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I have to document travel because…well, just because I have to.

Yesterday my shoe broke while I was walking through a convention center. Oh, bother. Until that happened, I would have probably bet money that there would be a gift shop/snack shop thingy in a convention center that sold some form of super glue. I would have been wrong.

Lucky for me, the hotel adjacent to the convention center had such a place, and I happily plopped down my $4 for a .000001 oz of Krazy Glue. I hobbled off to the ladies room to be my own cobbler.
I was thinking about how much I disliked the fact that the marketers of this substance decided to misspell “crazy”. Things like that annoy me. If we’re on a road trip and pass a “Kountry Kitchen”, I have to keep driving, no matter how hungry I might be. It’s a personal standard.

So, I was mentally busying myself with the ponderings of this marketing strategy when I realize that I’m just not being successful in getting any glue out of the tube. I’ve poked the hole with the big push pin that was included in the packaging, but nothing is happening. I don’t have a knife, so I gnaw off some of the tip, hoping I don’t get Krazy Glue on my teeth. Still nothing. I gnaw off more of the tip. Nada. I gnaw off ALL of the tip. Nothing.

So, I hobble back out to the lobby, where my trusty travel companion is wondering if I’ve gotten lost. How long does it take to glue a shoe? I admit that the glue has gotten the best of me, and I can’t make it work. He’s a chivalrous guy, so he grabs the Krazy Glue and explains to the nice lady at the hotel gift shop that it’s defective. They get another package of Krazy Glue… same result. Another package… same result. Another package…are you starting to see a pattern? 5 packages of Krazy Glue, and not one available drop. The hotel employee even went to the manager’s office to get an open tube just so I could glue my shoe and even that didn’t work. Krazy situation.

Today I’m on a plane from Newark to Ft. Lauderdale via Atlanta. I love flying Delta because they give you Biscoff cookies. Actually, they give you a choice of peanuts, pretzels, or cookies. I can never understand the people that don’t get the cookies. Who would rather have pretzels than a Biscoff cookie? I immediately distrust these people.

That’s how I came to pay attention to the Penis Lady. I’m sitting in 16C, watching the snack lady come down the aisle. It’s entertaining. I can hear her clearly say “Would you like a snack? I have peanuts, pretzels, or cookies” from at least 8 rows away. However, about every 2nd row, there’s someone who says “I’m sorry, what do you have?” Really? You have not heard her say “peanuts, pretzels or cookies” 14 times? Those are invariably the people who don’t get the cookie, which reinforces my belief that I’m traveling with a large group of weird people.

There is a lady in 15D who gets the peanuts. This attracts my attention. I can reasonably believe that some people get the pretzels because they’re watching their sugar or some other noble reason, but there is no excuse for getting the peanuts. Airplane peanuts suck.

She’s in her 50’s, looking pretty tree huggerish. She’s wearing Birkenstocks and a krazygluesweater vest, and her naturally graying long hair is held back by a huge barrette. She reminds me of Jane Goodall. Before she opens her peanuts, she puts her tray table down and takes out a sketch pad and a book. The book is “Beginner’s Guide to Sketching and Drawing”. From my seat, I have a good vantage point, and I’m always intrigued by people with artistic talent. I’m immediately excited that I’m going to be able to be entertained by someone drawing while I eat my cookies and drink my diet Coke. I have a pretty plain life, people….it’s these little moments that bring me happiness.

So she reviews the book for 2-3 minutes, takes out a big charcoal pencil and opens the sketch pad. In about 30 seconds, I’m thinking that whatever she’s drawing is shaped like a penis. In another 30 seconds, I realize that it IS a penis. Not your Michelangelo type penis, either. This is a penis worthy of some bizarre cartoon porn magazine. I am now totally captivated.

Page after page, she keeps drawing the same penis. I sense that she has some pretty strong feelings for the owner of that penis, and I’m not sure they’re good. I’m starting to wonder if she’s flying to Atlanta to see the penis, and possibly tell it off. She’s wearing a wedding ring, and I’m wondering if this is her husband’s penis. I’m kinda scared of the penis lady.

Then the pencil stops abruptly, and I see the lady has looked to her left and seen me admiring her sketching skills. She doesn’t seem happy about this, but I smile at her nonetheless. She flips over another page and draws a tree. She looks over and glares at me again then closes her sketchbook.

Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes the entertainment portion of our flight.

Memories From Dysfunction Junction

Memories From Dysfunction Junction
Memories From Dysfunction Junction

This morning was the monthly meeting of the Book Club I recently joined.  I genuinely look forward to Book Club Saturdays, for a couple of reasons:

1.  I get some sort of junk food for breakfast.  We meet at either a local pastry shop or McDonald’s.  Unhealthy yumminess!

2.  I love having people to talk to about books.  At one point in my life, I was surrounded by book readers, but that has faded away, and to be reintroduced to book readers makes me a happy camper.

Back to today’s Book Club.  We’d read “A Wolf At the Table” by Augusten Burroughs.  I love Augusten Burroughs, and have since about the second page of “Running With Scissors”.  He finds humor in darkness, he’s damaged, he’s realistic.  He’s a survivor.  Mostly, though, I love him because I can relate to so many of the emotions and quirks that he so openly exposes, because I, too, was raised in an abundance of weirdness.  My mother was pretty much a nut case.

Now, let me clarify:  I never spent a night curled in a closet, afraid for my life.  I never went to school covered with bruises.  My mother never (seriously) threatened to kill me.  She was only 5 ft. tall, and probably only topped 100 lbs. when she was 9 months pregnant, so she wasn’t very intimidating physically.  She was more like a psychological / emotional destruct-o-saur.  Decades later, my siblings and I still tell “Mary Juanita” stories at family get togethers, and our own children look at us incredulously.  I’m sure they wonder if we’re making this stuff up….and wonder why we’re laughing our butts off.  We laugh because we can.

In honor of the millions of adults who were, as children, surrounded by weirdness (I truly believe there must be millions), I’d like to give you a tiny glimpse of life in Mary Juanita Land.

When my mother was young, she was an exceptionally beautiful woman.  The years were not kind to her, thanks to lots of cigarettes and even more bourbon, but she had been graced with a lovely face.  I think that she spent much of her life torturing herself with “what ifs”, meaning, she fantasized that if she hadn’t gotten married and had a covey of children, she might have gone on to a glamorous existence.  Or maybe not.  Who knows.  Anyway, the point is, she LOVED watching the Miss America pageant.  She’d pick her favorites, and predict who would make the cut to the next round.  She was quite good at anticipating what the judges would appreciate, because she was normally right on the money with her selections.

And she would cry.  Cry?  Yes, she would cry.  Why would Miss America make a grown woman cry, you ask?  Because Mary Juanita couldn’t understand why God gave her ugly daughters.  She had prayed for pretty daughters, but apparently God didn’t find her worthy. She talked about how proud the mothers of the contestants must be, a pride she apparently would never know.

Every year.

Do you want to know what the WEIRDEST part of this story is?  Her daughters continued to watch this pageant with her .  Every year. Then listen to her cry about her disappointment over our lack of acceptable beauty.  Why did we do this to ourselves?  We have no idea.  Do we laugh about this now?  Of course we do.

There are many, many Mary Juanita stories.  Some are darker than others.  Some are just plainly hysterical.  Someday I may write all of them down……the night she drunkenly mistook a sidewalk for the street and nearly killed a group of teenagers that were walking home…..the time I knocked her down a flight of stairs and thought I’d killed her……her decision to “go on strike” until her family appreciated her, and demonstrating her resolve by spray painting her demands on the living room wall…..the year she gave me, her 13 year old daughter, a black & red lace negligee for Christmas, complete with matching g-string…..

I learned volumes from my Mother.  How to cope, how to laugh…… and how important it was for my daughters to know they were beautiful.

I can see very well

There’s a boat on the reef with a broken back

And I can see it very well

There’s a joke and I know it very well

It’s one of those that I told you long ago

Take my word I’m a madman don’t you know ~Bernie Taupin

Mary Juanita

Put A Label On It

Put A Label On It
Put A Label On It

In the past year, asking about my political leanings has been a pretty common conversation starter for friends and acquaintances.  I thought it would taper off after November’s elections, but here we are in February, and it’s still a pretty hot topic.

Am I a conservative?  Democrat?  Independent? Republican?  Liberal?

I’m all and none of those things.  I think most people are like me.  Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness….all the while knowing that life isn’t fair and there are no guarantees.

I believe in second chances.  There are so many young adults who were not encouraged to be all they could be; or simply made poor choices in their youth.  As a nation, we need to provide those people an opportunity to make something of themselves. A hand up in the form of food stamps, medical care, subsidized housing, job training, and subsidized daycare are investments in our nation’s future.

I believe just as strongly in personal responsibility.  If you choose to not better yourself after given an opportunity to do so, then you must live with the consequences of your choices.  If you’re seeking assistance with any of those aforementioned basic needs for your family, and choose to not take advantage of job training or placement, you’ve got 6 months to figure it out, because the public benefits will go away.  If you choose to have a child when you don’t have the means to pay for medical bills or groceries or diapers, that is your choice and your consequence; no additional funds for additional kids.  If you’re receiving government assistance in any form, any tax refund you receive should pay back that assistance.

I think everyone should pay their fair share of taxes. There should be tax benefits for those who invest in their retirement, build businesses, and bring jobs to this country rather than overseas.  There should be benefits for business that provide employment for military veterans. Oh, and how about some incentives for manufacturing in this country? I also think there are veterans and seniors who have already paid their debt to this nation, and they should not be penalized for poor management of Social Security and military pension funds.

I think that people who have come to this country illegally as adults should leave.  If a child was brought here illegally by parents or others, there should be an option for receiving residency as adults.  I believe that immigrants to our country were the backbone to our nation’s greatness.  Let’s face it, with the exception of the proud Native Americans, all of our roots sprouted on foreign soil.  Yet, if an immigrant doesn’t have enough respect for this country to follow its laws and the required process for the privilege of living here, then get out.

I think people should be free to marry whomever they choose.  Churches do not need to recognize unions that are against their beliefs, but the government should.  Don’t want to call it “marriage”?  Fine, then make a blanket “union” definition for the government.

I believe in the death penalty, and think the myriad of red tape and endless appeals need to be done away with.  No waiting on Death Row for 20 years; be done with it.  If there were public executions for certain offenses, I’d attend.  Put it on Pay Per View, and let the revenue pay some of the legal costs incurred by these people.

While we’re at it, I think prisoners should shoulder some responsibility for their upkeep.  Why should services be lacking for our communities when there are able bodied people being supported by taxpayers?  There shouldn’t be a park that can’t be maintained, a school without a playground constructed, a highway that needs trash picked up, or a community center that needs paint.

I believe our military should be well funded, well equipped, and well compensated.  There is no “fair” wage for people who willingly leave their families and risk their lives to protect our country, but a decent wage, educational benefits, and unwavering support from America is a good start.

I believe in the 2nd Amendment, but would like to see some requirements for owning certain types of firearms.  At one time we didn’t require licenses to drive cars, either, but as they got bigger and faster, common sense dictated that people learn to operate them lest they hurt someone else by their ignorance.  There are just too many jackasses with bad intentions.  Evil is inherent in the human race, and will never be eliminated, but it can be thwarted.  After all, if there’s no way to stop evil, we may as well eliminate law enforcement and military.

I think political correctness is ridiculous.  Everyone should be allowed to celebrate their religious beliefs, their cultures, and their holidays.  Don’t like it?  Don’t look.  Don’t participate.  The Pledge of Allegiance belongs in our country’s schools.  If that is offensive, then don’t live here.  As far as prayer in schools, I saw a bumper sticker that summed up my beliefs perfectly:  As long as there are math tests, there will be prayer in schools.

I believe in charity, kindness, decency, redemption, ambition, volunteerism, civic pride, and tolerance….but, like all the truly important things in my life, those can’t be legislated.

So what’s my label?  How about “American”?  No matter race, religion, politics, or education, are we really that different?Flags