Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why I Can't Quit Facebook

Facebook, I can’t quit you.

You see, there are too many fascinating aspects to your personality for me to walk away. I tried cutting back, I really did. Then I got bored and lonely.

You allow me to pretend like I live in a big city. You let me feel like I’ve been in a large office all day, with loveable, irritating, eccentric, crazy, outlandish, quiet, withdrawn, and average co-workers.

When I enter Facebook, though, I get to pick whether or not I walk by that annoying co-worker’s office or whether I bypass it to stop by the loveable secretary’s desk for a quick laugh.

Facebook lets me take time getting to know people. A good example is the friend who always screams when he posts. At first, I thought he didn’t realize he had caps turned on. Then I thought maybe he had a hearing problem. After a while, though, I saw that he is absolutely loveable and full of life. I can hear his excitement and enthusiasm whenever he posts and it is contagious. Actually, sometimes it is downright vital to giving me a lift. Now, on the rare occasion when he doesn’t scream, I am disappointed and worry about him. When he posts again in all caps, I breathe a sigh of relief.

Facebook lets me identify the few and far between truly mean and mental people. Like the person who called the First Lady a “bitch”; and then allowed someone else on his page to call her a “nigger bitch”. I apologize for typing the actual words, but if you are offended then you may have just a slight inkling of how I felt when reading them on Facebook. I’m not known for having a filter, but I DO possess social skills. And I’m not a racist misogynist. Most of us aren’t. Facebook, for some people, is somehow permission to openly share any dirty little thought that enters your mind. The difference, clearly, is that most of us understand some thoughts are “dirty” and not for public consumption. And most of us don’t talk that way. Or even think that way.

Facebook fabulously allows me to chew on thoughts before I put them out there for public consumption. In the early days, I didn’t appreciate this opportunity and more often than not ended up with my foot in my mouth. Now, I’d be a wealthy woman if I had a dime for each “response” I started to type and then deleted. It still felt good…. and even better when the thoughts never hit the public arena. It’s cleansing and more people should try it.

Facebook gives us a snapshot of the myriad of interests people have. The guy who posts music links every week is a gift. I should tell him. I enjoy hitting “play” and listening to the words while I’m putting dishes away or making dinner. For him, each song means something and by not taking the time to listen, I feel like I’m missing out on a tiny piece of him that is being so freely offered.

There are some folks who use Facebook to complain. Imagine a dinner party with one person at the table who only talks about their own personal woes. Awkward!

Then there are those who talk about the fun and amazing things in their life…..but go to Facebook when pain and sorrow hits as well. I have one particular friend like this. She has hundreds of friends and because of her personality and because she is so loved her struggles turn into a huge group therapy session. The feedback and support is amazing. Sometimes the responses are a little aggressive; sometimes they are full of wisdom and guidance. Sometimes, the response simply says “you are not alone”. I find I am most amazed at the speed and magnitude of the support she receives and it lets me know that this woman must be pretty amazing.

There are the typical attention seekers, those who have hundreds of photos of themselves. Yes, they are usually women. Of course, these photos are of them layered in makeup, dressed up and out on the town with other equally dolled up friends. The smiles are full of wattage and bleach, the tans are perfect, and we get it. You look fabulous. Now, post more pictures of your kids please.

These posters are similar to the “Oh my God, my marriage is so wonderful, look at all of the wonderful things we do together as a couple” folks. Just for your information, no one’s marriage is that damn perfect. If I wanted to see a fake perfect marriage, I’d watch re-runs of “Leave it to Beaver”.

There are the folks who go in spurts. Ginormous spurts, where they post twenty snapshot photos in a row with cheesy “feel-good” statements about God or friends. I scroll through these as fast as I can, by the way. Admit it, so do most of you.

That brings me to the folks who seem to be torn between God and politics but don’t realize it. Seriously, if you post a photo of scripture and then follow it with a photo of a quote from Ted Nugent, you probably should speak with your minister about God’s love. And whether or not he likes the “F” word or the “C” word; both of which fly out of Ted’s mouth like spittle.

Which leads me to something I learned the hard way: prior to running for office, I was one of “THOSE”. I posted political rants on national politics….which led to useless and time wasting arguments with one or two people. ….hurt feelings…….and turned allot of friends off. I had to clean up my Facebook page before entering the political arena and was amused and horrified all at once when going back over things my “friends” and I had written. Never again. For the record: I will post information on Kansas government because it affects my family directly and I truly believe people don’t really know the details. In order to feel comfortable with this, I classify those posts as “educational”. I will also post anything Andy Borowitz writes because it will be short, sweet, and wickedly sarcastic. I will not enter into political discussions again as I did in the past. My life is too short. So are the lives of my Facebook friends.


I WILL, however, comment if you negligently share posts that claim the POTUS ordered flags at half mast for Whitney Houston. Seriously people, practice safe Facebook posting. Google is your condom.

Oh dear, I think I wrote without a filter, didn’t I? Forgive me, it’s the Facebook conundrum. In the end, we all have to decide how we say what we need to say without going overboard. Few of us really ever figure this out completely, me in particular, which may be the REAL reason I love Facebook.

For the most part, she’s pretty real. And I like real. And I loved all of those birthday well wishes. Be honest – who wouldn’t?

Gotta go, I just heard a ding.

P.S. Now I’m worried about hurt feelings. If you think I was talking about you, I probably wasn’t (except for Matt – that was you – and if you ever quit typing in all caps I’m going to find you and your computer and break the “caps” key so that it is permanently on “caps”……because I love your all caps!). Yes, it’s okay to sometimes post a photo of you looking hot. Who wouldn’t? Just don’t post 100 of them. Unless you are my hot sister DJ and it’s your professional page. In that case, more!!! Yes, it’s okay to say your husband is awesome! Just don’t do it every day; with responses from him. That makes all of us gag. Are we all good? If not, send me a pm and we can discuss.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Charles, Tents & Grit Man: Chapter 2

Last week I posted the first email written from the summer of 2007 when our family spent two months in Richmond, VA, while Brian was there for work. We decided to make an adventure out of the trip and hauled our 19 foot long toy hauler RV to live in. The following is a portion of my "email diary".

We’ve arrived in Richmond! Now that I have a new email address, please feel free to email me any time. I plan to be on the computer whenever I’m not protecting the kids from all of the pedophiles I know are lurking in the camping park. I hesitate to use the term “trailer park” because it brings back scary childhood memories; however, I can already see that “trailer park” is going to be the word du jour for the summer. Sigh.

The trip was fairly uneventful, other than the scented pond with beautiful power lines providing icing. We did stay at the “Hillbilly Park” in eastern Indiana. At least that is what the entrance sign said. I now know that Brian was trying to break me in slowly. Our current housing situation is workable (I say that loosely), if you forget the family living in a tent across from us, the strange girl who rides her three wheel bike by our site hourly while going in circles so that her stares can get a better gander at the new folks (can you say “feeling stalked?”), and the pallet factory behind the tent family (it’s safe, there is a chain link fence separating them from the pallet workers).

We awake in the morning to the sound of forklifts backing up…..”beep, beep, beep”, which is the same sound Brian makes when I’m pregnant and trying to back into a chair. He’s actually quite funny. When I’m not pregnant.

The only accessible road to our community is a mile from the nearest retail establishment. Said “retail establishment” is, in actuality, a truck stop. This bustling truck stop is just off of I-95, the main interstate between here and Washington D.C. and a main artery along the east coast. Let’s just say it is a slightly busy interstate. I do admit to some surprise, since I had initially envisioned a beautiful state park with the sounds of birds and rustling trees when Brian first proposed staying in the RV. I’m sure we will become quite accustomed to the flow of traffic as it lulls us to sleep each night.

Our one road is an industrial frontage road (see: pallet factory, among others). I decided to take the kids on a leisurely stroll a few mornings after arriving to get breakfast at the lovely truck stop. It contains a Cinnabon and since we DROVE I was unable to enjoy my usual Cinnabon at the airport. The stroll was to culminate in a wonderful breakfast for us, slathered in cinnamon and icing. Shortly after beginning the “stroll”, with Marah marching along beside me and Brody wiggling in the stroller, we were run into the ditch by a large semi. After getting ourselves together, we tried it again. The second semi honked and I think I saw the driver mouthing the words “are you stupid?” as he flew past us. After digging the dirt out of Marah’s mouth (she didn’t really mind and thought it might be a regional snack until I told her it wasn’t edible) and bending one of the stroller wheels back into place, I made the responsible decision to return to the campground. North Richmond, the site of our new home, is “not the best part of town” according to Brian, but I didn’t want to let the bars on the windows or yard art scare me. Besides, our campsite is monitored. It just isn’t safe to leave if you aren’t in an automobile.

You might be wondering why we didn’t drive in the first place, which is a very logical question. You see, I don’t have a car and Brian has to drive the truck to the job site each day.

Let me preface this next paragraph: I'm not a demanding wife, not in the least. In fact, I'm downright easy going, so when I type words like "demand", please keep this in mind. When the “camping“ proposal was first presented, I made only two requests. No, I didn’t think they were unreasonable. The first thing I sweetly requested was a new lap top. Brian promptly returned home a few days later with an old one they had laying around the office. He’s not known for comprehension….that, or he must’ve been distracted when the word “new” preceded the request. I wasn’t complaining, though, and the lap top is working just fine. The second demand, and it was a fairly clear one, involved transportation. He was to get me a rental car while we were there. This is where marriage and communication becomes an issue: I MEANT a rental car as soon as we got there. I think he THOUGHT I meant a car, any car, when he got around to it.

This is the new automobile development. Brian decided it might be a BETTER idea to look for an older used car to buy with cash for me to drive while here instead of renting a car, as originally planned. See where this is going? He wants to pocket as much of the per-diem as possible and sell the car at the end for what we paid (it’s a special talent he possesses).

While watching him shop on Craigslist for work vans, which he thought might be cool so that we could store the bikes in it while we are here, I had to remind him that they don’t contain back seats, eh hum, for the kids. Was that before or after I beat him upside the head?

He also thought it might be best for us to “hang out” in the camper this weekend while looking for a car and “settling in”. We’ve been here since 6:05 pm on Monday night. There’s no way in HELL I’m “hanging out” in the camper for several more days. The kids are becoming so attached to me that I peed on Brody yesterday (don't ask; the camper is only 19 feet long and has a VERY small bathroom). He was already traumatized because the six year old boy with black teeth and a lisp at the pool tried to hold his head under water to see how long he would last. I’m all for kids finding their own way, but the Linda Blair in me came out and I think I scared the poor little lithsper.

Someone save me. Please.

Motto: Remember, we have our health and are together.

P.S. After a warm and loving talk last night I convinced Brian to get me a rental, at least for the weekend. He just needed a little persuasion (under threat of mutiny).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Charles, Tents, & Grit Man: Chapter 1

During the summer of 2007, our family made some very significant changes. Brian had been handed the largest project of his career (the largest project his company had ever run, by a large margin). Schweiger was the General Contractor on a new data center being built in Richmond, VA; Brian the lead. The project lasted two years and by the summer of ’07 he was well into the first year. Leaving early Monday morning and not flying home until late Friday evening was taking a toll on him, our family and on my job. As a result, and after a deep period of soul searching, I walked away from a 15+ long year career in juvenile corrections to stay home.

The first order of business involved how to spend time as a stay at home mother. Since summer was arriving, and we had spent the previous year with a weekend only dad, the choice was easy. The kids and I would travel to Richmond for the summer and spend it with Brian, catching up on some much needed family time and attempting to renew his spirit, which was sagging under the pressure of the project.

Brian, in a nutshell, is very frugal. It's an admirable quality, one that this girl badly needs to learn. He was receiving a very adequate per-diem allowance that would’ve allowed us to rent a corporate apartment for the two months the kids and I planned to stay there. He thought it would be exciting, however, to pull our 19 foot toy-hauler camper to Virginia and pocket the difference….which was significant. As we embarked on our journey, it became clear to me very early on that there would be memories I needed to preserve, and so began an email correspondence with friends while there. The number of “subscribers” grew rapidly and by the end of our stay I was inundated with new people saying “OMG, those stories are so funny, add me to the email list”!!! It should’ve been my first blog, but better late than never.

So…..for your reading pleasure…’s the first installment of "Charles, Tents, & Grit Man”!

We successfully survived the first week here in Virginia! Thank you for all of the supportive emails. I forgot to share one other story from the drive here. Brian, still recovering from the apparent trauma of the incident, recently reminded me of the tale.

During the drive to Richmond, we decided to stay one final night on the road in a West Virginia KOA camp. This one is fairly new and was supposed to have all the amenities! When we pulled in we noticed quite a few kids swimming in a pond by the camp office building. It contained a small make-shift beach. I say “beach” loosely.

Marah immediately seized upon this and begged us to go swimming. The ride had been long and the kids had been beautifully behaved (this is before our family began having “Fing” contests….yes, I added this statement to the old Richmond story….if you want to know what a “Fing” is, please refer to a previous March blog titled, drum roll, “the Shulda Fings”). They both deserved some fun.

After settling in, Brian grabbed his trunks and we got the kids ready and headed to play. As we walked along the side of the pond towards the beach (did I mention “beach” loosely?) I noticed an overwhelmingly nasty scent. Many of my friends and family know that I’m a freak about smells. I figured I was being my usual freakish self. The closer to the water we got the more, um, pungent the smell became. Yes, I think I'll go with "pungent".

Did I mention the funkish gunk on top of the water around the edges? Actually, it wasn't funkish; it was pure, unadulturated funk. With a capital F. Before we could stop her, Marah flew into the water with glee. She doesn’t seem to have inherited my phobias; in fact, she takes great joy in eating her buggers in front of me to watch me retch ( caveat….she only just turned six at the time of this writing and no longer eats her buggers; I’m adding this with the hopes of avoiding later family therapy and having to apologize for humiliating her in front of hundreds of people). Brody (at the tender age of 2 ½) followed close behind. During those days, he plodded along quite hysterically on large, wide, borderline club feet. He really was a cute little guy (I joke; they weren’t really borderline club feet, really). I firmly told Brian there was no way in hell any part of my skin was touching that water so I set up camp a good distance away and OFF of the so called beach.

From a distance, I saw Brian making a face and realized he was wrinkling his nose in disgust, meaning the smell had registered with him as well. He's not gifted with a superior nose like his wife. There were a number of, let’s just call them “outdoorsy”, kids playing in the water just like it was the Great Wolf Lodge. In laymen's terms, since I'm not holding back, they were actually dirty and feral looking. I really need to see a therapist about this clean thing I have going; and DON'T judge me on the feral statement - you didn't see these kids. They were scary.

Marah, as usual, just seemed unable to help herself as she drifted closer and closer to the funk over at the edge. I think she is telepathic and secretly took pleasure in building her mother’s anxiety. I could feel myself starting to breathe rapidly, the panicky kind of breathing one gets that ultimately results in a 911 call or, at a minimum, in passing out. Brian refused to let his swimming trunks touch the water (such a prissy) so after much screaming, waving of hands, jumping up and down, and bringing attention to ourselves, we got her out of the pond and headed back “home”.

As we walked away, the smell was overwhelming and gaggifying (I made that word up; it’s cute, huh?). I quickly realized that now it was emanating from our two children. Brian pointed out that he had been panicking not just over the scent and scum....not because he was a sissy (my words)....not because of the feral children.... but because of the electrical wires that were hanging low over the entire swimming area of the pond. Seriously, someone 6’5 and taller could’ve reached out and swung on them like a vine. Actually, I'm pretty sure some of those mountain children probably DID swing on them later, most likely having built up a tolerance for randomly swinging electrical wires. I could hear them snorting at the "city folks" as we all but ran screaming from there. Sometimes I forget how smart and observant Brian can be. I’m worried about stink and dirt; he’s worried that his kids may die a horrible and electrically induced fiery death. It is times like these that I’m quite pleased with my choice for a mate.

Once back in our small RV, I had to hand wash their suits (Brian's too, even though it hadn’t touched the water....big baby) TWICE in order to keep the camper from stinking. As I wrung them out, Marah quietly said “hey mom!”. Looking over my shoulder, I felt a familiar gag in the back of my throat as she gleefully popped a bugger in her mouth. I knew then that this would be a summer to remember.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Semper Fi

Semper Fi

When you see an elderly gentleman at a public place and he is wearing a military baseball cap, it is a sure sign that he most likely served his country during one of our wars. If he has a cane, looks to be in his 80’s, and is accompanied by several younger adults, it is a good bet he served during World War II.

When this happens, approach him. Ask him when he served. Then shake his hand and thank him. It may not seem like much to you, but it will mean the world to the old man.

This happened Saturday night when I was having drinks with some old friends from my home town. I noticed him immediately, since I was facing the entrance. He was tiny, hunched, shuffling with the aid of a cane and a man who was most likely his grandson. I know this because the “younger” man looked to be about my age or a little younger.

It wasn’t the fact that he was old that caught my attention. It was the red baseball cap, bearing an eagle, globe and anchor. This might not mean much to most people, but it practically screamed at me. My friends noticed and laughed; I apologized and told them I’d need to speak with this man before he finished his dinner and they sweetly said they understood. I just knew, before asking, that this gentleman had served with the United States Marine Corps during WWII.

In these types of social settings, one doesn’t want to come across as rude or pushy. I didn’t want to intrude on his dinner or time with the young family who had brought him out (the “grandson” had a wife and two young kids with them). It was just impossible not to see my own Grandfather in him and having grown up seeing the Marine Corps emblem daily on things around our home I could NOT at least say “Semper Fi” to him. It means “always faithful” and is the creed of the Marine Corps.

I waited until returning from a bathroom visit and approached by bending down and looking up at him. I could see his hearing aids, his sagging and aging skin, wrinkles around his eyes which were watery and fuzzy….and when I grabbed his hand gently, it was soft and warm.

I simply said “I couldn’t help but notice your cap…..when did you serve, if I might ask?”

He responded in a quiet and quivering voice, “World War II”.

I asked if he was in the Pacific theater, and he said yes. I then asked where; he replied with the names of a few far lesser known islands. I told him my Grandfather had been with the First Division, 7th Regiment and he said he had been with the 4th. When I said that my Grandfather had fought on Okinawa he closed his eyes briefly and nodded his head. Most people don’t know that the loss of American life on the island of Okinawa was the largest of any battle during the war.

I was having a hard time hearing him and he me; the music in the bar & grill was loud and he was hard of hearing to begin with. At one point, the wife of the grandson (I don’t KNOW that it was his grandson, but I’m assuming) yelled loudly at him, the way we sometimes do when exaggerating back at someone who keeps saying “WHAT?” I was surprised at my initial response. I wanted to smack her for yelling at him. In hindsight, I’m sure she wasn’t trying to be mean.

I asked him where he had gone to boot camp, San Diego or Parris Island? Only a Marine would understand that question. He responded “San Diego”, whereupon I was able to tell him I had the honor of visiting the US Marine Recruit Depot fairly recently in honor of my grandfather.

We squeezed hands once more as I thanked him for his service and for allowing me to intrude on his evening, then returned to the table to enjoy my friends. A short while later, their group got up to leave and as he carefully walked by me, the old man reached down and shook my hand again, thanking me for approaching him. I said “Semper Fi” as they walked away and the Grandson looked at me and said “Thank you. You have made his night!” To which I responded “No, he made MY night.”

Since then, I’ve kicked myself, wishing I had asked him more questions….or even seeing if he’d mind it if I interviewed him. At a minimum, I wish I had asked the grandson if anyone in the family has written down his story. Over 1,000 WWII veterans die per day. This reality hit home for me when the last surviving World War I Veteran passed away two years ago. Eventually, there won’t be any more of them to interview. The same will happen with the Korean Veterans and the Viet Nam Veterans.

My message today is this: don’t miss these opportunities, be it an active duty military person passing you in a Wal Mart, a man in his late fifties/early sixties with a military cap on, or an elderly gentleman walking with the aid of a cane in a restaurant. I know, without having to ask, that the old man I spoke to this past weekend lost at least one friend during the hell of WWII. Statistics on Marines serving in the Pacific at that time practically scream it. Every United States serviceman or woman who has served in the military put on a uniform that represented our country and they all did it knowing at some point they might be asked to risk their lives at the behest of America. They have earned a simple “thank you”. It takes no time and means more to them than we could ever know. You’ll feel pretty good yourself after doing it.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Beer Bottle Scar and Happy Endings

I have a three inch scar on the outside of my left thigh. Age has softened it, made it lighter, but it tells a story. In fact, most of our scars tell stories, don’t they?

The one on my right hand was a “bump” that kept growing in college, eventually bothering me when I wrote. The removal, compliments of the Herington Hospital, was fascinating. It was 1989 and I hadn’t realized doctors could deaden an entire limb while the rest of the body remained awake. I remember lying on the table thinking to myself “whoa, this must be what Grandpa Stone feels like having no arm!”

Another scar tells the tale of an intoxicated spill in college when I cut my foot. Still others bear witness to aggressive and unbridled play in elementary school. One special tiny scar…….yes, Troy Anderson, it is still visible to the naked eye……is on the inside of a knee. My neighbor thought it would be fun to see if I wanted to see a match “burn twice”. I was extremely gullible and never saw it coming until he placed the lit match on my skin. Yes, I can honestly say I have seen a match burn twice.

Think about your own body and the many scars that dot the canvass of skin you call a house. All of them hold a tale, some lost in time and others waiting in the recesses of memory to be brought forth at just the right story telling moment.

My thigh scar is a story that leaves me smiling and shaking my head at the same time. I received that scar at the hands of a fellow four year old after she broke a glass beer bottle and cut me.

To set the stage, I must first tell you about my best friend in the entire world during those few months sometime around 1974. We lived in an apartment complex in Kansas City, Missouri, in a not-so-nice part of town. With little to no supervision, my new friend quickly took me under her wing and where she went I followed. I don’t recall her name, although she clearly needs one if the story is going to flow. I often think of her as Aziza, the name of a little girl I knew while working at a group home right out of college. Both girls were angry and both girls had no control over the chaos their parents placed upon them.

Aziza was scared of absolutely nothing. The first time I followed her into trouble involved mud. We were both hungry and, as was the norm, had been sent outside to entertain ourselves. Aziza found a plastic bowl lying in the ditch and quickly showed me how to create a mud pie. Now, it didn’t sound good to me but I thought this girl was the smartest person I’d ever met. We both mixed and stirred and then promptly shoved mud into our mouths. My bath that night was rough and I vowed never to eat mud again. Besides, it didn’t come close to assuaging the hunger and it tasted, as you can guess, quite horrid.

The next time Aziza led me down the path of sin was a little more serious. In our apartment complex, there was a basement lined with planked wooden storage closets. Residents could see their possessions and store them with the assurance that each gate was secured with a pad-lock. Aziza had discovered one such storage area with the door hanging slightly open, no pad-lock in sight. We were thrilled when we found a box of Christmas decorations, including a miniature Christmas tree, miniature Santa and Sleigh, and miniature wrapped Christmas gifts. Aziza convinced me that every single one of those small, shiny packages must have a real gift inside.

We drug the box outside and began methodically going through it on the sidewalk in front of the apartment entrance. We carefully opened every single one of those miniature packages, but ended up bathed in disappointment when not a single one bore fruit. Chaos erupted later, when the owner pulled up and recognized her items. Then I felt a flick on my ear, which was my mother’s favorite way to garner the attention of her children. She had three inch nails and would flick the top part of our ears when annoyed. It hurt like hell, leaving the cartilage stinging for hours after the attack (at least if felt like hours in my young mind).

My time with Aziza was never supervised or reduced, even after our first criminal offense was discovered, and we continued our friendship with her leading the way and me following blindly. One day, bored and stuck outside again with nothing to do, she asked me if I wanted some candy. The answer is obvious. Aziza told me her mom had candy hiding on top of their refrigerator. Since no one was home, we boldly marched into the apartment and Aziza shimmied up the counter, standing on tip-toe to reach on top of the fridge. She jumped down and was holding a flat, round, plastic container.

I followed her outside and we sat down on the steps to divvy up the loot. “Watch,” she said, “I just have to push them out the back!” Aziza pushed the little pink pieces of candy through a foil backing and they plopped into her tiny hand. After she had pushed out all thirty-one pieces of candy, she ate sixteen of them and I ate fifteen. They were the worst candy I’d ever eaten, but I wasn’t about to tell Aziza that. Typical of our luck, her mom walked up the steps right around that time and started screaming at her. It was glaringly apparent that this was not Aziza’s first offense with the packaged candy.

What happened next? I recall sitting in a cold hospital room, shivering, while a nurse held a small container under my chin. I vomited and vomited, until I didn’t think I could vomit any more while tears rolled down my face. I’ve never been able to puke without crying at the same time. Years later, I would naively ask my Grandmother if I would ever be able to have children again or if those birth control pills we’d taken for candy could have damaged me forever. She laughed and assured me my female parts would be just fine.

The eventual finale to my association with little Aziza was quite dramatic, even though it wasn’t preceded by any type of fight or squabble. I think boredom must’ve been the culprit and, quite possibly, something she had either seen in person or on television. Regardless, we found ourselves sitting on the front steps of the apartment entrance one final time. With no warning, Aziza walked over to the grass and picked up an empty glass beer bottle that was lying innocently on the ground. I watched her carefully. She didn’t look at me.

Aziza raised the bottle and brought it crashing down onto the steps. The bottom part broke off, just like you see in movies. Here is where the comparison ends, though. She didn’t swing it around. She didn’t tell me she was going to cut me. She simply walked up the steps next to me, bent down, and swiped the jagged edge of the bottle along the side of my small thigh. Then, she kept walking and disappeared into the building.

I sat there for a moment, wondering why she was going inside, when I felt something warm flowing down the side of my leg. It didn’t hurt, you see, until I glanced down and saw the deep crimson of blood gushing out. In the span of seconds, I felt a sting and a burn. It was then that I realized it was my own blood and I screamed.

We returned to the hospital where I received stitches and a shot to ward off infection from the dirty bottle that had cut me. I don’t remember ever seeing Aziza again, although I’m certain we must’ve run into her prior to moving. During that time, we moved quite frequently so I can only imagine how our partnership might have turned out had we lived there for any significant length of time. This is something I try NOT to think about, although I’m certain it would’ve provided ample fodder for a writer.

I’ve hated hospital shots and stitches ever since. In fact, I’ve hated miniature Santa sleighs, getting muddy, birth control pills, and broken glass for as long as I can recall.

I started this tale by mentioning scars. Getting philosophical about it would be very easy and we all know that the scars we carry inside us are far more damaging than those on the outside. I kind of like my broken beer bottle scar, though. You see, on the surface one would imagine that Marlys and Aziza would have ended up young and pregnant, addicted, in prison, or dead. Statistics are often blunt evidence in the face of hope.

As I sit here typing, remembering little Aziza and looking at my scar, I’d like to think that she also made it out and is healthy, happy, and no longer eating mud pies or stealing from neighbors. In fact, I like to imagine that those scars motivated her to make sure her own kids are sneaking real candy from the kitchen instead of birth control pills.

That is, after all, how a good story ends, isn't it?