Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thumbs out

Growing up poor as fuck and not ever having a car made us rely on another form of transportation altogether. No not a taxi, no not a cab, not even a bus, subway, or trolley. It was a risky age old practice called hitchhiking. You stand on the side of a dusty road and a kindly older gentleman opens the passenger door and as you swipe the sand strewn wind through your bangs you lean in and say sure when he asks if you need a ride. You hoist a heavy bag into the backseat or truck bed as semis blow past blowing even more dust into your mouth and eyes. You assume he's not going to rape you and decide where and when he can drop you off. If you say your destination is a hundred miles away they most likely can only take you twenty. Standing on the side of the road has made you thirsty and the first thing you drink up is the A/C, it feels like a waterfall and as you press your face to the artificial air you hope he doesn't touch your thigh and you prepare a name as fake as the Freon air. Gulping, thankful, cool, you map out a plan and hope this man, it's never a woman, can get you as close as possible to where you need to be. If you're lucky you might even get a twenty out of him for cigs,gas, or food. If you're unlucky he propositions you and you sternly ask to be let out into the heat with nothing but your pack. It's mostly that way. This is how it was with my mother.

We were children at her heels dumped on her by our decision to runaway from our paternal abusing grandmother at the tender ages of eleven and nine. We showed up at our mothers doorstep and demanded custody, after it was granted she could not afford rent in the south bay and moved us to Palm Springs, Ca. Palm Trees, swimming pools,it was and it was not. We first lived at the Desert Moon, a crack hotel for the financially impaired, it's a nudist colony now, the humor is not lost on me. Though when we were there it was a sort of Melrose Place community. Yes we we're running around ragged and starved but we had many people to talk to and if we were lucky they'd hand us a bowl of menudo or a taco. I had my first french kiss while living there, I drew an eye and a heart and the letter U to my 18 year old pursuer on Valentines day, he said I kissed too fast.

We had to traipse about the desert to get either food, food stamps or day old food a lot of times out of garbages. Entemann's can suck it. We were always offered day old Entemanns and yet had to travel for it. The blueberry streussel is an abomination according to me. Oh sure it sounds good when mama brings snacks home but they're too dry or moldy to masticate. Plus you don't want to eat that crap every meal every day for weeks. The "crumbs" on top start to resemble maggots.  Peanut butter cookies can also eradicate themselves from any snack time ever. I can't eat them after frying them in an electric pan with two maybe three ingredients involved. They suck, add bacon and I still wouldn't eat them that way.

The hitchhiking was always my moms means of getting around long before we became her wards. Once we were in her possession we must have made it easier for her to get around. Who wants to leave a mom and two kids on the side of the road in a hundred degree weather. She used us, for gas, for food, we were props. She would play on their generosity to garner more, either it be food or money or drugs. Hell she was even given a house in Twenty Nine Palms. Jennifer and I hated it there. We were teenagers and were reckless and enjoying all the things our young bodies allowed us. My sister and I wanted to be back in Palm Springs so we hitchhiked the fifty some odd miles, often.


We felt lucky if some marines picked us up, we felt they kept to a code and would not rape us, we were in fact lucky.They gave us rides in their topless Jeeps while blasting cock rock, our hair whipping so hard in the wind we couldn't see if we tried. Sodas pressed between our legs screaming above the surging sounds feeling alive. The "jar heads" were awesome to Jennifer and I as we thumbed our way across the desert in cut offs and skimpy tops, using our back packs as a pillow. Reckless behavior on survival instincts. The road was our home, the air was our food, the stars our friends. Skinny and undernourished we fed off of warm beer sipped or chugged out of gas cans in the brightly illuminated starry sky under Joshua trees.

Ridiculously Kentucky Fried Chicken was our saving grace, otherwise we may have starved to death in that barren waste land. They had cups with pull tabs that offered many free delights, soda, sandwiches and fingers of fried chicken. So, we stole a whole stack and ate everyday for weeks. Huzzah!

The longest trek we made, sister and I, was from Palm Springs to Vegas. It took us three rides and that was with a male friend David, who got sneers, yet stuck with us till our destination then disappeared. We went through Amboy which was a mid desert treat oasis complete with sodas and a shoe tree that's still there. The purpose was a Grateful Dead show, not our first nor our last. As teenagers we slogged alongside molten asphalt and blinding winds to get to a show that would stick with us forever. I will never forget the pinks, tangerines and cloud formations that seemed to set on the opposite side of the stadium, an eastern sunset, freaking magical.

With thumbs out Jennifer and I decided to go to the beach one spring break. Palm Springs was once the mecca for Spring Break festivities but those days were long since past as Sonny Bono put a kibosh on cruising and the college kids fled with their super soakers, thongs on crotch rockets, and went to Florida instead. We took a ride from the Pilot gas station on the 10 in a van and we felt as if we had the best luck, one ride the whole way! The driver even agreed to come pick us up a week later if we were cool with him stopping in Victorville first. The next day we made our voyage after partying with the Victorville kids all night. It was a long night, I slept like a cat in a small chair.

We would have never hitchhiked had our mother never shown us how. Even though it was dangerous it was also a way to get out of a dangerous situations. She once moved us to Mojave to follow her native american love. After a few months and many bottles of Black Velvet later he kicked in her ribs and we fled in the night. Alongside the highway with just our mere jackets, no food, all our things left behind, we climbed into an awaiting truck cab that took us back to L.A.

We almost never had to jump from a vehicle or stab someone. It was just a way to get from one place to another without spending precious gas money.

Years late my husband and I are in Costa Rica soaking up the food, critters and windy roads. At one point we stop at a random out of the way empanada stand. They were hot and confusingly egg filled. The empanada man proceeded to hit the road after we ate and stuck his thumb out. We picked him up and drove him into town. Just a random dude with no english skills in our car, it felt right, he wasn't going to rape us.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Will work for quarters.

My life is fraught with ridiculousness. Take yesterday for example all I needed was a few quarters for a meter. I need to get my marriage license in order to get my drivers license because I've changed my name six some odd years ago. I went to the ATM to remove a twenty, my bank only has a walk up ATM it does not have an actual location in this area.

  Thus begins my epic journey for quarters.

I have exactly one twenty dollar bill and two quarters in my wallet. I first approach a Rite Aid, I immediately turned around and walked out after seeing a line snaking towards the ice cream section twenty five people long. In the same shopping center was a hummus place,I figured I would buy a bottle of water so that I'm not going in there for no reason and ask for change, they didn't have any ,there went my last two quarters, but now I have ones and there's a laundromat next-door. I cruise in there with a dollar in hand oblivious to anyone around me and immediately get blocked by a guy in a dust mask.
 He's physically blocking the quarter machine!
 I halt when he starts to verbally assault me. He starts on a tirade asking if he needs to explain to me why I can't have his quarters. Confused and taken aback I exclaimed," but I do my laundry here every Sunday", as if that would allow him to let me make change. Flustered I whipped around and my  only retort was I'm never doing my fucking laundry here again. Asshole. 
So I decided to just drive to the courthouse and hope that they take cards. They do not,quarters only, two dollars an hour. Fuck me. I backed out of the spot I claimed and drive 4 miles in a huge circle and end up at another strip mall where there's a liquor store, a kebab place, and a Subway. I break a dollar into four quarters at each one because nobody has any goddamn quarters in this town.

 I returned to the courthouse and put an hour and a half in the meter and make it inside and stand and stand and stand and stand, I  finally got my marriage license and then left with two minutes left on the meter. My feet hurt (previously broken) it smelled there, and for some reason I was the only one standing in line alone. Do not bring a friend to these things.

The only reason I need my marriage license is so that I can get my drivers license, I need my drivers license so that I can get health insurance.  Every single thing that I need to do, every task that I need to accomplish has at least 10 hoops that I have to jump through first. So far my life here in California is absolutely exhausting. 

I'm gonna keep an eye on that laundromat and the next time I see if the  guy's  not there I'm going to take every single dollar I made from my shift the night before at work and take all of his quarters. Victory will be mine. Honestly I just want to poop in a dryer and turn it up high for hours of stinky tumble dry. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

kristina add me?



My mom , Mommy as I still called her to her face into my thirties. I felt I never passed the calling of my mother from mommy to mom. I figure it this way. If you took all the years and days we spent together and subtracted my actual age I'd still be a minor, roughly about eight.  I'd still be calling her mommy. 

I need a drink.

And I'm back. Someone smart said, "Write drunk, edit sober." Let's give it a try. 

My Mom was in jail last I checked. She had been busted in Palm Springs and booked in Banning. At least we knew where she was. I was told by my uncle that she was on the streets of the desert doing what she does.  According to the trusty internet she was to be transferred to Los Angeles where she would wait till her release. Not once in all my thirty five years did I visit her in prison or jail. I would write to her when I was young but as an adult I had just about given up on her. 

Many times over the years I would distance myself from her as an act of self preservation. She was known to take, take, take. I could no longer give. I had lost too much over the years. I'd been kicked out of a roommate situation due to her harsh words and threats written on lined paper and slipped under a locked door. A door that was locked because my roommate thought my mother would make off with the T.V. Not while I was living there would she ever take the T.V., but who knows about after.

The last time I told her to fuck off was when she didn't die. Had she of died when she said she would we would of been ok, but she didn't. She didn't die in Twentynine Palms that summer. She called me frantic. She was in the hospital, dying. She needed me now more than ever, it was the end. Before I dropped everything I phoned my sister and yes, she confirmed, our mom was very very sick. They made my sister wear a mask and gown to protect our mom from her outside germs. It was super serious, so I packed a bag.

I drove from my residence in Las Vegas to 29 Palms in just over three hours. From one desert to another. Back to where we lived years before in a house with no windows and no doors and coyotes ate the cats and a tortoise moved in. I kept it only a few days when I realized he had a better chance of a meal in the wild.

At the hospital I gowned up and put on a mask. I thought what's the point if she's gonna die anyway. The guilt prevented me from voicing that aloud. I was surprised that she had her own room, the other times I visited her in the hospital she was just partitioned off by a hanging curtain. She has never had insurance and has always been on Medi-Cal supposedly due to the fact that she can't work cause of hepC. I felt more than a bit jealous that she had such posh surroundings. Nurses came and went always quiet and respectful. They pulled in a chair that like a transformer elaborately unfolded into a bed for me. Every nurse beamed at me when I told them I was staying the night with her. That gave me pride, a feeling I was doing the right thing overcame me.

I repeatedly asked the night nurses when I could speak to a doctor about my moms status. I was told tomorrow, tomorrow. I was told, "She's in a lot of pain." " It's so great that you're here." I was told to wait. My skepticism still grew. This daughter of an addict was not easily fooled. She had them all under her spell somehow. They were letting her smoke! She would roll outside on halting steps with her iv stand and smoke and smoke and smoke. She said it's already killed her, there was lung cancer and she had six months to live.

I was floored, six months, then my mother would die. Six months of pain meds and hospitals and hospices. We spent the night talking and crying. I was to wait for a social worker who would light the way for my mothers hospice care. I was to find homes for her cats but keep her favorite, Majic. 
I promised. Oh I was in for a doozy.

The morning dawned and she smoked. I started making calls to hospices. Was the patient terminal, yes. How long, six months. I was told they needed to speak to a social worker to plan further. I left the social worker another message. They wheeled her out for a test. A lung biopsy she said. She napped  a drug induces sleep after. This was my opportunity to hunt down the doctor. Nurses smiling and patting shuffled through the halls. I was a good daughter. 

The doctor finally came, he motioned me out of the room. I said give it to me straight I need facts as I've been on the phone with hospices all morning. Hospices? He looked me straight in the eye and said, " Your mom has an infection called leukopenia due to her smoking with dentures, it causes her to have a low white blood cell count leaving her at risk to infection. She'll be out by tomorrow."

I freaked the fuck out. I wrote a nasty letter with shaking hands, all the while telling them she had them fooled that she was just in here for the drugs, and gave it to the front desk. I stormed out and sat in my oven hot car and cried and cried. My mother was not dying.

I went to her house and took her oily ass scraggly cat Majic. The place was full of cat shit and piss. There were cats everywhere, polydactyl kittens. No food, no water. A fish tank in the bathroom was half evaporated and dead oscars floated in the grime yet things still moved in the murk. I couldn't help them all. I was just keeping my promise to Majic. I was freaking out! Then a lump sat up on the couch and a small half blind black woman asked me for a ride. I declined stating I was getting the fuck out of dodge. I drove to the local pet store and told the guy working there was an animal abuse case at this address. I bailed. I drove the 200 miles home alternately wailing and banging on the steering wheel. My phone never rang once.

I took Majic to the vet before I made it home. I phoned first so they knew to expect me. She was bathed and treated for fleas. I was told she was malnourished and fucking pregnant. $150 later. You could feel lumps in her abdomen. I opted out of the ultrasound and took her home. A spay and kitty D&C was scheduled for the next week. My phone still didn't ring. The next week revealed she was not in fact preggers just abnormally lumpy due to previous pregnancies. I put that option behind her and loved her like my own for months.

I saw my mother once after that, the day I brought Majic back to her. My mom returned to L.A to live with a drug addled exboyfriend that still lived with his mom, Mama Fish. Leaving the car running I brought the kitty to the door and was greeted by Mama Fish who said "Your mother is so sick." I said don't let her fool you. At the end of the hall a pair of kitten green gleam eyes blinked at me and I knew the process had started again. My mother played the part of the humble sickie and I, wanting nothing more than to leave, had a moments stare down and then I was gone. I fled.

Anger, resentment, sorrow, pain, guilt followed me for years. Where was she in this world? Why did this happen to us?  Am I my mothers daughter? Opening the door to my mother allows me to be taken advantage off, robbed of possessions and feelings. It wasn't fair to me, so I completely shut her out. I cut her off.

 Over the last four years my sister would have an update. She's back in Palm Springs. Ok. She's been arrested. Ok. She's out but living on the streets. Ok. Uncle Dave has seen her, she's lost a lot of weight. Hmm. What do we do? We wait. We wait to hear that she's dead in an ally. We wait to hear that she's dead in a ditch. We've been waiting our whole lives for the call

My sister calls, she's dreaming about mom. We need to track her down, somethings up. We find her in jail and that gives us peace. She's fed, three hots and a cot she would say. We know where she is. She's not flotsam on the dry desert wind. She's not cracked out or someones toy. She's not carpet crawling in the North End smoking whatever detritus she can put in her handmade pipe either it be lint or dead skin. She's safe. We follow her progress through the system during 2012. She has a release date for September in L.A. 

My sister helps her get clothes when she is released. My mom checks in to a weekly rate hotel with the drug addled exboyfriend. I receive this

I didn't add her.


It was sent to me through the drug addled exboyfriends page and it didn't even have a photo. If he was in a coma for four months and is now "special" he may not know how to put up a profile pic. I digress. This was a mere two days before my our favorite holiday. I was immersed in decorating my house and volunteering my time at work to hand out candy to kids in full face paint as a sugar skull. Seems morbid now.

My sister called and left a message November 4th. Mom's in the hospital. I fell back asleep and had a horrible nightmare. I dreamt my mother was in the same hospital in Twentynine Palms. When I awoke, hungover, I called my sister and mumbled something about a dream. She was freaked out. Our mommy was admitted with a brain bleed and was non responsive. I was needed immediately. I asked for a nurse. I know I'm a bit suspicious. I am my mothers daughter. The nurse says "get here now". I cry myself to sleep in a drunken stupor being held by my husband as I tightly grip a crystal in my right palm. I am inconsolable. I lose the crystal to the sheets.

I can't get a flight till the next morning. In the meantime I'm begging my boss for time off and he's offering me money from the till like a freaking saint. FYI a bereavement fare is only good if they're already dead. I rent a car. I arrive. My mothers body is all plugged in, she's intubated. There's no one there. My sister and one of her dearest friends are waiting and I know, this is the end of our mother. The doctor says she's gone. We, my sister and I, already know without saying that there is nothing to do at this point but let go. Let it all go, a collective breath filled with angst and torture and underneath it all a kind of love. Wooosh. A heavy exhale. 
Click Click beep beep. The nurse tells her what she's doing as she removes the tube. We stand numb. Staring at the screen, her face, she's cut and dyed her hair, the screen, it's painfully beeping ever so slowly, her face, the lips are sagging over the teeth-less gums, where are her dentures. We wait. I read it could take hours. The doctor said it could be half an hour. 
It took twenty minutes.
Gone.
Our mother was gone.


The initial toxicology report found methamphetamine and extacy. There was no way in hell our heroin addict mother was partying with a rave drug. We were so confused and trying to piece her last moments together. Later another toxicology report came, it said methamphetamine and barbiturates. Now that made more sense. We've known her to do speed before even though it wasn't her drug of choice. Only the autopsy would reveal what actually killed her. Did the drugs cause her to fall and hurt her head or did the brain bleed first, then she fell and hit her head. The cause of death was still blunt force trauma to the head. She fell, hard, in the tub, in a cheap motel room. I cannot stress this enough; bathrooms are dangerous. She was only 5'2", she didn't have that far to fall. The autopsy took weeks due to the fact that they needed to rule out homicide. We made cremation plans, with the cheap cardboard incineration box. There were incineration boxes costing hundreds of dollars. A seven hundred dollar box you burn! No wonder death is an industry. So now our mom is in a plastic bag in a box. 

No more wondering where her next meal would come from or if she's sober or not. A life lost. Still we never got that call. No ditch, gutter, alley. She passed in a clean room surrounded by the ones who loved her just as the day she came in.








Monday, July 29, 2013

Poop cake.

I made this. It is not pretty. I can't even eat it either, or taste it. I'm gluten and dairy free but the husband isn't. Why should I subject the others to my lame dietary restrictions. I didn't lick the spoon, bowl, spatula or the beaters. That's the secret treat of baking, tasting the batter. So sad. I hope it's good!!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

*** DYNAMIC SERVER WANTED***

Holy hell Craigslist ads. All caps must mean they are serious, stop yelling at me! I'm not even your employee and already I'm in trouble and being yelled at. What is with all the unnecessary **, **, **. Stop, they look like misunderstood emoticons.
 Dynamic! (insert whip like noise) Every single ad overuses the poor word. 131 postings used that word and that's just under the food/hospitality/sell your soul/customer service heading.

"We are looking for a dynamic, organized, multi-tasker with a fine dining background."

 "This organization is looking for a dynamic, intelligent individual with an amazing understanding of hospitality and guest first service."

"We are looking for a full-time dynamic individual who has the ability to multi-task and has a great and serious passion for the food and wine industry."

"Can you handle the heat in the kitchen? Hooters of West Covina is searching for dynamic and experienced kitchen employees."

That last one is for Hooters, a cook at Hooters! How dynamic do you need to be to drop some wings into the fat vat. Dynamic enough to raise your eyes away from the servers chest as they run out their orders clad in hot pants and yesteryear's skating tights. Dynamic literally means fast, an efficient incentive. It's a noun and an adjective, yay! Expressing action not a state of being. My state of being is sad and broke. I don't know if I can muster up enough dynamic to land a job.

I broke my damn foot and it took over two months to heal. I am no longer dynamic (insert sad whah wah noise). Last I checked you can't wait tables or bar tend in a cast. What is the opposite of dynamic? I am now out of a cast but still limping along. I can just imagine slowly walking in to a fine establishment feeling less than stellar in my flats, and being greeted by a dynamic host who gets the dynamic manager. I will ask for water as I'm already out of breath and in need of an ibuprofen. I'll want to elevate my leg and ice it. I will not be dynamic while sweating like a pigdog asking to work for minimum wage plus tips.


Above I am pictured being dynamic, or not, at my friends wedding. That was the longest weekend of my life! There was no way the bride was going to let me off the hook as a bridesmaid. We've seen too many horrors together. We worked at  T.G.I Fridays in the late 90's in Torrance. We had to pack in so much dynamic energy that our stores are depleted. We had to wear flair, with gusto! We knew no less than 10 freaking birthday songs.

 As a general rule no one tells their server that there's a birthday at the table at any restaurant ever. It's not a complete strangers responsibility to wish you a happy birthday with song and a free sundae. It's your friends and families responsibility to sing off key while you sit there uncomfortably trying to figure out what to do while they tell you they love you in song. Don't do it.

I quit Fridays after moving from night shifts to days because of the rampant sexual harassment received from the guests and the general belief by our clientele that tips were not even an option. We had at one point metal detectors, security guards and devices to scan I.D.'s. Yet my car still got vandalized on Christmas Day along with a few others. I despise restaurants that stay open on major holidays. I want to stay home with my family not serve  those that don't celebrate a nationally recognized holiday based on giving!
Working in fine dining after that level of year and a  half hell was a breath of fresh air. No more birthday songs or even free dessert! Yet still, usually the older generation, would expect a song and I would politely decline claiming that a voice that sounded like a cat in heat wasn't what they wanted to hear. I would back away and enjoy the looks shared of confusion and horror. I win!

Tomorrow is my husbands 38th birthday. There will be a small backyard BBQ, no singing, no candles and everyone will have a great time. A cake will be made by hand and brought out by me after dinner and we'll have a few too many glasses of wine and  he'll be made fun of for aging and I'll say something inappropriate. It will be nice.

Happy Birthday Dane! Love your unemployed, non dynamic, slightly gimpy, but loves you so much, wife.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Corn Mayo

Todays first mistake was having corn mayo for a snack. I love corn! I love mayo! Put that shit together. Needless to say it lacked. It lacked flavor and dignity. So I added some Pthttttttt. That stuff will fix any vegetable. It's a chili lime sprinkle you can accidentally overdose on. The best part about Pthttttttt is the warning on the cap. "This is not a candy" While that statement alone is confusing I gave it some thought. Visions of the cinnamon test ran through my head. Seriously, people mostly teens are choking themselves by swallowing spoonfuls of cinnamon much to the delight of onlookers. The Pthtttttt reminded me of Pico a powdered Mexican candy that's both spicy and sweet. You dump it straight into your mouth. Usually the white kids couldn't handle it so they stayed with the saltier ones like Limoncho. It's like pixi stix from south of the border. Thanks Mexico!!

As a kid we would buy these salty hypertension treats from the Pels truck. They also had the best fucking lemonade in the whole world. If you had lunch money you starved to blow it all on lemonade and salt you dump in your mouth that makes you thirsty, oh look a lemonade truck. Genius. This was the desert treat. The last time I had one of their amazing lemonades was with my mother Kathy and her boyfriend Bob. This was long after high school and I was fiending for one on a visit to her. I had in my hand the largest they offered. My hand was slick with the quickly evaporating condensation. In my right hand I opened the drivers side door and that fucker flung open and obliterated my frozen lemonade. That shit flew the fuck everywhere. It was a literal golden shower of stickiness and grief. I wept. My left hand hurt. The car was a trillion degrees inside and I had no damn lemonade to cool me.

Whenever I bring up the desert an onslaught of nostalgia comes forth. My childhood was not normal or even pleasant. In fact it sucked. So many things went wrong. So many things were out of my control. I was raised by two women who both passed within months of each other this past year. Neither should have reared children. My paternal grandmother was physically abusive and my mom was a junkie. Not a parental bone in either of their bodies yet I was left in their care with my two siblings. My next entry will elaborate on them. As for now I just wish I had a lemonade.