A cancer-causing fantasy kind of morning

It’s been kind of a rough morning, addiction-wise.  For some reason, ever since I started blogging/writing again, all I’ve wanted to do is chain smoke and there’s not a cigarette to be found in this whole damn house (and there hasn’t been since Memorial Day).  It’s actually getting pretty horrific, the jonesing.  Bad enough that I’m afraid if I leave the house for any reason today, I might end up tackling a smoker who’s just innocently trying to make his way down the damn street.  It’s not looking good for The Kid today, y’all.  She’s contemplating a full out, broad daylight wagon jump and when she lands, apologies are going to be the last thing on her mind (or her nicotined breath).  So anyway, I’m trying to hang on, but I’ve simultaneously got a healthy little fantasy life going on here.  Consequently, I’m thinking the following might be my totally sexy and not at all needy call to The Cigarette Smoking Man (who I can’t even picture beyond the coffin nail in his hand and who I therefore should probably not be naming after a beloved and elusive X Files character or talking to like he’s Cheech to my Chong):

“Heeeeeeyy, man.  How ya doin’?  Hey uh, uh…I know it’s a lot to ask, but man, sweet freakin’ JESUS I could use a cigarette.”

It’s good, right?  If someone said that to you, you’d be compelled immediately and unquestioningly to share your goodies.  And if you didn’t have any (if you–God forbid!–didn’t smoke), you might even walk into the nearest gas station and buy some just to give that very intelligent and well-spoken woman the thing she needs to get through her day.  After all, you care about your fellow man.  You live in the same small town and you know damn good and well that–no matter what you tell your whining teenagers on a Friday night–there’s really nothing else to do but smoke and drink (and fool around…as long as you’re married to the person you’re foolin’ with).  Plus, your mama raised you right and told you to do the next right thing and not be a judgmental bastard.  Just because you believe cigarettes smell like ass and that they might one day be the death of this obviously intellectually superior woman, that doesn’t give you the right to deny her her Bliss.

C’mon, man.  Give me a cigarette.  Come on.  Please?

The Brothers Three

I come from a big family, and in case I don’t get around to mentioning it very often, they really are an important part of who I am now and who I grew up being.  While my tendency is to talk mostly about Mama (especially when recounting times past), the truth is, the boys played just as big a part in who I am.

When I say I miss my brothers, I mean I miss all of us together, the way we were as children. There are particular things that I miss most. If you asked Mama, she’d say she missed the singing – all of us piled together in “Old Green” (an army green former utility truck of some sort that came to us already beaten and abused, one of the few things the four of us didn’t have a hand in destroying further), singing song after song from the late 60’s and 70’s and marveling at the acoustics. Or maybe she’d say it was listening to the four of us thump around on top of the truck while she drove the five or six blocks from Farm Fresh back to the house on some unbelievably hot summer night when riding in the open air at 20 miles an hour was the only breeze to be found.

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Strangely, though they’re certainly relevant to who I am, these aren’t my favorite memories. My favorites all occurred on some weekend or vacation when Mom had long since gone to bed and the four of us were gathered around the minuscule television in the living room playing some video game on near-mute and trying to be quiet enough as a group that we wouldn’t wake her. I don’t remember any of us every arguing over who got to play next or longest. We just played. And when we weren’t playing we were watching each other play.  (My love of video games endures to this day. And as it was then, it doesn’t matter a lick to me whether I’m playing or watching.) There were a million things feeding into us having a good time on those nights. First, we weren’t supposed to be up so late, and that alone was cool. Second, we only owned one game ourselves, so usually, any time we were up late playing it was because we’d suddenly gotten some spare change and Mom had agreed to rent us a game. (The renting, by the way, was almost as cool as the playing. Nate and I would spend almost an hour poring over titles and back-of-the-box descriptions, making sure that whatever game we ended up getting wasn’t going to disappoint us in the first ten minutes. There wasn’t another one where that came from and we all knew it.) Third, if there was spare change for a game, then in all likelihood, there was also Coke, chips, and sandwich stuff.  (Food was not always readily available at our house.)  And fourth, Dad was never home any time we stayed up late, which meant our house was a fairly quiet place. After all, there was nothing for the four of us to argue over among ourselves.  That fact alone is an amazement to me–four siblings with nothing to argue about?  But back then, it was true.

No matter how we dressed, no matter how our house looked compared to everyone else’s, no matter what car or beat up old truck Mama drove us to school in, I was always proud of the boys and proud to be with them. Though we always had to watch out for the youngest, J (who had a tendency to suddenly disappear or run headlong into oncoming traffic), most of the time we were the best behaved brood of children that I’ve ever encountered.  Oddly enough, I don’t recall any of us believing that at the time.  I think somewhere in the back of their brains, all children must believe they’re inherently rotten, if not for what their parents tell them, then for the thoughts they think at night, in the quiet darkness of their rooms.

Sometimes I think there isn’t anything I wouldn’t give to have us all in one house again. And if I had minutes or years to live over, I’d choose those when we were together every time. There are changes I would make. Maybe I could keep my oldest brother, N, from all the heartbreak and trouble of his mid-teens and early 20s.  Perhaps in a changed and bettered future, it would be possible for all of us to be together in one place without the arguing and ill will that happens now when such gatherings occur. I would have liked very much for all of us to be adults together, for ours to be one of “those families” who stay together, who laugh and play and drink together well into middle age.

I hate that we’ll never be the versions of us that I dreamed we’d be.  And while it’s easy to blame my middle brother, T, or politics, or geography or a million other things, the truth is, I think the blame probably rests with all of us for not remembering the children we were, the things we lived through, or most importantly, that the only reason we made it at all was because at one time we were Angie and the Brothers Three.

**This entry was originally written and posted in 2001.  It has been slightly edited.

The disappearing archive

The truth is, I’ve been off the online journal circuit since before it ever got popular.  In fact, I’m going to bet that the last time I wrote consistently was 2008-ish, which was about two years after my crazy ass Vegas girlfriend and I called it quits.  (Though I had to keep slogging along at the journal for a while afterward because APPEARANCES.)  I was pretty burnt out after that–I’d been writing several times a week for about seven years at that point–and I just let the last cute domain name (and there had been several over the years) fade back into the ether from whence it came.  In the intervening nine years, I haven’t kept much of a journal in any form.  I buy expensive and beautiful notebooks and keep them in decorative baskets on my bookshelves, preparing for the unavoidable eventuality (ha!) that one day I’ll be walking by and decide that today, instead of reading, I’ll write.  That happens not nearly as often as I would like.  I have many pretty notebooks with writing in them, but unfortunately, it stops after no more than 20 pages and never picks up again.  I don’t know how it is for other people, but I’m just bizarre enough about my notebook journalling that I cannot allow too much of a passage of time between entries…skipping a year, for example, is totally not cool and absolutely necessitates beginning a new notebook.  Were it not for the fact that I cannot stand to waste paper and that someday there’s probably going to be an apocalypse wherein I’ll need all the paper I can get, I would throw them away in a heartbeat.  As it is, they just sit there and torment me.

The great thing about writing in this forum is that there is no paper to waste (and no money to waste on buying it).  Also, until I decide I need all the bells, whistles, and customization options (which is at most a couple weeks down the road), it’s free.  I admit, writing online again is also a lot like coming home, only it’s more than a little strange to have no history making the journey with me.  Once upon a time, y’all, I didn’t go ANYWHERE without my archives, and quite honestly, I’m still having a hard time with the idea that they aren’t–and won’t ever be–here.  Obviously, I’ll end up retelling some stories, but wow, it’s pretty weird to be out here all alone and unknown in this place where I once felt so seen and so at ease.  (Isn’t it wild to hear anyone talking that way about the internet in this day and age?)  I guess I’ll just have to move along by taking the advice of my high school public speaking teacher and fake it til I make it…someday, dammit, I’ll look (again) as prolific as I feel.

I heard a Call, but you shouldn’t worry about my sanity.

A month or so ago, The Chronicle of Higher Education posted an article about keeping a journal in the age of Trump.  As a person interested in both first person historical accounts of traumatic events and journal writing, the piece spoke to me, though probably not in the way (or for the reasons) the author intended.  For one thing, I already keep a sporadic paper journal, though it mostly contains the extremely malleable and changeable nutso thoughts that run around in my head on a day-to-day basis and not so much commentary on the utterly sickening and terrifying political goings-on in our country.  Obviously, I wouldn’t choose to ever have those personal pages put on display in a museum, and it’s likely that no one would want to see them anyway.  Secondly, though it’s been many, many moons ago now, I once kept an online journal (with several names and incarnations) that covered all sorts of topics–from political to personal and back again.  Point being, I don’t imagine the article above had my type of writing in mind with its call to action, nor do I think that the author was advocating any kind of online notation of current events…there are plenty of news and personal sites doing that already.  No, I’m fairly certain the writer was attempting to convince its readers that future generations would thank them if they would take pen to paper and describe what effect the current political climate was having on typical individuals trying to live their normal lives (and if there’s an Anne Frank among them, so much the better).

Well, needless to say, I am not Anne Frank.  I do have an on-the-ground perspective of the world in which we live, but I doubt seriously that it’s any different from others; mostly, I just use a lot of profanity and try not to throw things at the television.  Nevertheless, I am a person “of a certain age,” and I remember fondly the days when people wrote on the internet because it was there and because there were other awesome people doing it. I want to go back to those times, and I cannot help but hope that this pilgrimage back to the ‘net of my misspent youth leads back to those ridiculously amazing people and that I find myself still among their number.  But even if there are no nice and/or brilliant people left writing on the web these days, I’m spending this evening pounding on the keyboard because there was a call in that article a few months ago, and I heard it:  IT’S BEEN A FREAKIN’ LOT OF YEARS, BOO, AND IT’S TIME TO WRITE ON THE INTERWEBS AGAIN.

Here goes nothin’…