Happy One Year of Blog Writing to Me!

Wow, a whole year working on this project! That’s a record for me, and it means there’s something here. I’ve started and let go of a couple of blogs, mostly because they didn’t feel right. I’m not a travel writer, I just love to travel. I only write erotica because it’s easy to publish. My heart wasn’t in those stories because this is the story I’m supposed to be writing now. Finally- it’s been getting in the way of my other projects for so long.

It’s as if we have to get our story out first, our real story, before we can write the made-up stories or the parts of our real stories that turn into fiction. It’s like a small insistent voice at the back of my mind that I was never quite ready to tackle. “Here I am,” it whispers. “Time to tell, time to tell.” Is it like that for you, other writers? Do you have to get things out before other things can start? I’m interested to hear from you.

I am finally ready.

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Roads on Her Face #21: How School Happened

It’s more fun to tell stories than to talk about logistics, but the logistics of “how stuff happened” are always the parts people want to know more about. How did you eat? (Mostly with our mouths). Where did money come from? (It grew on trees). How did you get so smart? (I didn’t go to public school, much).

School the way most kids did school wasn’t really a viable option, given Dad’s penchant for pissing people off, landing in jail, or general anti-social tendencies. It’s hard to catch the bus when you’re 40 miles on a dirt road from the nearest bus stop. School officials tend to ask questions that no one is prepared to answer, such as “Where are your school records? Do you have an address or a phone number?” Somehow, we were accepted at many schools all across the country, mostly I imagine because we brought in extra cash to the district as low income little desk-occupiers. No one ever followed us when we left after a few weeks or a month, and I wonder if anyone ever noticed. I didn’t get too close to most of my school acquaintances, who were usually of the lonely outsider type anyway. They were just glad to have someone to sit with at lunch, and I was glad not to have to try to talk to a group of kids at once. I was much better one on one. I didn’t particularly want them to come over to play in our trailer or car, and I wouldn’t have known what to tell them when they started asking questions. I was savvy enough to know that I was vaguely ashamed of us, but also proud that we could make it living this way when I knew most of the people we met hadn’t the vaguest idea how we survived. I liked the idea of being self-sufficient, and still do, though now I realize how heavily we relied on government aid most of the time.

Now, I want a homestead off the grid somewhere in the hill country in Texas. I want chickens, and maybe mini-goats, an art studio, and a big spread that I can fence off and hide in. I’ll fit right in in Texas.

So, school- my mom’s daddy, Papa, had put some money aside in a savings account for me when I was born. Instead of having it for college, it got tapped into much earlier to enroll me into an expensive Christian satellite school program- well, expensive for homeless folks. I think it may have been between $200 – $500 for the whole school year, very cheap especially considering the quality of the education (even with all the Bible parables sprinkled in). I’m guessing some of the rest of that money went to food, and probably beer. We were able to get the student and teacher books, the tests, study guides, and lesson plans. I would do school in the morning and have the rest of the day off. When a dedicated kid sits down and completes all the schoolwork typical in a normal public school day, she should be done before noon. So much time is wasted in timekillers, recess, and babysitting that it’s no wonder kids are so under-educated. By the time I surpassed my mom’s math education, I was easily schooling myself and honestly grading my own work. The other kids were young enough that reading and some math and coloring were good enough, and by the time we settled in one spot and enrolled them in public school for the rest of their school years, they only had a few missing years of education and still easily tested into their respective grades. They went to a small New Mexico school that also needed more desk-warmers, and the accompanying grant money.

I went to two full years of public school my last two years of high school, where I got the requisite sexual and partying education every teenager needs. I didn’t even go to some of my classes and still got straight As. I helped the overloaded teachers by explaining geometry to a few of the other students, and they overlooked my occasional truancy and low-cut blouses. I got a full ride to college, too.

OK OK here goes- the Liebster Blog Award

 

ImageOne of my blogging friends ( I have blogger friends?? What happened to my quiet little writing blog?) has nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award, which requires me to do some work. So, it has taken me a bit to get around to it.

Blogging has been terrific for my motivation, and it has surprisingly resulted in a number of connections that have the potential to be lasting. Pretty cool- sending words out to the universe and seeing who bites. Plus, I’ve reconnected with a few people from my past who have been following along on this little Road.

The Liebster Award is for bloggers who have 200 followers or less. Someone nominates you and asks some questions, for me it was whiskeytangofoxtrot4. 

She has a beautiful blog full of dreamy images of horses and children, still images full of light and mist. Check her out! OK, she asked me the following questions, which I will answer:

1-If you could for one day be the opposite sex, what would you do? I probably shouldn’t put it on my family-friendlyish blog…my mom reads it

2-What is your favourite book of all time? I have so many books that I see as friends…I can’t choose. But I love anything by Steinbeck or John Irving

3-What is the one thing you least love about yourself and the one thing you most love about yourself? I least love my lack of patience. I totally love my hot ass.

4-IF you won ALOT of money, how would you use it? You probably wouldn’t see me for a few years, wait, who am I kidding- you don’t see me anyway. I’d travel, travel, travel.

5-Sadly, b/c we all die….cremated, buried or burned? Your choice is….? Burn me baby. I think it was an Amy Tan book that I stole this idea from- I want 4 friends to take part of my ashes and take me 4 places I’ve never been. Any money from the insurance should go to the trips they’ll take me on…also, I kinda want a wake.

 

Then I ask my nominees the following questions:

 

1- What’s a childhood dream that you let go? Would you think about reviving it now?

2-If you could move to any country/place right now, where would it be? What’s holding you back?

3-Do you believe in true love, and why or why not?

4- What is success to you?

5- A habit you would like to change?

The way it works you ask? Some one nominates you and up to 10 others. There are a set of questions to answer, 5 to 10 random facts about yourself and then in turn ask your nominees. After that you nominate up 11 more Lieblings. I’m just going to nominate a couple here – those folks I find myself coming back to check out, though I’m not so much a blog reader. I have so little time! I have no idea how to see how many followers a blog has…so…I won’t worry about the followers.

Pivoine68 – Sexual romps, poetry, and photos…you never know what our little expat Dawn will come up with.

TedBook – A picture a day is worth tons of words!

ClotildaJamCracker– The wacky stories of a crazy lady

Roads on Her Face #20: Push Came to Shove

There are things I’m still pissed off about years and years after they happened. I wish I could let them go, but even if I laugh them off now they still hang on to the edges of my psyche. The school zone ticket I got after school hours, and the small-town asshole judge that talked with the offending officer about their upcoming fishing trip, after the “trial.” The fat woman who loudly asked what was wrong with my brother’s face, when he got out of the hospital after being wounded in Iraq. The old bag who threatened to call the police in a park somewhere in Idaho, who was sure the ragged little kids on the swing set had to be good-for-nothings.

You have to take a break now and then after hours on the road with kids, and public parks across the states are a quiet place to rest and let them out to run off some energy. Parking lots and rest areas do in a pinch, but green grass, shade, and jungle gyms do a lot to tame the wild beasts.

It was a cloudy day, almost chilly. We must have been headed south, skittering like leaves before a winter storm. We were trying to park overnight, so we had to keep a low profile and not look like we were planning to do what we were planning to do. The kitty was beside the car with her cotton rope leash tied to the side mirror. She lay quietly in the grass, being a smart kitty.

Mom was reading in the car, and Dad was listening to the radio. Sophie was sleeping quietly, and Reno was driving a Matchbox car through the Sahara-like dunes of the sandbox on one side of the playground. Rowdy and I were over by the swings. “Push me!” he called, swinging his legs and looking back at me. From out of nowhere a fat kid with cheeks like biscuits arrived on the scene. He made a beeline for my brother and announced “I wanna swing!” I looked around, and didn’t see any parents.

Shit! I hated confrontation, mostly, though I didn’t avoid or mind the shot of adrenaline that came when you knew you’d have to do something soon. The fatty was way bigger than Rowdy, who was staring up at him in blue-eyed shock. We weren’t used to people arriving on the scene. We didn’t have to talk to other people, and most of the time we weren’t supposed to.  Fatty unceremoniously shoved Rowdy off the swing. OK, time to do something.

I was a lot taller than fatty. You could tell he didn’t often talk to girls, mostly by the cheeks and the small piggy eyes. They glared at me out of his reddening face as I walked right up to him.

“Get away from my brother!” I said, picking Rowdy up and grabbing the swing. “We were here first, go play somewhere else.”

From behind me I heard the war-shriek of Grandma. “You get away from my grandson, I’m going to call the police!”

“Shut up, lady,” I said, the adrenaline showing up. I was talking back to a grownup I didn’t know, and that was a new feeling. I swallowed the lump in my throat and turned to face her. “You can’t do anything about it.” I wanted to tell her how her grandson was fat, and she should make him exercise. Also he was a bully, and that he needed to get his ass kicked. I wanted to tell her that neither she nor he nor anyone else had the right to push us around, but “Shut up” was going to have to do.

Her mouth hung open, and I could see the family resemblance clearly, though she probably hadn’t had as much food as this kid, being raised in the Depression. She hadn’t been spoiled, so she made sure her grandpiggy was. Also I decided it was time to get back, because she had said “police” and Dad would not have taken kindly to anything involving police. Us three little ragamuffins scurried quietly back to the car, flying under the parental radar. My heartbeat slowed, but I never forgot. It was easier to tell people to fuck off after that.

Roads on Her Face #19 : First-rate Forest Service

When you mention you’ve lived in Mammoth Lakes, California, people naturally assume you are a wealthy brat whose parents have a ski lodge in the mountains, built especially for escapes a few times a year from the sprawl of L.A. We didn’t live there in the winter, though, as we would head south to the blessedly warm desert before the first hints of snow. Living in a car limits your environment, seasonally.

I remember the sweet smell of pine sap and the soft needles underfoot that let you creep up on unsuspecting brothers, the glistening black carpenter ants that hurried up the superhighways of the ponderosas which seemed plain as lighted roadways to the ants, the highways that you could strain your eyes and imagine you too could see. I remember the hush and sighs of the forest, the caws of crows and the yammering blue jays, the tap-tap-tap of the brilliant woodpeckers. I remember how a short walk would take you into the woods, away from anyone. I would settle down beneath a tree and read or write in my journal, cushioned by bark or perched on lichened-softened rocks, I would revel in the protection of the forest. After empty deserts, I felt so protected, so hidden, between the trees.

We were living in the car, then, either sleeping in the back or the tent. It was dry that summer, so we didn’t bother packing everything up into the car each day. Just our food, to keep it from bears. We were out miles from the edge of Mammoth, tucked into a quiet pocket of the John Muir Wilderness of the Sierra Nevadas. Years later, I picked up a photograph of an eagle at a yard sale. John Muir’s signature is penciled across the back- I don’t know if it is a fake but I knew who he was because of his name on the wilderness signs.

Occasionally we would see rangers, but they left us alone. We weren’t littering, and we kept the campsite straightened up so it didn’t look like we’d been there for weeks. I think they felt sorry for us kids, and didn’t want to make things harder for us. They weren’t hard, though, that’s the part no one ever realized. We were happy being kids, and the forest was a playground made just for us.

My book supply was stocked by the bookmobile, driven by Miss Heidi and parked weekly not far from where we were camped, providing “forest service” to outlying homes and the occasional itinerants. She was warm and friendly, and loved books almost as much as I did. Right away she got me a library card, and handed me the first list for the summer reading program so I could get started.

“You’ll have to work to catch up to the other kids, they have a few weeks’ head start,” she said. “Do you want some help picking out books?” I shook my head, and in minutes had a stack that took Mom and me two trips to load into the car. We had library bags with the string top, so we had to hold the bags to our chests so the books didn’t break free from the cheap plastic material. I was back each week, with every single book in those bags on my “read” list, even the little kids’ books we picked out for the younger ones. I gave Heidi one-page book reports so she would know I’d read them. After the first week, the amazement on her face changed to a welcoming smile. She wrote me letters for years General Delivery or to P.O. Boxes in Nevada or Oregon or Arizona, telling me about her husband, sons, and her dog. Another touchstone, and a very grateful little girl.

Ghosts

Let me say that Bisbee is indeed full of ghosts, drunken nights, ravaged earth and scarlet water. And lots of tourists. I have some beautiful road-photos to share with you soon. I had a wonderful birthday week, thanks to my love. He did a good job this year.

P.S. My love kindly came up with a new name for a blog for me, after brushing away the remnants of a wonderful birthday meal. Coming soon “Crumbs on Her Face.”

~ A