Whatever Wednesday: Doughnuts at the Carwash


Do you remember when you were a kid? The littlest things made us happy, didn’t they? Like those machines that you put quarters in and get tiny toys that break the instant oxygen hits them? They were fabulous for all of 1.5 seconds, right? Or how about sitting in your room, building things out of Legos or playing with Play-doh? It did not take much to put a smile on our faces. Ahhh, those were the days.

Flash forward to adulthood. Get up at the break of down to drink did coffee, run around like crazy to get ready for work and/or get the kids ready for school and/or both, ultimately forget something, have to go back for it, drop the kids off, go to work, or run errands, then finally get home at the end of the day, dinner, maybe a little time to yourself, and then bam. Bedtime. How the hell bedtime get here so fast? Close your eyes after setting your alarm so you can do it all again the next day.

Did you take any time for joy? Any little things tucked into your day that made you smile and giggle as if you were a 5 year old who just got the toy you wanted out of the quarter machine? No? Well, that’s a damn shame.

The key, as a lot of people will tell you, to staying happy, is to maintain a stranglehold on that childhood innocence and wonder. Pick up just enough common sense and cynicism to function in the grown up world but dear GOD don’t let that childhood innocence and wonder dissipate. Do stupid stuff. Let go. Have fun. Laugh inappropriately and loudly at everything, anything, and nothing at all. Do things that make you smile, often, with people you love.

Stuff like I do with J.

Stuff like what we did tonight at the car wash.

We ran to the grocery store to pick up a few things to finish off dinner. Then, we spotted the doughnuts. Lately we had denied ourselves this guilty pleasure but tonight they were salacious sirens nestled in a forest of sweet treats, begging to be rescued. We reluctantly (okay, not so reluctantly) rescued six of them, planning to take them home and hug them ever so gently with our stomachs after sending them for a ride down the esophagus flume.

After the grocery store, we checked to see if the car wash was open. The past week and a half has covered the car in salt, snow, and other random ick but because of the frigid temperatures, we have been unable to wash it because well, the water would just freeze instantly.

The car wash was open, so we turned in after a horde of cars passed by. Two lanes were open, and we, we chose the one with the idiot. His driver side door was open, his feet on the ground, a cigarette hanging from his lower lip as if it were a man clinging to a cliff waiting for a stiff breeze to come along. He wore a hat, a fedora style hat, and glasses. He slid his card into the slot, tapped the screen, and stared curiously at the screen. One of the employees came over to help him, sliding his card in for him. As we idled behind him, we watched the vehicle in the other lane surge forward.

I evaluated the situation after we sat there for a couple more minutes, put the car in reverse, and headed for the other lane. We pulled up, I activated the screen, made my choices, paid, and moved forward as the winner in the other lane sat there, continuing to struggle with the machine.

An employee directed us onto the auto-fed car wash. As I popped the car into neutral, J grabbed the doughnuts.

“Which one you want? The cruller?”

doughnut in carwash“Sure! Just a minute.” I put my wallet away, then took the doughnut. I squealed like a little kid. Doughnuts. In the car wash. I took out my phone and snapped a pic. There was just something so gleefully delicious about eating a sweet donut whilst hidden in the soapy flaps and rollers of the car wash. It felt so wrong yet so damn good. Best damn cruller ever.

Joy in life is found in the simplest of things, the things we forget how to see when we get past a certain age. Just like Journey advises… don’t stop believing.

And now? I’m gonna have a doughnut at 10pm at night.

Because joy.

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Whatever Wednesday: A Drive in the Dark


One of the downsides of being a writer/creative type is seeing the world differently. I don’t see a tree. I see the seed, the person who may have planted the seed, the child who once played in its shadow, the mother who called the child in for dinner, that child leaving for a first date, college, or the family moving away and the entire cycle starting over with a new family as the tree stands there, rooted to the ground, subject to the world around it, unable to move or protest any indignity it may witness.

I do not see just a building – it is everything which went into a building – the craftsmanship of the bricks, the glass, the tile, the wood, the placement of the items inside, the heart and soul of the living, breathing walls. I see and hear the echoes of generations past resounding well beyond that which lies before me now.

Ever since I was a young child, I have peered into the other side of life. That which is dark, unexpected, unexplained, and lives in the shadows just around the corner from the main streets filled with a vibrant chatter and soulful lives. It’s the side of life just beyond a living man’s last breath. It is what fills the landscape around us and gives it heart. Sometimes, the heart is a joyous one. Other times, it is not.

When I was in college, my parents moved to a new house. On a visit home, my mother saw fit to drive me to the new house in well after the sun had set. We drove quite a distance through the country side, roads I knew at first, and then roads I had never visited before. We made what seemed like a sudden turn off the paved country road onto a darkened gravel road.

The air changed. The already dark night drifted suddenly into an even darker abyss as the road in front of us disappeared after passing a row of country houses. We then proceeded through a cow gate, down a hill, with a tangled forest to our right. My breath slowed, my legs shifted, hugging the seat beneath me, my hands gripped my thighs as I glanced nervously at my mother.

At the bottom of the hill, there was a white farmhouse glowing through the impossible darkness, as if it were a beacon, and yet, in the upstairs window, shadows danced ever so slightly with the white lace curtains despite no evidence of human inhabitants.

My mother deftly made a right turn. Pavement again, until we hit the split in the road where, of course, she stayed to the side slathered in gravel. The tires spun the rocks, almost growling as they churned forward into the midnight sprawled before us.

An old tobacco barn stood just to the right of the road, barely visible as the headlights splashed across it. The rusted siding glared furiously back at us, as if we had suddenly  roused it from a deep sleep.

She drove on, through a curve or two appropriately tangled in overhanging trees, then up a hill, down a hill. A shadowy house stood in the night in the middle of the forest. The tires slid slightly on the rocks as they convulsed at the abrupt stop at the front of the large home which swelled up from the ground. My mother got out of the car, announcing we had arrived.

Arrived where, exactly?

I sat in the car for a moment, afraid to open the door, fearful of the banjos which would inevitably greet me. Forcing my right hand to move, I gripped the door handle, took a deep breath, and opened the door.

A burbling creek echoed through the night, surrounded by the loud calls of what I would later learn were bullfrogs. By this time, my mother was already on the porch, unlocking the door. “C’mon,”  she called.

I closed the door behind me and scurried to the porch. Light would be inside. Blessed, heavenly, life-saving light.

We walked around the house, a giant house yearning to become a home but standing empty, bereft of life and vibrance. The interior walls echoed every step and sound. I stood in the sun room, surrounded by windows on every side, staring out into the darkness just beyond, shuddering. I ran back to the front of the house and demanded to go back home. This, this was not home. Perhaps it was wonderful during the day but at night? At night there was a horde of creatures in the dark, watching us, intently.

I looked down at my hands in the darkness of the car until we were well away from the house, unable to look outside, afraid of what might peer back at me just beyond the glass.

When I struggled with Postpartum Depression & OCD, one of my biggest triggers was when night fell. I felt the same way – as if something were peering in at me through the windows at night. All the blinds had to be closed so nothing could see in and my children and I would be safe.

Until my current residence, I have continued this tradition. Even here, we had to open the blinds in our room upstairs high enough so the cat would not play with them in an effort to wake us at an ungodly hour. I would leap into bed, covering myself quickly in hopes to ignore the fact that the blinds were open.

Last night, however, was different. Last night, not only did I lift the blinds, I left the slats in the open position with the idea of waking with the sun (that part didn’t work out). For the first time in years, I slept with completely open blinds.

Fear controls you if you allow it to control you. Once you make the decision to move beyond fear, you find freedom.

Know what?

Freedom rocks.

Whatever Wednesday: Too Cold for Wine n’ Jesus


Due to the extreme cold our area experienced yesterday, a real event called Wine n’ Jesus was cancelled last night. This is a very fictional conversation based on the decision to cancel the Wine n’ Jesus event. Enjoy.

INT. LIVING ROOM – MID-MORNING.

COZY LIVING ROOM. GREEN FLORAL COVERED FURNITURE.

PICTURES ON WALL OF CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN. DOILIES EVERYWHERE. CUP OF TEA ON SAUCER ON END TABLE NEXT TO CHAIR.

MARTHA SITS IN THE CHAIR, WRINGING HER HANDS AS THE TV BLARES THE WEATHER FORECAST FOR THE EVENING AT 8 PAST THE HOUR.

SHE STANDS, WALKS TO KITCHEN TO GET THE WIRELESS PHONE.

MARTHA RETURNS TO THE LIVING ROOM, SITS DOWN, SIPS TEA, AND SETS THE CUP BACK DOWN ON THE SAUCER. A CLINK OF PORCELAIN IS HEARD.

SHE PRESSES THE BUTTONS FOR HER CO-CHAIR AND LIFTS THE PHONE TO HER EAR, LISTENING TO THE RINGING AND WAITS FOR HIM TO ANSWER. 

MARTHA

(SHARPLY)

ROGER? Is that you?

ROGER

(clearing throat)

Hullo, MARTHA.

MARTHA (CONT’D)

ROGER, I am worried about the meeting tonight. It is entirely too cold out there.

ROGER

Too cold out there for Wine n’ Jesus? 

MARTHA

Yes, ROGER. Entirely too cold. There is a time and a place for Jesus but we shouldn’t expect people to freeze to death and meet their maker earlier than they are meant to, now should we?

ROGER

For heaven’s sake, MARTHA, it is just a bit of cold. The church has a heater. The power is not out, the roads are not icy, and vehicles have heaters in them. Explain to me why we are cancelling our Wine n’ Jesus. I have the wine already chosen and ready to go. Also, I thought tonight was going to be the Bible Jeopardy night. You know how much fun Bible Jeopardy is once we have all had a bit of wine.

MARTHA

Yes, yes, I know. But ROGER…sometimes, we have to put safety before Jesus, and particularly before wine. I love wine just as you do, ROGER, but tonight it seems we need to put it aside. It is what He would want us to do.

ROGER 

You’re not thinking clearly, MARTHA. There is no danger aside from the frigid cold. Which, from what I understand, you should be quite adept at surviving.

MARTHA

(inhales sharply)

What on EARTH is that supposed to mean, ROGER?

ROGER

Oh you know exactly what I mean, MARTHA.

MARTHA

No, I am afraid I don’t, ROGER.

(she crosses her legs and adapts a defensive seated position)

ROGER

Oh, I’ve talked with Frank. I KNOW how frigid you are, Martha. I know.

MARTHA

(shrieking)

I am not going to dignify that with a response, ROGER. How dare you bring that up in this conversation. Wine n’ Jesus is cancelled. Do you hear me, ROGER? (yelling loudly now) CANCELLED!!!!

ROGER

But MARTHA…

MARTHA

CANCELLED! GOOD DAY!

She hangs up the phone and appears to mumble furiously to herself as she dials the number for the local news station to get the information for the cancellation submitted, pressing the phone to her ear once she is done dialing. 

MARTHA

Hello? Is this where I submit information for cancellations?

OPERATOR

Yes, it is. Name of the event?

MARTHA

Wine n’ Jesus.

OPERATOR

Wine and Cheeses?

MARTHA

(exasperated sigh)

No. Wine n’ Jesus. As in Jesus our Lord, not cheeses as in Brie, Gruyere, and Colby Jack. JESUS. As in the Son of God.

OPERATOR

Oooohhhh. Yes. As in Jesus turned the water into wine.

MARTHA

Well, if that is how your simple mind wants to remember it, yes.

OPERATOR

Excuse me, ma’am?

MARTHA (mumbling)

Oh, nothing. The Wine n’ Jesus event is tonight at 6pm. It is cancelled because of the cold.

OPERATOR

Because of the cold?

MARTHA

Yes, that’s right. What is so difficult to believe about this? It is dangerously cold out there!

OPERATOR

Yes ma’am but it is actually warmer tonight than it was this morni…

MARTHA

Don’t you get all high and mighty on me too, missy. It’s cancelled due to cold. Now put it up on your website so the people know it is too cold for the Wine n’ Jesus tonight, please.

OPERATOR

Yes, ma’am. Is there anything else I can do for you? Pray, refer you to a therapist, give you some wine?

MARTHA

Well, I never… (sighs loudly and pushes the END CALL button)

Martha sinks back into her floral chair, a frustrated look on her face. She slams the phone down, sips her tea. It is now cold.

Whatever Wednesday: When a Fur is Really a Fir and No One Cares


I traveled this past week down to my parents’ place for Thanksgiving.

On Friday we ventured out to the local grocery store which was safe to do because my parents live out in a very rural area.

Of course the store had Christmas trees for sale out front because what else do you put on sale the day after Thanksgiving?

A fabulous green sign proclaimed the prices of these trees on the store’s front entryway door.

Fur TreesSee?

The “Large Fur” was only $29.99. The “Small Fur” was a steal at just $19.99.

After reading the sign again, I glanced at the trees. They were not fuzzy or furry. There were no furs on sale.

Upon entering the store, I went straight to the first employee I saw which happened to be the woman in the floral section. It made total sense to talk with her about this because well, she deals with the plants, right?

“Hi. So, I had a question about the sign outside about the trees for sale. Who can I talk to about it?”

“I’ll answer what I can…”

“Great! The word “fur” is misspelled. I’m sure it’s an honest mistake but the word for trees is spelled f-i-r, not f-u-r as your sign currently states.”

“Ummm….” She then gave me a blank stare. “Right. The large trees are $29.99 and the small ones are…”

I interrupted her, giggling because clearly she misunderstood me. “No, no, no. I don’t want a tree. I want the sign fixed because it’s misleading. Is there a manager I can talk to about that?”

“Well, the girl who did it… (insert puzzled look)… we’ll be taking them down later today anyway….”

“Great. Because those trees are not f-u-rs, they are f-i-rs.”

The kicker?

The above photo was taken the FOLLOWING AFTERNOON.

triple-facepalm-picard-812

 

Whatever Wednesday: Censored Funny


One of George Carlin’s funnies routines for me is when he goes through a list of “bad words.”

Words which aren’t welcome in “polite” conversation.

I love him for it.

Why?

Because we shouldn’t have to censor what we say or write.

To censor what we write, what we say, what we think is the very essence of giving up ourselves. Sure, there’s a moral argument against bringing up certain topics in certain circles. But are we pressured more by others around us or by ourselves? Where’s the line? Should we cross the line? Where’s the grey area?

What if we offend someone? *gasp*

What if we cause a parent to have to explain something to their child they aren’t prepared to explain?

What if…

I mean, really?

(I’m listening to George Carlin read the list right now, for the record.)

When does Politically Correct cross the line into limiting freedom of speech?

Shouldn’t there be a certain expectation in certain situations of crude/crass speech?

It’s why we now have ratings. Why music is labeled as “Explicit” and why movies are rated anywhere from “G” to “NC-17” or “X.”

The problem with ratings is that it creates a society in which we don’t think about examining things closely for ourselves because someone has already done it for us.

Ratings are a suggestion, people. A guide. Not a decisive statement that it’s okay for your kid to watch, listen, or play simply because some panel somewhere decided it deserved whatever rating your kid is allowed to view, hear, or play. What if they don’t hold your values? What if they think it’s okay for your kid to hear crass languague or see something crude?

Point here is that funny is funny in YOUR context, not in someone else’s context. I’m tired of censoring myself for fear of what someone else may think or say as a result of what I’ve said. It’s me. If you don’t like it, the rest of the Interwebz is at your fingertips. All it takes is a click to veer away from my words or from whatever else it is that you have found offensive.

At the same time, we have the same right as the person saying these things to speak up and say we don’t like what they’re saying. But by no means should we expect them to take back what they’ve said just because we *gasp* don’t like it. Guess what? The world is full of things we don’t like.

FULL.OF.THEM.

Wanna know how to deal with that?

Ignore it. Don’t let it into your life.

Fill your life with the beautiful, with the true, with the honest, with the FUNNY, with the hope, the compassion, the love YOU want there.

If you find yourself always focusing on the negative, take a good hard look at yourself and how YOU are living your life and what YOU are letting into it.

We live in an age during which we are very much in control of what comes into our lives.

Don’t hesitate to use that control to create a bubble. Yeah, sometimes? That bubble’s gonna pop. Sometimes? It’s okay to get angry.

But really… most of the time, anger is a wasted emotion and life is so much better when you’re happy and lost in bliss, even if that means ignorance in some areas.

Whatever Wednesday: Please Move the Human Crossings


This post is inspired by a YouTube video featuring an audio clip of a woman who called Y94 in Fargo, ND. Her rant? Deer crossings in high traffic areas and the refusal of the Department of Transportation to move them to “lower traffic areas.” She’s written letters too.

I reached out to some deer in the ND area and shared Donna’s thoughts with them. They agreed to talk with me. The following is a transcript of our meeting, held deep in the forest, in an unnamed location.

“Wow. So this is nowhere near any type of civilization. Is this how you prefer to live?”

“It’s how we’ve always preferred to live, actually, since before that nosy Columbus popped over here and dragged the rest of Europe with him. Sure, we had the natives to contend with but hey, let’s face it – horses? Distant cousins and not given to mowing us down like the SUV’s and 18-wheelers of today.”

“I noticed on the way here that the Interstate divides the forest for quite some distance. Has this had any effect on nuclear families and their ability to stay close?”

“Of course it has. When the Department of Transportation came in, they didn’t ask us to relocate, we didn’t receive any government funding or consideration. We just woke up one day and BAM. Huge concrete path in between us and our loved ones. Families have been split up for generations. Remarriage, mourning, confused fawns, and don’t ask me about the Great Crossing of ’67.”

(Please note at this point, Rudolph’s eyes watered up and he turned away from me, his voice breaking.)

“Now I have to ask – what’s the Great Crossing of ’67?”

“This story has been handed down for generations, a warning, if you will. A number of us gathered together to talk about reunification with those trapped on the other side. We decided to watch traffic patterns for a few days, get the lay of the Interstate before crossing, you know. Scouts took shifts in trees with binoculars and reported back to those in charge. Once we thought we had established a pattern, we gathered together at the edge of the road, you know, where a sign with a deer stood. We assumed it was safe. There was a huge group of us, hundreds, if not thousands. The first wave, at least 100 deer, tentatively stepped out onto the hard black river. Headlights, a whole herd of them, appeared suddenly out of nowhere, speeding toward us. The first wave froze, the second wave rammed into them, and the third wave jumped over them. The headlights tore through all three waves. The carnage……..” his voice fades, cracking as tears slip down his tawny cheeks.
(I hand him a hanky, he wipes his eyes and blows his nose.)

“Far worse than Donna’s mere three car accidents, then, eh?”

“Far, far worse. Speaking of Donna’s car accidents, does she perchance drive a Red Honda?”

“I… I don’t know. She didn’t say in the recording.”

“If she does, she killed my cousin Louis –smashed him to a pulp. And my Uncle Dasher too. I don’t even want to discuss the hell she wreaked on my Aunt Catherine. Do you know Aunt Catherine can’t even graze by herself anymore? No – we had to rig a wheelchair just so she could haul herself around. The worst part? She can’t just go to the bathroom like she used to with that thing on. It requires regular cleaning. Do you have ANY IDEA how difficult it is to haul a deer hooked up to something like that in and out of a river multiple times a day? Look at these guns I’ve developed just helping her wheelchair stay clean!”

“Wow. I can’t begin to imagine. Nice guns, by the way.”

“Thanks.” He sniffles slightly, looks around nervously.

“Something wrong?”

“You weren’t followed, were you?”

“No, I took all the precautions you mentioned, left my car a mile away from the entry point, parked in a well-lit parking lot, walked in circles for 30 minutes, Gangnam Styled for 20, then hop-skipped-jumped for 10 toward the entry point before donning my ninja gear in a phone booth to slip away. There’s no way I was followed.”

“Mmmk. You know, with the advent of PETA and environmental gurus, we thought we’d be protected from the horrors of vehicular homicide. But alas, we are not. That’s what it is though – vehicular homicide. Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this? Instead, they’re putting up signs telling us we can cross, luring us into believing these particular spots are safer than all the others and then BAM. Mowing us down. Sure, we procreate like rabbits –well, almost– have you seen those little bastards get it on? Christ I’d give anything to have a libido like that. Anyway, I’ve digressed. It’s entrapment -plain and simple- Government endorsed entrapment ending in vehicular homicide. I’m not even the slightest bit apologetic for damage done to any cars. They encroached on our territory, not the other way around. Hell, I don’t see anyone apologizing to US for all the homicide and “population control” you people seem so keen on with our kind.”

“How do you feel about Donna’s request to move the Deer Crossing signs to lower traffic areas? Do you think this would be best for all parties involved?”

“I think it would be very helpful for all involved, but quite frankly, we can’t all read the signs. Most of us can, but some of us are just, well, plain stupid. We’re animals, yanno, and we’re not meant to read signs. And the Great Crossing of ’67 taught us not to trust the signs which is why we rarely cross in herds any more, but rather in single file, waiting for the one deer to cross before venturing across the road ourselves. Then there’s the issue of freezing when we see headlights. That too, is a remnant of the Great Crossing of ’67. A genetic form of PTSD, if you will. So you see, it’s really not our fault that we don’t move when we see a vehicle coming. It’s inbred fear of the ineptitude of humanity and their vehicles. Damn Henry Ford and his ilk.”

“How has the introduction of cell-phones affected the rate of “vehicular homicide” among your kind, if you will be so kind as to elaborate. Do you have that information? Any aggregated data?”

He holds out a hoof. “Does it LOOK like I’m capable of using a keyboard?”

“My apologies. Forgive me. Let me re-phrase: Has there been a noticeable increase in loss since the advent and popularity of cell-phones?”

“Across the board, yes, there has been. People are stupid enough behind the wheel as it is but they’re even more idiotic when they have a cell phone. Amazingly enough, the advent of Starbucks has saved lives because caffeine, as I’m sure you know, allows your kind to stay more alert. Although there have been a few instances when the blended caffeinated goodness in that green and white cup has been so orgasmic that the driver to loses control and mows a few of us down but overall, Starbucks has been good for the our increasing survival rates.”

“Last question – if you could tell Donna one thing, what would you say?”

“Oh, that’s simple. Please move the human crossings to a lower traffic deer area. We were here first.”
(Author’s note: There’s been an update from Donna – it’s a MUST LISTEN.)

Whatever Wednesday: My Mom’s New Rack


On Monday, my mother was practically bursting with excitement. The following is how the conversation proceeded. Sort of. Mostly. Mmmk, I’m getting older, my mind is slipping, and I have a twisted sense of humour. If you’re drinking something, put it down. No seriously. Put.IT.DOWN. And swallow that sip still in your mouth.

“Guess what I ordered?”

“A Capuchin monkey that’ll scratch your head while you play Angry Birds on your iPad?”

“No, silly! Something with much more oomph than a Capuchin monkey. Jeez.”

“What, then? J-Lo’s ass?”

“Lauren!”

“Well… you gotta admit, J-Lo’s ass has FAR more oomph than a Capuchin monkey. Although a Capuchin monkey would fit much better into a Fiat than J-Lo’s ass – I’ve digressed. What’d ya get?”

“It’s a curvy, sleek, stylish, auto-draining stainless steel dish rack. It sits up on four rubber nubs, and has curved stainless steel prongs, and the angle is such that it doesn’t collect water but instead keeps the water running straight into the sink!”

“So…what you’re saying here is that you got a busty new rack for your dishes?”

“Yes, and it’s simply fantastic. It’ll gleam in the soft light of the kitchen lights as the dishes drip dry rested atop silver rods.”

“Sounds like you’ll have some extremely happy dishes soon, Mom.”

“Oh, I will. I will.”

“I’m gonna leave you and your new rack all alone then, mmmmk? My Capuchin monkey is signalling to me that lunch is ready. And when the Capuchin says jump, by GOD, you jump. Because it just gets ugly when they fling poo.”