Dear Thing Living Under My House,
I know you’re there. I hear you outside of my house. At all hours of the day. And night. I work from home. And sometimes, when I’m alone and it’s very quiet, I can hear you. Scratching … clawing … dragging against the flimsy, manmade, laughable barrier between us. It is most unnerving. I don’t even know what you are.
Or who you are.
I know you’ve figured out that I am aware of your presence. Because you seem to vanish into thin air when I summon the courage to rush outside to catch a glimpse of you. But you’re very fast. And eerily stealthy. And I know that you’re watching me.
I know that every time I cower on my hands and knees, desperately clutching a flashlight and searching for answers, that you are staring directly into my eyes. Into my very soul. And there, cloaked in the shadows not moving or even breathing, you remain hidden just waiting for me to surrender and retreat into the house so that you may continue with your diabolical plan to drive me to madness.
For the record, I am not the only one who knows you’re here. It’s painfully obvious that the cat has known about you for weeks. Stupidly, I dismissed him and assumed we were dealing with the usual benign suspects. He tried to caution me time and again, stopping to howl at the window, at the exterior wall or (because my home is raised three feet off the ground for your convenience) at various points in the floor. He hears you.
But your main concern should not be my sharp-toothed, albeit somewhat sluggish, fifty-percent-declawed feline warrior. Rather it should be my husband. He doesn’t tire easily. And your mind games only awaken the inner obsession and insatiable thirst for justice that make up the very fiber of his identity. He will stop at nothing until he’s taken you. Dead or alive. It matters not.
See you in Hell,
The woman who lives directly above your lair
I remember being upset when Michael Jackson died. And Christopher Reeve. And John Denver, Hughes and Ritter. Each time, I was measurably sad. Each time, I remember where I was when I first heard the news. And each time, I remember having it affect me enough that it took me a moment to process that an iconic figure in my life was gone. I was moved and I was mournful but I never cried. After all, I didn’t actually know any of these people so why would I be moved to tears over their deaths?
But yesterday changed everything.
I have a CD of TV theme songs in my car. I made the mistake of popping it in this morning. Never mind the sniffing and sniveling I exhibited when I first heard the sad news yesterday. Today I found myself engulfed in a full-on sob. And it was a little confusing at first. Because I couldn’t really figure out why. Why was the death of Robin Williams affecting me so much more profoundly than any other in my memory?
And the more I thought about it … and him … the more apparent it became.
When I was a wee pup …
I remember pleading to get extensions on my bedtime so I could watch TV. We didn’t even have cable yet. So there were only three channels from which to choose my television programming. I had several favorite shows, among them was Happy Days. I never missed an episode. Even after Fonzie jumped the shark. What did I care? I was a kid. And, to a kid, jumping over a live shark is nothing short of awesome. So when the producers of Happy Days further pushed the envelope by introducing an alien to the cast, I was all in. I remember even having a bit of a crush on this lunatic with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. So I was thrilled when he spun off to his own show. And the best thing about it was that my dad was sitting next to me for every episode. After years of dissing much of the goofball comedy that I called TV, he actually liked this show. And before I knew it, he and my mom were both tuning in every week with me to watch the show.
When I was in elementary school …
I remember seeing the cinematic adaptation of Popeye at the movie theater with all of my elementary school friends. I even had the soundtrack (and I can still sing a few of its songs … if prodded).
When I was a tween-ager seeking books for school reports …
He transitioned fully to the big screen where his first big project was The World According to Garp, the first of many books-made-into-movies by John Irving (who would, because of this film, become my favorite author).
When I was a teenager …
He released Moscow on the Hudson, Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society and Cadillac Man, all of which I can remember seeing at the theater with friends or on dates with faceless people from my past.
When I met my husband …
I learned he wasn’t a big fan of Mr. Williams. To that point, most of what Dave had been exposed to was merely the actor’s manic, goofball, often-medicinally-fueled, hyperactive, 100mph material. And it just wasn’t his cup of tea. But the actor pulled a fast one on Dave when he released Awakenings and The Fisher King. And Dave was duly impressed. And now paying full attention. Whenever it involved a dramatic role. I get that. Over the years, there were several movies where Mr. Williams played characters who were able to smile or even laugh through their own tears. It was all so real and so humbling that I couldn’t help but cry (and sometimes laugh) right along with him. It was in these roles that he was the most amazing. And most human.
When I was a young adult …
He won his first Oscar. For a little movie called Good Will Hunting. No offense to Matt Damon (who I would later come to love) but Mr. Williams stole the show. And I guess the Academy thought so, too. I believe this scene is my brother’s favorite movie clip of all time.
When I became a mother …
I discovered a whole new collection of titles in his gargantuan body of work. Because he was a dad … and always a bit of a kid himself … he still found plenty of time to be silly. And he was often given carte blanche by his directors to improvise and “be himself” when the cameras were rolling. Thus was born projects like Aladdin, Jumanji, Flubber, Hook and Mrs. Doubtfire. All of these movies came out before my kids were even born and yet they love and have seen them repeatedly in their lifetimes.
What Dreams May Come, Patch Adams, One Hour Photo, Night at the Museum … I could go on and on and on. But I’m guessing I don’t have to. Because judging from all the news feeds of my all too many social media forums, you guys already know what I’m talking about. And clearly you’re feeling it, too.
Farewell, Mr. Williams.
You’ve been making me laugh and cry for as long as I can remember. Like me, the world is reluctant to let you go and will not soon forget you. Thanks for making your life extraordinary. And for seizing the day again and again.
I only wish you had more of them.
1. Sleeping late.
No, that’s not me. Please. I know better than to sleep with a smoky eye.
2. Summer drinks.
Especially when they have cucumber in them. I like to pretend I’m being healthy.
From Blended and The Nut Job to National Treasure and Walter Mitty, I honestly think I set a personal best for numbers of movies seen inside of ten weeks this year. (That’s a whole lot of sedentary. I’m going to make a kick-ass old lady.)
4. Summer feet.
No, these aren’t my … you know what? Screw it. These ARE my feet. I am a professional foot model. And this is a small sampling of my portfolio.
5. All Shook Up
Elvis music set against a Shakespearian plot line housed in a Methodist church. It’s a wild formula that made for a great couple of months with my girl.
6. Family vacations.
Sure, there are always a few moments when we want to kill each other. But the memories we make and the food we eat always outweigh the death threats.
Created in response to MamaKat’s weekly writing prompt.
Sometimes I regret going public with my blog. There are so many anonymous writers out there. I’m very jealous of these people.
- They can write whatever they want about themselves … with no fear of being ambushed by a group of well-meaning do-gooders and dragged off to the nearest mental institution.
- They can write whatever they want about their kids … with no fear that it will get one of them wedgied, pantsed or bullied-using-their-own-clothing-against-them-in-some-other-way on the schoolyard.
- They can write whatever they want about the people in their lives … with no fear of cold shoulders, stares, glares, resentment, hate mail or flaming bags of poop left on their doorsteps.
They can just … write. Without judgment or concern of any kind. I think that’s pretty cool. And extremely cathartic.
In MY world, every word and every picture in every post I write is given careful consideration before I hit publish. “Would that description piss her off?,” “Is there any chance I’m going to get that guy fired if I let this go public?” and most of all “Are people going to think I’m nuts if I admit the full truth here?”
Probably. To all of it. So I edit … and I abridge … and I massage … until, in the end, I am still left with the truth, but it’s a polished truth. It’s the one I’m prepared for you to see when you look at me. Think of it as Picture Day at school. The end result really is a picture of your child, but his hair is actually clean. And brushed. And he’s wearing the one shirt that doesn’t have a big stain on the collar. Plus you paid extra for the photographer to airbrush out the scab on his chin.
Why am I blathering on like this?
Well, for starters, it’s what I do best. I figure if I talk long enough, I’m eventually bound to say something brilliant, meaningful or at least that you’re willing to listen to until I pause to take a breath. Secondly, I guess it’s just because I’m a little blue. Because my girl started back to school today. It’s her last first day at the little elementary school we settled into after Hurricane Katrina. My son’s already moved on to a new school. She’ll be starting a new one for 8th grade next year. (Remember, New Orleans high schools are weird.)
And … because I’m me … my mind can’t help but wander to a few years down the road when they’ll both be gone for college. I know, I know. It’s still years away. But wow. I don’t know how anybody does it. Maybe I’ll figure that out in the future. But I doubt it.
Until then, I’m just going to pretend I’m not really thinking about it when we’re talking about something else completely unrelated so you don’t think I’m too crazy, alright? Even though a portion of my consciousness will secretly be consumed with it every day until it happens. Then, when I smile and say, “Pleeeeease. I’m fine. Let’s go grab some lunch,” you just pretend to believe me.
Because since I’m standing in the middle of the room wearing a big, stupid name tag that says “Michele Robert Poche,” that’s about as much as I’m willing to let loose right now.
Have a great first day of school, Viv. I’ve enjoyed every single one of them. Now … um … let’s go grab some lunch.
All this talk of Elvis and the recent pilgrimage to Graceland got me to thinking, I’ve never had a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. You know what I mean, right? The sandwich Elvis was supposedly eating when he died whilst sitting on his (ahem) throne. Some storytellers even go as far as to throw bacon on that infamous sandwich.
Of course, by now we all know it’s just an urban legend. Because not only did Elvis NOT die eating on the toilet, I’m still not even sure he’s actually dead. And, for that reason, I decided to try my hand at a little Hunk-Hunka Heart Disease Special … just in case he ever swings by for a meal.
What? It could happen.
Viv and I made these together the night we came home from Memphis. We couldn’t wait. I should point out that this recipe yields only three sandwiches. Yet it calls for ONE ENTIRE STICK of butter. I should also point out that I chickened out and used only a pat for each sandwich. I’ve become accustomed to my veins running loose and free and I like them that way. And the sandwich (cooked in a pan a la grilled cheese) was still plenty indulgent.
Check it out. (Caution: I am not a food photographer.)
The post was written in response to MamaKat’s writing prompt asking for a recipe I love. This one was pretty dang easy. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Thank you very much.
Technically, we were still home for this pathetic display. But I always find Milo’s defiance regarding our family travel both entertaining and pitiful.
Here’s where we stayed. (Note: I’m lying.) Pictured is the historic Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis which is directly across the street from our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express. For the record, the HIE was perfectly adequate. Plus it rented for only one-third of the price. But for old world charm and pageantry … there’s no place like the Peabody. (clicking heels)
Well, yeah. Of COURSE we visited Graceland. Remember the Elvis play Viv and I did together last month? It was sort of the whole reason for this
And it did not fail to impress. Not one bit. It’s now officially added to my time travel list. (Yes, I have such a list.)
Seriously, I am standing in Elvis’s kitchen … fighting the crippling urge to rifle through all the drawers and cabinets. And run up the (off-limits) stairs to say hi to Elv-I mean, “whoever” is up there.
Here’s where he makes his smoothies, you guys! Okay, fine. Where he MADE his smoothies. (rolling eyes)
And here’s the swing set where Lisa Marie spent her childhood. (Does anyone else hear a creepy, off-key music box and ghostly whispers?)
Interesting fact: Elvis died two years before his own father (Vernon Elvis) who, in turn, died a year before his own mother, Elvis’s Granny (Minnie Mae). That’s some weird family chronology.
I can’t tell you how glad I am to have gotten the chance to see Elvis’s planes (especially the interior of the Lisa Marie) before they’re removed from Graceland by their new owners next year. With 24K gold seat belts and a phone that could call any landline in the world (how was that even possible back then?), I’m sorry I didn’t buy it first.
We also visited the FedExForum, home of the Grizzlies, in honor of my boy, Dean …
… and Beale Street, where Viv and I taught Gigi how to take a selfie (Viv did it in one try, it took me two and Gigi three – guess that’s a sign of the times) …
… and, of course, the March of the Ducks at the Peabody Hotel. They hold it twice daily. We went so many times (cough … five!) that I’m now suffering from withdrawal.
Because me in a girly red jacket prodding Milo and Herve with an old umbrella to waddle down the hallway in single file to a Sousa march just isn’t the same.
* * * * * * * * * *
Thanks, Memphis, for a great weekend.
Wonder where we’ll go for our next girls’ trip.
* * * * * * * * * *
Yep. That probably makes me pretty dull. But I love it. And I very seldom get enough of it. Especially with a pink bunny.
2. Getting a massage
No, that’s not me. I’m the jackass at the keyboard writing about getting massaged, remember?
3. Eating cheese
You guys had to see this one coming, right? This chick is exhibiting one of my favorite pastimes. Except she’s a disgrace to the cheese-loving profession. Jarlsberg?!!? Woman, please.
4. Watching a movie
I love movies. I could watch them all day. And yet, compared to the average person, I’ve seen so very few. How is that fair? P.S. If anyone reading at this moment wants to see a movie, text me. Now. (Bet you think I’m kidding.)
5. Singing on Broadway
What? The prompt asks for Nine Things I’d RATHER Be Doing. Right now, I’m wearing an old Johnny Depp T-shirt sitting on my bed typing a goofy blog post with Disney’s Jesse on in the background. You know what I’d rather be doing? I’d rather be singing on Broadway. With the right song, I’ll bet I could … oh, never mind.
6. Being the one holding the pen at a book signing
Well, as long as I’m singing on freakin’ Broadway …
7. Traveling internationally with my family
With your family, Michele? I know. That’s what *I* thought as soon as I typed it. But yes. I want to see as much of the world as I can. And I want them with me when I see it. Honestly, sometimes I wish I was more of a gypsy.
8. Time traveling
Well, crap. Since my suitcases are packed, right? Let’s see. I think my first points of interest would be … my children’s babyhoods (I’m bringing a better camera this time), my teen years (for a little damage control … and some classic MTV) and maybe the 1960s. I want to be on Ed Sullivan. (What? Did you expect 1776? It’s like you guys don’t even know me.)
9. Hugging my kids
This is the one thing on my list that I could actually go do right now. Come to think of it, if I chew while hugging with a DVD on in the background, I could probably knock out THREE simultaneously.
* * * * * * * * * *
This post was written in response to MamaKat’s writing prompt asking for Nine Things I’d Rather Be Doing Right Now.
This really happened.
Recently, I had some one-on-one time with my son. His dad was out of town and Vivien was spending the night at her grandparents’ house. Dean and I don’t get time for just the two of us nearly enough these days. I blame myself. (Would somebody please get me a Football for Dummies book?)
Anyway, it was nice to have him all to myself. We had a little shopping spree at the stores of his choosing (Champs and Footlocker) then finished up online when we returned home. He’d been hoarding a lot of Christmas gift cards so he was able to purchase a decent number of things (all athletic gear) on his own with a little help from me.
When we were done, we started to toss around ideas about what we could do with the rest of our night. A quick perusal of the current movie listings pigeonholed all available choices into three categories:
- Movies that were animated, Happy Meal fare with singing rabbit fairies.
- Movies that interested neither of us.
- Movies that would provide a most uncomfortable experience for a mother/son viewing combination.
So we opted to find something we could watch at home. With Amazon, Netflix and OnDemand available to us, we knew there just had to be something out there. So we both started looking things up on our various devices. Being an idiot, I decided to play a little joke on him.
Me (running into room excitedly with the mail):
“Dean! Look what finally arrived today! Vivien’s dance recital DVD! Remember? Oh, my gosh. Let’s watch THIS tonight! Okay?”
Now, I should point out that …
- The recital is 4 hours long.
- He already attended the live version last month.
- The boy would skip meals to watch ESPN.
Him (looking up from his phone like a deer in the headlights … the headlights of a giant 18-wheeler carrying nothing but show tunes DVDs, Barbie dolls and pink nail polish):
“Um … sure. Okay.”
Cut to me with my mouth hanging open. That boy was going to sit through his sister’s entire four-hour dance recital AGAIN without so much as a whimper. Because that’s what he thought *I* wanted to do. Just when I’d decided my kids were selfish and always thinking of themselves, he proved me way wrong.