There’s so much content running through my brain as well as content already contained. I’d like to invite you, dear reader, into my world of Busted Flip Flops. We’ll explore observations of life, musings about becoming Mom, Cherry Pearl the snorting pug, weird dreams, recipes, movies, ’80’s nostalgia, picking up strays (the furry and the non), and unfeigned poetry. Watch for weekly upcoming posts as these beach reads begin to build and form like, well, a castle in the sand...
My parents were over the other night for dinner. After we chomped on tacos with black beans, chunky salsa, and jalapeños we began reminiscing. I’m not sure how the conversation started but we cruised back in time to 1980-something. To Antioch Tennessee where I grew up. We went back to The Mall.
The crappy thing is the mall where I spent so much time from ages 6-26 is no longer there. I mean the building itself is still there but the stores, the people, the smell of corn dogs and waffle cones is just a lingering memory. I think they are turning it into a college annex now. I’d like to go back and see what it looks like. Or perhaps I should just stay away and remember it as it was.
In the beginning the mall included a 3 screen movie theatre. Me and my brother tried to sneak into our first movie theatre rated R movie. But the ticket boy caught us crawling on our hands and knees right before we could enter The Serpent and the Rainbow. That was also the theatre were we spent several summers prior marking off our “Summer Movie Camp” cards. Every day of the week they showed a discounted movie for kids. It was the first time we got dropped off at the mall by ourselves. Our neighbor Jason would usually accompany us and his mom was so cheap she would have him stash cans of Big K sodas and Dollar Store-bought boxes of Jujubes and Chocolate Stars in his trench coat pockets. He shared.
The food court back then was not a myriad of ethnic culinary delights as mall food courts are now. I think the most exotic place was Picnic Pizza, owned and operated by a real Italian family. Why they chose to relocate to Antioch I do not know. My brother’s favorite place was Hot Dog on a Stick. He would get not one but two “Cheese Bars” which were huge logs of cheese on a stick, dipped and fried in batter. I did not partake in the infamous cheese bar but rather stared longingly at the various flavors tempting me from behind the glass at the Swenson’s counter. “That ice-cream is high” my mom said so many times. I think she only let me get their outrageously expensive ice cream twice before they turned it into a Sunglass Hut.
But she did occasionally let us buy candy from the Sears candy stand. Yes, Sears had a candy stand between Women’s Sleepwear and Automotives. You could smell the hot caramel and roasted nuts five sections away. There’s something mildly rebellious about eating confectionaries while shopping at a department store.
JCPenney’s had a hair salon and that’s where I got my first real ‘do and met Carson, my hairdresser for the next twenty years. I went from blunt bangs and long mane to the female mullet. My brother was so jealous. “Why can’t I get a cool haircut?” he demanded. Now he laughs at old photos of me.
Later a shoe store called Journeys opened and provided me and my brother with our first trendy skateboarding shoes and me with hours and hours of
stalking staring at their top salesman. His long black hair and skate punk style left me completely star-struck and unable to utter more than a quivering “No, I’m just looking” anytime I actually went into the store when he was working.
I watched the mall change during those three decades. The flowing fountains and draping greenery changed to ceramic brick to accompany room for kiosks. The sunken dining area of the food court leveled to make room for more ever-changing food stands. The movie theatre demolished and turned into a Dollar Tree. The arcade made it through with several name changes.
And I have so many memories from those decades. Begging for throwing stars from Oriental Way. Sitting in swinging basket chairs at World Bazaar. Watching puppies through the plexi glass cages at Pass Pets. Getting my ears pierced at Claire’s. Buying my first pair of parachute pants at Chess King. Buying my first school dance outfit at Deb’s. Hanging out on a Friday night and seeing that popular metal-head/punk guy named Wolf and wondering what the hell his story was. Visiting my first openly gay friend who worked at Wilson’s Leather. My own retail career at Wolf Camera and Video for 3 years.
I’m glad with the help of my parents and my brother I can relive those memories. I wish I could go back to the mall and see it just as it was back in 1984. What a trip that would be. But it will just have to exist in my mind.
So I make new memories at another mall where I have taken my son here and there for the last 11 years. We spent the day there the other day sipping lemonade and smelling candles we couldn’t afford and racing each other on the Fast and Furious arcade game. I hope he will remember in the years to come. God willing I hope I do too.
I took a 5 month hiatus from Facebook a while back. For various reasons, one being I just didn’t need or want my personal life spilled out there for everyone to see, I needed to get “off the grid” FB style.
Coerced by coworkers to get in the loop of our funny office photos I recently got back on.
Immediately two comments popped up. Glad you’re back! They read. Wow I hadn’t realized I’d been missed.
I have been slow to get back into the trappings of Facebook. And I don’t think I’ll ever have the love affair (or perhaps it was just obsession) I once had. And thank goodness. Because there were so many times after I spent 45 minutes trolling my news feed I would walk away with this heavy and negative feeling in my soul. These things did not add happiness to my life:
Photos of me two years ago. Young and fit. Damn I’ve aged.
Ridiculously happy families/couples.
People I never see anymore.
Family I lost touch with.
Babies I didn’t know people had.
Birthdays I missed.
Extravagant meals which make my shitty excuse for dinner depressing and demoralizing.
Movies/TV shows/news/celebrities I know nothing about because I live in my own self-imposed hibernation.
Political rants from friends I thought were more open and accepting.
And for those reasons I do not spend endless wasted minutes watching to see what everyone else is doing or saying while I should be on WordPress tapping into my creative soul! Or outside listening to the birds sing and watching the tree limbs sway. Or engaging with the person in front of me instead of my face stuck in my phone.
But I am not a total begrudged hater. Facebook does have its positives. Maybe I shouldn’t be blaming Facebook. I mean what did Facebook do but merely exist? Just trying to connect people and ideas and photos and lives? These are the reasons I still have an account:
I get to see photos of my nephews living their lives. Without this I would not have such a sweet visual insight into their daily/weekly lives.
All my awesome high school and college friends and the success of their creative endeavors.
The first neighbor I can ever remember and how she still has those curly locks and now a family and house of her own.
That friends and family alike are still out there, breathing, baring their souls or just sharing a recipe.
I can spend as little or as much time on Facebook as I wish. No one is force cramming it down my throat. It is my choice. So I choose to troll occasionally. And not deem it necessary to post every thought I have or every place I go. And to brag about my kid or not. And to try to take away the things that make me smile. And the things that leave a heavy space will just have to be let go and float away with all the other negativity that does not have a place here.
Things I learned from my dad:
Folding the perforated paper on the dotted line, both ways, before ripping it out of the notebook. Invaluable still. Keeps me from wasting paper, cursing more, and making a ragged mess out of a should-be perfect piece of parchment.
Blowing into the edge of the stick side of the (carefully opened) popsicle bag before lifting the popsicle out of said crinkly sheath. Keeps the popsicle pristine and the little ice crystals from sticking to the bag. And red or orange or purple no. 5 from sticking to your hand, which also causes more cursing.
Having a spotless car. Dad drove me crazy with his meticulous top-to-bottom, left-to-right way of washing vehicles throughout the years. But there was never a spot on the El Camino, Datsun, Caprice Estate, Cressida, or ’87 Toyota Pickup when he was finished with them. I wish I could say my Prius is the same. I’m lazy and run it through the automatic. But if I did grab a hose and proper sponge, soap, and tire brush, that girl would look like an Amsterdam black diamond.
Singing in church. Dad wasn’t considered Johnny Cash but he was definitely not tone-deaf. His baritone timbre vibrated around a 2-3 pew radius and his timing impeccable. If I got off track during “It is Well” I could always count on him to steer me back. There was no big screen with a PowerPoint flow of lyrics to follow. It was old school hymnals and Dad could read music good enough to keep that mass of naked voices around us sounding like, well, a choir at church!
Pushing me to get out of my comfort zone. When I was a kid I wanted to be an actor. When I got into high school I wanted to be in the school play. When I told my dad I wanted to act he replied, “You can’t act.” I was crushed. He was usually my advocate. But because I was a shy girl and never liked to put myself out there I guess he thought it was a pipe dream. So I took that lack of faith and made it my goal to prove him wrong. I ended up not only being in the play, but being the female lead. And guess who was in that audience every single night of performance? And with a camcorder to boot.
I could go on and on about all the things Dad taught me. How to gas up and start a lawn mower. How to use an old bed sheet to rake leaves on and dispose of lawn waste. How to do a proper cannonball. How to play “Chopsticks” on the piano. And I could go on and on about all the things he tried to teach me that just did not compute. Using the weed-eater. Math beyond 4th grade. The proper way to pack a car trunk. How to dive.
I hope he knows how much his presence in my childhood and into mid-adulthood means to me. A lot of other kids weren’t and aren’t so fortunate. And I know I don’t tell him enough.
Thank you Dad for not only teaching me things but for being present along the way. You were there for me even when I did stupid stuff. You held my hand and let me know you did dumb things too and everything would be okay.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you.
Yesterday while stepping outside the office to the parking lot I caught a whiff of some kind of dry brush percolating its arid scent in the late spring warmth. It immediately transported me back to 1989. To a sandy and rooted path towards the Mediterranean sea. I looked down at my feet and couldn’t believe I had really gone on that trip all those years ago. Seems like an eternity. The girl who traveled there had freckles and bushy brown hair and a wondering mind. I still have the freckles and a matured version of that mind so it must have been me.
I love how smells take you to places and evoke memories in an instant. In the midst of everyday life we step back and take a deep inhale through the honker and relive a moment as if it were right at our feet.
Take oranges for another example. That smell of freshly sliced citrus transports me back to an even earlier time. To childhood and the kitchen counter and the oranges stacked in a bowl during Christmastime. It is always Christmas when I smell an orange. And now the citrus fruits lining my lanai swell and ripen in wintertime.
Fresh cut grass reminds me of Tennessee summers and my dad and my brother and the aggravation then prideful relief when the yard work was finished.
Decaying leaves and burning wood always remind me of fall and Halloween. The beginning of school days. Trick-or-treating. Playing in piles of orange and red and brown fallen oak and maple. Writing somber poetry.
Curry and coriander bring forth memories of Christmas Eve and our now decade-long family tradition of enjoying an Indian feast before driving around to see all the neighborhood holiday lights.
Instant coffee and tobacco– my grandparent’s house. Powder soap and crayons– elementary school. Soft, sweet Petunia– my mother’s garden. Aveeno Eczema Therapy lotion– my son’s infancy. Rain– lazy summer days and escaping to shelter. Cinnamon– all the good memories ever all wrapped into one.
Last night I stared down at my feet after a good jog on the causeway. The terrain underneath reminded me of that path to the Mediterranean sea and the desert of the Australian Outback and all the places I’ve been and seen and experienced. It’s still a bit of a shock how much I’ve done. The smell of the salty, shelly gulf wafted around me and I smelled not a memory but a presence. I was home. And alive in the present with all the memories of the past in my brain waiting for the frontal lobe to spark the temporal and let me relive them again, if only for a time.
That golden orb
lay down so eloquently
the bottom of it
pulled down by the sea
or perhaps the rotation
of the earth
that which we cannot see
And I shared a bench
with an old man
who did not speak
But I heard his heart
when his eyes were alight
We took in the moment
each of us our own thoughts
dreams hopes desires
Sunset by the sea
I gave gratitude
for you and me
for spirit peace equality
A couple lay in each other’s arms
a family played joyfully
mother and son
daddy and baby
a circle of souls
three women late in their years
a wet-eared puppy
That golden orb
not a backdrop
but the focus of the moment
holding us all together
to bask in its enjoyment
There are exotic places I’ve been
There are exotic places I dream of
in my cubicle at work
And there is the beauty outside my front door
It makes my 2.5 days of available Paid Time Off
Twilight’s blue sky
two stars I make wishes to
A spring breeze
carrying live Saturday night
music to my ears
keeping all but one mosquito
Palm trees like I dreamed of in
swaying right before my eyes
The smell of a charcoal grill
and something I would probably
wafting deliciously in the wind
The Magnolia tree
the flowers flitting so
waiting to be plucked
Norfolk Pine fingers
dancing in twilight wind
A storm miles away
it can’t touch me
but I see the lightning
as if it were touching my skin
I breathe in this night
I breathe in this beauty
There is hope in this world
and I can feel it from
When all is quiet
and there is no work to be done
My mind flies high
soaring against the sun
my heart is full
of all of you
all who have reached out
both old and new
For all the tiring
desperate trying times
Among them has been
no searching for earthly
In that aspect I win
So many open souls
willing to give a hand
keeping my mind
from falling back into
I want to thank you
as I feel the sun
I want to thank you
for everything you’ve done
I might not have always seemed grateful
but I am here
reaching back out to you.