My Brother Ross Rossiter

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With life as short as a half-taken breath, don’t plant anything but Love. – Rumi

At this very moment in time I am at home with an  unimaginably agonizing afternoon ahead of me. My dear brother Ross, my baby brother who is now in his fifties, is in ICU on life support after an epic and heroic two year battle with a monster Sarcoma that took over his abdomen and gradually attempted to kill him. He is a fighter, a strong and determined adversary for cancer, and yet after many months of suffering and a successful surgery that filled us with hope he is now on life support. Deadly side effects have been the final determination of his ultimate failing. The decision is to end that support for him this evening.

How do you spend an afternoon like this?

My other brother and sister and I did not grow up with Ross in our lives…he was born to my father’s second wife and we knew Ross only as an adorable baby boy who fleetingly came and went for a window of time in our lives. Then when Ross’s mother and my father were divorced we lost track of Ross and nobody ever acknowledged that we three had lost the fourth – it was overlooked and sadly neglected, during a ridiculously stupid set of circumstances when no one realized he was still our brother. I always felt the loss – all three of us did. No one made any attempts to hold us all together; almost as if they really did not want to.

I don’t remember the year it happened, exactly, but it was probably mid-1995 or so. I was at work sitting at my marketing job desk with internet access and it was a slow day on the computer. I decided to find him if I could. It took just three phone calls and I had his number. So easy. He was emotionally stunned when I called and told him who I was – he said he had always missed us and wanted to have us in his life but had no idea how to find us. He had been about two years old when I had last seen him. WOW! What followed was a reunion of epic proportions that involved Ross flying to Denver to see me and my brother and then another set of circumstances that took Ross and I on a road trip to Scottsdale so that he could meet his long lost other sister. (Ross had a third sister from his mom’s first marriage.) When all this happened it had been a lifetime since I had last seen baby Ross. He was all grown up with three children and a lovely wife, living on the east coast of Florida in the Ft. Lauderdale area.

After that life-changing phone call Ross sent my sister Vicki and I each a dozen roses that said – “For all the birthdays I have missed. Love you, mean it. Ross”

I admire Ross on all fronts. He is a wonderful, adoring husband and father and the most loyal of friends. He is a fine man, one of the best to walk this earth. Of his many noble attributes and his exemplary character traits I choose here and now to celebrate his…..crazy sense of humor…..Ha!

Ross is one of the funniest people I ever met in my life. The Rossiter clan – well – we are story tellers and we have always had enough stories to last a lifetime because we all seem to attract experiences that are outrageous and scary but hysterical in retrospect. It’s that sad/funny thing. You know – the stories where something goes terribly wrong and you are in tears and then the ending turns out to be that sort of spurting, silent-laughing-cannot-make-a-sound-laughing-so-hard-sooo-funny it hurts laughing.  We all have this character trait. Every single one of us. Our dad, the common tree from which all we nuts have fallen, was a funny accident waiting to happen, all the damn time. He flew off of galloping horses and broke bones right before my eyes as I rode alongside him on my pony, he fell out of trees hitting limbs on the way down fracturing his back as he landed in a rocky dry creek bed, he was bounced out of careening horse-drawn buggies, he tripped over logs and rocks with the perfect body-roll or face plant of a circus clown and eventually he fell right out of my mother’s life. Looking back and recalling some of his more hellacious accidents for which I was present, which now flow through my memory in slow motion involving danger and blood, well, they still seem like slapstick comedy. Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello type stuff. Dad could tell all of his stories to perfection, recounting one after another after another on the back terrace over a BBQ fire around dusk and into the wee hours.

Ross however took this humor in a slightly different direction, although he was definitely the showman that his father was. Ross loved a good costume party. He liked pulling jokes on people. All of that combined nicely with being a trained chef and wine connoisseur. That man could COOK. He can cook lamb chops to perfection, like an angel. He works for Strauss Foods (grass fed lamb, mostly) and he often did food demos at big food shows around the midwest and the south. He would keep a running commentary going as he seared the meat and artfully presented it for tasting, entertaining the crowds with funny quips and stories. A true Rock Star Chef, a good-looking, charismatic show biz performer whose kitchen help sets everything up for him and he breezes in at the last minute and commands his stage, wows and fascinates the crowd for an hour or so and then leaves. He was a different kind of performer – he was Mr Fabulous Foodie/Stand Up Comedian with a wicked sense of humor that was seldom censored who would serve you delicious food.

A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself. That is how I hold your voice. – Rumi

I loved it whenever he called me, because I knew that I was going to hear some brilliant and memorable stuff about something or another that was happening to him, and then he would always want to hear what crazy stuff was happening to me. Ask me what is happening to me and you will get a narration complete with sound effects and details and song as if I am the color commentator at a sporting event of some kind. We talked well together. I felt that he truly “got me” and I certainly got him. I spent some of my most hilarious “moments in time” on Planet Earth with my brother Ross. We had a long and winding 24 hour caper together one time when I just flat ran away from a guy I had been seeing for several years, leaving Denver in the darkness of early morning, to move to Arizona where our sister Vicki and her husband Tom lived, awaiting my arrival with a soft place for me to land. Since Ross had just flown into Denver for Part One of our long awaited reunion with my other brother Fred and me, Ross offered to drive the truck for me, full of all my furniture and most cherished possessions, while I led the way in my red Acura to Arizona. Sounded like a great plan to me, a very generous offer, plus Ross wanted to meet his sister Vicki again and use it as an opportunity to see the scenery of the southwest.

Our couple nights in Denver before we left was spent with Fred and his wife Susan mostly in the kitchen watching Ross cook as we all told, and compared, stories of our illustrious family. Ross had arrived lugging a large cooler of all varieties of exotic meats packed in dry ice. As I recall we tasted alligator, lamb, beef, pork and it was all beautifully prepared by our personal chef. We bonded in the stories of our lives and our laughter and our tears. Nothing was sacred – we covered it all. We were all well aware that it was inexcusable to have been apart all the years since Ross was so young. We had been given little information about each other that might have led us to any kind of reunion.

We left under cover of darkness the next morning with a 14+ hour trip ahead of us. Directly south to Albuquerque, hang a right and take it straight into Scottsdale. If you see anything weird, swerve to avoid it. I had made the drive dozens of times. So we set out with me in the lead, but we switched off sometimes so that my new baby brother could be ahead. OH! I forget to mention one detail. Ross had only one good eye – his other eye had been shot out by a kid with a pop gun when he was two years old or less. The other three of us were informed when that accident happened and we could not believe it and were extremely upset by it. Ross grew up with a beautiful convincing glass eye and no one would ever have know if he had chosen not to tell them.

We had no cell phones of course so we had to resort to hand signals out the window or flashing headlights to communicate with each other. That was how we rolled as we leap-frogged our way south and west. By the time we were in New Mexico my snack jar of M&M’s (what was I thinking?) were melted in to a colorful gooey blob of fondue chocolate. Ross was sunburned and and unshaven, hair stiff and spiked straight up from the strong dusty wind coming in the truck window. Ross was a riot – screaming and pointing for me to notice certain bluffs and rock formations – wanting to stop at every roadside stand that displayed coyotes baying at the moon, rubber snakes and lizards for the kids, silver jewelry for Pam and strings of bright red chili peppers. I would see him in my rearview mirror gesturing wildly at me and mouthing “pull over!” “pull over!” “pull over!” as we barreled along at 85 miles per hour. Sometimes I could and sometimes I could not…and if I could not he would go rogue on me and pull over anyway, swerving impulsively off road in this big tilting truck, at the  last possible minute into some Indian souvenir stand so I had to make a fast u-turn and head back to him. We laughed so hard at each other. When we stopped at some greasy dump for lunch we talked frankly and long, and I told him my life history with men in a not-so-brief salty and sarcastic nutshell. He told me that he thought the guy – the reason for my escape from Denver – was crazy to let me get away and did not deserve me. I agreed. And I was so gone. A little sad, but funny.

I asked him at one stop how his one good eye was doing, cause both of mine were tired and crusted with red dirt dust, with still a long stretch to go.

“Need a siesta?” I asked.

“Hell no. I’m great! I love this shit! I may only have one eye honey but it’s a muthah fuckah of an eye! It never gets tired! I do better than most two-eyed people do!” And so we continued racing along like bats out of hell.

We arrived in Scottsdale well after dark, not even resembling our former selves. We were red-faced, wind-whipped and sweaty, beat from the incessant heat, stiff and sore but Vicki and Tom revived us and my daughter Kelly was there too. Of course we partied most of the night away as Ross became acquainted with his sister again. That 14-16 hour roadtrip was a great crash course in knowing Ross.

********

Fast forward to one particular day about a year and a half ago when Ross was in the hospital on one of his 3-day mega doses of chemo, passing time there as it dripped into his system. He called me. We would talk about many things, cabbages and kings, as the walrus said. There was nothing we would shy away from discussing if the mood took us. His illness gave him a burning need, an urgency to discuss life, death, religion, sex, our kids, art, food, jokes, our mom and dad, spirituality and of course the event of dying.

He told me that he would be so fucking bored, with the drip drip dripping and he was supposed to get some exercise every day so he would walk down the hallway, dragging his medical paraphernalia along with him, to the sunny waiting room that looked down on a highway. He would then proceed to press his entire body, nose to ankles, arms widespread and legs apart, a tangle of tubes hanging off of him, against the huge window looking down on the speeding traffic and mouth the words, “HELP ME!” He did it frequently, daily I do believe, and no one ever acknowledged him by honking or altering their direction in even one small waiver from their lane. He thought that was sad. He also thought it was extremely funny. Sad/funny….

And so now we are here. There is nothing to do with a day like this, waiting for the end. It is the most profoundly sad experience I have ever had.

Jo Ann Brown-Scott, Artist and Author

In my second book titled THE CREATIVE EPIPHANY, published in 2008, Ross and I wrote Chapter 14 together titled “Harleys and Old Lace” which touched upon the experience of all of us finding each other again.

http://www.thecreativeepiphany.com, www.acanaryfliesthecanyon.com

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. – Rumi

 

 

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Excerpt – A Canary Flies the Canyon

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Back from a little mini-vacation to the great Northwest – Whidbey Island and then Vancouver! I am happy to find that my new novel is getting more 5-Star reviews! I think that is a lovely treat to come home to….a HUGE thank you to all the people who cared enough to write a review on Amazon.com. Your comments are invaluable to me!

These days social networking is everything – it is word of mouth in its newest and most effective incarnation. There is simply no better way to get the word out, spread the news, show pictures and be an accessible author who will accept communication from anyone anywhere anytime!

Today I am offering you another excerpt from my book, from Chapter 18 – this time giving you a glimpse into a period of time when my heroine Annie worked as director of a very successful Denver gallery, owned by a woman named Kerri. This experience would eventually change Annie’s life, and in this brief excerpt I am introducing the reader to Kerri’s mother and some of the other staff  who also worked there:

I thought Kerri’s mom was an interesting study. She was an aging beauty, a little worse for the wear, highly eccentric, constantly nervous with several tics she kept repeating as she spoke – a cracking of her neck to one side, a thing she did with her shoulders that went up and down and a tendency to lick her lips excessively. Perhaps a bit unstable and hair-triggered, I thought. Rather impulsive; a reactionary personality. She loved men and she hated them, exactly like my own mother. I could not quite figure her out but I certainly did not want to get on her bad side for any reason real or imagined, and I had a slight suspicion that could happen at the drop of a hat. Her mood swings came and went twenty times a day. She wore things that wrapped, she was always swaddled in a bunch of fabrics of varying color and pattern. I had no idea where she was inside all that. She looked like she was running a fever for lack of ventilation. She was perennially flushed.

The guy, Troy, who shaved his head and oiled it up until it was shiny chose his words carefully so as not to appear stupid, and was so obviously in love with Kerri that it hurt to watch him. She was entirely out of his league; he would have cleaned the floor with his tongue for her. I liked him, but he seemed unsophisticated and naïve, yet we needed him because he was our muscles. He made himself useful with framing, doing any heavy lifting and art deliveries for clients.

Then there was another employee named Sandra who was a lady wrestler in her off time, with an alias lady wrestler type name which cannot be repeated here. She was a little hard looking, tatted up and muscular but she could sell art til’ the cows came home. In fact she could not stop talking, but in sales that is sometimes a plus. After I began working there I found out that she was sort of on probation, in danger of losing her position, because she was a little on the undependable side. Her boyfriend Chung was a rock star in the world of wrestling, with his giant chiseled body, long lanky hair and dozens of piercings. He was a scary dude. Having him in the gallery occasionally to pick up Sandra was both an attraction and a detriment – crowds of (also pretty wacked out) wrestling fans who recognized him quickly formed a gang asking for his autograph but then other potential art buyers, more cultured and refined, bolted for the door. It was never a dull moment in there. Psychos to the left of me and freak show on the right, stuck in the middle…welcome to the art scene. It sometimes reminded me of the bar scene in one of the original Star Wars movies, and if Jar Jar Binks himself had walked in to apply for a job or purchase a painting I would not have given it a second thought. Thank you very much, I thought, glad to be back. This is going to be entertaining. Is it cocktail hour yet?

Please read the book’s full description on Amazon.com!

Available on Amazon.com

http://www.acanaryfliesthecanyon.com

Google Chrome – http://www.joannbrownscottauthor.com

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The Creative Epiphany – Refrigerator Wisdom in the USA

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I love to entertain, and when I do my guests spend time in the kitchen reading my frig art. I do believe this is an American art form too long overlooked – each and every frig magnet selection is unique and timely and informative…..it  reveals the philosophy of the household and the mood of the decade. It is a barometer of the times, so to speak, unless your magnets and clippings are so old that they should be replaced. You do want your frig art to be timely, for Pete’s sake. It is  a passive-aggressive message board, saying everything you would not or could not say out loud, in a sort of  “ok read it at your own risk” kind of way….”I don’t know how it got up there but….” and then “well of course it’s my house but sometimes other people just…”

And people do give me magnets all the time, and purposely walk in the door, then into the kitchen and boldly post something on my frig. They are too chicken to put it on their own damn frig.  So I am an enabler. I took down some of the more suggestive, but hilarious ones for the noble cause of this blog post.

Are you a neat display freak or do you slap stuff up there all willy-nilly? I am both, depending on the day and what kind of hurry I am in. Sometimes I take it all down and edit it in an attempt to make sense of it all. I am an eclectic frig displayer – I like a frisky assortment of messages.

What’s on your frig?  Are you leaning toward political statements or the literary, wisdom themes or the sexy themes or what?

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Of course Jack Kerouac is always great – and Rumi has certainly stood the test of time. You cannot find a more fascinating author of life’s lessons than Rumi. I wish I could put 100 of his quotes on my frig.

My current favorite by far is the menacing bird, saying “I would sell you to Satan for one corn chip.” Such a great message about life – watch out for those who can be cheaply bought, and be careful of the simple offer disguised as a good deal. You never know who you are dealing with, or who he represents…..are you the corn chip or the devil? All of the bird quotes on my frig are from  www.mincingmockingbirds.com – a website that is crazy and kinda sick – love it. The Satan bird is positioned right in the middle of a group of timeless Matisse images which makes no sense but who cares.

Another one that shows up in the group photo – about the tomato – is a great hit at my house, indicative of a person we all know who shall go nameless and had a legendary tendency to tell everyone what to do about every single teeny little detail of life. My sister gave me the magnet and assertively slapped in on the frig when she came to visit one time…..a not so subtle suggestion that did not actually go over very well but made most of us feel better that we had done something to express our disapproval.

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I think an international art exhibit of frig art is long overdue, and so let’s think about doing that…wouldn’t we all know each other better if we could just walk into kitchens around the world and read everyone’s frig art?

The Creative Epiphany – Sitting Around at Sunset on the Big Island

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A selection of sunsets for your viewing pleasure, Kona HI

So during my recent stay on the Big Island, drinking sunset wine on the western deck at 1000 ft elevation, with the Specific Ocean spread out before us like glass, and well into the prime time viewing portion of a dazzling, colorful display in shades of pewter, silver, steel blue and iridescent gold underneath the warm colors of sister sun…we are feeling no pain and talking about birds.

Birds are plentiful there – squawking and screeching and calling to eachother for answers to the big bird questions. It begins about 4:30 or 5 am and continues with different groups and choruses all day long until dusk. Since lots of chickens roam the island in the epitome of the much sought after free-range chicken life, you are liable to have roosters nearby who of course signal the dawn in big COCKA DOODLE DAMN DOOOOO (I am awake now and so are you) announcements every single morning – the good news is the free-range part because eventually they move on to greener pastures and bigger bugs to eat.

And there are crows. Remember that all these birds first breezed into the island at some point in a very ancient time, either purposely or riding involuntarily on the prevailing winds or perhaps a storm that they could not get out of, like being in a giant washing machine headed somewhere. I am fascinated – glued – to James Michener’s thick, almost 1000 page classic book “Hawaii”. I got it when I came back to the mainland and can’t put it down. Well sometimes I have to put it down because it weighs too much to carry around all day. At the time of the Roman Empire and Christ the islands were still being formed by volcanic activity and did not yet exist as a habitable location….they were forming, becoming a potential paradise, but still without edible food and clear water. The Big Island of Hawaii and her smaller sisters had not even come close to being discovered or habituated by a human person. Think about that, and think about the first people arriving and how amazed they were….but I digress.

Birds are usually found in groups which are not always called flocks, and while sitting on the deck we googled bird info and the names of various bird groups. Here is what we found, and we could not stop reading, while opening another bottle of wine.

A bunch of Crows is actually called a MURDER. Then we also have : Teams of Ducks. A Mob of Emus. An Ostentation of Peacocks! A Pitying of Turtledoves…. A Cast of Hawks. A Wedge of Geese (while they are flying). A Siege of Cranes. A Herd od Swans. A Charm of Hummingbirds. A Company  of Parrots. A Conspiracy of Ravens. An Exaltation of Larks. A Parliament of Owls. A Tiding of Magpies. A Scold of Jays.

Well it got funnier and funnier. You had to be there ( we wish for you that you were…). We also made up some of our own – well of course we did. It was sunset in paradise and we had the time.

There are many more to be found if you follow this link to the Palomar Audubon Society page: http://palomaraudubon.org/collective.html

Open a bottle of wine and watch the sunset wherever you are.

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The Creative Epiphany – My Film Review for “American Hustle”

 Photo courtesy of getwhatsbuzzing.com

“American Hustle” is a film I really wanted to see so I took myself out last night about dinner time in the bitter cold, since the hype has been enormous and quite frankly, I am a sucker for hype if it is well done. I liked the posters and the previews. I like the people in it. You can do your own research for more details about it on FANDANGO.

This is one of those “loosely” based-upon-truth flicks, as is stated in text at the beginning in a catchy sort of way, about the Abscam financial scandal of the 70’s and the legendary con artist – played by Christian Bale and his hilarious and pathetic hair comb-over – who perpetrated the scheme. I do think it is pretty loosely based, but in a TV interview I heard one of the stars of the film say that it is the most unbelievable crazy incidents in the film that are actually the true parts.  And it is funny. it is one of those convoluted plots that keeps you thinking…keeps you going…keeps you engaged and yet is confusing to follow at times. And of course in the end all becomes crystal clear and you are supposed to be amazed.
I was not amazed, but I was entertained after we got past its slow-ish start, during which my mind wandered a bit (what am I going to have for dinner after this is over, did I remember to do that thing in my Christmas preparations, uh-oh I’m getting sleepy…).
When it picked up speed, the show was consistently stolen by the boobs of Amy Adams who plays the female lead – not because they are huge, bulbous and fake, but because they are oh so real, perky and right there in practically every scene via deep plunging necklines that go to the waist with no bra. I wondered if that part – those parts – and her clothing choices were some of the “true” scenes in the movie or not. Who dresses like that in real life? The girlfriends of con artists I guess, so now we know what to look for. She happens to be a good actress too, as a bonus. But your mind is wondering if somewhere along the way one of those boobs is going to be set free out of its proper place. And the other babe in the film is played by Jennifer Lawrence – she was brilliant too, as were most of the guys. I love gangster characters, and those guys were so deliciously authentic looking. Oh and by the way, there is another hair thing going on with Bradley Cooper, who plays an FBI agent, and if you are old enough it will remind you of the 70’s. That hair was a true phenom back in the day. You cannot do the 70’s without the hair.
The movie, much anticipated, did not blow me away – I’d give it a B. It is clever and the characters are fascinating. I say go to a movie and maybe see this one when you are in the right mood. Its plot is, well, outrageously and unbelievably true-ish.
For Your Viewing Pleasure,
JABS

The Creative Epiphany – Santa, Am I Being Punished?

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This is a very stressful and patience-testing time of year. So much to remember to do, so little time and money and endurance with which to do it. Everybody has their way of coping, and those who do not find one single coping mechanism that works are going to be nuts by January 1st. I am on my way to the loony bin.

The season started off with bitter freezing weather here in Colorado and I got a split in the skin on the tip of my thumb that looks like a bloody crevasse. How can something that small hurt so much? I would rather have childbirth with no painkiller than this thumb wound. I have used Vaseline, Neosporin, Chap Stick and Aveeno dry skin ream – tried each one of those remedies overnight with a Band-Aid over it and woke up all mended, but by the middle of the next afternoon it has split open again. It is now December 16th and it is still re-opening nearly every afternoon about 3 pm no matter what I am doing. I could even be motionless and it will flop open… Super Glue? This aggravation does cause crankiness – by the third week of it I was snarling and wishing bad things upon other people – hoping Miley Cyprus would not be able to think of another single attention getting stunt ever again because her creativity would dry up like a crack in the desert soil, and like my thumb. I was also wishing hard that Justin Bieber would lose his driver’s license –  really, is that a mean thought? It might potentially save dozens of lives. He is so young – he’d get over it with no harm done. He needs to have a toy other than a speeding careening car. This is now almost the 4th week of the split thumb and I want to punch something.

I bought a huge sack of white styrofoam peanuts ( we used to call it ghost poop when the kids were growing up) because I had to pack a big fragile thing for shipping. Temporarily I sat it up on the shelf in the walk-in closet, only to find the next morning that it had somehow popped open and had vomited those cheeto-like things all over the place –  even behind stuff that I never even move. It practically filled up the entire closet. How could it do that? The bag that I had safely brought home from the shipping store had emptied itself out! I live by myself! Is it really ghost poop, I had to wonder? Do I have a ghost?

Putting away a large spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner with vinegar, on the high shelf above the washer & dryer, I missed my mark and dropped it, and heard it fall down behind the washer – which might as well be all the way to China, because I can’t move the washer and my arm is not long enough to get down behind it. I decide to wait until my son comes home for Christmas to retrieve it for me. In the meantime, the next morning, I do a load of laundry wondering vaguely, in the recesses of my cob-webby busy mind, why the laundry detergent smells different. After the load is done I pull clothes out of the washer, including a badly mangled spray bottle, in amazement that it landed THERE inside the washer rather than behind the washer, and find that the entire bottle of cleaning solution with vinegar has lost its contents on a load full of blacks. I could have sworn it went down behind, not inside. I am beginning to think I am crazy. The clothes smelled horrible and I had to wash them 3 more times.

I worked myself into a slow simmer when I heard on TV that a young punk kid, barely old enough to drive, who killed 4 people when he was driving a car at 3 times the acceptable limit for alcohol was given probation by a judge who said he was a victim of AFFLUENZA – and therefor not responsible for his actions – because he is from an affluent wealthy wealthy wealthy family who never taught him right from wrong and had him living in a mansion all by himself with no supervision whatsoever. So he was let off the hook. For 4 lives. Have we all gone insane? Where are the parents? Why are they not interviewing those people? Why can’t they be tried if the kid gets off?

I am out doing errands in the car, starting with the gas station. The guy in front of me is having a hard time with his credit card or something and so I decide to change lanes and  back up to go to another pump. I look over my shoulder before I put it in reverse, I check the other side – all clear – I go backwards and instantly feel and hear a crunch as I hit the fender of a car. WHAT? HUH??? I jump out and run over to her and I say, “I am soooo sorry! I looked behind me but I didn’t see any car!!” She answers, very calmly, “Well I was just pulling in – I saw you moving toward me but I pulled in anyway!” HUH??? Who does that? Can you not wait for 3 more seconds when a car is moving toward you to avoid a collision? You can’t? What is the matter with you?

Home from my errands, I file an accidental fender bender report on the computer…instead of waiting to make myself a healthy dinner after I’m done with that, I grab a handful of “you can’t take just one” carmel and nut popcorn. I get a piece caught in my last molar on the left side, I reach in to loosen it with my finger, and a hunk of my tooth comes out with it. When I touch it with my tongue it feels like the Grand Canyon, and I see $$$ signs. Exactly the same amount of $$$ signs that my son’s Christmas gift will cost…am I being tested? Of course he will get his new ski helmet no matter what, I growl to no one in particular.

Have I uttered an expletive throughout all of these mishaps? NO. I have not, Santa.

It was not until the next afternoon when I went to a movie to see the film “12 Years A Slave”, thinking I could chill out a little bit and give myself a treat – but noooooo –  I truly hit the tipping point and lost it. As I got up to the window to buy my ticket they informed me that they were having problems with correct movie listings on FANDANGO, which I had checked for times on my Iphone, and they were no longer offering “12 Years A Slave”. Dozens of people were waiting to see that film. The theater had posted no sign. no apology, no explanation – but instead just decided to inform dozens of waiting people, one by one as they got up to the window, that the film would not show at all anymore. Why don’t people think?

I backed slowly away from the counter, smiling that insane kind of smile that people are afraid to see on a person in a public place. The others cleared a path for me, gave me a wide berth, looked at me with caution and I walked quickly to my car, stepped inside, shut the door and screamed F**K at the top of my lungs about 15 times. It was not just the film – it was an accumulation of rotten stuff.

Am I being punished? Tested? Messed with? All of the above I am sure.

But I can endure – and so can you. Just figure out a way to register your anger with the universe and let it fly in a non-violent expression of some kind. Then get over it and start fresh in time for the 25th. You can do it – I know you can.

The Creative Epiphany – possessed

I managed to make it well into my sixth decade without ever having a bug in my ear until last summer. I am not referring to that cute phrase people use when they want to give you a hint about something by whispering in your ear – I am telling you it was a real bug. Inside the personal space of my actual ear.

This never once happened to me in the most logical of environs, like when I was a kid, raised on 8 country acres at the top of Munger Road hill in southern Ohio amid horses and horse flies, ducks, gnats, chickens, lice, rabbits, cats and dogs with tics and one goat, fireflies and mosquitoes and ordinary house flies and the neighbor’s cows which were walking bug habitats. This bug woke me from a deep sleep in the safety and comfort of my own bed. There was absolutely no warning…..suddenly I was possessed.

I thought at first that a B52 was landing in my backyard. Then I realized it was an internal thing and what ensued was mayhem. If it had been filmed it would have been mistaken for an exorcism at the very least. Paranormal behavior to be sure. Wild, eye-popping panic and a snarl, mine, accompanied by distorted grimacing, jumping up and down on the bed as if I was plugged into jumper cables, trying to expel the satanic demon. The 10 decibel BBBUUUZZIIINNGG  and then the thousand-a-second-vibrations of wings that seemed like a hummingbird smacking against the insides of my ear canal. I jumped to a standing position, began hopping around the room shaking my head from side to side, then up and down, and in a nano-second I considered:

a Q-tip – no! – I might push it in deeper – OMG – to my brain!

water – no! – I might float it in deeper – OH NO! to my brain!

suction of some kind – the dustbuster –  no no no! – I might break my eardrum! Or suck out my brain!

All the while I am spinning and twisting my head to such an extent that it must have spun almost a full 360. I hoped I could potentially force the monster out by sheer vibration and centrifugal force because the SOUND was unbearable. The flapping was horrendous but the NOISE! I pictured the thing, his feet glued by earwax to the floor of my ear canal, beating his wings in frustrated fury. Every once in a while the bug would stop. And I would stop. Then it would start flapping and buzzing again, even more violently than before. I was screeching – I was yelling! Surely he would soon wear himself out and die. Or would I? Should I jump in the car and dash to the emergency room? Could I drive? Could I keep still enough in the driver’s seat to control the car? Should I just call 911? Hello? YES!! HELP! I have a bug in my ear! Bring equipment!

And then it stopped. I could not believe it – I didn’t trust the silence. I braced myself for another round. But all was quiet and still. I rushed sweaty and panting to the bathroom and got the magnifying mirror, trying to look in my ear, or in my hair, for the monster that had invaded my body space. There was nothing to be found.

Did it really happen? Was I dreaming? Is the devil gone?

Send me some butterflies.