Mama Told Me Not To…

It almost seems like a cliche to me when people talk about that special teacher that changed their lives.  Maybe it’s because I was never on a bad path.  Hell, I was never on much of a path at all, to be honest.  I never knew what I wanted to do with my life because every time I suggested something it was shot down by Scornful Mother.  She always said I couldn’t do whatever that idea was and remain a solid, faithful Christian.  I don’t know if she was trying to get me to follow a particular path (ministry, maybe?) or if she just didn’t like the one, she felt I was on, but nothing ever measured up to her expectations, which is funny because she was an undereducated secretary my whole life.  Dead Beat Dad on the other hand was– Well, the moniker pretty well speaks for itself.

It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that he really made a showing of a home based business, and that was in the business of tree removal.  Let’s see, sun, bad weather, grass, leaves, saw dust, falling trees, debris to be picked up, not to mention power tools like chain saws, stump grinders and wood chippers.  Not a thing about that is appealing to this mid-western, mama’s boy, homo, who suffers from allergies year round and is so pale when you off the lights you can still see where I am for about 8 minutes.  I didn’t exactly have much in the way of an example to follow or a legacy to inherit.  No, I had to figure out what I was going to do with my life on my own.  (Sadly, I’m still trying to figure it out.)

So, I wasn’t on any path.  I wasn’t on course for a life of crime.  I wasn’t trying to make myself fit into an accounting mold, when I can’t balance my own checkbook.  On the other hand, I didn’t show any natural ability or throw myself whole heartedly into any particular program or task.  I was about to say that no intervention was ever needed for me, but the truth is, I really could have stood to have an intervention of a completely different variety.  I could really stood for someone to take a special interest in me and help me find my way in life.  Help to find the resources I needed to figure out what I wanted to do and to follow that path.

No I never felt like I had a particular teacher that made that sort of an impact in my life and so while there was always one teacher in particular who stood out for me as my favorite, I never thought of her as that teacher and in fact, I haven’t thought of her at all in quite some time.  So, it was quite surprising to me when I awoke the other morning and remembered my dream from the night before… Well, maybe not remembered the dream, I rarely do, but I remembered the subject.  I dreamed about this special teacher.

In 1987, Scornful Mother decided that she wished to attend Rhema Bible Training Center, in The Town Named for Damaged Naive American Weaponry, a smallish town just outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I call TTNFDNAW “smallish”, because it had all the hallmarks of a small town (no highways, more stop signs than traffic signals, no malls, no public transportation, no noticeable government to speak of), and yet I graduated in a class of 868 people and it was the smallest class we’d had in five years.  We had been living in Edmond, a smallish town outside Oklahoma City for three years when she decided this.  While CPA Sis and I went to spend the summer with Dead Beat Dad in Ohio, Scornful Mother applied to and was accepted at Rhema Bible Training Center, or Rhema, for short, but had no idea how she was going to pay for it, or for the move.  She was trusting God that this was what she was supposed to do but she had no plan.

At the end of the summer, Dead Beat Dad brought CPA Sis and me back to Oklahoma so that we could start school.  The school year started in Edmond a week earlier than it did in The Town Named for Damaged Native American Weaponry and Scornful Mother allowed us to not attend that one week of school in Edmond.  I remember feeling so special because I didn’t have to go off to school when my best friend across the street did.  We made the move and got enrolled in schools three days after the year started in TTNFDNAW, but not with enough time to get class schedules or tours of the schools.  I was in the seventh grade and had never been “the new kid in school” before in my life.

It didn’t happen the way it does in the movies and on TV.  I showed up at the school twenty minutes before classes started.  I went into the school office and got my schedule, but there was no cool kid, no trouble maker, no first period office aid to be selected by the principle to show me around and keep me from feeling like a complete outsider.  They handed me my class schedule pointed in the general direction of the first room and sent me on my way.  No one even told me where the library or cafeteria were.

Somehow I made it through the first half of my first day OK, but I was late to almost every class.  Then, lunchtime came and I was lost.  I sort of followed the general crowd but wasn’t sure where I was going and at some point the crowd split and I didn’t know what to do.  It must have shown on my face because suddenly I heard a soft voice.

“Are you lost?  Do you need some help?”  It was an “older” woman, not much taller than my 12 year old self and quite rotund.  She had on large, square framed glasses and had wild curly hair and she had the most comforting, welcoming smile.

“Yes, please.  This is my first day and I don’t know where the cafeteria is,” I said, rather shyly.

She smiled, placed a reassuring hand on my back and pointed toward a single door just across and slightly down the hall from me.  “Well, there’re two choices.  We have what they call the slow food cafeteria which is right here.  That’s the side door for it.  There’s also the fast food cafeteria down there.”  With that she pointed down the hall.  I thanked her and walked into the door she’d pointed at.  I was on the “free lunch” (there really is such a thing as a free lunch) program and didn’t know if it applied to the fast food cafeteria.

I finished eating my lunch and put my tray away and pulled out my class schedule to find my next class, music.  I walked out the same door I had walked in and looked up at the first door I saw, just across and down the hall from where I was standing.  Lo and behold, it happened to be the same room I was looking for.  I walked into the room to find the teacher and show her my schedule so she could tell me where to sit and wouldn’t you know, it was the same kindly “older” lady who had helped me find my way to lunch.  Her name was Betty Griffith and she felt like my lifesaver.  She was so kind and inviting and made me feel like I was welcome and normal and had nothing to worry about.

Mrs. Griffith was, in a lot of ways, my best friend that year.  She helped me find my way around the school, quelled any fears and embarrassment I was feeling for being lost and feeling like a spectacle.  She welcomed me into the choir and made me feel like an important part of the group.

We had our ups and downs for sure.  Shortly after school started I asked if I could come to her classroom after school each day and help her clean up or whatever she needed.  (I don’t think I ever told her it was because Ex Con Older Brother was abusive and I didn’t want to go home and be around him)  After that I spent nearly every day after school for 45 minutes or so, straightening chairs, collecting music, cleaning the chalkboard, straightening papers and talking to Mrs. Griffith.  When it came time for the school play, she directed because the drama teacher was out on maternity leave.  androcles_logoI auditioned for the play, Androcles and the Lion, (deliberately showing up at the very end so no one else would be around to hear me) and then told her I’d rather be behind the scenes.  The first of many mistakes on my part regarding my interest in the theater.  I was the curtain puller and an unofficial part of the chorus, so I was always there for rehearsal.  She asked her husband who was an amateur thespian to come and help us.  He was always very serious and direct, coming across as mean and grumpy, I thought,  and I found it uncomfortable.  Somewhere in my adolescent 12 year old mind I thought it was a good idea to tell her this.  Not only did I tell her this but I told her at a  highly stressful time for her.

I was at my post, ready and waiting to pull the curtain (hand over hand so it’s not jerky) and she came bursting through looking for someone who was supposed to be on stage but wasn’t, when I stopped her and said, just as pleasantly as could be, “Mrs. Griffith, no offense, but, I really hate it when your husband is here.”  I think I was even smiling.  I’d heard “no offense” many times and knew it took all the sting out.

She, on the other hand was not smiling, “Well, you know,” she said rather tersely, “I really do take offense to that.”  And with that she stomped off in search of the missing cast member.

I felt like a shit and couldn’t believe that “no offense” hadn’t worked.  She taught me a valuable lesson that day.  You can’t just say whatever you want to a person and expect there to be no consequences.  The next day before class, I apologized to her and all was forgiven.

Once she needed help posting something to a district owned marquee at a very busy intersection.  I of course volunteered to assist and to repay my efforts she took me to the local 7-11 and bought me a 1/2 pound bag of M&M’s.  The bag was still open and partially full, in my coat pocket the next day when I arrived at class and at some point I had gone to the front of the room and then dropped something on the floor.  I bent over to pick it up and M&M’s went flying all over the floor.  I knew I wasn’t supposed to have them in class and she was angry at me for making the mess and having them there.  I was all the more embarrassed because she had bought them for me.

When the year was drawing to a close and we had to select the classes we wanted to take the following year I had decided to take Drama.  The only problem was, you had to audition for the class.  I signed up to audition but I wimped out and did not go. When Mrs. Griffith found out about this she told me I had to audition and she would talk to the Drama teacher about giving me another shot.  For one reason or another, the boy who was playing Androcles in the play also had missed the audition and so he and I went before school one day to audition for the teacher.  We did a scene from the play where he played Androcles and I played his wife, Hermione.  (Go figure!)  I made the class and he did not.

In the 8th grade, I opted to be her student aide, instead of taking choir.  I wanted to have the best of both worlds.  I wanted to be in choir but I wanted to be special and she tried to accommodate me.  I was her first period student aide and I was late almost every day.  (Not unlike now!)  One day, I noticed that in her attendance book she had me marked as being tardy every day.  After eight tardies I was supposed to get detention.  When I mentioned to her how much I appreciated that she hadn’t given me detention, she said that she had to, and she would, she just hadn’t gotten around to it.  She never did and I don’t know if she just honestly didn’t get around to it, or if she only said that to “scare me straight” but after that I tried much harder to get to school on time.

When I moved on to the 9th grade and a new school, I tried to come back and visit her periodically but it was difficult to do and then she moved to another school.

I exchanged a few letters with her after I got engaged, and moved to live with Dead Beat Dad temporarily.  I told her of my engagement and of the young child I would to step-father.  She told me in a return letter that married men were adults and as an adult I was entitled to call her by her first name.  I don’t know if I ever did.  After six years of calling her Mrs. Griffith, I just couldn’t wrap my tongue around “Betty”.   Not long after that, we lost touch.  I think I was embarrassed to tell her that, what I suspected she thought all along, was true, that I was too young and immature to get married and it was obvious by the fact that my fiance had cheated on and dumped me.

I miss Mrs. Griff–  Betty.  She is a wonderful, sweet woman.  She may not have shaped me into the man I am today.  She may not have affected the path I would follow in my life, but she helped me, and she made me feel special and important and for that, I will always be grateful…

And I’m so excited because in the course of writing this post, and trying to find out if she’s even still a teacher, I found an e-mail address for her and tomorrow I’m going to send her my first correspondence in 15 years.  I hope she remembers me.

Everything Ends Eventually

radioactive-happiness-face

It was my plan to write today about happiness.  How sometimes, happiness is a choice and one that can be very hard to make and how frustrating it is to have to make that choice over and over again.  That was my plan.

I just got some news that upset that plan and, of course, me.

I’ve written in the past about my dear friend, who for these purposes I call “Eve”.  I met Eve when I worked in retail 12 years ago.  I liked her and enjoyed our friendship but some things happened along the way that for a time we weren’t as close as we once had been.  When I moved to California, I assumed I’d never see her again, indeed, I never thought I’d speak to her gain.  I don’t think I realized then, that her grandparents live in the bay area and she has a long-standing tradition to come to the bay area to visit her grandparents the week of Thanksgiving and when the time came for her to come visit the first year I was here, she contacted me and invited me to come hang out.

I was really glad she did, and with the trappings of our previous work relationship, and with all the rumor and hushed conversations of others out of the way we had the opportunity to really grow in our friendship and our love for each other.

Earlier today, I logged on to Facebook (evil site that it is) and found that I had been “tagged” in a note by Eve.  I looked at it to find that it was one of those “25 random things about me” lists.  (Random thing about me #1:  I’ve been dreading being asked to complete one of those!)  As I read her list, I noticed that number 15 said this, “My mother and I have an amazing relationship, I die a little inside knowing I have less than 12 months to spend with her before she moves to the west coast.

“Awesome” I thought, “Now maybe she’ll make more trips out here and I’ll get to spend more time with her.”

Eve told me years ago that her mother was planning to retire to the Bay Area so she could be close to her parents.  I always secretly hoped that Eve would move with them, or shortly after them, and we could be close again.  A few years ago Eve’s mother took a huge hit when the stock market faltered and she lost a significant amount of money.  Apparently, that’s when they decided to move west, but some place a little less expensive.  So today, I asked Eve about this:

Self:  So I didn’t realize your parents were going to move here so soon. Where are they going to live?

Eve:  In Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA.

Self:  Oh. I thought they were moving here.

Eve:  No.  And, my Grandparents are even moving up to Portland or Vancouver, too.  So this Thanksgiving will be the last time I head out that way

Self: Oh, no.

Eve: Yup.  So I’ll get to see you in Feb and in Nov and that’s that for awhile

Self: Well, you’ve just totally bummed my day!

brokenheartThis is tragic!  My heart is absolutely breaking!  I don’t know what my life would have been like without her in it.  I don’t know if she had any real impact on my existence, other than to have been the one person I knew I could come out to and know there’d be no negative repercussions.  But I know that these brief, and few and far between, visits that we’ve shared over the last 11 years have meant the world to me, and they’ve been the life’s blood of our friendship.

I feel like our relationship is ending.  Is that silly?  I mean, in this day and age with Instant Messengers, and Facebook and iPhones with text messaging, is that silly?  The problem is, I’m doing what I always do.  I’m thinking about this a few steps ahead.  Yes, I’ll see her, however briefly, when she comes out to visit next month, and I’ll see her again very briefly in November.  The visits will be fun, but they’ll go much too fast, and there will be a cloud over them.  And in November, when she walks me to my car (if she walks me to my car) and hugs me and says good-bye.  It will be for the last time.

I haven’t been to Tulsa in five years.  My sister and her family have moved to New York.  I’ve lost touch with all of my other friends besides Eve.  I love Scornful Mother, but I can’t stand to be around her for long.  Going back to Tulsa, really isn’t in the cards.

Ultimately, I’m only a very small part of Eve’s life and I don’t fit into the rest of it.  I’ve met her boyfriend twice, but I don’t know him, I’m not completely comfortable with him and I don’t think he’s completely comfortable with me.  I’ve never met his two children but I know they’re troublesome and I don’t really feel like I should be involved in that.  And despite the way I speak of Eve, we don’t really have the kind of deep connection where I would be welcome and convenient as a part of her every day life, however briefly.  Therefore, going to Tulsa, with the purpose of visiting her doesn’t seem likely.  And even if I did, I couldn’t get away with being there and not seeing/visiting/staying with my mother.

So, I’m doing what I alwasy do.  I’m thinking about this a few steps ahead and what I see happening is, our interaction will dwindle.  Eve is never on Instant Messenger any more.  Occasionally, I talk to her via the chat function of Facebook, but it’s not very convenient and it’s very infrequent.  We exchange one line comments and topics on Facebook but it’s all very superficial.  We don’t spend much time on the telephone.  And text messeging is no way to carry on a conversation.  Soon it’ll be nothing but comments on each other’s Facebook activity.  I don’t imagine I’ll ever see her again.

funny-pictures-sad-cat-blackandwhiteIt is at a moment like this, when I’m faced with difficulties and sad things that are not within my control, which really aren’t about me, that I remember just how much of an effort it is, how much hard work it takes to be happy and at this moment, I can’t put forth the effort it requires.

It’s All About Eve

My retarded clever gene has struck again.

I’ve tried three times to start this post in a clever way and nothing seems quite right, so I’m just going to be straight… eh’hem.  So to speak.

The love of my life is coming to town.  I’m totally stoked!  She’s bringing her boyfriend.  I could do without that.  Not that there’s anything wrong with him, he’s actually a really nice guy, but her having a boyfriend means she’s not pining away for me and I’m not loving that.  Her name is “Eve” (as in “All About… “).  OK, it’s not really, but I call her that here because she will be the first person to tell you that “it’s all about me”, and she won’t be kidding.  It would be annoying and a real turn-off except that part of what is all about her, is her genuine interest and care for the people in her life.  She has an amazing ability to turn that “it’s all about me” selfishness right on upside down into a selflessness that is completely unparalleled.  I also call her “Eve” here because, well, even though it is an actual real name (the only one you’ll find in my cast of characters, thus far) it is absolutely nothing like her real name which makes it sufficiently anonymous while still being slightly clever.  (Seriously folks, I need someone besides me to validate my cleverness.)

Now, if you’re a regular reader (and if you’re not, you should be!), I’m sure I can imagine what you’re probably saying to yourself right now.  “This dude is gay.  Why is he talking about a woman as the love of his life?”  And you’re probably right.  It’s a little bit odd.  But I guess you’d have to know us.

Eve has a far clearer picture of the real me, than anyone else in the world, I think.  I shudder at the thought that maybe she doesn’t know it all, and if she did, I’d finally succeed in driving her away.  Lord knows I’ve worked pretty damn hard at it over the years.  But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

I met Eve around the middle of 1995, I think (may have been 96, I’m bad with this stuff.  But she’s not.)  I was working as an Assistant Manager at the Men’s Clothing Store that happened to carry a moniker deceptively similar to but has no affiliation with that of a former NFL Running Back but which has since gone out of business, when Eve transferred in from the Salt Lake City store.  She was a year younger than I which is to say, she moved to Tulsa, because she still lived with her mother and her mother moved to Tulsa for work so therefore Eve moved to Tulsa as well.  Eve was essentially placed in our store by the District Manager who didn’t ask the Store Manager for her opinion or an interview and therefor Eve was starting out on the losing end.

The fact is Eve had everything you want in a “sales girl” in a men’s clothing store you want to be viewed as “young and hip.”  (Just to remind you that I am gay, and just how much, it popped into my head and I started to type, “now Eve Peron, had every disadvantage, you’ll need if you’re gonna succeed.”) (and that’s an Evita reference for those who don’t know.) She was young (19), beautiful and very flirtatious.  Before her mother’s job brought them to Tulsa, Eve was the strongest seller in her store.  This is the reason there was no question whether she’d be brought onto our staff when the call came in.

Eve was instantly disliked by the Store Manager, Jodi (I’ll use her real name because we aren’t friends, I don’t know where she lives and I doubt she’ll ever see this) because Eve was “forced” upon us, and by the First Assistant Manager, Paul (I’ll use his real name for all the same reasons) because of no reason that I can identify.  It’s possible that Paul was just loyal to Jodi and that was all it took.  I don’t know.

Eve has an amazing memory.  Stunning even.  She remembers specific events, and specific things that were said that I have no recollection of whatsoever.  She consistently blows me away with the things she pulls out.  I on the other hand, can’t seem to remember jack shit!  I don’t really remember how I came to be friends with her.  In fact, I thought things were somewhat tense between us.  I remember more than one occasion when Eve drove me to my car at the end of our shifts.  It was the holidays and the lowly mall employees were relegated to parking in the middle of BFE so that the precious patrons wouldn’t have to walk very far.  On more than one occasion we had conversations about why she was having trouble with Jodi, and what Eve could do differently to win her over.  Eve tells me, however, that there was rumor and speculation about me having had feelings for her.  Looking back, I realize that’s probably true.

Jodi quit soon after Eve joined us and we got a new Manager named Becky (Oh. My. God.)  I remember that Becky and Eve usually worked the day shift together which did not make Eve very happy because there was far less business in the day time than there was any other time, but that’s how the schedule usually came together.  I remember walking into the store one late November afternoon and finding Eve standing in the front window, waste deep in a gold leme faux gift box.  Becky felt that Eve would be fairly artistic and that she should do the holiday window display.  I have two specific memories from this day and no idea what order they come in.

Memory #1:  I’m somewhere in the store, doing something store-like, and I hear a yelp.  I look toward the front of the store as Eve slowly turns around to face me, biting her bottom lip and a glisten of fought back tears in her eyes.  When she could speak again, after the bleeding had stopped she revealed to me that she had been holding a piece of our semi-industrial strength packing tape in between her lovely lips while arranging the tissue paper she was about to tape in place and when she literally yanked the tape out of her mouth, some of the flesh from her lip came with it.  It was one of those things that we knew we’d laugh at some day, but you should have seen her face in the moment.

Memory #2:  (I’m guessing this one comes first.)  Eve is in the window up to her eyeballs in paper and gift wrap and clothes and mannequins and I hear her say, “Oh sure!  Make the Jewish girl do the Christmas display!”

That year we decided to have a “Secret Santa” gift exchange in our store.  The rule was that we would not spend more than $10.00 and there was a sheet behind the register where we were supposed to put down ideas about what our Secret Santa could get us.  I remember very little about how the whole exchange went down but I remember that I had picked Eve‘s name.  Most of the staff went into the thing with limited (read: negative amounts of) gusto and most of the gifts amounted to $10.00 gift certificates (yes!  Certificates, not cards!) to Blockbuster, or a music store, or McDonald’s (actually some of those college kids really appreciated the McD’s certs) or a $10.00 bill stuck into an envelope.

By this time Eve and I had become friends and there was no tension that I can recall, so I really wanted to give her a good gift.  I didn’t care about the Secret Santa.  I didn’t care about the $10.00 limit.  I wanted to give my friend a good Christmas gift.  You see, gift giving is a major weak point of mine and I’m always disappointed by my own poor gift giving acumen.  But Eve had let something slip.  “James and the Giant Peach” was coming out in the movie theaters and she wanted to see it.  She mentioned one day that “James and the Giant Peach” had been her favorite book growing up.

It was one of my good days and I was paying attention.  I made a mental note and when I got the chance I went and found a pristine, hard cover copy of “James and the Giant Peach.”  Now, as I’m writing this I’m realizing, I may even have special ordered it.  You know, it’s funny!  To me, giving a book as a Christmas gift isn’t a big deal.  That has a lot to do with the fact that Dead Beat Dad‘s parents used to send us books from foreign countries, travel guides I think they were, all the time.  Every Birthday and every Christmas we could count on getting a book from the grand peeps.  And to tell the truth, it sucked!  So big deal, I thought, so I got you a book.  It’s only special ’cause it’s your favorite and I thought it’d be nice for you to have a pristine copy. But to hear Eve tell it, it was a big deal.  It seems like she’s told me it had to have been expensive.  Whatever was so special about it, it was certainly grist for the rumor mill.  I didn’t care.  I’d done something nice for my friend and she was grateful.

And then tragedy struck.  Eve decided to take up her Dead Beat Dad on an offer to come to Idaho where he lived and work in his office.  Two years earlier I had taken up my own Dead Beat Dad on a similar offer for many reasons. I couldn’t blame her for going.  I had already done the same thing.  But as I recall it (which is admittedly probably faulty) this is the moment that it hit me.  This woman matters to me. And I was about to lose her.  I was terribly sad she was going and didn’t really know how to tell her.  I wanted to ask her not to go, but I had nothing to offer her to make her stay.  So I said nothing.  And she went.  And we lost touch.  I was never very good at long distance relationships.  Even my relationships with my various family members have suffered from distance.  With one notable exception, I’m not convinced that’s a bad thing.  But I digress.

Eve left me and I was devastated.  But two years in Idaho was enough for her and she moved back to be with her mother, and Eve and I were back on…  So to speak.  There was no aspect of our relationship that pointed at romance.  Eve never expressed that kind of interest in me and I certainly didn’t have the cajones to try and make something happen, so there we were, smack dab in the middle of friend central.  A few years ago I asked her in an instant message conversation if there was any chance we would have ended up  together if I had not moved to California.  She told me “I don’t know.  It’s possible.  But I’ll tell you this much.  You wouldn’t have stayed a virgin for so long.”  (You should have seen the looks on my co-workers faces when the realized that boom they heard was me falling out of my chair.)

Something unusual happens when Eve drinks alcohol.  She gets very drunk, very fast, on very little.  And then a half hour or so later she’s perfectly sober.  No doubt a breathalyzer would disagree, but for all intents and purposes she’s good.  After she moved back to Oklahoma Eve met a guy and despite his name, he did not live in a giant peach, and despite his not living in a giant peach, I’m still going to call him “the Pitts”.  (Hey my clever gene is waking up.)  The Pitts was an ex-husband and a father of two children, and a carrier of a nasty little venereal disease, none of which did he bother to mention to Eve.  So on one particular evening when they were together and Eve‘s odd metabolism had done its worst, she convinced him they should have sex.  The Pitts, apparently resisted (only a little I’m sure) but she told him, “C’mon.  You know we’re gonna do it eventually, why wait?”  So they did.  Under protected.  If ya know what I mean.

The Pitts left her with two “gifts” that night.  Not long after that, he just left her.  When Eve knew she was pregnant, she told me about it.  I was a terrible friend, for I was still under the influence of Vengeful Mother and had not yet learned to form my own ideals and principles (yes, even in my early 20s).  Eve told me, “I don’t know if I can do this.  I’m not sure I can keep it.  I’m thinking of having an abortion.”  I don’t know what I said, or how I reacted, but I know something in me changed that night, at least for a time.  Abortion, I thought, how can she consider an abortion?  Abortion is wrong.  If she does that, she’ll be wrong.  I can’t be friends with someone who has an abortion! Far be it from me to just support my friend through whatever she may be going through without judging her actions.

We drifted again.  At the time that she told me this I was contemplating a change of my own.  I soon made my move to California, and while we talked some after that, we lost touch again.  The few times that we did talk after that I never asked, and she never said, what she’d decided about the baby.  It wasn’t until the following October that she made contact with me again and told me that she and her parents… and her son were coming to California the week of Thanksgiving to visit her grandparents and that if I wanted to we could get together while she was here.  It was at that moment that I realized just how much I missed her, how much she had meant to me and how I had just walked away from it. I’d like to think that I’d have felt this way regardless, but I admit that when I heard her say “my son” and I knew she had not had the abortion, my heart skipped with joy and relief.  I guess somehow that made her acceptable again.  I’m a terrible friend.

There is more to this story I haven’t the time to tell now, but suffice it to say, Eve is my dearest friend!  She means the world to me, and we have a relationship that defies explanation.  We hardly ever talk to each other, probably more my fault than hers, but when we do see each other, every year, the day after Thanksgiving, like clockwork, set your watch by it, for ten years running?  It’s like we never missed a day.  It’s awesome and I wouldn’t give it up for the world!  Vengeful Mother asked me to come “home” for Thanksgiving, the other day.  I told her, “No.  I have a prior engagement.”

The love of my life is coming to town, in 16 days.  I’m totally stoked.

The Entry it Took Two Weeks to Write

I have fallen into almost every job I’ve ever had.  The first job I had was working in the gift shop of the hotel where my mother worked as the hotel managers secretary.  Sure, in high school, I worked at a Hardee’s fast food restaurant for about a year, and then worked as a cashier in a local grocery store, but first of all those are not particularly ambitious jobs, and secondly, they hire any warm body that will apply for those positions.

When I was 19 years old I was engaged to a woman.  We were to marry two weeks before my 20th birthday.  Problem was I did not own a vehicle and was relegated to jobs I could walk to.  The jobs I could walk to couldn’t pay for a car, let alone a life with a wife and child (She had a two year old son.)  We agreed that I’d go to live with my father in Cincinnati, Ohio for six months.  He had a car I could drive (It was my father’s Oldsmobile, despite what the commercials always said.)  With my father’s Oldsmobile, I could drive anywhere and get a job anywhere.  So I went to the mall.  It seemed like a logical next step after the grocery store.

I went into a Men’s Clothing store in the mall that I’d never heard of called Webster Menswear and applied for a job.  I apparently made a good impression on the manager and he wanted to hire me to be his Assistant Manager right then and there, but I was honest with him and told him I was only planning to be in town for six months and that I would be quitting to move back to Oklahoma when the six months were up.  He hired me as a sales clerk and then two weeks later he promoted me to Assistant Manager.

My engagement ended shortly thereafter and I end up staying in Cincinnati for nine months instead of six.  I moved back to Tulsa, Oklahoma on Father’s day, 1995.  Before I left I made contact with the Regional Manager of a different clothing store – owned by the same parent company – called J. Riggings, advised him that I was moving to town and would like to see about interviewing with him if he had any open positions.  As luck would have it, there was a Second Assistant Manager position open at the store in Tulsa and he hired me for it.  I worked for another roughly nine months in Tulsa at Woodland Hills Mall before being promoted to Store Manager at a store at Quail Springs Mall in Oklahoma City.  Three months after that I moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas where I spent the longest nine months of my life managing the store at the Northwest Arkansas Mall.

I hated it there and I felt trapped in that job, like there was no where else for me to go.  So I decided that it was time to go back to school.  I was 22 years old and had no idea what I was going to do with my life but I had to take action.  I quit my job, moved back to Tulsa and into Vengeful Mother’s house.  I applied for a job at one of our favorite restaurants as a waiter.  I figured that would be easy enough money and good flexible hours for a college student.  WRONG!!!  I was the worst waiter you’ll ever encounter in your life!  I forgot things constantly, I was slow getting the orders in and the food out, and I was perpetually sweaty!  Who wants their food served to them by a fat, sweaty guy?  I averaged $2.00 tips on every table and lasted about three months.  Somehow during this time, school never seemed to come to pass.

It was during this time that I decided I wanted to reconnect with my best friend from High School, “Batman”…  Batman was a huge fan of the superhero, stating that he liked him so much because he was just a man and all his “abilities” came from his gadgets and not because of some superhuman trait.  Batman was an artist and he sketched bat signals on his book covers and notebooks on a regular basis.  When his parents bought him a Ford Ranger Splash pick-up truck, he had a Batman symbol custom painted on the tailgate.  I could probably write a whole post about Batman and not scratch the surface, but the bottom line is, I was very attached to him.  I realize now that I was probably in love, but I was in no position to acknowledge or profess that at the time.  Batman was a year younger than I, and when I graduated from high school we lost touch.

So it was when I returned to Tulsa after my stint in Arkansas that I decided to try and locate him.  Turned out to be pretty easy.  I opened up the phone book and there it was.  His distinctive, three-worded, German last name right in the beginning of the Vs.  I wasn’t positive that it was him so I sent him a letter.  A few days later the phone rang and it was his voice on the line.  We made plans to meet for lunch by his work a few days later.

Batman worked for what was then LDDS WorldCom.  We talked about his job and he told me that I could easily get in with the next training class and that he’d put in a good word for me.  A few weeks later I was training in the telecommunications industry to work in the customer service call center.  Much to my dismay, Batman informed me that he and his wife were moving to California a few weeks later.  His wife grew up in Turlock and they were going to move there to be closer to family since his family had moved away from Tulsa already.

Batman had already lined up a job with what was locally known as MFS WorldCom.  He’d pretty well settled in by the time I was nearing the end of my training.  With Batman’s recommendation and assistance, I too got in to MFS WorldCom and moved to California in March, 1998.

When I left MCI WorldCom in March of 2000, I expected to have no problem finding a new job in the telecommunications industry.  How could I?  The whole world runs on phone lines and data connections.  In October of 2000 I started a new job with a small hole in the wall Telecom company in San Carlos, California.  That job lasted 10 months.  The owner was a psycho and he didn’t like me because I didn’t cower before him and jump at his every whim.

On September 15, 2001 I moved in with Green M&M and started looking for a job.  When my unemployment benefits had run out and I still hadn’t found a job I signed up with a local staffing agency.  A week or so after I signed up with them I got a rather excited call from the rep telling me they had a great job for me, working in the Facility Management office of a high rise office building in Downtown Oakland, with a great company and a great manager.  It was a temp job, but I was desperate for full time work and the job was easy so I applied to be the new Administrative Assistant.  Nearly six and a half years later, I still work for The Company that Created the HMO, and still report to Douche Bag.  I’ve been promoted three times now, and I’m not an Administrative Assistant anymore, but the last promotion came when I was ordered to take on an entirely new set of responsibilities, despite the fact that I’d been very vocal about the fact that I did not want to do that work.  I wasn’t asked, or offered.  I was ordered and if I wasn’t happy about it I could quit.  I had every intention of it…  If I could just find something new.  It’s been three years.  I hate my job and I really want out.  But I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know how to proactively get myself a job and I don’t know what I would want to do if I did.

What, you might ask, is the point of all this?  Well, more than once it has been the topic of my therapy sessions: “I hate my job.”  “I want a new job.”  “I don’t know what I want to do with my life.”  “I don’t know the right steps to take to find a new job that I’ll be happy with.”  This is all very true, but the biggest issue has always been finding something that I’d be happy to make a career out of.  I have fears and insecurities about all the things I’ve ever considered and most of it requires educational experiences I do not have.

Lately I’ve really been thinking more about creative things.  You see, when I was young I wanted to be an actor.  If you’ve read this blog before you know this already.  The problem is, I have no confidence in my abilities anymore.  I took some drama classes in high school and I really enjoyed it, but I stopped and I’ve regretted it ever since.

Eight or nine years ago, I took an acting class from a man named Ed Hooks.  Ed was an actor in his earlier days, but hadn’t worked in years.  I now know that he didn’t have a terribly illustrious career (although I did see him on an episode of Quantum Leap on DVD the other day.)  Anyway, Ed was moving to Chicago and I knew going into it that my time in his class was short term.  During those few months I attended this man’s acting classes, I lost all of my remaining confidence in my ability to act.  I know I had a lot of growing to do and I wanted to do it but it’s hard, and Ed’s criticism always made me feel like I didn’t have the ability.  I’d like to think that my time in therapy has helped but I’m not sure that I’m any more able to be comfortable making a fool of myself than I was then…

Most of my formative years I was a singer.  I was in choir most of my school years and at church.  I love to sing.  And before my balls dropped– er puberty hit, my voice was pretty good.  I had solos regularly.  But something happened as the bottom started dropping out of my vocal chords and my voice became weaker, and my range far more limited.  I still sing all the time (in the shower, in the car, in places where no one can hear me, usually.)  Yeah, I have an OK enough voice that most people aren’t bothered by my singing, but I’m not any kind of performer.

I don’t have any dancing experience, and though I do have rhythm I’m not particularly confident on that front either.

All that is to say that I have been thinking a lot lately that I’d really like to get involved in musical theater or television and movies, but I don’t have the skills or the confidence to go for it.  I’m aware that there are classes I can take, but they cost money and I don’t have it.  Plus I spent my entire childhood living in poverty, and in the last few months things have been really, really tight.  I just can’t imagine how I could possibly take any cut in pay, financially, or emotionally.

So that’s my dilemma.  The only thing my entire life I’ve ever imagined I could be happy doing, is the one thing that I’m afraid to go for.  So I stay in my lousy job, with my decent, but not great, salary, and horrible working conditions, because I don’t know how I could possibly go for the one thing I want, and I don’t know what job to fall into next!

She Forgot her Plate!

I promised to explain the “Breastplate” name I used for CPA Sis’s former boyfriend in my previous post. 

The year after CPA Sis graduated from High School, she was dating a guy who attended the local Christian University in Tulsa.  He came over to the house quite frequently and on a few occasions had stayed too late and was too tired to drive back to the dorm so he’d spend the night on our couch.

On one particular Saturday morning after he’d spent the night, Vengeful Mother took the four of us to breakfast at a now defunct restaurant called Shoney’s.  Shoney’s big draw was that they had a really nice breakfast buffet for a really reasonable price.  Breastplate was the last one back to the table with his plate and was looking for butter for his muffin or pancakes or arteries, or something.  He assumed the butter would be on the table.  Logical assumption but wrong none the less. 

Breastplate went back to the buffet looking for butter and after a couple minutes came back to the table, butter in hand (so to speak.)  When asked where he found it, he said that it was hard to find because “It was covered by a plate under neath the cleavage.”

You can imagine we all stared at him in stunned silence, vengeful mother in particular.  It took several seconds for us to realize that what he meant to say was that it was covered by the FOLIAGE that they use to cover the ice around the containers in the buffet set up.

A few months later, Breastplate, CPA Sis, Ex-Con Older Brother, another friend of CPA Sister and I went to see the second Back to the Future movie.  When Lorraine Tannen showed upon the screen for the first time, the friend leaned over to me and said, “She forgot her plate.”