MY MOTHER IS A SAINT

I was not the child I thought I was. In my mind, I was well-behaved from the moment of birth. I was malleable to suggestions for improvements, and I was good listener. This was before I learned about the tank, the escape artist, the fashionista, the tyrant and the naughty teenager.

I discovered these things over the years as my mother gently mentioned them from time to time or as they came up as Little Saxon stories to my girlfriends.

tangle 2

In order of appearance: It was Christmas. My mother had purchased me a cute little dolly. That’s what mothers did for their little girls because little girls were supposed to like dolls. My older brother got a tank. The first words out of my mouth were “My tank.” I pointed at the tank. I dropped the dolly and snatched the tank. Needless to say, there was a tussle.

The Escape Artist: My mother’s best friend lived across the street. She had a cute little boy that I had a baby crush on. Daily, I would waddle my diapered ass across the street to see my crush. Horrified, my mother would drag me back and counsel me on the dangers of crossing the street unsupervised. I nodded, but did it again and again. My father built a small fence to keep me imprisoned in my own front yard. I dug a hole and slipped underneath.

The Fashionista: I insisted on dressing myself. And we all know how that works out—mismatched outfits, hideous color coordination, and in my case, a penchant for wearing my clothes inside out. My father and my grandmother couldn’t figure out how come my mother wouldn’t make me mind. I can tell them now—because she was exhausted with my antics. Just combing my hair was a battle in itself, never mind getting me dressed.

The Tyrant: I went to kindergarten and while walking home I told my mother, with all the righteous conviction my five year-old self could muster, that I would not be going back. I’d tried it and I didn’t like it. In my mind, the deal was settled. Surely, she would understand. That began my career of coming home from school each day and delivering a speech of all the injustices heaped upon me by an unjust and evil world. Couldn’t she see that I should not have to put up with this banal crap? That went on until she went back to school and became a nurse. I had lost my audience.

The Naughty Teenager: I’m pleading the Fifth Amendment on these stories because when she reads this I just don’t think she could handle it.

So Happy Mother’s Day! I love you for still loving me. I know it must be hard but look how well it all turned out—I’m not driving a tank, escaping from prison, wearing my clothes inside out and I didn’t go into politics. It’s all good.

FIRST WORLD PROBLEM

Layce and I were on our way to the store. We’d been binging watching the The Walking Dead. I have a current fascination with zombies. This was new for me. Usually scary, bloody, intense violent stuff was difficult for me to watch. I would have to put a blanket over my head and plug my ears until the bad stuff was over. With this series I’d grown hardened and left off my blanket.

I’ve been analyzing the series. I thought I should share my thoughts with Layce. We did have a ten minute drive to the store. I could cover a lot in ten minutes.

I started with my analyses of the major protagonist. “You know, I feel that Rick’s indecisiveness has been a real factor in putting the group at risk and in some cases has caused the death of certain characters. His morals keep appearing at the wrong moments. He makes one decision and then changes his mind as in the case of Merl and then later on with Michonne.

mishon

I glanced over at Layce. She didn’t say anything. I figured she was fascinated by my analysis.

I continued. “His morals about what Carol did to stop the epidemic wasn’t that much different than leaving Merl, despite his not-so-nice demeanor, chained on that roof. Then he decides he’s got to go back and save him which once again puts the group at risk. He decides to hand Michonne over to the Governor on the chance that the Governor will not attack them. Really? Hand her over to be tortured and then killed on a chance. That’s his decision. Thank God he changed his mind, but it was too late. Merl, despite being a southern racist, did the right thing by releasing Michonne. What does that say about Rick?”

No comment from Layce.

“I’m also amazed at the ability of people to still fall in love. Look at Glenn and Maggie. And then there’s the need for companionship and how complete strangers grow to become a family. The things that often times divide people such as race, creed, sexual orientation are no longer an issue. The need to survive trumps everything.”

the-walking-dead-glenn-and-maggie-wedding-108789

No comment from Layce.

I continued. “Then there’s the ability of humans to adapt, the drive to keep the human race from extinction. How the human brain assesses problems and find solutions in order to establish group cohesiveness and create communities.”

No comment from Layce.

“The one thing that bothers me though is the lack of cleanliness. Why don’t they get new clothes every time they go raiding? I mean just change your shirt when you find clothes and leave your dirty stuff behind.”

“The hierarchy of needs,” Layce responded.

water wd

“Oh, my God, you are so right. Having water, finding food and safe shelter, trying to quell the daily terror by living in the moment, dealing with the loss of loved ones and striving to keep PTSD at bay. Overcoming the tragedy of murder to sustain one’s own group when threatened. Rick’s questioning of newcomers. ‘How many zombies have you killed and how many people have you killed?’ Those are pertinent questions to establish the truth and honesty of any incoming member to the group.”

We arrived at the store. Layce glanced in the rearview mirror and then down at her outfit. I thought she must be pondering the nature of the quintessential questions that my ten minute analysis of The Walking Dead produced. She looked over at me. I waited anxiously for her words of wisdom concerning the show.

“Does this scarf match my outfit?”

“Were you listening to anything I said?”

“All ten minutes of it,” she said, and got out of the car.


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THE GRAFFITI GIRLS

“What’s that little pointy thing?” Emma said, leaning over my shoulder and looking at the computer screen.

sleeping giant

 “I think it’s fairly obvious,” I replied. “My friend Alice and I painted it on a billboard. It was advertisement for a mattress company.”

“Isn’t that against the law?” Emma said. “I think it’s called defacing public property and isn’t that breaking that Social Contract you’re always telling me about?”

The older she gets the smarter she gets and the more I am forced to confront my misspent youth. I was a nefarious graffiti artist. I can confess now because I’m pretty sure the Statue of Limitations has run out. I was, after all, only eighteen at the time.

My friend Alice and I were The Outlaws. We graffitied sayings we found in Tom Robbin’s books around town. Sometimes we improvised— as in the above mentioned photograph. We found social statements and commented on them. We actually were kind of famous… at least with billboard companies, the Parks Department and private industries. We were also underground. We admitted our activities to no one.

graffiti oly can

One day, my mother and I were walking down the street when we came upon a large example of our work. “Will you look at that? They misspelled tequila. Well, at least I know it wasn’t you. You’re an excellent speller.”

the worm 2

I nodded and kept my mouth shut. She continued, “Speaking of graffiti, did you see what someone did to that mattress company, the Sleeping Giant? Why they painted an erect penis on it is beyond me.”

“That’s a horrible thing to do,” I said.

“And Francis said there was a saying on the park wall. It was enormous.”

“Hunh,” I replied.

“Something about the Outlaw being the can opener of life. What do you suppose that means?”

can opener

“Maybe they opened lots of cans of paint,” I offered. (Yes, that is me drinking a margarita.)

Now what really happened was we painted the asphalt of my street with the word Tequilla. When Alice studied it, she said, “Whoops. We misspelled Tequila.”

“Duh, I think we can blame it on the tequila,” I replied. We drank a lot of tequila in those days. We even ate the worm at the bottom. I told Alice just to think of it as a vitamin.

Later that year, we opted out of going immediately to college and went to be ski bums at Snowbird. We continued our graffiti career there. That’s where we met our arch nemesis. The war was on between “I love you Susan” and our art work. We painted our stuff . Sharon’s paramour painted over it. We painted over it again. He painted over it. We painted over it.

utah outlaws

It would have lasted as long as the Civil War but we ran out of paint.

We only had one mishap.  We spilled a gallon of paint in my car and it took several hours with a wet dry vacuum and copious amounts of soap to return the floor boards to a semblance of normality.  The car reeked of paint for months afterwards.

As I told Emma those stories I realized that the world today is a much stricter place. Outlaws really are outlaws—only they do truly bad things. We just made people laugh and shake their heads. I must say I enjoyed my misspent youth and I’m glad I had my friend Alice to spend it with me.


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The Ins and Outs of Kindle Unlimited

Originally posted on layce gardner:

By Layce Gardner & Saxon Bennett

As readers we adore Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. We each read at least 100 books a year. Our daughter reads, too. (Mostly graphic novels.) We each have our very own kindle. (I want to be buried with mine.) So it only makes sense financially, as a family, to invest in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program.

For those not in the know, here’s how Kindle Unlimited (KU) works: You pay a $10 per month subscription fee and you can then borrow an ‘unlimited’ number of books. You can check out up to ten books at a time. When you finish reading a book, you return it. Just like at a brick and mortar library.

It’s a pretty good deal for voracious readers. We pay $120 a year and we read 200 plus books a year. (We read both mainstream and Lesfic novels.) We have found some…

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Pond Adventures

The first time I saw the pond I fell in love with it. Layce and I weren’t living together yet. She told me she had a pond in the backyard and sent me a photo. It looked gorgeous.

pond

The following summer she gladly handed over the care and feeding of the pond. I felt special. I thought this was such a loving sacrifice. Here was this beautiful pond and she was essentially giving it to me. I had always wanted a pond.

I drained the winter sludge out. It wasn’t fun but in the summer I would hear the water tinkling over the rocks and it would all be worth it. I repainted it, sealed up the cracks, and installed the pump. Voila! My dream was complete.

Then during a deluge I discovered that all the worms in the yard somehow ended up in the pond. Next came the frog eggs. Emma cried as I committed tadpole genocide and screamed that I was a murderer. Then came the mosquito larvae-no tears were shed about that.

Year two-I ordered plants online and snails to go eco-friendly. We couldn’t use chlorine to keep it clean but the snails were supposed to do that job. No one told me about the prolific reproductive abilities of snails. So I figured we had a lot of snails so that meant the pond should be sparkling.

Some of the online plants grew but not like the photo on the internet showed. To add further indignation the snails were lazy. Every week the pond got browner and by the end of summer it stank like a septic tank. Then the pump failed. Luckily, it was September so I drained the pond and ordered a new pump for next year.

Year three-drain, repaint, chlorine and f—the plants. I stood out there glaring at the pond. Layce came out to help me put in new tubing. I attached the tubing to the pump only to discover it was too long. In the process of removing it from the pump I broke the attachment.

“I hate this pond. Did you build this pond? Why is it even here?” I glared at her.

“It came with the house, I swear,” Layce said as she gazed at the strewn pump parts, tubing and her red-faced spouse.

We found more tubing that proved an okay substitute. She fed it through the holes drilled in the rocks. Things went smoother except the pump basket with the filter in it kept floating.

“This pond is the bane of my existence. Ponds are nothing but work and they’re stupid. We should fill it in.”

“It would take tons of dirt,” Layce said.

She was right of course. We were stuck with the wretched thing. “In our next house we will not have a pond.”

I glared at the floating pump basket.

“Just put rocks around it and wedge it against the side. That’s what I used to do.”

I narrowed my eyes at her. “I thought you were being so nice me when you let me have the pond. You KNEW what a pain in the ass it was.”

“I just thought it was time to spread the joy,” she said.

I picked up a rock. She backed away. I’ll admit it crossed my mind but instead I got down on the ledge of the pond and wedged the pump instead.

And then I slipped and fell in the pond. I stood there fully clothed including shoes in a freezing cold pond up to my knees. I used a string of obscenities that will not be repeated here to protect the innocent.

Layce looked at me with big eyes. And to give her credit she did control herself until I laughed and then we both laughed.

I stood there ruminating on the circumstances that had brought me to this moment in time. What could I have done differently? How could this have been prevented? “I cannot believe this just happened. I have never even come close to falling in the pond. I hate this pond.”

Layce broke the spell. “Do you need help getting out?”

“Yes, please. I think the pond gods may have taken offense at my behavior.”

“Perhaps,” she said as I dripped and squeaked all the way to the back door.


 

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WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?

“What have you done?” I asked Emma.

We have a lot of “What have you done” in our house. We have a lot of incidents that warrant the question. With three of us rather odd people cohabitating it can’t be helped.

I’ve decided that our family mission statement should be “What have you done?” We all say it to each other so often that it doesn’t carry the same psychological baggage as it does for other people. Most people usually have this face of extreme rage, complete despair, or utterly desperate amazement. But not us.

“What have you done?” This time referenced a puzzle. I stood there gazing down at the Ye Olde Book Store puzzle that Layce and I have been slowly putting together for the last week. We had sections with like-looking pieces in piles ready to eventually find and join their puzzle brethren. Then Emma went all math on them.

puzzle-piece

“I’ve taken each piece, and depending on how many outty pieces they have, put them in the one bowl, the two bowl , or the three bowl. Then there’s the bowl for the wonky pieces.”

I was trying to wrap my mind around this idea as I stared into a Tupperware container with puzzle pieces that had three outties in it. I looked back at the puzzle. I was completely at a loss. “But how do I know where to even begin to put it? There’s this big gaping hole here and here.” I pointed to the puzzle.

“You build up from the bottom,” Emma said.

I still wasn’t getting it.

Layce walked in and turned on the iPod that we had inherited from a friend pre-loaded with 3,147 songs on it. We liked to spend the afternoon puzzling and playing “Name that Tune.” It was glorious. She sat down and stared at the puzzle board.

“What have you done?” There’s that quintessential question again.

“She’s gone all mathy on us. You know how I feel about math. It’s like this mental torture chamber for me. I see a theorem and get the shakes.”

“It’s called deductive reasoning,” Emma elucidated.

“What have you done with my Tupperware? What am I supposed to do when we have leftovers?” Layce said.

tupper

“Use other Tupperware,” Emma said blithely.

I was on the verge of having a puzzle melt-down. A full blown what-have-you-done to the puzzle melt-down. Layce looked at me. “It’s just a puzzle,” she soothed.

I could feel tears threatening and a good foot stomping tantrum coming on. “I can’t do it this way! I have to have the visuals. I can’t be mathematical. This is cruel and inhumane. This is like living in a foreign country and not knowing the language. You’re hungry and need to pee and you don’t know the words.”

Emma looked distraught. “I can just dump them back in the box,” she quickly said.

“I think that would be a good idea,” Layce said. “Just sit down here and listen to the song. What song is it?” she asked me.  I knew she was just trying to distract me.

“The Rolling Stones, You can’t always get what you want,” I mumbled miserably.

Emma did her Puss-n-Boots face which makes you melt in your socks with remorse for saying or doing whatever it was you did. She emptied all the innies and outties and wonky pieces back into the box.

“See, all better,” Layce said. “And now you can wash all my Tupperware,” she said to Emma.

Going all mathy has its price to pay.


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Steam: a collection of lesbian erotic short stories

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Corsages and Chaperones

“Please, Mom, don’t let her do it,” Emma begged.

“It says right here that anyone can volunteer to chaperone the dance as long as you don’t have a criminal record and you’re not a perv,” I said. “I’m not either of those things.” I pointed at the paper containing the 8th grade formal dance information.

“Surely you realize that we live in a small town and anything you’ve ever done as a child will be remembered for the rest of your life and brought up frequently when you meet your classmates later on in life,” Layce said. “This includes Emma and her 8th grade dance. People will remember her crazy chaperone. She’ll never live it down.

“No one brings up the fact that you took the principal’s car for a joyride. All the way to Tulsa,” I retorted.

“Yes, but I moved. I don’t live in that town anymore.”

“You stole a car?” Emma asked her eyes big.

Layce glared at me. “I didn’t steal a car. I borrowed it.”

“Did you hotwire it?” Emma asked.

Layce glared at me again. “No, he left the keys on his desk and I took the opportunity to appropriate them while he was gone.”
car keys

“What were you doing in the principal’s office?” Emma inquired.

“I was getting a Student of the Year award,” Layce said.
student of the year

Emma and I both rolled our eyes. Everyone knows those awards are given out during a school assembly.

“Back to the topic at hand, I want to chaperone the dance. I seldom get the chance to have parental experiences because I didn’t come along until Emma was ten. I missed a lot.” I was seriously guilting them, but I wanted this bad.

“Are you going to wear the bunny ears?” Emma asked.

I was standing in the kitchen wearing the bunny ears. Sometimes a person just feels like putting on their bunny ears.

“Well, of course, they’ll go perfectly with my bar mitzvah suit.” I meant the tux I found at the thrift store that had been tailored for someone petite. It fit me perfectly. “Or I could wear my Bob Barker suit.” Another thrift store find—a small, green suit that also fit perfectly. “But the bunny ears won’t look as good.” The suit was a light green.

Emma put her hand in her head. “You can’t let her do this to me.” She gazed at her mother. And then she seemed to have an eureka moment. “Unless I can wear my white wig with my gray beret and the purple fox tail.”

“For the love of God neither one of you are going to the dance like that. I’ll never live it down.”

“You’re no fun,” I said pouting.

I didn’t get to chaperone but I did get to be the photographer. After the dance we lined up with all the other parents to pick up their kids. I wanted a picture of Emma with her boyfriend (he shall go unnamed to protect the innocent.)

“I don’t know how you’re going to get a picture with this line of cars,” Layce said.

“You’re going to stop and I’ll hop out real quick and get a photo,” I replied, scanning the crowd for Emma.

“This is a round-about line. You can only stop to pick up your kid not get out of the car to take pictures.”

“That rule doesn’t apply for school dances.”

“You do realize you’re breaking the Social Contract?” Layce said.

I should never have told her about the Social Contract. It requires that one doesn’t lie, cheat, steal or otherwise break the rules for purely selfish reasons—it’s the basis of a civilized world.

“I believe there is a clause in there that states one can be inconvenient during once-in-a-lifetime sentimental moments involving children.” I spotted Emma and her boyfriend. “Stop right here.”

I grabbed the camera and leapt out of the car. I’d forgotten I was wearing my house slippers. I got my pant leg caught on the door handle. It hiked my pant leg up to mid-thigh. Emma was mortified as I disregarded the wardrobe malfunction due to time constraints.

“What’s wrong with your pants?” she asked.

“Nothing,” I said as I pulled the errant pant leg down. “Now hurry, stand next to your boyfriend (who still shall remain unnamed), we’re the breaking the Social Contract.

I glanced over to find boyfriend’s mother taking photos as well. We smiled at each other. “I finally found a corsage in town,” she said.
wrist corsages
I looked puzzled. What the hell was a corsage? Was she referring to fancy undergarments? And if she was why was she telling me? Emma must have seen my bewilderment.

She held up her wrist. “See, isn’t my CORSAGE beautiful.” Corsages evidently were a bunch of flowers all squished together to make a bracelet.

“Oh, right.  Yes, it’s very nice,” I said.

Emma got in the car and banged her head on the back of the headrest. “Oh, my God. That was horrid.”

“We’ll get through it,” Layce said soothingly.

“I can’t wait until next week when we go for high school registration and we get the tour of the school,” I said.

“You can’t ask a bunch of questions, promise me,” Emma said.

“Well, some questions at least. I think it’s my duty as a parent to inquire of fire exits, how often are the fire extinguishers are checked, if there’s an evacuation plan, how a lock-down works…”

“Mom….please,” Emma said.

“I don’t know what all the fuss is about,” I muttered. They had no idea about the outfit I planned on wearing. It was going to be a surprise. I think they’ll be pleased.

 

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