Letter to a jersey number.

Hey #15,       

   I am so happy your coach reached out to me to write a letter to you. It was fun to get to reminisce about Alexandria and my old jersey number.  Nothing made me happier than being a Valley Cub when I was a child. I remember sitting in the stands with my parents in a packed gym as our varsity basketball team ran up and down the courts. Everyone was either screaming madly at the ref or cheering at the top of their lungs with red faces. Orange and black  was everywhere. I don’t remember a conscious choice of wanting to play sports for Alexandria. I think it was always in my blood fueled by those first memories of going to basketball games.

    I wore the  number 9 for a few years before the number 15.  I picked it out when I started playing softball, and for whatever reason, I thought jersey number 9 was awesome. I wore it for softball, volleyball and basketball during middle school. It turned out that I was pretty good at all those sports, and in particular, volleyball. This became a blessing and a curse as I had to play up. First I was in fourth or fifth grade playing with seventh graders. Then I was in seventh grade playing with seniors. Once I had to move up to varsity volleyball I lost my jersey number. Someone already claimed number 9. I had to pick number 15. (Sorry my number and I didn’t have a strong beginning.)

    I didn’t really think much of jersey 15 at first. I just grabbed whatever number that was leftover, basically. As a seventh grader, I was more nervous about leaving my teammates/friends behind and  playing with all the older and definitely more worldly girls. So I didn’t realize that jersey 15 was going to be more than a number. But it did become part of me. I broke records in volleyball. I helped take our school to three state championships. I smashed several girls in the face with kills and some people believe that I did it on purpose and out of spite (I did not). I was MVP of many tournaments and would later go on to be All SEC and hold records at Auburn to this day. Not just Brooke. Brooke #15.

    Just as I played sports without much of a conscious choice. I became number 15, and I never regretted it. When I transitioned to play college level. My new coaches gave me the choice. I could choose from so many numbers. Endless possibilities!  I could even go back to number 9 after all these years. I mean nine was awesome, or I thought it was when I was eight years old. However, there was  no way I would even consider giving up number 15. And the coolest thing I learned later was my grandfather had always been number 15, even when he played football for one year at Auburn. What was more awesome than the number nine was following my grandfather’s path through high school then to Auburn. (Sorry if you are an Alabama fan!)

    Anyway, what I am trying to say is that you picked a strong number. And from what I’ve heard, the number couldn’t be worn by a better player! People say that you remind them of me. You play like me and we even share the same personality. Ha! So good luck with the rest of the season! Cry if it is frustrating because sometimes it breaks your heart. Laugh a lot and have fun because you will never find a better group of girls than your high school teammates. Use your ability to play in college  if you can because it will be the greatest experience of you life. I hope you heal from your injury I heard about,  and just kick a lot of butt!

 

Thanks for sharing number 15 with me,

Brooke McCarley

Bathrooms That Make You Rethink Your Life Choices

When you’ve fallen out of a practice that was equal parts rewarding and frustrating, it’s really hard to find the resolve to baby-step back to it. Oh. And the excuses-you have to push them out of you face like gnats in the summer with a wave of your hand. Excuses are fun. Excuses are easy. But eventually you are going to wake up from a excuse-driven comma and wonder what happened all those years ago. What I'm saying is that I’ve haven’t wrote anything in a long time to be seen by others. I try. At least I tell myself and other people I try.

There’s two or three half-written personal stories from 2015. I doubt they should total 5000 words. I’m averaging a word a day if I did math and that was the right calculations. They're not serious stories. I don’t want  them to be serious. I don’t take life seriously enough to write about myself with that gravity. But during that season, I was too far in it to see objectively to write about it. Now I can breath sweet sighs of relief that it’s over, but I buried it too far so not to deal. To finish writing those pieces is to pull them out, which to me seems similar to pulling out my own teeth.  Sometimes it’s easier to just watch five episodes of  Jessica Jones, Gilmore Girls, Bob’s Burgers or The IT Crowd for the third time. Whatever it is so I don’t have to write.

So far this is the worst intro that broke away from the title.

But I’m so far out of practice that I get to have the ability of not caring.

 

“Brooke, I want you to write something titled, ‘Bathrooms That Make You Rethink Your Life Choices.’”

This is not just a title. This is a push to write again. This is a creative writing exercise similar to ones we received in grade school. Here’s your creative prompt, class, and don’t forget we are going to read them out loud when you're done. Interestingly, none of them are about cocaine or having sex though I did walk onto a family member having sex in a bathroom of a dive bar. Lock the door if there are locks to lock.

 

The first one

The Nick

-Sometime after midnight, a man that could be an ordinary man came up with an extraordinary idea, which was to  throw his empty beer bottle into the men’s toilet rather than a trash can. Turns out, it was a great idea according to several other intoxicated people. Whoever you were, right on.

Other guys threw their beer bottles and cans in the toilet so they piled up to the seat. Brilliant work. But with brilliant work comes flaws that have to be worked out to make idea not just brilliant but  perfect. No one took into account that somebody might have to use this toilet, and they might have to use this toilet for something other than piss. Say like somebody, a friend even, might have drank too many beers and whiskey that sat heavily on top of a diet of cheeseburgers and french fries.

I used the women’s bathroom with its boring bottleless, canless toilet. I could hear the guys gathering around the men’s bathroom in awe and in disgust. Some poor soul had diarrhea, and there was no where to go with it but on top of all those bottles and cans piled up in the toilet.

I’ve never seen anything like it. Regardless, I needed another drink so I grabbed one from the bar and headed back to the porch, where I was met my friend: impatient and worried and...ashamed?

“Brooke, I’ve got to tell you something. Oh my god.”

And I knew then exactly who had to use the bathroom with an upset stomach on all those bottles and cans.

The saddest thing about this was that 20 minutes later everything has been cleaned. The bottles, the cans, and all that shit was gone, and the porcelain sparkled under the late night Nick lights.

 

 

 

Random Monday. Random crap in my head.

There was a lot of energy buzzing around without focus. Chaos. I wondered if the act of writing would harness that energy in. Or would it be better to  take that energy and drive down to Mobile so I can fish and be at the beach for a day. Is that why my energy was in chaos, buzzing around my head? Because it simply didn’t want to be here, in Birmingham, in my house, in this room? What was that energy anyway? I think it was just another word for too many drinks the night before with my oldest buddies. It was a quick jaunt to Atlanta and back that reminded me that I like to go and simply not be here for too long.

2015 was hard.

I haven’t got to travel since 2014.

2016 was trying to dig out of the hole of 2015.

No matter what happens around me, 2017 seems promising.

I want to write about Suzy, my wild dog whose family was all  euthanized so I had no choice but to take her home. I want to write about the concept of being pretty and trying to find that balance with the real self esteem and not what you believe it to be. How high is high and what is too low? And how the hell  do I decipher either when I work with 50-60 dogs who  leave me bruised, muddy and sometimes  covered in piss and the occasional shit? And should I care if I’m covered in dirt and bruises by the end of the day when I can feel my body get stronger, my pants fit looser and I workout less but lose more weight?

 Suzy. Being legit.

Suzy. Being legit.

I had  four days off. And I wondered why I was sitting at home?

I had only been there for an hour, but it was still too long.

I want to write about the guide dogs in Puerto Rico that guided us past the false openings of caves until we found  the right cave. We were told that the stray dogs are natural guide dogs in Puerto Rico, but how can I find any information on this? I’ve tried. All I have is a foggy memory of somebody telling us while we were there. And, of course, the actual guide dog.

 Our little guide dog that adopted us and took us here, a giant hole on the side of a mountain. 

Our little guide dog that adopted us and took us here, a giant hole on the side of a mountain. 

People spend way too much time writing about the wrong things. They take their energy and waste it all on people that do not care. Why? Their side of the story. Is it even right? Is there subtle hints that nobody really knows what's going on?

Not that writing about having dog shit on your pants is the right thing.

I went to Mobile. I caught no fish.

-This is the point in the post that I write about the birthday card my mother gave me for my birthday.

I was home visiting a few days before my birthday.

My mother asked  if I would like for her to mail me the birthday card or just give it to me now. So I told her to just go ahead and give me the card. I really didn’t care.

Mom: Well hand me that box on the bookshelf.

I did. It was a shoe box full of greeting cards for all occasions.

Mom: I  always buy cards when I go to town so I have a collection to choose from. I was going to pick one of these two for you. Read this one.

I did.

Mom: OK now read this one.

I read the second birthday card.

Mom: Which one did you like the best?

Me: I guess the second one.

Mom: Really? I thought you would like the first one the best. But I guess I can see how you like the other one.

Silence.

Mom: Well I guess since you’ve seen the card I can reuse it...put it back in the box.

And the fact that I didn't actually get a birthday card rather just borrowed one for a second  is the best analogy I can give anyone as to my luck in 2015. The less that makes sense the better.

 

-This is the part of the post that I write about a strange dream that has stuck with me for 15 years.

There was nothing sexual in this dream. It was just pure, white, radiating love. I was so in love with this guy that it didn’t matter that he was in the mob. He wasn’t just any guy in the mob. He was the worst guy in the mob. He was the one that killed everybody. Even those kills that were too painful for anyone else to do. He was a ruthless hitman. But I didn’t care. Love was love. Until one day he told me he couldn’t be with me. And that love? That same intense, radiating love just reversed itself into the most misery I could feel. Until he told me why he couldn’t be with me.

He explained that he used to my dog named Loki. And it was too hard to be with me since I’ve seen him shit in the yard and on walks so many times before.

And I was like, “oh yeah. I get that.” And I, too, knew I could never be with him as well.

 Loki!

Loki!

 



 


 

Old stuff

Rosy retrospection.

The act of remembering the past as having been better than it really was.

Yet that one boyfriend might have been the  one that got away.

To this day most of my online passwords are connected to him. The rest are in spite of another. That could all be due to timing. Theses were days  we were all young including AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, Myspace and Friendster.

So sure, I will use his name in reference to a password.  We had the same taste and ambition. We were probably going to get married and be together forever. But we got lazy.

We always do.

Our friends told us they were devastated when they heard we broke up. We took away this thing that was significant and stable.

Our relationship was like a really nice coffee table.

 

"We went to the bar and drank in honor of you guys."

 

I imagine them sitting quietly and solemnly downing their  whiskey and cokes. Perhaps they were drinking Budweiser since they were a $1.50 at our regular bar.

We meant something.

But to be honest, all my friends are heavy drinkers, and any reason will suffice to a give a nightly drink a purpose.

 

A few things about me: Cigarettes, car washes, volleyball and creativity

I’ve played a lot of volleyball. I’ve played a lot of shows. I would play volleyball sometimes in front of hundreds of people. I would play in front of  cameras for major sports channels. I would play this volleyball in the shortest, tightest spandex you can imagine. Sometimes I do play music for maybe a hundred people. That might have happen twice. One time we played to three people. On average, let’s say we play in front of 35 people.  I will always be more nervous playing in front of those 35 people fully dress rather than then all the people that can almost fill up a 12,000-seat coliseum as I wear the shortest, tightest spandex.

There is anxiety about creating and sharing this creativity with others. It will always be a tougher struggle than  simply learning a skill and performing that skill, even if you can perform that skill better than the average person.

 

Another thing that gives me great anxiety is going to a full-service car wash. Because of this apprehension, I have only been to a full-service car wash twice. The first time was 18 years ago, and I went with a friend. She was my comfort and my guide. The next time was in 2015. I had just gotten a new job at a non-profit, and they were having their yearly fundraiser. This fundraiser is a free for all for the wealthiest and most well-kept socialites in the city, and they just throw  their money all over the charity. So I thought to myself that if I could go to this event then I could get over my trivial fear of full-service car washes and polish my vehicle up a notch. My boyfriend at the time convinced me to go to the place he uses weekly or so. He said it would be around $12 and take, like, 15 minutes.

The following happened:

I got there around 3:45 and there were a few people  waiting for their cars to be finished. A woman who had to be the supervisor or owner was  barking commands at everybody. And not like a friendly bark. This was the bark of a beast that wanted you to know she was in charged, and she doesn’t take anybody’s shit. She barked a command to a young guy who then proceeded to listen to those barks and take my car to start cleaning the inside of it. I went outside to sit in the sun and read my book. After a while, I realized I was reading too many chapters. Then I looked around and nobody else was there except for me and a few employees. Then I heard the woman barking at the remaining workers, and those workers were very angry because it was closing time and they didn’t seem to want to stay and finish my car. So this was a fight and nobody won really. The employees just left. The woman who runs the business just looked at me and said they didn’t have time  to wash my car. Because it took the first guy so long to clean the inside of my car. And the total for that alone was $45. So he basically shampooed and scrubbed the inside of my car for an hour and a half. And all the guys that clean the outside of the car were gone. I paid $45 because everybody just seemed so angry, and I was dizzy and feeling kinda like I was sitting 10 feet outside of my body.

I will never try to conquer that fear again. I’m gonna keep it buried in my head and my heart forever.

I will say I did try to visit the GooGoo Express Wash, and made it into the parking lot before I turned around and got the hell out of there. It was almost like I was teasing myself. That was about seven months ago.

 

There are so many methods to quitting cigarettes, but the only one that every worked for me was pure spite towards an ex. I never wanted to see him again, and I was never smoking again to show him. And I swear that got me to about two years into an  eight-year stretch of being nicotine free. But grudges are hard to maintain. And cheat cigarettes are so much fun in the moment. The day after those moments  my lungs wonder what the hell I’ve done while I whisper empty promises that I will never do that to them again. Yet  I know if he wanted to sit down and smoke a whole pack for the hell of it today then I would do it in a heartbeat.

 

Blog, psychedelics, bear, birds, and maybe a review of my friend's poem.

If you still yourself enough to have a deep understanding of your awareness and  its relations to the outside world then you might be able to tune in to the silence in nature. It’s the silence that blankets the area when a predator is around. I’m not sure what your specific path is to this animalistic awareness. Mine involved some psychedelics of different recreational etiquette and intensities. Mine involved being crushed in relationships and having to learn to meditate just so I stayed sane. Mine is continually going through the wringer and always trying to pull myself up and never forgetting to breathe.

Remember when everything sucks—and you feel like you are going to die due to this anxiety, or this depression, or this “what if,” or this grief, or this heartbreak—you can always go out the door and just walk and breathe. And find your core. I’m not talking about  New Age Shit here. I’m just talking about surviving this world without getting too damaged in the process.

 

Back to understanding nature:

The awareness is very similar to the split second after seeing a snake and knowing that it is either venomous or non-venomous due to the chill you feel in your spine. No chill after the initial gasp- it is probably is a dandy king snake. Sharp chill that vibrates through your body- maybe that’s a copperhead. Science.

One time on a hiking trip, I remember feeling the silence of the forest and everything just seemed too much. I thought to myself and maybe said it out loud that there was just too much nature right now. About minute later we saw a black bear about 20 yards away. That term “too much nature” is a layman's term for sure. But that’s all I got.

The other day I took this silence in nature for granted. I went to my parent's home to take care of some errands. They live surrounded by acres of green, forest, foothills and creeks. I usually love these trips, but today I was feeling pretty beat down from the night before: not enough sleep. My band opened for Dakiju the night before so there you go.

However, as soon as I got there, I found my dad’s binoculars and immediately jumped at the chance for a subtle dream to come to fruition: old man hobby. Bird watcher.

 

I sat in the yard with my fuzzy headache and looked out into the distance to the foothills. There was a hawk out, and it was calling. I was determined to watch it from an inch away. I wanted to see the details of his feathers. Does he squint or wink? Will we make weird eye contact? Unfortunately I never saw him. The only thing of sound and movement was his call and me scanning the tree lines in search. Then he was gone. And I knew this not because he made his exit known. I knew this because every bird that had been silent and invisible cheered his departure. Not quite a cacophony of song. But something loud and joyous happen with all of the birds. Until then, I didn’t even know they were there. They were in that silence. At the time, I didn’t appreciate that silence like I had in the past. I almost forgot about it entirely until my friend read his poem on stage a few days later. And it all came crashing back. Jolted. Love. Pure awesomeness. And later when other poets were on the stage talking about their naturalistic bird watching ways, I wanted to jump up and scream. I, too, love watching birds!

 

Sotto Voce

By Matthew Layne

A soft crick. A branch snaps,
and a leaf crunches. I freeze
on the trail and my ego wild
birds away in the grey morning light.
My pupils dilate, and my mouth
is a desert, as fear’s cold nose
snuffles the thorny branches
of my heart. I long to run,
but I’m rooted here, as 4th grade
and food chains play through my mind,
along with my friend’s story
of a black bear at sunset,
and other talk of pets disappearing,
lost to wild dogs or coyotes,
even rumors of a mountain lion.
Tooth, fur, claw, bite, and I
with nothing but a stick
and a flood of adrenaline.
The woods are silent, and I turn
to go, when, with flurr of leaf and twig,
a speckled doe steps out,
a spindly-legged truth,
crossing the trail. Dark eyes on me,
she disappears behind the forest quilt.
Only then, unseen in the trees, do
the birds resume their twittering laughter.


 

Playing it loose with my thoughts.

  Holy Hell. It has been awhile since I wrote. On January 2nd, I started a new folder on my google drive titled Blog. I was going to try to maintain writing at least twice a week. That did not go according to plan. At all. As this entry is the second one to make it to the folder. The first being January 2nd, and it is featured immediately below this entry. And, of course, this one. September 21.  That is no way close to twice a week unless you are God and time moves differently for you.  (Edit: after logging in to my account I realized there was one from March that I've forgotten about.)

  This is definitely the first time I wrote anything since my break up.

 I’ve wanted to write, but the idea of sitting at my computer and  writing  seemed exhausting. It wore me out before I could even sit down at my computer. I’m amazed I’m doing it right now to be honest.

Sometimes I wonder if my head becomes completely full of random and cluttered thoughts when I don’t write. And everyday that goes by, I have more pressure from within my mind until it just can’t contain anymore thoughts. Then what happens? Does it just implode? Explode? Does your mind just refuse to allow new thoughts in, acting as a bouncer at a bar?

“Not getting in this time, thought. We’re at max capacity.”

    If that is so...if you exist with a bar for a mind that is at max capacity with thought, how are perceived by others that lack the power to know this? Nervous? Flaky? Twitchy? Scattered? If all this is true--which I’m not saying it is--then how do you release the tension in your brain? Will  writing the thoughts out act as an  opening that pops? And  all those janky thoughts come tumbling out and allow you more time to appear less twitchy?

I’m not sad about the breakup.

I just wish life would move forward. Adulting is hard and sometimes it’s easier to not deal. Yes, ex, this is a beautiful arrangement. Sleeping in my bedroom that will not be yours after you move out. Sleeping on my bed as you are getting text from a new girl. And I sleep on the couch, falling to sleep to the show New Girl. (To be fair, I usually have the bed this was just one night)

I hope she can handle you. You’re  hot. You’re kind. Sometimes you are funny. So those things will go in your favor for awhile until the ugliness starts to appear.

Not that your ugliness was any better or worse than mine or anybody’s for that matter. It’s just that our ugliness were growing tired of each other.

If I were you I would not want to be here every night. If I were you I would be at Nanafunks dancing, grinding away on some girl. I know how much you like to dance. It is equal to how much I hate dancing. So I stripped that enjoyment from you, didn’t I? Go! Be free! Dance, dance, dance! Is Nanafunks one word or two? Don’t tell me. I do not care enough to know.

Therefore I will not even google it.

And if you’re out grinding then what am I going to do?

I am going to go to band practice and the next day remember why I don’t need to go out after band practice. My head aches. I drink as if I hadn’t  drank for a few hours already. Like those beers at band practice didn’t count. They do. They always do. Band beers are never magical.

I worry about being alone...FOREVER! I’m either great or terrible at being single. I’m not sure but I do know I grow very comfortable in my solitude. God, that sounds dreary. In my singleness. I grow very comfortable in my singleness as if it were a blanket that I wrap myself in and then binge watch something really cheesy. I’m not talking about Stranger Things. I’m going with something on the lines of Gilmore Girls.

One time I canceled a date last minute because I was having a way better time watching Bored To Death. Disclaimer: this show is not considered cheesy. I’m playing it loose with my thought process here so it’s just happens to sit right beneath Gilmore Girls. These shows are in two different categories. Though some will disagree.

I wish Jason Schwartzman was taller. I guess I wish a lot of guys were a little taller. This is an improvement on my self-esteem and perception of life. I used to wish I was shorter. Not anymore. Catch up, dudes.

 I think I was truly single for seven years before my last real relationship. If that happens this time I’m going to be almost forty fucking five years old. Imagine that. Don’t. I’m not. I guess what I’m wondering more than anything after this last three-year relationship stint  is if  it ever works out? Or does that question not even matter anymore?

 

Look! A picture!

 

 

Who am I to be too anxious to sleep

I woke up an hour early for work. Anxiety. I wondered how my fourth day would go at my new job this Monday morning. I wondered about the job that I could have taken the same week I  was offered this job. It was a job  that I wanted to take and that I was going to take until these guys called and scooped me up into their cubicles and took me far away from puppies, dogs, cats and work that I truly enjoy.

Regret.

Anxiety.

Those are the two that keep me awake when I could shut my eyes and still have 55, 47, 38 minutes left to sleep before my 6:30 a.m. alarm. It’s monday. Of course I have anxiety about going back to work, especially to a new job.

I get stop at every red light on my way to work. Some red lights I could make. But I was behind some sort of oversized pick-up truck that couldn’t go fast enough to catch the next green light. Then I reached the final nail in the highway coffin: the traffic was at a complete stop for some unknown reason.

Come on, I’m tired, I could be late if I knew with all certainty if I’m suppose to be at work at 7:30 or 8. (I don’t really know.)

There’s cars stopped on both sides of the road. There’s three to five police SUV’s  pulled over to the side. There’s a bus stopped that’s  a few cars in front of me with it’s red flashing lights and swinging stop sign.  At first, I thought they were all there to make sure the kids got on the bus OK. Silly me.

I assumed that because there’s a trailer park to the right, and I’ve been stopped by the buses here before, where it seems like every kid in the school is on THAT bus and they all get off here  in one big gust. The kids that storm off are olive skin with black hair. All ages all sizes. I’ve heard some call this trailer park Little Mexico.

And here I am, stopped with all these other folks: behind the school bus and possibly late. Great. But why is there so many police vehicles?

And then I see him. In the middle of the road. He is wearing his badge and a short sleeve shirt on this cold spring day. And he forces cars with a wave to the paved area where the rest of the police wait in their big, black SUV’s. He’s  like some sort of white-haired jedi, waving his tan arms that remain untouched by the cold.

All it took was a look of unpreparedness on a Monday morning at 7:30 for The Force to, well, force you into the parking lot of scary SUV's. My heart raced. I, too, was not prepared. I had my ID. But, but, fuck! I don’t think I have my up-to-date insurance card. And I said I would never do that again after I was in that wreck three years ago and didn't have an up-to-date copy then. 

But the thing is, it didn’t matter. After the Latino mom and her kids were Jedi forced into  the cop parking lot, it was my turn. And before I could even begin to scramble and panic, he laughed. Like one of those laughs that I was suppose to just understand the joke and smile back.

“Get on outta here.”

Of course I can. Of course I can get on out of here without you even looking at my ID, or tag number that I had to find through a wad of paper in my dashboard. I’m white.

I can feel the privilege oozing off me.

I feel that it is glistening like that dumb Bush song so all the Latinos can see it as I drive on by. Did they notice he didn’t even look at my ID? Did they see him smile at me like we shared a joke? I think I need a shower. I saw a car in oncoming traffic. He was turning around to find another way around the roadblock. I had to pass him before he could complete his round about. His face was determined. Maybe worried. He had olive skin. Black hair.

I’m not really sharing this to start a  debate. I’m just writing it because who am I to stay awake and too anxious to sleep?

 

North Alabama Swamp

    When I was a kid, my cousin and I went for a long hike after a Sunday family lunch. We carried Skittles to throw down and mark our path since we were exploring new territory.  This was my idea since I was the oldest and technically the wisest. I like to believe that I am an outside-the-box thinker. But those types of thinkers, myself included, sometimes dismiss the petty details that rigid thinkers possess. For us, it was the fact that we had seven dogs with us. One of the dogs ate the Skittles as we dropped the rainbow pellets on the trail. It had to be one of the dogs behind us since we never noticed. It wouldn’t have been Missy. She was always in the front. Maybe Bird Dog or Curly. Who knows?

 This is not the trail. This is the Irondale Sloss Trail. I just  used it because I like graphics.  I wished this was the trail becasue we wouldn't have gotten lost on this tail. 

This is not the trail. This is the Irondale Sloss Trail. I just  used it because I like graphics.  I wished this was the trail becasue we wouldn't have gotten lost on this tail. 

   

 

 

 The only thing that mattered was that we had planned to go farther than we’ve ever gone before. So we had already been exploring for hours by the time we were ready to turn around and follow the Skittle path back home. We were probably lost the whole time, but  we didn't realized it until we saw that the Skittles were gone.  And that sun started to look real sleepy in the late afternoon sky. He started to droop a bit, wanting to say farewell for the day. Fuck.

    We went left. We went right. We found beautiful streams weathered deep into the ground. But we could never find any straight path to our grandmother’s house. The sun became droopier.

     Then we found a swamp. Well it was a North Alabama Swamp. No gators, and probably no snakes since it was Fall. Just a bit of lowland that could never dry out due to excessive rains. We didn’t know what else to do, and it was so vast that we couldn’t even see a way around it. We could have turned around and gone back, but we’ve been turning around so many times that the very idea of not going forward broke our  hearts. So we started onward, through the mud.                                         

     Each step our feet sank into the ground and covered our shoes; the mud reached up towards our shins. It only took my cousin a few more steps in the mud before he snapped. He sat down on a stump. Here, he sobbed and sobbed and screamed, “I can’t do it, I can’t go on, I can’t do it anymore.”

      So I did what any fearless 10-year-old leader would do: I made my way back to him, gathered him in my arms and started to make the feat across the mud, sinking farther into the ground with the extra weight.  

      It was my most epic moment. I might as well have been  Rambo, carrying some beautiful woman through the jungle or however those movies go.

                                                                                      Right before Rambo carries her through the jungle.

                                                                                     Right before Rambo carries her through the jungle.

 

 

 

     This epic scene lasted a few minutes as I trudged onward, and his sobs quieten a bit. Then, after a few minutes, we heard what sounded like a car creeping slowly up a road. It took a second for all my thoughts to align  and understand that it was, indeed,  a car creeping up a road.

     You see, when you live 30 or so minutes from any town and you're surrounded by lots of land, a great deal of time can go by before someone drives down a lonely country road. That’s why they are so lonely. What I realized is that we somehow ended up  about 20 or 30 feet from the road that was about half a mile from my grandmother’s house and where we started our hike hours ago. It was on the other side of some  pine trees so we couldn’t see it. From where we were, it just looked like more swamp. The car horn was blaring, and I put my cousin down so we could trudged through the mud faster and meet the car. We knew it was our family driving slowly and honking the horn. That seemed like a possible  strategy our family would attempt when their children had managed be missing for hours.

 

    There were two very important lessons I realized about  this  memory today. One lesson is that I don’t like to give up. I don’t even see it as an option almost anytime a moment of despair falls upon my shoulders. There is only one time I can remember feeling absolute defeat, and it was this past year when a dog tried to attack my three dogs. It was just a tangled mess of dogs and leashes and bites that once I was jerked to the ground, I thought, “Well OK. There’s nothing more I can.”

 

-I need to sidenote here. I’m not talking about jobs and work because I have quit jobs: more so this year than any other year of my adult life.

-Another sidenote: Maybe quitting and giving up can mean different things sometimes.  

The other lesson I learned is that I will carry anybody through a North Alabama Swamp if they need me to without thinking for one second how hard it will be for me. And I hope this act of strength and kindness goes to other situations throughout our lives. However, I don’t think I can help you if you find yourself in the middle of a dog fight with four dogs. So avoid those if you’re my friend.

I think my New Year's resolutions are in these words. At least,  I hope they are.

 

 

 

Here's a Blog About Walking

Not Running

When you work at a humane society,  animal control center  or a rescue place, you get sucked into a bubble. I did. The bubble  allows you to be surrounded by co-workers that have multiple pets, therefore allowing you to rationalize bringing home more pets. Suzy became our third pet when I brought her home from doggie jail. None of my (then) co-workers batted an eye. Why would they? Some already had three dogs plus 12 cats. Some had two dogs but could be fostering three dogs and a pig at any given moment. Pits? Give them to that guy over there. I think he already has eight. 

I told my friends that live outside this bubble, and I was always met with skeptical eyes.

“Another!”

A third!”

For the most part this didn’t bother me. I liked living in this particular bubble even if the animal control  job didn’t work out. And I’ll be OK as long as I don’t jump into the dog-hoarder bubble. However,  one thing that I missed was being able to run with my dogs. With two dogs, I could soar—lightly trot—through Avondale. Walking three dogs was like trying to juggle a shark, a miniature boulder and cotton candy. Running was out of the question, until I brought home the couplet.

The couplet attaches to the collar of two dogs and then the leash. Therefore, you only have to use one leash with two dogs. I thought it could work. I thought I should at least try it.

 Suzy and Wyatt modeling the couplet. Suzy also modeling an eye booger.

Suzy and Wyatt modeling the couplet. Suzy also modeling an eye booger.

It was magical. We made it downstairs, out the door and to the sidewalk. We took off running, and the whole time I was in  ecstatic disbelief. Oh my god! We’re running! We’re running.

I looked down at Wyatt, and he was smiling and galloping. He looked at me, and I swear he said, “we’re running! We’re running!”

And we ran in that runner’s euphoria bliss  for a solid four seconds. That was how long it took to get to my neighbor’s yard, where his dog was waiting behind a bush to ambush us. And ambush she did. Since this dog hates other dogs, I pretty much offered up all three of mine for some sort of doggie-hate buffet.

First she went for Wyatt. Too schnauzery. Then Suzy. Too goofy and clumsy. Finally, the real fight was with Fox. Due to the couplet and leashes, everyone else involved had no choice but to join the doggie pile up causing a tangled mess. One second I was trying to separate them. The next second,  I was rolling around on the ground, not sure how I got there.

This all lasted a whole three to seven seconds before the neighbors across the street came over to help me—well—get up and then separate the dogs.  

I write about this because I think about it almost every day. I think about it, and I laugh because I then compare this incident to  Mark from Peep Show when he was a natural jogger for a few seconds. I kinda think Wyatt and I were the natural joggers in the scenario. 

 

Not Carried

My mother and I were trying to walk around the  flooded area of our hometown: Read's Mill. It's not a town. It's just a community, where a lot of my cousins live.  It was after some flash floods due to a hurricane-inspired, Alabama storm. Naturally things were kind of chaotic, and no one had power.   We weren't able to use the bridge so our only way to get to my grandmother's house to check on her was to cut a path around the water.  We went over the foothills that are between our houses. We used some trails we've been cutting our whole life. 

As we started our trek around the water, we saw a man that was walking through the more shallow areas of the water. He was cutting a straight line for us. Puzzled, we waited for him to waddle, balance and stumble through the moving water. When he got close enough, he yelled out, "do ya'll want me to carry you over?" 

We yelled back that we didn't need help. Naturally he couldn't hear us due to the rushing water around him. He finally made it all the way to us. Where we stood face to face with him-or face to boob. I think this guy had to be 5'4, which if fine. However I doubt he was going to be able to carry my six-foot mom through the rushing water and then come back and carry my 6-foot-1-inch frame. If anything, we should have offered to carry him. 


Otto. A story about a stolen dog.

The thought floated down and lodged itself securely into my brain. The thought was so subtle in its approached that I didn’t recognize it for the revelation that it was. But it was a revelation, and it was strong enough to change my life or at least my daily routine for years to come.

At work the next day I declared my revelation to my work spouse, Mary.

“Mary,” I declared, “I’m ready to get a dog.”

This declaration was more than seven years ago, but I imagine that I stood strong and tall with my arms on my hips like She-Ra.

I knew Mary would steer me in the right direction as far as the next step in acquiring a dog. She is the one that I would go to when I needed advice about anything: from how to deal with an angry patron to getting out of bed for work with a broken heart. If I saw a cute guy that might have a girlfriend, she would whisper, “I don’t see a ring on his finger.” In the very next breath, she would gushingly read a picture book to a three year old, who stared up at Mary like she was Ms. Claus or even Santa himself.

Mary was a loving and single mother to five children and a loving grandmother to two granddaughters, but she also acted, possibly dated and looked twenty years younger than her 65 years of age. So I knew Mary would give me strong motherly advice but with a twist. Her advice was like a rope bridge in a jungle. You don’t want to trust it, but you don’t really have any other choice if you want to get out of the jungle alive. Plus the adventure would be fun as hell anyway.

She murmured quietly, out of the corner of her mouth as if she was about to offer me cocaine. “Well if you want a dog, then I have just the dog for you.”

Like a confused and innocent kid that was being offered cocaine for the first time I asked, “uh, do you know someone trying to find a home for a dog?”

She did. It was her daughter’s family. They recently had a newborn baby, and the family was gradually becoming frazzled due to the needs and attention of the newborn combined with a seven-year-old and a pure bred boxer that was just as needy as the two daughters.

In my mind, I thought I would be adopting a mix breed, a scruffy long-legged beast that had just enough German Shepard or Husky in his genes to look like a gnarled-up wolf dog. Otto was not that dog.

As I said, he was a pure-bred boxer. He must have come from strict breeders that only raise the strongest, the biggest and the purest pedigrees. He stood taller and wider than most boxers I’ve seen. His muscles rippled under his glossy short haired coat as if he was a tiny horse with a smashed-in face that resembled Homer Simpson.

We went on long walks together and tackled threatening chairs, vacuums or other oddities on the sidewalk. We ran through the parks with other friends and their dogs. We played games of tug-and-war. He always greeted me with his kidney bean dance, which is when a dog wiggles his back side and head at the same time, and both almost meet in the middle. This results into the dog resembling the shape of a kidney bean and can also look like a stripper if the stripper had four legs and only one butt-gyrating dance move.

The only problem I had with acquiring Otto was that my landlord didn't allow dogs. I strategized that a friend could keep Otto if the landlord had to visit the apartment to fix anything. However, he contracted some construction workers to remodel the complex, and his workers or the landlord was always around. Many times if they were outside the back area of the apartment, I would sneak out the front door to take Otto for a walk. Sometimes I remember being surrounded and hiding with Otto under the window, waiting for an opportunity to sneak outside without being seen. We were held captive within my apartment, and our captors carried on nailing siding as if we were not even there.

I knew this wasn't ideal, but it was doable. However it was the act of sneaking around and the guilt from lying that planted the seed in my mind. Now that seed just needed some water and sunshine in the guise of my parents, who lived an hour outside of Birmingham. My dog-loving parents fell for Otto’s wiggly butt and big brown eyes.

They were subtle at first with their suggestions.

“Why don’t you just leave Otto here for the week?”

When the subtlety wasn’t working, they became more demanding and even manipulative.

“Come on. Just leave him. You know he wants to be a country dog. He doesn’t want to be locked in that apartment all day.”

They attacked when my defense was weak.

“You don’t have a steady job. You have two jobs, and you are all over the place. You barely can afford it. You don’t have time to take care of a dog.”

Then they attacked using their strongest weapon: guilt.

“How can you do that to that dog? Leaving him in that apartment for hours all alone. A dog shouldn't live like that when they can live out here and run around.”

I finally faltered. I petted Otto on the head and swore that I would be back next weekend to pick him up. I treated this as a vacation for both of us. Yet my dad was already moving an old recliner into the living-room so Otto could sit beside him. It was the fact that Otto was too good for the floor or even a dog bed that I knew I might never get him back.

For the first two years I tried to take him back repeatedly. But to do that would mean to defy my parent’s even if he was technically mine. Don’t get me wrong; I spent the majority of my life defying my parents as a child, teen and hell, even as an adult. I would get close to bringing Otto back to Birmingham even with my parents firmly saying no and blocking the front door. I would have him out the door and in my car. Then something in my gut would just force me to give up and let my parents keep him. I mean they did give him a recliner.

Otto was loyal to both my dad and me in the beginning. Yes, I betrayed him, but on a typical visit, he sat on his haunches and alternated woeful stares at my dad and me. Almost like if he looked at one of us too long then he would betrayed the other. His loyalty is obvious every time one of my parents get sick. It is obvious the rare times I’ve been at their house with an illness or surgery due to bicycles and bad luck. His usual playful and desperate need to go outside and run dissipates into a calm energy as he sits by the side of whoever was less than whole. He performs like an utmost guard dog and he is guarding you with all of his focus until you find your well-being.

It’s that loyalty that helped mend my emotionally-busted self when a boy I dated tried to cheat on me. And maybe he was successful with other girls. Lord knows I suspected as much. This one girl and I had too many mutual friends, and so the truth finally made it to me. The boy was my boyfriend and best friend by default. One night that involved too much wine and steamy attraction led into a yearlong, emotionally-charged and emotionally-abusive relationship. So it wasn’t just a boyfriend and his lies that spun out and away from me. It was the act of my best friend betraying me as well. A best friend that I shouldn’t have had anyway, because he was mean, controlling and abusive. I was devastated. As I said, I was emotionally busted.

I couldn’t go out to bars or shows to escape how sad I was. Actually, trying to socialize at all introduced me to social anxiety for the first time in my life. Friends couldn’t help, and I couldn’t tell them how busted I was even if they could help. Birmingham wasn’t good to me. So I left every chance I could. I drove the hour down the interstate and then thirty minutes on two lane roads where I was usually stuck behind an elderly couple in a Buick going five miles under the speed limit. I spent time with my grandmother. I slept on a bed in a room that was never mine. My parents built the house after I went to college so my bedroom was decorated in my mother’s best memory of me. You know, preteens and younger.

It didn’t matter. When I’m depressed, the world becomes heavy as if it is closing in on me, and it forces my eyelids closed, my thoughts to fade and for sleep to become my only function. So the teddy bears pictures from my youth didn’t bother me in my pretend bedroom. I drifted between sleep and consciousness while Otto sat on his haunches with his head on the bed watching me for hours and even days. I woke up at different times through the day and saw him watching and waiting for me. I would pet his head and smile. I would try to hold on to that smile and let that smile be the only sliver of happiness that I could find at the time. Otto watching over me became a foundation that helped me get to out of my negative, depressive thoughts that were drowning me. He wasn’t a Baywatch lifeguard, but he might have been the lighthouse in the distance. Besides, there can only be one David Hasselhoff.

Otto is getting old. He is not the young pup that whines desperately to go outside and play all hours of the night. Vacuums don’t scare him like they used to. You can’t see his muscles ripple under his coat because his coat is too thick as it protects a few extra layers of fat. Also his brown coat lacks the shine from his youth. However, he can still do a mean kidney bean dance when he sees me. And he still guards over anyone he loves until they are whole again.

Our family Christmas picture, where Otto is in the center front, and I am no where to be seen. 

First Blog of 2015: Library, people dogs and jobs.

I took the month off from writing any blogs or writing for any websites just so I could mentally detox on the negative inner thoughts and criticism that had built up due to writing for others to read and judge my words.  I don’t know. I was watching Wray play at Bottletree and thought that I needed a break.  They gave me some sort of moment of clarity.

The other day an elderly lady came into the library to return a book that, oh my god, was a day late. There is a wide group of older Mountain Brook patrons that believe that their livelihood and credit will go to hell if they have any money owed to the city. I guess. So they have to pay their fines- all of them- no matter how small.

They have to pay these fines even when you can have up to $5 in fines before there is a hold on your account to checkout. The fines are so small that they get overlooked and this pisses off these patrons. I knew she was one of those ladies so I hated to tell her that she actually owed $.50. She owed $.25 for the book she was returning that day, but she also owed $.25 from a renewal way back in October that nobody  had told her about. And she was mad.

“This is just terrible! Why wouldn't anybody tell me I owed $.25?”

I kept telling her that it was a small amount so nobody told her since you have to have $5.00 of fines for it to affect your account. They probably didn't even notice. She was so mad. She would say what she thought I deserved to hear then turned around and pretend to walk off. Then she would turn around and start declaring how terrible it was all over again.  She even started to digress into the high cost of the $.25. I just started agreeing with her.

“You’re right! It is terrible!”

 It’s hard to maintain my composure completely when I only have a few days left of work. My enthusiasm for agreeing with the terrible injustice befuddled her. She left only to stop before the door to chit chat with one of her friends, another elderly Mountain Brook woman. They departed and the new elderly woman approached me.

“Here I go again,” I sighed to myself as the woman approached.

Yet all she did was smile at me and hand me some boiled peanuts.

“Here you go. Give some to your partner over there.”

I’ll never figure out these ladies. And I guess I won’t have the chance now that I have only two more days left to understand all of their quirks, stubbornness, habits and ever-so-slow moving gestures to find their card in their wallet.

As far as patrons go: It’s hard to say who I will forget first. Who will I miss the most?

I won’t miss the guy that flirted with me relentlessly and said I should have his baby after he told me I looked pregnant. But I will miss the mother/son combo who I believe lived in their BMW and use the library to try to figure out how to get out of their recent plight in life. I just want to understand how a late 20-year-old man could live with his mother in a car. In Mountain Brook, our homeless drive BMW’s or better. I won’t miss rage days. I won’t miss empty threats that get our whole department in trouble when someone drove all of five minutes to check out a book that wasn't on the shelf.

I will miss my lovely co-workers. I don’t have resentment for any of them, and though I was never content  working at the library, many people I love and respect enjoy their jobs and that's awesome.

I mean. I wish it was for me. It’s fairly easy. I get to dress cute for work. I get paid very nice for what I do. However I never meant to stay seven years in a library. For me it is somewhat stifling and I long to have a job that doesn't chain me to a public desk to serve people. I need to be outside. I need to be using my physical strength as well as my mind. I need to get dirty. I need to see some grit, and I truly need to know that I can make a difference doing a job that I might love.

I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth, or I guess, on this keyboard. But I do think I will love my new job at the Humane Society. I have stalked Tami Joh, Annie and others for many years now and I have longed to work with rescuing animals. I know there will be hard, painful and sad days but I know there will be amazing days and moments. I plan on writing about all of it. There will be funny moments of course but I will try to write with a sense of compassion to make the public aware of animal rescue and what I am going to be doing.

We’ll see how it goes. 

Christmas Afternoon

The other day I passed a homeless man that was panhandling for money. I didn’t have any money, but I was in the giving spirit since it was Christmas so I gave him a jar of homemade potato soup that was enough to feed anybody a few meals.

He looked grateful but disappointed. He said he didn’t have a way to warm it up. And I guess that getting no money in this interaction is worse than the thought of eating cold-ass, creamy potato soup. I reassured him that it was still warm, and he looked blissful as he wrapped his hands around the  jar and could feel the warmth for himself.

I  wish I could draw, especially comics, because I would draw the other homeless guy that I didn't see but was watching this go down. I would draw his anticipation as I drove by him like it was his turn for the handout. Then I would draw the awkwardness of him staring at me and me staring at the damn red light to change. I would draw the lack of cars around to distract from the awkwardness of the fact that I didn't have anything to give him. An empty gas-station coffee cup?  My debit card?

I thought about rolling down my window to tell him to go ask that other guy for some soup. I mean he clearly saw me give him a big jar of the stuff, but I didn't know if they were traveling buds are not. I figured if they were buds then he could figure it out and ask his friend to share. But no. He just stared at me with  disappointed and yearning eyes.  And I just stared at the redlight that would not change.

 

A dream about Bean and us.

It is too far-fetched  to think that we would  be in the same place again, after all these years. Yet we were all there, somewhere down south in a building that is a memory of all the clubs and bars from our past.  You arrived late from across oceans thinking that your arrival would be the biggest surprise that night due to the worldly travel.  But here I was with a bigger surprise.  We didn't just travel state lines and oceans, but we traveled through time. And we traveled far enough back so  Bean could be with us. Better than the ghost of Bean. Ghost Bean. He was real for the night. Surprise! We sang at the top of our lungs with our hands raised high. This time we knew we didn't have him forever so we hugged him like we might never let him go. We were all there. Think of someone and he was there. She was too. Listening to our bands play and saying our goodbyes.


Just a list for the very bored.

Barbaric Acts-

As the sun set on a beautiful Sunday, I had a few thoughts burning my skull that I needed to get out. The first one is concerning the act of watching a television show on DVD, which  I haven’t practice in a few years due to HBOGO, Netflix and downloading options. Today, I concluded that this practice of entertainment is not just ancient but also barbaric. Scratched discs and trailers that I have to impatiently watch before I can get to the menu option  for a second or third time  are just two factors that caused me extreme pain in my usual docile  outlook on humanity.  If this offends you because you can’t possibly understand my stance then please, delete me as a friend. Life and virtual.  Hashtag bring Fargo to netflix.

Running with dogs-

I passed  on the Sunday festivities that was happening in  Birmingham because I felt inclined to run through the city with my dogs. My trip would go from my apartment in Avondale and through the hospital district until I reached past UAB’s campus  to meet up with others that were playing soccer. This first-time journey with my dogs was the best Sunday I could have even when I was missing the sloss race and Bottletree’s craft fair. It was my own afternoon of falling in love with the city that I am sure a lot of friends were experiencing within their socially fun Sunday. Listening to my dogs trot  through areas of the city that most dogs never go through was an act of contentedness. But nothing made me happier than Wyatt lifting up his leg and peeing on the side of a large multi-story bank. I felt this gesture symbolized the idea of stickin’ it to the man. Yet I don’t know the history of corruption within the walls of this Wells Fargo  to  know how significant the symbolism was. How much did he stick. And who is the banker man he stuck it to?

On running with Babalu Tacos & Tapas-

I wouldn't recommend it.

Please  eat $50 worth of delicious food in one sitting. Please  run 10 miles on trails far, far away from your bathroom. Just don’t combine those things.

Not enough time passed between my dinner with friends and my journey through the woods the next day. The following is what I learned.

At the time of most dire, the ladies room in the Chevron gas station had a jammed-up toilet due to someone trying to flush an entire roll of toilet paper. The guys bathroom had a working toilet  but no toilet paper. Due to the appearances of the toilets you think the reverse would be true. In conclusion, it is to assume that they over-stock the ladies bathroom. I learned this the hard way. If the gas station attendant was paying attention then she would have learned this information by watching me speed walk between the two bathrooms and then  crab walk from the guys bathroom to the girl and then back to the guys with toilet paper in my hand. Even if I did succeed in pulling my running pants up and crab walk, I was in no shape to drive the 20 minutes back home without any use of toilet paper. Am I making myself clear without just coming out and saying what happen?

Publix-

OK. Moving along. I feel like it was passed down from the guy in charge that grocery baggers can’t just bag your groceries. I feel they are told it is a two-step process. Step one is to bag the groceries and step two is to pick up the grocery  bags and wrap them around their wrist then hand the bags to you in a complicated transition. If they feel the need to make the baggers do this  transition then they should train the bagger to make that transition less awkward. I always feel a tinge of annoyance when I see him gather them from the counter so he can hand them to me. Just leave them on the counter. It is so much easier. Or train them better. Harder.

Also, you know  those  aggressive baggers that asked if they can take your bags out  to your car and will not take no for an answer. Next time just walk to the grocery store from your home. Tell them to come on if they must.  No. don’t bother awkwardly handing  me the seven bags you have wrapped around your wrist. Let’s just get going. I live 75 blocks that way.

 

On Sy Montgomery-

 She wrote a  book about a pig and ended the book with the following quote.

“One thing I know for sure: a great soul can appear among us at any time, in the form of any creature. I’m keeping my eyes open.”

I don’t know if I can find a greater quote concerning a memoir about a woman and her Buddha pig. I don't know if I can find a greater quote about life. 

 

Our Shared Socks

Dear God, Great Spirit or Santa,

All I really need for Christmas this year is socks. All the socks you can afford in all the textures, colors and lengths that you can find, but that is all I need. Socks. 

You see, it all started many years ago when I lived with my  boyfriend at the time. Somehow my socks and his socks collided together in the same  plastic bin to become our shared socks. My colorful mixtures becoming lost in a sea of black, navy and white. Yet time moved forward and so did the apathy, spite and eventually heartbreak. Alas, the relationship came to its end, and he moved out leaving me with a mild case of athlete's foot and a perplexing number of mismatched socks to rummage through.

Throughout the years  my collection of socks would mimic the cycles of mono. The collection would seem to recover thus forming a healthy and colorful collection of ankle socks, knee highs and all the lengths in between. However, a laundry mishap, vacation or something  would leave me wondering where were my good socks.  Dammit.

It was easy when it was just Wyatt and me. Wyatt had one stockpile of socks that he would store for safe keeping.

 

 

Now I live with my current boyfriend plus another sock-crazed dog. Wyatt’s  mission is more complicated as he has to maintain several smaller stockpiles hidden all over our home so his brother can’t find them. And eat them. Also, my boyfriend  pulls my cute ankle socks over his callused man-feet thus leaving the dainty sock threadbare and full of holes.

The other day I had a doctor's appointment that would leave my feet onstage for viewing.  So  I digged deep into the dark corners of the sock bin and unearthed a pair of tiny white socks that was patterned with dancing monkeys. I assumed they must be my nieces as I put them on. The doctor laughed when she saw them and exclaimed, "how cute," like I was one of those people that have to wear cute monkey socks to get my thrills in life. No. I wear solid color socks, and I get my thrills like any respectable adult: boozing it up and living the night life.

I've held on to the hope, which was in the form of two pairs of wool socks that I've had for a few years. I could live with the carcasses of these other socks as long as I have these two pairs. One pair for cold. One pair for cold cold. Both for evening attire. Within the last few weeks those have separated. One sock left  bleeding or crying  while his mate was deemed lost forever.

So God, St. Nick or Great Spirit, if you can hear me then please send me socks that have mates. I only need  socks with their life partners. I can’t live with these widowed and wounded socks anymore. And if this Christmas will bring me my much needed gifts then I swear to you that I will never write another open letter to anybody as I do know they are played out.

Best,

Brooke D McCarley

 

Library Patrons: Creepy not creepy. Gifts for my boyfriend when I'm not around?

An older man with white hair approached my desk while asking me if I knew who Diablo Cody was.

Me: Sounds familiar but I can't place her. (I started typing in her name so I can figure out what movie he wanted to ask me about)

Patron: Well, I just found these pictures and I thought I would show them to you because you look just like her. (Here he pulls out the pictures of Cody. She looks glamorous in a red dress. She is beautiful so I take the compliment.)

Me: Ha. Thanks. Yeah I can kinda see it. (I don't know if I see the familiarity or not but hell, I didn't want to hurt his feelings by disagreeing with him.)

At this point in the conversation, we didn't really know how to move forward. We have bonded so it might be too abrasive to say good bye. Yet, the next level in this relationship would be acquaintances or friends. That wasn't going to happen.

So after a second of silence. He shuffled a bit and said,

Well, you can keep the pictures. Give them to your boyfriend. 



Feminine Mountain out of a Troll's Molehill

I worked at a Barnes and Nobles for a short time in Birmingham. This was after leaving a newspaper job and before I started working in the libraries.  I worked in the shelving department for a few weeks. There was one guy that was manager and another full-time shelver in that department. Then there was me, part-time and temporary help until I had to be forced back to the cash register.

The shelving department was located at the back area of the store  and looked like a typical  warehouse area. The walls were gray, and there were  boxes and carts of books and other overstocked items. This gray room was the domain for the manager. He was a  world away from the warm light and fake smiles of the customer service specialists and baristas in the rest of the store. He was surrounded by this gray while Fox New Radio buzzed on his radio.

He was average height, and he had average facial features. Nothing asymmetrical nor jarring to one’s eyes. If anything, his features were  highlighted due to the grayish skullet that he had no choice but to accept as his hairstyle. Well, he did have a few wisps of hair at the front of his head that his scalp was holding onto tightly so it wouldn't be  a full-blown skullet. Only fate could  tell if those wisps will hold strong. His belly hung over his belt like an exaggerated story about fast food hamburgers and a stagnant life.

There was no reason for this man to intimidate me, but I felt nervous around him. I lacked the ability to pronounce actual words and form a sentence when I was around him as if he was a distinguished professor, brilliant writer or musician that  I respected. However, he intimidated me not because of his accomplishments as a stock-boy manager, but rather his cold, abrasive and standoffish demeanor. I know I sound judgmental or condescending when I described him.  Who am I to describe what his hair wisp was doing or not doing on his head? I swear that I was not condescending or judgmental when I worked with him. I liked him because I liked people. Unfortunately, I also thought or wanted people to like me.

I was nervous and passive when I first started working in his domain as I  hoped that we could be work friends. Then, I was just quiet after I realized he was  rude to me and nobody else in the store. His grunts that were directed at me always morphed into a big smile when the  full-time shelver showed up. His somber silence and frown turned into jokes and laughter when he was around other managers. I started to question if it was me. So I asked the other shelver if this manager had a problem with me.

“No, no he is just like that with everybody.”

 

I wanted those words to comfort me and justify his lack of friendliness. However, I would see him chatting it up with other co-workers in the store right after scowling at me and walking away in a fast huff.

One day after I quit, my friend that also worked there commented on this manager.

“Man, that guy did not like you!”

I guess I was shocked by this. I was still holding on to the idea that he appeared grumpy to everybody and not just me. Yet, deep down in that mushy area of intuition, I knew he disliked me. Maybe even hated me.

According to my friend,  he was all smiles at the morning staff meeting the day after I left. He exclaimed, “aren't you guys glad that girl is gone?”

I think he was the only one that felt that passionate about me and my resignation. If anything, I hope  the day after my last day left his sky a little bluer and his air a little fresher. Maybe it even inspired a hair to grow on his scalp.

 My friend  told me this laughing, like it was casual and amusing. The truth is that it stung. I wasn't used to a work-troll that found  pleasure in hating someone (me) so he could make it through his day. I didn't even know they existed until then. By the time I worked at Barnes and Nobles, I've known  people, that were hurt by me, pissed at me and even jealous of me. But I didn't know anyone that disliked me to the core just because of my personality. It stung.

Little did I know that he was just the first in a  line of work-trolls that disliked me. It’s not every job, but it has been enough to leave me guessing who is the asshole on  first-day orientation. There seems to  always be one ass on the team; one chink in the armor that makes it miserable for me or somebody else.

 The only trolls I like are the ones that carry flowers.

The only trolls I like are the ones that carry flowers.

     I don’t cry or tread lightly around the trolls like a spineless smiley face anymore. However, it still leaves me feeling uncomfortable when I experience this situation. As a female, I sometimes don’t know how to respond without sounding, well, like a stereotypical female. I might seem overly sensitive or dramatic to the male co-worker. They would think I was making a feminine mountain out of a troll’s molehill.  

     The thing is I don’t think I would be treated harshly if I was a guy. This attitude by these guys seems reserved for females. The only thing that has changed is that I just don’t care anymore. Years ago, I pulled one of these trolls aside and just straight up asked him if he had a problem with me. It was like finding the courage to stand up to a bully. Since then I always remember the feeling of confidence I got after asking him. It reminds me that I can do it again if I have to.

 These are some of my co-workers at one point in time or another. No trolls allowed.

These are some of my co-workers at one point in time or another. No trolls allowed.




Another Random List

I feel like my blog has fallen to  the wayside due to some other obligations. I have a web-column coming out for Razorcake plus just finished another story for f-bomb. Also, my band played a cover set for Halloween last weekend so we had been busy learning songs from the band Unwound. Oh yeah, that job thing keeps me busy.

Another random list.

1. On an ex.

Once  the relationship solidified  and the pheromones began to wear off, I realized this guy had several sharp and very different personalities that he would change into. He would change for the crowd, like an entertainer. He just forgot to tell me he was an entertainer with several different shows going on in his head. I mean there’s multiple personality disorder, which is actually called Dissociative Identity Disorder. There is also Borderline Personality Disorder. I think maybe he kinda mashed those together. Anyway,  I loved two of his personalities. I loved them deeply. The other six or seven were very embarrassing. Eventually they all had to go.

 

2.On Addictions.

Painful addictions have ran though my extended family members on both sides. I have had several wild vices running through my body as well. So I never knew that  binge watching netflix shows was going to be my downfall when it came to  productivity and addictions. But I’m glad it wasn’t drugs.

 

3. On being catcalled.

My funniest one: “I’ll give you some money. If you let me eat your pussy.”

Some people might be offended by the fact that I think this is funny even if it is my story. But the funny part was when I asked him to repeat himself because surely this man that was just asking about Aerochild Tattoo Studio didn't offer me money plus a free treatment of sorts? So when I asked him to repeat himself, he had a chance to reassess this situation and say, “mmmm this girl doesn't seem like she might be down for this. Maybe I can say anything but what I just said.”

But no. He re-grouped. Took a deep breath and asked me again. Slower. So I could understand him more clearly. See, that’s funny. Not as scary as the guy running after me with his pants down and moaning like a zombie. That was not just scary but confusing. When I got home after witnessing/being a victim, I sat down and tried to figure it out.

“Was he? Did I? What? Was he like peeing? In that corner? And then like saw me and he fell while, well, why was he suddenly running towards me with his pants down? What?"

I don’t really have a problem with those viral Buzzfeed links like the one below, where someone cross-stitches all the catcalls she has received.

  http://www.buzzfeed.com/jobarrow/14-catcalls-that-have-been-turned-into-stunning-embroidery .

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jobarrow/14-catcalls-that-have-been-turned-into-stunning-embroidery.

 

I just don't know how to cross-stitch the situation about a man falling while running after me with his pants down. Mainly because I don’t know how to cross-stitch.


Look some cool historical living quarters from the 1800's! I found this on the way to Birmingham in Cherokee County, near the border of the Alabama-Georgia state line.



Patrons and the Beauty of Frugality

Patron: So I tried to renew this book and it won’t let me. We are out of town and it is due back the day before we get back. I don’t want it to be late.

Me:Tell me your account number and let me pull up your account and see if I can do anything.

- Here I double check by trying to renew the book from my end, and indeed, I cannot because it is on hold for another patron.

Me: I can’t renew the book either. It looks like it  will be a day late. That is the policy with renewals. I don’t even have a way to override the non-renewal policy. It is locked in the system.

Patron: So I’m out of town on vacation and you’re telling me you can’t do anything about it!

It’s going to be late!

Me: Yes sir I’m sorry.

Patron: Can I speak to your supervisor?!

Me: Sir, it’ll be $.25. (You know, to clarify what was at stake. $.25, which isn't that much for a Mountain Brook patron that is on vacation. But I am assuming.)

Silence.

And then more silence.

Me: My supervisor isn't here, but I can transfer you to her voicemail.