Oh Pishaw, My Grandma

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This weekend I was going through some old boxes and I came upon three very large, antiqued, ivory bras.  As I pulled them out and they unfolded in all of their parachute sized silken glory, I thought to myself, “these must be my grandma’s old bras.”  Now, even though I had a small stint as an employee of Victorias Secret in my early twenties, I am not deft at guessing cup sizes upon first glance. I did not know these were my grandma’s bras simply because she is the only woman I know who fits the criteria of having 1. Enormous breasts and 2. We are emotionally intimate enough that your bras may somehow end up in an old cardboard box of mine labeled in sharpie as “Nicole’s stuff” and “poop” on the underside. No, there was a small telltale sign that was characteristic of all of my grandmother’s articles of clothing, placemats, furniture, and pets.  A cigarette burn hole. Yes, aside from using her bras as a seemingly bottomless storage container for packs of generic cigarettes, lighters, tissue, wads of money, etc., her bra apparently also was a landing pad for the cherry of a GPC or King Mountain or whatever brand of ultralight cigarette that was on sale at the reservation that month.

My grandma’s name was Grace. Grace Ford. And she was amazing.  People who crossed my Grandmother thought that she was pure evil.  She read alot of murder mysteries and sometimes got drunk and told us about how to kill people and get away with it. To this day, part of me still believes that she was capable of cold blooded murder. Once, I watched out her kitchen window as she gathered a bag of the neighbors dog shit out of her yard, walk it over to his house in her in muumuu, place the bag under his welcome mat, and jump up and down on the mat that covered the bag of crap making sure to really grind it in to his new deck.  For a woman that acted feeble and helpless much of the time, I had never seen her be so physically active.

Yes, Grandma had a temper and an insane propensity for revenge thinking and grudges.  This was something that did not translate to her grandkids.  There were eight of us all together and there was nothing that we could do that would make grandma angry at us. In fact, one summer my cousins and I decided to heat our kiddie pool by carrying large pans of hot water from the bathtub to the back deck and dumping them in the pool.  Caught up in our genius idea, we had no care that we were scratching the shit out of the finish of the brand new bathtub grandma just had put in her bathroom.  Most kids would be sent to live in an orphanage for pulling that kind of shit, but grandma did not punish us at all. She left that, as usual, up to our exasperated parents.

Once, when she lived across the street on the bird farm (there were peacocks, pheasants, turkeys, ducks, and a hawk) with my grandpa, my cousins and I were spending the night and were upset that He-man and She-ra weren’t on at 11pm at night. We must have been tired of watching the Stephen King movies and murder mysteries we rented earlier that evening.  Grandma acted outraged that our favorite cartoons were not on exactly when we wanted to watch them and pretended to call the network and complain and demanded that they put on our cartoons. The word entitlement obviously was not in her vocab.

She endearingly called us her little “poopsies” or her “pussycats,” which, as her blood alcohol content of cheap vodka and tap water went up would devolve into a slurry “pussscayt” and then just straight up “pussy.” Hearing your grandma ask you “Pussy can you pour me another teensy” was awkward, naturally.

A teensy was my grandma’s signature drink. She did not mess around with any of the frills when it came to her booze delivery routine. She bought gallons of the cheap plastic jug vodka from the bottom shelf at the liquor store that would make even a bum throw up a little in his mouth.  She would drink this vodka with a splash of tap water. And that was it. That my friends, is a teensy. Of course, a teensy is always accompanied by chain smoking and Fox News blaring in the background.

Despite her alcoholism and temper, Grandma did alot of laughing and alot of loving.  She would get drunk sometimes and break out an old acoustic guitar that she had in the back room. I learned all my favorite Hank Williams songs from her.  She pretty much just played the G chord, but there was something about her singing old country songs, without her teeth in, drunk off her ass, in her muumuu, pulling another cigarette out of her bra (even though she already had one lit in the ashtray and another on the dish drain) that just made your heart sing. She provided the unconditional love and magical thinking that all kids need.  She taught her grandkids that the sky was the limit, and that we were good enough and smart enough to achieve great things.

“You can be anything you want to be Pussy,” she would say, “now can you do your ol grandma a favor dahling and pour me another teensy.”

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The time I lived next door to Sasquatch

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In trauma work, it is often the case that we need to have time to process traumatic things that happen to us, lest they get stuck and continually trigger us.  I think that enough time has passed for me to finally feel okay to talk about my traumatizing move to rural WA, and hopefully this post will help with further catharsis and processing.

Earlier this past Summer, Jay and I packed up all of our belongings, stuffed the dog and cat in the car, and moved to an insanely rural part of North East Washington state. Rural is actually quite an understatement.  I wish there was a word that is a hybrid of “Ghost Town” and “Hillbilly Mecca.” It would be something like that. Now, don’t get me wrong.  A place with natural beauty, less traffic, cleaner air, abundant lakes and rivers, and stars so bright only astronomers wouldn’t be jealous isn’t a bad thing. We decided to trade in our life in Oregon for something slower, more peaceful. Little did we know, we were actually moving into the 10th ring of hell (yes, the 10th ring does exist).

My descent into clinical depression came on gradually.

First, there was the hour drive one way to work on a pitch black two lane highway.  The wildlife was great aside from the problem of the furry critters liking to cross the road at quite inopportune times, like when you are barreling down a two lane highway, eating your breakfast boiled egg, in a rainstorm, while scream singing with your eyes closed to My Morning Jacket. To date, I have almost careened into: a ton of deer, a family of racoons, dozens of wild turkeys, a herd of cattle, squirrels, and a moose. Actually I didn’t almost run into the moose, but I did see the magical matey on the side of the highway once. I imagine seeing a moose would be kind of like seeing a Sasquatch. He was so big and lumbered around in such a surreal way in the fog along the highway, it felt like I was seeing something that I wasn’t supposed to.

The town itself, had about, oh, 560 people. Plus two including Jay and I. There is one grocery store called the Food Court that from the outside looks like something in an apocalypse movie.  From my field research, it seems that the residents of this town only eat fried deli food such as chicken gizzards and pizza sticks, and get the rest of their sustenance from cheap beer with camo print and graphics of bucks and other enticing game to hunt. This is my best educated guess given that the produce at the Food Court was slimy and rotten and the meat section was mostly old hotdogs and weird looking bacon. There was not a single coffee shop, and the locals (including yours truly) bought their coffee at the gas station.  Early in the morning before work, I would go to the gas station where the local octogenarians met to sip drip and talk about the goings on in the town. I would ask for the same thing every morning; “Double Shot Americano,” while I ignored the awkward glances from the country folk judging my complicated order. It was the same look I got the first time I asked a befuddled deli worker at the Food Court if they had hummus. The first few times I ordered this, I was asked to taste my coffee after it had been made to “see if there is enough coffee in it.”

The mayor of the town was a twenty-something party animal who basically got her position because, according to my Dad, “No one ran against her.” She is also a bartender at the local shithole/watering hole.  She ran around with an arrogant young man with a Farmans Pickle tattooed on his upper arm.  It is always on display, even in the Winter time because he rips off all the sleeves of his shirts.  Nothing says Washington pride like a permanent tribute to a pickle made at the base of Mt. Rainier.

Party Mayor, unfortunately, turned out to be a total racist. Jay and I decided to get real wild one Saturday night and we went to the local bar to drink club soda with limes. There was an underage kid in the bar with his girlfriend, the drunkest lady I have ever seen in real life, and the mayor, slinging drinks behind the counter.  Drunk lady ordered a drink, which I was only able to deduce because she waved her empty cup in the air towards Party Mayor bartender while slurring something completely unintelligible and almost falling off her barstool. Again. To my surprise instead of giving this alcohol poisoned Grandmother a cup of water, an IV bag of electrolytes,  or even just straight soda, the bartender filled up her glass with more booze. And grandmother with the world record for highest BAC of all time, hugged my brother and talked to him like she had known him all his life in her crazy drunkspeak. Just when I was convinced the night couldn’t get any better, our lovely bastion of All American values bartendress turned off the lights of the bar around 10:15pm. When I asked if the bar was closing she replied, “The Mexicans are starting to come in, so I am pretending we are closed.” I have never been so close to throwing a punch in my life. Night over.

I think I was the first one to break. “I hate this place!” I told Jay one night at our house after feeling bored not being able to get any internet or cable. Being the wonderful and supportive boyfriend that he is, Jay tried to convince me we just needed to hang in there. It was just growing pains.  A few days later, he was ready to crack and most likely was thinking about drinking the rubbing alcohol in the medicine cabinet to black out and forget the incessant nightmare that we had gotten ourselves into. But the insanity didn’t stop there.

Our local bank manager was relieved of her job for asking patrons coming in the bank to deposit checks if she could borrow some money. All the high school kids wear camo and think it is cool to be obsessed with Duck Dynasty and be racist/homophobic. Everything closes at 6pm. The main attraction is the high school football team and all the residents go out to games to scream at the poor high school kids fucking up their underdeveloped brains with concussions about how they aren’t doing a good enough job at “kicking ass.”

I think the breaking point came when I started to cry at a restaurant while having lunch with Jay.  “We have to get out of here no matter what!”  Jay looked worried, and probably half out of fear to talk me down, and half out of being at the end of his own rope, agreed with me. And that is when we committed to moving back to the city. We didn’t care that we were like Ikea loving,  small batch coffee drinking, city elitists who liked to have cell service at ALL times while at our house or within our zip code. We had our tails between our legs and did not give a shit. Despite the natural beauty, the country just wasn’t for us.

Of course the restaurant we were sitting at was an hour away from where we lived, because our town had no restaurants. Funny restaurant story: when we went into the “Bar and Grill” in town, a man with a pretty amazing mullet set down his beer that he was swilling with a table of friends, to jump behind the bar and offer us a drink. When we asked for a menu, the bar fell silent and the patrons all looked at us with the “they must be cityfolk” look.  “We actually don’t serve food anymore, and the bartender is out right now….” said the mullet coiffed man in a tracksuit (who later we found out was also the wrestling coach), “I just thought you all wanted a toddy or something.”

No thanks friend, No thanks.

The Kitten.

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As a result of what I suspect may be out of control baby fever, Jay and I had been wanting to get a kitten for a while. When we moved to Washington this summer, my Dad’s slutty ass cat just had yet another litter of kittens.  We picked out the cutest one and took it home when it was old enough to be adopted.  We chose not to heed any of the warnings from his previous family such as the obvious red flag:  “One of the kids dropped that one on its head…”

The terrorizing started almost immediately. Apparently we had hand picked the most emotionally needy yet violent cat ever. I stopped letting it sleep in the bed because it would bite toes, fingers, and what was most shockingly painful to discover, noses. The little fucker also liked to scratch with its kitten needle claws as well. It particularly like to sleep on my neck, I think so he could have easier access to my exposed nose. Anyway, I started kicking him out of the room and shutting the bedroom door. In the beginning he meowed insanely loudly outside of the door. All. Night. Long. After time, he somehow learned to ram into the door and force it open. There was no escaping his reign of nighttime brutalizations, so I started putting him outside at night. All the while, secretly hoping he would run away to a more forgiving and patient family or get carried off by a bird of prey.

Most cats are afraid of my dog. She isn’t particularly mean, but cats especially annoy her and she loves to chase them away and bark at them. The kitten, of course, seemed to have NO FEAR OF ANYTHING, and would try to eat the dog’s food while she was eating, scratch the dog’s face all hours of the day, and for no reason I could figure out, it would get a running start, leap into the air onto the dog’s head, and launch herself off from her head and run away.

It was not scared of cars either. In the morning I would go out to start my car to leave for work. The kitten would either stand in front of it without moving, or it would jump onto the hood.  No amount of speed, braking, me screaming “Get Down! GET DOWN! GET DOWN YOU LITTLE IDIOT!”, or car horn would deter this kitten’s mission. I would have to get out of the car, take it off the car, jump back into the car, and try to speed off.  Unfortunately the little shitball was very fast and he would jump back onto the hood or the roof before I could speed away. This progressed (or actually regressed would be more fitting) into a morning routine of me jumping out of the car, picking up the cat, throwing it into the yard, running as fast as I could and jumping back into the car, slamming it into drive, and speeding off like a madwoman without even my seatbelt on. Most of the time I would have to swerve to miss the cat who had already made it to the road. Once as I was speeding off, he jumped up to try and get on the car and ended up slamming into the side of the car. I can only imagine the scene from the neighbor’s point of view.

It ripped up all my plants with his wolverine claws and shit in all of them.  He also liked to pee in all of my plants eventhough he was outside all night and most of the day. It is like he waited all day to come inside and do his biz in his own personal houseplant toilets.

Once, he ate a whole Ribeye steak that was vacuum sealed and defrosting in the sink.

The end of my rope came one night when the power went out. I was reading Game of Thrones by candlelight like a nerdling maiden when I decided to let the cat in the house. I opened the door and just as he crossed the threshold I noticed something in his mouth.  Just as I blurted out “Oh fuck is that a mouse!?” He dropped the alive mouse in the middle of my very dark living room.

I am not a Wolfman. Or a Dreamboat.

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But I sure do know one. This is my bf Jay and this is the picture that inspired this blog. Actually, Jay and I were both talking about starting blogs one night in bed after watching the last epsiode of Season 2 of the Sopranos. We talked about a blog about coupleship called “I Liked us Better Before We Started Farting in Front of Each Other,” but decided it might 1) limit our creativity and 2) Be a lie. Seriously, no one wants their belly to hurt all the time from trapped gas. In a continual effort to outdo me in everything, he decided his blog is going to be called Wizard Turds (WURDZ for short). It will be much better than mine I am sure. He’ll win a Nobel, and I will end up banned from the interwebs.