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Imaginary Conversation, Part I

She sat down across the table from me. It was a nice day and Dunkin Donuts had a bunch of empty tables outside. Her face was stony, like she was about to be interrogated by a cop after getting caught speeding. Ashley took her privilege seriously and I was not among those allowed to to violate it.

“Ashley,” I said.

“Lou,” she grunted.

“So how have you been?” I asked. “Haven’t hear from you in ages.”

She sneered. “You’re just saying that because I blocked you on Facebook.”

“Yeah, you did, ” I said. “Right sisterly of you. Remember that the next time you and Dina are telling your friends how important family is to you.” She looked uncomfortable. She deserved to.

“What do you want, Lou?”

“Must I necessarily have an ulterior motive? Maybe I was in the area and thought it would be nice to talk to my own sister.” She snorted. “That’s right, Ash. I forgot. That’s your M.O. Yours and Dina’s. Only time I ever heard from either one of you, there was something you wanted.” She looked uncomfortable again. “Funny how Mom and Dad thought we were all so tight. Or should have been.”

“Fuck you,” she said. She sipped her coffee. I continued. “Well, I do have an ulterior motive this time. I want my pictures.”

“Your what?”

“My pictures from Mom and Dad’s. The ones of me. They were in the hall. That’s what I want. My memories.”

I don’t care much for pictures of myself, but they were ones I liked: my baby picture, graduations, a publicity still from my work, Dudley the cat in my arms. I was out of touch with my mother when she passed, partly due to Ashley. The Facebook block took place a long time ago.

She shrugged. “I don’t know where they are.” She didn’t look me in the eye.  That was a lie. When you’ve known someone her entire life, you know her body language. Ashley never looked anyone in the eye when she was lying. If she was trying hard to sell it, she’d touch the person she was talking to. It always amazed me how quickly her demeanor would change from talking to our parents or people she liked to talking to those she didn’t. The smile, the flirtatious air would melt away and be replaced by a scowl and curt tone. I let the lie go for the moment.

“Well, that’s unfortunate.,” I said. “I really wanted those pictures. I like so few.”

“Try not eating so much. That might help.” She smirked.

I resisted the urge to punch her in the face. There it was. The old game. Bored fiyr year old goes out of her way to provoke the ten year old until the ten year old reacts. Then four year runs to Mom complaining that the ten year was being mean. Then five years old, six, seven, until I left home for college.

I smiled a tight smile.

“You can’t run to Mom anymore, Ash Hole,” I said. “So you can stop.”

She glared at me. I wasn’t playing her game. “Okay, so if there’s nothing else,” she started to rise.

“Oh, there’s plenty,” I said. “Sit your ass down.” She did.

“I’m not the asshole,” she said. “You were never nice to me. You’re lucky I’m so forgiving.”

I laughed. “Keep telling yourself that. You know, when someone says ‘I am forgiving or kind or able to laugh at myself,’ that’s the biggest clue that they aren’t. You’re so ‘forgiving’,” I emphasized the word, “that there were people at your wedding who didn’t know  you had a sister besides Dina.”

She looked startled. “Yeah,’ I said. “I know. You want the names?”

Ashley’s face flushed. She opened her mouth and closed it again. “I know,” I said. ‘There’s not a damned thing you can say about that.”

“While we’re on the subject of invitations and events, I noticed when I wasn’t invited to your thirtieth birthday party…”

“You were studying,” she said. “I didn’t want to interrupt you.” She wasn’t making eye contact. A lie, but I’d known for years it was a lie.

“That’s bullshit and we both know it,” I answered. I looked her straight in the eye. “Were you really good at hiding your hatred from Mom and Dad or they just didn’t care? Seems like they were always willing to go on vacation with you and Dina. Me, not so much.”

She shrugged. “I can’t help it if they liked me better.”

“Right,” I said, “despite Mom saying over and over again how she loved her children all the same, somehow you’ve come to the conclusion that she liked you better than any of us for no reason. Had nothing to do with you bullying us and then running to tell.” She glared at me. “Nah. Making us look bad and you the perpetual victim. No wonder you vote Republican. ”

I leaned towards her. “You know why I eat?” She shook her head. “Because I don’t do drugs and there are enough alcoholics in the family. Dina may not have as much weight, but boy, does she like her wine. Think the fact that two of you have been competing for ‘Best Daughter’ for over forty years has something to do with it? How’s that going now that Mom and Dad are dead?”

“Fuck you,” she said again. “You’re just jealous and bitter.”

“Jealous of what?’ I asked.

“Me. Everything. You’re fat. I’m not. You’re single and alone. I’m marred with kids. You’re a failure. I’m not. You’re just jealous.” She was looking me straight in the face.

I leaned back. “Actually, I’ve done a bunch of stuff with my life that would count as ‘bucket list’ if I had one. I’m not married because I’ve been surrounded by a bunch of examples of people who fought each other for control, who turned their self-loathing into ways to torment others, who found new and different ways to use the people around them in the name of family and make a big show of it  and were MIA when called upon, unless Dad was watching. Or could be told. As for no kids, you are the reason I don’t like children.”

“What?”

“You were petted and praised for bratty behavior. You had a potty mouth almost as soon as you could speak and Mom encouraged it by laughing and repeating it as ‘isn’t she cute?’ Dina and Joe would laugh when you said rude things, especially when you said them to me. If I fought back,  I ‘didn’t have a sense of humor’ or ‘don’t react. You’re older than she is. Act like it’ or ‘don’t ignore your sister. You two should be friends.’ I was forced into babysitting you, bathing with you, giving up my room because you wanted it, doing the household chores you didn’t want to to do, and you wonder why I don’t care for you very much.”

“Well you weren’t very nice to me, either.” Ashley was defiant. “You told me to go fuck myself.”

“You never gave me a moment’s peace,” I said. “I get a flood of bad memories when I smell baby powder. Or vanilla,  because you’d throw a tantrum if you didn’t get vanilla ice cream.”

“Poor you,” she said, “You suffered because you had to help care for your baby sister. So you weren’t the baby anymore. Boo fucking hoo.”

I took a breath. “You weren’t my child. I missed Drama Club rehearsals and parties because I had to watch you. You weren’t my child, but I had to give up my personal space, my time because of you. And as for being the baby, given the level of self-absorption you have, maybe I dodged a bullet.”

 

to be continued…

 

 

 

 

Mess Not With Authors

You know, I believe in peace and love, be the change you want to see in the world, what goes around comes back around times three, if someone bothers you, just wish them good luck so that they’ll be too distracted by it to bother you, I’m learning to meditate, I have an impressive collection of gemstone Buddhas, you get the idea.

Peace and love and all that jazz

Peace and love and all that jazz

There are times, however, when all that goes by the wayside and what I want to really do would get me three hots and a cot for years if not the rest of my natural life.

These times are generally tied to someone deciding they need to fuck up my life.

Case in point: Old man neighbor. I leave him alone. However, he tries to block the path when I’m returning from walking my cousin’s dogs (the Assistant and the Intern). Cousin does not want him messing with the dogs, I don’t want to waste time because I generally must get back to work and don’t have time to indulge him. He will try to distract them while I have them out doing their business by whistling. The Intern must have a form of doggy ADD because it’s hard to keep her focused on peeing and pooping unless she really has to go. She is his target because she is extremely cute. “Oh, the little perro.” And he will block the sidewalk when I try to return. I have taken to cutting across the grass. He has “chased” me to the door because I evaded him. He doesn’t like that. I almost threw a bag of poop at him. That I had picked up (the Intern’s).

Now he’s told the management company that I don’t pick up poop. It’s a lie. Just because I won’t let him do what he wants. So either he blocks the path or traps me at the front door while I’m trying to get animals inside. This is a tort called “false imprisonment.”

It’s also sexism.

I’ve had dealings before with cranky old men who don’t like my non-submissive attitude. You’re not paying my bills, you’re not running my life.

Now I have to deal with another old fart who’s decided to be an asshole because I don’t obey him.

And here’s where the meditation comes in. And visualization.

I am not seeing myself pounding on his door and verbally tearing him a new one. I am not seeing myself gently applying a baseball bat to his head.

Well, I can. Legally.

I’m an author. I can write his nasty old bossy ass into a story and kill it, beat it, berate it, anything I want.

You are warned

You are warned

Never screw with an author.

george rr martin

And he hates my Patriots

And he hates my Patriots

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Enter Title Here

Sorry for missing a post yesterday, but here ‘tis. As I didn’t get frantic messages looking for it yesterday, I’m thinking no one was emotionally distressed by its absence.

Bastards.

Anyway, I have been able to rediscover a part of me that had to be shoved aside for the past few years of shelter instability: cooking and baking. I cooked: made one-dish dinners, pan fried meats, built salads and microwaved stuff, but it wasn’t my kind of cooking. I am one of those freaks that loves the challenge of Thanksgiving dinner. I experiment with meatloaf. My grandmother was one of the greatest cooks I’ve ever met and I can make her stuffed cabbage (Haven’t mastered her pot roast yet, though). Other than the cramps in my upper back from stuffing cabbage leaves, it’s all good.

This past week, I made a pan of brownies. Just an 8” x 8” of the family brownie recipe (that I tweaked and improved, much to my mother’s annoyance). They were fantastic.

And I’m going to do it again. Producing something to share with others feeds me as well, especially when it turns out well. I like to give back. (well, on my terms. Someone asked for my tiramisu recipe and I laughed at her. I think she whined to Mom afterwards because I heard about it).

Way back in the 1970s, we had a subscription to Gourmet magazine. I pored over those things, studying the pictures and the recipes. As a pre-teen in Vermont (not knocking the state, but this was before the foodie movement was born and garlic was an exotic spice), I didn’t understand a lot of the ingredients or cooking methods, but I did take on one recipe:

Baked Alaska.

I don’t know how I persuaded my parents to let me give it a shot, but Dad (whose birthday was today, Feb 7) cut a small board for me to use as the platform (according to the directions) and the folks bought 3 kinds of ice cream, brandy, and rum, and everything else. I studied that recipe for  a couple of days before making it, and then…

Game day: supporting cake made, soaked in brandy. Ice cream whipped and frozen into 3 layers, and egg whites beaten into fluffy insulating meringue. Assembly, quick browning under the broiler, which caused a leak which made me cry but then, who else has made Baked Alaska? At 13? I was too stupid to know I could fail.

Anyway, I made another one later and it worked. Unfortunately, that was the last because my brother took my board and used it for his fish gutting operation.

I’m looking for that recipe. I’m going to make it again. And cheesecake. And stuffed cabbage. It brings me joy. Joy is in short supply these days.