#fridayflash Another Tuesday

Zorba the Greek wouldn’t survive this job long. He would spit, tighten his belt and walk out – grabbing Shelly from her cubicle by the doors on the way out. Shelly would go, too. Her pale fingers would clutch Zorba’s broad and calloused hand, and he would practically drag her to the elevator. Encircling his arm around her ample waist, he’d shake his fist at the gaping herd of cubicled daydreamers and bellow, “We go outside where God can see us better!”

Steven wished he was more like Alexis Zorba.

Alexis Zorba had passion. Shelly probably liked passionate men.

Steven carefully put his glasses back on and repositioned the headset. While the Monday night movie continued its mocking mental replay, he pushed the button and waited for connection. Steven's eyes drifted unconsciously to the beige cubicle wall that harbored Shelly as he spoke. “Hello, this is Alex in Tech Support – may I have your telephone number, area code first, please?”


Slife Three

Slife = slice of life:
A weekly bit showing our daily world,
shared with online friends to get to know one another better.

That is my morning view. Kidlet on the couch watching her two shows, munching on cereal while I drink coffee and go through my internet stuff. Although, for two days now, I've also been munching on cereal (trying to start a new good habit). Go Me!

Above is Kiko, our miniature schnauzer, mentioned in a previous post as being a neurotic pooper. But he's so much more than that, e.g. he's been outstanding in his role as miniature snowball collector and yard decorator. He also enjoys playing (although it seems more like fighting with gnashing teeth and non-stop growling) with his half-brother, Otto, at my brother's house when we get together to play Mexican Train.

Mexican Train is a game using a set of dominos going up to double 12s or, as pictured above, double 15s. Basically, you get a number of dominos, build a train with what you are dealt, then go on to play off everyone else's train or the "Mexican" trains until someone runs out of dominos. Players with dominos left, tally them up and lowest score after a number of rounds wins.
Generally we play it at my brother's house (where this photo was taken), but I used to play with my cronies from back home, which was where we hashed out all the specifics of our rules as compared to what you can find online. There are lots of tricky little situations that we just go with "house rules" on and some bits that are specific to OUR version of the game. If you ever find yourself playing the game and hear someone refer to an uncovered double as a "booger", they learned it from a friend or relative of one of my original group.
My husband's mother raved about the game and bought me a set, but never quite got around to telling us the rules. So, my friends and I figured it out and became addicted. It has snowballed to countless other homes and people, all thanks to one little lady who spends 6 months of the year in Baja California and the rest of the year toodling around the states with her husband in an RV. They avoid things like snow, but spoil us rotten when they visit.

This is the little snowman my middle and youngest daughters made today, because the youngest wanted to play and I encouraged the middlest to help her. I was worn out due to chipping ice and clearing sidewalks down to the concrete for the New postman, who refuses to walk on anything that may even remotely resemble snow and even expects me to shovel areas where there is no city sidewalk. I think he may hail from another climate. The trouble with breaking in a new postman is that you cannot break in a new postman. They break YOU in to fit THEIR varying habits.

See that blue hair on Kate (left)? We (re)did that yesterday. I bleached two lower sections of her hair, and colored one Kelly's Blue and the other Cherry Pop. She has gorgeous hair and admittedly, I wasn't too keen on letting her "wreck" it with chemicals - but after letting my son have a 14 in. mohawk it was hard to say no. Both my elder girls have colored streaks in their long hair, my only condition was that it be in the back and under a layer of their uncolored hair. It looks pretty cool, especially in a ponytail.

I apologize for the delay in getting this slice of my life posted and would like to offer you, who might have been waiting, this lovely sunset. We cool?


#fridayflash Queen of the Universe

No human suspected that the Queen of the Universe not only walked among them, but smoked Camel cigarettes and had a thing for swarthy men. Most humans weren’t aware that there was any such entity.

Most humans weren’t even aware of much beyond their own minds. That made things easy.

Well, not easy – it wasn’t easy to be born, or eat brussels sprouts, or to pass calculus in high school.

It wasn’t easy to see all sides and still pick one or two for the sake of propriety, or watch that promotion go to the sycophant, Boyle, when it should have been hers.

It wasn’t easy to have children, knowing they contained no integral part of her and would be unable to escape their human form and its transformations.

It wasn’t easy to get the right amount of cream and sugar in her coffee when using an unfamiliar cup.

It wasn’t easy to endure the suffering, the fear, the hatred and bitterness that swirled around her, nor was it easy to dismiss the love, compassion, empathy and hope that washed up, frothy and light, against the shores of her being.

It wasn’t easy to live as a human, but it was easy to hide amongst them.

It was also easy to make good on her self-made promise to not interfere in any grand way, any Queenly way. She had merged into the stream of human life to become. Now that she was being, it was slightly exhilarating. There was only a moment before this body died, in probably another 40 years, and the Queen of the Universe would return to herself with no regrets. The humans would continue into their future, as curious and crazy as ever. She didn’t know or really care what became of them, but this moment would be stored within her – which was an honor, whether they knew it or not.

She only cheated in one area, and then only occasionally. When she found herself outside and the conditions were right – she would whisper with her true voice to the wind. She would flatter it with attention and praise; caress it with her knowledge on the beauty of its ever-changing flow. In return the wind would play with her, cool her brow, weave itself through her hair and tease the soles of her feet. She enjoyed the wind more than anything else.

She knew that the humans wouldn’t appreciate that the wind gave her more enjoyment than any individual, idea or emotion. She was the Queen of the Universe, and while all lifeforms were interesting and memorable, her greatest memory of this planet would not be the charming smile of the butcher, or the discordant singing of a child in the bathtub, or the voluminous works of writers past and present.

She would miss the wind.


Effect Affection or Affectation?

Last night, while I watched television, the local news meteorologist broke in between programs with a glimpse of the news that would be showing later. He assured us that the heavy snow we were experiencing was not a part of the surrounding area's snowstorm warnings, but rather "lake-effect snow" and invited us back at 10pm to learn more. Admittedly, I did not tune back in to learn more. Why?

Before moving to Duluth, I lived 3 hours south in the gently rolling hills and rivers area of Wisconsin. When it snowed there, it was just snow. No Eau Claire meteorologist ever felt the need to keep us abreast of why our snow was different, just that it fell and we might want to take care when driving. On occasion, I would talk to my brother, who has lived in the Twin Ports area of Duluth, MN and Superior, WI for over 20 years now. Through him, I was familiar with the term "lake-effect" and knew that the weather was different due to his living in close proximity to Lake Superior. What I didn't know, was that there is a large population of people affected by lake-effect. People who's affection for lake-effect has become an affectation.

Talk to a native Duluthian about some weather oddity and you get a blasé, "It's the lake-effect." Ask a non-native but long-time inhabitant and you get a rather pretentious, "Of course, it's the lake-effect." It doesn't matter who you talk to or how you try to dodge the weather banter, the comment is inevitable.

Having lived here now for almost 2 years and experienced the lake-effect weather myself, I would like to point out that it is, indeed, just regular weather. All the emphasis put on where it comes from, how it got here and how unique it might be, is just so much extraneous information. Whether or not the snow falls from a storm front or because of some kind of meteorological phenomenon involving induction, synoptic large-scale forcing and fetch - it IS snow. Last night we received some accumulation of lake-effect snow, which Duluthians didn't want to be confused with the accumulated regular snow that fell in other areas. We have stars on our snow, and they have none upon thars.

I have also come to realize that you cannot be facetious with Duluthians about the lake-effect weather. They don't like it. When shooting the breeze with a neighbor about our impending date with the shovels and snow-blowers, he mentioned the those words (yes, "lake-effect" in case you are unclear) and I responded with a twinkle in my eye "Do I need to buy a special shovel for it then?" Apparently my twinkle froze somewhere between my eye and his comprehension, because the conversation was abruptly over. He has lived in Duluth for around 60 years, and has most assuredly his humor concerning lake-effect has atrophied beyond repair. Or, it wasn't that funny, but I'm going with the former as I had quite a chuckle over it.

In the numerous times I've tried some light humor or straight-up sarcasm about lake-effect weather, I have been shut down. Either they chuckle dismissively and proceed to tell me just how Real and Important this phenomenon is to all concerned or they just dismiss me.

My dog is a neurotic pooper. He'll spend 10 minutes, frantically making sprints from one section of yard to another, only to then ricochet between 2 or 3 points only feet apart looking for Just The Right Spot on which to unburden himself. I asked my brother if he thought this was strange behavior. Happily, 20 years is not enough to completely make my central-Wisconsin born and raised brother go native. He responded that it is lake-effect defecation, and common to Duluth dogs.


#fridayflash Glass Door

He waited inside the glass door, looking out at the woman taking pictures of his truck. He spent much of his current life waiting behind doors, or stopped behind a convenient SUV, while people discussed his truck with looks of disdain and wonderment. Patience was a virtue, he told himself. He knew if he came out and headed towards it, she would hurry away. She’d probably feel bad or embarrassed at getting caught, so he wanted to avoid that. He certainly wanted to avoid any confrontation or discussion. That happened sometimes, too. Do-gooders, nosey-parkers and assholes liked to talk to him or at him. Regular folks just avoided him. Regular folks were okay, but would only talk to him if they didn’t know. It was kind of a catch-22, but it didn’t matter.

The woman finished taking photos and looked around the parking lot. She had a slightly worried look on her face. He wondered if she was worried about getting caught or about him. Her face turned towards him once but she didn’t see him. That was normal, too. He was forgettable; he blended into brick walls and glass doors. He blended into whatever was there. The only time he was visible was when he was near the truck. Life was funny that way. You could wear the camouflage uniform, put bushes in your helmet and paint your face the color of dark forests – the enemy saw you anyhow. You wore a ridiculous thrift-store conglomeration of ill-fitting seconds, walked in a shuffling gait, probably could use some human contact – and you became invisible to friendlies.

She walked to her own vehicle, fussing with her camera. He watched as she maneuvered through the lot and drove away. He stepped out into the dissipated light of the cloudy day and shuffled towards his truck. His leg was giving him pain today, which was nothing new either. After coming home wounded from Vietnam, pain was his only companion. The only one he could trust, anyhow.

He clambered into the driver’s seat and shoved his store bag into the tumbling avalanche of junk that threatened to engulf him from three directions. An empty, flattened box of HoHos slid down and landed between his legs. The HoHos box wasn’t even his. He had found the box on the ground just like all the other junk that almost completely filled the cab of his little truck. Staring at the colorful box, he wondered again why he did this. His eyes closed.

It took up the empty spaces. The junk filled the emptiness where people – a wife, a friend, a grown child – should be sitting. Instead, his wounds scarred over externally with detritus. He packed himself into his own spaces like a sardine. It felt better that way. Open spaces unnerved him, but filling them with the cast-offs of living people made him feel protected and safe. Soldiers with ragged limbs, blown off jaws and those desperate eyes couldn’t fit between the crumbled McDonald's bags, snack wrappers, plastic food containers and free flyers that wedged his world as tight as he could make it.

His left hand moved over his eyes, while the right grasped the HoHos box. Sighing at himself, he crammed the box into the pile on the dashboard then started the truck. He’d be home soon and could sit in his chair amidst a towering canyon of junk. Be safe, but alone – the two thoughts chased perpetual circles in his mind as he drove out of the lot.


Slife Two

Slife = slice of life:
A weekly bit showing our daily world,
shared with online friends to get to know one another better.

Started off the day taking Carly & Maggie to our favorite restaurant. It wasn't as busy as usual (lunch crowd and earlier breakfast crowd normally has a bit of a wait) but we didn't get there until around 10am. To understand our appreciation of this restaurant, an example of their awesomeness: Maggie's fruit plate came with blood orange, pineapple, kiwi and banana.
No lame melon filler that normally comes with kids' sides. 
We love Duluth Grill.

The obligatory stop at the damn grocery store, where we were all too full to have fun shopping and just wanted to get out of there. Bleah. Excitement factor was nil.

Later, at the stripmall where we stopped to do some little errands, we parked near this vehicle.

There was a small space wedged out for the driver amidst all the junk & mail that comletely filled this truck's cab. Carly & I discussed whether or not the person gets ticketed frequently, what their house might look like if this is their vehicle, etc. We'd never seen anything like it. I'm still mystified and intrigued by it.

My day, until 2pm, was spent at some barely functional level of agony regarding my lower back. I picked up some Ibuprofen, got out the heating pad, had half a cup of Slopehugger coffee from Stop'n'Jo, and sacked out on my bed for an hour listening to 'This American Life' podcast. 
I FINALLY feel better!