Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It's A Wonderful Life!

Did you now that every time someone shares the link to High Wire Girl on their Facebook page, an angel gets her wings?  It's true!  But you don't have to believe me.  Test this theory for yourself.  Share the link and follow the blog.  Wouldn't it be great to see High Wire Girl reach 100 followers?  We're very close, and 100 is really such a nice number.

Here's how you can help and win something awesome.  Under the Angel Contest section on the website, look for Networked Blogs (Like on Facebook).  Click the blue Follow This Blog button.  When the next screen pops up, click Follow to add yourself to the directory for a chance to win one of these two adorable angels from North American Bear Company.

89 names are already in the hat.  Add yours today!
Don't forget to share the link on your Facebook page for an extra chance to win.
As always, thanks for supporting High Wire Girl. ox

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Letter #3: Big, Big Love

April 30, 2014

Mr. David Sedaris
Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Dear Mr. Sedaris:

I'm quite comfortable with the notion that in my absence, the individuals left standing around without me experience a black hole of inactivity.  They stumble back into their cryogenic chambers where they marinate in liquid nitrogen and patiently await my return.  I prefer to think this is what's happening whenever it's time for me to go home and eat dinner, watch TV and fall asleep.

Someday after we become friends, I will probably feel this way about you too.  It's nothing personal.  The extreme medical therapy scenario is my practical approach to compartmentalizing data while greatly reducing distractions.  Basically, I don't want to be worrying about you while I'm not around.  I am merely trying to concentrate so I can contribute to the progress of the universe.

It's really not as arrogant as it sounds.  Of course, I realize that people have other stuff to do and are probably checking things off their own personal accomplishment lists, left and right.  It's just that I can't carry those details around in my head.  My perception of other folks' reality is two-dimensional; it has length and width, but no depth.  My brain is like a spacebag, a revolutionary vacuum-sealed storage system.  There's a lot going on up there, and everything must fit.

In other news, Friday was my wedding anniversary.  David and I are married sixteen years.  It's a pretty big deal.  I took marriage for a joyride twice before and drove both decisions into brick walls.  For a long time, my mother would say novenas that I'd find someone decent.  Mom used to pray that I'd meet John F. Kennedy, Jr.  I think it was very sweet of her to have such high hopes, given my less than ideal choices and track record with men.

I often envisioned John-John pedaling his Schwinn back to his cryogenic chamber in TriBeCa after we were done getting to know one another.  Quite frankly, I never thought we had all that much in common.   It seemed like he really enjoyed the outdoors, what with all the rollerblading and bike riding.  I would sooner be inside. I love air-conditioning.  I will admit, his lifestyle looked intriguing. Except for the plane crash.  When he and his wife died in that tragic accident, I was grateful that I'd married Dave Killian instead.  So was my mom.

These past sixteen years have gone by quickly.  I suppose that's a good sign.  I think I've finally figured out how to be a reasonable wife.  What a relief.  My husband is a very nice man.  It'd be unfortunate had I fucked this one up.

Rory told me over the weekend that he likes wives better than brides.  Apparently, brides give him the creeps.  They make him think of the undead.  Sometimes, I wonder how many wives that child will go through before one of them sticks.  If he treats his women anything like his toothbrush, the number is sure to be in the hundreds.  Still, he does have nice, strong teeth and a winning smile.

Yours truly,

Mary Killian

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Head Like A Hole

Big Mare had a pink coat with three giant matching buttons.  I love the memory of her wearing that coat.  It was visually over the top, but simple in its design.  Just like her.

I was sad when I noticed the cigarette burn on the inside seam of one of the sleeves.  She must have looked away for just a minute.  The embers bore through the material to the silky lining underneath.  They left an orange ring, surrounded by a thin brown border.

The hole was never mended.  It was in such an awkward spot, and some things are too hard to fix.  Besides, Mom only had the one coat.  Eventually, she just learned to live with it.

I used to sneak into my mother's bedroom when she was on the phone.  I'd spook around in her drawers and closet.  I was always looking for something.  I'd find her coat and look for the hole.  I hated that it was there.  I slid my finger inside the tiny opening and made it bigger.  With each visit to her closet, the hole grew.  Its size began to worry me, but I couldn't curb my interest.  I made that cigarette burn my problem.

I panicked every time Big Mare got dressed to leave the house.  Surely, she'd realize the hole had gotten larger.  But she didn't mention it.  If she did notice, she never let on.  She pushed the condition of her coat to the back of her mind, and she taught me to do the same.

Pretend it isn't there.  After a while, it won't matter as much.


Michael Francis and I sit across from one another at Tony's Luncheonette, a greasy spoon right up the street from my aunt's house.  Joan and Big Mare brought us here.  We are killing time, waiting for the older kids to get out of school.  My cousin and I are still too young for full days of education, just a few hours at kindergarten in the morning.

I can't figure out if Michael likes me.  My guess is no.  Aunt Joan's youngest child is quiet and self-contained.  I am neither of those things.  I picked him some dandelions before we got here, but Michael is disinterested.  The flowers lay on the table, wilting.  Now, they look more like weeds.  I should have known that he probably wouldn't want a bouquet.  I don't know much about boys.  I generally feel anxious around my cousins, even though we are related.

Mom and her sister meet here often for coffee and cigarettes.  We eat grilled cheese while our mothers bullshit.  Lunch comes with a pickle spear.  I don't want that thing anywhere near my food.  I rake it to the edge of my plate with a fork and try to forget that it's there.

We are trapped in this booth between these two angry women.  They talk about grown-up things.  There is always drama that needs to be discussed and rehashed. I do not recall being involved in any of their conversations.  We are children with nothing significant to contribute at this point in our lives.  Besides, the scenarios they describe seem far too complicated, anyway.  Manipulation is a baffling hobby.

I am officially dying of boredom.  Michael was smart enough to bring two little cars with him.  He drives them back and forth through the contents of a sugar packet.  I have a coloring book but no crayons.  Upon further inspection, I realize that I've already scribbled on every single page.  I color recklessly.  Even I am unimpressed with my work.  I stare at what my cousin is doing.  He looks up and sees me smiling.  He does not smile back but continues with his efforts.

After lunch, everything on the table is too disgusting to stare at anymore.  Big Mare and Aunt Joan smoke and stamp their butts out in the crusts of our sandwiches. They flick their ashes into our half-finished Cokes.  Lipstick is smeared across the rims of both coffee cups.  I look through the front door and turn my attention to what's going on outside the restaurant.

Two Con Edison workers are peering into a manhole.  They stop what they're doing to stare at a young lady running across the avenue.  They say something to her, and she smiles.  Her outfit is pretty.  It's also very short and may be a little too small for her.
"That's disgusting," Mom whispers under her breath.
"Hey, I know her," Joan says.  "That's Monica.  She works at the bakery."
"She's lookin' to get raped, dressed like that," my mother adds.
"No," my aunt disagrees.  "She's a doll."
The men keep whistling and calling out as Monica continues on her way.  Finally, she turns around and gives them the finger.  They seem to love it.  They laugh and slap one another on the back.

I hear buzzing right near the window.  A large horsefly is also being held prisoner in this diner.  He noisily zips along the dirty sill, frantic for an opening.  I think about the cigarette burn in my mother's pink coat, which is right on the seat next to me.  I quietly search for the hole in the sleeve and when I find it, I ease my finger inside.

That's much better, I think to myself.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lassie, Stay Home...

Kindergarten orientation did not go as smoothly as I'd anticipated.  At age five, it's not like I had the intellectual wherewithal to appreciate the unforeseen benefits of education.  I'm pretty sure I was just hoping to make a splash with a good first impression.  I've always enjoyed being liked.  Especially by teachers.  And all others.

On the morning of this preliminary meeting, I can't imagine what my preparation entailed.  I probably ate some sugary cereal and watched at least two hours of television.

Big Mare and I waited among the informal crowd to be introduced to Mrs. Hughes, a gentle tree of a woman with large hands and a kind face.  I stood right behind Joseph Pennini (above photo - top row, far left), a little boy with a penetrating stare.  Word from the front of the line was that we needed to know our date of birth.  Nice and easy.  We didn't even have to get the year right.  Just the month and day.  I checked these details with my mother to be on the safe side.

September 10th.  Of course, I knew that!  Nothing to worry about.
I repeated this information over and over in my head.

I grew increasingly nervous as we inched toward the table where these interviews were being conducted.  Mrs. Hughes looked like a smart lady.  Surely, she'd recognize September 10th as the undisputed best day for births.  It was pretty obvious, as far as I was concerned.  Still, I'd have to pour on the charm if I wanted to pull ahead as an early classroom favorite.

C'mon, Pennini.  Keep that spiky head of yours moving, I thought to myself with the agitation of an ill-tempered commuter stuck in traffic.  I eavesdropped on the brief exchange between Joey and the teacher, right at the moment where he told her that he was born on September 12th.

This revelation fried my brain.  I knew of four legitimate birthdays up until this point in my life - mine, Judy's and my parents.  None of their commemorative moments occurred anywhere near September, and I preferred it that way.
I was convinced he must be lying.  "That's just too close to mine.  It's impossible."

The immediate bane of my existence shook Mrs. Hughes' gigantic paw and stepped to the side.  It was obvious now that we would never marry.  And on the off-chance that we did, our union would be a miserable one.  I couldn't trust anything that came out of this kid's mouth.  I stood there dumbfounded, incapable of registering the key questions directed my way.

"So, you're Mary?" the gentlest woman in the world asked.
Is she talking to me?  I wondered.
"I bet you know when your birthday is," she coaxed.
"September 12th," I replied.
"Oh, dear.  It says here, September 10th.  Perhaps it's a mistake."
Shit, Shit, Shit, I thought.  Think fast, Mary.
"They must have got it wrong," I insisted.  I was born the same day as him.  I pointed to my future ex-husband.
"Okay.  We'll be certain to get to the bottom of this."  Mrs. Hughes glanced toward the docile mob, looking for my mother's face.  "Why don't you go and have a seat at the orange table."

Good Lord, this could not be going any worse.  I absolutely hated orange.  It was clear that no crayons could stand being around this unlikeable color.  Except for black, and he only put up with orange for Halloween's sake.  I played stupid and sat at the red table.

When Big Mare got me outside on the sidewalk, she was all over me.
"What just happened in there, Clown-o?"
"I can't explain it, Mom.  I think I may have amnesia."
"You're full of shit.  That only happens to dogs."  She grabbed my arm and yanked me across Castle Hill Avenue.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Got To Give It Up

It's like a big party in my mind, and all the best thoughts are here!

Good Attitude and Optimism are always up for some fun.  Current Responsibilities and Timely Goals like to hang out together.  Emotional Growth loves to mingle. She is such easy company.

Things are going great, and we're having a blast.  That is, until Unaddressed Issues show up and spoil everything.  Oh sure, they may look harmless enough, sidling up to Fragile Ego and Self-Consciousness.  But those creeps cannot be trusted and nobody likes them.  Unaddressed Issues study the crowd, searching for an opportunity to weird everyone out.

Because these moments in time have already occurred, Unaddressed Issues generally behave as though no problems even exist.  "What do we give a shit? What's done is done," they snipe at the other guests, many of whom cannot easily forget the past.  Instead, they've chosen to ignore these unpleasant memories in hopes they'll just go away.  "So, we're cool, right?" a particularly obnoxious Unaddressed Issues slaps Emotional Growth across her ass.  Immediately, she starts to cry.

I grow weary of the way Unaddressed Issues carry on.  They ruin every party my brain throws.
When writing, I like how I get to choose the subject matter.  I go into my mind and select the thoughts that interest me most.  Often enough, the clever lines jockey into position confidently.  They are crowd pleasers, and they know it.  Quality jokes make the world a better place.

Mixing in the more serious concerns is challenging.  Revisiting memories that make me uncomfortable… Well, they just make me uncomfortable.  But I don't want to pretend they didn't happen, especially if there are lessons I can learn that make sense of the way I've behaved.

I see glimpses of myself in my sons.  I wonder why they feel and act the way they do.  Naturally, I wonder why I felt the way I did when I was their ages.  At ten and almost twelve, they seem to be handling their young lives quite well.  And I still have these questions that make me feel like a child.  But I am a grown woman.  I'm supposed to have the answers.  I'm their mother, for heaven's sake.  I want to prepare them for the world.

I don't know everything, but I am capable of learning.
And here is something valuable that I have learned.

When I tackle an unaddressed issue  in my life and examine why it plagues me, I can take responsibility for my role in the situation and try to explain my own actions to myself.  When I am honest, this unaddressed issue  can become an addressed issue, thus converting it into a non-issue.  That slot becomes available for a much more reasonable party guest.  The choice is mine.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Letter #2: Let's Party!

April 21, 2014

Mr. David Sedaris
Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY  10017

Dear Mr. Sedaris:

Our youngest child, Rory will be ten years old in a couple of weeks.  Until this year, David and I have been able to successfully avoid hosting lavish birthday celebrations on his behalf.  Instead, we've splurged on trips to exotic locations to commemorate the day he was born.  Once, we took the boys to a fancy restaurant where they light the food on fire.  Desmond insisted on leaning over the table to share crayons with his brother, singeing the sleeve of his jacket on several occasions.  It was a very dangerous meal.  Another time, we stayed overnight at the indoor water park and Dave got pink eye.  Last Spring, we went to Myrtle Beach for the weekend.  Nothing bad happened there, which was nice.  Nevertheless as Brother gets older, it's becoming more and more difficult to postpone the inevitable.  All the child wants is some informal merriment here at the house.

We had a birthday get-together for our older son back in December, and it went very well.  He turned eleven in fine form.  We told Desmond he could invite four friends over for pizza and a film at the local theater.  He chose his guests very carefully, all well-mannered young men with similar civilized interests.  Plus Rory. The weather was rainy and unpleasant, which did throw a monkey wrench on their plans for a spirited Nerf War in the backyard.  Quite frankly, I was grateful for the precipitation.  Nobody ever wants to police up those foamy darts when the battle is over.  Not that I retrieve them myself, but Dave doesn't like doing it either.

After lunch, we loaded the men into the bigger car and drove to Stonecrest to watch The Hobbit 2.  Have you seen this movie?   I never would have sat through it voluntarily.  Too much fantasy, if you ask me.  I prefer story lines with real people in crisis.  But since it wasn't my birthday and my husband was clearly outnumbered, I kept my opinions to myself and did my best to enjoy the show.  It wasn't really that bad, but 161 minutes is a long time to just be sitting.  Unless you're asleep.  Then, you should really have more minutes.  Do you know how to pronounce the word, Smaug?  Everyone says it differently.

I'm writing to find out if you'd like to join us for this next party.  Please know that Rory and Desmond are acutely different in temperament and demeanor.  So this gig isn't gonna look anything like the last one.  Pizza is once again on the menu, but I'm guessing that will be the only similarity.  Brother runs with a silly, excitable crew.  They still think stepping on ketchup packets is a victimless crime.

The Amazing Spiderman 2 is the afternoon's film choice.  I think this offering will be better than The Hobbit because Spiderman is almost like a real person.  Have you seen any of this series?  An ordinary young man has a great deal of power thrust upon him as a result of his reaction to a spider bite.  And with all the power, you see, there's a lot of grown-up responsibility.  Crisis angle.  As you'd imagine, he has a difficult time handling that challenge to his development because he's just a kid.  It's actually very poetic.  I bet you'd like it.

Of course, I understand if you have other plans for Saturday, May 10th.  Just please keep in mind that if you perceive this as good idea, you're signing on for seven hours of your life that you can never get back.


Mary Killian

P.S.  Inviting you to the party was really Rory's idea.  He knows I've been trying to think of ways to get you to come over.
P.P.S.  By all means, please bring Hugh.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Don't Worry, Baby...

Ours was a rough household.  As a kid, I saw a bunch of things I probably shouldn't have, but I'm under no impression that my situation was unique.  Plenty of folks endure much more harrowing upbringings, and they never turn to drinking or drugs.  Heck, I wish I'd realized their secret.  I could have saved us a lot of grief and a ton of money.  But then again if I did, I would never know this version of the truth.  I'm grateful for these memories that help guide me forward into my future.
I rather like how things are turning out for me.
It's fun to share what I know.  Mine is a hopeful story.
As early as I can remember, I felt like I needed something.  Something that would make me feel different.  Even if it was just a little something extra.  Before I ever picked up my first drink, I yearned for relief from whatever it was that created this vague unrest.
I bet it started as worry.  When I was little, I ate.  I was hungry to fill this hole inside of me that never went away.  I creeped downstairs at night and opened the refrigerator.  I took cheese and slices of Wonder bread and snuck back through the house.  I made sandwiches in my bed and ate them under the covers.  I listened to the voices on TV playing in my parents' room - reruns of The Odd Couple, Mash and All in the Family.  It seemed like Mom was awake all the time, wondering where my father was.  Waiting for him to finally come home or the phone to ring with news of a terrible accident.  Big Mare was poised to spring into action at any given moment.  My mother was tension embodied.
I wish I could have figured some things out sooner.  But I was too young, with no perspective to speak of.  It would have been nice had I been able to prevent all the running around I did, like a crazy chicken with no head.  Instead, I gobbled up the disappointment and frustration of my mother's choice in partners, all of her anger and fear.  I feasted on my dad's indifference toward his marriage.  I finished the cookies I snatched from the kitchen and brushed the crumbs off the sheet.  I slept with my hands in my pajama bottoms, tucked between my legs.  I sleep like this, even now.

It doesn't matter how addiction begins, really.  It finds its way into all kinds of households.  In many families, it's already there - providing examples of behavior and initiating new recruits before they become aware that there's a choice.  For some, addiction lies dormant for years.  It hangs around in the shadows, waiting for an opening.  It presents itself in subtle pockets of weakness - fatigue, disappointment and insecurity.  It might make a louder entrance through divorce or death.  It comes in a variety of forms, always looking for the same thing - members.
I learned the ropes at a very early age.  Drinking was everywhere when I was growing up.  When I think about my childhood, I see how easy it was for me to become an alcoholic.  Both my parents drank with purpose.  Quite honestly, I couldn't wait to get started.  I pulled up a chair and slid right into my seat.  I always felt like it was where I belonged.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Dirty Birds

Hygienic resistance is a deadening ordeal.  I repeat myself constantly - three, ten, twenty, eight hundred times.  It's always the same general message.  Broad-based advice regarding cleanliness.  Brush all of the teeth and not just your favorites. Deodorant belongs under both armpits.  Your feet are part of your body. Please stop carving your initials in the soap.  The courtesy flush is a thoughtful gesture that goes a long way. 

In one careless session, the Killian Brothers can transform the upstairs bathroom into the public lavatory at the Port Authority, circa 1977.  Minus the vagrants.  They turn the faucet on for a full hour before they actually step into the bathtub.  The pulsating rhythm of the water is like background music while they stare at their reflections in the mirror and menace one another with towels.

In this household, we're still light years away from these young men cleaning themselves primarily because it's the right thing to do.  They don't recognize the behavior as a positive contribution to our environment.  At present, this routine procedure serves very little purpose beyond providing the opportunity to sing and be naked.  They stand under the tap with their mouths hanging open like turkeys in the rain, alternately washing their bellies and wrists - two body parts that generally don't accumulate much dirt.

In 1986, I took Lamaze classes before the birth of my eldest son.  Over the years, that training has served me well.  When waves of discouragement pour over me, I take shallow breaths and count out loud.  I try to focus my pain elsewhere in order to withstand the raw unpleasantness of these trials.  My children systematically weaken my resolve, leaving me with just enough strength to prepare lunches and vacuum up the cereal that's scattered over their shoulders for good luck every morning.

I often wonder where it went so terribly wrong.  No mother anticipates the willful lack of cooperation she encounters daily from the manky fruit of her loins.  You may take to your mattress and lie atop a pile of fitted sheets that only you know how to fold properly.  You might feel like you need a hug.  Perhaps, it'd be nice if you just had someone to punch.

Could it be that both of my children are missing the specific genetic material that governs grooming and public health?  I am a tidy girl, and my husband is fairly well-kept.  Nonetheless, most of the conversations I share with my sons revolve around the washing and rewashing of faces.  The brushing and rebrushing of teeth. The review of the shampoo process whereby the hair is actually lathered then rinsed, and not just wet repeatedly.  
Reminders that last time I checked, we don't have a maid. How I wish we did!  I'd pay big bucks for a shoulder to cry on.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Letter #1: Our Mutually Fond Association

April 16, 2014

Mr. David Sedaris
Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY  10017

Dear Mr. Sedaris:

The other night, I had a dream that you and I were enjoying a meal together at a McAlister's Deli near my house.  I ordered the baked potato covered with cheese. You chose soup and a sandwich.  You asked if I wanted to try any of your food when the waiter brought us our meals.  I said "No, thank you," to be polite, even though the bisque did look delicious.  The only utensil I had during the dream was a fork, and I thought it best to not go stabbing through your soup like an animal.  Clearly, our relationship was one I valued in my subconscious mind, as I would in real life. It doesn't bother my husband when I eat stuff from his plate, but we've been a couple for a number of years now.  I behave differently with friends.  I'm generally much more cordial.

After lunch, we walked over to Rite Aid where I bought several greeting cards.  I like to buy them a few days in advance, so I don't forget any special occasions.  You picked out the singing hamburger and suggested I mail it to you on your birthday. You opened and closed the card several times so the sandwich would sing to you.

"This hamburger is hilarious," you said.

I wished it was your birthday right then, so I could send it immediately.

When I woke up, I was disappointed that we aren't friends yet.  It seems a shame, really.  I am so much fun, and I have a feeling you'd agree.  I decided right then that unless I make the preliminary overture, we will probably never meet. Although unlikely that we could visit often given the fact that you live in
England and I am in Charlotte, I am confident that we can still develop a mutually fond association.

I looked up your birthday on Wikipedia and jotted it down in my calendar.  I have to make sure that I find that musical hamburger card before December.  Not all the stores have it.  My youngest boy, Rory seems to know exactly where to find it in Target.  He has his finger on the pulse of all things annoying. I mean, extraordinary.  I'll be certain to consult him when the time comes to purchase your gift.  He's a very big help.

Do you have any bunny slippers?  Over the years, I've acquired quite a few pairs for folks I care about. They've always been met with squeals of delight.  If you like this idea, forward me your shoe size.  I have a great resource for this kind of footwear. The rabbit faces look very sincere and the backs of the slippers sport little cottontails.  It's a very nice touch that you don't find just anywhere.

All I ask is that you forget we had this conversation, so you'll be surprised when you receive them.

I've enclosed my full name and address.  Talk to you soon.

Yours truly,


Monday, April 14, 2014

Another World

I don't remember thinking my life was going to improve once I stopped getting high.  I suppose I didn't have that kind of vision.  I had very few clear thoughts, but most of them focused on picking up again.  I did not want to go back that way.  I'm always grateful that a big enough part of me needed to be done with it.

I do recall, however, one simple question.  It looped almost continuously in my head, always the same.
How am I gonna do this?
How am I gonna do this?
How the fuck am I gonna do this?

For me personally, the very notion of living free of drugs and alcohol seemed like walking without legs.  It wasn't even plausible.  I had no idea how to do anything sober.  My mind told me I didn't want to, and my body agreed.  Fortunately, I was already on my knees.  At least, the ground was closer.  I was in a much better position to relearn how to crawl.

So, picture this.  Here on the left, there's me.  Envision something pathetic, maybe sitting on a lonely pile of garbage.  Over on the right, there's the rest of the world. Think ponies, baby lambs and other happy creatures.  Maybe dolphins wearing wreaths of flowers and streamers.  All the animals are dancing around, eating cake. These are two distinctly different focus groups.  Fortunately, I am a goal-driven individual.  Somehow, I needed to figure out a way to climb down from my mound of despair, so I could join the party.  And not get drunk while I was there.

In order to describe what very early sobriety was like for me, I probably need to mention that I'm not particularly keen on math.  Perhaps you've seen me in action, adding things together.  You'd remember if you saw it.  To say the least, I struggle. Anyway, check this out.  There are sixty minutes in each hour and twenty four hours in a given day.  In clusters of minutes, maybe three and four at a clip, I would stop what I was doing and return to my one burning question.  How am I gonna do this?  I asked myself hundreds and then, thousands of times.

I took showers, and I went to meetings.  In my head, I asked my question thirty times.  I ate food and walked the dogs.  I asked my question twenty more times.  I checked the clock.  I asked my question.  I went to meetings.  I read a little.  I checked the clock again.  I asked my question over and over.  I saw my doctors.  I cried when I heard myself ask my question out loud.  I went home and fell asleep.  I woke up and asked my question fifteen more times before my eyes opened.  Every time I asked, I had no answer.

How am I gonna do this?
How am I gonna do this?
How the fuck am I gonna do this?

Oh, God.  How am I gonna do this?
That question became my first prayer.
I walked up to a group of older gentlemen that I recognized.  They were eating Fig Newtons before the meeting started.  I waited for a break in their conversation.
"I've been praying." I blurted out in their general direction.
"Oh, yeah?" Walter asked.  "How's it going?"
"Uhm.  Okay, I guess," I replied.  "I have this one question that I just keep repeating, all day long."  I told them what the question was.  "This morning, I had to remind myself that I hadn't asked in a while.  Then, it almost felt good when I thought about it."

I realized that what I'd said might have sounded confusing, but these guys never skipped a beat.
"Well, that makes perfect sense," Tom said.
"I guess it's working!" added Bruce.
I smiled and agreed.  "Yeah.  I hope you're right."
"How many days, kid?"  Walter wanted to know.
"I've got twelve."
"That's terrific!" he said.
Indeed, it was an awesome moment.

In order to appreciate that subtle change, I didn't have to understand everything that was going on.  It made me feel hopeful inside.  I looked out the window of the little room in the building behind the Pompon Lakes police station.  It was a beautiful Spring day.

Midway through the meeting, I really wanted to get high.
Instead, I volunteered to make the coffee on Saturday mornings.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Easter Contest Winners!

We have two very lucky Easter Contest winners:
     Heather Earnhardt and Teeny Parks.
Congratulations, girls!
Your prizes are on the way.

I appreciate everyone who's taken the time to follow the blog.
Thank you for supporting High Wire Girl.
Happy, happy holiday, everyone. ooxo

Friday, April 11, 2014

Baring It All Is Too Much To Bear

Swimsuit Season is right around the corner.  She saunters down the beach in my mind.  She skips along in the sand, drinking 7-Ups and making out with cute boys. She leans against the rocks, tossing her perfect mane over her shoulder and looking all cool.  She knows that I am insecure.

Swimsuit Season gestures to her close friends, Backless Sandals and Push-Up Bra.
"Check Mary out," she says.  "What's she so scared of?"
I head for the boardwalk and cross against the traffic so I can avoid them.
I am not afraid of Summer.  You mustn't believe Swimsuit Season and her gang.

Some bitches delight in making trouble for those of us with translucent skin and very little muscle tone.  They prey on girls who bruise easily.  We cannot defend ourselves against their teasing.  We can only try to do the best we can with what God gave us.

It's not as though I don't care what I look like.  Of course, I do.  Perhaps I care too much.  The last thing I want is to frighten anyone by revealing confidential information, like the out-of-shape condition of my thighs. What if someone takes a heart attack because they're not ready for these shocking details?  I'm seldom ready, and I'm the original owner.

I appreciate your kindness, but don't try to comfort me.   You have not seen my body in a bathing suit recently, so you don't know.  Besides, you have no idea what could happen once I expose all this.  Spring is such a revelatory period.

It does seem as though I devoted much more energy to my physical appearance when I was younger.  I styled my hair and decorated my face as if it were a Christmas tree and I was the holiday.  Ah, youth!  Such a festive time of self-indulgence.

These days, I'm in and out of the shower before I even realize I've been naked. Here and there, I may linger for a moment in the mirror while waiting for the water to warm up.  I'll take a glance at the big picture.  Okay, so it's not that big.  But it is upsetting.  And very pale.
"Eh.  It could always be worse," I think to myself.  That's the spirit!

I will admit, my top half still seems structurally sound.  It's the bottom portion that's uncooperative.  My legs and keester look a million times better covered in clothing and protected from the harsh scrutiny of the sun.

Swimwear presents countless challenges.  I don't swim so the exercise itself is fraudulent.  I leave the house wearing just bloomers and a harness so infrequently. I have a tough time behaving as though I see nothing wrong with breezing through town in 'undies only' mode.  A kicky floral skirtini provides very little reassurance to a physically self-conscious woman.  I've never been comfortable flaunting my assets.  I'm much better with the jokes.

Few moments of vulnerability compare with being barefoot and nearly naked in a community pool bathroom, hovering over a toilet because I got nervous and subsequently drank too much soda.  I couldn't hold it any longer.  I should have known better, but it was so hot out.

Swimsuit Season, you're not a nice girl, but I am not desperate for your friendship. I have lots of other pals who enjoy spending time with me all year long.  And not just when it's convenient.  So, there.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Fruit Dispute of 2008

"I will never like fruit, Mom.  It's just not for me."  In his entire lifetime, Rory Malcolm has eaten one grape, two maraschino cherries and a handful of golden raisins.  He's held onto this position since he first starting eating things, a very long time ago.
"I don't care if I'm thirty five years old and my wife spends all day baking me a pie. I'm not gonna eat it."  Rory tucked his spoon into his chocolate SnackPack and gave it a spin.

"That's not very nice, Brother," I said to him.  "I feel badly for that young lady."
"Well, I don't," he protested.  "She knew I hated fruit before she married me."  He pulled his shirt pocket up to his mouth and licked the pudding from the spot where a small glop had landed.
"I told her lots of times that I was never gonna change," he insisted.

"Oh dear," I shook my head.  "Surely you don't mean that, honey.  Compromise in relationships is so important.  No one lives in a vacuum.  Promise me you'll give it some thought."
"Okay," he replied.  But I had a feeling he wouldn't.

After lunch, we went outside and took some photographs.
"Smile!" I suggested.
This was the best of the bunch.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Best Easter Contest!

Best prizes ever this month at High Wire Girl.
Don't miss out on two excellent chances to win both Bunnies and Chicks, plus lots of yummy holiday treats.

Under the Networked Blog section to the right of this post, click the blue Follow This Bog button to be eligible.  It's super easy!  If you're already a follower, you're automatically in the drawing.  Winning one of these prizes will definitely make you smile.  It's guaranteed.  Just ask previous winners!  They've all been thrilled.

High Wire Girl has 69 followers so far, but who's counting?
Okay.  Yes, I will admit.  I am counting.
Still, get in on the fun and enjoy a basket filled with awesomeness.

The drawing happens soon.
Don't miss out!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Walk It Off

I think the boys were about three and four years old.  I wanted to run into Michael's and buy them some waterproof magic markers.  One of my sofa cushions had fallen victim to a purple Sharpie.  To this day, Brother swears he didn't do it on purpose.  How somebody can draw a smiley face with curly hair on the furniture - completely by accident - is beyond me.

We found ourselves in the dollar aisle, with Desmond and Bro raking through the metal bins jammed full of impulse purchase options.  Invariably finding that creepy latex chicken, the one you squeeze and an angry prolapse appears out its rectum.   I hate that thing.

We came upon a woman in a wheelchair.  From the back, nothing remarkable about her physical condition. But as we passed, I realized that Desmond was intrigued.  He grabbed my arm.
"Mommy, what's wrong with that lady?" he whispered so loudly, the folks eating lunch at Five Guys next door probably heard him.
"Honey, I don't know," I told him.  "Please keep your voice down.  We don't want to make her feel uncomfortable."
"I know," he said.  "But that leg…"  He drifted off, reaching into a basket filled with sponges shaped like dinosaurs.

My children are very loud, and I am even louder.  There is something missing from our genetic code that prevents us from murmuring softly.  Our volume buttons have been busted since birth.  We must yell and shout, or we will surely die.

I love when my children ask questions.  Their curiosity about the unknown is fun and infectious.  I'm glad when they come to me with their inquiries.  It makes me feel smart, especially when I actually know the answers.  Yet often times, what interests one doesn't even come up on the other guy's radar.
"Watch this bubble, Mom," Rory exclaimed.  "It pops out the bird's hiney!  This is so gross."
"Yes, Brother.  That chicken is something else," I admitted.  It wasn't exactly a lie.
"We really need to move it along.  I think Daddy's in danger."  Now, that  was a lie.

At the register, the object of Desmond's fascination rolled up behind us, meeting his gaze.
"Hello there," the woman ventured as my junior achiever unselfconsciously stared at her situation.
"Yes," he replied.
"How are you?" she asked, obviously hoping for conversation.
"I'm Desmond."
"Oh, my.  That's a wonderful name," she said.  I signed my receipt and gathered up my shopping bag.  That's when I heard the million dollar question.
"Hey, Lady.  Where'd you get that robot leg?"
I squeezed my eyes shut right there at the counter and braced myself for her reaction.

Mrs. Mobility proceeded to tell my son about her juvenile onset diabetes, a subject she was extremely passionate about.  Her diagnosis several years prior, at the height of her school crossing guard career.  The unfair dietary restrictions and her penchant for chocolate gelato.  The loss of circulation to her extremities, a gangrenous big toe and three painstaking operations undergone in efforts to save her beloved foot.  These surgeries all performed for naught, as indicated by the magnificent prosthetic that began at the base of her kneecap.  Alas, her metier in student safety was over.

Wow.  Perhaps a little too much information for someone just going into Kindergarten, but it seemed as though this elderly girl simply wanted someone to talk to.  And Desmond Henry just happened to be standing there with his mouth hanging open.

"Okay, my dears," I encouraged both kids.  "Let's say goodbye for now."
"I have to go," Des told his new friend.  He gave her a hug as we left the store.

When we got outside, I searched my son's face to make sure he was not upset by the gruesome details of this old woman's experience.  We walked together to the car, and I waited for him to say something.  He  climbed into his seat and stared out the window.
"Sweetheart, are you okay?" I finally asked.
"Yes, I am," he assured me.  He was clearly preoccupied.
"What's the matter?  You can tell Mommy."
"It's just that I would love to have one of those legs," Desmond said.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Three Strange Days

If you use drugs and alcohol regularly and for long periods of time, your body experiences a number of changes.  It adapts to having these things in your system. After awhile, it feels as though your body only functions normally  when you are high.  Even though there's nothing normal about what's going on.  When you stop using, your body has to acclimate to the difference.  Withdrawal is that period of readjustment.  Your body is forced to return to its natural state without the drugs.

The stimulant detox process itself is not fatal.  There is surprisingly very little medical danger involved once the individual stops ingesting amphetamines and snorting them up his or her nose.  The real difficulty presents itself as the person begins to exhibit a wide range of symptoms associated with this particular type of drug withdrawal.

I experienced tremendous anxiety and overwhelming fatigue once I stopped. These two intense feelings happening at the same time pulled me in opposite directions. And not in the same way they did when I was getting high.  It was like my body knew the tank was empty so it kept sending signals to my brain, demanding to know what the hold-up was.

Where's the shit?  was the only clear thought I had.

That may be the trickiest part of detoxing.  Combatting the urge to get that question answered with another hit.  Pushing beyond everything that comes with the powerful need to return to that comfort zone.  My cravings were huge and all-consuming.  There's panic and fucked-up confusion.  Not to mention the physical reactions that are going on - muscle cramps, sinus congestion and constipation. These things suck too, just not in the same way.

The waves of depression are insane.  They come suddenly and punch you right in the face.  They pull your legs out from under you.  They press thumbs into your throat and choke you.  They bang your head against the rocks.  Fortunately, I never wanted to die no matter how lousy I felt.  I'm sure that helped my circumstances quite a bit.  But I will admit, coming through that ordeal was extremely unpleasant. I'd prefer childbirth eight times over without an epidural to drug withdrawal.  I never want to have to do it again.

All I knew was that I'd scraped together two days, then three without getting tight. I hadn't done that in - well, forever.  It was also becoming clear that I was right in the middle of a real attempt to get clean.  I had never tried stopping before.  I suppose I didn't think I could do it with any measure of success, so I put the possibility out of my mind.  Over the years, I just incorporated being loaded into what it was that I'd become.  It's not like I felt like a person anymore.  I was merely a thing, an unfortunate drug-addled thing.
Only now, I had three days.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fathers and Sons

In 2001, Raymond and Catherine Killian were headed toward their 50th wedding anniversary.  They made plans to celebrate the occasion at the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York.  Ray came up with the notion that his wife should finally have an engagement ring.  It was a brilliant idea.  If ever a lady deserved a meaningful piece of jewelry for so many years of devoted service, it was my lovely mother-in-law.

David drove his father to the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, Long Island. Together, they picked out a quality stone in a very tasteful setting.  My husband put the purchase on his credit card, so Mom wouldn't see the charge on his parents' bill and have the surprise spoiled.

As an added bonus, lots of Killians were scheduled to show up at Mohonk during their stay to help celebrate.  Catherine just adored when all of us kids were together.  She truly was happiest during these moments.  Her love was a marvelous thing.

Dave spoke with his dad by phone several times before the weekend, ironing out the particulars of the big event.
"You can't mention anything, Ray."
"I won't," he said.
They chatted some more about other things and before they hung up, Ray asked, "Are you sure you can't come with us?"  He sounded confused.  So was Dave.
"We'll meet you there," my husband assured him.
"Okay.  Fantastic," Ray responded.

What a wonderful time we had the weekend of the anniversary, celebrating Catherine and Ray's life together.  Mom was positively tickled pink!  The next day, she and David took a little walk around the lake.  He shared with her our plans to start a family.  She couldn't have been more pleased.  Dave explained how his outing with Ray had been very enlightening.  It helped him realize how nice it would be to have someone take him to the jewelry store someday when he got old.

Later on while father and son sat together relaxing, David prompted his dad.
"Hey, that's a really nice ring your wife's got there," he said.
"Indeed," Ray Killian replied.  "It's just that I had no idea you'd all be here."
Sometimes in an instant, vague things become clear.  What we suspect might be happening, actually is.  Ray's twilight was upon us.  In most cases, I think knowing feels better than wondering.

When one chapter ends, another begins.  Sometimes, scenes overlap - just like this.  Each remains a very significant part of the story.  We must keep turning the pages.