Thursday, May 31, 2007


In January 2005, I replaced my paper journal with this site. In the time that has passed, I've grown accustomed to pouring my experiences and emotions out in this very public space, but still finding my answers in the process of the writing, and finding support in reading comments from people I would never have met on my own but whose support fortifies me nonetheless.

Today and tonight, I realized that I lean on this space so much that in my real, here-and-now life, I'm a ghost in the fog. I watch my life as if I'm not participating, I silence my opinion, my voice, so that I might figure it and write it later, and I think how I'll set it up and send it out, how I'll display whatever it is that is on my mind or in my heart, whatever it is that is worth recording.

I think I've orchestrated an extra step between me and my awareness, but sometimes I truly don't know how I feel until it comes out in words that I can see, here, understand. Perhaps that's the very thing that drives it all, what makes writers write, journalists journal, diarists... well you get the idea.

Internal comprehension through external expression. It is what it is, I suppose.

Everybody knows one

There is a woman who works for the same company as I do but we don't work together and I don't know her well, though she's always pleasant if not a bit too friendly for my comfort zone. She's a busybody, that one, and I've heard several stories about her, stories that seemed a bit stretched in their telling. I privately held the opinion that there was no way someone could be that unfiltered in her manners and words in an office environment.

Until today, that is.

In our lobby this morning, Busybody was waiting for the elevator, along with an office friend. I was sorting brochures at reception. The office friend asked, When do you leave on your trip?

I tell her Tuesday.

Busybody asks, Where are you going?

I tell her.

She says, Ooooh, nice. Is this what you're doing with your inheritance?

The lobby is silent. I stand there, mouth agape and wordless.

The elevator arrives and takes her away.

I look at the receptionist and she at me. She shakes her head and answers the ringing phone, listens to the caller and puts the call through, all the while her head shaking. I walk out of the lobby and hear her, tsk tsk tsk.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

It's the little things

I like mail, I do. I like ripping offers in half and half again. I like the minor power of shredding what I don't want or need, and I really enjoy shredding the credit card offers that arrive for my niece and nephew. I also like aligning my bills alphabetically, appreciating the order as if I didn't have to pay up soon enough. I don't mind paying the bills, I don't, because I think they are fair, and I really do like the order.

And so it is.

What I don't like is the newly realized responsibility of my sister and how that is reflecting in my mailbox. She's lovely, she is, but she's also a mess and although child-like, still capable of putting all sorts of power and control on my day. But, well... she's lovely. Except that there always has to be an adult (aka family member of any age) to pick up her pieces.

Since my father died, that adult is me. (With a lot of help from her daughter, I will not deny. Hi Peanut!)

In my mailbox today, a letter from the IRS. Apparently, I've been assigned an Employee Identification Number on her behalf. It does not matter that in her entire life she has worked two weeks at Jack-in-the-Box in the 70s and a four-week stint at a mall pet shop in the 90's, apparently the IRS is after her, and therefore me. I am what they call but do not define TTEE. Do you know what that means? I haven't a clue.

It does not matter that I am not an employer. What matters to me is that in their mind (and hers, mind you), I owe an enormous amount of back taxes and WHEN WILL I PAY?

It's comical, this is.

Are you laughing? I am. Well, not true. But I am trying. I do see that it is funny, but seriously, there's one crack in the joke, and that's the fact that this official letter from the ever-so-serious IRS has listed not one but two of her ex-husbands and, by process of elimination, landed on me. At my home address. One of those two, ahem, bastards, is responsible for this but now I have suddenly become employer and owe back taxes? No one can say the IRS is not determined.

Between us, I know it's laughable, but I still don't like my name on the list.

At all.

I do take it seriously, this letter sitting beside me, in all its archaic courier font and one-inch margins on plain white paper. My name is on it, after all. Matters not that there are three names beneath my own, my name is on top.

When I think about what tires me, it's not what chews at my mind and rewrites my thoughts, not what sits in my heart and rewrites my hope, and it's not dreams changed or loves lost, it's the familiarity of moments like these, moments that come out of the dark and with all their Boooyaaaa voices that momentarily paralyze me. It's the moments that are so small yet so loud and insistent, like she is. Moments that consistently interrupt and cut in line, and demand to be dealt with right now. No matter what I am doing, or where I am, or even if I left her house five minutes ago.

It's these moments that turn me around.

Monday, May 28, 2007

With bowed head

Today, every day, thank you.

Stantis, Birmingham News, 2006

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sunday, kissable Sunday

I give this face a kiss every day.


Love her, I do.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Nine days and counting

In just nine days I'll be on my way to Barcelona. It will involve one car, four airports, three planes, one train, five cities and two cabs before we get to our hotel. I admit it makes me enormously tired to think about, but that's just right now. Who cares if I'm tired then, I'll be on vacation.

And I'm excited about that.

Plus, we're going First Class all the way.

And I'm pretty darn excited about that too.

My niece is in town this weekend and so the guest bedroom is hers at the moment. But come tomorrow when she returns to Austin, it will become less of a bedroom and more of a packing room. I'm ridiculously anticipating the thrill I'll have when I fold my clothes and place them in little ready-to-be-packed piles on the bed.

Also at ridiculously high levels of excitement is how I feel about getting new stamps on my Passport. As if it didn't sit in a file in my filing cabinet most of the time, as if were on display somewhere, as if the hundreds of photos I will no doubt take wouldn't be enough, I still can't wait to have my passport stamped with five new countries.

Painting the fenceline, these


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sometimes I can't get free

I'm not writing for pity, I wouldn't do that. I'm writing because I'm tired and more than wanting you to know that I'm tired, I'd like for me to wake up tomorrow and read this: HEY ALISON, YOU ARE TIRED. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Parenthetically speaking, here's a suggestion: GO TO SLEEP. (Sorry, sometimes I need all caps to get the message.)

I'm writing because I miss my Father. Because he was the answer to everything and I'm lost without him now. And because when he couldn't be the answer, I was. We were a team, he and I. And I'm writing because I'm still not sure how to go from helping him out to leading the show. I'm writing because it's not fun without him and I never knew then, and wish I could tell him now, that I realize how much he did and maybe thank him again for all that he did because I thought I understood it then, and I really believed I was helping, but I get it now, I do. I was simply a companion on the ride.

I'm writing because I miss the woman my mother used to be and it's hard, so hard, to sit beside her and watch her leaving this world, watch her brunette hair turning grey, watch her eyes move past my face in a daze.

I miss it all, I do. I miss him and her, and I miss the children that my kids were, the freedom we danced upon when we all thought that my being Aunt Alison was all it would take.

I miss the love in our home, Cat saying, Love you, and Dad saying, Love you too too. I miss then, just then. The love, the fun, the thrill of family unique. Their exchange echoes in my head at night. Her voice: Love you. His voice: Love you too too.

We were musical then. Dreamy and musical. Memories do that, don't they? They spin and shine and I wonder if I'll one day look back at now and smile.

I miss him reminding me that no one said it would be easy. I miss him reminding me that destiny is only as much as and what you believe.

I'm tired. I'm tired of trying to be what I was so damn sure I would be, should be, but maybe can't be, I don't know. I'm tired of him being gone. I'm tired of her forgivable needs, tired of my unforgivable anger, my forgivable failure. I'm tired of the guilt and the battles that should never be, tired of the silent but enormous wall of denial. I'm tired of the shadow of her ever-presence. I'm tired of me. I'm tired of desperation, and tired of reality. I'm tired of the many things I am and the many more things that I am not. I'm tired of wondering who I'm fooling and knowing it's me, just me, and I cannot possibly do it alone.

I am one thing more: I am here. I am present. I believe that above all what matters is that I show up. For her, for him, and even you. It's what I do, I show up. I'm proud of that, I am. That is all I feel good about right now.

I'm tired of showing up and seeing that I'm building my hopes on dreams and chains.

Did I mention that I'm also angry? I thought it would be more, and in way, less. I thought he'd be here, always be here. For her, for me, for them. Blame it on my heart. Eight shades of grey out my window and I'm still blue. Blue like his eyes. Blue like my heart.

I'm tired of the Sea that I am, and I'm angry to be the water beneath the wind. Sometimes this heart of mine rages, even when it's calm. What does not change is his eyes. God I miss his eyes. They were blue like hope, blue like the Sea. Blue like my heart.

It's only love, doing this to me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Modern times

Today has been yet another day of meetings. If interruption disrupts productivity, meetings destroy it. Meetings are the nuclear bomb to productivity. What have I done this week? Listen and speak. Not work, just listen. And speak, as in reminding the team that according to the agenda we should be having a break right about now.

Today's meeting was with a different group of my fellow workers than Monday and Tuesday, so at least the faces and the topic at hand were fresh. I had the chance to observe a new lot of things I find either interesting or irritating about my fellow workers. For instance, the Diet Coke guy. When lunch was ordered in, the drinks did not arrive, so the receptionist purchased an assortment of drinks from the machine on the third floor and brought them to us. When DC guy realized there was no Diet Coke in the selection, he had a bit of a meltdown and said slash whined, "Who in this day and age would not include Diet Coke? I can't believe that, I really can't believe that." As he spoke his words, he double and triple checked the 7-Up and Dr. Pepper cans just to be sure that they were not Diet Coke in disguise.

Apparently, he couldn't believe it.

In this day and age? He said it as if he had gone to the emergency room with a serious bloody gash on his arm and the doctors placed leaches on his wound to stop the bleeding. Or maybe he had to use a rotary dial phone. Or the cab he called arrived as a horse and buggy.

I wanted to sit him down and tell him that in this day in age, we thank the person who, upon realizing there is a problem, takes it upon his or herself to resolve it. Even if the answer involves 7-Up.

Monday, May 21, 2007

In which inspired unravels

I was in a meeting today that started at 8:30 and ended at 5:30 and then moved on to a social dinner until 9:30. There were 12 of us in the meeting and dinner. I learned that 11 of us incorporate the phrase, At the end of the day, regularly into our speech. Regularly as in often. I stopped counting at 25, the number of times I heard At the end of the day. I didn't start counting until I noticed a pattern and realized that I was being tortured, so there must have been at least at 10 times the phrase was uttered before the twitching began. The day was young when I quit counting, not yet noon.

It's like nine hours of sitting in a room while someone scrapes their ridiculously long fingernails along the chalkboard, the phrase's over-use that irritating to me.

Now, it is the end of the day. And, finally, I've stopped twitching.

But I know it's only temporary, the lack of twitching. Tomorrow is the second day of the meeting, which will carry on until the end of the day. Or eternity, whichever comes first.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday, like mother like little brown dog, Sunday

Last weekend I responded to a meme here, in which I was charged to reveal seven things that people might not know about me. One of the things I told you was that I try to smell flowers every day. What I didn't tell you is that someone else puts her nose in flowers as well. And on brown, the pollen shows.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Management

Taped to the back of the door in the ladies restroom at PetCo is a sign asking that you, as the valued customer, notice anything needing attention in the bathroom, to please notify the General Manager. Beneath the notice is the sign-off, "Thank You, The Management"

Right beside that sign is another sign taped on the back of the door requesting that if you, as the valued customer notice anything needing attention in the bathroom, to please notify any member of the PetCo Family Team Members. Beneath the notice is the sign-off, "Thank you, General Manager"

I cannot tell if the GM is 1) empowering the team, 2) making it easier on the valued customer if they need to notify someone, 3) passing the responsibility downhill, or 4) deciding to do things his/her own way and not the Management's way. But I do know that I wished I had my trusty Black Sharpie with me so that I could write: "I, as a valued customer, want the management, general or otherwise, to please take down one of these signs. And you're out of toilet paper."

Friday, May 18, 2007

This is all I got

I want to be clever. I want to recall the exact and place it here. But I can't do it.

I was out tonight with friends, at a party for a friend's birthday. The conversation was hot and jumping and more than once I requested of myself to remember the dialogue because it was funny and worth sharing.

And when I got home and flipped open my laptop... nothing.

I can't tell you anything more than I had a great time tonight. Apparently an un-memorable time, but great all the same.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

By saying coincidence, I mean to say sucky reminders I didn't invite into my day

Something was going to happen today. Something I believed in and wanted very much. I was going to do something, be somewhere. I was not going to be alone there. I don't mind so much being alone here but I did wake up this morning and realize the date and I was tempted to get in a funk about it but really didn't want to, so I injected myself with a dose of que sera sera attitude and got on with my morning.

This morning's crossword had the clue, Actress Sommer. The 4-letter answer was Elke. Means nothing to you but that was my nickname. It is symbolism in boxed cap letters. But, since I decided que sera sera, then whatevs.

But wait, more awaited me. Hello? On my way to work, this. I'm not seeking coincidence, promise. But shit, it shows up.


I mean, seriously, when's the last time anyone but he and I thought about Elke Sommer?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Big grin

That guy, that certain coworker of mine who recently had me happily twirling in the hallway after he commented on my skirt... we met for coffee tonight.

The conversation was mostly work-related.

On the personal side, I learned tonight that the first concert he went to was The Who.

Same as me.

I'm just saying.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sailing on the seven seas of blue

The light of love, it shines so bright. I hang on, like you told me to. Even when it's distant and harsh. Even when I hold the thin fiber that would never support us but I pray will support me. The light is there. The music is there. The love is there.

I'm there. I'm here.

I'm thinking that I could listen to Jeff Buckley all night and I'd still be no closer to the truth.

I'm sitting here and listening to that music. And I'm thinking I want a new tattoo. But I'm also thinking I need to make a therapy appointment.

I could tell you all about the tattoo, but safe to say it won't be tonight.

I could tell you about a wish. But that too is something else.

And besides, I'm sure that you want to talk about the therapy.

You must have an exit and you should allow time to get there

My travel partner and I went to dinner last night to finalize a few details of our upcoming trip, and in finalizing we realized the impossibility of the last two days, that we could not, or actually did not in any way want to, drive seven hours to catch a 12-hour night train to get us to Madrid so that we could catch our flight. We did not want to drive across five countries, on our way to the airport. So, we had to rethink some things, cut back here and there, reschedule a bit. Because, after all, 15 days is 15 days and that's a long time to be sure but we still need to catch our flight out of there on that 15th day, before they track us down and lock us away for all the fun we plan on having and rules we plan on bending. Just minor ones, understand. Speed limits, check-out times, that annoying one about not taking anything from the hotel room.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sunday, little-brown-Freddy-Krueger-dog Sunday

Swim at your own risk.


Seriously, the water exaggerates, but only slightly.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Seven things

Velvet tagged me with this space filler and since my head is so exhausted from overuse at work this week, I'm happy to oblige.

Seven facts you might not have otherwise known about me:

1. I wing it. A lot.

2. I try to smell a flower every day. I don't always succeed, but more often than not, I do.

3. I'm never able to figure out if I'm for the most part happy or the most part sad. I've felt this way since college. I decided that as long as I'm unable to figure it out, then I'm okay. I do know that for the most part I am satisfied, and the glass is half full.

4. The circus always comes through Houston around the time of my birthday. For years, we would go. On my 17th birthday, I went with some friends and we bought flashlights that had spinning bulbs of red and blue. I don't recall why. One of my friends left hers in my car. For about two weeks, whenever I drove through the neighborhood at night and was behind a car going too slow for my liking, I'd turn on both flashlights and hold them up. Without fail, the car in front of me would move to the side and let me pass. I only stopped because the power was going to my head and I felt sure it was only a matter of time before I got caught.

5. Seeing litter hurts my feelings. It's one of the things my father passed on to me. And that commercial in the 70s, the one where the Indian sits atop his horse and looks out over piles of garbage as a tear slowly falls down his cheek, I haven't seen that commercial in a long time but even thinking about it moves me. I pick up litter every day.

6. When I board a flight, I have to tap the outside of the plane two times with my right hand right before stepping onto the plane.

7. I read magazines from the last page to the first. This habit started with Time Magazine because I always enjoyed the back page essay and would read that first, then wind my way forward. It continued with Vanity Fair because I like to read the Proust Questionnaire first and that too was on the last page. Now, it's just the way I read magazines. The table of contents are a brief recap for me.

And that is that.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

That impossible distance does nothing at all

I'm thinking about my my father. I'm thinking about that distance out there, where the earth meets the sky, where his heart meets my own. I'm thinking about deep water and blue. With each passing year, the horizon seems to inch nearer, the stars seem clearer. The hole in my heart, it grows more familiar. I can walk, I can walk with this wound.

Today is your birthday, Father.

I miss you. Oh, I miss you so.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What if I felt like I belonged in the glow?

He carefully parks the Cadillac in the handicap space. I notice them at a glance but only really see them when their car reflects golden off the sunset for a moment, just the flash of a moment. I'm tempted away from the conversation by the glow in my eye like a hymn sung in perfect voice. But the voice is a color not a sound.

I'm enamored.

The conversation at my table floats but my attention is elsewhere.

She does not move. I watch her stillness and I know her, I know the routine, know what is needed and expected. He slowly gets out of the car, puts his tired feet on the ground, places his left hand on the car door, pauses a long moment before pulling himself up. He wears dark slacks, dress shoes, a casual shirt, no tie. A jacket pulled from a hanger on second thought. I think I can hear him sigh for the effort he knows will be called forth on this night.

Slowly, with careful foot, he walks around the car, approaches her door, reaches his aged hand to the handle and opens my view.

She is perfect, seasonal, appropriately dressed. She is the image of my mother. She has pearls in her ears, a thin rain coat of beige, a floral blouse, tan slacks falling in a crease across the top of her brown loafers. She moves her legs towards us. He opens the back door and with some effort, pulls her walker from the back seat, opens it up and presents the open metal arms to her. She eyes him, a fragile smile forms on her face, and reaches for and adjusts the arms to her preference, stands from the seat of the car and into the security of the walker. She glances to her left, towards the path leading to the front door, takes a deep breath, looks to him again. He meets her eye.

Together, something long ago was written, something that says they'll get there, something musical and sensual and personal. Something that says they know how to rely on one another.

I am close enough, and they are clear enough. I recognize the looks, the sighs; I recognize that thing. I recognize what circles between them. I grew up with it and I know it well.

I watch them as if this is more than their struggle, as if they know who they remind me of and I must be careful with my dance on the balance between them and my heart, else I could bruise them. I watch them as if the slightest breath from my lungs would shatter the delicate connection between my memory and their reality. I watch them cautiously, as if they are fragile and I might break their bones with my gaze. I watch them with care and envy and all the protection of my heart's dreams, those that fall in a confusing and blurry line between past and future but rarely the present. I watch them as if I have the right, as if I know. As if this is something happening to me, as if their going to dinner was something altogether different than who and where they are, as if their night had something less to do with him and her and more to do with us.

I remember the nights when Mom and Dad and the family would go to dinner. Usually Wednesdays, usually the country club. I remember my father calling me, You'll meet us won't you? Please. Meet us at the house for drinks at 5:30, or meet us at the restaurant at 7:00. Your mother wants to go out to dinner.

I remember the nights before the canes and walkers. I recall the nights of piano and brandy and my knowing the hour too late but any price I'd pay for their company on a night like this when they are recalling songs and telling me stories, when we speak of memories and dreams as if the two slumbered together and I had only to figure it out. I remember his big hand on my shoulder and his big voice telling me he loved me, and her eyes shining, ever-shining. And I remember nights of his silver-tipped cane and her walker, nights of patience, of my wondering how come there was never a reward for all the effort it took to get there and be there. Surely there should be something at least for him, at least for her. Something more than my watching, my knowing that someday I would lose them and suddenly need to hang on to every minute I could possibly recall. At least we can stay for one more song.

Mom and I, we always want one more song.

He'd look at me, his blue eyes watering, and he would mouth the words, thank you, to me. As if I had done him a favor, as if it wasn't my honor to join my mother and father for dinner.

As if polishing wings would ever trouble me.

Her birthday was Monday. She had no idea. No care, no clue, no recognition at all. Nothing, nothing at all but her eyes looking outward, past me, past the walls, past anything I can know.

But she's here, she is.

His birthday is Thursday. Just now I typed is and then backspaced over it and typed was and then backspaced over that and wrote is again. I don't know what is right. The tenth day of May will always be the day he was born. Is his birthday.

This week is a week that pulls heavy on my heart.

I know he's gone, and I know she's working on her own personal exit. With each breath I pull into my lungs, I know he is gone and she is here, I know I've lost him and am losing her. But they are so vibrant, so alive in my heart. And my wishes. No matter how nonsense they are, my star-light-star-bright-first-star-I-see-tonight wishes, my dreamy, cloudy, child-of-theirs, unrealistic murky memory-dream-wishes are these:

We are going to dinner at the country club. I open her door and she steps out of the car, reaches for my hand. She is grand, as regal as her mother's daughter, she is my mother. She wears her pearl earings, her pearl necklace, her chosen true-navy-blue dress, her polished shoes. She shines and I look to her as I always do and feel her warmth and her strength, her beauty and her life. I am blessed by her and feel that I belong there, with her on my arm.

He places his hand on my shoulder, loving and gentle.

She hands her purse to me as she reaches for my father's arm so that he can walk her into the restaurant, through the open doors. I smile at her, wink at him him, step in behind them, behind the steps of my mother and father, arm in arm.

The piano player wraps his notes around them and I watch them fall into the music and light. Their color fills my eyes like a golden hymn sung in perfect voice. And in that light they dance, and in that light I watch.

It's a dream not a wish but I can't help wishing. And I can't believe my dreams aren't true, I just can't. What if his big hands are opening the door for her tonight? What if his big hands are on my shoulders right now?

What if love gave golden light and answered all the heart's longings?

What if everything beautiful we witnessed, everything we believed in, was the truth?

Because that's who he is

Text from my personal hurricane:

Hey babe, do you know how many times my Homer Simpson bottle opener has made a noise these last few weeks? Reminds me of you every time I have a beer. Big kiss. X

Monday, May 07, 2007

Big return on five bucks

I'm in love. Yep, it's true. I have indeed found the perfect... jukebox. Seriously, options abundant. Michael Jackson not one of them. Keb Mo? He was present and telling me I'm Amazing. Tom Petty? Check. Fleetwood Mac? A must have. Pretenders and 10,000 Maniacs. Yummy. Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and Pat Green. I played a selection from each, along the lines of hurricanes and rings of fire and taking me out dancing. But let's get down to the core reasons why I love this particular jukebox. All that and still there was Meatloaf, and Earth, Wind and Fire, Al Green, Clapton and Bob Seger. All jukeboxes must have Eric Clapton and Bob Seger. This is a rule written in stone. It matters not one bit that the rule and the stone are only located in my mind.

Did I mention the Eagles?

So there you have it. The perfect jukebox. I gladly poured five one dollar bills into it the other night. A night that I was a little bit emotional and a whole lot tired, a hot night at the end of a long day that was humid and still and horribly telling of the kind of summer it will be. When my first selection played, the night cooled off, my mood changed and I felt rejuvenated. The night became about the music, the music, ah that music that makes me feel so damn good.

Well, that icy cold margarita might have added to the feeling.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Do you see it anywhere?

Overly worried the ball will never be found.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Seems like it's raining all over the world

The skies were growling, the clouds grumbling, the traffic building and stretching to nowhere fast. But here, here was soft and magical and on a different track. Here was nourished.

DSC_0003 DSC_0002 DSC_0004

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A slice of how not cool I am

In the hallway at the office, passing a certain guy at the copier:

He says, I like the polka dots on your skirt.

Not turning back, I say, I like that you noticed.

I also like to think that I'm cool and collected but the fact is that I am only that way for brief periods of time. When I rounded the corner out of sight, I grinned like a school girl and twirled in a circle like Maria atop the hills that were alive with the sound of music. Then I gathered my composure and went about my business.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Recognizing the smiles as our own

Last night I sat at a round table with familiar faces in celebration of a friend's birthday. One of the faces was that of her 89 year old grandmother, who regaled us with a few stories, one in particular about her brush with Castro at an airport. We were like children, wide-eyed and excited, feasting on her story, rapt with laughter. I felt happy and lucky to call this group of women my friends, to be sitting at that table at that moment, with that exact group of people. I felt my heart beating happiness.

It's nights like last night that keep the bounce in my step and the smile on my face.