Friday, August 30, 2013

I Miss the Queen of Eagle River

Do you ever meet people and long after they're gone, you're still telling stories about the times you shared with them?

And by gone, I don't mean some lofty way of saying "dead" or "deceased," really, I just mean that the friendship dropped off the face of the planet for no real reason and now, for the life of you, you couldn't possibly imagine where they are on the planet?

Well, to me, that's Lisa.

This story isn't so much about me, but about us. But to understand us, you probably should understand who "me" was back then.

Picture it, Eagle River, Alaska, 2007...a gorgeous summer season... (I *heart* Sophia Patrillo, folks).

I was a single mom renting a tiny, tiny apartment for about $750 a month when I was bringing home about $1200 a month. Phew! Tight finances, right?

Boy Wonder and I were broke, but we had a tiny apartment decked out in citrus colors and he had a bunk bed with a slide that he used to fall off constantly.

My upstairs neighbor was a girl named Lisa. A couple years younger than me, with two kids of her own. She was outgoing (maybe a little louder than me, but I can dig it), athletic, and up for just about anything. She'd lived in Eagle River since the first grade and she managed to know everybody, young and old, in the entire town.

We were both complicatedly single that summer, and that my friends, is where this friendship gets funny. Lisa came out with me a few times and disappeared with an acquaintance I knew or a friend from MMA or jiu jitsu. When I would see the guy then next day, he'd have all manner of bruises on his arms and his face and when I asked what happened, he'd just sort of look bewildered and a little confused and never speak of it again.

She was intense and the "Mi Vida Loca" tattoo on her right bicep obviously wasn't there just for appearances.

On the weekends we didn't have our kids (we managed to get them to correspond most weeks), we always made some sort of plan for Saturday night. Since we were both on the financial struggle, it usually meant an enchanting evening at the Homestead  Lounge. An establishment lovingly referred to as "Homewreckers" by locals, and one that was attached to the planet's noisiest bowling alley, bingo parlor, and laundromat all in one.

Social center of small town Alaska, folks. (I loved this place.)

Nights with Lisa were never boring. She liked to drink whatever she could afford or whatever people would buy her. It ranged from Bud Lights to Kamikaze with all manner of well liquor that the bartender, some pervy dude with a Duck Dynasty bushy beard and who managed to greet her with a full-on mouth kiss every time she went in for a hug, threw in the glass. I wouldn't be surprised if the guy slipped her a roofie or two in there the way he pawed on Lisa.

Lisa danced to her own DJ most of the time and if the four foot-by six foot laminate wood dance floor was empty and some sort of Beastie Boys song came on, she was dragging me off the vinyl bar stool out on the floor.

But see, I have this rule.

I don't dance in plain sight. Ever. I don't dance with less than ten people to camouflage me and I sure as hell don't dance with a single other female. One who's flipping off the DJ randomly and inventing her own twerk-like, one legged jig.


That was Lisa. She'd finish the whole damn song by herself and only stop well into the next song when she was thirsty. And she was  mean drunk sometimes. Mean, but funny.

I had my days in the past when I'd have too much and get sorta angsty and either I'd cry like an idiot or I'd see some girl I had made up drama with and pretend to want to start a fight.

All hogwash, mind you. But that was me in my early 20s. I never said it was pretty.

But Lisa, man, she was something special...

She spent most of one evening leaning into some scraggly fella she knew a long time ago. She asked about his girlfriend while draping her arm around him and coaxing him into buying her another beer. These guys almost always had friends.

 Single friends.

Single, ugly friends with zero conversation skills and bad breath.

Some nights were longer than others when you were Lisa's wingman.

So at the end of the night, the guy is hardly able to stand on two feet and when he slides his hand down and gets a big ol' grab on Lisa's behind, all hell breaks loose.

When I say, I used to like to try and start fights, I really mean that I used to talk a little trash under my breath about some girl I didn't like.

When I say Lisa liked to start fights, I mean she'd take a big nasty swing, mostly at guys, and had to be dragged out of the bar kicking and screaming and usually with a fistful of the poor man's hair still in her hands.

I'd scramble and find our coats and her purse and dig her cellphone out of the bathroom toilet where she left it and find her outside smoking a cigarette, wondering where we were going next.


My favorite story with Lisa is one I still tell.

She showed up Sunday morning in my apartment looking a little ragged. Our kids weren't with us and she'd disappeared the night before with a guy she was seeing on and off. He lived behind us and was the sort of damaged individual that only a messed-up tour in the middle east can produce. Bottom line, he wasn't looking for his happily ever after like Lisa was.

She tended to get amped up emotionally when he was around and crazy stuff happened. That's why I usually home by midnight on those nights.

Anyway, she makes herself a cup of coffee and collapses on my couch. She's got on the tanktop she had on the night before, a pair of men's boxer shorts, and one tennis shoe.

"Where are the rest of your clothes?" I asked. She had a particular attachment to the jeans she'd been wearing the night before. They had a skull and crossbones bedazzled on the back pocket.

She shrugged. "Paul's probably."

"Don't you want to go get them?"

She sat up and looked at herself.

"I don't think we're speaking right now. Or we won't be when he wakes up."

Lisa took a long sip of the straight black, no sugar, no creamer coffee and laughed when I asked her why.

"We got in a fight and I peed in his closet."

It took a couple explanations until I understood that she hadn't mistaken his closet for the toilet. She'd actually gotten upset at the man for flirting with his ex and urinated all over his dirty clothes pile, work boots and whatever stack of dirty magazines he kept stashed there.

In a fit of rage, she'd unbuckled her jeans, popped a squat, and pissed on the man's belongings while he lay passed out in his bed.  To make it an even better story, she scratched out a note to him telling him what she'd done and why she did it.

She was my hero in many ways.

She moved not long after that summer and after hearing about an unfortunate DUI she got, friends saw her working at a doctor's office and going to night school. I never could track her down or find her online, and I think about her now and then.

Oh, and in case you were wondering?

She and Paul never reconciled.

 photo signature_zps3807abdd.jpg

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I was really tempted to name this post "Beginnings and Endings" but, honestly, I don't have any endings loaded in the hopper around, well, yeah.

Boo started school this week alongside his big brother. It's only part day, but he's adjusting well after four and a half years of being home with one of us. I think I had a much harder time than he did. I'm not ashamed to admit there was a tear or 30 as I was packing up the boys' backpacks on Sunday night.

I had such a great summer with all four kids that I just wasn't ready for it to end. I'm not so great at change, it seems.

Boy Wonder is all hunkered down in fourth grade and came home with a math homework sheet all FULL of division. "Ha," I say. Looks like Dad is going to be on duty after the first couple of weeks. I avoid that stuff with all my might.

The girls and I have a few hours at the house and we really just sort of stare at the walls and talk about what the boys are doing. No. That's not true. Mostly we do what we normally do, just minus the fighting over train tracks and hot wheels. Boo comes home, the girls take a nap. Not a ton has changed, and yet so much has.

Watching him get on the bus about blew me away on Tuesday. I walked away and marveled at how much faith we have to put in other people to watch over our children from the moment we say goodbye in the morning until the moment we can smother them with hugs and homework when school lets out. A little mind boggling.

I made a few more designs for the Etsy shop. I can't get over how popular hedgehogs still are. They are so much fun. I gave special nod to my fellow bloggers, too.

 photo signature_zps3807abdd.jpg

Friday, August 23, 2013

Stuff of Life: Love the place you live

I'm not the biggest fan of apartment living, mostly because I'm not the biggest fan of people. Living in rabbit hutches so close to people. People stomping around above our heads. People parking too close to our trucks. People letting their dogs do their business outside our window during breakfast.

I dream ALL DAY about getting out of here to the point that I sort of neglected our little abode, be it ever so humble. I didn't really decorate. I let plants wither in the heat. I had very little pride in living here because I just don't really want to live here.

Does that even make sense?

I watched the Hobbit with the kids this past week. On top of that, Gandalf got me thinking about a poster in my bestie's house back when we both lived in Alaska. I loved her house. It had dark woods and Baggins colors and all the comforts of a hobbit home. It made me miss her so bad that I had to watch the movie a second time and drink 32 cups of tea.

How many of you can claim you decided to love your house because of a fantasy movie and memories of days spent with your best friend? Never thought I could, either. But I sat dreaming about my farmhouse and my acreage (that I WILL have) and I began to think about decorating it. I've never dreamed about how I would decorate stuff. If it were up to me, I'd still have a Patrick Ewing poster stuck to my wall with pushpins.
I haz no style.

But I fell in love with the dark woods and earthy vibe of Bilbo Baggins' home (it is a hole, afterall). And I wanted a hobbit hole all of a sudden. So I spent three days pulling 13 bags of toys/clothes/trash from the house and dusted off those poor plants and brought them inside and pruned them, watered them, repotted them, and pulled out all the art and knick knacks I never bothered to unpack from Alaska and began rearranging this place.

I have a really long way to go, but I woke up today and I don't hate this place so much. Sure, I hate the concrete jungle full of ambivalent neighbors and serial lawn poopers, but I don't hate what's inside our walls. It's homey and warm (hot, actually, but that's Houston). It's not nearly as drab and lacking character.

It's a start, anyway.

 photo signature_zps3807abdd.jpg

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stuff of Life: Art and Vikings We Have Known

So, about a week ago, baby number Four (we call her Ninja), swallowed a penny. It was a nightmare and I'll relive it here another day. But not today.

Today, I just want to talk about my viking obsession and how all I seem to be able to do (creatively) is embroidery. I love it. It's freeing and loosey goosey and right up my alley. And soon I'm going to experiment combing what I doodle sketch with some mixed media sewing. But for now, I do a lot of doodle sketching. Here's a viking I finished this weekend based on an old housewares design that I revamped a tad.

From there, I created a couple of mugs based on those old designs. I know, I know....I swore off the Etsy shop after the Christmas insanity, but I missed it. And I missed making new designs.

Here are the two new fellas. You can find the listings to the Etsy shop here: Coffee Mug: Olaf the Viking of Love and Coffee Mug: Sven the Musical Viking.

The girls are growing. I mean, they're ALL growing, but the girls are growing in badness it seems. One is swallowing pennies and the other is dumping out all of the boys' new school supplies and making it rain shredded facial tissue in their room when no one is looking. Nightmare, folks.

The only way I get a moment of peace to stab my fingers with an embroidery needle is when I have them preoccupied. They like art lately. Along with that other stuff I said...

Have a great week!

  photo signature_zps3807abdd.jpg

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Dominic's Worgen Adventure

Dominic and I worked on a short story about a year ago...when he was still in the second grade. It was about our favorite game and we spent a few weeks working out characters he liked and coming up with drama for them. He used all the writers' tools...brainstorming, drafting, and daydreaming. In the move, we lost all the info we'd come up with. BUT, we finally found his notebook and he took his second grade story and looked at it and rewrote it with fourth grade eyes today. He even typed it up. He's pretty proud of it and, well, I am too...

The Worgen Adventures of Sasur Battlemane
                                        By Dominic.M.B

Sasur’s parents were taken by the Scourge. Ragnes the Cruel made slaves out of them for mining.

Sasur’s house is old and falling apart. He lives with his big sister Helen and little brother Vobur and they’re running out of food.

One morning, they decided to look for their parents in the Scourge kingdom. They traveled to the Undercity so Sasur and Vobur could seek their parents.

Suddenly, a pack of Worgens snatched Sasur and Vober into the woods.
Sasur was bitten by one and hje felt funny. Soon, he turned into a worgen.  Sasur was alone because the wolves still had his brother, Vober.

 Sasur finally made it to the city of Gilneas,  but it was dark and lonely. He missed his family. Sasur knew it was the work of the scourge and Prince Liam and the survivors stood ready at the front gate to take back their city. The prince gave Sasur a spell to heal the hurt and give them power.

They ran into the city and Vobur was fighting with the other worgens. The rebels came with canons and once the guards were down, Lady Silvanas Windrunner was fighting King Greymane, Liam’s father. Lady Silvanas ran away in fear and said “I’ll be back.”

Six months later the horde came back with orcs…and…
Blood Elves.
And the Undead.

And the warchief  Garrosh Hellscraem led them as they were launching plague barrels at the gates.  Gilneans fled from the city but Sasur stayed behind. He blew their battle ship up and the horde retreated back to Orgrimmar.

It was a good victory, but Sasur did not find his parents or his sister. He and Vober set out in search of Ragnes the Cruel…

To be continued…

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

And then, suddenly, it's August...

I swear I only blinked once. Maybe twice at most.

It's the first week of August already. Three summer birthdays have come and gone (Makenna turned 2, I celebrated the sixth anniversary of my 29th birthday, and Riley turned a whopping 1) and now we're thinking about school clothes, camouflage backpacks, and New Mexico green chiles.

Well, maybe I'm the only one thinking about New Mexico green chiles, but that's okay.

I meant to write more in July, but I just didn't. I can't exactly say that it was a great month. It wasn't a bad month, technically, but nothing really spectacular happened.

Do you think it's strange that I walk through most of my life expecting spectacular things to happen randomly and often? I don't think it's too presumptuous of me. I like spectacular. I think it should happen more often.

P got to travel back to Kansas City last month for another LT fight. She won, duh....and now she's married to her very own prince charming. Yaaaay Murphy newlyweds!

I started writing for a local news site ( and am trying to find a rhythm as a nosy neighborhood reporter and mom blogger. Sometimes I shudder when I'm labeled a mom blogger or parenting columnist, but other times, I think it'd be a shame not to capitalize on the comedy gold that goes on around here.

School starts in three weeks. Can you believe we'll have a fourth grader in the house? I can't. In my mind, the poor kid is stuck at age 7 with two missing front teeth and a love of all things Lightening McQueen. But now he's grown. He had a cell phone (don't only has a few minutes' worth of airtime and it can't even text...and yet he carries it around and flips it open checking for calls like James's adorable.)

I've spent tons of time lately on Ancestry looking for ghosts. Some ghosts I find, some I don't. But I'm learning a lot and am even going to start volunteering for their Ancestry World Archives project. I downloaded some simple software and page through the scans they provide and mark keywords and names so people can find their history when they decide to look for it. I spent about three hours last weekend keywording Georgia prison convict info from the 1940s and now I am certain that 1940s criminals were way  more interesting and more dangerous than our contemporary boneheads.

The projects range from easy to advanced, some need foreign language skills, and some are just plain sad (the holocaust projects are so important to victims' descendants and survivors' families...but...whoa...yeah....) and take your breath away.

It's been fun so far and I'm so happy I decided to donate my time. What else would I do? Facebook all day?

Kidding...I still manage to Facebook way more than I need to.

Happy hot summer, amigos...

 photo signature_zps3807abdd.jpg