Monday, March 31, 2008

to grandma's house i went

Yes, I know it's a dumb title for a post. But I'm feeling particularly Monday-ish in that I'm disoriented, a little sleepy, hungry (always so hungry on Mondays... why is this?) and less than creative.

However, despite all of these obstacles I still feel it necessary to capture the quaint country-ness that was my weekend. In one weekend I have learned more about aging, The War (aka WWII), "damn Meskins" (see: "racism and the elderly"), and tomato preserves than I ever thought I would in an entire lifetime.

My grandmother turns 85 this week and I flew down to South Texas to surprise her. She answered the door to her farmhouse at 7:30 p.m. in her green silk pajamas, peering through the diamond-shaped window as I pulled into the carport. I had to yell "Grandma, it's Not Lisa! Don't shoot!" as there's a shotgun permanently hanging above the front door, often used to discourage unwelcome visitors.

Have I ever mentioned that the women in my family are eccentric?

Here's an establishing shot that will give you an idea of where my grandmother lives: picture a farmhouse in 1961, as that's when it was built and nothing has changed since then. Picture incredibly dry farmland where it's always humid but it never rains. Picture a town that has 1,287 people and 11 miles down the road another town that has 483 residents - then picture an even smaller town between the two that barely shows up on Google Maps. That's where my grandmother lives.

As I was driving my borrowed car (borrowed from my aunt, not stolen from a stranger) from Corpus Christi to the farmhouse, I realized that I had never been alone with my grandmother. I would go visit her when I was younger, as my parents finally learned to take adult vacations and leave their only child with her grandparents, but my Papa was always with us. He and I were much closer than my grandmother and I ever were, as he was the big gruff teddy bear that I could convince to play dress-up with me. My grandmother was always so stoic, so German, so stubborn. She would discipline my smart mouth in my parents' absence while my grandfather made faces behind her back. My grandfather would take his pig-tailed granddaughter into town to "pick up the paper", but it was really just his daily excuse to sneak in some pancakes. My grandfather would joke around with the man at the gas station in the city, convincing him through his dark skin and perfect Spanish that he was from Mexico and had kidnapped a young gringo child for ransom. We would laugh the whole way home and I was never allowed to tell the rest of the family about our shenanigans. He taught me Spanish, he taught me how to handle a horse, he taught me how to watch out for snakes and he taught me how to find eggs in a hen-house. We swam in horse tanks, we rode bikes together and he showed me where the old embarrassing pictures of my mother were kept.

All the while, my grandmother watched through the window of the house, making sure that I was safe and sound but never put down the dirty dishes long enough to join in on our fun. They had to be washed thoroughly with soap and water before being run through the dishwasher and that was that.

As I grew older I began to better understand through off-hand comments from my mother that my grandmother was not entirely to blame for her attitude and approach to our visits. When I was swimming in the horse tank with my Papa I was too young to know that he had walked out on my Grandma many times in their 30 years of marriage, leaving her and their four children for weeks at a time. When I was placed on top of the family dog as if he were a horse I was too young to know that my Papa had a violent and physical temper. When I was helping pick tomatoes in the garden I was too young to know that my mother had a brother that I had never met because my Papa kicked him out of the house when he was 17 and hadn't spoken to him since. Even when I was 20 years old and my Papa passed away I was too young to know that he had planned for many years to leave his son $1.00 in the will so he couldn't contest his lack of inheritance with "I was left out accidentally."

It's funny what you learn as you get older. When I was a young child in red Mickey Mouse suspenders I thought my Papa could do no wrong and that my Grandma was a feared disciplinarian. As I grew through adolescence I saw the less-than-pretty side of my Papa and watched my Grandma maintain her emotionless demeanor through Papa's bout with Alzheimer's and then also through his funeral. After college I made the occasional visit to the farmhouse, but always accompanying my parents and conversing more with them than my Grandma.

However, this time we were alone. During our time alone I think I learned the most.

I learned that my Grandma is funny. That she can laugh to the point of tears at a seemingly randomly recalled memory, and then she feels it completely necessary to tell you in detail all about how her mother caught her at 14, kissing a boy on the front porch until midnight. That she remembers in detail that she had to do both Boy and Girl Chores while growing up on a farm in Nebraska, while her sister somehow managed to avoid the outdoor Boy Chores and the indoor Girl Chores because she was brainy and claimed to always be studying. That the very same sister didn't study or take tests for three months in protest to not being allowed to go on a date. She got her way, started studying again and still graduated as valedictorian.

I learned that my Grandma is a romantic. That she and my grandfather were married in secret for six months before they ever told any friends or family. Married women weren't allowed to finish high school in her day, but she and my Papa just couldn't wait so they eloped first and asked questions later. "We were just stupid kids..." she laments, but the mischief and romance glittering behind her glasses was hard to miss.

I learned that my Grandma is the strongest woman I know. That she raised two babies by herself for two years while my Papa went off to fight in the war. That she didn't even lay eyes on her husband in the entire two years that he was gone. That she and her two children subsisted on $100 a month from the government, making it from month to month on food rations. That she gave her coffee and sugar ration stamps to her in-laws because she knew they would enjoy it more than she would. That even during this time she was still able to pack up her two kids and move three states away to take care of her ailing grandparents while she waited every day for a letter with news of her husband.

I learned that my Grandma is an individual. That she was married for over 50 years but still doesn't understand why modern women feel as though they have to get married. That all you need to be happy is yourself and the company of others is just added blessing. That if you want to see a movie that no one else wants to see, you go by yourself - even if it is on a weekend. That she and my Papa fought "like cats and dogs", but she doesn't regret a single opinion that she's ever offered up.

I learned that I can still learn a lot from my Grandma.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

oh, romance

This morning I went through my (almost) daily routine of waking up, hitting the snooze button 7-9 times, begrudgingly taking a shower, then waking up Boyfriend so he can do the same while I do girly things like moisturize and put on my face.

This morning I walked to the bed and kissed him on the forehead, telling him sweetly that he better get his ass in gear or he would be late (again). He smiled slyly and reached for my towel, causing me to squeal and slap his hand saying "No time for love, Dr. Jones."

He then looked at me pointedly and said in an earnest voice "Well, it's not going to suck itself."

He's always been such the romantic.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

honesty is the worst policy

This evening I joined a few old college friends for our monthly catch-up dinner. We're a random assortment, to be sure, but I may just be the most "random" of the group. Within our small population we have a couple of teachers, two Child Life Specialists, one Leukemia Foundation fundraiser, a couple of marathon runners, a triathlete and two event planners. Those are their professional descriptions, at least. All of the above are card-carrying Bible-toting Baptists who get tipsy after one glass of white zinfandel.

I, well, obviously don't fit any of the above criteria. I think they keep me around for entertainment. That and they're all too sweet to take me off the Evite roster.

Every week we pass around a book that lists the date, the location where the dinner was enjoyed and the name of the person who planned it. It's our responsibility to write our name down as an attendee and then give a short update as to what's going on in our lives (no, seriously - that's what we do... keep in mind I had nothing to do with the tradition). Here are a few excerpts from tonight's dinner (none of them mine):

"I just got married and returned from my honeymoon!! Today was my first day back at work. I've really been looking forward to this dinner but not as much as I'm looking forward to going home to my new hubby!!!"

"Church has been really great lately. I'm running another marathon soon - either New York or Chicago, depending on which accepts me. Wish me luck!"

"Totally enjoying Spring Break!!!!"

"A family is finally moving into our lease house in Durango!! Finally, a family came along with good credit that is the answer to our prayers. Praise Jesus! We can't thank you enough!!!"

As I took my turn with the book, I couldn't help but think about writing the truth - complete with the required exclamation points.

"I saw Most Serene Republic last weekend and got so hammered that I barely remember my best friend's boyfriend trying to attack me while I was passed out in their bed! I went to visit my parents this weekend even though I really wanted to stay in town for an all-day drunk fest! I picked tonight's dinner location but I really wish I had a bottle of wine to help me get through it! Instead I'm going to drink this water because it's totally better for me!! The girl two seats down from me ordered a medium vegetable pizza but is "taking home" all but the one piece that she ate because she has an eating disorder which is evidenced by her skeletal body structure, gaunt face and malnourished hair!!! The girl who just got back from her honeymoon's husband just touched her boobies for the first time in 3.5 years while she was in the Dominican Republic contracting a urinary tract infection! 'The Honeymooner's Disease' - how cute is that??? Especially considering that the general consensus is that he's A Closet Gay!!! I've also been having recurring dreams about my best guy friend who is also my ex-boyfriend-type-person - things get tricky when you get older, right?!?!?!?!"

Needless to say, I didn't write any of this. But I thought it.

What would you have written, should the truth dare you to expose it?

she's a lady

When I was getting dressed yesterday morning, I was quite proud of myself for remembering to shave my legs when I put a skirt on that showed my bare (albino-esque) legs. It's still March, a bit nippy and I'm not known for my cold-weather tolerance. All of this usually adds up to one big excuse to wear layers of skin-covering clothing late into the spring season, therefore enabling me to swear off leg-shaving unless it gets excessively jungle-like down there. In other words, until the leg hair starts interfering with sexy time. In even more other words, until I'm on the brink of being able to wear my leg hair in dreadlocks.

Anyhoodle, I found myself celebrating the early spring silky legs by prancing around in my business casual, client meeting heels... until I realized that I could feel the breeze more on my ankles than I could on the rest of my legs. And the reason for that was the feeling of movement. Yes, I had missed such a large spot of hair on both of my ankles that I could actually feel them waving proudly in the breeze with every step I took.

Throughout the rest of the day I giggled with the thought of someone walking closely behind me, stepping on one of them and tripping me. My mind is nothing if not exaggerative.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

st. patrick's an asshole

My relationship with St. Patty’s Day in Dallas has been a rocky and tumultuous one and I just never know how Patty is going to treat me. The St. Patty's Day Parade and Block Party is one of the only things that Dallas does right and every year I've managed to get shit all over. Everyone crowds around lower Greenville, invading friends' houses who only invested in their real estate because of the close proximity to the annual event. Breakfast tacos are made, bloody marys are mixed and the jovial party generally begins around 8:30 a.m. The parade is usually around 10 or 11 but no one ever goes, and the people who do go are unable to recall it the next day. After the parade, street vendors pass out beer and corn dogs to event-goers who are already in "late night" stage at noon. Local business along the streets are filled to the brim with people wearing wrist-bands and green halter tops. All in all, it's general merriment - except for yours truly.

One year I was in Austin and couldn't attend the event. However, everyone else I knew did and had a good time. However, my boyfriend (now Ex) dropped his phone in a porta-potty full of poo and piss. Don't you worry, he reached in and pulled it out. Then put it back in his pocket. Then set it out in the sun at his friends house to "dry it out", sprayed it with Lysol and continued to use it for, well, ever.

The next year I was out of town for work because I kind-of sort-of lived in San Antonio at the time. That was an especially fun year because everyone kept calling me on my cell to drunkenly slur how much they missed me. Sweet sentiment? Yes. Completely depressing? Yes. A little annoying? Totally. Especially when you're sitting all alone in your hotel room at the Residence Inn.

The next year I finally got to experience it in all its glory. Unfortunately, that's when a drunk girl splashed a little vomit on my flip-flopped feet and we got locked out of my friend's house and I ended up peeing in his backyard. That's also when the Ex and I had our infamous conversation that went a little something like this:

me: "I really want to move to Austin someday. These drunken Dallas whores wearing heels and shorts to a block-party get on my very last nerve. Especially when they splash their vomit on my flip-flopped feet."

him: "You're one of those people who are never going to be happy in life. No matter what you have, you'll always want something different."

Awesome. Thanks for saying something that will haunt me every day for the next two years (and counting...).

Last year my job hit rock-bottom (thanks to a boss who never learned how to say no to his clients) I had to go sell telecom services in a PetsMart parking lot in Frisco (Dallas suburb). When I finally headed back to civilization I couldn’t get into the block party because it was too crowded and the fire marshalls were riding around on their horses, telling people they couldn't come in. I ended up drinking a beer in a back alley by myself, sitting on a cinder block like a homeless person. Not kidding. When I finally managed to talk to my friends (cell service doesn't work because of the swarms of people), they were all hammered and coming back to my friend's house to take naps. I picked up the guy I was seeing (now Boyfriend) as he was walking down the street and the first thing out of his mouth was "Katherine's friend Lacey totally wants to fuck me."

Awesome. Yet again.

Now that I think about it, it’s almost masochistic of me to attend this event and continue to try to date St. Patty. No thanks, “St.” Patrick my ass… keep your hands to yourself, please.

Monday, March 10, 2008

on a heavier note...

Once upon a time, many moons ago, Not Lisa was in love. She was a young girl who was not yet jaded by the ways of the world and was impassioned by the thought that one day she and the boy she loved more than anything else in the world would be together. She was very active in her Baptist youth group and thought that against all odds, she was meant-to-be with her boy best friend. They had the same faith, the same ideals, the same political beliefs, the same family structure, the same dream of an all-bed living room (not for sexing, necessarily - primarily for napping)... what more could a girl ask for?

Young Not Lisa was the young ripe age of 15 when she made this decision, and that boy was the end-all be-all of her teenage girlish dreams. He was an insightful, thoughtful, spiritual musician that embodied everything she thought she wanted. She and this young boy were best of friends and formed a pact deciding that, should they remain unmarried, they were to be each other's Forever After. And they believed it.

I know that everyone makes this pact with their best friend at one point or another, but the thing that set these two apart was their unfailing, unabashed and unapolegetic belief that it would actually come to fruition. They saw the next few years/possible decade as a period of experimentation. This was their chance to experience what was out there and to come back to each other more educated, more enabled to make their marriage successful and happy because of the other dating partners that had crossed their paths - no matter what.

My, how the times have changed.

You may recall a certain post in which I briefly described my first Dallas Restaurant Week as a time to drown my frustrations in vodka. Frustrations that resulted from a certain someone's engagement announcement. That certain someone just now, after four some-odd years of marriage and a 1-year communication hiatus, reached out to me via phone. I answered the phone with "So you guys are pregnant, right?" I was, as I all too often am, correct. While I am as happy as I can be for a friend of mine to procreate ("Do you know what you're getting yourself into? You know they cry a lot, right? And they shit themselves and expect you to clean it up?"), I feel it only necessary to post this handwritten letter that I was sent on 2/8/2001, from the boy I thought to be my very own 19-year-old end-all be-all.

"It's different... writing instead of the clicky-click of the keyboard. I wish you could be here now to sit with me and listen to this CD that has engulfed every musical dsire within me. It takes over the musical side of this boy while you consume everything else. I just spent the day with your dad, and I've been trying to come up with a good way to send this to you. What turned out to be the best way was just to be myself, and miss you like I always do. And allow myself to be completely vulnerable to anything anyone would possibly toss my way. What I wish more than anything is that you were here. As I read back over this, I wonder if someday I will have a son or daughter that might read this as well... and I want to take this opportunity to have a first greeting to them... even though they will know me long before they even learn to read things like this... So... hello, kid(s). I hope that you know how much your mother means to me, and you as well... That I am 19 years old, and addressing you as if you already exist... well, you do in my mind. I hope to God that by the time you read this, I will become a good father. And that will be known. I long to meet you. And I long to be the husband of your mother. She is a wonderful girl. I wish you could know her right now as I do... and no one else does. We've got some interesting stories... So enjoy life... and enjoy your CD, Not Lisa, and save this letter for him/her/them.

I miss you...
- your [redacted]
2/8/2001 11:12 p.m."

regarding redacted

The Boyfriend and I have a slight addiction to Redacted, Dan Murphy's blog. We firmly believe that we would be the best of couple friends with Dan and Brooke should we ever run into one another.

This addiction has also led us to the occasional delirious state in which we believe that we are much better acquainted than we actually are. Meaning, Boyfriend and I casually mention Dan and Brooke in conversation like we would any of our friends. But, in all actuality, we are only the creepy people they have never met - not even through blog comments - that have some sort of voyeuristic fascination with their lives.

For example, here's an all-too-unhealthy chat from yesterday:

not lisa (5:29:06 PM): i'm sick of dan's shit
not lisa (5:29:14 PM): he hasn't posted in what seems like forever
boyfriend (5:29:18 PM): he has not updated
not lisa (5:29:19 PM): and i'm getting a little tired of it
boyfriend (5:29:20 PM): I know
boyfriend (5:29:33 PM): it's not like he is doing anything
not lisa (5:29:48 PM): he's not
not lisa (5:30:05 PM): he's just laying around and playing with puppy while brooke's off at work
not lisa (5:30:13 PM): i bet he doesn't even make her dinner before she gets home
boyfriend (5:30:16 PM): seriously
boyfriend (5:30:26 PM): well, that's not his job
boyfriend (5:30:32 PM): that's women's work
not lisa (5:30:34 PM): the only thing he's using his computer for these days is ordering pizza online
not lisa (5:30:47 PM): your face is women's work.
boyfriend (5:30:58 PM): wiener
not lisa (5:31:11 PM): apparently spelling correctly is not men's work.
boyfriend (5:31:27 PM): what are you talking about?
not lisa (5:31:52 PM): dammit.
boyfriend (5:31:56 PM): ha
boyfriend (5:32:10 PM): I had it the other way at first too
not lisa (5:32:19 PM): weiner just looks smarter
boyfriend (5:32:26 PM): yeah
boyfriend (5:32:27 PM): I know
not lisa (5:32:50 PM): smarter, you know, for a penis moniker
not lisa (5:33:08 PM): ha
not lisa (5:33:20 PM): i just had to look up how to spell "moniker"
boyfriend (5:33:29 PM): you're pretty
not lisa (5:33:32 PM): the wiener made me doubt myself
not lisa (5:33:39 PM): tale as old as time.
boyfriend (5:33:43 PM): it can do that.

sunday funday

There are many things in this world that make me a happier-than-average camper. Many of those things were experienced yesterday in the span of only 10 hours. Namely:

- Brunch. And not just any brunch, but possibly The Best Brunch Ever. Great Mexican food, queso, queso refill (we went through the first bowl way before they even thought about bringing us our entrees), and $1 margaritas (we each helped ourselves to 3). Grand total for 4 people: $49.00, therefore winning Monica's Aca y Alla the title of The Best Brunch Ever.

- Rock Band. At 72 and sunny, it was just too pretty of a day to not play video games.

- Beer Pong. At 4 p.m. on the Lord's Day. Sweet. I lost the game, but with all the beer I had to consume I still consider myself a winner.

- Vodka. Because after brunch margaritas and beer pong, hard liquor is the next logical choice. I chose to mix my poison with berry-flavored Propel Invigorating Water because I wanted to get a head-start on fending off the inevitably incoming hangover. I think the B vitamins and caffeine did the trick as this morning I felt daisy-like in my freshness. That also could have been because I took my first shower since Saturday morning. Whoops. Sunday Funday hygiene is hard, y'all.

- Scene It. The details of this game are a little fuzzy, as it was an event that took place later in the evening. I do remember some serious and heated controversial discussion involving a Pee-Wee Herman quote on "all play".

- Macaroni and Cheese. We stumbled across the street to fill our bellies and discovered that, lo and behold, our blessed City Tavern not only serves the sauce but also God's modern day manna of macaroni and cheese. Hallelujah and amen.