A Hillbilly in New York, Part 2

     Well, we made it back.

     I think the trip went remarkably well.  It’s taken me a few days to get this post up because I’ve been in recovery since we got home (at 4:30am!)  Also, I think I’ve spent some time digesting what all we saw, and fielding the questions that my son has fired off to me almost non-stop since our return. He didn’t have the time or energy to ask me while we were actually there.

     We saw some truly amazing things, one of the best being “The Lion King.” If you ever have a chance to see a Broadway show, do it. It’s worth the money.  There really aren’t any words that can adequately describe what it was like–just a long string of superlatives that make it sound cliché, which it certainly is NOT.  I saw what New York looks like at twilight from the top of the Empire State Building, ate lunch from Fluffy’s Cafe in Central Park, watched a performance in Carnegie Hall, walked through the immigrant registration station on Ellis Island, and stood at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. In short, I knocked about half the items off of my bucket list.

     Ellis Island was especially fascinating.  There was a quote on the wall there from a Lithuanian immigrant about how her mother said watching her get on the train to the coast was the same as watching her go into her casket. They never saw one another again. That young woman did that because of the golden opportunity she thought was waiting for her in America.  It’s an odd thought.  So many of us complain constantly about our government and our country, but some viewed it as the promised land–a place they would literally give up everything to come to. Interesting thought.

     Mostly, as usual, my son and I were both fascinated by the people.  We heard as much foreign language as we did English. And as for the New Yorkers themselves, well, I’m still undecided.  We hear that they are rude and overbearing, and upon first glance, you might take that as the truth–certainly upon entering a vehicle everyone in the city transforms into some sort of homicidal lunatic–but I’m not so sure. To me, it almost seems like something more, something different than what we “southerners” call rude.  They have become immune to tourists, and really to themselves as well. 

     When we were travelling, we wore matching tee shirts. So, we stood out.  Our commander-in-chief would ask some random person waiting on the train if we were picking the right one to get where we wanted to go, and immediately that person would become very helpful and courteous. They would sort of look around at us like they hadn’t noticed us before–which I fully believe to be the truth. It’s not so much that they are rude, it’s just that you have to penetrate beyond that cocoon that they have enveloped themselves in to find the real person underneath.

     I guess you’d have to be  a little immune to it–there are umpteen billion people there bustling about, tourists and locals alike, and at times you are literally squeezing through crowds. There’s no way you could say “excuse me” to each person you nudge or bump.  I’m reminded of Crocodile Dundee when he went to NYC, and he tried to greet everyone and be polite. If you haven’t seen the movie, I’ll give you the answer–it didn’t work. So everyone just goes along with their own lives, headed to wherever they are headed.  Another point–I don’t know where they are going, but boy are they in a hurry!

     Don’t get me wrong–there were rude people there just like there are everywhere, including right where we live. Business Bitch Barbie, for example, ran right over our friend Lucas, and rather than say sorry, she had an expression on her face like she stepped in something stinky. To add insult to injury, she ran over his foot with her Business Bitch Barbie rolling briefcase accessory.  I called “Excuse us!  Have a nice day!” after her, but I didn’t get a response, of course.

     So, there are rude people in New York, and there are nice people, and mostly there are just regular people doing what everyone does–working, shopping, going to school, just living.  It was an awesome trip–so much so that I want to go back on a private vacation so I can explore a little more. The city impressed me, and I can see why so many not only flock there, but thrive there.  I recommend it highly to anyone who is looking for a vacation destination, just listen to a little advice–take plenty of spending cash, wear your walking shoes, see “The Lion King,” and watch out for Business Bitch Barbie. She’s hell with that briefcase.

A Hillbilly in New York, Pt. 1

     Yep, you read that right–we are going to New York City.  A friend of mine is a music teacher, and she is taking a group of her kids to perform in Carnegie Hall (practice, practice, practice) and she invited us to go along! How cool is that?

     I am VERY excited.  Now, I’m not what you would call country.  (I’m actually coal camp.)  We’ve travelled a quite a bit–Philly, Atlanta, DC, Birmingham, Knoxville, Pittsburg, Charlotte, Baltimore, and a few others–but still…..this is New York City we are talking about people!  We are going to see the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, just to name a few.  We’ll leave Tuesday evening and be home late Friday night.

     I am also VERY nervous.  Not about the trip–like I said, we have been to a place or two, and the only part that makes me nervous is the bus ride. What I am nervous about is walking away from my life for four days.  I’m sure to most people that sounds a bit drastic, but that may be because you don’t know how anal retentive I can be about certain things.

     Primarily, I’m nervous about leaving my daughter. My sister is in good hands, and she’d rather be where she’s going than with me anyway, so I’m not really worried about her, but Evelyn doesn’t really understand why we just sort of disappear for four days.  I don’t have any way to explain it to her.  She’ll be with her dad and The Grandparents, but I worry.  It makes me wonder if she is maybe a little bit more aware than I give her credit for, because now, to make me feel even better, she is sick.  Her teacher called from school today to inform me that she was running a fever and lying around. I picked her up early and she has slept in the chair ever since.

     Thanks, Evelyn.

     I know all of my guilt is self-inflicted, but that doesn’t make it any less.  No matter what, in my mind, no one can care for her the way I do.  No one.  No one can read her and understand what she wants the way I do.  I’m just going to hop on a bus and be hundreds of miles from her, which is bad enough, but now I’m going to do it while she is sick.

     Don’t get me wrong–I’m going anyway. I’m nervous, not stupid.  I have WAY more separation anxiety than Evelyn ever did (I still cry on the first day of school. Really.) I imagine every possible thing that could happen or go wrong, and I have a great imagination. I miss her so much that sometimes I lay in bed in night when I’m away from her and cry. I’m just a great big girl, right? (I miss my husband too, by the way, but I know he can feed and clothe himself with minimal assistance.)  I just have to suck it up and have a good time.  This will be the farthest I’ve been from her in a long, long, time, and the farthest I’ve ever been while she was mobile and able to get into a lot of trouble.  The last time I was far away from her, she was basically like a potted plant.  She couldn’t even crawl. Now she’s like a damn cat–just five minutes of not watching her and all hell could break loose. So you see how my mind works.

     But anyway, I’m very excited.  We will never have another opportunity like this again.  My OCD acts up a little when I pack, and I always remind myself a little of Melvin Udall in “As Good As It Gets” when he’s packing for the trip to Baltimore. I even have a list. (People think the fact I make lists and keep things organized is because I am organized, but really the opposite is true. If I didn’t keep things in order, I would never find anything again. Ever.) Anyway, we are all packed up and ready to go.  Evelyn and Matt will drop us off at the bus tomorrow afternoon, and I’ll laugh and joke and wave frantically as we pull away.  I’ll save the tears until everyone else is asleep. I do have my reputation to uphold, after all.

A Funeral at the Compost Heap

     Everyone has different ways of finding a little solitude in their life.  Some people run, or do yoga, or meditate, or read, or, in my case, work on their compost heap.  It sounds a little odd, I guess, but you take what you can get. 

     Each weekday morning after I take Evelyn to meet the bus, I come home and visit my compost heap.  I keep a bucket in the garage, and during the day and evening I put various kitchen scraps and shreds of paper in the bucket. Each morning, I get the bucket and take it over the hill behind the garden to turn it into compost.  Most everyone is still in bed–or at least not requiring my attention right at that moment. Ian is free to watch TV until 8:00 a.m., and he does so religiously, allowing very little to distract him. I guess that’s his solitude. Anyway, I wander over the hill and dump the bucket on the heap, then take a nice forked stick I found and stir things around a bit.  If it’s too dry, I might wander over to the rain barrell and get some water to pour over it.  Mostly I just stand around.

     It’s cool that time of morning, and quiet.  I just stand there, my shoes soaking wet from the dew, and listen to whatever might be happening in the yard or the woods. Birds are the best–I like the way the finches peep, and just now there are blackbirds nesting in the roof of the hen house.  I love the way they sound.  People think, oh, yuck, blackbirds, but I think they’re cool.  They don’t really fit in with rest of the “pretty” songbirds, they don’t qualify as a “cool” bird of prey, but they still have to do their birdy thing every day. (Sound like anyone else you might know? Me, too.)  When the blackbirds chirp, it’s a strangely liquid sound, like a bell ringing underwater. That’s what my metaphorical side says.  Another side of me says they sound like the aliens in “Signs.”

     Today, I had a different type of company at the compost heap–a boy and a deceased hamster named Lucy.  Ian has two hamsters which I bought him for his birthday while apparently under the influence of some sort of powerful narcotic.  They are (were) named Lucy and Susan, from The Chronicles of Narnia.  This morning, while I was getting Evelyn ready for school, Ian appeared and said, “Lucy’s dead!”

     Now, my mind isn’t always completely with me at that time of the morning, so it took a full two seconds for my brain to process who Lucy even was, let alone digest the fact that she was now, in fact, dead.  Once it registered, I asked a pretty stupid question, namely, “What happened?”  My son, being a wonderful diplomat, didn’t respond as he might have (something like, “Her note said she couldn’t take running around in circles anymore!”) but instead just told me that she was just laying in the food dish dead. And so she was.

    We did NOT compost her, as the title may imply, but decided instead to bury her at the base of a big tree right next to the compost heap.  She is now resting under her food dish with two nice sized head stones over her.  If the blackbirds noticed what we were doing, they didn’t comment.

     I didn’t say much, either. In fact, it was a fairly quiet event, which is unusual for my son. He’s a talker.  But when he’s upset, he prefers not to talk about it. (I have absolutely no idea where he gets that from.) So I just told him I was sorry, and that was pretty much it.  He’s at the age now where it would be an unspeakable mark of eternal shame to be caught crying over a dead hamster. Hell, at this age, he might not even be allowed to cry if I died– I don’t know what those manly rules are.

     It’s a shame really, because he’s a tenderhearted, compassionate fellow, and I know he was upset.  This whole “tough” thing is over-rated. I know no one wants to see everyone going around crying all the time (though if the gas prices don’t go down, it may happen anyway.)  But he really is an animal lover, and he was crazy about those two little rats….er…..hamsters, so I’m sorry for him that he felt as though crying would have been a bad thing to do.  I hope that I’m not the one who taught him that lesson, but I’m afraid it may be so. 

     So anyway, Lucy is laid to rest. Ian and I made a joke that she went to Aslan’s country. (If you don’t know what that means, read the books. I don’t have the energy to explain it all here.)  Tomorrow we’ll clean out her cage and set it in the garage.  And in the morning I’ll visit my compost heap, listen to the birds, and think about different things, like maybe how brief our time really is on this earth, and that when it’s over, I hope someone sheds a few tears. Then they can bury me in the compost heap.

Dental Hell

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself–and the dentist.” Someone other than Winston Churchill



     It says in the Bible that the sins of the father shall be visited even unto the seventh generation (or something like that) and I think it may be true.  I have carefully avoided the dentist for most of my adult life, and now I’m paying for it. Sad part is, my daughter is apparently caught up in that whole seventh generation thing, too.

     I’ve recently become more acquainted with the dentist than I ever wanted. A few grand later, I am now a great believer in the dentist. I’m a dental zealot. I will go to the dentist every six months until the day I die, even if my family has to roll me through the door in a hospital bed. I will never, ever, neglect my teeth again.  My mouth, or my wallet, could not survive the trauma again. So, I’ve learned my lesson, right? End of story. Right? Right?!?


     Evelyn’s feelings about the dentist transcend fear. She views the dentist office as some sort of torture chamber. She has to be held down, people are touching her head AND rooting around in her mouth. Now, since the routine cleaning thing isn’t traumatic enough, she is having some problems of an orthodontic nature. Her teeth are clean and healthy, and she has always gone to the dentist regularly, but they just aren’t where they should be. I won’t go into all of it–it’s too depressing.  In short, she has a very small jaw (the medical term for that, folks, is micrognathia) and there just simply isn’t enough room for all of her teeth.  So this time she had to have x-rays, which we never did before, and wasn’t that fun! She was already so royally pissed by the time the routine stuff started, the whole thing was a nightmare. We were all sweating, some of us (not naming names) were crying, and I was exhausted.  Obviously, Evelyn won’t every be wearing braces, or an expander, or any of the various orthodontic equipment that would normally be used for someone with her dental problems. The best option for her will be to remove some teeth, but she has to have that surgically done (obviously), which means a trip to the hospital and general anesthesia.

     Why of why must everything be so difficult for her? Look out, this is where the self-pity comes in–I don’t understand why she can’t ever get a break.  Even dental procedures become an ordeal that involves the hospital, anesthesia risks, recovery, blah, blah, blah.  Couldn’t one thing, just one damn little freaking thing be simple for her, and let’s be honest here, for me?

     Okay, that’s all. I guess.  I have no idea what the answer to any of those questions is, and I don’t think anyone else does, either, so there isn’t really a reason to ask them.  I just have to look at the big picture, whatever the hell THAT means, and see that she will feel better when this is all over, and she will be happier if she’s asleep through the whole thing. Didn’t I have sedation through my extensive procedures? (Yes, I did.) What’s the difference?  She won’t ever know a thing about any of it, and I’m sure that’s how she wants it.

     Why are we all so afraid of the dentist? I have a healthy fear of the entire medical profession, but the dentist is in a class of his own.  I have tattoos, I’ve had surgery, and still I sit in the dentist office waiting room with sweating palms, a pounding heart, and a racing mind. Beats me. Maybe because you’re awake for the actual stuff that’s happening, or maybe it’s something that’s just passed along from generation to generation. To be honest, I had little to no discomfort with all of the work I recently had  done, and a toothache hurts WAY worse than anything the dentist has ever done, but still…….

     There’s nothing for it, I guess. We’ll just have to be afraid. But do me (and yourself!) a favor and tough it out. I’m not much of an advice-giver, but I’ll give you some, and it’s a LOT cheaper than a visit to the dentist.  Take care of your teeth. Really.  Do it for me, or, if you don’t want to do that, do it for Evelyn. I guarantee she hates the dentist more than you do.

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