Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reality Bites

I've been around the block enough to know when a chick feels threatened; like her spot is about to be blown up. That's something men don't really understand.

I've done my dirt in my day... and sometimes it's not that I was doing dirty, but had the misfortune of falling for someone previously occupied. But I am always amazed how quickly a chick can sniff out another chick on the scene, even if she's not really sure something's up. It may be that she suddenly gets the urge to call her man. But when you're the other chick, it gets to be kinda freaky how EVERYTIME you're with the man in question, the BigBitch on the scene decides to call. And the more intense, the more frequent the phone calls/text messages.

It also amazes me how often guys think they are the ones in control, but are really being manipulated by some chick.

So the other day my SpideySense began to go off... like somebody somewhere is beginning to feel a tad bit threatened. Nothing I can rationally put my finger on... just my gut going off and I have learned to trust my gut. But it pissed me off because it means things may not be exactly as they seem.

And it's making me really jumpy. Like White-Tail-Deer-Ass-In-The-Air jumpy, cuz Lord knows I've had more drama in my life than I can take...

and I'm getting the urge to flee... cuz I've no fight left in me at all....

reality fucking bites.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

And What Happens Then?

...If it does follow you home? That I can't answer yet.

The next morning, Tuesday, we had to get up and check out of the hotel by noon. Well, we could have, but TheCat didn't want to be rushed so he called the front desk and asked for a half hour. After we finished packing, we sat in the window some more, taking it in for the last time.

For me, I could feel the questions begin to crowd my mind, but I pushed them back cuz TheCat said " Don't worry about it now. We still have 10 hours."

We checked out of the hotel (the hostess' ID pin identified her as being from Astoria, NY) and checked our bags with the bellhop. We walked across the street to Harrah's to see what "Free!" stuff they were giving us for becoming Total Rewards Members (a bag, some beads, and a coupon for the buffet place) hit a few slots (lost), and then went to "Flavors-The Buffet!". With the dining voucher we'd gotten for going on the timeshare tour, and the coupons from our membership, our $30 buffet costs us $4 and change. Food wasn't too bad. TheCat, for someone so tall (6'4", although he tells everyone he's 7 ft) eats very little and had a variety of things he picked at. Me, I'm a fat girl at heart, and ate everything I picked up; sushi, roast beef, fingerling potato salad, green salad, fruit. Then we went for dessert; TheCat got a rootbeer float and I got a huge chocolate cone. It was freezing in the casino, so we walked and stood outside Harrah's in the crazy desert heat, watching folks walk by.

Then we went finally, to see the Secret Garden. Boy was it hot. Like "sit-on-you" hot, but because there's no humidity you don't feel it inside of you, the way you do in New York. But it's hot. The dolphin pool looked really yummy, and it reminded me that we never did get to a pool the whole time out there.

The big cats were stunningly beautiful. It was interesting to me, since I've been to the Bronx Zoo several times, that the animal's enclosures were landscaped to be attractive, rather than mimicking the natural habitat. And you could see the animals are semi-tame. But TheCat, who's animal is a lion, was completely enamored.

They have three lion cubs at the Garden, sequestered in a plexiglass shed right outside the souvenir store. We lucked out; while we were there it was time to feed them, and they made the weirdest noises I've ever heard, clamoring for their bottles.

After the Secret Garden, we went into the Forum Mall, attached to Caesar's Palace. I kept thinking how happy Shoefly would have been in that mall; Anne Fontaine , Custo Barcelona, Jimmy Choo, Prada, DKNY and some others I knew she'd know. Our big thrill though, was seeing the curved escalators and the moving statues. In fact, the moving statue show at one of the fountains was TheCat's third favorite thing next to Tupac's Corner and the White Lion.

Finally, we just started walking through Caesar's (which is pretty spectacular) and outside got our last drinks of the day. Definitely one of the most cool features of Vegas... openly walking around with alcohol. No paper bags. No Po-lice run up on you or take it away. I got some lemonade thing with tequila (a LOT of tequila) and he got some banana-slushy type thing with Hennessy.

We walked to the Bellagio, and realizing a fountain show was about to start we sat on the pillars and waited... and then the little fountain spouts rose up out of the water, Andrea Bocelli began singing through the speakers and the water roared up into the sky. Perfect.

While still walking the strip, I called Aunt LV and asked her to meet us in one of the little malls since we weren't going to make it back tot the Mirage at 7:30P like we'd planned. She found us, and then took us back to get our bags. So that TheCat could collect himself in a quiet spot before we had to board the plane, we decided to take food back to Aunt LV's house, and decided on California Pizza Kitchen. After we ate (Aunt LV insisting on us using plates... but TheCat successfully defied her by eating out of the box--she cussed him out) Aunt LV and I sat and caught up while TheCat went to check out the GINOURMOUS metal giraffes she's got out back.

And then it was time to go.... she dropped us off at the airport ( literally 5 minutes from her house) and we waved goodbye and walked in.

Once inside we made the mildly annoying discovery that all flights back home had been delayed due to bad weather at JFK. Our flight, scheduled for 10:30p, was just under 2 hours delayed which all things considered was pretty tolerable.

I felt reality closing in.... I checked email for the first time in days. One of them got me going and I was about ready to fire off an answer when TheCat said calmly "Babe! You don't have to do that now. Don't answer it. Leave it for when you get back."

Which is such an obvious thing but really... it's awfully nice to have someone else be logical for you for a change.

We discovered, once on the plane that TheCat was to have the aisle seat and me the middle seat. In the inside windowseat sat a rather large man. TheCat refused to let me sit in the middle, and later told me he wasn't going to let the guy get any free feels. Considering everything, this amused the piss out of me. But I didn't argue. We took off about 10 minutes after midnight.

I mostly slept on the flight back, and TheCat mostly didn't. The flight attendants had pulled all the shades down on the plane, which was a good thing since when we crossed over into mountain time, BLAZING sun could be seen peeking through the windows. It was extremely disorienting.

TheCat did much better on this landing though, and we took the monorail to the subway to the upper westside where the car was, and then on home to the Rock. The air in the City was so heavy that I needed my asthma pump; I could really feel the difference between Vegas and NY.

I showered and went to bed.

For the next day or so, we barely left the house and I was glad, because for just that little while extra we managed to keep the glow of Vegas safely trapped in the cocoon of my red couch. We only moved to eat. On Friday evening I went into the City to see the family, and on the way back I met up with Shoefly and the Moon and a freind of his, along with the Professor and Blossom, at a fastfood seafood place on the Rock. But then TheCat came back...

On Saturday I went to the Thunderbird Pow Wow with the family which was fun... it's my favorite Pow Wow but I missed my little boy.

On Sunday, I was alone, and it was awful, but by Monday morning I had managed to pack TheCat away someplace inside of me, and managed to get downtown to a meeting at the hospital. After my meeting, I went by to visit TheCat where he was working... only one other teacher and PracticalMama were there but to me it felt really very odd... like a foretelling of what life will be like when school starts, when reality hits again, and what happens then?

I think it threw both of us of a little, and I wanted to run. Fast. And so even though I knew TheCat wanted to come back to the Rock with me, I knew that if I went to the Rock I wasn't going to leave and so I continued on with my original plan to go to Yonkers, to karate. I just needed to feel normal. TheCat drove me, but as we got closer to Yonkers I could feel major discomfort in the air, and I knew some of it was him. The ball of fear got bigger and bigger inside of me, sending me into a state of panic so bad that several times along the way I was this close to asking him just to let me out of the car, and I would go alone... but I squelched it.

And when we got there, parked in front of the dojo I decided to face fear and panic, to be brave. I told him I know that Vegas made everything seem possible, but that we're back in NY now and things will be different. And some other stuff I forgot, but the end result was that we both admitted to missing each other... and just simple things like being in the same room. It made me feel happy that he missed me... because at least I know it's not completely one-sided.

The work out was great. Painful, but great. I worked out with the white belt teenagers this time, since there was no Sun and it wasn't too much technique but a lot of very painful leg work. Like practicing splits and horse stances and whatnot. I thought I would tear. And then I sat and talked to BigSensei for awhile while LittleSensei continued teaching and it felt so good to be there, even without the Sun. The Brothers Sensei have become a huge part of my life over the past two years or so (or is it three) and they really are like family. The routine of going up to Yonkers, no matter how long the trek, is such an ordinary thing for the Sun and I and on that day I really needed to feel that. Vegas was so disorienting.

TheCat texted me that he would come back to get me so I waited downstairs even though the brothers left. I couldn't help myself... I was happy he came back and he teased me "Are you all giddy cuz I came back for you?" "Yes I am! So what of it?" I said with as much attitude as I could...

So here I am... still sort of in LaLaland... still holding my breath. The Sun comes home about midnight Saturday and that will be the first taste of new reality. I have questions. So many many questions, and sometimes I'm hopeful I'll get answers I like, and sometimes I'm fearful I'll get answers I won't. And I'm trying not to "see" past August into September. Actually, I'm trying to not even see past tomorrow which is really hard for me. TheCat is snoozing on the red couch as I write, but I gotta wake him and go back to reality....

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cuz Sometimes, It Does Follow You Home

...that thing you did in Vegas.

Sunday night we passed out. That bed in the Mirage was almost too soft; a pillow top, with a down comforter and lots of pillows. I thought that I would have a hard time sleeping on it because I normally don't like extra-soft beds, but nah.

And we slept late, too, the following morning. We kept the "Privacy" tags on the door until the morning we checked out, which the Mirage actually encouraged... they have a little notice in there that says they will only change sheets if requested, in order to conserve water.

Incidentally, bottled water was a premium out there; $2 to $3 dollars a bottle for what may normally cost $1.50 in New York. And yet, there was water everywhere; fountains, pools, little sprayjets strung up between trees to help cool you down as you walked the strip. But the city seems to have a serious sewage system, or "water reclaiming". It's interesting to be in a planned city.

Anyway. Once we were up, I realized I was having major coffee withdrawal. Finding a good cup of coffee out there was an exercise in frustration. No Bustelo. And Starbucks was infrequent. I found some watered down iced coffee and TheCat and I split a cheese Danish. We were going to go see "The Secret Garden" where Siegfried and Roy keep their retired big cats, but it was too damn hot and we were too damn hungry. We found a diner-type cafeteria in Harrahs which wasn't so bad--I had a pastrami sandwich which almost tasted like home. Walking out of Harrah's, we got snagged--offered the equivalent of $100 plus "free gifts" to go on a tour of a timeshare being sold by Wyndham Resorts.

What the hell... we were a little, well we weren't exactly in our right minds at the time so we signed up, pretending to be "Co-Habs" and that we made over $75K. The tour started at 3P, so we killed time for a bit and then headed over to the tour.

Ah well. I'll just say Brian was a good salesman. Actually, he was "Pretty Fly for a White Guy", and told us all about how he was really from Detroit, had a twin (who was a little more buff than he but looked exactly like him), his mom was a single parent, he never met his dad, he liked to party, how he and his twin were the only white kids in his neighborhood, how he fell in love with and married a Puerto Rican girl from his neighborhood. How on a vacation or something, they got suckered into a timeshare but how much he loved it, and how he now he sells for the same company he bought into.

I'm a New Yorker; I often wonder how much of these stories are true and or genuine, but I also know that a good salesperson can use his own life to relate to the people he's trying to hoodwink um I mean sell to. And the kid was good. We got to talking, and talked so much, exchanging pictures of our kids and all, that the two hours started turning into three and we still hadn't seen "the video" (which we never did see) or actually see the property.

Finally, he took us in his own car over to see the resort, pausing at a corner which TheCat realized was the very same intersection in which Tupac was killed. Just like my mission in Vegas was to see the Fabulous sign, TheCat's mission was to see the corner Tupac was killed on. He didn't get to pose on it like he wanted to, but at least he got to see it. The resort was actually pretty friggin' cool, though not as spectacular as say, staying in the Bellagio. But there could be advantages....

So, we go back to the office, and the goodcop (Brian)/badcop (Walter, the supervisor) routine began. To me, the whole thing sounded like a good idea, but I've no money. And, I don't know what's going to happen with me and TheCat so I wasn't seriously considering anything. But I could see that TheCat's mind was working, and that it was something he was interested in. And he was pretty good at understanding what the hell they were trying to sell us, cuz by this time I was zoning out and becoming just a little overwhelmed by the whole thing... being referred to as "the bride" and dodging questions about how long we'd been married and shit like that.

The Badcop realized we were unable to cough up $1700 on the spot and tried to dismiss us, but the Goodcop was pretty cool and could see TheCat was actually interested, and went and got a Supervisor. She came over and did some more 'splainin', and next thing I knew TheCat and I had each pulled out some cash and started an equity account that will become the downpayment for the timeshare, plus a free trial of the facilities, etc. I dunno. TheCat seems to understand it. Or he has people who can look at it further.

I texted the Professor that I didn't get married in Vegas, but I did buy a timeshare, which is more legally binding. She texted back we should just go ahead and get married; we could always get it annulled in the morning. TheCat joked along but I realized something in the hours and days that followed... despite his very casual demeanor he's pretty calculating. And should he ever choose to settle down with someone, he would get married, and it wouldn't be in Vegas. I see him being the white Tuxedo type.

A little spaced out by what happened, we wandered out onto the strip, bought some tequila for the room--not Patron or Corazon but something 100% agave. A very strange biker dude--huge--with kohl under his eyes looked at the bottle being purchased and said "I drink that shit everynight before I go to bed. For the past 20 years." He only looked about 30 or 35 years old. I'm not sure whether or not that was a good thing or a bad omen....

We decided that Monday night would be the night that we would hit some clubs, and we had gotten various passes and comps to various clubs along the strip, but since we were in the Mirage, we went to Jet since it was on the property.

It got a little interesting. TheCat said later the tequila made him evil since it's not his usual drink. And I can generally hold tequila, which is why I drink it. But I freely admit that while I have never ever done anything drunk that I wouldn't have seriously considered sober, tequila makes everything so much easier to consider. And it tends to act like a truth serum.

(By the way, it helps tons when you really like someone and you happen to think they're hot... particularly when you didn't really think they were your type. Except you realize, oh yeah... totally your type. But that's about all I'm gonna say about that.)

Anyway, we get into the club after standing on line for a bit (the comp passes we had didn't put us on any fasttrack lines), me pointing out to TheCat all the enormously fake boobs I could find. And there were a bunch. Vegas definitely makes people dress sluttier than they would ordinarily, so people watching was fun.

Once inside it became pretty clear TheCat wanted to dance with other people in addition to me, which truthfully, probably wouldn't have bothered me under other circumstances. As I tried to figure it out later--and told him--I think it's just I'm an all-or-nothing chick. I need to know exactly where I stand, or don't. And whatever is happening with us is sort of coasting along and doing it's own thing--which is cool and all--but it's a whole new thing for me, not having any real definition. So I felt extremely unsettled. And while I certainly wasn't going to stop his flow, I wasn't going to stand around and watch it either, so I broke out, working my way through the club till I was on the opposite side, dancing with a few guys along the way. I ended up in a corner dancing with a tall heavyset Chicano dude from LA, who happened to be really nice. But next thing I knew I felt hands pulling me out from the Chicano, who merely stepped aside, and looked up to see TheCat had come after me. And yeah, that felt kind of good. Cuz I had kind of halfway expected to eventually have to work my way back to the hotel room on my own. I've had similar experiences, is all I'm sayin'...

We hung out for a little bit after that, but I could feel TheCat wasn't too comfortable so we left. My feet were killing me so I took my shoes off and walked barefoot through the lobby, the cool tiles feeling really good on my poor beat-up feet. My silver strappy sandals looked good but they weren't made for dancing. TheCat took his shoes off too--in solidarity, he said.

We played a few slots and then we went upstairs.

So here's the thing...

I've been saying that I was reluctant to really go into details about me and TheCat for various reasons. And, whatever happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas. And in a year or two, should TheCat and I not be be dealing with each other in the same way, reading all this is going to be extraordinarily painful for me. Yet, here I am writing a lot of detailed stories. (But actually, there's a whole lot I'm NOT saying, just for the record.) But the things I do write... I guess I write cuz I'm an exhibitionist, or cuz it helps me put it all in perspective, or whatever. But also... I'm pretty jaded when it comes to guys. And when you're jaded you make a lot of assumptions about things. But basically, I like to be proven wrong, cuz I still want to believe. And whatever ends up coming out of all this, so far I can honestly say I've been spending time with someone who has consistently blasted a whole bunch of assumptions. And I sort of feel like I give him props by writing about him, and I sort of feel like he's long overdue on some props.

Talking is a big deal to me, and most guys don't really like to talk. Or get antsy about listening. Or you talk and nothing really changes. But maybe that was just TF. And in other circumstances what happened downstairs in the club would have stayed down there, or turned into a huge fight, but instead I found myself--for the first time in God knows how long, decades, probably--honestly telling a man exactly how I felt, and what I wanted out of life. Deep down shit that I don't even write here. Tequila had completely eradicated the gates in my head and there was nothing standing between he and I.

And he didn't tease me, or make me feel bad or stupid, or dismissed. And he didn't say it was never going to happen, or storm out or leave me hanging. I didn't wake up the next day thinking FUCK I shouldn't have said that. He merely listened, and absorbed, and a day or so later when he started to ask what I wanted, he stopped himself and said "well, I do know what you want."

Big huge points for TheCat.

Pause For a Reality Check

...cuz I'm reliving Vegas to keep from missing my Sun.

It's intolerable, really it is. I can't breathe. TheCat stayed with me until Saturday morning, and I'll continue the story to tell you how that went, but as of now, I'm alone.

I was reading about the Fat Lady worrying about sibling rivalry and stressing that her kids are being pains in the asses, and sis the Professor is trying to get rid of MMB with some success, but I miss my Peanutbutter like you wouldn't believe.

Unlike last year, I don't feel compelled to stalk him everywhere, though I still have the capability. I guess that speaks volumes. What also speaks volumes is that his hair is still braided. I can only trust that TF is being respectful of the food laws but I think he is. I send my regards his way every time I speak with the Sun, which has been fairly frequent. He even sent pictures of the Sun at the Toyota Speedway. Last year I didn't get pictures until after he came home.

We did a webcam chat today. TF even had the Sun call on time, 8P, and I was just about to jump in the shower. When I got out about 10 minutes later, we got the webcam going and I almost cried. I miss that little face so very very much it hurts. But he looks well and happy and I could tell he realized he missed me when he saw me, but not enough to cry. I know he's coming home Saturday; TF already emailed me the info.

I can't really say I have complaints. But I don't like being alone in the apartment. My kid is pretty quiet and sometimes I feel guilty that he spends so much time in his room by himself but at least he's here. When he's gone I feel like I'm holding my breath.

I know too, that TheCat misses his kid as well... his has been gone about two weeks before The Sun left, and will be gone about two weeks after the Sun comes back. And his is much much further away than mine--clear on the other side of the world, in fact.

Life is going to change when the kids come back... I wonder how much of our feelings has to do with distraction from the fact that we miss our children--he spends a lot of time with his...

Life will change when the kids go back to school, when things get back to normal, when the Vegas glow wears off and I'm scared about that. And it doesn't help that I'm here by myself...

On the other hand, I truly thank God that this year's trip was much easier on all of us; on TF, on the Sun, on me... I keep meaning to email Lawyer and thank her for all she did for me, and to tell her that I never ever would have believed that I would get through these two weeks without becoming a blathering idiot. Secretly I hope she remembers I have a blog...

One thing I gotta say though. I always knew that TF would be a lot more respectful once he knew there was a man in my life--other than Poppy, I mean. So, if nothing comes out of TheCat and me but that I had a peaceful time of this visit, I guess that's a good thing.

But my heart openly hopes TheCat will be around for next year, and the year after that...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What Happens In Vegas

stays in Vegas, so they say... unless it follows you home.

Vegas is perfect for dreamers, those folks like me who can construct whole worlds in their heads of HappyEverAfters and DreamsComingTrue.

It makes you believe in Life Eternal, Forever Summer, Winning at Craps, and that any Idiot Off The Plane Can Be a Winner, too.

Miles and miles of neon, throngs of wide-eyed people; truly, a city that never sleeps. Not like New York. Eventually, in New York, if you play too hard you end up looking tired and broken, beaten, sleeping in a corner somewhere with piss stains on your pants. In New York, in that half-light of dawn right before the sun peeks over the high-rises you can see all the gaunt, the pain, the broken dreams. In New York you learn to squelch the dream of HappyEverAfter because you know cold dawn will show it to be the futile, childish hope it is.

Not Vegas. The neon never goes out in Vegas. Even at 4 in the morning, the slot machines are still humming, blinking in the soft darkness, making you think you can still pull off a miracle before you go to sleep. If you go to sleep. You can believe in HappyEverAfter because nothing ever stops. You don't even notice dawn.

For all the stuff we saw in Vegas, I saw maybe 3 truly homeless/probably schizo people, and NO uniformed police officers. You KNOW Vegas is crawling with security... you just don't see it. And that lack of uniformed law adds to the feeling of "anything goes".

Yeah, I fell in Vegas. I joke with TheCat that I fell on July 5th, the morning after he talked the voices down but even so I think I've been holding on pretty well, because in New York I'm constantly slapped in the face with harsh reality.

But reality is suspended in Vegas. We sat in the window of the hotel room and cloud watched, TheCat pointing out a lion in the clouds, and on the other side of the horizon, a bear. We talked, and of course I got all riled up about something. He stopped me by telling me he'd been watching my reflection in the window, laughing as the moods he felt coming off of me crossed my face in the reflection. And then I lost all sense of reality when TheCat pulled me in his arms and we danced in the hotel room.

Blech. My New York heart could just kick itself. But that was only the beginning.

We got dressed and Aunt LV picked us up to take us to dinner. On the way, we passed the infamous sign, "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas". I had said that if all I got to do out in Vegas was see that sign, I'd be happy. It was still light out, but it was still Fabulous and I was thrilled to be a complete and total geeky tourist, jumping out of the car to have Aunt LV take a picture of us in front of it.

Aunt LV had been saving her gambling points and took us to TwinCreeks restaurant at the Silverton-- a casino she said the locals frequented. Aunt LV said short of the $63 dollar steak, we could have anything we wanted. She had lobstertail, giving the extremely attentive hostess detailed instructions on how it should be broiled, and what she wanted as sides. TheCat had a New York Strip Steak, and I opted for the ribeye. I had a tequila (Patron anejo), neat. Shit. Made you wish you a had big fat cigar.

The food was amazing. The hostess, almost over-attentive. The decor was luxurious. Aunt LV then requested that whatever extra bones were laying around the kitchen be packaged for her two dogs, Mocha Java and his mom Princess. That made me laugh; but I remembered that when she still lived in LA she had done the same for her dog then. Her doggies eat well, let me tell you.

After dinner we stopped by her house to meet her dogs, who TheCat tried to befriend by feeding the steak bones. Princess was non-plussed; Mocha Java took a minute to unwind. Aunt LV's home is spectacular. She took a picture of us:
and I took one of her:
Then we got back in the car and Aunt LV drove around a little bit, coming to a corner just as Frank Sinatra was singing "Fly Me To The Moon" and the lighted fountains in front of the Bellagio were spouting off. A huge crowd had stopped seemingly in their tracks to watch the show. It was a perfect moment, coming to the corner like that, hearing Frank--Vegas' most famous entertainer--and hearing the roar of the water as it jetted into the sky.

We passed the replica of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel,
and then Aunt LV pulled into the Bellagio so that we could see a $12M dollar ceiling... an amazing work of art by Dale Chihuly, of whom Bigbear always says "He's Native, you know!"
I don't even know what time she dropped us off at the Mirage, and we went upstairs for a minute. I thought TheCat might fall asleep, but we both wanted to see more so we pulled ourselves up and walked the Strip until we couldn't stand up anymore...

On The Road To Vegas

Turns out we got on the right bus. The bus driver put his foot on the gas pedal at 10:05, and there it stayed until 12:05PM when we rolled into Barstow, California.

I was glad, actually, that we ended up not having a car... I think TheCat (who loves to drive) ended up really having a vacation this way, and got to alternately doze and look out of the window during the trip. The thought of "going Greyhound" has always skeeved me but I managed to get past it by not thinking too much about what was on the fuzzy bus seats and how long it had stayed there. And I let TheCat have the window seat and this saved me from wondering why the glass was so streaky.

There was an odd assortment of people on the bus... A pair of Nordic looking girls (they spoke French, though) and some guys they seemed to have met while traveling; a skinny, very-shorthaired Black guy of indeterminate age in long baggy Dickie Shorts and a pair of headphones around his neck; a more gangsta-looking black dude in a leather jacket and shades, some Asian travelers, a young black man with a very young baby who looked just like him and who slept for most of the trip (when he woke to be fed TheCat commented how the father wasn't really bonding with the baby since he wasn't looking at the baby while he fed him), a pair of hippie-looking/long-skirted/enormous-backpack-carrying chicks, a woman who looked ethnic but wasn't Hispanic/probably Arabic, and us.

Crossing the Mojave was something. The distinct, rolling hills of California gave way to dry and rocky desert. I've never seen desert; never seen landscape like that in real life. TheCat said he always pictured "desert" as looking like the Sahara--mounds of sand in a treeless, bushless landscape. But this was more rocky and brown, with areas that at first looked like they belonged on the moon or a dead planet like Mars, and then others that had miles and miles of sparse shrub and joshua trees. The bus was going too fast to pick up on any signs of animal life, but in my minds eye I could see the rattlesnakes and jackrabbits and mountain goats. The mountains were high, the sky vast, and I knew we were climbing because my ears began to pop. For hundreds of miles the only thing that flashed passed our window was desert. It reminded me of driving to Chicago, and how once we got into Ohio all we saw from the windows of the Professor's van were hundreds of miles of corn. I texted her: "No corn here!"

Sometimes we'd pass signs that said "For Sale!" and I'd wonder "Who in the hell would buy land out here?" And sometimes we'd pass small roadside shanties and other times we'd pass tiny settlements with a few rusting hunks of metal out front and we'd wonder "Who could live here?" What do you do in the middle of the freakin' desert?

TheCat and I shared headphones, listening to his iPod and taking naps, and then we got to Barstow.

As we pulled into the truck stop the driver announced "This is Barstow, California. We are making a meal stop here. It is 12:05. This dogie will leave Barstow at 12:35. Many people have gotten left here, so make sure you are on on this bus at 12:35. If you try to board at 12:40, I won't be here. There are many dogies at this rest stop; do not get on the wrong bus. This dogie's number is 41650. Have a good meal."

Everybody ran off the bus, searching frantically for food, the restroom, a smoke.

At 12:35P most of us were back on the bus, some folks out of breath, but present. As we pulled out of the meal stop the Asian folks behind us were talking into cellphones, and outside we saw the last of their party on a cellphone, running alongside the bus. The driver squealed to a stop, opened the doors to let the straggler in, then took off again.

I called Aunt LasVegas to tell her we were leaving Barstow and that according to the bus driver we'd be in Vegas by 3:20. She said to call her back when we saw casinos; she didn't think we'd get there that fast. I told her that I trusted this driver... we'd be there by 3:20P.

In fact, we rolled into Vegas at 3:15. Both TheCat and I walked up to the driver to thank him. The arrival time on our bus ticket said 4:55pm. It had been storming in Vegas prior to our arrival, and when we got in it was in the 80's, with a slightly overcast sky. It was even a little humid.

Aunt LV met us out front; TheCat--being a car person--was impressed by her MDX luxury SUV. And that she is a basketball fan. We told her what the past 24 hours had been like, and that all we really wanted to do was to check into the hotel room, and just sit. I realized that I hadn't actually been truly alone with TheCat for probably almost 48 hours. And we'd been on the move almost the whole time.

So Aunt LV dropped us off at the Mirage, and we checked in, getting a really nice room up on the 22nd floor. The room overlooked Las Vegas and the mountains.... miles and miles of sky.

TheCat stripped. And for about two hours, TheCat and I literally just sat in the window, alone finally, watching the sky.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

How To Get Around LA Without A Car

Yes, I'm here to tell you it can be done. See, Cuzzo didn't have a car, either. But being from New York originally, I guess he's used to figuring out public transportation systems, and plus, he's almost 7 feet tall (for real, for real) so a short walk can be covered in a few seconds. A longer walk, according to him, "takes six minutes." Yeah right. More like a six minute car-ride... but that's later in the story.

He was working when we walked in, and greeted us at the front desk of the LA Mart, checking our bags in the coat check. He walked us around the building, showing us the various fancy furniture show rooms--especially the ones that served food and or/alcohol. I couldn't quite figure out why some of the showrooms (really the ones that had trinkets rather than furniture) served alcohol, and I was too tired to really want any. But I did eat an ear of corn ("grown by me on my farm!" the tres gay furniture salesrep told us excitedly) grilled on a pancake griddle and coated with a lime-flavored butter.

Since Cuzzo had to finish his tour of duty, TheCat and I walked around the area. There was nothing. And I do mean nothing. We walked for blocks... losing all sense of distance since 1.) LA is flat b.) LA is spread out c.) THERE WERE NO PEOPLE ON THE STREET and d.) there were very few cars on the street. We walked and walked and walked, finally coming up on the Staples Center, home of the Purple and Gold. The Circus was in town, and it was there that we saw the most people, apparently coming out of a show.

As we walked, TomCat started to talk, and I decided again that I really liked him. Even if what he says isn't always what I want to hear, and even if I think his reasoning for things is sometimes a little self-serving. But there's honesty and integrity, which is hard to find in folks these days. Particularly men.

We walked back the Mart where they were now having some kind of industry themed party... and Cuzzo was down for the free beers so we stuck around for a bit. Then Cuzzo wanted to follow his co-workers back to The Palms Restaurant, which TheCat and I had passed on our walk. All we really wanted to do was to go someplace and put down our bags, but no... since Cuzzo didn't drive and everything we wanted was in the opposite direction of home, that had to wait. I was tired. My ears were completely blocked and I couldn't hear shit, but what the hell... How often do you get to wander LA?

So we walk back to the restaurant but it was a.) expensive and b.) we weren't comfortable enough for a sitdown dinner, and so we left. Cuzzo took us on the train/tram/fake subway system LA has going, to Hollywood Boulevard. And we walked some more, TheCat carrying all the bags except for my backpack. I was tired. I know he was tired cuz he'd had less (um no) sleep than me. Points for TheCat, because a lesser man would have begun to get really really cranky... and he maintained. I was impressed. And, what the hell..... How often do you get to walk Hollywood Boulevard???

I don't even really remembering stopping to eat anywhere. I know we meant to, but somehow it got late. Had there been no luggage there would have been a million places I wanted to stop in. Cuzzo was trying to catch up with some folk, but folk were scarce. Cuzzo said it's cuz the streets roll up early in LA (which is something I remember from my single/traveling-for-work days) so everyone gets their party on early and pretty much disappears.

Finally, too tired to move much further, we sat on a bench in front of some mall on the Boulevard, and just people-watched. There must have been some kind of a party somewhere in the mall we were in, cuz all kinds of young girls--scantily clad and of varying odd mixtures of ethnicities kept appearing, walking somewhere inside the mall... and then leaving shortly thereafter. Outside on the sidewalk, there were people dressed up as various characters from various movies, and TheCat asked two of them to pose together so that he could pretend he was breaking up a fight between them:
which was vastly entertaining to everyone... including the actors.

Finally Cuzzo had mercy on us and we began the three-train journey back to his house. Cuzzo, to be fair, was extremely excited that TheCat had come to see him, and kept saying "Nobody EVER comes to visit me out here!" and I know he wanted to show us as much as he could in a short time. And he called his housemate to ask if he could come pick us up from the train station, cuz he said even though it was a "6-minute walk" from the train to his house, it was late and we were tired.

We got off the train in Crenshaw. We came downstairs to a wide expanse of road, very dark road at that, except for where it ran under the train station. TheCat leaned over to me and said "I bet it's more than a six-minute walk to his house" and I laughed. Cuz it was. And Crenshaw isn't exactly a place I'd feel comfortable walking around in... and I've drunkenly stumbled down 'Two-Five at 3 and 4A in the morning many a time back in my day, and TheCat hails from East Harlem, but Crenshaw is home of the driveby. I personally was awfully glad of the ride.

Once in the house, TheCat perked up, especially when we all realized how much alcohol Cuzzo and his housemate had there. But I was too tired to drink; I did a shot of vodka to numb the voices in my head and curled up on Cuzzo's donated bed in TheCat's T-shirt (I didn't' bring appropriate pj's-HAHA!) and passed out.

I don't think I'd been asleep for too long before TheCat came in the room and lay down next to me. And because I've learned to think about what pisses me off before I go shooting off at the mouth, and because I'd had at least 24 hours to distill what exactly had pissed me off about TheCat the morning before, I was able to tell him something very simple... that I'm not going to be one of his Cattoys. That whatever happens with us, that's all I need him to know and that's all I'm going to say about it. He didn't say much then but a few days later he said "I don't treat you like a toy, do I?" and I said, no honestly, you don't.

Which is something I like about him cuz he remembers shit I tell him.

The second thing I needed to tell him was that I was going to Vegas come hell or high water. I knew he probably had slept all of about an hour in the last 24, and I have already learned that like most big cats, TheCat can spend an inordinate amount of time sleeping... and when he's really asleep not much will wake him. And so I told him he better wake up in the morning, cuz I was... and I was getting to Vegas somehow someway even if I had to cab it to some seedy bus station by myself and that if he didn't wake up on time, when he finally did, I'd be gone. To Vegas.

He laughed and said everything was going to be alright, but just in case I texted both Shoefly and the Professor, asking each of them to call me at 9:30 NY time Sunday morning, and to keep calling till I answered.

But I needn't have had so little faith, cuz he actually woke up before me, and before my first wake up call, which was Shoefly.

Housemate drove us (and Cuzzo who had to go to work) to Greyhound in some weird part of LA. We were trying to make an 8A bus. We got on line and realized we weren't going to make that bus, but as it turned out, the bus had been sold out anyhow so there were a bunch of folk who had tickets already for that bus and who couldn't get on. So Greyhound sent two buses for the next departure, at 10A. Cuzzo left for work before we knew all this, and there wasn't much he could have done anyhow.

TheCat was restless by now, and the past 36 hours was starting to grate on him, and plus he wasn't able to find something he was looking for. He told me he needed to go for a walk, but he was only gone about 20 minutes or so--the length of time it took me to call Poppy first, and then BigBear. At about 9:30A two buses rolled up to the gate and folks started to line up.

A rumor went through the line that one of the buses was going to make regular stops and would take 7 hours, and the other, the make-up one from the 8A departure time, was going to go express.

When it was our turn to board I stepped up to the tall, brownskinned bus driver and asked "Which bus will be express to Vegas?"
"What's 'express'?" the driver deadpanned.
"OK, faster than normal" I said and he thumbed over to his left. "That one".
"That's the bus I want" I said and TheCat and I boarded, FINALLY on our way to Las Vegas.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fear & Loathing on A Plane to LA

TomCat had told me that he had rounds to make on Friday night, to say goodbyes, and that he might roll in around 4A, which was fine by me cuz I figured I'd still be up packing. I can never sleep before any big event...a job, a presentation, a trip.

Despite the fact that my washing machine is dying a loud, painful death and my dryer suddenly went cold, I had packed pretty efficiently during the week. The Professor had scheduled Sears to come up on Thursday between 8A-12N to take a look at it, but Jose Rivera the repair guy didn't show up until 2P. I was stressed, but he was effective, and even though the news he gave me was bad (I need a new washing machine) he fixed the dryer and I managed to do laundry. So on Friday night there wasn't much to do. We went to visit the Moon to say goodbye, came back and packed last minute things, and got to bed fairly easily.

I hit the bed at 3A... but was too annoyed to sleep and so I played "MobWars" on Facebook till 5A. At 7, when I got up, Tomcat still wasn't here so I texted him that I was beginning to stress. He got here by 7:30... having never slept--and was still unpacked.

To say that I was tight was an understatement. But at this point in the game I figured it was useless to say anything so I didn't... and at the time I didn't know that he noticed or cared (but knowing him and having a little bit more faith in him I'd say he did) but he very nicely faded into the woodwork till it was time to go.

The Sun got right up and got dressed... he was very excited. We left the Rock about 9A, and met the Professor where TomCat was going to park his car. I called the DudeNamedTommy to let him know we were rolling, and DNT was already at the airport where he had checked in. We got to JFK at 10:30. DNT, who knows what the Sun looks like, came up to us and identified himself. He was a little scruffier than I expected... and seemed reasonably nice except he informed both me and TheCat that he didn't really like to fly, and so had taken a Xanax. And he was chainsmoking.

Once on the plane, my theory is that DNT didn't feel the Xanax alleviating his flying issues, and so he must have popped another one. Or something. The Sun, like me, loves to travel, and he claimed the windowseat. Since we were flying JetBlue with the little TV's in the headrests in front of you, the Sun had 5 hours plus of Cartoon Network, his Nintendo DS, soda and chips. He was quite happy. As we take off, I realize that TheCat doesn't really like to fly. Especially take-off's and landings... but as the flight progressed, DNT becomes more and more um... unsettled. TheCat and I dozed in and out (and I was feeling a little better towards him once I realized he didn't like to fly) but at one point we realize that DNT has been locked up in the bathroom an awfully long time. I peek towards the back through the seats, to see the flight attendants huddled around the bathroom debating on what to do, taking turns sniffing at the door to see if he was smoking in there.

He comes back to his seat, eventually, looking a little clammy. He must have dozed off with a glass of Coke in his hand, cuz next thing he jumps up with soda all over his lap, and runs back to the bathroom. Then I have to go, and as I'm waiting for the stall a flight attendant comes up to me: "Um, are you traveling with that gentleman across the aisle from you?" "Weeellll, sorta kinda not really but yes" I said, and then because I'm predisposed to like flight attendants (I know a few personally, LilacBlue being one of them) I told them exactly how we all came to be traveling together. I told them "I know he said he took Xanax" and the gay FA said "Honey, I think he's doing somethin' more than that" and the other FA said "Can you imagine if you had let your kid fly with him?" and the third FA said "The moral of the story is 'never let your kid fly with strangers'" and to all three, I said "It wasn't going to happen, my kid flying without me."

I go back to my seat. The flight begins to seem really long, and even the Sun starts to wonder how much longer it would be. Then DNT jumps up again, this time completely wet in the front and a little in the back and TheCat and I look at each other and wonder "uh.... is that soda??? Or...." and all I'm thinking at this point was THANK GOD I followed my gut....

Finally we begin to descend over LA. JetBlue has this little tracker that lets you see how high up you are and how fast you're going, and I'm not sure that this information was really helping the TheCat who was beginning to seem a little stressed. My ears were beginning to pop and tingle, DNT was completely clammy and only the Sun was nonplussed.

Once we land, TheCat starts to take down our carry-on (nobody checked anything) and DNT asks "Can you get mine for me?" TheCat said yes, and before he even got the bag down, DNT bolts for the door, leaving TheCat to wonder "Uh, I didn't say I would carry it..."

I had to chuckle as the Sun, having been to Long Beach Airport before, knew exactly where to go...

I had texted TF to let him know we had landed (and that his friend hadn't done so well on the flight... TF texted back "He's a wus!"... not yet understanding what I was saying) but he was stuck in traffic, so I texted him to meet us at the Avis counter.

DNT frantically searched first for cigarrettes, then for a lighter.

At the Avis counter, TheCat got the bad news that Avis would not release the car to him because he didn't have a credit card in his name. I had the credit card, we both had cash. No go.... And Avis didn't care that we were far from home and had no options. Neither did Budget.

By this point, TF arrived and was very glad to see the Sun. He was cordial enough with me, though not overly friendly. I introduced him to TheCat. DNT was nowhere to be found. I tried calling him but his phone was off. We found out later that in his bolt from the airplane, he'd actually left his phone on the plane and had to go all the way back to the aircraft to get it.

Still no car. I was beginning to get a little stressed, and having nothing better to do, I called my Aunt LasVegas. "I'm surrounded by men, and they are all idiots" I said. "Well we know that" she said quickly; "what can we do about it right now?" All I needed for her to do though, was to listen to my story about how we'd gotten there so far, and she did... and I felt better. I told her we'd get to Vegas somehow, and I went back inside.

Avis was unrelenting. There would be no car. TF offered to drive us to someplace, and after TheCat spoke to his cousin, we asked TF to drive us to the LA Mart where he was working. He agreed.

And that's how I came to be sitting in TF's car, with the Sun on my left and DNT (nodding out) on my right, and TheCat in the front seat using the GPS on his blackberry to help TF navigate his way to the LA Mart. Everytime DNT woke up to say something, TF commanded him back to sleep.

We got to LA Mart and the Sun and I said our goodbyes. TF and TheCat shook hands... I gave DNT a hug. I could... because it didn't matter. It's the same reason I gave TF a hug when he went to awkwardly shake my hand. Had I not been on that flight, I would never have forgiven him his choice of chaperon... but since I was there none of it mattered. I asked him to make sure the Sun ate... and then TheCat and I gathered our bags and walked into the LA Mart.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'm Baaaaack....

but am currently extending my vacation just a little bit longer. In my house; on my red couch. And yeah, with both my Cats.

My Sun is fine, last I heard a few hours ago... but boy was it an interesting trip.

Vegas is FABULOUS!

and no, we didn't get married... but we bought a timeshare. More legally binding, don't you think?

More later.

Goin' back to the red couch.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Just in Case

...I don't get to write later today or early tomorrow, cuz things should speed up now, a lot's happening in the next 24 hours.

My Sun, my heart my soul is leaving to go with his dad for two weeks. To say I'm gonna miss him is an understatement. I can't even think about it... and it's why I'm thinking about the next big thing to happen in the next 24 hours....

I'm going to Vegas with the TomCat. Yeah, I've heard all the jokes. Lots of 'em. We've even had a few ourselves.

We're all flying out on the same flight with some dude named Tommy, who I've spoken with and is a really nice guy. And then I turn over my peanut, my heart, my soul to his dad for two weeks, and TomCat and I will hang out in LA a night with his cousin, and then take off for Vegas in a car. Him driving slow, he says, cuz that's how he's driving these days.

The Sun has been at Auntie's these past two nights, giving me freedom to roam my apartment all night and yesterday when I spoke to him he really wanted to come home... but he stayed and Auntie Professor tamed the beast via cornrows so I'm glad about that. I hope, really truly hope, that TF keeps them in this time.

As for me... Vegas is gonna be interesting. One time I went away with this dude to Jamaica. We had a great time but I discovered that as big as he was, he was a scaredy cat about everything, and a little high maintenance, and when we got back I kinda abused him, emotionally. Because I could. And because at that time I was in a really bad place. The next time I went away with a dude, I ended up living with him for 4 years. TF and I, by the time we got to go away I was already pregnant and we had already been fighting each other for two years. It was a relief that we didn't fight that trip, but I think it was because Poppy was there.

But I know going away with someone can sometimes make or break what you're feeling towards each other. Personally, I'm feeling OK about the whole thing, despite moments of panic that he wasn't OK about the whole thing. He assured me he was...

The thing of the day that I like about TomCat is that so far, he absorbs my crazies. He doesn't seem to have it drain him too much, either. It's kind of a relief.

Us going away helps to alleviate the pain of being away from our children (cuz his is away, also)... by the time I get back there's a pow wow to go to and a logo to begin to design and a meeting, and maybe some redoing of the apartment... and then my Sun my life my heart will come home.

I'm really going to miss him...

All The Things I Shouldn't Say

in real life, end up here usually. All the things I don't feel comfortable saying in real life, are afraid to say, to give voice to, I end up writing here.

It's weird. I know I have my exhibitionist and narcissistic tendencies... my need to put my innermost self on display, and not just to the internet world and people I don't know... but seemingly mostly to people who know me well.

But then again it's not so weird. Before this blog I kept diaries, and then I discovered letter-writing. Then the letters got long so I'd type them so they'd be easy to read. Sometimes I would give the person the letter, sometimes I didn't. TF got a lot of letters from me, not that they ever did any good.

One time, a long time ago I was walking around the Village with my friend BeautifulHair. At the time she had a thing for Fortune Tellers, and there was one who sat down on 8th Street somewhere, that her sister had said was pretty on target. Because I follow the Old Testament, where it says specifically that we are not seek out fortune tellers, I didn't want my fortune told but the woman insisted. So I sat down in front of her and shut down those metal gates... I figured if she was really good she'd pick something out. But she merely looked at me and said "You often feel that people don't understand you, what you're saying. You feel like you're talking a different language than they are."

Which was kinda freaky... cuz I usually did. The voices and emotions in my heart and head swirl around so much, tumbling over each other that often when I go to say something I get distracted by them and end up trying to say too much and instead end up saying nothing useful. Writing has made it better, but it still happens. I noticed it in my meeting the other day; found myself unsure of which strand of spaghetti to pull out, where to start, and then when I started talking other thoughts kept crowding in. Luckily, the person who has contracted me had spent a considerable amount of time (almost to the point of being a pain in the ass) talking to me beforehand; assimilating my ideas as his own... so that when he saw I was lost he jumped right in. And I was grateful; at that moment I decided I really liked him and that our work together is going to be pretty good.

But I digress.

The point of all this is that there's so much bubbling around these days and I want to write it, but then I don't want to write it. I saw Shoefly about an hour go... she said "I saw your blog... stop over-analyzing! Just enjoy it!" and the TomCat says the same thing, as does FatLady... but it's not something I can stop. It's not even that I'm trying to analyze anything... I just need to figure out where all the strands are because if I don't they twirl around my head so badly that I can't function. It's like my mind is stuck on "wash" cycle, constantly sloshing around. I need to write it so it can stop.

And there are just some things I need to let out somehow. And I'm so torn... ordinarily I'd write some pretty interesting stuff right about now but I almost want to keep it to myself. And like I said earlier I am afraid that one day this will be over, and the words I write here will taunt me.
I know I'm crazy and an all-or-nothing and I go too deep too fast... but usually it's because its someone I'm fairly familiar with anyhow. I'm already halfway there when it starts...

So maybe I'll just pick one thing to say everyday, or whenever I write. One thing that means something to me, for whatever silly reason. One thing about TheCat that did it for me that day. And there could be several (there usually are) but I'll pick one. Argh. But then I hope I don't give away too much about him...

Today's thing--having not seen him in a few days which sucked eggs for me--was him singing songs--and knowing the words by heart--from a particularly girlie, animated Disney movie. I'll be smiling about that for a long time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sometimes I Freak Out

like blind panic, white-tailed-deer-ass-in-the-air-leap-over-tall-grass-in-a-single-bound freak out.

I can feel it building, bubbling in my gut and then my whole body is tingling, heart-racing, feet-pacing... and I want to run.

I will not be the one left behind. I will not be the one crying, or waiting around, or wondering how come I didn't see it coming... not ever again. All that shit about "one day at a time", "have faith", "it's not a big deal"... really it's bullshit. If you've had to deal with what I dealt with, you'd understand. It is a big deal-- a huge deal, to learn again to trust someone, to have faith, to believe. It's an even bigger deal to learn to trust yourself again, your instincts, your gut, your heart.

I know, ultimately, that whatever happens I will survive because anything less than that is not an option. Someone depends on me. And really, I depend on me. I cannot afford to fall, to implode.

On the other hand, for perspective outside of me, I had a meeting with a new department (for me) in the hospital that was my former employer/now my client. A community-based group who's focus is educating and supporting stroke survivors and helping them prevent the re-occurrence of stroke. A woman made a presentation; not too much older than myself; a former opera singer, a mom. She'd had a stroke when her new daughter was 12 days old. She had started a foundation to help other people like herself, and so today at this meeting she presented a short film of her story. I almost cried, except I was in a room full of strangers (well, one turned out to be Mima's Aunt--and that also almost made me cry), hearing her and her husband talk about her struggle to regain her life. I also had a short brainstorming session with this group of people just prior to the film, in which we threw out positive words like "proactivity"and "action" and "hope"... all those things they had to hold on to as they recovered from stroke. They spoke of loneliness and fear, and pain, and isolation, of depression and needing to rely on other people and on themselves.

I spoke to the woman who made the film presentation... we agreed that "there is always some drama" and that the thing is to keep moving, to try again, to never give up, to persevere, to survive. Our circumstances are different; I am not a stroke survivor and can't relate to that experience per se.... but I am still a survivor of the drama wars. Nobody comes out unscathed.

In comparison, though, my drama is all in my head (well, some of it wasn't) and I know I'm not dealing with that. Compared to surviving a stroke my life is cake, I know that.

But it's still hard sometimes to quell the panic. To have faith, to trust, to try again.

And I am trying again.

But sometimes I freak out.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Music is The Soundtrack

to my life, to what's in my heart. Always has been. When I first started this blog I would embed little players into some of the posts (but somehow they all got lost and aren't there anymore) until I started setting up a playlist.

I know a lot of folks don't feel music like I do... but if you're ever around me and really want to know the status of my mind and heart, pay attention to the music I'm feeling... it'll tell you volumes. More than words.

Music will bring back memories to me; strong, vivid memories, complete with color and sometimes smell. For some people I know the reverse is true; a scent will do this, or a touch. But for me, it's music.

Like I'll never forget Poppy jumping around to Ray Charle's version of "Eleanor Rigby" in Paris, or "Papa's got a Brand New Bag" by James Brown. He would play 45s' on the record player and the apartment would fill with music and we would all be laughing... and I can't describe how deeply all those memories are embedded, and how those songs will always bring me back to those moments.

Or the moment Poppy was playing Archie Shepp on the record player. I was standing there, watching the record turn round and round (there was one label, I think Capitol, that had a strip of color around the outside of the black label. The strip went from red to orange to yellow, through the whole rainbow, so that if you stood staring at one spot it would appear that the colors changed). The album cover lay on my left; it was of a yellow or orangey painting, very fire-like, and between the sounds of the saxophone and the visual on the album cover I became filled with the fear of fire, and started to cry. I remember Poppy trying to figure out what was wrong, but I don't think I was able to tell him. I was barely three.

Sometimes, if I feel it deeply enough, the effect I feel is physical.

This morning, waking up on a few hours sleep, a song was on the radio. I already know that for as long as I can remember things, this song will always remind me of now. Waking up to it this morning, it almost made me physically ill, and I wanted to get up and not hear it anymore, but at the same time it engulfed me, paralyzed me so I couldn't move. I lay there with my eyes closed, feeling sick and overwhelmed and happy all at the same time.

Then it was over, and I got up.

Update- 1PM... I had to go see if I could find that Archie Shepp album cover, just out of curiosity. It was hard to find... I googled several different phrases, almost doubting myself. Was it really Archie Shepp? Or maybe I was mistaken and it was Coltrane, or Brown, or....

but this is what I found:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fat Laces and Big Rope Chains

Yeah, I guess I'm in a "retro" mood....

I realized yesterday that I needed to get the kid some sneakers for his trip; couldn't send him out to Cali with his Payless Stinky Sneaks, so we did a quick run on 225th street. We were there; I had to make a stop in Target on the way home from Karate.

The Sun has a thing for futuristic sneakers, preferably black, but I refuse to pay more than $40 for sneakers cuz he's so hard on them. So we saw the new hardshell Adidas in black with sort of silverish graffiti on them, and they were cool, but we both liked the white ones. I liked them cuz they reminded me of BackInTheDay... so I was thrilled he liked them enough for me to buy them.

On the way home, I told him why I liked them, and today, since we're home, I went to YouTube to show him some old Run DMC video.

My kid is cool. He LOVED Run DMC, and sat at the computer for a good 20 minutes, watching "It's Tricky" and "Walk This Way" , "Run's House" and "Sucker MC's". His favorite, though was "King of Rock". I can't embed the video cuz Sony is stingy like that... but click on the links and go bring back memories....

I have to find him some fat laces.

Spaghetti-like

I woke up feeling like Superwoman yesterday. That happens sometimes... the Voices can be mean or nasty, cutting me down until I'm a weepy mess but other times they wake me up with the sheer Power of Me. That's why I don't oust them; as bad as it can be is as good as it can be.

And since I spend a lot of time writing out the bad shit, I should spend some time writing out the good.. but I always feel strange doing that. "Pride goeth before a fall" and all that... and usually just when I'm feeling my most powerful and super-like I can feel myself falling again...

But it's been an "up" coupla days. I mainly haven't written cuz I've been around the Tomcat a lot, and then when I'm not, well I don't feel like writing. But some highlights of the past few days were:
  • On Friday I had a long, productive conversation with TF. I needed, among other things, to find out if he'd booked the Sun's return flight, and I also wanted to tell him that Tomcat was flying out with us. I don't owe him anything... but the main purpose of me telling him about Tomcat was to prevent him from grilling the kid once he got out there. So, I started the conversation by telling him that yes, my world is very small and so The Cat is someone the Sun and I have both known for a while, but nothing developed until very recently. The fucking funny part was that he asked me if it was Nene. HAHA! I guess TF knows me as well as I know him... I was very happy to tell him, no, it's not him (but yeah it's another dude way too close to home cuz uh, I guess that's what I do). I said that the Sun is very comfortable around The Cat, and that The Cat is actually really nice with him; something I appreciate very much. TF sounded pretty happy for me, and was very happy that I'd told him about it. I guess he took it as the peace offering it was; me sharing information with him.

    So then, I said "OK, so The Hair. I know how you feel about it, but you should know it's a decision I've handed off to the Sun, and it's one he's capable of making. And as of now, he's very comfortable with his long hair, although everyone is beginning to suggest he may want to cut it a little. Even TheCat... and he's got long hair." TF said that mainly, his concern was that as a little kid he himself was a little plump and had wild hair and got teased a lot, and more than anything, he doesn't want The Sun to feel that. I told him I understood that... but that I could assure him that this was not even remotely the case with The Sun... in fact, he is supremely confident in his hair, and it's one of the positive outcomes--that The Sun is not afraid to be his own person, have his own style. So I said I'd braid it, and to please leave it in the braids till the kid gets back... he wasn't too crazy about the braids but I'm gonna do it anyway. The Sun informed me he's going to take them out... I told the Sun all you have to do is refuse to let him do it and it's a wrap--they'll be tiny box braids anyhow.

    We talked about other stuff... what to pack, the fact that the Sun needs to read some books while he's out there (and not graphic novels--not that I object, it's just that that's all the Sun wants to read), that I was going to send his violin with him. I told TF too, that it was getting to be time for him to step in and take over certain things, because the Sun is beginning to give me a slightly harder time than he used to, and uh... I'm not gonna fight with him.

    So, all in all it was hopeful. I dunno. It could all go to hell and very quickly; you just never know with him.

  • I got to spar Friday night. All people / kids who have never sparred before usually end up sparring with one of the Senseis because they are experienced enough to restrain themselves. Although Little Sensei, my sparring partner didn't exactly refrain too much and got me good in the ribcage a time or two. And on the head a few times. But I did get in a roundhouse and a tag, so it wasn't a complete loss, but it hurt, dammit. And heck... it was my very first time EVER sparring... I never got to spar even when I was a kid and a yellow belt in Go Ju Karate. The Professor and I were the only girls, and we were slightly older, and the sensei never let us spar with anybody, not even each other.

  • On Saturday, I felt really guilty that I didn't get the Sun back up to Yonkers to work on his katas, but we woke up late, TheCat was here and nobody much felt like hustlin'. And then the Professor called to say she wanted to go to this Pow Wow out in Sparta, New Jersey, which is like almost two hours from here. I hadn't thought it would be worth it; there's a group here that puts on Pow Wows in the area, and they can be a little, I dunno... odd? I mean they're great and all, but the organizers seem sort of "biker-dude"ish and it's mostly local tribes and "Blendians" like us. And not a lot of vendors or dance competitors, and of the vendors they tend to be South American Native rather than North American Native. But I guess we're spoiled by Schemitzun. The Professor decided to go... and it was glorious. An easy drive out into beautiful country... bales of hay and fields of corn and what not. Country. And there were more vendors than there usually are at this string of Pow Wows. And a few more dancers. But more importantly, it was a beautiful day. The Diva was struttin' her stuff in short shorts and purple stiletto mules--on grass--which caused the Professor to be a little gruff with her thinking she couldn't chase TinyOne in them and that she'd be stuck with TinyOne.

    And in fact he took off a couple of times, but the Diva is quite capable of running after him in purple stilleto mules--on grass--and generally kept close tabs on him. The one time he got away I was even mad at him, so I stalked him round the grounds till I snuck up on his little ass and jacked him up. I held his arm: "What did Mama say to you? What did Lili say to you?" "Stop" he said.
    "And what did TinyOne do?"
    "I run" he said.
    "Uh huh. And what is Tiny One supposed to do?"
    "Go with the Sun" he said.
    "Uh uh---TinyOne is supposed to STOP. Do you understand that?"
    "Yesh."
    "And that's why you're stuck with Lili now, because you didn't listen."
    "No, I go Sun."
    "No, you stay Lili."
    "NO, I go SUN!" And he kicked and screamed but Lili is a boy-mommy and I wasn't havin' it. But by that time it was time to go anyhow so Moomah scooped him up and took him to the van. Brat. But he's awful cute.

  • On Sunday, I took the Sun down into the city again, so we could both get our hair done. I wanted his washed and blown out so I could braid it... but it's now early Tuesday morning and of course I've been intimidated by the beast and it is still unbraided. But here's a picture of the Beast Tamer in action...
    The Sun loves his hair. He's quick to swing it around. It's interesting that his father is so hung up on his own bad experience that he just doesn't get that his son's experience is entirely different...

  • And then later on Sunday, MMB, who is determined all of a sudden to be a Disney actress, wanted me to take some headshots of her. I may have to take them over, just for lighting purposes, but here's one of them:
    MMB is a funny kid. I always say she reminds me of myself because the kid is a plotter. Cuz she just doesn't do anything halfway. If she's made up her mind and discovers a path, boy does she plot that path. And she will harrass the shit out of you if she needs something. MMB has been a Disney Channel fan since birth. She knows all the behind-the-scenes voices and producers of various shows, knows who all the actors are. She sees there's a "look"... and boy did she go and get her hair done in that way, and all of a sudden has discovered that her playing the guitar will help her... so she carries the thing around and practices now. Whereas before she fought Bigbear (who was paying for lessons) tooth and nail.

    All that to say, I kinda have no doubt that MMB will be on Disney Channel one day. You all can say you heard about her first, here.

  • And lastly... the stuff you all really want to hear about right? Well... I'm still torn about writing it. I think part of it, to be honest, is that because this one feels different I'm a little hesitant to expose it to air. Nene was different... there were variables all along and even though I don't do anything halfway and completely inhabited the possibility of something more permanent coming out of it, the bottom line was there was always those variables. And also, In Real Life, the relationship was way undercover. But this one... this one is sort of "hiding in plain sight" and so writing it gives it even more light. I guess too, that I almost don't want to look back at words a year later and have to rehash it all again.

    But I enjoy the hell out of the TomCat. For one thing, the similarities between him and the real cat that lives in my house just crack me up. And it cracks me up that the real cat likes him very much. Simba is a very particular beast, and he makes him self very scarce when people are around that stress him. Like he knows my family is important to me, and when they come one at a time he sticks around, but isn't all that visible. When they all come together, Cat is outta here... runs upstairs to my neighbors. When TomCat is here, he gets this look of happiness and sort of seems to be everywhere.

    This is going to sound strange, and maybe a little TMI (really!? From me???) but I haven't slept with anybody in years that I was also really friends with. Meaning, I enjoy the company. He's easy to be around and entertaining as hell to talk to. I wonder sometimes why he tells me the shit he does... all about his previous CatLives and how he's survived them or landed on his feet. His dark side. I wonder sometimes if he really intends to tell me all this... it's an awful lot of information to all be in one place. He said once it was so that I would know all about him but then I wonder, seeing as how he's TheCat, does he tell other people this? Although I doubt it, sort of... knowing cats like I do.

    One of the first things I said about him here was that he reminded me of home. Of those guys I grew up around who hustled, or worked at the Bike Store, and played ball every chance they got, ran chicks in and out of each other's places cuz it was a game to do so (sometimes the same dumb chick), who always presented the Hardface to the rest of the world. But because the Professor and I were always either "wifey" or "little sister" or sometimes "big sister," we always knew what was really up with them; when they hurt or were in trouble, when they needed to eat or be left alone. The Professor was always the one that got the call in the middle of the night that somebody was in Central Booking, and knew her way around the system so she could track them (reporting every few hours or so) until they got out. Troy and Capone and Donald and Chauncey and Miriam's brother who's name I can't recall (the only Hispanic in the bunch), Desmond and Mark and Manny the PrettyBoy. Randy, Bruce and DLB who had a one-hit rap career. Some of them made it; became teachers or got married, and one of them made it all the way out to California... one is a real-estate tycoon and converted to Islam, but some of them didn't make it and were shot and killed, or got strung out on crack or thown off roof tops and a few did some hard time. When we were kids, the Professor's and my life were so intertwined with theirs, though at the time we didn't really know it, and me in particular, I took it for granted and was quick to get away and cross the Divide.

    I spent the '90's living in New Jersey, adapting to another life, adopting other ways, jumping around in dive bars to REM or Midnight Oil or Nirvana, and for a long long time I left those guys behind. I didn't listen to hiphop anymore. Rarely came home to visit. The dusk of that decade found me pregnant, and so I made a home out here on the Rock to raise my baby. I've met an awful lot of interesting people, and been a lot of interesting places, and I can still cross back and forth across the Divide with ease because I never felt I belonged anywhere... but upwards of 96th Street (the old-time physical representation of the Divide) is more home to me than anywhere else... and TomCat brings me back there, in my heart. So nothing he tells me shocks me, but it can make me laugh because I remember knowing about all that stuff from my neighborhood.

    We were watching "America's Got Talent" the other night, and some guy who claimed he was from 110th in Harlem was on, crying about his hard luck life and how he struggled with an alcoholic father and little sisters and brothers but he lived an honest life and sang to make money. "Yeah right" I said. "You know he was out hustlin' on the corner", and the TomCat laughed. When the guy started crying on TV, TomCat said "Yeah he's from 98th and Columbus" and I cracked up... a total inside joke cuz you would have had to live down there and know where the Divide was to understand all that simple comment said.

    But still, I'm an all-or-nothing chick, a plotter, a thinker and I know I'm going to have trouble with the TomCat ways... not so much the coming and going, cuz the going gives me room to breathe. But the sharing thing... it's not going to work for me for long. Although, I do share Simba with the upstairs neighbor... so who knows....

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fasting...

is an interesting thing. Every year, the night the fast begins I have a nightmare that I've eaten something. Last night it was a dream that someone was making skirt steak and had asked me to take it of the oven or something, and I broke off a piece to taste it. And realized with horror that I had broken my fast.

Whew! What a relief to wake up and realize it was a dream....

This year wasn't that hard for me, aside from the caffeine-withdrawal induced headache I developed about noon... but I think it was more from lack of sleep and the heat, because Exedrin knocked it right out. Sometimes by 4P I'm an evil beeatch, and by 6:30 I'm ready to cave but this year I made it to the end without much difficulty.

The Sun made it to 12 noon before he needed a fruit cup. I didn't push him longer at all, but found it amusing that there have been mornings when he won't go feed himself, and by the time I get around to it it's almost 1PM. See, I've set up cereal so he can get it himself, but he won't... lazy kid... preferring to lounge on the red sofa with his legs in the air watching TV. But anyway...

I didn't go to sleep the night before until 5 or so, and so slept really late. So it took me a minute to get up, and then I sat around at the computer getting ready to get annoyed about things and all of a sudden I had company... sort of like The Kiss coming home on Party Day and rattling the window.

*sigh*. Totally took me by surprise.

So we had company, the Sun and I, for a little while. And my Lord... if ever a person was a cat... this one is.

After awhile the TheCat took off to do CatThings, and the Sun and I hung out some more till the family came up. The family altogether always rattles me for some reason... so much energy compressed into such a tiny family but I would never have it any other way. The Professor and Bigbear took over the kitchen, and wondered why I didn't come in to make chicken salad, but I just couldn't... they are just too big personality--wise so I prefer to leave the kitchen to them, instead sitting with the Diva and swapping stories. MMB was completing her first fast ever, and was doing very well and was pretty pleasant. TinyOne was his usual energetic, sticky self. He repeats absolutely everything the Sun does or says... sometimes stopping whatever it is he's doing to do so. At the end of the evening he wanted to stay... which was actually a first. And if I weren't supposed to be doing some work that I've left to the last minute, I would have let him.

But of course there's something I need to do that I haven't been "feeling" and have put it off... am still putting it off...

We read the Bible all together, which was nice. Poppy joked how short our service was compared to when we were kids... but it has to be "to the point" or the Sun starts twirling around on my drawing stool, and TinyOne starts throwing things or slamming doors.

We broke our fast at 8:29, and the fam hung out for a bit before heading home.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Argh

My blog is a little over a year old now... and every so often I look over old posts just to see if I've grown any.

Uh, no.

I'm still bitching about the stuff I was bitching about in December. Embarrassing.

The biggest thing is being broke. But on the other hand, I have been unemployed since October, and all things considered... I've held on. Despite always thinking I'm at rock bottom, I just discovered I haven't really hit rock bottom till about now. And I'm going to Vegas anyway. Which just goes to show you... I do anything I really want to.

The second thing is relationships. Or the lack of one or my fear of one. I gotta stop that. It's embarrassing. What is it I so proudly quoted on my list of things to help survive the dark days? "Quityerbitchin'?" Argh. I gotta quit bitching.

My apartment is still messy, but I DID fix my room up better than it was... it at least feels like a bedroom now and is pretty comfortable.

==--=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
I wanted to write this incident cuz it cracked me up.

The Moon is a very funny little kid. He doesn't readily try new things, isn't particularly daring or open minded. But he's not whiny about it, and he's also pretty unapologetic. It's a known fact among us that he doesn't like things that require him being suspended in air, or dragged behind boats, and it took him forever to learn to ride a bike. Or use his two-wheeled skateboard. And when he got good on the thing, he fell and broke his wrist and he claims he still rides the thing but I've yet to see him do it again.

Anyway, one thing he refuses to do is get on the Skyfari at the Bronx Zoo. It's this suspended cable-car "ride" that goes across the zoo. I love the thing myself, and dragged the Sun on one year. I think the Moon went very reluctantly, if in fact we even got him up there.

Anyway, today while we were eating dinner, I saw the news that the Skyfari's electric system had shut down, suspending almost a 100 children and adults in the air. For HOURS. I had half a mind to turn the channel so the Moon wouldn't see the news and freak out, but instead I pointed it out to him. "Look," I said, "the Skyfari stopped working." He looked at the TV and merely said quietly "I always knew the Skyfari wasn't a good idea".

It cracked me up. And Shoefly, too, cuz she called me later, hysterically laughing. She said he'd told her about the story, right away, but in a very understated manner. Just simply, it was never a good idea....

Some Semblance of Normalcy

for the moment, I guess.

Still internally warring, still wondering. Still moments of being fundamentally happy, and others of being severely panicked. And then sometimes the thud of anticipated crashing. I know it's silly. I know it shouldn't be this big a deal. I know the Fat Lady's right... after all this, I could be the one to decide it really wasn't what I wanted anyway. And then at that point I'll feel inordinately silly for all the energy I've expended worrying.

I am an all-or-nothing chick, though, that's the thing. I know what I want when I see it... I know what I want to feel again. And the problem is I feel it now.

But whatever. Ain't shit I can do about it but take the ride, I guess. And pray.

For the moment I still think I won't tell too much, just in case, but I will say that there are fundamental kindnesses and joys that I haven't had in sooooooo long. And not just to me, but to my Sun, and I worry about that too. He's never known "family." I realized the other day he probably doesn't ever remember seeing me kiss someone (not that he has, yet) or hold someone's hand (which he's seen) and in a way that makes me sad. I would love for him to have that, to know what it's like to have a family unit. It's always been just me and him. He's asked me "will Tomcat be here in the morning?" and sometimes I tell him I don't know... the other night I kissed him goodnight and said "I know you like him, and I like him, too... but we're both going to have to be patient and see what happens..."

*sigh*. So much for being responsible and keeping it away from my kid. But we're a unit, me and the kid.

This morning I woke up earlier than I have been, and got myself together. The Moon came over early and I got the Sun up so that by the time UpstairsNeighbor came downstairs we were dressed. I just had to give the boys bagels for breakfast, and we were on our way. She had to close Mr. Kip's bank account at his credit union, and I didn't want her to go alone. Thumbelina, who has usually been accompanying her on these errands, is away.

We took the train into the City, and waited for her outside the credit union while she did what she had to do. I know it was difficult, but she was smiling when she came out. She said the credit union people were very nice and efficient, and I'm sure that helped.

We walked up Columbus Avenue and found a place to eat. The Sun and Moon were, in all actuality, pretty well behaved all things considered but they're at the very annoying ages of 9 and 10, and quite frankly they tire me. To prove a point not to mess with me, I wouldn't take them to Barnes and Noble after lunch and instead we walked up to 79th and Columbus where we met Bigbear and MoodmagicBarbie. We walked over to the Museum of Natural History.

Bigbear was using a CultureCard that the Professor got through her job, so we pretty much got into the museum for $8.50 but Bigbear had wanted to see the Horse exhibit, specifically.

$18.75 per adult, the museum wanted. Are they NUTS? Who can afford that??? So we walked instead through the Hall of African Mammals, the Amphibian exhibit, the Eastern Woodlands Indians and the Plains Indians exhibits and the Pacific Islanders. I was wore out. Luckily, the Professor drove up from work and met us outside the museum, and kindly drove us back to the Rock. I fell asleep in the back seat.

I made lamb chops and warmed up potatoes and greens to go with, and fed the boys before 8P. From 8:29 today until 8:29 tomorrow I'll be fasting... yes, folks it's that time of year for me again.

I guess all there really is for me to do is to go and live my life and be me...

And HEY! NBC has started running ads for Heroes, again. I am beside myself with joy....

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Dunno How This Is Gonna Work,

exactly, but I'm sort of deciding I can't really write about the Tomcat. Not specifically, anyhow. It's just way too public, in my very small circle of real life friends. Consequently, the ones who comment the most (well, except for the Professor but she's related and ballsy like me) feel funny doing so, and plus, when it all blows to hell I don't know that it needs to be that public.

But I'll let you all know when it does.

I told him this means I need to tell him stuff directly, but I'm not sure how that's gonna work exactly cuz I'm not sure a.) there's stuff he'll want to hear and b.) I'm ready to say. Though I slipped up and admitted to something I shouldn't have...

I dunno.

Professor's very hopeful about this, and usually I trust her but I'm more of the jaded variety. The older we get the more baggage we carry... in my case a host of whispery/screamy voices, a huge load of post-traumatic stress from TF, and a complete inability to trust someone enough to lead. For four years or so I spent my life in a relationship where every move I made, every word I said had the potential to blow up on me, and so I was very methodical and calculating in what I said or did. It's a hard, very hard habit to break. And then on top of that to be watchful of everything he did or said, to watch for patterns, tones, inflections. It was a lot of fucking work. And then for three years after that all out war. A very bruised house cat, I am, with mamabear tendencies. And I didn't realize how badly bruised until I was confronted with the possibility of a real "something". Cuz as much as I loved my Nene, there was always Babymama and I knew she'd always be there. And I had come to see, especially lately and in relationship to other things, that Nene was no fighter. He was a very "safe bet"... loving him didn't cost an awful lot, until much later. It was like "No Payments for a Year!" and then in tiny print somewhere "Pay ridiculous fees later."

But this one is more like a 30-day free trial, and then regular rates will apply. Reasonable....but if you don't got it, you don't got it.

Crackers.

Those metal gates are shut, but Tomcats have a way of discovering unguarded storm drains and bars that are spaced slightly further apart than others... and it's not that they mean to purposely break in... it's just they know there is food or water or scratchin' to be had, and they need to get to it. So here am I in this huge and ridiculously walled fortress, sealed tight... but something's already rattling around in the basement. I can only pray that it doesn't trip the booby traps.

And that's all I'm gonna (try to, anyway) say about that...