Monday, February 15, 2016

1995

Location: Phoenix, Arizona

January

I spoke to Andy early in the month who had a friend over nicknamed Goofy.

I began swapping emails with his sister Marla.

Went shopping at the Metro Center mall where Tom got a computer game and some computer parts.

We got a little CD rack since MP3s hadn’t hit the scene yet.

I got pretty pastel colored computer paper with matching envelopes to use for letters.

I also got vanilla bean scented lotion, journals and slippers.

On another day at Target he got two pairs of pants and I got two word-find books and a puzzle. The 1000-piece puzzle had an image of an old cottage in a field of wildflowers.

We got blinds for the windows in the back room. I chose two different colors… cameo rose and slate blue.

Unfortunately, we discovered a leak in the ceiling in the back of this large room as well.

Larry brought up the possibility Jenny and I resuming our friendship, but after I gave it some thought, I told him that while I no longer had any hard feelings toward her, I didn’t see the point in resuming a friendship with someone who was 3000 miles away. The Internet wasn’t what it is today, and I still believed that we were too different from each other. I usually liked opposites, just not that opposite.

I was pleased to learn from my doctor that my skin graft was healing well.

I began reading and enjoying novels for the first time in years. I don’t know why I took such a long break from reading, but it might have been because it wasn’t as easy to get books back then with such a huge selection.

On a visit to Tom’s parents’ house one day his mother gave me some cookies she baked that she knew Tom didn't like. They were pretty good.

She also had a holiday gift there for us from Tom’s brother Steven and his family who lived in central California. It was a book of 3-D images and a horse puzzle.

I eventually met Steven, his wife Carol, and Carol’s son Matthew from a previous marriage. The first thing Carol said when she saw me was, "She's gorgeous! Steven, look at her."

Matthew, just 12 at the time, wanted to be a cartoonist. He showed me some of his cartoon drawings which were very good.

I made a drink called Bride's Pink Punch that I got out of a cookbook. It came out pretty well. It consisted of Jell-O, pineapple juice, Kool-Aid, and 7-up.

February

My ear doctor was worried that the plastic piece they inserted into my ear frame in Boston as a child may poke through, and it did. So next it was off to see a plastic surgeon.

My hearing in that ear increased by almost half, but because the ear canal had collapsed a bit, he would have to perform a second operation. The inner ear was still looking great and the skin graft healed well, even though it wasn’t as thick as he'd like.

The second operation was to take only 2 hours and not 5. Recovery would be speedy and virtually painless. Nowhere near as rough as the last time. He planned to vaporize the area with a laser. He also wanted to make sure I didn’t get a serious infection.

I knew I would have a couple of choices as far as what could be done about the plastic piece that was exposed. I could have the upper ear removed completely, which was what I was leaning toward being the quickest and easiest thing to do. Or I could have it rebuilt from scratch. The doctor could take cartilage from my ribs to rebuild it with.

My surgeon said he'd do another skin graft from the same area under my left upper arm. The scar tissue apparently built up and closed the ear canal shut, so that was why he had to re-graft the outer canal. He said there was a 98% success rate for the second operation keeping the canal wide open.

Some of the items I got this month consisted of a mug with a collie on it, and a 500-piece puzzle of a piano, sheet music and violin.

March

This month we bombed our home and drove around through Phoenix, Tempe, and Scottsdale for two hours. Naturally, we took the guinea pig we had at the time with us.

Tom helped me trim a few inches from my hair.

Decided to mail the “Brady Bunch” next door a letter about the constant screaming I was tired of dealing with every day. Some noise, I expected and was acceptable, but every day for hours at a time? There was no excuse for that.

Tom went over to Andy's to fix his VCR and I taped his soaps for him until it was fixed.

Tom was laid off from work and eligible for unemployment.

Andy called to tell me that Fran was harassing his friend Donna’s grandmother. As bad as I felt for the woman, I didn’t know what to tell her. All she could really do was change the number or hang up on him.

Our tax return this month was $330, so we decided to pick up a few things we wanted and needed.

Tom got one of those contour pillows, designed to support your neck and most importantly decrease snoring, though it didn’t help much.

I got some silk flowers at Michael’s to decorate with, and at the Old America art store I got my second dog mug, an Irish Setter.

We went to a bookstore that we'd never been in before and they had a pretty decent journal selection. I got a couple of them as I had yet to go all-digital.

We went to a buffet for lunch and then to Wal-Mart where we got several things. A fluorescent light to put in the lamp by the computer, was one thing.

I got some intimates, hair accessories, and two 500-piece puzzles. One had two teddy bears at a picnic with bowls of strawberries. The other had lace and flowers surrounding teddy bears. When I was done I carefully flipped them over, put duct tape on the backs, then hung them on the wall.

Andy and I hung out one night and grab some fast food. I brought him his taxes, which Tom did for him.

I got a surprise letter from Larry, though he admitted that the only reason I got it was because he got a new computer. He, unlike me, hated to write.

On the very day Andy had a root canal done, I have my second and final ear surgery. The second surgery was a piece of cake compared to the first one. The only bitch was the waiting time.

Tom and I spoke to Goldie and Al.

April

Tom got a new faucet to replace our old one in the kitchen. The one we had leaked and was hard to turn on and off.

Our living room ceiling fan died, so Tom brought one over that he had at his parents’ house with a light.

His mom gave me a plastic placemat with all kinds of cactuses illustrations and their names.

The large Mormon family next-door became surprisingly quiet, but eventually some whiny dog they got shattered the peace. At first I was worried they got a new dog when listening to every other dog on the block was more than enough, but it turned out that they were just babysitting it while its owner was away somewhere.

I was totally relieved to get my ear bandages removed and then to come home and shower and wash my hair! Dr. N said the new outer graft looked great as well as the inner ear and the graft on my arm.

Tom got a temporary job at a bank, and I renewed my library book.

We spent around $200 one day. We got a new lamp for the back room and other stuff we needed. He got new work clothes, too.

My parents sent a newspaper article with a picture of my dad holding one of the decorative flags they sold. Apparently a law was passed, and then tossed out, about businesses putting up flags that'd make the place look like a circus.

They also sent a water resistant clock/radio that would be good to use around the pool, as well as some puzzles. Lastly, there were 3 pairs of shorts, a vest, and a jacket. The jacket was a bit big, but beautiful, so I didn't care. My favorite was the denim shorts with gold studs and gemstones along the pockets.

I was 97 pounds as we cruised around filming Camelback Mountain so I could show friends and family back east.

Went to a 50s café and then it was off to the Turf Paradise horse racetrack where we watched two races. Tom taught me a few things about betting and how it worked in general, but I never could get into the sport.

The Oklahoma City bombings occurred.

We got a fan on a stand for the living room, a CD holder, plus some CDs, later in the month. Before we went shopping we went to Red Lobster.

We also got a non-motorized treadmill. I had to rearrange our rather small living room to get it to fit in.

May

Did a lot of organizing and rearranging around the home this month, and Tom installed a garbage disposal in the kitchen sink.

Dad drove up to New England from Florida to visit family and friends up there.

Tom found a note for me on the front door from a couple months ago. I don’t know how we missed it. Two of the girls next door typed it up. They apologized for all the noise, which was really nice of them. All the kids over there had been getting pretty carried away with the shouts and screams for hours at a time (these kids were homeschooled) and with their place being just a few feet away, it could get pretty maddening at times. One living in a house shouldn’t feel like they were still in an apartment, so I appreciated their understanding.

We visited his parents one day. Tom showed his mom some stuff on the computer and mom said she would sew the straps to one of my halter tops on in a way where they wouldn’t slip off. Dad entertained me on the pachinko machine while they worked.

After we left, we went to a park with life-size metal statues of people. They looked so cool. Especially from a distance.

Lastly we went to OSCO drugstore where I got a few small puzzles, makeup remover, nail polish, and some shower gel. I also got a lamp/organizer.

Andy and his roommate Diana brought over a wavy brown chair I always liked that they no longer wanted. I quickly regretted it as we were running out of space to put things.

Later in the month Tom got a vanity table from Mary's, but we had extra space in the second bedroom for that. It was old-fashioned looking but nice, with 3 small drawers on either side of it. Tom attached its large center mirror.

I got my third dog mug, so now I had 3 breeds.

Tom got some things to attach to the block wall in back to wind hoses onto, and a new sprinkler.

We also got a new lounge chair since the old plastic one gave out. This one was of cloth with a floral design on it.

One day I found myself remembering the brief time I attended summer camp in Maine as a child. At first I thought I was 9, but would later come to realize I was 11. One counselor was especially nice to me, and that meant a lot to me with all the abuse and negativity I was usually surrounded by. I couldn’t remember her name, but just that she was of average height and weight with shoulder length dark hair and dark eyes.

I was a little bully back in these days and before I managed to get myself kicked out because of it, she took me to stay with her in her cabin on my last night there. Because she had her own cabin, this told me she had to have been at least 18 and some kind of supervisor.

Where the regular cabins had about 20 beds in them, hers had just 2, plus a little kitchenette. She also had a small dog I totally loved right away, and it seemed to take to me as well.

The next morning I’m pretty sure she cooked us breakfast. Maybe bacon and eggs.

Then we were running through the woods playing with her dog. I remember being amazed at how she would hide behind a tree, remain still and silent, yet the dog would always find her.

After this she said, "I've got a present for you."

It was a Polaroid of the dog. I ditched it when I was around 22, though, and was sorry I’d done so.

"What am I gonna do till my dad arrives?" I asked shortly afterwards. I was nervous because I knew he was going to be really disappointed in me and that my mother would be utterly furious.

She playfully said, "You're gonna stay with me!"

In my last memory of her, we were outside the office waiting for my dad. He drove up and she commented on how handsome he was. Then she hugged me goodbye. I got in the car, looked back and waved.

I saw her wipe a tear from her eyes as she turned and walked away. I knew I would never forget her and that I would always appreciate her kindness.

Who was she? I wondered that day nearly 20 years later.

And so began the hunt for an identity that would take nearly 15 years to discover.

June

Andy moved to a new apartment, and he like the apartment but hated all the noise. That was just attached living for you, especially in Arizona where they tended to build walls paper-thin.

A detective called him because he prank called what I believe was a customer’s family member. This was back when he was a waiter. Pretty sure it never went to court, though.

I did some wall art. Or door art, I should say. There was a little spice cabinet in the kitchen. I noticed that my cactus figurine I painted cast a perfect shadow on the wall, so I traced it. Then I drew it on the door with carbon paper. All around it I drew colorful stripes.

Tom surprised me with a beautiful 3-D journal. I have no trouble seeing the image. The cover had cat faces all over it and the hidden image was of a cat hovering over a fish bowl.

We went to the new main library, which was huge. It had 5 floors and a glass elevator where you could see all around you. I got a book by John Saul that day. He was always one of my favorites, along with Dean Koontz, Ruby Jean Jensen, Stephen King, and Mary Higgins Clark.

I went to the dentist who told me pretty much what I figured she’d tell me… my teeth needed work.

They didn’t have a date yet, but sometime in the fall my parents and their bird, a cockatiel, would be on America's Funniest Home Videos. They sent them a tape and they got a letter back saying they'd been accepted. Dad told me that the bird would climb down his throat and would sing and laugh. It could also say about 60 words.

For our first anniversary we went to play miniature golf at Castles & Coasters. We filmed some of their gorgeous scenery. I got overheated in the end and nearly passed out, so I got some water and then we left.

We went across the street to the Metro Center mall where we got a $40 camera that was super nice with cool features. We also got film, a camera case, a photo album, and a device that strips copy guards from videos.

We also went to Red Lobster later, came back, and took a dip in the pool. I noticed a palm tree coming up in the corner of the block wall by the pool. I thought it was about time that we had one on our property.

Two weeks later Tom turned 38. Unfortunately he had an ear infection, but he at least got to be dismissed from jury duty.

July

We bombed our house one day and Tom, Piggy, and I went to a drive-through to get breakfast, then to his parents’ house. Piggy was not only comfortable riding in the car, but he had a ball at their house.

For years this Mexican family who made and sold jewelry, rented a house near his parents’ house. Whenever they'd go visit family in Mexico they'd leave their jewelry-making supplies at their house. One day they left and never returned. The stuff stayed with them for years with no one interested in it. I was surprised and grateful when his mom gave it to me. There were millions of different beads in so many different colors. Mostly tiny microscopic beads, but there were some bigger ones. There were longer beads, colored glass stones, lots of silver chains, some clasps, raw and polished turquoise, and all kinds of sequins. Not just regular little round sequins, but bigger ones in shapes of birds, flowers, moons, etc. I would definitely have fun making others and myself all kinds of fun things, as I was more into that sort of thing back then.

We ate at the mall another day and visited the arts and crafts store where we got a bead loom.

Our last stop was at the library where I renewed an old book and grabbed a new one.

Andy told me that he and his friend Michelle went to the home of a popular female rock star in Paradise Valley on trash night, and they grabbed a bag of trash.

In it they found lyrics and notes she wrote herself. He was able to learn that she was recently in a local recording studio, was putting out a new album, and going on tour soon.

One note made no sense to either of them. It said, “Decorate house, don't decorate house, sell house, claim bankruptcy, buy condo, buy house back.”

We wondered how she could be having money problems.

There was a receipt for a half a dozen 30-dollar boxes of facial products she bought at an expensive department store.

A credit report showed that both a woman and a man shared her credit card. The guy bought $5,000 worth of stuff.

He found the name of her dentist in Scottsdale, as well as 3 other doctors who gave her prescriptions for pain, swelling, and congestion, which she picked up at Osco drugstore.

The funniest and strangest thing was an unopened letter from a fan named Sally. Obviously she'd gotten mail before from this weirdo. Sally, who appeared to be a lovesick lesbian living in Scottsdale, wrote her a corny poem. Nothing was funny as the tape of her singing and playing the guitar, though. Some of her guitar playing was okay, but never had I heard such horrible singing in my entire life.

As a joke, I took the tape and edited it in a funny way using a dual cassette recorder, and Andy and I enclosed a wacky letter to send to her.

Another girl from New Mexico wrote a short, dumb letter, which she simply addressed to her name, town and state yet it still got to her.

She also got a letter about doing some interview.

Along with my third Word Find puzzle book in which I was now receiving a monthly subscription for in the mail, I got another 3-D journal, and a kitten puzzle. Plus I doubled my dog mug collection and added a Maltese, a Sheltie and a Golden Retriever. I also got a pair of white Velcro sneakers, a pair of white sandals, a pair of black sandals, and some CDs.

We went out to Denny's and to Office Max later in the month. He got some disks, mailers, and labels for the business. I got pens, clear plastic folders to protect my drawings, and a paper cutter.

Dad called from Tammy's when he went up north to visit friends and family.

Minnie called and said she was no longer in contact with Bob. She said her mother called DSS when she took her son to see Bob in jail, and threatened to take the kid away if she didn't cut off all contact.

I made another futile attempt to find the camp counselor from my childhood that I briefly knew in Maine. No matter how much info I searched for on the web or how many phone calls I made, I began to doubt I would ever find out who she was and where she was.

Andy said he had an experience with a ghost that was anything but positive, and he did a lot more than just sense it. He told me that one night he was lying awake in total darkness. He said he couldn't see anything, but could feel a guy crawl onto the bed from the foot of it, and then it raped him. He said it wasn't painful, but he could things. He said that the next day it felt as if something had been up his butt, but there was no pain.

Did I believe it? Or did I simply write it off as paranoia from all the pot he used to smoke?

I wasn’t sure. Not even when he told me that a full name came to him the next day.

The best news this month was that my doctor told me I could go ahead and quit taking the Theodur pills I took for asthma.

August

I was put on antibiotics for a cough and congestion.

Tom, his parents and 3 of his siblings went to the Greyhound racing track, but Tom didn’t win anything.

On a trip to Wal-Mart this month, we got a new scale and a cushioned toilet seat with a floral pattern on its cover. He also got some sport-related CDs for the computer while I got some puzzles.

He built a table we put in the living room so I wouldn’t hog up space on the kitchen table with my puzzles. I then spray-painted the table Pasadena Pink. The can looked bright pink, but it was more of a bright red once it dried.

We got Windows 95, and I got a bunch of markers I used to draw a humongous multicolored cat with on the wall of the second bedroom. I wasn’t happy with the way it came out.

Tom also built Piggy a burrow.

The mailman continued to screw up the delivery of the mail in the area, though I was glad to receive some family pictures from Tammy.

The large Mormon family moved, leaving me to wonder (and worry) what we may be in for next.

September

Goldie and Al surprised me with a call. They were long-time family friends that were to be in Sun City and wanted to know if they could meet with us. I was delighted. I would meet them at the home of Al’s sister. They had come to Sun City to pack her up, sell her house, and move her back east because she’d gotten too old to live alone. We visited for a few hours and it was great seeing them after so many years.

At Walgreen’s I got birthday cards for Kim and my youngest niece. We also got a couple of pool noodles. Got a CD with 1000 fonts but most of them sucked and weren’t very original.

Andy brought over some things he found or didn’t want. Two boxes of cereal, a tape for me to record his voice messages onto, plus a journal.

My parents sent a package with pens, hair barrettes, decorative flags, daisy seeds, and 3 gorgeous journals. I was surprised my parents sent me journals because they usually didn’t send things that I really, really liked. The most surprising thing were old home movies they’d had transferred to videotapes. There was no sound on the old movies, but it was both cool and not so cool seeing old friends and family, most of which are now dead, in various states and places. Everyone agreed I looked barely 2 years old when I was really 4 at the time the movies were filmed in 1969, mostly by my maternal grandfather. Tom’s mom said I looked like a miniature version of how I looked in 1995. OMG, the clothes and hairstyles, though!

My mom suggested painting our block wall a solid light blue-green, then painting in fish, manatees, lobsters and seaweed similar to what some artists had done on the block wall that surrounded their community pool. I never did get around to this, but instead I decorated our linen cabinet. I traced some plastic musical notes/G-clefs lightly with a pencil and then I colored them in.

I began to wonder whatever happened to the diary I wrote in in my early teens. I didn’t remember throwing it out, so I assume it ended up in my mother’s hands. That must’ve been interesting since I mostly wrote about my fantasies, dreams and stories. Trust me, my reality certainly wasn’t worth writing about back then.

Tom was offered a full-time position at work.

He went to his parents’ house to work on Mary's car. Mary was there as well as my niece Nickolena. It was many hours of work, but Mary gave him $40, which was nice.

We went over to his parents’ house one day, but they were out. While they were out, Tom did about 20 minutes of work on their computer that they wanted done.

I saw that his mom hung up the puzzle in her hall that she asked me to do for her since she had arthritis.

I was still feeding our local pigeons. I got a kick out of how I’d go outside, stick my arms straight out at my sides, and they would fly down from the utility poles and wires and onto my arms. I just hated the mess they made.

Kim, now divorced, sent me pictures of her new apartment. She also sent these
hair rappers. They were colorful pieces of string in which you wrap small sections of hair with.

An organization for paralyzed vets sent us 10 free Christmas cards.

We went to Denny's, then to Old America where I got a puzzle. It had a picture of paperweights in 35 different colors, designs, and patterns.

Surprisingly enough, I was seeing a slight improvement in the ridges in my nails after taking calcium tablets.

October

I continued to keep in touch with Kim, Bob and Alex.

Was furious that O.J. Simpson got away with murder simply for being rich and black.

Went to visit his parents. They gave me an old oil painting that they’d had for years in which to use to practice my own oil painting on, that I had recently gotten into.

At an art store I got 8 tubes of oil paint, liquid white base coat, a putty knife, Turpenoid, brushes, liners, canvases, and a small tabletop easel.

Tom and I did our first paintings together, and I begin to follow the Bob Ross show.

Tom worked on his parents’ car for a few hours, and then we went to a bookstore where I got a journal.

Tom won $300 at the racetrack!

We saw my dad on America's Funniest Videos with his bird. He was only on for about 10 seconds, but it was cool to see. My parents were disappointed with the winners because they didn’t even find them funny. Judging never seemed fair no matter what it was, especially since they would always favor kids. Why not let them have their own video contests then? I would say.

Larry quit driving and bought a trucking business.

Andy called to do what he did best – discuss his problems with friends with others. He had a fight with Pam. She supposedly scammed him by selling him shitty weed or something.

Depressed, lonely and feeling hopeless, Andy began seeing a therapist.

My mother quit smoking, but only for a few months. She said she got real sick, had to go to the hospital, and then she gave the doctor her cigarettes and said she quit. She went out and got a needlepoint kit to keep her hands busy.

Tom’s dad wasn’t doing as well. He was in the hospital with pneumonia.

November

Tom’s dad was diagnosed with cancer from asbestos exposure. :-(

Larry was having trouble negotiating with the guy that he was supposed to buy his trucking company from. He didn’t want to give up trucking, but because he had been neglecting his family, he felt obligated to quit driving and stay closer to home.

Money was tight. Tom sold his trumpet for $180 in order to get the money for the new hot water tank we needed.

Pam and John woke Andy up one day pounding on his door for half an hour. Andy had given them some things he didn’t want, and they had given him a table they were now saying he didn’t pay for. He couldn’t tell the cops this, but he didn’t pay for it because they cheated him by selling him shitty pot. Not wanting any more problems from the nutty duo, he gave the cops the table to give to them, and Pam and John returned the unwanted stuff that Andy had given them, hoping this would file them away in the past an be the end of them.

We spent a couple hours at his parents’ this month. A large loud Mexican family moved in behind them and all you could hear were kids crying and screaming like crazy.

We showed them our paintings and his mom asked me to paint something for her some time.

Then Tom worked on one of their cars and put up a wooden bench swing for them similar to ours.

After we came home we barbecued some burgers.

On another visit to his parents’ that month, Mary came over while we were there cuz we needed her car to haul in mom’s new shower surround that Tom was installing. Tom and mom went to get it while Mary and I stayed at the house.

At first, Mary did her thing in another room on their computer while I read out in the living room. Then I dared to share with her that I had been having trouble conceiving and my mixed emotions about it. She seemed to really sympathize with me because she once lost the baby and ended up needing a hysterectomy afterwards. I asked that she keep our discussion secret, but us I would later learn, she didn’t. Now knowing that she couldn’t be trusted, I was careful with what I shared with her in the future.

Someone had been calling and hanging up, so I called my parents to see if they have been trying to reach me. Mom said she'd leave a message if she needed to get ahold of us. They were on their way out to play bingo when I called, saying they’d win every third time and play with about 150 people. They'd won anywhere from $50 to $200.

I got a package from my parents. Every so often she would go through her place and send stuff she no longer wanted. She sent some beauty products and this disgusting tasting toothpaste.

She also sent decorative flags. Two of them were nice, one was boring, and one was ugly. It had a mug of beer with the words: This Bar Is open.

Strange thing to send to people who almost never drink.

In the package that was meant to be my birthday gifts, was a too-big and not too impressive sweatshirt, but a perfect fitting and impressive skirt. Hair accessories and knickknacks were also in the package.

I received a birthday check from my in-laws.

Got a postcard from Kim from a trip she took to Niagara Falls.

Tom carved an animal drawing of mine into wood and it really looked great. He seemed to have a knack for that kind of thing.

Repair work was being done on and off at the house next door, which was still wonderfully vacant. They also painted the place the same dull diarrhea brown color.

December

One day I got two canvases, brush cleaner, a brush cleaning tub, and two new spiral journals.

I later painted a sky, mountain, grass and an evergreen tree in a field.

Next, I took a tiny canvas and painted it pinkish red. When it dried I painted white lily flowers on it with green leaves around it. Then I outlined it for contrast with brown using a liner. Also using a liner, I put brown veins in the leaves.

I had an idea for my big canvas. To divvy it into 6 squares and paint each square a different color. Then to do a different flower design in each square after the background colors dried.

We checked out a paper store, but all they had were kits to glue books, and plastic spirals. I wanted metal ones cuz they were sturdier. The damn paper puncher was $300, so typing and then binding journals with decorative covers was out of the question at the time.

My right wisdom teeth were bugging me. Just what I needed. I knew they would have to be pulled sooner or later.

Tom did some work on his aunt's water tank. I began to wonder why it always had to be my husband that people called upon to fix their shit, but the answer was obvious. He was the smartest and most capable. But yeah, it got annoying at times because it meant we’d lose some time together. I also didn’t like it when he wasn’t paid fairly for his work and I felt that he was being used.

At his parents’ on another day, he helped pull out an old fence around their garden. How nice it would be to just go over to their place and simply visit, just visit, I began to think more often.

I turned 30 this year.

I got a lot of nice things for my birthday and the holidays.

Scented soaps from Andy along with vanilla air freshener and videos I’d never seen before of Gloria Estefan.

My parents sent us a package with Tom's presents wrapped in Christmas paper and mine wrapped in Chanukah paper.

He got:

•    A sweatshirt with flags of all 50 states.

•    An NBA T-shirt.

•    Gauges on a wooden plaque for reading the temperature, barometer and humidity levels.

I got:

•    A really nice denim skirt.

•    Two half-shirts in pink and lime.

•    A curling iron, which I was surprised they sent since I had naturally curly hair.

•    A hand-held mirror with a plastic brush on the back of it.

•    A framed picture of dad in their store.

•    A bird feeder.

•    12 pictures of their store.

•    A purple and blue water bottle.

•    Three turtles made out of shells.

•    An alligator pin, necklace and earrings.

•    Two needlepoints, one of a musical note and one of a southwestern design.

•    Pastels for drawing on fabrics.

We also got cards from other family members as well as friends.

We had a yard sale to get rid of old stuff and raked in $60, not bad for 1995.

We met the lady who lived behind us. She and her retired husband lived there.

One night Larry called saying he had a “present” for me. He told me that since we’d been back in each other’s lives, he'd been updating Jenny C on how my life was going, someone I was friends with from age 9-22, and said she wanted to resume our friendship.

Jenny had been one of his many mistresses for a while. The guy even admitted he was quite a slut, and it was true. He fucked every female friend I’d introduced him to. Variety was a must-have for my brother.

After taking some time to reflect on things, I didn’t see the point in resuming a friendship with someone thousands of miles away and that I had last known myself not to have much in common with. In the past I hadn’t been the perfect friend, but then neither had she. I wasn’t a firm believer in forgiveness either, for I had learned that if you didn’t forgive someone, then they would never have the chance to burn you again, something that often seemed to be the case whenever I’d play kiss and make up with someone.

Jenny and I had come to be very different people with very different interests. She found me to be boring because I wasn’t into partying. I found her to be very selfish because everything had to be her way.

Eventually Jenny dumped me and I paid her back in the form of a series of prank phone calls. Not a very smart thing to do, but that was just my way back then. In the end she was denied the legal revenge she sought for it and we continued on our merry little separate ways.

“I know things weren’t all your fault,” Larry had told me. “I think part of it was all the medication you were on at the time.”

But what he hadn’t told me was that she fucked up as well. In other words, my fault or not, it was still all on me.

He suggested I send a letter with a phone gift certificate for $5 to “make her feel more comfortable” about calling, just take it slow, see what happens, etc.

After I thought about it I wondered to myself, why did she need a gift certificate to make her more comfortable about calling? If she wasn’t comfortable without it, then maybe she shouldn't call me at all.

Either way, I did send the letter and the GC, but never heard from her, much to my relief.

We went to Mary and Dave’s for Christmas and for presents we got:

•    Jenga blocks.

•    Pool noodles.

•    A photo of a waterfall in the forest.

•    A plant.

•    A bathmat in the shape of a foot.

•    He got a work light and T-shirt.

•    I got a needlepoint and a manicure set.

•    We each got $50.

From my parents we got:

•    A nice denim jacket to go with my denim shorts, skirts and pants.

•    A denim pocketbook with belt loops and pockets.

•    Tom got a shirt.

•    An eagle figurine.

•    Two candles.

•    A small flower basket.

•    A music box of a mother dog at one end of a seesaw and two pups at the other end. It teetered up and down as music played.

Tammy, who still had a few years to go in medical school, sent a card and some pictures of the girls.

Tom’s mom told me an interesting story when we were sitting out in Mary's backyard one day. A guy that lived with his wife a couple houses down killed his wife and buried her in the backyard. A pool was later built over her grave. Twenty years later the daughter ratted on daddy, they dug up the area, and found the body.

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