I Thought I’d Never Be Back

Greetings, blogging friends. I’m baaack! At least I think I am. I seriously thought I’d never be back. I’ve returned from a ten-day trip to Los Angeles, fun-filled with chlorine, ocean spray, and not enough sunscreen. I swam in the ocean for at least an hour and the water never felt so warm at 70 degrees. Can you believe that? If I could grow a pair of fins, I would have moved in. I seriously reconsidered my position in life. I don’t belong inland.

I would have come back sooner, but I had so much visiting to do with family and a few of my friends.

Marilyn twirled by, looking ever so lovely.

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I know you can’t blame me for taking the time to catch up with her.

And this guy…Mr. Frankenstein. He followed me everywhere. I barely made it inside my car and that was after I had a drink with him.

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My plan was to introduce Frankie to Norman, so he would move on and forget about me, but apparently not. Norman Bates, you see, was up to his old tricks.

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Do you see that he’s putting a body in the car? Norman, Norman, Norman….

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Had I not been running, I would have snapped of photo of him coming after me with a knife. Friends, I barely made it out alive.

I was sweating and hysterical and thought that Fred, my best alien friend on the planet, could help me. But he couldn’t be bothered to wake up. I’ll have to admit I was upset about this.

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I could have sat in that chair. He’s going to be really disappointed when he finds out that I stopped by.

Instead, I partied with a bunch of mummies.

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Okay, I was at Universal Studios! In case you hadn’t guessed it by now…

Most of the pictures are from the Studio Tour, which was without a doubt my favorite ride. The sets were very cool. The Revenge of the Mummy was a close second.  That’s me and my son on the mummy ride. I was shocked to see the fear on my son’s face here. You’d never know it on the ride because he laughed the whole way through. The ride is in absolute darkness and when it was it was over, we said, “Again!” So fun.

This ride was the only actual roller coaster at the park; the others were all 3-D simulations and were incredible. Quite the thrill! I had never experienced anything quite like this; there was free-falling from high buildings and being shot at by Optimus Prime and actually feeling the heat of the bullet. Or how about the feeling of bugs crawling up your legs or being tossed around by King Kong? The fun never stopped. You really felt like you were inside the ride and you either loved it or hated it. It’s not for everyone. My husband went on a ride and promptly threw up. Oh, well! Perhaps, an amusement park experience is not complete unless someone gets sick.

Here’s one more cool shot from the Studio Tour. It may look familiar. It’s from the Jaws set.

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It was difficult taking photos through the bars of the tram. Anyway, I hoped you enjoyed them. I’m back and I’m safe. How have you been?

I want to know why

Dear readers, I am seeking answers. I need your help.

I want to know why when I take medicine with a measurement cup all the lines on the cup are faint and fuzzy. I mean the lines are practically invisible. If you’re the one who is sick and having to pour your own medicine, this is especially irritating. If they don’t want people to have the improper dose, at the very least, they could make some thicker, darker lines for us. Am I right? Why won’t they make lines and numbers we can see? Deeper indentations on the cup don’t count.

Take you medicine
Where are the lines? Is it some special code? I want to see thick, dark lines with big, dark numbers. How hard would it be?

I want to know why the grocery store where I shop thinks it’s perfectly befitting to separate the cookies and the crackers. Isn’t it common sense that they be placed in the same aisle? Cookies and crackers belong together. There’s a cosmic shift when I enter the store. Something is just wrong there. Why must they insist on keeping the cookies and crackers apart?

I want to know why Donald always looks so pissed off. Quit your lip smacking, finger-pointing, and obnoxious tweeting. We know you’re rich and in charge. Now use your mess of money for something good. Why not help rebuild a third-world country, or why not rebuild one of our own poverty-stricken neighborhoods right here in America? You don’t need to look very far. It might make you happy.

Shut it.

I want to know why these skeletons were responsible for deforming their own heads. In other words, while living, these people went through some kind of cranial rite of passage where their heads were purposefully distorted. Psst…or there could be a more rational explanation. Maybe they really are aliens.

Alien skull
Not the actual skull discovered, but similar. Note the conehead shape. See link for actual pictures.

In fact, this is the year we may find our sister planet Earth. Why isn’t this headline news? Enough of the fiscal cliff. We’re all doomed. But a sister planet Earth…maybe the aliens can save us. In a Universe so vast with an estimated 200 billion stars that host at least 50 billion planets (and this, just in the Milky Way), how can we think we’re all alone?

And finally, I want to know why this product is using my blog name and didn’t even consult me. It’s a Reese’s peanut butter cup moment: How did my blog name get into your product? And, how did your product get into my blog? All right, I guess I put it here.

Looks at all the ways you can bumble...
Look at all the ways you can bumble…
Look at the products that you can bristle, tousle, and tumble bumble with.
Look at all the products that you can bristle, tousle, and tumble bumble with.

It must be good with a name like Bumble, right? Actually, I need shampoo. Truth be told, lately I’ve been using my kids’ strawberry bath wash as shampoo. Oh, how could I let things get to this state? This year is off to a rocky start….
but soon, I’ll be washing my hair with my new Bumble shampoo…

Two Hours Later

Strike that. So, this Bumble shampoo has got to be the most expensive shampoo on the planet. My body wash will last one more day….

In the meantime, I will be expecting some answers. I’m counting on you.

For your listening pleasure, please enjoy the music by The Neighbourhood.

photo credit: Gage Skidmore, dreamside via photopin cc

At the Perk Up

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Greta planned to swing by the Perk Up to pick up Eddie’s phoned-in sandwich order, and grab a salad for herself. The Perk Up, known this side of Lake Forest for its steamy coffee brewed to perfection, sumptuous raspberry cream cheese muffins, and delectable ham and cheese frittatas, was a local hot spot. Wes, the fry cook, greeted patrons, despite a flood of orders that would last from sun up to closing at 2 pm. He ran a tight ship in his kitchen, but Greta always thought he had some kind of magic up his sleeve.

By the look of the long faces in every corner, Greta knew she had stumbled into unchartered territory.

One regular customer, a mild-mannered older gentleman, by the name of Sid, looked as if he was going to burst at the seams, seething, sweating, his face beet red. His wife sat next to him, clenching his hand.

A child cried hysterically, “I’m hungry, mom. Where’s my pancake?” as he banged his silverware, throwing his fork into the middle of the aisle, whacking a waitress in the head. The waitress barely noticed, continued on her rapid clip.

“This is not what I ordered,” a man snapped at her.

“I’m so sorry. Let me fix that,” she offered.

The air bubbled in thick layers of stickiness and sweat. No one was eating. Plates were mixed up, incorrectly delivered or not made according to order. Food laid in front of customers untouched, eggs limp and cold.

With every order sent back to the kitchen, Wes wailed, “Damn it! What now?” or “I don’t believe this. What the hell is going on out there?”

New orders were backed up as he had to remake the previous ones. As usual, there was a line out the door, although people had started to leave. The wait staff performed damage control, on edge, their patience pushed beyond what they thought they were capable of.

Reliable, honest Lester, the town’s auto mechanic, got up and left with his coffee, disgusted but relieved to be exiting the building. Clearly, this ship was sinking.

Shelly entered the room with a coffee pot in hand, her skin opaque with her eyes encased in dark circles. Her face revealed a river of spidery veins from her cheeks down to her neck, as if a translucent snake sprawled around her. If Greta didn’t know her sister worked here she would be almost unrecognizable to her. The only thing that jibed correctly was her black hair, albeit dry and frizzy in appearance, and a name tag that read, “Shelly.”

Shaking uncontrollably, her eyes glazed over, Shelly meandered from table to table, randomly tilting the coffee pot at each station, missing each and every cup, spraying splats of brown liquid in every direction. Her customers were transfixed in her madness, startled to be a part of it, but too fearful to move. It was as if she was secretly engaged in some sort of Russian roulette. Who would be the lucky one to receive coffee? No one dared to get up out of their seat, as they could not predict her next direction.

With an ever so slightly upturned grimace, she turned abruptly on her heel and poured coffee on the man’s lap seated in front of her.

“Aagh!,” he bounced off his seat, gasping. “Fuck! Fuck! What the hell are you doing?” his voice pierced the silence.

Shelly had already turned her back on him. The man stumbled after Shelly while another waiter approached with towels, “I want an apology. I’m talking to you.”

Shelly continued to walk away while the man shouted, “You need to be fired! Fired!”

Wes rushed in from the kitchen and the man turned to him, “Fire her. She needs to be fired.”

Greta rushed toward her sister, but Shelly slipped past her falling on her hands and knees, crawling under the bar between two chairs. She sobbed frantically, holding herself and shaking even harder.

“Shelly. Shelly,” Greta whispered. “It’s me. C’mon. Let’s get you out of here.”

The Gatekeeper

My phone buzzed with a text. It was Eddie asking, “Going to the Perk? Help a cave boy out?!”

I send back to him, “Sure, I’m going anyway….”

Eddie responds, “The usual with extra pickles! Please!!! Thx!”

The usual is an egg salad sandwich on toasted wheat with pickles. Extra pickles? He’s desperate.

Suki glared visibly in my direction. She raised her eyebrows at me, her signature gesture to me that her queen bee wings had been disturbed.  I usually had my phone turned down to silent, except that I have been waiting for my sister Shelly to call. No matter. Suki generally disapproved of modern conveniences. I’m not even sure if Suki owned a cell phone, much less has ever sent her own text message.

I had a year of peaceful solitude before Suki made her grand entrance. Tunello failed to mention that my space would be invaded by a made to order, Executive Admin, origin unknown, refined, tailored, with thick black hair, a beauty to behold. People seemed to talk more slowly and softly around her, as if under her spell, her eyes dark glassy pools that stalled time.

I found it hardly coincidental that she and Tunello both spoke fluent Japanese, sometimes in hushed tones. It was something I never discussed with either of them, as though it might be a waste of their time.

It was Suki, after all, who asked all the questions. She is the designated Gatekeeper. Every piece of paper or communique gets Suki’s consent and stamp of approval before seen by Tunello. It’s rare that we ever work in tandem, although it’s possible we have the same set of facts in front of us.

She rarely asks questions of me. If she saw my file she would know my painful past as a clinical psychologist and learned that my patient committed suicide shortly after I missed his phone call. The guilt was immense and I eventually left the profession all together.

Perhaps Suki never needed to ask questions of anyone. I’ve wondered if she were operating on more than instincts and have chided to Eddie that she’s a mind reader. Here we go again, he would say to me, and that obviously I was jealous.

Whenever I felt any mounting tension, she softens the edge with a plate of homemade dumplings, prepared early in advance with the knowledge that I needed rescuing that day.

“Greta, here dear,” she would place the plate on my desk. “This will make you feel better.”

The question is, was she there to watch me or Tunello? Are we both under her command?

Blog Reflection #1

I will admit that I wasn’t sure exactly what I would be writing about in a personal blog. The more I write, the more this seems to be true. That’s fine with me though. I call that the creative process, sometimes painful, albeit always enlightening.

Anyway, I thought about changing my “About” page, and then I thought since a couple of bloggers liked it as is, it wouldn’t be really honest or fair to change it on them. And, hey, big thanks to those who like me! Thank you, thank you. I feel reassured.

On thinking about the “About,” I thought it might make more sense to reflect on it here it my new section, “Blog Reflection.”  And, hence, the #1, as I may be reflecting at some point in the future.  I feel the “About” is a bit daunting. What it is about me is fluid, always changing, learning and growing. And, as far as the writing goes, well, some days I may have a different view, have a new way to say it, a better way to say it, want to explore a brand new topic that’s maybe not indicated in my “About” page. Fluid, as I said.

This “Reflection” idea came from an earlier experience I had when I was student teaching. At the end of each day in the classroom, we were to reflect on our day’s experience and write, well, a reflection. It could be about how you thought the day went, what you might improve, what went well, what went horrible, you get the idea. I was seven months pregnant at the time  and usually was exhausted. I played along and tried to seriously reflect, but really all I wanted to say was, “I’m tired today. These kids don’t like me. They’re mean. I thought third graders were supposed to be sweet and nice. And, give me a math book for crying out loud. How can I teach without a math book?”

So, see I rambled and diverted from my subject, which I think is perfectly allowed in a personal blog. I can do whatever I want here, right? So, now, you have the backstory on my reflection idea. I may reflect to really communicate to you, my precious followers, or just to ramble. It’s good to do that, too. You know, bumble around.

So, back to my blog, not because it is so important. Actually, I’m delighted and amazed at all the wonderful blogs I’ve stumbled upon in the last few weeks. I wonder why I put forth any effort at all. Others do it so well, are so funny, and remarkably poised. Still, it feels wonderful to “publish,” even if it may be only a presentable published draft. It feels great to publish a piece that you put some thought into. As I have been a stay-at-home mom for almost nine years now, with a few part-time jobs here and there, it feels great to rub two brain cells together again. Not that raising two delightful boys doesn’t take normal brain functioning, that’s not it. Stay-at-home moms know preciously what I’m talking about. I know I don’t even need to explain this, do I?

As far as my published posts go thus far, this will be Post #10. Yes! I’ve dabbled a bit in fiction as that is where the wind has taken me. I’m writing about aliens, something I never thought I would do. I will admit it’s a freeing sort of feeling to explore and stretch my creative muscle when I’m not so desperately attached to the subject. I see it more as exploring the human condition. In any case, if you would like to read my fiction, look under the “Aliens” heading. In the near future, I will organize this better. In the meantime, these fictional posts may seem like loosely random pieces of writing. But, I promise you, they are held together by a mysterious force!

Coming up next….I have no idea. I plan to continue my dabbling and hope that whatever I write, it provides some meaning and pleasure to your day. Until next time.

The Bumble Files

Flashback to Art History

As I was heading out for lunch, Director Tunello laid a thick envelope on my desk marked “Confidential.” This was per usual, as was his timing, right as I am to leave.  He had to know that my stomach was growling and that I was nauseous from too much coffee and too little nourishment . Do I go out for a quick lunch and come back to face the fire, or drop everything and open the file immediately, as his pacing suggested?

“Winters, If I could have it by this afternoon. Three o’clock.”

“Of course.”

He peered back around the corner of the door before leaving, “It’s the heavies.”

If you’ve never heard of the heavies, and you saw Tunello’s face right now, you would be alerted immediately to matters of a serious nature. You would stop dead in your tracks, freeze in silence, like a scared rabbit in the woods. No extra motion, no extra sounds. This is how I conducted my work when Tunello was in a closed-door meeting with the heavies, the unofficial officials. Tunello was not to be disturbed, and on occasion, I never saw the heavies.

This disturbed me for quite some time before getting up the nerve to investigate. That, and of course, and having the opportunity to do so. It was rare for Tunello to leave his office unlocked unless he was there working. Whenever I was in his office it was when I was called in. This is not to say that we didn’t have a comfortable working environment. We simply had unspoken, unwritten boundaries.

It may have been due to his military background, some kind of Special Ops. I’ve only heard it rumored, because although I’ve seen everyone’s file in this organization, I’ve never actually seen his. My access to his file is blocked and I decided to leave well enough alone. I wouldn’t want to be caught breaking our mutual trust and respect. I know he will come forward with information when necessary.

But when it came to the heavies and their mysterious comings and goings, I could not keep myself contained. Once while in his office, Tunello caught me staring at the oil painting behind his desk. I knew what it was right away, a flashback to my Art History 101 class in college.

“Still Life with Vegetables and Fruit,” van Gogh

It was this particular painting, van Gogh’s “Still Life with Vegetables and Fruit,” that was on the big screen when the professor flew into a mad rage. I remember thinking nonsensically how silly it was he was upset about a couple of pieces of fruit and vegetables. The professor blew up, a departure from his typical disposition, a flat, solemn monotone that carried me and the rest of the class to a slumbering stupor.

It didn’t help that it was an 8:00 a.m. class in a mostly empty vacuous hall with dim lighting, perfect for meditation. You felt slighty drugged and a little heady with the influx of fresh knowledge and imagery, hoping to retain anything at all. Most students fought the nod off, and one in particular that day, a student close to the front and in the professor’s plan view, did just that, only he snored.

When the professor caught sight of him he threw his pages of notes across the stage, shouting “Why! Why! What’s the point?” as if questioning his metaphysical reason for existence.

He got up, crumpled a piece of paper in his hand and flung it at the snoring student. It was one of those bad professor moments that could have resulted in some bad press. If it would have happened today, I’m sure someone would have recorded it, if anyone was awake, and splashed it into the media wave. At the very least, his notoriety would have gained instant art aficionados, or perhaps, a fan base wishing and hoping he would lose it again.

Staring at the painting above Tunello’s desk prompted me to retrieve this morsel of information as if it were data originally planted for this specific point in time. It was pressing on my mind, but its significance unclear.

Tunello noticed me peering at the painting.

“That’s a lovely painting,” I offered.

“van Gogh,” I think,” he sniffled. ” I prefer Renoir,” turning his back to look at it. “It’s a little dark for my taste.”

For the splinter of a second his eyes darted at the painting, I had a hunch it wasn’t just the colors that made him uneasy.

Faulty Memories

I haven’t seen my sister Shelly for over a week now. I think I may have overreacted. She’s probably not an alien. I’m just having bad PMS and freaked out. I suppose it’s only normal for someone to think about their past when they’re going through a crisis. Still it seemed out of place. One day, she’s talking about her numerous love interests. There’s the guy who frequents her place of work daily for coffee and sometimes baked goods, her new online interest, and a co-worker at the coffee house. This causes considerable tension at work, especially when all three of them are there together. For a week straight we have non-stop man talk, and then like a switch, it’s all about our childhood and she’s wearing the red hibiscus in her hair.  Fine, fine, but remember I don’t recall these memories well and I could be wrong, but I think she’s creating people who don’t exist.

“Bobby Adriano. C’mon, you remember him?” says Shelly.

“Give me a hint. Was he in band? The choir? Football team?”

Exasperated, far more that she had any reason to be, she sighed, “He lived on our block!”

“Oh, stop! I would remember if the Adriano’s lived on our block!”

She managed to do this a couple more times to me, like it was a game and she was keeping score. Was I really losing my mind at age 40? Do I need to crack open the puzzle books and crosswords? Did I go to one too many rock concerts? If I listened to my gut, I bet she was hiding something. Still as fuzzy as my mind was, she could rewrite our childhood, our history if she wanted to. I may need to start connecting with my old high school friends, do a little research, some checking on Facebook.

I talked to my friend Eddie about it and he reassured me she was probably going through some kind of thirty-something crisis. What do they call the crisis that isn’t at the mid-life year mark? So many people seem to have this crisis, you think they would have come up with a term by now. Maybe they have and I haven’t been paying attention. Usually people just say they’re having their mid-life crisis early.

Anyway, Eddie has a point. I’m moving ahead in my life as the Assistant Director of Human Resources at a prominent biotechnology firm with high security and air-tight background checks. I have a certain level of prestige and status. This, of course, comes with knowing everyone’s salaries and skeletons. It’s made it difficult for me connect with anyone at work. No, actually impossible and highly discouraged by my boss. People usually assume I’m busy, and most of the time this is true. But then this is where Eddie comes in, my only confidant. He might be the only one who wouldn’t think I was crazy. I caught him on a rare break.

“What’s your proof? Where’s your evidence?” he blurted out between sips of coffee. “Aliens. That’s a little far-fetched, don’t you think? Maybe you need a date.” He gave me a wink.

I stood there numbly, suddenly feeling ridiculous. Eddie had a way of making me feel two feet smaller, in a kind and gentle way.

“What about that guy?” he said, pointing to one of his colleagues.

“Who?” I played along.

“What? Him, too?” He makes a sweeping look-out gesture. “Wait. He doesn’t have a flower in his hair. I think he’s in the clear.” He got a sock in the arm for that one and a few sideways glances from his colleagues, most of whom were balding, middle-aged, and thick in the midsection.

“They’re just jealous,” Eddie whispered to me.

I realized I haven’t made my situation clear enough to Eddie. He’s been preoccupied with this job, working around the clock in the lab. He’s usually pretty tight-lipped about any project conducted in the cave and he’s been there for the last three nights straight. His hair is starting to look greasy. But that’s Eddie, pushing himself until he’s about to keel over.

“Maybe you should take a day off. Have a little alone time.” Another sip of coffee, his eyes pink and wild-eyed. “I know, why don’t you and Shelly go have dinner. Maybe that’s just what she needs. Some girl time.”

As I made my way through the gray maze of cubicles, I settled into the idea of having dinner. While Eddie has a point that I haven’t spent much time with Shelly lately, I also don’t feel like I can be alone with her.