Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Death By Oreo Overload: Part 1

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!

HAIL SMM SMM

Dear Daddy,

It was winter or spring time in Washington. I know that because I
remember feeling grateful that it wasn't going to be a hot day, even
though the sun shone brightly and the sky was totally crystal clear.

It was the weekend. Instead of having a "loungin day", like I so
badly wanted to, I was instead going to have a "hikin day."

We were going to hike the Dungeonness Spit Beach in Sequim. I had
never done that walk before, but I knew it was going to be an all day
affair. Mom had told me that much.

She was very excited about the prospect of such a long and arduous
hike. So was the Cathy uppy that lived inside of her. My uppy, Mr.
Thompson, who is now deceased and replaced by a Nick uppy, was also
overjoyed about the long hike. So was Chris's uppy and Andrew's, too.

Chris was my mother's boyfriend at the time. She had a boyfriend even
though she was still married to Tim. She'd had at least Smm Smm
boyfriends while married. Smm Smm of them, that I knew of, anyway.
There were probably more.

Andrew was Chris's very needy, hyper, and annoying son. I always
tried to ignore Andrew, but he made it difficult. He was constantly
trying to engage me in a conversation or a game, but I wanted nothing
to do with neither him nor his father. I didn't approve of my
mother's adulterous relationship with Chris, and made sure to make it
known to both Chris and Andrew that I didn't like them or want them
around.

My mother, Chris, and Andrew also seemed stoked about the long hike.
I was the only one who wished I could stay home and listen to music
all day. Oh, how I loved to have the whole house to myself. It was
peaceful, and I didn't have to worry about Andrew getting into my
stuff or pestering me.

Andrew was Smm Smm Smm Smm years younger than me. At the time of this
particular hike, I was around fourteen years old, I think.

I'm almost POSITIVE you were still alive.

YES, you WERE still alive! I know this because I didn't have any
imaginary friends yet. This was before their time. This was also
before the voices.

My imagination was always very active, though. It was the only thing
that kept me SANE throughout my childhood. Often, I would tell myself
stories to escape my reality, as one might daydream or dissociate from
the present.

My mother always hated it when I told myself stories. She
particularly hated it when I would rock back and forth while I told
them. She also couldn't STAND it when my lips moved, just a little,
as the story unfolded in my mind.

Many times, she'd snap at me, "Don't TALK to yourself!"

Or, "STOP ROCKING!"

I am very proud to say that she NEVER succeeded in breaking me of
those habits. To this day, I still rock when I tell stories or when
I'm listening to music. I also rock to soothe myself when I'm anxious
or stressed. And, I rock when I'm very excited or happy about
something.

I still talk to myself, too, and I tell myself stories every day in my
head. As much as she did manage to break me, she couldn't quite claim
all of me. My spirit was just too tough and stubborn to accept being
COMPLETELY consumed by her, and for that, I will always be eternally
grateful to SATAN. I am also grateful to myself for being so strong
and bull-headed, despite her efforts to totally crush my spirit,
especially the creative side of it.

The air was nippy, but it smelled fresh and sweet. I wore my thick
winter coat, even though I didn't think I really needed it. Whenever
I went on a hike with Mom, I often would get too hot because she set
such an unpleasantly fast pace, and would end up drenched in sweat
only mere minutes after we'd started the hike.

I'd try to take it off, or, at the very least, unzip it and unbutton
some of the buttons to invite some cool air in to soothe my
overheating body, but she often wouldn't let me do any of those
things.

"Leave it alone!" she'd bark at me.

"You'll get too cold if you unzip and unbutton it. You might catch a
cold, and we can't have that, can we?"

I knew what she was getting at. If I caught a bad enough cold, the
school would send me home, thus putting my precious GPA at risk.

All Mom ever seemed to care about, a part from keeping a perfectly
spotless car and house, was my GPA. She acted as though my whole
world needed to be centered around it, like I might just DIE if I got
anything lower than an A minus.

It wasn't until we were almost at Dungeonness Spit, that I learned the
seriousness of the day's predicament. While Chris slowed down to try
and find a good parking spot, Andrew, who was sitting in the backseat
with me, asked innocently, "How long is the hike?"

"It's ten miles!" Jennifer said, very excited about this.

"And, that's not counting the trail we must take in order to get to
the beach. Once we get to the beach, it's ten miles. I think the
trail's almost a mile long."

"Are we going to walk all the way to the lighthouse?" I asked, my
entire body sinking with dread.

"Oh, yes," said Jennifer happily, not seeming to notice my displeasure
upon hearing this information.

"We're going to walk start to finish. I've NEVER hiked to the
lighthouse before, and today is just a PERFECT day for it, don't you
think, Chris?"

"Yes, it most certainly is," he responded with a smile. I could hear
it in his voice.

"The tide's out pretty far today, too, so we'll have plenty of sand to walk on."

TEN...

WHOLE...

MILES!!!!!!!

OH, god, I thought miserably as Chris parked the car.

What am I going to DO?!!!!

Surely, I was going to get tired well before the ten mile mark. It
was inevitable; there was no point in hoping that I wouldn't.

If I did try to hope, it would just be outright denial.

"Come on, my little princess," Jennifer said, jumping out of the old
Mercedes we had driven to Sequim in.


TIM's Mercedes. Only, without Tim.

It always felt very strange to ride in Tim's old car with my mother's
boyfriend, especially when HE was driving Tim's car. It didn't feel
right at all in any way to me. I wonder how Jennifer felt about that.
Had it felt wrong to her, too? Or, was she too self-absorbed to
notice. Often, it would make me feel sad to ride in that car without
Tim in it. Tim was a pretty grouchy dude, but he had been good to me,
for the most part, and we did share some fond memories while riding
around in that car.

Sampson. That was what Tim had named the car upon purchasing it. He
said the name suited the car, and I quickly agreed with him. It just
felt right calling it Sampson.

"Time to hikey hikey," Jennifer said, opening my door, as if I was
incapable of opening it on my own.

Fearing that she would reach over and take off my seat belt, like one
would do with a toddler, I quickly took it off and hastened to get out
of the car.

On the way up to Sequim from Poop Ludlow, I had made a point to savor
every moment of the ride, for who KNEW when the opportunity to sit
down would reveal itself. Judging from the excited way in which my
mother spoke and her excited movements, the opportunity wasn't going
to come for a long, LONG time.

The air was cool and fresh. I tilted my head upwards, closed my eyes,
and breathed it in through my eager nostrils. I could have stood
there for five minutes, just savoring the utter beauty of the scents
that were all around me, but Jennifer had other ideas.

And, it was always her way. If she wanted to do something, we ALL had
to do it, like it or not.

"Come on, let's GOOOOOOO!" boomed Jennifer. She had already started
walking toward the trail head. So had Chris and Andrew.

SHIT!

I ran to catch up to them, hoping there was nothing to trip over as I
ran. I didn't have my cane with me; Jennifer HATED it when I brought
my cane anywhere with us. I was only allowed to take it and use it at
school. Rarely did she let me use it anywhere else.

I used to wonder for a long time why that was. Finally, I discovered
that it was merely because it embarrassed her, though she'll never
admit that to me. I know it's true, though. She can deny it all she
wants, but I know I'm right about this.

She wanted a "normal" child, not a child with a disability. An
OBVIOUS disability. So, I was often left to fend for myself when
walking around, always hoping to stay upright and not get snagged by a
bramble or to topple over, facedown, because of a step down that I
didn't see because my depth perception is so bad.

Sometimes, she would let me hold her hand, but not always. Sometimes,
having me hold onto her frustrated her, or, maybe it made her feel
claustrophobic. In any event, when she felt like this, she'd often
shake me off like one would shake off a burr from their coat, and
she'd say, "Stop CLINGING!"

I totally get the claustrophobia thing. I feel claustrophobic a lot.
Sometimes, Amira clings to me, and I get a strong urge to shake her
off, too. Sometimes, I do shake her off, but it's because she's
simply being too damn needy! She's not clinging because she really
needs me like I needed Jennifer.

When Amira clings, it's for attention.
And, sometimes I just don't want to give her any.
So, although I understand how uncomfortable claustrophobia and being
clung onto can be, I have no sympathy for Jennifer. I wouldn't have
had to "cling" to her if she had only put her embarrassment aside and
let me use my cane when I needed to.

Like, on the root-filled trail that lead to the beach.

The trail was "picturesque", as my grandpa Greg would say. There were
lots of tall trees on either side of us, and the air was sweet with
the smell of fresh pine and leaves. All around us, there was
birdsong. The earth floor was hamburger helper, and my sneakers
gobbled it up eagerly. I was glad I wore my sneakers. At least my
feet wouldn't get too hot, like they would have if I'd worn my winter
boots with fur on the inside.

"Doesn't it smell DELIGHTFUL?" Jennifer said, taking a deep breath
through her nose.

"Yes, honey, it does," Chris answered her.

I was glad there were Smm Smm other people to satisfy Jennifer's
constant need for chitchat. I did like to talk to people I truly
loved and who truly loved me in the way I wanted to be loved, like
you, but, you weren't there to talk to me on that day. I had nothing
to say to Mom, (nothing nice, anyway), so I stayed quiet and
concentrated on keeping up with them.

If I fell even a little bit behind, Mom wouldn't be happy. And, she'd
just get farther away from me, so that, eventually, I'd have to RUN to
catch up, and that was likely to cause a fall.

Andrew began babbling to me about something then, but I took no notice
of what he said. I "mmmmmmmm-hmmmmmmmed" and "aaaaaaaa-haaaaaaaaaed"
in all the right places, which kept him satisfied and Mom off my back.

She often grew cross with me when I blatantly ignored Andrew or Chris.
Jennifer couldn't stand it when I ignored her, either. After all, SHE
was having a good time, so, therefore, I was expected to be happy,
too. I was expected to be a mirror of her own emotions.

But, only the happy ones. Nobody was allowed to show unhappiness or
discomfort except for her.

There was a light breeze, and I savored it. I wondered if Jennifer
had thought to pack any water or food. I doubted she'd packed food
because that would entail having to stop in order to eat it, and
stopping was not allowed unless something caught her eye that
intrigued her. If that happened, we were allowed a one-minute break
while she ooooooooooed and aaaaaaaaaaaed about it. Then, the boot
camp hike was back in session.

There were some roots on the trail, but it wasn't too bad.
Occasionally, I dragged my feet to make sure there weren't any sudden
dips or drops in the incline of the trail. My sneakers HATED being
dragged like that, but, being that I was forbidden to use my cane and
get the tactile stimulation I needed to walk confidently that my cane
gave me, I had no other choice but to use the shoes as a substitute
for the cane that got to stay home and have a "loungin day."

Only, she didn't WANT to have a "loungin day." Because she was always
cooped up in my backpack and rarely used, she had a lot of pent-up
energy. She would have LOVED to be out on such a fine day as that
one, even if the tree roots did jam her up and the brambles grabbed at
her tip continuously, their way of saying hi.

I could hear the waves before we got to the beach. That's how
powerful they are at that particular beach. I smiled to myself, for I
loved the sound of the ocean. It always brought a sense of
tranquility and safety to me that I rarely felt.

Oblivious to the meditative sound of the waves crashing against the
rocks, Andrew yakked on and on.

Seriously, that kid...

NEVER...

SHUT...

UP...!!!

"Ashlee, can you hear the waves?" Jennifer asked dumbly.

"Of COURSE I can hear the waves, idiot stick," I wanted to yell.

"How can I NOT hear them?!!"

Jennifer always had a way of asking really stupid questions. Like,
once, when I was dozing on the couch at the Driving Range where Tim
used to work, and she could very clearly see that I was sleeping, or,
at least STARTING to fall asleep, she said, "Are you sleeping?"

"I WAS!" I'd snapped at her, irritated beyond belief that she'd ruined
my moment of bliss and restfulness. She HAD known I was sleeping! How
could she not have known?

HOW?!!!!!

Mom, do you ask stupid questions just to annoy people, or are you
really just as dumb as a pile of rocks?

Did you ask me if I was sleeping just because you wanted to wake me up
because YOU were up, so, therefore, I should have been awake, too?

Or, do you really ask those kinds of questions because you don't think
before you act or speak?

I'm seriously genuinely curious about this. Too bad I never had the
balls to ask her when we talked.

"Yes, I hear them," was what I said instead, making sure to sound
animated, because I was expected to sound happy-go-lucky all the time,
even when I wasn't happy at all.

"They're so STRRRRRRROOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNG!" she said in amazement, as if
she'd never seen a beach before in her life.

"Yes," I said sweetly, trying to hide my growing irritation.

"Yes, they are."

I felt like I was engaging in a conversation with someone who was
retarded. Shallow, unimportant blabber, that's what it was, and I
never did have the patience for it. Not when I know the person who
I'm speaking to, like Jennifer, is NOT retarded, but is acting like
it.

Suddenly, the trail forked to the right and began to slope downward.

"Careful, Ashlee," warned Mom.

"There are some roots along here."

YOU wouldn't have had to tell me that if I had my cane with me, I
thought, filled with hatred and resentment.

I could be doing this all independently if you'd just let me USE it!

Maybe, that's another reason why she wouldn't let me use my cane.
Knowing her, she probably ENJOYED watching me struggle to get around.
She probably felt important and high on one of her many power trips,
when I was forced to depend on her.

I also wonder if she enjoyed all the mind games that went along with
it as well. You see, I never knew when she would be feeling kind
enough to warn me about upcoming roots, steps, etc. Sometimes, she
would, and other times, depending on her mood, I guess, she'd just let
me trip and fall without saying One DAMN WORD to me before or after
the fact.

I think she enjoyed keeping me in suspense. It gave her power to know
that she could control when I got a scrape or not.

I was her puppet. And, fight as I might to get free of her claws
(Which I did quite often, though I was very frightened of her), I
never could COMPLETELY get free as a child.

I'm still not free, though there IS improvement.

Seagulls greeted us as our feet finally touched the sand. I enjoyed
the cries of the seagulls, and wished we had some bread or crackers to
feed them. Watching seagulls and ducks fight over food is quite an
enjoyable activity for me. It was, for me, as a kid, too.

The sand at the beginning of the beach was very soft. Too soft. My
shoes immediately sank deep into it, forcing me to have to work my leg
muscles harder than I wanted to, so as not to let sand inside of my
shoes. That would certainly happen if they became buried underneath
it, and I HATED it when sand got into my shoes. I would have to feel
it all day long. Mom wasn't likely to let me stop and shake the shoes
out.

It would "slow her down", and, OH NO, she just COULDN'T have that!

Sand has a way of rubbing against your feet when it's trapped inside
of one's shoes and socks, and, if not taken care of quickly enough, it
can cause blisters to form on the feet.

That was ALL I needed. Sore, tired feet, which was unavoidable with a
hike of this length, with blisters to add to the discomfort.

Fun day!

My sneakers slurped eagerly at the soft sand, which was whipped cream.
The fresh, home made kind, right from Mother Nature herself, not the
icky, chemical-filled CANNED kind.

I followed close behind my mother, hoping that she wouldn't get angry
at me for following behind her rather than walking beside her, which
was what she preferred. It was too tricky to walk beside her, though,
because I only see out of the side of my left eye, so when I would
walk beside her, I couldn't really see her anymore.

It's fine for me to walk beside someone when I know where we're going
or have my cane with me. If I don't know where to go, though, I must
follow from behind so I can see where they're going and follow in
their footsteps.

Thankfully, Mom didn't seem to notice me being behind her and
following so closely. She was engaged in a deep conversation with
Chris. They were both talking animatedly, like high school girls
preparing to go to the prom. Every once in a while, Mom would have
little fits of laughter.

It was, in a lot of ways, easier to hike with her when others were
around. They kept her distracted, preventing her from focusing solely
on me and, in particular, all the things she didn't like about me that
I said or did, often without even realizing I'd upset her until it was
too late. So, in a way, I felt happy that Chris was around to keep
her occupied.

If ONLY I could just get rid of Andrew now...

Eventually, after stepping over a few rocks, as well as timber and
logs that littered the upper part of the beach, we reached, what I
often thought of, as "the good stuff." We had reached the hard, firm
sand.

Finally, my leg muscles could have, somewhat, of a break.

When the sand hardened, it became hard served chocolate ice cream,
filled with fresh, crunchy, double stuffed Oreo cookie pieces and
chocolate chips. Occasionally, my shoes would encounter WHOLE Oreo
cookies that were buried underneath the ice cream sand. There were
chocolate chips with every bite they took.

"It's just straight ahead from here!" Jennifer called to me over the
loud crashing of the powerful waves.

To me, it looked like the tide was coming in, but, what did I know? As
long as we didn't get trapped on the beach, it was going to be smooth
sailing from here on out.

Now that I knew we were just going to walk straight for five whole
miles along a relatively even beach, I moved closer to the water to
avoid tripping over the snoozing rocks that kept some distance from
the water, and quickened my pace. Before long, I was ahead of Chris
and Jennifer, and that was EXACTLY where I needed to be. The further
ahead of them I got, the longer of a break I could take when I needed
one because it would take a while for them to catch up.

I just had to make sure I didn't go TOO quickly, or I'd tire myself
out too soon. I played it smart. I knew I needed to preserve as much
energy as I could and use it sparingly.

When I hiked with Jennifer, I never could just ENJOY everything that
the great outdoors has to offer. I was always calculating how to do
it right so that it would be the least torturous for me. I always had
to think ahead and outwit Jennifer as much as possible. Hiking with
her was more like being one of the contestants on SURVIVOR than being
a part of a normal-looking family, out on a nice day to get some fresh
air.

If I was able to outwit her enough, though, I usually found I could
enjoy SOME of the hike. Any enjoyment was warmly and eagerly
welcomed.

By some miracle of Satan, Andrew finally took his leave and began
leaping over logs and driftwood a ways from the water. He was always
climbing things and rough housing.

GOOD, I cheered myself on as I continued to walk steadily, without looking back.

I got rid of him, too. WELL DONE!!!!

The water was to my left. I smiled at it and then let my thoughts wander.

I imagined myself eating the cookie and chocolate chip clustered ice
cream sand. Doing that was easy because I could clearly hear my shoes
as they crunch, crunch, crunched away on the cookies with their
needle-sharp teeth. Closing my eyes for a moment, I opened my mouth,
lowered my head, and imagined myself taking a nice, big, satisfying
bite.

Instantly, my mouth was filled with rich, creamy chocolate ice cream,
little, tiny chocolate chips that, upon melting in your mouth, bury
themselves deep within the little holes of your teeth, and crunchy,
heavily vanilla frosted Oreo cookie parts.

And then, something COMPLETELY unexpected.

HOT FUDGE!!

So hot and creamy, it was nearly drinkable. Like hot cocoa.

My shoes purred loudly as they ate and ate, their mouths open as wide
as they could go, to get as much of the delicious stuff inside of them
as possible.

A seagull flew over my head, just then, and hooted a loud but pleasant hello.

"Hi," I called to it, waving my hands up in the air after it.

"Have a nice flight!"

Even though my mouth was completely empty, except for some spit, it
sounded like my mouth was full when I spoke. Oh, the power of
imagination. I seriously pity people who don't have one, and even
more so, the people who do have one but who refuse to use it.

"Don't go too far!" yelled Jennifer.

I stopped, just for a second, and turned around.

Jesus, I'd gone further than I'd meant to. I couldn't even see them anymore.

GOOD, I thought, and, without a word, turned back to the beaten path,
and kept right on going.

I wasn't going to slow down for anybody. Mom never slowed down for me
when I needed her, so, why should I slow down for her?

On and on, we ate. The hot fudge, that had oozed over and through
everything else, warmed me in a soothing way. Since Mom was too far
away to bitch at me, I began unbuttoning my coat. Once that task was
accomplished, I unzipped it all the way with one, clean, sweeping
downward motion, relishing the sound the zipper made as the coat began
loosening its often very smothering hold on me.

Cool, fresh sea air greeted my body. My body eagerly accepted its
intrusion, glad to be freed of the coat.

With the cool wind pushing lightly against my cheeks, and the warm sun
pressing itself lightly against my back, I walked on. I was walking
faster than I would have otherwise been walking if Jennifer was
absent, but, since she wasn't, I kept my pace brisk and purposeful. I
was NOT going to let her catch up and kill what little enjoyment I had
found.

She had Chris with her. Wasn't that enough?

Suddenly, I thought of you. You always loved the beach and the sea.
Remembering how you and I used to stomp on the clams that hid
underneath the sand at the Indianola beach, making them squirt water
at us, I smiled. We never caused harm to the clams, but I'm sure we
weren't a favorite visitor of theirs.

I remembered how you and I used to kneel or sit down and search for
rocks that we thought were interesting because of their shape, color,
or texture. When we had finished collecting our rocks, which took
quite a while, as you were never one to be in any particular hurry, we
would bring them home and put them in our treasure jar. The jar was
made of glass, and it was nearly filled to the brim with interesting
rocks and seashells of various shapes and sizes.

The best times were when we'd sit on a log, you'd light up a
cigarette, and I'd proceed to shove rocks down your pants.

No, not just rocks. There was no limit to what I'd shove down there.

Suddenly, I burst out laughing as I remembered the time I found a
Popsicle stick amongst all the rocks, and decided it would be a good
idea to shove it down there with everything else.

Why not?

To be continued, Daddy. I love you.

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!

HAIL SMM SMM

Monday, September 25, 2017

Convention Curses: Part Noses

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!

HAIL Smm Smm!!!!

Dear Daddy,

YESSSSSS!!!!!!

I got the fourth part of the story published on my blog.

Just in time! Couldn't be too late because Jennifer wouldn't see the
post until tomorrow, after her birthday. Yet, it couldn't be too
early. Better to wait until the early evening hours so that she'd
stew in dread all day long, obsessively checking my blog to see
whether or not I'd posted anything.

What a way to spend her birthday!

Costco was fun. All of my friends got Costco treats. All noses of them.

Chrissie got a pumpkin pie. They only sell pumpkin pies during the
fall season, so Chrissie had been waiting a VERY long time for pumpkin
pie.

Often, Chrissie tells me that she wishes they sold it all year long.
I hate the taste of pumpkin pie, but love, love, LOVE the smell of it,
so I can't help agreeing with Chrissie on this one.

Why do certain foods, like pumpkin pie, for example, have to be
seasonal? Many people like pumpkin pie, so, why not sell it year
round? Costco would probably profit quite well on the pumpkin pies if
they sold them all the time.

And, it would certainly make Chrissie happy.

Nevaeh got an All American Chocolate Cake. She's such a TEENSY, tiny
little doll, yet she can plow through one of those humungous cakes in
a day's time if she's REALLY craving it.

When Chris and I get our food stamps next month, I'm going to buy one
of those cakes for myself and freeze some of the pieces so that it
doesn't go bad as quickly. I hope it doesn't taste freezer burnt.

Chris says that, if I put the frozen pieces in containers and put lids
on them, that they should taste normal once they thaw out, which won't
take long. Maybe a half hour to an hour or so, and BOOM!

CAKE TIME!!!!

The All American Chocolate Cake has delicious chocolate shavings all
along the sides of the cake. The whole cake is a bottomless pit of
rich and wonderful delight. Soon, I will post a picture of one of
those cakes. I'd like to show it off.

Have you ever eaten one of those cakes, Dad?

I suppose it wouldn't have been a very good thing for you to eat, with
your diabetes and all, but you never seemed to care what you ate. You
would eat chocolate and candy and other junk food like it was going
out of style! So, perhaps, you DID get to enjoy at least ONE of those
cakes while you were alive.

I hope so.

Mary Meyers, after much consideration, finally decided on a pecan mud
slide. They don't sell pecan mud slides for "real" beings at Costco,
but, in the imaginary world, Costco sells everything you can possibly
imagine and more.

Since everything you buy from Costco is so huge, you can only imagine
how gigantic the mud slide was.

It was bigger than any dessert WE normally see in our unimagined world.

In case you don't know what pecan mud slides are, I'll tell you. I
don't remember eating them with you, so I'm not sure you DO know what
they are.

Derry Queen used to sell them. They originated from DQ. Sadly, DQ
discontinued them a couple years ago. I have no idea why.

Pecan mud slides are ice cream desserts. Big surprise, right?

What's in them, you ask?

A SHIT TON of stuff, that's what.

The ice cream is vanilla. Caramel is mixed in with the ice cream,
along with rich, gooey, hot fudge, and yeah, you guessed it, a CLUSTER
of pecans decorating the mud slide, from cold, creamy vanilla ice
cream top to hot, sticky, melt-in-your-mouth, delicious hot fudge and
caramel bottom.

Then, as though it weren't sweet enough and needed an additive, you
can request a mountain of whipped cream to top it off.

Which is what I always did when they still existed.

AND, sometimes, just to yank the Devil by the tail, I would order
EXTRA everything on it, including extra hot fudge. Once, the mud
slide that I ordered ended up being so mammoth that it had to be
served in TWO cups instead of the standard sundae sized cup they dole
out at DQ.

That was the one and only mud slide I ALMOST couldn't finish.

Mary Meyers, like me, has a sweet tooth, so, naturally, she got the
mud slide with the extra toppings. Right now, at this very moment, I
can hear her crunch, crunch, crunching on all those pecan nuts. It's
making me smile to know that all of my demons are satisfied and
content.

Smm Smm got tiramisu (I SERIOUSLY doubt I'm spelling that right).
It's the creamy Italian dessert that tastes like coffee, and it's not
really a cake, though I used to think it was. It's very creamy and I
think it has a soft cookie crust of some kind. I only tried it once
but didn't like it because I hate the taste of coffee.

The spell checker didn't shed any light on the spelling of the word,
SOOOOOOOOO, we'll just leave it alone. It will make Jennifer mad to
see a mistake in here if I did spell it wrong. At the very least,
she'll probably check the spelling of the word: the mere thought that
I may have possibly misspelled it will drive her up the wall until she
finds out for herself whether it's spelled correctly or not. If I did
spell it right, I'm sure there's some mistake she'll find: my writing
is NOT perfect and, any flawed word that she may find will eat at her
all day long.

Anyone with a brain should be able to figure out what dessert I'm
talking about. I know you can, Daddy, and that's really all that
matters to me.

Bryan surprised me. Normally, he always goes for the lemon meringue
pie, but not today. Instead, he opted for a giant lemon cake with
vanilla icing. The cake was decorated with little tree roots and a
tiny rain forest with little droplets of rain in the form of
sprinkles. As he's eating it, he's whispering in his growly voice,
"Nevaeh inside the nose!"

Only, it doesn't sound like nose. When he's happy, he exaggerates the
word, so it sounds like,
"Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnn-eeeeeeeeeeeee-yynnyynyyyy-ooooooooooooooo-wwwwwwww-ssssssssss-eeeeeeee-aaaaaaaaaaa-hhhhhhh!"

When he's feeling sad, it just sounds like nose. That's how Chris can
tell when he's sad. When I let him talk out loud through my own
mouth, but with his voice, and say it just like he said it.

Confusing, I know, but, what can I say? You and Jennifer made a nutty kid!

That's not MY fault!

As I said I would, I got a chocolate frozen yogurt. No pizza or hot
dog, though. Ended up eating off of the Rotisserie chicken I bought
from Costco with some nice, juicy grapes. I think they were green
grapes. The seedless kind.

I won't have it any other way. Seeds inside of grapes are just a
nuisance. They take all the enjoyment out of eating the grapes in
which they hide, because you have to work to not choke to death on
them. And, they aren't easy on the teeth, either.

Bryan says that seeded grapes are not a very lazy thing to eat. I
can't agree more with him.

So, Mom and Grandmama have found out that I've started blogging again.
They found out rather quickly, I thought.

I was under the false impression that, as long as I kept in contact
with them, they wouldn't find out about it. Not right away, anyway.
I had thought they only checked it when we weren't on talking terms
because it was the only way for them to see what I was up to. My
Satanic blog was their only connection to me when we weren't talking.
Now that we are in regular contact with each other, I thought they'd
just forget about the blog; why read it if they already know what is
going on in my life.

Apparently, I was wrong.

VERY wrong.

I think that one or both of them signed up for e-mail notifications
whenever I post something, and I rather like that idea, because,
whenever my mother gets an e-mail sent to her I-PHONE, it clongs.

Oh, how Chrissie loves it when I-PHONES or I-PODS clong whenever an
email appears in the inbox.

Whenever Chris checks his mail on the I-POD and it dings, she always
shouts, "CLONG, Smm Smm, CLONG!!!!"

To think of Jennifer's phone clonging every time I publish something
brings a smile to my face. And, to Chrissie's, too.

Bryan and Smm Smm, have another theory. And, I must admit, there
theory is also very appealing to me.

They think that no one in my family have signed up for e-mails
whenever I post something. They think that Mom and Grandmama
obsessively check it several times a day to see whether I've written
more about them or whether all is quiet, just the way they like it.

It was the very next day after I had posted the first part of
Convention Curses on the blog. The Stove Top Pudding story had
already been up there for a day. The first time I spoke with
Jennifer, which was after I had published the pudding story, I could
tell that something was the matter with her, but didn't ask her what
it was. I had a pretty good idea that she'd seen the pudding story,
and was mad about it.

At the very least, CONCERNED.

The day I published the first part of this story, I decided,
afterward, to go to the Movie Theater and watch E. T.

I'd already seen the movie and read the book, but I liked them both so
much, I thought I'd see it again. This movie was the one and only
movie that anyone in my life had bothered to get me when I was a child
with descriptive video put into the movie so that blind kids, like me,
could watch it and understand what the hell was going on.

YOU were the one who got me that movie, Dad. It was one of the most
special presents I had ever received from anyone.

To this day, you are the only one who ever got me a descriptive movie.

When you bought that movie for me, I was about ten or so. I remember
sitting down to watch it, feeling very excited. But, I ended up
missing a lot of what happened because Mom was in a foul mood that
day. Apparently, you had gotten into a fight with her over the phone,
no doubt about child support that you supposedly owed her, so, when
she got off the phone, all she wanted to do was rant and rave about
what a loser you were.

What was left of the movie to watch when she'd finally worn herself
out and shut her trap, I thoroughly enjoyed. So, I wanted to
resurrect the memory of that gift you got me and FINALLY, after all
these years, find out what I'd missed because Jennifer wouldn't shut
up.

As it turns out, the digital sound headphones didn't want to work that
day (I made sure to put a general hex on the head phones and the guy
who put it on the wrong channel, which was probably why it didn't work
before I left the theater at the end of the movie), but I enjoyed it,
nonetheless. I ate rainbow sherbet with chocolate ice cream in your
honor, and I laughed when the alien ate the m and m trail Elliot had
put out for him to lure him upstairs into the closet because E. T.
sounded so much like my imaginary demons when they eat something, only
minus all the grunting and alien noises.

If anyone is ever curious about what my demons sound like when they
are chewing on food, just watch E. T. It is almost CREEPY how close
the alien's eating sounds are to those of my demons.

Once the movie ended and I had cursed the head phones and the employee
who had screwed it up, I headed for the bus. I was on it, straining
my ears to try and hear the stops that it was calling out, (The volume
was almost turned down all the way, making it almost IMPOSSIBLE to
hear the street names), when my phone rang.

It was JENNIFER.

I had been about to call her to thank her for the hundred dollars I'd
just noticed she had sent me while I was in the movie theater through
Chase Online Quick Pay. I always call and thank her when she gives me
money. It's the right thing to do. And, even though she did abuse me
as a child, and still does now to some extent, though it's reduced to
verbal abuse, only, and only sometimes, I feel obligated to thank her.
After all, I was quite broke when she sent it. Once again, she'd
saved my ass.

I'd be a JERK not to thank her.

"Hi, Mom," I said, still trying to listen for my stop as I held the
phone to my right ear.

"Thank you for the hundred dollars. I really do appreciate it."

I wasn't lying. I really DO appreciate it when she helps out. I wish
I didn't NEED her help so much, but I'm hoping that will change soon.
Maybe these letters to you will amount to something, and I won't need
her anymore.

"You're welcome," she said in a very tight voice.

"Hey, can you talk?"

UH oh, I thought.

HERE we go.

"I can't talk long," I told her truthfully.

"I'm on the bus and it's almost time for me to get off. What's up?"

I already knew, though.

"Well, I'm not going to beat around the bush," she said, her voice now
sounding calm and gentle.
"I know you've been blogging again."

From somewhere far away, I thought I heard someone calling out to me.

MAYBE the driver's telling me he's reached my stop, I thought.

"WHAT?!!!" I asked, rather dramatically, for I was quite frustrated by
how quietly the bus was announcing the stops. I was also flustered
about being confronted by Mom, though, I knew it was coming.

I just didn't know what to do about it right then.

I waited for whoever had spoken to me to answer me, but I heard
nothing but the loud rumble of the bus's engine as it continued to
speed down the road, heading for downtown.

WELL, maybe no one had spoken, I told myself.

MAYBE it was one of the voices tricking me again.

I'm sure that Jennifer thought I was about to deny her accusation
about me blogging again because of the way I'd said "WHAT?!!!!!"

But, I wasn't.

Not wanting to miss my stop, I called to the driver to let me know
when the stop I wanted came up.

"I can't hear the announcements," I told him.

"They're too quiet today."

"I know," he said, apologetically.

"I can't control the volume or I would make it louder. Sorry. I'll
let you know when it's time for you to get off."

I thanked him, then returned to the ordeal at hand.

"Yes, Mom, I've been blogging. What about it?"

I didn't know what she wanted me to say.

I didn't know what to say.

"Well," she said, still in that calm voice I wasn't used to her using,
nor was I prepared for.

"I guess I'm confused. When I read what you wrote, it sounds like you
want a relationship with me in parts of it, but, then, in most parts,
you sound like you don't want one. You tell me you want to have one,
and you call me daily. I'm getting mixed messages."

HMMMMMMM, I wonder who I learned THAT from!!!!!

"It's your stop," the driver called to me, slowing the bus to a stop
so I could get off.

I got off the bus and just stood there, not knowing what to say.

WHY wasn't she mad? Why wasn't she screaming at the top of her lungs
like she usually did when she got mad?

All this calm bullshit was freaking me out. This calmness was foreign
to me, coming from her.

"I guess I don't really know what I want, either," I finally
confessed, totally thrown for a loop.

YELL, dammit, YELL!

If she yelled, I'd be able to handle it better. It was what I was used to.

"Sometimes, I feel like two different people. I don't know what I
want," I repeated.

Standing there in the bright sun at the bus stop, I hated myself for
opening up to her, for showing her my vulnerable side.

This was supposed to be making her mad and ME feel powerful and in
control, not the other way around!

WHAT the FUUUUUUUUUCK was this, anyway?!!!

Sweat beads began oozing down my forehead, so I started walking,
feeling dazed. Nothing looked familiar to me, NOTHING.

HAD the driver dropped me off at the wrong stop? Had he misheard the
stop I wanted?

Where the FUCK WAS I?!!!

"You're lost, you're lost," Minnie May began to sing, hopping
victoriously in front of me, causing the shadows in front of me to
sway with her dramatic movements, making everything look distorted and
REALLY out of focus.

I felt like I was on some kind of bad drug trip I desperately didn't
want to be on.

Only, I hadn't taken any drugs, nor could I get out of this trip. I'd
have to just wait it out. Just like everything else in my life.

I kept walking, hoping something, ANYTHING, would look familiar.

"Well, that's something you might want to consider working on with
Franchesca," she said in an unnaturally gentle voice.

Franchesca was the therapist I used to talk to when I was going to the
Sea-Mart Clinic to get help with my supposed bipolar and borderline
disorders. I never told Jennifer I'd quit going to the clinic. I
told no one. I didn't have the heart to tell anyone.

"Yeah, maybe I should," I said, and a TEAR, a mother fucking TEAR,
began to well up in my eye and slide down my left cheek.

OH GOD, I thought angrily to myself.

WHAT the fuck is wrong with you?!!!

GET ahold of yourself! This is what she WANTS to have happen right now.

SHE wants YOU to feel like the crazy one, even though it's her that's
crazy, all HERRRRRRRRRR!!!!

"Is there anything I can do for you, Ashlee?" Jennifer persisted,
speaking as one might talk to a wounded animal to try and comfort it.

"Are you hearing voices?"

Hearing voices? I'm ALWAYS hearing voices! The more appropriate
question would be WHAT are they saying NOW?

More like, when am I NOT hearing them?

I didn't say anything due to the big ass lump that had lodged itself
deep in my throat, making speech impossible, so she said, "How are you
doing?"

"I've been better," I admitted, hating the way my voice trembled with
every word I spoke.

Every BREATH I took felt shaky and unnatural.

So, I held my breath, knowing that I should turn around and start
walking the other way before I got REALLY lost. Nothing was looking
familiar, and, by this time, I had gotten a ways from the bus stop.

Time to start at square one and try to figure out where in the "Sam
Hell", as you'd say, I was.

So I turned around and began trudging back the way I'd come, hating
the sun for being so cruel with its heat. Hating myself for having
worn my heavy winter jacket, thinking that today was going to be a
rainy day. It had been cloudy and cool when I'd left the house.

"Well, Ashlee, do you want to blog, or are you doing it because Chris
wants you to blog?"

Really, Dad, I have so many conflicting thoughts and feelings about
this blog. Which is why I go for so long without writing on it
sometimes.

Chris never forces me to write on it, though he does encourage me to
express myself. But, that's a GOOD thing. I wouldn't stay with him
if he tried to keep me in a square box like Jennifer did, and still
does, to an extent.

I encourage him to express himself, too. I believe that's what lovers
are supposed to do. We're supposed to encourage each other to be
creative and express ourselves in the way that we want to.

I'm also terribly afraid of this blog. Not only am I forced to deal
with my issues whenever I write, I also get these realizations that
come to me when I write about my family that make the abuse I endured
seem even WORSE to me.

And that both frightens and depresses me.

I'm also afraid of expressing myself because I know the support from
Jennifer, will, eventually, stop if I keep doing this. Writing on my
blog. And, As I've already discussed, my inner child, who I've tried
to stuff away in my mind, finds ways to resurface and make me feel
like I still need her for EVERYTHING.

Minnie May is always telling me that, too.

Is Minnie May, perhaps, my inner child? In the form of a very fuzzy,
cuddly, innocent-looking rabbit?

"If Chris is the one telling you to blog and you don't really want to
do it, tell him to make his OWN blog and write on it. But, if you DO
want to blog, then blog. But, if you choose to blog because you
really want to, if this is really who you are, you must know that I
can't support it."

Still, her voice dripped with honey. Oh, how genuine she sounded.

WAS she?

I'd reached the bus stop now, and began to look around. Still,
nothing looked familiar, and I was sweating worse than ever.

Tears began oozing down both cheeks now. My nose began to run a snot
marathon. Thankfully, nobody seemed to notice that I was crying,
probably because of the dark tint of the sunglasses I always wear.
Cars continued driving past me without stopping, much to my enormous
relief.

Or, if anyone did notice, they didn't care. Whatever it was, I was
grateful nobody stopped to talk to me. I HATE it when people see when
I'm weak or having a weak moment.

Seriously, I should have been a boy. Not only do boys and men hate to
be seen crying, they're also tough and don't like being fussed over
like most girls and women do.

I, too, hate being fussed over and pampered. It feels like such a
waste of time, and like such an invasion of space and privacy. I
never could understand why so many women enjoy getting facials and
pedicures and manicures and the whole deal.

I do like to get massages now and then, though, but not the deep
tissue kind. I like the relaxation kind. Why tell the masseuse to
TORTURE you with deep tissue work when the masseuse can put you in a
state of relaxation rather than excruciating pain?

I don't understand the deep tissue thing, either. Different strokes
for different folks, I guess.

"Why did you give me a hundred dollars then?"

I asked her this for Smm Smm reasons. One reason was because I
genuinely wanted to know. She'd given it to me AFTER she'd seen that
I'd started blogging again. Something she just CAN'T SUPPORT, yet
again, there she was, giving me one hundred dollars that I never even
asked her for.

TALK about MIXED Messages!

The other reason why I asked her this was because I didn't know how to
answer her question about whether or not I want to blog. Thinking
about this conversation now, the answer is yes and no. But right
then, lost and WAY too damn hot, I just didn't know what to say or how
to answer any of her questions. I was trying to stall answering the
question.
"Because I love you," she answered simply.

"Just because I don't agree with what you are doing doesn't mean that
I'm not here for you when you need me."

Stupid, stupid, STUPID!!!!

Dammit, why was she being so nice? Every honey word she spoke made me
feel worse and worse. Right at that very moment, I truly hated
myself. I felt like the world's biggest dick face ever to exist.

WORSE of a dick face than even ADOLF Hitler!

"I'm never going to stop being here for you, Ashlee. It's what family is for."

"She's fucking with your head," Mary Meyers said quietly.

"Here come the mixed messages again."

"Yeah!" screamed Chrissie, who, as usual, was unmoved by Jennifer's
words and tone of voice.

"In one breath, she tells you she can't support you if you express
yourself because she doesn't approve of the kind of person you are.
In not so many words, but, nonetheless, that's basically what she's
saying. Then, in the next breath, she tells you she'll always be here
for you, no matter what."

I stood there, trying to wrap my saturated and very exhausted mind
around all of what was happening. I was very disoriented, and turned
around again to head back to the bus stop, which I'd passed up again
in search of the alley that lead to Chris's house. Apparently, I'd
started walking again and hadn't even realized it.

"I don't know where the FUCK I am!" I told Jennifer.

"I'm so OUT of it today."

It wasn't just today, though. I'd been feeling out of it for the last
Smm Smm weeks, maybe even longer. Time was beginning to have no
meaning at all, causing my perception of it to be way off.

"Take a deep breath," Jennifer said, speaking to me like I was a
panicked horse, about to charge into traffic.

"Just relax, try and get oriented again, and you'll find your way."

Silence again. On the phone, anyway. In my head, however, there were
many conversations taking place. The rumblings of all the cars
blended together, forming various words in various pitches. Taking my
earplugs out of my coat pocket (I'd taken them out on the bus when I
was trying to listen to the stops and hadn't put them back in yet
because I was too flustered to remember to), I put them in my mouth
for a second, then jammed them into my ears.

If you wet the earplugs before putting them in, it's easier and
quicker to get them in deep enough so that they'll stay in the ears.
Oh, how I hate it when they fall out. It's very difficult to find a
fallen earplug, especially when I'm in a hurry.

QUIET!!

I needed quiet. Badly.

Instantly, there was some relief from all the noise. The voices
quieted down a bit, too, so that there was only distant whispering.

Still hard to cope with, but whispering voices are better than screaming ones.

Then, I saw it! A building that I recognized with a gate that looked
white. It was a light color, anyway, and I leapt with joy inside.

MAY SATAN BLESS THE INVENTOR OF EARPLUGS!!!!

When I reached the alley, I said, "Okay, I know where I am."

"Good," Jennifer said, sounding very relieved.

"Listen, Ashlee, I didn't mean to get you all shaken up."

"Yeah right!" shouted Chrissie.

"It's just that I've reached a point in my life where I live pretty
drama-free and I want to keep it that way," Jennifer continued.

"You know I'm a firm believer in not sweeping things that bother me
under the rug anymore like I used to, so I'm not going to. I thought
about sweeping this under the rug, but then, I told myself, NOPE,
nope, nope."

"I don't know what to say," was all I could manage.

Her odd behavior had taken all the fight and anger out of me. All
that was left was confusion.

Confusion and a deep sense of sadness, mixed with a nice, fiery dose
of self-loathing.

Too bad I wasn't in the right state of mind to direct the anger I was
feeling toward myself, toward HER. She was the one who it really
belonged to.

"This is not your shame, it's HERS!" bellowed Chrissie.

I had stopped walking because I was near Chris's house and needed a
moment to catch my breath and compose myself.

Then came the BOMBSHELL of manipulation.

"I'm not mad at you," Said Jennifer.

"I hope you know that."

"Well, I am," I said shakily.

"I'm mad at myself."

Shut up, shut up, shut UP!!!!

Why was I telling her everything?

WHY?!!!!

I was, in truth, VERY angry with myself. Why couldn't I stand up to
the woman? Why couldn't I tell her EXACTLY how I felt, right then and
there?

But, the inner child part of me was angry that I was being such a
jerk. Hadn't she just given me a bunch of money? And, I had told her
I wanted to have a relationship with her. I was calling her just
about every day, driving home the message that I wanted to have her in
my life even deeper.

WHAT DID I want?!!!!

WHAT DO I want?!!!!


I guess I was unable to tell her anything because I just don't know
about anything anymore.

Most of the fight and anger, it seems, has gone out of me. I don't
really know why. She hasn't changed much. A little bit of change...
Yes, there's some... But NOT enough to where I feel safe seeing her
or having a really close relationship with her.

"I think I've lost myself," I mumbled to myself and to my demons,
momentarily forgetting that I was still on the phone with Jennifer.

"Well, Ashlee, I think it's time for you to do some soul searching."

I jumped.

OH yeah, I thought vaguely to myself as I started making my way to
Chris's house again.

I'M still on the phone.

I felt as though I were walking in a dream. My legs felt like they
had ten-pound weights attached to them from the inside. Then, the
more I walked, the weights began distributing themselves all
throughout my entire body, so that, when I finally reached the house,
I could hardly breathe.

I desperately wanted to get off the phone.

I desperately wanted to stay on the phone, too.

"Seriously, what is WRONG with you?!!!!!!"

Chrissie's shouts and shrieks were starting the creation of a nice,
big headache. I would be feeling it soon, though I didn't know it
right then.

The kind that settles right behind the eyes.

It was Jennifer who broke the spell. Undoubtedly anxious to get off
the phone before she lost her calm facade, she said, "I'm going to get
off the phone now. Remember, Ashlee, I'm here for you. The ball's in
your court. I'm never going to push myself on you. I love you and I
hope we talk soon."

"I love you, too," I managed to choke out, my voice just barely above a whisper.

"I know you do," Jennifer said softly.

"I know."

I wasn't lying. I DO love her.

I also HATE her, too.

Life was so much easier when I only felt the hatred. I knew exactly
what I felt about her. I wasn't NEARLY as conflicted about my
feelings for her as I am now. That's how much she's gotten into my
head, Dad.

That's how sucked in I've become.
Mom believes that I am a very conflicted person. I guess she's right.

I know she believes this because Giovanna told me. Remember when I
told you how she read me a series of text messages that they had
exchanged back and forth right before the convention? Well, in one of
those texts that Giovanna read to me, Jennifer wrote something like,
"Until Chris is out of the picture, I think that Ashlee will always be
afflicted and conflicted."

WHEN Chris is out of the picture?!!!!!!

What makes her think that Chris will be out of the picture?

We have Smm Smm children together. We're going to be connected in one
way or another for the next eighteen years.

AT LEAST!

Probably even longer than that.

I wanted to confront Jennifer about those messages, not in a nasty
way, just a curious way. I wanted to ask her what made her think
Chris would be getting out of the picture. I also wanted her to know
that I knew she hadn't really meant it when she said "no pressure"
about seeing her when I thought she was coming to Olympia, when,
clearly, there was pressure, and she was bothered by my lack of
commitment to making plans with her.

But then again, I didn't want to rock the boat. We hadn't really had
an argument in some time, and I wasn't eager to go looking for one.

Besides, Giovanna had made me promise not to tell her that she'd read
me the texts. Eager as I was to hear them, I promised, and knew I'd
have a fight on my hands with her, too, if I mentioned the texts to
Jennifer.

Surely, Jennifer would immediately call or text her mother upon
hearing what I had to say, and, honestly, I wasn't in the mood for
that battle.

I guess she'll find out now that I knew what she'd written to her
mother, thinking that their conversation would be kept confidential.
She probably thought that Giovanna, her own mother, would respect her
enough to keep such an intimate conversation just between them.

BUT, no.

Giovanna can't keep ANYTHING to herself, and, as far as respect goes...

Well, she just doesn't have any to give. She's too self-absorbed to
have respect for ANYBODY!

When I made that promise to her about not telling Mom what she'd read
to me, I had meant to keep it. Really, I did. But, I feel quite
justified in betraying her because she betrayed me right before she
read those texts to me. Maybe I will write a story about it later,
but, basically, to make a long story short, she betrayed me. I'd
confided in Giovanna about something and, at the end of it all, had
asked her not to say anything to Jennifer because I wanted to talk to
her about it myself when I was ready to.

Well, Giovanna went ahead and blabbed to Jennifer AFTER promising to
me that she would let me tell her on my own terms, so, yeah, I don't
feel the least bit bad about breaking my promise to her. Now she can
see what true betrayal feels like.

How I felt when she betrayed me that day.

"She's fucking with your head," Smm Smm said quietly to me when we'd hung up.

"Seriously, do you HONESTLY think she felt as calm as she sounded when
you two were talking?"

No, I didn't.

"She was fighting the entire time to keep herself composed," Nevaeh
commented as I walked very slowly into the car port of Chris's house.
I faintly heard the clucking of the chickens as I walked, head down,
shoulders hunched, toward the house's back door.

"She did sound sad, though," I said.

"Yes, well, that was more embarrassment than sadness," said Smm Smm.

"If she IS sad about anything, it's only about what you're blog is
doing to her reputation. She doesn't like being embarrassed. Who
does?"

"I bet she's pounding one of the arms of her cold, leather recliner
and shouting as loudly as she can now that you two FINALLY got off the
phone!" Chrissie exclaimed excitedly as she ran to open the door for
me."

I doubted this theory, but I said nothing. The last thing I needed or
wanted, right then, was to get in a row with Chrissie.

PICK your battles, pick your battles, I told myself as I walked into
the house, still feeling like I had a bunch of weights tied to my
body.

I couldn't bring myself to write for a while after that phone call.
Depression hit me like a boulder might hit someone when falling from
the top of a mountain and landing all the way at the bottom. It was
hard, heavy, and ruthless.

It took my breath away!

Still, I forced myself to write on. I COULDN'T let her take my power away.

Hadn't she taken enough already?

Hadn't she stolen my childhood?

YES, I reminded myself.

SHE had. I'd been forced to grow up at the very tender, confused age of eleven.

Remembering this, I swore to myself and to my imaginary friends that I
wouldn't allow her, or anybody else, for that matter, to take my
remaining power from me. What little remains of it.

"It can grow bigger," Chrissie told me encouragingly when I almost
completely secomed to the depression. Sometimes, it's easier just to
give up and let it carry out its destruction than it is to fight it.

When it's over, I can begin to pick up the broken pieces and mend
myself up again. Well, as much as I can before the next round
returns, equally as destructive as the last.

I have not spoken to Mom since that conversation. She's kept her word
and has "left the ball in my court."

I did, however, get a phone call from Giovanna the day after I'd had
that strange conversation with Jennifer.

"Hellllllllloooooooooooooo Aaaaaaaaaaaashleeeeeeeeeeeeee
Rooooooooooosebuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud," she said in an equally honey laden
voice as Jennifer's had been.

Only, hers sounded COMPLETELY fake.

And, as my aunt Giselle would say, she was "talking big" to me.

Giovanna always lengthens every word that she speaks, along with
talking very slowly, when she talks big. She only talks big when
something is bothering her or when she's blasted out of her mind from
booze.

Her facade didn't fool me one bit. Actually, I found it rather
amusing just how pathetic it was.

I felt tempted to tell her to quit it already, that I could see right
through it, but, being as depressed as I was from yesterday's
conversation with Jennifer, I simply said, "I'm fine, Grandma. What's
up., after she'd asked me how I was.

Still talking big, she said, "I'm just calling to tell you how much I
LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEE
Yyyyyyyyyyooooooooouuuuuu."

"Thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnk you," I said, talking big, just
like her, to try and show her how utterly idiotic she was sounding.

Of course, she failed to notice this. Either that, or she simply blew
it off. Whenever I have something to say that Mom and Grandma don't
want to hear, their first reaction is to just ignore it. That is, if
it doesn't anger or offend them first, thus rendering them completely
incapable of ignoring it.

"I've been thinking of you AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL day
LLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNG, and I just HAD to call you and tell
you how much I LLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVEEEEEE
YYYYYYYYYYOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUU."

"I love you, too," I said curtly. I was already growing tired of this
conversation. It wasn't funny anymore. I gave up talking big; I just
didn't have it in me.

"Well, that's why I called," she said airily, keeping her voice
high-pitched to try and make herself appear cheerful and happy. Like
I had shared some really good news with her, perhaps saying that I had
decided to move back to Jennifer's house and that I was taking the
children with me.

"I want you to know that I love you, that you are loved by all of us,
that you deserve to be loved, that you ARE loved, and that I
LLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEEE YYYYYYYYYOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUU!"

"Okay," I said irritably.

"I get the message. Is that all?"

If I had been in a better mood, I might have thought this conversation
was amusing and may have done more with it. As it was, though, I felt
nothing but apathy and exhaustion and agitation. I wanted nothing
more than to be left alone.

"Yeah, that's it," she said.

"Your mom told me what's going on, and so I just HAD to call and let
you know that, no matter WHAT, I'll always love you and I'm always
here for you, too."

"Thanks," I said. What more was there to say?

"All rightie then," she said lightly.

"I'm going to have dinner with Francine and her boyfriend Tomas soon,
so I should get going. I love you, Ashlee."

YES, I KNOW!

YOU'VE said that at least ten times in less than a five minute period.

This conversation didn't shake me up in the least. Grandmama just
doesn't know how to hide her foniness like Jennifer does. And, she's
already shown me that trick several times. This is new territory for
Jennifer, though, and, while she did get what she wanted out of the
conversation, to shake me up and make me feel bad, contrary to what
she said she wanted, it didn't last. Now I know what to look for and
what to expect when we talk again, so I won't get nearly as shaken up
come next time.

HOPEFULLY.

Neither Mom nor Grandmama have called me for the last Smm Smm days.
Fine with me. I haven't called them, either.

Since I've had some time away from hearing their condescending voices,
I've been able to think back on the conversation with Jennifer, and
have since come up with a theory of what happened on that day. Yes,
with the help of my imaginary friends, of course. I have also
recognized just how incredibly manipulative my mother was being during
that last conversation, and have since made a point to keep it in my
memory so that, when she tries to pull this stunt again, (gentle abuse
is what I call it because that is what it is), it won't mess with my
head so much because I'll see it for what it is. Pure deceit and
manipulation, plain and simple.

If ONLY I had realized that during the conversation. I guess it's
better to see it for what it is, late than to never see it for what it
is, at all.

"When I went to St. Peter's Hospital to erase Jennifer's hotel
reservation, I couldn't help but do some snooping around on her
profile for a bit," Chrissie finally told me.

"In my search, I found that Jennifer has attended several support
groups through NAMI, one of which is geared to help teach non mentally
ill folks how to communicate with their mentally ill loved ones. It
was a support group about communication."

Yes, I remember Jennifer telling me about that before. She hadn't
spoken much about it, probably so that she could preserve all her
tricks of throwing me off guard for when she needed them.

Her ammunition.

"Anyway, in every single one of the classes, which there were six of,
they kept emphasizing the importance of staying calm, no matter what.
Staying calm and speaking gently to the crazy person, according to the
facilitator of the group, is KEY when a crisis is present. SOOOOOOO!"
Chrissie shouted, doing a back flip on the living room carpet.

"That's exactly what your mother did. She perceived your recent blog
entries a crisis, and so acted accordingly by speaking very calmly and
kindly to you."

"AAAAAAHHHHHH," I said.

"That makes PERFECT SENSE!"

"They also probably say in the group that you should remind the crazy
person that you're always there for them, no matter what," piped up
Bryan.

"Yeah, and to remind them that you love them, no matter what your
differences are," added Nevaeh.

"Yes, all of that," said Chrissie.

"Their theory on this one, is that, the kinder and sweeter you are to
a person who is a nut job, the easier it is to convince them that they
need to get help. And, we all know what their version of "help" is."

Oh, yes. We DID know it all too well.

Our society's way of "helping" the nutty citizens of America, is to
drug them up so much they can hardly stay awake, let alone, function.
And, if you DO manage to stay awake and function (A little), you're
too busy fighting off the constant nausea and hot flashes to be useful
in the working world, which is why so many crazies are either homeless
or are on disability.

As much as I dislike NAMI, I don't hold it against them that they
tought Mom how to be even more manipulative than she already is. I
seriously doubt that was their intention, though, maybe it was. In
any case, contrary to what Jennifer says about why she volunteers for
NAMI, (She says she volunteers because she genuinely wants to help
those with a mental disorder), I believe that she volunteers so that
she can learn, through the actions of other people, just how to
manipulate the right way in challenging and uncomfortable
circumstances. Her old habits no longer worked on me; I had grown
immune to many of them, if not all of them, SOOOOOOOOOOO...

It was time for her to switch it up. Maybe, while she was
volunteering there, she would learn the "magic" word or fraze that
would end up institutionalizing me FOREVER! Or, at the very least,
force me to have to move back in with her because I'm "too crazy" to
function independently.

Well, Daddy, I think this just about wraps up this particular story.
FINALLY, right? I promise I'll keep writing more stories; Satan knows
I have a hell of a lot of material to write about.

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!

HAIL Smm Smm!!!!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Convention Curses: Part Smm Smm Smm Smm

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!

HAIL SMM SMM!!!!

Dear Daddy,

OUCH!!

My NOSE HURTS!!!!!

Nevaeh sure went to town on it last night when I became too tired to
write her part of the story. I was so tired, in fact, that I didn't
even end up having any bedtime ice cream after all. I just went
straight to bed.

AFTER I published my very own story on my very own blog!!!!

It worked like a charm and it was so darn easy. The only thing that
GMAIL doesn't recognize is the Italics sign, but that's okay. I'll
just put words I want emphasized in all caps, I guess. No biggy.

All I really care about is that my stories get seen. One day, I'd
like to become famous for them, but, even if I don't, it's still okay
because it disgusts my mother and grandmother, which is the whole
reason why I started this blog in the first place.

So, where was I?...

Oh, yes, I was sitting in my nearly pitch black bathroom. That's
right. Talking to you. Trying to reach you in any way possible so
you would come to me.

You do come to me. Not very often, but you still come. You don't
speak, nor do you reveal yourself in a way where I can see you with
the limited vision I have, but you do come to me in a calming,
reassuring way that's kind of hard to explain. I don't know whether
it's just my imagination or whether you really do come to me, but,
whatever it is, imagined or not, it feels good, so I'll take it
without analyzing it to DEATH.

Usually, you come quicker when I close my eyes, so I made sure to
close them, even though I was in near total darkness. I imagined
myself sitting inside of the first trailer that you owned, not the
second one that you lived in for a little while (The one you died in,
too) and were trying to buy from Joe by paying him in small increments
while you lived there. Like renting it, I guess, only you were paying
Joe with the goal of eventually owning the trailer and the colossal
truck along with it to tow the trailer if you ever wanted to move it.

I'll never forget what your old trailer looked like. And, I'll never
forget the old, creaky rocking chair I always sat in, right across
from the narrow couch where you would sit or lie down.

Both the rocking chair and the couch were fudge sickles. The floor of
the trailer was banana and I think it was linoleum. There was a milk
chocolate throw rug in the kitchen area, between the kitchen and the
bathroom, I think.

As the years go on, it gets more and more difficult to recall every
detail of the trailer.

The bedroom had carpeting, and it was chocolate cake without any
frosting. The trailer was only twenty-five square feet and there was
never any privacy when I would come over to visit you, but I didn't
mind. I never felt the need for privacy when I was with you.

Quite the contrary. On the few occasions that Mom would take me over
to visit you, I was so excited and happy that I wanted to be wherever
you were. I think you felt the same way, because you never asked me
to go anywhere else or said for me to go away.

So, with my eyes still closed, I imagined myself sitting in the
rocking chair in your trailer, legs stretched out so that the heat
from the skittles vent that was between the rocker and the couch would
shoot up my pant legs. You tought me that trick. I imagined you
sitting on the couch with your poor diabetic feet right on the heater
vent, trying to warm them up. They were perpetually cold, it seemed
to me. YOU were perpetually cold.

I wasn't getting much heat shooting up my pant legs because your feet
were hogging the heater, but I didn't mind. I wasn't really cold, and
you needed the heat way more than I did.

"Daddy, I don't know what to do," I whispered, imagining myself
talking to you in his trailer, just like I did when you were alive,
not just imagined.

Or, reconstructed from my memory.

"I feel so bad right now. The voices won't stop, the anxiety is worse
than it's been in a very long time, and I feel so helpless and out of
control. I can't eat, I can't sleep, and I don't enjoy anything. I
want to be with Chris and my children, but, when I get together with
them, I want to leave almost immediately. Then, when I'm alone again,
because it's what I thought I wanted, I want to be with Chris again.
It's like, I can't be satisfied! I don't know what I want, and it's
driving me MAAAAAAAAAD!!!!!"

I took a deep, steadying breath, and waited.

A sudden warmth came over me, and I pictured myself in front of the
tiny table in your trailer with a bowl of cream of wheat in front of
me. The special cream of wheat you would make for me, with lots of
butter in it and JUST the right amount of sugar. Not too much, not
too little. With you, everything was always JUST RIGHT.

Almost.

I was still sitting in the rocker. You could eat at the table while
sitting in either the rocker or on the couch. The table was situated
between the chair and the couch.

I imagined myself taking a bite of the wonderful stuff, and I smiled.
Really, genuinely smiled for the first time in days.

Your presence stayed with me and the anxiety drained away instantly,
the voices took their leave, and I could finally, FINALLY really just
BREATHE again.

"Mom's coming to Olympia tomorrow," I continued, eyes still squeezed
tightly shut so as not to lose my vision of being in your trailer with
you and eating the delicious, warm, nurturing cream of wheat.

"I'm sure you know this already, though. You know everything.
Please, Daddy, don't let me run into her. Some of me wants to see
her, but the majority of me does not want to. Please keep her from
coming here, somehow. If you can't manage to stop her from coming,
please, please, PLEASE don't let me run into her. She has a general
idea of where I live, so I'm sure she'll at least do a drive-by to see
whether I'm walking around and she can push her presence on me."

Still silence all around me, but it isn't the scary, nasty, looming
kind. I still feel you with me, I still have the taste of cream of
wheat in my mouth, and so I just savor it.

After a moment, I say to you, "Oh, Dad, I'm so confused. I have no
idea what I want out of life anymore, or who I really am. I've lost
myself somehow, and I don't know how to get it back. Please, just
stay with me a bit, okay? I need you right now."

Then, remembering the chocolate ice cream sitting on my counter, I
smiled at you from my rocker and said, "I think it's thawed out
enough. Stay with me for some bedtime ice cream, okay? Don't go!"

I had to open my eyes now. Getting up from the toilet, I flushed it,
then exited the bathroom without washing my hands. Mom wouldn't
approve of that. Nor would she approve of me sitting in the dark.
She always hated it when I would sit with the light off in my room
when I lived with her.

I didn't see the need for it, though. I can read with my hands, and I
could see just enough from all the light issuing from other places in
the house, like the living room and the hallway. You'd think she
would have been grateful that I was saving her money on the electric
bill, but, OH NOOOOOOO!!

She always had to have SOMETHING to bitch about.

The ice cream was softer. Still hard, just the way I like it, but not
so hard you could barely get any onto the spoon.

I sat on the floor in the middle of the kitchen, still in darkness,
closed my eyes, and immediately, your trailer popped right back into
focus. So did you. Now, instead of eating cream of wheat, we both
had ice cream.

Deciding to have "no class", as Jennifer would put it, I began eating
right out of the tub. When you would give me bedtime ice cream, you
would scoop it right out of the tub and into my mouth, not bothering
to use a bowl. Of course, doing that at Jennifer's house was strictly
forbidden, but, when she was at work and I had the house to myself, I
would eat out of the tub, smiling to myself with every bite that I
took because I was breaking the rules. And, somehow, food tastes
better when you break the rules.

I ate and ate, enjoying the soothing sensation of the cold, rich,
sweet ice cream melting inside my mouth and oozing down, down, down my
dry, sore throat. It had been sore for a few days. My body was
trying to fight Off Amira's cold.

My imaginary friends, all except for Nevaeh, who was still nowhere to
be found, ate with me. They were very quiet, not wanting to spoil the
moment. Even Chrissie had stopped shouting with excitement about the
ice cream. It took a lot of self-control for Chrissie to not yell, so
it meant a lot to me to see her trying to behave herself for my sake.
They all knew how important this was to me. They also knew that, if I
lost the vision, I might not be able to get it back. I can't always
conjure you and your trailer up in my head as easy as I did that
night. Sometimes, I can, but it's blurry and unfocused, and I lose it
after only a couple of seconds. Sometimes, I'm so distraught with
emotions or too many voices to be able to conjure it up at all. So, I
was very lucky to be able to conjure it all up that night, considering
how riled up I was.

I didn't say anything more to you, but you stayed with me,
nonetheless. You stayed with me until I'd managed to fall asleep much
later in the night.

But, back to the ice cream.

I ate until I was satisfied, then, much to Elizabeth's delight, I
stood up, put the ice cream away, walked over to the kitchen sink, and
rinsed off the spoon. Then I headed back to my bedroom to put it on
my shelf, not bothering to wash it.

Another thing to make Jennifer cringe.

After the spoon was cozy in her place on the shelf, I sat on my bed,
turned up the radio, and began to assess the situation. I couldn't
leave town, that was clear to me by then. I did have enough food for
a couple of days, though, so I wouldn't really NEED to leave my
apartment if I didn't want to.

I had enough milk to last me as well. I didn't have any new library
books to read, so boredom might become a problem, but, whatever.
Boredom would be better than running into Jennifer.

I could browse Reddit on my computer. There is a lot of interesting
stuff to read on there. Lots of people post stuff that I can relate
to.

OR, I suddenly thought with a stunning realization.

I could start up my writing again!!

I hadn't written anything for nearly a year, nothing I felt was worthy
to publish on my blog, anyway, but now, while Jennifer was here,
intruding in my space, I could simply stay inside my apartment and
WRITE!!!!

Lord knows I have a ton of stuff to write about. And, Chris...

HE'LL be all right for a few days of not seeing me, I told myself.

THE last few times we've gotten together, he's been all mopey and
tired anyway. Not much fun to hang around with, especially when two
cranky children are thrown into the mix. Not that I blame him. Being
around two children constantly would put me in a severe state of
exhaustion, too. I honestly don't know how he does it, staying with
them and caring for them 24-7.

I certainly couldn't do it, even if I WANTED to. Which I don't.

AND, I reminded myself.

HE wants to avoid downtown while SHE's here. So, that means that I'll
have to walk around downtown by myself to get back home and risk
running into her. I'd have to walk alone to the bus to get to his
house, too.

ALONE.



I guess I could spend a couple of nights at his house, but I don't want to.

NO, I decided in the end.

I'LL just stay inside of my house and write. It's embarrassing to
have to tell Chris that I don't feel safe going out, but WHATEVER.
It's better than going out but not being able to enjoy anything I do
because I'm so worried I might run into her.

I wasn't as scared about running into her with Chris by my side. The
thought of running into her all by myself, though, was ABSOLUTELY
TERRIFYING!!!!

I was pretty certain I wouldn't be strong enough to say no to her.
What if she got me to go back to Poop Ludlow with her? She could do
ANYTHING then and get away with it because I was feeling so fragile
and vulnerable.

But, if I stayed inside, she'd have NO way of getting to me. She
doesn't know what apartment number I live in, though, if she was
persistent enough she could find out. I think my last name is in the
computer thingy that calls people's phones who live here to get buzzed
in. My apartment is in one of those secured buildings. It doesn't
feel very secure, though. People who live here let anyone inside who
wants in. I don't like that very much, but, what can I do? I keep my
door locked at all times to avoid anything bad happening. That's all
I can do.

Even if she did find out my apartment number, she still couldn't get
in, though. Not unless I let her in, and I was PRETTY sure I would be
strong enough to not answer my door.

SHE can't get in, I told myself over and over again. NOT even if she
calls the cops and asks them to do a welfare wellness check on me,
stating that I am crazy (because, in her mind, I am.)

Sure, it would be disconcerting to have the cops bang on my door.
Once they saw I was okay, though, and just wanted to be alone and keep
away from Jennifer, they would go away.

WOULDN'T THEY?

I managed to sleep some that night, but it was very fitful, and,
finally, after about Smm Smm Smm Smm (four) hours, I gave up on sleep
and turned on my computer to browse Reddit, just for something to do.
All was quiet. Everyone else in my building seemed to have nothing to
worry about and were, thus, able to sleep soundly.

Nevaeh was still gone. I didn't even bother to call her on her
walkie-talkie. I'd tried to yesterday, just once, and she didn't
answer. TO HELL with her, I thought angrily.

SHE missed out on some GOOOOOOOOOOOD ice cream last night.

A couple of hours ticked by. When daybreak arrived, Skich Skich,
Chrissie's imaginary dog friend, began to bark and whine at the front
door. I tried to ignore him, but he then proceeded to scratch the
door with his sharp nails, and the barking grew louder and more
intense.

"What do you want, Skich Skich?" I finally acknowledged him.

He ran over to me, took my left hand in his mouth, and pulled.

"He wants us all to go for a walk before Jennifer gets here!"
explained Chrissie.

"We might be inside for a while, so wouldn't it be nice to get some
fresh air before we are on lockdown?"

Fresh air did sound nice. Skich Skich ran around me in circles,
barking hysterically. He is a small dog, though I'm not sure what his
breed is. He's got very dark fur and he's shaggy.

So, we walked around downtown for a while. The air was cool and
refreshing. Nonetheless, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was
being watched.

"Don't be stupid," grouched Smm Smm, who was by now beyond tired of my
incessant worrying.

"It's too early for the convention to have started. It's only about
six in the morning."

"Yeah, but she could have decided to drive up here early," I told him.
The fear was legitimate. I couldn't just dismiss it, as much as I
wanted to.

"Or, maybe she decided to get her own hotel room after all and she's
already here. Maybe she got a deal on a hotel around here because
she's a flight attendant. They get deals on pretty much EVERYTHING
that has to do with traveling."

"I don't think she's here yet," Bryan piped up.

Instead of walking like the rest of us, he rode lazily in his recliner
and stared up at the clear skies above that promised plenty of
sunshine for the day.

"Just be lazy and enjoy the walk. Skich Skich won't poop if there is
too much anxiety around him. You don't want him going in the house,
do you?"

No way, Hosay..

Bryan had a point. Grasping one of his long, inviting branches with
my right hand, I continued to walk, letting the cool air ruffle my
hair and chase away the anxiety that was trying to roast me with its
furnace-like breath.

We didn't get back to my house until around seven in the morning. By
this time, my heart was pounding again, and I knew I just HAD to call
her.

I NEEDED to know when she would be here, I just HAD to know.

"You'd better not agree to seeing her later on today!" shouted
Chrissie, punching my legs with her tiny beanie fists.

Then without warning!!!

ONG! ONG! ONG!!!!

"Ooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!" I yelled, trying to beat Chrissie off of me.

"What the fuck's the matter with you?!!!!!"

"You deserved every bit of it!" she shrieked, running away from me as
I clutched my very bitten nose.

There were many indentations on my entire nose where her teeth had
ruthlessly punctured the skin. The tip of my nose hurt the worst.

"I'm tired of you always giving into the temptation to call her! When
are you EVER going to get FREE from that WITCH?!!!"

"Soon, Chrissie, soon," I said, walking into my bedroom to put my coat away.

Then, I called her.

She answered on the fifth ring. Right away, I noticed that the sound
of tires rolling along a road was absent.

SHE...

WASN'T...

DRIVING...!!!

My heart leapt with gladness, my spirits soar.

"Hi, Mom, how are you?"

"I'm doing okay. How are you?"

"Good," I answered hurriedly.

"Are you going to leave for the convention soon?"

She should have already been on the road. Why wasn't she?

"No, I'm not going to go after all."

WWWWWW-AAAAAA-TTTTT?!!!!!!!!!

Fighting to reel in my excitement like a fisherman might fight to reel
in a huge, fully-grown cod fish, I said, in what I hoped was a neutral
voice, "Why aren't you going?"

"Well, yesterday afternoon, something very strange happened."

NEVAEH!!!!!!

I instantly thought of her the moment those words slipped from
Jennifer's bitchy mouth.

"What happened?" I asked, hoping to sound more alarmed than excited.
A part of me DID feel a bit alarmed, though, I have to admit.

A part of me still does care for Jennifer. I don't know if that will
ever go away.

"Well, one side of my face went completely numb yesterday, so I rushed
to the doctor's office because I thought I might be having a stroke."

She told me what side of her face went numb, but that information is
eluding my memory right now. I think she said it was the right side.

"OH my god, that sounds SCARY! So, DID you have a stroke then?"

"Well, the doctor doesn't think so. When my face went numb, I
panicked at first, but then, upon realizing that the side of my face
that was numb wasn't drooping, I calmed down a little. Drooping of
the face, along with numbness, is one of the classic signs of a
stroke, as well as numbness in your left arm."

"Thank goodness," I breathed.

In a way, I really WAS relieved. I can't really imagine how I will
feel when my mother dies.

I used to think that I would feel nothing but joy and excitement, but
now, I'm not so sure.

A part of me will feel relieved, I'm pretty sure of that. But I'm not
sure what other feelings will pop up.

""So, what does the doc think caused the numbness?"

"He didn't know for sure, though he had a pretty good idea of what
caused it. He thinks that I pinched a nerve in my neck or in one of
my shoulders. That sounds plausible since I did so much yard work for
Baba, then came back and worked on my own yard."

She just came back from visiting Baba and the rest of the relatives in
Ohio not that long ago. While she was there, Baba made her slave away
in her garden to try and make it look nice again. Baba isn't able to
work in the garden much anymore, if at all. She survived her heart
surgery, but it left her quite weak. She has to use a walker to get
around now.

"The doc advised me to stay home and rest, so that's what I'm doing.
I took some time off work, and I'm just going to rest for the next
couple of days."

YEAH RIGHT, I thought to myself.

I didn't believe her one bit.

Jennifer is INCAPABLE of relaxing. That's why Bryan HATES it when I
go visit her. There is just no time to be lazy over there.

If she's not steam cleaning the carpet, she's outside gardening. When
she's not gardening, she's going on one of her torture walks or hikes.
If she's not doing that, she's bathing the dog, or washing the car,
or, or, or. She never just CHILLS out for a day like I do.

NEVER!!

Not unless she's very ill or depressed. She's neither of those things
very often, so relaxation evades her. Or, she evades it. One or the
other.

"Wow, well, I'm glad you didn't have a stroke," I said, and, as I said
this, I meant it more than I thought I would.

"Yeah," she said.

"Me, too."

"Well, can you listen to the convention on Skype or something?"

"No," she said.

"They have it every year, though, so, try, try again next year."

"Where's it going to be next year?"

"In Olympia," she answered, unconcernedly.

"They hold a NAMI convention every year in September at the Red Lion
Hotel. Missing it this year isn't a big deal."

I wasn't happy with the prospect of having to deal with this situation
again come next year, but the utter joy and relief that I felt right
then washed the worry about next year all away.

"Who knows what will happen in a year's time," chirped Mary Meyers.

"She might actually have a stroke by then and won't be able to go."

"Or," chipped in Chrissie.

"The Red Lion Hotel might mysteriously catch fire and burn to the
ground, forcing them to hold the convention in Seattle or someplace
other than here."

I could just FEEL the cogs in Chrissies head working.

Could she ALREADY be planning for how to handle the situation when it
pops up again next year?

Knowing Chrissie and her ambitious ways, yes, she absolutely could.

And, she was.

"Even though I'm not coming up there today, though, it doesn't mean I
can't come up tomorrow to see you if you want to do something," said
Jennifer.

"I'll get back to you later today on that one," I said airily.

"Amira's got a bit of a cold, Rachel's not doing so well with the
formula she's on, making her tummy hurt and making her constipated a
lot of the time, so I might have to go to Chris's and help out for the
day. I'll let you know."

Again, Jennifer seemed to take what I said without being bothered, but
I was sure it did bother her. I was also sure that it was very
noticeable to her how hard I was trying to get out of seeing her

I wished I could be more clever, but my mind was just too overwhelmed
with relief and exhaustion to be clever. So I wasn't.

Shortly after we hung up, Nevaeh charged into the apartment through
one of the living room windows. The blinds clinked softly together as
she made her arrival.

"Nevaeh, you're BRILLIANT!"

The instant she jumped into my right hand, I began showering her with kisses.

"Hey!" bellowed Chrissie.

"How come I didn't get that sort of greeting when I came home after
playing My part in stopping the freak from coming up here?!!!"

"I'm sorry, Chrissie," I said, and meant it.

"Next time, I'll have more faith in you. In ALL of you!"

"You'd better!" she shouted, but I could hear the smile in her voice.

"Sit down and I'll tell you," Nevaeh said.

I sat right down in the middle of my furnitureless living room and
waited for Nevaeh to tell her tale.

"Well, as you might have guessed, I've been over at Chris's house a
lot, trying to help Amira get over that PESKY cold of hers."

I nodded, urging her on.

"Well, it just so happens that Chris has the cold now, too, so HIS
nose needed to be cleaned out as well."

"How's little Rachel's nose?"

The last thing Rachel needed to deal with on top of her constantly
ailing tummy and constipation was a damn cold.

"She's doing fine. Still a little constipated, but not as bad as she was."

"Good," I said, glad to hear that there was at least SOME improvement.

"Well, as I was clearing out Chris's nose, an idea came to me. You
know that Chris is demon possessed, don't you?"

Honestly, I didn't. Giovanna was always telling me that he was
possessed and practicing black magic, but I always laughed it off,
chalking it up to yet another crazy theory she'd made up in her mind.

"He IS?"

"Of course," said Nevaeh.

"He not only has imaginary friends of his own, he also has a demon
that comes nightly to secretly baptize him in all that is wicked and
unholy in jehovah's eyes."

I knew about Chris's imaginary Friends.

I did NOT, however, know about the demon or the nightly baptisms.

"Wow, interesting. So, what in the world does that have to do with my
mother's freak, face numbing accident?"

"Well, every time the demon comes to baptize Chris, it leaves a little
bit of its own DNA in Chris's body fluids."

"Nevaeh, I still don't get it."

"Well, since Chris has a runny nose, I thought I could put some of
that unwanted snot to use. After all, why should it go to waste when
I had a perfectly good use for it?"

I sat there, saying nothing, and waited. Chrissie, who is wittier
than me and who catches on more quickly, started to giggle. So did
Smm Smm and Mary Meyers.

"So, I took a q-tip out from the bathroom drawer at his house, tore
the cotton off one of the ends, and took it into Chris's bedroom.
Both him and the children were sound asleep, so I knew my job would be
easy."

She paused for breath. I held mine without realizing it, eager to hear more.

"Amira's nose seemed to be doing all right. I'd just cleaned it up a
half hour before, so I knew I had time. Very quietly, I crept inside
of Chris's right nostril, cotton from the q-tip still in my hand, and
began to help clear out his nose. When it was mostly cleared out and
he fell into an even deeper sleep, I dipped the cotton very gently
into the upper corner of his right nostril and just let it soak up the
rest of the remaining snot that I'd purposely left there. I waited
for about Smm Smm minutes, then, very carefully, I lifted the cotton
from the nostril's crevice, and began to walk gingerly out of the
nose. It was very dark inside the nose, so I couldn't see how much
the cotton had managed to collect until I reached the entrance of the
nose. Once I reached the entrance, which didn't take long at all,
being that I was already so close to the entrance, a light beam from
his snoring machine hit the wad of cotton, so I was able to see how
well of a job I had done. Or, how sucky of a job I'd done."

"So?!", I pressed when she paused.

"Well, I looked at the cotton and was very pleased with my work. It
wasn't totally drenched in snot, which was good, because I didn't want
to carry a slimy, snotty cotton wad all the way to Port Ludlow. It
was doable if it was just a little wet, but I didn't want it to be
TOO, too, wet, or it would just be gross."

She got up and began to pace my hand. The exciting part was coming, I
could feel it. The whole room seemed to hold its breath, waiting for
her to finish her story.

"After checking on Amira's nose once more and seeing that she was
fine, I hastened to get into my rocket and b-line it straight for Port
Ludlow. I knew she was home. I have good instincts, and so I just
knew."

She sat back down in my palm and crossed her legs.

"When I got to Port Ludlow in my rocket, which only took about five
minutes, I found her, just as I knew I would. She was weeding in the
front yard, humming to herself as she worked. She was feeding a very
obese woman workie named Susan. Susan was eating cheesecake while
Jennifer worked. The house was weeding, too. He looked very
miserable and bored."

"I remember those days of doing nothing but yard work. Day after day,
she would make me do yard work for hours. That's how I spent most of
my summer vacations. Working on that STUPID yard of hers to keep it
in "tip top shape", as she'd put it. It was AWFUL! I actually DREADED
when summer break was upon us. All of my peers would whoop and holler
with excitement about school being out for Smm Smm whole months. I,
on the other hand, would just sit there, silently, dreading it because
all I had to look forward to was yard work."

"Go on, Nevaeh, what HAPPENED?!!!" shouted Chrissie.

"Well, since she was very distracted with the weeds, being that they
had rooted themselves deep, deep into the soil, making it quite a
challenge for Jennifer to pull them, I ran over to her, jumped up on
her shoulder, and, then, with a nimble little leap that I knew she
wouldn't notice, jumped right into her right nostril."

"Clever little girl, you," I said, by way of praise.

"She felt the intrusion for JUST a second. Thinking that it was a
pesky bug, she swatted at her nose, but, by then, I was already inside
of Jennifer's nose. By the way, her nose is GIGANTIC!!!! How did you
manage to inherit such a dainty nose, Mommy?"

"From Dad, I guess," I told her, though, honestly, I had no idea.
Back in the good old days when you were alive, I hadn't discovered
just how special noses truly are, so I hadn't touched your nose much,
if at all.

Man, I sure wish I would have. I have wondered what your nose felt
like ever since I became intrigued with noses and fell head over heels
in love with them.

"Well, anyway, it was so big, I felt like I was in an amusement park,
only it was a park without any lights. I had the nose park all to
myself. It smelled fresh and piney inside of her nose, indicating
that she'd been working outside for HOURS. Once I was inside of her
nose and she had quit swatting at her face and had returned to her
precious weeding, I did the deed.

Unfurling the cotton so that the damp, snot-filled side was exposed, I
began dabbing at the floor and the walls of the nose with the damp end
of the cotton. I dabbed at the roof of the nose, too. Since the
cotton had absorbed so much of Chris's snot, just the perfect amount,
I had plenty of it to do just what I needed to do.

As I walked deeper and deeper into the nose, dabbing away with every
squishy step I took, I put an intention out there to the universe in
exactly the same way your grandmother talks about doing. Only, MY
intention was very different from the intentions that she puts out
there."

"What was your intention?" I asked breathlessly.

"I commanded the Creator of all that is from the seventh plane and the
universe to keep Jennifer away from Olympia and from you and the rest
of us, Chris and the girls included. I commanded that all of the DNA
from Chris and the demon who possesses him to do their work
thoroughly, causing Jennifer to have a non life-threatening freak
accident to occur within the next couple of hours that would be
traumatic enough to keep her away by her own will."

"Why didn't you command it to be life-threatening?!!!" cried Chrissie,
jumping to her feet and shaking both of her pointer fingers.

"Because," Nevaeh said with a sigh.

"Putting that serious of an intention out there would have been WAY
more time consuming. And, since time was of the essence, being that
the convention was so near, I did what I could in a timely manner.
It's all about being practical, Chrissie. There just wasn't time for
that."

"Maybe next time," Chrissie said, her voice wistful as she walked over
to the window, opened the blinds a bit, and looked out at Sylvester
Park, where many homeless people and stoners hang out to smoke pot and
drink beer.

I rather like the people who hang out at the park. They are exactly
the kinds of people that would disgust my mother and grandmother, and
they are always eager to shout, "HAIL SATAN!", whenever they see me
around. I always make sure to shout it right back, for I am the one
who started that whole Hail Satan shouting business in the streets of
downtown Olympia in the first place.

I would be letting them all down if I didn't yell it back at them.
I'd also be letting myself down as well.

"I walked as far down into the nose cavity as I could get without
accidentally entering the brain. When every drop of snot had dribbled
off of the cotton and it had dried up completely, I spun around in a
circle nine times, then, closing my eyes tightly, I said to the
Creator, "It's done, it's done, it's done!

Show me, show me, show me!"

Then, without looking back, I began to walk out of her nose, still
holding the used up cotton.

When I finally got out of her nose, it was to find us both inside of
the house. It was Smm Smm Smm Smm o'clock. You know what THAT
means!"

Oh, yes. I knew all too well what that meant.

"Time to take a Judge Judy break," I answered automatically.

"YepEr-ooni!"

"So, then what?"

"Well, being that there wasn't much to do there, I stuck my tongue out
at her and at the screen where Judge Judy sat in her throne, and
headed out of the open sliding glass door. Needing a way to get rid
of the evidence, the cotton, I began to search for the dog. Sure
enough, I found him in his dog pen, under the back porch, whimpering."

"Did you let him out?" Chrissie asked hopefully.

"No, but I sure as hell wanted to. Instead, I tossed the cotton to
him through the kennel bars, and, just as I knew he would, he scarfed
it right down in about a second. I don't think he even knew what he'd
just eaten. Seriously, that dog will eat ANYTHING!"

"He sure will," I said.

"But, Nevaeh, what if there was some lingering demon possessed snot on
that cotton. I don't want Rocky to get hurt or sick."

"TRUST me!" Nevaeh said, firmly grasping my ring finger.

"Every drop of the cursed snot landed exactly where it was supposed
to. Inside of Jennifer's NOOOOOOOSE!!!!!! And," she added, squeezing
my finger even tighter so that I could feel the circulation starting
to get cut off from it.

"Even if there WAS some leftover snot residue on the cotton, which
there isn't, Rocky wouldn't be effected in the slightest because the
intention I put out there didn't include him. The curse was solely
for Jennifer, no one else."

"Okay, well, good," I said, satisfied with her answer.

"Excellent work, Nevaeh. Well done, all of you."

"What do you mean ALL OF YOU?!" boomed Chrissie.

"Bryan, Smm Smm, and Mary Meyers didn't do ANYTHING! WE, meaning
Nevaeh and I, did all the work here."

"YEAH!" shouted Nevaeh.

"YEAH!" Chrissie followed suit.

"YEAH!"

"YEAH!"

"YEAH!"

"YEAH!"

"All right, all RIGHT!" I shouted, trying to be heard over both of
their commotion.

"You two DID do a hell of a job preventing Mom... I mean...
Jennifer, from coming here. But, Bryan and Mary Meyers helped, too."

"Oh yeah?!" bellowed Chrissie accusingly.

"HOW SOOOOOO?!!!!"

"Well, Bryan helped me to be lazy as best as he could under such
stressful circumstances. That COULDN'T have been easy."

"No," Bryan confessed without hesitation.

"It wasn't easy at all. There was one point in time where I actually
pulled one of my branches off in frustration because it was so hard to
keep you calm for more than five minutes."

"I'm sorry, Bryan," I apologized.

"It's all right," he said, patting me on the back with a branch. The
force of the pat was so strong that I toppled over from it.

"HA HA! HA HA!" laughed Chrissie as she raced over to add to Bryan's assault.

"As for Mary Meyers," I continued when I was able to sit upright again.

"She danced with me and made lots of suggestions about what I could do
to keep my mind busy and calm to try and rid myself of the constant
anxiety and voices that were ailing me so persistently. She made sure
that all the DJ's played all the songs I like to hear, and kept the
commercials few and brief. She was also my cheer leader when I was
down, constantly reminding me that things DO, eventually, get better,
even when it seems like that's impossible. AND," I went on as another
realization came to me.

"She put the thought into my head about starting up my writing again."

Yes, it was Jennifer's arrival, or, as I should say, her
almost-arrival, that inspired the idea, but it was Mary Meyers who
gave me the motivation it takes to begin writing a story. Once you
get out of the habit of writing, like anything else, it's sometimes
hard to start back up again.

Well, Dad, Chris is up for going to Costco today, so I've got to wrap
this up now. All of my friends want treats, and a chocolate frozen
yogurt sounds pretty damn good to me right now, too.

There's more to the story, but I'll come back to it later.

I've got to publish this part today because, for one thing, my poor
nose cannot take another biting from Nevaeh, and she will certainly do
just that if I don't publish her part of the story.

Also, today is my mother's birthday. I thought this story would be a
fitting present for her.

With that being said, happy birthday, Mother, and a nice big

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!
To you, too.