Archive for August, 2007
As I get older, as we all do, I find some of the situations which used to really embarrass me don’t even phase me anymore. I am not sure if it’s because I am beyond being shocked, or watch too much TV, or not enough—or if I’m just getting a tad more comfortable with my eccentricities than is good for us all. Example today: I had errands to do, you know the deal, go to the bank, the post office, the pet fetishistic paraphernalia specialty store, topped off by what every responsible cheap-assed American does when the rubber hits the road on an off day: do a total thorough examination of one of the more prominent and potentially bizarre and eclectic discount stores on our end of Austin, Texas.
Another thing I’ve noticed about getting older is it sure does take allot more time to turn that old hag you see in the mirror in the morning, while brushing one’s teeth, into an acceptable run of the mill, decent looking, non suspicious person, who won’t make the security overseer go into a state of panic as I enter into a given premises. This requires fairly good hygiene, the application of make up for the greater good of humanity in my heart, and the sometimes all too much time consuming co-ordinating of an ” outfit” depending on what, or who ever I am trying to pretend to be, at a given moment: (such as Miss Marple’s older sister , the one who’s a floozy,but has a pleasant and investigative nature and no spinach between her teeth.) All supplies (purse, keys, sanitary wipes, 1st aid kit, fake FBI credentials (just kidding), enough water to NOT die of heat prostration if the outing is extended (this is Texas after all), paper towels for when I slop my cola all over my shirt, and mood enhancing CD’s, are to be gathered and taken along in an attractive tote. I am not talking certificates of Deposits here, but that would be good too. Today I listened to Hank Williams and Roky Erickson, both fine artist inspiring a very calm and stoic attitude, that was the mode of the day’s duties.
Frankly, these trips of mine to the netherworld of mundane manna, can really take it out of an old lady such as my self. However, it is important to stay on top of one’s personal business, as well as be aware of the fashion trends. Today’s jaunt into the discount store, took more time than one might imagine it would, however many things of note, and people of interest where acknowledged, as I perrused the isles. I managed to find a remarkable bargain on a designer suit for my daughter, who is in her twenties and cleans up very nicely, when she is not trying to emulate a Hispanic Biker Chic. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing to be, but is, indeed, some times not the appropriate choice, when applying for a respectable job, as she is in the process of doing these days. Actually the suit that I purchased for her today would be perfectly socially acceptable for attending my funeral, if and when I keel over dead of heat prostration, as this is Texas, and this is summer ( a nasty combination that.) I try to find multi purpose items while shopping. Accessories are the key to changing the look of a single classic simple suit into many possibilities; like if she’s at the funeral: a simple black lace head dress and black simple cloth-or leather bag would be nice, with sensible shoes. If she’s going for the Hispanic Biker Chick look, no problemo there either– with the right revealing corset-styled camisole, black patent stilettos, and ‘Red’ Purse (which I also purchased for her, knowing the reality of her taste), she’s ‘got the look you want to know better’, as well. That little clue puts me in my generation gap, as though it was a crater.
But the importance of multiple usage fashion is clearly shown, for instance, last spring, when we purchased two re-usable ice packs that strap on to one’s appendages, when last I had knee replacement surgery. These are ingenious for many fashionable statements, depending on one’s other accessories. (Example, as my knee was beginning to swell some during my Discount Romp, and I had the good sense to bring it along in the small ice chest in my ‘mother-ship’ station wagon, and thus I decided to wear one of said items on that knee, while roaming through the store, which gave me a jaunty, although somewhat curious lump just to the south of my skirt, as well as helping with the swelling. The product is blue with a heavy elastic band that is adequately long enough to wrap a couple of times around my leg, or it can also be worn as a head band, as I just did, when answereing the door for the construction contractor who is repeatably and with out remorse, hammering into the exterior of our home, even as we speak. Not only does it look ‘hippy chic’ but helps with the resulting head ache. He made no comment on this fashion statement, as, believe me, he’s seen worse from inside these walls. There was a time, when I was in my twenties, that even the idea of wearing something like that in public ,would have caused a great deal of dubious dread. There is a plus side to this, however: think of how embarrassed my daughter will be when I come to visit her tomorrow, in the same get up-head band and knee wrap included. These are the real revenge moments that make a geezers’ life grand.
There are times when even the most selfishly lonely of us become all and out bummed by long tedious hot and mostly rainy days like today in Austin, Texas–as anywhere, there is the short termed joy of the unlikely good of each day. And then, there is the look-into-it-a-little-closer and realize, say, that the siding is ripped off of the back side of the house, and all this wet stuff comes soaking inside and lands like a mud puddle on pudding, and no one’s there but me to clean it up. And today, I am caught in some sort of a inertia-like need to simply sit and express my ineptitude, instead of just plain old– get down and dirty-doing it; What ever it is that needs to be done. And one look around the Sauerosa says,’ girl, get off your old fat ass and work. The maid ain’t gonna show and the creek is gonna rise, for sure. ‘
” Things do pile up,” but this is beyond ridiculous ,and today there is no one here to laugh with or at me. It’s just me and (ironically enough) this damn computer screen trying to develop a lasting relationship, which is doomed from the start. It smells fear, and reacts accordingly, with a unfazed receptive non-disclosure contractual attitude that makes things seem ever so much worse than they could possibly be. And the ever present, non -emotional, but never friendly drone, that is heard every where here, that comes from this and all it’s brothers through-out the house; But rules as King in the study here. It calls to the ants. It passes for “ringing in the ear…” and I will stop before it does. Sometimes, I sing to myself to over-ride it’s distracting haze. I am thinking and hoping, that somewhere in front of someone’s desk top, is a person like me. having a hard time ignoring the sound, and this modern blather it brings with it, and that person is also blaming all of their troubles, stacked neatly, and rationally, one upon the other, on and over the top of this persistence and pestering promiscuous intrusion on one’s privacy. Do you hear it?
Yesterday I wrote a piece on what ever it was, but it offended my husband; And in-order to promote cordial cooperation and an ambiance of a positive nature, I “scrubbed it.” (That’s ‘space kid’ talk for cancelling what was written, as this was the phrase used when a launch was delayed or not to be back in the old days of the Space.) Again-may I remind you that I grew up a “military brat” mostly off Cocoa Beach, close to the peninsula that was known as Cape Canaveral, where all the ICBM’s were tested. Back then when we moved to the area, in 1956, all defensive weapon-missiles, and conceptual Space Travel, etc. was handled strictly by the military. It was much later when private company’s entered into the mix, co-existing with the military when this made sense (example: IBM, Philco-Ford handled the computer stations, etc.) creating what we know today as NASA. In the very beginning of the 50’s, the military branches started ‘fixing up’ that area, which was a virtual paradise and practically uninhabited by people then. When we first arrived, our family stayed in a very small apartment right on the beach. My brother and I used to ‘go play’, by the water, having promised not to go in with out adult supervision, we never mention the many coral snakes that shared our play space usually traveling in two’s, but they were there. We knew they were lethal, but were not aggressive, but I do remember a couple times having to jump over them on the way to where ever we were going, as we did not see them until we were pretty close to them. My mother would have had a fit and a half had she known.
By the way, My husband and daughter and I went back to look at the old ‘home-place’ of Cocoa Beach, years later (1986?) and I found the whole area unrecognizable –but there was some relationship visually to Disney World, where we were vacationing officially;we just decided to take a side trip in hopes of witnessing a Space Shuttle launch, which was scrubbed on that day. So we headed back for Orlando, where it wasn’t as crowded and disconcerting as my old haunts, strange as that seems.
Back when we first moved to the Cape in the mid-fifties, the Army Core of Engineering dug regularly-spaced, handy canals, and cleared miles of fields of “Palmetto Plants”, the indigenous palm-tree-like ground cover, which were mostly burned to make building possible. Oh, the stench and the smoke !n the best of times, those. There were enormous fields of them, when we first moved there, with nary a person in sight. A most impressive, enormous ediface was under construction at that time -a research facility overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, built to withstand huge tidal waves and hurricanes. (We experienced two hurricanes while stationed there. (way cool…we had to evacuate and stay on the mainland, where it was safer during those hurricanes.) But the place where the actual missiles were launched was not open to civilians, of course, and was located a good 15-20 miles from base at the “cape,” a peninsula off the one on which our housing was-located. It was north-northeast of the Base, and an easy sight when lounging around the beach. Patrick Air Force Base, which was in existence before all the excitement, became quite a hub for all branches of the services. It was my father’s job to make every one (Army, Navy, Air Force) get along and communicate—no easy job that, as there was quite allot of competition and altercations between said divisions, as one can imagine, and it was absolutely imperative that they work together to achieve success in this very important cold war endeavor.
What I remember as most strange and unusual about this place and time in my life as a child (we moved there when I was 9 years old) was the actual experience of being near where the missiles were launched-there is nothing so completely over whelming as when the ground shook like an earth quake and the noise of lift off was louder than anything I’d ever heard before. Nothing could possibly compare to that totally encompassing experience of being near lift off in the beginning of the Space Program. Your world literally shook and you couldn’t hear your own screaming. In the beginning there were many on going problems getting those dang things off the ground, so it was not uncommon to experience this bizarre occurrence twice a week. No wonder allot of the wild life moved away. It was scary as the concept of Hell, if you didn’t know what was going on during launch. But after awhile it was just part of the deal and became a quite a normal part of our life–no biggie.
When we moved there I attended the nearest public elementary school ( I was in the 4th grade at the time) which was on the mainland (a good 45 min. drive – one way by school bus) into the city of Melbourne, in what used to be a military hospital, very isolated with a playground that went on for miles, it seemed. It was built somewhat on stilts off of the ground, I’m guessing to avoid flooding, etc. But the place between the ground and underneath the old building there made quite a good hiding place for many a critter, and seemed dark and mysteriously vile. This was definitely the swamps. But in the front of the school was an enormous tree that had strange long 4 pieced leather like extensions that hung together and fell to the ground, of which we learned to make into bracelets and such,when woven together, while waiting for our bus to show up in the afternoon. Our bus driver was this (at the time I thought) “OLD LADY” (looking back, she was probably in her late 40’s) who brought along her retarded daughter, who was part of the “special ed” class, that had their class room in a separate -but on site building, along side of the old hospital that was our school. I was more or less friends with her, and I didn’t mind sitting in back of her and her mother near the drivers seat of the bus. Each morning’s routine was to watch that special Ed- class and it’s teacher march the “special ed” students (who were supposed to gather first thing in the morning in the back porch of our elementary school until they were all together and accounted for) from whence they were taken in a neat single file line back to their classroom, where their day began. For some unknown reason it was held in a seperate ajoining building to the east of Melbourne Elementary back then
Then there was that “really special- ed” day when an 8-10 foot long alligator charged out from under this building, looking for his ‘special ed breakfast’, that broke the monotony of our whole school’s routine, no question about it. Now, this was way long before gators were considered “endangered”, and in fact that seems like a contradiction in terms, especially to said special-ed students. But we were a hardy bunch those days and were fast runners, even these special-ed students, who managed to dodge this dangerous enormous beast by taking off in different directions tout sweet, I kid you not … I have never seen kids run that fast for any reason , as clearly the kids were the one’s endangered when this dang thing snapped it’s jaws and hurdled itself here and there, trying to catch up to one of these kids, who usually went so slowly in a single filed line. Of course little problems like this were handled by bored M.P.s, who were called into the rescue. I got to watch them take down this critter during our class’s usual reading session, if I remember correctly.
Nothing like a few armed uniformed soldiers and their biggest caliber rifles for taking care of business, as they successfully did that day. Too bad they didn’t go for the Nike missiles, which were so much more fun to watch … and the soldiers probably could have used the practice too … guess it was too near the school for such sport. That was one big gator!
This is my daughter’s favorite story from my youth, and I’m guessing if I told this one to my psychiatrist/psychologist he would think me even more delusional than he does, poor guy. But it’s the truth and nothing but the truth, I swear by all that is Holy to me. No wonder I’m bored as they get these days, especially with all this coding cordial cooperation and ambiance of a positive nature. It just doesn’t seem natural. And it isn’t natural. It is said ” You’ got to take the good with the bad.”