Go Back to Greenville

5 Jan

For the funeral of Bentz’s 96-year-old grandmother, Honey, or Mommie, as she was called by Justice. To hear Justice’s stories, one might have thought they were hearing the plot of ‘Mommmie Dearest’. Young Christina (Justice) wronged and oppressed, while appearing to enjoy all the pleasures of childhood. The story IS sad, in that Justice was born to Frances when she was sixteen- an unwed mother in 1935 was certainly not as common as it is these days. Until the age of ten, Justice lived with her grandparents, as Frances was finishing school, then going to nursing school. By ten, Justice had developed a wonderful childhood, with tea parties and doll babies, and looking forward to her Uncle Bentz arriving home each night so he could skid down the hall in his sock feet.

When Justice was taken back to ‘Mommie’, Frances already had two other children, which did not correlate with the life she had been living. To be doted on, then change roles and become the babysitter was not to Justice’s liking, and she basically spent the rest of her life maligning her fate. Too bad, because Justice was brilliant, and did develop her own career as a bookmobile librarian

Hey, Siri!

4 Jan

“Hi there, Bentz!”

I feel I’m sitting in the movie “Her” where Kevin develops a relationship with his computer. We finally moved Bentz’s phone over to my account, and he’s twenty four hours into his new iphone 6. Yesterday, he began transferring all his contacts, which will undoubtedly take weeks. I can hear him in the other room “This is my first voicemail message…”

This has been a weekend where I once again claimed I would do NOTHING, and yet stayed busy the whole time. Today has been great- I got up and took Anna to work, went by Whole Paycheck, because I was too lazy to cook breakfast (and because the sink was full of dirty dishes). I vacuummed, made coffee, started unloading all the junk from the car (from the trunk of the car we traded in…how did we get so much stuff?), found a yearbook Bentz had been looking for, washed a few dishes,

He’s back: “Do you think I should do thins fingerprint thing? Because sometimes you might need to open my phone.” We agree on a passcode, even though the only time I used his phone was to call 911 when he collapsed.

Quelle Suprise!

3 Jan

A new CAR! A long time coming, but we took the leap after work yesterday- not planned, but planned. We’d been talking about the odd behavior of our 2001 model lately, and had toyed with the idea of getting a reliable new car. Making payments would be difficult, but we might be able to make room for a few hundred dollars if we scaled back in other areas.

It feels pretty nice to have something we won’t have to put in the shop for awhile, even if we’re taking a monthly hit for it. But leave it to my large-brained love to worry himself about the purchase, and the ruminating began. First, he couldn’t locate the title of the old car. Second, buyer’s remorse kicked in, followed by a severe need to figure out the iPod function and hyperfocus on the satellite radio station. this morning, he is a tightly wound skein of nerve endings. I know much of his anxiety is residual rewiring from his incident two years prior.

My life as Imitation Mame

3 Jan

Like imitation crabmeat, I am an imposter.  I have lived my entire life as a discount Mame Dennis- a default eccentric

The ‘Station’ Agent

3 Jan

My apologies to the movie title, but this one seems such an appropriate title for this post.

Not too long ago, Liz and I were discussing what we did during the six-ish snow days we had last February. I reported I had plenty of good intentions, but remembered nothing more than my human slothfulness, going from kitchen to couch to bed with snacks and videos. I meant to craft some crafts, or read some new books, but I didn’t- my seemingly boneless body draped over the furniture or across the bed like a new duvet, and it was wonderful!

Liz shared a similar story, but then went on to say she finally set up several ‘stations’ around the house during the time- a sewing station, snack station, reading station, video station…to keep herself busy and focused…what a great idea! I wish I were as motivated or organized as Liz, but that will never be. I’m much too scattered,

Regardless of my attention span, Liz and I have now advanced the “Station” idea to the degree it has landed in almost every conversation we have. EVERYTHING has a station- Cleaning Station, Kitchen Station, Argument Station, Sleep Station, Christmas Card Station…you get it. Things seem more in place with stations dedicated to them- I think she has discovered the secret to life organization! Maybe Book Writing Station should be in order!

Bentz is destroying the house looking for his car title- we finally broke down and traded in the thirteen year old car for a much more reliable ride. He cannot find the title, but HAS found his twenty-year-old Disney World ticket (which he continues to remind me is still good), my old passport, about 300 guitar picks,

If we had a Car Title Station, we would have found it by now.

January 1, 2015: Be More Like Taylor Swift

1 Jan

This statement, along with others, like, “do more nice things”, and “be a better friend” is one of the many resolutions of my friend Liz’s niece. The ten-year-old had made an extensive list of thoughtful “Regalutions”, which Liz shared at the New Year’s Eve we didn’t plan to attend, but ended up anyway. Liz and Jim had thrown a very nice, impromptu oyster roast earlier that night with some friends and great food. Plenty enough celebrating for me, but Bentz felt compelled to pop in to our local hangout after the party. As it turned out, Liz and Jim showed up, too, with the last couple of party guests! The last hour of 2014 turned out to be as good as ever, but mostly because of her niece’s list.

With regard to “Regalutions”, I’ve been thinking of how to spend this, my fiftieth year most productively, WITHOUT making hasty promises I might discard by January 5. Perhaps I SHOULD consider being more like Taylor Swift, for whatever it’s worth. Maybe I could learn how to apply eye makeup, use autotune, or play a fake banjo…instead, though, how about setting some goals for myself finally? Isn’t that what productive, organized people have been doing for years? Some might say, “May, you’re not the goal setting type”, or “You’ve never set a goal in your life”, or “Goal, schmoal- where are we going to have lunch?” But I say what better time than now to start tightening up my life for the long haul. The last forty nine years were a practice round for just this exact moment!

One of my favorite discoveries from last year was that I’m an introvert. (Information gleaned from several Facebook quizzes yielded that little gold nugget). What a relief! All this time I just thought I was a bitch when we were out and I had surpassed my public limit (frame of reference: Boy In The Plastic Bubble during the scene when he finished doing pushups on the football field and the alarm in his suit went off). Now I have a user-friendlier term for my need to seclude and binge watch Netflix.

This year, Liz and I decided to keep journals- not just regular, run-of-the-mill journals, but VERY COOL journals in which we record the MOST important things- things like Diana Vreeland or Amy Poehler would feel vitally important to write in their OWN journals for future generations to find when we are long gone.

Here are some of my additional “regulations” for 2015:
WRITE every day
READ more (I don’t want to get too carried away, so I’m setting the bar fairly low, at one book per month- that should be manageable, without being too stressful)

Aside: While I have been watching “Quincy” and trying to type this note, Bentz has spoken to me more than he has EVER talked during the morning hours. He seems to sense when my focus isn’t on him, and starts asking questions, posing light quips, and sharing recent obituaries, details about his dreams, or exciting trivia about the episode of the show we’re watching. Please know this is an observation and not a criticism. I could’ve never survived the “Lost” series without his expertise- he watched the series twice before me and had researched each and every episode to lay the groundwork for us to watch it together. When you think about it, that’s a pretty damn nice thing to do for someone- he’s like my Bizzaro Life Coach, sussing out the most important things to know and laying them out for me like a lovely cobblestone walkway (or Flagstone, or any stone of your choice).

Besides reading and writing, I guess the next most important thing is health. I’m not going to make any crazy promises here, because I’m not about crashing and burning on the first day of the New Year. However, I think it would be safe to plan on clean eating, and maintaining some sort of fitness level. I’d like to keep both of those as vague as possible to prevent any critiques when I’ve decided to eat my free birthday cupcake or yet another gyro from Al Amir.

To summarize, I think I’ve done a fine job of NOT making any specific plans at all, haven’t I? Good. Then I’ll have less guilt for slipping off course every now and then. Stay tuned for a year of excitement- well, things that are exciting to ME, anyway. Don’t be disappointed if sometimes the best part of my day is a side-of-road find, or really good latte art. Maybe Taylor Swift likes latte art, too- “Regalution” realized.


29 Nov

Thanksgiving 2014. First not of thanks, I think I can safely say this year I will not celebrate with another round of Bell’s Palsy.

We slept until after ten- I got up and started rounding up my volunteers for our work luncheon for clients. Of course I envision everyone participating, and we all stand around and smile at what a great family we are. Except Thomas was the only taker in this family showcase, so he and I went up to the office around 11.

Then the pressure was on: I had told my parents we would be there around two, so I abandoned the idea of roasted vegetables and instead whipped up some collards steamed with garlic and balsamic. We finally arrived fashionable an hour late, but still my mother was in the kitchen messing around with the three turkeys my brother brought so she wouldn’t have to mess around with the turkeys.

We wined and dined ourselves, and rehashed some old stories. I had been warned my father’s topic of discussion this year would be “Google”, and like a racehorse primed at the gate, he started the talk as soon as we arrived. Since Dad’s retirement, he has found variations on his usual fixations…for one, I have chosen not to replace my car that broke down, so he usually mentions one or two cars he has seen at local dealerships. My boys have been in and out of jobs, so he attempts to council them into the military or some job where he believes they can break through the poverty ceiling and make it big, like my ex-husband, the doctor. Dr. was guided through the military by the military and me, and at this point in his life, has no earthly idea what it might be like to be a young person in today’s world. Mostly because he did not experience life as a young person in the 1980’s- a job at Burger King, then a military career sort of shields one from the reality of having to find a job, keep it, and manage to live of one’s earnings.

Enough on that topic, we ate until we were all stuffed, and it was a wonderful gathering. My brother and his wife who are separated were both there (which was great, I think). Both of their children were there (my nephew is in a residential care facility for adolescents with mental health disorders). Me and my husband, and three of the four children (Kate and Justin had to stay in Charlotte due to work schedules) were there.

After dinner came the takeaway time. My mother is a veritable treasure trove, and shops every day at the Salvation Army for gifts and things she believes others might ‘need’. Never wanting to miss an opportunity to collect something someone else needs, she has built a gift reservoir in their spare bedroom. When I say built, I simply mean she has stacked the room full of so much stuff she doesn’t even know what she has anymore…shirts, scarves, pocketbooks, baskets, etc. This time, it started when my niece said she needed a watch- dad immediately got up and went back to his own collection of timepieces and brought her a digital watch. That sparked my own Anna to state she TOO needed a watch. He went back again and delivered to her a beautiful black-faced watch with matching leather strap. “Now. Does anyone need any pocketbooks?” my mother starts…”I got all these brand new pocketbooks at the Sal, and they’re just so nice I want to find someone to give them to.” Let’s stop here for a moment and translate. My mother is a hoarder. A hoarder of good things, but a hoarder just the same. What she means is, “I want these pocketbooks to go to someone who will use them and NEVER get rid of them>” This attitude was fortified, when, years ago, our family had the “Lecturn Incident” as it has come to be known. My mother had given my brother and sister in law an old lectern

The Ninth: An Ode to TC

29 Aug

Thomas C won’t be coming to use the phone
with his sideways smile and his overcoat.
On an ordinary Wednesday, he fell for the last time.
We wished he had a roommate, a pet, or at least someone
who would have known when he fell
who could have stopped him from seizing
who could have saved him for us
so we wouldn’t have to find out
we lost a friend

Close the door, so we can hold each other
and cry, dry our eyes, and get back to the
business of humans,
knocking, wanting, waiting, and talking
about apartments, jobs, money, fights,
what’s fair and unfair.

Luckily, I can still conjure his voice, and we can share the
picture I took of him.
We’ll archive and treasure
these and all the memories we have of the ones
who have stopped knocking,

because the losses are mounting
as our facades collapse
and reveal the love we’ve been hiding

Comes A Time

14 Aug

This song has been an earworm of mine for awhile, as I hyperfocus on the line, “it’s a wonder tall tress ain’t layin’ down”. Well, things are different in our backyard, as tall tress are MOST CERTAINLY layin’ down, and we have had our share lately.

One of the reasons I bought the house in 2007 was for the beautiful, shady backyard. Seven years later, we have lost over half the trees. It began with a vine-covered dead tree dropping limbs at random times, and although it was frustrating, they had always fallen in our yard and no one had been hurt.

Then, after a winter storm last year, my daughter called to say the power was out. I figured as much, as the storm was pretty violent. When I arrived home, however, I found that the power was out because a tree I had not suspected of falling had completely uprooted and ripped the powerline from our house. The power company was swift to react, but it still took almost 24 hours for them to restore power and get the tree cut off the line.

I was relieved- our yard was a mess, but we had not had to dig into savings to have any tress cut, as the power company did all the cutting and trimming.

BUY A Better Mouse Trap…strike that…Rat Trap

14 Aug

Since we live in a 64-year-old house, I suppose it was inevitable that we would, at some point, have issues with a rodent. What I did NOT realize, was the impact it would have on our household activities, as every chore was put on the back burner because there was a MOUSE in the house. It was a smart ass mouse, hopping in to eat apples, chocolate bars, flaxseed, or anything else it found tasty on our kitchen shelves. While I would wake up each day and go into the kitchen, curious to see what had been selected (I thought the mouse/rat had excellent taste, as he/she was as much of a food snob as we were), Bentz was never amused, and launched a full-on destructive campaign against the 4 oz creature.

Our animals were as nonchalant as I was- Banjo was never roused from his constant dog nap, even when I saw the little fellow scurry under the stove and back to the shelves. I brought two of the cats in, thinking they would at least pick up some sort of scent. Whitefoot, the Native American cat, has, on more than one occasion, left a half-squirrel or half-skink on the front porch. Perhaps this was ‘too easy’ for him, or he was full from squirrel and mole munching, but the insinuated mousehunt did not faze him.

All of this was no laughing matter to Bentz. There was a point I didn’t even want to allude to the mouse’s presence, as it would ignite a stream-of-consciousness rant about needing to do something, that damn mouse, needing to figure out how he’s getting in, or any variations on that theme. Similar to Darren McGavin’s sparring match with the boiler in “A Christmas Story”, Bentz’s vendetta against the mouse was vigorous and constant.

We had a trip to Lowe’s to investigate mouse traps, and returned with at least three different types of traps, and several of each. Our kitchen turned into a virtual minefield, and I was worried that Banjo would get his nose caught trying to lick the peanut butter off the snapping trap. Night after night we waited, and I still continued my curiosity check in the mornings. Apples still getting eaten, poop left all around the blessed traps as a SCREW YOU to us and our stupid ideas of killing a genius animal.