Monday, February 22, 2016

1996

#January

I had quite a bit of artwork fun this month. The lower kitchen cabinets had a total of 6 doors in our house in Phoenix, AZ. They were painted light yellow. I did different drawings on each one, mostly of nature… flowers, trees, etc.

Again Tom was the man to call for help. He went to work on his aunt's water pipes, but she paid him well.

Tom surprised me with two puzzles and a really nice journal that had a butterfly on purple flowers.

I also got 60 stamps for my letter-writing from Kim, which was really nice of her.

My parents sent a copy of their flag catalog. They had some nice designs. I would often decorate envelopes to friends and family by drawing them onto them.

I was getting really fed up with the two dogs that were always in the yard a couple yards away from ours. They barked all the time due to being so cruelly neglected. It was to the point that I had to have fans or music going to drown it out, but didn’t see what could be done about it. I was in the west, and people typically kept their dogs outdoors all the time, though Gloria, the woman behind us, did say the dogs drove her crazy, too. But they were fed and watered and that was all that mattered to the law.

Tom and I visited his parents. I was surprised to see one of my paintings framed and hanging on their wall.

Tom fixed a pair of electric scissors for his mom since she really relied on them due to having bad arthritis.

Then Tom and I took turns sawing branches off a tree in their front yard with a pole saw, still hoping we could come over and simply visit someday without all the requests for favors. Mom made up for it somewhat that day with some of her homemade cookies.

#February

The roof in the back room was leaking much more and I also wondered how much longer the TV would last. Back in these days we didn’t have a whole lot of extra money.

Got a package from my parents which included:

- A large windsock of a cow.

- A small windsock and a bracket to put up a mini flag.

- Mini flags with Halloween decorations, hearts, a pineapple, and one with a slice of watermelon and a drink next to it.

- Big flags with a pineapple (them and their damn pineapples), a cactus and coyote, and a large fish.

- A shade screen for the car.

The worst thing to happen this month was that the house the Mormon family was trying to sell next to us ended up in the city’s hands, and now we had a welfare mom and all her friends and family to deal with.

One of the kids that was driving me crazy by playing basketball in their driveway, which was just a few feet away from the wall of our house, said a black woman and her 13-month-old son would be moving in the following day. When I later met the boyfriend, however, he told me they had a year-old daughter.

As the neighborhood kids as well as visiting kids began to use the basketball hoop more and more, I was beginning to wish my only complaint could be about their insanely bright security light that would shine into one of the bedroom windows at night.

Although I still had yet to actually see her, I heard a woman yell a few times at someone while they were moving in. I thought she sounded very mean. She just had a very gruff sounding voice, and little did I know at the time just what kind of hell I would have to endure for so many years. If I had to start all over again, we would have moved the day she and her associates moved in, or I would have fought like hell to have her moved. Maybe I would have even chosen a worse option.

Tom took his parents to the racetrack one day as well.

We went to the IMAX Theater in Scottsdale and saw a half hour documentary on storm chasers. It was pretty cool watching it on such a giant screen.

We also played miniature golf this month at Castles & Coasters.

At Walmart I got birdseed for the pigeons, a birthday card for Andy, and a toaster for him as well. He and Michelle were to be moving into a house they were to rent.

We went to Staples where Tom got his mom a new mouse she asked for and paint to cover up the stuff he put on our roof to hopefully prevent leaks. I stocked up on envelopes in got pens in six different colors.

I sent Anna & Harry, the Italian foster parents I had when I was 16, a letter just to let them know how my life was, and to apologize for the prank calls I made to them in the late 80s. I told them I still loved them and thought of them and was grateful for how well they treated me when I was living with them.

Tom and I got to the end of a game called Myst, even though we found it boring. I also completed all 50 levels of Ballistics, but wasn’t nearly the gamer he was.

#March

I sent a letter to unsolved mysteries explaining that I had attempted to find the camp counselor that looked out for me as a kid when I went camping in Maine, and how I was unable to find her. I was surprised to get a call about the letter from a woman who asked me if I had a photograph of her or any other information. She also asked a little about my childhood, which I kept brief and to the point. I didn’t want to make it a case of the abuse I endured at home. I just wanted to find the woman and give her the heartfelt thanks I believed she deserved.

In the end they decided not to air my story, but sent me literature on ways that might help me find her instead. It would still be many years before I would locate her and learn her identity.

The work that Tom did to fix the roof was a bust unfortunately. Just when it looked like it was going to work after he slaved away at it, the area by the back wall was leaking heavily. The costs were a big concern to us, too.

I got a letter from Gloria's fan club saying they were to extend my membership for a year, free of charge due to the way they fucked up and delayed sending me anything for the first year of my membership. All I'd gotten was one lousy newsletter and one picture.

Late one morning I was sitting at the computer when I heard the obnoxious thumping of base. I looked out front and saw a black guy next door killing weeds with his car stereo blaring. I asked him to please turn it down and he apologized, then introduced himself as Mike. He said he and his girlfriend and their 1-year-old daughter moved in two weeks ago. I had yet to meet the girlfriend, Jo, or see/hear the kid.

I wasn’t thrilled when he said they were thinking of getting a dog, even if it was an expensive dog that he claimed couldn’t bark and that there was no way they’d leave it outside 24/7.

Still, I didn’t want a dog living so close to me or his damn nephews playing basketball for hours at a time so close to our house.

I was delightfully surprised with a reply from my Italian foster parents that really made my day! It was such a sweet letter that brought tears to my eyes.

Went to the library one day, and discovered that we had 10 daisies coming up that my parents had sent a while back.

Andy got me $25 worth of markers and I did a palm tree and cactuses on his living room wall.

Again I had to ask Mike to turn his car stereo down a few days later, and this was when I saw Jo come out of the house carrying the kid. She never even looked at me much less said a word.

What kind of disrespectful snobs did we now have living next to us? I wondered with concern.

My pigeons began to eat out of my hand. Their claws scratched a bit, but their beaks didn’t hurt. Hanging out with them was fun. I just wished they didn’t make such a mess!

#April

We went and picked up his mother and took her to buy a tape player while his dad slept. She couldn't find one she wanted and of course she had to stop and look at things for Nickolena. A lot of her conversation was about her, too. I got the whole grandparent pride thing, but it sure got old after a while. It’s like she would forget that there were other family members besides Nickolena. Not as young, perhaps, but just as human.

Then we went back and got his dad, and the 4 of us went to a nursery where they got a couple of plants and I got a small pot with 5 different cactuses in it.

Then we went back to their place for a little while where the neighbors reminded me of the NHA. The kids next door to them and behind them were screaming up a storm and bashing a ball against their fence. How did they stand it? I wondered. They said they played their music so loud that they could hear it in the bedroom the night before. I wondered why they didn’t say something, but I would soon learn the hard way that Arizona was no place to complain.

And I sure was getting fed up with our own neighbors. Sometimes they came in quietly, but they usually blasted in and out, and I couldn’t help but wonder, had they really forgotten our little talk? Or did they just not give a shit?

Deciding that maybe reading the words instead of hearing them would drill the message into their inconsiderate little brains, I wrote a note asking them to please lower the stereo volume upon coming and going.

I was on my way over there, intending to slip the note in their mailbox slot, when Mike and Jo were on their way out. They had always reminded me of Barbara and Dave, the couple that lived next to be in the NHA in Connecticut. He was passive while she came off as aggressive. I went to hand her the note because she was closest to me, momentarily forgetting her name. She said her name and took the note. I began to walk away and as I was going through the door to our place, I glanced back at her for a second and caught her staring at me with the strangest expression. It was almost as if she we’re looking at me as if she’d never seen another human being before.

A few minutes later I was in the bedroom, just inches away from their driveway. "I don't care," I heard her say in a stubborn, cold and snotty voice, and I got the distinct feeling it was her reaction to my note.

So yeah, the note turned out to be a complete waste of time. They continued to be noisy and not just by way of loud music. There were screaming kids, there were adults shouting, and more. I knew they were going to be a problem as long as they were next to us, and if I could do it all again, I never would have bothered to say a word to them in print or by voice. Especially if I could have had any way to know the hell I would be put through for many years to come. Instead we would have gotten the hell out of there and then contacted the city.

They were a reminder that sometimes no matter how nice you may ask something very reasonable of someone, people just don’t care. It’s all about doing what they’re going to do and to hell with those around them that it may affect. They were in their own little world, and as frustrating as it was, I didn’t know how to pull them out of it.

On a trip to Walgreen’s I got 3 new lipsticks and found two of them to be too light. I got purple nail polish and 3 journals for only $3 each.

I spoke to my Italian mom & dad, and again visited Tom’s parents. Steven and Carol were there and soon Ray and Nora came over as well. Their daughter Jackie was also present with her boyfriend and her boyfriend's kid.

On another visit to his parents’ house, his mom showed me her stash of material. I had brought over the torn fabric from the back of the chair we used by the computer. I picked out a blue floral print pattern and she made a new back for it with my help. It looked great.

Mom's brother Johnny came over with his wife Maria and their grandson. Maria was from Mexico and we gabbed a little in Spanish.

Tom fixed our bathroom sink’s sluggish drain.

Andy picked me up one day, fed me lasagna from work, then he went out food shopping while I drew a large cat on his wall for him. I also mended a torn apron pocket for him.

Mike Tyson was in trouble again for rape, and the Phoenix PD was under fire again for harassing people. Some things never changed.

Tom fixed a computer problem we had, and guided Eldon through his latest computer crisis.

I went out back to smoke a cigarette one day, then when I turned around to go back into the house, there was a black widow on the door, which Tom killed.

I asked Larry one day if Jenny, who still hadn’t called, just wanted a quick $5 from us or if she got cold feet. Then he told me her mother died. I not only was pretty sure I didn’t really want to hear from Jenny, but I also never cared for her mother to be honest. She was very rude to me once when I was staying with them as a child and once over the phone when I was an adult.

Then I was surprised to learn that Kevin “Nervous” died of a heart attack. I felt a little sad over the news. I knew I had really taken advantage of him when I was younger and living back east.

Tom's spent the day working on his aunt's trailer pipes one day, and at his parents’ place as well working on something for them. His aunt gave him $60.

Bob called collect, and besides his usual love and concern for Kim, he told me he was on medical watch cuz of his heart and that he had an appeal going through.

We got a package from my parents containing a Phoenix Sun's flag for Tom and a musical sequined cap for me.

I decided to start taking measures to decrease the bird population. They were simply making way too much of a mess.

#May

Tom got $45 for working on Eileen and her husband's computer. Eileen was a former coworker.

On a visit to his parents’ house one day, it was dead quiet due to everyone hibernating indoors because of the heat. The peace was nice for a change, but of course Tom had to do something for them and we couldn’t just visit. This time they wanted him to fix their sink handles and some other stuff.

Yesterday I talked with both Larry and Tammy at once. It was the first time the 3 of us talked since I was 19 in 1985 at nana's funeral. We discussed having a ring made with all our birthstones for mom for Mother’s Day.

I drew a simple, yet pretty floral border around a piece of plain white paper and signed it. Then I sent it to Larry to sign and he would send it to Tammy to sign. Dad, who was visiting them, would then bring the ring and the paper we all signed down to her.

Tom’s dad turned 83, and he continued to do things for his parents like mow their yard. It wasn’t that I reminded him helping his parents every now and then; I just felt like they were taking advantage of him at times, especially his mother, and I wished his 5 other siblings would do as much for them as he did. It just didn’t seem fair. We had our own lawn to mow and our own things to fix. But he was working for them part-time and it was at our expense. Every now and then he would be given little things for his time and effort, and one time his mother sent him home to me with a few cans of my favorite instant coffee due to how often they had him over there slaving away on their 80-year-old dump. These frugal people who had saved so much damn money over the years they could practically buy a $100,000 dollar house with cash. Guess who did their taxes in order to know this?

One time I got so frustrated with all the requests that I wanted so bad to come out and say, “Why don’t you just knock it all down, Marge? Why not just tear the whole goddamn house down and make your son rebuild it from scratch?”

She would have if she could have, knowing the softy her son was, and being as selfish as she was. But this was just a tip of the iceberg. I had yet to learn just how truly self-serving the woman could be and how spiteful her daughter could be as well.

Other family members often requested his help as well. He helped David and Evie move.

We bombed the house one day and took off with our guinea pig, Piggles. We got breakfast at a drive-through and ate in the car.

After eating, we stopped at Wal-Mart for a few things, then we went home, aired the place out, and Tom sanded and fixed the front screen door.

Then we went back out, grabbed some candy, an anniversary card for Tammy and Bill, and a Father’s Day card for dad. I also got a new journal.

At the art store, I got drawing stumpers (for smudging and blending pencil drawings), and an eraser.

I got a free trial offer in the mail consisting of a wine glass and 4 Silhouette Romance novels. Romance was never my favorite genre, but I could deal with it occasionally. The wine glass was pretty even though I rarely drank wine.

Tom won $60 bucks at the racetrack and got the software he wanted. I was glad for him. He deserved it.

Andy's pushiness and lack of sensitivity would really get to me at times. I left him a message about a recent asthma attack I’d had, and told him that night wasn't a good night to call, since I was beat and still recovering from it. But he went and called anyway and didn't even mention it or ask how I was feeling.

#June

Tom turned 39 this month and we also had our second anniversary. Unfortunately, however, his dad’s health really went downhill. He was admitted to the hospital for a couple days. They sprayed cornstarch and talcum powder into his lungs to make them bleed. Then they hoped they’d heal and that the lungs would then stick to the chest cavity. Instead one of his lungs collapsed and he had to have surgery.

Tom took some sick days off, as he was emotionally and physically exhausted. He worked on Mary's car, which was very kind and generous of him, but I wished he’d take care of himself more and not worry so much about other people's needs. We had enough stuff of our own to do. Because of this I was caught in a whirlwind of emotions. It was constantly “Tom, will you do this?” and “Tom, will you do that?” from various friends and family in which he didn’t have the heart to say no to. That was why they took advantage of him. The constant demands were getting to me. I understood his desire to help his parents in their time of need, but I also felt like our own lives and home was being neglected. It was hard for me as I found myself having to bite my tongue more and more and just put up with it while at his parents’ or Mary’s when I really wanted to put my foot down on our behalf and remind these people that Tom needed to live his life as well. Yet he mowed their lawn and fixed their cars while I clean their house and helped run errands for them. This was while the rest of the family sat on their asses. Mary did help somewhat, but no one else did shit. Much of our work went uncompensated, including the items his mother would ask us to go out and buy, promising to “get us later,” even though they had a lot more money than we had.

One day we helped clear out one of the bedrooms in back for dad’s hospital bed for when he was released from the hospital. Then his dad came home with his mom and Mary as some guy was setting up the bed. Then the respiratory therapist came and set up his oxygen. He was tired and in some pain, but very happy to be home.

We were told that his dad was leaving each of the kids at least $5,000 when he died, even if his wife was still alive. This was an agreement they had made, or more like that dad had made since he handled the finances.

On top of all the stress, the neighbors, who had been quiet for a while probably due to the heat, we’re driving me crazy once again. Wild parties, loud shouting, obnoxious basketball games…

Andy was beginning to drive me crazy as well, just in a different way. By this time he had become extremely talkative and it was hard to get a word in edgewise. He would call and ask how things were going and before I could finish telling him, he would be rambling on about everything and nothing.

During one of our many visits (his parents never once came to our house in Phoenix, just for the record), his mom showed me a funny letter from her niece in Michigan. She said every paragraph was "HA!" Sure enough, all throughout the letter I had counted 16 HAs.

They were also sharing information about me, so I would learn, and I became distrustful of them and more cautious of what I told them in the first place.

Another one to offend me was my parents when they complained that my letters sounded down. Well, I was going through a rough time. What did they expect? For me to lie to them?

In non-family news, I got my first issue of my Word Find puzzle subscription.

Another day, we went to the art store where I got some things, then we got Chinese food for me and Arby's for him.

The Humane Society sent 5 cards with dogs and cats pictured on them. I used them to write to friends and family in the east.

#July

7/1/1996 – His dad had deteriorated to the point that he could no longer control his bowels. I felt so bad for him and Tom’s mom. It was a scary reminder that someday we would grow old, too. What was also scary was knowing that since it was looking less and less likely that we would ever have kids, we wouldn’t have family to help us when that time came.

Andy gave us a gorgeous shower curtain with soft splashes of pastel colors in a faint flower design. It brought our tiny bathroom to life. Our old one was too dark and kind of ugly, but this one was bright and cheerful.

7/12/1996 – Andy was still driving me crazy with his pushiness and forgetfulness and general lack of consideration. I would tell him not to call and wake Tom, for example, yet he would call anyway.

7/13/1996 – Tom worked on Evelyn's trailer floor. Again, I wasn’t happy that she was taking what little time he had, but appreciated the fact that she at least paid him fairly for his time and work.

7/14/1996 - We went to his parents’ place. Mary and Johnny were there and we all worked on different things. I vacuumed and Tom tore up the filthy, smelly carpet from the room dad was in, then we rearranged the room.

Ma gave me $10 for helping out, then we went to the mall where I got 3 journals and also to Old America where I got 2 dog mugs. I now had 7… a Lhasa Apso, Golden Retriever, Maltese, Sheltie, Collie and two Irish Setters.

Tom dropped me off so I could clean our own house and get our laundry done after we got some ice cream, and then he returned to his parents’ house to put up guardrails in the bathroom. He later came home with an upset stomach.

Evie and David’s selfishness really bothered me. I was tired of them using their kid as an excuse not to do their fair share of helping his parents. On top of that, they gave him absolutely nothing for helping them move. I really wished Ray, Nora, Evie and David would get off their lazy asses. Instead 80% of the work fell on Tom while Mary did the rest whenever she felt like it. Sometimes the two of them even stayed overnight at their parents’ place.

7/16/1996 – My two remaining wisdom teeth began to act up, so that was just one more thing to have to worry about.

7/17/1996 – This would be his father’s final doctors appointment in which his case was deemed totally hopeless. There was simply nothing left they could do for him but try to make him as comfortable as possible for whatever time he had left, which wouldn’t be much.

His medication left him very disorientated and sometimes he would be found wandering in the yard in the middle of the night naked. It was up to Tom, of course, to put a latch on the door to keep him from going outside.

7/18/1996 – Tom spoke to Wendy and said that he didn’t think she would be calling anytime soon. I was glad to hear that. We have enough people demanding shit from us.

I wasn’t happy to hear Tom’s decision not to post for a better job until things settle down with his parents because we had no idea how long that would be, and besides, life was always one thing after another, and I wished he would live more for us instead of for others.

On another visit to his parents’, Tom said that his dad was deteriorating quickly. He was very weak and incoherent. He'd be moaning in pain one minute, then saying he was hungry another minute, then tired the next, and that night he was singing cheerfully for a good 20 seconds or so.

Frustrated with all that what’s going on at the moment, and still angry with some people of the past, I wrote a letter to my uncle Marty in hopes of putting some of that anger to rest for the way he bullied and threatened me when I was just a teenager.

7/25/1996 – Tom’s dad was now in the final phase of his cancer. A nurse had given him sleeping pills and after 24 hours he still hadn't woken up. His lungs were so filled with fluid that they made this horrible gurgling sound when he breathed, which he could barely do, Tom told me on what would be his final visit with his dad.

Not long after Tom went home, Mary called to say that he stopped breathing.

It was a sad time, but we also felt a sense of relief in knowing that he was no longer suffering. My new concern was how much time and work his mother was going to need. My compassionate side understood his desire to help her, but my selfish side wanted to get on with our own lives instead of always living for others.

7/26/1996 - Andy was very depressed at this time because he was in love with Quinn, a guy that didn’t exactly have the same feelings for him, and that regularly abused him emotionally and verbally after using him for sex.

After having to wait forever, I finally received more items from Gloria’s fan club, and I wasn’t impressed at all. Back then, however, CD ROM was a new thing and we were looking forward to getting her new CD so we could play it on that.

7/28/1996 - Tom fixed Evelyn's cooler.

7/30/1996 – His dad’s funeral was on this day.

#August

8/1/1996 – Even though Tom’s parents agreed to give each of their kids 10K from one of their accounts if his dad died first, we were given 5K.

On a visit to their house we put his mom’s sewing stuff back together and then the room dad died in was once again the sewing room it used to be only with new carpet. I vacuumed the computer room and we put the door to the sewing room back on.

His mom also let me borrow a couple of books, but I still had to finish a long book by Dean Koontz. One of the books I got was about the Amy Fisher story and the other about two sisters who were stalked.

She said she'd take care of me for vacuuming next time around, but by then Tom and I had learn that her “taking care” of us meant that she wasn’t going to take care of us at all.

8/3/1996 - Tom did some work at Evelyn’s.

8/5/1996 - Next door was still blasting in and out of their place and getting worse by the minute. At first I considered telling them I'd baby-sit for free if they'd cut the music or do something else for them, but then Tom pointed out that asking them to keep their music for their ears only was making a reasonable request, and you don't reward people for doing what’s right in the first place. I knew Tom was right. I just didn’t know what else to do.

We went to Best Buy's where I got a great stereo with 3 CD trays, dual cassette, AM/FM radio, with 2 detachable speakers and more features than I could ever use. It had a remote, a clock, timer set, pre-set radio stations and more. It was just under $200. As a bonus I got $40 worth of free CDs just for buying a JVC product. So I got 5 Linda Ronstadt CDs and a new 120-CD rack.

8/7/1996 - Andy accidentally met Karson with someone else he knew at a store. He described her as big, ugly and nerdy looking with a plain face, but not as bad as he'd pictured her to be.

8/9/1996 – A pigeon was hurt and drowning in our pool, so I got him out with the net.

Tammy arrived at our parents’ place in Florida, and Andy went back east.

8/10/1996 – Got a call from Minnie, and talked to Kim.

So fed up with next door’s shit, I begged Tom to go over there and see if he could shut them up, since they wouldn’t listen to me.

The guy, Mike, who appeared to be in his early 20s, was working on the damn car and said, “Sure, no problem.”

I couldn’t help but wonder how their kid could take naps with such thunderously loud thumping bass, and knew that because they rented rather than owned the place, they had nothing to lose and could basically do whatever the hell they wanted.

So frustrated to be living in a HOUSE and sleeping with a loud box fan on just to STILL be woken up by our loud, rude, selfish neighbors.

8/12/1996 - Social security sent me a bill for $32 in my maiden name. I was surprised they'd try to sucker money from me two years after the fact.

Went to Wal-Mart and PetSmart. I got a blue floral 1-piece bathing suit, an
electric pencil sharpener, 5 really cute and colorful journals that were just over $3 each, and 2 cat mugs.

8/13/1996 – Evie was pregnant again and Tom’s mom had her hand operated on to relieve the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome.

We attended his dad’s memorial service held at a small church. It was a quick 20-minute thing and then we went to a building adjacent to the church for refreshments.

People were shocked to see that Cindy, who didn't talk to people, came up to me and started chatting away.

8/14/1996 – Something on the AC broke, so we had to switch to the swamp cooler.

8/16/1996 - Exchanged hellos with a black girl I’d never seen next door before that I later learned was probably the sister of the bitch living there.

8/19/1996 – Went to his mom's, but she was still at Mary's. I did the dishes for her and Tom set up some new memory in her computer.

Later I spoke to ma at Mary's to see how she was feeling. She thanked me for helping her out, too.

Andy called collect from his uncle's farm 10 minutes away from Tammy's house. He wanted her number. He didn't go see her, but they chatted for a couple minutes.

Was growing increasingly frustrated with my parents’ constant complaints and the way they would drag others into things that didn’t involve them, including crying on Tammy’s shoulder about some negative and repetitious contents of my letters to them. What did they want me to do? Lie to them? I figured that if they couldn’t accept me as I was then maybe it was time to stop sending them letters in the first place. They wanted to know what was going on in my life, but then they didn’t want to hear about it? There was simply no appeasing them. I began to really realize that nothing I ever said or did would ever be quite good enough for them, and that they would probably complain no matter what.

I was surprised to learn that mom admitted to being a shitty mother, and even dad got a little teary-eyed. I supposed it was good that they finally realized their mistakes and could own up to them, but what was done was done and could never be changed. She abused us, he defended her, and nothing could undo this. Nor were there any excuses for it either, such as how shitty my mother’s own mother treated her. If you can’t tell right from wrong as an adult, then you’ve got a serious problem.

I guess they really did feel bad about giving up on me in my teens, the places I was sent to, the drugs I was doped up on, but again, nothing changed. It was simply too late for regrets. All I knew was that I wasn’t about to deal with any family drama at 30 years old and 3000 miles away. I’d had enough. Period.

8/20/1996 – I had just come in from a swim when I found that Tom picked up a lovely treat for me on his way home from work... Chinese food. I cooked him pork chops and potatoes, one of his faves.

8/21/1996 - Tom got forms for a mortgage extension. I later asked Andy to sign it as a witness to Tom's signature.

8/22/1996 - We got a real kick-ass dust storm and one of the pigeons was trying to fly which looked so funny cuz its wings were flapping while it wasn't going anywhere.

8/29/1996 – After two weeks of spotting, we suspected I may’ve had a miscarriage.

#September

Early September:

We took his mom's car for a test drive outside the city in the empty desert, since it had been having problems. It didn't seem like we went just over 80 MPH in the vast open space, but we did. We went to a place called New River and Black Canyon City. There were only a few tiny towns along the way, but they weren't even a mile long. You could drive past them in two minutes. There was a prison out there too, for the worst of offenders, so they can be far enough away from civilization. It was so beautiful with lots of Saguaro and Prickly Pear cactuses.

One night I had to sit and listen to next door party for hours. The usual shit… blasting music, basketball games, shouting, etc.

The next day the rude bastard started the bass thumping in his car, then leaving it blasting, he ran back inside the house for something. I was heading over there when he returned, spotted me and said, "Yeah, I'm pulling out."

I received the most insulting letter from my parents ever, demanding that I absolutely did not talk about certain subjects ever again. It was actually written by my mother, in which my father, being how he usually was, happily went right along with. My mother had always been the kind that only wanted to hear about what she could personally relate to or that interested her. The letter was so insulting that I was so close to not having anything more to do with them. The letter made me feel like they could only accept a part of me and not me as a whole. It was a shitty way to feel, especially by your own parents.

Mid-September:

Tom wrote a program to “de-cap” my journals in which I had started to type up in all capital letters, as it was easier for me at the time. It worked great, too.

At this time he was also finishing up with installing our roof.

Late September:

Took a trip to Nevada and California. Lots of cacti and Joshua trees along the way. Between Wickenburg and Kingman we stopped for a bite to eat. We brought the camera and camcorder and I did a little filming along the way and shot a few pictures.

The drive to and from there was long, tiring and boring, but the scenery was beautiful with lots of huge mountains. I didn't know there was such a thing as the high desert and the low desert until then. Up in the high desert there were lots of Yucca trees and Joshua trees. In the low desert there were lots of Prickly Pears and Saguaros. I thought the low desert was prettier.

We traveled to Needles, California through the Arizona side of the Colorado River.

We stood on the 24th floor of the Riverside Resort in Laughlin, which had 26 floors. Other than overly hard beds and a couple kids running screaming through the restaurant we ate at, it was nice. We had prime rib and gambled both together and separately. I kept winning and losing the whole time and Tom told me that if I saw something I liked at the gift shop or wherever, to get it while we had the money. So I got some wind chimes and magnets.

For the most part I played quarter machines. I got carded 3 times while I was at it, too.

I sent some postcards from the hotel, and when I returned home I left Andy a message letting him know I needed to unwind from the trip, would be busy, but that I'd call him Monday. Sure enough, the pushy guy called right back.

Got some cat and dog stickers from the ASPCA and used them to decorate envelopes with.

My doctor gave me a new inhaler to replace the Azmacort, saying they didn’t make Azmacort anymore and that Aerobid, the new thing, worked just like Azmacort. He also renewed my Provetil inhaler for a year.

We visited his mother, then stopped at a fast food drive-through on the way home.

Got a postcard from Alex who went to Sacramento. What an old ugly place Sacramento is, I thought at the time. Little did I know!

Tom worked on Mary's car… again.

#October

Early October:

My niece Becky had to have both knees operated on due to rheumatoid arthritis and had acquired Lyme Disease as well. Sarah had Scarlet Fever.

Received a letter from my folks saying they never heard of Laughlin, won $2,000 playing bingo, were having eye exams and lens changes, and sprucing up their store. Also, give Tom’s mom their best, and let them know if I was interested in the extra household items they’d accumulated.

For once she didn’t come off as pushy, bossy, controlling and intolerant.

Next door continued to drive me crazy on and off, and Kim and I were getting sick of Bob’s letters, many of which were sexual in nature.

Mid-October:

We got a wonderful addition to our family in the form of an adorable black bunny rabbit. Apparently, the loud scummy family behind Tom’s parents dumped him.

Late October:

Andy mailed me coupons for my coffee and we’d talk about life at times. The more he hung out with Quinn, a guy who never truly loved him in return, the more I feared for his safety. I had a bad feeling that Quinn would either kill himself or someone else if no one killed him first. He was a druggie that didn’t exactly run with a great crowd.

#November

Early November:

President Clinton was re-elected.

Mid-November:

We were slaving away again at Tom’s mother’s house, this time working on old pipes.

She and I chatted and she even did a puzzle in my Word Find book. I left it over there for her. I knew she could use something like that to occupy her time.

For lunch, ma got us some Chinese food and Tom something else.

Cindy stopped over at some point, too.

In exchange for working on his friend Eldon’s computers, he gave us a really nice monitor for being back in 1996.

I went to the dentist to discuss what dental work I would need done.

My parent sent a package, which consisted of the following contents:

- A 14-karat gold perfume pen.

- Notepads and other office supplies.

- Talc powder, perfumed soaps and incense.

- Halloween decorations.

- A piggybank.

- Knickknacks.

- Kitchen items.

- Contact paper.

- A shirt/shorts set.

I wrote them a letter thanking them for the stuff and gave them the highlights of our lives.

Andy and I pranked people on this meeting line, setting up dates we knew we’d never keep and all that silly, mean, immature shit we used to do back then. Sure enough, where women would blow me off before meeting Tom, the guys were quick to keep our “dates” and leave messages asking why I didn’t show up and all that. I later felt guilty for leading the poor suckers on, since they never did anything to me personally.

Late November:

Little Miss Do for Me (his mother) had us slaving away for her yet again on her shower surround. Shortly after we arrived, Mary came over cuz we needed her bigger car to haul the shower surround in. Tom and mom went to get it and Mary and I stayed at the house.

Tom and I had mugs made up with our pictures on them for my parents and sister for Chanukah.

Ray, Tom's oldest brother who was about 48 at the time, was in the hospital. The doctors weren’t sure what was wrong with him. His heart was acting weird and he had internal bleeding.

Carol and Steven came to visit from Fresno and Tom went to the dog-racing track with them and mom. He won $90 that day, too.

#December

Early December:

We saw Carol, Steven and Matthew at his mom’s place before they left for Cali.

Stopped at an auto parts store, cuz Tom needed something for the car.

For my birthday I got a couple journals and a kitty mug from Tom, and a journal from Andy which I already had, but still appreciated.

For my birthday my parents sent:

•    $50 for my birthday/Chanukah.

•    Household items.

•    Perfumed candles and two candleholders.

•    Little glass bottles for who knew what.

•    A penholder.

•    Two miniature plant pots with pretty flowers painted on them.

•    5 T-shirts, one of which I gave to Andy.

Andy visited one night and gave me some clothes from Laura… two shirts, a long pair of gray jeans, and a white pair of shorts.

I used radio/headphones to hang out in the backyard to drown out the barking to the left and the old man’s company to the right. He would have visitors in an RV a few times a year with an obnoxious dog that would yip up a storm.

I received another package from my parents containing four journals and was surprised. This was because they didn’t usually send what I liked but what they liked or thought I should have, so it was a welcome surprise.

I left John Saul, one of my favorite authors, some feedback online. I was surprised with a reply, too. He let me know what he was working on at the moment and gave me his website address.

Mid-December:

My last two wisdom teeth were pulled fairly effortlessly. I didn’t even need the prescription pain medicine prescribed to me, and could indulge in Jack-n-the-Box take-out shortly afterwards.

Late December:

I was excited to reconnect with my Italian foster parents, Anna and Harry, whom I’d always called mom and dad.

I also located Paula who was now 29. I hadn’t seen her since she was around 23. I learned that she lost custody of her eight-year-old son, but had her other son who was four years old. I wasn’t surprised to learn this either. She was an aggressive individual who, as she herself admitted, hated motherhood. I never could fathom why she had a second child after all the complaining she did about the first one when I lived near her back east.

The older, smarter, more experience me could recognize that Paul wasn’t quite right in the head and that she was on disability for a reason. But as weird, selfish and as unintelligent as she was, I was excited to find her and let her know I was now living out west.

I felt bad for her because she was stuck in an endless rut of poverty and bad boyfriends. On top of that, she lost her mother the previous year to cancer, and her father lived in Florida.

It seemed the only thing out of the ordinary that happened for her was that she participated in some pornographic movies and spent a month in jail for assault.

Tom got a job as a check sorter for nearly $10 an hour.

Tom made his mom a family calendar for Christmas on the computer. We also got toys, plants and stuff like that for Nickolena, Jackie, Pam, Ryan and Jennifer. Ma also got a variety of puzzle books from us.

Tom was given a microwave hotdog skewer and a toolbox, plus some T-shirts.

Ma gave her traditional $50 dollar bill to everyone, and we each got $10 certificates for Wal-Mart as well.

We got a Nintendo-type game called Lights Out and a microwave popcorn popper.

I was given slipper socks, body wash, a small round puzzle of a butterfly, and a magnet with my name in pretty colors, a Gloria Estefan video, and a journal.

My folks sent Tom a package containing cakes, fruits and nuts.

Tom got candy and cards from work.

We finished building a long hutch with chicken wire walls for Piggy and Bunny. They loved having the extra space.

Poor Tom finished the year off with his second cold that month.

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