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Sugar

Her name was Laura Glisson. She was my grandmother. Most grandchildren stick to standard familial names for their matriarchs; but for my brother and I, we knew her, always, as Sugar. As the figurehead of my father's family, she had the two requisite traits of a Glisson: stubbornness and a love of southern soul food. It's easy for me to think back to my childhood, and visits over to her house. Unchanged from my first memory until the day it was sold a few years back - a small ranch style three-bedroom home with 50's style decor, muted green paint in the kitchen, plastic-covered furniture, a bathroom with one of those "heat lamps" that bathed the room in a deep red light (which I would turn on and pretend I was in a submarine at war), and a storage room behind the covered garage with a deep chest freezer (full of Pepperidge Farm cakes, a reliable back up when she didn't want to bake a full cake for just a few of us) and an exercise bike.

I can still remember being fascinated with that bike. The front tire (and only tire, the back was just an inverted-T stand) had notches in it at regular intervals, which had either one, three, or five holes in it (the latter one having a rather large center hole, as compared to the other two). My early Livejasmine fascination with numbers can account for part of this interest - I used to ride the bike and stop briefly, letting the tire slow until stopping, and seeing which set of notches came up. I would "win" if it was a 5-notch. This could keep me entertained for hours, and explains entirely too much of my personality.

Food at her house was pretty much consistenly cooked using her cast-iron skillet. Butter and oil weren't just ingredients at her home, they were their own food groups. Fried chicken, fried squash, and fried okra (something I can still taste to this day; a crispy, salty treat I would pile high and deep on my plate whenever it was presented - and still a favorite of mine). Hell, even her toast was fried in butter. Terrible for me, sure. But I have yet to have experience more delicious toast anywhere on this planet.

About seven years ago, Sugar moved from her home in the Tampa Heights area to a nursing home. She had begun forgetting things. Becoming confused. My father and his two brothers convinced her that it was the right thing to do. They moved her into a small assisted living apartment.

Her condition worsened. She lost her hearing. She slowly lost the ability to communicate - first her speech becoming slurred, then garbled. Then lost. She forgot who people were in her life. She often did not recognize my father. She always recognized me, however.but I suspect she was looking at me and seeing dad.

Sugar passed away over the weekend. Her funeral was yesterday. It was the first funeral I've ever attended - although I've lost other family members (Sugar was the last of of my natural grandparents), I was too young to attend. Before the service, I looked her over one last time. She was at peace - but with that same stern "don't tell me what to do" look on her face, as if she were ready to let everyone know she'd go in the ground when she was damn good and ready. Oh, and that I was looking fat. (This was a common greeting for me in her later years. A hello, a hug and a kiss, and a general statement about my unacceptable weight. Love you too, Sugar.)

When she was moved from from the assisted living facility into a full-time care facility, nearly a year ago, we packed up her furniture. Among other items, I received her cast-iron skillet. I still haven't used it yet. Part of me is afraid that I am unworthy of it - that I could never acheive the same culinary heights that I can recall from my childhood using it. A pretender to the throne. And part of me knows that by using it, I will be accepting that, at some point not terribly long ago, I lost Sugar as she slowly lost her ability to communicate; and ultimately, her mind.

Did I mention it was genuine leather?

Sunday's activities required the use of a moving van. Apparently, there aren't many places that are open to rent one a moving van on Sunday - the nearest place we could find was located on 301 in beautiful downtown Zephyrhills. And when I say "beautiful", what I mean to say is "rustic". And when I say "rustic", what I really mean to say is "redneck podunk". But it's only a ten minute drive from the house to Sunday morning's destination, so MCG and I toddled on down there to acquire our quality moving vehicle product.

Should you ever find yourself in beautiful downtown Zephyrhills, possibly due to your vehicle breaking it's axle or your tires getting caught in a bear trap, I wholeheartedly recommend making a stop at AutoLand, just two miles south of the 301/SR54 interchange. Feel free to peruse their fine selection of used automobiles - for example, many of their late model (late as in deceased) vehicles start at under $1000. Or how about a lovely fire engine, at the bargain basement price of $3750? But the bargains do not end there on http://www.jasminlive.mobi, my friends!

Step inside (careful to avoid the two Shi Tzus happily sleeping, perhaps in the middle of the floor, or on the only chair available for customers. While inside, peruse their apparel section - they have genuine leather vests on sale for only $20! And you know it's genuine leather - the words "Genuine Leather" are silk-screened inside the vest, assuring you, the customer, that your purchase is a most wise one indeed. You can also pick up your Zephyrhills Auto Show t-shirts here, the annual gathering that brings unsuspecting tourists into town so their souls may be offered to the dark lord in an orgy of blood and sin. They also have a large selection of "collectible" (their quotes, not mine) model cars - just ten bucks each!But Autoland isn't merely a used car/quazi-apparel store with a large toy car selection. They're also a museum of fascinating art and sculpture! Bear witness to the large trophy section, most likely given for Best Vehicle Offered For Sale (Stripped Down Fire Engine) for 12 years running. Gaze in awe at family portraits of slack-jawed relatives in uncomfortable positions that litter the room. And behold the most powerful piece of art in all of Zephyrhills: a bust of a vampire-like creature, donning a Nascar cap.

I had plenty of time to take all this in - the proprieters had chosen wisely in their technology department, acquiring an inkjet printer for all their contract printing needs. Soon, however, it was time to depart this wonderland of white trash, and drive the newly-rented vehicle. Like everything else at this Land of Autos, the rental truck bespoke of the quality and care that all their vehicles have. Meaning, it was covered in leaves and pollen, and there was no wiper fluid to clean the windshield off with. But I left rejoicing in the knowledge that soon, perhaps later that afternoon, I would be back to return the truck, and that if there was no one there, I could put the key for the truck inside the gas cap of the minivan parked in front of the front door, in lieu of an actual drop box.

Enough with the not telling already

I've been loathe to bring this up.just because.

Not posting here is pretty easy when you have something to say, but don't want to say it. It's easy to step around the elephant in the room if you don't go into the live sex chat room. But avoiding the subject doesn't make it go away, and it's waited long enough. It needs to be said.

Amy - Teh One - and I broke up recently.

Thus, the need for the moving van this past weekend. She got her own place in town, and Sunday was the big day.

I'm not going into the why's here. I still care about her, and I want nothing but the best for her. And despite how it all turned out, I'm very happy to have had her in my life.

Despite the fact that she took my favorite Vettriano.

That was a joke, people. Really. It is my favorite Vettriano, tho.

We need a montage!

I'm not a "New Year's Resolution" kind of guy. I don't wake up on Jan 1, all happy and shiny like a freshly polished baby, ready to conquer all my evils and make a newer, better me. Aside from the fact that NYE recovery normally takes 2-3 days for the toxins to completely purge from my system, the concept itself seems disengenuous to me. Like we need to set an arbitrary date to make a life altering change. If you really wanted to make the change, you'd do it - the when wouldn't matter so much as it was right now.

I dunno, I suppose people need these arbitrary milestones to motivate them. Maybe this works for some of you. I just know that I'm less apt to follow through with a change if it's less than genuine, and I can't think of anything less genuine than choosing a far flung future date to begin making the right choices.It is with this in mind that I totally assure you that my joining a gym early this month was a complete and total coincidence. It's something that was mulled over and talked about for months - but, without the motivation, the gym might as well be nothing more than a concept, or swirling mists, aether; an abstract to the concrete reality of my ever-expanding waist. I know my family's health history: heart trouble, high cholesterol - basically giving me every reason to not continue living the way I have. So, a gym was selected to whip my fat arse into shape. As a special bonus, a personal trainer was hired. While it would be lovely if an intimate knowledge of exercising could be downloaded directly into my brain - "Whoa, I know Exercise Ball Abdominal Crunches!" - until we are enslaved by our robot masters, hiring an expert is the best alternative our primitive technology allows.

It's been almost four weeks. This morning, I ironed my pants (they still refuse to iron themselves, the lazy bastards), and it wasn't until almost walking out the door that I realized these were pants I haven't been able to wear in over six months. And that's when I decided to put them on, instead of going out in my boxer briefs like normal. You people should be thankful, all the things I do for you.

I live

I know everyone missed me, but last week was a very, very good one for me. No job to speak of (yet), some opportunities still sitting out there, however. Obviously, that's not why I think it was such a good week.

This is why it was such a good week. Everyone, meet Amy, otherwise known as Admirer_01.

We've known each other since the end of last year, via that life-stealing entity known as EQ. We got to know each other, started talking on the phone, and somehow I talked her into taking a vacation and visiting the sunny climes of Florida, removing her from the frozen wasteland that is northern Idaho. This was after she had seen my website and everything. I didn't know what to expect, so I kept my expectations to a minimum until she got here. We visited friends, went to the beach, and caught the Jerry Seinfeld show in Orlando. We talked at lenght about everything under the sun. We enjoyed each other's company. I'm not going into detail here - while this is a public forum for me to broadcast my life to anyone who might care to listen, some things get to stay mine. Let's just say my phone bill isn't getting any smaller anytime soon.

I know I've kept this under wraps from a lot of people, including some in my own family. It's not because I didn't want to tell all of you, because I did. But I didn't want to make this a big thing and then it not work out. But now that it has happened, and things are...well...wonderful, I'm letting the cat out of the bag. The Brat may now commence the e-mail/phone call barrage.

We also caught a couple movies, so you know what that means - stop, haiku time! X2:

Would my ability to shed hair off of my head make me a mutant?

I know you've already seen it: The Matrix Reloaded. I'll trade all Neo's powers for a key that opens the plot.

Anyone feel like they fast-forwarded through the last hour of that movie? They spend ten minutes on a long, pointless dance/sex scene, but spend thirty seconds setting up the attack to get Neo into the Source? Prioritites, people. If I want to see topless girls dancing to music, I'll go elsewhere.

And there you have it. Admirer_01 has returned to the frozen north, and I return to hunting for a job. Life carries on - but now, it has just a bit more purpose.