Thursday, July 10, 2014

Interesting Possibilities

Rick Bass once wrote:  "There's an enormous difference between being a story writer and being a regular person. As a person, it's your duty to stay on a straight and even keel, not to break down blubbering in the streets, not to pull rude drivers from their cars, not to swing from the branches of trees. But as a writer it's your duty....to view everything in life, however outrageous, as an interesting possibility."

I quote this now in the hopes of the slightest redemption for my behavior that perhaps doesn't always fall as neatly under the column of "regular person behavior."  But, I also quote it to say this:  "viewing everything in life, however outrageous, as an interesting possibility" is amazing.  It's makes life infinitely more entertaining. I highly recommend it for people of all sorts--not just the writing sort.

How is this accomplished?  Any number of ways.  An example:  recently I was texting a friend when, as usual, my phone autocorrected with something ridiculous.  As I began to replace the autocorrected word with the word I had actually been trying to type, I paused.  And, in an instant, interesting possibility met with my love of word games and nearly clapping my hands in giddy delight, I thought:

New Game!!

The rules:  Type out whatever text you're attempting to send.  When reviewing said text if any words are incorrect, you may replace them with the correct word, but must also use the incorrect word at some point in the text.

Sometimes, it's not such a big deal:

A text to Chris that should have read:  Well, since it's just you and I--I thought we could dine first and then hike?

But, my stupid phone made "you" into "toy".  So, now I have to use the word, "toy."  The resulting text is:

Well, since it's just you and I--I thought we could dine first and then hike?  Don't toy with me white boy!

He, I'm sure, thinks I've lost my mind--but, frankly, he's accustomed to it--so, not such a biggie.

Or, I attempt to text a friend about an incident she bore witness to:

Well, that was not terribly professional on her part.

Professional, became "prosaic".

So, she received:  Well, that was not terribly professional on her part.  In other news, buckle up boys and girls, this lady is feeling prosaic!

To which, she replied:  Like you wanna write something?  Aren't you always?  You know, prosaic?

She had a point. 

Then, another friend texts me about needing work-out inspiration and I try to say:

You could do my 90 day hiking challenge if there's a good trail nearby?

But, my phone made "hiking" into "hooking."  So, I say:

You could do my 90 day hiking challenge if there's a good trail nearby?  Or...there's always hooking! 

The pregnant pause after my text leads me to believe she was stunned into immobility.

Obviously, I could (and perhaps even should) have chosen a sentence like:  "Or, how about hooking things up with a local gym...getting a personal trainer?"

But, where's the sport in that?

This new game has led to all sorts of interesting conversations.  And, yes, were you to try this, someone, at some point WILL respond:  Wtf are you talking about?!?!

To which, I generally reply:  Wtf are YOU talking about?!?!


As for the rest of Rick's quote..well...unfortunately, I can relate to that as well.

My people, I have blubbered in streets.

I once blubbered on a street IN Disneyland (aka happiest place on earth).

And, I've pulled rude drivers from their cars...

Well...ok...not EXACTLY.  I didn't pull him.  But, once, when I was living in California and another driver was driving dangerously erratically, I confronted the driver at a gas station.  I was standing on a curb and he was at street level and still, he towered over me (and I'm 5'8"--so this guy was ginormous) and so I had to keep jumping to try to speak face to face: 

Me:  *jumps* What on earth ..*jumps*...is the matter..*jumps*...with you?!
Ginormo:  Lady...go get in your car before...
Me:  *jumps* Before what? *jumps*  Huh? *jumps and looks sternly into his face and points a disapproving finger at him*
Ginormo:  Lady...
Me:  *jumps*  What if...*jumps* my baby...*jumps* had been in the car?!?!
Ginormo:  Oh my God...Lady!  Seriously!
*crowd begins to gather*

I should maybe mention at this point that, as I jumped and had been looking directly into his face, I had noticed that he had a teardrop tattoo under his eye that I didn't take as a positive sign for my safety.  Plus, as I took in his attire, I realized that his wife-beater and torn jeans didn't exactly bode well either.  And, then, when HE noticed the gathering crowd and began to feel, perhaps, emasculated and proceeded to take OFF the wife beater, I began to think maybe this entire scene was ill advised.

My voice took on a shrill quality that I had never heard in it before, and haven't heard in it since as I shouted the only thing I could think:

Me:  *jumps* You should think...*jumps*...about your MOTHER!
Ginormo:  *throws shirt on ground*  Look, bitch...*looks confused*...wait...my mother?!?
Me:  *places one hand on a hip and points with the other*  Yes, your mother!  How would she feel about you driving like an idiot and practically KILLING a baby!
Ginormo:  *looks around nervously at the crowd* *whispers*  Shhh...c'mon...lady. *more loudly* Your baby wasn't even in the car!
Me: So, your mother would feel better that it was just the mother of an infant that you killed...I see...
Ginormo:  *looks around nervously again*  No...look, lady...I'm sorry, ok?  I'm sorry.
Me:  Good.  Stop driving like an ass. *storms off*

(o maybe more like *runs off* or even *runs away* or even more precisely *runs away, gets in car, locks car, and sincerely tries not to pee pants*)

And, I've certainly swung from trees (who hasn't?).

So, perhaps, the rude driver confrontation was a bit sketchy (please don't ever try such a thing--you'll be killed--I was lucky I wasn't killed--it was a very bad idea, indeed).  However, I'm here to say that looking at everything in life as an interesting possibility can be quite rewarding.  It can even lead to...adventures (one of the finest words in the English language).  Of course, sometimes, though entertaining for you, it CAN make you look like a crazy person to others.

*shrugs* Do you care?

As Emily Dickinson so eloquently wrote,

"Dwell in possibility."

Dwell in it.













 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pie Tin Adventure

After writing my last couple of blogs, I began to contemplate all the trouble books have inspired in my life.  I also began contemplating the last time I went into a state of intense introspection ("intense introspection" is WAY too generous a phrase--but for lack of a better one, it'll have to do).  And, while contemplating both, I was reminded of an instance that was both inspired by reading as well as a woo-woo mood.  And, since I have never blogged about this particular adventure here, I thought I'd share it now.  A quick note:  Chris is Jack and Jack is Chris (it's a nickname, people!).

May I introduce, my:

Pie Tin Adventure    



The Path to Enlightenment is for me…a drunken one…

Somewhere in my bookish travels, I read about a psychiatrist (I think it may have been Jung…but I can’t remember for certain) who believed the most fertile time for the mind is the space of time slivered between sleep and wakefulness.  He believed (and it’s been a while since I read about it—years—so I’m paraphrasing and may be inadvertently adding my own notions to the mix) that if you could grasp, remember, and fully understand your thoughts during this small space of time—you would come as close to enlightenment as you could ever hope.  He claimed that his most brilliant theories were developed during this elusive period. 

In my limited experience, I would agree and would even take it a step further as my own (overly precious, I’m sure) belief is that it is in this precise space of time and consciousness that one’s soul and body meet.  This has been my working, and until recently, untested theory, anyhow.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I had a marvelous evening (I’ve had marvelous evenings since then…but none so very enlightenment-centric).  Jack and the boys turned in early and I was left blissfully alone and purposefully made no plans for the evening but that of beautiful solitude.  I pulled out a book of poetry (Mary Oliver), turned on some jazz (Dizzy Gillespie), and mixed martinis (Belvedere).  Yes.  Plural.  MartiniS.  So, after drunkenly deciding that Oliver writes the most transcendent poetry in existence, that Dizzy Gillespie was a cool cat for rolling with his wonked out trumpet, and that Belvedere was my soul mate in liquid form—I decide the time has come to see what my mind might produce during it’s “fertile” time. 

So…in the spirit of whoever came up with the notion—I stumbled into the garage and found a couple of good sized fishing weights and made my way back to the kitchen for a couple of pie tins. 

Yes.  You read correctly.  Fishing weights and pie tins.

So, the idea is (again as obtained from the super hootie whatsit of psychology, psychiatry, philosophy or just plain bizarre behavior), I was to recline, with my hands dangling at my sides, clutching the fishing weights with pie tins arranged so that were I to drop the fishing weight, it would land in the pie tin.  The idea being that just as I were to drift off into sleep, I would drop the weights, which would clang on the pie tins, and wake me in the very instant that I was floating in that narrow space between slumber and wakefulness.  And then…

Badabing-badaboom—enlightenment.

You follow?

Ok…my first drunken problem being that I don’t own a recliner (due to my long and loud contention that recliners are the very throne of Beelzebub).  So, I decide that the dining room table would work just as nicely (I know).  But, when I laid down on the dining table, my arms couldn’t really dangle, but rather stuck out, making my body rather cross-like (I contemplated trying my hand at speaking in tongues at this point—but decided that experiment would keep for another time).  So, my solution was to lay diagonally on the table, which allowed my arms to dangle and having rolled up a couple of place-mats and placed them under my head—it wasn’t all that uncomfortable (I was Belvedere blasted, I could have slept on the floor of my garage with my head in the recycle bin and been comfortable, but I digress).

Great…bring on the enlightenment.

So, sure enough, I drift off and down drop the weights.  Only, I don’t know that I so much drifted as sort of passed the fuck out—because their dropping did not jolt me.  It DID, however, wake up Jack.  And, for whatever reason, the bang, crash, boom of the weights didn’t jar me from sleep but Jack storming in the room shouting “what the hell?!?!?!?” did.  It shocked me so much, if fact, that I sort of roll/fell off the table.  And, since I had it in my head to remember what I was thinking upon awakening—I fell off the table while slurring “Salt peanuts,” which was the only thing running through my fool head, and which I continued to say over and over as though it were vital to my very existence (Jazz wisdom, let’s call it).

Jack took one look at me, the fishing weights, pie tins, and empty martini glasses and stormed out of the room muttering something that included the phrases “like being married to a drunk Lucille Ball,” “God knows I try,” and “Why?  Why?  WHY?”

Me?  Since I found myself a bit dizzy at this point and was conveniently already on my hands and knees--I decided to just go ahead and crawl to bed.  

So, perhaps your path to enlightenment looks a bit different than mine (I’m convinced there was enlightenment in there somewhere)…but let’s not judge (give the weight/pie tin/drift off a whirl—who knows where it might take you). 

And, remember: 

“There are many paths to enlightenment” -Lao Tzu

And:

“Do not think you will necessarily be aware of your own enlightenment” -Dogen

Plus:

“If you ever reach total enlightenment while drinking beer, I bet it makes beer shoot out your nose.” –Jack Handy

P.S.  7 days of 90 day Table Rock challenge done!!!  7!!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Woo-Woo


I've been feeling what my meditation instructor describes as, 'a little woo-woo', lately.  And, by woo-woo, he (and I) mean:  out-there, unconventional, fringe-oriented, hippie-dippy, overly philosophically existential, & etc.

Woo-woo.  

Basically, I feel like I'm on some sort of journey of self-discovery.  

(Sweet holy mother of patchouli--did I really just write the words: "journey of self-discovery"? Feel free to groan and roll your eyes.  Gag, even.  I totally deserve it).

I've been taking meditation classes (hence the meditation instructor).  I've read a bunch of Dorothy Parker poetry.  Ok, so Dorothy Parker isn't terribly woo-woo.  But she does deal with existence.  I mean, she DID write:

Razors pain you;
rivers are damp;
acids stain you;
and drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
nooses give;
gas smells awful.
You might as well live.


A little dark, but an argument in favor of existence, if only for comfort and convenience sake.  And, I'm also reading Sue Monk Kidd's The Dance of the Dissident Daughter--A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine, which, while not entirely awe inspiring (for me), definitely has inspired some deep thinking about my womanhood (you know...in a abstract kind of way.  Not in a--let's all stand on mirrors and examine our vaginas--kind of way).

So, in my current state of total woo-woo immersion, when my massage therapist called and asked if she could practice Reiki (ancient Japanese practice of energy healing) on me (she's just learning), it seemed right up my current--fringy-hippie-dippy alley. 

Reiki is a practice by which the practitioner acts as a conduit of healing energy from the divine.  So, they ascertain by manipulation and testing of your body, where you have blocked energy and then attempt to release the blockage and allow energy to flow freely throughout your body. 

So, yeah, totally woo-woo. 

But, it was a surprisingly intense, yet relaxing and stress relieving experience.  Plus, there are times when the practitioner is given (divinely) a word for the subject to contemplate.  

My people!  I do so love words.  Pair words with my latest inner-peace-quest?  

This was sure to get my attention.  And, my word of contemplation?

Happiness.

A wonderful word!  It's like a linguistic ginn fizz!  

So, there I was.  Having just had my energies unblocked, feeling really quite relaxed, and turning over in my head this word:  Happiness.  I begin to think what this word means to me.  I think of what my own personal definition of happiness might be.  I muse that it would probably be:  The feeling of certainty one has when one is following one's path.

Which, I realize isn't terribly articulate.  But, it's just basically the feeling that you are doing what you are meant to do.  You are where you are meant to be.  And, it was at this point in my contemplations that I had a moment of pause.  Why?  Because I never feel quite utterly and completely at home here in Boise.  I don't have any idea why that would be.  I have friends.  I have a full, lovely existence here.  And, yet...

And, yet.

So, I then begin to think:  If not here, then where?  Back in California?  No.  That doesn't feel right either.  Then where?  As I was thinking this, I was sitting at a stoplight and my eyes suddenly focused on the license plate in front of me, which read:  

Explore...Minnesota.

Now, if you know me even a little bit, you may be thinking:  Oh sweet mother of mercy...this is the precise moment when O goes right off the rails and crashes her woo-woo train right into the center of crazy town.

And, you'd be right.  

My people...it might as well have been James Earl Jones enthusing, "If you build it, people will come, Ray.  People will most definitely come."

Only his voice is booming: "Explore...Minnesota, Ophelia.  For reasons you can't even fathom, you must:  Explore...Minnesota."

I came home and immediately researched every aspect of Minnesota I could get my hot little keyboard blazing hands on. 

Let it never be said that Ophelia Michaels Oliveira ever ignored the universe (or James Earl Jones) when it (he) came a-calling.

Chris walked in the room and I said:

Let's move to Minnesota!

What?!?!  

Minnesota!  Let's move there.  

Why?

I, of course, at this point tell him about my recent experience (which, let's face it comes down to:  I saw a license plate while at a stoplight).  

Chris shrugs, says something about my being crazy and then says,  "Ok. I mean, why the hell not?  What the hell.  Let's do it."

We decide to take a hike up Tablerock to contemplate and discuss (plus attempt to burn off the two cocktails I'd consumed post Reiki--it was hot--a margarita felt in order...well, TWO margaritas felt in order).  The climb was not going well at all.  It's 100 degrees out, I've dressed inappropriately (ie:  I'm wearing all black--and not even black shorts--thick black yoga PANTS), and am forced to stop several times as I'm completely overheated and dehydrated (I should probably mention climbing Tablerock in inappropriate attire after consuming two cocktails and very little food that could be considered 'nutritious' does not work out terribly well--not that YOU'D consider something so completely idiotic--but a warning none-the-less).  So, I'm standing with my hands on my knees trying to catch my breath and cool down when I say (well, gasp, really):

Me:  Hey, babe...let's do this once a day for 90 days.

Chris:  What?

Me:  Climb Tablerock!

Chris:  Hon, I don't know that you're going to even make it this one day.

Me:  Oh, I'll make it.

Chris:  Well, it doesn't look fun.  You really want to do this 90 times over the next few months?  Seriously?

Me:  Sure.  I mean, it can't get much worse than this one, right?  It'll seem easy after this.

Chris:  You're nuts.

Me:  Does that mean you're with me?

Chris:  Babe...

Me:  C'mon!

Chris:  90 days?  NINETY?

Me:  Yeah...I feel like 90 is the right number.

Chris:  *shrugs*  Ok.  What the hell.

My people!  This man, right?!?! 

This, my friends, is what makes Chris the most perfect man in the whole wide world for me.  His ceaseless ability to be game for whatever crazy shit I fling at him.  No...not just game for it--enthusiastic.  He has since purchased me all manners of "Tablerock hiking attire".  I'm told a headlamp, camels back, and walking stick are in the works.  He now knows more about Minnesota than likely anyone west of the Rockies (except maybe, my dear Samantha) and has taken to giving me fun Minnesota facts on our hikes.   

Will we move?  Ahh...really...who knows?  Will I climb Tablerock once a day for 90 days?  Maybe?  I'm five days in.  So far, so good (I've beat my first climb time by 16 minutes already--it's amazing what appropriate clothing and proper food and hydration can do).  

Will I make it 90?  

I wouldn't count me out.  

What I do know for sure, what my husband has taught me time and again for 21 years now and Miss Monroe sums up quite well:  

"Ever notice how 'what the hell' is always the right answer?"

It is, people.  'What the hell' is ALWAYS the right answer.  

And, now...I leave with with this little gem from Sue Monk Kidd:  

"The True Self is not our creation, but God's.  It is the self we are in our depths.  It is our capacity for divinity and transcendence."

To our capacity for divinity!  To transcendence!  To all things woo-woo!

xo 

 

 


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Adventures: Book Banning, The Velveteen Rabbit, and That Time Mary Poppins Almost Killed My A**



My book club is currently reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.  Why?  It’s been banned in one of our local school districts.  Because, my people, there is nothing that makes a book more attractive than its status as a banned book.  Ban a book, and I immediately want…
that…
book!

It’s kind of like saying to me, “Ophelia, darling?  I have placed this box of chocolates on your counter.  It’s really a rather offensive box of chocolates with all its awful sugar and numerous calories.  You may eat any single thing in your entire house.  Except…for these chocolates.”

My people?  I’m eating the damn chocolates. 

Not only will I eat them, I will RELISH them.  I won’t even feel guilty.  I will literally laugh at your attempt to keep me from eating the chocolates….while I eat them.  I will call my friends to tell them of the wonderful chocolates you tried to keep me from.  They’ll laugh.  Then they’ll go buy the same box. 
But, hey…that’s me.  I’m sure high school students will be much more respectful of your well meaning attempt to keep them from…wait, what was one of the reasons cited for the ban? 
 
Ahh…yes…references to masturbation.

You’re quite right, of course, ladies and gents.  If my experience having been raised with two brothers and then further raising two sons of my own has taught me one thing, it is that teenage boys don’t know a single thing about masturbation.  No, they do not.  Those 35 minute showers they take?  Simply a desire to practice those good hygiene habits you’ve instilled.  Because, if that odor wafting from their gym bag says anything, it says:  I enjoy being impeccably clean.  
   
Books are dangerous.

I mean, read the wrong book and who knows WHAT your child may do.  My own mother was very liberal in her allowance of reading material when I was growing up and I can honestly say, that books got me in a little bit of trouble now and again.

For example, after reading The Velveteen Rabbit, I became obsessed with never (ever, EVER) throwing any of my playthings away.  Because, I loved them all so well, and so truly and purely, that I KNEW they would all become real one day and I wanted to be there when my sweet, Tenderheart Carebear began pawing about.  Now, one would think, that this was a situation that resolved itself once I hit my teen years.  But, alas, no.  My parent’s attic was littered with the remnants of my girlhood.  The day my father was able to bring the truckload of Cabbage Patch Dolls, My Little Ponies, and all manners of stuffed animals and hand them off to my unsuspecting husband (I wasn’t home at the time) was a gleeful day for my parents.  For my husband?  Not so much.  

“Why on EARTH did you save all of this?” he’d exclaimed.

“The Velveteen Rabbit?”

“Oh.  Ok…We can get rid of it now, though, right?”

“Wellll…”

And, then there was the little (teeny, really) “umbrella incident of 1984” (I was 9).  It was really over dramatized, if you ask me.  The thing was--I had just read several of the Mary Poppins books.  And, then, (of course) watched Mary Poppins (read, then watch, people…read, THEN, watch).  Annnnd, I had the idea that, perhaps, like Mary Poppins, I could fly (float, really) with the help of an umbrella.  So, waiting for just the right wind coming from the east on what seemed like precisely the right sort of day, I grabbed my lavender umbrella, put the plans I painstakingly detailed in my back pocket along with a pencil (in case last minute revisions were needed), and told my mom I was heading “out back.”
 
“It’s not raining,” she’d said.

“Oh, I know.  But, just in case,” I said quickly and ran for the door.

“Ok…well, I’m going to go have a cup of coffee in peace and quiet while the kids nap.  You behave yourself out there.”  (My Mom ran a daycare center out of our home and was nearly always on a quest for peace and quiet, which she said so often, that for years I thought it was one word, “peasanquiet!”)

“Ok!” I loudly whispered as I shut the door.

Once outside, I immediately went to work.  I had formulated a plan for getting up on the roof (yes…the roof of the house).  I consulted my map (completely unnecessary but made it all feel so much more Treasure Island-ish), and then shoved it back in my pocket, and with my umbrella dangling from my wrist, I immediately set to climbing our apricot tree.  From there, it was just a small hop onto our six foot back yard fence, which had a two-by-four at the top that I could easily balance and walk along (I fancied myself the next Mary Lou Retton).  I had to navigate the fence for about 10 feet (15, tops) when I would come to the point where I was parallel with our chimney.  The chimney and fence were separated by a narrow sidewalk.  So, I had to stand on the fence, facing the chimney and lean/fall forward until my hands slapped brick.  So, at this point, my feet were on the fence, my hands were on the chimney, and my body was stretched over the sidewalk.  

I immediately gasped.  In my planning, I’d forgotten to write down what I now viewed as the most important rule of adventuring:  Never look down.  For a moment, I just hovered, not breathing, suspended in time—staring at the distant sidewalk below. 

“Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious…” I breathed.

And then, louder, “Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious!”

Feeling better, I shook off the panic.  I had a plan.  There would be no problem if I just stuck to the plan.  On the side of the chimney there was a small square landing.  All, I had to do was scoot my hands across the brick and my feet along the fence until I was at the corner of the chimney.  And, then, holding the corner, leap my feet from the fence to the two foot square landing.

Yatzee! 

From there, it was just a matter of grabbing the lower eave of the house with one hand and the corner of the chimney with the other and slowly walk my feet up the corner where the chimney met the side of the house.  Then, placing my forearm on the roof, I pulled the rest of my body up and onto the roof.  I lay panting.  I had scratched my arm on the rough shingles, and barked my shin on the bricks, but I’d made it.  I rolled to my stomach, pulled out my pencil and map and drew and asterisk, beside which I wrote:  

DON’T LOOK DOWN!

I exhaled, sat up, and taking in the view, I gasped.  It was magical!  The roof lines and treetops were a site to behold.  I was seeing my neighborhood from an entirely new perspective.  Looking more to my immediate surroundings, I immediately mentally noted the spot where the chimney met the roof as a new reading spot.  I stood, shook off, and slowly made my way to the front of the house, where I had planned to put my Mary Poppins moment into action.  I chose the front yard due to there being more space for me to float down the street.  If I did it over the back yard, I would merely float over the many back yards in the neighborhood.  I much preferred the idea of floating down the street.  It was more public and therefore more magnificient.  I unsnapped and opened my umbrella.  I made my way to the edge of the roof, where I stood with my tips of my toes off the edge, hovering over the leafy gutter.  I held the umbrella above my head, closed my eyes, and began to chant:  

“If I believe--I can fly.  If I believe--I can fly,” over and over.

I was completely focused and I really ALMOST believed.  But, the fact that my umbrella was lavender with a plain cylindrical handle bothered me a bit.  I felt that, perhaps, part of the magic of Mary Poppins’ umbrella was in having a black one with a curved cane handle.  I pushed the thought from my head and began chanting louder and more fervently, squeezing my eyes shut tighter, teetering a bit on the edge.  The moment my mind made the transition from hope to belief, I would extend my arm high above my head (with the dignified grace of Miss Poppins), tip forward and fly to destinations unknown.  I was feeling belief begin to well within me when suddenly my chanting was interrupted by a high pitched, alarmed sort of screaming,  
“Oh my God!  Oh my good, gracious GOD!  Peggy!”  

 I peeked one eye open.

One of the daycare mother’s had come to collect her child and was on the sidewalk that led to our front door and which was directly below my feet.  My fervent chanting had clearly brought attention to myself.  My mother peeked out our front screen,
“What is it, Laura?”

“Your daughter!” She pointed a shaking finger up at me.  

I calculated.  It would take my mother a few minutes to figure a way up to me.  If I could just focus!  I continued to chant again.
 
“Ophelia!  Ophelia, so help me…you listen to me, right now, young lady!  Get DOWN from there!”

“I’m about to!  Just give me a few seconds!” I shrieked. 

I chanted with renewed zeal.  

“No!  NOOOOO!  Do you hear me?  You will break both of your legs!  Do you hear me, young lady?!”

I continued to chant when she did two things:  she shouted all THREE of my names followed by a piercing, “If you do not get your fanny down from there this very minute, I…I…I simply don’t know what I’ll do!  Do you hear me?  DO YOU HEAR ME, Lady Ann?”

Adventure ruined.  Why?  Because:

          1)  It is impossible to focus when your mother uses your full name.  There is something about using all three of your names that strikes a fear that will both chill you to the bone, and render your mind completely ineffective.  Every kid knows that.
 2)  She didn’t make a specific threat.  Had she said, “you’ll be grounded from television for a month!”  I

could have weighed it and decided if my current adventure was worth such a price (in this case:  hell yes!). 

But, when my mother had lost the ability to conjure up an immediate punishment?  It was bad.  It was

unimaginably horrible.  It meant, she’d think on it.  And, when she thought on a thing—the things that woman

could do…it was truly terrifying.  For the love of Judy Blume, she could take away my books.  Perhaps, for

the entire summer vacation, even!  It was unthinkable.

      3)   She had called me, “Lady Ann.”  I hated when she called me Lady Ann.  I simply couldn’t think of anything worse than my mother calling me Lady Ann.  I couldn’t, to this day, articulate precisely why I abhorred this so entirely.  It had something to do with the suggestion that I was a lady (something I desired quite ardently NEVER to be), coupled with that awful monosyllabic name, Ann.  There was not a single name more boring to me than the name Ann (except, perhaps, Sue).  Annie?  Annie was ok.  Anna was even better.  But, Ann.  Ugh.  It simply didn’t get more pedestrian than Ann (this abhorrence for the name, Anne, would be completely upended and totally reversed in the coming years when I would read The Diary of Anne Frank—but I hadn’t done so as yet—and so continued my irrational hatred of the name).  Lady Ann?!?!  It made me want to scream.

I let out a sigh.  My focus was totally ruined.  I collapsed my umbrella and began backing up. 
 "Ok..ok…don’t have a cow,” I muttered under my breath. 

“What was that?” she fairly shouted.

“Nothing!  I’m going!  I’m doing what you said!”

“I certainly hope you are doing so without any sass!  Do you hear me?  Do you understand the words I am saying to you?”

“Yes…I hear you, “ I practically moaned.

“That girl,” I heard her say to the mother, “I haven’t any idea where she comes up with this stuff.  She will be the death of me.  That child will be my very death…mark my words…”

I rolled my eyes.  Oh geez.  For Heaven’s sake.  What an exaggeration.  It wasn’t THAT big of a deal.  I began hiking up the roof-line toward the chimney when I spotted my older brother sitting on the steepled top of the roof, his hand over his mouth silently laughing.  
“What were you doing?”

“Nothing!  You mind your own bees wax!”  

There was no way he would understand.  The only thing HE ever read were “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.  If you didn’t like one ending, you could just read it again and choose another.  How ridiculous.  What if Old Yeller had been a “choose your own adventure”?  Or The Yearling?  It was a cop out.  It was the tender heartbreak that so utterly fused one’s heart to a character.  It was that heartbreak that had me thinking with longing of Old Yeller with every passing yellow lab.  Or, that would, more than a dozen years in the future, stop my breath and bring tears to my eyes as I watched a yearling fawn dance with wild abandon across a mountain meadow.  Choose your own Adventure.  Psh.  Absurd.
“How did you even get up here?” I asked.

“The ladder.  I put it up by the wood stack where Mom wouldn’t see it.”

I raised my nose in disdain.  

The ladder? 

Where was the poetry in that?  

I headed to the chimney.
“What are you doing?  Why don’t you just take the ladder?”

“You wouldn’t understand!”  I shouted and stomped away in indignation.

So, you see? 
My reading of Mary Poppins practically killed me
. 
Heck, it practically killed my mother.  

To date, I don’t know of a single person who has masturbated to death.  

So, the lesson seems clear:

We should ban Marry Poppins.

No?  

Seems ridiculous does it?

Huh.

Fancy that.