My mother wasn’t the greatest cook. Not that she was dreadful, mostly that she wasn’t interested in doing much more than putting nutrients into our systems, sadly a talent I have inherited. Food was made to be consumed, often with whatever she had on hand. To this day, I HATE ginger because she discovered that a large ginger root would last her ages and she could - should not have!!! - but could put it in everything.
As a result of my mother’s lack of culinary genius, my brother and I became experts in the chew-deposit-in-napkin-while-she’s-not-looking eating technique. And the following excuse-yourself-to-the-bathroom-to-flush-it-down-the-toilet, which always worked unless there were multiple bathroom visits at which point our bowel health would be questioned and no one wanted that. When that happened, we’d revert to the “Could I get some more milk?” and make sure to pass the garbage on the way back from the refrigerator.
We drank a lot of milk. We’ve also both always been very good about taking out the garbage.
I bring this up because Wednesday, this massive Red-tailed Hawk landed on squirrel in our backyard and proceeded to rip him to shreds for lunch. My somewhat productive day shot to hell, I spent the next few hours watching him eat, then hop/fly squirrel remains all over the yard until he found a perfect spot to “hide” the carcass. Perfect spot for him. The fallen rotting tree branch within the boundaries of Tigger the Dog's electric fence was not a perfect spot for me. Mr. Hawk then proceeded to perch in the crook of a tree above his spot and spent the rest of his time with us cleaning his bloody talons and threatening to kill me with every look in my direction. Seriously, his stare said “I will cut you if you even think about coming closer into the yard.”
I didn't. I like my face the way it is.
Here’s my dilemma: It's two days later and I have a dead squirrel at the bottom of the garden. Well, really a partial squirrel; head, back legs and tail, at the bottom of the garden. At what point can I remove squirrel bits and Tigger the Dog temptation and not get cut to shreds by a pissed off Hawk looking for leftovers for breakfast?
And really, shouldn’t this be Husband’s job? Tigger the Dog is his dog and his responsibility should she eat three day old shredded squirrel bits and need a quick visit to the doctor. Or if the “Don't mind us, we’re just passing through” coyotes decide that this a good place to hang out because of the free eats. Or if the “I have a gun and like to shoot it at wildlife while wandering the neighborhood in camouflage and night vision goggles in the dark of night” neighbor comes through and mistakes Tigger the Dog for something wilder and less wimpy, we’re going to be down one dog and up an obvious trauma Husband won’t address or seek therapy for...
Life was so much easier when we had napkins to put the icky food into and a plumbing system that could handle the waste...
Pictures by Husband. Blurry edits by me. Note squirrel legs in full rigor on left side of Hawk and full "I will cut you!" stare thrown in our direction while he's ripping/eating guts from said squirrel. Not boring!
Okay – enough about my emotional naked journey, let’s talk about what a freaking klutz I am. Last night, when attempting to carry something downstairs, I took a big step off the last step that wasn’t the last step, landed awkwardly on the actual last step with just a bit of my heel, all the weight from the anticipated ground landing went into my knee and ankle, twisted my foot downward and I slammed headfirst into the wall – still holding my box by the way.
Was it an epic fall? Nope. Most everyone has miscalculated the stairs and taken that last step thinking they were on ground level. My mother did it once in Ikea and landed face first on the concrete floor. That was awesome. I totally laughed - after I made sure she was okay, of course.
So, not epic but, will I feel it for the next few weeks? Oh, yeah, I totally will. But here are the positives about this one. There were no witnesses other than Tigger the Dog. And while she might have silently laughed her face off at me later, she was very loving and concerned as I pulled my forehead off the wall and limped my broken cursing self over to the table put my package down. And I didn't break the box or the think in the box. That's a win, right?
I’d have to say my most epic falls are ties between the stage fall and the 20-foot ladder fall. Both had witnesses. Both had maximum injuries. Both are still bothering my body and ego today. And both would have made Lucille Ball and her love for the pratfall proud – minus the actual injuries and the moaning and the permanent 80yr old man shuffle that is.
I had a look at the last time I wrote about my talent for doing bad things to my body and I really can’t say it better now than I did then so here’s a flashback post from March 2014:
I'D LIKE A DO-OVER PLEASE
My body is slowly disintegrating on me. My lower back currently resembles the floor board of the ’79 VW square back that Mom drove when we first moved to the States – rusty with bits of daylight showing through. We had to step carefully into the car so we didn’t fall through and lift our feet whenever we went through a puddle less they be soaked. We loved going through puddles. We’d often shout at her from the un-seat belted back seat, “Puddle! Puddle! Puddle!” and shriek when she would oblige, as our feet were suddenly immerged in muck and mire. It was awesome.
The disintegrating back - not so awesome.
The back is the result of years of abuse and neglect. Apparently when you fall off a stage at seventeen, while flirting with some boys, and the only medical care you seek is that of the orthodontist because your lip is embedded in your braces, your back remembers.
It remembers the time, age twelve, at Brother's Cub Scout meeting when you slipped outside to play hide and seek tag with the older brother of some Cub Scout in the dusky evening, and you ducked out between two cars, got hit by a bicycle going 30mph, knocked into the air and landed in a heap on the street. The stupid Band-Aid you put on your knees and elbows and the ice you put on your concussed head, they did nothing for the discs that still remembers what it felt like to fly through the air and use the pavement as brakes.
Your discs might also be particularly upset with the patio you helped Mom and Himself removed one summer. It seems if you use a sledgehammer improperly and follow it up by moving several tons of concrete, your back hates you.
Likewise, it hates you if you are up on a twenty-foot ladder helping to cut the massive tree in the backyard and you’re playing a game of “OH MY GOD! YOU’VE GOT A BUG ON YOU!” with Brother and he yells it out from his ladder when you’re at the top of yours and you jerk backward, and fall twenty feet down and land in the brush below, a ladder on you, legs tangled in the steps… Well, when your back wakes up from the shock forced by the concussion the whole body is in, it’s going to remember. And it is not going to be in the least happy about the situation.
One day, you’ll do something innocent, like trying to scrub a floor and your back, those discs will scream at you “REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG AND STUPID?” and up and quit on you. Or your discs won’t completely quit, they will just decide to protest, throwing little spasms and awkwardly timed muscle seizures that generally cause you to walk like an eighty-year old constipated man or cry out like you’re suddenly in labor.
My yard with the house half way up the hill – or halfway down the hill, depending on my direction and my mood – my yard with loads of potential has become a mountain of impossible challenges. A simple walk up to the mailbox has become a minefield. One step wrong and Tigger the Dog is going to have to play Lassie and find me help. And the odds of that dog doing much else but whining my face off, are not good. I should probably layer up each time I step outside in case I do fall, can’t get up and have to lie there until I’m rescued from the snow or ice or whatever Mother Nature has decided to throw at us this week.
A Band-Aid isn’t going to make this go away. Neither, apparently, is a pill that makes me floppy like the Scarecrow in Oz or a drink that makes me chatty and bouncy and fun. Both still leave me moving like a constipated eighty-year old man. I guess I should be the grown-up I look like get some kind of help. I’m pretty sure that none of this was in the manual of ‘When You Grow-up…’
I’d like a do-over. Please?
UPDATE on my emotional nakedness: It went well! I sold eleven pieces – twelve if you count the one Husband wanted and promised to pay me for but hasn’t yet… so ELEVEN pieces!!!
And I only cried once.
And that was while I was trying to set up the simple display stand I’d freaking made that I couldn’t put together. Who knew screwing a pipe into a flange could go so wrong so many times? Tears once is not bad for my first time out – though Husband, who was sitting a chair across from the booth watching me, came up to me at one point and whispered in my ear, “You look terrified.” And I was!
So. Freaking. Scared!
My friend’s husband kept asking if I was having fun. Um, see the above “You look terrified.” statement. I was not having fun BUT it was awesome to have people like my trees as much as I like my trees. One guy came by three times before buying, visiting the two he liked much like one visits a pet at the shelter. Not that I’m comparing my trees to pets that need adopting… but I am. His tree stalking and the woman who bought “the first piece that has spoken to her” for her new home made my day. I was even very amused by all the touching the kids did and the one ten-year-old girl that looked at me as if I were famous as she told me "your stuff is awesome" and that she "wanted to be an artist someday." Squeeeeeee!!!
But my favorite part would have to be the woman who took one look at my trees, scrunched her face up in disgust as I could clearly read her “What the fuck?” thoughts and then looked pissed when she realized I was watching her and laughing.
I hear you, sister. "What the fuck?" is right! Still don't know how I got from stripping wire to falling in love with my trees to standing outside for eight hours trying to find them happy home but somehow I was there. Your friends and family can make/help/encourage/dare you into the most unusual things.
To sum it all up, it was a good day and a totally terrifying day – even with my sentimental family "support" in a pair of earrings given to me by my father, a ring from my mother and a modified game of bingo in honor of my brother, still terrifying. More terrifying than the small plane a friend took me up in a few years back that he had me fly. I thought “I’m not flying it anymore, you are. Just move the levers.” when we were a million miles up in the air was the most terrifying thing I’d experienced before.
I was wrong.
I thought starting this blog and putting my worst of the worst out into the world for judgment was going to be the scariest thing ever. I was wrong. No, standing for eight hours while people judge your babies, all the while smiling and trying not to let the fear bubble up into tears, now that is petrifying.
BUT it is over and I can breathe now and hopefully sleep through the night without panic dreams about copper thieves and milking cows...
Below is one of our homemade Bingo cards, (Thank you Brother.) Who'd thunk that a Cowboy hat would be the hardest thing to find at an outdoor event in Nashville? Good times!
Now to try and figure out what to do next that will keep me up at night and bring me to the edge of tears often. Because life is short, why spend it bored?
Today is a heavy anniversary day. It’s the anniversary of that thing that makes me cry and will always make me cry. That day that showed us the absolute worst a group can do to another and the little things that showed the best of humanity as a result. It’s the kind of anniversary that makes you want to hug your loved ones close (if I did that sort of thing) and do all the things you wish you could but scare your pants off. Which is why two years ago on this date I started writing this blog.
Two years of TMI and inappropriate sharing and pictures of wild life doing wild and scary wild life things. To years of blurting the wacky thoughts and feelings that occupy my headspace. Two years of challenging myself to embrace the freak-out that posting here does to me every single time. This date is reminder that life is short, to do and say the things that terrify you most. Which is why tomorrow freaking myself out again. Tomorrow I’m going to get as emotionally naked as I have ever been and I’m going to share my ‘Art’, my Stabby Trees and see if anyone wants to buys them.
I can hear my friends telling me to be more positive. Ugh. I don't call this blog “Emotional Maintenance’ for nothing.
So, a more positive spin on that sentence would be, “Tomorrow I’m going to sell my trees to people who find them as enjoyable as I do. “
Positivity doesn’t sit well with me. There are too many "What if..." scenarios floating about in my head to blow sunshine up my butt. A more realistic (and yes, negative) version of that sentence would be “Tomorrow, I’m going to stand around for eight hours and be judged.”
It’s funny, most people think performing on stage is the most terrifying thing I could do but on stage, there is a character I’m playing. A character I’ve created and spent time on and lived with and if people hate what I’ve done, I can say they actually hate the writing not me. Or I can say that the interpretation of the character was because of how the author wrote it or how the director told me to play it or because the audience was a shit that night. Then I can go out with my fellow actors and cuss the critics out while drowning my righteousness and misunderstood talent in booze.
But this, this ‘art’ thing is way WAY more terrifying.
I’ve made these trees in my studio at home. I’ve enjoyed making these trees. They make me happy to look at them, see them catching the light from the windows in the morning or casting shadows on the walls at dusk. They evoke such feeling in me that I am more than a little scared to stand in the booth tomorrow and let people pick them apart to my face. So I’ve created a list of the worst things that could happen – mostly to get the worst-case scenarios out of my head. There are more things spinning around my head than are listed here but this is all I can firm up and focus on right now.
Really the day will be what it is. People will buy or they won't. And if they don't, I get to take my trees home and look at them some more. Silver lining: I’m with my friend – who talked me into this thing – so I can spend the time laughing and joking and hating on her while no one buys anything. It’s the little things…
Okay, here comes the crazy:
· No one buys anything.
· Someone bleeds. They are Stabby Trees after all, so someone might stab themselves and bleed and that someone might not me.
· I’m in a booth next to the chiropractor I broke up with in January and I have to pretend I don’t think he’s a Napoleon-istic, verbally abusive ass all day.
· No one buys anything.
· Worse, people walk buy, look at the trees, say something passive like “Oh… that’s um… interesting…” and then walk on by.
· People hurry past with that smug “Aw, you poor sweet thing.” smile on their face.
· My friend sells way more than me and spends the day trying to make me feel better.
· I have one of those hot flashes that make me squirt sweat out of my forehead at an alarming rate.
· My credit card reader thing doesn’t work.
· It rains and no one comes.
· I have one of those emotional hot flashes that make me burst into tears for no apparent reason and cannot get myself under control.
· It’s too hot and no one comes.
· I have to use the port-a-potty. Who am I kidding? We’re there for hours. I’m going to have to use the port-a-potty. Ugh.
· Someone buys a tree and hates it.
· No one buys anything. No one buys anything. No one buys anything....
I didn't write today because I spent my brain/creative power finishing these and taking blurry pictures of them -
Getting ready for my first official showing of 'Art' since I won a place in City Hall with my Georgia O'Keeffe reproduction in sixth grade. Which means, I'm getting ready for my first official showing AND freaking the F out every few minutes.
Side Note: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Lee Child books and the newest one came out yesterday. My self-reward for getting emotionally naked on Saturday and showing my 'Art' to people, I'm going to get the book, surround myself with great tasting crap food and murder a few people along side Jack Reacher.
It's the little things, people. The little things.
My name is ej. I'm a girl. I say that because with the short hair and the short initials, folks aren't always sure. More brilliant insights to who I am in About me