The Crucible That Is Life

Or…”How I Spent the 12th Day of 2009″

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It was cold in Houston today. When I woke up here on the Southwest side, it was 31-degrees and even though it warmed up, it still felt cold.  I felt cold.   And with the exception of my daily constitutional,  I stayed in most of the day, thinking.

That can be dangerous for a woman like me.  I can concoct the damnedest scenarios.

So, today I was thinking about life, as I am want to do;  my life, how I got here and why.

Funny, how that whole process of life works.   I’m not  talking about the object lessons we’re forced to endure;  I’m merely talking about biology.

In the simplest of terms, if you take the fun out of sex (when there is fun),  all we’re really talking about is sperm meeting ovum.

They emerge from their respective corners, shake and then the procreative mating ritual begins.

The sperm pummels her cell walls and with the help of some special microscopic enzyme on his battering ram, (euphemism intended) he’s able to penetrate her celluloid fortress.   Fertilization happens and then comes morning sickness.

Just think about what’s really happening here.

We start off as nothing more than human tadpoles, really. Then we become a fetus, a baby, we’re born as infants, then morph into toddlers, 1st graders. Then, Jr. High students; High Schoolers turned Collegians. Then we become taxpayers; 30-somethings; angry menopausal crones and men with prostrate the size of Wilson footballs.

You get the picture.

If we live long enough to be able to use all the discounts afforded us by  AARP, we then exit the world, as we came into it. Pink, wrinkled and helpless.

And in that time, we’ve probably watched a thousand hours of “Gunsmoke”.

This full circle aspect makes me think, “How can anyone really doubt evolution when you think about the human life span?”

From fetus to Festus.

I know what you’re thinking;  what does that last line mean?

I don’t know.

GROWING UP KENDRICK

I can’t think of my life without thinking about growing up in South Texas.

I was always one of those kids who had this innate desire to entertain; to make people laugh. As far back as I can remember. My parents have regaled ALL of my boyfriends with stories of how I did this and that. Like the time I memorized parts of John Kennedy’s inaugural address. I was only four at the time. My parents recorded it.

“The toach has been passed to a new gen-uh-way-shun of Am-mare-wee-kuns”.

I heard the recording it for the first time as a twenty something. To be honest, I actually thought it was a recording of me doing a drunken Ted Kennedy.

Then, as fate would have it, I was forced to learn how to do an impersonation of Lyndon Baines Johnson far too soon.

But there I stood, entertaining at my parent’s parties–with my chin pressed down against my chest, someone’s borrowed specs down on my nose with my eyes peering over them in typical LBJ fashion. It was a decent impersonation of the president, I guess–for a five-year-old anyway. Fueled by adult laughter, I’d stand there, addressing my fellow Americans in my parent’s living room, opining over the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin, my presidential plans for “The Great Society” and of course, my undying paternal love for my semi-beautiful daughters, Lucy Bird and Lynda Bird.

I’m not going to say that I was a brilliant kid;  precocious maybe, but I had this strong desire to entertain. I would sing and dance in my living room in front of a huge plate glass window with the hopes a Hollywood director would drive by and discover me. I mean, come on! Karnes City, Texas circa 1965 wasn’t exactly a HIVE of hip and happenin’ activity for the Hollywood elite.

I had big dreams for a little small town girl.

Then I grew up, went to college and agonized those first few weeks about declaring a major. It was going to be either drama or broadcasting. If I majored in Drama, I’d go to either NYC or Hollywood and be broke and forced to eat rats. If I majored in Broadcast Journalism, I could probably stay in Texas and eat mice.

The latter was more appealing.

So, I’m in college right,  and it takes me seven years to graduate. I had to work full time and that made taking full class loads impossible. which made my very proud mother a little crazy.  When her friends would infer that Laurie had been in college an awfully long time, she’d tell everyone that I was working on my second masters.

I struggled just to get my BA.  You see, my mother was/is a proper sort. She likes to make sure things “look” a certain way. Propriety. Her children were no exception.

I’m the youngest of three girls. By the time I arrived, my two older sisters, Karol and Kathy had taught her what she needed to know about mothering.  One would think so, anyway.   She was in some ways, more laxed with me. Not so, in other ways. But I played my role of the youngest to the hilt. Oh yes, make no mistake—I was the “wild child”.

Peace, love, dope.

I did as I wanted, most of the time. I was fearless and wanted to experience everything.

And I usually got caught.

Mother would ground me and I’d stay in solitary for a day or so and then, she’d get all tied up in other aspects of her life—her clubs, social responsibilities, her marriage and what have you, then she’d completely forget and I’d go about my merry way. But her memory lapses didn’t keep me from repeated bouts of punishment. It got so bad that she was asked once about her children; Mother said she’d raised two lovely girls and one “After School Special”.

Later, she tried to get me to watch “Scared Straight”. Remember that one, fellow oldsters? I reminded her she was damn lucky I didn’t STAR in “Scared Straight”!!!!!

But I grew up and eventually got my proverbial sheepskin. I graduated  with about two thousand other bright-eyed optimists in my particular degree program.

As I’ve stated here before, my first job in TV was for the CBS affiliate in Laredo, Texas, an interesting town of about 175- thousand on the Texas/Mexico border. I was named Executive Producer and Anchor for the six and 10 pm newscast and made a whopping $5.25 an hour, some 25-cents more than the rest of the staff.

I was the Alpha female.

Laredo was truly one of those Dickensian experiences: it was the best of times; it was the worst. I made no money, was broke all the time and went without a phone and electricity sometimes, but had more fun than I’ve ever had in my entire life.

I started my professional life  in Laredo  not really knowing the language at all.   And I promise you, Laredo was really Mexico on a gold standard.  Teh city was about all things Mexican and speaking Spanish and even though I took two years of it in college, the level at which I spoke  could only afford me to get drunk and laid in Cancun.   But I am proof that  immersion does help.

We’d go across the border to Nuevo Laredo (which is now something you can’t do without risking your life) and go to dinner. Lavish meals for five bucks or less. But even though the US is only  a narrow body  of dirty river water away, Nuevo Laredo is still Mexico and its food and water are still an American G.I. tract’s arch nemesis. The ubiquitous “they” always say that necessity is the mother of invention. And having the gnawing, debilitating pain of the fabled “Turista Two-Step” or the dreaded, “Montezuma’s Revenge” after drinking the water or literally, eating anything that was grown or raised in Mexico, well THAT will force you learn another language faster than a Berlitz class!

I distinctly remember the exact afternoon I decided my grasp of pigeon Spanish was simply not enough.

I was at a Mexican grocery store because I needed to buy a few sundries. I’d gone there after having lunched on a meal at a Nuevo Laredo restaurant. There, I’d feasted on a greasy enchilada and a slab of fillet of guess what.

For dessert, I got intestinal distress.

Severe intestinal distress.

And children, THAT’S how Laurie learned the hard way that “Donde esta el casa de ca-ca?” DOES NOT mean “Where is the restroom?” in Spanish.

It was on that fateful, yet educational day, I also learned how the Spanish say, “Clean up in aisle 23”.

.

61 comments

  1. that’s quite a story!

    in the end it’s about discovering who you are (cliche alert!!) and really being authentic to that. That’s all that anyone can aim for, and anything that’s really worth pursuing in the end. An inauthentic life is poisonous to all concerned.

    Glad you accept who you are; all the ups and some of the downs. Honesty aimed at oneself can be a very glaring light.

    sure hope to visit Texas one day. Been listening to KERA from Dallas, Forth Worth. Lovely programming.

    take care, and travel well!

  2. The closest I ever came to entertainment was announcing very loudly as a child, while waiting in line at a bank with my father, that I had just ‘burped in my bum’. It’s only cute when you’re four.

    At least the cleanup was in someone else Aisle 23 and nowhere local where you’d be recognized. I’ll start learning my Spanish now. Sure, North Carolina isn’t as close to Mexico, but you never know, right?

  3. I made no money, was broke all the time and went without a phone and electricity sometimes, but had more fun than I’ve ever had in my entire life.

    This is exactly how I feel right now.
    I am so broke, I am conserving toilet paper, but I wouldn’t have it any other way…

  4. You are the perfect example of the ugly American. You are insulting and are spreading lies. You are not a very honest person. You try and see the bad side and even make it up. You owe the citizens of Nuevo Laredo an apology.

  5. Well, I took 8 years of Espanol – 4 in high school and 4 years at the lofty and presitigious LSU campus in Baton Rouge. I still walked around telling people my age in anuses – as in how many anuses I have, instead of years…I finally resorted to dating my Espanol professor and then refused to speak proper Spanish, I just added an O to the end of every word because that’s the kind of rebel I am. I made a A…

  6. Pablo,

    I didn’t make up one thing about Nuevo Laredo and if you actually lived there or even spent any time there over the past seven or eight years, then you’d know the two tiny little comments made about that cesspool of a berg are truthful in every sense of the word.

    Are you going to tell me that Nuevo Laredo hasn’t been assaulted by drug cartel violence over the past ten years? Are you going to tell me the Chief of Police wasn’t assassinated just a few hours he took the oath of office? Businesses have closed by the dozens. There have been kidnappings and murders by the dozen…hell, a full-on battle was fought between cartels and the Mexican army (such as that is) just outside Colonia Longoria and lastly, there have been numerous travel warnings and advisories posted by the U.S. State Department about going across the border at Laredo.

    An you have the unmitigated audacity to accuse me of lying????

    You Sir, are the perfect example of an ugly Mexican—in complete denial about the ravages of a country that’s run by a goddamn oligarchy–where every president leaves office far wealthier than he went in. Not to mention, Mexico has a caste system just as egregious if not more so than India’s. If you’re the least little bit Mestizo (Indian) in appearance, you’re reduced to manual labor, housekeeping or bullet proofing vehicles because there are so many kidnappings and drive by shooting, especially in Mexico City. Mestizos are reduced to the scrap heap of Mexico.

    Yes Nuevo Laredo is smaller, but per capita, it’s just as bad as DF.

    You owe ME an apology, Pablo and not only me, but every caring American who’s been gullible enough to give a dollar to that corrupt,violent, abusive, prejudicial greed-fest we call Mexico.

    I’m going to end this with a question….how do you sleep at night? Seriously. Is idiocy a sleep inducer, Pablo?

    Must be.

    LK

  7. Hey Pablo Suneson-o,

    Why don’t you take your righteous indignation and refuse to sell your wares to us ugly Americans. Don’t accept the dollars of us Ugly Americans at your website or physical stores? I mean stick to your guns Suneson-o. You should put a sign up in your San Antonio store refusing service to those without shirt, shoes or foreign passport or visa – Americans need not enter, especially the ‘ugly’ ones.

    I am sure it is distasteful to you to even think to touch or accept our ugly American money. That is why I am going to copy and paste your response and website to every one of my friends in the SA area. I’d hate to think that they upset your delicate Mexican sensibilities.

  8. Laurie only speaks the truth. Nuevo Laredo used to be the hot spot for Texas tourists. Acuna is also wonderful border town-people are nice and the shopping is great. But tourists are scared now to go over there because of the drug problems. I loved going across to Reynosa, too, to a fantastic restaurant but I understand that a political official was shot there several years ago. It’s a shame.

  9. Growing up in south Texas, my sisters and I were surrounded by Mexican culture and many wonderful friends and experiences while visiting many areas of Mexico. I don’t know who this Pablo guy is but he knows nothing about Laurie and shows his ignorance about facts and reality. Why can’t some people just be logical and see things for what they are. Historically, Mexico has been and probably will remain a corrupt society and it takes it’s own people to fix the problem. Goodness knows, we the people of this United States, have to accept this about our own great country (by the way it beats the hell out of anywhere else I can think of) Hopefully, within time and some good, decent intelligence, we can mend some of our own problems. With this being said, just shut up and don’t show your ignorance, Pablo.

    Besides, are you really Mexican?????

    Kathy–Laurie’s Big Sis

  10. LK you speak the official language of Mexico, right? If so, does Pablo mean ‘dumb ass’ in Spanish?

  11. One more thing, Pablo. This should prove to you that I’m not lying

    Click here: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_3028.html

    And furthermore, do not EVER come to my blog again in an attempt to rile me and my readers in a feeble attempt to “pimp out” your little “tiendita” in Nuevo Laredo.

    If you have an issue with the truth and if your city is in such disarray, then why don’t Mexicans grow a pair and do something about the drugs and the corruption and the violence? Because you’re afraid of implications and retaliation.

    And while you’re at it, ask DF to do something about implementing staunch restrictions over the use of raw sewage in the fields where produce grows. Yes, if anyone eats or drinks in Mexico, you invariably get sick. And yes we’re talking the loosest of stools, Pablo.

    Mexico’s other export is Giardia.

    I suggest you get some.

  12. Pablo, you haven’t got a prayer of a chance on this blog. Go away and don’t come back with your lame ass comments. You are called a trouble maker.

  13. You and your sisters are racists and prejudice. So are your readers. You are casting aspersions on an entire country for the actions of a few. Texans have a particularly tough time dealing with Mexicans because your state was originally Mexican land. Same with California. Both were stolen out from under us. I want you to know that we’re going to take back all the border states that are rightfully ours anyway. The Mexicans will rise up and put the Mexican flat above the American one and we will get back in power and we’ll show you hillbilly rednecks “quien es el jeffe”.

  14. You wait one minute Taco Butthead Bill! I am not nor have I EVER been a racist or been prejudiced. How dare you say that. You don’t know anything about me or my sisters. And as for Laurie’s readers, they love her because she is honest and her writings are interesting and funny. You could learn a thing or two about life from her. Say what you will about what you heard from your Grandparents but don’t come on her blog and trash me or my sisters.

  15. Gee Taco Bill, I’m curious—does horseshit go down easy? I ask because you are obviously full of it.

    I’m a racist? You couldn’t be farther from the truth. You have no idea who I am or what my life has consisted of, nor do you know of the people who’ve helped define and refine my existence, so I’d encourage you not to talk about things that are way above your miasmic little head.

    Yeah, you go ahead Taco B, you try to take back Texas and make it one big OPEC dumping ground consisting of horrendous pink, green and purple shanties and also dirty little street urchins who sell chiclet or grovel for change in order to survive.. It won’t happen and the reason why will come from within Mexico itself. If you take Texas back, who will employ half your people? Give the border states some credit, Taco Bill. At least we clothe, house, treat and feed your people under the largess of our tax system. More than your socialist
    estado does.

    Rag all you want, but keep this in mind–with the exception of the European theater during World Wars 1 and 2, Americans prefer to bomb darker skinned people.

    Call and ask Iraq and Afghanistan if you don’t believe me.

    I’d STFU if I were you, ingrate.

  16. YOU are the racist, Bill, not us.Just go play somewhere else where you can blast your pitty horn and see who will listen. Grow up and be a man-macho has nothing to do with being a real man.

  17. Hi Taco no Bueno,
    Take it back, all of it. You’ll just find an excuse to cross the next river when you are starving, being murdered, fleeing from a non-existant economy, wanting to birth your children in the good ole’ ugly US of A, etc. etc.

    Casting aspersions on an entire country based on just a few? Wow, can you please let me know the drug cocktail you are currently using? There are days I would love to escape to the Tacolando world that you are obviously living in now. Instead of concentrating on taking it back, why don’t you spend a little time on improving what you have? And please read your own words, pot meet kettle.

    If the oh so minor issues of your country are so trite and based on so few then it would seem to me that y’all would be able to cast aside those pitiful few and be a thriving first world powerhouse. Am I missing something? Please, feel free to cross back over to your land of bounty, I’ll be happy to lend you a life jacket.

    Yeah, you might think we’ll eventually ask “who’s the boss,” but right now Taco you’re answering to who’s your daddy?

  18. Laurie, it’s a pity that some people think they can come onto some else’s blog and throw insults around. I’m surprised you don’t have a multitude of your readers coming on and blasting this person out of the water.

    I’m afraid Billy Boy doesn’t know you, your sisters or your readers as he thought he did.

    Prejudiced my ass!

  19. Oh and Taco con no queso,
    Grow some cojones if you are going to comment and put your blog or web address in your response.

    I’d hate to think you are a total chickenshit-o.

  20. Mid Sis did you really mean to say that you three are sisters? I’ve seen your photo in earlier blogs and to me you look more like three really ugly brothers.

  21. Laurie, I will let you take this one on…he is a number for sure. I think he is really a girl with hairy legs and bad breath.

  22. You’re right, Bill. You’ve found us out. We are really three brothers dressed up as women for that picture. We love feminine things and our jewels. What can I say?

    Why you ask?

  23. Hey, Bill-bet you liked us better when you found out we were boys!?!?!?!?!You will never know the truth……

  24. Seriously, is that the best you’ve got? Are you 12? My God, I could fart out a better retort than that on a very windy day. I’m surprised you didn’t include an icon sticking its tongue out or write Nah, Nah, Na-Nah Nah.

    Ok, I admit I assumed a certain level of intelligence. Apparently I was wrong. Hey, no cojones, now I’m REALLY terrified of you taking back Texas. I hope to God you don’t torture us ugly Americans with some zit pinching action, because the good Lord knows that’s like waterboarding to me, I’ll have to give up state secrets if there’s any zit pus involved.

    Sorry, LK, I’m ascared now…

  25. Taco Bill,

    Why yes…yes we’re three homely brothers who for the photo to which you are referring, was taken at a time when we were younger gadflies with a burr up our collective ass to try life in drag. Aunt Bob took the photo and even helped us with hair and make-up. It’s good to have such an open and honest family.

    And since I’m the only ugly brother with a blog, I’m going to be a bit merciful and charitable with you. I’ll bet when describing you physically, the words “dark” and “handsome” are almost always mentioned.

    Why? Because I’ll bet 20 big ones that you’re handsome only when it’s dark.

    My kudos to your family for getting that inbreeding thing perfected.

  26. No, it’s not my best Karol, but it’s all you’re going to get tonight. I love it when chicks like LK, Karol, Kathy and Southern Goddess think they got opinions that hold water. All you put downs made me and my buddies laugh. You’re just women. You don’t scare me. You don’t scare Pablo. We’re men. You were made from our ribs and as Mexicans we understand that better that the pathetic vanilla wafer you sleep with. When Texico is formed, you’ll know your place. Southern Goddess will be my upstairs maid, Kathy will take care of the downstairs. Karol with cook and Laurie K will be used for a leaf blower.

    Or fireplace ash sucker outer. I can’t decide. Either way I’ll put your big mouth to use.

    Goodnight bitches

  27. Hey no cojones,
    Don’t forget the zit pincher. And you don’t need to stop by this weekend, the lawn looks like it’ll be good.

    Why, oh why, do I have an image of a puny penised boy, picking his nose and yanking his vienna sausage while drooling over these comments?

  28. We made that SOB and his buds laugh. Vanilla wafer? Is that what I’m married to? My husband has been called lots of things but not that. That’s funny! Vanilla wafers go well in banana pudding.

  29. Really, if there were a group of grown men sitting around and that is the best retort they could come up with, then I am less concerned about Texico as I am about them propagating and further watering down their gene pool…

    But, all in all, I get to be the upstairs maid – I kind of feel like I’m moving on up to the east side, finally got a piece of the pie….

  30. Now Karol, what he meant to call him was not a vanilla wafer but saltine “cracker” I know a racial slur when I see one. That macho wanna be!

  31. Hey, I am not ashamed of cleaning. That’s all I have done for 37 years and have never had “Hired” help or anything like it. I like being the downstairs maid-closest to the back door!

  32. Shut up all three of you. You have it better than me.

    I’m relegated to the status of leaf blower and/or fireplace ash sucker outer. I can only hope that includes a bonus track of zit picking and boil lancing.

  33. yes, we best get to bed-guess we had better polish up on our cleaning skills. Night everybody, including our Mexican home boys.

  34. Good morning, sisters. Since I would be considered a cook, just think of all the dishes I could come up with to serve this “pig with an apple in his mouth” and his compadres.

    teeheehee

  35. Someone referring to himself as a taco and pretending to be all macho like. You couldn’t make it up.

    I enjoyed the post.

    Blimey – Mexicans sure don’t sound a defensive and dishonest bunch at all. I get that they are big into poverty, corruption, blame, whining, pointy hats..oh and gardening now since they’ve screwed up their own country. I mean who doesn’t know that? But had no idea about the caste system.

  36. Scared Straight??? Remember “Angel Death” with the nekkid guy hopped up on the Angel Dust throwing 7 cops off of him. Nothing made me want to mainline the dust more than that movie, until the kitty died in the end.

    You grew up alot like I did LK but never did I earn the sheepiskinish bits, I bought it.

    Yo Pablo Escondido el meritza gomez enchilada putz, a good old American FUCK YOU from Italia. Viva la Mesican virgin test on you wannabe. I guess it’s true that you can take the Mexican out of Mexico but you just can’t take the dumbass out of the Mexican. You are right Pabst BR, Nuevo Laredo is the glimmering jewel of all that is a shithole of a country, whatever, and what LK said. So there.

    ciao

  37. You know girls, I think that TB is a fraud and that he (she) is actually an middle aged old hag from somewhere like Fargo, ND where they are freezing their butts off. His (her) lack of Mexican knowledge and intellect proves that he (she) has never been south of Kansas. He isn’t macho but maybe a little butchy. What a loser. TB, just keep warm and shut your taco hole.

  38. Karol, while you are making pancakes, I’ll be downstairs dustiing. What’s for lunch??????????

  39. I’ll confer with Southern Goddess, Kathy and Mr. Rimshaw’s hired man (before the first ax strike) to see what the menu consensus will be.

    I’m thinking fried chicken, smashed patoots, gravy, biscuits and Kal May Best Chair Pah.

  40. I was thinking more in the way of roast beast/gravy, potatoe mashers, congealed salad, hot rolls and yes, cherry cheese cake.

  41. yeah-but no one answered my original question…
    why would some one bathe 4 chickens?

  42. Andy,

    How long have we known each other? Years, right? OK, that said, you know my personality. You know I’m a bit skewed mentally. I know you’re only trying to goad me into some sort of response, but I won’t.

    You know exactly what those four chickens are doing and what their repose in that water filled basket is supposed to represent.

    Hey, while we’re at it, teach me about the ways and means about technical writing. If I can write from a creative perspective, can technical be that much different? I mean, is it basically writing instruction manuals or “how to” brochures??

    Or am I completely off the mark?

  43. “why would some one bathe 4 chickens?”.

    Maybe she’s trying to reproduce the flavor and quality of Nuevo Laredo Vitamin Water.

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