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You heard me, Good Girl!  We, the good girls of the nation, must band together with greenish locks of striking tresses!

Green, blue, pink, whatever, so long as it does not come “natural”.  And I will tell you why.  I was raised to be extremely judgmental.  I was raised to see only a very narrow path of “Okay”.  In fact, I almost never invited my friends home because then I would have not been allowed to enjoy their raucous funness; I would have been forced to frown upon their giggles.

My second boyfriend, I actually gave him a list of topics that were okay to talk about, and had to explain to him in no uncertain terms that, really, it would be better if he didn’t say anything at all.  Because anything he did or said or breathed or smiled would reflect (poorly) on me.

I almost always went over to my friends’ houses to play, even when I was very young.  There was  different vibe there.

Not to say that my folks are tyrants.  But narrow?  Yeah.  Last year my papa actually said, “Gee, I don’t know what I would have done if you girls had turned out like your cousin; I know I couldn’t have handled it if you hadn’t been good.”  My cousin, by the way, is a misguided fool and only had a couple of kids out of wedlock.  And, if the Fool reads this, all I have to say is, Dude, if you ever brag about drinking and driving around me again, I will be forced to kill you myself to save the rest of the world.

My hair currently has emerald streaks.  My favorite was moat monster green.  I don’t use permanent dye, mostly because I tried it, and it didn’t work.  My hair hates things like perms and dye.  But I can, and do, stain it with Kool-Aid.

And you would think that after three years, my mother wouldn’t freak every time she sees a change in tinting.

I even offered to let her choose a color.

When I was younger, I freaked out about this sort of thing myself.  I was well-trained for most of my life.  A friend got a tattoo?  Gasp!  Dyed their hair blonde?  Horrors!  Wore something other than jeans and a t-shirt?  You’re just asking for awful things to happen to you!

Right before I graduated college, I bought a poodle skirt.  I don’t know why.  And I wore it.  Not on Halloween.  I was HORRIFIED.  I was terrified.  I really was.  And you know what?  That was the first day I actually felt like myself.

In elementary school, I loved dresses.  I always wore shorts under them because I was obsessed with hanging upside down on the monkey bars, but I loved dresses.  I played football in dresses.  And I was constantly lectured by my mother that, “No one wears dresses; you need to wear jeans!”  Once I finally outgrew those dresses, she wouldn’t buy me more.  She bought me jeans.  And by junior high, I found the joy (??) of blending into the background.  It was a new school with really bitchy cliques of army brats, so honestly, this was the safest thing to do.  I came up with reasons why a good girl would always wear jeans, never wasting money on “in” clothes, never trying to look “pretty” (’cause in junior high that was the equivalent of being a slut).  I helped them brainwash me into this until by high school, I was Grunge, with the army boots and the oversized t-shirts and the flannel shirts.  I was rebelling against Donna Reed and Marilyn Monroe forty years too late.

So why would wearing a poodle skirt snap me back out of this self-brainwashing?  It was a costume.  And apparently, that’s how I dress myself best.  I wear costumes that make me feel like me.  And honestly, isn’t that what clothing is?  It is the outward trapping of your tribe.  My mother spent her entire adult life wearing business suits with shoulder pads, in order to get respect in a business run by men.  That was her costume.

I built up my “costume” wardrobe.  It’s gotten to the point where, if I wear jeans because it’s freezing out, it becomes a sign of the apocalypse to my co-workers.  Or, if the owner of our company writes a note demanding everyone “dress appropriately to work at the warehouse for Black Friday”, you know that I’m the only one she’s really writing that email to because everyone else dresses in jeans and t-shirts every day, which is Modern Man’s Costume.

But it’s when you dye your hair green that you really find out who people are.  I worked for a university when I started, and oddly, no one had any problem with the color of my hair.  Academic types are apparently rather open-minded.  My boss was the first one to suggest I dye it.  He wanted it blue.  Which may or may not have been creepy (the jury is very wishy-washy on this).  My hair doesn’t do blue; there’s too much blonde and cherry blonde that turns blue into green.  The people who did have problems were all at least somewhat obsessed with conformity, and each of them goes out of their way daily to present a certain Face to the world, they spend a lot on hairstylists, they “do” their nails.  All of these alterations of appearance, including face painting, are okay.  They are culturally sanctioned.

It’s this sort of revelation that I want everyone to experience.  Dye your hair green, people!  Dye it, and free yourself!  Are you Really the invisible person hiding in jeans and a baggy t-shirt?  Or is there someone else inside of you who has just been too scared not to try desperately to fit in?

I know that a big part of this is Where I live.  The Heartland is the Heart of Conformity.  People aren’t celebrated for being different or thinking up new ideas here.

In fact, a couple weeks ago, I read a parenting article in an actual newspaper by a supposedly respected expert that ordered parents to never, ever let their children/teens dress down.  Choosing how they dress, to this expert, is a sign of disrespect if it does not conform to the standards of the suburban society around the family.  In fact, if parents are lax in dress code, that is the first slippery slope to degeneracy, in-fighting, and disrespect.  How dare a teenager dress like their peers?  Teens should dress as their parents want them to.

The writer’s proof is that, supposedly, there are no delinquents in third world countries, and that, until a century ago, there was no such thing a malcontent among teens.  (Forgetting, of course, that in many of those third world countries–in South America, Africa, Asia, etc–gangs are groups of militia with child soldiers.  Additionally, it’s only been in the last hundred years that child labor laws and laws about mandatory schooling have prolonged “childhood” itself and pushed far back the age when children/teens are allowed to become contributing members of society.  There really is nothing to compare.)

And me with my freshly emerald hair, me, a fully respectable grown-up who looks back on all the hiding and shame of my younger years when I was forced to never express my own self, I just stared at the newsprint, flabbergasted.  Because when I look back at my childhood/teenage friends, especially the ones who did something with their lives, they were the ones who chose their own clothes, and maybe it was Ska style with a wallet chain and a newsboys cap before that was stereotyped, but these were the kids who grew up to be the most successful.  And yes, each of them probably has one tattoo, or more.  And the friends who most upheld the Facade of Decency, who paid lip service to the grown-ups, who played the part, well, they were the ones who chickened out on following their dreams or who got arrested for embezzlement at age 18.

I grew up with only two distinctions.  Things were either Good or Bad.  Every book I read, my mother would stop me and demand to know if it was Bad.  Not because she wanted to have a conversation and find out if the book was any good, no, her question was always, “Is that BAD?”  Because she knew I was honest enough to tell her, and then she could confiscate it.  At which point, was the book actually BAD, or was I just worried that it wouldn’t meet her high standards?  People fell into these same categories.  I was expected to judge them with high standards, and avoid being friends with BAD children.

But now that my hair is emerald green… and I myself am BAD… it’s very freeing.

night,

dawn

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When you’re obsessed with your progeny, you do amazing things.  Woman lifts car off toddler!

When you’re obsessed with your progeny, you do stupid things.  Mother Twitters hateful messages to child’s classmates!

But having children is the Number One symbol that you have succeeded in being a human being.  (Though there is no test, an often there is much alcohol and memory loss involved in the process.)  And attacking a child who pushes your kid down on the playground and gouging out said child’s eyes?  That’s seen as cute, forgivable, a little overprotective–but wouldn’t every good parent do that?

I get asked to engage in the production of (illegitimate) children All The Time–and not by men soliciting sex, but by family members who are desperate to prove that I’m a “Good Kid”.

Desperation drives you to do silly things.  Check out “A Deterrent” published by Hobo Pancakes, available here: http://www.hobopancakes.com/tag/dawn-wilson/

night,

dawn

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The mystery of the Mango Creme continued, using big burly warehouse men as guinea pigs. Men (manly men) eat anything, right? Raw cattle, sharks, harmless looking cookies of indiscriminate flavoring…

Men. Running. Taken down in the prime of life by harmless cookies!

Poor cookies. They were invented to bring joy. Instead, they brought tears.

Bad cookie, naughty cookie.

One man sidled up to Poppo and surreptitiously asked, “Could I take one with me? My girlfriend just has to try this.”

We have one cookie in orbit. We have nearly a full box of cookies spread over a warehouse full of men who turned their petite noses up and begged not to be given a second helping.

So then, how did these cookies go into national production? One man actually enjoyed them, and this one man ate three or four of these mysteriously flavored cookie shaped food items. And it is this one man who holds the key to why these cookies did not die in the laboratory: he’s the boss.

night,
dawn

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It was a tough cookie to follow.  It was a tough cookie to describe.  It was just a plain tough cookie. 

In order not to incriminate the makers of this cookie, all I’ll say is that the flavor is Mango Creme. 

Me: “Ooh!  A new cookie?  How exciting!  Let me try it!”

Mumsy Dearest allowed me to taste-test the new cookie, Mr. Mango Creme.  Daughters are congenial guinea pigs. 

I sniffed it, as any good connoisseur would do. 

What a confusing cookie.

I bit it.

That didn’t help.  I was still confused by the nature of this cookie.

I let Mumsy Dearest smell my cookie.  Please, smell my cookie.  Explain it to me.  She sniffed.  She thought it over.  She thought hard.  She let me finish eating my cookie.  And then she said, “It reminds me of my suntan lotion.”

I’m a Coppertone girl, usually, so I didn’t agree right away.  Besides, what an awkward assessment.  A cookie tasting like suntan lotion smells?  That must be a put-down.  Yes? 

We separated, Mumsy Dearest taking away the confusing cookies, and I taking my traditional cookies.

After dinner two days later.  (As a family, we’re not known for our obsession with dessert.  So yes, it is conceivable that two days could pass before an open box of cookies is tested.)

Mumsy Dearest called me.  “I couldn’t finish it.”

“You couldn’t finish what?”

“Guess.”  She’s laughing and she has the bright voice of gloat and glee mixed with hilarity. 

I guessed several random things, all foodstuffs, but never hit on the topic of conversation: the mystery cookie.  Once the subject had been established, we turned into the realm of scientific discovery.  She posited that this was not a pleasant cookie.  I re-instated my view that it was the weirdest taste ever.  We needed a third, impartial party.  Poppo.  Mumsy Dearest held that the cookie still reminded her of her suntan lotion and she could not eat what she lathered on her skin.  She passed the phone to Poppo and asked him to tell me what he thought of said cookie.

“Well… the taste begins before you bite it.  It really smelled strongly.  Coconut.  You can taste the smell.  But then you bite it… and… I wasn’t sure if I liked it or if I hated it.  Your mother gave me two cookies.  I ate the one.  I bit it then smelled it then bit it.  I just couldn’t decide.  I might hate it.  Your mother was going to throw the cookies away, but she decided I should take them to work tomorrow and see if the warehouse guys will eat them or not. 

“I still have my second cookie sitting here.  I decided to hold off… but let me try it again.” 

While my father sniffed and bit and sniffed again, Mumsy Dearest went through the cupboards until she found last summer’s Tropicana suntan lotion. 

Poppo: “Yeah, I just don’t get it.  I’ll sleep on it.”

Mumsy Dearest: “It smells just like this.  It’s the same smell.  I wonder why no one noticed?  How could they go into national production without someone noticing?”

Poppo: “Hmm.  Yeah… it doesn’t smell like the suntan lotion right off the bat, but the second sniff.  Yes.  That’s definitely the same base as the cookie.  Yes.  Definitely.  I wonder if it tastes the same?”  Smacking lips.  “Yep.  That tastes just like the cookies.” 

I will be selling my mother to any cookie companies who need someone to say: No, don’t do that.

night,

dawn

PS: Poppo didn’t actually taste the suntan lotion.  But over the phone, it’s more brilliant to pretend you did.

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Bad Karma

I’m in two places at once and the heat doesn’t work in either one.  Clanking and grinding here, until the pump on the boiler went out, mini-explosions there, following a “thorough” cleaning (ordered by the warranty people).  Which will freeze first?  Pipe broken there, mice in the garage, dead outside, in a pile, waiting to be fileted and barbecued as a delicacy of this recession.  They’d moved into the oh-so-nice bedding, the pretty colored mulches meant to make the place spiffy.  Ah, spiff, can a mouse-mouse resist?  Guess not.

Does bad karma put loved ones in the hospital, three days for an outpatient procedure?  All because I had ill-will and wished to curse someone who deserves… okay, what she really NEEDS is to learn that her actions hurt other people, the world doesn’t revolve around her, and some people do indeed have class in the morning, are trying to work toward their degrees, don’t like it when naked men wander into their room in the middle of the night, misplacing the wh*&^e they came home with, or maybe seeking more for their money (who bought the booze?).  I will NEVER admit that I found even one iota to be funny (ha ha), to her.  Because she’s warped.  And that’s where the ill will stems from.  From no sleep.  From fear of being ravished against my will.  From feeling unsafe walking through my own house (yes, mate, I know it’s MY house, too, but y’all go out of your way to make others feel unwelcome, hardy-har-har). 

And thus the circle of trust is broken once again, thankfully, this end of the circle had never actually closed. 

Three days without sleep.  Thinking of becoming Sicillian (never go up against a Sicillian when death is on the line!) so I can use an evil eye.  But I like my eyes, so why sould I make myself evil?

Third day without heat and hot water here.  Getting used to doing things the old-fashioned way, boiling hot water to do dishes.  Can’t imagine being able to boil enough to take a bath, not in our tiny tea kettle. 

Don’t tell someone who has lost three days of sleep for you already this week to get up and do your bidding.  You make me think bad thoughts, which only snowballs my bad karma.  The last mouse is probably pregnant. 

Please give me one good reason I should care, should bow and scrape to your selfish nature, should help you out at all, should LIKE you, should think that if I were to walk away and never ever see your face again or hear of your fate that I wouldn’t even remember you tomorrow, and wish I had?  Because I should think your lifestyle is funny, oh so dramatic, because you turn yourself into a clown for my benefit?  And yet, you hate your own life, whine, whine over everything.  Like yourself first, respect yourself, respect others, and then.  Maybe.  We’ll talk.

night,

dawn

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I must brush up on my French.  We’ve been perusing a bit of Pat and Stanley, a French cartoon, which is tres hilareux.  My French is a bit… how you say… rusty.  Malheureux!  Je suis tres desole, mais je suis oublieux.  Pouvre Madame Tentinger!  Elle serait triste si elle connais ma memoire mauvaise.  Boo hoo, boo hoo. 

Once upon a time at work, this French doctor lost her wallet in the parking lot, and one of our kind and sensitive students brought it to us.  We tracked her down and called.  “Hello, is this…–?  Well, you’ve lost your wallet.”  Click.  She hung up!  So we called back.  “Ma’am, you’ve lost your wallet. It has your ID and your medical license.”  “Non, non, au revoir.”  Click.  And my co-worker said unto me, “She keeps hanging up and speaking French, and I don’t know French.”

So I found her temporary e-mail address for while she was practicing medicine here, and I e-mailed her in my pouvre Francais, in a very cheesy manner… And I laughed and laughed as I muddled through what I wanted to say.  Then I wrote it out in English, too, in case she could read the language she couldn’t speak.  It took nearly an hour to polish my brilliant message, but the next day, lo and behold, she showed!  And took her wallet.  And disappeared. 

But I like language, so I thoroughly enjoyed writing to her. 

I’m afraid that when it came down to reading the marriage licenses and death certificates and obituaries we found for my great-grand’s, or great-greats…. that I was less help.  Czech, or Bohemian, because they actually came from Bohemia, rather than Czechoslovakia, is very much unlike English/Latin/French!  Perhaps if I had taken German… but I found last summer than many English words have German roots.  But if I ever want to go to Prague, I will need to try to figure out Czech… too bad we don’t know for sure if we have any relatives still there. Some of my great-great’s sisters didn’t come over, mostly the brothers, so we know there are still relatives there, we just don’t know who… and as we tried to figure out who our immediate cousins were, I cannot pronounce any of their names!  Great aunt Anne Zaloudek (pronounced with a J) and then there are the Nachasels… or however one writes that (No-ko-zell)… three women named Lillian, three Franks, six Johns, a couple James’, two Emmas, two Bessies… These people really needed to be more creative with their names.  Frank married Bessie, and their first two children, they named–of course–Frank and Bessie.  (Thankfully Bessie didn’t marry a Frank, or I’d have run screaming from the house in Clutier, into the snow big as sheep, and never returned.)

night,

dawn

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Friday started poorly.  It started Thursday.  Sickness is never a good way to start the only day a week I get off of work.  Why oh why do I work six days a week?  It’s starting to really get to me.  No time to myself.  And that’s only compounded when the single day off is commandeered…

I don’t plan to marry or have children.  Marry, maybe.  Children, I can’t.  I can’t take care of my family that I do have, so how can I take care of children?  I don’t have time, or energy, unless I foresake everything I’ve worked toward and just give everything to my children.  I found that out when Hannah was a kid.  I was just her play toy.  She wanted to read; we read!  But under the ideal circumstances, I wouldn’t mind marrying.  As long as I had time, and could go places, and have my own interests.  I could never define myself by a husband.  And I wouldn’t want him to do so, either.  He couldn’t just sit at home and wait for me to come back.  (I say that like I’m outgoing… and there is something in me that is… that was suppressed… because I used to be… and then someone told me… and I believed them… because I’m stupid that way…) 

I’m not meant to take care of my family.  I have that responsibility gene.  I have that guilt trip.  I love my family.  I want to be there for them. 

But I can’t give myself up.  I haven’t even been myself yet, so how can I subvert myself, and just take care of someone else?  How could women do that way back when, when they married right away, the age of sixteen or so, and just take care of another?  Of course, those were different circumstances. 

Friday my grandpa was in the hospital.  I’m Grandpa’s girl, so I was more than willing to take care of things.  My parents were in North Carolina.  He had a possible kidney stone.  Thankfully not heart related.  I voted to say nothing to my parents.  We spread the word to the family around here.  And Friday I was the one to take Grandma to the hospital, then take her to dinner, then take them home.  Lost the day. 

I have problems when I lose my Friday.  It’s my only day that’s mine to do with as I please.  Every other day is spoken for. 

The little old lady in the parking lot said rude things and made awful gestures at me in the rearview mirror.  I didn’t get anything done, and I’d so been looking forward to it, my first Friday without a roomie.  My first Friday all summer.  Summer gone, whispered along, and whisked itself out the door.  I came to on the first day of autumn to find summer gone, find a friend gone, and I said, I gotta do something for myself, I gotta get back to that darn novel! 

But at least I got to talk to my cousin about some serious things that have been on my mind.  Student loans, as I’ve never had any.  Scholarships.  Subletting.  Oh, such important things.  Before I turn bitter at the roots.

night,

dawn

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