Route 66 Or Flat Tire Soul-A 10 Minute Poem Challenge

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The sadness I feel

Circles the earth three times

And travels from Illinois

Straight into my strangled heart

Like old Route 66

Following towns that have died

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Their 1940’s hotels

Deceased

With doors opened wide

And nothing left in those vacant rooms

But tarnished dreams

And a solitary piece of Wrigley’s gum

Which shall remain for eternity

Because it is non-biodegradable

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Next door pieces of theRoy’s diner sign

Remain

Paint peeling blood-red

The only thing left

Of Roy… Born in Brooklyn resting in Boot Hill

Is that dilapidated sign

Promising hot flapjacks

Slathered in broken dreams

Which you can find spilled along the highway

Today my heart looks like old Rt. 66

Full of potholes

Beer bottles littering the road

And tumbleweeds which barrel across

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This empty stretch of wasteland

Which held so much promise

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And like a once beautiful lady

Turned old, calloused and slightly bitter

Sitting on the porch of her

1950’s trailer

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Roof about to cave in

Sides sand blasted by years

Of exposure

I look towards the dark clouds

Gathering in the east

Wondering whether the storm in my heart

Will unleash a torrent of tears

Or if there are no longer

Any drops left to fall

For a deep unrelenting sadness

Seems to be percolating

Across the plains of my heart

Depressing any movement

Out of this hell hole

And like a useless old tire

A nail driven deep into it

I sit idle and unable to travel farther

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Along this old road

Which runs from Chicago to LA

And ends here

Somewhere near Bakersfield

On the corner of

Lost and Hope Streets

My heart split in two

Like this road

Which leads to the dreams of the dead

And to my future

Which lays in the middle of no where

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On The Road Again

The word SO is the beginning word of almost every sentence by people uttered ’round these parts.

“Soooo… you go down to end of the road and make a right”

“Soooo… do you want pickles on your burger?”

Soooo…. where am I?

Well, I am on the road writing this from the spectacular country of Canada. Unlike California, it is green, fresh smelling, and water is everywhere. Barns outnumber people, roadkill is abundant, and sole proprietorships like JOE’S GAS STATION abound. I love it here.

This is an interesting trip for me. I am traveling with my 81 yo father who is starting to have memory problems. Makes for some interesting repeated conversations that start with “I didn’t know that!.” (He did) and end with “What did you say???? ” (Said at the top of his voice because his hearing is also going.) Getting old isn’t for sissies (or for their daughters.)

This expedition is special. My father is beginning to mellow a little in his old age. It makes for a closer relationship with him being a much better listener than when I was growing up. He chooses his words more carefully these days too. These are nice changes that I appreciate at my age. I also realize that he may not be around much longer so I am trying to make this a happy experience for the two of us and cram my head with memories that will sustain me when he is gone.

Two months ago, I decided I wanted to take this trip to Canada when I became genealogically frustrated. For years I have searched for information about where GG Grandfather was born, who his parents were, etc. I finally got tired of barking up the wrong trees and decided to come to the source to see if I could glean any new information. I am not hopeful as record keeping was done as an afterthought in these parts until the later decades of the 1800’s.  But I also know that information can often be found where you least expect it so I am going with that mindset for the next few days believing if I wish it hard enough that it will come true. Tomorrow we head further north to the place where my GG Grandmother was born in 1835.  It is hard to believe that I will be standing in the same miniscule town where she lived in a log cabin all those years ago. It must have been hard eking out a living as a farmer or miner in these parts of the country. I often wonder if people today could do the back-breaking work that are relations did before we all went soft.

This afternoon Dad and I spent our time together doing research at the local  public library but came up short. We searched through books, family histories and microfiche and found nothing. But it was enjoyable because I can say with good authority that there is nothing like the smell of old books. There is something about that odor that is comforting and takes you back to places that smell like cobwebbed attics or ancient barns. Old, yet, familiar smells. Like the scent of your grandmothers old wool coat or your grandfathers well-worn boots which smelled of pipe tobacco and stood up by themselves over on the back porch. The funny thing is, while I found nothing about my family, I did find something about B’s purely by chance. The information was contained within a book about the Donnelly family. I first found out about this saga several years ago when I was researching B’s family. To my surprise and horror I learned that one of B’s relatives had probably been involved in a mob killing of several members of the Donnelly family. It was interesting to read about it today from a fresh perspective and learn more about the movie that was made about this small town tragedy.

Tomorrow we will head out early as Dad likes to get a jump on the day. I think he believes that he has a limited amount of hours left on this earth and he doesn’t want to spend them laying in bed. No, by golly,  he wants adventure.  He wants to see new places before he passes. And he wants to find THE BEST chicken sandwich that has ever graced a hungry customers plate. This new attitude of his inspires me to want the same for myself.

So here I am on the road again. Just me, my old man and some new memories that the two of us are collecting along the way. Today, I am grateful to have this opportunity to learn about myself, my father, and my past. It truly doesn’t get much better than this!

BTW, you know you are in Canada when…

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Home Alone Horror

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Home Alone is one of the most seen movies in the world. Although it was made years ago, you can always find it on one channel or another because it is a family favorite. It is funny and it makes you laugh out loud…unless it comes to roost in our own life. Then it ain’t so funny!

B and I were heading home from New York the other day after a wonderful weekend anniversary trip. Though we had been through two years of a “maybe” divorce, this weekend felt like we were in love again. That is when the sitter texted me.

I JUST LOOKED AT MY WORK SCHEDULE AND I HAVE TO WORK TONIGHT. I WILL NEED TO LEAVE AT 10 p.m.

“THAT IS FINE,” I texted back. “WE WILL BE HOME FROM THE AIRPORT AROUND 10:15 .SO IT ISN’T REALLY A PROBLEM”…until it was.

Standing in the crappy line with a GROUP 6 boarding ticket while annoying, is not a problem. Usually. Unless, you step on everyone’s toes and piss them off, while trying to maneuver yourself  back to the cockpit to get your suitcase checked because all the overhead bin space is taken. Placing your belongs in the overhead bin…no problem…for the GROUP 1-5 passengers. GROUP 6…FORGET IT! Fastening my seatbelt was easy as pie as my anti-anxiety “fear of flying” pill kicked in.  Everything was going as expected until these words were uttered by the cute and spunky stewardess whom everyone suddenly looked like they wanted to slap:

” PLEASE RETRIEVE YOUR BELONGINGS AS EVERYONE WILL NEED TO DEPLANE. THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH THE EMERGENCY SLIDE AND GROUND MAINTENANCE HAS TO BE CALLED TO FIX THE ISSUE.”

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Now I will confess I try to keep positive in these types of situations. I mean, after all, it is better to be riding on a “fixed” plane than a “broken” one. But an emergency slide? Really? I mean how often are they used anyway?. Hell, I thought, if there turns out to be an issue, I will gladly stand at the open slide-less door and just toss people out onto the ground below. Problem fixed. Now, let’s get this freaking show on the road!

A collective groan so loud it nearly popped the rivets holding the plane together ensued. This was followed by a sound reminiscent of a herd of lumbering and pissed-off elephants starting back up the gangway.

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Faces that had been smiling only 5 minutes previous were now pinched and drawn. The variety of cuss words I overheard was astounding and during the race to the customer service center several people nearly lost there lives. Frankly, there was not enough free alcohol in the entire terminal that could cheer up this downcast and angry crowd.

As B and I stood in the wrap-around line waiting to talk to that poor unlucky agent who had been plucked by the previous 50 ticket holders; it finally dawned on us that we had a problem. A serious one.  We only had an hour layover after we landed before we were to catch our final plane home. Unfortunately, this was the last plane for the night we were soon to discover.  Suddenly, were having our own HOME ALONE moment and nothing about it was the least bit entertaining.

Now being home alone is okay in our household during the day but certainly not overnight. We knew that Andre wouldn’t care as long as he could lay around in his underwear eating chips without being bothered by anyone. Change is hard for kids with autism but as long as there is food available and no one around to boss him around; Andre was happy.

Paul started crying over the telephone. The unknown is difficult for him but an unexpected change of plans is a catastrophe. . Let’s just say this didn’t fit into his scheme of things and the breakdown started.

Gracie…well, she isn’t one for being away from her Mommy and Daddy…especially at night. But we knew she would suck it up if she had to.

And so we started calling everyone we knew as the minutes started ticking away. 10 minutes late. 20 minutes. 40 minutes. 50 minutes…which was the point of no return. We were now officially screwed. Finally, an hour and 40 minutes later we lifted off unsure of what the future held…except that most likely Children’s Protective Services might be giving us a visit in the near future.

As nicely as I could I explained our situation to the stewardess. HOME ALONE.  TWO WITH AUTISM. MELTDOWN.

“Would you like a beverage?” she responded cheerfully.

I was tempted to ask for a double scotch on the rocks but decided that a drunk absentee parent was most certainly worse than a sober one when talking to government officials. Therefore, I took my seat,  bought the WI-FI service for $29.95 and sent out a plea for help on Facebook. I am happy to report that by the time we landed, I had three friends offer to help and a neighbor who informed me that she would take the kids to school. These are the times in life when “do unto others as you would have them do onto you” suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.

Flying five hours across the country we still had hope that we would make our flight but it was not to be. So we took our food vouchers and ate dinner in the airport, then took the shuttle bus to our hotel and finally settled in to watch a movie. When we turned on the t.v, guess what was being shown? Yep, you’re right… it just happened to be HOME ALONE. That apparently is the way we roll.

 

 

 

Las Vegas

Driving to Las Vegas is always interesting. Between the weird signs of half-naked women, the smiling cactus and the odd out-of-the-way museums; most of the time I feel like I have been  drinking before I hit the bar.

There is the Borax Museum sitting on the hill in the middle of nowhere. Even better, the airplane graveyard where huge jets sit waiting to be scrapped or built into a home for some eccentric old lady. And then there are the potholes. Dodging them keeps you away during this rather boring drive. Unfortunately, for our friend she landed in one yesterday that completely shredded her tire out in the middle of the dessert…at night… which is the thing nightmares are made of.

There is also the last alphabetical road in America on the drive…Zzyzx Road which lays out in the middle of the Mojave Desert. There used to be a hot springs hotel out that way but it is no longer like many of the ghost towns that inhabit the area.

And now we are here on Vegas time. It is cold and due to the weather the mountains are covered in snow. Such a contrast and so beautiful against the now brilliant blue skies.

Of course, traveling away from home increases Andre’s anxiety to a point that at times it makes me want to find the highest mountain and jump off of it. Yesterday was tough. Those are the days in which I wish autism could be turned off like a light switch. Watching him struggle breaks this Mommas heart while driving her a little crazy. The sadness at watching him and the stress I feel when he tries to pull my hair because of it can be overwhelming at times. But in the end after he is settled things return to our “normal” and life goes on.

 

 

 

It’s Been A While

So it’s been a while since I have blogged. Life has gotten in the way. One of the reasons I have not been blogging is because I have been so ill and when you feel that sick just putting one foot in front of the other is sometimes the only thing you can manage to do.

The other reason I have been absent is that I just returned from South Korea. It was a blast. That is not to say that autism didn’t rear its head like a dragon…it did but we managed to keep the fire contained within the dragon’s mouth.

I love Korea. Not just because it is where my children were born but because of the numerous surprises that greet you while you are there. Like it raining and someone just hands you their umbrella and continues on their way. Like the fact that my children are now old enough to sit away from these two big white folks so they can blend in and become part of the majority instead of always being part of the minority. I wish I could give them that freedom every day of their lives. And I like the fact that pumpkin is valued and eaten in so many different ways.

I love seeing the small boats out with the huge freighters as they ply the waters for fish along the coast. I love the hidden temples and that sort of foggy mystical reverence that permeates the air.Riding the bullet trains are almost orgasmic with their down the the minute time tables and the snack carts that sell dried squid. I also love the open markets in which you can find the mass-produced and the antique amongst all the noise that radiates off of the stalls. And the smells of noodles of all kinds, ginger, kimchee and steaming hot bean buns bought just as they come out of the molds are to die for.

There is something about Korea…a people who have been taken over by invaders again and again. Who have known war too often the results of which allows them to then hold the holy and the beautiful above all else…even their pain. Same goes for my children whose understanding of their short lives here is bittersweet. Joy and pain sometimes it is one in the same.

And then we came home and I immediately went in for an endoscopy because I have been so sick with severe reflux for so long. And while I await the results I decided to try the anti-reflux diet and stop drinking coffee…and the next day feel so good that I don’t take the prescription medicine that never makes me feel great. And the next day I feel great. Better than great. And so I stop coffee and pills and one week later I feel better than I have for the past two years.

So now I rejoice. For travel. For discovery. For the happiness of my family. And for my health. And for the oh-so painful re-discovery of myself, my husband and my marriage over the past 18 months.dsc04814

I’m thinking that 2017 is going to be a pretty great year! I hope it is for you too!

 

Busan

Today we took the bullet train south. I love the train system here and wish that in the States we had a great train system like they do all over Asia.  In 2 1/2 hours we were down at the opposite end of the country and it was a great ride. Smooth, fast and comfy and in a blink of an eye we were there.

I love Busan, South Korea. It is a very special town to me because one of my children was born here. I first visited it about 15 years ago and I have to say it has changed. No longer the sleepy port city it once was, it is now a vibrant, racy place with a touch of its past tucked within its alleys.

Busan is a town that reminds me of another…San Francisco. Hilly, temperate and scenic this city is a place I could spend a lot of time at. One of my favorite things about it is the food. I love Changseondong Meokja Golmok food alley. Here you will find live eels, octopi and other sea creatures ready for the grill…or not. One of the delicacies here are live octopi swallowed whole which I am told tickles when it slides down your throat. I do not think I will be that brave but I wish I was.

But rather than tell you about Busan, here are some pictures to show you what a great food town this is. Bon Appetite!

 

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Been There…Not Done That

This is my sixth trip to South Korea. The first three were blinded by tears as we picked up our children when they were infants. Those days were short but sweet after waiting a half-a-year to finally meet them.

The last time we came to Korea as a family was seven years ago. Those were trying times. The boys were in the midst of autism and there was a real fear we would lose them on the subway. In fact, I remember that Paul decided to play hide-and-seek in the subway and scooted away into a telephone booth while we were racked with panic trying to find him. He was one of those kids who really needed to be on a leash because he would take off if given the chance. It is wonderful to see him this time…so excited to be discovering his culture. I have never seen him as happy as he was today.

On the other hand, Andre was struggling. All the walking. All the newness. All the change wasn’t doing him any favors. He didn’t want to come because change is so difficult for him. But to our credit we make him vacation with our family even though at times it would be easier for him just to stay home. There are just some memories that must be made and I will confess serenity was easy to come by in The Secret Garden.

We have never visited Seoul in the fall before. That was a mistake because the beauty of the place, the slow cool breezes make this experience memorable. The colors are vivid and more intense than I have ever seen. The scenery is amazing. But instead of telling you I will just show you…Korea in her glory.

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Heart And Seoul

Those thirteen hour flights are killers especially when you have three kids with you who didn’t sleep a wink. Ugh. But there is something about Seoul that takes over and propels you out into its sweet arms. What a city! What a place! I love it here.

This time I decided instead of the hotel route we would do the AirBnB route and it has worked out great. Just a short walk from the subway and we found our place with no problem. It is a small three bedroom apartment located in a great part of the city with lots of shops and restaurants.

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After getting situated we walked down the street and found a great grill place in which you grill your own food over hot coals. We chose bulgogi…yummm! Slather it in pepper paste, sesame oil and something we couldn’t figure what it was and well…. it was fabulous!

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I love how they heat the coals and get them a fiery orange/red that shimmer as you just watch. Something about it is just magical.

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But now as I type the hours have caught up to me and I am falling asleep as I write. Night night!

For Violet-My Sex Life In Tibet

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This is for Violet. Because Violet wants to know how my sex life went while over in Tibet. She wonders if this 29 year married couple who are temporarily without the bat ears of their children will fare as they explore Asia together. I promised I would give her the juicy details about whether or not you can have sex in a monastery… I am a woman of my word.

January 11- Leave San Francisco for Shanghai. The plane is cold. I rub strategic spots on B’s body in hopes that he will warm me up under the flimsy cotton blanket. No dice. He’s not that kind of guy. Reminds me of the time we were naked on the nude beach in Kauai. He passed then too but to this day swears it was the pneumonia he was in the process of developing that waylaid his libido while on laying naked on the sand all those many years ago.

January 12-Arrive at Shanghai after an 11 hour flight. I survived. I can only assume it is some sort of cosmic miracle but hell we have 7 more flights to take so I am not taking bets yet. Eat some incredible Chinese food and crash after promising one another that tomorrow will be our “special” day.

January 13- Take green subway line to subway line 16. Take bus 1068 to Xinchang where we enjoy the “Venice” of Shanghai. Reverse process only it is rush hour. We are packed into the subway like sardines when I feel someone grab my left boob. I turn and smile at Dave for being so frisky…only it isn’t Dave at all. It is an intoxicated old man with missing teeth. I give him the death stare and he smiles. Okay, that is one “feel up” for the day, zero sex. We get back to the hotel room and defrost our parts. Since we understand you can get in serious trouble (think prison) for “doing it” in front of an open window we opt for something more like home…the bed. Great foreplay. Fantastic sex. No children anywhere around. No wonder!

January 14- Land in Lhasa, Tibet. Upon touchdown I get an immediate headache. Altitude sickness descends. We get to our room which has old single pane, handmade wood framed windows. The walls appear to have frost on them at first glance. We see our breaths all night as we talk across to one another in the rigid, very hard and not going anywhere twin beds. We decide that self-preservation is our best bet as we crawl under yet another blanket in our light thermals, heavy thermals, 2 pairs of socks, pajamas, gloves, blacava covering our heads and a coat on top. Wake up numerous times during the night feeling like an elephant is sitting on our chests as our hearts think about giving out. It is doubtful anything is going to rise this night as frost bite is a definite possibility.

January 15-It’s gotten colder. So has our room. Need I say more?

January 16-Can you believe that it is still colder? Our room is cold enough to be used as a morgue except that unlike a morgue there is nothing stiff in this room. I am thinking the next vacation will be to a warm clothing optional place with free booze. Lots of free booze. Even tho I am not a pot smoker I suspect that the next trip will involve it because after this journey I am sure I will be missing parts and will need a medicinal high to forget the feeling of phantom pain where my limbs used to be.

January 17-Shigatse. Well what do you know…a warm hotel room…with twin beds. What is it with the twin beds for goodness sake!!!! Luckily, love is in the air along with an unidentifiable smell that is not either one of us even though we had not showered for so long. No…it is something unique and different enough to turn your stomach. But we refuse to let it defeat us and we do one for the Gipper. In the morning everyone in our group wonders why we are smiling so much that our teeth hurt. Of course they are all under 30 without children… but someday they will know why those smiles were plastered all over our faces.

January 18-Bad news. The Rongbuk Monastery is closed. I am deflated with this bit of news as I really wanted to be faced with ethical decision of whether it is proper to have sex in a monastery and see whether the devil or angel on my shoulder would win out. Sigh. Instead we are booked into a hotel in Shegar a small town of about 1,000 way out in the middle of nowhere but about three hours from the Mt. Everest base camp. The good news…dinner is a delicious full bodied noodle soup. The bad news (I know you are asking how could you have BAD news on a vacation you whiny, spoilt b****)…the temperature is -16 while the sun is still up. There is no water in our room and the bucket that you fill with water to flush the toilet is frozen solid. This time we sleep with one pair of light thermals, 2 pairs of heavy thermals, gloves, three pairs of socks, blacava, sleeping bag and down parka in TWIN BEDS. But really we don’t sleep. Instead we gasp for air and watch as my coat emits thousands of static electric charges as it lights up the room. SEX…doesn’t even enter our minds as we just struggle to survive.  The next morning we find the people who run the hotel sleeping around a huge coal/dung stove. They are walking around with smiles on their faces….hmmmm!

January 19-After almost being blown off of Mt. Everest by the wind we make it back to Shigatse. Half our group look like death warmed over but when we end up at an Sichuan restaurant eating amazing food and there is no yak in sight, the color returns to the faces of all. The room is once again pleasant and warm. Two blissful sighs are heard around the world and Mt. Everest rocks.

January 20-Back to Lhasa and the first hotel only this time I ask if we might have a room with something other than twin beds. So we are put in room 207 which I am happy to report it is an inside room and is at least 20 degrees warmer than the first room. Are you spotting a trend here, Violet? Warm=happy=sex. Yet, during and afterwards we are panting hard like we just ran a marathon and seriously question whether our hearts will explode due to this high altitude exertion. Getting old should = purchasing larger and larger amounts of life insurance especially when getting it on while in the two mile club without the benefit of an airplane.

January 21-Fly back to Shanghai by way of Xian. We are exhausted and spent when we land at 9:30 p.m..

January 22-Wake up at 3 am for an early morning flight to Jinan. B has business. Attend a late night dinner of fish, fish and more fish.Eyeballs of fish linger in our psyche and we can’t get past that tonight.

January 23- Violet, its warm…do you even have to ask?

January 24-Fly back to Shanghai. We leave tomorrow for San Francisco. I’ll leave this one for you to fantasize about my dearest Violet. I leave for an 8 hour trip in the morning.