Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Story That Needs to be Told, Again - Today of All Days

Today is the 12th anniversary of my brother Jason's death due to HIV/AIDS related complications. 

It sucks. 

As I read through this again I was struck by how badly this post needs edited, but I hesitate to change it since it was 10+ years of repressed feelings rushing out like a tidal wave. The tide has come back in, but something in me feels lighter for writing this lengthy and scattered piece. 

Share it with someone who struggles to accept, struggles to be tolerant. Time is short.

Two people have asked me recently about in a round-about way about my brother and/or why I post vehement messages of support of gay rights on my Facebook page often. While I don't think I need a better reason than the good ol' Golden Rule, like most, the events in my life have shaped how I feel.

My brother Jason was gay. He was always different, although we didn't realize it the way you would now that it is more accepted in our society (it is better now, I think). He was five years older than my sister and me, and was really a great older brother. We should have realized then that it was odd that he helped us cut and dye our Barbie's hair and liked to organize stage productions of "Grease" (1 and 2), and produced and acted in a live sitcom he created a la Partridge Family called "The Beckwith's"....A lot of times I was the dog, but I am over it. Yes I am. Really. I am.

When beard trimmers and markers go wrong..

While we were pretty Brady Bunch-like, Jason and my Dad had a tough time connecting on a man/boy level because their interests were so far apart, but not for lack of trying on my Dad's part. I was more of that person, since I caught salamanders and frogs while Jason cooked and Stephanie hid from the frogs. We had a pretty great childhood, so don't go there. Jason was very well known for singing and acting, and graduated high school "promised" a girl. Yep. You heard me. With the not-an-engagement-ring-ring. He was very popular with girls, which should have been another huge and glaring indicator. There were always rumors he was gay, but since he was always dating someone...

Any opposite sex escort taken to an event in an effort to give a homosexual person the appearance of being out on a date with a person of the opposite sex.
Half of the women on the red carpet at the movie premier were not real dates, but beards.

After High School, he toured with a musical group called Up With People *, during which his girlfriend broke up with him. She was still in school and he was traveling and performing all over the world (awesome!). It was pretty typical for the break up to happen at that age, and I think she probably realized what was up. He was devastated by the break up. I think the break up signified that he knew he could no longer travel down a path that wasn't his. He wasn't so great at facing things, so this was a tough time for him. I suspect he also found that when he left Wyoming, there was a whole world and many of the UWP cast who were having the same feelings he was, and FINALLY, he fit in somewhere. Still, he struggled with coming to terms with who he was and tried to fight it. He was still "in the closet" at this point, at least as far as we knew. 

* Up With People is a great organization and will not, I repeat, will NOT make you gay. Unless you are already gay. The end.

After his touring year he left Up With People, a mistake I think. He went downhill from there and really struggled with drugs and bad relationships over the next 4 years. I was 5 years younger and went from thinking he hung the moon to being very disappointed in his drug use, lack of responsibility and continued lying to my parents, who didn't seem to comprehend the drug use, especially my Dad.

At one point I told my parents I suspected the money they were sending was going toward drugs and that I thought they should stop helping him. My Mom knew, but I don't think my Dad ever stopped trying to help him. I was about 16 years old by then, i guess. I was ultra responsible and possibly a little uptight (Read: SUPER uptight). I was worried and I wanted him to come home so we could assess him in person, but he kept saying he couldn't. We all knew he was gay but my Dad (who probably knew too - ignoring reality apple didn't fall far from that tree ) so during a phone call I finally said we knew he was gay, please come home. (He seemed genuinely surprised that we knew. Again with the reality - my Mom had thought it for years.) He came home alone for a visit, but he was a hot mess. He had a new partner who was also trying to straighten him out, who was off-putting on the phone and seemed not to realize that we were struggling with all of this too. This partner likely saved his life, so I thank him even though he really pissed me off. It wasn't a good visit.

My parents struggled financially in those years of the oil bust and I was very angry at my brother for making their struggle harder, by not paying car payments, continually needing money that was likely not used for dental bills, rent and other excuses and the CONTINUAL LYING. I was pissed at him, done dealing. I stopped talking to him. He wasn't invited to my wedding. This was hard for my parents, and I spent a lot of time being angry at my brother since they couldn't be. I was a bitch about it, and I am sure I added to their stress over the matter. Apologies.

Onion: I'm furiously angry! Grrr...
Jason: Palm Springs! Mimosa, please..

By then, he was still with his life saving partner who had moved him from AZ to CA to get him away from some of the influences that plagued him. I think he may have had to stake him in the back yard for a time in order to keep him from returning to his former life. Jason prospered there and we started talking. No more hard drugs, good jobs, they bought a home and had two dogs. Finally he was at peace with who he was and thought he deserved a regular life. My sister and I went for a visit in 1997, the first time we had seen each other since he had left Up With People.

While I was ok with the gay lifestyle, I will admit I was a little nervous about what it would actually be like to stay with a living and breathing gay couple. I am from Wyoming after wasn't like I had ever really been exposed to it.
Wow, thanks for meeting us at baggage check...

Jason and partner Victor picked us up and we immediately started laughing hysterically like we were back in the day, sneaking cigarettes on the snowmobiles and saying "douche" a lot. Victor stared at us in awe, these people who had been so recently estranged and frankly, seemed like assholes. My sister and I were both married, and it was obvious that they, as a couple, were really just like us. They didn't stand around and make out in front of us, just like we wouldn't have in front of them. They argued about their checkbook (a lot) and made fun of each other (Jason called Victor's look "70's Bathhouse gay" and he had a point.) They bickered in the car. They argued about dinner. Victor was kind of annoyed at how noisy we were being while he tried to drive. It solidified how I thought I felt about a gay lifestyle not being so different from anyone else's.

My parents never talked the fact that Jason was gay. I understood it, but I didn't like it. They were accepting in private, more as time went on. Local people jerks would ask us "Is Jason Married?????? (they knew) and my parents would hem and haw about not finding that right person yet or whatever. I started just blurting out "no, he's gay...but you knew that, right?", to much sputtering of beverages. My parents did not appreciate this much, and I will admit I was being petulant because I was annoyed that people who knew damn well he was gay would make my parents uncomfortable by asking. Rude.

But the the thing I realized by being rude was that was when I said he was gay and asked if they already knew, most admitted they DID know, and then we had a nice pleasant conversation about Jason and his partner of many years. They were actually very accepting once we were honest. I realized that by acting like we needed to hide it, WE made it appear we agreed it was something to hide. When we were open about it, so were others. It was a much more positive experience. Like having a gay coke and a smile.

My brother and Vic joined us in middle America for my Granny Grunt's 80th birthday celebration a few years later. My husband and I picked them up at the airport, or vice versa, I forget. They immediately wanted to stop for drinks in podunk Missouri, so Special Agent liked them immediately. He surmised they were a lot more fun than my sister and her lame-ass husband (we don't miss him now that he is former, either). 

It was a little tense, thinking about the elderly folks of the bible belt having to mix and mingle with a real live gay couple and we were all a little afraid of how that might pan out. But again, we were pleasantly surprised as shirt-tail relation referred to Victor as my brother's "roommate". They knew too, and once again I was reminded that:

a) being gay is not a new concept brought forth in the 70's
b) Everyone (I mean all y'all) have some gay people in your families

That Latino roommate of Jason's is a keeper!

It was a great trip, and sadly would be the last time we would all be together in person. 

My brother died in 1999. I was pregnant with the first wisecracker at the time, and he was the first person in my family who knew about it. I am glad I told him early. He died of cryptococcal meningitis, which was related to HIV. He said he did not know he was positive, although he had told me he had been getting tested every six months. This was a lie, Jason was still not able to be realistic about being gay and the need to be tested often. I hate this. I would be mad at him if it helped at all. But being mad at a dead person is futile.

It was horrible and awful and there wasn't a damn thing we could do about it. My Mom and I went to CA on Christmas Eve, knowing full well we were not on a rescue mission. Special Agent brought my Dad a day or two later, something I will love him for until the end of time. Special Agent deserves props for being the manliest of men, who isn't afraid of a couple of gay guys, or to take charge of a scared and worried Father in law who desperately needs him to. And then to take said Father in law to a bar in gay town because they both really needed a drink. 

On Dec 29, we discontinued life support and let Jason go. He was 29 years old.
The Onion, Jason and Victor
(see the 70's gay mustache? Do ya?)
1997-ish, San Francisco

I feel that the root of Jason's death was his inability to deal with being gay in a completely open way, which started in Wyoming, in his childhood, in religion, in society. Not my parents fault, as they accepted him wholly, but the arena of people and culture who saw his differences as something he should hide from. Of the many after school specials dealing with self esteem, none of them dealt with what to do when you didn't fit the sexuality mold.

I think Jason's shame for not being "normal" led him to drug use, lying, and a more dangerous and risky lifestyle than he might have if he could have just been himself, grown into his life, and tried to be happy. He got there, but about 15 years too late, and not without damage that would eventually be his undoing. 

His story isn't unusual, you can hear the same from almost every gay person around. Hiding, lying, pretending...from an early age. Jason pretended, even to himself that he was being tested for HIV and might have been diagnosed and gotten the cocktail and still be alive today if he hadn't continued to hide in some way from the true reality of the risks he faced. It breaks my heart and frustrates me all at once.
This post surfaced partly due to a friend Jason went to high school with asking me about his death last week. She had "heard" a lot about it, but never really KNEW if he had died of AIDS/HIV. This girl's dad was my Dad's very close friend. My Dad's very close friend has no idea how my brother died. Even in death, we were still hiding the details, and only listed meningitis as the cause of death in the Obituary. I disagreed with this choice, but I also realize that everyone is not as accepting as I am. There were many who were afraid to shake hands with us after they knew we had been at his death. 

:-( Uneducated, ignorant asses.

As far as not being in agreement on the lifestyle and sin, I can accept that religion and the bible dictate that homosexuality is wrong. I am not religious so that doesn't weigh heavily with me, except to say that according to the Bible, God made every one of us just as we are. But for those who are worrying about other people's so-called sins, I say  "Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone.."

We grew up as Methodists, and regularly went to church until my teens. The shine wore off over a few incidents and I could never accept that it felt like it was more a place of judgement than of community and acceptance. I saw even good churches do things I felt were not in the spirit of care for others.

My brother's partner was a Catholic, so they subscribed to a lot of religion, even in their own way. When my brother died, we had a hard time finding a local minister who was willing to perform his service, further sealing the deal that religion is not a path i wish to travel.

I don't think anyone chooses to be gay. Who would choose such a difficult path? I believe it isn't an option that someone suggested to you, a bored experiment, or because your Dad didn't spend enough time with you, or because as a girl, you played too many sports, etc. We are who we are, when we are born.

I have several gay friends and feel that there could be members of my family and social groups who may end up being gay as adults. I hope that those who are on that path can feel all of the ease and love possible and tolerance of something not quite the same, but not really that different. I hope acceptance will help them have a better start to an alternate lifestyle than my brother had. 

I think the world is getting better at this, and I am glad.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

You will respect my VERIFY

Ok spammers:
I dislike the added step of word verification, buts you leaves me no choice.

Thanks for ruining it for everyone else.

And no, we do not wish to visit your online casino. Nor do we require Viagra.

And certainly not at the same time...

Gives whole new meaning to the phrase "five card stud", eh?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's here...

The holiday push. Now, for those of you who think that I am chock full of holiday marshmallow fluff (it only looks that way in swimwear), you might be surprised to learn that Christmas is NOT my favorite holiday.

Santa hates me.

No children were harmed in the posting of this photo
So do retailers.

All this for overpriced tank tops? No, no thanks.

Still, I know the social norms and have overspent for my children so they don't end up in therapy. I have even managed to wrangle a few high-tech gadgets for myself.

I set a budget, and have *finally* convinced the adults in my life that we don't need to exchange gifts to show how much we care about each other. WINNING!

I tried to be organized, but I am still rushing around doing some things I dislike, which mostly include going to big box stores full of chaos and crying babies, including me. 

But yesterday, while on the hustle for some jello molds (jello salad is my assignment for Christmas and I may fail), I caught myself singing along with the Christmas carol piped in over the speakers. 

I felt better. 

I really, really like many Christmas carols. Maybe I am not so Grinch-y, I just dislike retail stores.

A few things on my list which will make my Holiday season brighter, despite my poor Christmas attitude:

Ringing the bell for the Salvation Army
The Baboos and I do this close to Christmas every year as a reminder to all of us that a lot of people have a lot bigger issues than getting the fruits of their overspending wrapped. We have standing-on-one-leg contests and sing Christmas carols poorly. We I make them work very hard to ring the bell in a non-incessant way which will not cause frazzled shoppers to snap. The Baboos are pretty charming, so I think we bring in a lot of dough. 
One legged standing contest. I always win.
I have sturdy legs.
Drinking with friends and family.
There are always a few impromptu get togethers with friends and their children which are easy and include wine. One this year is going to involve a White Elephant gift exchange, so wish me luck there. I am striving to bring something which is a joke, but also doesn't totally suck. Quite a tall order in my rural town. I am researching it, so sue me. 

Christmas food
Really, so, so much good stuff. I am all about making some sea salt truffles myself today, if I stop blogging and reading blogs so I can get them finished. I am also thinking a lot about my Mother in law's prime rib dinner and the brie I will make  and consume wholly for Christmas Eve at my Twin's new MBD-free home.

Blogging is probably why Special Agent had to help me last year.
He didn't mind since he enjoyed saying phrases which included "my balls"
a lot. He wears gloves from his crime scene kit, which adds to the allure.

Running into folks who make your day
Although I haven't seen my crazy friend JJ this season (I am actually a little disappointed) I did stalk run into this guy in the dog food aisle yesterday. I said, "You look a lot like Santa", to which he responded "I AM Santa...". And he let me take his photo for the baboo who is still on the fence about the reality of the sneaky gift giver. 

He told me he was watching me. And it wasn't even creepy. Santa, I am straightening up!

He was kind of the "oil field Santa", complete with Carhaart coat
and work boots, which was fitting for the area.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Crackberry Methadone

I'm ready.

I'm going to do it this time. Deep breath.

I am trading in the crackberry. I will no longer be bound by the painful addiction I wrote about here.
Crackberry, we can still be friends 
It's not you, it's me.
My wrist is screaming in pain with joy at the thought of no longer having to feel the strain of my fingers typing away on the keyboard. We're going touch, baby.

Like a post-intervention target getting into the van, I am a little proud, a lot terrified and anxiously worrying about getting one more crack fix before it's no longer available to me.

I hope my interventionist is Jeff Von Vanderen from the 
show and not that annoying lady with the smoker's voice.
People have said it will be better.. that I will be happier.
But what if I'm not?

Working as my own elf, I helped Secret Agent Santa upgrade and the device is en route (eek!). Shiny and black, this is one SH-MEXY telephone.

Our family is getting an Angry Birds player Ipad from Santa, so our foray into Apple is headfirst.

I am going to have apps for my apps.

I have spent the better part of the day looking for cool-without-trying-too-hard-but-trying-really-hard phone and Ipad cases and covers.

Boho and Arty?

High Fashion?

Earthy Bamboo?

Cool kids lunch table, here I come.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

These Boots Were Made for Flooding

In the two weeks after my father died, I felt like I was living underwater. Voices took on that slow-motion, garbled quality and I struggled to breathe. When my Mother called on a Sunday to say the lower level of her home was filled with water, it felt..symbolic.

My Mother was beside herself, just not prepared to deal with one more crisis. We all just wanted to close the door to the house and walk away forever, but we knew we couldn't.  We set to work. Facing reality had become all too required in our family.

We descended the stairs into water, the carpet squishing beneath our shoes. We sighed at the mess, at the mess of our family and got to work.

As I vacuumed the water from inside a closet, I found a pair of silver and gold cowboy boots my Dad had received as a joke. They were garish...and funny. I thought about the many times when it was least expected,  my Dad did something silly, quietly funny and weird. It made us laugh. Even my Mother, who tried hard to reel him in.

Mooning the camera in the Easter egg hunt photos.

Inappropriately placing the carrot to identify our creation as a snowMAN.

Pretending to almost drop the collection plate during the quietest time at church.

Wearing a tie to bed over some pajamas my mother had suggested he start wearing.

I pulled on the boots. Just like my Dad, I didn't say "Hey! Come look at me in these stupid boots!". I just continued to work in them, four sizes too big, vacuuming lovingly like a cross between Donna Reed and Liberace, dumping the shop vac'ed water into the tub.

Special Agent rolled past the room I was in, stopped and backed up.
"Sweet boots", he said.
I shrugged.

Twin swished past carrying a load of items and stopped.
"Nice." she commented, cringing.
I smiled.

I felt better.

This post was inspired by a prompt from Write on Edge's RemembeRED: cleaning, which said Think of a time that you “cleaned house.” Consider the subtext—we’re not writing about Windex here. We’re writing about relationships. Or feelings. Or a captured moment in time. Consider how dialogue and body language bring the moment to life for the reader.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Beyond the Door

The doorbell rang, sending the dog into a barking frenzy. She looked at her dough covered hands and glanced toward the door.

"Hey guys..?"
"Hello? Hello..? Can someone get the door..?" she called over her shoulder through the house.

Scowling at her hands, she flicked her wrists to remove some of the gunk stuck between all of her fingers and her wedding ring. She should have taken it off to make the rolls, but hadn't. 

"Kids -doorbell!"she yelled, listening for movement. She cursed the headphones she had bought for their new video game system. 
The doorbell rang again. More barking.
"Ugh." she sighed. dang kids. 

Holding her hands like a surgeon, she walked toward the door, looking at the dark form in the glass. The dog paced around the foyer.
She clumsily crossed her forearms to try to turn the knob, giving up and using two sticky slimy hands to try to turn the knob. The slippery dough didn't make it easy and she leaned over the knob trying to gain traction. She felt the knob turn. "Finally..", she muttered, swinging the door wide with her elbow, her hands still upturned to keep the dough from dropping.

She stared. 

"Hi", he said and smiled, the sun shining around the back of his head like a halo. 
Surprised eyes and a slow smile spread over her face. "Hi..."she said back, feeling tears as she stared at the camouflage uniform, weathered tan skin and complete and utter wonderfulness of reality. 
She hugged him, smelling his familiar scent as she snuggled her head into his neck.

He was home. 
He was safe. 

Outside, the snow began to fall. 

This post is dedicated to all those serving away from their loved ones this holiday season. It was inspired by the following prompt:  use the holiday season to inspire you to write a 
piece beginning with “The doorbell rang” and ending with “snow began to fall.”

All I Want for Christmas is NOT Thong Underwear

See Video. Go ahead, watch it a few times...

Beautiful ladies.. Sexy kitten voices and spectacular undies. And jealousy of the alien forms wearing them (Talk about the 1%..).

The commercial asks men to do the following: 

Tell me you love me.
Tell me you want me
Tell me you miss me.
Excite me.
Dazzle me.
Delight me.
Tell me there is no other woman in the world... like me. 

Good stuff, right? So why is this video annoying me today? 
I like pretty, sexy ladies. 

I have received VS goods several times as a sort of "gift that keeps on giving" and I completely get it. But somehow the idea that the way to tell a woman, an EVERY-WOMAN that you love, want, miss, her, etc. is by ordering her tiny, uncomfortable underthings makes me think man someone, somewhere is missing the point. 

I think whoever created this commercial knew the short staccato instructions produced are what men like, especially from half naked supermodels. 

Good work. 

But the person who wrote this failed to write a commercial with the gift recipient in mind because, if they had asked, would probably learn that women just want you to TELL them those things. 

And not with underwear. 
But that wouldn't sell much underwear, now would it?

*Overshare Alert*

Tough guy Special Agent wouldn't want me to tell you he is sappy and romantic, but he is. While he isn't afraid to buy some fancy underthangs, he has wisely done the pre-work to hopefully see such underthangs at a later date. 

He also has good timing. 

I was thinking of an earlier Onion, a post-partum onion who couldn't bear to look at VS catalogs (and certainly not commercials of anorexic women dressed as angels) when I wasn't too comfortable with my current state of being. At that moment in time, receiving anything where the exposure of midsection or thighs existed might have made me burst into tears, right there in my Mrs. Roper Mu-mu and nursing bra. 

Special Agent recognized this and instead bought me jewelry. 
He's a keeper.  

So, male readers (all two of you), this year, before maxing out the plastic, tell your not-tall, not-thin, not-flawless woman that:

You love her
You want her.
You miss her.

Excite her.
Dazzle her.
Delight her.
Tell her there is no other woman in the world... like her.

TELL her all of that...and you won't need lingerie. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Layer Exposed: Looking for a Silver Lining

Blogger is not working well for me today, and I am blaming my lack of success as a famous writer on this issue. (ahem). Moving on.

I am trying to fix it, so the comments section is more of a pop-up now instead. Please comment so I  can become a millionaire know it's working.

A silver lining of poking around in the settings is that Blogger appears to have added an option to make my blog more mobile friendly! Everyone likes a mobile friendly blog, so please to enjoy on your I-phone or archaic Blackberry like all of the little people (me) still use.

And, because I hate to waste your time with multiple Blogger whine posts, here is a fun video!

I like to pull goat ears..

Blogger Blogger Short and Stout; Find Your Head and Pull it out...

Come ON, man...
Blogger appears to be having some issues with commenting, in that some of my posts don't have a comments LINK, and won't let me choose a profile in order to POST a comment on other blogger's sites. 


I am SURE that I would have gone viral by now if only it weren't for Blogger. 

Yeah..that's it. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

'Tis the Season to Catch Up with the Mentally Ill - Layers Rewind

Hi to all,

The holidays are upon us (Happy Hanukkah!) and I am seriously thinking about making sea salt truffles and laying on the couch. Instead, I am working. Still, when I think of high-end chocolate, I can't help but think of JJ, and when I will see him again. I sure hope it isn't on the 10:00 news. 

A post from last year about a chance meeting with my old pal. 


I was in a rush this morning, and although all of you assume I go to the grocery store looking GREAT in my tiara and hotpants, today my hair was a bit of a fright. I was comparison shopping for high end baking chocolate to continue my love affair with the PW truffles and butter toffee and was literally RACING back and forth between aisles, muttering to myself like a crazy person with bad hair.

I made my selection and was headed back to put the non-sale candy bars back when I saw JJ (names have been changed to protect the mentally unbalanced..and me FROM the mentally unbalanced) racing TOWARD me down the same aisle. We physically collided. I smiled and said hi, as I have known JJ since junior high, and seem to run across him randomly about every two years. He looked overly happy to see me in my candy bar and bad hair frenzy and said "Hey, I was trying to chase you down!". Huh? While JJ and I know each other because he annoyed me daily when he sat behind me in Mr. Hall's 8th grade Social Studies class, we weren't friends in school. In fact, i don't know WHO JJ was friends with, as he was a bit of an oddity even then. He was a smidge of 'Bender' in The Breakfast Club, all about the inappropriate language and classroom outbursts and also like some of the folks I see on the 16th street mall in Denver. Except friendlier, like that guy who talks to you the whole flight. Mix that all together. 

A little Bender, plus...

Talky guy on plane, plus...

This sweet specimen = JJ

This crazy JJ fellow is always happy to see me, and I must admit, it is always an adventure seeing him. I saw him many years ago when I had first returned to the area. I was working at a bank, which was the worst job I have ever held. It was stifling. From the lowly teller line, I could see JJ sitting, slumped in a chair in the loan department, looking bored, his foot up on a chair leg in the waiting area. He waved, I waved and then slunk back to my prison of a job. He didn't look nervous...just annoyed to have been kept waiting by the 21 years old. As I left for lunch, i caught a glimpse of JJ, riding down the road on a new (to him) motorcycle. It wasn't fancy, but he looked like a kid on Christmas Day as the wind whipped his Bender style haircut. He was grinning hugely, and gave me a big military style salute. The loan was for this bike, and he has gotten it. Of course he had. 

In the grocery aisle, JJ didn't let my shock bother him one bit, and instead launched into a story about (I think?) quitting smoking. I smiled and said "good for you", which only inspired more talking about the following things:

(Please picture me smashed against the spice racks, holding 6 giant candy bars against my chest with a terrified smile on my face, trying to look relaxed. Add a lot of nodding)

 - Murder (I suggested adding murder to his quitting smoking list since our reunion is in a few years, but he said it was OK, since no one would find the bodies. Seriously.)

 -  Dominating the scrap iron business - he felt his success could also lead to retribution by his competitors and would need to start "carrying a gun again." Yep, he said again.
 - His Girlfriend - he loves this one, so they are NOT going the "ripping each other's clothes off" route this time. She has had an extended illness, so there may or may not be an issue with her legs - I was unclear on that. However, he did tell me she was beautiful with long blond hair (i thought of my own shaggy hair at this moment - WHY?), and that her t*ts were just were just where they should be (ahem.). Most Excellent. We agreed I had probably heard enough descriptors at that point. (OK, maybe I said that.) He threw his head back and laughed, saying "Stacie, you are cracking me up!"

 - Several physical altercations - i can't really describe what I heard here, as he was getting pretty animated.  I did hear every swear word I know, even the ones you NEVER hear...and especially not in the baking aisle at 9:15 in the morning. He was acting out some of the fighting, so he was pointing his finger one inch from my face as he demonstrated the tirade he gave to someone who had it coming. I know my eyes were freakishly wide, although I was trying to pretend this was all old hat to me. ((Nervous giggle, while looking around nervously)) Passersby seemed to be considering dialing 911.

 - Drug use - not his, but a lot of other people who were "gobbling up 'shrooms in the poolhouse" (Poolhouse?? in Wyoming?) and "taking more than their TIME.. (wink!)", etc. I have some new catch phrases for drug use now, anyhow.

 - Financial Stability - I should be honest and say that I know not a thing about JJ, including where he lived or lives. His father was also a bit of an eccentric, lived out of town on land with a spray painted graphic (and misspelled) sign to potential trespassers at the entrance.  I can't say if either were financially set as I was told today. However, maybe they are? According to JJ, it's remarkable. And why wouldn't I believe it? He has told me everything else this morning.

 Do you have a good visual? I hope so. Don't be afraid. Although JJ has apparently put the smack down on many, and seems slightly off balance, here is the weirdest thing:

Seeing JJ made my morning today. As I shared the story with others who knew JJ from back in the day, I couldn't stop smiling. As I write this, I still can't. JJ is a colorful character and a part of my history, and made the effort to chase me down at 9:15 am, even though he had finished his shopping JUST to share a bit of time telling me how things are going and even to ask a bit about me. JJ is a character, but one that made my mundane morning a little less mundane, you know?

Merry Christmas JJ. It was nice to see you. Please don't kill anyone in 2011.