Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Department of Transportation

These three cars have been in my driveway for quite some time. It's a good thing the other side of this duplex is empty.

Of course you recognize my car, in the forefront. The other red car, in the foreback, belongs to Melanie, who is back in D.C., for her father's funeral. I sympathize. I empathize.

The middle car is for sale and I want you to buy it. Blue Book says $12,000, but Leone says $11,300. There are fifty thousand miles on this 3.7-liter 2003 Jeep Liberty. White leather interior. Moon roof. Satellite radio, if that's what it is when the radio displays the pieces that are currently playing. That's a little spooky. God. I remember when Caller I.D. was new. Charlie would pick up the phone, saying, "Hi Barbara!" and I thought he was intuitive. No. He just was -- and presumably remains -- a gadget junkie.

Anyway, the Jeep needs new tires and an alignment, but not desperately so, and there's a small scrape on the front fender, nothing a reasonably-priced artcar paint job couldn't remedy.

Buy it.

As long as we're in consumer mode, please show up for Vicki's yard sale this upcoming Saturday, June 13, starting at eight in the morning. There's a spa or whirlpool or whatever they call it for sale, and I think a washer and dryer, too. Lots of wooden things. Plants. Stuff. She's moving to North Carolina in a week, so come help her do it at 4751 Sixth Avenue South in St. Petersburg (but just barely), 33707.

And now to support the arts ... My friend Veronika Jackson, whom I've known for years and years, has earned a scholarship for a five-day intensive workshop at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, West Virginia. Congratulations, Veronika! Alas, the scholarship just covers the workshop, not the transportation or room and board while there, so she needs to raise between eight hundred and a thousand dollars by early July. Please send her some money. Even ten bucks will make a difference.

Yep. I know Times Are Hard but that just means charity is needed more than ever. Send your donation to her at:
Veronika Jackson
PO Box 374494
Decatur, Georgia, 30034
and check her out at:

This picture was taken at a blues festival in France. Ooh la la!

Let's see ... the Book Report. I read the fourth in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. I needn't say more. And I bought a book from the Friends of the [Gulfport] Library: The Iron Girl by Ellen Hart. It was okay. The sleuth, which is a word I've never said out loud, is a lesbian, as are -- believe it or not -- the people she dates. I like that about Hart.

Speaking of which, I just read the new bumper stickers from Stamp and Shout (dot com). I love this one: Want to protect marriage? Make divorce illegal. Really, now. How can a culture with a fifty percent divorce rate also wring its hands over the sanctity of marriage? Well, I know from bitter personal experience that hypocrisy takes a lot of energy.

June 7 -- last Sunday -- was not only a full moon but my wedding anniversary. Sometimes I feel just awful that I can remember that, given that the sanctity of that date was destroyed four years later. I want to smack myself for cluttering up an already scattered brain with irrelevance.

But look at this -- and here's where hypocrisy raises his or her or its sly head -- I don't mind it at all that I remember that Danny Chastek's birthday is August 5. I was in love with him in sixth grade. In fact, I wrote his name on my Pink Pet eraser. Wow. Was that really the brand name? Yep. Still is. I just looked it up. Yay, internet (I guess ...)!

I remember Ronnie Green from first grade, which I think is the last time I saw him, which is about fifty-three years ago. So why should I think remembering my wedding day -- "the most important day in a girl's life" -- is neurotic? I suppose if I'd remarried right away (as opposed to the current never), I might have forgotten the date.

You know those business cards that are printed on flat little magnets? Well, I saw a bunch of them clinging happily to a painter's truck today, hair blowing back, eyes squinting as the air rushed by, smiling and feeling free. I think that's a brilliant idea. When the truck is parked at Home Depot, people who need their houses painted can just pluck off one of the cards and call the company later.

Here's something that isn't a good idea, though: drooling cats. You'll remember Mo recuperating at my place. Well, when he really got into a good massage, he'd drool. My ninety-second research said that it's a sign in some cats that they're really, really enjoying whatever's going on. Okay. Well, Pook's been here since Friday, and yesterday I discovered how much she loves her face, in particular, to be brushed. Her drooling makes Mo's look like a drop in the bucket (heh). She drools like a faucet has been turned. No offense, dear Pook, but it's gross. On the other hand, I really like her, so I just wrap a paper towel around the brush handle and stand back.

Some of you have noted that I've not nattered in a while. I've been having a hard time, feeling blue. I think it started with accidentally hearing some television news on May 26. I wrote about it for my writers' group and now I'm going to post it here, too. Yeah. I want you all to suffer with me! No. It's more like an explanation, not that you asked for one. Or maybe it is some sort of cry in the void, hoping someone can respond with an answer that will kiss my boo-boo and make it all better. In any case, feel free to stop reading NOW.



I am outraged. I am furious, enraged, angered, vexed, shocked, scandalized, incensed, provoked, maddened, galled, affronted, and offended. Thanks, Monsieur Roget.

I am sickened, puzzled, and frustrated.

I took a friend to get her first colonoscopy and was therefore subjected to television news, something I rarely see, for about fifteen minutes while she filled out the paperwork. Four middle school students had raped a classmate. I glanced at the screen. It showed what looked like two white and two black men, but since I’d heard “middle school,” these must have been boys. I don’t even know what middle school is. Is it the old junior high? Are these kids twelve? thirteen? older?

I ran my eyes around the waiting room. A man my age said, “They’re going to try them as adults because rape is an adult crime.” I just shook my head. Everyone else was filling out papers or talking on cell phones or paging through ragged magazines. I wondered if the facility would appreciate my old, still unread Smithsonians.

Then the newscaster told me that the rape had been committed with hockey sticks and a broom handle. I see.

I muttered something like, “In my day, kids didn’t need weapons.” I have no idea what I was saying. I hadn’t known any raped girls when I was a kid. Maybe I was upset because these boy-men didn’t even make their crime personal, as if that would make it better somehow.

“They picked on him all the time because he was fat,” said the man.

Oh. Oh, now it makes sense. Of course. Those boy-men would want to use tools because they weren’t sexually aroused by a frightened, squirming, crying fat boy. I get it. But maybe the fat boy was angry and fighting and resisting the whole time. Maybe he was punching and cursing their mothers and twisting and flailing even as he was overpowered by their numbers. Maybe he was raped but not beaten.

No. He was a fat boy. He couldn’t have been that bold. He was surely blubbering (get it?) and begging during the whole thing, until finally, for some reason, they stopped and went away, leaving him in a humiliated, painful mound of despair.

Imagine the next time he goes to school. Now instead of being picked on for being fat, he will also be picked on for having been raped. Now they’ll be calling him a homo or whatever the middle school word is. Now kids will be asking him about hockey scores and squirting him with Preparation H.

I wonder if the boy’s parents will move out of town, make a new start. I wonder if new starts work. Will the kid lose weight? Probably not. Probably he’ll gain weight, searching for more armor that doesn’t work.

Usually when I can’t stand something, I’ll make up a story about it. I’ll invent a way, for instance, that those four boy-men could have arrived at the point where they were okay with shoving sticks up a poor boy’s ass. I’d look at their horrifying childhoods and at least understand, at least a little bit.

But this time, I either can’t or won’t.

Hey, but that’s not all!

After my friend’s procedure – the nature of which is not lost on me – I returned to pick her up. This time, the television wanted to tell me about foster homes. Oh goody, I thought, more about sex abuse in the very homes that are supposed to protect kids.

But no. This was about the need for foster homes, as witnessed by one mother who tortured her two little girls by, among other things, using an eye dropper to put bleach into their eyes. Mom apparently thought the girls were vampires.

I don’t need to think of a story for this. I get it: Mom’s a nutbag. Anyone else would have known to use liquid silver on a vampire.

See how I distanced the atrocity with humor? Pretty good, huh?

I thought I would rant and rave here about the media in general instead of harping on the actual events with these kids. For instance, why do we need to know these stories? Is there a benefit anywhere to anybody to hear about these things? I can’t think of one. With the possibility of the so-called copy-cat crimes, it’s not as if we can claim that knowing about these transgressions will help prevent reoccurrences.

I have recently wondered if my ban on television and newspapers in my world is still okay. Maybe I’m being too much of a candy-ass. How can I possibly be a good dinner companion if I’m not up on the latest news? Heck, during that same colonoscopy day, there was something – I started listening too late to know what – about North Korea. What I did see, though, was their odd, extravagant way of marching, so I was able to put forth the theory that armies who march weird – like Hitler’s goose-stepping troops – are armies to squelch as soon as possible. That little tidbit was worth sitting through the rape and torture, wasn’t it?

Of course not. And so when I took a nap the other day, I woke up from a dream of crying. There was no context in the dream, no framework or visual cues. I was merely sobbing in the dark, mourning for I knew not what. I was simply and heartily crying. Weeping. Wailing. Keening. Howling. Bawling. It wasn’t a good cry, either. It was a bad cry. It provided no relief, got no attention, received no solace. It was a lamentation in an unknown wilderness that no one heard, that had no effect, that left my chest still thick and heavy with helpless sorrow.


Anonymous said...

One of the elements of my personal imagination is a loving God. So imagine how GOD feels about such events; and God gets the news AS IT'S HAPPENING. The shortest, but perhaps most poignant, verse in the Bible is: "Jesus wept." (John 11:35) The city of Jerusalem, over which he was crying, was no different from any city of today, with pockets of corruption, touching scenes of kindness, and incredible acts of heroism. Life's like that--and we all have different ways of dealing with it. You can shut yourself off from parts of it, or voyeuristically feed on it, or sympathetically do what you can to "brighten the corner where you are." Most of us do some of each of these things. whatever works for you is your own personal response and way of dealing with the hand you're dealt. Personally, I think you're brightening your corner of the world delightfully. -- Eunice

Barbara said...

Wow, Eunice! I should've written this two weeks ago. Thank you!

Jason said...

Liquid Silver would only work on Werewolves. You have to use wood in the heart to purge those girls of the vampire.

xzentricity43 said...

what's the phrase I heard just yesterday on WMNF from the blues show host as he was signing off?
I think it was "exceptional minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, & substandard minds talk about people", or something like that.
Apparently, in the estimation of that individual, if you're concerned about being a good dinner conversationalist, you needn't bother with the news...., I tend to concur...