Friday, September 23, 2016

The Bad Student, Part 1

Dear Dad,

Bryan, the tree of laziness, is eating a very large piece of lemon meringue pie right now, and it greatly reminded me of you. I know how much you love, love, LOVED lemon meringue pie! Honestly, I've never tried it, nor do I think I will like it when I do try it, if I ever get around to it, but I feel that someday, I should give it a chance, at least take a bite of it in your honor. Maybe on your upcoming birthday, December fifth, I will take one bite of the stuff, just for you. If I like it, I'll proceed to eat the entire piece. If not, Bryan will take care of it for me. He always knows what to do with leftover or disliked food. His appetite has always been very good, just like yours was.

Life for Grandmama has not been going so well. I spoke with her on Friday night and she is a royal mess! The conversation was so bizarre that I feel I absolutely MUST write about it while it's still fresh in my mind. If I don't, I may forget very important details and I can't let that happen! So, here goes. The saga of Ashlee Smm Smm continued.

Very early on Friday morning, I received a phone call. It was around nine or ten in the morning that I got the call. It was from Grandmama. I didn't answer my phone because Chris, Amira, and I were on our way to spend the day in Seattle, and I absolutely HATE talking on the phone while I'm out in public. It's way too distracting and it causes me a great deal of stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety that is completely useless, stress and anxiety that does not help me in the least. So, I let the call go to voice mail and decided to listen to the message later.

When we were all safely on the bus, heading to Tacoma to catch our train to Seattle, I listened to the message, wondering to myself why she was calling. I hadn't spoken to her in Smm Smm Smm Smm (4) days, and I wondered what she wanted.

Her message was the usual bullshit: she was thinking of me, missed me, loved me, bullshit bullshit. Erase went the message, and that was that.

All day we were in Seattle, and we had a magnificent time. We went to Seattle Center and Amira got to play on the playground for a while. She played on the swings and the slide for a very long time, then proceeded to explore the area where all the rocks snoozed in the mid-morning sun and she tossed them around for a bit, giggling all the while and, once in a while, trying to hog all the toys in the park from other kids. She is at the frustrating stage in life where she absolutely HATES sharing with anyone! I remember being at that stage when I was five, so I can relate and understand it quite well, but I sincerely hope that she outgrows it sooner than I did.

Then we went to the other playground at the Science Center where kids can wade in a pool with fountains all around it. Amira really enjoyed that, too. She took her shoes and socks off and splashed right in, Chris at her heels, while I sat lazily back and listened to them laugh and splash around in the water. I didn't really feel like getting wet. It wasn't exactly what you would call a water day. The sun was out, but it wasn't casting very much warmth on anything. And, I felt like being lazy and wading around in an unfamiliar pool is not what I consider lazy. I'm sure that Bryan can attest to that also.

Then we went to the big fountain, possibly the biggest fountain at the center, where there are speakers all around and listened to the music for a bit, while Amira sang "na-nee-naaaa" along with it. It was so adorable! We got to go to Dick's drive In and we also got fudge, which we ate on Alki Beach later on that day and at a doughnut shop when Amira took her brief but much-needed afternoon nap, allowing Chris and I about a half hour of uninterrupted conversation and lazy time. Or, as lazy of a time as one can get inside of a rather noisy and cramped doughnut shop. That was okay, though. I'll take what I can get these days when it comes to lazy time with Chris. I don't get much of it, so, when I do get some, I try to enjoy every minute that I get before it gets interrupted again.

That evening, when I got home from the long but fun day in the big, rowdy city of Seattle, I couldn't help wondering, once again, why my grandmother had called. Her message had seemed so vague, but, these days, she doesn't call unless there is a reason. I thought that A: she was feeling really lonely and wanted to talk to someone, ANYONE, who was willing to talk to her or B: She was angry about something that I had done and wanted to confront me about it. All that day, I found myself wondering, fleetingly, whether she had discovered my new postings on my blog. So, fed up with all the useless wondering, I decided to give her a call to see what was up.



I could tell, immediately, that she was off as soon as she answered the phone. Drunk, perhaps?

Or ill?


Permanently destitute from finally burning her last bridge?

These thoughts raced through my mind in a matter of Smm Smm seconds or less.

"Hi, Grandma," I answered sweetly. I was feeling very happy from such a pleasantly eventful day and also from all the chocolate fudge and Dick's Drive In cheeseburgers and fries that I had eaten during the course of the day.

"How are you?"

"I'm good," she said, her voice still sounding quite altered.

"Really… Really… Good."

Drunk! I knew it right then. That slow, fake confident way of speaking.

I should have hung up then, but I didn't. I wanted to have a nice, positive conversation with my grandma, if possible. And, I was still wondering why she had called me in the first place.

"That's good," I said quickly, not sure how to steer the conversation. Either she was too drunk to remember why she had called me in the morning, or she did remember and was going to pounce at any moment.

"Or, maybe she doesn't even remember calling," suggested Chrissie as the seconds went on.

"I doubt that," I told her. Grandmama did get drunk pretty frequently, but, somehow, she always managed to remember what happened and her reason for doing certain things, especially if she was angry. I was quite sure that she did remember why she called.

"What did you do today?" she asked, slurring her words at this point. The longer her sentences were, it seemed, the more difficult it was for her to hide the fact that she was drunk. And, more importantly, to hide just HOW drunk she actually was.

As if I really cared in the first place.

"Amira, Chris, and I went to Seattle," I said enthusiastically, glad that the topic had steered into a positive lane.

"Amira had a wonderful time. I just got home and wanted to return your call. Sorry it took me so long to call you back. I hate talking on the phone in public. Too distracting."

"You don't sound very grounded," she observed.

Indeed, I was talking rather fast. For one thing, I was feeling rather anxious about this conversation that we were having. I was wondering how long I would be able to keep my imaginary car on Positive Lane before she side swiped me in her oversized imaginary pickup truck or SUV, perhaps, and took me into Negative Nellie Alley, a frequent visiting ground of hers these days, especially when she is under the influence of alcohol. Secondly, I was quite buzzed on blissful fudge adrenaline! There was no denying it and I didn't even try.

Fudge makes me happy! What's the big deal?

It's better than booze making me happy!

"Well, I'm a bit hyper," I told her.

"I had some fudge today and chocolate always makes me happy. And, I just had an awesome day and am feeling really good about things. Life in general, actually. Amira's doing very well, Chris is doing well, and that makes me happy. Amira's talking in full sentences now and she has developed quite a fondness for music. And, she is a much better traveler now that she has gotten a bit older. There really isn't much to complain about."

My nerves were still a bit twitchy, but they were relaxing a bit the more I talked about how well things in my life were going. Of course, there were bumps in the road and still are, but that's a given in this world. Nobody's life is perfect, no matter how hard they try to convince you it is. I'm not even going to try to do that because, although my life is going fairly well, it's by far, not perfect. No one's is. And no one's life ever will be. Not a negative statement, it's fact.

Rather than join in the joy with me about all these positive things, Grandmama instead chose to take a dark outlook on things. She decided, just as I had both feared and hoped at the same time, to turn directly into the mouth of Negative Nelly Alley, tugging me along behind her massive vehicle as she blundered deeper and deeper within its dark, grimy walls. I was hoping that she had seen my newest additions to the blog and that she was mad about it, but, at the same time, I wanted to have a peaceful conversation with her, too, as I had just had a pretty awesome day and I felt quite at peace with the world, a part from being rather carsick from the long bus ride from Lakewood to Olympia. But the part of me that wanted to fight won out, hence the whole reason why I called her back.

"When was the last time you have taken your medication?" she asked me, completely ignoring everything that I had just told her.

Disregarding me again!

As usual.

"Yesterday," I lied quickly. I knew what medication she was asking about. She was referring to the bipolar medication that I am supposed to be taking. SUPPOSED is the key word here, Dad. The medication that my family think that I am diligently taking as the psychiatrist prescribed, the abilify. The medication that I am proudly NOT taking. Fifteen grams was the amount they said to take. Fifteen grams that went bye-bye down the drain, never to be seen again!

Yummy, yummy, eat it up.

Watch that creativity fall away as it sucks the life right out of you.

Oh yes, good stuff.

Let's keep taking it, shall we?

I think not.

Truthfully, I haven't taken a drop of that shit since December, so a good nine months ago. The last time I swallowed that imagination killing pill was when I went to visit Jennifer and Giovanna, THE last time I have seen them, also, since December. The medication was useless. All it did was make me feel like barfing, suck all the energy, creativity, and life out of me, not to mention, keep me awake all night, when my body yearned, craved, SCREAMED for nothing more but the sweet release of sleep. But my mom, Grandmama, and other relatives think that I am still on it. I've got to keep the story going, Dad, or else the money from Jennifer will stop coming. Not that it comes that consistently anyway, but, once again, I'll take what I can get. In the meantime, the unfinished bottle of abilify resides in the Pacific Ocean, in the sewer system, and maybe a little bit resides in the bowels of my garbage disposal. Oh yeah, and probably some of it resides in the bellies of fish and other sea creatures that ingested the brain-crushing concoction since, apparently, at least one hippyish person of Olympia is under the impression that I polluted the ocean and got all the fish high when I dumped the entire contents of the bottle down the drain of my kitchen sink, turned on the water, then the garbage disposal, and basked in the sound of pills and gurgling water as all sixty of the pills found their painful and much deserved demise as my very faithful, loyal disposal ground them up into nothing more than powder.

"I don't think so," answered Grandmama in a deadly, quiet voice.

"I don't think you've taken it since we've talked. And that was about…"

She paused, trying to figure the simple arithmetic out in her booze-infested, dying and decaying brain.

"About four or five days ago," she finally said after five seconds had gone by.

"Glad you finally figured it out," I said irritably.

Why was I getting so mad, anyway? I should have been LAUGHING!!!! If she seriously thought that it had only been Smm Smm Smm Smm days or noses (5) days since I had taken my last dose of abilify, then I have been lying quite well. Rather than get angry, I should have patted myself on the back.

Well done Ashlee!

By the way, noses equals five because the word noses has five letters in it. Get it? Smm Smm is a whole different number system, though. Smm Smm numbers only deal with even numbers, like the number Smm Smm (2) and Smm Smm Smm Smm, which is the number four. Noses of something deals with the oddball collection of numbers.

Do you like that dose of creativity? Well, you can thank my abilifyless brain for coming up with that system. It took a while but I am satisfied with the results. Maybe someday, the whole world will live by my rule of Smm Smm numbers. But, until then, I'm satisfied that my closest friends understand them. That's good enough for now!

Well done Ashlee!!

"Actually, I DID take it yesterday, not that it's any of your business, anyway," I continued angrily.

"Are you SURE you took them?" she asked in her demeaning, slurring voice.

"Yes I'm sure," I said loudly.

"I took it and I felt like shit all day. Does that make you feel better?"

In truth, I had taken a medication that previous day. I had taken my Thyroid pill, one pill that I do, actually, take daily, because it actually IS something that I need and it actually does help me. I can feel that it works and my body has responded well to it. And, most importantly of all, it does not alter my imagination or the ability to communicate with my imaginary friends like the abilify had done.

Also truthfully, I had felt like crap that previous day, but that was only because I had stayed up too long and hadn't gotten enough rest. I needed sleep and I would feel fine, I knew, and ended up sleeping all day on Thursday and most of Friday morning in the very early hours, and, sure enough, I was good to go and eager for a Seattle adventure with my family. I also know that, had I taken the abilify like I told my grandma I had done, I know for a fact that I would have felt like shit because that's how it always makes me feel whenever I take a dose of it, so, yeah, I wasn't really lying all the way! I would have felt like shit if I had taken the abilify, that is a true statement 100 percent! I would have felt even WORSE if I had taken it to boot!

So, I'm only lying a little bit, I thought to myself as I sat there on my bed, wondering what annoying question or demeaning comment that Grandmama would bark at me next.

Is that the way Jennifer thinks, Dad? Is that how she has justified all of her lies for my whole life? That she only lied a little bit but that some of what she said was true so, therefore, it was all okay?

God, if that IS what she has done, and continues to do, than THAT makes me just like her, and not in a way that I am proud of at all.

Not in a good way.

Not in a way that I want to embrace and live with for the rest of my life.

Chris tells me that I can change how I am if I simply try and understand the way my mom thinks and why she does the things she does, but I'm not so sure it is that easy. I'm not so sure it is so easy to change, nor am I so sure that it is as simple as understanding, or trying to understand, how Jennifer and her evil mother think.

And, I'm not so sure that I even WANT to understand it!

And, I'm not so sure that I want to change, even if I knew how to! It just seems like too much work! Too much work that I'm not even sure will be appreciated in the long run by Chris or Amira, or by anyone, really.

Is that what kept Jennifer from being different from her mother? That kind of thinking?

Did she, too, like me, think that changing was near impossible? And did she think that it was too much work, like I do, and maybe just not worth it in the end because nobody would appreciate or even notice all of her hard work?

No, she can't have. Jennifer embraces anything that has to do with work! She is, what she calls herself and proudly so, a "work horse." She would never say no to a project or anything that involved work.

Unless, maybe it was work that made her delve deep within her soul, work that made her look at herself, truthfully, for the first time, and really made her see what kind of person that she is.

The kind of person who I am today because of her.

Because of her and Giovanna!

"No, it doesn't make me feel better," replied Grandmama.

"I don't want you to feel sick. When are you going to go to the doctor and get put on a different med?"

"I don't know," I answered tartly, feeling even angrier than I had a minute ago.

Seriously, what the HELL was going on?!!!!

"Well, you sound completely ungrounded to me and WAY too hyper," she continued.

Continues the hypocritical, drunk, slurring, barely able to figure out basic math, decrepit, old, dying woman, I thought bitterly to myself, rocking back and forth on my worn out bed.

When, oh when, am I going to find the money and the energy to replace the damn thing anyway?

"Have you been eating a lot of sugar?" she demanded suddenly, no longer speaking in the soft voice that she had adopted a mere second ago.

"I did," I admitted shamelessly. Normally when I speak to Giovanna and she asks me a question that is so personal like this, I generally feel ashamed to answer truthfully because I know that I am going to be reprimanded for it. Sometimes, so ashamed, that I lie and tell her what I think she wants to hear. And, still on other occasions, when I don't feel ashamed, on those rare instances, I lie anyway just because I don't want to hear her nag me to death because she can't or won't accept the fact that this is MY life and that I am going to live it the way I choose to, whether she likes it or not! The same goes for Jennifer. I lie to her, too, sometimes because I am ashamed and other times, just because I don't want to be reprimanded or given a stupid guilt trip all because I'm doing something, or have already done something, that they don't agree with or approve of.

Just like Jennifer, once again. Lying my ass off.

And, for what?

On that day, though, I felt no shame at all. I wasn't going to cow down to that hag, not like I had previously done on our more recent conversations when she had attacked me for, literally, no reason at all, other than the fact, possibly, that I had called her back. What a bad girl I am!

The war was OOOONNNNN!!

"What did you have?"

"Well, before we boarded the train to Seattle, I got a sixteen ounce pint of chocolate ice cream and I ate the whole, bloody thing right on the train during the trip," I said, smiling so hugely that it probably would have looked moronic to someone if anyone but me had been inside of the apartment. The smile didn't feel right to me, either. It didn't belong, and that disturbed me. It was like something was taking control of me. Something that I could not name, see, feel, or reason with. That happens a lot with me, Dad, and, as much as I hate admitting weakness, it really scares me.

Is that what happens to Jennifer, too?

To Giovanna?

What is it?

Why does it happen?

What triggers it?

And, most importantly, how do I find out what it is and how do I stop this thing, this evil, unseen, unpredictable thing of madness once and for all before it destroys my family even more than it has already?

How do I stop it before it hurts my daughter, Amira Brigit Allert?

Do I really want to stop it, though? It has come in handy quite a few times, this thing.

"And THEN!" I half-shouted, becoming angrier, still by the second, more at myself for being so angry and not knowing why and about what was taking over me that I couldn't stop more than I was angry at Grandmama at this point,

"I ate a bunch of chocolate fudge from Seattle Center today hours later. It was rich, milk chocolate fudge and I'd bed you anything that I ate more of it than Chris did and I'm PROUD OF IT, TOO!"

Ever since Grandmama has joined the Theta Healing cult and since she has seen me after I had Amira, she has been stressing the importance of living life sugar free. She has also been making a point of going out of her way to cut on the fact that I was overweight even though I'm not overweight anymore but she hasn't seen me since I've lost the weight so she doesn't know how much I've actually lost over the past nine months. She actually had the utter audacity to point out my "double chin" as she called it, right in the psychiatric ward of Behavioral Health Resources within five minutes of our visit when she visited me the first time I was admitted into a psych hospital a little over a year ago. The thought of that, even now, absolutely makes me want to go find her and punch, punch, PUNCH her wrinkly, pallid, thin, worn face in. I mean, come on, that is NOT one of the first things that you should point out and say to a person who is in, of all places to be, a PSYCH WARD for an emotional overload, not to mention, saying that to a person who you supposedly love that you haven't seen in over Smm Smm years! A person who she calls "family."

What does family mean to her, anyway?

What does family mean to Jennifer?

What does family mean to ME?

What SHOULD family mean at all?

And, why am I so afraid of having a family? Why do I find it so threatening?

Is it the closeness of it all? The binding, trapped feeling that I feel when I even THINK of living with Chris and Amira again?

Why does it make me feel like that, anyway? Most people have a warm, fuzzy, loving feeling when they think of family.

So why doesn't it for me?

"That's not taking care of yourself, Ashlee," the drunk hypocrite said, not even bothering to hide her slur at this point. Part of the reason why I was feeling so angry was because, here she was, talking down to me, telling me that I wasn't taking care of myself when she was on the other side of the phone, drinking her heart out and all I had done was eat a little fudge and indulge, maybe a little too much, on ice cream. But at least I was SOBER! At least I would be able to remember our entire conversation the next day instead of remembering it the way she most likely would, with chunks here and there missing, gaps in the puzzle of events. Fucking hypocrite she was!

Fucking hypocrite she IS!!

"Did Amira get to have fudge?" asked Grandmama, knowing full well that Amira is not allowed to eat anything that has sugar in it. It's more Chris's decision than mine, but I respect it because he's with her twenty-four seven and I'm not. He says he doesn't want to deal with ice cream and candy tantrums all the time. Honestly, I don't blame him. I wouldn't want to deal with them, either.

I don't feel as strongly about Amira not eating sugar as he does, but, again, he's stuck with her all the time, so I feel that he has the right to decide. Besides, he IS right! She will be off to a healthier start in life if she doesn't become addicted to sugar at a young age like him and I did. And, as much as I love sugar, it really is bad for you.

I've explained his views on the matter to my mom and grandmamma more than once, so, when she asked this, a spark of fiery red anger ignited inside my head.

"What do you mean did Amira have fudge?" I snarled at her.

"You know that she isn't allowed to eat that junk."

"Did Chris have fudge?" she persisted. I sat there, wondering why it mattered whether Chris had fudge or not and how it was relevant to why she had called me that morning in the first place.

"Yes, we both did."

"Well, don't you think it's a bit unfair that Chris got to have fudge and you had fudge but she didn't?"

"I don't know… maybe," I answered, a little taken aback by this absurd question.

"I guess I hadn't given it much thought. Actually, yes," I added suddenly, on a whim.

"It is fair."

"Oh yeah, how do you figure?"

"Well, you wouldn't give a child a cigarette if she was hanging out with you and you wanted to light up, would you?"

"Of COURSE NOT!" she said defensively. I guess I had finally pushed a little button on her switch. FINALLY! It gave me immense satisfaction to know this.

"Mom, you should just hang up now," Nevaeh warned me quietly.

"Remember what we discussed? If she started attacking you when you returned her call, which she most certainly is doing right now, we decided that you would hang up the phone. You would not keep egging her on, adding fuel to the fire. You agreed to this, Mom, really, you did! This conversation is going nowhere. Just end it before you get even angrier than you already are."

"Fight, fight, fight!" roared Chrissie, flinging her arms around in the air, punching the air with her tiny fists.

"Don't hang up, the fight's just starting to get good. Keep talking, Mommy, make her mad! Don't keep silent like you always do! It'll just give her satisfaction of knowing that she won yet another argument. Don't give her the satisfaction."

"I won't," I told her vehemently.

"I absolutely WILL NOT give her the satisfaction."

Chrissie was right. Grandmama and I have had pretty negative conversations the past Smm Smm or Nevaeh (3) times that we have talked, and, each time, I just remained silent and took it and took it. Like I am a submissive or something.

Am I? Am I a submissive and just am not willing to admit it, even to myself?

Or maybe I am a switch. A dominant and a submissive. There really are people that are both, though I don't really understand that concept. How can you be both dominant and submissive?

But, maybe I am.

Maybe I am a living, breathing, walking, talking example of a switch, the very concept that I don't understand because…


Because I don't want to?

No wonder I don't get along well with therapists who I have tried seeing. There are just so many things that I don't want to know, don't want to see, don't want to hear…


Although, it is worth saying that most therapists suck and really shouldn't be in practice at all.

"Well, then it's not unfair to withhold something that you, yourself, say is toxic for people to eat from a two-year-old who doesn't even know what fudge is."

"I just think that you two should eat healthy food in front of her. I mean, wasn't she ASKING for some of the fudge?"

"Actually, no, she didn't," I answered honestly.

"We ate it while she was sleeping and while she was busy throwing rocks in the water at Alki Beach when we took the water taxi over there. She didn't even have a clue that I was eating fudge. Chris was chasing her when I ate the fudge."

And, why am I even bothering to explain all of this to her in the fucking first place? That was the thought that was going through my head as my face began to grow uncomfortably hot with rage now. Not anger any longer… RAGE!

Why did I feel like I had to explain all of this to her? She wasn't even going to remember it tomorrow, not completely, anyway. And, even if she did remember it, she wasn't listening to a word I was saying. She never does. Because the only thoughts that matter, the only voice that deserves any kind of recognition, the only opinion that should be valued, in her eyes, is hers. Everyone else can just go and eat shit!

Why do I still continue to feel like I have to explain myself to my relatives? Not just relatives… friends, too. I always feel like I have to explain myself for just about everything. And I hate it! Another reason why I was so angry during that conversation, I am realizing now, thanks to you giving me the space to write it out and think about everything in a different way now that I have calmed down, somewhat anyway. I am still pretty angry when I think about this conversation. And I don't really feel like I have calmed down, actually. Honestly, I don't. I don't think that anything but revenge will make me calm down, but I don't quite know what to do yet and I don't want to act on an impulse and get myself into trouble and go back to court again. I don't want to be impulsive like Jennifer and Giovanna. I want to break that cycle…

If I can.

But HOW????

"Instead of stuffing your double-chinned face with fudge, you should have been running along the beach with your daughter," snapped Grandmama.

"It would have been a much healthier thing to do, a much wiser thing for you to have done. It would have been for your highest good and the highest good of all."

Her and her stupid Theta talk again.

"The highest good of all, huh?" I asked, the sarcasm so thick in my voice that, if it were smoke, it would have set the fire alarm off.

"How does it effect anybody else when I eat fudge."

"Because your daughter would have gotten to play with both of her parents instead of just one," Grandmama answered simply.

"And, the things that happen in her life, whether positive or negative, does not just effect her: it effects seven generations ahead and seven generations behind. When will you accept this concept? Even our ancestors are effected by what we do."

"Well, that's not what happened," I said carelessly, so angry now that I honestly didn't give a fuck what came out of my mouth. And, even if I did care, I don't think I would have been able to stop the angry words from spewing forth from my lips because that unseen thing had a tighter and firmer grip on me. It was gaining ground. I could tell because, at this point in the conversation, I was no longer scared of how out of control I was. In fact, I liked it. I embraced it. I welcomed it. Whatever it was, it was giving me the courage, the strength, the fearlessness to say just about anything that I wanted to say to Giovanna, and that didn't happen regularly enough for me. So, I wanted to keep the conversation going for as long as I could, at this point, to say everything that was on my mind before "the thing" lost its grip on me, either from distraction or from loss of strength, and I lost my courage once more to freely speak my mind to this atrocious woman, who I knew was only intending to cause me as much emotional harm as she possibly could, despite all the crap she always says in the middle of attacking me about how much she "loves" me and only wants the best for me and Amira. Again, more bullshit. I had to fight back. Fight back or surrender and hang up, handing her yet another victory, another conversation where the power was all hers.

I was going to fight! Even if it got me into trouble!

I just didn't care anymore.

"I wanted fudge, so I ate fudge, and I enjoyed every tasty bite that came to me. It was very lazy, very blissful, and, if I could go back in time, I wouldn't change a goddamn, mother fucking thing. So, what do you have to say about that?"

"I say that you are very manic right now and that it is highly apparent that you aren't taking care of yourself."

"Well I can hear that you are highly drunk right now, given all the slurring that you are doing with every syllable of every word that you utter, and, from that alone, I can only infer that you, also, aren't taking very good care of yourself, either, so you, therefore, have no room to talk. It's like calling the kettle black. And one of the people whom I hate the most are hypocrites. Are you a hypocrite?"

"No, I am not," Grandmama said defiantly.

"I've had two glasses of wine on an empty stomach, but I can absolutely say with 100 percent conviction, that I am WAY more balanced and grounded than you are."

"Yeah, well, when you can tell me the meaning of the word infer, I'll believe you. But I won't expect that definition until tomorrow when you have managed to sleep off your intoxication."

This felt so exhilarating! Is this why so many people in the world have so many anger issues? Because it feels SOOOOOO freaking good to tell people who bully and abuse you what you really think and feel about them?

Is this why Jennifer enjoyed abusing me so much as a kid? Because her mother made her feel so powerless that she could think of nothing else to do to boost her self esteem but to use me as a scapegoat and hurt me again and again until, finally, I rebelled at around twenty years old, and shook her up for life by creating this blog and thoroughly exposing her once and for all after so many years of tormented silence?

Because that's what her mother did to her.

Or did Jennifer just abuse me because she was a power hungry monster who wasn't being abused by her mother at all.

I kind of think it is both. Unlike me, Jennifer never broke away from her mother the same way that I managed to break away from Jennifer. She is still on Giovanna's phone plan and she lives in her mother's house in Poop Ludlow. And, the old, beater car that she drives actually belongs to… Yeah, you guessed it, her mother as well.

So, I think that my mother is still a victim of my grandmother's emotional abuse and that she often tries to project it onto me by being abusive when we talk sometimes, although it's becoming less and less because Jennifer knows that I won't tolerate it like she tolerates Giovanna's abuse.

On that note, I also think that Jennifer is also a power tripping monster who also likes to beat people down in the form of bullying because it gives her power that she can't otherwise get by doing something else. Or, that's what she thinks, anyway.

And, here I was, bullying my grandmother back. And it felt so good!

Am I an abuser, too? A perpetrator?

Well, this story is ending up to be quite a bit longer than I planned on it being. And, I am growing quite tired and hungry at the moment, so this is going to have to be continued. I assure you, Dad, comedy is up next! That's when Grandmama starts to lose her own self control and really say some pretty bizarre, outlandish stuff. I'll write soon! I love you!

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!


Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Inside Scoop

Dear Dad,

Fall is fast approaching. August has finally reached its last day, and, for that, I am grateful. It's supposed to rain today, much to Bryan's great delight. We've had quite a large handful of extremely, wickedly hot days this summer, and I am quite glad to say good-bye to them all, to summer as a whole.

I know that it is fall because the smell in the air is different. You can smell rain when you go outside, a sweet but also sad sort of fragrance that is impenetrable and always present, wherever you go that is in the realms of the great outdoors. A bitter sweet sort of smell, I guess. The air is becoming more nippy and brisk, and Bryan's leaves are starting to turn… just a little bit. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what sort of tree Bryan is. When I created him, I was under a great, heavy blanket of suffocating grief, having just discovered that you had died, so I wasn't really concentrating on the logistics of it all when the giant beast of a tree was being created. I only knew that I wanted the tiny seed to hurry up and hatch from its shell so that I could hold something alive, even if it was only alive to me, to cradle it in the palm of my hand, rock it, talk to it, sing to it, watch it grow, tiny bit by tiny bit, to care for it, like I would have cared for you if I had only known how to and what, exactly, you needed. I think that Bryan knows what kind of tree he is: he MUST know, but, like everyone in this world, real or imaginary, carrying at least one secret to your grave feels good, and I think he wants to keep that particular secret to himself. For now, anyway, and that's okay. All I know is that he has a lot of long, sturdy, towering branches with a lot of leaves on them, that he is going to shed within a couple of months or so, and that's enough for me to know. As long as my demons are happy, so am I. And, as long as he helps us all be lazy, allowing us to lounge around in his branches whenever we are starting to become overwhelmed with worry or whatever other unpleasant emotion that often comes, unwelcome and unbidden, to bother us, I feel that he is allowed to carry that secret with him, even if it is to his grave, which will probably be long after I am gone from this earth. Trees do tend to live quite a bit longer than humans, like the trees that even normal people can see. So, just imagine how long imaginary trees can live for! And, although Chris seems to think that my demons will cease living when I do, I disagree. I believe that they will continue to wreak havoc and mayhem on this earth to keep my wicked spirit alive, as I have requested them to, should I die prematurely, until their time has come to an end, if that does happen with imaginary creatures, and then, if it does end, they will cease living and join me, wherever I will end up when I die, and we will all be united, once again, the Smm Smm Smm Smm Smm Smm of us, ready to wreak havoc on wherever we are then, if there is an afterlife after death.

Anyway, slightly cheered up by the slow, upcoming arrival of fall, I am still quite angry at the moment. Yes, you already know… Jennifer again, right?


I am so incredibly SICK of her empty promises, her empty offers. And, even more than that, I am absolutely DISGUSTED at myself for still believing them, for falling for it EVERY STINKING TIME!!!!

Okay, fine, I'll tell you. I'm still talking to her, all right? I was planning on ceasing contact with her once I started writing on the blog again, but it seems that I am either unwilling to stop talking to her or I am unable to, for some really bizarre, fucked up reason that I'm not quite sure I understand, nor am I even sure I WANT to understand.

Once I started writing on the Blind Satanist again, I thought it would be really easy to break off contact again because she would have seen my newest post and she would have balled me out about it. When I am not angry, I find it extremely difficult to confront people, even, most times, impossible! It's like, this part of my brain just shuts down, rendering me vulnerable to whomever wishes to, to walk all over me and get what they are seeking, whether it's good or bad. Whether it's in my best interest or not. And, usually, it's not. When I am angry, however, it is easy to confront people, and that was what I was planning on doing if she brought up my new material that had so suddenly popped up on my blog, then cease all contact, once more, and try to live my life as freely and happily as one possibly can with all the issues and bad memories that they have to deal with on a continual basis like I do.

So, I was prepared for her to call me, on the brink of shouting, telling me how horrible I was, how she thought I had out-grown all that dark, Satanic stuff, yadda yadda. But, she didn't. I went for about Smm Smm days without contacting her, both anticipating the fight, as it would mean another stroke of newfound freedom, perhaps, the final, permanent stroke of freedom from Jennifer and the rest of the family for the rest of my life. The other part of me, on the other hand, was terrified to call her, terrified about the explosion that was sure to come the moment she answered the phone. Why was I so afraid of that? Why was I so afraid of her anger? Why AM I so afraid of her anger? Why AM I afraid to be free? I mean, it's what I want, to be free from her forever, isn't it? So, why am I so afraid of it, too? Why do I keep pushing away the platter of freedom when it is in the process of being passed around the table and it has come to rest, in midair, at my chair? Pushing it onto the next person, saying, "No thanks, you go ahead and take some. I'm not hungry."

I do want to be happy, don't I? There are people in this world who actually don't want to be happy. They don't admit it, perhaps they never will (that may be THEIR secret that they carry to the grave), but I'm not like that. I'm not like them. I want to be happy…

Don't I?

So, anyway, I forget who calls who first. I think I did, because my financial situation was getting more and more dismal as the days wore on and I was really starting to actually regret, just a little bit, that I had started writing on the blog. I had even started to feel guilty about it, and that felt horrible. I wanted to see if I could nonchalantly get money out of my mom…





Well, to make a long story short, I was quite shocked by our conversation. She appeared quite jovial, even giddy! And, for the love of all that is unholy and evil, it didn't appear that she HAD noticed the new additions to my blog. She didn't mention it once during our fifteen minute conversation, and I didn't dare mention it, either.

Even better yet, I was able to nonchalantly get out of her when she might give me money, asking her something like, "What are you going to do today?", and then after she answered me and then returned the question, I answered something like, "I don't know, try and do something fun with Amira that doesn't cost money. Something like take her to the park or to feed the seagulls."


"I'll go to the bank tomorrow (or whatever day she had said, I can't quite remember), and help you out a bit more this week," Jennifer had said, and the relief washed over me like warm bath water the moment those blissful, heavenly words left her mouth, first tending to my lower half, releasing tension that had been lingering there, then slowly, slowly, working its way up my body, making it possible for me to actually breathe correctly for the first time in, oh, I don't know how long, at least Smm Smm days.

So, that time, she kept her word. I think she gave me seventy-five dollars. By all means, she could have given me more: the woman is, by no means below the poverty line like I am, but, hey, I'll take what I can get. Beggars can't be choosy, after all, and that was that.

For a day or so, I sat pondering this strange thing that had happened. I absolutely couldn't believe that she had still given me money, even after I had just written about her. I mean, how had she managed to not see it? Didn't she get notifications of my blog posts when they come like some of my followers do?

"You got lucky this time," said a nasty, female voice in my head, that sounded horribly like a mixture of Jennifer's and Giovanna's voices, all grouped into one voice, a voice from the bunny, who is still trapped and on constant watch by my demons to ensure that it doesn't escape again, but it doesn't stop it from talking to me, or, rather, sending a mixture of male and female hateful voices to circulate, unbidden and unwanted, through my brain at the most inopportune and unexpected times. And, when it's not deafening me with constant, highly distressing voices, it sends me silent, intrusive thoughts and memories to marinate on as well.

"You ought to consider yourself lucky and stop writing these dreadful stories at once! You know, in your heart, how evil this is, how disgraceful what you are doing is. You aren't just disrespecting your mother, who bends over backwards for you and Amira, but you are also disrespecting yourself. You have a good heart, Ashlee. You know that you don't want to do this. You KNOW IT!!!!"

"Oh, shut up," I snarled at it, immediately filled with rage. But, an idea had come to me just then. Maybe, just maybe, I could continue writing after all. Maybe I didn't need to cease writing just yet. Maybe I NEVER have to cease writing. After all, I did just tell you why I needed to keep the Blind Satanist alive, why I resurrected it from the dead after a mere year of total silence from me, didn't I? So I would be a total laughing stock to you, if you can see these letters, and my followers (if I even have followers anymore after such a long, dismal silence, a part from my one, strong, forever friend and fan of the Blind Satanist that I am in regular contact with), and I don't want that. I don't want to be a laughing stock to anyone! And, I certainly don't want to be one of those people who say that they are going to do something and then not follow through. A flake. A person who's word isn't good, a person's word that can't be relied on for anything at all. A person who's words mean absolutely nothing because they don't mean what they say. A person like my mother. A person like Jennifer. A person who spouts off promises like a fountain, but the promises are empty and, so is, you come to realize after closer observation, the fountain that you were under the impression, was filled to the brim with clear, meaningful, fresh water, ready to spring to life from its mouth once you turned it on for the day to cool you off, or to let kids play in during a hot, blazing afternoon in the sun, before you took that closer look that would confirm everything. The real facts about the broken fountain. The empty fountain. The deceitful fountain. The dysfunctional fountain. The dysfunctional fountain that is beyond the realm of repair. The fountain that you must discard at once or hold onto, despite the fact that it no longer serves you anymore, hoping, fruitlessly that it will one day work again, only to find yourself disappointed again and again by it every single day that you continue to keep it close at hand.

So, I continued publishing letters to you and noticing how much better about life I was feeling. Now and again, thoughts of suicide still creep up on me, but they aren't as persistent, nor are they all-encompassing like they had been a month ago. Then, I spoke with Jennifer again. That time, she sounded annoyed, like something was definitely bothering her.

"Shit," I thought to myself, my heart skipping a beat as the tone of her voice slashed the air around me, drowning me in terror. Just like it had been when I was her full-time prisoner.

"She's found out about it."

Then "Why are you feeling GUILTY? For Satan's sake Ashlee, be proud of your works! Don't be ashamed of them! That is what your mom wants you to feel. She wants you to feel ashamed of yourself. She wants the blog to be shut down," another thought burst through.

"Well, maybe I SHOULD shut down this blog," I snapped fiercely to myself, not even stopping to think for a second that, quite possibly, the bunny was once again busy at work, having just started a raging battle roaring, unpleasantly, into my already aching brain, causing my heart to hammer, painfully, against my Adam's apple and my forehead to break out into an uneasy, icky, cold, panicky sweat.

"My mom's the only one who's supporting me right now since I'm giving most of my social security check to Chris so he can have a place to live with the baby and the things they need. He's not giving me money, but she is. Jennifer is. And this blog is going to ruin it for me! I keep thinking that it will pay off, that my stories will pay off, but they aren't, and they never will. What am I going to do if she stops supporting me? She's the only one I've got, the only one who's got my back right now! I'm biting the hand that feeds me and that's an awful thing to do. I ought to be ashamed of myself. And, I SHOULD feel guilty about the blog. It's horrible, absolutely HORRIBLE!"

"MMMMMMMMOOOOOOOMMMMMM, shut UUUUPPPP for a second!" shouted Chrissie. Her voice was just barely audible through the haze of confusing, disconcerting thoughts that were racing through my wrought mind.

"You don't even know that's what she's mad about. Just TALK to her and find out what's bothering her. She'll tell you. She's dying to talk, just listen to the tone of her voice!"

"Helllllllllllllooooooo?" Jennifer snapped moodily into the phone. Clearly patience was even shorter than usual today with Jennifer and that was never a good thing. Thankfully, I thought to myself as I quickly answered her with a short "Hello",

I don't live with her anymore. All I have to do is hang up if the waters get too choppy to swim in.

"Mom, I'm sorry, I got distracted. I'm a little tired today. Anyway, are you okay? You seem very down or something."

I don't call her Jennifer when we are talking. That would be one sure fire way to get the money to stop coming and I just can't have that right now. Or, can I? God, I hate all these contradicting thoughts! I wish I could just come to a decision already and be confident with it. Proud of it, even.

"I've got a lot on my plate right now," Jennifer said with a great, heavy sigh. I could hear her driving. It was Monday morning and she had said that she was on her way to work before all those intrusive thoughts started creeping in, distracting me and almost making Jennifer completely lose her cool with me.

"I'm at my max right now."

Translation: I'm at my breaking point. Too much going on right now and I'm losing it!!

"What's going on?" I asked her.

"I mean, I know that Baba isn't doing too well and that ought to be sad but… what else is bothering you?"

The moment I said it, I knew how incredibly insensitive that sounded. There was a slight pause, probably to give Jennifer time to think that exact thing, I thought to myself, panicking once more, and quickly amended, "I mean… Sorry I said it like that. What I meant was, is something else bothering you besides that? And is there anything I can do to help you?"

"You see," snorts an evil, indistinguishable, somewhat muffled and whispering, cackling voice in my mind again. The voice sounds like it's speaking underwater, like a mermaid.

"You're words are just as empty as your mother's. You don't intend to help her at all. You know that and so does she. She isn't stupid."

Actually, she IS pretty stupid, but that's to be discussed, perhaps, another time, in another letter to you.

"Shut up you fucking retard," I hissed back to it inside of my head , willing myself not to shout out loud like I sometimes do when the voices or thoughts get too intrusive to deal with or sort through, a pretty usual occurrence, honestly. It's easier for me to tell you this because you are dead. I'm not sure how, exactly, I would broach the subject with you if you were sitting in my furnitureless living room with me, perhaps eating some Rainbow Sherbet with chocolate ice cream on top in a cone or bowl. I mean, it's not exactly an easy thing to say casually, "Oh yeah, Dad. By the way, your daughter is a total nutter. I hear voices. But, don't worry, it happens all the time these days. I'm pretty used to it now, so carry on, all right? Oh yeah, and don't worry about me. Just forget I even mentioned it, all right?"

It is times like these, when I am just a teensy bit relieved, that you can't react, talk to me, or, really, do anything about it. About what I say, I mean, what I tell you. I often wonder what you would think of me today, if you were still here, if you would still love me, despite my newfound crazy tendencies, like hearing voices, perhaps. Would you hold me in your loving arms and hug me and tell me that everything is going to be all right? Or would it have sent you sliding back off the wagon into booze land, the land of virtually no return. The land of which I certainly wasn't able to reach you when you would go there. The land with a path in which only one could walk upon because it was so narrow, while leaving the people who love you and care about you, like me, in your wake to watch as you drifted farther and farther from sight.

The only times that I ever am grateful that you aren't here, is when I worry that you wouldn't love me anymore if you could see the person I am now, the person who I have become. I don't think I could bear it. After all, you and I left off on a rocky note, but I was pretty darn sure before you died, that you loved me. And that notion, alone, was one of the main things that kept me going. If that were taken away, your love, I mean, I don't know what would become of me. Perhaps I would be plunged once more into a locked mental ward, only this time, there would be no reemergence from the place. I might be stuck in there until the day I died. I might have no more will to carry on.

Your love, Dad, is one of the few seams left in me that keep me going. It is you, Dad, that keeps me strong, or somewhat strong, anyway, when times are hard, when I don't know what to do. I wish you were here, I long for you to be here, but, at the same time, I fear that you would grow to hate me, just like your mother has, like your brother has, like Herbert, who I often enjoy calling my Fake Grandpa these days has, though I really, honestly don't give a fuck what he thinks. He could drop dead and I wouldn't know the difference. He was virtually dead to me when he was in my life, and he remains so today, so, really, his death would mean nothing to me.

"Well, your grandma is moving into my house next week. She has finally sold her condo."

Grandmama? Moving into my mother's house? NOOOOOOO WWWWWWWWAAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!! I mean, they are pretty tight, those two, but if they are in close quarters for more than a couple of days, they start jumping down each other's throats!


"They'll KILL each other!"

"Good," growled Bryan in his deep, rumbly, growly voice.

"That'll be one less thing for Mom to have to do then, killing them both! More laziness that way."

"Wow, she really sold it?" I asked in utter amazement. I knew that the wretched condo of Giovanna's had been on the market for a couple of months, but I really couldn't picture anyone actually buying the place. I mean, it is so dark, dingy, and unwelcoming, in the deep bowels of the basement in the building, that I honestly couldn't envision someone actually wanting to own it. I guess the saying "Different strokes for different folks" really does ring true.

"Well, the paperwork is still in progress and Grandma has to have it inspected and put some work into fixing a few little glitches, but, yeah, if all goes well, it's sold and she's moving into my house in the first week of September."

"YOUR house!" bellowed Smm Smm, chortling loudly.

"What you mean to say is your MOTHER'S house!!!"

I bit my tongue to keep from laughing and kicked my left foot out at Smm Smm, who ducked out of the way just in time, and ran to the fridge for some Cherry Kool-Aid.

"Where is she going to stay?" I asked, though I already knew the answer.

"Your room upstairs," Jennifer said simply.


The telltale sound of the tires as Mom drives her beater car over the Hood Canal Bridge.

"Cool," I said, and I found myself quite surprised at how I felt absolutely nothing about the fact that Giovanna was moving into MY room in Enoch. Before I had moved away to Olympia, I used to be so protective of my bedroom. I didn't want anyone to go into it because, more often than not, whenever someone did go into my room, things got moved and it took me a very long time to recover them and put them back to their original places.

Most of the belongings that I so cherished when I lived there are still residing in my room. For instance, the lock box that your mom bought me to keep Andrew from getting into my most prized belongings, the CD's that you burned for me before you had died, as well as the mood ring that you got me at the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in downtown Seattle and the fake, metal license plate with an actual accurate spelling of my name. I can remember right now how utterly excited we both were at the prospect of finding something that actually had the correct spelling of my name engraved in it. Most people spell Ashlee with a Y at the end. Rarely can an Ashlee be found with two EE's like me. With Smm Smm EE's, I mean.

I should have taken the lock box back to Olympia when I went to her house, which is coming up on nine months ago, but I just didn't, for one reason or another. I think the main reason was that I thought that I would be coming back for another visit to Poop Ludlow soon and that I could just pick it up then. There was a time, more recently than I like to admit, when Jennifer's persuading ways got to me and I did, once more, after Smm Smm years of not going to Poop Ludlow, visit Enoch and all the ugliness that lies within him, but I've been more savvy lately and have not returned there since December 2015, after a particularly nasty visit, which I will write about another time.

There are also some stuffed animals that reside in my room that I like a lot, but the lock box is the most important thing that is in my room as far as I am concerned. And, of course, the drums, with it's magnificent cowbell and set of chimes and extra bass petal, but I am not so into drums these days, so, sadly enough, I have detached, considerably, from the drum set that you bought me when I was nine. Sorry Dad, I really did enjoy the drums, and I am most grateful that you bought them for me when I was young and eager to learn how to play them, but they really are too noisy for my sensitive ears to deal with, unless I wear earplugs when I play, but even if I was still attached to them, I really can't play them where I live now, an apartment complex, so I haven't bothered taking them to Olympia with me either. They aren't actually in my room anymore, come to think of it. When Coalie moved in with his kids, Jennifer moved them into the upstairs storage room so that there would be more room for all their junk to take the place of the drums in the drum studio section of my bedroom.

Despite the fact that the lock box with all your treasures in there are still in Poop Ludlow, I really didn't feel, and still don't feel, really perturbed by it. I mean, it's not like Giovanna can unlock it unless she breaks it open, which I don't think she will bother doing. I did leave the box behind, but I did have the wisdom to take the Smm Smm keys to unlock it with me, as well as the mood ring and license plate, when I moved, so nobody can open it rightfully except me.

Perhaps this is why I feel so utterly detached about the whole thing. I do think that it also has a great deal to do with feeling so far removed from my mother and the house, a process that has taken nearly Nevaeh Inside the Nose (7) years to start noticing at an optimal level. As far as I am concerned, she can do whatever the hell she wants with the room. And, if she does do something to the lock box, there isn't much damage done, for all the songs that you burned on CD's for me, I know by heart, the names and a lot of the lyrics, and I can just look them up on YouTube if I want to hear them, which is what I do anyway because I don't have them with me. I don't even have a CD player anyway, except for the one on my computer, so it really wouldn't be practical to worry about it anyway.

"How do you feel about her moving in? How long do you think she'll stay?"

"I'm not sure how long she will stay," Jennifer answered.

"She, like all of us, likes her freedom and independence, though, so I don't think she will be here long."

"Wishful thinking!" cried Nevaeh as she bounced around from wall to wall, dancing and singing merely, apparently finding this news quite amusing indeed. I found it amusing then, but was more amazed at my lack of attachment I felt about Giovanna occupying my room upstairs. I mean, I was SOOOOOO protective of it, and now I just don't give a flying fuck what happens to it! It honestly blows me away!

"As far as how I feel about it… Well, I don't know. I feel overwhelmed. You see, when she's anxious, it makes ME anxious, so I'm trying to figure out how to make the transition for her as stress free as possible so that she isn't anxious and, therefore, doesn't make me anxious."

"How's Coalie taking the news?" I asked, curious. He never really did like it when I would come up to visit my mom over the weekend or for five days at a time sometimes. He didn't ever say flat-out that he didn't want me there, but every tone in his voice and his continuous silent treatment towards me spoke volumes. He might as well have just shouted "YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE!! GET OUT RIGHT NOW!!"

I can only imagine all the visual cues that he was emitting while I was there. Honestly, I am glad that I couldn't see them.

"He's been such a champ about all of this." my mother said. But then, she added, or, rather boasted quickly, "Well, he knows that he doesn't have a choice. If he was the sort to be like "She can't live here", then it wouldn't work for him to stay with me."

Translation: It's either we all stick together and you be okay with it or you and your son and cat are out of here and you know it. So, choose wisely, or reap the consequences.

"I'm glad he's taking it well," I said, though I found myself not feeling much of anything at all.

"Do you think that Baba is going to move in, too?" I asked, not so much because I really cared or because it would effect me in the slightest (I am all the way in Olympia, far, far away from Poop Ludlow, so it wouldn't effect me at all because I don't live there. And thank Satan for that), but because I wanted her to think that I cared about the family, which would win me a brownie point. Brownie points equals, sometimes, anyway, money! And, I was, in a way, curious about it all. It would be good writing material, for sure, and it made me feel happy to know that everything bad that she had ever done in her life, including all the bad things she did to me, and all the ways in which she used me throughout my childhood and even into my adult years, was all finally starting to catch up to her. And Giovanna, too. For one thing, Giovanna doesn't have a job anymore. She quit it almost a year ago, and now she doesn't have a home to call her own. Well, there is Enoch, of course, but Jennifer is now living there, so, if she wants Enoch all to herself, she's going to have to evict Jennifer to get her out or drive her and Coalie so crazy that they'll just move out on their own accord and figure out what to do next. Which, given her innate power of driving people up the wall, isn't, entirely, out of the question. Not at all!

And, to make matters worse for Giovanna, her health is failing. She won't admit it, but I think that she has a terminal illness. For one thing, she is a toothpick now. She went from 140 pounds to 114 pounds. When I hugged her the first time, I thought that I might break her in half, she felt so brittle and weak. Her hair is also falling out in great lumps, which she is trying, in vain, to stop and re-grow back to its usual standards. And, she has joined a cult called Theta because it is the only place where people actually encourage their followers to lie to themselves about what is really going on in their lives to make them feel better, without really solving the underlying problem at hand, the real problem, which, I strongly think, is cancer.

Several years ago, when I was fresh out of my mother's grasp and was attending college at Evergreen, my grandmother was complaining of noticing blood in her stool. At the time, she blamed it on acupuncture, telling all of us that she had fallen asleep and accidentally knocked one of the needles away from the spot where it had been and sent it poking another area on her head where it wasn't supposed to poke. I thought that it sounded crazy and just pushed it aside, thinking that it was just another one of her crazy conspiracy theories that she had come up with. But, obviously the problem got worse over the years and now, she tells me that she goes to the doctor at least once a week to get blood drawn. Yet, when you ask her why, she gives you a vague answer about just trying to stay healthy since she's getting older, and then she quickly changes the subject clear out of the way from the sticky topic of her poor health. When I asked Jennifer about her frequent trips to the doctor, she said that she was just as befuddled about all of this as I am and that, whenever she asks Grandma if she can go with her to one of the appointments, Grandma just comes up with one lame excuse after another about why she doesn't want Jennifer to go.

Now, she's making all these "hair brained", as you would call it, decisions that don't make any sense. She randomly quit her job almost a year ago. Then she put her condo up for sale and began selling, or, rather, trying to sell, all her junk, so that she doesn't have much to move when the condo sells. And she has no idea where she is going to work or where she is going to live. She is just randomly and, to me, thoughtlessly and impulsively, making these bizarre decisions that only lead me to Smm Smm conclusions. Either she's gone COMPLETELY mad and she needs to live in a crazy house or nursing home, or she's dying of terminal cancer. There is only room for those Smm Smm ideas with those kinds of compulsive actions of hers. And, when I talk about it with Chris, he agrees with my conclusions, though he tends to believe the latter one, that she is dying of cancer and that she only has about Smm Smm Smm Smm Smm Smm months or less to live.

All I can say to this is, "Can't we do anything to speed up the process?"

I mean, I'm SURE I'm not inheriting anything, what, with all the debt she undoubtedly has accrued during the course of her life, but, just the mere idea of her being gone forever from this world, really does have a comforting aspect to it. A calming, tranquil feeling, though a part of me thinks that I will probably have more confused and unpleasant feelings emerge when she actually does die. And that yes, as much as I don't want to, I might cry when I hear of her passing, though I have absolutely NO intention of attending her funeral at all. Even if it does mean temporarily being cut off from my mom's money supply once every week or two. Or maybe even permanently cut off. I don't know what will happen or how mad she will be about me not going. All I know is, I'M NOT GOING!!! And I don't care if you don't believe me, Bunny, or you, either Dad, you'll see, and, judging by the looks of her, as well as her bizarre actions, you'll see soon!

"Do you think that Baba will come up to Seattle to live with you soon?" I asked.

"I just don't know. She's thinking about it, I can tell that she is, but she's scared, you know? She's been in that house of hers for nearly fifty years! And she doesn't want to give up her independence. But she's really not doing well at all, honey. Last time I was there, a week ago, she fell. There was blood all over her face and everything. I woke up to the sound of all these weird, funky ass noises. So I got up to investigate and…"

Her voice trailed off for a split second as she gathered her wits about her, then continued.

"I found her in the bedroom, on the floor, covered in blood. She had fallen down because her legs are so swollen and pained, she can hardly walk."

After another bout of heavy silence, she said in a very small, scared, almost child-like voice, "I don't think she'll live past this winter. I will be very surprised if she makes it past another year."

"Really?" I asked, more for a lack of having anything sympathetic to say, than anything. I also marveled, too, at how detached I felt while hearing, what should have been, very sobering, tear-worthy news.

"Yes, really, Ashlee," Jennifer says, irritation flaring up in her voice again.

"She's not doing good. I don't know how I can spell it out anymore to you. She's very ill indeed."

"Yes, I understand," I said quickly, feeling that familiar surge of fear that I often feel whenever I make her angry. Even though we were many miles apart, the fear was hot, smothering, and heavy, almost squeezing the air out of my lungs.

"Relax," I told myself, rocking back and forth soothingly on my foam mattress inside of my bedroom, the only piece of furniture that I have inside of my house. That is, if you can even call it furniture, pointed out a very sarcastic, snide friend of mine before, just a few days ago.

"She's not here. She can't hurt you. Just try to get off the phone soon and do it tactfully, okay?"

"I'm really sorry all of this is going on right now," I said, hoping that my voice sounded, indeed, sorrowful and sympathetic, Smm Smm feelings that I was not feeling very strongly, if at all, at the moment. I mean, how can anyone expect me to love and feel sorry for people who have been nothing but mean, demeaning, and secretive all of my life? It's really an unfair thing to ask of anybody.

"Well, I can't do anything about what's going on with Baba, but I am here for you if you need to talk. And, Mom, I do love you."

Do I love her?




A little, perhaps?...

It can't be a yes all the way, can it?

Fuck, I don't know. It's all too hard to sort out right now. Fuck all this confusing shit. Why can't things just be SIMPLE?

Why can't my life be simple?

Why can't life, in general, just be simple and peaceful, for everybody?

For those who deserve such luxuries, anyway.

"Thank you, Ashlee, for saying that. I love you, too, and I am so grateful and blessed to have you as my daughter."

Okay, I'm leaving off here for now. Time to unwind with some chocolate ice cream. No Rainbow Sherbet in stock, unfortunately, but my imaginary friends, especially Bryan, will have some in your honor because of the absence of the Sherbet in my freezer. I'll put it on the grocery list very soon! It does sound rather tasty, come to think of it.

I love you Dad. Thank you for giving me a wonderful space to write and share my thoughts/feelings with you. It almost feels like talking to you, like confiding my deepest, darkest secrets to you, what I used to do many years ago. Almost a decade ago. In December, it will be. It really does feel like you are here with me now, like we are having a face-to-face conversation.


But not quite.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Second Mistake, Part Smm Smm

Dear Dad,

Oh my Satan, the brownies were SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO utterly divinely DELICIOUS!! I tried to eat Smm Smm Smm Smm of them, but all I could manage were three. I put them in the microwave, heated them up for sixty seconds, and then lapsed into chocolate ecstacy as the hot, gooey, crumbling forms of brownie bodies melted away, blissfully, in my mouth. All of my demons ate merely, too. In case you are wondering, the way to make brownies taste as though they have just come out of the oven when they haven't, is to wrap each one individually in tin foil so that they don't stick together with other brownies, put them into a container, all wrapped up in the tin foil, and then put them in the freezer once a lid has been placed on top of the container. That way the brownies don't stand a chance of becoming contaminated with the taste of freezer, which doesn't taste good at all, especially when they become freezer burnt on top of that!

I admit, I was very skeptical of this method, suggested to me by no other than my wonderful partner, Chris, but I was willing to try it. After all, what did I have to lose? We bought a whole boxful of brownie mix from Costco, and, as you know, everything from that store comes in bulk, so, if the method didn't work, I told myself, I would just ask him to bake more. And, if he seemed reluctant or too tired from having to chase the baby all day, Chrissie would knock on him until he obliged, even resorting to biting his nose if necessary as a last resort.

But the method worked wonderfully and so we ate in joyous, triumphant silence as the night sky turned from velvety black to inky white as a new day dawned. Now, Smm Smm Smm Smm (four) days later, we are all ready to continue the story. So, here goes.

Giovanna drives at break neck speed to Poop Ludlow, driving her newly bought dark car with terrible blind spots. I'm not certain what type of car it is. I've only ridden it a handful of times and I don't fancy it at all. For one thing, the leather seats are cold and uncomfortable in the winter and they burn and stick to your skin in the summer when temperatures are high. The car also has a knack of making me quite car sick, though I'm not sure that the car is entirely to blame for that. My grandmother's driving is BEYOND horrible, as many would attest to if given the chance. And, if that weren't enough, the blind spots make Grandma's driving even more iratic, (I didn't even know that was a possibility until she bought that wretched car), which adds to my nausea about one hundredfold. The blind spots are so bad that she has, in fact, hit another car while I was in it once. A PARKED car to boot. The color of the poor vehicle was so bright and flashy that even I could see it. That's REALLY saying something, isn't it? The car has a sun roof built into it, which she promptly opens to the brink to allow warm, sea air to blast into the car's insides. I hate that part of the car, too, because it makes for a very unpleasant, noisy, and stinky drive as exhaust fumes permeate the air inside the car and the roar of the engines of motorcycles, poorly cared for vehicles with bad mufflers and Satan knows what else is wrong with them, and big trucks are enough to make my skin crawl. There are so many things to hate about it that I still have been rendered unable to come to a final decision about what feature I hate the most about it. It's a tie between the noise from the outside world when the sun roof is opened and the pummeling, debilitating waves of nausea that always overtake me whenever I ride in it. I guess the noise wouldn't be so bad if I could wear earplugs when I am around my family, but they make fun of me when I wear them, so, usually, I just grit my teeth when I'm around them and loud noises and hope that it'll all be done soon. The noise, being with them, all of it. The car doesn't particularly mind the speed at which they are driving, unlike Jennifer's old, beater car had minded it when Jennifer had sped, recklessly, to her mother's house not long ago for the first fight they had had about this subject, because this car is new, energetic, and loves action and adventure. Even as he, the car, begins to cross the Hood Canal Bridge, he finds himself wishing that Giovanna would give him his whole head, like horse riders do while they are amidst the back of their great creatures, which would, indeed, allow him to go even faster. Just a little… bit… FASTER!!!!

They pull up in Enoch's driveway about ten minutes later. If she had been going the speed limit, the drive would have taken her twenty minutes to get from her house to Jennifer's house. It's a wonder to all of us, my demons and I, how she managed to avoid, like her daughter had just mere days before, getting pulled over and given a ticket for reckless driving and a bunch of other crap that cops bust people for these days.

Enoch stands up and dashes over to the car. He is ecstatic to have company. Being with Jennifer all the time gets really boring.

"Hi there," Giovanna says in a high-pitched voice once she gets out of the car.

"Hi there, Enoch! How are you?"

Enoch towers over her and howls with excitement, for, sometimes, she brings with her a treat for him, like a giant hot fudge sundae, perhaps, or a giant, Tootsie Roll lollipop. But… not today.

"Sorry Charlie, I've got nothing," Giovanna says, revealing Smm Smm (two) very disappointingly empty hands. The house's face falls tremendously, but Giovanna says, insensitively, "Oh, buck up, you fat, harking bunch of ugly, meager wood before I set fire to you and extinguish your pitiful, miserable existence once and for all."

And, without another word and turning her back on the sad house, she bursts through the open door of the house, and calls out to her daughter, "I'm HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERE!"

Rocky, the real dog, bounds into the hallway from the porch where he had been sunbathing, barking so loudly that the wood floor on which Giovanna stands, frail and thin as ever, trembles from the powerful noise issuing from the great, 70 pound dog.

"Out here, Mom," Jennifer calls, a note of dryness and weariness in her voice as she obsessively straightens the cushions on all of the outside chairs. Cushions that had already, just five minutes prior, been perfectly straightened by the silents, but who apparently hadn't done it good enough, in Jennifer's eyes. Oh, how familiar that is indeed. I'm so glad that I don't live there anymore.

Giovanna pushes past the bouncing, tail wagging dog, who is also sniffing her out, seeking a treat, and walks out onto the back porch to greet her daughter, who is so entranced in her work that she has failed to give her mother a proper greeting when she arrived.

"How's the toilet?" asks Giovanna as she stares at the wind chimes hanging above the see through table that is standing on the deck. The chimes are swaying, slightly, from the breeze that is coming through from the water front just minutes from Enoch by foot.

"It still seems clogged," Jennifer says with a great sigh.

"I think I'll have to have Coalie look at it and then, if all else fails, a plumber will have to inspect it."

"I know of a good plumber if you need one," Giovanna says, still exercising that fake, polite, loving voice.

"Would you like some wine or tea or water or anything?" Jennifer asks as she stands up straighter, having just finished restraightening the last cushion.

"Water sounds great," says Giovanna, as she follows her daughter back into the forever chilly house.

Jennifer fills a tall glass of crystal clear, icy cold water from the refrigerator and then walks over to the counter and hands it over to her mom, who is sitting down at the bar, looking about the place with a strange expression on her face.

There is silence for a bit as Giovanna obnoxiously gulps down some water from the glass. Then, once she puts it down on the place mat that is lying on top of the counter, she says, in an attempt to be nonchalant, but a very poor attempt indeed, "Have you heard anything from Ash lately?"

Still calling me Ash, are they? Surprise, surprise! I guess I will always be considered a helpless, feelingless piece of property that they own, in their eyes. They don't even have the respect to exert just a LITTLE bit more energy to utter a second syllable that will finish off my name, the "lee" part.

"No, Mom, I haven't," Jennifer says, irritation clear as day in her voice and in her face.

"Have you?" she asks, though I'm quite certain that she already knows the answer.


There is another pause, this one a more pregnant, tension-filled silence, then Giovanna goes for the kill.

"I heard that you called Ashlee just before you got to Tony's house to pick me up for the airport when we were in Ohio and told her how well you thought she had "HANDLED HERSELF!", when her baba had asked her what was wrong with her. You called her right after that fight between them only five or ten minutes later, as you drove away from her house."

"Yeah?" Jennifer asks, trying to stave off her temper, which, undoubtedly, was pulling very strongly on its tether, just ITCHING to get free at last.


"SSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOO?!!!!!!!" howls Giovanna, leaping to her feet at once.

"What'd you do that for? Do you think Ashlee would have appreciated that bit of phony praise?"

"Yes, in fact, I do," retorts Jennifer, releasing her grip on the tether… Just a little bit.

"Well, I disagree!" yells Giovanna, walking around the bar and into the kitchen, wishing to be closer to her daughter, probably, I'm guessing, to appear more intimidating to Jennifer. This is my theory because Jennifer has done this exact thing to me countless times, moving closer to me and screaming in my face, to try and intimidate me. And, if I happened to be sitting down on the carpet, she would stand right over me, towering over me, her hateful shouts echoing across the entire expanse of the humungous house, as she raged on and on to her fearful, trembling, defenseless daughter, sitting helplessly on the floor, praying that it would all stop very soon. Wishing so very much that she could just disappear through the floor, never to be seen again, but that always the guilt of making her daughter disappear from fright would be ever present in Jennifer's heart until the day she died.

"I think she would have taken that as a very passive aggressive remark and that would have just added fuel to the fire! After all, EVERYTHING'S making her mad right now! That's obvious! She's off her medication, Jennifer, can't you TELL?"

"Yes, I can tell," snarls Jennifer, actually taking a step toward her mother in pure outrage, both palms up and pointing maliciously at her mother's face. Apparently the frail frame of her mother isn't as intimidating as it used to be. Her hands slacken all the way on the tether, and, all hell breaks loose.

"But there's nothing I can do about that. I've learned, recently, that some things just are out of my control and, when that happens, like right now, when she's not taking her meds, I just look the other way and pray that she'll get back on the beaten path really soon. That's all I can do."

"Oh, and when did you come to that realization?" jeers her mother, not cowing down to her daughter, even though Jennifer has just taken yet another step closer to her, so that they are almost nose to nose now.

"When she stopped talking to me and the whole family."

"Well, WOOPTY WOO!" growls her mother.

"But, that long bout of silence of hers obviously didn't teach you how NOT to be passive aggressive, giving her pointless phone calls just to piss her off."

"I didn't!" thunders Jennifer, and now, they are actually nose to nose, Jennifer's temper absolutely relishing in its newfound freedom.

Six fighties, waist high, four-legged creatures with enormous heads and big, tennis ball sized yellow eyes, lumber forward into the living room from Jennifer's bedroom, where, I think, they all must live, for she is their favorite person in the whole house and always has been, their heads bowed low, their nostrils a-quiver. They walk very slowly, finally halting at the entrance of the kitchen. One of them sneezes very loudly, spraying the walls and the floor with wet, green, icky snot, that sounds like five bull mastives sneezing in unison. When one or more fighties sneeze, it means that they are happy and excited, anticipating what is to come next in the fight. The air all around them is thick with tension, which they leap up and catch on their enormous blood red sticky tongues, and swallow in great, rattling gulps as a fight progresses. What causes them to sneeze is how ripply and violent the energy waves in the air are from all the shouting and other aggressive gestures that generally occur during a fight.

"Oh, don't even try to wriggle out of this one," laughs Giovanna.

"You can't lie about it now, you've already basically admitted that you called her. So, yes, Jennifer, you DID call her and piss her off."

"Yes, I CALLED her!" shrieks Jennifer, pushing against her mother's nose with her own very large, long, waddly one, causing Giovanna to fall back on her left foot for support as Jennifer's weight knocks her slightly off balance.

"But I didn't call to piss her off. I called because I generally wanted her to know how well I thought she handled the situation, given the circumstances."

"Yeah, AFTER you called and started the whole fight between her and Baba in the FIRST PLACE!" cries Giovanna, physically pushing her daughter out of her space. But, as she soon finds out a split second later, she doesn't have enough strength left in her to move Jennifer a single inch. Jennifer remains rooted to the spot, her ugly, giant nose still pressed firmly to her mother's shriveled, wrinkly, pallid one.

Seeing defeat, at least in the physical sense, Giovanna is forced to back away a couple of steps. She looks absolutely livid. Nita, the uppy, is oblivious to the heated argument going on below her. She dances joyfully around the house, screaming at the top of her lungs, "ALL UPPY!!!! ALL UPPY! ALL UPPY!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-PPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP-YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!"

It is true, everyone present inside the house is upping, a term that is commonly used in the uppy community for when people are standing. Rocky is running around in circles upstairs, his tail tucked between his legs, in sheer terror, his hackles raised, his teeth bared, a low growl rumbling menacingly in his throat. He knows, from Smm Smm Smm Smm horrible years of experience, how violent Jennifer can get when she is angry, and how utterly crazy Giovanna is, in general, whether angry or not. His eardrums are vibrating painfully as the sound waves of all the yelling, louder still by the very exuberant uppy, penetrates his poor, delicate ears. Hamilton, the newest member of the family, the striped, one-year-old cat that Coalie adopted from the humane society in Port Townsend, about a month and a half ago, is pacing up and down the bedroom, the bedroom that Conner sleeps in, his hackles also raised, his claws out, ready to rip into anyone who dares try and harm him, spitting madly as the shouting continues, ringing painfully in his sensitive, tender ears. And, then, there are, of course, the two women, both beat red in the face, standing in the middle of the kitchen, shouting themselves hoarse.

"As I TOLD YOU," Jennifer bellows, stepping toward her mother once more, "I didn't think that Baba would ask her that first thing. I thought that they would have a pleasant, normal conversation."

What is normal anyway, Dad? And, how can Jennifer, of all people, talk about what is and isn't normal? Jennifer and Giovanna are about the most dysfunctional bunch of folks I have ever met, the least normal of people, perhaps, in the whole boundary of Poop Ludlow and Poulsbo yet to be seen!

"BULL FUCKING SHIT!" Giovanna hollers, backing up once more, almost back to back with the stove now. Almost cornered! One of Jennifer's many specialty intimidation and fear tactics. To get you cornered so that there is no escape, so that you are now victim to her at last. Her prey!

"You knew that they would fight and that made you happy! No, here's what REALLY was going on in your head."

Giovanna begins gesticulating dramatically with her hands and arms, hitting Jennifer square in the face as she did so. Jennifer flinches a little, but does not budge. Giovanna, therefore, keeps hitting her in the face as she enacted what she KNOWS had to be going on inside of Jennifer's mind. Because, of course, she is the one person on this planet who knows how to read minds! Oh, no, I forgot, Jennifer apparently knows how to do that, too. Guess it's genetic. Too bad I never got that talent! It would have come in handy!

"You called Ashlee, hoping that she would get in a fight with Baba, which she certainly did. But, being the greedy little monster that you are, the fight just wasn't satisfying enough: there wasn't enough yelling, swearing, and, perhaps, tear shed. So, when you left Baba's house, you called her again, hoping that she was still angry from her last telephone encounter with your grandmother, to fight with you, make your morning a bit more exciting! And, it WORKED, though, certainly not the way YOU had planned for it to work. Instead of resorting to a shouting match, she simply has refrained from talking to you at all now. And she won't talk to me, either. Nice going JENNIFER!"

I didn't resort to a shouting match, you say? Like the one that you and Jennifer are having right now? Hmmm, I wonder why I did that. What fun I missed out on.

"It's your own fault that she stopped talking to you, Mom," Jennifer says, lowering her voice at last and, finally, backing away from her mother's pummeling, wild flailing hands and arms.

"And, I did think Ashlee handled herself well. It could have been a lot worse. She could have hung up on Baba or something and that would have made our parting even harder than it already was. You should have seen Baba weep like a baby when I rolled my last suitcase from her house. It about ripped my heart out."

"What heart?" Giovanna asks nastily.

"I didn't even know you had a heart. And your definition of handling things well certainly differs from mine. I feel that hanging up on Baba would have been far better of a choice for Ashlee to have made to what she did do, which was to ask Baba, maliciously, what was wrong with HER."

"I do have a heart, Mother," replies Jennifer loudly.

"I just didn't inherit it from you."

"Well, you certainly didn't inherit it from your father, now, did you? He won't even deal with his mother's last affairs before she dies."

"Well, I do have a heart, it's just not from either of you," Jennifer says defiantly, ignoring her mother's last snide comment about how horribly her daughter, me, did handle the situation in her eyes.

"I created one for myself, something that neither of you could have done for yourselves even if you two had made an effort to try. People born evil can't make hearts, not a good, pure one anyway. And that is why I am proud to be me and not you or Dad."

Amidst all the shouting, the fighties had sneezed and sneezed, unheard by the bellowing women and triumphant uppy, so that when Jennifer looks into the living room, it is to find her beloved white carpeting, walls, and nearby plants all covered in slimy snot and clumpy, wet boogers from inside the noses of the fighties, who, at the moment, are looking a bit disappointed, because, from the sounds and looks of it, the fight is about to end. It is, at least, calming down somewhat, anyway, and they aren't happy about it.

"I wasn't the one who sent her that stupid abuse article, you were. And there's no denying that either."

The two women stare at each other with the utmost contempt in their faces. If looks could kill, they would both have toppled over on the finely shining, flawless, oatmeal floor of Jennifer's kitchen floor, dead.

But, since looks can't kill, they just continue to stare daggers at each other until, finally, with a nasty grin popping up on Jennifer's face, Jennifer says wickedly to her mother, "I suppose you got THIS bit of information from your psycho, imaginary little friend then."

"Yes, I got it from my friend Rocky," Giovanna says, an air of proud vigor in her voice.

"And, he was absolutely right, then, wasn't he?"

"No, not completely," Jennifer says.

"But that is for me to know and not you. Unless, of course, he can figure it out himself, and, if that is the case, I will be most impressed. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got dinner to start cooking for Coalie for when he gets home. Unless, of course, you'd like me to drive you to the nearest ER to get your head examined, and then, in that case, I'll be glad to set aside my work for now and take you there straightaway."

"Oh, shut up Jennifer," Giovanna yells, still not having calmed down at all.

"You think you're better than everybody, like you are God or something! I HATE IT! And, I'm not psycho and neither is Rocky! So just shut the fuck up and start administering to your duties of servitude for COOOOOOOOOOO-AAAAAAAAA-LLLLL-IIIII-EEEEE then with that all-encompassing loving heart and body of yours."

"Well, nobody said that you had to come over here, did they? I sure as hell didn't invite you. And, I'm not Coalie's servant. We are two people who are madly in love with one another, and, unlike you, I don't just keep him around to USE him. I generally have love in my heart, something that, you, Mother, will never understand, sad but true."

Finding that they have at last, seen the real juicy bits of the heated discussion between the two psychos, my demons set off, through the trees, towards the condo, where they, once again, free Rocky from the closet and feed him Vienna sausages right from the can. He scarfes them down at once, almost swallowing one of them completely whole!

"Sorry we couldn't bring you anything better," apologizes Bryan as he nervously watches the ravenous dog continue inhaling the sausages.

"But it's all we could find right now."

"But, not to worry," adds Nevaeh as she pats the great head of the giant animal.

"We'll bring you something very soon. For now, you can remain free and let Giovanna keep pondering and guessing fruitlessly about how you keep getting free."

All of them laugh and then, all holding hands and each holding one of Bryan's strong, lazy branches, they walk towards their rockets, let go of each other's hands, wave a merry good-bye to one another, and set off for my house, eager to tell their tale of what they have just witnessed.

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!