I've always said it would never happen

It ranked up there in liklihood with hell freezing over and me actually becoming Wonder Woman - which is to say:  not bloody likely. Highly improbable.  Overwhelming odds against. If you'd made a bet against this you'd have been more right than wrong.

I'm going back to school. There I said it. It's public.  I am doing something that, for a decade, I swore I would never do. I was done with my education and that was that. I had clapped the dust from my hands and walked away from even the remotest consideration of ever going back. And yet, here I am. A few short months from my first class in ten years. 

It makes me queasy to consider. 


Betcha didn't know...

- I fucking hate raspberries. Like, so much that I can't think of a single other food that I wouldn't rather put in my mouth. And I can think of a lot of foods. 

- Butterflies seriously freak me out.  Once, I went to one of those butterfly gardens where you go into a giant room full of butterflies, and while everyone else was oohing and aahing over the butterflies landing on them, I spent the entire 22 seconds I was in there blowing them away from me. 

- I don't own a single pair of jeans. 

- I was on my high school golf team. And I haven't played a stroke since - apart from the mini and Wii varieties. 

- My piano teacher died in the middle of one of my lessons. Not right in front of me. He excused himself and went in the bedroom and died of a massive heart attack.  That pretty much ruined piano playing for me. 

- I'm really allergic to tea tree oil. It instantly leaves angry red welts in its wake and then I get a rash that looks like I've been severely mosquito-bitten.  I found this out after buying a facial cleanser with a tea tree base. I can only thank the sweet baby Jesus that I was, at least, out of adolescence when it happened. 

- I sleep pillowless. 

- Sometimes, when I get bored, I get out my old logic textbooks and do logic problems. 

- If I come to a point in a book where I feel certain it's going to end in tragedy, I immediately read the end so that I can be emotionally prepared.

- I once worked at a sex shop.  It was much more mundane than you might think. 


Skipper Sucks

I recently found an old diary. I got it for my birthday in 1982 and wrote exactly one entry in it before finding a better one that had both a lock and a unicorn on the cover. I actually have no recollection of this diary except that the entry in it was apparently written on the morning after my awesome slumber party. It is copied here, in all of its embarrassing entirety for your reading enjoyment. I have made comments in italics within the post. 

November 6, 1982 Saturday - I looked it up

Dear Fred, no idea why

My birthday party was yesterday. It was a slumber party. It was pretty fun. My cake was ALL chocolate!  Mom rented us movies and we stayed up all night watching them. Joanna fell asleep first. She's such a boring baby.  She still sucks her thumb!  I hate her. I wish I didn't have to invite her. remember Joanna. I never liked her. She was always the kid who was telling on somebody about something, she was really bossy and aggressive and she cried any time she didn't get her way.  She really wasn't likeable, but I had to invite everyone in my class at school to my birthday party.  And she gave me a Skipper!  Skipper is stupid. I don't even have any clothes for a Skipper and she can't even wear Barby (sic) clothes because she's short and has no boobs. She sucks. This was a big use of this word as my mother did not tolerate the use of the word suck. She can't even wear high heels. She looks like a boy and her hair is ugly. I hate her bangs. Mom says I can take her back and get something else. THANK GOD.  Because otherwise, life as we know it would have ended.

Stephanie gave me this diary. It's okay. There's no lock though.  I was obsessed with locking diaries for a while, even though I had nothing secret enough to require locked protection. She also gave me a cool bracelet that looks like fruit and is all different pastel colors and also she got me matching earrings!  I remember this jewelry. I think I wore it every day for a really long time. As a matter of fact, the only thing that stopped me wearing the bracelet was that the elastic that the fruit was attached to finally stretched out so much that it wouldn't stay on my wrist, and once the bracelet was too big, there was no sense in wearing the earrings anymore, right?

Michelle got me the new Malibu Barby and some clothes for her.  She's really fun! So fun it warranted an exclamation point! I already put her new outfit on her and braided her hair.  Wow.  Can you believe how fun that sounds?  Put clothes on a doll and give her a new hair style!  When I think about it now, though, I think almost the only things I ever did with my non-Skippers was play fashion show. Though, really, what else was there to do?  Play house? If I wanted to play house, I played in person, not through a Barbie proxy. 

Annette got me the Barby I literally had almost a hundred Barbies, but I couldn't spell it? styling head and we did her hair in little braids. She looks like Bo Derek.  It was 1982. "10" was on cable at least once a day. 

Kelly got me a bunch of tapes and art stuff so I can make my own tapes. I had gotten a stereo with a double tape deck and a record player for my birthday from my parents - on my actual birthday.  Kelly lived across the street and we had already started making tapes of our favorite songs. As I recall, early mixes included tracks from The Muppets, Pat Benetar, Crystal Gayle, The Chipmunks, The Rescuers, Blondie, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas soundtrack. Obviously, I missed my calling as a radio programmer.  And she also gave me the Talking Heads tape! I'm so glad she's my best  friend. She really was a great best friend for me at that time of my life.  

Everybody else got me normal stuff. I got a Neil Diamond record, some more jewelry, a sweater, lots of head bands and lots of lip gloss and nail polish.  I loved headbands and lip gloss, but it was pretty standard gift fare at the time. I know I gave a lot of both of those things. 

My party favors were Bonnie Bell glitter lip gloss sets and everybody was really happy.  I neglected to record that they were also fruit flavored. I remember how excited I was to give those little sets. 

We had pancakes, waffles and crapes (sic) for breakfast and then everybody went home.  I can't wait to go to Toys R (and I wrote it backwards like in the logo) Us and get rid of Skipper. I will probably get either a Barby or crayons. I actually loved crayons more than Barbies - and about a thousand times more than Skipper!



Sometimes we get groceries delivered from a farm in Utah. They come early in the morning and I bring them in when I get up. Only for the last while, we've not put in an order. So you can imagine my surprise at opening the door on Wednesday night to get the mail and finding a bag of utterly putrid groceries on my doorstep.  Oh, did I mention?  Delivery day is Monday. So, when I say utterly putrid, I'm actually understating facts because also: July in Vegas.  

Anyway, I shrieked and Matt said that he would take care of it tomorrow, which is to say, today. So I left it out there and figured he'd just throw the whole thing away - take the loss on the cooler bag and the deposit bottles and be done. 

Then I got this text:

M:  How do u feel today?
Watched side effects. Pretty good. 
Milk blew. All over on tile by front door. Thinking of using a sponge. Unless u have a better suggestion. 

At which point I'm mostly confused. I don't get why he needs a consult on how to clean up milk. Even gross chunky milk. 

D:  Gross. That sucks. Sponge or paper towel. Either one. Just throw the sponge away if that's what you use. 

M:  Paper towel didn't really get it. Will use and toss sponge. 

So then I was busy and didn't text him back for a while. 

D:  How did the cleanup go?  Did you gag?

M:  Discovered it hit the wall and ceiling. Disgusting. And I'm having trouble getting it off the walls. I need a chisel or something. 

It was at this point that I realized we weren't just talking about average putrid milk. I also realized that Matt is entirely without the skill set or the patience to actually clean this up. 

D:  Just leave it the way it is. I'll do it when I get home. The exploded bottle and contaminated bag are out of the house, right?

M:  I'll leave it. My knees hurt anyway. And I will get rid of bottle and bag. What a ridiculous thing!

So this ended the exchange. I was left to wonder what I was going to walk into at home.   And here's what I found:  chunks of soured, essentially cooked, milk solids blown all over the wall and ceiling.  It looked like someone took a container of paste and flung it. Of course, it smelled awful.

I did actually have to use a putty knife to scrape it off the ceiling.  And now I'm burning scented oils and boiling lavender and rosemary on the stove so the house doesn't continue to smell like baby spit-up, because I just finished this horror of housekeeping about an hour ago. 

I didn't even know it was possible for milk to explode like that. I think I could have been okay without that information, too. 



I Remember: 1974-1980

- My mother, when her hair was still long, standing at the stove, smoking a cigarette. 

- The basement stairs in the house on Edgewood Drive, that creaked and squeaked and that I thought were alive and trying to eat me every time I walked down them. 

- My father, in quintessentially 70s plaid pants, carrying me home from a party at the house across the street. 

- Every detail of my grandparents' house, full of treasures.

- Crying while playing with my cousin's Hot Wheels at my grandmother's funeral. 

- The soda fountain in my grandfather's drug store. 

- The smell of wet wood steaming up from the deck at the lake house after a long day of swimming and fishing. 

- May, my sister, on the telephone in the kitchen - always. It was a black phone with a huge, heavy handset and a cord that was long enough to reach almost all the way down the hall that I also used as a jumprope. 

- The chalkboard with my name in stained glass across the top hung in the kitchen at my level so that I could draw and write to my heart's content. 

- A huge stained glass window and an enormous, rough-hewn wood table where I ate my first escargot. 

- Lynn, my other sister, braiding my hair before bed. 

- The Jumping Couch in the Boschertt Street family room. It was a hulking beast of a thing that was ratty and worn, and I was allowed to jump on it.

- Crawling on the countertop on a butter quest and burning my hand on a still hot burner.

- Spunky, the world's meanest Westie, who's bark was the background noise to all of our outdoor games. 

- 'Helping' my sister, Lynn, pack for college. I had a sabotage campaign worked out where I would take things out of her bag so that she could never leave. And then crying and crying as we drove away from campus after moving her into her dorm. 

- Spending weekends alone at college with my sisters in the dorms, sleeping in their loft beds and eating cereal in the cafeteria and feeling like the coolest kid in the world. 

- Being lost in the woods behind my house with my friend and neighbor, Amy, who had sworn she knew how to get home. 

- The day the woman next door got her leg pinned under a heavy vehicle and watching as everyone on the street came out to help get her free and then take care of her kids when she and her husband went to the hospital and I took her white Dr. Scholl's exercise sandals back to her front door. 

- Picking my first pair of earrings the day I got my ears pierced:  red, sparkly cherries. 

- Whitefeet, the family dog, sleeping next to my bed every night and then accompanying me on my nightly walk to my parents' room when I couldn't sleep. 

- My kindergarten bus driver who played the same Queen tape (The Game) on her portable tape player every day on the way to school. 

- The absolute shock and utter grief I felt when Whitefeet died. I never considered that dogs died, too. I thought she would be my dog forever. 

- Visiting my dad in the corporate apartment in Houston where he was living while my mom and I stayed in St. Louis to sell the house there. I had never been in an apartment complex before and it seemed like the best place on earth. There was a pool and cable and a soda machine and one night I snuck out to the living room and watched Alien on cable and scared myself to death. 

- Swimming lessons with the Kerr kids at the Y. Our swim teacher was a college girl named Ruth who wore glasses in the pool and had a blue and white striped swimsuit that reminded me of my grandparents' outdoor furniture. 

- Catching jars of lightening bugs and then setting them all free before going in to bed so they could go home to their families, too. 

- Playing Mother, May I? until my bladder almost burst because I didn't want to go in and pee because I was having so much fun. 

- Actually laughing until I wet my pants at The Carol Burnette Show.

- Eating honeysuckle on summer nights until I was sticky and stuffed.

- Trying to figure out how my grandmother's stand-by pacemaker could possibly work. I would press it against my chest and wait for it to do something. 

- Listening to The Rescuers picture record in the corner of the living room with headphones on and choreographing elaborate musical numbers. 

- My long-sleeved t-shirt with Woodstock on it. Woodstock of Peanuts fame, not the music event. I remember not liking the shirt much, but it was a gift from my grandparents and we were visiting them and I had it on to feed the squirrel who would eat out of my hand. The squirrel fascinated and frightened me. 

- My red rain boots. I wore them all the time - mostly in lieu of all other clothing - and especially to play with the hose. 

- The green shag carpet and the window unit air conditioner in my sister's bedroom. I didn't like to walk on the carpet because it reminded me of Oscar the Grouch and I didn't want to make it mad. 

- Staying up past my bed time watching TV in the living room with a pillow and a blanket while the grown-ups played bridge.

- The Chef at his extensive and expansive grill, red and white checked chef's had on his head, tongs in his hand, and a Boys Club t-shirt on, pouring beer on the slabs of ribs I loved almost as much as the man cooking them.

- The feeling that it would never be time for Sesame Street. 


20 Things I've Learned Since I Graduated High School 20 Years Ago

I set out with the intention of listing 20 things I've learned since I graduated high school, but then I thought that seemed kind of arbitrary, since I've learned lots and lots of things since then.  So then I decided to create a comprehensive list, but that list got really boring (e.g., I've learned the word for 'socks' in Spanish) and really long (and this isn't my diary - and if it were my diary, I wouldn't need to list what I've learned, since I know what I've learned), so I decided to shorten the list to 10 things.  At which point I realized that since I was just going with arbitrary numbers, 20 was as good as 10 (or better because it's twice as many) and so here it is.  I guess it should really be called 20 (of thousands) of things I've learned since I graduated from high school 20 years ago (holy shit! and in no particular order):

1)  Sometimes, even smart people mispronounce 'nuclear.'

2)  That girl who dropped out of high school to become a stripper?  She could go on to become the dean of a well-respected women's college, so you never know...

3)  Once a powertool, always a powertool.

4)  When the guy you're in love with (but who isn't in love with you) tells you his wife/girlfriend is pregnant, it's seriously time to move on.

5)  Nonplussed probably doesn't mean what you think it means.

6)  Trust, but verify.*

7)  Sometimes, even people you find utterly detestable in every way say valuable things.

8)  Dandelions are a real bitch to get rid of.

9)  General Admission is much less awesome after you turn 35.

10)  Some people will, literally, never learn.

11)  Never give relationship advice - most especially when someone asks for 'your honest opinion.'

12)  Vacations with the family aren't the same as actual vacations.

13)  Heed expiration dates.

14)  Baby wipes remove a multitude of stains.

15)  The minimum amount of time you should wash your hands is 20 seconds, that's either the ABC song or two times through Happy Birthday.  So now you'll know, if you ever meet me in the bathroom, why I'm humming my ABCs.

16)  In a pinch, several household projects can be completed with a shoe with a decent heel, a butter knife, toothpaste, chopsticks, and tape.

17)  Awesome new shoes can solve several mental health issues.

18)  It's worth the extra money to have a really skilled aesthetician do your Brazilian.

19)  White carpet is an unwise choice.

20)  Bangs take approximately 75x longer to grow out than the rest of your hair.

*  You may recognize this as a quote from Ronald Reagan (a fact that makes my flesh crawl), but in spite of the fact that I find him one of the ickiest people ever to have lived, when you're right, you're right.


Goodbye Again

I continue to be surprised at how infrequently I run into people I know in Vegas. It practically never happens.

I am also always surprised at how frequently I do run into people I know in airports. As a matter of fact, I've run into at least one person I know every time I've been in an airport for the last two years. Every time. Doesn't matter what airport.

My streak continued perfect last week when I went to pick up my friend, Marie. I wasn't even going to go in, but I was early and circling the airport for a half hour seemed dumb. I parked and wandered into baggage claim.

After locating the carousel where her bags were allegedly to arrive, I sat down and sent Marie a text telling her that I had come in and then proceeded to peruse my email. As I read through a bunch of really boring mail, I became interested in a conversation that was happening in front of me. A mother and daughter were having a disagreement and at its climax I stopped pretending to read and looked up at them. I didn't just sit there gawking or anything, but I took a good look before pretending to look for Marie, who, according to my app, hadn't landed yet. As I looked around, quietly entertaining myself with people-watching, I heard my name.

"Hey, Dot."

I heard the voice, the familiar use of my name on his tongue. It was surprisingly sweet.

I stood up and hugged him. It was easy - so usual, in fact that it wasn't until I started to ask how he'd been that I remembered the circumstances of our lives.

I asked him, five years ago, to not contact me anymore. I explained that I didn't think it was good for him if we continued to communicate. He seemed to always hope I would change my mind and we'd get back together.

I only fully processed the whole situation when the words, "How have you been," we're out of my mouth.

He smiled and said, "I still miss you," but not in a sad or creepy way.

"I still miss you, too," I said.

"You look well - as always."

"Thanks. You, too. You've lost some weight."

"Yeah. I've been doing a lot of kayaking. And I finally learned to surf."

I always wanted him to surf with me.

" Well, it agrees with you. What brings you to Vegas?"

"Nick's (his cousin) bachelor party."

Just then I saw Marie walking through the crowd towards me. I waved.

"Well, have fun. Give my best to Nick."

"I will. Goodbye again, Dot. It was excellent seeing you."

He hugged me and disappeared into the crowd.




There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
-Ernest Hemingway




Dear Woman in the Mazda Ahead of Me at Starbucks This Morning:

Thank you for paying for my order. It made my morning! And also thank you for telling the cashier to tell me that my gas tank was open. I promise to pay the kindness forward.



I don't know how long you'd been standing next to me before you slid your hand into mine. When I think about it, it seemed like you'd always been there. And when you said, "Hey" it was as if our last conversation had only been briefly interrupted.

I lied when I said I never miss you. And I evaded when you asked if I ever wondered what would have happened if...
But in truth we both know the answer to that question.

You are you and I am me. We are separate because as much as we belong to each other, we do not belong together. We both know this. No, I haven't always wanted to accept the bare truth of it. Our moment was glorious.

But so you know, I do miss that you that you were when we were us.