Lourdes Mint's Mid-Life Miracle

Real-time memoir of the coming year (5/20/14 – 15) and the achievement of a life-long dream

Archive for the category “ADHD”

There is always “burn” here now.

Pretty+Flames+2-7-2007+3-36-23+PM+2816x2112There is always “burn” here now.

Door knobs burn in my hand as I turn them, so I leave the inside ones open. Even the floor burns the bottoms of my feet, so: shoes, but they burn also. These words too, all words, whether I think or say or read them, they all burn now. Sometimes./

To hear them, these ones here, spoken aloud in this room today — w/ no one aside from me listening, no music playing, nothing baking — to hear them without burning, what I would give for that! To be back there, here but back then, in my dream of life again, where it was plenty warm enough, what I would give./

There were times I’d think I must have come from there to here through someplace really cold. I’d think, could I have died that day? That day I “wakened” to the smell of all my pies burning and you knocking as loud as you could on the door. “What’s burning? Are you okay? What’s going on with your hair?”/

We threw the pies into the garden, laughing. You cut my hair in the kitchen to help fix me back up as we aired the place out. “What happened, though? Did you fall asleep? Since when do you bake pies and for what?” I opened you some wine and we spent the rest of the day together./

But I watched the pies slowly disappear alone. It took weeks and then one downpour finally carried the rest away./

Today, I know I came through someplace really cold to get here. Why else, how else, could touching these now — these plastic keys — burn me so? So that the plainest words/thoughts, uttered as plainly as I can manage, are birds barely escaping a flame and then at the very last second returning or just stopping, letting it happen, letting it wrap them and hold them in its hot hands until they turn to ash?/

There is always “burn” here, but I’ve begun to wonder if it might be okay for a time./

After all, crying now is like climbing a tree—but on another planet. Crying: Why? How? It doesn’t happen here, I don’t think, but I’m not completely sure (having learned about evaporation so long ago). I do know it’s not okay not to cry ever./

I know too that today nothing is baking, no music is playing, and no one knocks or doesn’t knock at the door. And I know I didn’t die that day. I am being still and quiet, no more words aloud for now, dreaming of when I was “just warm enough” and wishing I could cry, here or on some other planet, any planet (except Mercury, Venus)./

And yet. Even though these words, my memories, the door, the floor, the bottoms of me feet — ALL of it burns, all of it is burning me — I begin to think it could all turn out all right, that one day I will be just warm enough again.

***

THIS is a repost, thanks. I’ve been gone from here for SIX long months. I consider it a bit of providence that I log back in tonight, after several days (weeks? months?) of thinking about this blog AND THIS POEM especially, and find that BURN is the one-word daily prompt. Today. When I log back in … But so, I have nothing new here now, I don’t think, am exhausted, but I jump back in to this — everything — holding the hand of my 47-year-old self from two years ago. I trust no one more.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/burn/

https://wordpress.com/post/lourdesmint.wordpress.com/678

 

 

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Plena sen mu vokaroop.

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Plena sen mu vokaroop. This, I say, will make things right.

Noop rang jolzee roo-roo-roo, vokarooop! (One time tonight.)

Then: yipper sen, yipper sen, under, ender — pah-tippy sen.

But tippy roonish plena mu, plena mu sen, plena mu!!!!

Vokaroop, tippy? Jolzee roo? Yes, yes, yes (and everyone knew).

Noop, jolzee, yipper: roo-roo-roo. It’s sad, but true and better too.

Plena sen mu vokaroop. I tell you: it’ll make things right.

Plena sen mu vokaroop. This is all we’ll do tonight.

Trouble with Homonyms: Exorcise versus Exercise

ScreamWriteI’ve always had some trouble w/ homonyms, not those that make people think you don’t really don’t know what you’re doing (e.g., their vs. they’re vs. there), but this kind: “I went to the PEEK of the mountain to take a PEAK.” I solved the problem in this particular instance by linking the two eyes you might use to peek with to the two e’s in peek. (Please don’t tell me I still have it wrong…)

Anyway, lately my Writing has taken a turn. If you’ve read my About, or you can see what I see when I look at my blog (still not clear on who sees what), you know that I have very little time left to reach this blog’s goal. And I think trouble with homonyms may be at the bottom of it — because if something’s wrong with your words, then something’s wrong with your world. The two can’t be separated, I don’t think, because they are the same thing, SAME THING. No difference. And I’m 100% sure of this. No, I KNOW it. So if you’ve got two words switched around in your head, well, then ….

I think there’s a fine line between exorcising your demons and exercising them. And while I never set out to do either in this blog, I do think somewhere along the way, I started exercising something that maybe needed exorcising. And then at some point, I think those demons started using my blog as their gym or even a sort of personal trainer. And now my demons are all big and buff and SWAGGERING about, sipping their electrolyte-infused, colorful beverages and admiring themselves and, secretly, one another in the mirrors I’ve set up all around them. They used to be so easy to fold-up and stow-away… And even though I never forgot about them, I felt they were safely confined/contained, when really NOW I think it was the opposite. “We’ve got this one in the bag,” I can hear them saying just before going on an extended vacation.

As far as most of my demons go, though, they are pretty unremarkable — the usual stuff. The subset I’d call my writing demons, the ones that cause the most trouble here, are also of the garden variety, for the most part. They include the ones that yawn loudly while I read something I’ve written back to myself, the ones that slip in little errors or cliches here and there to remind me that I’m not a natural, the ones that whisper in my ear, “If you were really meant to do this, you’d find the time … even now,” the ones that tell me nothing will ever come of my writing. But none of these bother me all that much because they’re so generic. I’ve heard more than enough about them in every book on writing I’ve ever read ,,, and I couldn’t seem to get enough of these in my late 20s and 30s. Because these demons don’t seem to know anything specifically about me at all, beyond that I aspire to become a successful writer, I can and do ignore them (for the most part).

The writing demons that get to me are those that seem to have crafted themselves, piece by piece, out of certain specifics from my own life, past and present, that the writer in me cannot really stand to admit. And over time, these snippets from page after page of the memoir I’ll never write (because it cannot lead, in any version of the truth that I can imagine or abide, to my becoming a successful writer) have morphed, in the soggy backwoods of my brain, into the absolute worst of the big and buff and SWAGGERING demons who’ve been exercising in my blog, my mind, my life. You might not see them if you didn’t know what to look for, but I know they’re there and they know I know they’re there and am hoping I can keep them hidden, which of course is exactly how they get their power. My unwriterly life, the shame or doubt it causes me, pumps them like nothing else.

Well, no more. I’m calling (at least a few of) them out now.

Immundus spiritus #1: Skin, as in “by the skin of [my] teeth,” as in that’s how I passed high school. You like to replay the memory of when I ran up to my English teacher on graduation day and whispered in her ear, “Well, do I get a diploma today?” and she said, “Yes, Miss, but you’re passing by the skin of your teeth,” and I hugged her till she smiled — only hearing “yes,” not really understanding what the rest meant, not really giving a shit. I just had to get across that stage so I could go to Ocean City with my friends. I’d worry later about how to get out of going to college or pass it, too, by the skin of my teeth. But anyway, we all know how that turned out. (Not so bad…)

Immundus spiritus #2: Remy, you like to remind me about how I had to take remedial reading during my first year of college and how I fell asleep in the front row, just exactly like a narcoleptic, during every single class. You point out how I am still a slow reader and take a long time to really grasp what I’ve read. You’ve pretended to comfort me, insisting that I shouldn’t feel too bad given that English is not my first language. (But it is.) You used to think it was funny to highlight entire pages of text or underline words like “and” and “the” and place question marks in margins. I used to think it was funny, too …

Immundus spiritus #3: Space, you’ve adopted my high school nickname “to keep it alive” because you feel it was a mistake for me to let it go. “It just fits,” you tell me, assuring me it’s more endearing than offensive. “Plus,” you say, “it gives people a heads up about what they can expect from you.” That way, your logic goes, no one’s surprised when I can’t answer the question because I wasn’t listening, I show up with my shirt on inside out, or I’m not there at all because of a(nother) “Google calendar sync mis-hap” thing or because I have no idea where my keys are. “Please don’t take this the wrong way,” you’ve said recently, “but couldn’t one argue that mindfulness and attention to detail are the very soul of art, including writing, just … for example?” Space, you’ll never grow tired of gathering evidence to support your position on the old nickname/me/any of this. And, indeed, there will likely always be plenty of evidence to gather. With better credentials, you’ve pointed out, I could have passed for the absent-minded professor type, but we both agree it’s a little late for that. But then, it’s late period. And here I am. (You might mention that to Remy, by the way.)    

Immundus spiritus #4: Eff, you like to say that’s short for “Effort” — you think it’s “tremendous” how hard I try. But what you really like talking about is all the Fs I’ve gotten on papers, especially when I was just starting out in college. “No one understood what you were trying to say. That’s what it was,” you’ve said. And “it wasn’t that the papers were so BAD,” you’ve explained, “they were just incomprehensible … to your reader. That’s all.” And this probably has something to do with the fact that I had only just come to America around that time (right?) and was still learning the language, you’ve generously proposed. “Yes,” I now know to say … “That was probably the reason.” You like to compliment me then, saying I could almost pass as a native speaker now. I always thank you in so many words. And you say, “de nada,” or some such, reminding me at every opportunity that there’s no language you don’t know. How are you doing at understanding me now: not just what I’m saying, but what it means? Take your time.

Immundus spiritus #5: 1999 (as in “Tonight we’re going to party like it’s …” ), you are in awe of my history of partying and doing all sorts of stupid and inappropriate shit. You’ve said that if my penchant for festivity and fun had only (HAD ONLY) been coupled with a strong creative spirit and robust artistic discipline, I might have been able to parlay some of my more interesting but misguided adventures into something worthy: art … redemption, even. “But at least you’re not one of those people who lied on their death bed and said, ‘gee, I wish I hadn’t worked so hard, been so serious, etc., … wish I’d had more fun.'” I used to ask why you always talk about me in the past tense. You’d avert your eyes, pretend to blush. But now I just say, “good point.” You’re in awe of the way I’ve finally come around.

Immundus spiritus #6: ADD-y (or ADHD-y, as you prefer, because look at you go!!!), you are a skinny, crazy, speed demon, you are! You’re new around here and so I’m not really sure what I think about you. For now, I just want to see you and Immundus spiritus #3 fight.

Immundus spiritus #7: Just-Weird, you are the worst, the damned-est, of them all. You and Eff like to work out together, I’ve noticed. But you are clear with me that you understand: my problem with words and the world they make, as well as the true basis of my fear that I won’t, finally, be able to connect (and there is “only connect”), is not that I am still learning the language or have some kind of cognitive or behavioral issue, but that — even though I may look, from across the soccer field anyway, like a soccer mom— I’m terrified that I’m just weird and that what I have to say is also just weird, that it doesn’t and won’t connect with people, not in the way they want to connect, not in the places where they hope to find connection. You snort at my blog and its goal, at my odd little stories/vignettes, essays, and drawings, etc. You snort at me. But you don’t snort at what’s coming … rising up, tsunami-like, between all of you and me. You just do another rep. To that I say, good idea! Keep at it!

Maybe give the others “heads up” too.

It just so happens that I WAS caught in an avalanche (Daily Post/Daily Prompt)

Under the Snow

You were caught in an avalanche. To be rescued, you need to make it through the night. What thought(s) would give you the strength to go through such a scary, dangerous situation?

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Francesca Woodman. ‘House #3, Providence, Rhode Island’ 1976

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/under-the-snow/

It just so happens that I WAS caught in an avalanche, and I’m still here, under all the snow. I have only just begun thawing my way out, using a technique for channeling perimenopausal hot flashes into such a fine point that I have set dry leaves on fire just by thinking about WHO the F_CK’S GONNA RAKE ALL OF THOSE F_CKERS. Problem is I can only burn a few at a time. I guess it’s kind of dangerous, too. AND someone still has to get out there and rake. But the heat’s been good for thawing this surprise snow … from the avalanche, I mean, which I really wasn’t expecting here at the end of a suburban cul de sac in November, but thinking back now, I admit that on some level, I knew. I felt it coming.

One might have guessed upon reading my “List of One,” back in June, about our adopted daughter, Sarah, finally coming home — one might have guessed that I’d have trouble with this blog, particularly with meeting its one goal within a year (as stated in “About”). And that “one” would have been right. It has not been the best time ever for writing, definitely not for the deep-dive, total-immersion type of writing experience I was mentally preparing for (read: fantasizing about), just as I was mentally preparing for my husband and I to NOT renew our adoption paperwork again this past August. We were about to call it quits… but then! 🙂

Anyway, I’ve written quite a bit but finished little (the pattern I hoped to break, somehow, by blogging), and not made any real progress on the one (fiction) piece I was drooling over this time last year. I could say, well, that’s life and, look, I have this wonderful family and so much to be grateful for and so why complain or feel bad, etc., etc., … I could say those things. I HAVE said those things. And those things are true. It’s true: Sarah is one more miracle in a life that is already more than I ever could have hoped for, in so many ways. All is so far from how things could’ve very easily turned out for me — given my wild side, my laziness (or ADHD-like stuff), my SELF, my high tolerance for __________ (not sure). Still, even good things and positive developments (there have been more than a few, really) can bring fresh new challenges into your life, resurrect old demons, up the stress factor exponentially.  Things have gotten complicated. For sure.

And ALSO, now, there’s this snow on top of me. I’m really not sure how far the hormones are going to get me or how fast … but I do think my loved ones have noticed I’m missing. So that’s a relief. But then, I begin making progress, start hearing voices out/up there, seeing a bit of light, thinking: I’m doing it! I’m excavating myself from under who knows how many feet of snow JUST BY BEING SUPER ANNOYED!! And then I get even more annoyed BECAUSE I CAN’T BELIEVE I ACTUALLY HAVE THE NERVE TO FEEL ANNOYED, which really burns me up, and that pushes me even further toward freedom. IT SEEMS. But then nightfall hits and the temperature drops and everyone’s sleeping, except me — BURNING in my frozen den, fingers too cold to type … or dig. And I get tired of feeling annoyed and then I just get tired, and I think, “oh, maybe all I need is a li’l nap, you know…. just a short one, just long enough for a mini-dream … and to recharge my BURNER.” But that’s a bad idea — no, THE WORST idea — when you’re stuck under any amount of snow.

So the wisest me in me says, “No, no naps, not now.” She thinks of my family and my writing, pretty much together, and starts digging again. “You can write [and even nap?] when you get out from under this and warm up,” she tells me.

So for now, I’m just digging. And I’m fine with that — I’m a digger, but this is different from my usual digging (a whole other post, there). Now, I say, I’m digging by going to sleep at a normal time (missed that one tonight), digging by eating right, digging by not being a jerk to myself (or Roberto, my dear, and the occasional customer service person who just should not be in customer service), digging by hanging out with my kids and my husband — even if we’re not doing anything even remotely “special” — WITHOUT OBSESSING CONSTANTLY about catching up, getting organized (which is never going to happen…), etc. I dig by “learning to say ‘no'” (ugh, I know, but it’s true) and by not adding things I don’t want or need to do to my already-mammoth-size TO DO list. Dig by letting the past go: the old house, some (many?) of the old friends (many of whom have let me go already, I’m sure), the pet projects that are perpetually “in progress,” and a good many of my fun — even fine — ideas about things I might do. Letting go of the past is a big one, could easily cut that mammoth-size to do list down to a person-size list. I see this so clearly now, underneath all this snow, when before I never really thought of myself as hung up on the past.

The best digging I do, though, has to do with getting to know and accept (dig!) this ONE BODY, this one woman with her one life (maybe, right?) and limited time, energy, and talent. I dig by learning to look her in the eye — and them too, while I’m at it: my most dearest, most LOVED ones — without trying to DIVERT her/their attention from ___________ (not sure, really) — with a ridiculous/hilarious/outrageous re-enactment of a true life event, starring ridiculous/hilarious/outrageous me, or by bitching up  a storm, drumming up a crazy plan, or engaging in any analogous activity/effort,  ALL OF WHICH AID ME IN forking my life over, bit by bit, chunk by chunk, heap by heap to some misbegotten or outdated idea or who I MUST BE (or what I must do) in order to be “OK.”

So I’m digging like that, for the most part. I can write (more) when I get out from under ALL THIS SNOW and warm up. My family needs me, I know, just as I need them. AND (but?) we also need for me to write, which I can’t do unless I keep digging and make it back home again … w/out forgetting the time I spent HERE.

 

Day 104: So far, so-so

day104Over a quarter of my way into the year during which my “miracle” is supposed to happen, I find myself not so confident that it will, on most days; on other days, I am careful not to think about it at all (or have no time to). Every now and then, I look back into the part of me that started the blog, and I know — just like I did then — that SOMEHOW I have to make it happen. The thing is of course (of course!!!) that it will not happen, I will not reach my goal, as the result of a miracle at all, but as the result of consistent, regular effort: hours and hours of work. And I don’t have hours and hours now. I have “hour” if I am very, very lucky. And with all the practical details and logistical requirements of each day, with two small children and a husband who will be away for most of this month, that hour if it comes at all, is usually at the end of the day … when my mind is a pulpy mess. So I am forced to reconsider the possibility of a miracle. More on that later.

For now, my biggest question is whether I can justify spending any time at all blogging. I see that for many of you, whose blogs are primarily concerned with living a creative life and perhaps specifically with writing, your blog is a way of honing your craft, testing out ideas, and exchanging practical information with like-minded others — about things you are working on outside of your blog. For others, your blog is the thing itself, its own reason for being — it seems to be your main creative outlet. I have admired and enjoyed both of these “types” (among others) and also the gorgeous layouts and high functionality of some of them. My blog falls into neither category. It’s free. I will likely never go premium, add any bells and whistles, or be able to spend much more time on it than I do now.

And I have understood from the beginning that my rationale for the blog is questionable. It’s hard for me to explain to the few friends who know about it, and I haven’t tried too hard to hammer it out for myself even. How exactly is working on this blog supposed to help me finish any of my works, especially when my time is so limited? From where I am right now, especially given the wonderful but major life change that has taken place since I started the blog, I really can’t answer that.

I suspect myself of looking for instant gratification and validation … maybe a little of fun. Company. I’ve gotten a small taste of all. I’ve also bumped up against a few cold shoulders and been told in so many words: YOU DON’T MAKE SENSE. Poison. But that brings me back to this blog, whether it makes sense. I don’t know. I know I’m not doing any of things you’re supposed to do to ensure any real progress in the blog world. Outside of here, I am trying harder. I just found out my main freelancing gig is drying up for six months. So … I plan to join CHADD and to get a babysitter for 7 hours a week to work on my fiction, on it only — no laundry, exercise, etc. And I am not giving up on my goal.

Day 5: Game of Groans (Daily Prompt): Please Meet My Dear Friend, Chronic Lateness — She Should Be Here Any Minute Now

Today too, I thought I’d give the daily prompt a try. As an additional challenge to myself, I will try to do it by 4:30. My response to yesterday’s prompt completely derailed me — in a way I’m really used too, unfortunately. But I must do some real work (or I’ll say “other work”) today, too, plus run to the grocery store. No more cat food for the dog! (I just read that it’s not good for them; I knew the opposite was true, cats eating dog food, but… .) Yuck. I’m not sure I like the way this little intro is turning out to be just the perfect fit with what comes next.

(Note [later]: Aughhh!!! It’s 4:54. And if I don’t post this soon, NOW, I won’t make it to the grocery store in time to meet friends in time to… . And it won’t get posted today. Doing quick read-through, but please pardon any silly mistakes.)

Today’s Daily Prompt: Think about an object, an activity, or a cultural phenomenon you really don’t like. Now write a post (tongue in cheek or not — your call!) about why it’s the best thing ever. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/game-of-groans/

ChronicLateness

Please Meet My Dear Friend, Chronic Lateness — She Should Be Here Any Minute Now

I can’t wait for you to meet my dear friend, Chronic Lateness — she should be here any minute now. She’s amazing, wait till you see.I know you’ll just love her.

Oh, she just texted, something about a huge snake, but maybe we shouldn’t mention it, actually. She sounded really frazzled.

Yeah, things like this are always happening to her, it’s true. And then she’s always late — sometimes really, really late — because of it. Late to work? Oh, that goes without saying. Please!? I’m talking: weddings, surgeries (her own, one time), baby showers, traffic court, you name it — basically anything and everything. BIG things. And why wouldn’t this be the case, at least sometimes? When you think of it, nothing is so important that it can prevent, you know, something like the bed and breakfast you’re staying in from falling into a sink hole. Well, THAT HAPPENED to this gal, the night before her best friend’s wedding . Oh man, the other bridesmaids were so pissed , SO pissed. That was the day I stopped being annoyed at her and started feeling sorry for her. I mean, ever heard of an “Act of God,” people? Hello? How is one person, albeit a maid of honor, supposed to stop a sink hole?

And then there was this big cover-up, apparently, because there was nothing about it in the news, anywhere, at all. It was as though the Sleepy Good Times B&B had never existed and the sink hole never happened at all! The bridesmaids stayed pissed a long time — even after the wedding, the honeymoon, and the divorce. At some point, though, Chronic Lateness heard through her professional connections (she’s a freelance editor, focusing mostly environmental geology-related policy and litigation or something like that — super smart) …. where was I? Oh, right, apparently, so right before the wedding, this team of geologists had warned the powers that be, the local government in the town where the wedding was I guess, that the sink hole was going to happen. They even called the B&B (under hypnosis, Chronic Lateness was able to recall overhearing the B&B keeper’s half of the actual conversation, verbatim — eerie). But nobody did a thing about it. In the end, she wasn’t able to tell us much about it because it was all top secret, classified. I’m pretty sure she’s got like the highest security clearance possible.

Anyway, my theory is that she kind of “blocked out” that call she overheard about the sink hole because the wedding meant so much to her — she cared so much, she couldn’t bear for anything to get in the way of being there for her best’s friend’s (well, then best friend’s) big day. The facts is she’s lucky she got out of the sink hole alive, but she will not talk about it, nope! Has a touch of PTSD still, I think. (Who wouldn’t?) As it turned out, she almost missed the whole wedding, only showed up for the reception and in the wrong dress and everything. Everyone was staring at her, judging her, acting like bitches, etc., etc. It’s no wonder what happened later … how she started singing with the band and all. She really wasn’t bad. The dance might have been a bit much … and that thing … with the groom’s dad (who I’m sure loved every minute of it, dirt bag). But anyway, if anyone deserved a little fun and some serious stress relief that night, SHE did. I mean, geeze! Where’s your compassion, people? Anyway, that was the day I stopped feeling sorry for her and started to admire her for her strength and loyalty, as well as for the depth of her caring.

I’m sure very few people would even consider trying to make it to a wedding after escaping a sink hole.

Hold up! She just texted again. Oh my gosh. So, apparently there’s a truck with its hazards on blocking the entrance to the parking lot. She wants to know if we want her to try to drive under the truck because she will (and she means that) — she’s willing to risk it to make the movie in time. Oh here: she says it looks like a tight squeeze but she’s pretty sure she can clear it. What a trooper, you know? But, come on! Is she kidding? (No, she’s not.)  I’ll tell her no … . I mean, just the fact that she’d offer is unbelievable, but no thanks: please don’t risk your life for a movie. Right? I’m texting her: “stop being a ding dong and get here when you can … be safe!” We can always catch the next show, right? That’ll give you time to get to know her better, and you’ll see what I mean, how kind of “larger than life” she is, how amazing. So unique.

Anyway, drinks first is actually better than our original plan, when you think of it, because you can’t really get to know someone sitting next to them in a movie theater, can you? Right. It’s totally true. Hmmmmm. Oh, gosh. That actually brings to mind a whole other story, from just a few weeks ago. I wasn’t going to mention it…

I was out with a bunch of gals and we were having a drink, chatting, waiting for Chronic Lateness to show up before ordering dinner. Then we had another round, but when all the nachos were gone, people started getting antsy. I was just about to suggest a third round (which I admit is a bit much), when suddenly someone, I’ll call her Hilda — heh, heh — totally freaks. She gets all red and huffy, says, “I’m ordering. This is ridiculous. Chronic Lateness is always f_cking everything up. No more!” (She was one of the bridesmaids from the sink hole wedding, by the way. And I do think that’s relevant here.)

I was just about to say, “What’s the big deal? We’re having fun, reminiscing, etc.” (You know how once the food gets there, all the really good talk stops?) Well just then, I get a text from Chronic Lateness. “Hold up! Hold up!” I say.  “She just texted.” But Hilda doesn’t want to hear it.

“I’ll have the mushroom ravioli with cream sauce,” I hear her telling the waitress. A few of the others (also from the sink hole wedding) follow suit as I read the most totally freaky and terrifying texts from Chronic Lateness ever.

“OH. MY. GOSH.” I say, holding up my hand. “Wait till you…”

And just then Chronic Lateness sort of stumbles through the door, and all of us froze, even the waitress. Her hair was all crazy-looking, her shirt was torn, and she had on two different shoes — the same shoe, actually, but one was black and the other was brown. (That part didn’t totally make sense to me.) Anyway, it turned out she had just chased down a purse snatcher and had put him in a head lock — BY HERSELF, as other people just stood there gawking — until the police arrived. And then she had to fill out some kind of stupid form and answer all these questions that made her feel like she had done something wrong … “like I was some kind of scoff-law,” she said. And she’d gone through all of this while we were stuffing our faces with nachos, squabbling over when to order, etc.

She was trembling as she told the story, obviously still very shaken up. Who wouldn’t be? Most people would have gone home and taken a hot bath after such an ordeal. Hilda and company were still acting pissed, though, even after they heard the story. Can you believe it?  Meanwhile, a few others and I were thinking and quietly discussing how brave Chronic Lateness was to risk her life just to get that poor old woman’s purse back.

The mood did lighten after the food was served — people are just not at their best when they’re hungry (I know, I waited tables all during school) — and even Chronic Lateness began to relax and have a bit of fun.

After dinner, though, during dessert, was when it all came tumbling down for real and — ever since — there’s been kind of like two camps when it comes to Chronic Lateness. What happened was the bill came and Chronic Lateness could not seem to locate her wallet. And now that she thought of it, she remembered seeing this other shady fellow — in her “peripheral vision,” she said, which is like abnormally acute. He had been hanging around near the purse snatcher, she was sure. Could they have been working as a team? A bunch of us got goose bumps. Oh the irony! Was she robbed herself by this second guy while she restrained the first one?

“That’s exactly what happened,” I remember saying, slapping my hands against the table.

Chronic Lateness pushed her dessert plate away.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Well, I can’t pay for this… .” She started to cry a little. “Obviously, I can’t pay.”

“Pay?” I said. “You’ll do nothing of  the sort. We weren’t going to let you pay anyway, were we?” (I heard a few encouraging mumblings.)

“Well. That’s my cue,” said Hilda. “I’m outta here. This sh_t is crazy.” She threw her money down, and the others in her camp did the same.

“What don’t you get about this? I almost shouted. “She’s a f_cking hero!”

“No,” said Hilda, “she’s just someone with a big f_cking problem — always late, always missing something, always a big story. Well, I’m sick of it.” And then she bent down: “I wish you well, I do,” she almost whispered to Chronic Lateness, “but I’m done.”  And they all walked out.

We talked a while about what bitches they all were, cheap bitches at that, but Chronically Late didn’t join in. She was uncharacteristically quiet in fact for the rest of the night. The PTSD, I’m guessing.

“Don’t worry,” I said, but really, at the time, I wasn’t sure what I meant, exactly. I just never saw a person look so lonely, I don’t think, in all my life. And the fact that she had on her signature “clown pants,” as we call them — that symbol of her specialness, her freak flag flying high. The fact that she had her special pants on, along with the brown and black version of the same shoe, it was just so … sad. All of it. Weird, too, maybe a little confusing. But mostly sad. (Long sigh.)

I don’t know. I’m no genius.

Anyway, things are a lot better now. She’s doing great! Still late, as you can see — heh, heh — but as amazing as ever, as you’re about to find out.

That’s the thing about people like her, great but in such a unique way that they are often misunderstood. People get intimidated, I think, or even jealous. Is she sort of a mess? Yes. But I think it’s because she bypasses the more mundane concerns to what’s really important. And I think somewhere in all that chaos, she can make out, like, this higher level of order — that the rest of us can’t see. I mean, here, we are, all worried about our weddings and our mushroom ravioli and our jury duty and our movie times, while she’s…. she’s  …. Hold up. Just got a text.

 

 

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