LJI, week 8: My True North

Check the pockets.  Sharpie.  Box Cutter.  Lip balm (Burt's Bees if possible).  Wallet in back pocket.  Keys...somewhere.

(The blessing and curse of Dickie's brand work pants is in the pockets.  You can carry a life in them...but keys remain elusive, even if you know they're there.  Somewhere.  Keys especially like to migrate from pocket to pocket, espescially if the weather is bad or you have had a shift that raises the bar for bad days and all you want to do is stumble in the door and fall asleep before you take your third sip of beer.  Keys can be cruel that way).

Check the bag.  Journal.  Crochet project.  Titanium spork.  Another Sharpie, two more box cutters, extra socks since I'm likely to be  stuck with mop duty and have to wait for the bus in wet feet otherwise).  Something that used to be a granola bar before it met the swamp of tea dregs, used tissues, and the offspring on tiny bottles of vodka that leaked in the bottom of my bag.  Pocket knife from an old lover which would probably be best used to threathen him with in a half-lit hipster alley...and explain why this blade is as ineffectual as his dick and his attempt at a handlebar mustache.

(I've never understood why the gifts I get are always the ones that I could use against you in horrible ways.  If I were, you know...a different sort of person)

My armor is colorful.  Mish-mashed mixed up rainbow of bits and bobs of yarn.  A hat and a scarf and things that don't match but are powerful and they are me.  Songs  sung out loud ring from the bells at my wrists  I have love in my heart and a knife in my boot...and, occasionally, poison on my lips.

I am told I was other once.  I didn't need these things.  Not these colors.  Not these trappings of creativity and life and spark and...yes, even tthe bad things that have that seductive scent of shame and power.

But I have these things and I carry them with me.  North.  Always North.  I am told someday I may get to drop them.  They will become light and a star and a purpose and wrap me in lights and colors and imaginings told only once for my ears.

And my name will be True.

the bitch is back!

In the kitchen, that is.

Earlier this week, I started training for a cooking gig at a new craft brewery.  I'm helping open a bar, y'all!

The Chapel Hill food scene being wht it is, I'm working with two of my coworkers from the late, unlamented Haw River Grill (remember the place where I was let go because I wanted to help pass out menus/flyers at local businesses and was informed I was a liability because of my wonky teeth?  Yeah, apparently a stereotypically British smile doesn't hurt business NEARLY as much as an office manager with a snootful of coke and an innefctual raging alcoholic of an owner), as well as one of my regulars at TFH (he's already promised not to tell until I put in my two weeks), a former bartender at Bub's (where we had our wedding reception),  one of my gals from PTA Thrift who wants to pick up a few extra bucks, and a woman who swears she's worked with Kent before...just not sure where.

AND the majority of the (very diverse) staff looks to be well over 35.

All of this comes on the heels of my hours getting cut AGAIN.  1/4 of my gross take home pay now goes to cab fare.  We were super slow last night, and I asked if I could leave 5 minutes early.  I was told one of us had to stay, and my co-worker (who has a car, btw) said "Well, I was here first."  On my way out to get in the cab, I looked at the MOD (as I saw the bus I could have caught fly by) and said "You know what the difference btween 8:55 and 9pm is for me?  Ten bucks."

Motherfucker snickered.  He actually thought it was fucking funny.

The spousebeast keeps sayig to not burn any bridges with TFH.  Which I'm not.

Once I get my schedule for my new job, I am napalming those fucking bridges.

LJI Week 7: Feckless

"Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a feck."

I'm not sure if it was the long eyelashes, the wry grin, or the Irish accent that kept me from firing him.  Or the fact that he could stand out front, cheap cigarette dangling from his lips on his 14th smoke break on a six hour shift, that seemed to bring in the customers.

Okay, the women.  But customers are customers, and if women who like bad boys with impossibly green eyes buy cupcakes, who am I to argue?

"Feck" was his curse word of choice.  The Other F Word was a sin, and he was too good a Catholic boy to use THAT.

It became a game to replace other swear words in movie quotes.  He was working his way through "American movies" and you never realize how many famous quotes can be changed by one single word.

Kind of like life.

Just one word....and the world stops.  You forget how to breathe.  You know what you are supposed to do, but your chest is tight and light seems too bright and you're really going to have to do this.

"This isn't working.  I'm going to have to let you go."

I close my eyes so I don't get a last glimpse of him walking out the door.  But I can't un-hear him muttering "Well, FUCK."

And suddenly...I'm feckless. In every sense of the word.


Survived to write another week in LJI.  I wish I'd gotten to put up the first piece that I wrote, but my computer ate it THEN regurgitated it.  I think Priscilla, Queen of the Laptops is objecting to being used to feed Kent's Hearthstone addiction since Methuseleh the Desktop decided he didn't like the latest patch.

Hold on, Priss.  His new machine shows up tomorrow.  The timing is great.  Ta-dah!  It's a birthday present!  (I also got him a rainbow mug from our local indie book store, a button that says "Trump is why I drink," and a card with a couple of coupons I wrote out and, no, I am not sharing what they are for).

The biggest challenge in this week's LJI prompt is not writing about co-irkers.  Or exes.  Or relatives.  Or exes of relatives.

Given the fact that I'm already out of byes by week 7, maybe I should write why my Muse has been feckless.

(And I just screwed myself, didn't I?)

Tiny Little Tyrant is being human-ish again, and moved me to opening shift on Saturday, so we only have to take one cab in, can get the bus home, and start the birthday festivities early (his birthday is Sunday, and we're both off that day).  She's even put me back in production with one of my work besties.  We work well together, but we also have fun...which tends to annoy Big Big Boss.  Sorry, but if I'm banging out 48 pizzas while she's got 60 sandwiches working, what does it matter if we're talking in silly voices and singing show tunes while we do it?

(Unsurprisingly, I've encountered this bullshit WAAAAY too often.  I was working with an all male crew yesterday and they were ON THE FLOOR, standing around and talking about their new kicks and Black Friday shopping while I was handling customers by myself, and no one said a word.  But be singing "Food, Glorious Food" in a tiny refrigerated soundproof room...WHILE YOU ARE WORKING..well, that's just goofing off)

LJI Week 6: "Let's take a walk."

i only took one pait of shoes

I never pack that light.

Pink ballet flats

It was supposed to be a long weekend,  Instead, it was my things under a leaky carport.

"I read your diary.  You're with him now.  You can never come back."

My shoes fill with rain.

This is the end.  And the beginning,

And I keep walking.

LJI, Week 6: "We'll take a walk. It'll help."

It's July in North Carolina.  The room in small, on the second floor.  No AC.  It is stifling, or freezing.  I don't know which.  I don't even know if I remember how to breathe.

It was supposed to be a break away from my miserable existence in New Jersery.  I had moved in with my ex and his parents so I could be with my kids.  When July rolled around, my grandparents came and collected the kids to spend time with them in my hometown.  My former in-laws traveled to Virginia to see their daughter and their other grandkids.

Which left me alone in the Quaker version of the House of Usher.  With my job and my ex and two aggressive Great Danes and a lingering fear of what could happen without the buffer of other people around.

I called my boyfriend.  He'd pay for the ticket.  I'd have a long weekend away.  There was going to be a pig pickin' at his job for the July 4th weekend, and he wanted to show me off.  I could see my friends from college and whom I'd met along the way.  The sky would be that magical Carolina blue that makes everything seem okay.   Maybe I wouldn't be so cold.

Maybe he will forgive me for choosing cold grey Jersey skies.  Even if I can't stay.

(It is raining on that drive to the airport.  Three am to catch the first flight from Allentown to RDU, my ex threatening all the way that if I left, I wouldn't be allowed to come back.)

I'm trying to paint my nails by the dome light and shrug it off.  Yeah, ya threatened to kill me more than once, and all i got was a couple of bad beatings and worse makeup sex.  Whatever.

I get out of the van.  He says I can take my own bag...and that's the last one I'll have.

The room is freezing.  Or I can't breathe.  Am I underwater or is it just that hot in here?  It is July in North Carolina after all, and we are in one room on the second floor.

I call to arrange pickup from the airport.  I try not to sound too giddy, but I am warm and my belly is full and I have suddenly remembered that the sky is blue, not grey.  I am ready to take my penance and head back to the Quaker House of Usher.  I have to.  My children are there.  And, in some odd way, his parents need me.  I'm that little corner of blue in their sky.

He sounds weird, so I try to make a joke.  "What?  Thee sounds like thee's got my stuff packed up under the carport."

"I warned thee."

(Quaker plain speech is second nature to me now.  I always found it a peaceful.  It lulls you. When I was finally told I was allowed to use  it, I felt like it was priivige. But it can also, in the wrong hands, wound to the heart and gut in what sounds like poetry)

It's simple.  He has sole custody.  He warned me.  When my grandparents return the boys, they can collect my things.  I will be arrested for trespassing if I try to return to hug my children goodbye.  That is, if I can get a ride back...and that isn't going to happen.  All of my so called friends and allies, the ones so sympathetic, turn on a dime.  Or a dollar.  A longstanding debt that will be forgiven.

They used to be shoulders to cry on.  To celebrate group meals with the Reps and the kids.  To count on me to fix the broken pieces or the lost buttons on shorts or the grief that is always, always there.

It's hot in here.  My blood has turned to ice.  I can't fucking breathe.  I don't even know if I'm crying.

I'm fairly certain I screamed in pain when I hung up the phone.

His voice is calm, gentle.  He knows better than to touch me, because I will shatter into a thousand pieces.  "Get your shoes.  We'll take a walk.  It'll help."

Shit.  I only packed one pair of shoes.  The one time I pack light, and all I have is a pair of pink ballet flats from Target.

The rocks in the driveway are hot as hell and cut into my soles.  I guess I deserve this.  Right?

I only have one pair of shoes,

life in a nutshell

Or bullet points.  Or whatever.  Possibly just rambling..

*  The spousebeast's mom died Sunday.  We knew it was coming, but that doesn't make it any easier.

His sister called at work.  At least she had the presence of mind to ask for me.  Kent and I had agreed that, when the call came, if one of us was at work, we'd wait until they got home.  Unfortunately, we forgot to give our relatives the memo..

However, we were both working that day, so it might have been the best possible way to get the news.  We weren't alone.  When Tiny Little Tyrant said I had a phone call (I almost NEVER get personal calls at work, and the only person who does was standing in the seafood department), she saw the look on my face and went to get Kent.

"Alicia just got a phone call.  I think it's bad news."  And he knew.  News went around quickly, and he and I were surrounded by support.  We were given a ride home, with promises of covering any shifts necessary.

The cruel irony is that we were doing.  It was Taste of the Season, which is a sampling event for our Thanksgiving dinners.  Thanksgiving was a high holy day for Rosemarie, because Kent was born on Thanksgiving.

At least it was peaceful.  And my sister in law and neice were there.  And my SiL's dogs, which is fitting, because Rosemaries loved all animals, but especially dogs.

Apparently, she was cuddled under the afghan I made her for Christmas seven or eight years ago.  And the shwl I sent her this summer was on her chair.  I had planned on saving it for Christmas.  I'm so glad I didn't.

Kent's handling it as well as one would expect, but I have had to explain to him more than once that taking 2 days off after his mom died does not make him weak.  Hell, I've gotten the side-eye from a couple of people because *I* didn't take time off (newsflash:  I'm part time.  I don't think I even GET bereavement leave, and we can't afford for me to lose two days).  Tiny Little Tyrant *did* move me to production Monday night so I could be by myself, make salads and wraps, and not deal with people.  She also cut me early, which was her way of being nice.

There's not going to be a formal service, but SiL, and her dad (MiL's second husband, and the only person the recognized until the bitter end.  She was married 4 times, and I guess that tells you all you need to know, huh?)) are meeting up with us for a memorial lunch on Friday.  Kent and I will have a private...thingy...when we recieve her ashes.  We'll probably  invite his first wife and her family, and his BFF...who, oddly enough, is spending the next two weeks in Charlotte after retiring to Rio this past summer.

This has been a season of so many changes.

And speaking of changes, guess who has a second job?  I applied on a whim, did an impromptu phone interview...and had a job title, start date, and onboarding paperwork within 48 hours.

(May I just say I miss the old days when you filled this shit out in person and didn't have to scan in the stuff for your I-9 and direct deposit?)

I'm back in the kitchen, y'all!  Ah, food prep....how I love thee!   And bar food...how I love thee even more!  The really cool thing is that the franchise owner grew up a stone's throw away from where I grew up.

I am so excited!

That said, I need to get moving and get ready to head in.  Thank the gods I'm off tomorrow.  There is an LJI post that needs to be written.

LJI Week 5: "I know my enemies. I used to call them friends"

It never did sit quite right with me, being friends with his ex.  Especially when she hooked up with his best friend from high school, with whom I had a brief fling...that lasted about seven years, well after we'd all paired off and married.

It's all okay.  Open marriages and all that.  But it did make for some awkward dinner parties.

It's funny how you can be so close, some say like sisters.  We roll our eyes when the guys obsess over Doom and spend hours playing, leaving us to our own devices. We sneak clove cigarettesl on the back porch like teenagers and pretend we were burning incense.  I crochet;  she knits...and we both lie about how much yarn we just bought for no particular reason.  We both go wildcrafting, taking our increasingly growing brood on long walks through the woods.  I stand up for her at her wedding, the rain filling my shoes as she waltzes down the aisle to the song that I confided I'd wanted at my wedding but wasn't allowed, because there is no music at Quaker ceremonies.

What she doesn't know is that, hours before, when she sent me to find the groom, the fact that my hair was messed up couldn't be blamed entirely on the rain.  But Mother Nature has a way of fixing things, doesn't she?

So there we are.  Two storybook couples.  Perfect on the outside.  My husband and I are in grad school (although I'm writing his papers so he passes).  They've bought their first house (which his parents paid for).  Our children play together.  We sit up late, drink wine, and things happen.

Then it starts.

The dinner parties.

She believes that any meal can be improved by 28 more ingredients (strawberry kiwi salsa on hickory smoked cod, anyone?).  I have one toddler tugging at my skirt and a baby at the bresat while I am trying to throw together white bean chili and Jiffy corn bread, praying I can find a way to make a salad and hoping that tomorrow's headlines do NOT include "Small child suffers double concussion when mom drops baby brother and a head of iceburg lettuce on his head."

I'm a bit smug that my food is always a hit, rather than chewed in polite silence.  I also shove her husband's hand away when he starts running it up under my skirt under the table, telling me how wonderful everything tastes.  And I ignore where my husband's hand is while she giggles and blushes her way through her fourth piece of cornbread dripping with honey.

Then there is dessert.

She can make a three layer Italian cream cake out of thin air and not break a sweat.  I make a damn fine Jello mold with canned fruit, and pretend I am cheeky, retro girl before that was even a thing.

His hand slides further up my thigh, a wolfish grin on his face.  "This reminds me of all the best parts of childhood."

I'm fairly certain that everyone at the table can hear me slap his hand.

"Well, it's a good thing you didn't try to bake.  But you CAN make anything out of a box, which I can't.  I'll give you that."

I smile  sweetly amd clear the dishes, cheeks flaming and my pulse pounding in my ears.  The kids are all in bed.  The wine is poured and the grownups move to the porch.  I seethe over the suds.  I can hear her giggling with my husband.  "Remember that chocolate brick she tried to make last year for your birthday?  Seriously, she should stick to boxes."

His hand is on my hip, his breath quieting the drum beat in my ear.  "I'm sorry.  I think everything you do is wonderful."

When we join everyone on the porch, I can't blame Mother Nature for the state of my hair.
dark side

and so it begins...

The temps at night have dropped, so the usual NC summer bug problem is under control again and I can cross Borax off the shopping list for a while (actually not, because it is AMAZING for dealing with skanky work uniforms.  And since the spousebeast has been moved to seafood specialist...well, y'all do the math.  Ew.  But at least he's no longer in the meat department and using the bandsaw.  Call me silly, but when he was working in a department where 3 of the 4 other team members were missing fingertips did NOT help me sleep well at night).

And now we begin the influx of field mice.

We get 2 or 3 a year. (Did I mention we live in an old apartment building and there are ways to get in EVERYWHERE?  I'm lucky we don't get feral ferrets).  I have ordred another set of Mice Cubes which should be here by tomorrow but...gah!

And that little fucker I caught nibbling on my ghostie bowl of candy is lucky that I won't bring any more chemicals in the house than is necessary, because I would be Decon-ing his ass.  I don't believe in cruelty, even to things that invade my house...but you mess with my chocolate and it is ON.

Of course, this happens now.  I'm already feeling a bit raw about how people see my home.  Thanks for showing up, motherfucker.

Yes, I live in an older building.  Yes, we have bug issues during the summer (the entire building does.  It is called living in NC.  This is why we have an exterminator who hoses the place down quarterly).  It doesn't matter how much you clean and scrub, you are going to see a roach or spider here and there.  I've learned to just hope it isn't a flying roach or jumping, hissing spider.  Again, North Carolina.

Our place is also small, and we have a lot of stuff going on.  The place is lined with bookshelves.  Most have books.  One wall is entirely devoted to cds (in alphabetical order, no less.  We literally have everything from Abba to ZZ Top.  And that's not counting my own stash that isn't allowed in the general collection).  We have tons of pictures from when we were kids up until the grownup prom last year, not even counting family photos.  Posters from events we've attended.  Goofy shit amd meaningful stuff and it is just US, okay?

To have someone I have known online for 20 years say  she's going to be in the area but neglect  to mention she's bringing her baby (no problem.  NEVER a problem!  Bring on all da baybeez!  That ship has sailed for me, but I will cheerfully hold and rock and get urped-up on by your kid for hours if you let me) and someone she just picked up FROM PRISON and then say "You have a lot of clutter, don't you? I would find that overwhelming...but I guess that's me" and then feel the need to act like we were dirty because she noticed a spider *on the porch*.

I guess some of the friends we make on this magical little box should STAY IN THE BOX.  :(

So, fair warning for anyone who wants to visit:  there are books everywhere.  Because we can't have kids of our own, we have an extensive family of stuffies and figurines.  The walls are covered with posters and pictures.  I have little altars everywhere.  Our pantry is a 6 ft tall bookshelf, so there is food on display, and it might not always be neatly arranged (but you will always be fed).  We feed the oudoor wildlife.  Unless one of us knows you don't partake, at some point you will be offered a beer (or a glass of wine, but that's only if I really like you).

It's an untidy ball of controlled chaos...but damnit, when you walk through these doors, we consider you family.  It hurts to be disrespected like that.

In better news, last night was my final night in deli hell!  I'm still waiting to hear back from various interviews, but I have been moved over to bakery.  Was I asked?  Of course not!  However, considering that's what I interviewed for initially, I am not going to complain.  I DO find it funny that tomorrow I am closing....by myself.  

Training?  What's that?  *shakes head*

It dawned on me yesterday that I got moved when we are heading into the holidays.  On the upside, that is the potential for tons of overtime.  AND, if you do overnights, you get a food voucher and put up in the hotel that's just across the parking lot.  The other upside is that that is more money to the vow renewal in April.

So the plan is to white knuckle it through the new year, unless I get an attractive offer elsewhere.  Although, honestly, I can get through November and December and probably make more money.

ARRRRGH!  I hate this!

all the foods!

I have a day off from work, so what do I do?

Cook, of course.

In something that NEVER happens, I actually slept through Kent's "ya gotta be kidding me"-thirty alarm (he got roped into opening the seafood case, which he was actually pretty stoked about.  Aside from, ya know, closing and then having to be up at 5:30am).  Unfortunately, that meant when I got up to get a drink of water in my usual sleeping attire (read:  fuzzy socks), he damn near threw me bodily back into the bedroom because his ride had asked to use our restroom.

So, yeah...Alex now has seen a leeetle more of me than I had ever intended.  Oy.

Anyway, after THAT bit of excitement, needless to say I was wide the fuck awake.  I'd promised myself chocolate chip pancakes (I still have 3/4 of a bag from the brownie bites I made when Kent road tripped to see his mom) and fruit salad (thank you, whoever ordered the fruit tray and never showed to pick it up.  They left it for us in the break room, and ten minutes before close, Manager Picky Pants told me to come get what I want before it got tossed.  So...yay!  Strawberries and grapes and pineapple, oh my!  And fruit dip!).  I made a big batch of pancakes, so some went in the freezer.  I started some beans for lunches this week.  Then made a batch of cheddar bacon corn muffins to take to the memorial service for our late produce manager (I love that the poster B put up said BYO Everything.  I asked her and the immediate response was those muffins.  Yes, yes...give me a box of Jiffy cornbread mix and I shall rule the world!).  And started soup beans.  And prepped a bunch of veggies for tonight's stir fry and Clean Out the &^%$#$ Veggie Bin Already soup later this week.

I can barely find the energy to chew on the nights I close.  It is amazing how much energy I have when I don't work.