Highwaygirl banner

August 30, 2005

My Fist Got Hard

Johnny Cash
"A Boy Named Sue"
Listen | Buy

NOTES: This is for Randomben, future producer of the direct-to-DVD release Grannies & Trannies (Vol. I).

My daddy left home when I was three
And he didn't leave much to ma and me
Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze
Now, I don't blame him cause he run and hid
But the meanest thing that he ever did
Was before he left, he went and named me "Sue"

Well, he must o' thought that is quite a joke
And it got a lot of laughs from a' lots of folk
It seems I had to fight my whole life through
Some gal would giggle and I'd get red
And some guy'd laugh and I'd bust his head
I tell ya, life ain't easy for a boy named "Sue"

Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean
My fist got hard and my wits got keen
I'd roam from town to town to hide my shame
But I made a vow to the moon and stars
That I'd search the honky-tonks and bars
And kill that man who gave me that awful name

Well, it was Gatlinburg in mid-July
And I just hit town and my throat was dry
I thought I'd stop and have myself a brew
At an old saloon on a street of mud
There at a table, dealing stud
Sat the dirty, mangy dog that named me "Sue"

Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
From a worn-out picture that my mother'd had
And I knew that scar on his cheek and his evil eye
He was big and bent and gray and old
And I looked at him and my blood ran cold
And I said: "My name is 'Sue!' How do you do!
Now you're gonna die!!"

Well, I hit him hard right between the eyes
And he went down, but to my surprise
He come up with a knife and cut off a piece of my ear
But I busted a chair right across his teeth
And we crashed through the wall and into the street
Kicking and a' gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer

I tell ya, I've fought tougher men
But I really can't remember when
He kicked like a mule and he bit like a crocodile
I heard him laugh and then I heard him cuss
He went for his gun and I pulled mine first
He stood there lookin' at me and I saw him smile

And he said: "Son, this world is rough
And if a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn't be there to help ya along
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you'd have to get tough or die
And it's the name that helped to make you strong."

He said: "Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn't blame you if you do
But ya ought to thank me, before I die
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
Cause I'm the son-of-a-bitch that named you "Sue.'"

I got all choked up and I threw down my gun
And I called him my pa, and he called me his son
And I came away with a different point of view
And I think about him, now and then
Every time I try and every time I win
And if I ever have a son, I think I'm gonna name him

Bill or George! Anything but Sue! I still hate that name!

Posted by Highwaygirl on 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2005

That's Why They Call Me Mister Fahrenheit

"Don't Stop Me Now"
Listen | Buy

NOTES: Retro day continues. I used to listen to this album - Live Killers - all the the time when I was about 10 years old. I'm not sure why. But I used to dance around my bedroom to this song the most. Of course, I had no idea what the lyrics were - I'm pretty sure I wasn't singing "I'm a sex machine ready to reload" when I was 10. Or was I???

I'm gonna have myself a real good time
I feel alive
And the world, turning inside out
Floating around in ecstasy
So don't stop me
'Cause I'm having a good time
Having a good time

I'm a shooting star leaping through the sky
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I'm a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva
I'm gonna go, go, go
There's no stopping me

Burning through the skies
Two hundred degrees
That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
Traveling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Don't stop me now
I'm having such a good time
I'm having a ball
Don't stop me now
If you wanna have a good time
Just give me a call
Don't stop me now
Don't stop me now
'Cause I'm having a good time
Don't stop at all

I'm a rocket ship on my way to Mars
On a collision course
I am a satellite, I'm out of control
I'm a sex machine ready to reload
Like an atom bomb about to
Oh oh oh oh oh explode

Burning through the skies
Two hundred degrees
That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I'm traveling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic woman of you

Burning through the skies
Two hundred degrees
That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I'm traveling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Don't stop me now
I'm having such a good time
I'm having a ball
Don't stop me now
If you wanna have a good time
Just give me a call
Don't stop me now
Don't stop me now
'Cause I'm having a good time
Don't stop at all

Posted by Highwaygirl on 06:36 AM | Comments (4)

Riding On Anything

Listen | Buy

NOTES: It's retro day!

Riding on any wave
That is the luck you crave
They don't believe it now
They just think it's stupid

So got anything
Anyone could have done
Who would've cared at all
Not you

Another heart has made the trade
Forget it, forget it, forget it

I don't understand how a heart is a spade
But somehow the vital connection is made

Riding on anything
Anything's good enough
Who would've thought it of
Someone like you

Just as they brought me round
Now that they brought you down
Roundabout and roundabout
Who wants a life anyway?

Another heart has made the grade
Forget it, forget it, forget it

I don't understand how the last card is played
But somehow the vital connection is made

Posted by Highwaygirl on 06:25 AM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2005

Bending Sickle's Compass Come

I went to a funeral on Saturday. The deceased was the husband of my grandmother's sister, Silvia. So my ... great uncle? His name was Bob, and he died of a heart attack. He was 89.

I only went to the funeral to show support for my grandmother and Sylvia. Quite honestly, I didn't know Uncle Bob very well, and he was never really that nice to me. Perhaps because he didn't know ME that well, either. I don't know. At any rate, I wasn't going for him, but for his survivors.

So I drove down to Largo, stopping to meet my mom at the Women's Center at Morton Plant Hospital, where she was teaching a weekend Lamaze childbirth class. We drove down to the church - First Methodist - together, and planned on meeting my stepdad and brother's family there.

My mom and I walked in and greeted various family members - my grandmother, her eldest sister, Evelyn, her brother, Herb. Later I saw my Uncle Scott and his family (wife Lisa and kids Meagan and Zach). My mom and I went up to the altar, where the family had placed three or four collages of photos - glued to posterboard - from Bob's life.

This was when I learned that Bob was in the Army Air Corps during World War II, just like my grandfather, K.R., had been. I never knew that. In fact, Bob had stayed in the Army for 27 years, retiring as a major.

There was an entire collage of photos just from his WWII days - they reminded me so much of the old photos I have of K.R. Just the look of them - the faded black-and-white with touches of sepia - seems to denote a time that was much simpler than the time we live in now. The photos seem quaint and uncomplicated, much like the world was back in 1944 (at least compared to today).

My brother, Rob, his wife Terri, and my nephew Alex came in - Alex was dressed up wearing trousers, a white button-down shirt and a tie. He looked so adult. We sat down in a pew and I asked him when he had turned 25.

The service started and it was performed, coincidentally enough, by my former preschool teacher, Bonnie Lattimer. Bonnie - I'm an adult now, so I don't have to call her Mrs. Lattimer any more - became a minister after giving up the teaching profession. She was at the hospital (along with my mom) to support Silvia when Bob was at the end of his life.

The service was very nice. We sang two hymns; of course, being a heathen, I had never heard them before. I was suddenly very glad that I had taken band in middle school - I can read music, so I was able to muddle through the hymns on key and looking like I halfway knew what I was singing.

After the religious part of the service - which I got through without feeling very much emotion - Bob's family stepped up to the altar to give rememberances. First was his oldest son, Ronnie. He had a difficult time getting through his remarks, even though he had written them down. Then David, the youngest child spoke, followed by Cheryl, Bob's oldest child.

I think there's a difference between sympathy and empathy. From the moment I heard that Bob had died, I felt sympathy for his survivors. Even if I didn't care that much for him, he was certainly loved by his family and friends.

It wasn't until the rememberances that I began to feel empathy for his children and grandchildren. Until then, I hadn't even been close to crying. But hearing the pain, loss, and longing in these people's voices got to me very quickly.

They spoke of how Bob told stories to anyone who would listen. How he made friends no matter where he was. How he loved to sing - he'd sing to people instead of talking to them. How he'd always have a roll of cinnamon Certs around to share with others.

But mostly they talked of how much he loved Sylvia. I don't know how they met, or how long they were married. But every single person that spoke commented that Bob loved Sylvia more than life itself.

And in that moment, I realized a few things. I realized that I had been wrong in my assessment of Bob. Clearly, I hadn't known him very well. I should never had judged him as "not friendly." I also realized that it was my loss that I hadn't known him better.

Mostly I realized just how important our relationships with others are. We live forever in the memories and rememberances of others. I realized that when I'm finally gone, that I hope people have good things to say about me. I hope that all of the good outweighs the (admitted) bad, and that if some people come to my funeral just out of support for my family, that they leave thinking that they would have liked to have known me themselves.

At the end, the family formed a receiving line at the altar to greet the people as they left. This was the first time I had been able to speak to Silvia. She was always a small woman, and I'm tall ... I know she's old and frail but I felt like I could envelope her entire existence in my arms without even trying. I told her that I was so sorry for her loss, but that I felt like I knew Bob much better now and that I was humbled by the love he had for her. She thanked me and told me that she couldn't have made it through his death if my mom hadn't been there at the hospital supporting her.

I continued down the line and then got to Cheryl. I know I had met her before; I look a lot like my mother, so she recognized who I was right away. I gave her my condolences and she asked me how I was doing. But there was something unspoken in her words; I immediately recognized it, but I wasn't sure if she had meant her question to have the subtext that I was reading into it. So I just responded that I was doing well.

She looked at me again and said, "So you're doing OK?" Then I knew that she was actually talking about The Thing, and I said, "I'm doing really well - it will be nine years of remission in October."

Cheryl's sister, Regine, had been diagnosed with leukemia a month before I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, so Cheryl and my mother corresponded during that time and supported each other while Regine and I were both going through chemotherapy. Both Cheryl and Regine were always so happy to hear that I was doing well, and that the chemo was working for me.

Chemo didn't work for Regine, though. She eventually opted for a bone marrow transplant, but it failed. About six months after I was declared in remission, Regine died.

Cheryl said that my recovery was a wonderful thing, and that cancer survivors are "wonderful people." Bob had had cancer, too, several years ago. I don't remember what kind; I think it was liver or pancreatic cancer.

Cheryl's comment threw me at first. Mainly because I don't really agree with her, although I fully understand what she meant. Some cancer survivors are bastards, just like everyone else. I didn't know quite what to say in response. I think I said something about how we just get handed this challenge to overcome, and all we can do is handle it as best we can.

I didn't attend the lunch afterwards; instead I went to my brother's house to hang out over there.

Later that afternoon, I told Rob and Terri that I wanted two songs played at my funeral - "MLK" by U2, and "Hey Julie" by Fountains of Wayne. This got us off on a conversation about Songs for Funerals:

Me: It all depends on how I die. For example, if I'm killed by a piano dropping on my head, you can play REM's "Fall On Me."
Terri: Or "Orange Crush."
Me: Right, and if I die in a train accident, you can play "Driver 8."
Terri: Or if you die in a car accident, we can play Primus' "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver."
Me: Now I'm thinking how I could work in "Winona's Big Brown Beaver."
Terri: You could have it playing softly at the beginning of the service.
Me: The instrumental version.
Terri: Right!
Me: And if I die after inhaling toxic fumes while cleaning the bathroom, you should play Specimen's "The Beauty of Poison."

We do have an ... interesting ... sense of humor.

Then my brother detailed how he wants his body disposed of using a Viking-style funeral pyre. OR he wants a plexiglass casket that is buried within a lead sheath so nothing can get to him.

Me: How about we just mummify you, like King Tut? We can paint the front of your sarcophagus to look just like you.
Terri: But then all of his organs would have to be removed.
Rob: Yes, BUT, they'd be put into special containers solely for that purpose, so that's ok. And you don't have to paint the sarcophagus to look like me - just use death masks.
Terri: Like Mozart did.

My mom and I went out to Mama Fu's that night for dinner. Mmm, pad thai and potstickers. Then I drove home, stopping at Cold Stone Creamery for a cup of cheesecake ice cream with brownie, walnuts, and caramel mixed in.

There's nothing better than ice cream as a salve for your sorrows.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 01:11 PM | Comments (1)

August 05, 2005

Road Trip '05 - Lost in Arizona

The plane ticket for Arizona, she is bought. Trina and I will be spending October 1-8 out West, taking in such sights as Taliesin West, the Grand Canyon, the red rock hills of Sedona, the Navajo-guided tour of Canyon de Chelly, and Sandia Peak in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In between all those things we'll be tooling around Route 66 in a convertible, eating at roadside diners, and stopping in whatever city we end up in for the night.

Trina's goal is to find the best locally-owned ice cream parlor every night, and partake of their wares. Ice cream on a daily basis? I can get behind that (although I made the qualification that milkshakes, malts, and other desserts are also included).

We've made no reservations for anything except the Navajo tour and our hotel in Albuquerque (the Balloon Festival will be in town while we're there, so lodging is scarce and expensive). This road trip is almost completely free form, which is exciting.

I've started buying stuff for the trip, which is fun (an excuse to go shopping? I'm there!). I've ordered two Manhattan Portage messenger bags - the Europa in red and the Europa Deluxe in black. I'll only be keeping one of them; I kind of like the idea of the red, but seeing it in person is key.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 10:51 AM | Comments (3)

101 in 1001 - August Update

Jeez, man. Where have I been lately?

101 in 1,001 update - I completed numbers 11 (have Alex for a sleepover), 53 (take my mom and grandmother to lunch for Mother's Day), 58 (make a headboard for my bed - I counted buying one), 62 (convert this site over to MySQL), 68 (go to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary), and 100 (go blonde or very dark brown - I choose the latter).

Posted by Highwaygirl on 10:02 AM | Comments (0)