Sisters

Ring. Ring.

My sister and I stared at each other for half a heartbeat before bolting out of our chairs at the same time in the direction of the telephone.

“It’s mine!”

“My turn!”

“I GOT IT.”

“NO!!!! YOU GOT IT LAST TIME!”

Few things are more boring than a summer vacation when both parents are working. In a perfect world we would have had an energetic nanny or endless trips to summer camps.

Unfortunately, the world is rarely perfect.

Divorced and struggling to make ends meet, my parents split summertime straight down the middle – six weeks with mom, and six weeks with dad.

What I remember most about my childhood summers was the boredom – hot, stuffy endless afternoons where the roaring nothingness made you feel like you were choking. There are only so many times you can reread your favorite book, play out the same scenarios with your Breyer horses, or stare sightlessly at the mindless dribble of afternoon television. It always seemed so unfair to me. The good television wouldn’t come on until our parents returned home and wanted to watch their own shows. They always wanted to watch the most boring shows, too. What could Fox News have on Inspector Gadget or Looney Tunes?

I realize now that my parents were not entirely comfortable leaving us at home by ourselves. We were under strict instructions to keep the blinds drawn and the front door locked.

We were never to answer the door.

Even answering the telephone became an exercise in safety. While we could pick up the phone we weren’t allowed to divulge that our parents weren’t home. Or our names. Or our parents names. Or anything at all, really.

Not only did our parents drill this into us, they used to test us. We regularly received phone calls that went something like this:

Ring Ring!

“Hello?”

“Hi, this is Mark. Who is this?”

“Can I help you?”

“This is Mark. I’m a friend of your mom’s. I really need to talk to her.. can you put her on the line?”

“She’s in the shower right now.” (This was our standard lie.)

“She just called me so I know she’s not really in the shower. Can I talk to her? Put her on the line. This is really important.”

“Actually, if she just called you it was probably from her work – she’s not home right now.”

At that point there was usually a soft click as the original caller handed the phone over to our mom and we realized we’d been had.

“BECKY! You are in HUGE trouble young lady! What if that had been a bad guy trying to see if it was safe to break in? You COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED! HAVEN’T I TOLD YOU TIME AND AGAIN…”

Yeah. I’ll spare you the rest of the lecture. The lecture usually revolved around the “fact” that at any given moment large herds of predatory, murderous, child-hating puppy-killers were milling about outside of the front door at all times, just waiting for the chance to pounce.

With the constant threat of our imminent deaths hovering over our heads like an evil storm cloud, it’s small wonder my sister and I freaked out the day my dad came home early.

I think it was the summer I was going into fourth grade, which would have made me around 8 or 9 and my sister, Brandie, around 11. Brandie and I had what I like to refer to as a “hate-hate” relationship. Bookish and shy, she was the kind of quiet, reserved child that most parents dream about. Unfortunately, as her hyperactive, extremely noisy younger sister I brought out the worst in her.

Our interactions with each other tended to be noisy confrontations punctuated with lots of “LEAVE ME ALONE”s and high-pitched whining.

And those were the good ones.

The day my dad came early was no different. Trapped in the house with each other, by the time the afternoon rolled around the two of us weren’t even speaking. It was hot that afternoon… miserably hot. My skin was sticking to itself unpleasantly, making me whiny. Brandie had somehow managed to gain control of the remote control, and she lounged on the couch holding it smugly. She was watching something that bored me, and I was trying to figure out how to get her to change the channel. I knew from experience that asking her to change it was of no use. Even if she was watching something she hated, if I asked her to change it she would keep it on the same channel just to spite me.

I perched on the arm of our faded orange lounge chair, picking at the material and pretending to read my book. In reality, I was biding my time. I’d seen her finish a glass of tea only a few minutes before. If I was lucky, when she went to the bathroom she would forget to take the remote with her.

I reread the same page of the book three or four times, growing impatient. While I may have been quicker and more energetic, Brandie had an endless supply of patience, especially when it came to torturing me. I was just about to give up and see if I could whine enough that she would change channel when we both heard the garage door open.

We both froze in our seats, eyes widening.

To better comprehend our sudden terror you have to understand that our dad never came home early. He NEVER. Came. Home. Early.

EVER.

It’s small wonder my sister and I both came to the same conclusion when we heard the creaking whine of the ancient garage door opener slowly creeping into action –

This was it.

This was IT.

The herd of child-murderers was finally breaking in. They had found a way to open the garage door and were heading in to steal all of our secondhand furniture and kill us both.

We were going to die.

Choking on our terror, the two of us simultaneously bolted for the only door in the house that had a functioning lock: the downstairs bathroom.

Under normal circumstances I was faster than my sister, but terror seemed to give her feet wings. She reached the door half a step ahead of me..

And slammed it in my face.

I heard the sound of the lock sliding into place and began jerking on the handle, wailing. “Let me in! Let me in! You locked me out!” I started crying, pounding on the door with my fists.

“NO! Go AWAY!”

“LET ME IN! HE’S GONNA GET ME! LET ME IN!” I alternated between pounding on the door with my fists and jerking on the handle, trying to force it open.

“GO AWAY!” Brandie’s muffled, equally terrified voice held a peevish tone. “GO FIND YOUR OWN HIDING SPOT!”

“THIS IS THE ONLY DOOR WITH A LOCK!” I howled.

“TOO BAD!” came the reply.

‘LET ME IN! HE’S GOING TO KILL ME!” I scrabbled at the door frantically.

I feel I can honestly say I’ve never known more fear than I did in that very moment. There was wasn’t a shadow of a doubt in my mind that a masked, knife-wielding man was about to round the corner and take my life. I could feel the fear in my throat, gagging me, and I redoubled my efforts.

“LET ME IN! PLEASE!”

“SHUT UP OR HE’LL KNOW I’M IN HERE!”

“LET ME IN! PLEASE! LETMEIN, LETMEIN, LETMEINLETMEINLETMEIN!”

“NO! Go away or he’ll find me too!”

And that is how my dad found us on the day he decided to surprise us with some McDonald’s for lunch— me, red-faced and terrified, throwing myself against the door and screaming for sanctuary … and Brandie, safely ensconced behind the “safe” door and hollering at me to go get killed somewhere else so I didn’t give away her hiding spot.

Parenting. It isn’t for the weak.

Oh, and Brandie dearest?

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This Can’t Be My Son

I like to be dirty.

No, I’m not talking in a fetish, adult kind of a way. I mean I like being grubby. Getting dirt on me doesn’t bother me in the least, and I could really care less about germs.

As a kid my favorite thing to do was to play in the mud.

As an adult, not much has changed.

When I drop my fork on the floor… you know what I do? I pick it up.

It’s the floor. It’s not like I tend to eat knee-deep in fresh manure.

When I’m in public or around polite society, I pretend to care if I drop a piece of food on the floor. I’ll wrap it up in my napkin and toss it in the trash or place it beside my plate, bemoaning the loss.

When I’m by myself, I’m not quite so finicky. Pick it up, blow off the cat hair, and pop it in your mouth. Am I right? Who’s with me on this?

In fact, when I lived by myself, not only did I live by the “five-second” rule… I kind of stretched it out. It was more like a “Finder’s Keepers” rule.

So, NATURALLY, I would give birth to this:

Who IS this child? He can’t possibly be mine.

Weird Food

I went grocery shopping at the Asian grocery store with my Thai stepmom the other day.

The store was really cool, and filled with some really strange items. I did my best to take photos, but I felt kind of weird walking around the store taking picture of the food instead of buying it. I tried to make it look like I was taking pictures of the DragonMonkey, but I’m sure I wasn’t nearly as covert as I hoped to be. Besides, at at 5’9″ I was by FAR the biggest person in the store, so it was a little hard to hide.

Anyways, without further ado, I give you:

STRANGE FOOD

Look! Yoshi food!

We have more soy sauce than you do. I know this because Tyler knows this.

You silly little westerners with your Chicken Noodle soup. Pah. Live a little.

“Honey? What’s for dinner?”

I have no idea what this is, but I’m pretty sure it’s about to eat the Squidgelet.

Lotus Root. Hah. And you thought those tiny little cars were engineered.




I couldn’t seem to take a decent photo of the Jack Fruit. This was the world’s ugliest fruit. It’s the size of a watermelon and covered completely in angry little nodules.




For when your regular-colored Daikon simply won’t do:

Ummmmmm:

Yeah, nevermind. I don’t want to know. At least it’s on sale.

Mary

Her name was Mary.

I was twenty years old when I first saw her in the parking lot of Mimi’s café.

Ricky and I were lingering after a breakfast date. We had time to kill before our work shifts started up. I was a waitress at a local café and he delivered pizza for Domino’s. We met in our pre-Calculus class at the local college, both of us sensing a kindred, carefree spirit in one another.

We were both perpetually broke, but we didn’t care. We were young, healthy. Carefree.

Old enough to be considered adults but too young to have taken on any of the stress and responsibility that inevitably comes with the position, it was an easy time of life.

That morning we’d driven across town to splurge on a restaurant breakfast we really couldn’t afford. We stuffed ourselves to the brim, then put the rest in a Styrofoam “doggie bag” box. We dawdled at the table until our waitress began to glare, both of us loathe to let the morning end.

We finally trickled outside to linger in the parking lot, sitting cross-legged on the tailgate of my old Ford Ranger as we laughed at each other’s jokes and stories. The sun baked down on our doggy bag of leftovers as it sat forgotten on the hood of our car. It wasn’t much – a few spoonfuls of chicken pot pie and maybe the remains of some kind of appetizer. By the time we got home it would probably be inedible, but we didn’t care. Our bellies were full, and we had more important things to attend to – like laughing and flirting.

“Excuse me?”

She was tiny, almost frail. Sun-baked, wrinkled skin stretched tight across feathery bird bones. Her hair was an indeterminate color – neither grey nor brown, and was tied back in a limp, greasy ponytail. Even without standing I could tell her head wouldn’t reach my shoulder, and her painful thinness made her seem even tinier. Her eyes were large, a clear soft hazel with a gentle, sorrowful look that made me feel like giving her a hug.

You could tell at a glance she was homeless.

“Hi,” I said, watching her curiously, waiting to see what she wanted. Beneath my gaze she blushed, hands twisting the corners of her baggy t-shirt. She looked for all the world like a kid hauled into the principal’s office, trying to find the courage to explain away some naughty behavior.

“I was just wondering,” she took a deep breath, “I was just wondering if you guys were going to.. you know. Eat that.” She gestured with her chin at the Styrofoam container on the hood of my car. “If, you know, you weren’t.. I was, uh,” she trailed off, deeply embarrassed, before finishing in a rush of words. “Wondering if I could have it.”

It was one of those moments when you are embarrassed simply to be you. It was like shoving a wad of pizza in your mouth at the exact moment a “Feed the Children” commercial comes on.

We couldn’t say yes fast enough. Even so, I found myself blushing. The thing I remember most about the first time we met up with Mary was how embarrassed we all were.

Don’t get me wrong – Ricky and I were happy to share. It’s just that it didn’t seem right, that we could sit there so nonchalantly in our mall-bought clothes and leftover restaurant food, while yards away from us there was a woman. Starving.

The lazy warmth of the morning was doused in an icy dose of reality, and it was a shock.

Mary was embarrassed to be asking. She lingered by the food, embarrassed to pick it up, but too hungry to leave it behind. She chatted with us for a few moments, asking us our names, and trying to make the situation less socially awkward than it already was. Hunger was getting the best of her, though, and I could see her gaze flitting to the box every few moments. When she finally did reach out to pick up the box, I looked down at the pavement. It seemed wrong to watch her.

Once she was holding the box, there seemed little to talk about. Mary made a lame excuse about having to go, and Ricky and I echoed it vaguely.

I squirmed when she said thank you – especially because she really meant it.

As she turned to walk away, shoulders square in her too-big t-shirt, I met Ricky’s eyes. There was a silent moment where we just stared at each other. I remember clearly that we both nodded at the same time, and both stood up at the same time.

“Mary!” I called out.

I watched her shoulders tense and felt a little sick inside. What did she think I was going to do? Yell at her? Take back my half-eaten food?

“Hey, Mary!” Ricky echoed.

We bounced down off the truck, jogging after her across the parking lot.

“Would you, uh…” I felt embarrassed to be offering. “Umm… would you like some more food?”

She looked up at the two of us, wary and tense, waiting to hear the catch.

“I mean, uh, I can’t give you money because I don’t…” I trailed off again, embarrassed. How do you tell a homeless person that you won’t give them money because they’re homeless?

Ricky stepped in, smoothing the situation over. “Would you like some groceries?”

Mary’s fingers tightened around the box. “Well, uh, if you guys wouldn’t mind…”

She tried to sound nonchalant.

She failed.

“Sure, what do you need?” Now that the embarrassing part was over, I was feeling more upbeat.

“Maybe some peanut butter?” She sounded hesitant, as if unwilling to believe her good fortune. “Maybe a bag of wheat bread? Is that too much? If it is, just anything will do.” She sounded so apologetic.

“We can get you more than that,” Ricky said softly. “Are you sure you don’t want some meat or cheese?”

She shook her head. “It spoils. Peanut butter and a loaf of wheat bread would be great.”

We left her in front of a Barnes & Noble, driving quickly. I think we were both afraid she might lose her nerve and leave before we came back.

We dashed into a corner store, trying to strike a healthy balance between what would last, what she could physically carry, and what our overly-strained pocket books could afford. We bought her two loaves of bread, two jars of peanut butter, some crackers and a couple of other munchies. We splurged on one or two pieces of fruit and a big carton of milk.

We asked for everything to be triple-bagged to make it easier to carry before practically flying back to the parking lot.

She was still there.

She couldn’t say thank you enough.

And when she saw the carton of milk, her face lit up with a brilliant, infectious grin that transformed her face. She looked decades younger.

In the warmth of the morning I felt myself grinning back at her without even fully understanding why.

A Letter to My Ovaries

Dear Ovaries,

Are you high?

No.

NO.

NO.

Seriously, what is WRONG with you? The Squidgelet is only five weeks old… and yet you’re telling me that two weeks ago you thought it would be a great time to start trying for another baby?

Didn’t you get the memo? I thought breastfeeding was supposed to make you hibernate for at least 6 months.

I had stitches down there.

STITCHES.

Did you really think I was going to be interested in a little bow-chicka-wow-wow with stitches in my vajayjay? You really thought I would feel sexy enough to make sexy time with a deflating, flabby belly that flaps wildly in the lightest breeze?

Here, let me clear up the confusion:

No.

NO.

NO.


We are NOT having another baby anytime soon. So you can just put your little eggs away on the shelf for awhile.

Sincerely,

Becky

A Perfect Description

I would tell you why it’s taken me over a week to post about the simple joys horseback ride… and why I haven’t finished the post about the Squidgelet being born… or why I am struggling to finish up the next installment of “Where I Am Now”… or why the funny stories that have happened to me lately are still floating around in my head instead of being captured on the computer screen.

Yes, I could tell you.

But honestly, Veronica from Sleepless Nights already did it so brilliantly, that I’m just going to link to her post..

Amen, Veronica. Amen.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I just saw a naked DragonMonkey go running down the hallway, looking very a-la-Calvin-and-Hobbes. I think I need to see what he’s up to.

Too Late

Until I can upload the photos from yesterday’s riding (guess who rode Rocky the Ninja stallion again? Yee-ha!), I have only this to say about yesterday’s riding experience:

Mommyrides, where WERE you with your advice about wearing a good bra BEFORE I left for Bakersfield?

I learned an important lesson yesterday.

When you’re an A cup you can get away with light support, good posture, and making sure your horse stays nicely collected.

When you’re a nursing woman with ponderous, leaky boobs the size of dinner plates… yeah. Not so much.

Ow.