Tag Archives: Family

From the Sheets of My Memories [NSFW]-ish

My phlegm and apathy dot the ceiling as I cough wickedly from a spartan cot. There is no doubt I am reaching a terminal point in my existence, but for now, I wait in the lobby of transition. No fear is there in that, and why should there be? Living forever is for the naïve. My threadbare life is not the brilliant ensign it once was. I’m tired of waving it.

Capturing my attention was a plucky squirrel skipping on a potentially lethal wire outside. As it’s oblivious to grounding, it lives to see the other pole. I look up at my medical masterpiece. I’ve heard of this before, when people become critical of life before they die.  Small animals become as interesting as a war declaration. Nostaglia is understandable, but it should be for the right memories.

My youngest daughter, Chastity, appears at the door. Standing half-way through the threshold, her hand slides up the jamb. It’s quality time with the old man.

“Hey,” I face her. “Come on in.”

Taking up a stool beside the bed, I look her over. Where do I start?

“Your mother was a good women. I… we did very well in not hurting each other.” The shifting of posture was time to phrase a statement more fulfilling. “We knew each other: our habits, our personalities, our histories. It worked for what it was. You and your sister are now married, and successful from what I can tell. As far as rules are concerned, I give myself a gold star for doing what others wanted.”

“You did a fair job, Dad.” She is a tough customer. I did well with that one.

“From a personal perspective, though, I’ll only regret one thing I didn’t do.” My sigh came out while rubbing the skin above my forehead. Thinking about it is painful enough, but this wasn’t going to be any picnic either. There was no use in delaying it any further though.

“When you were a small child, I had to work nights to pay some of the bills. Now, I’m not upset about that. We did what we had to do, and made it out fine but there was a time during the night which I would stop at a diner off of 44. I’d have a cup of coffee and unwind for a bit. That’s where I met Jessica.

Jess was the manager of a catering company out of Tulsa, and she’d often do the same thing after closing up shop. We’d sit for a good hour or so and talk. Sometimes we’d talk about our spouses, our jobs, our dreams, our politics, and so on. She didn’t have anywhere to go, even though she was married. Her husband was a driver for a beer distributor and was rarely home.

Now that I look back on it, I fell in love with her, a real love with feelings your mother and I never shared. She was a short stack, but every bit of her was filled with energy. There was this laugh. It was the oddest thing. When I delivered a good joke she’d put her hand on her forehead and laugh at the ceiling. For my cleverness, I was rewarded with the bumps underneath her shirt. It only embarrassed me the first few times. After that, I saw it as a bit of a turn on.

I started to think of ways to get her to laugh like that. Cheap thrills. I even bought a joke book to help me out. Most nights I’d count down the intervals between delivering the jokes so she wouldn’t notice. If she ever caught on, she didn’t give me any clues. Maybe she enjoyed it? We both were in a lover’s purgatory. She was married; I was married. Neither one of us was particularly enthusiastic about our better halves. I started to want her in the worst way, but kept my vows all right.

Since I’ve been put here in hospice, I’ve replayed those nights several times in my head. I will miss that: to be so close to a woman you can smell the exact spot where she put on her perfume. The nape of her neck. She had dark hair that would slope off to the right showing a slight bump. It drove me wild. I wanted to kiss that bump several times. I was a mad dog on a chain.

It gave me so much feeling. I was hooked on the the most intense lust I’ve ever felt in my life. Probing her eyes for any inkling of sin,  I found us pawing each other on a humid, Summer night. The salt of her hips rolled on my tongue. She’d gasp lightly as I nuzzled between her thighs. Those thighs. To me they were warmed silk. My mind tormented me with that for years. I would have remained in her lap as long as she wanted.

That’s what I regret the most, Chastity. I regret not taking her, or at least trying. Every part of my intuition said to do so. We’d enjoy ourselves for a night, or two, or more. We’d be happy for once.”

My daughter squirms in her chair. To be honest, I never spoke of being sexual or sexuality to my children before. Deep lines arc around her thin mouth. Duty calls for presence, not participation, however a cynical mind can mislead the most sharp of hosts. My mind deceives me. This isn’t disgust I’m watching. It’s restraint.

“This has happened to you. Hasn’t it, Chas?” My narrow-lidded eyes spy nonverbal cues.

Shaking lightly, her brows furrow and chin tucks up in a severe overbite. A floor couldn’t be that interesting to stare at it so much. Maybe she’d faint like a goat, too? The best she comes up with is a terse “no.”

“You’re lying to me. I can tell by the twitching of your left eye. You’re anxious about something. Me talking about my fantasies has triggered a guilty party in you. Who is he? Who is… she, maybe? I’m not going to be here when you come around. What are you hiding?”

Closing her eyes, she moves her throat up and down in agony. “Him!” A sharp bark with an immediate decrescendo bounces off the walls. My release of anger sets my eyes in a droopy fashion. It feels good to be right. Being smug feels better. In an effort to comfort her, I pick up her wrist as best I could. For a moment, I didn’t know what to say. I wonder if straying was in the family blood? If it was, how many of my kin felt the same way? Nobody ever talked about it. Maybe we are all ashamed? With a bit of effort, I deliver my last words to her.

“Devour him!” My grip is lost; I roll over to stare out the window.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Promulgated

The song “Black Sunshine” was apropos as Marissa floored it down the 10. She couldn’t let a freak storm impede the progress of her Shelby Cobra on its way to destiny. This was her date with death, if it came down to it. Traffic had to go. All this weaving was making for an even more miserable experience. Was she trying to stop a catastrophe for these people? Sometimes she wondered its worth, especially with all the persecution.

Being a manipulator of the forces around her was still a problem for those raised on too many fairy tales. Good and evil always begin in a neutral state. Those who use their mystical attributes take them down that road. Her father, Hogan, would often prance into her study with, “Oh-hoo-hoo, are you a good witch or a bad witch?” Such was his nature to be cheeky, and often used common society to irritate her to no end. Teenage angst, being what it was, would always seem to give him the satisfaction of a reaction to his facetiousness.

Those were easier times for the young sorceress, up in the Superstitions. It was a veritable paradise compared to the current state of affairs. Time was endless and there was always a centuries-old book to crack open. Scribbles could dance with the touch of her fingers even when they were much older than the country she called home. “The trade was eternal,” Hogan would say.

He left when she was 20. It may have been just a matter of independence, a going of one’s own way. That was understandable to a certain extent, but to never get back in contact? She couldn’t think of anything she did to turn him away. A second pair of hands would be well received right about now. There were countless, terribly dangerous users on the isolation planes that could peel the crust off this planet as if it were an orange and with little effort.

Signs were everywhere, but usually explained away with science and reason. Two new moons, sinkholes everywhere, the Flight of the Phoenix, and this unending thunderstorm meant something more sinister than mere traditional explanations. A male member of the tribe was resurrecting himself from suspension. This was a serious Council infraction and whoever it was needed to be put down like a rabid dog. She read no one was willing to return to their assigned dimension.

Turning off on a county road, she skidded left of center and back in time to miss a rig driver laying on his horn for all it was worth. Slick as the road was, it wasn’t nearly as perilous as the destination. A steadiness came over her as she pushed the needle past 80 mph. Everyone she knew, including herself, would be shot to Hell without doing all in her power to get there.

The reception square lay in a remote part of Arizona. Inconspicuousness favored sparsely populated areas. Convicted members would have to rest and regain their strength from such a brazen move. More than likely they would hole up in a cave or derelict house for a few days with their thoughts and motives.

Surrounded by sagebrush and sand, the platform disguised itself as slate rock partially buried in the Earth. Saguaro and yucca obscured it further from the road, but the inter-dimensional charge gave it a light white halo for the trained eye. Marissa was in the right spot; she’d soon find out who she risked life and limb to stop.

The Council of the Dogs was completely unaware of the happenings in Arizona. A New York committee spent that time arguing over the regulations of their charter, which have been known to take years on more than one occasion. She was the point of contact for the desert southwest, which meant little to nothing in the eyes of bigger fish. After three ignored missives, she decided to enforce the will of the Council herself.

 A tall cactus made for the best impromptu cover she could afford. Holding on to the relief of arriving early, rain beat down soaking her to the bone. Through stringy pink hair she surveyed the landing site intently, even though she wanted to fly far away from it. It was too late to have a change of heart.

The glow ceased and the rain gave way as a peal of thunder ripped a hole in the desert before her. A white eye with large black pupil shimmered and curls of darkness gracefully slid out into this world as the passenger came close to the exit. Marissa thought of the old 1950s horror films with their excessive use of dry ice and water. Someone’s science fair project won first place.

A sinister sight emerged from the portal and fell to the ground. Such was the way of  forbidden rituals. Even the most powerful of magicians would be weakened by it. Some fare better than others, but there was always a negative impact on the user. This was her best chance to gain the upper hand. Shouts as good as any law enforcement came forth as she charged the spent figure on the ground.

“In the name of Alexia Oroyo and the Council, I am here to enforce the rules set forth in the tribal charter. Your sentence was to be served as promised, and reintroduction is a clear violation of said promise. No exile is to return from their suspension unless granted explicit permission by the Council itself. Under these conditions, I must either escort you back to your imprisonment or destroy you. That choice will rest with your actions.” It sounded authoritative enough, even if she had no experience with either.

“Are you a good witch?” Inquired the fatigued warlock, “or a bad witch?” He couldn’t quite raise himself up off the floor, but was trying regardless.

Marissa knew that voice. So long had it been, the sound of her father moved her to tears. This was the last person she’d expect to meet at a charter breach rendezvous. Why was he in limbo to start? It certainly would explain his disappearance, but the new question was a little harder to answer.

“Dad! Why are you here? Why were you there?! What’s going on? Tell me! I don’t want to kill you, but that’s not saying I won’t.” Patience wasn’t the strongest of her virtues.

Swallowing hard and gaining moisture back in his mouth, Hogan tried to explain. He wanted to lay out the whole story, but could only manage “needed to see you.” With this he took in slow deep breaths and looked at her for a reaction.

No amount of training could prepare a member for this situation. Sifting through her thoughts she lifted her father and supported him on the way to the car. Many people make poor choices; she was willing to gamble this time. The Council certainly wouldn’t approve.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Sunday March 2nd, 2014

As Winter decides to entrench itself once again, I’ve tried desperately to seek shelter from a hostile planet. My choice of reading material may not be the best, but The Jungle is a fresh book for which I gnoshed upon this afternoon. It did concern me that the happenings of a turn of the 20th century meat packing plant did not upset my stomach, as I’m sure was intended, but at least I can identify the problems discussed throughout. This book would be a poor read for those with a faint heart.

At least I have good news from others. A good friend, a good man, of whom I’ve known for almost 20 years finally has his place among on the organ recipient list. He was born with Cystic Fibrosis, and ever since age 6 has experienced decreasing lung capacity. He will now await a double lung transplant that will extend his life considerably. He and his wife are pleased and hopeful. I donated my snow blower money to help cover the living expenses that won’t be assured by the insurance company. It’s for the better.

Speaking with my mother, she wasn’t surprised. What she said wasn’t meant to be damning, but my Devil’s workshop of a mind couldn’t resist. She went on to say, “Nate, you have a big heart. You take care of your friends. Had you not been hurt so much, you’d be happy with life.” The taste went sour in my mouth as the brain gleefully relived moments I wish not to remember. Only a runaway mind could truly relish injuring its owner.

Hemingway, whether flippant or serious, once answered the question “what is the best early training for a writer” with “an unhappy childhood.” That’s probably how a lot of writers come to be. I can remember furiously trying to scribble words on sheets of paper as a child. There wasn’t much in the way of encouragement in the house, but then again, I did keep a lot to myself. The efforts often fizzled in a whirlwind of other people’s concerns. Everyone has their problems, or so it is explained. I’ve tried long and hard to abide by it, and stay out of the world’s way.

Why I write? I cannot say. People seem to enjoy it, even if my head aches in confusion and tumult in the process of making more. What have I got to lose? I’m single. It looks like that’s my path. Work is important, but what should I be at the end of the day? Maybe someday I can unclench my jaw and go with the wind. Maybe not. At least there’s something around to note I once existed.

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Thursday, February 20th, 2014

My family has been doing something rather unique in this day and age: we cook dinner together every Thursday night. Granted that’s the way it was 15-20 years ago, but somehow it drifted away life an untethered boat. Everyone was too busy to make food, or too exhausted, or both.

It’s nothing grandiose. No, we’re not that skilled; I’m not that skilled. My roux is embarrassing. We have to rely on gravy starters and other cheats to get it done within an hour because of work. On the other hand, it’s much more wholesome than buying Subway, Quizno’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Captain D’s, KFC, Hot Head, Penn Station, Jersey Mike’s, Chipotle, Whattaburger, In-N-Out, Culver’s, Jimmy John’s, Lee’s Famous, Tim Horton’s, Sbarro, Wendy’s. Arby’s, Pizza hut, Papa John’s, Long John Silver’s, Steak and Shake, Arthur Treacher’s or even my beloved Chick-fil-a. I know I’m leaving some out, but you get the picture.

I peeled a simple white onion last night, and have yet to get the scent off my fingers. It has taken me decades to tolerate Allium Cepa in my food, and I’m still not totally thrilled with its sharp, sourish nature but it went into the roast preparation last night. I decided to go for a baked sweet potato, instead of mashed because I simply won’t eat instant anymore and don’t want to go through the rigmarole of making it.

Even with the mishaps, this is something worthwhile. It’s too easy to get tired of life.

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Press Your Luck

“If you give a man nothing to lose, then he’ll lose that too.” Eileen, or Gram to the rest of us, was most definitely the most vocal of the family.  Three children, five grandchildren, and antics of an oafish but good-natured husband had really put her in a mood since the early 80s. Irascible as ever, she held the position of clan’s cynic for many moons.

“Oh Gram, Pawpaw’s a little confused these days.” A slumping of the shoulders suggested Marvin was very tired that day. “He’s trying his best to find the cell phone for you, and Ally is helping him. We’ll take care of it.” Marvin was the house apologist, a paragon of pardoning people’s problems for personal peace.  It rarely worked on Gram, but this was automatic to his nature.

“Did I ever tell you the time he lost the rings on our wedding day?!” There was the wind up. If this were baseball, Marv would be in bunt formation.

“Yes, several.” Dishes clinked a murky tone as he rushed to occupy himself for the repeat performance.

“We waited thirty minutes at the altar. Thirty minutes! Why, I had to sit down in a pew and bury my head in my hands. I was so embarrassed; I couldn’t look at anyone!” Punctuating the history lesson, the lid to the trash can clapped shut in metallic finality.

“I know, Gram, and the best man found them on the kitchen table near a half eaten bowl of corn flakes. You’ve said this several times before.” Matching the sigh of the cupboard, Marv finished stowing the cups for the evening.

“That should have been my first clue.” Eileen pointed her index finger in the style of an ellipses. “Fifty years is a long time. I’ve been such a fool! Those prescriptions lapsed, all thanks to him, and it has been a race to renew them. He’s trying to kill me!”

Mercifully, Ally bounded into the kitchen waving a smart phone in the air. “We found it!” She chirped and laid it on the counter top across from the sourpuss.

“Well, it takes a woman to solve my husband’s problems. The story of my life.” Satisfied, Eileen folded her arms with a congratulatory nod. “Where was it?”

“Actually, Gram, it was on your nightstand. That’s why we couldn’t find it for a while.” Ally was too honest for own good.

…but that was right. Wasn’t it? She had a lengthy conversation the night before with Eleanor, her younger sister out in Albuquerque.  Eileen froze up, and flushed with embarrassment. Pawpaw, preferably known as “Buddy” to many, set his face upon his reddened wife.

In an effort to save face, Eileen squeaked out “there’s a first time for everything.”

“There most certainly is so!” Bellowed Buddy in a uncharacteristic manner. “Do you have the number for the pharmacy?”

Eileen when from red to white. She had forgotten to write it down! Oh, the insult to injury after hounding him for forty-five minutes. She quickly and quietly conceded, “I don’t have it here.”

“If we’re using sayings, then ‘events come in threes.’ Is there anything else you’d like to add?” A tired, old man propped himself up on a counter and waited for a response to relish.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Cloudspotting

“Goat! Daddy, a goat! There! THEEEEEERE!” A girl with chestnut brown, braided hair squealed in the air on the edge of the knoll. The clasps on her overalls clinked as she bounced incessantly. She was full of spirit, that one.

“Very good, Mercedes. It’s a goat.” It was really a Capricornus, but “goat” was good enough for three years of age. “What’s that look like over there?” He pointed to a plus-shaped cloud following the goat up.

Mercedes stood blank at the foreign shape. She wasn’t all that comfortable with challenge yet, but she wanted to impress her father. Turning to the kind, yet imposing giant, she said “face?”

Otto knelt to her eye level and smiled. He rubbed his hand on top of her head and replied, “I’m sorry, munchkin. That’s an anchor. Do you know what an anchor is?”

The little girl tucked chin in her shirt and shook her head. “Oh, OK,” he laughed, “I’ll tell on the way back home.”

He knew it meant a garbage freighter was signalling to dock at port not too far from the barracks. The method of cloud communication had evolved into an art, and it was the easiest way to send general bulletins to the watchful eyes of the townsfolk. Every family had a communications liaison, who would spend their time keeping abreast of current events.

All in all, she was doing very well. It pleased him very much. Before the age of 10, she would most likely be a spotter. By 18, she would probable be recon, maybe even elevated recon (abbreviated to LCON in the league) if she knew how to bridle her own Griffoid. If she stuck with it, and didn’t go for a “flyout” (AWOL) like he did, she’d almost certainly make colonel. Then again, had he not flown his Überadler to the peppered shores of Auaotio, he would have not met her mother.

Most people would have been demoted and sent to the brig for desertion, but many knew why General Hillensdaugh forgave and forgot: the Battle of the Lava Caves. Had the Major not been there to scout, navigate, command, fight, and single-handedly close the passage successfully, there would be no Sky League cooler to throw him in. “Calamity” Jane Hillensdaugh would never forget that.

On the porch of the house, Mercedes began crying. “Too hard!” She was quick to notice another cloud in the sky. “Too hard, daddy!” Tears streamed down her face for getting two out of three clouds wrong. She had to work on her discipline in the future.

Otto peered into the sky once again to see one large dot over four smaller dots with an “X” following.

“You’re tired, Mercy. Let’s get you some rest.”

After tucking the little child in for the night. Otto walked calmly to the basement. Out of a well-oiled, steel locker came his spotless battle dress uniform. Skull and crossbones meant a skirmish was imminent. Hopefully it would all be cleared up before sunrise, and he could get his daughter motivated enough to get to school on time.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Time for a Change

“This went a lot more smoothly than I imagined, and it was built with little room for error.  It fit perfectly, though, and that’s not easy to do. Handmade casings are always a tossup.” The horologist closed his bag and wound the clock in synchronicity with his phone. “It’s quite the unusual setup, but it runs exceptionally well. It kept up with my clocking with little to no loss. You also did well to listen to my suggestion of felt foot pads. You’ve leveled it out perfectly.”

“I’m glad to hear it. Has the quote changed, or is it something different?” He sat back a moment to admire his grandfather’s handiwork. The brass tones glittered in the light of his new chandelier, the fixture he had toiled and cursed to set up. Most of the house was sewn together with his profanity and toil. It made for a reliable suture.

“It’s the same. Man, check out how well it matches your table. You couldn’t have planned that better if you tried.” The horologist stood back to look at the drop leaf table in total. Indeed it matched. It also matched the floor and the walls. All of this came together with only a bare minimum of forethought, a series of independent choices tying themselves together without any effort.

“Yes, that’s always a bonus.” He broke the check neatly along the perforations close to the spine. It was a healthy sum. A sum from sacrifice and sweat, but he’d be OK. He was a survivor. He knew that it would be a can of beans here, a stay-at-home weekend there, and he would have recouped his savings after a while. He wasn’t sure how long “a while” was specifically, but it did exist in some quantity.

The deed was now done. The help was paid in full, and the clock was functional again for the first time in more than three decades. He sat down at the kitchen table again and stared at the finished project. It chimed with soft Westminster tones he could only translate into gratitude. Like the gasp of a patient brought back from dead, it was alive again.

Sitting in front of him, the phone became a reminder of the finishing touch. Thumbing through the address book he called his mother. A drowsy voice took the call.

“Hey mom, the clock’s working again. It chimes perfectly.”

“That’s great, honey.”

“The guy who worked on it was really impressed. He said he was worried it might not fit it was so tight, but the movement gave him no hassle. It was as if the case was custom built for the clockworks, and that’s machine-quality milling.”

A sniffle was the only reply, but he immediately knew it wasn’t from an early onset of the flu season. He knew the story. She lost he father before he was born. It wasn’t a seamless account, as he had to glue the pieces together like a broken vase, but he knew enough. The details weren’t important anyway.

“We had no money. He worked so hard. He was so good at it.” The voice was full of remembering. Memories too painful to frequent, but too precious to let go. He clutched his fist and grit his teeth at the sorrow.

“I know you didn’t, mom. I know.” It takes strength to stare down suffering, when you’re the anchor in a conversation.

“I miss him… so much…” choking all over her words, she made a few “hups” to hobble through it. He knew she was unable to pull the resources together to do much of anything with it. The bits of inexpensive decor laid upon it for the last thirty years would make for a small memorial to its maker. They were the token acknowledgement of its existence. It must have been killing her to see it that way for so long.

“I would like you to stop by and listen to it sometime.”

Another sob came over the line ending with, “I would love that very much.”

There had not been a time in his life where he doubted his role in all of this. He just never knew the why until the very end. Today, he had done right.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Knowing Nothing Can Be Done

I’ve put in quite a few hours with the house, and several fixtures are installed as a result. My mother asked if she could see the progress thus far, which wasn’t a problem to me. After a few day’s time, she decided today would be perfect to stop by and view it with my father. Being a respectful host and dutiful son, I waited for any sign of them before I started the heavy work on the house… and waited… and waited…

“They probably needed a nap. They like those on a Sunday afternoon,” I rationalized. I know she hadn’t forgotten, as we spoke about this last night. There have been several times in my life where she’s simply forgotten what I was doing, as she was so wrapped up in her own business. Over and over I would be questioned about where was I going or what I was doing simply because she couldn’t remember and wouldn’t write it down. She also asks way too many questions, until her dialog is nothing but question marks. I find that a little much. It’s an inquisition at that point, not a conversation. Why would you ever do that to a person?

Finally, at the six o’clock hour, I called her cell phone with no answer. I’ve stopped leaving messages, as she never listens to them. She simply sees that I’ve called and calls me back to find out what I wanted. It has frequently ended in me regurgitating everything on the voice mail I left. So, I’ve stopped. 

Highly agitated, I went to work. I had house chores to do, as the remodeling had made the place very dirty. I was vacuuming with my gym trunks and no shirt, as I work up a sweat that drenches all my skin touches. After cleaning up the kitchen, laundry room, and part of the dining room, I spin around to see my mother at the back stoop. Startled, I angrily dropped the sweeper attachments and trudged upstairs to put on a shirt. No warning. Nothing. Dammit!

The visit was unpleasant, because I wasn’t happy and she was clueless about how I operate. Voicing any concerns initiates her defensive side, and I will be blamed for being absurd or mean or “on edge” or just plain wrong with what I have to say. In this case, it was simply an asinine request to call a person ahead of time and tell them when you were arriving. How foolish of me to think I would be informed of what time to stick around my house.

This got me thinking. We don’t know how to be a family. We don’t know how to be cohesive, and my family simply doesn’t know how to handle me as an adult. This is infuriating to no end as they tap dance around being a part of my life with no real work. When I say “real work” I mean remembering our interactions, remember my preferences, and otherwise interacting like adults do.

My mother would deny this flat out, but after tonight, she has demonstrated that her life uber alles, and her service to others is to satisfy her martyr complex. My father’s not a martyr, rather self-interested and prefers living in his own world rather than interact with the real world. My personality cannot have a deep, meaningful relationship with them as my desires will always play second fiddle. I need to see eye to eye with people. I have earned that.

I am metaphorically alone, and with them in a state of denial, there’s little that can be done. Acceptance is hard sometimes, but may be necessary in this situation. We can’t always get what we want, I suppose.

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The Honest Work

When someone uses the phrase “honest day’s work,” it’s meant as earning a living other than conducting unlawful activities. Most of these avenues were meant to carry burdens of sweat and toil to the common laborer. Fortunately for me, I’m not a stranger to such exercises and this is merely another evening bathed in saline. The family motto has always been “if you want it done, do it yourself.”

Image

There’s the last bit of varnish. It wasn’t removed with the chemical stripper and now must face the wrath of sandpaper.

For as battered as it was, the sander has put a nice smooth surface on the tops. I’ve not yet the opportunity to sand the legs as it’s currently drying from the varnish removal. Tomorrow will herald the testing of stain. I’m going to patch test a few different stains underneath the table top itself. That way I can choose what road to take with the finishing and no one will see it.

I’ve stared at the wood grain for a while, and began to wonder a few things. How old was the tree when it was cut down? How long did it stay in my grandfather’s garage before it was used? Was it growing around my mother’s childhood home or was it taken from another lot? It certainly wasn’t purchased, because my grandfather came back from World War II three years prior. He had little money to rebuild his tools let alone purchase pricey timber. I’ve noted several “Dutchmans” underneath the table top where he has moved the hinges for the leaves. In woodworking slang, a Dutchman is a wood patch to plug an area of damage. I never met him, as he died two years before I was born, but I can read his mind. This wood wasn’t something to waste.

Juglans nigra, or Black Walnut, is native to the eastern United States and used for a plethora of different products. The nutmeats are my favorite at Christmas, but almonds come in a close second. This was definitely an urban tree, as it has plenty of knots and imperfections in the hidden areas (i.e. underneath the leaves). That means it stood alone and had a lot of room to branch out (pun intended). Someone was probably getting rid of a tree, and he took the scraps.

I wonder if my grandfather would approve of my work? Would it be too little? Overdone? If anything, it’ll give me some experience if I ever need to do something like this again.

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Peanut Brittle Family

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and accordingly, there were several meditative posts on people’s fathers. I had to think long and hard if I wanted to post anything on the subject. On a life’s scale, it could be far worse. He could be absent, unavailable, incapacitated with drink or other drugs, in jail, physically abusive, deceased, but he is not. He can be very hard to handle at times, though. I was concerned yesterday evening would be such a case. My muscles were tight and on stand by for the typical family meltdown, but I put on my best happy face and tried to make the best of it.

We made it off a rocky week. My father thinks acting like an ass to upset me is wildly amusing. Maybe private-time me would only be irritated, but to be difficult during business hours is unacceptable. Dragging feet or pretending to drag feet and being obstinate is out of the question. Saying afterwards, “I’m only joking,” is not enough. In fact, I’ve never found apologies meaningful. It’s true they may be sincere and valuable to the speaker, but I don’t find meaning in them. If you would like to apologize, help me out.

Sunday I made it out with only having my meal ruined, and when compared to other times in my life, I’ll take what I can get. My family set out for Port Columbus Int’l (CMH) to pick up my sister. She’s 38, but takes to driving in larger cities like cats do to baths. Something I take pride in is being able to drive, fly, or otherwise commute on my own. Independence has been my bride for years, and I have loved her as tenderly as I ever could love a woman. It makes me grouchy when I get whiffs of fecklessness in my peers. In turn, I get very sore with myself if I find it in me.

Being the considerate, I drove most of the trip. Being it Father’s Day, we decided to have dinner at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus. As a gift, I paid for the four of us. I thought it better than a stupid gift card to a home improvement store. Maybe I was mistaken?

After the arrival at CMH, spirits were rather high. While we waited for the Frontier gorillas to mash the luggage a bit more, I was entertaining myself by riding up and down the escalators like a simpleton. My sister had her little escapade in Pennsylvania, and was being pleasant. My parents seemed happy. We tried to take our luck to the restaurant and ride the fumes out through the night.

Here’s where it started to unravel. With my mother a might peckish, she became irritable. The 45 minute wait was not well received by her, but I was firmly against going to something like Bucca Di Beppo.  We patiently waited, and I decided to anesthetize myself with a 22 oz. beer. Not only did it do the trick, it made me louder. I was told to keep it down more than once by my mother.

After seated, we headed for the dinner buffet. I generally dislike buffets for the clientele it attracts, but will always make an exception for this place. Filling a couple of plates with delightful food, such as bratwurst and German potato salad, I overhear the light squawking of my mother about two pans being empty. Tuning out the first-world problem I went to the red cabbage.

By the time I reached my table, I witnessed the tail end of a “discussion” between my mother and the server. It wasn’t an amiable discussion either. From what I gather, my mother said something about food not being available and assume the server said  it wasn’t her problem in a round about way. In truth, it wasn’t. Those trays are the problem of the line cooks in back. They are the ones to be nagged. She was less than impressed and entered her icy, withdrawn, silent treatment mode with the waitress. Things got ugly after the server left. When we were alone, she turned to me and said, “don’t you dare tip her.”

She couldn’t have struck me harder if she used a monkey wrench. What balls she had telling the person buying her dinner how to pay for a meal. I am her son, yes, but this damn near broke my heart. My willingness to eschew the small irritations of having a good meal for the family went disregarded. My parents are the type of people to stiff the help, if they got a bug up their ass. I am not. I am firmly not. My father chimed in with, “she’s not getting any money from me.” Does anyone truly pay attention in my family? I was… uh… I was picking up the tab for this, Dad.

We made more small talk. All the while, I began to plot. I plotted on how to get them out of the building in order to pay for the meal. The more I thought, the less I tasted my dinner. What a waste. I finally settled on trying to pay at the cash register. A few minutes passed, and I thought we were out in the clear.

My sister, in the stupidest move of the night, unexpectedly cut in with “I wonder at what point she realized she was screwed.” In a very, very hurt fury by now I kicked the leg of her chair and barked, “eat your food!” The usual heavy blanket of silence fell upon the table. A fuse was lit, and I waited for the explosion. My father started in with his usual old man bitching with, “this wasn’t a good idea.” Fuck youFuck all of you miserable assholes. My insides were torn apart. I wanted to be anywhere but there at that point.

Looking at my phone, I found out how much time had passed between our seating and our departure: 30 minutes. 30 minutes. That’s how much time I was given for a family dinner, on my dime, and with nothing but pissy attitudes with it. Everyone was so cross, I couldn’t finish my second beer. It had to be left behind to get these assholes on the road. Fortunately for me, I was feeling some of the beer and it didn’t hurt as much.

I got everyone out of the building to the best of my ability and found the server. With my speech a little on heavy side, I explained to the young waitress I didn’t care what was said, but it really pissed my mother off. It was also stated there was a healthy tip with my payment, because I don’t believe in stiffing people. Ever. Not being able to process English, the girl tried to tell me her side of the story. I ignored her. What part of “I don’t care what happened” do you not understand? Take the fucking grace, dipshit.

On the way home, I kept everything to myself. That’s my only recourse. Do not add fuel. Be courteous. Be brief. I wanted to escape in the worst way. Reflecting in a bar that night, the problem came to light. I’m not an adult in their eyes. I’m nothing but the small boy with the He-Man figures. I’m their little boy… to control, dismiss, and scold. I may never have an adult dinner with my parents for as long as they live, and that’s painful.

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