Thursday, December 30, 2004

"Suppositories are the way to go."

My younger brother puts this sentence into the universe with the sort of confidence you'd expect to hear from a presidential hopeful. He is firm. He is unyielding. You look at the man as he speaks and know in your heart, "This is not this man's last experience with suppositories."

The whole conversation came up on our drive from Kentucky to New York. That makes 12 hours in the same car, 12 hours breathing each others space, 12 hours trying to keep the driver awake; this is how a person can run so far out of conversation that suppository stories are somehow plugged in (pardon the pun).

He is telling his best friend about the time I brought my good friend Caroline home last year, not knowing he was deathly ill. As a 21 year old man, this is not the way you wanna meet a beautiful young woman. He had, unbeknownst to me, just "doctored" himself. See, he was a desperate man. His intestines were completely backed up; so ill, so clogged, that he couldn't even keep a drop of water down without vomitting. This was a sick young man, indeed. So, he tells me that at this point of dehydration, he goes to the doctor and is given a choice: keep dry heaving everything (including medication) or sneak the medicine in the back door. And although he likes to think of that area as "Exit Only", he was left with little option.

This is the point in the story where he swears by the medication. Says that only 10 minutes later, he is in la-la-land and is finally able to sleep. After his nap, he could eat like a king and was feeling worlds better. He tells my mother that "suppositories are the way to go."

I'm not so confident in his little slogan. Now, at the risk of jinxing myself, I've never had to use a suppository; but even if there ever arose an instance where one of these horse pills was prescribed, it's still not the kind of motto I'd put on a button and campaign with. Call me crazy, Matt, but you're on your own here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

"Dad, can we go feed the cows?"

As my boyfriend and I drive the hour and a half to his hometown, twisting the curves of I75 and racing against the winter storm behind us, he tells me some of his story. We pass a road that looks like it leads nowhere. He smiles, points, says, "This reminds me of my dad."

Tells me of how when he was little, his dad would drive him down this narrow little road to some kind of store. I think of it as maybe a small building where working men can go to get away from nagging wives and screaming children; that kind of hole in the wall place where working men can chew tobacca and smoke and play cards and stand around in Carhart coats and talk about the weather. I see a kerosene stove and lots of calloused hands, creased and dirty. Around the thick legs of all these working men, I see my boyfriend, blonde head tilted back, looking up at their beards and pot-bellies, and wondering who to ask for the salt.

My boyfriend tells me that it is in this place that his dad orders them soup beans. They say their 'see ya later's and 'take care's, climb back into the truck, and head off to the pasture. There, they drop their salt block offering, and as the cattle mosey up, father lifts son onto the hood of the truck and leans on an elbow next to him. In silence, they watch the cattle fight for lick after lick while they spoon steaming mouthfuls of brown beans and cornbread, making a memory that doesn't seem important to either of them at the moment, but will stick to Jerrod's ribs for the rest of his life.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Been Home One Day

the pain is still here,
deep in my chest,
it reminds me of it's presence every time i pull a deep breath of kentucky air,
but the pain has dulled.

i have medicine here.
stealing kisses all day as we christmas shop,
waiting for me outside of dressing rooms,
dropping me off at the door while he parks in the bitter cold,
his arms so tight around me as we sleep that i think he may not ever let go.

the pain is still here,

medicine numbs, not destroys,
and my soul still aches for something more -
a life worth sharing with someone so deserving.

i am searching.
he is waiting.
we are both hurting.
the pain is still here.
between us.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

anoche a selena's

sweat. and tacos. hair gel. short. short. skirts.
music reminiscent of amusement park carousel rides blaring. boop boop boop boop. it is hard not to laugh the first time.
steps. people actually dancing to steps. space.between.bodies. dancing to dance. not to push bodies together - seal them with sweat.
two dollars. what latinas charge the men lining up to cumbria. reggatone. merengue.
brown. the color of everyone else's skin. of long hair skimming the tops of men's fingers as they lead their women through the bachatta and salsa. the deepness of ojos morenos like dark chocolate.
modelo. on the table. chitterones. we girls laugh. sip vodka. bacardi. corona. the men all drink tequila.
salud. to la gringa.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

And They All Fall Down!

Yesterday, a woman was climbing the steps to the second floor at Sardi's. Now, I am carrying a huge tray of food, so when she dives forward in one of the most ungraceful falls the world may ever know, I cannot reach down to help her up.

This is one of those moments where - ya know - I just really wanted to laugh. I mean, falling down is funny. It's as simple as that. Lands in the same category as seeing someone smacked in the back of the head or walking into a wall or having wrenches thrown at you in rapid fire succession as you prepare for a huge dodgeball tournament.

But I couldn't laugh. Because a) she might have hurt herself and b) I was wearing a bowtie and red tuxedo jacket.

So I ask if she's alright (through pursed lips) and turn to deliver my food with a little smile on my face.

The best part is that later on in the night, another woman got drunk and fell at the same spot, but the guy behind her wasn't paying attention and just fell into her like dominos. The domino effect would have been the only thing that would have made the Destiny's Child blooper on 106&Park even funnier.

Blog Contagion!


It seems that this on-line journal is infectious... seems that once you figure it out, you kinda have to get one. (This fact has been sarcastically noted on under the post "Coolness".)

But seriously, my friend Claire (UT) had a blog. I checked it out and then checked out my friend Erica's (NY) blog. I then got one too. My boyfriend wants desperately to be a paper doll cut-out of me, so he got one immediately after I did and even copies a little of my material... or is "inspired" by it. Then, he told my friend Marci (KY) about my blog and his blog and she now has a blog. Upon checking her blog today, it seems she has told others at the place I used to work about blogging and now two other women from Chop House (KY) have blogs.

Will the chain end? I think not. It's spreading like small pox, except its a good thing... and it doesn't itch.

Claire -
Erica -
Jerrod -
Marci -
Annie -

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Happy Places

I realize that I've been writing only about the bad times - the loneliest days - the most vulnerable emotions. I'm not letting you all the way inside. I'm only allowing you to enter the darkest rooms of my heart; but there are tricks I employ to get through this transition - ways I've found to lift my own spirits when no one else is here to do it for me. Here's a peek inside. Welcome to my Happy Places.

No. 1: Whenever I walk into a room and Jerrod is waiting for me, I'll swing open the door only to find him, feet planted, arms spread wide, big cheesy smile stretching his face, "Here I am, Alecia!"... whether I've been in New York for a month or I've just stepped outside to check the mail.
(That's the image I go to most when I'm coming home from work here or walking down the streets.)

No. 2: When my dad tells a joke, or makes a corny crack, he laughs so hard that he begins to shake. He eventually has to bend over at the waist and slap his hand against his thigh with one hand while he holds his stomach with the other. Eventually, tears will form at the sides of his eyes and it's all made even funnier when you look from my dad to my mom, who is only grinning a little and looking away in "embarrassment", trying to roll her eyes, but unable to hide a smile because of the spectacle he's making.

No. 3: Looking at old family pictures, it seems that my sister wore the same outfit every day between the ages of 6 and 8. My mom allowed us to dress ourselves at whatever age we expressed interest and Bobbie Jo didn't really like to veer from the old standby, which consisted of a matching two piece lime green and dark purple ensemble. The top was purple with lime green polka dots while the shorts were purple with lime green stripes. Quite the fashionista.

(My mother worries that when people look through our albums, they'll think she was a bad mother and only bought new clothes for Matt and me.)

No. 4: For Halloween this year, my friend Ellen talked me into going to a party with her. We didn't have costumes, so we donned 80s apparel and talked in thick country accents: side ponytails bobbing, fluorescent headbands tight, bracelet-sized hoop earrings dangling, super tight jeans super tight rolled, ankle socks and tennis shoes, tucked in t-shirts with braided belts. I could not look at her without laughing and our fellow subway riders couldn't help but stare. Somehow we managed a fashion faux pa (which I thought was impossible in New York City).

No. 5: At a get-together at Jerrod's house, we took a break from board games to get drinks and snacks. My friend (anonymous) was sitting on the floor in a skirt (it SUCKS to have to sit on the floor in a skirt) and as she took a drink from her cup, she poured an entire shot worth into her lap, which pooled up in the crotch. She was smiling at me the whole time and I felt like it was all slow-motion as I tried to warn her, pointing, saying her name, unfolding myself from the couch to try to get to her! She didn't realize what was happening until the puddle eventually seeped through the thick fabric of her skirt.

(You can imagine the screams and the flailing at that point.)

No. 6: My friend Whitley does not sing... unless, (as I found out one night), it is a classic Meatloaf tune. I was having a conversation with his father in the front seat, when from behind us, out of the blue, we heard Whitley belt out, "And I would do - an-y - thing- for - love!" Please don't imagine the verse sung, so much as punched, placing particular emphasis on "do", "an", "thing". Please refrain from choosing a key also. And try not to envision the car radio being ON, as it wasn't. The only music in that car was obviously in Whitley's head.

No. 7: My friend here in New York was at a Bible Study and another woman there was pouring out her heart. He said it was pretty intense at the moment and there was a guy sitting across from him with his legs crossed. Well, there was a break in her testimony, so old dude used it as an opportunity to shift in his chair and recross his legs. During this transition, he passed gas. . . audibly! Jon looked over at him in surprise, then looked around the group, and the girl was still talking about her life before God without skipping a beat! Jon's looking around like, "Hell-o! Aren't we going to address what just happened?!" But no. All these good Christians spared the man the embarrassment owed him by ignoring the sound, and also, the smell. He said he felt bad, but he couldn't really concentrate after the debacle.

No. 8: I know a man who has little quirks: kinda has an eye phobia, washes his hands all the time, etc. Well, his oddest eccentricity is an alias. He feels that "we all have an alter-ego", but this guy actually uses his alias! He is NOT a celebrity. He does NOT have paparazzi stalking him. He is NOT in the witness protection program. But he DOES exercise an alias. Says things like, "There are times when you just need an alias." What?! When does the average American need an alias?! I'm actually quite baffled by the Clark Kent side of this friend of mine. . . and occasionally slip him the business cards of local therapists.

No. 9: My friend Whitney got a red convertible when she turned 16. It was awesome! I was there the day that she was given it and I had known about the surprise and it killed me not to tell her; but oh, that secret was so worth it when I saw her walk out the gate to the gift. We immediately took it for a spin, headed toward the Square (where all the cool kids cruised in Cynthiana). Well, on the way, I was fooling with the automatic windows (I was so taken with automatic windows - thought that was the mark of a really nice car), when suddenly, I felt a jerk. We had slammed into the car in front of us. Whitney freaked out. Remember, she'd only had the car for about an hour. Although it wasn't funny AT ALL at the time, I laugh now because we both managed to convince ourselves that her dad was right: the car in front of us must have been drinking and had accidentally put their car into reverse. Ahhh, I love the way he thinks.

No. 10: For Christmas, my boyfriend got every season of The Sopranos on DVD. From the week of December 26 til the last week of January, he popped a disc in the player and held me down until I would sing along with the theme song. I fought it with all my might, (much like the rebel in me that used to fight my parents about eating canned corn); but Jerrod is much stronger and until he heard me hum a little of "Woke up this morning, got myself a gun," he would not let me go. He is a sick individual.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Bombarded by Home

I guess today is the day for crying. I receive a video from my family. I cry. I am homesick.

I check my boyfriend's blog. He has written two entries since last I checked. He is not a bad writer. He excused his macho Pride and allowed Vulnerability to type. He loves me. I can't describe that uniqueness - what it's like, not to just love, but to be loved. I ball. I heave. I sit in front of the computer and turn out the light, somehow feeling better about crying in the dark. I spend about 15 seconds sobbing and asking God aloud, "What am I doing here?! What do you have for me?!"

The doorbell just rang so I ran down the steps, mid-blogging, to answer the postman's call. It is a letter from my mom with our church directory family pictures. Can you guess? Yeah, I cry. I also received a box from my boyfriend. I haven't opened it. The tears of the day are still drying salty on my cheeks. I blow my nose and decide to give my heart a break. I'll open the box - but later.

Check out the man who loves me. See why I cry. Take a peek into my heart and when you see the small hole, eaten away by longing, then you'll know where he lives. In that little niche. Always with me.

Bittersweet Regards

I watch the video with tears dripping in my lap. I am smiling. Eyes that look like mine are shining from the sweet face of my younger sister. She has trimmed the tree with her new love.

They send a video holiday greeting to me via email. She cannot let go of his hand long enough for Dad to zoom in on the tree. She is in love.
I watch the video again, this time listening for the voices of my mother and father. My dad, the most technologically impaired individual I have ever met, is once again in charge of the camera - my mom coaching him along. The tree is in the same spot. There is an ornament with my name and the date of my birth just over the right shoulder of my sister. I know that she hung it in the front on purpose. I know that she misses my brother the same way and that a similar ornament of his is there in the front, too. I know that I miss home so badly sometimes that I cannot write or call because it makes things that much harder. Out of sight, out of mind.

I see the way she giggles as he asks her to step from the tree. She doesn't hear him at first, although he is speaking clearly. It's not that he's mumbling - it's that she can't hear him over the roar of her own young heart. She is in love.

I found myself looking at the new couple, envious of their hand holding. "I wish I had a boyfriend," I heard myself whisper, "with me."

I know love now like hurting. I know love like 800 miles makes his strong hugs a memory. I know love like more than touch - more than talk - more than his scent. I know love now like hurting. Not heartbreak. Heartbreak will be reserved for loss; but love like longing. I wonder sometimes how long I will take this pain -- how long I will walk New York avenues while my heart throbs -- how long until I feel love like numbness. And I wonder sometimes about his pain threshold. Wonder if he can handle this pain any better than the time he let me pluck his eyebrows... of course, that had something to do with pride as well.

I watch the video one more time. They look so fresh with their new happiness. I look forward to Christmas, when I can go home and meet this new boy, listen to my dad make corny jokes for his benefit, hold the hand of my own love and reciprocate the fresh love of the youngsters with him. I don't want anything this year but a way to be together; but I've found that Santa can't work miracles, so I'll ask for a winter coat instead... imagine that as I slip my arms into it's thick sleeves that he is holding me, zipping his arms around me - my imagination the only thing keeping me going.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Startled to Find Him Here

As I rolled over on my side to fall asleep after another long day at work, I pulled the soft comforter up over my shoulders and around my neck, just tucked under my chin... and I was startled. I found him there - his scent - sewed into the seams of my blanket. I gasped, pulled back, threw the cover down, looked into the shadows making sure I was alone. I was.

It felt just like a bad dream. Or like someone had come up behind me and "boo!" so I jumped out of my own comfortable skin. Like the night I opened the closet door, so sure that someone was hiding there that I screamed when a loosely placed sweater fell from the top shelf. That was the feeling when I inhaled and found him wrapped around me.

I turned away from the dark room again and pulled the covers back up. I inhaled. He was gone. Maybe it was all my imagination. Maybe my heart was playing tricks on me.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

An Old War

Terrorism. The kinda word that chills right to the bone. Terrorism: "The systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion." Terrorism. Alive in the Middle East, alive in the graffiti threats of street gangs, alive in the homes of battered wives.

Terrorism. Maybe starts as a playground bully. Grows into a Racist or Sexist or religious Extremist. Feeds off of the fear of others. A parasite, thriving on weakness. Terrorists are weak.

It is weak to sacrifice your life and not face the consequences of the evil you've done, the families you've tortured, not look into their tear-streaked cheeks. To murder or brainwash, employ blasphemy and weaponry, and torture innocents in the name of God. It is weak also to throw a brick into an Arab-American's window. To leave a poor tip for a waiter with brown skin and broken English. To judge a religion based on a few idiots. To judge...

Terrorism is Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein of this century. It is also Hitler of the last. It is today's beheadings and yesterday's concentration camps. It is Africans selling their own people into slavery. Plantation foremen raping slaves and then working their offspring. The Old World of the Native Americans robbed when the English settled their New World. It is Cortes' invasion, erasing an entire civilization. The Jewish Pharisees toward Jesus. It is Egyptians over Hebrews until Moses and the Exodus.

Terrorism has always been alive. How do you kill something of Satan? How do you stop evil? How do you keep a healthy spirit when you're surrounded by so much hatred? How do you win the war on terror? A war that is as old as the Serpent.

My Dad Reminded Me Tonight...

It is Thanksgiving weekend and his first time in Kentucky. My dad, the good ol' country boy that he is, is determined to show this 'Yankee' the way Southerners live! The way we work the land! He suits up my then-boyfriend in a flannel jacket and brand new work boots issued by his company. Andy looks at me like, "Please don't make me do this."

"Have a good time, fellas!" I reply, sing-song and devilish.

It is a cold holiday weekend and I am so glad to have evaded hauling wood this year. Sending a fill-in, I curl up on the couch with my mom and talk about this relationship. She is a good listener. I desperately want her to compare my experiences with the ones she had at my age, but she never opens up. Years later, I realize that she never will.

This relationship is doomed, I think. He lives 15 hours away and we are both poor and I don't think he can be trusted. He is very funny. He is very sweet. He writes me poetry. He does not know God. He sings like an angel and plays the piano for me... and I think for many other women. But he writes me beautiful poetry.

My mom asks me how he knows circus tricks. (She and my dad had walked into the room right as he asked me if he could do a handstand on my back.) I tell her of the 'Tumbling' class he took at college. This does not impress her... or me... but it is a shocking new addition to a traditional rural Thanksgiving. My boss at work later tells me that this should have been a big sign.

After Thanksgiving, my brother walks me to my car and tells me that he overheard my mom and dad say that they liked Andy, but couldn't believe that I was dating an effeminate man. So they had noticed. I had not even told them of his tendency to experiment with make-up and lingerie. Hmmmm....

I'm thinking all these things in front of the fireplace, curled up beside my mom who I imagine is thinking of holidays with boyfriends when she was 21. I'm thinking all these things when my dad comes in the back door laughing and I see Andy red-faced and worked. "He broke the ax on his first swing!" my dad roars! A good ol' slap on the back and Andy takes the ribbing well... but he never comes back to our farm.

He is happily married now... but not to me.

And I imagine they have an electric or gas fireplace.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Jazz Dream

As Ella coos from the cd player, Anything Goes as I slide into fantasy. I skip lightly across the kitchen floor, preparing my turkey sandwich as if it were cavier. I grab a can of Coke and twirl around to the counter gracefully, paying careful attention to posture so my body looks lean in my imaginary red evening gown; the jazz releasing my head from my neck, bobbing from shoulder to shoulder, the notes of that saxophone blowing through the diamonds dangling from my lobes. One white-gloved finger brushes my hair back from my forehead as I join the other distinguished guests around the immaculately set dining room table. I wonder which will request a dance, Cheek to Cheek... hoping it will be the blonde next to me. As he reaches for his napkin, his hand brushes mine and even through the glove, I am Too Darn Hot - afraid this passion will melt the ice sculpture centerpiece.

Only when the doorbell rings do I answer in sock feet and turn down the cd player. My landlord does not appreciate Ms. Fitzgerald's serenade, nor my imaginary dinner party - a very ironic Let's Call the Whole Thing Off attitude. I laugh at my daydream and think most people would find this all very strange. I curl up on our beat-up couch in a warm blanket and pop in an old movie, smiling as I imagine that handsome man at the dinner table humming I Get a Kick Out of You.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Telephones Aren't Romantic

There is a difference over the phone... something about his voice that isn't exactly the same. Maybe he's tired. Maybe he had a bad day. Or maybe, he just misses me.

That's the fantasy I live in most. I think that he just can't stand being apart. I think that everywhere he looks, he's reminded of me. My clothes are there - I wonder if he ever walks into the closet and presses his face into one of my sweaters. My books are there - he hates poetry - does he ever pick one up and just give it a try? - just to be closer to me? My pictures are there and I wonder if he ever speaks to me - ever offers up an 'I love you' or 'I miss you' - the kind that's whispered extra-softly, but echoes through his big, empty house.

I see him everywhere here. In this crowded city, I see his blue eyes shining with some sort of mischief. I see his little grin - the one that shows off the dimple - the one that means he's done something or is about to do something that I will more than likely reprimand him for... which is what he wants... and will lead to the biggest, loudest laugh you have ever heard from a man. I hear that laugh, see him bend over and hold his stomach, and can almost feel him embrace me so hard that he picks me up. That's how he laughs. I love how he laughs.

But I miss it all over the phone.

The Love Sage

On the other end of the internet magic - through networks and cable hook-ups and satellites and ports - from his screen to mine in the blink of an eye - my younger brother and I cover 800 miles with a few keyboard pecks. He tells me of his loneliness. I can count the number of people I know here on one hand. He tells me that he wants to find the right girl. I think I am lucky to be in love.

I also think of the countless times I've spent in girl-talk, listening to them ask if there are any good guys left, and wanting to reply "yes, I am related to one". He tells me that he wishes he were buckled in next to a pretty young Christian girl on his way home tomorrow - one that he could bring home for Thanksgiving dinner. I tell him that "pretty" is subjective, "young" will age, and "Christian" is probably a good idea.

He is frustrated. Wants a relationship, wants to be loved, wants to share secrets with someone, wants to hold someone tight, wants to be held tightly by someone... doesn't want much - just love.

He tells me that he wants to find a girl who will believe in what he believes in - I tell him she is waiting and will believe in him, too.

I tell him about the index cards my mother sent me last month. She knew that I was having a hard time adjusting to New York and that I feel as though I have no career direction. One of the index cards shouts such a basic truth that I still balk at its simplicity and my ignorance:


We're on God's time. I tell him to keep his chin up - it'll happen one day - she'll materialize one of these days - and they will love each other...

and God will be pleased with His timing.

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Magic of First Kisses

My younger sister tells me she's received her first kiss. This leaves me less petrified than my father, more enthused than my mother, less murderous than my brother, and way more jealous than I should be.

Off the market myself for about 2 years, I am invigorated by her new, giddy feelings. And, as she cannot tell-all to any of the aforementioned members of the family, I am the go-to girl.

I am loving it. Her excitement brings back so many memories. I warn her of roaming hands and give her some great defensive strategies. I warn her of being too available, while avoiding games, which is a tough trick to master. And I warn her of ever going on a date unshowered, unshaved, and unaware. This brings us to the point where I'd like nothing more than to publish every detail of her heart-fluttering new romance, but sworn to secrecy, I cannot. (She is breathing a huge sigh of relief as she reads, while my family begs for more)

But I can talk about my own sordid lip-locking past. It all began at a Halloween party in the eighth grade. I was too mature to go in costume this particular year, (although in hindsight, I'd say some sort of devilish vixen could have bought me more time in the 70 Seconds in Heaven closet).

The Haunted Barn was terrifying and some kind of goblin did touch me, but I was standing too close to too many boys to notice. The Hay Ride was fabulous. I could tell that Karrie Grear was holding hands with somebody under her blanket, and my heart raced for her. Looking from side to side, I saw cold hands attached to cold boys, but none which I particularly wanted to help warm. Rats!

On to the living room for refreshments... and kissing games! The only moments of indoor kissing pleasure that I distinctly remember are these:

- During Spin the Bottle, it only came to me twice: once with a man who is now openly gay and once with a boy whose nickname was "pickle". No matter - I was so scared. I had just crammed down hot chocolate, caramel candies, and Doritos - not a good kissing formula! I did not know if I was supposed to use my tongue, nor how. And although I desperately yearned for a knock-me-off-my-feet "girl you've become a woman" type kiss, (the kind Jessica & Elizabeth Wakefield had been getting in my Sweet Valley Twins books), I was still a little grossed out by the entire process. Lucky for me, neither of these guys were much interested in swapping fluids either. Quick, sweet, brushes of the lips - and unlike my modest sister, I gave my mom every detail as soon as I hopped into the mini-van... She almost lost control.

- During 70 Seconds in Heaven, I was only locked in the closet once: with Camron Faulkner, but there was nothing romantic about this pairing as neither of us wanted to be locked in the closet together! We had been best friends since the womb! This was like brother and sister, and our sick-o friends wanted us to kiss?! Disgusting! So, he stayed on one end of the dark, cramped closet and I stayed up against some boxes on my end. Our so-called friends are counting down the seconds right outside the door, making smoochy sounds and giggling; so, we whisper a plan that when they get to "2", we hug - but not too closely - and when they say "1" and sling open the door, we pull away dramatically and wipe our mouths.

I don't know if that worked, but it was the longest 70 seconds of my life... especially since I'd really looked forward to 70 seconds with someone who would hold me up in his arms and kiss me like I deserved to be kissed - a deep, passionate embrace - locking lips as though the world were falling down around us!

Actually, I've never been kissed like that in a closet.

Maybe I'll suggest that to my sister. After all, at this point of my life, I'm living vicariously through her.

Monday, November 15, 2004

leaving behind

... a country road that curves around fields speckled with green, orange, rust, yellow -- winding its way home -- begging me to follow

... a boyfriend whose mouth lingers around my face, nibbling my neck and ears - full, deep, pink lips murmuring his 'please don't leave me's while kissing the tears off my cheekbones

... a father who says he'll pay for my wedding -- and who desperately wants grandkids

... a mother who thinks my dreams will come true

... a younger brother who still looks up to me, even though i took so much delight in tormenting his growing up years

... a younger sister who steps into my shadow as much as possible

... grandparents who never seem to age

... a pew full of people i know

... food that sticks to my ribs and goes down full -- too much food for too cheap price -- southern fried baked grilled broiled 'take your time stewin' it and take your time eatin' it' food

... everything that feels right -- everything that feels good -- everything that feels Home.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Away from Home

I walk down crowded streets slowly -
weave my way between tourists and vendors and performance artists,
winding down avenue after street after block after
'what?' What am I after?
I am trapped in a 12 mile cage!
lonely like aching heart,
afraid like beating pulse,
homesick like 'why do I keep crying?'

I step onto the curb,
lunging over a litter-filled puddle,
and walk in the shadow of the faceless man in front of me.
He is in a hurry.
They are all in a hurry.
They are always in a big ol' hurry.

I maneuver my way through the throng to the side of a building.
Leaning against it's cold granite frame,
I close my eyes,
pop a Milk-Dud in my mouth,
and hear crickets chirping between the taxi horns.
I stand there until I see the leaves turning red and gold and brown
on the farm that rasied me,
tucked into the greenest rolling fields I've ever seen.
I let everyone pass by me,
peddling and dealing and hustling,
and I shut out the naked cowboy and the new york times and the m.t.a.,
close them down with a blink of an eye to re-focus my heart on home...
a beautiful Kentucky nook that waits for me -
waits for me to remember a slow-paced, easy-does-it,
'you will always be loved, come home',

Monday, November 01, 2004

Toilets - History and Usage - Then til Now

My younger sister is afraid of toilets. This, I find, is a very strange fear. Ever since she was a little girl, she's labeled her first experience with automatic flushers as a "traumatic" one (fearing that she would get sucked down into the great waste beyond).

Personally, I am a fan of these porcelain catch-alls. An automatic flusher is a great luxury! Look how far bathroom technology has come!

I've heard too many stories about my mom and dad not having in-door plumbing... I can't even fathom using the restroom outside! Imagine those wintry, wind whipping February nights! Imagine the cold, hard wood and the splinters! (I mean, who would you trust to pull a splinter from your rump?) I know that if I didn't have indoor plumbing, I would avoid fruit and fiber and when I felt the urge, I would probably hold it as long as possible til I got all cramped up or til I was sure that my bladder was about to explode.

My dad almost died in an outhouse so he, rather than my sister, has a reason to be afraid...

He was around seven years old. It was a nice summer day, after dinner, and Uncle Pete was about to start a little shooting practice. He had tacked his bulls-eye target on the wood before going inside to fetch his gun; meanwhile, my dad had to go. He settled in, his little feet not even reaching the floor. Uncle Pete came back outside, gun in hand, not thinking to check the john again. He cocked his weapon, took careful aim, and fired! (a high shot, luckily)

Dad said the bullet just whizzed right past him, scaring him off the bench seat and onto the floor, scurrying hands and knees and rear in the air, screaming for his young life!

Well, Dad has recovered. And as far as I know, he has embraced the invention of an indoor commode, although we don't talk about matters such as these. (It's not ladylike, lemme tell ya.) But Bobbie Jo? She's a little more dramatic than Dad. So, (and I hate to admit that there's one in my family) her fear has led her to become a Squatter.

Now me, I don't really like the restroom politics of Squatters - mainly referring to them in the realm of public restrooms. Typically, Squatters are a quite selfish sort in the stalls. Since they don't sit, they assume no one sits. Either that, or they think they have special urine - urine that we Sitters are lucky to land on or wipe off. I really really really get annoyed with sloppy Squatters.

Not saying that all Squatters are sloppy, but most. It is rare that a Squatter will:
a.) Lift the seat (Hey! They aren't using it!)
b.) Wipe off the seat (on which they always drip or spray)
No, they leave it for the imaginary toilet fairy - which eventually ends up being a Sitter or a janitor - NEITHER OF WHICH ARE PLEASED!

When I was in college, I saw a wonderful sign that I'd like to share with the Squatters of the world:

If you sprinkle,
when you tinkle,
be a sweetie,
wipe the seatie.

I'd also like to make all aware that the exterior of the gluteus maximus is made of the same skin as the arm, forehead, nape, etc. The... uh... undesirable areas do not touch the seat. Also, many stalls have paper seat covers and for those that don't, the same results can be reached with a couple of long pieces of toilet paper. If you're worried about your rear sitting where my rear sits, there are options besides spraying your urine everywhere - just wanted to clear that up.

Now, I understand that we all have our preferences. Some Squatters may simply just enjoy the sensation of working out those quads as they empty those bladders. Others may worry that at the end of a tough day, if they choose to Sit, they may never get back up. And Squatters of great esteem may not wish for their derriere to share the same porcelain as the more common rumps.

This is what's great about America! Squat if you want! Sit if you want! I just ask to walk into a stall with a urine free seat. Let's keep it in the bowl, ladies. We ask the same of our men, don't we?

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Another Anniversary

Today marks two years. Two of the most romantically fulfilling years of my life. Granted, my life is only made up of 25 years, but I was not expecting this kind of contentment when a blonde, muscle-bound young man started slipping me corny, yet wildly original, poems at work. It turns out that this athletic "Ah-nold" disciple (with great calves in my opinion and "mind-blowing biceps" in his) is also as dedicated in his relationships.

And I know that the skeptics reading this, both married and single, are shaking their heads or smirking that I feel "romantic fulfillment". Well, snicker away because this incredible man from humble Kentucky roots has turned into a man worth loving - a man worth trusting - a man with a heart so full of love for me, that it spills over with loyalty; a treasure chest for my insecurities and for my dreams. His heart beats for mine. I can put my hand to my chest and hear the music his would make beating alongside. An unforced rhythm - an easy love.

We are separated by miles and dreams to chase. He is finishing up a degree, a piece of paper that he probably deserves more than I did. I am trudging a crowded path in the arts. He says he can hear me in his big, empty house. I say I can feel him run his fingers through my hair. He says he can feel my fingernails run across his back. I say that I close my eyes and sit still until I know exactly the scent of his breath on my cheek - know exactly the touch of his calloused hands on my belly - know exactly the taste of his full lips.

We talk on the phone tonight. We wish each other a happy anniversary. And in those few, awkward, long-distance pauses - the ones filled only by background noise - by the commercials he's not watching and the radio station I'm not swaying to... In those moments, I hear his devotion and I send him my love.

And we look toward the year to come... together.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

A Lesson in Following the Rules

I am seventeen on this day and have just come home from Europe. My yellow-walled bedroom is packed tight with suitcases, dirty clothes, and souvenirs. Jet lag taking its toll, I have just woken from a 19 hour slumber and my mom is already on me to get my dirty clothes to the utility room. (Normal families refer to this as a "laundry" room, I believe.)

I am seventeen and my little brother is thirteen and in his excitement to welcome me home and hear about my trip (and receive his souvenir), he throws open my bedroom door and yells, "WELCOME BACK!"

This is a mistake.

We have a few understood and rarely broken rules in the Whitaker household:
1. Answer the phone, "Hello, this is the Whitaker residence."
2. Milk with at least one meal of the day.
3. Always knock before entering a closed-door room.

My brother and I both suffer a tremendous dose of embarrassment as he breaks rule 3. I have just dropped my towel and am digging through my suitcase for a clean anything-to-wear when I look up to see the horror stricken face of my little brother. I scream. I scream like I have never screamed before. I scream as though a serial killer has entered my bedroom with a meat cleaver. He shuts the door - fast. I hear him race down the hall - fast. I get dressed in dirty clothes - fast.

This all happens very quickly, but moments like those seem to go on forever. It's exactly like the movies:
ALECIA: (in drawn-out high screechy voice and slow motion ) "Noooooooooo!" as I cross myself and hit the floor.
MATT: (in drawn-out deep low man voice and slow motion) "Noooooooooo!" as he covers his face with one hand and pulls the door closed with the other.
I chuckle as I write this, but believe me when I say: IT - WAS - AWFUL.

To this day, I'm not sure what he saw, but brothers and sisters have a way of talking about those things without ever mentioning them. At lunch a few minutes later, I sit down in my normal chair - across from my brother and sister, between my mother and father - and Dad says Grace. It's on special occasions that Dad says Grace rather than all three kids (which can be a lot of Grace when you're hungry). Dad thanks God for bringing me home safe and sound and tells Him how much, "We've all missed seeing Alecia".

Matt begins giggling. He starts shaking. He is a quiet boy who is now laughing hard and loud into his clasped hands, so I start to giggle and my bewildered father has to hurry his Amens along. And as Mom fills our plates, we look up at each other - over mashed potatoes and roast beef - and know that everything is cool.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Sixteen Wheels and a Disco Ball

My mom grew up in a within-city-limits house in Cynthiana, Kentucky; but way out of town, past the Convenience Store and the river, past Oakwood Baptist, past Larry's Bar & Grill, way way way out of town - you get deep in country. You get into curvy roads and tobacca rows and one-lane bridges. Out there, you get to the house where my dad lived; an eighth of a mile from Charley's Roller Rink. That's how much my mom liked to roller skate when she was early twenty something... And that's how convenient it was for my dad to work there.

As Dad cleaned the skates and polished the floors, Mom came with girlfriends, donning her own personal pair - the cute kind with bobby balls at the end of the strings - the only time my mother has ever been fashionable. (This is around the part that she would say I begin romanticizing things.)

My mother, six-feet-two with roller skates (though she would claim five-feet-fourteen inches) skated gracefully around the rink - forwards, backwards, sideways, dipping under the limbo stick with ease - long deep brown hair and sparkling hazel eyes... the ones she gave me. My dad, five-feet-ten before the skates (do the math) falling in love with this younger, modestly beautiful woman. Not the skater she was, he romanced her with gaiety - my dad, the non-stop joker, the entertainer, the 'glass half-full' older man sweeping her off her skates before she knew it.

I like to think of them during the Couples Skate. I like to think of Dad's manager sensing his anxiety to skate with her and letting him off the clock for just one slow song. The lights go real low and the Disco ball casts white dots like jewels on the hard wood floor - Dad struggling to stay up, Mom skating backwards, holding his hands, and them seeing so much future in each other's eyes... in each other's same hazel eyes. Eyes sparkling like the disco ball - jewels yet to come.