Sunday, March 31, 2013

injaynesworld it’s “The Oddest Easter Gift…”

Every Easter, right up to the age of 19 when I moved out on my own, my mother would make me a beautiful Easter basket with only the very finest chocolates and buy me a stuffed animal.  The last  stuffed animal she bought me was a 5’ tall, bright orange giraffe.   I took that giraffe to every single home I lived in up to the age of 42, where it would always take up an entire corner of my bedroom – something my boyfriends over the years must have wondered about and possibly a reason why I’m still single. 

It wasn’t that I was so enamored with the large, fuzzy beast.   It certainly never went with any of my décor.  Truth be told, I wish she’d chosen something more traditional – and smaller.  A simple furry bunny would have been more than adequate and had some symbolic connection to the holiday.   I always wondered what her thinking was behind such an odd choice or mine in carting it around all those years.   I do recall the thought of throwing it away filled me with guilt.  Of course, as a Catholic, however lapsed, just about anything could fill me with guilt, but still such a choice would not have been unreasonable as time went by.

I think now that it may have been my mother’s way of saying “Remember that my love for you is enormous,” as I was about to start my own life and leave hers.   I wonder what that must have been like for her, living alone for the first time at the age 51, her main purpose – raising me – now over.   She died only three years later.   Each Easter, I still smile at the memory of walking into the living room that morning so many decades ago and seeing my mother sitting on the couch in her robe, a cup of coffee in her hand, and an expression of excitement on her face as she anticipated my reaction to her surprise.   

When I finally decided that the giraffe really did need to move on, I carefully sewed up the torn seams where pet cats had used its legs as scratching posts, and donated it to a thrift shop that benefited the local animal shelter where I felt it had the best chance of finding a good home.  It’s been several years now and I’d like to believe that on another Easter morning, some other child received this huge expression of their own mother’s love… however odd they may have found it at the time.

Happy Easter.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

injaynesworld we ask "What's In A Name...?"

“Jane, Jane, vomit brain.”   It was their favorite taunt.   “They” being my prepubescent peers who thought themselves quite the witty bunch.  Clearly, “plain Jane” was for amateurs.   I hated my name.  My mother, when questioned about her clear lack of imagination, would say that she almost named me “April” after my birth month, but decided to go with Jane after one of her aunts instead.   That would have been acceptable had Aunt Jane been a wealthy, maiden aunt who bestowed upon her namesake a fabulous fortune – or at least bought me a pony – but I never even met the old bird and don’t recall ever getting so much as a card with a buck in it from her.

I sometimes think my mother wanted me to have a name I would have to work to overcome.  Girls with pretty names like “April” are already ahead of the game.  Life lets them slide on a lot. Perhaps she felt I needed to be made of stronger stuff if I was to make it in a world that had proven so challenging to her.  Or maybe she just didn’t want me to get my hopes up. 

Regardless, I wasn’t one to let such an injustice stand and so when I was in the eighth grade, inspired by the second-tier movie bombshell of the time, Jayne Mansfield, I declared that my name would ever after be spelled with a “y” – J-a-Y-n-e – and woe be it to the soul who should mistakenly leave out that crucial consonant.  

Eager to change my image, I buried “plain Jane” like a dead hamster and took to wearing tight skirts, bleaching my hair platinum and painting my lips and nails “Hot Pink.”   No one would throw the word “plain” in my direction again, although the term “slut” periodically floated my way.  Oh, the irony.   While I held onto my virginity until I was 19, the “good” girls in school  –  girls with names like Monica, Jennifer and Debbie   were vanishing like shoes at a Nordstrom clearance sale.   “She’s spending a few months visiting family in Oshkosh,” was how it usually went.   Maybe that was what my mother had feared and why she gave me a name that came with a chip on its shoulder so big I was practically unapproachable. 

I could have changed my name altogether when I was 18.  Many of my friends who were also pursuing acting careers at the time did exactly that.  Had I done so I would have chosen the name "Jillian" – never to be referred to as “Jill.”   I’m glad now that I didn’t.  “Jillian Martin” sounds like an author of bad romance novels, the ones with covers of Fabio burying his face in the heaving breasts of some half-naked young wench.     

But something else held me back, too.  In Hebrew, “Jane” means “gift from God.”   Mind you, there has never been a drop of Hebrew blood anywhere in my Anglo-Saxon (with a bit of Cherokee) lineage, but maybe at the then-considered-late-in-life age of 32 when my mother finally gave birth, I truly did feel like a gift to her – though one I’m sure she considered returning when I reached my teens.

I’m comfortable now with the name I fought so hard against most of my life.  Maybe it’s not so much the name I’ve grown comfortable with as the person I’ve become.  As it turned out, "plain Jane" wasn’t plain at all once I got to know her.  Besides, changing my name would only have made me feel like a fraud and, as a writer – by nature one who fools themselves into believing anyone could have the slightest interest in reading what they have to say – that feeling is already never far from the surface. 

My mother’s birthday is on Saturday.  She would have been 95.  I’ve long forgiven her for saddling me with such a boring name, although considering her name was June, “April” really would have been a no-brainer. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

injaynesworld "All Good Atheists Go To Heaven..."

We often speak of the “afterlife” to quell our fear of death.   I prefer to think of the “beforelife,” a place where souls wait in line for the next uterus to pull to the curb, plump with a newly-formed vehicle inside.   You might end up as a handmaid to Cleopatra, or palling around with Mark Twain.  If your timing is just right you could even be in line to the throne of England right this very minute, but you’ll have to act quickly.

Occasionally, things can go awry, like when some brash soul cuts in line only to find upon birth that it has a penis where a vagina was expected, but for the most part we seem to accept the life circumstances we’re born into and make the best of them.

We arrive as we departed, through a tunnel bookended by light.  Hence the term, “the light at the end of the tunnel.”   I just made that up.  I have no idea where that saying comes from and am too lazy to Google it, but you may if you wish.   Catch up when you get back.

It doesn’t take long before environment and DNA take over and we forget who we are and where we just came from, only to spend our allotted years here trying to figure it out again.  Then all too soon it’s over and back we go, arriving on the other side wondering “What the fuck was that all about?”  Yet each and every time most of us are still gripped by the fear of death like some poor fool who just never gets the joke.

And so it goes… 
What place does God have in all this?   I don’t think God gives a crap whether we believe in Him or not.   For the record, I do, although not the God that religious zealots have hijacked to push their own particular agendas on the rest of us.   If you’re seeking judgment or punishment, there’s plenty of that to be had on earth and we usually inflict it on ourselves.   The God of my beliefs welcomes everyone, sinner or saint, advising us to “Rest, recoup and try to do better next time.”

Over at the One-Minute Writer, today’s prompt was to write about our vision of the afterlife.  Here’s mine:  When this current life has run its course, I want to be reunited with all the animals I’ve loved, especially my horses.  I want to climb on their backs and gallop green hills, jumping over downed trees and fences with an ease I could never master while on the earthly plane.   I want to bury my face in the soft fur of every cat I’ve ever cuddled and feel the joyful kisses of recognition from every dog that has honored me with its love. 

And then I want to have a good sit-down with Nora Ephron…

Describe your perfect afterlife.  It’s never too soon to plan…

Friday, March 8, 2013

injaynesworld "Love Does Not Discriminate..."

The scent of lilacs filled the chapel where friends and family of the soon-to-be-betrothed couple filed in, taking their seats in happy anticipation.  

Charlie and Jack had been together for 36 years, falling in love at a time when such an alliance was still whispered about in tones of condemnation and a gathering of this sort could not have been imagined, much less celebrated. 

Their relationship had not been easy on their families.  It had taken Jack’s daughter several years to forgive him for leaving, yet today there they all were, and it was that very same daughter who would be walking him down the aisle, while Charlie would be escorted by his 89-year-old father. 

As the music began, the minister stood at the altar ready to bless their union in the name of God and country; marriage equality had finally become the law of the land. 

The Supreme Court will soon decide the fate of DOMA.  Both President Obama and President Clinton, who signed the discriminatory bill into law in 1996, have appealed to the Court to finally right this injustice by declaring it unconstitutional.  We can only wait, hope and pray that they will do the right thing. 

This post from the Five Sentence Fiction prompt “whisper.”

Saturday, March 2, 2013

injaynesworld "The Best Laid Plans..."

The gas gauge on the rented SUV was slipping precariously toward empty and, after hours on dusty, dirt roads, he was still quite literally in the middle of nowhere, 100 degrees of blazing Texas sun beating down on him and – holy shit – there really were buzzards flying overhead.

“Turn right at the cattle guard,” she’d said. 

“What the fuck was a cattle guard?” he’d wanted to ask, but of course didn’t, not after feigning a story about growing up on a ranch himself. 

It had been those legs – long and strong as she sat tall astride her horse in that tight flannel shirt, dark hair cascading from beneath a cowboy hat flirtatiously dipped just below one blue eye promising him the ride of his life. 

Damn you,!

This post from the Five Sentence Fiction prompt, "empty," and the One-Minute Writer challenge "worst vacation ever."  


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