Devil’s Night: Or the Confessions of a Half-Hearted Bad-Ass

“Just paint your face” the shadows smile/
Slipping me away from you/
Oh it doesn’t matter how you hide/
Find you if we’re wanting to/
So slide back down and close your eyes”
-The Cure, Burn

It starts with black eyeliner. I rim my eyes with it, so that I look like a glamorous raccoon. My pale skin receives a quick pat of iridescent blush, my mom calls me ‘painfully white,’ but I like it because I look like a vampire from an Anne Rice book. If only my hazel eyes could glow like one of her vampires I would be drop dead sexy. Dangerous.

I take a deep breath as I apply my mascara, one wrong move and I’ll have a glob of black in my eye, I try not to think about last time I had applied mascara when I was drunk. The burning, the black tears, the chunks of gunk floating around the sensitive orb, like some exotic disease. I put my hand down and blink, while clearing my head. Nice and easy, 1, 2, 3…Now the next eye, breathe, inhale, exhale, open that right eye wider… and the hard part is done.

I step back and take in my reflection. Meh. I’m not a ‘Perfect Princess,’ I steal clothes from thrift stores. Issues of Seventeen magazine seem to mock me anymore. All the cool stuff is not available, unless you have a lot of money. Mom doesn’t have money ‘like that,’ she always complains about needing a man to provide the other half of the income, but then dates and marries complete losers. Love is so fucking stupid. My mom is pretty fucking stupid.

I move under the over-head light of the bathroom. My roots are starting to show under all the green hair dye. I could always dye it another color, but I think I’ll just let it grow out. I kinda regret dying it green in the first place, but I’ll never tell my mom that. When I came out of the bathroom, hair freshly dyed, mom nearly broke out in tears.

“YOU HAVE SUCH LOVELY RED HAIR! WHY DO YOU DO THIS, ELLEN!?”
“I do it because I can. Because it is my head.” I replied vehemently.

In truth I did it because it was the biggest “Fuck You” I could think of: A Fuck you to the rehab councilors, trying to tell me where I can go and whom I can talk to; A Fuck you to school administrators, with hateful eyes and caustic tongues; A Fuck you to the World; and most especially a Fuck you to my mom and dad. I wanted to show everyone that I did not care what they thought, that I was different. What I had not counted on was becoming the butt of every booger and Cesar Romero Joker joke. I try to pretend that it doesn’t bother me, but until the green is gone, I’m going to avoid red lipstick.

I stand back again a fluff my bob. My hair kinda of tangles and knots up, and I look a little crazy, but it’s really better this way. I almost look like Drew Barrymore, if I squint really hard and cock my head 45 degrees to the left, and stand back from the light. I wish I could be prettier, maybe thinner, but that is not ever going to happen. I grab my stomach and fold it in, until I can clearly see my hips. I then let go and watch as the flesh falls back into place. Guys don’t look twice at me, if they do, I tense up for the inevitable punchline. Me.

I reach into the dirty clothes pile and pull-out my favorite black t-shirt and black jeans. It is my standard issue uniform, anymore. The jeans are worn and hug me nicely and the shirt is just loose enough to where I do not have the ‘stuffed-sausage look.’ It is the perfect outfit for a funeral, or for climbing out of windows, a real must-have for the seventeen year old girl on the move. I take a deep breath before I exit the safety of the bathroom, my bedroom is directly across the the small hallway. All I need to do is to make it into the confines of my abode and wait. I slowly turn the knob and hold onto the press lock, this way there is no sound to announce my vacating the premises.

I’m not so lucky, standing at the door is my baby brother, Liam.

“I gotta goooo!” he say through clenched teeth, blue eyes widening, as he grabs his wang. He’s always doing that, it’s so embarrassing.
“Quit grabbing yourself and go already.” I whisper back furiously.
“Bruja!” Calls the voice from the living-room. It’s him, the bane of my existence, and since the impending birth of his demon-spawn, my step-father, Jorge.

I really do not want to see him, or have him see me right now. There will be awkward questions about my freshly applied make-up and outfit. Questions that I do not want to answer. The apartment is small, but it is dark. I stand back in the shadow of the hallway between the bedrooms and the bathroom.

“What do you want Jorge?” I call back, making sure to mispronounce it to sound like Georgie, than hor-hey, like he was trying to teach me. I edge a little closer, my mom is sleeping in the area that she converted into a bedroom. as long as I stand here, the curtains will block his view of me from the living room. I see smoke billing in the blue light of the television and there is the definite punch of dank earth, if I’m lucky he’s probably stoned.

“Do not call me Georgie, I am not a faggito. I’ll knock your crooked teeth down your throat, bruja… Go to bed.” Is all he says.

Bring it, asshole. I’ll get your ass put of here so quickly your head will spin. I think to myself, I really wish he would hit me. It would prove everything that I said about him. No one believes me when I tell them that he is horrible. Grandma just clicks her tongue and shakes her head.

“Don’t ruin your mother’s happiness.” Is all she says to me.

I think Mom loves him, but right now even if she didn’t, she is kinda fucked either way because she’s knocked-up. Liam likes him because Jorge will make Mom buy him things like toys and video games. I get nothing really, but it’s okay because I know how to steal. As for the rest of the family doesn’t matter, because the rest of the family isn’t here to see him. The way he looks at me, or the way he tries to grab me when Mom isn’t around. Fucking prick, I think to myself and try to push down the anger.

I slowly close the door to my room and light a few candles. I can hear Liam come trouncing out of the bathroom, I can hear Jorge walking back and forth. I sit quietly on my bed and wait for the walking to stop. Since I’ve been home from rehab, Mom thought to nail all of my windows shut. She did not count on me removing them with a claw hammer. Since then I found that the hole is still tight enough that I can replace the nail, and provided that no one get too close or really breathes on it, it looks like I’m in tight.

I wait as Liam is tucked in, the walls are thin and his bedroom is next to mine:
“GOOD NIGHT POO FACE!” he calls out to me.
“GOOD NIGHT STINKY!” I call back.
I can hear Jorge outside my door, then there is tapping.
“Go to sleep.” is all he says, then the footsteps trudge heavily back to the bed that holds my sleeping mother and unborn devil child.

I cautiously step out of bed and I retrieve my backpack, in it are all the necessary items: Toilette paper, shaving cream, and some eggs that I stole from the fridge that morning. I pull the bag onto the bed and I wait a little longer. When I am sure that no one is moving around I grab my black workers flannel. The outside is cotton, but the inside is is lined with a soft fleece, it is form-fitting and warm. Perfect for what I intend to do.

I blow-out my candles and wait once I hear the soft hitch of snoring, I know it is time. I climb onto my bed and reach behind the curtains. I carefully remove the nail and place it on my dresser I slowly ease the window open and snake through the cold ground outside. I gently pull down the storm window and I wait for a few moments.

The blood is pumping solidly in my ears, my heart feels like it is ready to rip through my sternum, I take a deep breath and force myself to stand there for a moment longer. The light does not go on. The curtains do not move. No one knows I am gone and that is exactly how I wanted it.

I turn and walk quietly to the neighbor’s yard and ease open the gate. Tomorrow children will throng this neighborhood, but tonight is mine. Tonight is Devil’s Night, the night when all the gutter punks rise and cause random acts of mayhem, it is a night made just for people like me.

I can no longer tame my excitement as I make my through the yard and break out into a run. I run through the alley that connects all of the apartments, to the side street, to another row of houses and through their yards, to another alley. Eventually I have to stop and walk. I cut through the parking lot of an abandoned grocery store and cut across Milwaukee Avenue.

The Orange lights of the city give everything a slightly toxic glow. My Grandfather complains about the the light polluting the night sky, making it impossible to see the stars. There is an energy in the lights, a pulsating hum that makes me giddy. It makes the shadows seem darker and I want to scream from the anticipation. The blinking clock at the bank shows that it is approximately 45 degrees and that is currently 10:30 PM. I hope I can keep warm, but right now it’s not too bad and I feel warm on the inside.

On the opposite side of Milwaukee, there are more side streets and dark alleys for me to seek refuge. The cops rarely come through this part of the neighborhood and as long as I stay off the main streets, I will not get caught for curfew. I make a circuitous route to the train station, where I will seize my destiny, I’m so excited I think I could poop.

My girlfriend Cal lives a few blocks away from the Irving Park stop. I told her I would come to get her this evening, so we could cause trouble. I get to Jefferson Park and start running again. The ticket guy is sleeping in his booth, so I jump the turnstile and continue down to the trains. My nerves are on fire, but I am starting to get a little cold while waiting.

I light a cigarette on the platform and stand under the heat lamps, waiting. It feels like an eternity is silently slipping by into the night. The cars on the Kennedy are whipping by me and I feel very insignificant. It is disquieting to feel so small in this world, so isolated. The darkness is all around me, I pray silently for the train. The smoke curls around my head, twisting, and turning like ghosts. Tiny ghost around a tiny girl, in a very large city.

Suddenly the tracks start to hum and hiss, the train come barreling into the station and I toss my cigarette and jump on.

The doors close behind me and I am alone in the car. Normally I would smoke a cigarette to celebrate my personal party car, but I do not want to attract any undo attention. The train makes a stop at Montrose, before finally heading to Irving. I replay the conversation earlier that night with Cal in my head:

“So we’re fucking doing this.” I told her that afternoon, while smoking a joint.
“Are you sure about this?” She asked while passing it back to me.
“What could go wrong? As long as we move quickly and keep it within a small radius, we should be totally fine.” I say as I inhale.
“Okay.” She said finally.
“Good. I’ll come to get you.” I say and smile.

I cut through the back streets and alleyways, again avoiding Irving Park or Pulaski. The Cops will surely be traveling down them tonight. Anything that we do in terms of teepeeing or egging a house needs to be done quickly. Then we can go and party and then we will be bad asses, we can brag about our exploits to the boys. If I cant get them to date me; then I’ll baffle them with my exploits.

I turn into the final alley way that runs behind Cal’s house. The wind has picked-up, the sweat from running and the excitement is starting to turn cold on my skin. Like tiny tendrils of ice prickling my shoulders and armpits. ‘It will be worth it’ I repeat in the back of my head, making it my running mantra.

I enter through the neighbor’s yard and jump the fence, as Mr. O’Donnell has installed motion sensor lights on the garage. I stand underneath her window, it is dark. This is not a good sign. I walk back to her Step-mother’s stone garden. I pick-up a few pebbles and I toss them. The first haul goes a little wild and sprays the side of the house. I stand there cringing for a moment. Real fucking smooth, Ellen.

Determined, I go back to the garden, a pick-up a smaller handful. I make sure to toss just one at a time. Then I wait, again, I can feel the passage of time slip by. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens. I toss a few more stones. I wait. Nothing. I curse my rotten luck and I curse the flakey Irish girl who happens to be my best friend.

I guess I could go home, but I want to have an adventure. Something, anything to break the monotony of so much plotting and planing. I really need some action. I run out into the neighborhood, looking for a target. I do not have to look far, as there is an old house, and I do not wast anymore time. I launch an egg and it lands with a satisfying “WHAP!” against the stone porch.

Feeling emboldened, I throw another, but goes too far and it hits the picture window right off the porch. The glass makes a “DOINK!” sound. I think I might have cracked the glass, but I do not have time to check, because lights go on on the second floor, I start running. As I’m turning the corner as I can hear a front door open and slam shut. Someone is pissed and I am fucked.

I duck down another alley. I go to the nearest yard with a large wooden privacy gate, but it is locked. I go to the next yard and manage to open the gate. I close it behind me and dart towards a stair well, grateful that there are no lights. I think I’m actually going to poop my pants, right now.

I can hear a cars engine as it travels slowly through the alley. I say a silent prayer to all of the Gods and baby gods, that nothing gives me away. I pull my knees closer to my chest as I hide in some stranger’s backyard, ducked in a stairwell. I made sure to close the chain link fence behind me. I sit and wait, sweat is pouring off of me and now I feel ice run up and down my spine. From the front of the house I can hear another car speeding down the street, blaring the Cure.

I ultimately decide to ditch the bag. If I’m lucky, they probably thought they saw a boy, not a girl. If I do not have any additional crap, they really can’t tie me to the egging. If I get caught, which I do not intend to do. I stand up, and I steady myself. It takes awhile, because my knees feel like gelatin. With trembling hands I pull the bag of bastardry up one last time. I slowly climb up the stairs and survey the backyard, I spot a large bush. I walk over to it, crouch down, and slide everything under the bush, careful to bury it under dead leaves.

I wipe the dirt from my hands and slowly stand up. My ears are pricked, waiting to hear sound. Any sound that will betray the eerie sense of calm that has replaced the recent excitement. I look around and cautiously make my way out to the front of the house. The streets are empty, the large houses look vaguely menacing as I walk down the side street.

A block away I can hear another car, it is enough to make me start running. I slip into the shadows and make my way slowly back to Cal’s house, from there I can figure out where the train station is. It doesn’t take long, but my attempt to back track has caught the attention of the car. It could be someone out for a night drive, or the person who is looking for me.

There is a church nearby, I duck into their yard and find cover behind the bushes. They still have some foliage and I am able to keep covered. I reach into my pocket to find my return fare home, but my hands reach down into the fabric and are brushing the lint when I remember that my bus fare is in the pouch, of the backpack, under some leaves in a backyard of some random house. I want to cry. I am cold, I am scared, and I have royally fucked this up. If I start walking I can make it home in an hour, but what time is it?

At least I have have cigarettes, not many, but I smoke one anyway. I’m sitting behind a bush, on dead leaves in a church yard, I look up and I can see the stars. They’re actually planets, because their light is a bit stronger than stars, but I make my wish anyway. I wish to be out of here, to be home, to be safe. I wish that I had someone to talk to right now, to tell me that I’m going to be okay. Nothing happens. I sigh and stand up and prepare to start the long walk home, when I see another shadow in the alley. I jump back into the bushes.

“Heelloo?” It’s a guys voice. He is now standing ten feet away with his head cocked quizzically. His voice doesn’t sound menacing. I take the risk.
“Hi.” I say, trying desperately to sound more confident than I feel.
“So, uhhh, you know you’re hiding behind a bush, right?”
“Yup. It’s pretty nice back here. There’s bugs and dirt and leaves and stuff.” I say agreeably.
“Listen, you’re not some sort of twisted devil worshiper, are you?” He asks cautiously.
“Do you have anything against pagan-chicks?” I ask cautiously.
“Nope.”
“Then, no.” I say as I come out into the light.
“My name is Ellen and I’m in a spot of trouble.” I offer a dirty hand.
“Nice to meet you Ellen, my name is Shawn and I know trouble when I see it.” He says amiably.
“Great, listen, Shawn. I need to use the bathroom.” I say as my bowels start banging into my pelvic bone.

Shawn wastes no time. His apartment is next to the church and he saw me in the bushes as he was coming home from work. He figured he would see if I needed help, because I looked alone. Without further encouragement, he brought me back to his place and directed me to the bathroom. Everything relaxed.

A few minutes later, I was able to exit. I walked into a large room that was both a living room and bedroom. There where black light posters and lava lamps all over the place. Shawn seemed pretty rad, but I needed to get home.

“Er…Thanks. I gotta go.” I mumble .
“Not so fast.” He says. Again he cocks his head and looks at me quizzically. He has closely cropped hair on the sides and slicked back blonde hair on top. He is handsome, but handsome guys are dangerous. I need to figure out what he wants and fast.
“What is it? I ask.
“Well, I do enjoy rescuing damsels in distress and all, but how in the hell did you end up here?”
“Is that all?” I ask.
“Yeah. Tell me your story.”
“Okay. You got pot?” I venture.
“Nope, just cigarettes and coffee. I quit smoking dope sometime ago. I don’t drink either to answer your question.”
“Oh, but you have black light posters.” I protest feebly.
“Yeah, so?” He asks.
“Oh, well then. I’m almost out of smokes and I could really use something warm.” I say and shrug.

Shawn makes me some coffee with extra sugar and cream. I tell him everything. Once I opened my mouth, it seemed like I could not stop myself: I told him about how I got there, the eggs, Cal, the Car, my Mom, my Step-father, and I told him about my recent stint in a locked ward.

He never clicked his tongue, or made me feel bad. When I was done, he told me about his life. We talked about drugs and drinking. He told me he was sober, that maybe if I’m lucky I could be like him. I told him that I thought that was nice and all, but I liked pot too much and I absolutely loved whiskey.

“Maybe so, but you’re still young. You might change your mind one day.” He told me affably. I looked at the clock, it was almost 3 AM. I needed to go.

Shawn tossed me a few smokes and some cash. He then grabbed his hat and an extra hoodie for me and we walked to the train. I wanted to kiss him, but thought better of it. Instead I hugged him.

“Just get home, girl.” he told me.
“I will.” I promised.
“Hey… Ellen? There is a belief that when you save someones life, you become responsible for them. Promise me you won’t waste yours.”
“Alright, I promise.” I said as I rolled my eyes and walked into the train station.

When I got home, I collapsed into my bed. The next morning I had a migraine and couldn’t go to school. That afternoon, during my outpatient therapy, they drug tested me. I was clean. The night and Shawn dissipated into the late October afternoon. I returned home and went trick-or-treating with my baby brother, because Mom was too tired after work.

When we returned home, Jorge was waiting for us with one of the “Uncles,” they were giggling and making jokes in Spanish. I hate it when people talk in another language, it makes me paranoid. Even more so when they speak another language and then look at me. God, I hate him. Mom was asleep, so I helped Liam go through the candy. After much negotiation, I got: Three Snickers, a Three Musketeers bar, a Blow-pop, two pennies, and a pamphlet cautioning me about the evils of Halloween. The last two items were graciously given to me by my brother, because he loves me.

A few days later, I tried to locate Shawn to thank him and return his hoodie, but could not locate the apartment that I went to that night. Everything looks differently in the day, I became so distraught and frustrated that I eventually gave up.

Several months later I saw him at the train station, I was getting off the train as he was getting on, with his girlfriend. I waved to him and he returned the wave, that was the last I ever saw of him.

Nine Lives

Cute little dropout,
How come you pack a rod?
Is your mother in a clinic?
Does your father got no job?
Sometimes you’re so impulsive,
You shaved off all your hair,
You look Boris Karloff,
But you don’t even care.
– Tom Petty, Zombie Zoo

Dawn has not even begun to break the horizon, when the nasal “waaah-waaah” of my alarm pierces the thick air of my bedroom. I roll over and pull the comforter over my head and pray for the noise to stop, but mom comes to my door her gentle knocks sound like cannon fire:
“C’omon, El, it is time for school.” She stage whispers at my door.
“Coffee?” is all I can muster in response.
“Only if you get up.” She replies as she slowly walks away.
I roll over and contemplate all the awesome dreams I could be dreaming, but resign myself to the fact that I am now too awake to fall back asleep. So with a sigh and a grunt, I kick off my blanket and sit-up.
“Ellen…” My mother starts calling me as I enter the kitchen.
“I’m up, Jesus.”
“Jesus had nothing to do with it.” Snaps my mother as she hands me a cup of freshly poured, sweetened, nectar of the gods. Coffee!
“He did to: See he suffered, died, and was buried, right? He then came back, scared the shit outta everyone, put his best guy in charge, and went back to heaven. So then his best buddy makes the Catholic Church, they make some schools, and BAM! Now I’m waking up at the ass crack of dawn, so I can go to school. It has everything to do with Jesus.”
My mother sighs and shakes her head, and turns toward the kitchen sink.
“It’s gonna be a cold one today.” She says, defeated.
I smile as I sip my coffee, because I have won this round. I am smart.
I finish my coffee and stalk into the bathroom, now comes the arduous task of trying to prep for the day. I stand in front of my mirror and grab my tummy fat and suck in my cheeks. I would be absolutely stunning, if only I could cut off this coating of ick. I think about all of the impossibly thin girls at school and the familiar pang of jealousy strikes me. I want to be skinny and I want to hold court with the cool girls, have handsome trust fund boys ply me with beer. I want to wear cool clothes from Delia’s and go concerts and…
The familiar knocking on the door breaks my reverie:
“Ellen, hurry-up.” Calls my mother, who has abandoned her stage whisper and is actually using her real voice, which really is not much different. I do as she asks, and in five minutes, I am cleaned up and ready to go.
I put my shoes on and stare at my legs. I cannot believe that I am wearing stirrup pants and a skort, which is a cranberry colored herringbone. I have my feet shoved into plastic bags and I am wearing Kmart boots. I guess I should be grateful: I do not live in a jungle with vicious warlords, I do not have bullets whizzing over my head, my baby brother doesn’t have AIDS, and our momma isn’t a crack-head. However I’d give my eyeteeth and possibly my baby brother for a sweet pair of glittery Doc Martins. Don’t judge me.

We step out of our cramped two-bedroom apartment, which is currently housing five people, including me. There is viciousness in the winter that sucks up life and makes everything smell atmospheric. I look up and behold the cold, hard, and clear twilight of early morning winter stars distantly glittering, just beyond the garish Orange glow of the municipal lights. As we make our way to the station wagon, I turn my head to the third floor; Alison Macauley lives up there. It would be so cool if I could arrive at school with her and her dad, Alison’s dad drives a Jaguar. It would be cool if mom could hook up with Alison’s dad, but he already has a girlfriend, and mom has already called him a shanty mick on more than one occasion. I always laugh when she says it, because if the Macauley’s are shanty micks, what then, does that make us?

I really want to be Alison’s friend, but I think that will be somewhat impossible, she runs in a different circle than I do. She hangs out with the athletic Rah-Rah girls; I prefer to keep company with slightly burnt, wild-eyed ladies. They are at least interesting and they lack that certain judgment that has plagued me since arriving to this school. I might piss them off, but I’m never out of place. I sigh into the morning; my breath creates a large whitish cloud, which is the nice thing about winter. It is harder to get busted for smoking, because everyone looks like they’re doing it.

The station wagon door creaks and groans its dissent as we pile in. Mom turns on the ignition and lets the car warm up, then grabs the scraper, and closes the door while she attempts to remove ice from the windshield. I turn on the radio and Bob Marley’s Jammin’ is playing on XRT. I turn it up and imagine living on a deserted beach, drinking something alcoholic, and smoking a joint. I would have an awesome, tortured, and poetic boyfriend. He would have a goatee and a sense of humor and my life would be so ultimately epic. I would have lot of children all of them named after all of the cities that I visited: Manhattan, Paris, and Guadalupe… The door suddenly opens and I jump, startled out of my day dream:
“Ellen, TURN IT THE FUCK DOWN! The whole neighborhood can hear that damned song!”
“But, Ma, it’s effing Bob Marley! Be cool!” I beg.
“I don’t care if it is Jesus Christ himself telling you about your personal redemption. Turn it the fuck down.” She replies with a finality that had me twisting the volume down. Way the fuck down. My mom is so not cool.

Eventually we are off, there is silence in the car, and mom turns the volume up just enough to fill the silence. Suddenly Mother’s Little Helper comes on, and the two of us begin to sing along with Mick.
“Who is this!?” Demands my mother suddenly. It is part of a game we have played since I was little: Name that tune; Name that band.
“Gaawwwd, Ma.” Is say exasperated. Sometimes I just like to listen and sing along without being interrupted, but I know that if I do not relent; she will shut the music off entirely.
“It’s the Rolling Stones. Jesus.”
“Good girl, now please try to cut back on the blasphemy. You are going to Catholic School, now.”
“Sorry.” I say, but don’t really mean it.
“Ma, why do you do this with the music, I mean, what is it ever going to get me?” I ask.
“The appreciation of men everywhere.” She replies with a wink.
“Gross, Ma.” I say as I picture my mother training me to be a man catching, baby maker, unless of course he had an epic goatee. I shake my head to clear my thoughts.
“Did you have any homework last night?” Asks my mother as we pull up to the drop off point.
“Don’t worry about it, Ma.” I lie as I jump out of the car.
Truth is, I rarely did any homework. My schedule is too busy for such things; it cuts into my time with friends so is therefore useless to me. Besides, I’m a sophisticated 15 year old, people simply need to respect that.

I step out of the car and behold the glory and the ultimate eyesore of the great Northwest Side. Jefferson Park is a train and bus terminal, that was modernized in the 1970’s and runs along the Kennedy Expressway. It is the major hub that connects all the major suburbs and routes to exotic locations, like Downtown or Roger’s Park. For us, it is a meeting place, where delinquents from Taft, Outcasts from Res, and Burnouts from Lane can all coalesce into a mass of teenagers up to no good. Due to where it is situated, you can smoke pot anywhere; there are many places to hide to avoid getting busted; and ready transportation to get away. Right now, it is dead, either because people are not awake, or because like me, they have to pretend to go to school.

I wait until my mom has turned the corner from Veteran’s Square Convenience Store and is out of sight, before pulling out one of my illicit cigarettes. I light it up as I walk towards the bustling center of the terminal. I offer a silent prayer to the patron saint of thieves, so that my Aunt does not notice the missing pack of Marlboros, as I exhale the smoke. I walk through the large roadway, where the buses are awaiting to take people to the places they need to be. I cross over to the entrance that will eventually take me down to the trains. I eventually enter a long corridor, that is actually a bridge over the expressway and toss my butt against the dingy marble floor, and I watch as the cherry explodes into a billion tiny embers. I pull out the dollar I was given last night for bus fair, when I spot the kindly attendant that never charges me, sitting in his glass kiosk. I shove the dollar back into my pocket.
“My Ma forgot to give me bus fair.” I whine.
“Stupid lady, it’s okay, here’s transfer.” He says in thick European Accent, as he hands me a hand-punched paper transfer. SCORE! Now I can afford a soft cookie for breakfast at the cafeteria. I know that on some level this is really wrong, but I want a cookie. I’ll just pray to Mary about this; they say that if you pray enough, that Mary will intercede on your behalf. She is like a go-between between you and Jesus. I like that idea, like if I really want something, I simply go to Mom who then goes to Grandma. Grandma hooks it up. Maybe Mary is like my Grandma. The hook-up.

I head downstairs and I can hear the train thunder into the station; I start running like a crazy person. Not surprisingly, I manage to trip over my feet and nearly take out two disgruntled old polish ladies. I can hear them hurl insults at me in Polish, but I do not have time to apologize. I barely manage to jump onto the train, just as the doors shush closed.

The L Train chugged laboriously over the ice-tinged tracks. Sparks burst out towards the sky intermittently and red-orange embers float lazily past the windows, like fiery motes of dust. I manage to snag the very last seat, of the very last car. Dawn is slowly breaking in the East, but for now the entire world is washed in a light indigo blue. The train tracks gently curve and I can feel the car shift over the slight unevenness. The station ultimately dissolves from view, leaving nothing but the tracks to show where I was. I stare at the growing distance between myself and where I have been; always eagerly anticipating the next destination.

Excitement builds in my gut as I exit the train at Harlem and hop onto escalator. I have taken this same trip since the start of September, but the feel of independence is exhilarating. Once I arrive at the bus terminal; I take my usual post between the battered and cigarette burnt marble monuments erected by Jane Byrne. My backpack makes an excellent seat that keeps my bum off the cold floor and whatever else that happens to be lurking there.

The bus that will ultimately take me to school is a mere 10 feet away, but I will not be getting on that bus right at this moment. I watch as it pulls slowly out into the ramp, which will ultimately lead out to the street. The bus is large, and crusted with salt; it glitters in the early morning sun. I look around in fascination; the sun has finally broken over the horizon, painting everything in a brilliant yellow hue. It is amazing. The sky looks just so intensely blue that I want to consume it and feel it’s blueness inside of me. Then I realize it is winter. Then I realize how impossible that could be. So I pull out another purloined Marlboro and I wait.

It is funny when you think about the paths that lead you upon your adventure. Mine started out innocently enough. I was an outcast in my school, not because I was brilliant, or too pretty, or anything special. I was a stupid, dumpy girl, who was dressed by her grandmother. To make matters worse, I decided that I was going to pretend to be really tough, really ‘urban,’ and I spread a rumor that I was in tight with the Gangster Disciples. The blow back on that was pretty fucking incredible, I found myself in fights, and I became the target of Helene and Dominique. I tried numerous times to cut school, to hide, but that didn’t work. My Special Ed Teacher, Mrs. Lane would show up at my house and drag me back to school.

Those last few months were just horrifying. My only friend was Berta, whom everyone, including myself, called Dim. I know, I know, it’s a shitty thing to say about your only friend, but she was really dim. When the question came up as to where I was going to go to High School, the answer was pretty much laid out for me. I was done with low-class public school kids and that particular brand of misery. I was going to go to a private school, where I would be allowed, encouraged even, to spread my electric-butterfly wings. So desperate was I to attend, I trudged with Dim to Resurrection one horrendously rainy spring morning to take an entrance exam. By the time we got there; we were soaked to the bone. Puddles formed at our feet and we tore through a half a box of Kleenex, just so we would not dampen the scan-tron sheets that where laid before us. We took our tests and then left.

A few weeks later, a large envelope came into the mail. I had been accepted; they liked me, they really fucking liked me. Dim was not as lucky, and would have to find another school, which meant she would have to take another entrance exam. As for myself, by virtue of the test results and my IEP, I was going to have to take a battery of additional testing. There where tests, and still more tests that I had to take to check my cognitive skills and to make sure that I would be an ideal candidate for the school. I spent an entire Saturday morning and most of the afternoon, sitting in a convent, with a Nun whom was dressed in all white, with a gray veil. She had the kindly face of a grandmother and gold wire framed glasses, her hair was styled, so that gentle wisps of graying blond hair would frame her face, like tiny baby angel wings. After a particularly long set of Math, she gave me some milk and cookies. I wanted to be her bestie forever. Once I had completed the tests and they decided that I had enough to ‘work with.’ I was allowed to register for fall classes.

That Summer I embarked on a journey: I began doing exercise routines that where suggested in Seventeen, I began to dye my hair darker shades of red-orange, and I began a search for my new identity. If Eighth Grade taught me anything, it was that it did not matter how many episodes of In Living Color or Martin I watched; I was not hip and I was not urban. I was an Irish-Polish Girl living on the Northwest Side of Chicago; not exactly Ghetto-Fabulous material.

I began listening to music from the Sixties and Seventies; I became mesmerized by the Doors. I taped the Cure, the Breeders, and Stone Temple Pilots off of “The Alternative Station” Q101. I was going to go for a romantic, pre-tuberculosis, poet with a modern 1990’s twist. I was going to out grunge, grunge. A few weeks before school, I found a picture of Dolores O’Riordan from the Cranberries, I took it to the elderly beautician that worked at the salon my grandma and her friends frequented and raised hell until he cut my hair. Just. Like. Hers.

The result was tragic. I looked like the bastard child of Delores O’Riordan and Boris Karloff, but that was okay, because I was going to high-light my chubby cheekbones and wear tasteful dark purple eye shadow. To perfect that look, however, I was going to need to fix my eyebrows. Seventeen had an article about sculpting the perfect brow, simply by following the natural arch. As I have a scar on one of my eyebrows, the natural arch was not exactly even. Either way, while plucking to achieve that perfection, I over plucked, and then I panicked. Somehow a Lady Bic was involved and when it was all said and done, I had approximately one inch of eyebrow to either side of my face, one thin, little inch. I had to force myself to stop, my hands shook, and I began to wail.

I sat on the floor of my grandmother’s bathroom, Lady Bic still in hand, and wept. I looked like a goddamned Neanderthal. My Grandma Marge walked-in right at that moment and thought I was attempting suicide. First she screamed, then she grabbed her handy-dandy Maybelline eyebrow pencil, and finally she drew on some eyebrows for me. I went from Neanderthal to Arch-Villainess from a Disney movie, all I needed where some puppies.

At this point, I only had a few days before Orientation, but I seriously considered prayer to the Saint that Makes the Eyebrows Grow. To cover my bases, I used the pencil that my Grandmother gave me. I was going to make this happen come Hell or High Water.

Orientation day came and I was propelled into a completely new world. There where so many different girls, from everywhere, there where girls from schools that I have never heard of. It was hot outside and the air conditioning had just been turned on in the school, so the halls where still muggy from the heat, but I was ready. I began to seek out the girls that had potential for popularity. I was bound and determined to be a Rah-Rah girl. It was an abysmal failure.

Somehow between the heat and my endeavors, I began to sweat. Big, fat, and nasty droplets began to coat my face, arms, back and extended to my armpits. Flop sweat.
To make matters worse, my carefully drawn eyebrows began to melt. To make matters considerably more horrendous, the girls I was attempting to befriend noticed this phenomenon and then proceeded to point that out to me. Loudly, shrilly, and without apology the wildebeests had smelled my fear and weakness they were going to eat me alive.

I ran to the bathroom and grabbed wads and wads of toilette paper, I shoved handfuls down the shirt that I wore underneath my spaghetti strapped, floral, tube dress. The other wad was used to wipe off the melting make-up. I ran to the sink and began to wash with cold water and some liquid soap; I took deep breaths and tried to calm myself. I looked into the mirror and repeated:
“Don’t you cry, you will not cry, only little bitches cry.”
I stood in front of that mirror, trying not to hyperventilate, until the acid in the back of my throat began to subside. I removed my toilette paper padding from under my armpits and I took a deep breath, pushed my shoulders back, and thrust my nose into the air. In my family we called that the ‘Swan’ and I recalled something my mother said: “Walk into that room like you own it and you will.”

I exited the bathroom, mustering all the courage I could muster and ended up body checking the leader of the group that I was now attempting to avoid. At this point they had grown in size, they were blonde, they were evil, and now they were fucking legion. I recall one of them screaming, others laughing, somebody said I was trying to group her, and someone else called me a lesbian. Okay, fair enough, my hair was about as long as G.I. Jane, but I am not a lesbian. Or at least I didn’t think I was.

I panicked and ran into the cafeteria. I was going to loose my shit and it was going to be spectacular. I sat down at a deserted table; my attempts at reinventing myself had gone horribly awry. Nobody liked me, I was not going to be popular, I am a loser. I felt tears beginning to build behind my eyes: I wanted to run away, but I knew that there would be no place to run to. Everyone was piling into the cafeteria and girls where starting to fill the bathroom to fix their lip-gloss. A couple of girls walked by my table, one of them was wearing a Pearl Jam shirt and cut-offs. Her friend was dressed like me, which bordered on the line of being over dressed. They both had dark, long hair and bore the same exact shade of lipstick: Deep Bloody Red. I was staring off into space and accidently caught their eye and they approached.

“Hey.” Said Pearl Jam shirt, uncertainly.
“Nice shirt, I have one just like that at home, except I got it from the concert.” I said as an immediate response.
“Really!?” Replied Pearl Jam shirt.
“Really.” I replied back and smiled.
“I’m going have Eddie Vedder’s baby, I fucking love that guy!” Gushed Pearl Jam shirt.
“Oh my God, Heather, you are such a friggin’ spaz!” Spat her friend, Dressy-Dress.
“I’m Ellen.” I said, as extended a hand.
“I’m Heather.” Replied Pearl Jam shirt, as she gestured to her Dressy friend.
“This is Karen.”
“Hi, Karen.” I said, a little uncertain of the girl next to Heather.

Both girls sat down next to me, which was a welcome relief, after the torment of that morning. We went and got photographed for our school I.D’s and then stood in queue for our official yearbook photos. Before the day was over, we both came to the realization that we shared the same lunch period, and I had decided that these girls were going to be my friends. Whether they liked it or not.

After that day, time began to speed by quickly. I met other girls like me and we started to band together. There was Elizabeth, whom demanded we call her Lizard. I met another girl named Diana Cazillewski, but we affectionately called her Cas. Then Elenore Mcfee, whom we simply called Mick, and finally Anne Calloway whom despised her first name, so we called her Cal. We all sat together at 5th Period lunch, they may not have liked me always, but they accepted me and that was really enough.

The smoke billows out of my mouth and I smile when I remember that today is Wednesday, that means we get to use the Jukebox that is in the cafeteria. I think I will piss everyone off, again and play the entire Crow motion picture sound track. Fucking Rah-Rah girls.

“Heeeellloooo, Earth calling Ellen!” Cries Mickey, as she kicks my out-stretched foot. Mickey, not be confused with Mick, is short Michellina Baccaro. Mickey is skinny, short, and an unapologetic loud mouth. She is a total punk rock girl. She gives me shit for being a virgin and a hippy, but I think she is pretty fucking cool. Right behind Mickey is Molly, whom I met through Mickey at Jefferson Park. Molly is quiet, cool, and composed. In a way, she is absolutely everything I am not, but we get along.
“Hey guys.” I say and smile.
“Wow, Ellen, you are such a dork… What where you doin,’ dreaming about moonbeams, and shiny stars?”
“Naw, I was dreaming about cock.”
“Girly, you wouldn’t know what to do with it, PRUDE GIRL!” Screams Mickey. Molly and I look at each other and confirm; Mickey is fucking crazy.
“Who’s a prude girl?” Questions a voice behind me. It’s Sonja. She is a Junior and she walks around with a bondage Barbie in electrical tape chained and epoxied to her bag. Sonja has the same haircut as I do, but she can actually have super short hair. On her, it is actually very pretty, I really want to hate her, but she is so fucking nice.
“Ellen over here needs to get some cock.” Confides Mickey.
“How ‘bout that guy?” Sonja asks, pointing off towards the corner. There is a man taking a piss, five feet away from us, right up against the glass. He is standing in his own steaming puddle of pee. His clothes carrying the busted dinginess of the street and he is definitively not dressed for this weather. Creepiness just oozes from his pores, while he is looking around everywhere, he is carefully avoiding our stares, and the mess he is leaving behind.
“Hey buddy! Buddy! Buddy! Bud-“ Starts Mickey as she bounds up to Creepy-piss. He has stopped peeing.
“Shut-up Mickey! I’m going to fucking kill you!” I cry as lunge towards her. Rising to my feet astonishingly fast from my seat on the ground.
She starts to laugh as she feints right, then left, closing the gap between the man and us. She is actually going to go up to this creepy, pissing, man and I’m tired of playing uncoordinated fat girl.
“Fuck this. Hey GUY!” I call out to Creepy-piss. He finally acknowledges me.
“Listen, my girl over here would like to move in, does your box come with kibble?”
He stops for a moment, registering what I just said.
“Fuck you! Fucking bitch, fucking bitch, fucking bitch!” His eyes are red rimmed, his teeth are yellowed, and he has the jerky movements of the walking dead. Now he is going to approach us; pissy-pants and all. Holy shit, I just poked crazy.
“Oh shit!” Cries Mickey and she dodges behind me.
“El-Len!” Cries Molly from behind Mickey.
“Oh, Jesus.” Chortled Sonja.
“Hey Buddy!” Shouts a large male voice, as an attendant appears from behind Creepy-piss, he grabs him by the shoulder, and marches him away.
“What the hell, Ellen!?” Cries Mickey after Creepy-piss is gone.
“The two of you really need to calm down; that could have been really serious.” Molly’s voice is both rational and serene, but I hate it when she lectures me. She feels like my older sister, but we are not related and she is younger than me.
“That was hysterical, the two of you are insane.” Gasps Sonja between fits of laughter.
Molly hands off a cigarette to Mickey; While Sonja talks about her exploits the night previous. We settle down for our last smoke before the inevitable course of the day happens, when Cal finally arrives. She is out of breath, because as per usual, she over slept, didn’t hear the alarm, and then nearly missed the train. She is wearing her outfit du jour; camouflaged jacket, grey tights, and combat boots.

Essentially we are all dressed the same: Skorts, Polo shirts, and Cardigans. The only difference is the coloring: The Freshmen all wear Cranberry, the Sophomores in Navy/Grey, The Juniors in Grey/Black, and the Seniors all wear Green. Technically we are not allowed to wear any sort of ‘pants’ underneath our uniforms, the exceptions are set for tights. I wear stirrup pants because it is the closest thing that I can find to tights. I refuse to freeze, just because of a set of arbitrary rules. A few more minutes and a small handful of girls joins our merry band, we then all exit in mass to the bus, piling in as best as we can.

The 88 bus runs between Jefferson Park and Harlem and it gets filled to capacity pretty quickly. Most days it is standing room only and today is not the exception. I could simply take the one bus all the way to school, but as my friends all congregate at Harlem, I take the train. It is guaranteed that I will always arrive with something of an entourage, which is nice, because for me there is safety in numbers.

We all take our places on the bus and brace ourselves, grabbing overhead and side rails for life, because when the driver hits the gas pedal, the sudden acceleration threatens to toss us all asunder. The 88 bus pulls into the parking lot of the school and we all jump off, except for the poor little old man that was attempting to go somewhere else and suddenly found himself surrounded by girls in uniforms, it’s probably the best day of his life.

The bright sunlight of morning is dazzling, the cold is exhilarating, and we are all motivated to get inside quickly. We head under the rusted steal canopy and arrive at a set of glass doors. We stomp our feet on the large industrial door mat and tromp into the immaculate halls. Heat blasts our faces and I have to take off my glasses to wipe away the fog. We have arrived.

Post Cards From the Edge

If you read my blog, you would have known that I was laid-off from my job at the end of July. It was one of those things that came as a surprise, but when I looked at all the things leading up to the main event, I cannot honestly say that it was actually a surprise.

Looking back, there was a sense of embarrassment: I guess I felt more like a mother who finds out that her exceptional child is actually a serial killer, or a wife that realizes that her husband’s secretary does more than make really good coffee. At the end of it all there was a recognition that there where signs and red flags all over the place, but I wanted to live in Sullivania. It is always sunny and happy in Sullivania.

So I pulled myself together and began to look for work: I applied on LinkedIN, Craigslist, CareerBuilder, Monster, etc. If it had an open position, I applied. I began fielding calls from women with suspicious names in India, who wanted to recruit me for positions in Illinois that I needed a map and a zoom function to find. When they came, I read and re-read letters of disqualification, explaining to me that where I did have skills and qualifications, that matched their skills and qualifications, they wanted to go in a ‘different’ direction. Different in my opinion is anyone but me.

I then began editing and completely rehauling my resume in a desperate attempt to ensure that my ‘attention to detail’ did not include any punctuation errors or spelling typos… Images of evil recruiters using my resume as a mock-up of what not write, describe, or do popped into my head. I would read professional resume sites and attempt to capture my relevant experiences in simple phrases. I began to wonder if writing everything like a haiku would serve me better.

Diligent worker, creator of excel

Mind of tiger

Hire me now, happiness forever

A noticeable funk began to settle into the apartment. A part of it was from the fact that I have been sitting in front of a computer nonstop; the other part came from my attitude. Looking for a job has become my new full time job and I really needed a shower. I paced around the apartment, coffee cup in hand, and I checked my emails and phone messages like a stood-up ugly girl on Prom Night. My OCD got to a point that my son would often rip my laptop from my lap; in a vain attempt to get me to do something fun.

I tell people that really, all you have to do is remain positive. It  is far much easier to say to others, much, much harder to live by. There is a feverishness that accompanies the recently unemployed on a job hunt as well as a gentle seduction to wear pajamas all day long while watching entire seasons of reality T.V. and grouse over the sad state of your personal economy.

You cannot expect to keep your face planted on a screen and your head cocked at an acceptable phone call taking angle with out personal injury. As I write this I am getting the family ready to leave and run a few errands in town, there is much to be said about blowing the cobwebs off. The job postings, Dmail, and recruiters with exotic accents are all waiting for me and I know as well, that there is a boss that will hire a clever, self-assured lady such as myself… When I return.

My Life

Summer is slowly winding down; there is quiet hush in the mornings as if the world is awaiting for the return schedules, lunch bags, and homework. My son is in his room, dozing amongst his stuffed animals and glow stars. Normally I would have roused him out of his dreamworld, but today is different. Today, I have chosen to be selfish, to sit in my front room, clutching my coffee and I watch as the light frolics off the numerous trees and dances upon the floor and wall of my apartment.

I sit and imagine cavemen being enthralled by the very same thing; little points of light dancing amidst the shadow.  I think about the day and what is going to happen in the intervening hours, I pray, quietly to unknown ancestors. I project my hopes and dreams to the universe and sit still for a moment, allowing the love to transmit back to me. 

The boy awakens and I can hear his heavy, sleepy, tread upon the hardwood floors. His tummy hangs slightly over his jammies, his back is hunched as he is rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. I look upon him and smile. He smiles back and climbs upon the couch, carefully maneuvering as so that his his head can rest upon my lap, without spilling the precious coffee.

For a moment, we sit quietly, gazing out at the trees. Watching the light, the boughs, and the wildlife. It doesn’t last for long, because the phone will start to ring. The television is turned on, the quiet reverie of the morning is broken.

Daily tasks and bustle replace the quiet; the dishes get washed, the floors get vacuumed, and the computer and television have regular visitors.There are tears and laughter, sometimes there is a hefty bit of aggravation, but always there are family or friends that intercedes and gently lifts off the heavier of burdens throughout the day.

If we are lucky, we escape out to the park, or the lake. My son often finds other children to play with and for a time there is much activity. When he has has his fill of adventure; we return home and make our dinner in preparation for his Grandfather to return home from work. We then sit as a family and pray over our food; even lapsed Catholics can still give thanks for the food they are about to consume. Once we are done, it is Grandpa’s turn to wash up the mess.

Some nights, we eat quickly and then set-off to meet with my son’s father, so that he will have time with our son. Some nights we get to cuddle on the couch and watch movies and talk. However our time is spent, this is my family. This is throne room of the heart. 

The evenings are slightly cooler now, it tucks in around us just as faces are washed and jammies are donned again. Candles are lit, and music is played softly in the background. My son dives under his covers and falls off quickly. I grab my ice water and sit in the front room; again I am transfixed by another kind of light. It is soft and warm, it it the very essence of my heart. As sleep gently coaxes my eyes shut, I pray again to my unknown ancestors and give thanks. This is my life. 

For the Love of Employment, or Lack Thereof

You know when it is about to happen: Your boss makes a seemingly-innocous statement, your co-workers start talking in whispers, and then people start disappearing into confrence rooms. Suddenly you look up and realize that the bustling office is now completely devoid of sound, and like a horror movie, you realize you are next. You can almost hear the thematic music playing in the back of your head.

It happens then, the HR rep saddels up to your desk and makes an attempt at being humorus, but you can see the strain. You are asked to follow them into the office, have a seat, they explain things to you, and then… That is it. You clean out your desk and watch the other employees offer teary good-byes. You leave your security badge with the administration and walk out the door.

You smile at people and joke about being from the Nortwest Side of Chicago (Or wherever you are from): How girls (or boys) like you always land on their feet, buck the system, and die with their boots on. Then when you are outside,  standing on the street corner and looking like an orphan it hits you. It hits you just as you draw in nicotine from your cigarette (or fresh air).

GOD DAMN IT!

Like a small-town whore, I really wish I could say that “I’ve never done this before,” but who the hell am I kidding? Getting laid-off is like anything else: There is disappointment, frustration, and a painful feeling in the nethers. Honestly it really does remind me of  bad sex, except for the whole pregnancy and VD part… So I guess it has THAT going for it.

However there is hope and I’m going to lay it down for all my friends out there that are collecting their pink slips and feeling that same pain in the nethers.

Helpful tips-

1. Keep a schedule- If you got up to go to work at 5:30 AM, continue to get up at 5:30 AM. Do some of the things that you have done previously. Drink your coffee, take that shower. Except instead of reporting to the office , report to your computer. Look at open positions on various sites and apply.

2. Hit UNEMPLOYMENT- Do it immediately, if you can. However they still have to check with your company, so even if you recieve a pink slip/letter you are not going have immediate benefits (at least not in the state of Illinois). I suggest going online, because honestly, have you seen the inside of an Unemployment Office?

If you absolutely HAVE to go to the office, leave the Hermes Scarf and diamonds at home. I would suggest wearing the ripped-up Levi’s that your dog has slept on as the outfit Du Jour. Nothing says sadness and desperation better than people smelling like animals.

3. Get Proactive- If you were a: Writer, marketer, recruiter, communications person, etc in your career, then do it at home. Post your blogs, draw your pictures, code those websites. It might not land you a new career mmediately, but you’ll stay sharp.

4. Make friends with HAAGEN-DAZS- Some people drink, some choose recreational drugs. I choose Haagen-Dazs, because ice cream is scientifically proven to help you feel better without a hangover and you’ll never fear trying to pass a pee test. ‘Nuff said.

5. Take Walks, like lots of them- Well, your not going to pay for that gym membership any time soon and you have just powered your way through a pint of fucking Haagen-Dasz. Get off the couch, fat ass!

Take that walk, collect your thoughts, try and figure out where YOU want to go. Getting laid-off does not mean you were not good enough, it just means that you’re now open to take on new opportunities. Go get ’em!

6. NETWORK- Remember that you are a worker amongst the workers, if you’re going through this painful transition, find others that are going through this too. Band together and share job opportunities, bitch, moan, and support eachother. People working together are more powerful. It’s just science.

7. Do not say nasty things about your previous employer- It’s just common sense… Understandably, common sense is a rare flower that does not bud in every garden.

No one needs to know that your boss* was the dark lord from the seventh circle of hell, except for maybe those friends that you have developed through your networking.

(*disclaimer- My boss was NOT the dark lord)

8. Savings accounts- (enter forehead slapping moment here) Listen, everyone knows that they need to put something away. Now is a good time to figure out if you have enough equity to get you through this time, because unemployment will only cover a fraction of what you previously made.

If you can put money away, fucking do it already! If you can’t… well then, that really sucks. Maybe you will start a savings account with your next job, assuming they will pay you enough, right?

9. Education- Getting laid-off is God’s sign that you need to get a degree, or repent, or something like that. Either way, even if you take a course in typing or French cooking, it will keep you out in public and keep you from becomming that crazy-cat person. Unless of course, that is your life’s goal, then completely disregard this.

10. STAY POSITIVE!- I put this last, but this is really important. The responsiblities that we have as adults can become crushing, especially when faced with unexpected blows to our financial, emotional, and physical well-being. Just remember that this is just THIS moment. It will pass, maybe not as quickly as we would like, but it WILL pass. Do not give up.

So there it is. Understandably this is what works for me, it may not work for eveyone. I hope there was at least one or two take-aways that might help someone in this position.

Cheers!

My Gamine

It was disconcerting to see them then-
contemptous,
Disregarding the script Fate surely penned.
Sardonic smiles; curl at their lips.
While cigarette smoke curls about their brows-
blessed halos of toxic clouds.

My Gamine

You cannot see the scars-
the psychic tears,
Their hueristic spirit has guided them
thorugh well-earned tears.

My Gamine

After all of the tuss and tumble-
you will soon tire of the streets.
you will abhor the fecklessness and guile.

Remember: That childhood lingers like a trickster’s smile.
there, then gone again.

My Gamine