Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Summer Stream

She squats low to the ground; her rump nearly touching the grass and damp soil. Toes grip unconsciously onto the smooth-soled sandals that barely hold her still on the bank. Her weight pushes last night’s rain out of the earth and over her feet. Heavy lines of brown outline her toenails and there’s a smell of fresh soil and stones. The mud isn’t a bother. Even at a young age the fear of unwanted, limbless serpents slithering their way toward her, or even near her was more overwhelming. Her senses are hyper-aware of any startling twist in the grass or an unexpected dart behind a rock.

She puts her hands down at her sides; feels the cool ground on her palms and the sharp blades between her fingers. There’s a breeze and shade on the bank. Her knees are beginning to burn. She stands and her weight thrusts her forward clumsily down the knoll toward the water. The fluid mirror at her feet reflects sunlight that flickers behind leaves suspended high in the trees; looming above her. The currents flow makes her own shadowy reflection hard to distinguish. Her toes slyly slip into the creek water. The cold is biting, but washes streaks of mud from her soles down stream. She slowly creeps in further, inch-by-inch. The tops of her feet sting, her toes become numb and slowly her limbs acclimate to the temperature.

An algae covered rock helps her quickly slide in deeper; deeper, into the stream that runs down the hill heavily after the last snow has thawed and consistently throughout the summer months, feeding into the horse pasture down the road. It’s clear. The blond hair on her shins stands tall. Her calves don’t react, but the thin skin behind her knees is sensitive to the temperature and for a second it aches as she steps forward. She finds a solid place for her foot to rest and she looks straight down. A decapodal body crawls along the rocky floor below her. Without hesitation she reaches down with her right hand to snatch up his body for a closer look. Her fingers and forearm nearly immune to the cold lunge in and her upper arm is chill with relief. As her knee bends she’s careful to keep her bottom dry. Her face nears her own reflection and her noses meet for a second on the water’s surface. She then victoriously pulls a rusty orange-colored crayfish up to her face and gives him a quick inspection. His tail curves under his body and his arms flail along with his antennae. She admires his small beady black eyes and non-aggressive nature. She carefully slips him back in to the water and watches him retreat backwards into the shade.

For the sake of balance she quickly dunks her left arm into the stream and puts her wet hands on the back of her neck. She shivers as drops slip down her spine and sides, and she notices the crimson hue of her shoulders. Her legs have now become numb. Not wanting to walk home in wet shorts she cups her hands and dowses her face, arms and neck again.

The water pushes past her legs and threads through a large metal barrel that runs under the road above. If one chooses not to climb into the barrel and enjoy the cooler temperatures it maintains, it’s customary to at least shout a name or toss a stone in before one leaves. Breaking the quiet hum of the stream seems necessary in bringing one back from the surreal calm of this place. She resists shouting and slowly eeks her way toward the barrel. She stares down the dark tube to the other side of the road where tall grass and wild flowers blossom and grow without abandon. She fears what could live in such unkempt terrain. Hands cupped around her mouth she gently whispers, “Hello!” into the barrel. It echoes deeply to the other side. Satisfied, she swoops one more handful of water over her right shoulder and waits for it to hit her back as she climbs up out of the stream.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Right leg over the left. Her slippers used to be white, but have become victims to the dust from pets, grandchildren and sweeping the deck; one hangs from her toes. She sits at the kitchen table that she found at a DeCarr’s yard sale six years ago. She’s painted it white, and sealed over the silverware drawer on the side. She used to bang her knee on it when crossing her legs under the table. Her body has learned its lesson and now her slim legs rest, crossed outside of the table legs as her chair sits farther from the table. Still, though, she can reach the glass ash tray that sits in front of her, by extending her right hand. Her elbow rests on her elevated knee, left arm crosses her lap, and she hunches forward. A morning’s cigarette balances carefully on the writing callous of her middle finger and her pointer. She inhales deeply and watches the clouds darken over the hills outside of her kitchen window. It must be raining, but she cannot see it through the screen. Goosebumps form on her knees and thighs and she pulls her robe over them, taps her cigarette down, exhales, and sits quietly. Her coffee was too hot when she poured it in her mug and she waits for it to cool. Sugar sits uncovered in an opaque, pink glass bowl in the middle of the table. She doesn’t use it, but can see divots in the top layer- a sure sign that small fingers have been dipping in for a treat. The radio plays morning talk shows and she half listens. The light above the stove is on. A huff from the dog under the table breaks the silence. She taps his head with her foot. “Hi, Bij.” He moves closer to her, almost under her chair, knocking her ankles. She laughs.

Already, she’s said her prayers, and started a crossword puzzle. The dishes are clean and put away. Meat for dinner tonight is thawing. She ignores the bundles of dog hair that dance across her linoleum floor since she will have to sweep it up again later anyway. Now, it’s time to wait for the rest of the world to wake. It’s hard to sleep now. Four AM seems like a reasonable time to wake these days. She drinks coffee because she always has. At night it helps her stay awake; in the morning it’s a habit. She double checks the calendar on the fridge. It’s Wednesday, Scott and the kids will be over tonight. Wine Valley, she inks in “N-A-P-A.”

She has a lot to think about, but to her it seems like nothing at all. A colorful ring of eight birthstones sits on her middle finger. None of the stones repeat. Eight births, 11 marriages, 5 divorces, and nearly thirty grandchildren. She can now hear the rain pelt against the glass door behind her. Chickadees scramble to dodge drops and get back to their homes nestled in wooden houses, nailed to posts in the field. She turns to watch them retreat to their nests and smiles. She’s already smothered her cigarette into a pile of ash. She pushes off the table and stands. She stops to make sure the birds have made it safely. A ginger cat rubs against her shins. He purrs as his back and tail stretch, arch and relax. She points to a blue rimmed bowl on the floor. He obediently trots over and begins crunching. She takes one last look outside. Leaves are beginning to turn. She sips her coffee, dumps the rest in the sink and goes to her bedroom to close the windows.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I'm Still Here

I’m Deuce McClure. You may remember me from posts such as “The Post No One Will Read,” “Feelin Randy,” and “The Dreaded VD.” I know it’s been a while. A big part of the problem is that work has been keeping me very busy, so I don’t have the copious amounts of spare time to write entries at work like I usually do. It’s a shame I haven’t posted because it’s these busy times in my life that I really wish I documented my experiences. The seldom quiet moments are filled with insightful thought but are rarely in front of a computer. The non-work hours are spent joyously catering to Ans’ every whim or playing MarioKart Wii.

In the past month, a lot has been going on in my professional life. Being a social worker in a big hospital is like kayaking on a river sometimes. There are spots where you’re drifting along and there are spots where it’s class 5 rapids. It ebbs and flows. When it’s quiet, I have time to blog. When it’s busy, I actually have to think, “Do I want to eat or piss right now, ‘cause I got time for one of ‘em.” On top of my normal workload, I’ve been trying to run a group which has been a challenge. Sometimes I feel like this work is like paddling upstream. It’s a struggle and in the end it seems like utter futility. For example, with this group, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. No one can come, transportation fails, can’t contact people. It’s frustrating and it’s weekly. Mondays and Tuesdays I do outreach, trying to talk up the group. Every Wednesday, I spend most of my 10 hour day prepping and coordinating. Every Wednesday hardly anyone shows. It’s like running a race then getting kicked in the nuts. After you lose. Weekly.

In the past month, I’ve also reached a personal milestone. I turned 30. Thirty isn’t so bad, partially because I’ve been prepping for 2 years now. After turning 28, I just started telling people I was thirty. I don’t know why, but it’s worked. For my 30th, Ans organized a surprise party for me. Usually, my spider-sense is pretty good about surprises, but she got me. The party was in my own house, mind you, which made it all the more impressive. Ans is really the bright shining light in my life right now. She’s pretty much everything I ever asked for and a bit more. I love her so much, I want to make more of her.

I’m hoping things slow down soon cause I’m gonna pop. There probably won’t be another post from me until June at the rate I’m going. I think I put my word quota in with my Resident Evil post anyway.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Summer on the Equator

I just bought my tickets to go to Saipan for 6 weeks. Savings well spent. Saipan, my dear, I will see you in July!

Thursday, May 8, 2008


A few weeks ago Deuce put up a doohickey that records how many people read this blog. Turns out, it's just him and me. Personally, I'm ok with that, but I could tell he was a little frustrated over it. I think that maybe he's been discouraged or not inspired to post because of it and that got me thinking. We were hesitant to put up a blog- I didn't and still don't want it to become a place that screams "Look at me! Look at me! I'm so special!"- and so we've tried to keep posts pretty open. It's hard for it to be anything, but an online diary, and that's what I've been trying to resist. If I'm going to write about something that's gone on in my life I want it to have some sort of meaning or purpose because if someone doesn't know me why would they give a shit if I finished up a tough semester? So, what do I have to offer that will get people interested in reading this page?

I'm 24, earning a Masters degree in international public health, I work full time, I'm from upstate New York, I love my family and friends dearly, and I am constantly looking ahead at what's coming up next. Oh, and recently for graduation, Deuce and his family gave me a NIKON! camera and I'm pumped to start taking and posting photos. What do I know about? I know I have gone through a lot of transitions and I'm at a point in my life (again) where I'm wondering what the hell I'm supposed to do next. Maybe most people go through this after undergrad. I avoided it and went straight on to grad school. Now, as I finish up one degree I'm working on applying for another. I have to ask myself whether or not I'm doing this because I want to earn a second Masters degree, or if I'm just avoiding reality for a little bit longer. Am I scared shitless to go out into the real world? If I answer myself honestly, I know that I could get a job. I just don't know if it would be the job I have always wanted.

Since I was little I have been interested in why some people live on the streets and others live in mansions; why some people are always sick; why people are stressed; why people speak different languages; why people argue; how people live; how people view the world; how people make the world beautiful and make it rust; and what I could do to incorporate all of that and make it all better. That pushed me into studying political science, anthropology, several languages (none of any use) and then international public health. I think the reality of all of this continuing education is that I still don't feel like I have any tangible skills. Let it be known, I'm only speaking for myself. If I think about it I can tell you what I can do and how that could manifest into a real job, but the truth is, I still don't feel like I own a skill. That's one reason why I'm continuing on with becoming a nurse practitioner. Clearly, there are several other reasons why I am going into the medical field, but that's one that I hope will be resolved after this clinical degree.

I also have to admit that oddly enough, a lot of the skills that I do have have come from the jobs that I've held (and not the education I have received, although that's what I continue to pursue). I've been working for over ten years. I was a candy store clerk, a lifeguard, a babysitter, an au pair, an admin. assistant at my undergrad and a I'm currently financial coordinator. I have learned a lot by having these jobs; like, jello is a great way to entertain kids; CPR; the difference between penuche fudge and vanilla; how to tell what is inside of a chocolate without biting into it; and how to balance and create a functional budget. I guess at this point I'm in the same shoes as many other 24 year olds. I don't know what is next, and I'm not sure how to decide.

I'm incredibly grateful for what I have, what I have learned, who I have met, and will never take that for granted. I know I'm one lucky cowgirl for being in the position I am in, where I can make my own decisions and my own path. But, I have to admit, sometimes it's exhausting. I know that sounds like a celebrity that's bitching about being photographed all the time, but what I mean by it is that with all of these options, sometimes it is overwhelming and I'm stuck between making (and again, I know) very privileged choices between whether I should just get married, settle down, find a decent job that pays for my life, squeeze out a few pups and spend my evenings at PTO meetings, soccer games, and chorus concerts. That could be nice. Living in the country, being close to family, cooking a lot, overcoming my fear of snakes and planting a giant garden...OR do I want to continue with school, become a family NP, work in Boston for some time, go abroad routinely to help out others, start my own clinic in a more rural place, marry, have kids, settle and be fucking Dr. Quinn? House wife or career woman? Or neither?

I guess the bottom line is that my struggles with transition and conflicting desires are what I have to write about. I think people can relate to that. If not, then we won't have any more readers, but if so, then at least I know that others out there are going through the same thing, and perhaps this can be a place where we share our stories of transition, moving forward, looking back, keeping it real, happy and honest. I also hope Deuce writes something soon or else it's going to look like this was my idea. ;)

Thursday, May 1, 2008


There are many things to love about Boston; the firemen that drop and add "r"s to words; the neighborhoods characterized by a particular cuisine, religion, flare or propensity toward violence; and the career and academic opportunities that exist here. I was brought to Boston for academic reasons, and as I'm finishing up one academic goal I'm setting another. So, this city hasn't seen the last of me. Or, I guess I haven't gotten my fill.

However, in the last four months I've wanted to get out of here worse than a Yankee's fan. I've recently finished a thesis of sorts and a prerequisite for Nursing school. This doesn't seem like much, but MY GOD this semester was rough. This is the best way I can describe it...as if you are in middle school and the kid you've been crushing on since kindergarten sees you in the hall. S/he asks you to carry a book for them, and you gladly do, thinking, "This could be The Moment when we become friends. I COULD LOVE YOU." You hush your thoughts to yourself. "He doesn't know you, and you don't know him...be cool. Don't say anything stupid." He's talking to you and you nod, blush, giggle and hope that the walk to homeroom never ends. "This is just so great," you think to yourself. You are blinded by the idea of him- this cool, interesting, "deep" person, and your heart is racing, hanging on to the moment so tightly and picturing your future together, that you don't realize that you're actually not hearing a thing he's saying, and his friends keep piling books into your arms and backpack. He's not even looking at you any more. He's paying attention to others, and finally you reach your classroom and he says, "Can you do my history paper for me?" Overwhelmed with excitement, confusion, a load of books and now dread, you do everything you can to not cry. Bastard.

That's the best way to describe it. However, in the end the sweet, smart, funny boy that sits behind you notices your tears and stress, and taps you on the shoulder during class to ask if he can help you out. You leap over his desk and lay one on him. He lets you wipe your snotty wet face on his shirt. This is The Moment. You spend your weekends in his tree house and he helps you with your problems and sorrows without any complaints. He makes you sandwiches for lunch and lets you pick what shows to watch on television. He's just happy to be with you. It's unbelievable. He has his shit together enough to not break down in moments when you would rather become a bumbling pile of helplessness. He encourages you through your dilemma and in the end, when you've gotten through it all, he rewards you with the biggest ice cream sundae he can find. You split it, but he lets you have the last bite.

That sums up January through April for me. Now it's summer vacation and the incredibly supportive, sweet and generous boy that got me through this...he and I just turned 2. Thank you, Deuce. LOVES!!!