Thursday, May 21, 2015

Throw Back Thursday: Two Bikes, One Viola

In sixth grade you got to be a cadet. Cadets got to fold and unfold and fly the flag every day. They got to announce the bus arrivals over the loud speaker. But their most important job was ensuring the other elementary school kids only crossed the street when it was safe and supervised.

I loved joining things. I didn’t always love the work part though. That was the same year I was so bad at the viola that my orchestra teacher made me hold my violin on my lap during the concert for two of the songs. I was GREAT at fake playing and let’s face it the other kids weren't exactly a bunch of Shoji Tabuchis.

I couldn’t bring myself to tell my parents before the recital so when the time came I put my viola on my knee as instructed and bawled my face off for the rest of the concert. My parents had been on me to practice more since I think that viola was about $4568998.29 to rent but they were so sweet that night. They agreed with me that embarrassing a super early bloomer with a VERY unstable emotional threshold was just plain mean.

Point being, I have always tended to like ideas more than realities.

When the time came to be a cadet I was so excited. I remembered my sisters telling me about the badges you get to wear and how there was a whole closet full of rain coats and hats you got to choose from in the event of inclement weather. Safety stops for no one. Not even Mother Nature.

There were lieutenants and captains. Captains had way more responsibility and were highly respected. Usually you had to EARN that position through exemplary work but for the first round they just chose alphabetically. My last name was Allen so I was automatically a captain.

I don’t really remember the instructions and duties of this position because after they said “Crescent Allen will be Captain” I flew away to a place where I was famous for singing AND acting AND running the best God damn unit of crossing guards this side of the Wisconsin River.

Much like the viola I didn't really do that well. Not only did I not do well…. I did not well FAST. You needed three demerits to be kicked off the force and I had two the first week. I know one of them had to do with me talking to boys instead of making sure a pack of first graders didn't get hit by buses. (Talking to boys has been getting me in hot water for years but just try to stop me!)

Whoa! You know what I just remembered??? The teacher that ran the cadets was the OTHER orchestra teacher! I CALL CAHOOTS! They must have just been jealous of my uni-brow and imperfect complexion.

I think I made it another week before getting my final demerit bumping me down to a mere lieutenant status. I was heartbroken. I now had to answer to my best friend who in the same short amount of time had been SO great at cadet-ing that she was promoted to Captain. I wished her well but wished the teacher NOT very well. Sorry to talk so tough but that’s just the truth.

The year went by and my passion for flag folding had faded. I enjoyed announcing the bus arrivals but only because I knew everyone got to hear my voice over a microphone which has always been a hobby of mine. At the end of the year there was an all-district cadet picnic. The only real reason I stuck it out. There were prizes…so many prizes. I remember winning three pair of fluorescent socks of my choosing for a bean bag toss. But that was only the beginning. After lunch and the games there was an assembly in the auditorium. Every elementary school was there. There were two giant prizes based on actual merit and performance. A trip to Noah’s Ark Water Park and a trip to Washington DC. Captain Deanna (my best friend) won the trip to DC. She deserved it. I believe safety went up 60% while she was in office.I was happy for her.

Then there was a raffle drawing that every single cadet in Stevens Point, Wisconsin was entered in. There were at least 600 kids there. A simple drawing from a hat for a brand new Schwinn 12 speed bike and there would be only one winner. I won the bike. I WON THE BIKE! EAT IT ORCHESTRA LADIES! I remember shaking so hard as I came up to accept the award that I was sure I was going to faint/barf, a bad habit of mine at the time. I had to stand up there for the singing of the national anthem and I have to tell you….I've never been so proud to serve my country as I was that day. Maybe I didn't earn or deserve that bike but dammit I won it randomly and THAT’S the real lesson in all of this.

When we got back to our school I stopped by my locker and got my viola case, got my bike off the bus and wheeled it over to where my other 12 speed was. I then attempted to balance the giant rectangular case on my handlebars of the old bike while I used my other hand to steer the extra bike next to me. It wasn't easy but it was the most triumphant ride I've ever taken.

My dad just happened to be driving by and pulled up next to me and had that face I've seen him have a million times over the course of my life...…the “I’m not even sure how to address what you are doing right now but it looks dangerous and stupid and completely NOT thought through” instead he said “Crescent. Where did you get another bike?” I held my head high and said “I won it Dad. I won it for being a cadet.” He started laughing and said “well good for you CT! Do you want me to put it in the trunk and take it home?” I declined the offer and kept on riding….wiggling dangerously down the street into the summer.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Things I Like About Being 40

I've gotten really great at crying. That sounds depressing but I mean it in a positive way. I used to hold in my cries so hard that it would feel like all my organs were trying to push out of my throat. Now I just let it out and it's just the best. Watching the final Madmen last night I got to the phone call between Don and Betty and he called her "Birdie" and I just let it fly. Barking loud sobs while also sort of saying "Oh DON!" at the same time. Felt amazing. I highly recommend it. Let go of that stupid "I promised myself I wouldn't cry" bullshit and just get it out! I do it with happy things too. At my Dad's recent surprise 75th birthday we had all his siblings from Kentucky come up for the party. When he saw them all come up the stairs I tried to get a video but you can't hear anything anyone is saying because of my wracking joy sobs. It was just such a happy moment! THEN his baby sister found his BABY BOOK from his CHILDHOOD and that did it for me. I just leaned on him while he looked through it and let my face pour water like an Italian fountain. I'm still not sure how everyone else stayed so dry eyed. I told them they had hearts of stone through my sobs. I did. My mom brought it up the next morning and said it was the funniest thing she's ever heard which is EXACTLY what a stone heart would say! Just kidding. My mom's heart is made of pure squish and love.

Another thing I love is that once I turned 40 I went BLIND! I tried to read the pasta specials at the cafeteria across from my office and no matter how I squinted I couldn't tell if they were serving Bucatini, Capellini or Mussolini,. FINALLY I got to get glasses! I love them so much. I've wanted them my whole life and they look so great on me. Sorry but they do. I just wear them to read or when I want people to see me wear them because of how cute they are. Or when I just want to have them on so I can take them off and look like I'm thinking about something really important and fancy like "Did I remember to put the covers on our three swimming pools and to pay the diamond polisher?.......I did. Phew." then put them back on with a relieved double nod. Or if I'm feeling more "of the people" I'll whip them off in a panic and say "has it really been FOUR years since I last read Orwell? read it last week silly smart woman." I usually act out these moments for Jeffrey and Seeger only because they really appreciate live theater.

The best "lordy lordy I'm fairly comfortable with 40" realization has been that I'm doing ok. I'm doing fine. I look good enough. I like the color of my hair and my new bangs. I feel good most of the time. My crippling panic attacks about cancer and death are few and far between. I'm able to manage them with love and care instead of self annoyance. I am surrounded by love and love my surroundings. In a strange turn of events this peace and ease with myself and life has given me more ambition and desire to improve and do new things than when I was constantly mad at myself for being so aimless. So we'll see where all that lands. Or not. Regardless I am happy right this second and most other seconds. The few that I'm not I'm looking at as opportunities to grow instead of horrible places to exist. It's working for me for now and that's exactly where I am. Now.

Until we meet again (hopefully tomorrow because blogging daily is on my newly written goal list)......

Love as usual,

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

A Happiness Placeholder

I know I never write on here anymore but I realized this morning on the train that we are the happiest we've ever been right this very second. Jason co-owns a really cool restaurant that he is shaping and creating. He's using exclamation points in texts instead of periods. He is happy to head to work on the space every day. We are doing fun things all the time and remembering to really appreciate them. It's just a great summer. I know this isn't how it will always be but it is today and I want to make sure that's documented so that when things are hard again I can go back and be reminded of the intrinsic roller coaster nature of life.

Anyway, that's all for now. Short but sweet. The sweetest it's been in a long time. It won't last forever but I'm very grateful for today. And my cats. And noodles.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Movie That Nearly Ended A Marriage

Megan and Jason and I had dinner together last night and the topic of documentaries came up. I was going on and on about Walk Away Renee. A very depressing story of mental illness that I, of course, loved. Both Megan and Jason had horrified faces as I described the main plot. Woman gets shock treatments as a girl and is never the same. Son moves her all over the country to try and find the right facility to help her. It’s the feel bad movie of the year.
Anyway, I loved it.

This conversation lead to the story of “the day Jason was the maddest at me in our entire relationship”.

I had just found out I had to start chemo in a few weeks. I was still healing from surgery. Things were tough to say the least. All I really felt like doing was distracting myself with movies and Jason would patiently let me pick them and watch them with me. I was already sort of on thin ice for picking Up as a Sunday afternoon pick me up film. I was a hysterical sobbing mess about 30 seconds into it and it only got worse. Jason wasn’t much better. After it was over he just looked at me and said “JEEEZE CRESCENT!”

A week or so later I decided maybe documentaries would be better. We watched a couple that were just okay. Then I rented Dear Zachary and was nearly divorced by the end of it. Having been burned in the heart by Up, Jason sat me down and looked me in the eyes and said “before I agree to watch it….what is it about?”

“Well this guy gets murdered and his best friend tries to make a movie to show his still alive son what his dad was like. It’s supposed to be really sweet.”

“Hmmm ok I guess.”

If you haven’t seen it never do. NEVER! It’s not sweet. It’s the most depressing movie of all time.

Jason was already prickly about the murder part. He was angry that this crazy woman was still free and had obviously killed her husband. Then out of nowhere the woman kills the child. I know. I had no idea that happened AND refused to believe it. Jason slowly turned to me with rage in his eyes. “Are you kidding me?!” I said “wait…no. That can’t be what happens. I think it’s a twist.”

It wasn’t a twist. Jason was furious with me. It was hilarious. I felt like I had cheated on a math test and gotten caught, or stolen some lipstick from Walgreen’s or given my little sister that I don’t have a black eye from horsin’ around.

“WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?! WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO WATCH THIS AND WE ARE ALREADY DEPRESSED ENOUGH HERE! WHY WOULD I OR YOU NEED TO SEE THIS! Honestly Crescent…. I’m just really mad and disappointed.” I think we watched the end just for completion sake but he iced me out the rest of the day.

It still makes me laugh so hard to remember even though it was so not funny at the time. It was like poor J was just hanging on for dear life. Wife has cancer, she can’t have kids, starting chemo, just had surgery… but he always kept it together for me the best he could. He’d cook dinner. He’d drive me to appts. He’d let me cry so hard I sounded like a new born baby. He was amazing. Still is. But every man has his limit and Dear Zachary was Jason’s. Seeing something so horrifying and sad just lifted the lid off of his blazing hot hatred of anyone being treated unjustly. It’s one of my favorite things about him even though I have seen it break his heart a million times, the world being what it is.

Thankfully we did NOT get divorced that day. In fact I think that was right around the time I rented Old School and showed it to him for the first time as a peace offering. He laughed harder than I’d seen him laugh in years at that stupid movie. We spent the rest of cancer watching Anchorman, Step Brothers, Old School (basically three times a week) and every other 7th grade humor film we could find. We’d had our fill of real life and real injustice. It was time to usher in the era of fart jokes, prat falls and bits about darts in necks…and we’ve never looked back.

Friday, December 13, 2013

I Heard The Bells (aka The Bloody Nose That ALMOST Ruined Christmas)

When I was about eight or nine we were at my Mema and Papa’s for Christmas Eve, like always. It had mostly been a perfect night with cousins and food and presents and the loud, excited chaos that comes with being a child on that night. I was playing a game with my younger cousins that consisted of them being on one side of the room and me on the other and they would say “HEY!” and I’d say “HAY IS FOR HORSES!” and we would all DIE laughing and they would charge at me, full speed and we’d fall into a pile of hysterics. We did that for hours. HOURS!

Then at one point there was a collision with me and my cousin Josh and my nose instantly gushed blood. He cried because he felt so horrible that he’d hurt me. I cried because I hated that he felt badly. I think a couple other cousins cried just because the game was over. That was about the time Mema Allen announced it was EVERYONE’s bedtime. Adults included.

She strongly believed injury, excessive noise and crying was THE sign sleep was needed by all. Pretty spot on, really. Can you think of a time when that ISN’T the case? Me neither. So the cousins left for their close by Kentucky homes. We’d come from Wisconsin so we all had our rooms at the house. The house quickly became dark and quiet with just the soft sounds of adults getting ready for bedtime.

I started crying, nay (is for horses) sobbing, in my bed. I felt like my awkward clumsiness caused the end to the nearly perfect night. If I'd just been more careful. If I'd just ducked. If I could've just hidden my bleeding face from the adults...maybe we would've played at least one more round.

Crying in bed was a common thing around that age. I was a VERY early bloomer and was already feeling the ache and sadness of growing up. I wasn’t ready for it. Didn’t want it. LOVED being little. HATED what was happening to my body be it “healthy and natural” or not. Still…here it was anyway. Bras. Growing pains. Feeling chubby and gangly all at once. The burden of feeling boy crazy to the point of madness and wanting to punch them in the face simultaneously. It was brutal. I still haven’t really recovered.

It wasn't just my nose or the end of the night. I was blue about another Christmas almost over. Sad that I was pretty sure Santa and my mom had the exact same handwriting. Already missing a childhood that was slipping out of my grasp every minute.

Then I heard something that made me sit straight up. A bell noise. A lot of bell noises. Outside.

It started in the distance and became crystal clear. Sleigh bells. My first feeling was sheer terror. Someone was in the yard!!! At midnight! My heart was pounding and I felt like I was hearing a ghost, monster or murderer because there was no WAY it was who I thought it was.

I tried to regain some logic and thought it was maybe my parents. Then I heard them in the bathroom brushing their teeth on the other side of the hallway. It wasn’t them. It wasn’t Mema or Papa. Was this really happening? The stories were true?

Terror gave way to a warm blazing joy that felt near and dear to relief. I was relieved that I had no explanation. That I could just believe, at least for one more year. I’m not sure I’ve ever slept better in my life. The burden of growing up lifted. Santa had found me in Kentucky to remind me I was still little in my heart even if my body wasn't.

Of course now at 40 I know there isn’t really a Santa. I'm not really sure what there is, if I'm being honest. The past few years have shaken up my philosophy and faith in a thousand different directions and I have yet to land.

In fact the thought of the whole Santa in your house thing now sort of freaks me out. When we explained Santa to my whip smart nephew when he was about four or five (he’s now 22) his immediate response was “Mama. Board up the fireplace.” Smart kid.

Nevertheless I have no explanation for those bells that night. A neighbor? An older cousin? An inept home invader? Hallucination due to a crushed nose?

To this day I have no answers. I'd just assume keep it that way.

Friday, September 13, 2013

This song goes out to my leftness...

I had my first yearly ONLY mammo today and I was sweating it. Between being off of Tamoxofin for a year while trying to get PG AND the fact that I've had some pain in old left...well I was worried. Like up the past 10 nights worried.

Then this morning was like the Large Marge story because the weather was as it was four years ago when Megan and I went for my first mammogram to make sure that little lump was nothing. It was something. A big black something that kind of crapped all over my 35th bday. I kept thinking this morning, "I LOVE this fall weather so much......oh no...but was a day JUST LIKE THIS...." then I'd remind myself that science doesn't care about the Skilling forecast.

I was a thought machine on the bus going so far as to just really imagine what it would be like if they found something again and actually talking myself through it. "well you won't have to shave your legs again...that was pretty dope." or "You still have all those amazing friends and family around...I bet they'll be there for me again, if need be. That was also pretty fly."

But all that anxiety and meditation was for naught because...

All clear! They have a new breast imaging center at Rush and it's lovely. Girly, peaceful, relaxation screens everywhere. The new machines are spanky new and clean. The tech was chatty and sweet and had a mom who survived breast cancer. At one point she said, out of the blue, "You were just too young to deal with all this, weren't you honey." It almost made me cry but I rallied. The petulant child in me wanted to say "YES! I WAS! And it's actually been really really hard and stressful even four years later!" but I keep that child locked up in the basement with a Curious George book and a bottomless bowl of orange Gatorade so I just said what I always say "Actually it really wasn't all that bad" and that's true too.

HOWEVER I am so giddy and happy right now to know that nothing new has formed and that the pain I've had is just scar tissue and good old fashioned nerve damage. I had a doctor read the results that I've had many times. She always says my "odd name doesn't fit how I look" because she always expects me to be African American or Indian because they have odd names. I usually laugh like a robot as to not align myself with her collar tugging comments. Mild racist or not she's good at reading the images.

Today for whatever reason we just sort of organically decided to look at all my images from the tumor days to today. The scares...the scars...the memories. Afterwards I pictured us laughing like old friends while pointing in slow motion at the blurry and dense breast tissue I've grown to memorize. The giant gap in the left breast where the huge black and pointy tumor was. The healthy and much larger right breast that has been our rock through all this by staying in such great form, reminding me and lefty of the good ol' days when they were both matching friends.

I know they aren't people but I'm a people and those two big size D dungles have been with me from jump street. I love them and am just really proud of them today. Maybe I'm a little proud of myself too. I'm doing the best I can and so are they. Especially rickety old lefty. She's half the girl she used to be but still hanging in there.

Here's to you, ladies. We made it another year.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Collateral Damage

This month's list of PMS shrapnel:

1. Two nights of lost sleep due to biting my tongue and then eating a ton of cherries and drinking a bunch of wine on vacation resulting in sore tongue that I was certain was late stage everything from the neck up cancer. The small sore has now completely healed which must mean I am a god like being that fought full blown cancer away in a mere 72 hours with nothing more than my will to survive.

2. A Bernie Taupin/Elton John tribute CD from the 90's that I loved when I was 18 and still living with my folks. With the exception of Sir Jon Bon Jovi's rendition of Levon it does not hold up and is really horrible. I listened to it in its’ entirety thrice.

3. After stomping around too much due to excessive amounts of internal anger at my fellow train riders I managed to rip my sandals to the point of no return.

3b. Hobbled to Payless to get a new pair and there was nothing in my size that I liked so instead of buying some that I SORTA liked I decided to buy a pair I hate with a white hot rage for ten dollars more.

4. At 3:46pm as I was typing the entries above I made the decision to eat hot wings again tonight even though I had them last night.

5. Almost signed up for piano lessons.

Much like Levon...I wear my war a crown. God help us all.