Friday, January 24, 2014


A couple of weeks ago, one of our regular customers at the Shell station tried to establish himself in the world of comedy with a routine that wouldn't be funny even if A) I had realized it was him before the gag started and B) Porky Pig was on the canopy rooftop over the pumps crying "R-Redbull g-g--gives you w-wings!"

Now that we are speaking to each other again, I accept that what Marty said, as he swung through the doors and pointed his cell phone at me in a gansta' wit a gun stance, was "Give me all your pennies or I'll be forced to call 911."  All I heard was "Give me all your... pfmhmghrrghrwwwuu...." and all I saw was something black pointed at me in a way that people on tv point guns.  Very much the same as when the actual guy with the actual turned-out-to-be-fake-gun pointed his fake gun at me a couple of years back.  Only that guy had his face covered and it was 3 in the morning and this guy had a bare face and it was the middle of the day, like the Marathon store robbery in December where the clerk was murdered.   So all I could think was "I'm dead.", until I processed the voice, and the scene.  Whereupon I pronounced him unfunny, flew into a rage and cursed him, bringing Sharon, our Assistant Manager to the scene to assess the situation and then berate him some more and run him off the property.  He hadn't come into the store when Sharon or I were there until yesterday and he was awful sorry.  I had forgiven him that same day, 'cause y'know... it's Marty.  He belatedly remembered that I have been held up, and was informed for the first time that the clerk I was working with has been as well, though it was when she worked for another company.

You would be hard put to walk into a convenience store with veteran workers on hand to find a group where at least one could not tell you about "their robbery".  I hadn't thought very deeply about what they pay us, because I took the posiition as a little second job to help clear up some bills and they very kindly work around my big job schedule.  But for most of the clerks I work with, this is their big, or only, job.  They are in harms way every day and being paid as little as possible.  Sometimes as little as the law allows.  The people who profit most from our risk are safe behind corporate walls where there's no money on hand.  It doesn't make a lot of sense.  Their only risk is financial.  The little people have their lives on the line, and their psychological well being.  Even the corporate office workers are higher paid.  My guess is it's because the big guys have to face them every day.  It's not because any of them is more competent than me.

I've been following the fast food workers strikes, and their attempts to unionize.  I know why they need to.  There are 7 of us in non  management positions at our store.  Even if we all went together to negotiate we would be unheard.  Support the fast food workers.  And when the convenience store workers wake up and revolt, support us.  This is a twisted twisted situation.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sleeping Pill?

I realized on the way to work yesterday afternoon, that I had a profound experience in the wee hours of  the morning.
My mother was right.  Chubby little girls who insist on ballet lessons, point no less, wind up with joint problems later in life.  My feet are a mess, but it's my hips that sometimes wake me up in the middle of the night.  Ordinarily there's no going back to sleep without medicinal intervention.  Often I incorporate the pain into my dreams.  I do the same thing with alarm clocks, but ironically the aches eventually wake me while the alarm does not.
Last night I dreamt.   The pain was huge and radiant and I somehow knew that I had to take a pill that began with "g" to be alright.  In the dream I knew the whole name of it, but in waking only the "g" remains.  My friend Minda was there in the dream, and I asked her if she had this medication.  She hesitated, because she had it by prescription and there are laws.  But seeing what misery I was in, she dug a bottle out of her purse and dispensed just one, which I did not hesitate to swallow immediately, as pain knows no laws.
I woke up, hurting.  But in the haze of half sleep I assured myself that I had just taken something and it would be okay soon.
It was when I was driving to work that I realized... the dream pill not only let me sleep, I was still pain free sitting in the car hours later.  I am rarely pain free sitting in the car.  Stunning.
Tonight I hope Minda gives me something to make my clothes fit better.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

We couldn't go back, could we Henry?

I came out of mothballs tonight.  Martha asked how long it had been since I was in a show and I said I thought it was six years.  That's wrong.  I haven't costumed a show in about six years.  I hadn't performed for 10.
The Fabbey Abbey Ball was a Downton Abbey themed fundraiser for KET held at Spindletop Hall.  Interspersed between dinner, dessert and dancing were short scenes featuring characters from the TV show played by local actors and a has-been.  Moi.  I'm not sure what made Martha Campbell think of me for the role of Violet.  I'd never seen the show and said yes before I understood fully that I was going to be standing in for Maggie Smith.  Ye Gods.
When I ran from theatre, it was 90 miles an hour into the black night screaming like a blazing banshee in soon to catch gunpowder boots.  For years I wouldn't even go to a play unless Patti was in it.  I told folks I had PTSD.  Post Theatric Stress Disorder. I had recovered enough to go to a play that Patti was not in, if she went with me, but the thought of being further involved kind of gave me the all overs.  that is, until a few weeks ago when this opportunity was presented.  When I realized that the very idea did not make me curl up into a ball, I found it was a quite convenient time for me to take a week off from Meijer, wondered what old buddies might turn up in the cast, basked in the lovely warm glow of having been asked... and jumped.
Great landing.  The whole event was FUN in all capitals.  I don't think it's the chocolate truffle-y cheesecake they fed us talking, though I confess that I am still under the influence.  I met some terrific actor people and got to work with Laurie Preston(who I have known for 20ish years and never acted with) and Martha. It was a light and easy project.  A toe in tepid water.  And it woke something up.  When the cast was joking about "next years fund raiser" as we were packing up, I found myself commenting as if I was all in.  All the way home I thought of characters I am now the right age to play. And not only that, but plays I could finish writing.  Paintings I have in my head.  The perfect set of Crucible costumes I designed and once longed to build.  Languishing short stories. Like the lid got lifted off a pot of creativity that has been simmering all this time.
Maybe I am ready to go back.  A little.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Someone needs to tell that woman that she is too old to wear that stuff."

Quickly turning to view the woman retreating from the Palomar Shell building toward the pump islands, I expected to see at least exposed sagging flesh or leopard print.  Instead, she had on some close fitting jeans, not tight enough to bind or reveal a lot of details, on a slim, toned body.  She was wearing two layers of t-shirt with the bottom longer than the top, in the fashion.  Also snug, but over a torso with an honest to god waistline.  She had yummy, thick, dark hair that came just below her shoulders.  From the rear view, she was ageless.  I would have guessed 30 maybe.  If she were nearing middle age the whole package, from my perspective, was only enough to make me think "You go girl."  Perhaps the bubble gum pink t-shirt had an immodest decolletage'... or a picture of Hello Kitty on it?

"What is wrong,"  I asked Sam, "with what she is wearing?"

"The glittery sneakers."

Stunned.  Not because I had missed them entirely, but because I couldn't for the life of me understand what is wrong with glittery sneakers at any age.  What?

"They're for kids."

So there is to be no shoe fun for the aged.  Lemme' tell ya.  If I didn't have more urgent things to spend on and found a pair of red sequin chucks in my size, I would so be wearing them.  Red.  Pink.  Turquoise.  I could entertain the objection if they were, say, high heeled sneakers.  But what the hell? Who made this rule?  Sam was not backing down.  So all night I mused aloud about what color glitter I might have at home and if Alene's fabric glue would make it stick to my old K-Swiss.

Friday, September 23, 2011

... first be a person who needs people.

This morning I couldn't get Lydia Hodson off my mind. Lydia was an idol of mine when I was a kid. It seemed that she was the star of ALL the plays at Lexington Children's Theatre. This was back in the 60's when the plays at LCT were all performed by local youngsters. When I got my first role, which was simply a walk across the stage following Jeannie Ross and a poodle, Lydia was the star of that show, too. It was a melodrama called Rags to Riches. I can't remember the name of Lydia's character but Jack Pattie played the hero, Ragged Dick. Esquire. What I remember of Lydia from that show was that she was not only beautiful and talented and important, but she was nice to me and I was nuthin'.

My last memory of actual interaction with Lydia was when she was no longer performing in shows, but was president of the LCT Veteran's Society. It was our last meeting, as the Living Arts and Science Center had taken over the running of LCT and the Veteran's Society funds had been absorbed and the group disbanded. I must have been 11 or 12, but I stood up in the meeting and raged about the unfairness of that. At that moment, I believed that Lydia loved me as much as I loved her, for she beamed at me and nodded and said "Oh, you're gonna be a rebel." Such a feeling must soldiers of old have had when knighted by their illustrious queen. I have remembered and savored that moment my whole life, and any time I have been righteously outraged, I have had Lydia's sanction in the back of my mind when I gave voice to it.

After that Lydia became Kentucky's, and then America's Junior Miss. She was in magazines and she was assoiciated with products like Kodak and Breck shampoo. If you had seen her hair, you would understand the shampoo thing. After that she cohosted a TV show called PM Magazine and while that was going on she married a composer named Phil Copeland. I mused then, and still do, whether he could be related to Aaron Copeland. They're both composers, right?

Sometime she got sick. Lydia beat Hodgkins Lymphoma for awhile, but died at the age of 37 in 1991. When I first encountered her I could not wrap my eight year old lips around "Hodson" and had called her "Lydia Hodgkins". Just one of those memories that makes you feel a little weird.

Because I could not get her off my mind, I cruised the internet a bit this morning, looking for articles. Just to see her and hold her in my mind awhile longer. This is a woman I never spoke to after I was a preteen and was only once in the same building with after that when I heard her sing in Gratz Park. Lydia made such an impression on me as a child that she has haunted me ever since. In the very best way. She has been a standard of poise, class, kindness and courage that I have longed to live up to. And maybe somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that yesterday was her birthday, but I don't think so. The web just told me.

Death has been on my mind a lot. It's become the trendy thing to do amongst a lot of people I've loved. I have attacked the subject with all the adjectives but fail to conquer. But one thing I believe I know (just because... I believe. I know.) is that there is something else after that. And I believe there are little windows to the something else that might be looked through from either side, under the right circumstances. And I like to think that Lydia being relentlessly in my thoughts the day after her birthday might be her tapping on the window. I must have been just another one of the little kids to her in life, but maybe it's how important she has been to me that makes the difference.

Her talent song for Junior Miss was People. People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.

Happy Birthday, Lydia. You charmed and inspired wherever you went. I needed you and still need your memory and example. Guess I'm the luckiest.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lookatmelookatme 2: The saga continues.

Once upon a time I was choring away at the costume warehouse, wrapping up a few things while waiting for my beloved friend Patti to arrive so we could run off to do some fun thing or other. I bent over to pick up a fallen costume and raised up into a waterfall fixture and clocked my forehead with some force. It hurt like the devil and there was a scrape with just a little blood. Not nearly enough to prompt the outpouring of sympathy I felt I deserved. So I sat on the floor a little longer than I needed to clear my head, hoping Patti would come in while I was sitting there and realize the extent of my suffering. Patti is a champion oh-you-poor-thinger and it is wonderful to get that blast of warm sympathy and then bravely say "Oh… it's nothing. What movie are we seeing?" She was late and I got bored and washed my forehead, but I told her when she arrived how I had posed for her on the floor and she missed it. Her laughter is as uplifting as her compassion. Good trade.

This is just a glimpse into the workings of my inner mind to suggest to you, dear readers, how much I have enjoyed the attention I have received since the robbery. I am functioning just fine, though I admit it is on my mind almost constantly. I expect my boss thought I had an unnatural fear of corporate visits when I jerked as he told us to expect "Rob". Several folks have suggested that I might fall apart later. So far I have chewed a hole in my lip during the night and burst out crying at Alberta's 6th grade picture even before I read the caption. But just look at how dear that picture is. I might have done that anyway. Further, I have been congratulated for and encouraged to keep writing about it, making me feel all brave and such for courageously revealing my trembling guts.

Truthiness? The second I saw the gun (and I now can remember it in his hand, but only when he is approaching the door) my inner wordsmith was whispering "oh… you can get some mileage out of this." and I was already composing before the police got there. The good parts of the saga are I didn't get hurt, it didn't last long, he didn't get much, he will get caught and I have a great story to tell. And I loooove having a story to tell. What's a little peace of mind compared to that? Good trade.

Monday, January 31, 2011

I still can't see the gun.

Even though I just watched the surveillance tape and could clearly see it in his left hand, I cannot picture the man standing in front of me with a gun pointed my direction. I told the police officers he had a sock on his hand with something hard in it. Or his hand was in his pocket. I told them I definitely did not see a gun. Watching the video it is clear that is impossible. Somehow my mind has photoshopped that selected area with the "grainy" filter. I simply cannot call up the image.
My turn. I knew it was coming. I have been too lucky. The night started out all wrong. When I got to work I realized I had forgotten my cell phone. It plays a key role in my escape plan and getting all flummoxed over that made me park in the wrong place. On third shift I always leave my car at one of the pumps, hoping a would be robber might think I have a customer. However, I was so distracted I parked in my second shift spot and was already counting in when I noticed. Oh well.
It was a dark and stormy night. Okay. It was drizzly and there weren't many customers. There was plenty of time to notice the guy who came in a little after one. He bought a Pepsi with a debit card and wouldn't speak to or look at me. However, he was looking hard around behind the counter and directly at the empty open till on the other cash register and at the safe. I knew right then I was going to be robbed. I made a copy of the receipt and wrote everything I could remember about him on the back. That way the police would be able to see him on the film easily, I figured, because the receipt would show the exact time.
Right after the incident, I was ridiculously grateful that he let me finish mopping and didn't track up the floor. I don't know if it was the same guy, and the clothes were different so it is hard to tell about the build, but he was the same height. His face was all covered up. Reviewing the tape I realized why I kept saying to the police officers that he had socks on his hands and face. (I thought he had a sweat sock over his mouth.) The way he was done up he looked like a sock monkey. Since my mind was refusing to acknowledge his weapon, it substituted an available theme.
He didn't get much and he was rather disappointed.
"Is that all? Are you sure???"
"Do you want the rolled change?"
"No. I just want more money."
At this point I tried to say "That's all there is.", but I think it came out as "Meow."
He ran. I dialled 911. The cops were there in about 2 minutes.
When other people get robbed, you fantasize about how you would react. I had told my old boss at Shell that if I ever got robbed at gunpoint, he could consider that my immediate notice. I thought I would come unglued and have to at least go directly home. Preferably with some good friend whose company I would sorely crave for solace driving poor hysterical me. But when our new manager got there, I finished up the chores while she went about figuring out how much was taken. We reopened and I stayed until the end of my shift. There was no one I wanted to call. Maybe if it hadn't been such an unseemly hour. Besides I didn't have my cell phone and I don't know anyone's number any more. When I got home I was nonetheless happy to find I had left the bedroom light on and the silhouette of Pete the Cat was obvious in the upstairs window, and very gratified that I have a weird cat who likes to meet me at the front door. When she spoke I knew that she understood everything.
You said it, Pete.