If not for the trees
thick pines and
The sturdy willow
Held the frayed rope
At either end
To hold my hand-cut
If not for the red barn and
Two towering haylofts
Leading to musty rooms
Of tools and pitchforks
Arranged and waiting
With clangs and rattles
If not for the braided rope
Draped from the rafters
Welcoming knees and
Digging fingers in
Drawing a final breath
As a helping hand
Sent us swinging
Higher than children
If not for the cushion
Made of straw and
Barn swallow feathers
On the planks below
When we let go at
the just right time
If not for your glossy
White bedroom and the
Tall antique bed where
You did your dying
in paisley pajamas
Dark circles where
Your eyes used to be
An oak tray table
Holding food you
If not for that farm
That barn that bed
I wouldn't remember
January 18, 2003
If not for the trees
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 11:30 PM
the mouth sent me
blu sent me to the swapingtons, a site where we online nuts will be swapping books, CDs, DVDs, and who knows what eventually (RageBoy and Paynter, send ideas to them, not me).
If you sign up, please show blu your love by using her as a referrer on the signup page. Her referrer name is themouth.
or, you can use me as your referrer: allied.
Then get others to sign up using you as a referrer. By doing this, you earn points, which you can eventually use to swap cool stuff with other cool people.
I'm wondering about postage. Haven't got that far. I dunno. I'll try anything twice.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 4:22 PM
I managed to live the first 38 years of my life without ever having a recurring dream. Not so anymore. Over the last year or two there's one dream I have again and again.
First, some history.
We've visited Jamaica twice over the last three years. Jamaica represents the sea to me. I know this. More than the daunting poverty, the imbalance of riches in the country, more than jerk chicken or reggae, I associate Runaway Bay with the sea. For me, nothing compares to standing at the edge of the sea, fixing my eyes on the the fine line of the horizon, a seam zipping the world closed.
More about me and water. Water and I go way back.
I grew up never more than a few miles from Lake Ontario. Not the sea, by any means, but an expansive Great Lake and a force nonetheless. I had a love hate relationship with the lake. I did my dreaming there. I rode my horse across Lakeshore Boulevard in the summer and swam him in the lake. Nothing in my life--still--compares to the feeling of that lake, of swimming my horse. Muscle meets water, floating, snorting. Riding across the sand on this soily beach. Looking for driftwood. The stench of seaweed and dead fish. The summer air lit with beating waves, hot sun, shade trees. These are memories of the lake I treasure. I can snap them front and center in my mind with one mental click.
Then there was my stepfather's sailboat. Our family recreation in the summer consisted of my step-sister and I being dragged for weekends out on the lake in my step-father's 28-foot sailboat. We'd sail to Sodus Bay or spend the weekend in Fairhaven.
You might think I'd remember these times fondly, but for a twelve-year-old held captive in a dysfunctional family, 48 solid hours sharing a 28x10 with space our parents, no sight of land--just an expanse of water--was not joyous. It's hard to escape family wounding when you're sharing the small confines of a sailboat for hours or days on end. Mostly, it brought out the worst in us all, if you don't count the bonus that my step-sister and I got nicely tanned, and that somehow the ancient waters empathized with us.
Ripe with reason, I have always loved, have never blamed, the water. When I couldn't get to the lake, I sought out swimming pools as a kid--never deterred by cold water or 60-degree evenings. I cleansed in rivers and dug clay with my hands from the bottoms of streams.
That is some history of me and water.
Back to my recurring dream. We are on vacation in Jamaica (George, Jenna, and me). Sometimes it looks like the resort we visit, sometimes it doesn't. The crux of the dream is this: I never make it into the sea before we leave. There is always something keeping me from the sea. We're having drinks, I'm getting food for Jenna, we're talking with our friends who meet us there, we're taking island tours that we've never taken. And all of a sudden the bus is coming to take us to the airport when I, in a panic, realize I forgot to get into the sea. I never made it--it's further away and less obvious in my dream, and I forget to make my way to the water.
Did some digging on Google for dream interpretations. Found this about water:
Water symbols i.e. sea, rivers, lakes, canals, etc. reflect the spiritual or cultural life of the dreamer. How water appears or is organized indicates the dreamer's philosophy of life. A river indicates the dreamer needs a more free spiritual flow. A canal or swimming pool, both man made structures, indicates man-made or conventional ideals are restricting the dreamer's Spiritual flow. A lake or pool indicates that the dreamer does not have a spiritual outlet. The sea or ocean indicates the dreamer's spirituality / life is the subject matter. Diving into the any body of water is a request for the dreamer to get into life. The state of the water can also indicate the condition of the dreamer's blood. Polluted water indicates a need to cleanse the blood by a change of diet and/or improved elimination. - avcweb
A ring of truth to that--needing to redefine, to find, to unwrap and nurture my spiritual self. She isn't sure what's out there, which way to go, and at the same time sees the expanse of what's out there. Finding my place. Remembering to find my self. I think that's the reminder within this water dream of mine.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 10:28 AM
January 17, 2003
danger wish list
Some of these things may already be possible--on day three of using this freaky Hiptop, I'm still a novice. But I wish...
It would let me into secure sites--unfortunately you reach a dead end when the "Accept this Site?" screen comes up asking if you want to accept the digital certificate. On the forums I've checked out, it seems to be a bug. Or something that's cropped up recently.
The camera incorporated a flash.
The camera output larger pics at a better resolution.
I could zoom smaller and larger when bringing up sites on the browser... near as I can figure, it's one size and you do a lot of paging through.
I could figure out the calendar and reminders.
I could attach my notes from the note pad in email.
There was a meaningful, customizable portal page from T-Mobil that could be my homepage--a gateway to my fav stuff and gadgets w/out going to "Go To"
I'll come back and add to this list as I figure out more stuff. And when it gets really long, and I'm sure this stuff isn't just user error, I'll forward onto Danger. Because, as you know, I'm a bit obsessed.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 9:31 PM
long dark nights
of winter are
here to wrap
the blue crochet
with knotted fringe,
in the burrowing for
sealing your body
from the wind, snow,
it gets hot
shifts and sways
with sun and sweet breezes
there's a party
under her covers
like kind thunder
rocks her sea
Lift the quilt
lay your guilt down
lay down with her
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 9:02 PM
desktop? sidekick? confused. My writing brain SIM is in my hand, and I'm looking for a place to put it.
paynter, no jokes.
still noodling on this. it's transformational technology, almost. apparently bug fixes scheduled for Q2 (aren't we there yet?). they are much needed. I can't get to any secure site because it hangs on the "accept this site" screen. That means no internet banking. No corporate email.
ah well, all things in time.
WHo's sick of me talking about this thing?
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 6:29 PM
My hiptop email is firstname.lastname@example.org, if'n you wanna catch me on the go.
AOL IM screen name: jeneanedsessum
May replace the phone number on the right over there with this phone number, as soon as I figure out how you stand this thing as a phone--it is kinda boxy to be a phone, but I'll probably get used to it.
All systems hipped.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 9:08 AM
I noticed that two test posts hit my blog just as I was going up to bed.
The line wraps looked a little suspect, but at least I was able to
The posts seem to be working via the email option in my templates
settings. It took about a half hor from the time they left my hiptop
until they lanses in my blog.
When I wake up tomorrow I'll know if this post worked. See, I'm already
in bed, groggy, getting ready to let go, and I have my trusty hiptop
here with me.
I would have never believed I'd end up caring so much about blogging,
and I certainly wouldn't have imagined publishing to the web from bed,
from this little computer smaller than a pop tart.
To my dreams.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 1:09 AM
January 16, 2003
Alright. I've been obsessed with my new Sidekick/HipTop, whatever you wanna call it. Blogpalm, as I said when I only dreamed such a thing existed. There are many cool things about this device. There are also frustrating things. Like, I've tried two different approaches for emailng posts--the one offered in the blogger settings and the blogrouter, mentioned in my last post. So far nothing, nada, zip.
Sotobeep, as my nephew used to say after watching his father work on a stubborn car. He was imitating a certain son-of-a phrase.
So, browsing, good. convenient. Email, good, convenient. Camera--took two pics of our refrigerators. SO far they look like postage stamps--still trying to figure that one out. No one wants postage stamps of our fridge. Except that Hunter crawled inside, and that might make a nice collectible. Obviously he never heard the PSAs when we were kids warning us of the dangers of open refrigerators. PLEASE, participants, check your refrigerators before closing them. That's all we need is a web fridge tragedy...
NOW, on to my head. Last night I was tired. I wanted to look up some info on itchy skin since Jenna's skin has been dry lately. It was so nice to take this little HipTop into bed and search around on Google. You have to do lots of page jumping and scrolling, but once you get the page you're looking for, the text parts of the page wrap nicely and stuff's really easy to read.
Keyboard made for bloggers--the @ key is a main key. No shift, no alt, right down by the space bar. Open and close carrot, as well as slash key, are also located convenient to the thumb, except you have to [alt] to use them, but I'm getting good at that.
If I could only STINKING POST!!!
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 11:32 PM
Liz was kind enough to send me this resource that offers a way for me to blog on blogger from the hiptop. I'll be trying later today. When I got to www.blogger.com yesterday, there was a nice little note from Ev saying this wireless browser isn't supported, or something daunting like that.
I remain undaunted, however.
I will blog with this mother.
So far I love the browser, love email, really dig the ringtones and lights, haven't tried the camera, haven't tried IM, can't figure out which end is up (out?) on the phone, and am getting speedy on the cool keyboard.
I should have a lot more to say, but I decided to stay up all night and work on a project for work that needed working on. workaworkawork. So now I'm very exhausted, having just driven jenna to school. It's off for a rest.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 5:33 PM
January 15, 2003
Monica says some of the nicest things about me anyone's ever written on her Traces blog at sweetnsour.org. WOW! I'm truly loved.
If you haven't checked Monica out, do. And I'm not saying that just because she likes my stuff. (Although I'm still smiling about that.) I enjoy reading Monica because she writes from a place so familiar to me--from the land of depression and joy and place of living that goes on in between.
Allow me to indulge that one narcisistic bone I have in my body (cough) and list some of the reasons why Monica declared her love for me:
1. She lived in a blue little house.
2. She and Jenna knows what 'Toink' means.
3. She finds treasures in her dreams. Anything is possible.
4. She finds new year's eve as much depressing as I do. Glass half empty? Half full?
5. She hand-made her 'blogroll'. That's right, added one by one. And boy, that is long!
6. She can make my cry talking about a 'blogpalm'.
7. She wrote this: "And I'm realizing that these oak speakers, yep, these right here on the floor, are resurrecting, if only briefly, her great grandfather and her grandfather. Here we are, four generations, gathered in my living room joined by music recorded in 1967. And I hear myself laughing on the CD, and I sound just like her. It's like an echo of an echo of something so familiar. I sound so happy. I was so happy."
8. And this: "So far from there now. Now I live in here with you all, and my physical office space is my laptop. I feel now about my Dell laptop and DSL connection the way I once felt about my physical office. A convenient, always-open window into Blogaria now means so much more to me than a window onto Peachtree Street."
9. And this: "For two years we lived in a war zone, dancing between Uncle Daddy's drunken back yard rages and the kids' torment. For two years I did battle with them whenever I had to. It didn't change them. It didn't change anything in that house or neighborhood. It changed me."
10. I don't have to explain to her how I feel when things get... ugly. She knows. And I know she knows. And she knows I know that.
Monica, that love goes right back atcha, babe.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 10:43 PM
One of the exciting things about getting my Danger HipTop is that it came with a cord that I can connect to my existing digital camera to upload images to my laptop. Since I LOST my original cord on vacation, I haven't been able to get the last of the pics off my digital camera, until now.
Now I can set the manatees free from their cold, stainless steel camera world. Here's the baby manatee that took a liking to us playing with our anchor line:
And blowing some air as he swims toward George:
Do you see why I love this river? Look at the water. Look at the sparkle. They don't call it Crystal River for nuthin'.
And here's another keeper:
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 4:42 PM
I'm here reading tips and tricks on how to make this "hiplogging" fantasy into reality. Still not blogging from the device. Will let you know when/if I succeed and where I end up.
I feel like a pioneer. Or a prisoner. I'm not sure yet.
woooo, I see I have some homework to do.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 2:09 PM
I think it's amazing. VERY easy to navigate. scrolly-bar and nice full-keyboard keypad. Initial thought: I need to cut my nails.
Have not evaluated the cell phone or camera angles bec/ it's charging. Did use the web browser. One thought: in retrospect, a template with posts on the left and blogroll on the right would work best for reading, since it seems I have to scroll all the way down to the end of the left half of the page before bumping over to the right. Reading posts is nice, clear, and easy other than that.
One problem--When I went to blogger.com there's a nice little message from Ev saying blogger doesn't support this wireless browser--AKA: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 1:30 PM
Keep looking for the fed ex truck. getting excited. check out this team blog of HipTop/Sidekick users. More proof that the blogomatic is all that.
Starting the take down process for my old website yesterday was a moment, so to speak. It was a moment when I decided I am making my online home here, on allied, or at least in Blogaria. It was a moment when I accepted blogging as a critical part of my life, for real, for good.
It felt kind of like a commitment ceremony of sorts. In other words, I finally took my vows:
Do you, Jeneane, take blogging as your sole platform for authentic voice, to post and to update, at least every few days, as long as you both shall live, or at least as long as you have an active network connection?
Do you, Allied, take Jeneane as your life source, to love and grow you, with words and images, through uptime and downtime, as long as you both shall live, or at least as long as you can afford to be hosted?
I now pronounce your blogger and weblog.
You may now post and publish.
Dum dum da dum dum dum dum dum da da da da dum.....
Rice, flowers, waiting for Gary to make me a Just Weblogged sign (or something) for the bridal limo.....
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 11:01 AM
January 14, 2003
Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it * Let's do it.
I DID IT! It's on the way.
Presenting, the blogomatic. Review to follow, once I get it and figure out how it works.
Blog, browse, get/send mail, talk wirelessly, take digital pictures. yeeeaaaa, babe!
thanks to LLL for her bargain hunting eagle eyes.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 10:53 PM
I think I qualify as casting director. I have just the right family for their "hick hunt."
Thanks Franky P. for pointing it out.
Me? I don't see how the proposed show's any different than the oh-so-successful Cops, except that the new hillbillies will get to live in a nice, clean mansion.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 9:18 PM
Some housekeeping done around here today.
I'm in the process of taking down the website I've had for close to five years - WriteResources.com. Sitting on an Earthlink server costing me $17.95 a month, I hadn't updated the site in about as long as I've had it. It's all pretty old PR writing advice, written during the boom when advice about how strategic writing could make a difference to a business mattered. It borders on laughable now. But then, I was five years younger; clients had gobs of money to spend; the site seemed like a good idea, so I spent a weekend fiddling around and putting it online.
Then came the really fun business climate of survive-and-sustain, and WriteResources.com sat around. For a long time. Didn't seem so relevant anymore, but I liked my domain name and was too lazy to think about other ways to host it for free or cheap. At the same time, the site was a pain to update, so I didn't. I hated FTPing files up to the server. I didn't like working in HTML. To sum it up = websites? ick.
Next came blogging. The few hundred hits I'd gotten on my website over its lifetime didn't much compare to the couple hundred hits a day I was getting on allied (before my recent week-long break, that is. grrr.).
My not-until-page-two cameo on Google's "write resources" search results hardly compares to the nearly 6,000 Google results generated now just based on my name.
The $50 I pay blogger every year is a heck of a lot cheaper than $180 I was paying Earthlink annually for site.
At the same time, I couldn't bring myself to trash my Write Resources content completely. It's old, but here and there you'll find some good writing advice, once you sift through the horse pucky. I still use some of the sites' MS Word templates from time to time, too. Plus, well, the old thing has sentimental value to me. That's why I couldn't just toss it all.
So now the files live on George's Earthlink server, where his GES Productions site is, which I update rarely, but do occasionally fiddle with. With his business, there's enough reason to keep the GES Productions site active--it is his business name, although he now gets more activity on his blog now than his site.
Meanwhile, that old Write Resources site is now linked off the right sidebar here on allied.
My blog is now officially the entry way to my website.
Funny how things change.
By the way, the domain name WriteResources.com is now for sale, in case you're interested. ;-)
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 9:05 PM
January 13, 2003
All the time I was growing up I anticipated the deaths of those around me.
When I'd get a new 3x5 address book and put all my relatives' names and numbers in it, I'd wonder whose name I'd have to scratch out first, I'd weigh the pain ahead of time, figure whose death would hurt the most, start calculating years--I'm 13 now; there's no way Grandma D could still be in my address book when I'm 45--she'd be over 100. So, when will she fall off my pages?
This is how I thought. Still do, although not as obsessively, thanks to some therapy. Still, it doesn't take much for me to leapfrog into the future, into who will be around when... who won't be around by the time... how it will feel when... well, then again, I might die before any of them...
That's what happens when you're six and you enjoy getting the mail from the mailbox, it's something you like to do every day, and then the day after your dad dies, his mail still comes, and the year after he dies, and two years after, and then you're living in a new house and you're 11 years old and mail addressed to him still finds its way into your mailbox, into your hands.
That's what happens when your school records never quite get updated to note that little detail--the dad's name in her records has been dead for five years--and report cards and permission forms still come home with his name on it.
You look at these things you hold and wonder, for crying out loud, when will everyone know that he's gone? And when will I have to stop doing simple tasks without being reminded? How long will this take?
It takes time. Sometimes it takes a long time.
That's why Gary's sensitive technology post hit close to home for me. Intense. Very intense.
I hear you, Gary.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 11:43 PM
I'm in the office today, relocating my physical cube space because we're subletting extra office space, which has become more and more extra over the past two years. Funny being here. Seeing realworld people. I haven't been in since the last time I blogged about being in. I think it was a couple of months ago.
I remember once being so attached to my office space. Whatever cube or window office I had was a big deal to me, since I basically lived there. At one company--as with many--having a window office with a door gave you instant pundit credibility. That was when I was a manager, had people working for me, cared about that stuff.
So far from there now. Now I live in here with you all, and my physical office space is my laptop. I feel now about my Dell laptop and DSL connection the way I once felt about my physical office. A convenient, always-open window into Blogaria now means so much more to me than a window onto Peachtree Street.
I don't work on Peachtree Street anymore. I don't work on the 22nd floor anymore. I work in my head. I work through my fingers. I weave a web with my synapses, talk with my fingers; my laptop and network connection are where I spend my time. Thanks to blogging, I have more colleagues around the globe than I do in Atlanta. Blog co-workers are not in the next cube or down the hall. They're right here, just above my left eyebrow.
So, while I'm enjoying the company today, people in the flesh, seeing friends and other writers I haven't seen in months, I'm pretty disoriented in this new cube. Which is why I needed to post something.
I've finished carting all the books and reference materials and pictures of Jenna from my old cube to my new one, but I don't think I'm going to unpack much.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 1:33 PM
January 12, 2003
I told him I'd write about it one day. I've avoided it. It's too wide and high to capture into a post--the smells, the stuff under my finger nails, the feelings of awaking in that house.
But that's never stopped me from trying.
ENDING UP IN SKEEZERVILLE
When we moved to Atlanta it was the year before the 1996 Summer Olympics, hosted by this fair city. Atlanta was a boom town then. Which meant there weren't many places to live that were within our modest, newly-relocated means. Houses were renting out for $2,000 a month in the okay areas. Yikes.
My company put us up in the Raddison Inn in Buckhead for four months. That was living. Us and our two dogs in a two-story suite, complete with a maid, a kitchen, free coffee, fresh towels. I never wanted to leave. Who would? Aside from having to walk the dogs three times a day, we were living the high life.
What a rude awakening when those good time days (and my company's money) ran out.
Time to find a place to live, and nothing affordable. Now what? Where could we go?
Fortunately, and I use this term pretty loosely, we had friends--Rochester musician transplants--renting a house in Hapeville, and after what seemed like seven years of looking for a place, we rented the house across the street from them. Anyone from Atlanta knows where Hapeville is (think airport), and if I tell you we were just south of Stewart Avenue, you should probably say, Oh. wow. Why?
There are many fine people who live in Hapeville. There are also lots of nice homes in Hapeville.
We lived near neither the nice people nor the nice homes.
We lived in the skeezy part. Man, it was nasty. Loads of hookers and drugs. Thieves and crime. And rednecks too.
And we lived there for two years. It felt like doing time, though I haven't done time as of yet. It's how I imagine feeling. Yeh, we could go outside. But usually we had to think twice about whether or not it was worth it.
THE LITTLE BLUE HOUSE AND ITS NEIGHBORS
We lived in a little blue house. And believe it or not, I'm still nostalgic about the house. And believe it or not, I don't know why.
Maybe the adversity we faced there bonded us as a couple in a special way. Maybe it was living without expectations of things ever getting any better. Not sure, but there's something I miss about it.
I remember telling my friend Marge in Rochester about the floors of our house. "They're planks, and underneath is dirt. I mean, you can see the dirt through the cracks. No cement. Just a block foundation over dirt." Marge inferred from this, she would later tell me, that we lived in a house with dirt floors. She wasn't far off.
We had a bug man, but we never did win our war against the roaches. We kept the place clean, no crumbs. There wasn't much of a place to clean--it wasn't that hard to keep up. Still, the bugs were undaunted. They enjoyed the dirt beneath the house, and their easy access to the warmth above through the cracks in the floor.
Transplanted northerners have a hard time with the bugs of the south. At least this one did. Especially when waking at night to take a drink from the glass of water next to my clock radio, on more than one occasion, brought me face to face with a roach who beat me to my refreshment. Son of a bitch!
Then there was our microwave. One day I called George into the kitchen. Look. I was pointing.
We stared for a while wondering how that big motherfucking roach found its way inside the front of our microwave, lodging himself just so in front of the LED that was the clock. Huh? If I wanted to cook in that thing, I wouldn't have been able to see the timer for the roach.
"Get this thing out of the house." That was all I could say.
Out it went to the side of the road, roach and all. Made some treasure hunter very happy.
"Nuthin wron with a bitty water bug in the casin." Fine. Take it then.
We rented our little resort from a police officer and his wife. Kief (that's how they say Keith in Hapeville) was the first black Harley rider I'd ever met. He never made eye contact, stood with head to one side and an unending downward glance. He and his wife were nice people. Good landlords all things considered.
It wasn't until after we moved in, though, that Kief's wife told me she wouldn't have rented to us if we had kids. (Jenna wasn't even in the plans back then.) "Why not?" I asked her. "Because the old man next door molested our daughter. That's why we moved. We have a court case against him. We had to move before my husband killed him."
That particular perpetrator would be Uncle Daddy.
At least, that's what we named him. Uncle Daddy and Aunt Grandma lived next door to our little blue dirt-floor house. We gave them these names for obvious incestuous reasons, evident in the generations of offspring who lived with Uncle Daddy and his sister/wife.
Did I say generations? I meant urchins.
We came to know Uncle Daddy and the Cousin Jumpers far too well.
I'MA KILL YER DAWG
Uncle Daddy was 170 years old. At least he looked that old. With wrinkles for his wrinkles, and 1/4 inch of flesh on his skeleton frame, he left quite an impression on me upon my first sighting of him. He, the redneck molester. Scary and ugly.
Aunt Grandma (we never could tell if she was his sister or wife) was toothless, 150 years old, housecoat clad and foulmouthed.
In their house, the rumor was, lived a slew of grandchildren from kids in jail, and several rifles.
Out back was a shed that Uncle Daddy only seemed to visit during one of his several drunken rages. Under the influence, he would often take broken furniture out to the shed and toss it in. I guess it was important for him to save these items for his progeny. Or the next time he burned his trash.
I think that's where the boys got their beatins too.
The young boys who grew up under Uncle Daddy's thumb were not adorable or well behaved. They were the devil's spawn, quite literally. They welcomed us to the neighborhood by swinging from their clothesline and hurling rocks at our dogs over the fence that separated the two yards. They lived to drive us and our dogs insane.
And that was nothing compared to what they did to their own animals. One Saturday they decided to have fun by trying to drown the beagle that some relative or another left at their house. They put him in a "bath" inside a garbage can, turned on the water, filled the can, put the dog in, and used the hose to pour water in the dogs' ears.
Get the picture?
That was one of many times I called the cops. Something I'd never before done in my life before moving to Atlanta. I'm not sure if we ever made an episode of Cops the show, but we could have.
The cops bought the kids' story about their beagle: "We was just tryin to give the dawg a bath."
And me saying, "Officer, the dog was screaming."
The cop saying, "Ma'm, if no one at the house says the boys were hurting the dog, then there's nothing we can do." The dog ended up going deaf. Nice.
The Hapeville Police became regulars at our house. Unfortunately, they were also lifelong friends of Uncle Daddy and his spawn.
Kevin, the eldest urchin, probably about 9 then, had the nastiest mouth I've yet to hear on a kid. A Manson like smile with intent to boot, he'd stand by the back fence, look me in the eye.
"I'ma Kill Yer Dawg," he'd say.
"You're gonna do what?"
"Ima kill yer dawg, bitch."
"Not before they kill you."
What I meant to say was, "Not before I kill you, you little shit."
It wasn't long before I went to war with them at every opportunity. I'd lie in wait beneath the window of the back porch. The ruckus would begin, their kids against our dogs, and I'd be out on the deck lickety split asking them if they wanted to go to jail. Eventually, our shouting matches turned into throwing matches. I hurled shit back at them. They'd go running to Uncle Daddy--"She throwed a stick at us, Daddy!" And the real fun would begin.
"Jew throw a stick at my boyz?"
"That's half of what I'd like to do to them. No, I didn't throw anything at those kids."
I lied. It felt good. I hated them. If we'd had a gun, I might be in jail right now.
"You leave dem boyz alone."
"Tell your boyz to leave our dogs alone, to leave US alone."
"They ain't doin no harm to yer dawgs."
"Yeh, right. I'll call the cops--we'll see what they say."
It wasn't just the dawgs those evildoers attacked. They egged our house, they messed with our cars. They had plenty of time, since they rarely went to school. Their life was an audition for the juvie system.
The one person they were afraid of was George. For obvious reasons. But they'd watch for him to leave. And when he did, it was time to throw down. Them against me.
At first, I did what I always thought you were supposed to do when criminals come on your property and fuck with you. I'd call the cops. They'd come. They'd ask me what the problem was. I'd tell them what particular law the kids had broken this time. They'd go next door. They'd talk with Uncle Daddy or Aunt Grandma. I'd see the casual conversation from my window. Then I'd see laughing, chumming around, talking about mutual friends. These people had grown up together. They were lifers.
We were the outsiders.
The cops would come back to our door, tell me they talked to them, we shouldn't have any more problems. No harm done. Kids will be kids. I'd stare at them in disbelief. Can't you do something about them?
Just a blank stare. Nothing to be done.
For two years we lived in a war zone, dancing between Uncle Daddy's drunken back yard rages and the kids' torment. For two years I did battle with them whenever I had to. It didn't change them. It didn't change anything in that house or neighborhood.
It changed me.
It unearthed my Sicilian roots, and that's never a good thing. Before the end, I was scheming different ways to get rid of them all. None of those ways were pretty.
I imagined house fires. I imagined semi-automatic weapons. I imagined hitting the accelerator as I drove down the street aiming for the urchins.
When those fantasies began to take up most of my weekends, something snapped. This just wasn't good.
I remember the day, I remember being in the bedroom, looking out the bedroom window at the kids scheming, our dogs, mean by now, lunging at the fence. My nose burned from butane odor courtesy of the planes taking off and landing from the airport down the road. I'd just come back from being harrased at the gas station, "hey baby hey baby hey baby, can i git a ride?"
I was completely, utterly sick of living there. Sick from living there. I didn't belong next door to Uncle Daddy.
"George, we're getting out of here." That's all I said on "snap" day.
He could see I meant it. I know he wondered where, why now, how. Those were minor details to me.
And I burned with a mission to get us free from that place, to get us a house away from the riff raff, or at least that riff raff.
Within three months of the day I snapped we moved into our new house, 35 miles and a lifetime away from Hapeville.
From what we hear, Uncle Daddy is still alive. By the time we left he was carrying an oxygen tank around, still smoking like a maniac, with throat and who knows what other kind of cancer. He'd apparently had it forever. Bad stuff doesn't kill people like Uncle Daddy. Bad stuff is in their genes. It only makes them stronger.
The kids would be about 16 by now. I imagine them in some juvenile detention center, having the shit kicked out of them. I swear I'm smiling right now.
But life doesn't usually work that way. I'm sure they're still right where we left them.
Roaches are hard to get rid of.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 11:05 AM