Over and Out (again)

The cars are loaded.

My things and Sarah Jessica are packed.
I have a nice coupon for McDonalds coffee in the morning.
See you in the central time zone.

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reduced

After 5 days of reducing.
Plus 9 months of moving.
Everything I own in the world:

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Over and Out

I moved out of Fort Wayne today.

By and far the best good-bye gift I received:
A life size 7ft cardboard cutout of Sarah Jessica Parker from Sofia.

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She will be my first and only friend in New Orleans and will hang out with me in my living room at night or while I am brushing my teeth in the morning. We had a long talk on my way to Indy about how much things are about to change for us.

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About New Orleans. I have gotten into this awful habit of checking all the crime alerts on campus by the hour. It has been integrated into my daily routine: check e-mail, check facebook, check crime alerts. Statistically, I’m sure to get shot, mugged, carjacked or burglarized within the first ten minutes.

People have encouraged me to take a self-defense class. The thing is, self-defense classes are in the recreation center, which is far away, which means I’ll have to drive. I am most concerned about getting from cars to buildings and back into cars. I will be doing it as little as possible, and most often with hand-held shrubbery to disguise me as I scurry between buildings. This makes something as dangerous as a self-defense class more risky than helpful since it will involve a parking lot and all. I mean, how would I get from my car to the building, or from the building to my car? Especially if the class is after 6pm or something?

A person has to think about these things.

Also, the fact that there is no Taco Bell in the city. My diet consists of mostly fast food and $3 champagne. While local fried food is available, I am worried about the effect this lack of Taco Bell will have on my body. Don’t even get me started on the prospect of having to introduce fruits and vegetables at some point. I don’t want to overwhelm myself.

Happenings of note.

I had to drink Sprite out of a bowl this week because there were no other dishes.

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Saturday we had birthday mimosas at Spyros—our favorite breakfast joint. BYOCAOJ- Bring your own champagne and orange juice. Classy.

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Favorite goodbye party moments of yore:

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The box of sweaters in the closet that let me know I was definitely home at my dad’s

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fw

Good morning, fort wayne.
We only have a few more days together.
Maybe that’s why you’ve kept me up…

Three months ago:
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Tonight:
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You’ve held me well.
I’ll miss you.

20 hours of alone time

Hi, I’m Brooke.
I used to live a relatively stress free life with lots of fun and a part-time job and no kids.

Then last week hit, and I had this epic adventure where the conflict was not, like, dragons or slaying or finding love, but babysitting a ten-year-old whose mom was flying standby and kept getting bumped and bumped and bumped for days.

My little miniature obstacles were things like death defying field trips to the Eagle Marsh—which is a never ending expanse of grassland with pockets of deep mud and murky water along the 102 exit on I69—dragging along a troupe of 7-year-olds in the 90 degree heat behind Miss Nancy, the Ultimate Journey lady, who loves this type of thing. Miss Nancy forged the way, while I jumped around because a spiky caterpillar was on my shirt and a mouse ran over my shoe. The kids were poking along saying things like: I hate this field trip. I want to go home. I’m hot.

I should have said something like, “Well, sugar, it’s almost over. We’ll get a nice long drink. Just keep going. One more step.” But instead, I was like, “I know. I hate this field trip too. How about if one of you guys pretends to faint?”
Then there was the Old Fort—which might seem like a fun trip, but it was with that same poor group of 7 year-olds who I had to beg and bribe and convince to come, with the promise of playing in the Headwaters Fountains at the end. Of course that day the Fountains were closed, and all heard was: I hate this field trip. I want to go home. I’m hot.

You can be sure that anytime I show up with the van these days, kids run screaming and crying from the Club.

And, finally, there was the zoo—wherein a bird shit on my head. I had to take all the girls with me to the bathroom to wash my hair. I kept saying over and over that I was going to sue the zoo, which I thought was hilarious (get it? Sue the zoo—it rhymes). I just kept laughing and saying it and laughing and saying it, and none of the girls were laughing, which was so strange seeing as how I am so hilarious, but then I turned around. A zoo lady was behind me waiting to wash her hands. I had to tell her that I wasn’t really going to sue the zoo, but that it just rhymed and all.

Other hardships included occupying the 10 year-old while trying to video conference a Belize meeting in Indianapolis from a coffee shop in Fort Wayne, fighting the dog-and-cat-allergies in a dog-and-cat-house, plus an extra high mold and ragweed count, and warding off an especially annoying encore of shingles, which felt—and this was horrifying for me—like spiders were crawling across my stomach at all times. We also had to defend ourselves against the bathtub in my apartment. Apparently, you have to clean those things. Poor Elaine came to visit and was forced to stand on a tiny little washcloth in the shower so that the tub didn’t eat her alive.

I usually keep a clean apartment. And by usually, I mean 40% clean, 40% of the time. But this month—well, this summer—has been unusually filthy thanks to the chaos of moving. It took $25 worth of cleaning materials and an hour-and-a-half of hardcore scrubbing to get this tiny little bathroom sparkly—the magic eraser shower and tub cleaner gets a gold star.

I gave the ten-year-old a $10 bill and a dairy queen blizzard for her bravery in the face of black mold, and we both learned a lesson. Her lesson, she said, is never to let her bathroom get like this when she goes to college. God bless her for still thinking I am in college. My lesson is that all of us are just too old and too messy to be living together. No one wants to clean up anyone else’s anything. I guess marriage is out.

Finally, the height of action here- the beginning of the end- was running a red light at State and Coliseum ten seconds after finding out the kid’s mom wasn’t coming home for another 36 hours. It was one of those miserable moments where I just thought I could not possibly handle one more thing. The lane next to me had a green arrow, which I mistook for a green light and pulled out. I realized in the middle of the intersection that I was the only one going.
I stopped cold and held my hand out to the scared old man and lady in the turn lane and mouthed, “I’M SORRY. I’M REALLY SORRY!” Then I looked around, totally embarrassed, and crept through the intersection to the other side where I could pull over. Immediately two police tried to pull me over. But I was already pulled over. Fort Wayne cops are just like that. I tried not to cry, but I really believed that I might die of babysitting and sinus pressure. I didn’t have any money left to feed me or the 10 year-old dinner, and everything else I was stressed about somehow made its way to the rim of my eyes and I just laid my head on the steering wheel and looked at Elaine.
“Don’t do it,” she said. “Be strong.”
I quivered and sniffled and swallowed hard.After taking my license and registration to the squad car, the police lady came back to my window and said. “Are you stressed out?”
I said, “Yeah.”
She held my license and registration behind her back and said, “Why?”
Elaine gave me the eye and I didn’t want to scare the kid.

I said in my best strong and shaky voice, “Um, well, it’s just been a long day.”
“I’m going to give you a verbal warning for this,” she said. “You have an excellent driving record.” Thank God.I gave the kid back on Monday at midnight, then had another 12 kids plus the original one all day yesterday at the zoo. One kid accidentally rammed his foot-high soft serve ice cream cone into my elbow.

Today I called in and was like, you guys? I’m taking the day off. I need about 20 hours of alone time, some coffee and a nap.

It has been a spectacular 20 hours.

Car accident day

I was driving to work today and remembered it was July 9th— car accident day. Yesterday I forgot all about it, which is so typical, and didn’t remember until I was sitting at the light on Fairfield and Taylor today, on my way to the Boys & Girls Club. I looked at the clock and it was 10:15. Automatically I thought—wow, they would have still been cutting me out of the car. I was irritated in my memory that they hadn’t hurried it up already.

I texted Sprinky and said, “Do you know what today is?”
She texted back, “Oh yeah. Car accident day. Glad you are alive ☺”

I was glad too.

I was also really glad that I was not one of those emotional people who freak out over things like “anniversaries” or “flashbacks” and that I didn’t feel the need to call in to work or speak with anyone about it, that I was a triumphant, resilient enough person to just drive to work and say, “Oh yeah. That old accident?” and then flip the radio station.

But then, without my permission, Sprinky’s face popped into my head and I remembered her expression when she walked into the ER. I remembered trying to lift my head to tell her I was okay, but being held down by the neck brace and the Velcro on the backboard. I remembered tears pouring out, and the BGC staff standing around the corner behind the curtain. I remembered the guy pacing outside my car window calling everyone in my phone book, pulling at his hair and saying: fuckareyouokayshitfuckdon’tmoveshit! And I remembered those terrifying seconds between when the guy hit me and when the wheel of the semi came through my window. I remembered that panicky feeling of knowing I was going to die right there and that no one would even find out for, like, two hours. I remembered how scared I was after it all stopped and I was waiting for help to arrive.

The terror of that day—of 10:15 four years ago—clamped onto me, and before I knew it I was sobbing through the intersection—like, not a pretty little reasonable cry, but hiccupping and wailing and dry heaving, the kind where people in the car next to you mouth: are you okay? And you nod and then wipe your nose on your work shirt and breath in another staggery little cry.

When I got to the Club one second later, I sat there for a minute and called my dad (who was unavailable), sat there some more, breathed into a paper sac, wiped my face and went inside. I felt like I could pull it together. Then someone went and said “hello” to me. I lost it all over again and that caused a mild panic for the administrative staff, because they had never seen me act like this.

They tried to send me home, but I told them that I could not afford to go home, because my friends could not pay me an hourly rate to sit at home and console me. And then I told them, crying like a crazy person, “And I’m taking the kids swimming today. I love swimming.”

I think they were telepathically transmitting the number to Parkview Behavioral between them, but they offered nicely to work something else out so I could take some time if I needed to. They even said I could just leave and come back in a few hours.

Instead I told them (like any girl who knows her psyche) if they could just give me some good gossip, I think I could get my mind off it and I’d be fine.

They told me something juicy. Sure enough, that did the trick. An hour later we were discussing the van schedule and I didn’t shed another tear all day.

I ended up meeting Sprinky for lunch at the little downtown Starbucks, though, and after a few conversations about California and work and the price of gas—with a few random interjections like, “Then I got so scared when they started cutting the car” followed by, “Do you know how many calories are in this?” normal breathing was restored.

The experience itself seems so lonely, probably because I was the only one in the car and the other guy died. All I can do is try to explain it, which is never as satisfying as I think it’s gonna be. But lunch was great, and at closing time today when all was said and done, I felt like patting myself on the back and saying, as if I were 27 and 4 at the same time, “Yeah, that was scary. But it’s over. Let’s just go home.”

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Here is the original story, written in 2005, one year after the accident: July 9th 2004

Tap dancing in the cafeteria

Behold the funny, followed by the crazy.

This is a video of the Fort Wayne Ballet doing some tap lessons with a group of our kids in the cafeteria.  Note the big guy in the plaid shorts pointing his foot just so.

 

Hil-air. 

Today I went to the McCormick site to collect some pre-tests and attendance records, and here is an account of everything that followed:

  • The radio announced a severe thunderstorm warning for Allen county.
  • I got out of the car and walked toward the club, but was momentarily distracted by the dark swirly clouds above me. Also, a witch on a bicycle in the sky. I think I have a sixth sense about these things.
  • The electricity went out in the club.
  • The plumber arrived to fixthe overflowing toilet on the first floor.
  • Tornado sirens went off.
  • Parents came running for their kids.
  • We stuffed 35 kids into one hallway the size of a bathtub.
  • The executive director arrived to give a tour with the housing director and a potential donor.

At this point, Ken was standing on a chair in the bathroom shining a flashlight onto the plumber, and the kids and I were stuffed like sardines into the stairwell trying to figure out whether or not the tornado warning had expired.

The director didn’t even know there was a tornado. I can only imagine her internal dialogue.

After two hours with no electricity or air circulation, the entire club smelled like an overflowing toilet and dirty kids. We had to close early.

It took me 40 minutes to get back to the Fairfield site, because all the roads looked like this:

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It’s a floating Cadillac.

Berny hotfingers

While I was in Belize, my greedy little brother pawned all my books.

I didn’t discover the books missing until an hour before my dad’s wedding, which is just like him. He had been MIA for at least a month and had shown up the day of the wedding to get some clothes. It just so happened that my dad had changed the locks that morning, and Brandon all but jumped out of the bushes as soon as we pulled up. He smiled a sparkly smile, raved abut his great new job at the pet store, threw his clothes into a trash bag, gave me a hug, and promised he’d stay in touch.

Twenty minutes later, I found my empty book boxes. My poor, pillaged boxes. Hundreds of books. Gone. I stomped around the apartment screaming about what an idiot he was and threatening to throw him out a two-story window if I ever saw him again. My dad thought I was overreacting until he went to get his camera, which was also missing. It was the camera we bought my dad for Father’s Day—and by “we” I mean “me” since I paid both Ben and Brandon’s share. So, to recap: he stole my books, and then he stole the camera he himself gifted, at my expense.

Had he shown up for the wedding, he would have been uninvited. But that’s what makes him so frustrating. He is so unreliable you can’t even exclude him.

He finally called me about a week ago under the guise of “I heard you had shingles, how are you feeling?” which turned out, in the end, to be “I need a bed can I have yours?”

I told him I was feeling fine, except that I was broke and had to depend on the free clinic to treat my shingles since I have no money and can’t even pawn my own books for prescription drugs.  Then I threw in something about food stamps just to make him feel guilty, and ten minutes later I was fielding calls from various family members alarmed about the food stamps.

“Are you on food stamps?”
“No, who told you that?”
“Brandon.”
“You talked to Brandon? Did he call you or did you call him?”
“He called me.”
“To tell you I was on food stamps?”
“Well, no. He said he was trying to buy dad’s furniture but that you might need the money more than dad. Do you need money?”
“No.”
“Do you need groceries?”
“No. I’m not even on food stamps. I was just trying to make a point.”

“Berny.”
“What?
“Did you tell mom I was on food stamps?”
“Yeah, because she said you might be selling your couches, and I thought you would need the money for groceries. And I need some couches. And a bed.”
“Brandon! I don’t need groceries. I’m not selling my bed. You can’t afford my couches. I just want my books!”

Do you know what he said next? He said, “Brooke. I left your yearbooks.”

As if all other books are merely ornamental.
As if he were a classy enough pawner to leave the things of real value. As if I am not a smart enough sister to understand the translation: “Brooke.  The bookstore didn’t want your yearbooks.”

For the record, the bookstore did not keep a record of books bought. There is no list of books sold. If I want my books back, I have to manually go through the shelves and pick out the ones I think might be mine and then re-buy them. Re-buy them. Hundreds of books. He managed to get my dad’s camera back, though. He originally used it to take out a loan at the pawnshop and then paid the loan and reclaimed the camera. But books? You should see the way they look at me when I whine about the books. Come on, Brooke. It’s not like they’re yearbooks.

Well. Today I bought three books. Now I am the proud owner of three books and 4 yearbooks. If you would like to give me a parting gift for grad school, please buy me a book.

Unrelated: I have a bookshelf for sale

Fun with BGC kids

I really am trying to get back into the habit of posting consistently. By trying, I mean definitely thinking it in my head and sometimes making post-its. For now, you’ll just have to settle for some summer highlights with the BGC kids.

The first is a video I caught of the McCormick kids singing in the van. Note, especially the enthusiastic singer in the lower right corner, and the girl who just ignores us in the lower left corner.

Next is a series of pictures from the penny pitch carwash we did with WOWO- thats, AMradio, if you didn’t know. Ronnica and I were the only ones who showed up at 7am:Photobucket

Here is how we spent most of the morning.
So… are there supposed to be cars to wash or something? Anybody want to donate to the boys and girls club? Anyone?

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Our local celebrity

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By 9am, we made $170 and 2 boxes of donuts.

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The next is a series of Ronnica dancing for the carwash guys in the name of the BGC

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And me attempting the same moves, not permitted to be in any way associated with BGC or Ronnica, who had a crush on Andy, the carwash guy

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The next two are Girls Weekend Out with Janelle…

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And my personal favorite: BLAZES OF GLORY- win or die trying.

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I love these guys. I love this place. It will be a sad day for me in three weeks, the closing to a decade-long chapter here. Boys and Girls clubs, you’re my heart.