Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Michael Jackson Story

Since the passing of the Gloved One, many stories are coming out about sightings, paternity, drug use and much adulation.

As a teen girl in the early seventies, I adorned my walls with my idols. Fresh from the pages of Teen Beat, hung on my walls with pink pushpins where the smiling faces of David Cassidy, Bobby Sherman, and Michael Jackson. It never occurred to me that Michael was a different skin tone. My father on the other hand, being raised in Oakland California was acutely aware of skin tone. He did not approve of any boys learing at his daughter over her vanity much less one with an Afro. There were many loud arguments at the table over mushy peas regarding my inability to marry and worship Michael Jackson.

After a year he acquiesced my love for Michael and for my birthday requisitioned tickets to see The Jackson Five at Harrah’s Tahoe in the winter of 1974. My father’s profession was that of an institutional food salesman, and he did his job well. The hospitality department of the big casinos welcomed into their kitchens and helped him land these rare tickets. The whole family was slated to go, but no one was more excited than me.

We were poor white children, so when we had formal events, my mother made us dresses. This was a point of pride for me when I was younger, but as the teen years took hold they bacame a major embarrassment. Mother was not aware of my loathing for home made clothes, as I would just have friends bring extra clothes when forced to sport my Simplicity pattern and change in their car.

My mother made us matching dresses, with identical patterns, only the colors were different. Three little beauties. They were floor length, with a large row of ruffles down the chest, a bow in the back and a high scoop neck. They were Little House On The Prairie meets Annie. I hated them. The night of the concert, I threw a fit supreme as only can be done by a 13-year-old girl. No one understood why I didn’t want to wear the dress my mother labored until 3 am to finish. My father took a firm hand, and I dawned the dress and a major frown.

We were greeted at the door by friendly maĆ®tre d' who gave us a table right next to the stage. He was a fan of my fathers, so we got the VIP treatment. The table was shared by Mrs. Jackson, Latoya and Janet (then 5 years old) and their manager, Billy Preston. The show was beyond breathtaking and my eyes never left the teen idol and I mentally vowed to remember every dance step. At the end of the show, they announced they would be releasing the new single “Dancing Machine”

The fog covered the stage, multi color lights roamed the proscenium and Michael stepped out. I held my breath as he danced and sang his way around the floor. I had never seen anyone move like that. After one go around of the song, the Jacksons came to the edge of the stage and started bringing girls from the audience up on stage to dance with them. I watched with envy.

Then Michael walked to the edge of the stage and held a hand out to me. I hesitated, and then froze; there was no way I was going to get on that stage in this homemade monstrosity! I knew that if Michael saw me in this dress, he would never want me. The other girls on stage were all dressed in sequins and short skirts. My mother pushed from behind, my father told me to get my ass up there. I was immobilized; Michael shook his head, took his hand away and moved to the girl at the next table. I cried all the way home.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Puppy Sitting

We have been on “puppy detail” for 5 days now. Our daughter went to Maui for her birthday and we got to watch the 10-week-old Malamute puppy, Nugget. He is beyond cute, smart, and rambunctious. He eats every two hours and chews on EVERYTHING! Legs of chairs, carpet, logs, nozzels, the wood floor, toilets, fireplaces, towels, socks, antique vases, couch, trays, you get the idea. Im going to be buffing puppy marks out of my life for years.

The first night he peed once in the house, but instantly knew that was bad. Gary did the smart thing and showed him (by example) how to pee in the back yard. Yeah, the neighbors love us.

He cried for two hours by our bed, and then I put him out and shut the door. Then he howled as only a Malamute can do while scratching the paint off the door. I finally gave up and put him in bed with us. Sensing victory, he circled twice and then jumped off the bed and went right to sleep.

Our older dog, Tripper was not pleased with this invader and growled non-stop for two days. Then he acquiesced and began to play with him. Now the puppy follows the senior member of the dog staff everywhere, latching onto his tail, and sniping his food. I believe if we leave the front door open, Tripper will leave and never come back.

He has never been left alone, so even taking a shower produced the essential lonely howl. We took him to work and there, he slept. I did get to walk him all around our little town, saying hi to the other shopkeepers and he only shat on three lawns.

But he is so cute and full of personality, we want to spend every moment watching him. We also want his mom to come back soon, so we can sleep and get the carpets removed. We have fun with the camera trying to pose him for a “bad boy” shot to shock his mom, so we won’t be the first call she makes when needed a babysitter. We are going to make fabulous grandparents.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A farwell

There comes a time in each mother’s life when she must say goodbye to her child. Sometimes it is an obvious form; they pull out of the driveway with a car loaded with posters, clothes, and college dreams. Or they are whisked away by a new love under the veil of hurdled rice as they begin to make a life together as husband and wife. Or sensing it is the right thing to do, he dresses in uniform and leaves to go defend his country. However, mine was not so obvious of a split. I did say goodbye as he drove away in his truck to experience the big city, then again when the police took him away for a crime he committed to himself. I said a hysterical goodbye when the ambulance turned on the red lights and sped away.

But he returned, thankfully. He is back, but living a life I don’t understand. My roll is to support him, yet not enable. I am to help him with sobriety, but not life. These lines are nearly impossible for a mother to distinguish. This was the child I carried in my body for 9 ½ months, how can I leave him in his time of need? But his recovery almost depends on his mother saying goodbye. Saying he can handle this. Seeing that he has always marched to a different tune, always been different, always lived life on his terms. He can do this, he has the skills. He doesn't need me or need to worry about me.

He was born of a 7-generation circus performer and a wanderer. His parents are so different, he was never able to explain what we did to his teachers (and we certainly weren’t invited to parents night). He spent the first year of his life on the road, eating most meals in the front of the truck. His heritage is different, his parents are entrepreneurs. Our home was never a “Beaver” type of place. It makes sense that he is unusual.

I must remember that even his birth was difficult. He refused to turn his head, so he could move thru the birth canal. The doctor moved it in to position, only to have him move it back. This first act of defiance nearly killed both of us. At 18 months, he took to taking the screens off the window and escaping out of the house, so that he and his dog could “be alone.” At three, he got in my car, popped it into gear, and drove away. Standing on the seat squealing with glee as he hit other cars. At four, he began to runaway from the house, and when I caught him and brought him home, I would lock him in his room. He would scream out his top story window to the horrified neighbors below that I was killing him.

He was different from the others, always the entertainmer, the muse, rabble-rouser and dare devil. He drove teachers insane. They lashed out at him and told him he was stupid, not normal. I fought the battle for him, to prove he was special. Ultimately he needs to see for himself just how special, smart, and wonderful he is.

My therapist says that children instinctively know when a parent lets them go. Then they become adults, functioning on their own. He feels the pull to be my son, as much as I feel the pull to mother him. We must leave each other in these rolls, and come back together to have an adult relationship.

I know she is right. I feel the weight of his recovery wearing on my soul. I am becoming angry that he is not filling in that picture I had painted for him. I must see him as he is, living his life on his terms, with no regard for what I want. He will be happy, I may not understand, but his soul will be thriving and driving. His Mommy won’t be giving him a ride.

My dear son, I love you, respect you, and wish you a life of happiness, no matter how you chose to spend that life. I am here for you when you need me, but its time for you to fly.

Friday, June 19, 2009

To My Father


What possess a man to give up his blissful and quite bachelor paradise to move into a house and marry a women with two children? What posses that man to nurture and love these ornery, orphan girls, no matter what kinds of trials and tests they throw at him. What possess a man to give up that great car and other decadent bachelor possessions to finance swim lessons, dance lessons, girls scouts, horses, ski lesson, rainbow girls, and prom after prom? And what possess a man to give his wife yet another beautiful baby girl to entertain and amuse the family. There is no logical explanation - just love -- pure uncomplicated love. It started first with his wife. She was easy to love. Sweet and beautiful, always a smile on her face and a song (usually Elvis) in her heart. Despite the girls reluctance to love a man again, because the one they had first called Daddy had left and never came back, they grew to love the him. He taught them it was safe and good to love a man. He taught them that real Daddies stay - no matter how rotten the girls were to him. He had to be strict and mean - but he always loved and they always knew it.

Children never realize this until they are parents themselves. They remain perpetual rebelling teenagers. Complaining about what they didn’t have and how strict their parents were----- until that magical day when their own children look them in the eye and scream “I hate you, you are so mean!”

Or when they too have introduced a step-father into their children’s lives. Then they see a man struggling to fit in, survive and teach these ungrateful children about life. They watch, (as Wives), the sacrifices and heartache their new husband experiences trying to love and guide these kids that are afraid to love a man. The Wife finally sees what kind of man it takes to stick with the unpaying, expensive, and difficult job of being a Step-Dad.

So Dad, I thank you for the love, the patience, the hope and most of all the perseverance that you have consistently showed me. No matter how rotten I was.

You are a HERO and I LOVE YOU!!!!
Happy Fathers Day

Monday, June 15, 2009

Human resources at its finest!

Employees SUCK! I have been a boss for most my adult life and there are times I want to kill those people I write a weekly check too. Somehow, I always am sucked into their lives, dramas, and problems. Then I know too much and I am not as hard on them. They become people and not just tools. I like them better as inanimate objects that help me make money.

I finally have some momentum on my writing; website almost done, novel off to editors, producers finally settled on the ages of the kids in the screenplays, Video projects booked. This is me loving life. Then the employees start to revolt.

Two of them became roommates, a big mistake, I told them at the time. They are now at war. Problem is, my kind of business is completely service orientated, so wars means less customers, less customers, means less money and now I can’t pay my editor or web master.

I was highly emotional today and almost fired everyone. My husband insisted that I stay at home and calm down. So I’m texting, blogging, and twittering about the suckage of my staff. He can keep me home, but can’t keep me quiet!

I long for the day I can replace everyone with a computer. When it acts up, reboot. When it quits being effective, replace. I never gave a shit who my laptop was dating. Or maybe we can train dogs to wait on people. I would much rather give my dog a weekly paycheck. At least I know he is not spending all his money on Ganja.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Today is my Anniversary


My husband and I were married at lunch. In the middle of a fight.
We were screaming at each other over important issues like trash receptacles and toothbrush caps and it had been going on for three days.
I had spent the night at my sisters, avoiding killing him. He came into my work the next day with flowers and an apology via Hallmark. I told him that it was nice, but we had to figure out why were fighting so much and we would talk about it after work. He started screaming, said he was leaving me and stomped out.

I was confused, devastated and pissed. I ran out of my office teary-eyed and drove to his business. I slammed in the door and started yelling and throwing trophy's at him. His mechanics hid in the back.
As I threw a trophy at him. He ducked, put his hands on his hips and declared, "I want you to marry me".

I screamed, “That’s no way to win a fight!”
“I’m serious.” Cowering in the corner.
“You’re nuts.” I threw another trophy at his head.
“I want to get married and I want to do it now!” I stopped throwing.
He tucked his hands under his armpits and flapped around like a chicken.
“What are you, afraid? Chicken, buck, buck, buck? Don’t you love me? Buck, buck, buck.”
“Fine,” I screeched. “Let’s go get married.”
Since we lived in Nevada, this proposal was entirely possible. We jumped in the car, slammed the doors and drove to the courthouse. He threw his drivers license at the clerk and asked how much to get married. $30.00 later I thought it was just a license and at any time he would end this charade and say never mind.
We got the license in 15 minutes and scooted over to a tacky chapel across the street. My soon-to-be husband marched in and announced to a balding Elvis that he was going to marry us, “How much to marry us right now?”
“30 Bucks, Dude.”
I grabbed his arm and took him outside. I explained to him that I was not going to get married again unless it was forever and we needed to talk about this (since in three years together, it had never come up). He said that we needed to do it now, before we chickened out and that our lives would always be intertwined and our love unstoppable. I was awed, but not convinced. He started flapping his arms and bucking like a chicken again. I yelled, “Fuck it, lets get this done, I have to go back to work.”

The ceremony took 5 minutes and we did not have a ring so we used a twist tie from the rolled up marriage certificate. They snapped a Polaroid of us and we look astonished and trampled.
One the way back, we stopped at a sleazy hotel (Fantasy Inn) that featured theme rooms. We had $25.00 between us, but told the clerk the story and she took pity on us and gave us the Cave Room. We consummated the marriage and returned to work. Stunned I sat at my desk. My secretary came in and asked me what I did for lunch. I told her she wouldn't believe me.

We got home that night and told the kids we got married, but they refused to hear it and we set a date for a month later. After putting the kids to bed that night, we snuck out of our own house and back to the Cave Room. My best friend had decorated the bed with champagne and letters I wrote to her swearing I would never marry this man. We snuck back in the house the next morning and got the kids ready for school.

My assistant had Cerebral Palsy and felt she would never be married, so she asked to plan the entire event, I happily handed it over to her. She picked out everything and did most of it for trade for advertising. We were married at the MGM because I wanted to be photographed on the Grand Staircase, the one from Gone With The Wind. We had dinner at the top of the Hilton, Gary made everyone order desert first. Then the whole wedding party went to see Legends in Concert where the Madonna look-a-like took Gary up on stage and molested him. The evening ended at 5:00 AM with me dancing on a bar at a dingy bar to the sound track of Grease. They had never had a bride dance on the bar and it sounded like a good idea at the time. Luckily, someone had film left. All these years later, we are the happiest couple in the world.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Why I love Sharks- a Sailboat Adventure

We spent that last year refurbishing our sailboat at 33 foot Yorktown sloop. Her name was Options. We did most the work ourselves and put our life savings into the project. I placed it on Craig list today for free.

First, a brief history. We bought the boat after drinking a bottle of Patron at the seaside sailors bar. A surfer who lived aboard her, was leaving for six months on a surf trip to Bali. He complained he only had $50.00 in his pocket and no idea what to do with the boat. My husband, Gary, told him how much HE had in his pocket and we stumbled to the end of the pier, took a wet ride and viewed her in the dark.

We were so excited, our floating palace in the ocean where we could hide from the kids and chill. She was an old sloop, and a surfer had called her home for over two years, so we scrubbed and cleaned. Although the intent was to relax, Gary saw her as nothing more than a huge "to do" list, a whole in the water where we threw money.

For four years we worked and argued about every aspect of the boat. I had no problem drinking myself into a coma and reading Twain, but Gary felt the pressure to make her "right". When a vessel resides in the ocean, she is never right.

After battling seagull shit, hawks, seals, pirates, sacrificial anodes, and a laundry list of things we fixed, broke, replaced and ignored, we pulled her out of the water to completely refurbish her. The hope was that my husband would finally relax and enjoy Sailing......

Two years and every ounce of our savings went into to making her perfect. We spent every weekend, sanding, painting, replacing and arguing. We never argue in daily life, but something about this vessel, made us disagree on EVERYTHING. With literally every aspect of her new, but her name, we put Options back in the water.

Each year around this time a bunch of seals, come to Avila harbor to feed. Usually they are taken care of by the natural food chain and the sharks eat them. The sharks are not here for some reason. Seems the seals have a better PR campaign then the sharks. The Sharks are being used for McFish sandwiches.

The seals used to hang out on our working dock (which was 20 feet off the pier) and the tourist loved to see them frolic about. When we needed fresh water or electricity, we moved the sailboat there and have to frighten the seals off the dock. They don’t scare easily and usually poking was necessary which caused the tourist to complain about the cute little seals being harmed by big mean sailors. Harbor patrol put a fence around the working dock, thus giving us a reprieve from seal feces every time we needed water.

My two favorite stories of the working dock happened on our first trip there. It is terrifying to sail a 33-foot vessel and bring it to a halt against a wooden platform in the middle of the rocking ocean. I would make my husband drive, and as he approached, my job would be to jump off the bow and scare the seals away so I could use the cleats to tie up the boat. First time, I jumped off on to a 3-foot round pile of seal shit. The line got into the poop also, so after I secured the boat, I was covered in seal feces. The seals kept jumping onto the dock, no matter how many times you poke them. It took two bottles of Antibacterial soap to get the smell off my body.

While I was taking an outdoor shower, another boat pulled up on the other side and a dog (terrier) came leaping off the boat barking and going after the seals. The dog latched on to one of the seals back flippers. The seal squawked and plunged into the ocean. We watched in horror as the minutes ticked off and finally the little dog popped up and swam to the dock. He was in shock, but fine and never barked at a seal again.

The harbor gave the seals an old working dock, but they are ignoring it and choosing to take over the sailboats. On Monday morning, around 6 AM, the Harbor patrol called and told us there was 20-30 seals on our boat and it was going to sink. He had scared them off, but they just got right back on. We had an hour to get to the boat and fix our seal problem. They had already sunk six boats in the harbor.

We grabbed our dingy and went out to sea to save our sailboat. We brought an unsuspecting friend who thought that a day on the ocean might be more fun than work. As we approached the boat, 20 seals greeted us. Our job was to get them off one at a time, because if they all went at once, the boat would tip and sink. We poked with broom handles and made big noises. They were not frightened or even inconvenienced. Finally, the slingshot Gary has been dying to use came in handy and we pinged them off one at a time. As I grabbed the side of my boat to come on board, I placed it in a 4-inch deep pile of seal shit. Our friend was ready to leave then.

Harbor patrol gave us the run down. We had to clean all evidence of the seals off the boat, move it to another mooring, and put construction fencing around it to keep them off. Meanwhile, keep them from coming on board and eating us. He expalined that this is not a job for harbor patrol to do.

The only way to keep them off is to wash off all their smell (a snot like substance that went 4-feet up my mast and covered my boom), hair (who knew seals had hair?), and mountains of seal dodo. To clean, we had to dunk a bucket into the ocean that is tied to a rope, pull up the heavy ass water around 12 feet, then spread it around with brooms. All the while, the boat is rocking in the ocean. We did this around 500 times.

We were advised we should round up all the seal hair (that is a fine small hair that attaches to everything) and shit. Then we were to take it to the seal dock. This was to try persuading them to sleep, fight, defecate, and make baby seals there. The hair stuck in every crevice and did not come off easily, if at all.

After the first round of cleaning, we had to move the boat to another mooring (at a cost of $16 per day) because even clean they would get back on it, and then surround it in construction fencing.

Harbor patrol has a great little pamphlet on how to get and keep seals off your boat, it is mostly bullshit. The gory details are that my boat was completely ruined with seal shit (imagine rotten fish in a broth of baby puke)and seal hair. They broke all our stainless steel rails and cables and most of our rigging. One was kind enough to projectile shit into my bathroom thru a broken window (which he did with his flipper).

The only way to get the seal smell and shit off the boat is with bleach, which is illegal, so we had to hide the 20 bottles of bleach we used. It burned holes in the top or our feet and I am sure Gary and I will not have finger prints for a while.

After 6 hours of moving around bleach and seal shit (and did I mention the hair?) we tried to move the boat to the working dock to spray her down with fresh water. Half way there, our motor quit (here’s the funny part) as it was clogged with seal shit. As we drifted thru the harbor, dinging off other boats because our sails were stowed and the anchor was not attached. We speared the bow sprite of a fishing boat, tangling our new mast and rigging with his boat. Lots of screaming and cussing occurred. At this point my husband quit, gave me the boat and began to pout.

The Sea Taxi came and towed us to the guest mooring; where we spent four more hours hauling seawater up with a bucket and killed an entire reef with bleach (don't tell anyone). We put the orange construction fencing around our boat, a very attractive look, which means it is unusable until the seals leave, no date yet on when that will happen. Then we watched the seals climb aboard a million dollar yacht and destroy it.

The smell was so bad; we had to throw away everything we were wearing. Even the shoes.

I had dreams of clubbing seals all night. My husband still won’t talk to me, even after I serviced him in the shower. We had to take three showers to feel clean and now all I smell is bleach.

Did I mention that the dingy had to be slung in and out with a crane over the ocean into a surging surf? Did I mention that our van died on the way out of the harbor and we had to replace the dead battery? Did I mention that I had to repeatedly fight 1500-pound seals off while we cleaned? They are like bears, nothing scares them. Did I mention that if a seal bites you, they have bacteria in their mouth that we have no known cure for and the limb must be amputated? Did I mention that I am giving the boat away?

Harbor patrol are doing everything they can, we just need a seal-hunting season. I didn’t get pictures, but should have. The best part is during all this, my producer from Hollywood called me, and I couldn’t take the call or my IPhone would always smell like seal shit. Yes, this is my life.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

55 Word Fiction Contest

Each year I enter the 55 Word Fiction Contest that is held by the local paper. I won a couple of years ago, but haven't placed since. This year I have two entries so far. I used to toil at these stories for hours, but after "Twittering" for the past two months, getting my thoughts concise was not as hard. Here are my entries:

Boy Lost
by Teri Bayus

I raised him to be a good boy, but the Judge says he isn’t.
I cheered at baseball, gymnastics, spelling bees.
Drugs won.
What is a mother to do, her job done – yet, not?
I guided for 25 years, now it’s called enabling.
Ala-non says one day at a time.
A son is lost.

By Teri Bayus
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Chat, IM, Email, Blog, Telephone, Voice Messages.
Many ways Not to connect with each other.
We keep in touch and do not touch.
When was the last time you:
Invited the neighbor over for coffee?
Took your daughter for lunch to talk?
Looked in your mothers’ eyes to state, I love you?

Wish me luck!