The Masks We Wear


I always find it kinda odd how some of my writing “creations” evolve.

From the writing book I’m working from was an exercise; it went like this………

Write a poem titled “The Widow”; about a women who’s husband drowns.

That’s it………no further instructions.

Earlier in the chapter, there was a discussion about writing in the “first” person or as our own “voice” and a passage stuck with me……….

“Writings; in our own “voice” are just masks we carve out of language.”

Oh my……that’s pretty deep!!

I looked back at a lot of my writings and discovered I wear a lot of “masks”.

Oddly written………..the poem evolved in reverse. I wrote it from the end to the beginning; and it’s read from bottom to top. I guess I could have changed it around, but that’s not how it played out in my head.

So I’ll leave it in the order I originally wrote it.

Sometimes we wear masks we are not even aware of…….or maybe we are but don’t realize to what degree until something triggers that emotion.

I have a tremendous fear of water, so it should be no surprise that hurricanes scare the hell out of me as well.

Out of this fear “The Widow” evolved.

“The Widow”
(read from bottom to top)

I hear his voice, he comforts me
“I promised you, I’d never leave.”

It’s the same, every night
I wake up screaming, full of fright.

The waters rushing, I can’t hold on
I see his hand, but then it’s gone.

There’s blinding rain, it’s hard to see
he’s screaming out, reaching for me.

Climbing out, I’m on the roof
he needs my help to get him through.

I hear the pounding, it’s so dark
splinters of wood, they fall apart.

The waters swirling, it’s rising fast
Reaching out, he grabs the axe.

Up the stairs, there’s not much time
I see the attic, it’s where we climb.

I feel the water, around my knees
Silent screams, to late to leave.

Shattered windows, flying glass
Category 5, he said would pass.

I see his smile, “I won’t go away.”
“It’s just some rain, it won’t stay.”

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Guilty Pleasures


Sometimes I eat things I shouldn’t………………………..

but then, who doesn’t?

Mexican food and margaritas………………..

all those chips aren’t the healthiest and I can devour a basket all by myself.  And although I put several slices of lime in my margarita, I seriously doubt I can count that as a serving of fruit.

But I sure try.

Once a month or so, I stop at my local Sonic Drive-In; whether I’m at home or my home away from home, and order myself a regular Tater-Tots with cheese.

You don’t have to say it, I already know…..nutritionally it’s a piss poor choice.  But sometimes, you gotta do what ya gotta do!!

I put a lot of salt on them (another no, no) and I eat them with my fingers…….just throw the fork out.

I enjoy every bite.

But my biggest food weakness is Nutella.  You know the hazelnut spread stuff that tastes like chocolate frosting.

I can’t keep it in my house!!

When it’s there I tell myself, “Just one spoonful, then close the jar.”  The next thing I know I’m sitting on my kitchen floor propped against my cabinets licking that spoon like a lollipop and half the jar is gone.

I’m in hazelnut heaven and feeling guilty about the pleasure I find in it’s delicious taste.

I beat myself up every time.

A couple of years ago I wrote a poem called “Beach Gypsy”.  It depicts life away from the 9 to 5 corporate world; spending days in a hut on the sand.  At the time it was “wishful thinking”; a weekend pleasure.  Also at the time, I had no idea I would be without a job.  Never really thinking I would leave the 9 to 5 and be able to spend days in the sun on the island I love.

The first time I went……………….

in the middle of the week……………..

when I should have been working………………..

I felt outa place……………………I felt guilty.

I wasn’t suppose to be here.

So I’d run home.  I was suppose to be looking for a job.  Not enjoying the pleasures of the beach.

So everyday I get up; have coffee with my new best friends ~ Texas Workforce Commission.com, JobCentral.com, Beyond.com and all the others.

I’d search, I’d email, I’d wait……………………………..

the rest of the day.

Denying myself the smallest of pleasures; because I was suppose to be working.

It was pretty lonely……………….and I beat myself up; day in and day out.

One day it occurs to me………………….Wi-Fi reaches the beach.

Technology is genius!!

I wouldn’t miss one coffee date with my new friends.  I could search, I could email and I could wait………………………..

at the beach.

Yesterday morning I met with my new friends for coffee, like I do every morning; but then…………………

I walked on the beach…………

I collected driftwood and shells……………..

I spent time outside cleaning my beach treasures………………..

I sat in the sun and read a book……………….

Then I walked on the beach to a local café and had dinner with my handsome companion.

I still searched, I still emailed, I still waited…………………………..

all while enjoying some of my guilty pleasures……………..

while not feeling guilty at all. 🙂

Best Regards, Desperate


Dear Product Information Manager,

HELP!!

My hair is mysteriously migrating from my head to my chin; as if I’m using Miracle Grow.

Do you think it would be safe to use your Weed Be Gone product to eliminate this problem?

Long term if necessary?

Best Regards,

Desperate

Today is not the day


A caricature hangs crooked outside the closet door.  One we had drawn at Disney World in Florida.  It’s held there by one push pin.  You know the kind; one you would use on a bulletin board.  The corners were bent and a little dingy from falling off the door so many times.

I looked at the picture for several minutes right were it hung.  The shy lope-sided grin with a little cow-lick just above the right eye.  He was wearing his “Texans” team shirt with the neck that was a little stretched out.

I can’t help but smile as I remember the trip and how upset he was when he discovered he had left the drawing in the hotel room and we were to far to go back.

Like any good Granny would do; she called the hotel……………………

“Please look and see if you have it.  My grandson is so upset.  Yes, I’ll wait.”

I remember driving as my mother sat on hold with the hotels front desk waiting to hear if they had found the drawing………..

“You do?  Can you please mail it to him?  Thank you so much!”

My mother gave the hotel my address and assured my son we would get it.  I never expected to see it; but of course I didn’t say this out loud.

A couple of weeks later my son got a large brown envelope in the mail.  Inside it was his Disney drawing.

He was 13 at the time and it wasn’t cool to get excited over something like that…………but I knew he was.  He promptly hung it on the closet door.  Oh, it moved around the room over the years but somehow always ended up back on this closet door.

I carefully removed the push pin and took the drawing down.

He’s been gone for almost 3 years now; out on his own.

It’s time to clean out the closet.

Quietly staring…………………………………it’s a small closet, but where do I begin??

The floor was knee deep in stuff.

Why do children think the closet is the garbage can?  An empty, plastic, Dr. Pepper bottle, plastic wrappers from Pokémon cards and baseball cards; price tags from clothing, empty coloring books and a number of plastic Wal-Mart bags.

I do believe when he dressed he simply threw the hangers in the floor………………….it must have just been easier.

I couldn’t get to the floor for all the hangers.

Crawling around collecting the trash, while piling up the hangers, I picked up a pile of papers.  Sitting back I begin to sort through them.

They were grade school papers; 3rd or 4th grade maybe, and in the middle of these papers was a hand drawn Mothers Day card I had never seen.  Drawn on the front; so carefully, were the words “I Love My Mom, Happy Mothers Day, Daniel”, it had a race car with 3 pink balloons.  Inside was a big red heart with “I Love My Mom” on the inside.

I’m not sure what age he would have been, an age that they still used manila paper and crayons for drawing.

Smiling though my tears, I thought it best to keep that pile of papers; so I stacked them all together and sat them to the side.

The boy had shoes without their mates???  How do you lose ONE shoe???

They can’t even be put in the donation pile.  I had no choice but to put them in the trash.  It hurt my soul to have to do that!!

I’m beginning to see parts of the floor and it looks like I’ve gotten all the trash, when I see the edge of what looks like a squashed paper bag.  An empty Lego bucket is sitting on top of it.  Reaching over to move the bucket to the trash pile; I see the squashed brown paper sack has a green, cut-out construction paper Christmas tree on it.

As I pick it up I feel something inside it.  Turning it over it had crayon colored candy canes and stars that he obviously colored, cut out and glued by himself.  Smiling, I’m thinking this is a bag from a classroom party with party trinkets inside.  Upon closer examination the bag had been stapled shut (by a child) and a present sticker was on it.  In faded writing it said, “To:  My Mom and Dad” ~ “From:  Love Daniel”. 

My heart skipped a beat, I had never seen this bag before and it had never been opened.  Standing alone, I carefully opened the bag and found a hidden treasure.

There was my child’s little hand print in green paint on muslin fabric, stretched in an embroidery hoop.  At the top was a red satin bow.  A perfectly round sheet of paper was glued to the back and it had this saying:

“This is a Remember Ring, And though it’s just a little thing, Each year I know it’s there to show, Just how big I did grow.”

First of all……God bless the teachers and all they do!!

Second, how could I have never seen this for the last 15 years?

And third, I couldn’t stop crying.

There in that closet, were years of memories.  On the shelves were many, many books I read to my daughter, then read to my son.  Piled up dusty; having not been touched in years.  Stuffed behind the books is a kindergarten folder with Daniels little works.  His Easter basket he’s much to old for now.

No clothes in the closet, but 5 coats hanging; his favorite denim jacket that no longer fits.

Tucked behind the coats and hanging very neatly are my daughter’s 5 Homecoming mums loaded down with streamers, braided ribbon, plastic beads and mega phones.

One for every year she went.

In the corner is an index card, file box filled with random little things:

a stack of Monopoly money, a deck of cards, a few poker chips, a phone wire, empty Pokémon card packs, a flask with John Wayne on it and a small Gideon Bible.  The kind they give at school.

Odd things for a young boy to keep together.

I left it as it was and sat it on the shelf…………………………………

beside the Easter basket, the countless books we read every night, the hand print Christmas treasure, the pile of stacked up grade school papers, with my Mothers Day card and the Disney caricature.

What do you do?  How do you decide what to give and what to keep?  What to trash and what to save?

Today is not the day. 

I finished cleaning up the floor of the trash, hangers and lonely shoes. 

I put all the Rugrats, Little Golden Books and Bible Stories neatly on their shelves.

In the box of special crochet clothes my daughter never wore; I put the special blanket and pillow that I made, that my son couldn’t sleep without.  It to went on the shelf in the closet with the other things.

Everything back; nice and neat.

Today is not the day……………….

and neither is tomorrow.

A Gypsy and her Hawk


A year or so ago, I purchased a book on practicing writing poetry. It appealed to me because it was not just a book telling you about poetry and the different kinds or styles of poetry; but each page was an exercise or assignment. In January I decided I was going to work on this book this year.

What a challenge it has been!

I like the freedom of writing off the top of my head; as I’m sure most writers do. So having to follow specific instructions; like using certain words, a specific topic, a rhyming pattern or worse yet NO rhyming pattern………..has proved to be difficult for me. And if the exercise combined a couple of those specifics; well it makes my head spin.

Some of the exercises are very specific. One of the first ones was this………………..

In your travels write about a billboard you saw. What did it say, what did you think, how did you feel? Be descriptive.

Wellllll, what does that have to do with poetry? This was not writing a poem.

The writers intent was to practice using descriptive wording as related to the senses in relation to an inanimate object.

Make sense??

My billboard said, “R U Chubby?”

Oh, boy!!

My attempt was not very good; but I did it.

Not really worthy of sharing; but I might at a later date.

Another exercise was a poem; style and pattern of your choice (this I could do!) BUT………………

it had to use these 5 specific words; blackberry, clouds, mother, cliff and voice. It also had to have a well known phrase of your choice. No specific order.

Uh, Oh!!

Oh my, what have I gotten myself into?

Of course I could close the book and put it away at anytime…………….but I didn’t.

My phrase (I had just heard that morning), “write it down and stick it on the fridge”, I actually think I heard it in a country music song and it stuck with me.

My poem was not very good; but I did it.

But the most challenging exercise thus far; I completed last night.

It was a poem…………….a very specific poem. The instructions went like this…………………..

You’re on a journey to an unknown destination. You begin your journey in a predicament and are forced into a situation against your will. The poem has to end at the end of your journey. It has to be 70 to 75 lines long in a consistent informal rhyming pattern of 5 or 6 line stanzas with 6 to 8 words per line.

Ohhhh…………..Mmmmm……………Geeeeee!!!!! (You try it!!)

I almost turned the page and skipped the exercise all together. But I didn’t. The writer suggested it may take several days to complete this exercise.

It took me several weeks!!

I write about “real life”. So to write about “make believe” in such a certain, specific way was a little unnerving for me.

This was my scheme…………….

75 lines, 5 line per stanza with 6 to 8 words per line, with a rhyming pattern of (abacc)………..meaning (for those of you that don’t know), the first and third lines rhyme and the fourth and fifth lines rhyme.

My poem story; by far, is not my best. BUT…………………I followed all the specific requirements and for that I am proud. Normally it wouldn’t be something I’d share; it made me go against my writing grain and outa my comfort zone. Something I don’t do very easily.

All in all………………I did it. Here it is………

“A Gypsy and her Hawk”

The water drips softly on the wooden deck

I see it’s streaks on the window pane

my faithful hawk sits atop this wreck.

He watches closely for friend or foe

how he’d know the difference, I wouldn’t know

We’re calmly rolling on the storm whipped sea

a most pleasant change from the night before

I remember my cries, “This just can’t be!”

My beautiful ocean was dark with anger

there was no land, my ship was in danger!

Tossed and turned, the sails ripped to shreds

shards of sparkling glass from my compass

lay like precious diamonds next to my bed.

Searching my window I don’t see the sun

which way are we going, what have we done?

I feel the nights rain beneath my feet

as my hair whispers around my face

silently my skirt billows in the ocean breeze.

Searching the horizon looking for the shore;

anxiously I wonder what nature has in store.

My hawk is looking closely, left and right

watching my feathered, majestic prince I wonder

“Does my protector see any land in sight?”

We’re not beastly pirates on the open sea

just a gypsy and her hawk sailing free.

No time to feel sorry about our plight

there’s much that needs to be repaired

I watch my prince take off in flight.

I hope he finds a sandy shore

a safe place our ship we can moor.

I gather what’s left of my tattered sail

needle and thread there’s mending to do

no fixing the mast with hammer and nail.

Splintered and twisted, it no longer stands

How can I work with these childish hands?

The mercury rises with the round bright sun

I swiftly stitch with my nimble fingers

it must be complete before the days done.

Lowly, thieving pirates, sneak aboard after dark

the stories say, they’ll take out your heart.

Watching the skies for my princely mate

he’s been away for many countless hours

I anxiously wait as it’s getting late.

He would never leave me out here alone

I know he’s searching for help and home.

Bright skies fade as the sun slowly sinks

sitting quietly dark fear rests on me

waiting for the moon and stars to wink.

Light a path on the clear blue ocean

alone I rock to my ships slow motion.

In the near distance my eyes they see

a high waving flag atop a ship

it’s course of sail directed at me.

My mind racing; is it friend or foe

the lights fading how would I ever know?

Then I see in the night red sky

my faithful, feathered, proud flying friend

He’s soaring strong and steady way up high.

Leading that ship to his gypsy love

guiding it only by the silvery moon above.

Running quickly I set my torch on fire

the evening sky quickly turning black

my faithful friend searched never ever growing tired.

My torch raised; all the world can see

blazing skies will lead my friend to me.

I hear a voice from in the dark

“Ahoy sweet matey; permission to board ye ship.”

Landing softly is the hawk that has my heart.

“Permission granted, yes come aboard please.”

“My dear, your friend lead us to thee.”

Standing watch, he looks from side to side

they hoist the mast with my mended sail

I raise my flag to fly up high.

I wave goodbye as he watches over me

just a gypsy and her hawk sailing free.

Counting Hawks


Since I no longer have an obligation to be somewhere every morning and I can search for a job anywhere I can bring my laptop………..Starbucks, Whataburger………………………..my deck at the beach………………….

I drive a lot.

Waco; to see my diamond………………..then home.

College Station; to see my son and his sweet Jessie…………………..then home.

Yes, I have no sense of direction and yes, I get lost…………….

a lot.

But I still have to drive to get where I want to be……………

so I drive on!!!!!

For years now, the path I keep smokin’ hot is that path between the beach and home. As soon as I see Exit 829, my heart skips a little beat and I begin to feel the tension leave my body.

Texas 124 is a stretch of 2 lane highway flanked by pastures, marshes and not much else. This highway ends and takes a sharp turn to the right taking you along coastal highway 87.

I love this highway that runs parallel with the ocean and takes you through it’s sleepy, little coastal towns. It ends at the Bolivar Ferry landing; where I drive aboard the boat that takes me across the Galveston Bay and drops me on the Island I love.

It has been fun watching these little coastal towns and the Island, come back to life and rise above the ravagings of a devastating hurricane named “Ike”. Each and every time I look in anticipation; as I drive, to see what has been restored, replaced or built brand new.

It’s a long drive and the stretch on Texas 124 is boring; not much to look at and aside from a few animals that have met their demise………….including a couple of alligators…………there’s not much to see.

One cloudy day while traveling this stretch, I caught myself subconsciously counting……………………

What the heck am I counting??? Focus!!!!

14; drive a little further; 15………..

OMG!!! I was counting HAWKS!!!!

On the high-lines, on the fence posts and in the tip tops of tree limbs.

Seriously…………..HAWKS??

I can not tell you when I started counting them or how long I’ve been counting them. I just know I count them.

Once I realized what I was doing, I began to focus on these princely birds. They are lone hunters; sitting up high watching for their prey. Very rarely do you see two together. On a few occasions I’ve watched as one would swoop down and snag it’s unfortunate prey with it’s large talons and fly away.

I’ve also taken notice of the different sizes and appearances. These are beautiful birds. Ranging from light brown with spots to black with snow white breasts and bright yellow feet.

To see one of these perched on a fence post is AMAZING to me!!

At Christmas time during my whole Waco “lost” fiasco with my son and Jessie; as we are quietly driving along I tell my son; who is sitting up front with me; outa the blue……………

“I count hawks on the high-lines.”

He turns and looks at me with a most peculiar expressions and says, “And you do this…..why?”

Shrugging, “I don’t know, I just do.”

Shaking his head, “Humph. Interesting.”

Then I began to point them out to him; I can spot them hundreds of yards away.

“Wow; it’s a game for you isn’t it?”

“I guess.”

“You count hawks like most people count volkswagons (beavers) or outa state licenses plates.”

“I guess.”

A little while later he says, “I’ve never noticed before, but they are everywhere.”

“Yep. Aren’t they pretty?”

“It’s different.”

Just recently my companion and I jumped in the car; spur of the moment and drove to Corpus Christi for the weekend. We traveled a long boring stretch of interstate. Guess what I started doing??

You got it……………..counting.

Amongst our conversation I blurted out, “I count hawks on the high-lines.”

He to had a peculiar expression on his face.

“You what?”

“Count hawks. You think it’s weird don’t you?”

“Well………….for you I guess it’s not.” Smiling.

“Very funny.”

I began to point them out to him………… on the right, on the left, in the trees, on the street lights……………

“Man, you can really spot ’em can’t ya?”

“Yep. There a lone species and they are pretty.”

“Yes they are.”

Like most things, it became a challenge for him; who could spot one first and who could spot the most. It lasted a little while for him; but for me it lasted the whole weekend.

On our drive home we took a different route; a two lane, winding, country road with lotsa fence posts. On a couple of occasions my companion stopped so I could get a really good look at these beautiful creatures.

One hawk I remember in particular was huge!!! It was black with a snow white breast. It had long, black feathers on it’s head and they were blowing in the wind. It was holding tightly to the top of a fence post with it’s large yellow feet, looking side to side as if it were keeping watch. I remember it’s colors being so vibrant and bright and being able to clearly see it’s eyes and beak and thinking how beautiful and majestic it was.

It’s odd that I would have such a strange fascination for this feathered bird; you see I don’t like birds………………………..

they give me the heebie jeebies!!!!

All their loud squawking and wing flapping; I don’t want them anywhere near me.

Yes, I watched the Alfred Hitchcock movie; but that’s not the reason for my dislike………………

When I was a girl; we had two large oak trees in the front yard where I grew up. And in these oak trees lived a ginormous OWL, with a wing span the size of a 747. One night after dark, while walking up the driveway; this ginormous bird swooped down at the top of my head. Running, like I was possessed with a demon, it scared the hell outa me!! I thought it was going to carry me away never to be found.

After that, I never wanted to be out after dark. Period.

It was also during this time that one of my sisters had a cockatiel; the small, white, parrot looking birds. She would let this bird outa it’s cage to fly around. I would sit with my head covered with a blanket while it fluttered and flapped around me; the whole time she is laughing.

I hated it!!!

I don’t even feed the seagulls at the beach. I shoo them away as I walk.

So hence, my very dislike of birds and my confusion for my fascination with hawks.

Maybe it’s the majestic calmness they project or the quiet patients they seem to have.

Whatever it is and as peculiar as it may seem; I will continue to count these feathered creatures.

Each and every time I travel a stretch of highway I will be looking for the lone hunter as it sits on a fence post or the forever stretching high-lines.

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Where’s the jeep………..


Last month, amidst the hateful cold weather, I had the pleasure of going on a cruise to warm tropical places…………Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

And yes it was heaven on earth. If you’ve been there and done that, you know what I’m talkin’ about.

We had two days at sea before we reached our first Port of Call ~ Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Now this was not my first cruise; it was my fourth cruise, so I know how to deal with my wussy stomach. I’m allergic to the motion sickness patch so I keep bottles of Dramamine and herbal oil drops with me at ALL times.

I was looking forward to the shows, the shopping and the sun. Loaded up on Dramamine I was ready to sail.

Sunday evening we leave the Port of Galveston and we are on our way. My companion and I spend the evening exploring the ship, hitting the buffet and plotting our events for Monday; a full day at sea……….

Monday was a relaxing day, coffee on the balcony, a brisk walk before breakfast, the buffet, an Art Auction, hitting the outside buffet, some casino action, dinner and a show. A full day to be had. Before retiring for the night, we plotted our events for Tuesday; our second day at sea……….

Tuesday started relaxing enough, coffee on the balcony watching the sunrise, hit the buffet, and then the Art Auction. We enjoyed this on Monday so we thought we’d try it again on Tuesday. Plus there was free champagne!!

But this is were things started going south……….

I noticed while eating breakfast things weren’t tasting so good and I wondered why. As the morning sailed on I began to feel uneasy.

WTH!!! This can’t be happening, I’ve taken all the necessary precautions to prevent the dreaded……….SEA SICKNESS!! And I’ve not gotten sick before!! Why now!!

Trying to put the uneasy feeling away; we head to the auction. Today I pass on the champagne for fear I couldn’t keep it down.

The auction couldn’t have ended soon enough. I told my companion, “I’m going outside, I need some air.”

Declining to partake in the outside buffet and hoping the sea air would relieve my uneasiness; I realized it was not a passing thing. As my stomach flipped and flopped, and my intestines gurgled; I told my companion, “I’m not going to make it; I need to go to the room.”

That was at 1:30 pm and by 3:00 pm it was full blown and I was so wishing I hadn’t eaten at all the buffets.

For the next 14 hours the toilet and trash cans were my best mates.

With the balcony door propped open with a chair and in between frequents bouts to the bathroom; I tried to rest with the ocean breeze blowing in my face.

Now, like the nights before, that morning we had plotted our events for Wednesday and had planned an excursion at Jamaica. It was no surprise that sometime during my unpleasant plight he came to the room to inquire into my ability to be able to participant in the outing we had planned. I had assured him I would be better as soon as my feet hit dry land.

I was still wishing I hadn’t eaten so many buffets!!

I’m not sure how it happened, but our communications got crossed up somewhere between his bar hopping until 3 am and my frequent visits with the bathroom.

The excursion was not what I expected………….

Wednesday morning I wake up and realize we are not moving (Oh, thank you Jesus!!) and; not that there could possibly have been one ounce of anything left in my system, I had not visited the bathroom in 2 hours (Oh, again, thank you Jesus!). It was 7:30 am and I rise quietly and decided to let my snoring, hung-over companion sleep as long as possible.

I’m still not feeling well, my intestines are making obnoxious noises and I’m still a little queasy. It occurs to me this is not my customary motion sickness; there was no “sick” headache and it seemed to have ended after 14 hours…………..more like a virus than sea sick. Whatever it was; sea sick or virus, I was glad it had run it course and was leaving me!!

I was looking forward to a relaxing jeep tour through Jamaica and a little shopping.

Time to wake the sleeping giant………………………

We were to gather for the excursion at 9:30 am (or so I thought), so waking him at 8:45 am seemed like enough time.

He didn’t want to get up (no surprise), so I ask……..

“Did you cancel the excursion?”

“No.”

“Then you need to get up.”

“What time is it?”

“8:45.”

“&*^%$@, We’re suppose to leave at 9:00!!” as he sits up holding his head.

“No, 9:30”

“NO!! @*&^%($!!! It’s 9:00, look at the tickets!!”

OOPS!!!

“Sorry, I thought it was 9:30.” My bad.

Grumpy, grouchy and hung-over, he peels his self from the bed, splashes water on his face, throws on some clothes and a few more choice words and we head out the door.

The whole while I’m thinking, “We’re going to miss the tour.” As luck may have it, those tour guide folks expect cases like ours; you know the ones……the folks that can’t get it together. They allow for extra time for those types of folks (Oh, thank you Jesus!!)

As both of us are not feeling well, we opt to take the elevator down 9 levels instead of the stairs. In the elevator with us is a young couple……………..

Guy – “You got the tickets?:

Girl – “I don’t have the tickets, you have the tickets.”

Guy – “I don’t have the tickets.”

Girl – “I gave them to you.”

Guy – “You’re kidding me right?”

Girl – “No. I gave them to you at the table eating breakfast.”

Guy – “Well, f___!!!” as he begins to dig around in his back pack.

Simultaneously my companion and I look at each other……………………..

Me – “I got the tickets.”

Him – “You sure.”

Me………reaching in my bag show him the tickets, “I got the tickets.”

Him…………reaches down and kisses me, then smiles. The first smile all morning. Maybe the day wasn’t going to be so bad after all……….

We make it to our tour bus with plenty of time to spare and we both sit back and breath. While waiting to leave, I notice the other folks on our bus are wearing swim suits and cover-ups. My companion looks at me; obviously taking notice of the same thing.

“Did you wear your swim suit?”

I look at him and ask, “Did you?” Knowing full well, he did not.

Something was not right.

We are finally on our way, headed to our destination. We have an attractive Jamaican tour guide named “Marabell” who starts off by telling us it’s a 3 hour drive to the “falls”.

3 hours!!!! It’s only a 4 hour excursion!!!

I look at my companion, “What is she talking about? Where are the jeeps?”

He just shrugs.

Missing breakfast, he’s irritated and grumpy. Not having eaten or drank anything in the last 24 hours, I’m dehydrated and tired. We sit back for a long ride to who knows where, while Marabell rambles on about, “No problem mon!!” and “Don’t worry, be hoppy!!”

Hummm, I’m not so sure about that………….

It’s been an 1 1/2 into our journey and Marabell announces we will be making a restroom stop at a little store. We can also get drinks and snacks. He’s hungry and I’m thirsty. We share a bag of Fritos and a bottle of water. With lack of nourishment and little sleep, we are both dog tired with no energy.

It obviously showed, as Marabell asked if I was feeling alright and did I bring my “water shoes”.

Water Shoes????

Me – “No.”…………….. We are the only ones wearing walking shoes.

She – “No problem, mon. We will get you some when we get there.”

Me – “Ok.”…………………. Where is “there” and why would I need water shoes??

Returning to our seats on the bus, I ask my companion, “Why would we need water shoes?”

He just shrugs.

I sit back in my seat and take in the country side of Jamaica. All of it’s poverty, rawness, and beauty. Bougainvillea grow wild on the roadside where the free range goats and chickens gather. Jamaica has very few economic industries; sugar cane, Red Stripe beer, rum (they call Moon Shine) and it’s largest………..tourism. It is also known for it’s high crime rate; it’s not a place to venture out into after dark.

Another 1 1/2 hour traveling and learning about Bob Marley’s homestead and Jamaica’s school system; Marabell finally announces we’ve reached our destination…………..”Welcome to Oches Rios ~ Dunn River Falls”.

At that point I’m thinking we’re on the wrong excursion. I look at my companion…………….quietly, so as not to draw attention;

Me – “Dunn River Falls??”

Him – “This is the one you wanted to do.”

Me – “No, I wanted to do the jeep tour!”

Him – “This is the one you had circled.”

Me – silence, thinking to myself, “This is the one HE had circled.”…………………………….

I’m still hoping for a jeep.

Before we exit the tour bus, Marabell gives us a few instructions, “Anything you don’t want wet you need to leave on the bus, be sure to wear your water shoes, climbing the rocks is slippery and you will be getting wet. Now let’s go mon and stay together!”

WHAT??? WET??? CLIMB???? SLIPPERY???

I feel my anxiety building. I ask my companion, ” What the hell are we doing?”, to which he replies, “Sounds like we’re going to climb some falls.” Ok, now I’m a nervous wreck.

Marabell asks us if we need to change into our swim suits; it is at this point I finally ask, “Where are the jeeps?”

She looks at us and chuckles, “Oh, honey, there are no jeeps. This is Dunn River Falls. You walk to the bottom of the falls and climb back up the rocks; its 125 feet.”

HOLY, SMOKIN’, SHIT!!!!

All I could say was, “We have no swim suits.”

She smiles, “No problem mon, come with me; we’ll get you some water shoes.” I now know why we need water shoes!!

As we follow behind her, I look at my companion with that “WTH??” look on my face. He just shakes his head, “We can do this.”

Ok, under normal circumstances, this would have been an exciting adventure for us; but me being weak from dispensing all nourishment and fluids from every orifices of my body and my companion barely functioning, suffering from the side effects from the previous nights bar hopping until 3 am; we were in no shape to climb a 125 foot waterfall!! None the less, we put on our water shoes and head down to the bottom.

We have 2 experienced “falls” guides; they warn us the rocks are slippery, step slow and careful, stay with the group and hold on to the children.

The children!!! Hell, who’s gonna hold on to me????

At the bottom, the water is rushing from the falls and crashing into the beach surf. The guides tell us to line up in “boy, girl, boy, girl” fashion and hold hands. We approach the falls, I’m shaking in my water shoes and turn to look at my companion. This time he asks, “Are you going to be able to do this?” To which I replied, “I don’t know.” “I’ll help you.”, he said. How was he going to help me, he wasn’t in any better shape then I was!!!

Up we go; the water is rushing and the climb is steep………..and it’s freezing!!! The man ahead of me is pulling on my hand, making it hard for me. Several times I stopped, legs shaking, I’m holding onto the side just to catch my breath. We tried really hard not to get wet; as we had no other clothes, but the guides saw to it that we got wet; taking us through pools waist deep and deeper. We gave up trying to stay dry. I finally told the two men holding my hands to let go, I was having better luck climbing on my own.

About half way to the top of the falls was an observation deck………………….it was also an “EXIT”. It was so very tempting, but I’d made it this far and had decided I’d be damned if I was going to let these falls whip my ass today! So climb on I did. At on point the guides wanted us to fall back into a pool and then take our picture. I refused to fall back; but I wanted them to take the picture…………..so they did. I looked at my companion, “I don’t care what it looks like, I want to buy that picture.”

We reached the top, wet and exhausted. Conquerors!!

Although I was ready to get back to the ship, we were not looking forward to the sticky, soggy ride back.

We traded our rented “water shoes” back in for our own walking shoes……….the only articles of our clothing that was dry. I was happy to find my bag and camera safe and sound on the bus where I left it. The articles I didn’t want to get wet…………..thank goodness I left them behind.

It was a quiet ride back with a couple of stops for bathroom breaks. We mingled through a few shops at the port, bought a couple of coffee cups and a hand carved Angel fish, then headed back to the ship.

Silently we walked to the elevators, no climbing the stairs today; we’d done enough climbing for one day.

Changing into dry clothes, we decided on pizza for dinner………………………….we ate like pigs; we had only shared a bag of Fritos and a bottle of water the whole day.

We were hungry to say the least.

Tired and weary, we stayed in the room the rest of the evening. Quietly, before I drifted off into an exhausted sleep, I said……………….

“From now on I’ll pick the excursions.”

“Perfect.”

My relaxing 4 hour jeep tour turned into a 7 hour adventure.

One I won’t forget……………………………

And I have the picture to prove it.

Where has this blog gone??


It’s been awhile since my last post……….

over a month.

I’ve had a few inquiries into my well being…..

“Hey, are you alright?”…….how nice

“Hey, haven’t heard from you lately.”……….tells me someone’s reading it.

And just tonight, “Where has this blog gone?”

Since my recent demise of joblessness, I find myself to be in a state of limbo……….”what do I do?  which way do I go?”.

See when you’re not out amongst the living, it’s kinda hard to write about “real life”; unless you count getting up every morning and marking another day off the calendar…………another day of being unemployed.

Then I power up my ole laptop and have coffee with my new best friends…………

Texas Workforce Commission.com, JobCentral.com, Beyond.com, and JobExchange.com

It doesn’t stop there; there are lots of others that want to be my friends as well.  Filling up my “inbox” with available job opportunities………

“Truck driver needed, must have CDL license”……………………Seriously!!!!

“Join a winning team…McDonalds”………………………….Oh, kay!!

“Construction hand needed, good pay, se hablo Española”…………………………….you’re kidding me right!!

I spend hours with these friends, sorting through and sharing information.  I’m so busy I don’t have time to mingle amongst the living.  Hell, there are days I never open my mouth and utter a sound; after all, my new friends don’t talk, they just invade my email.

And their friends…………………..well they don’t respond either; they just take my information and file it away in a “Cloud” somewhere.

Frustrating to say the least.

However, I did have a nice vocal conversation with a friend and former co-worker last week while I was at my happy place (the beach)………..there are some perks to my current situation.  She hooked me up with a “consultant” recruiter that could be promising and a networking site called “LinkedIn”.  I know, I know; you all have heard of it, but it was new to me and it gave me a list of a whole set of new friends; friends I’m hoping will talk back.

It would be nice to be able to focus on some “real life” stories again, stories such as………………….

When I’m traveling to see my kids, why do 18-wheelers think they’re the king of the roads.  Little cars carry people to!!……….

or…………….

Last month I had the pleasure of going on a cruise……………I got an intestinal virus; my traveling companion booked an excursion I thought had a jeep, but turned out to be climbing the 125 foot Dunn River Falls………you want me to what???  Where’s the jeep??…………

or maybe…………

I travel a lot between my kids, the beach and home.  One day I noticed myself looking and counting………..hawks on the high-lines. Do you find this to be peculiar?   Because I find it to be perfectly normal for me.   Some people count volkswagons (beavers), I count hawks……………

So maybe things aren’t so bad and there are still plenty of “real life” stories out there for me.  I just need to stop being so whiney and write……..

Where has this blog gone???

Well………..it’s about to get back on track!! 🙂 

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