An ode to the days on Oceola

Forest

My favorite place resided between South Elm Street and East 5th street. It was in a secluded part of my hometown, so isolated from the honks and industrial fast-food smells of the inner city that you could almost imagine life before urbanization started throwing glass beer bottles into the river.

In the mind of a child, it was a forest that could go on forever, stretching out over the low flatlands of North Carolina and into the untouched vastness of the Rocky Mountains, as far as Boone or even Tapoco. One could muse over this thought for days, one’s mind filled with a trail that crosses creeks and rivers, over bedrock and exposed sandy clay. This trail goes on until it’s met by the coast; the saltier water of the bank meets the fresher water of the inland. Both of which are unaware that they are given the name “brackish”. Both of which are unaware that 3 billion years ago, they were the same water, the same salt, the same bay. Continue reading “An ode to the days on Oceola”

Best friendship

Crazy

I was a painfully shy kid. I spent most of high school giggling and whispering with my twin sister in voices so soft only we could hear. My typical Saturday night involved spending far too long choosing an appropriate pair of tight, low-rise jeans and $50 brand-name t-shirt to wear to church, only to arrive for the last 10 minutes and whisper rumors about the popular kids to my equally bashful friends.  

In the fashion of the truly neurotic, I like to blame my problems on my parents. My mother was a role model of anti-sociability. When she decided to leave the house, she would don her oversized sunglasses, put on her “don’t mess with me” face, and hastily rush us to the back of the last subway car so we wouldn’t have to sit near the other people. Continue reading “Best friendship”

The iguana that should have been Lucifer

Iguana

‘Twas my junior year of high school. My sister had an iguana named Kovu, after Kovu in The Lion King II. I wanted her to call him Piccolo after the Dragon Ball Z character, but I couldn’t complain about her decision. However, I could complain about the pet himself. Iguanas are challenging pets to own. Coincidentally, her relationship with Kovu was very, dare I say, toxic, and his hatred randomly slithered into our lives.

One day my mother drove me home from school, and when we drove up to our house, we saw Holly standing in the front yard. She was smiling as if she had wonderful news available for us the second we exited the Acura. It turns out she could reveal the news from outside the car. While Mom parked the car, Holly leaned forward, revealing a giant lizard on her back. He stayed there with the help of his claws, which sunk into her clothing. This instance marked the first of many times Kovu’s nails proved to be problematic. Continue reading “The iguana that should have been Lucifer”

Friend zone

Sheep

The Tuesday Party had ended, so the most dedicated of us drunks went to continue our binge at Alibis, our local haunt. It wasn’t a dive bar in the traditional sense.  It was relatively clean, didn’t really attract the dregs, but it was pretty dark inside. There were places of intermittent light; the kind of light that, if you were feeling confident on a particular night, you would consciously wade through when you went the bar or to the bathroom and hope people paid attention. Lloyd was happy to see us come in as he had really wanted to come to the party, but Tuesdays were his nights behind the bar. My foggy guess is there were 10 of us still at it. As it was after midnight on a Tuesday, there weren’t many other people already in the bar, so I immediately honed in on Lauren and her big round head as I walked in the door. We had some common friends, so we occupied the same relative space on occasion, and since I’m good in crowds I had impressed her with my wit.  I had never had an actual one-on-one conversation with her, but I could tell from her laugh she was into me. Tonight was the night. I just knew it. Continue reading “Friend zone”

Examples of synchronicity: Meaningless coincidences, or flashes of the universe aligning

Health food

Girl at Sherwyn’s Health Food Shop

It’s now closed. They sold vitamins and health food before the gluten-free craze. Before Whole Foods swallowed up the block. I went there with some friends. It was an excuse to hang out. While standing in line with Terry, I heard, almost a murmur, “Jane Feeback.” I thought I heard someone saying my maiden name.

It was the cashier. She said I wasn’t sure it was you. She then proceeded to tell me her name. I tried to fake it, but I didn’t remember her. She said, “I came to your house collecting for — and you went upstairs and brought down a pickle jar full of coins and cash.” I seriously did not remember. The idea I was so extravagant—it was embarrassing. Apparently I just handed over like a week’s worth of tips to her. “I’ve never forgotten it,” she said. Continue reading “Examples of synchronicity: Meaningless coincidences, or flashes of the universe aligning”

One day at a time

Journal

The day my mother gave me a journal to help me cope with my grandmother’s suicide undoubtedly changed my life forever. That seemingly benign gesture, when I was ten years old, laid the groundwork for my life as a writer. Following this continuum, and after a serious health crisis, I became riveted to make a decision which went against my character and one which I never thought I would do. 

My cancer journey began in mid-2001 when I was called back to the hospital for a repeat annual mammogram and eventually diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer called DCIS.  At the time, my husband, three kids and I were living in Orlando. My doctor suggested I obtain a second opinion from a Los Angeles specialist in this type of breast cancer. Within a couple of weeks, my husband and I boarded the plane out to Los Angeles and, after enduring all the necessary tests, he presented my options – either to have radiation and chemotherapy or a mastectomy with reconstruction. After years as a practicing nurse, I learned that the best way to make a decision when given a choice by your physician was to ask what he’d suggest for his own wife. Because of his answer, I opted for a mastectomy and reconstruction.  Continue reading “One day at a time”

Frankenstein forever

Purple sherbet

Intro

        I was in my writing group, and the prompt gave me the idea of “purple sherbet.” So after writing group, I went to the grocery store across the street to see if they had such a thing as purple sherbet. I don’t think such a thing exists.

        But what I found was a limited-edition “pumpkin ice-cream” container for the fall season, for three dollars and fifty cents. I saw this as a sign as it was my fate to get the last container of this limited edition, autumn pumpkin ice cream, so I bought it.

        When I got to the cash register, the cashier introduced one of the workers as “Woodstock” from the Peanuts cartoons. I just now realized why, I think it was because he was wearing a yellow raincoat. Continue reading “Frankenstein forever”

José and jail

Razor wire

I started each class with the same speech. “I’m your teacher. I’m not an attorney or social worker. What you’ve done to get to this point is not my concern. I’m here to teach you for the next hour and a half.”

Twice a week I entered the Clallam County Jail to teach men and women – separately. Class size varied depending on the jail population. Twice a week, anywhere from two to eight prisoners came to the all-purpose room led by a guard.

Setting the scene: The “all-purpose” room was built with cinder blocks and measured approximately 30’ x 45’. The back wall had windows that offered a view of the recreational yard, also cinder-blocked, with the walls extending more than two stories. There were no balls or recreational equipment, so when prisoners were allowed there for an hour a day, they just walked in circles. Continue reading “José and jail”

Rabbits, Romans, and golf clubs

Rabbit

The old Roman fort is a perfect football pitch. The boys from the town like to play there and, if I ask really nicely, they let me play with them. I am always last picked because I’m not very good, but there is nothing better than chasing after a football. There are lots of rabbits at the fort, and they have dug their holes everywhere. There is nothing worse than running after a football and putting your foot into a rabbit hole. It isn’t just me that has tripped up over rabbit holes; it has happened to all of us. Once the football fell into an especially big rabbit hole and rolled down into the earth, and we couldn’t reach far enough to get it back.

The ball belonged to my friend Andrew. It was a birthday present from his aunt. Not only was he annoyed about losing his ball, but he was also going to have to tell her what had happened. His aunt is a school teacher and very strict. She was sure to give Andrew a row.

“There are too many rabbits here,” Andrew said. Continue reading “Rabbits, Romans, and golf clubs”

The Rule of Ten

List

Thirty years is a long time to be married, it’s especially significant when it’s your second time around. I look around at those younger than I am, watching them struggle with finding the right person and with maintaining a relationship. I am not so egotistical to say I haven’t walked the same miserable path myself but then I came up with a system. Perhaps it was from desperation, or that I simply had a stroke of genius, however, it is most likely born of trial and error. Allow me to save you some time and heartache. Let me teach you what I learned as a single woman in the nineties and my system: The Rule of Ten.

I remember as if it was yesterday, sitting in the crowded bar with my friends near the dance floor. This was important since we loved dancing. Oh, and I didn’t care about meeting a guy. At this time in my life, I was a single man’s nightmare because, after two years, I was finally divorced. Furthermore, I wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t make that mistake again, ever-never-again. I had a system for weeding out men and thereby guaranteeing this. I called it The Rule of Ten. Continue reading “The Rule of Ten”