laurie kendrick

Oh My God-diva!!!!

Hello all,

It’s been forever since I’ve written anything on this blog.

But today, I stumbled upon something so incredibly decadent, that I decided to end my journalistic exile….if only for today…..by sharing with you a new, but regrettable appreciation for sweet stuff.

Up until quite recently, I was a savory loving broad. If I ever had anything sweet, it was a Coke and nothing else. But here I am four years into crone status, and chocolate has become a lusty pursuit. Thanks estrogen declination.

So today, while waiting for an appointment with a repair tech at a local Apple store, I happened by a Godiva boutique. Nice chocolates, right? But not my cup of tea. So, I have always been able walk by these ass expansion projects with no problem, but this afternoon, I was lured inside by the muse, Cacoacophony.

She’s the pudgy one with blood glucose issues.

I walked in the store, took a look around the place, and my eyes went straight to the chocolate dipped macaroon packages displayed on shelves, but arranged to say in the most subliminal ways, Eat me!”

I did.

I bought a four pack (around 20 bucks or so) knowing full well of the impending punishment. I took one bite and my jeans and I both cried simultaneously.

We’re talking about a nice sized truffle almost as big as my palm. Calorically?? About 330 calories packed inside a rich, dense, not overwhelmingly sweet, cake-like macaroon, not “bonbonish” at all, yet still quite moist. They’re all hand dipped in your choice of milk, white or dark chocolate. I have no idea if they’re kosher or gluten-free. I couldn’t read the label after shredding the package open with my teeth and at least four toes.

Make no mistake, these are  guilty pleasureS  INDEED imageat 330 calories per macaroon. I found this out after the fact and immediately vowed I would eat only a half each day, which would allow me to spread out my joy throughout the week.

That didn’t happen.

One half lead to three quarters ,which lead to one whole macaroon which in turn, forced me to eat a second one. Yes, forced,. Gum paste gunpoint. I was in such chocolate denial, exacerbated by sugar rush that would gack out a Howler monkey.  I found myself cutting it up in  8 tiny slices.

Seriously. As if eating it that way would make a difference. Whether you cut a 16 inch pizza in four slices or eight, it’s still a 16 inch pizza.

But mind you, this minor math lesson could necessitate the need for a meth session. One bite and you will happily bloat up and feel generally guilty and slovenly for hours. These are hubris filled bad boys and damn good. If they were humans, they’d be coconut narcissists.

All I know is that after one bite I wanted to light a cigarette, change the sheets and take a nap.

Keep in mind this is coming from a non-sleeping, middle- aged woman, teetering on frigidity, who doesn’t like sweets and never smoked.

The University of Texas: Forty Very Acrid Acres

Yes, I know.   Six generations of fruit flies have come and gone since I last posted a fresh, new blog.    I have no excuses, nothing much has inspired my digits to glide across my keyboard lately.    And in an effort to curb the codpendence blogging can create, I vowed to myself that that’s exactly what I’d do—-publish something ONLY if I felt moved.

Well, after last night’s humiliating Longhorn loss to Ole Miss, I had a movement alright.    And  the color of it just happens  to be  newest hue in the Crayola box of 64:   Mack Brown.

Look people, I’m a faithful Texas fan.    I’ve been through the years of feast and the years of famine, but lately UT football has been terribly frustrating and ironic….not unlike a bulimic trying to maintain an impossible binge/purge a habit while living in Sub- Saharan Africa.     And this sentiment has been bubbling to the core ever since the Longhorns won the National Championship in 2005.   After that, things went downhill.   We’re talking eight years of demonstrating frustration and eating humble pie.    Now, I know what it’s like to have been an Aggie for a while there.

In all my years of being a devout Orange Blood, I have never, even allowed the possibility of this thought to enter my gray matter.   Loyalty is the very core of  fandom.

But….

I hope Texas never wins another game this season.

There, I said it.

And I said it because this is the only way the puppet master withing university brass will fire Texas head coach, Mack Brown.  He’s been at the helm of the UT program for 16 years.  Several were good years indeed. He helped us get to the Rose Bowl for the very first time.  We played Michigan and won thanks to the golden toe of young field goal kicker, Dusty Mangum who put it between the uprights in the final seconds of the game.   We returned a year later   to beat USC for the national championship.     A few years later, we played Alabama for the National Championship.      We took home the silver medal in that contest.      Even so, it was a good run for Brown;  was being the operative word.

There was, I feel, a great deal hinging on the outcome of the Longhorn’s third game of the season.  In the first contest,  they beat a community college who’s name escaped me.  Then in game two, they lost to BYU.     Last night, after showing some initial promise in terms of field command, they went into the locker room at halftime and reemerged sub par.   The Kennedy’s playing flag football at the Vineyard compound at Thanksgiving could have beaten Texas.

There are two things the top brass at Texas don’t like:  losing and the colors maroon and white.    Texas, love it or hate it, is a very wealthy school.   It’s coffers  perennially  beat out  other Texas Universities hands down and is the third wealthiest in the country behind the Thurston Howell the Third schools, such as Harvard and Yale, respectively.   The UT system’s endowment totals more than $17 billion, and check this out:  the school only receives 20% of its budget from the state, and that support has dropped steadily since 2009, leading to student walkouts to protest the budget cuts.

So, where does it get its money?    A couple of places:   There’s the University  The Permanent University Fund (PUF) which is a Sovereign Wealth Fund provided by the state to  fund public higher education within Texas.   It started out as funds received from the least of grasslands owned by the state and then came Spindletop and big oil.   Need I say more?     A portion of the returns  are annually directed towards the Available University Fund (AUF), which distributes the funds according to provisions set forth by the Texas Constitution of 1876, subsequent   amendments made since then, and the board of regents of the all powerful  University of Texas  System and their counterparts at Texas A&M.   The PUF provides extra funds, above monies from tax revenues, to both collegiate systems  which collectively have approximately 50 percent of state public university students. But while this fund was established to fund public universities, no  other schools in the state are allowed to dip their feet into this ever flowing font of green.   However, in 1984, university systems such as those at Texas Tech, North Texas State and others were given access to   the Higher Education Assistance Fund, essentially oil and natural gas crumbs.   Adding any other university system  or individual institutions to the Permanent University Fund would require an amendment to the Texas Constitution and since the majority of the Legislature consists of Aggie and Texas alumni, that ain’t gonna happen.

UT also operates on endowments…BIG ENDOWMENTS from deep pocketed alumni, who say prayers to St. Darrel of Royal every morning.    And then there’s the licensing of merchandise.  For the eighth straight year, Texas tops all other schools in terms of selling Longhorn merchandise and this is on going despite several abysmal football seasons.   People love the burnt orange and apparently, this little logo:

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Bevo, as it turns out is quite marketable as bovine goes.

And then there’s the hand gesture:

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It’s cool.   It kinda looks like the horns on a steer of that particular breed.   Rockers love it, but not for team loyalty and let’s be honest,  hands down it beats all the other Johnny Come lately team hand signs that came afterwards.

So, burnt orange means   green in Austin.      But while Longhorn caps, shirts, golf clubs, Christmas ornaments, insurance policies and , prosthetic limbs continue to fly off the shelves, I would think endowments from the Mega Bucked, would falter. If I were giving multi-million dollar donations to keep the Laurie Kendrick Endowment for the Endowed to stay afloat, I would most certainly want some bang for my buck.

Like winning football games if I may be so shallow.

The powers that be at Texas love Mack Brown and they have for the last 16 seasons which have been uglier than pretty.  After losing to BYU more than a week ago, Brown fired his defensive coach 24 hours after the second game of the season, something he said he’d never do.    It was if the Longhorns were trying to lose.    I witnessed more blown tackles on that field, than on a post game Sunday night in San Francisco’s Castro District.

And during last night’s debacle, the team looked like uncoordinated flying squirrels.   Leaping and lunging for tackles only to fall short.   They stood up  with mouths full of turf and little else.  As for receivers?   They can’t even catch subtle nuance.

All of this was etched on  Brown’s face.  I noticed it in pics taken before the game.     It was care-worn in that way.  His expression was like “I’d rather be in Damascus”.     He’s aged ‘presidentially”.     You know, as presidents do during extended times of crisis.  As Nixon did during the Checkers speech….and Watergate.    As Carter did during the Iranian embassy crisis.   As Clinton did after Lewinsky, as Bush did after 9/11…as Obama has done since taking office.      He looked bad before the game.  I can only imagine the facial pallor afterwards.   Mack, I beg you…do what Deloss Dodds and that other head honcho   guy won’t do.    It’s called ‘ the right thing”  and you’d accomplish that by abdicating.   Help return some gravitas to UT by hanging up your head coach’s whistle and head set.

NickSabanOr better yet, hand it all over to Nick Saban.   He’s perfect for Texas and I’ll tell you why.   It’s early in the season, but I’d lay odds that he’ll lead the Tide to their fourth (maybe fifth–sorry, not a fan) consecutive BCS title.    Every winning streak ends. It happens.   Ask Oklahoma.     And when it happens to Bama…and it will, do you think those spoiled fans, now so used to winning season after season,  would let Saban survive when its all over??     Highly doubtful he wouldn’t be tarred and feathered beyond one losing  season.

And every losing streak must end, too.  And it will for Texas.     Saban could be key to that.     And why not?      For Coach Nick, it’s a classic case of ‘been there/done that’.   By coming to Texas, he could possibly earn as much ten to 12 million per year, making him the highest paid coach in college football history and trust me, UT can afford that salary  and  then some.   That’s two days production on some UT owned oil wells in South Texas.w    He’d have the chance to do what coaches love to do:  take over a struggling program and rebuild it.   Shine it up pretty to its original Southwest Conference luster.  He may love the Alabama regents, the team…he may even love the state, but the man is human.   Team Saban will always come first.   Nothing against Nickie for that.   It’s all part of today’s survival skills.  In the new millennium, that means making money.   Fiscal promotions are perfectly acceptable exit strategies.    Besides, college coaches are gridiron bohemians, they move a  lot, they have to  command respect in a variety of team colors.   Very few coaches ever have Paterno-like staying power and let’s be honest, even that storied history  was no match after being Sanduskeyed as all of Penn State was.

So Saban, head west.   Come to Austin.     Keep Mack around if you must.   Use him to recruit.   He’s good at that and over the years, he has helped lure many talented blue chippers to the Forty Acres in the heart of Austin.    The problem is  he just forgets how to use them effectively once they sign their commitment contracts.

If that road is not taken,   well, then my beloved Longhorns,  you just keep on playing swinging statues out on the field.   Get tossed around like salad…and not the good kind.    Continue to drop passes.   Give up yards.   Penalize yourself into negative rushing.   Depend on field goals to do what rubbery passing arms and greasy catching hands can’t do.   If you must fail with Mack holding the reigns, then please do so with epic intent.   Be the best at being the worst.  Prove your point with more marks in the Lost Column.   And just remember, lost games means lost revenue.   Sadly, that just  might be the only real reality check at Texas.

And  when the  Longhorn merchandise sales falls behind that of Slippery Rock, when fans no longer buy tickets to the games and refuse to watch the contests on TV, leaving the networks desperately trying to find sponsors, when new building endowments are replaced by  paltry cashier’s checks to purchase  lean- to’s at Mart-O-Rama, remember the glory days when the winning was easy and the money flowed.    When strategy ruled.   And an offense was something beyond that which was listed on  a crime  blotter.

And uh, speaking of,  Mr. UT  Athletic Director, what’s with  all the criminal news issues coming out of Austin regarding team members in recent years?  With all the accusations of rape, drugs usage, DWI’s, attempted murder and other assorted acts of mayhem, I suggest  you might want to follow Patty Hearst’s lead and replace Defensive coach Manny Diaz who you fired after the BYU loss, with renowned defense attorney, F. Lee Bailey.    How about Robert Shapiro? Clarence Darrow’s great grandson?   Matlock?????

prison-uniformBook ‘em, Horns,  as the old joke goes.       What the hell, they already look decent in orange.

American Horror Sstory/Asylum: Episode Five

My..my..my..my..my.

Dr. Threadson revealed he is Bloody Face.

Or did he??????

Why would the creative team of Falchuk and Murray shoot their wad so quickly?  I mean, the identity of the person behind Bloody Face is this season’s Latex Onesey Gimp.   And by the way, I still feel that one of last year’s MAJOR AHS plot flaws was a failure to reveal anything about this black shiny masochistic device, as in why Tate wore it.  Why he killed while wearing it.  We all knew he could kill without it.   Remember the exterminator in the basement?   There were other murders he committed without the suit as well.

So, why reveal five episodes in that Threadson is Bloody Face?

Okay, I’ll accept that he might be a murderer–he might even be the real Bloody Face,  but I’ll bet you ANY amount of money that BF version 2012 isn’t Threadson, unless he’s also gotten that Dorian Grey thing down.  Remember, this season takes place in 1964.   For Threadson to still be whacking and hacking today, he’d have to be in his 80’s.  The Bloody Face that attacked the haunted house touring honeymood couple, Adam Levine and the Mila Kunis/Selena Gomez clone in the first episode, sure was agile and fast for an octogenerian.

We’ll have to dissect this further once we learn more about Threadson and his plans diabolique for future female victims.

Meanwhile, LOVED the homage to Ed Gein with the nipple’s clearly visible in the lampshade made out of skin in Threadson fabu 60’s bachelor pad.   Old Eddie was one extremely interesting homicideal maniac who was the inspiration behind The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence of The Lambs.  He’d kill, rob graves and keep trophies of his exploits.   A chair made or real human args and legs, etc.

Even the candy bowl on Threadson’s coffee table was the top of a skull.   Cool, as was the trap door in his…uh “work room”.    If you remember, Threadson took a fancy to reporter Lana Winters and promised he could/would rescue her from Briarcliff.   He made good with her promise.   He walked her right out, put her in her front seat of his car and even told an aproaching gaurd sent by Sister Jude to find him, that he no longer worked at Briacliff.  In fact, he insisted that the guard tell her that “he never had worked there”.

Makes me wonder if he was ever really a shrink and just a well educated maniac who lied his way in to Briarcliff to find who or what he was looking for.  I mean, hey–for a serial murder with a penchant for crazy, asylums make victims ripe for the picking.   And after last night’s episode, it sounds almost like Lana will be spared because she’s a reporter and this murderous psychopath-slash- narcissist wants his story told.   Perhaps Lana will get the story, but she’ll have to go tbrough  HELL to get it written.  He took the face off of Lana’s lover who he attacked in episode two and made a mask out of it.    He crudely placed her teeth in and around the lips and asked Lana to give it a big old wet one.

Nercophelia is bad enough, but add dismemberment to the issue?????

Ed Gein was in to that, too.

Also, I’ve inclined to think that Grace (the French chick with the shag haircut) never went under the knife for her sterilization.  I think she was abducted by the aliens from her cell (which by way, looked very much like the one Adam Levine’s wife hid from Bloody Face in).   She was awakened by this approaching bright light and grinding metal on metal sound and just before we went to commercial, we were offered an extreme close up of Graces face and eventually her eye, and in a pinpoint light next to her pupil,  you could see an image of something–it was either an octopus….a Portuguese Man of War…..OR….one of the tentacled but benevolent aliens that greeted Jodie Foster on the familiar beach of her mind in the movie, Contact.

Did anyone else see that or was I just having an acid flashback?

Anyway, she’s on an examining table on some nebulous sound stage and has some strange encounter with Alma, (I think that’s her name)  which was Tate’s wife that was supposedly killed by Tate/Kit, but as we know, was actually abducted by aliens.   So does this mean Alma is alive and living happily among the aliens or….did they simply need to move into her body to appear human to dupe the humans??????   You know aliens are.

Anyway, the next thing we know, she’s sitting in the  Commons Room and bleeding vaginally.    Tate/Kit sees her and thinks she was sterilized.  Just then the guards come in with the police and arrest him for all the Bloody Face murders.   They say they have his taped confession.

Which was something Threadson made him do in an old reel to reel recorder under the guise if he heard what happened in his own words there would be a better psychological connected to what really happened–or some psycho-babble shit.  Threadson sent the tape to authorities giving them their Bloody Face and allowing Threadson to continue to thrill-kill willy nilly.

No, I don’t think Grace was sterilized.  I think she was either crudely impregnated by the aliens or had an impromptu hysterectomy, not sure which.  I say this because of the conversation he and Grace had in their adjoining cells.   There was a lot of talk about wanting children…especially how much he and his wife Alma wanted kids.  I feel there’s a connection there somewhere.

I also loved Chloe the hobbled nympho’s appearance at the bottom of the stairs near the school.   Sister Satan told Dr. Arden that she took her out to the woods.   Nah, she tossed her down the stairs just like Regan did with Father Karras at the end of The Exorcist.    The stairs even looked like the ones in the movie and lest we forget, the demonic connection is shared in the story line.  As we’ve learned over the past two seasons, Falchuk and Murray are not above pilfering (lovingly so) from their favorite horror movies.

Then there’s Anne Frank, supposedly Charlotte Brown, a housewife with one helluva bad case of postpartum psychosis.   After having her baby, she became obsessed with Anne Frank and assumed her identity.  Whether she’s Anne or not, she knew enough to be able to  completely out Arden as Herr Doctor Gruber or Gruper, an insidiously cruel Nazi SS  physician who toured the Concentration Camps performing ungodly experiments on inmates.

Eventually, Charlotte’s husband has to bring her back to Briarcliff–he can’t handle her and Arden performs a lobotomy on her.   She goes home and transforms into this Stepford Wife who’s in the process of throwing away all her Nazi homework.   But she didn’t get to all of the copies of photos and newspaper stories on the wall.    Just as episode five comes to an end, the camera keys in on one remaining photo hanging there.   It’s one of Hitler standing at a podium in the midst of some anti-Semitic/Final Solution speech and behind him is a scowling decorated SS officer and of course, it’s none other than,  Dr. Arden Gruper Nazi SS Angel of Death Sadist Tool.

Lastly,  did Sister Jude actually go out on the town, and with her red lipstick, seduce up a man at a bar and sleep with him?    Or was that just a fantasy of her previous life or of a life she wants to live outside of her monastic confines????    Arden did say he was going to press charges against her because Anne Frank lifted a gun off a visiting detective and shot Herr Doctor in the leg.  Just a flesh wound.

Sister Jude said the charges meant that it was over for her.  She was done.  Tooth pick inserted in the center and removed crumbless.

Here’s what I think:  Threadson will keep Lana hostage in his hellish lair o’death forcing him to write his biography….a hat tip to the movie Misery, perhaps.   Sister Satan will become increasingly more demonic and will form an unholy alliance with Arden to rule Briarcliff and with the help of the aliens, develop maniacal, imperialistic designs to eventually, THE ENTIRE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ll bet Grace is pregnant.  Tate/Kit somehow gets a ‘get out of fail’ card and we’ll learn more about the human eating, forest dwelling creatures,  a sorority in which  the hobbled nympho will surely be blackballed.   Perhaps, the tubby teacher who saw her attempting to slither up the stairs near campus, will call the cops who’ll be able take her to the hospital where she might still be verbal enough to prove that she’s a prime example of Dr. Arden’s handiwork.

And then…maybe the Simon Wiesenthal-esque nazi hunter that Sister Jude contacted will finally get his man.

And in turn, so will Sister Jude.

Probably won’t be able to offer up an overiew of episode six next Wednesday.  I’m cooking for 11 people for Thanksgiving in my lovely, semi-well appointed new home.    I’ll be up to my armpits in dressing, cranberries and Kendrick holiday  mayhem.  See you back here for Episode Seven in two weeks.

Also, my epic piece on JFK assassination facts will be published Tuesday.  this year marks the 49th anniversary of his death in Dallas.  I’ve done a lot of research on regarding lots of little known facts about the case.   Interesting read, if I say so myself.

Until then have a great holiday, kids.

Oh and have a turkey leg for the hobbled Nympho.

Father’s Day…2012

I dread this particular 24 hour span. I’ve never had a great relationship with my dad and this Father’s Day will mark almost six years since I last laid eyes on him.

My brother has been insisting for months now, that more than enough time has passed and that I and I alone will have to make the effort to “break the silence”. I respond to his haranguing by telling him, “Why bother? I don’t have a father”.

I’ve felt that way for years.

I woke up at 3:15 that morning after fitful night’s sleep. I tossed, I turned; my mind spun like a Roulette Wheel. Millions of normal, emotionally healthy people would be spending this day with their fathers. Could I do the same? And really, what would it hurt to visit my dad? It would be easy enough to make the effort to visit with the man who, as my mother always said, “was merely present for my conception”. That’s the role he always played; a part well cast by her rage and his bitterness.

Besides, I needed reconciliation.

I made the long drive to the country. It was pleasant—more so than I remembered. Daddy always liked it here. He spoke about it all the time. When he was younger, he loved being outdoors, especially in this part of South Texas. I also spent some time here growing up. Michael and I loved playing in the barn and swimming in the river. I’d have to agree with my father; there was something about this land. Gently rolling hills; rich farm land as far as the eye could see. Pine and Mesquite trees dotted the landscape. It was nice. Quiet. Peaceful. I was stressing over having to visit my father, but the sheer tranquility of the countryside was having an amazing effect on me. I was starting to relax.

I drove up to the gate which leads to his property. I remembered it being larger for some reason. It was locked, as usual, but Dad always said we should come right in. The combination was easy to remember…. it was Michael’s birthday. Never underestimate the relationship between a father and his only son. I got back in the car and drove over the iron cattle guard; it had a jarring effect on my car. I’d forgotten how that felt.

Memories.

I parked the car, grabbed my things which were on the seat beside me and exited the car. I walked over to him. Would he recognize me? Would he know I’d even stopped by?

I started the conversation immediately.

” Hi Daddy. I know it’s been a while since I was last here to see you. I guess an apology is in order, but things have been crazy at home.”

I was talking fast, hoping to avoid any awkward silence.

“You remember Robert, don’t you? Well, he was just promoted to partner in his firm and the kids are growing like weeds.”

I reached for my my purse; I was going to show him pictures, but thought against it. He was never close to his grandchildren.

“Teddy reminds me of you, Daddy. He has your hazel eyes and your love of fishing. In fact, he and Robert went out in the Gulf a few weeks ago and they caught seven huge Red Snapper. And Kate is my baby. You last saw her when she was five. Well, believe it or not, she’ll be 12 in October and in seventh grade next year. Daddy, she’s so pretty and so smart. She made all “A’s” last semester. Sometimes, I wonder if she’s really my daughter!”

I chuckled.

Silence.

The wind blew my hair in my face. I brushed it away and continued to plow through our conversation.

“I suppose you’re wondering why I’m here today after all these years. Well, it’s Father’s Day and I felt I should be here. I felt that I had to make the effort”.

I looked down and kicked a few stones with the toe of my shoe. I could feel emotions welling up inside me.

I took a deep breath.

“Daddy, I’m also here because I can’t deal with this any longer. There’s so much I don’t understand. I need to know why you left the family. I want to know why you left me! I’ve always wanted to know the answer to that question!”

My voice was cracking.

“I was just 11 when you walked out and I didn’t understand the dynamics of marriage or divorce, for that matter. All I knew was that you left. You walked out one night without an explanation and without telling me goodbye. Do you have any idea what that did to me? The precedent that set forthe rest of my life?”

I looked away, not wanting my tears to tell my story. The sun broke through the clouds and there we were, bathed in the warm Texas sunlight.

I took another deep breath. “Daddy, I believed for years that men leave and that love is expendable. If you get bored with your marriage or if you fall out of love, no biggie, just leave; exit. To hell with making the effort or fixing the problem, just go out and find a newer, younger, thinner model. Find a new family, too. See Daddy, I learned all of this from you! I learned that men leave and when they do, they leave broken people in their wake. I was broken for years. I never knew how to love. Daddy, I never knew how to be loved, either! It was horrible.”

I decided to sit down on nearby bench. The breeze was blowing through the pine trees. It created a hum…an odd discord actually that somehow, seemed fitting. Discord had always been the soundtrack of my life with my father.

I wiped away another tear.

“Life, post divorce was was so hard for us, Daddy. It was a struggle in every way, but your absence was what hurt the most. I wanted you to be there when I got braces, when I had my first date…the proms. My graduation. I would’ve loved to have talked to you about the time Jake Shelton broke my heart in eighth grade, but you weren’t around. I hated that you weren’t there. But then again, you missed all of those things, too. And don’t even get me started about college! It was horrible and so were my twenties. What a waste!. I got involved in all these lousy, dead end relationships. All were abusive in so many ways. I drank too much….did everything too much. But I guess I can’t completely blame you for my screwed up life. Your leaving was probably impetus for everything evil in my life, but no one put a gun to my head, either. I chose to live a wild life because running wild was easier than being responsible. Then again, you know a little about bucking responsibility, don’t you, Dad? Your lack of it constantly forced me to remind myself that I even had a father!”

I was getting angry.

“Allow me to break down what life was like for Mom, Michael and me after you left. We had no money and moved from that five bedroom home into a cramped two bedroom apartment. Mom practically lost her mind. She’d never worked before. She was the wife of a successful businessman, she never had to work. You never wanted her to. She was 39 years old when you left and she had nowhere to go and no money to take her there. She took menial job after menial job trying to support two children. She’d cry for hours sometimes, never leaving her room, except to retrieve another bottle of Vodka. God Daddy, back then, I always thought Mom was such a silly, spineless woman because she wasn’t handling the reality of your leaving very well. I would always say to her, “Come on, Mom. He left and he’s not coming back! Get your shit together!” I had no idea what she was going through; I didn’t know hard her life really was until I lived it myself after Joe left me”.

A large truck with a broken muffler drove by the highway and broke my concentration. Another breeze blew a strong whiff of the truck’s exhaust in our direction.

“Did you ever know why Joe and I broke up?  History repeated itself, Daddy. Like you, he cheated on me. With a woman who worked in his building. According to Joe, she was everything I stopped being—thin, young, sexual and apparently, she was willing to put up with his shit. Imagine, that’s what he liked about her. Her tolerance? Well, by telling me that, he was damn sure right about one thing…she definitely did things I wouldn’t do! I wouldn’t put up with his crap. I kicked him out of the house the night he told me that. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of leaving on his own accord. In the end my defiance didn’t matter. He had the last laugh, I suppose. The bastard married her the day our divorce was final”.

I shifted my weight on the bench and continued the one-sided conversation.

“Men break your heart and Daddy, you broke mine. No two ways about it. When you walked out that door, I stopped feeling safe. In some ways, I still don’t. It didn’t help that you wanted nothing to do with me or Michael after you remarried”.

I brushed my hair out of my eyes then folded my arms across my chest. I shivered. Suddenly, a sunny June morning in South Texas, turned cold.

“Holidays, sepcial events, school plays…we never heard from you. For my 14th birthday, all I wanted was a picture of you because I’d forgotten what you looked like. Of course, Mom didn’t have one to give me. She ceremoniously burned everything you left behind, including pictures and her wedding dress. She put everything into a metal barrel, doused it with lighter fluid and lit a match. You, your memory and all your stuff went up in a ball of fire that really, was fueled more by anger, than anything else. Mom made us roast wieners over the flames. She called the whole process her “rebirth”; a second baptism, this one by fire. I understood the symbolism involved and felt if that helped her move on, great. But it hurt me–more than I knew. For years after that, every hot dog I ate–regardless–tasted like burned taffeta”.

I winced at the memory. The only response was the breeze rustling through the pines. I took a deep breath and looked around me.

“Well Daddy, the kids want to take Robert to brunch this afternoon and I’ve got get back into town for that, but I’m glad I came here today. I think we both needed this, at least, I know I did”.

And that’s when I lost it. Admitting that released a floodgate of emotion. I started sobbing.

“Being here makes me realize how much I miss you. I miss you. It wasn’t that I couldn’t forgive you–I did–years ago. I just couldn’t forgive myself for thinking that I hated you as much as I did, but in reality, I never hated you, Daddy. I just didn’t understand. And no one bothered to explain. Mother made the fatal mistake of talking so badly about you in front of Michael and me. We heard about what a bastard you were day in and day out! She negated our existence by damning you and in our minds, that made you the enemy. To hear Mom wax about what happened, it was as if you stole her money, her youth and her dignity. It was as though you all but murdered her. But in some ways maybe, you did. You killed her spirit”.

I shook my head.

“Even so, I’m mad at Mom too, because for the longest time, she knew I thought I was the reason you left and she never made any attempt to correct it. Why did she do that? She let me think it was all my fault. I agonized over this. I thought if I would have made all A’s or if I would’ve won all my tennis matches or cleaned my room better, you would’ve stayed. The little girl that still lives in the woman I’ve become is only now beginning to fully grapple with everything. I mean, can you blame me? You represented my very first relationship with men. What happened with you set the tone for every relationship that followed. And my God Daddy, you never had any idea what you left behind. Look at your legacy. It’s represented by disappointment and abandonment. And all that pain. I stupidly thought if I failed as a daughter, I’d surely fail as a girlfriend and wife and I believed that.

I bit my bottom lip and just stared at the ground, kicking at a pebble.

Want to hear something odd, Daddy? There’s a part of me that’s looking for a Genie. Yeah, a Genie and I want him to grant me one wish. That’s all I want; one wish. I’d ask him to give us more time. See, I don’t want more time, I need more time. But I can’t have that, can I?  That’s my biggest regret. So many years went by and we hardly spoke to each other. Geez, why was there so much anger, Daddy? Were we really that mad at each other? Were we? Or was I more mad at you? I guess so because I wouldn’t respond to your letters and I wouldn’t even answer the phone when you’d call”.

And then it hit me…he had actually written.  He HAD called.   I realized that my mother’s rage and anger distorted everything, including my point of view, but that morphed into something very convenient and sinister.   I used this horrific father/daughter relationship to my advantage.  It became my excuse; remaining a victim suited my agenda. That was easier than admitting my culpability in my own unhappiness. Pointing fingers at the son of a bitch father absolved the wounded daughter from all blame.

I buried my face in my hands, then sat on the bench, shaking.

“Daddy, I have to know if…if you can forgive me? Please? I can’t leave without knowing we’re OK. Do what I never could or would do for you–please release me, liberate me from this heartache! Free me from all the pain that’s kept me from living my life.”

That’s when I noticed it was there again. The silence. But this time, I welcomed it. No words were spoken. Really, at that moment, nothing needed to be said.   Something was different. I then realized this is what Deliverance must feel like.

I don’t know how long I’d been sitting there. I looked up. The breeze felt cool against my tear-stained face. The sun caressed my entire body. I shivered in it’s warmth. It was incredible. I felt very much alive.    I stood up, emotionally drained and weak physically, yet strong in my resolve. I wiped a few remaining tears from my cheek.

“Well, I’ve got an hour long drive ahead of me, so I better go now if I want to make brunch”.

I paused.

“Daddy, before I go, I want you to know that I miss you. I think about you all the time and please know that I love you, in spite of everything. I wasted so much time harboring all this pain, but I didn’t know what else to do! Hurting was the norm and I’m so sorry for feeling that way. More than you know. I’ve squandered so many years because of it, so please….help me try to get a few back if I can….let’s start over, OK? Today, let’s begin again. We’ll do that by visiting more. I’ll come back soon. I promise. I mean, after all, youare my daddy, right?”

I stood there for a second, allowing the moment to imprint on my memory. I wanted to remember everything.  Every detail.

I mustered a smile and whispered, “Happy Father’s Day, Daddy”.

I placed a small bouquet of flowers beside his headstone and touched it briefly before walking back to my car.

 

Walls

Laura Kaeppler, Miss America 2012

This past Saturday night, I wrote a post about the excessive cringing I’ve been doing in my life lately. It’s the visceral response that I have when I think back on all the idiotic and in some cases, dangerous things I’ve done. We’re talking careless, reckless behavior. I alternate between feeling intense embarrassment, then shame…sometimes I feel both simultaneously. That’s enough to get to me think a bit about pulling a Lupe Velez…not that I ever could OR would do that. But I will admit, I am still appalled at my own  behavior.   Immobilized by my own audacity. 

Well, a post about all of that somehow degraded to  the subject of  Miss Texas, Kendall Morris making it to the Top Ten of the last Saturday night’s 2012 Miss America pageant, but not going beyond the top ten,  despite demonstrating what I thought to be the most talent of the nine other young women.   She was/is tall, young, and pretty. Beyond that she was/is this wonderfully fit specimen of womanhood. As handsome as she was/is, I suppose the woman who went all the way to be crowned and  then subsequently crooned by a CD of the late Bert Parks singing to her that as Miss America, she’s everyone’s ‘ideal”, was even prettier, talented and more fit.

Her name is Laura Kaeppeler.

For her talent, she sang opera, which I remember and to be honest, the performance made me cringe as much as reflecting back on that one particular Saturday night I spent drinking a lot of tequila in Nuevo Laredo. You can imagine the rollicking, frolicking evening I had. If you can, then please tell me. I don’t remember a thing. And something tells me I’m better off NOT remembering anything.

Anyway, see the pic above.  Pretty, right?

In the defining Q&A portion of the pageant, in which a question is selected randomly, she was queried via a slip of paper about the relevance whether ,  “a beauty queen should declare her political viewpoints or not’ . To that she answered…

 “Miss America represents everyone, so I think the message to political candidates is that they represent everyone as well. And so in these economic times, we need to be looking forward to what America needs, and I think Miss America needs to represent all.”

Not bad. ‘Twas a nice demonstration of thinking on her feet in a calm, cool and intelligible way.

Hardly this ridiculous mental prolapse:

The platform she’ll support for her one-year reign is supporting and mentoring children of incarcerated parents. She should know–her father served 18 months in prison for mail fraud. In fact, her dad was sentenced when she was 18, just as she was graduating from high school. That was five years ago and her views about having a jail-bird for a pappy are very reasoned and obviously, honed through experience. In her words,, “I know there are many of you out there and I was one of you, but it doesn’t have to define you.”

We are the products of so many things; genetic coding, environment, religion, birth order, gender,  social status  and of course, choices. The one we make and the ones others make that affect us.

I like what I think Laura Kaeppler stands for, though I don’t know her from Adam. And it’s because I didn’t know her that for a few moments Saturday night after donning that rhinestone crown, I thought her only problem in life was getting a zit. Being lovely, pretty and publicly “showing well” were her only concerns. While in  her line of work as a pageant contestant, that understandably, would be the case– having a father serve time in prison for a felony outweighs an acne outbreak anytime.

Laura Kaeppler is a bright, shining example of the Big Get Even that sometimes life bestows on us. No one has it all. I don’t care who you are. If you’re pretty and smart and decent, you’ve got a father who bent the rules to get ahead fiscally and was sentenced to prison for it. The family shame. If you’re smart and funny, invariably you’re built like a Rubik’s cube and that physical limitation only exacerbates your rampant carb addiction and lack of willpower. If you’re pretty and smart, you have the personality of a Ticonderoga No. 2 pencil eraser. If you’re a man who’s handsome and rich, you’re a self-centered rectal fissure.

Now, this isn’t to say that there are some who actually defy this and have it all, but these are rare finds, indeed. The truth is, no one experiences pure joy, elation and balance all the time. By our very nature as fallible mortals, we must endure the yin and yang of existence. The ups and downs; the highs and lows. Nature…God…the Universe (insert your belief system here), I swear, puts governors on our lives.   Whenever things are going well, something has to happen to temper it.  As if a law of nature.  George Harrison once warbled, “all things must pass”.   Joy comes as goes as fast as the violent thunderstorm.   

We’re given enough, never too much.

We are born free, but bound.

A million years ago, I grew up in a small South Texas town with small people who defined me by where I lived and the family I was born into. As I child and teen, I’d always heard others thought me lucky.   My family lived and played in what I suppose could be construed as small town opulence,  but lucky because of that????   Why is luck to some, defined by what one has? The people who thought I was lucky couldn’t have been more wrong. The home I grew up in had six bedrooms. It was big and that’s what people first noticed. Eventually, that would become all that they could see; just the outside walls and their dimensions. 

To me, that always exemplified perceptions and how different they can be depending on the eyes that’s doing the looking— the have nots vs. the reality of those who have, whether real or imagined.

In a way, that was the only thing I saw in Laura Kaeppler on  Saturday night. What she looked like..the fleshy walls that show the world a very lovely face and body.   I know she’s pretty, but that’s all I know.    I don’t know what her hurts are; what her needs are….her wants.   I don’t know what makes her cry…or cringe…in the privacy of a darkened room at 3:26 AM on any given Tuesday.

I don’t know her.    I just know what I see, which allows me to see her as one who has…so I can grieve as one who has not.

All of this is just fine, really.   This common distortion means the walls are doing their job.

They’re made to keep the roof on and the elements out.

Walls also help keep secrets hidden.

The Sad Art of Gaslighting

gaslighting.jpeg

Yesterday, was “one of those days”.

All was going fine—until I stumbled upon something that shook my core: I was going through my voluminous Inbox in an attempt to make room for my life and I found an e-mail from my best friend who died a year ago. For some reason–never opened it. I guess it got lost in the shuffle.

Anyway, I read it and was flooded with emotion.

I didn’t sleep.

I tried watching TV but “The Giant Ladder System” was on 269 of my 280 channels so, that was a wash. I thought I’d try reading, so I went looking through my books trying to find something that would either take my mind off things or one that could help me better understand and deal with my grief.

I found just what I was looking for, but it wasn’t a book that dealt with the loss of my best friend; it was more like a book that would help me cope losing myself. It’s entitled, The Gaslight Effect: Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Your Truth by Robin Stern.

“Gaslighting is the systematic attempt by one person to erode another’s reality. This is done by telling them that what they are experiencing isn’t so – and, the gradual giving up on the part of the other person.”

Stern goes on to say that gaslighting generally takes two to tango: one person who needs to be in control to maintain his sense of self; the other, who needs the relationship to maintain his/her sense of self and because of this, he/she acquiesces—constantly.

The victim ends up giving far, far more than he/she gets. This process invariably erodes the soul.

You know you’re in a full blown Gaslight Effect when you find yourself second guessing your own reality; when you’re unsure of what you really think and feel. Why? Because you’ve allowed someone else to define your reality for you. Invariably, this leads to being told what to think and how to think. And then in turn, you’re told who you are. You’re molded into an entity that someone else deems worthy of his or her love, affection; attention.

And because of the constant whittling away at your psyche, you believe you’re a better person as he or she sees you; as he/she needs you to be.

As the kids used to say….”word”.

Having been “gaslit” in the past, I’d like to share my thoughts with you.

Gaslighting I think, is all that I just mention, with refined manipulation added. And this is maniplation that’s defined by greed and selfishness. It creates cognitive dissonance and it’s this “in between state of cognizance” that women–people, find themselves most vulnerable.

It’s being forced to color inside the lines that others have drawn for us. If we don’t, we’ll be alone and that to some people, is a fate worse than death. Knowing that isolation and lonliness are the dreaded alternatives, we allow gaslighting. It’s not compromise. Hardly–it’s utter relinquishing of the self.

The authentic self.

Then, you find yourself in a horrifically bad relationship but you stay because of that INSIDIOUS goddamn mindset that a bad relationship beats no relationship.

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Make no mistake: this IS emotional abuse in every sense and women are almost always the victims. Don’t misunderstand the premise: women can be the culprits too. But women bear the brunt of more negative genetic coding–or so it seems. We’ve been subjugated by primordial design to believe relationships, love….and men, define us.

But gaslighting isn’t limited to love relationships. We also fall victim to it on the job; co-workers and bosses are often perpetrators and it also happens within the family dynamic.

Gaslighting is very real. As I stated, I’ve lived it. I just didn’t know it had a name. Or a book that defined it. Ordinarily, I try my best to avoid partaking from the sump pump of pop psychology. In other words, if Dr. Phil mentions it, I run in the opposite direction. But this book makes sense.

And here’s my two cents.

Integrity (something sorely lacking in the world today) applies to behavior that consistently matches principles. You can’t be a person of integrity if selfishness and self centered behavior are what fuels every motivation. Gaslighters almost always lack integrity; as distorted as this sounds, they thrive on their own selfishness. They are always self-centered. They are consummate liars. Invariably, they will never fail to fail you.

One must then ask, how can a gaslighter expect to be loved if he or she doesn’t know how to love? How can he or she venture into a real, equitable partnership without knowing how to play fair?

The answer? Manipulation passed off as love or affection…or concern

  • No one will love ever love you like I love you
  • You’re nothing without me
  • I ONLY want to take care of you
  • I only want what’s best for you and only I know what that is
  • You have changed and grown so much since knowing me. I make you think and you are better because of it

Furthermore, what these people demand of themselves will rarely work with others. Once again, we touch on “coloring inside the lines” we draw for others. And when someone refuses, that’s how gaslighting starts. I think foisting this on someone else, is the quintessence of neurotic narcissism.

What this book reveals isn’t earth shattering. If you’ve lived it, then you know exactly what gaslighting is all about. For me, it merely gave a name to what I’d experienced.

In remedying the gaslight malady, it goes on to state the obvious:

Women (especially) must be more assertive. We must be fearless about defining who we are, what we are and what we really think. We must empower ourselves to move forward and find real contentment in a relationship as opposed to sanctuary, no matter how fleeting.

I’ll take it one step further:

Some of us, by virtue of childhood experience, seek emotional replicas of our fathers and mothers. If we had a controlling parent, very often we’ll seek controlling partners. We’re most fortunate if we can break that cycle. And just because we find ourselves in abject co-dependence with someone cruel and controlling, well…that doesn’t mean we have to stay. Gather your courage and leave Simon Legree. As the James Gang so aptly sang, walk away.

But remember this: walking away is sometimes much easier than garnering the strength required to take that first step.

And keep this in mind as well: you’ll never gather courage by allowing fear to keep you in a one-sided relationship that’s devoid of romance, passion and real emotion. To do so is a sign of weakness. It’s giving your power away. We should be empowering ourselves. When we relinquish control, we hand over the reigns of our lives, willingly.

Frequently.

Tragically.

But for some, this is the perfect scenario. We’re absolved of all blame if we have no control of a situation. If we believe we’re not responsible, we can’t be held accountable. Especially when it comes to our own actions. Victimhood is extraordinarily convenienct. It all boils down to neglect. We’re being neglected and we’re neglecting ourselves. Well then– here’s your wake up call: neglect kills as often as a bullet to the head.

It kills relationships just as efficiently. And if you sit by and allow it to happen, you’re just as guilty.

In closing, I’ll just say this: Caruso loved the sound of his own voice…some people love the sound of their own opinions being expressed.

This should come as no surprise.

The typical gaslighter defies Copernican theory. They think THEY are, in fact, the center of the universe. In reality, this blustery bravado masks rampant insecurity. Inside, they’re just scared little boys and girls , very much afraid to be hurt, yet they think they’re too smart, too superior to actually feel the pain they’ve so deeply buried.

Sadly, this fear-based arrogance means they themselves have been “gaslit”…made victims by their own actions.

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