home is where my heart is

My childhood home, the second entry in a series of posts about all of the places I’ve called “home.” The first can be found here:
https://amarieostley.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/roots/

From the age of 2 until I moved out on my own I lived in Ramsey, Minnesota. My mother still lives there today, though the house looks nothing like it did when we moved in save for the horribly pink carpet in my childhood bedroom.
Originally the house had flowery wallpaper that took ages to remove, yellowing linoleum, shag carpet, wood paneling on the walls, and avocado green. Avocado green everywhere. I’m not kidding you, the appliances, counter tops, and even some walls were green.
Now, it has beautiful wood floors, stone tile, granite counter tops, and with an entire addition, it is twice the size it was before. I feel as if my entire life took place in that house. That house is filled with some of the happiest memories of my life and some of the worst memories of my life.
My very first memory is in that house, wearing princess dresses in the basement while my father’s band practiced until all hours of the night. My parents liked to entertain and I had lots of friends come and go back then. There were a few good years before it all blew up and my father lured us away to break in and steal all of our things. He cut the phone lines and threatened to murder us all, he hid marijuana plants above our garage, and was in and out of jail all before I was six. Eventually my mom got out of that marriage, and there was calm for a while.
My brother and I climbed every tree in the backyard, and I remember rolling down the back hill in a barrel until we couldn’t see straight anymore. We fought, we played, we rode our bikes to every corner of the neighborhood and never came inside before dark. When I was ten, my mom re-married and I got two new brothers. We added on to the house to accommodate all those people and I helped pour the concrete for the driveway, re-shingle the roof, and we all put our hand prints beneath the garage. If you crawl under the floor there through a trapdoor you can still see them.
I can’t even begin to cover everything that happened in that house in the 16 years I lived there. It was my entire young lifetime. I scratched the initials of the boy who gave me my first kiss into the baseboard of my bedroom, I climbed out my window countless times to smoke cigarettes behind the shed, and I blared Harry James records while burning incense late into the majority of my teenage nights.
My stepfather overdosed twice in that house, and twice I watched the ambulance lights flashing away down the street. My mom eventually got out of that marriage as well.
When we were remodeling the upstairs bathroom we found a letter beneath the floor. It was a love letter from Mrs. Cro to Mr. Vel. Vel-cro. It seemed as if they had been having an affair and who knows how long that letter had been there beneath the floor, possibly undelivered. I begged my mother to let me keep the letter but she threw it away, saying that if it was an affair it was better to destroy it anyhow. It made me think of all the people who had lived there before and what their stories might have been. I imagined Mrs. Cro standing over the sink, crying her tears of unrequited love into the dirty dishwater.
I moved out of that house when I was 18 and on my way to college to start my adult life. My mother lives there, in that enormous house, alone. She rents out rooms to girls who need a place to stay, and has two dogs to keep her company. She has a boyfriend now, who I believe is her soul mate, and I am so happy that she has finally found her happiness. I visit there on holidays or just to drop in and say hi, and I stand in my old bedroom where the only thing that remains is the wallpaper with palm trees and the tree I painted on the back of the door. I can almost feel my teenage self there, my “the-whole-world-is-against-me” attitude and those big feelings you only have in those years.
My mother has plans now to sell it, to start over, and finally be rid of all of those memories that permeate the walls there. Even if she does, I believe a part of me will always live there, and maybe, a part of me will always be blaring Harry James and sneaking out windows, trying to find my place in the world.

Christmas Photos

Nothing makes me happier than Christmas lights, and since I am a semi-not-really-professional photographer, incorporating Christmas lights into my photos is just the best.
I bought myself an early Christmas present this year: a tripod and a remote shutter release. How have I survived without these two things??? The shutter remote is the size of my thumb and easily hidden. This is the ULTIMATE selfie tool, and the means by which I will be getting a Christmas photo of my husband and myself this year.
Also a tripod, somehow in almost ten years of photography I have never once used one. I have, on many occasions, wished and wished that I had one. $20 later here one is! So simple! I, of course, had to try these two items out the very moment the postman brought them to my door.

Here’s the results!! (And a few photos of my dogs I took last week. Aren’t they just the best looking creatures you’ve ever seen?
me-christmas

puppies

Me2

Roots

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I am a list writer. I write to-do lists, grocery lists, wish lists. There is a list of the bills that are due this month on the side of my refrigerator that will be replaced with a new list next month. I take great satisfaction in throwing away that list each month with every bill checked off.
Lists, however, are not just for checking things off of. They help me organize my thinking and give me a clear point of focus. I often write in the form of lists because I am incredibly bad at transitions. A list allows me to go straight from one thought to number 2. A clean break, while still having some semblance of a connection.

I began this post with the intent of listing the different homes I have lived in, and have already been derailed. Each place I have lived has held such significance for me and in the path my life has gone down that one single paragraph for each just feels like cheating. So. I will break each one into a separate post, to linger in the memories a while.

The first home I ever lived in is one I don’t remember. I’ve had conversations with many people about first memories, and the age at which we begin to hold on to information varies. For me, it at least was not in the first two years of my life.
I was born in Conroe, Texas, and lived there with my mother and father for the first year and a half after I was born. I have not a single memory of this time but I’m told that it was filled with hanging moss, fire ants, boats, and a backyard pool that was never used.
My mother had me when she was 27 years old, halfway across the country from her entire family with just her new husband and his dysfunctional family. She must have been incredibly scared and lonely, as my father’s family was full of (short-lived and I’ll spent) wealth, second and third wives, suicide, gambling, substance abuse, and addiction.
My mother is made of strong stuff, but that is an entirely different story.

The only house I do remember in Texas was my father’s parents house where we spent the Christmases of my early years. I was small and that house seemed an endless maze. I don’t recall ever finding all of the rooms, and there were closets that led to other, secret rooms.
Since I never actually lived in this house, I’m getting off topic. I have seen pictures of our Conroe house and have heard stories of how my father’s cat Milkdud pissed on all the awful shag carpets and my mother hated him (the cat, I think). I’m told I sat on a fire-ant hill in the backyard and was covered in their bites, but they didn’t do any permanent damage. It was a time of heat and turmoil.

We moved to Minnesota where my brother was born just 18 months after me. I came into a world of humidity and Spanish moss and my brother came into a world of snow and bitter winds. I’ve always wondered if that’s the reason why we turned out to be so different. Had I been born in a milder climate, would I still feel each extreme so substantially? Perhaps.

Part of me thinks I was never truly meant to be in the cold. Like a tropical bird, a stark contrast to all this white.

‘snot funny

Death has come for me, I am sure of it.

There is a chance that karma decided me saying my life is boring was too good an opportunity to pass up. Here’s some back story:
I have been lying in bed since Saturday, buried in a mountain of tissues and extra pillows, sweating through three sets of clothes a day due to my 103 degree fever. I have watched most of the tv show ‘Blacklist’ on Netflix, or at least bits and pieces of it in between codeine cough syrup-induced sleep. Here is what I have learned: James Spader is secretly a good guy, the husband may or may not be involved in shady business, and the blonde one has a voice I am more than happy to fall asleep listening to.

Today I braved the world outside of my bedroom and dragged myself into work for a few hours, only to give up and crawl back into my bed cave of sickness.
So far I have had headaches (the kind that won’t even let you open your eyes for too long), body aches, chills, high fever, a cough that makes me fear pneumonia is setting in, and congestion. Upon returning home from work this germy little monster decided to mutate.

I was standing by the microwave waiting for my chicken soup to heat, wrapped in a fuzzy white blanket, minding my own business (or maybe not minding it as well as I should have been) when out of nowhere – get ready, this is good stuff –
I. shit. my. own. pants.
Not since I don’t know, diapers? has this happened to me. You would think that I would have had some sort of warning: stomach rumbles, nausea, the urge to flatulate?
Nothing, body?! Ok then.

I have now been forced to do laundry, which is probably a good thing considering the nasty, sickness-spreading little creatures who have surely made their home in my bedsheets and blankets. I have reduced my chicken soup diet to only water and sprite and may in fact lose another 5 lbs on top of the 10 I’ve managed to get rid of since the weekend. I have also not had a cigarette since Friday (5 days) and am using this godawful plague to kickstart my plan to quit. Cold turkey is much easier when you physically cannot go outside to smoke one.
The flu has reduced me to a pale, makeup-less, mucus-y lump with no control over my bodily functions. But hey,

Shit happens.

P.S. If I do die from this, someone please make that my epitaph.

Excuses – forgive me.

This entry is an apology. (To my few yet treasured readers, to my stale-brained self, and to this poor, neglected blog that of course has feelings that have been hurt by my insensitivity.)

I have a very long list of excuses as to why I have not been writing, some of them acceptable while others a second grader would not even try to fool a teacher with. I will let you be the judge of whether or not I had justifiable grounds for my extended absence.

1. Long have I had the problem of creativity in “cycles.” These cycles are not predictable and have no care for my need to create. I will put my pen to paper, fingertips to keys, quill to parchment or what have you, only to find that my brain has hung its ‘Gone Fishing’ sign on the doorknob. Sometimes these fishing excursions last a day, sometimes months. Perhaps once we catch our Moby Dick there will be no more need for these trips.
a. There is a chance my brain is onto something as, in the very book itself (Moby Dick that is) Herman Melville shared this bit of wisdom: “Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.”
b. I will soon be learning to fish. If nothing else I will sit in a boat, rod in hand, pretending to know what I’m doing as with everything else in my life.

2. My subconscious is my own worst enemy. It amazes me that my psyche wants me to believe that I am the greatest, most beautiful thing to ever walk this earth. At the same time it tells me how horrible, ugly, and completely ordinary I truly am and that all endeavors to be otherwise are futile. My inner voice tells me that I should be witty at all times (which automatically implies that I will always know what to say, every time). It tells me that I should also be intelligent and have some sort of input on any topic that may be thrown my way (but take care not to be too opinionated, we might offend someone). It tells me that writing should come easy and I should always have some great revelation to share (which means I must be wise enough to discern these lessons even from activities as mundane as pulling my trash can to the end of the driveway.)
a. My subconscious tells me all of these things that I should be, and then tells me that I am exactly none of them.
b. Salty foods are quite effective at making that voice in my head shut the hell up.

3. I have been reading books – so many books! Books are my drug of choice. The majority of substance abusers get to that place because of a desire to escape whatever reality they are currently in that is causing them some form of pain. I’m not saying my reality is painful or bad in any way, but books “literally” take me to another world (See, I can be clever). Reading is the opposite of writing. Instead of expelling words I am taking them in. Wouldn’t you think that with all those excess words floating around up there that some might happen to spill out? I am still testing this theory and will let you in on the results later. In any case, here are a few I recommend:
a. The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb and then the Tawny Man Trilogy by the same author. Yes, all six books. I have read them twice and the series is exquisite. She is in the process of writing the third trilogy and I could not be more excited that this story is not over.
b. See letter a.

4. My life is, in fact, quite boring. I am not a mother and have no “hilarious things my child said today” stories. I can tell you that my dog knocked over the garbage can, ate some old lunch meat, and then shat that old lunch meat onto the living room floor while I was at work. This story only makes me feel sad and the only lesson learned here is that the garbage can now needs to be locked up. I am not a world traveler and have no stories of all the beautiful places in the world. I can tell you that I’d someday like to visit the Blue Grotto in Capri and watch the water light up beneath me.
a. My work 5 days a week, happily married, housewife, Midwestern life is hardly riveting blog material.
b. Perhaps I should take up writing fiction.