Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Musical Evolution

During the course of a person’s adolecsants they will go through many musical phases including but not limited to: “awkward,” “classic rock,” and “being really into a foreign country.” Of these phases, there is only one that all people are required to go through before they can obtain their bachelor’s degree or acquiesce to a cubical ridden desk job. It is known as “Bob Marley.”

Depending on the coolness of the person, they can experience this stage anywhere between the sixth grade and their last year of college. Regardless of when they went through this phase, every person can tell you about the time when they had Legend on repeat. If you wish to test this theory, go to any floor in a College Dorm and there is a 100% chance you will find at least one Bob Marley poster.

At one point, my teens went thru 4 Bob Marley CD's, playing each into the ground with grooves and scratches so deep, no putty could revive them. This is also when skunks moved in next store, or so I thought.

It is also worth noting that people tend get into smoking marijuana during this phase. This is why all people view the combination of the two as one of the most pleasurable experiences on earth. But when people really want to take it to the next level they will combine Bob Marley, Marijuana, a long weekend and some sort of notable outdoor location (beach, cottage, or patio). There are few activities on earth that are more appealing. The only acceptable reasons for declining participation are a prior engagement at a music festival, preferably in the woods.

It’s also worth noting that when talking to people about Bob Marley there is no need to use his surname. This is because all refer to him simply as “Bob.” But be warned that a person saying they like “reggae” what they really mean is “reggae from 1965-1983.”

Since so many people are into Bob Marley, it is only natural for advanced musical people to profess to only marginally liking Bob Marley (note: it is impossible for a white person to outright dislike him). Instead, these people will claim to preferring more obscure artists like Burning Spear or Peter Tosh.

In Grenada our first trip, we asked every reggae band to play "Two Little Birds" and they laughed us into the ocean. Than is were we discovered, Bob was as American as Apple Pie. These born-with-a-steel-drum stick-in-their-hand guys would have rather played Dean martin, then Bob.

Note: if you are talking to a person who is really into Bob Marley, has dreadlocks, and professes to be a Rastafarian and skin is the color of snow white, you should end the conversation immediately. These people are of no value unless you need directions to a “save the (insert animal here) protest” or if you have wondered just how bad a human can smell.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ghost Stories

The long lonely road from Reno to Vegas seemed to stretch on forever. Nine hours with two rowdy teens arguing over the imaginary line, that divided the back seat. This road is so desolate that the kids could not even play the alphabet game. There were no signs. The only game they found was to count the dead rabbits. The kids had done well the first 6 hours, but now were starting to chew through their straps in the back seat. I was having daydreams of ripping their limbs from their body and feeding them to the coyotes when my daughter saw the first road sign in over an hour.
“Gold Hill. I want to stop in Gold hill!”
“No way. That’s were that haunted hotel is.” Was my only reply?
“I’m not getting out of the car.” My son yelled.
“I am, I am going to catch a ghost.”
“You can’t catch ghosts, you idiot.”
“Enough you two.”
The town of gold hill loomed before us and the kids argued about capturing ghosts and whose side of the car they would sit. I needed a diet coke and a mental health break. I usually avoided this stop, because the Gold Hill Hotel scared me. I had visited when a child and the things that I remember felt more like a dream than reality. This fear I had of the hotel seemed so real. I had only driven past it on many occasions, never even slowing down, because it scared me to death. I couldn’t discern the fear, but the hair stood up on the back of my neck when I saw the sign Gold Hill, Nevada, population 86. We pulled into town and got on the main strip. As we pulled in front of the hotel, the dust settled on our car like a blanket of snow. The sun had set and the advancing twilight made the shadows play tricks on my eyes.
There was nothing in this town except a gas station, a bar and the Gold hill hotel. The town had once had the biggest population in Nevada, when gold was found in the hills (thus the name Gold hill). 1000’s of gold miners came to seek their fortunate in the middle of the Nevada desert. The hotel was the only standing structure after a fire burnt the town to the ground in 1920. The hotel was an eight story beautiful structure that had been the centerpiece for this bustling metropolis. After the town burned down, the hotel had gone through many owners, but all had left under mysterious conditions. It was documented to be haunted. Books had been written, TV shows produced and many a ghost busters had spent the night here only to leave with their tail between their legs.
“Mommy, tell us about your time at the hotel when you were a little girl,” my daughter begged.
“I hate that story”, my son retorted
“Scardy cat”
“Am not.”
“Am too.”
“Okay enough, I’ll tell it”. I yelled and jumped out of the car.
A chain link fence surrounded the hotel. Broken windows and shutters hanging made it look dead and cold. I was scared, but wanted to behave bravely in front of my kids. Fear this raw was hard to conceal.
My daughter jumped out of the car with her flashlight and headed around the back of the building, I called her back, but she was gone. My less than brave son, stayed close to me. I yelled and yelled for my daughter and was ready to panic when I heard her voice come from up above.
“Mom I got in. look at me mom, I am in the hotel.”
I was terrified seeing here hang out a third story window. “Get down here right now. It is dangerous in there.”
“No mom its fine. Come around the back and follow the steps up its cool.”
She disappeared into the hotel darkness.
My son clutched my sweater. “Mom we are not going in there are we?”
“We have to go get Chere.”
“Let here die up there, I am not going in.” I saw he wasn’t going to help so I started to crawl through the fence. “Than stay here.”
“By myself? No way.” He scrambled after me.
“I am going to get her, stay close.”
He followed close behind me, hanging on too my shirt, big brave man.
In the back of the hotel, a hole had been cut in the door. We went inside and had to boast each other up into the kitchen area of the hotel because the steps had rotted away.
I yelled for Chere, no answer. I was beginning to get scared.
We entered the main dining room. Dust consumed everything and ancient spider webs filled the corners. All the original furniture was still in the hotel, it surprised me that no one had pilfered the place. The upholstered chair cushions had become nests for mice. The bar stools had were turned upside down. In the main lobby, the grand piano stood inviting us to play it. The tattered curtains hung on all the windows and I could see my car headlights beaming in through the front windows.
Again I called for Chere, nothing.
Then a moaning came from the second floor. Up the grand staircase, we walked slowly, setting each foot down to test the sturdiness of the floor. My son was shivering and calling for his sister.
“You idiot, you had better not jump out at us, I am going kill you for making us come in here. Chere, where are you?”
The moaning was louder as we arrived on the second floor landing.
The doors to the rooms were all closed, just a long dark hallway stretch out before us.
I opened the first door and the scattering of bats made my son jump with surprise. But Chere was not in the room.
I could hear the moaning getting louder and couldn’t tell if it was her, or the wind through the broken windows.
After checking five rooms with nothing but the refuge from bums homesteading there, I began to get worried and mad. Where was she? Was she just trying to scare us, because if she was, she was doing a good job.
The last door was 812. The numbers swung sideways as I opened the door. It creaked and groaned as if it hadn’t been open in 50 years. Once the door was open, I took my flashlight to look inside. The minute we stepped in the room, my flashlight went out, the door slammed shut. I screamed and ran for the door. It was locked. It was happening again. My son started to scream. I hit the flashlight on my leg to try to jar it into working. Nothing. Pitch darkness and the sound of my son screaming. I remember the book of matches that were in my pocket and took them out. Desperately I tried to light one after another, but I was shaking so bad, the flames never materialized. Finally, with only one match left, a fire ignited. In a brief second of light, I saw my daughter mangled, dead and rotten hanging from a rope in the middle of the room. Her eyes wide open in terror and maggots crawling from her mouth.
I screamed, grabbed my son and ran for the door. It fell open with a powerful kick. I raced down the front stairs, through the lobby and slipped on the dusty floor of the kitchen. Out the back door, we jumped to the ground and ran. While passing thru the fence, my son got snagged on the chain link fence. All the while he was sobbing, “Did you see Chere, mom she was dead and old, what happened.”
I tore him free and sprinted for the car.
My mind worked on one thought; get to the safety of the car.
Once we were inside and I locked the doors, I grabbed my phone to call the police. When I swung my arm to the back seat to get the phone out of my suitcase. I saw my daughter, peacefully sleeping under her favorite blanket.
Was it a dream?
No, it was the hotel. It had done it again. But this time I had my sons torn shirt as proof. I grabbed his sister and she protested as to why I had woken her up.
She was fine. My son sat wide-eyed in the front seat.
“Mom can we get out of here?”
“Sure thing honey.”
I popped the car into reverse and laid a shower of gravel on the front of the hotel.
“Mom,” Chere said, “hey you were going to tell me about what happened to you at this hotel when you were young”.
“You do not want to know”, my son answered.
The hotel seemed to leer at us as we drove away.

My First Best Friend

Most of us are lucky enough to find life long friends as a child. I was not so fortunate. With divorced parents shuffling me back and forth, I had neither the time or self esteem to make friends. My grandmother became my best friend. She was my port in the storm, a calming, soothing force during the turmoil of my young life. I worshiped her. Even in her lingering ladylike state, she would sit in the mud and play Barbie's with me for hours. She knew how I longed for a playmate, but had the inability to find one my own age. We shared stories, secrets and games.
As I grew into adolescence's, she became too un-cool for me to "Hang" with, so she graciously took a back seat. She was always there with open arms when I came running back, so desperately needing a friend to talk with.
I married and traveled the world and still considered her my best friend, but distance weakened the bond. When I was pregnant with my first child, I again ran to her for instruction, sharing and a never-ending friend.
Cancer took hold of her and whisked her out of my life when I turned 25. It was then I felt I needed her most. I was devastated. Now friendless and alone, I tried to find friends to take her place. Even the Jehovah Witnesses that visited with their booklets on how to have a happy life, where considered for friends. Nothing took Nana's place. How could it?
In desperation and loneliness, I begin to believe that she was with me, an Angel looking down on my children and me. Protecting us from harm. I would talk to her at night, as I lie in my bed worried about what was right and wrong in raising my children. As the kids grew and so did myself esteem, I thought of her less and less. I took charge of my life and made my own decisions without council from anyone. I still felt lonely at times for a friend, but had no time to pursue friendships while raising kids.
As the kids entered adolescence's and I entered mid-life, I decided it was time to get some of my own interests. I took a writing class at the local college. I loved the class, the writing the assignments, the people. I started searching for writing groups to join.
I found a writing group in three ladies that shared the class with me. We couldn't have been four more different people, but our shared love for writing, bound us together from the first time we met. We didn't even write in the same genre. It didn't matter; somehow, the glue of writing and the possibility of friendship held us together.
I was the youngest in the group at 40 years old with teens ruling my life. I wrote mostly slice of life stories regarding these strange beings that used to be my precious children. My work was described as "edgy". I was opinionated, fast-talking, full of my writing and myself.

Betty was 76 years old, a successful business owner that had just finished a book on a local Indian tribe and was starting a cookbook with antidotes about the contributors. Her style was sweet, nonfiction and straightforward. I admired her instantly for the lack of filter between her brain and her mouth. She said what she thought with no regard for what anyone felt about it or her.

Nita was recently relocated from Washington, DC. Her husband had just retired from the Secret Service, and had bought a mountain in need of trees to fill his days. She was a special education teacher with a heart of gold. Nothing came out of her mouth that wasn't nurturing. She was writing mysteries and fictional facts about the people she had known in DC.

Kathy was closest to my age with three children in college. She was the personification of cosmopolitan. She had a French husband, had lived abroad, and drove a Jaguar. She was everything that class represented. Brilliant, she had decided to rewrite the book of Genesis; with her own fictional twists mingled with legend.

I thought for sure they would throw me out of the group the first time I read a story about a teen smoking a Hookah in my house. They didn't, they encouraged me, laughed, rolled their eyes at my work and taught me to edit.
At one point, no one can remember when or why, we began to call the group "The Angels". We consistently meet once a week at a local coffee shop to share our writing. We wrote together and discussed each other's lives and philosophies. I was addicted from the start. I lived for the five-hour meetings where we could argue, yell and then hug, laugh and make up. It was amazing. For the first time in my life, I had real friends. New to the sensation, it often frightened me. I was afraid of the group realizing I was not up to their caliber and throwing me out. It never happened. We were equals. So diametrically different in everything-we balanced each other. We taught each other and supported each other.
Each night I thanked God for these amazing ladies; now called friends. The Angels were in my life to stay.
One night as I dreamed of my Nana, I solved the puzzle of the Angels.
Nana was 76 years old when she died; she had a dog name Tina. She had owned a successful restaurant for 30 years. So did Betty.
Nana's real name was Nita. In her younger life, she was a teacher and married to a police officer. So was Nita.
Nana was small in build. Barely weighing 100 pounds. She had three children and was a patient, soft-spoken lady of class. So was Kathy.
Nana was with me in the incarnation of a writing group and three wonderful women now known as the Angles. She was still being the best friend anyone could have, even from the distance of heaven.

Friday, July 3, 2009

My Daughter is engaged!

Marrying for love may be a bit risky, but it is so honest that God can't help but smile on it.
My daughter went to Maui for her birthday and her sweet boyfriend asked for her hand in marriage! I am so excited, I like this boy, and this is my first chance to be a MOB (Mother of the Bride, or Monster, if I am a bitch). The night it happened, she called to tell me and asked me to be her maid of honor! I cried, it is such an honor when your grown daughter considers you a friend. She also asked Gary to walk her down the isle. He is her step father, but in her eyes the only man that has ever been really there for her.

When asked by her finance, what kind of wedding she wanted, she told him she dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance,
A church filled with family and friends.
She asked him what kind of a wedding he wished for,
He said one that would make me his wife.

They are going to be engaged for a year, and are planning a destination wedding.

I can barely stand not to plan every little detail for her. When people come into my store (where she is the manager) and she doesn’t immediately tell them she just got engaged or thrust her engagement ring into their face, I interject “Tell them, tell them!”

This is my favorite child, I know you are not supposed to admit that, but this one is the joy of my life. She is and has always been a good girl. A good girl with previously rotten taste in men. Past boyfriends have been nice, but losers. Men with no future or personal pride. This one is different. He is an entrepreneur, with big goals and he treats her like a princess. He comes from a good family (we have yet to meet them, but that what everyone says).

So we begin our year of love, joy, planning, and excitement. First we meet the parents, and hopefully not scare them away. I will try to be good and not say Fuck or drink too much wine.

Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.
-- Albert Einstein