only beat harder and harder with every inch we drove closer to the house. What will you say? What will he say? What will either of you do? Will violence of some sort be involved yet again as it had so many times in the past?

Julie and her mother in law step out of their vehicle and approach Clem, her father, my stepfather. With one last breath and a quick glance at my husband I said, "I have to do it. I can't leave her (Julie) out there alone." I quickly jump out of my van before I could change my mind and holding my head high I walk up.

The look of surprise in Clem's face is astonishing. Dear Clem, did you think you would never see me again? Did you really think that you would never have to face the things you have done to me in the past? Are you surprised that I am strong and unwilling to back down? After all these years, after all the lies, after all the pain here I am once again. You, Clem will not win.

I hold my hands up in the air and state, "I am not here to cause trouble.  I simply came to support Julie. She asked me to come and I am here for her." Clem stutters something that I cannot understand and I take the moment to proudly introduce my husband who is standing guard behind me. Julie and Clem are talking but I realize that my heart is pounding so loudly I can hear it in my ears.

They begin to walk towards the house and Julie glances over her shoulder at me. For a fleeting moment I see that little girl I once knew in her eyes. My feet begin to carry me and I catch up behind her following her into the house. Clem calls out to someone we cannot see but know it's you mother. "Can Janet come in?"
Are you serious? Can Janet come in? Really? I think in my head. Of course Janet can come in. This is MY great grandfather's house that you have sold out from under the family without a care or concern in the world. I WILL come in whether it be now or later. The time doesn't matter much to me.

You stand up from your chair and come towards me with your arms open as if the years of hurt, anger and lies were never an issue. For peace sake I hug you and almost forget that I mustn't fall into the trap again of "being loved."  Neither of you are capable of what love really is. The two of you have dished out so much pain, lies and hurt through the years that now you have to hire strangers to help you pack and move. You both have alienated your family on both sides so much that you are scared now what either Julie or myself may say.

Both Julie and I play it "nice" and I simply stand there as she walks through the house attempting to locate items that once belonged to her. I being uninterested in most things simply gaze around the kitchen scanning for any items that had sentimental value to me.  My eyes settle on a huge roll of twine that had belonged to my great grandfather. Without taking two seconds to think I grabbed it and head for the door where my husband is standing in wait for us.  I shove the roll of twine in his hands and he instinctively turned to put it in our van.  I go back inside and stand in the kitchen acting as if nothing ever happened. Obviously, neither of you notice what I had done when you return. Inside I feel a sort of triumph. You wouldn't be able to take everything from me.

Julie makes a few more passes through the house with the two of you and I abscond my old wooden baby gate which had been lying discarded on the floor. Again, triumph!

Both of you return to the kitchen where I stood innocently and began small talk. You, mother had the nerve to ask me where my Uncle Bill had recently been buried. Only for respect of him did I answer you and explain that he had been cremated.  I didn't provide any other information. I didn't have to. You didn't seem too interested anyways.

As Julie and I were preparing to leave I gathered the courage to ask you for the old antique knobs off of the cabinets. Surprisingly you said yes and Julie and I began to unscrew them all in lightening speed.  Somewhere after the 4th or 5th one being taken off you laughingly muttered, "What you don't have enough yet?" And I told you, "No," as I kept unscrewing as many knobs as I could get off.

Julie and I then said some parting words (Me mostly mumbling about having to be back home to San Antonio soon.) and we walked out the door.  To my amazement neither of you followed us which gave both Julie and I enough time to grab the two metal shoe grates that Pat O'Neal had made years before and run to our vehicles with them.

Neither of our vehicles slowed as we made the trip back up the driveway to the road.

Emergency Rooms Again...

My heart sinks into my stomach as I read the text: Call me 911. I knew something was wrong. I knew like only a mother can know when one of her lion cubs is hurt. I knew it in the pit of my gut. I knew it in the bottom of my sunken heart.

While gulping a huge breath of air in an attempt to calm myself I dial the number. My ears are immediately overrun with her tears regarding you, my baby girl. It wasn't Cheryl's fault. She is one of the most caring and loving people I know. She fits right up there in my special list of people allowed to have my children for extended periods of time. However, in true mommy fashion she somehow thinks this accident is her fault and all I can hear her say over and over is I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.

Tanner, the dog you have known since you were about 2 years old and him about 6 weeks old snapped at you while you attempted to take his bone away from him. His teeth caught your skin and ripped it all the way down the right side of your perky little freckle covered nose.

How very brave you were that you weren't crying when you got to the phone to talk to me. The stuffiness caused by the injury nearly broke my heart. "Mama, it's not Tanner's fault. I knew better. I shouldn't have tried to take his bone away. Please don't be mad at him," you said.

I spent the next several minutes on the phone trying to comfort you from miles away. Trying not to allow myself to second guess my decision to let you go away for summer vacation without me.  You had done it so many times before and accidents can and do happen at home just as much as anywhere else.

I am preparing myself to make a maddening 220 mile trip to get to the ER when you are there although common sense tells me you would probably be out and back to the house before I ever got there.  The trip generally takes 3 to 3 1/2 hours on a normal day. We decided that if you needed me after you saw the dr. then I would come right away.

The next 2 hours were some of the most grueling times as a mother I have ever experienced. I am mommy and I am supposed to be there when my children cry. However, you weren't crying. In true Megan Beth fashion you had slipped into your cute little nurturer role and sat alternating between Cheryl and Bill's laps lightly tapping their backs trying to comfort them. You told me you did this so they would not cry.  I tried very hard but tears ran down my face. I hugged my big pillow and wished it were you.

Several hours into the by now what must have been 20 or so phone calls and texts I find out that you are watching animal planet and requesting purple stitches. I knew you would be ok at this point. Just as in the past you have always been a trooper and even more so since you had to settle for blue stitches instead of the purple ones you had wanted.

The next day you taught us all a lesson when you laid beside Tanner's kennel where he was locked up and stuck your finger through the cage to pet his nose. "Why did you do that Tanner?" You said, "You've never been that way before. You hurt me but even so I still love you."

Through all of that you still loved your best friend enough to forgive him for hurting you and through that I realize mistakes of all kinds do happen. If a 10 year old little girl can forgive that dog for scarring her for life physically but not scar her inside into fearing dogs I suppose I could stop a little in life and forgive those that may have hurt me.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bathtubs, Emergency Rooms and Winks

I could curse that old bathroom tub over and over and still never have the satisfaction that it understands the depth of sorrow I feel when I remember your injury. The bone chilling scream that entered my ears still rings painfully to this day. I remember the feeling of helplessness as I attempted to race into the bathroom and feeling as if my legs were frozen in place. I slammed the door open only to see tears pouring from your face as you had fallen straddling the tub edge and cutting yourself on the old metal shower track.

Wrapping you in a towel I rushed you to the ER to sit and wait for the Dr. to examine. I was so proud of you when you asked him why he needed to look at you there because only mommy was allowed to do that.  After a long explanation and you agreeing only if mommy stays with me, you said, the doctor began his examination.

To my great relief the Dr. assured us that all was okay and we could return home. So, we packed up and returned home to a great big bowl of ice cream. After all it cures everything right? After a good movie and lots of cuddle time we set off to bed for the night.

Somewhere around the 1 am hour I was promptly awakened by a terrifying scream and popped my eyes open to see you, my Megan Beth, standing in my doorway with your pajama bottoms completely drenched in blood.  Your face was ashen white and your lips swollen bright red from dehydration.

Attempting to open your mouth to speak you instead collapsed on the floor from loss of blood. I quickly ripped your pajama bottoms off and wrapped you in a blanket while running for the front door.  Grabbing my keys and racing for the car with you in my arms I remember thinking that I could make it to the ER faster than an ambulance.

Within minutes we were rushed into a room where the nurse promptly hooked you up to an IV and I attempted very hard not to let the fear show on my face. I needed to be strong for you.

For the next hour or so my mind blocked out the surroundings as I focused on squeezing your hand hoping you would squeeze back, open your eyes or just do anything to let me know you were okay.  After another grueling two hours I let go of your hand long enough to lean back and readjust my position in my chair. As I reached for your hand I glanced at your face through the bed's side rail bars.

A feeling of hope washed over me as I caught your eyes peeking out of the covers.  And then all of a sudden I had to blink my eyes while questioning if I had seen correctly.  I leaned in a little closer and sure enough it happened again! You winked at me!

In that split second the world returned to normal and all the ER noises filled my ears. I jumped up and leaned down to plant a kiss on your head.  Carefully pulling the covers down you glanced over my shoulder at the TV in the corner and said, "I hate the wiggles!" And I knew then all was okay.

The next day daddy came in from work and literally ripped out the shower doors and all the old metal tracking.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Planes, Fear and Overcoming

What was I thinking when I accepted the invitation to teach a 2 day marathon workshop on a subject in which I had no professional training? What was I thinking when I booked my flight in which I would travel to get there?

I know. I was caught up in the glamorous idea that I was actually making something of myself.  Against all odds and especially against all the proclamations of  doom and gloom drilled into my soul by my parents since an early age. You'll be nothing. You'll always fail. You're stupid. You're nothing more than one of those whores strutting her shit down on D street in Killeen. The words and the pain wash over me consuming me from within. A lump forms in my throat as my head begins to pound in my ears. Sweat overtakes my freshly applied deodorant. 

The ringing of my phone jerks me out of my downhill spiral and causes me to visibly jerk upright. People sitting around me stare at me quizzically. Nodding my head and offering a lopsided smile I hope that they will look away as I fumble for my ringing phone.

Finally locating the phone and flipping it open I hear a frantic plea coming from my daughter scream through the phone.

"Mama, please don't go! I don't want you to crash and die!"

Taking a deep breath I spend the next five minutes calming her down and fail miserably in blocking her fears from grabbing hold of mine and growing into a much larger monster in the pit of my stomach.

As the sound of the loudspeaker comes across announcing boarding for my flight I assure her one more time and hang up the phone. Trying to swallow the ball of terror in the back of my throat I can only offer a weak smile and nod of my head to the lady checking in my ticket. 

The walk down the long tunnel to the plane feels as if it is never ending.  In fact I feel as if I am in one of those movies where I am walking but not really going anywhere.  And the door to the plane is getting farther and farther away.

Finally, after what seems like hours but was truthfully probably only a minute at most I reach the doorway to the plane where two pretty stewardesses stand waiting. All in one moment my legs go on strike and I find myself simply standing there. Not moving forward but not turning around either.

A look of panic must be evident on my face because both ladies gently grab my arms and attempt to guide me in. I visibly shake and they quickly let go. Closing my eyes an image of my parents' face appears and I know I must go forward even if it's only to prove them wrong. I am not a failure and I CAN succeed. I will get on this plane and fly to another city to teach, I said TEACH a seminar to willing participants that WANT my knowledge and expertise.

I take a deep breath filling my lungs and expel over 30 years of pain, abandonment and insults from my parents. More determined than ever I take the step over the threshold and know that I have begun a new chapter in my life.  One to be filled with self growth, confidence and new friendships.

I have overcome my daughter's fear of planes and my own parent induced childhood fears of worthlessness. I will succeed.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tap Tap

The sound of the car engine pulling out of the driveway registers in my ears. Knowing I have to wait just a few minutes to be sure it's safe I creep over and wait impatiently outside his locked bedroom door. Using my forefinger I give a quick two taps on the door which is quickly followed by a familiar responding tap.

Creeping to the back door I slowly pull back the corner of the curtain and steal a quick glance outside just in time to see the taillights of the car release and my parents take off down the highway for their weekend shopping trip.

I hold my breath as I wait just a few more seconds to be sure they won't turn around and come back. When I am satisfied all is well I turn, race to my brother's door and unlock it only to be greeted with him looking up at me with sad, hurt eyes.  For just a moment I can see a glimmer of relief and happiness spread across his face.

I grab him, hug him and tell him to follow me.  Over the next half hour I make sandwich after sandwich taking great care in piling them with several layers of meat and cheese. It takes no time for him to devour them, as if he is storing up nutrition for the week knowing it's his only real source until the next time a "shopping trip" occurs. Because the week ahead is sure to entail nothing but yard work and an occasional peanut butter sandwich.

Looking at the clock, sadness washes over us as we both know the time has come to lock the door once again because the "shopping trip" could end at any time. We turn slowly to the door and he enters his undeserved dungeon once again.  As he turns to face me tears fall down both of our faces. Clinging to each other I whisper I'm sorry. I feel a tap, tap on my back as he assures me he loves me.  Quickly, I turn away, lock the door and fall to the floor.

Tap... Tap.
He responds with a tap... tap from his side of the door.

This continues until I hear the sound of the car pull into the driveway. The "shopping trip" has come to an end.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Buttered Toast

I have to consciously tell myself to close my mouth as I watch her bite into yet another piece of buttered toast. I can't believe she is still eating and to top it off all she has eaten thus far is buttered toast. Not fancy, jellied toast. Not the hot sausage or even the beautiful yolk intact fried eggs on her plate but just more toast.

Peering over the top of her toast as she takes another bite she winks at me. Between chewing and wiping the crumbs from the corner of her mouth she mumbles, "I love buttered toast! I could eat it all day!"

The smile she gives me seems to warm my insides to the point that nothing else matters. I quickly follow her example and pop two pieces of bread into the toaster and anxiously wait for it to pop back up all nice and golden brown.

What seemed like hours but was only about a single minute the toaster spits out it's prize and we both make a quick grab for it, laughing as we both pull back a slice. A mischievous grin spreads across her face and just as I understand the reason we both quickly grab for the only butter knife on the table.

In this moment I was completed connected with my Aunt Sybil. A person who before then I only saw on special holidays or occasional visits.  However, from this point on we would always have a kindred spot for sharing something as valuable and tasty as buttered toast.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Vultures and Spaghetti Noodles.......

The two hour drive back to Columbus to meet the girls' mom and drop them off to go back home seemed to be going quite well. The kids in the back were either sleeping, playing their video games or reading a book.

Harmony and I sat in the front seat viewing the countryside as I drove down the seemingly never ending highway. The trip from San Antonio to Columbus is basically nothing but a few towns peppering the otherwise blank countryside. There is the occasional gas station or fast food but mainly it's just fields.

Over the hills off to the right Harmony notices a gathering of black birds flying in a circular pattern. "Ma, what are those birds doing?"

"Well, I think those are just a bunch of nasty buzzards. You know, like a vulture," I said.

"Oh, you mean those ones that God made to eat all the dead stuff on the ground right?" she questioned me.

Surprised that she knew that information at her young age I nodded my head and decided to see how much more she knew. After all we didn't have anything but time to kill.

"So, Harmony. They eat dead stuff on the ground?" I asked her. She nodded her head and I then asked, "Like what?"

"Well, you know," smacking her gum, "Things like mice, rats and Oh Yeah! Snakes! They really do eat snakes." Being quite impressed and honestly a bit grossed out at the knowledge she has on this subject I just nod my head.

"They have really ugly eyes. I know. I saw one on the grass one time eating a dead animal! Their eyes are black and mean. They use them to see the animals when they are flying around up there in the sky," she explains.

Really into the story now and again her depth of information she is providing me with I am completely engrossed in her story at this point. She continues on for about another five minutes or so explaining the buzzards habits and how they hunt.

Then all of a sudden silence over takes the car. She stopped talking as if in deep thought. Enthralled with her story I eagerly wait to hear more as I continue to drive down the never ending highway.

Suddenly, out of the blue she says, "I think they have something weird though. They love snakes and they are pretty gross. But I figured it out. From way up there the snakes must look like spaghetti and that's my favorite food."

Not quite understanding where she is going with the story I slowly ask her, "Harmony what do you mean honey?"

Exasperated she claims, "Well, they are eating spaghetti snakes! At least that is what they think they are seeing from way up there with their ugly eyes! The snakes look like spaghetti noodles!"

I busted out laughing and said, "SPAGHETTI SNAKES! I GET IT!" To which we both broke into a loud tummy hurting type of laughter.

~~Based on a true event in the summer of 2010~~

Saturday, April 23, 2011

We'll be ok....

"You know, it's ok to go," I said as I choked back my tears.  I am determined to be strong and present a non emotional front because I know that I am really treading out on thin ice so to speak with this subject.

Uncle Bill takes a deep breath and turns his head towards me.  Shockingly, he doesn't seem upset with me as I had expected he would.  Instead, I think I see a single tear escape the brim of his eyelid and roll unwanted down his cheek.

"Not yet. I can't. Who will take care of everyone? That's my job."

"Oh, Uncle Bill. You already have. You've been taking care of us all our entire lives. It's time for you to do what you need to for you," I said.

Uncle Bill looks at me with searching eyes and turns away pretending to fiddle with the bed controls as another tear escapes down the crease in his cheek. Waiting for both of us to gain control of our emotions I too turn away swallowing hard and hoping my tears would not fall.

Taking a slow, deep breath I say, "Uncle Bill. We would not be the people today without everything you have done for each of us. I mean look at Billy Joe and Collin. They are both happy and doing great.  Look at me. Did anyone ever think I would find a man as good as Chuck to take care of me and my kids?"

Sternly, he says, "No. You will never find another good man like Chuck." Uncle Bill has always been firm on this subject. I think it's because he doesn't have to worry about me or the kids.

"I know this is a tough subject but we have to talk about it. I promise we will be ok. You need to think of yourself for the first time in all these years. Think how happy you will be Uncle Bill." I am openly crying now and I don't care.  I want him out of pain and for him to be happy so badly.  "Uncle Bill, I know you don't want me to say all this." He turns and looks at me with what is clearly an unhappy, almost mad facial expression.

Taking a huge breath and going for the plunge I say, "Well, what do you expect me to do? I learned from the best how to take care of business and the ones I love.  And right now you, how you feel and how I love you are my business." I quickly look down at my lap fearful I may have gone too far with my words but knowing I am the only one that could get away with saying it. I take another huge gulp of air and say, "You should be proud of me. I learned and listened to you.  I am who I am and I do what I do because of you."

Looking down as if he were a tiger that had just realized his match he sighs.  Slowly, he brings his eyes back up to meet mine and he says, "I am proud of you, Janet."

I draw in what feels like the biggest, deepest breath I have ever taken and softly say, "Then trust that we will be ok and trust me when I say I promise you that I will make sure that everyone is ok."

Several minutes go by before I finally see or I think I see what is the tiniest nod of his head.  "Yes, you'll all be ok," he whispered.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Poop and the corner

I can see the setting sun shooting rays of it's last bit of light through the partially open curtains as I begin to relax or more like fall exhausted into my rocking chair having finally convinced Ashley Renee to go to bed.  She had been an extra handful that day eating entirely too much sugar and running like a mad woman all through the house in just her princess panties. She has refused to wear anything else as we we have been potty training for almost a month now.

My eyes begin to drift off and suddenly a whiff of poop fills my nostrils.  Completely disgusted I jump up searching for the spot that the cat has designated as the new litter box. It's not behind the couch, not by the lamp and not by the entertainment center.  I soon realize it's behind the rocking chair and choke as I clean it up. This was the third time this week I had cleaned up poop in this spot.

After cleaning the mess I decided there had been enough events to call the day done. Including mine and Ashley Renee's attack of the dragon mountain. I take the short walk down the hall to my room and fall completely spent into my bed closing my eyes.  It's only a few short hours later when my delightful dream of a far away beach, cabana boy and a tall fruity drink are rudely interrupted by a 2 year old princess-panty wearing child creature jumping in the middle of my bed.

I drag myself out of bed and trudge to the living room with the small creature jumping around my feet. When I exhibit difficulty finding the remote control she happily grabs it and shoves it in my hand all the while begging for her princess cartoons.  I begin struggling to turn on the TV and Ashley Renee is bouncing all around me chanting princess, princess, princess.  The incessant noise only stops as I shove the beloved princess video in the player and push start.  The music fills the living room and my ears as I turn to the couch and lie down hoping to catch a few more moments with my cabana boy.

What seems like only seconds later an all too familiar odor drifts through my dream causing me to open my eyes.  Turning my head my body jerks to attention with complete horror and disgust.  There behind the rocking chair was Ashley Renee squatting down with her princess panties around her ankles pooping on the floor!

Realizing she has been caught Ashley Renee jumps up attempting to pull her princess panties up and run causing her to fall flat on her face halfway down the hall. I pick her up taking her back to the living room and make her clean her own poop up off the floor all the while as she cries, "Yucky mama, yucky!"

"Yeah, you will think it's yucky in the future when you are cleaning up poop after one of your own kids too!" I said.

Things settle down and I begin to think about the poor cat being blamed for all that poop.  Boy she must hate me.  But I do take a little comfort as I realize surely she hates Ashley Renee more for putting the poop there in the first place!

~Based on summer of 1993~

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


 I'm walking around the campsite collecting any discarded trash and waiting for the rest of my group to come back from their hike when I hear Ashley Renee come bursting out of the nearby trees.  She is completely breathless and has a difficult time trying to talk. 

Confused and thinking something must be really wrong, I simply stare at her.  Still very out of breath but clearly excited she says, "You gotta come!  Seriously, you just gotta see this!" My mind was racing thinking what the hell????  I mean for the last several weeks Ashley Renee and I had not exactly been seeing eye to eye on more than one occasion.

As she kept INSISTING that I come with her, I made the decision to go.  However, I did not go without protest.  I kept asking her over and over if she were plotting my death.  She assured me she was not and continued to lead me down the embankment into the woods, although I kept thinking she was planning something bad.

At one point I stopped walking and bluntly asked her if a chain saw murderer was in the woods waiting for me.  She laughed and swore no.  So, I continued to follow.

Just as we turned the bend she said proudly, "SEEEEEE!!!"

I slowly approached and was faced with an awesome sight!!  Around the corner was a clearing in the woods that overlooked a parital cliff type area. Literally there was at least 200 fireflies twinkling in the night sky!!!  It was sooo amazing!!

Ashley said, "I had to show you!"

Emotions overcame me and tears began to tug at the corners of my eyes.  I stood there thinking how could she remember our firefly hunts when she was a little girl? I was so overwhelmed that I had stopped long enough to realize that we had taken a moment out of our busy lives to have a memory moment like this!!

~Based on events in May 2008~

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Bubblegum Eyes Scandal...

As the sun hits the mid way mark in the sky the heat index begins to climb. It looks like it will be another typical hot Texas summer afternoon. I shove my feet into my flip flops and take off down the stairs towards the courtyard where Billy Joe is standing.

Walking up to Billy Joe I catch his eye and he puts his finger to his lips hissing a quiet shhhhhh.  He points to a groups of guys sitting on their apartment porch hanging out laughing, smoking and playing their guitars. Confused at what he is getting at I raise my eyebrow as if to ask him what's going on.

Billy Joe says, "You want ice cream today right?" I nod my head slowly and he then says, "Watch this."  I stand by watching him and wondering what he could possibly be up to this time.

Casually, as if he had done it a million times, Billy Joe walks up to the group of guys and positions himself into a leaning position against the door frame to their apartment. He is pretty much given a quick once over by the guys but other than that isn't given much attention.

Over the course of the next 10 minutes or so Billy Joe begins to ask the group of guys what is entirely too many questions. I couldn't quite hear what was being said but the looks on their faces and the glances they were giving Billy Joe clearly told the story of the building frustration the guys were having towards him.

Eventually the guys handed something to Billy Joe and he turned towards me with a huge cat ate the canary smile on his face. He practically danced over to me with his accomplishment plastered on his face and promptly stopped right in front of me. Opening his hand and revealing a pair of shiny quarters he exclaimed, "Ice cream money!"

Suddenly everything became clear to me and I realized he had just taught me what I eventually named the Bubble Gum Eyes Scandal.  You see every single day the ice cream truck came through the apartment complex peddling his goods. And every day I had wished I had enough money to get the one with the bubble gum eyes.  However, Aunt Linda only gave us between .50 and a dollar but the bubble gum eyes cost $1.25. So, I either had to go without ice cream one day to have enough the next day or more often than not I simply got the cheaper selection. 

However, now I had a plan of action.  Each day, I became the little girl with the freckles and pigtails that danced over to that group of guys and pestered the hell out of them until they paid me quarters to leave. With the money I had just conned out of the guitar guys added to the money Aunt Linda gave me I knew I would soon be enjoying the deliciousness of the bubble gum eyes ice cream.  And everyday I heard the magical call of the ice cream truck I knew I had accomplished another task in the Bubble Gum Eyes Scandal.

Little did I realize that years later as an adult I would run into one of those guys and we would eventually meet, fall in love and get married. Me realizing he was one of those "guitar guys" and him realizing I was that freckle faced little girl pestering him for quarters.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Roller Skates and Hell

I gather up my courage one more time to stand upward while attempting to keep the roller skates from sliding in opposite directions again.  I can hear my heartbeat pounding in my ears as my fear rises.

I want so badly to be able to skate like the other girls in the apartment complex. They seem to do it with such ease and grace. I know that I will never be fully accepted until I can roll smoothly along side them as they zip through the sidewalks passing each apartment door.

My knees resemble a mess of meat that just came through a grinder because I have fallen so many times while practicing all day.  The other girls have gone on ahead without me showing no concern if I am with them or not. I'll show them! I know I can do it. I take a deep breath and grab the rails of the nearby staircase and pull myself up. Steadying my feet, I slow my breathing down to a semi-normal speed and slowly let go of the rails.

I'm doing it! I'm standing! And I'm not rolling away or falling uncontrollably! Gaining a bit of courage I slowly begin to work my way down the sidewalk to the middle of the courtyard. I am smiling now as I begin to get the hang of gliding my feet with the clumsy skates on.

Just as I think all is well, from behind me I hear a maniacal laugh and only realize who it is just as his hands hit my back and begin shoving me along the concrete.  My mean and horrible cousin Billy Joe who always derives such pleasure from causing me torture had rounded the corner in time to see my clumsy attempts to skate.  Now, he had his hands on my back and was pushing me at a blazing speed straight for the open gate to the complex swimming pool!

Completely helpless I ended up flailing like an injured sinking sea cow with the skates on my feet acting as brick weights.  The fact that I couldn't swim either didn't help anything. I began splashing around, sucking in enough water to sink a ship and attempting to scream for help.  All the while Billy Joe stood laughing so hard he was doubled over.

The world went black and I don't know who helped me but I do know roller skates, swimming pools and Billy Joe do not make a good combination.

Piggie Farts

A quaint little conversation I had with my often too blunt 10 year old daughter.

Me: Megan, you really need to get ready for the dentist.
Megan: Okay, I will.
Me: Remember to brush your teeth.
Megan: Why?
Me: You don't want to have bad breath when the dentist tells you to open your mouth.
Megan: Oh, yeah! And I don't want to burp then either!
Me: *sigh* No, that wouldn't be polite.

A few minutes pass.

Megan: Mama, can we take Bugsy to the dentist?  (He is our guinea pig.)
Me: No, it wouldn't be sanitary.
Megan: Oh, you're right. Especially if he let out a piggie fart.

Gotta love a child!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

It's a Croaker

It's a cold, gray miserable day as far as weather goes.  With the rain falling just enough to be a nuisance, the wind whips my hair and causing it to sting my face. Smoke bellows from the nearby chemical plants causing the sky to appear even more gray than it actually is. My nostrils fill with a mixture of chemical smoke and salt water as I take in a huge breath. I nearly slide down the muddy bank into the canal as I feel a jerk on my fishing pole. I excitedly begin to reel in my catch.

With careful instructions from Uncle Bill, I continue to reel in the line. After all he is the expert at this. For what feels like hours but really is only minutes I struggle to follow his directions perfectly. Not only am I filled with the excitement of catching this fish but also I secretly love the attention from my Uncle Bill.

Standing there in what is now pouring down rain, reeling in this fish with no one else around I am completely and totally the center of Uncle Bill's attention. What else could I ask for?

With the perfect amount of coaching and direction I finally pull the fish out of the water and proudly turn to peer into Uncle Bill's face. With a hearty laugh he grabs the fish and begins to take the hook out of it's mouth. It's scales catch the light and momentarily I think it certainly must be the best fish in the entire world because I think it's a rainbow fish!

And just then a very weird noise comes from it's belly. Wondering what the heck is going on I ask Uncle Bill,"What's that noise?"

Through his laughing he tells me to just listen.  I lean closer to the fish, wondering if it's actually a fish now. I mean how could that noise come from a fish? Still confused and not quite sure of what was going on I back up a bit and look up at Uncle Bill again. Once again, through his smirking Uncle Bill instructs me to listen.

Not really sure of what to do I just stand there and suddenly the horrendous thing croaked again! As Uncle Bill erupts into a full belly laugh I am feeling very confused and quite a bit insecure of myself. Tears are pulling at the corners of my eyes as I almost begin to cry. It's only then that Uncle Bill says, "Croaker! It's a Croaker!"  Suddenly, everything makes sense! As if I knew what he was talking about I thought,  of course, it's going to croak! It's a Croaker fish!

Now, I join in with the laughter and watch the fish flop on the muddy bank where Uncle Bill tossed it. We laughed for a few minutes more and I danced around to the noise of the croaking fish.  When a few more moments passed Uncle Bill bends over, picks up the Croaker and casually tosses it back into the cloudy water of the canal.

We both looked at each other and said,"Croaker!" and fell into a laughing fit.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Toasty Toes

I anxiously wait at the top of the apartment complex staircase.  Glancing down at my bare feet, my string tattered home-made-from-an-old-pair-of-jeans shorts, and my cousin's too-large t-shirt.  I shrugged at myself and turned my gaze back towards the sidewalk.

It wouldn't be long now before it would be Toasty Toes time.  My foot began to tap in that OCD manner which I was usually oblivious too unless someone pointed it out to me, usually in a firm WILL YOU STOP THAT tone of voice.

The sound of car after car pulled into the parking lot as the dad's of different families in the complex returned home after a long day at work in the chemical plants. Each time my heart beat would quicken as I strained to see down the sidewalk that turned the corner at the far end of the courtyard. Disappointment filled me as each burly figure turned the corner and I realized it wasn't the right person.

Oh, WHEN would he be home? My impatience was nearly driving me insane, if an 8 year old girl could go insane that is. Toasty Toes was OUR special time.  It belonged to none but us. Oh, some had joined us on occasion and others had even crinkled their noses at the mention of it, but not us.  It was a ritual; a bonding of sorts.  I knew without a doubt that for those few minutes our Toasty Toes time would be special.  We would laugh, talk and share silly jokes that usually no one else understood, but it didn't matter to me.  As I said, it was Toasty Toes time.

Just when I thought I would explode from anticipation I caught a glimpse of the one I was waiting for walking around the corner.  It was Uncle Bill! He glanced up, caught my eye and gave a quick smile.  You would think that I would jump up and run down the stairs to go greet him like in some sort of movie but nahhh that was for those foo-foo, girly types.  I wasn't foo-foo, dainty, or even girly.  Unfortunately, I was tall, skinny, and very clumsy.  Running down the stairs to greet him would most likely have ended in some sort of bloody mess aka me at the bottom of the stairs. So, instead, I waited excitedly at the top of the stairs for Uncle Bill to make the climb.

As he reached the top stair, Uncle Bill stopped looked at me and gave me a funny face.  A quick wink and he disappeared into the apartment. Like a lightening bolt I raced through the door behind him.  Depending on the day and what report Aunt Linda had to give him regarding my two cousins' behavior I often felt as if time had been stopped by some master clock ruler.  My mind wandered into the possibility that somewhere perched upon a high mountain was some evil little guy torturing me by controlling the hands of time.  He was visibly laughing at the agony he caused me knowing that because of his small size the only real power he had in his pitiful life was slowing, even freezing time for anxious little girls like myself.

To be continued...........