Everywhere I turn He’s there. Breathing loudly and at times, unnecessarily.
Yesterday I hid in the sewing room, but He found me — even after I crouched under the sewing machine cabinet, covered with the black fur Halloween costume I’m sewing. He was not alarmed that there might be a bear in the house. He just wanted to know where the catsup was.
Are you kidding me? The catsup is in the same effing place it’s been in for 15 years!
Just as I was contemplating murder-by-condiment and how I’d get rid of the catsup stains, the doorbell rang. The Fed Ex man stepped back six feet from the box he had placed on my front porch.
“Just needed to see that you are over 21, no signature necessary,” he said, backing away.
I didn’t really have time to catch the innuendos in that remark from this 30-something-year-old guy — who obviously thought I was from the Paleolithic Era — because I was busy staring at the box. It came! My shipment of wine! I stopped myself from falling to my knees and thanking Jesus, the grape growers, pickers and stompers and delivery clerks around the world, lest the neighbors see me and call 911.
Life is good. I no longer care if He doesn’t know where the catsup is, ‘cause I know where the wine opener is.
I wipe down the box and open a bottle while it’s inside the box, tipping the entire cardboard case to pour it into my mouth, while Harper watches disapprovingly. She wants to play in the box and she doesn’t want it wine-stained, like every other hiding place in the house.
I’m feeling magnanimous. I smile at Him. We’ll have a toast to making it through yet one more day of breathing in the same very small, very tiny space. Cheers!
3:10 a.m. — Finally fell asleep after binge-watching episodes 1-7 of the new season of “Ozark.”
7 a.m.— Woke up after dreaming I was driving to the levee — which was in the Ozarks — but the levee was dry, and now I can’t get “American Pie” out of my mind. Glanced at time, muttered, “Nah,” rolled over and went back to sleep.
9 a.m. — Woke up to Maya Angelou (Cat 1) sitting on my head and trying to pry my eyes open. “You have food,” I mutter to Maya and Harper Lee (Cat 2), who jumped on the bed in defense of her BFF. “Besides, all you two are doing is eating, laying around, binge-watching Netflix and getting fat. No more food.” Maya coughed up a hairball on my pillow and Harper looked at me slyly and slowly began kneading my belly fat.
Now, for ten years we’ve been on our own, And moss grows fat on a rolling stone, But, that’s not how it used to be …
9:10 a.m.— Debated on whether to put on real pants instead of pajama bottoms. Maybe even a bra? Nah.
9:30 a.m. Passed neurotic, anxious hubby, who was in the recliner watching 24/7 news and devouring a dozen brownies, harikari-style, with vodka chasers. Checked the pantry: Eight rolls of toilet paper left, but who’s counting?
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye, Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die …
10:05 a.m. —Sun came out for seven minutes, then it started raining. Fed both cats, made coffee, did back exercises, dashed outside in pajama pants and got the paper.
With every paper I’d deliver, Bad news on the doorstep, I couldn’t take one more step …
11 a.m. — Still raining. Wind kicked in, as well. Sent a group text and videos to the grandkids of me dancing in the kitchen to American Pie, blowing kisses, giving air hugs and playing Uno by myself to show how much I missed them. Sigh.
And I knew if I had my chance, That I could make those people dance, And maybe they’d be happy for awhile …
12 noon — Should be working. Deadlines looming. Maybe later. I’ve got all day. OK, just one more episode of Ozark and then I’ll get to work.
Did you write the book of love, And do you have faith in God above, If the Bible tells you so?
3:30 p.m.— Accidentally set out frozen cheesecake instead of frozen chicken to thaw. Watched the last three episodes of Ozark and started watching Tiger King. OMG. Can’t. Stop. Watching. This. Train. Wreck. Had entire cheesecake for dinner and ate a jar of Nutella with my fingers for dessert.
I can’t remember if I cried, When I read about his widowed bride, Something touched me deep inside, The day the music died …
2:30 a.m.— Geesh. Ten hours of my life. Gone. Did finish watching Netflix, though. I’ll start on Prime tomorrow — after I finish my work. Sent a group text to my kids and my siblings. Within 10 minutes had 38 notifications. No one is sleeping. Who am I kidding? Neither am I. Got up and tiptoed to pantry: Seven rolls of toilet paper left, but who’s counting?
Do you believe in rock and roll, Can music save your mortal soul, And can you teach me how to dance real slow …
I miss visiting with my friends and family in these days of COVID-19. Normally, we’d be getting together and having stimulating and ridiculous adult conversations like how old we were when we first heard the F word.
Nowadays it’s no big deal, but back in the 60s and 70s, that was “the baddest word in the world.” It wasn’t of course. It’s simply a word for sex that can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb and in many cases, to describe a dangling participle. But Americans are so squeamish about s-e-x.
It was 1962. I was 10, in the fifth grade.
An older (Read: 12) and much wiser-in-the-way-of-the-world girl showed me some graffiti on the back of the old, whitewashed cafeteria, which was near the playground, which was near my house.
“Do you know what that word means?” she said with a knowing look and raised eyebrows.
As a matter of fact, I didn’t. It was an interesting word that rhymed with a lot of other words and I liked words that rhymed: Duck. Cluck. Buck. Tuck. Suck. Muck.
“It means love,” she said.
I eyed the many times it was scrawled on the cafeteria, right next to “Jimmy + Lana” and “Delores + Steven” and “You are 2 good 2 be 4gotten.”
All of the graffiti related to love in some way. Except one that said, “Kill Jimmy Kartone.”
“Who is your boyfriend?” she asked.
I kind of liked David Persimmons, who sat behind me in music class, but he had no idea I lived, let alone that I sat in front of him in music class.
Although, he did once glance at me after my mom gave me a bad home perm and utter, “Ugh.”
“Here,” she said, and slipped a tube of red lipstick into my hand.
“Just write his first name if you don’t want to tell me,” The Older Girl-in-the-Know said. “It’s okay. Look. Everyone does it.”
Indeed, the entire side of the old building was covered with “love” messages.
Easily led and wanting to fit in — two traits that would lead me to trouble for most of my life — I took the lipstick and wrote Vivian F—- Dave and Dave F—- Vivian across the top of some older, faded “Roses are red …” verses.
We went back to the playground and I pretty much forgot about the incident.
That is, until one of the town’s policemen showed up at my house the next day.
I had not taken into account three factors:
My mom had a fascination with “Gone With the Wind” and had named me Vivian Lee and I was the only Vivian in the entire school system.
We lived in a very small town.
The head of school maintenance was my neighbor.
My parents were humiliated, my brothers were in awe and I was forced to scrub off the cafeteria scribblings — all of them.
I was confused, embarrassed and I still had absolutely no idea what I had written and why everyone was so upset.
I wanted to die with Jimmy Kartone.
Worse, I could not explain it to my parents.
How could I explain that I didn’t really love — or f—, whatever that meant? — David, I only kind of liked him? Which only meant — if he kind of liked me — we might hold hands briefly during the annual Turtle Days Festival.
I thought about trying to blame it on Scarlett O’Hara, the only other Vivian I knew, but she spelled Vivian with an e. Besides, she was in Hollywood undergoing multiple shock treatments — an ironclad alibi.
A week later, I asked another girl who was a teenager what the word really meant and she told me.
Pow. Another defining moment.
“A boy and girl do WHAT?!”
“Oooh … disgusting.”
“And people like this?”
“There is no way that’s how I was born. No way.”
My Mom and Dad’s Sunday naps were suddenly suspect.
I had to write, “I am sorry I wrote bad words on the cafeteria” 300 times, but I wasn’t too upset.
I was too busy being glad that our school system had a lot of boys named David.
This is a Christmas Day photo of my family. Large effing family you may think if you’re as profane as me, but wait — there are 14 missing. Which may give you an idea of how hard it is for me to isolate myself from my family. They are everywhere. Like rabbits.
My brother Bob told me that on his daily lone walkabouts, he noticed the most crowded parking lots in town were the grocery stores, liquor stores and the gun shop. Whoa! Hold up there — the gun shop?
“OMG!” I said to my brother. “We don’t own a gun. People are going to kill us and steal our toilet paper!”
And Bob, in his usual upbeat way said, “Yes, they will kill you, steal your Netflix account password and all your toilet paper, take all of Brian’s beef and pork and leave your gluten-free shit behind. Then they’ll barbecue your cats in the backyard.”
Bob can paint a picture.
My son, who lives near D.C. and legitimately utilizes guns in his work has been — jokingly? not jokingly? — warning about a possible Zombie Apocalypse for years. We all laughed at him. I laughed at him. No one’s laughing now.
I’ve informed my family that when the zombies come, I’d like what’s left of me to be cremated — along with my leftover gluten-free bread crumbs — and loosely scattered in the gun shop parking lot.
I’ve procrastinated a long time before launching this blog, but now seems to be the perfect time.
I came to this conclusion yesterday, after I downed a glass of wine at 11 a.m. and spontaneously started yelling overly enthusiastic greetings out my front door at neighbors who have never met me as they walked their children and dogs on the other side of the street. It was a desperate attempt to talk to a human being, any human being, face to face, albeit 125 feet away.
Most of them glanced my way then quickly slid their necks down inside their parkas and scurried down the sidewalk, as though I was “that” woman on the block. Hell, we all know who “that” woman on the block is. She’s the one who hoards egg cartons and dental floss and feeds her leftover vegetables to the millions of rabbits that have proliferated and taken over the neighborhood.
Yikes. That might be me.
Moving on. I’m in the designated age group most likely to die from the coronavirus. The one who might be refused treatment because there’s not enough equipment to save everyone. The one the doctors will look at, raise one eyebrow and ask in a perplexed tone, “Seriously, you want to live?”
I do, actually.
This option of seniors throwing up their arms and saying, “Take me, take me!” really came to light after the lieutenant governor of Texas suggested grandparents would be willing to die to save the country’s economy during the coronavirus crisis. What the …
I definitely wasn’t consulted on this, nor were any of my friends. We’re going to need more specifics. Exactly whose wealth are we are dying for? Cause we know it ain’t ours. Do we have to flatline completely or can we just get seriously ill and make a comeback — ala Pet Cemetery — when the economy springs back to its feet?
Is this grandparental suicide pact limited only to the coronavirus? Or, is there a chance an earmark could be slipped into the Die Seniors Die Dammit Sen. Bill 666 and expanded to include indigestion, knee replacements and gout?
I don’t know, I’m torn. I’m a patriot, but I kind of want to live. I’ve got a new grandchild coming in October, for God’s sake, and I just ordered new laminate flooring for the utility room. It took months to decide on the color — not too light as to show all the dirt and not so dark that it looks like a prison cell. What I’m saying is that I’m looking forward to rocking my new grandson and to my new Creamy Oak Cappuccino flooring rocking my utility room.
It wouldn’t bother me as much if it wasn’t just old, white male politicians suggesting this harakiri crap. I don’t see any people of color or younger people suggesting we line up for cremation in order to bail out the big banks and stockholders. But then again, my black friends are my age and my kids might be timid about telling me to die, just die.
I’ll give it some thought and mull it over. In the meantime, I’m going to pour another glass of wine and yell out the front door at people I don’t know.
Looking at my circle of friends, most of whom are in their 50s, 60s and 70s, I am amazed at their youthfulness.
Apparently, age is a state of mind, not just a state of saggy skin. (Although, admittedly when I climb out of the tub and see myself in the bathroom mirror, my state of mind takes a rapid spiral dive to the floor to join my thighs.)
Think about the last high school class reunion you attended (unless you are one of those who can’t stomach reunions, then think about looking up that high school bully who led you down this anti-social path, finding out where he/she lives and filling their car with packing peanuts.) Some people look just as they did decades ago; others look as though they are 10 to 100 years older than they are. Why is that?
I asked my vintage chick friends and family about this and here’s what I got:
Eat healthy, real food whenever possible.
Get your ZZZZs at night; take a nap during the day.
Exercise. If you’re too intimidated to work out at a gym, choose an activity you enjoy, like walking — no special instruction or clothing needed. And — bonus! — you can drop off those bills that you’ve procrastinated on mailing. Yay! Electricity for 30 more days!
De-stress. Try meditation, a spiritual retreat or (my sister’s fave) an All About Me, Me, Me day.
Babysit for your grandchildren‡‡ (see No. 3).
Eliminate as many toxins and as many toxic people from your life as possible. If it happens to be your significant other, well, that’s a topic for another time.
Stay informed on current news events, books, movies, social media and pop culture. You may not care for some of it, but hey, it will give you new level of understanding, knowledge and hopefully, empathy.
Always have a Plan B, just in case. (see second sentence in No. 6)
Make a list of places you want to visit and things you’d like to do. (OK, OK – a friggin’ Bucket List!) Even if you don’t accomplish everything on the list, it will motivate you to check off before you check out, so to speak.
Don’t try to look young — that ship has sailed, honey — but always think young. Never start a sentence with “I’m too old to …” (unless it’s roller skating and I have the shattered wrist scar to prove why this is a bad idea after age 60).
But overall the number one thing to stay young? Laugh, laugh, laugh.
As the late Bob Marley said, “Don’t worry, be happy.”
‡‡Footnote: … only if you don’t have a record with Child Protective Services.