April's Real Blog

Thursday, January 31, 2008

More evidence that the dysfunction goes way back

Stoopid reminiscing. H8 it. NEway, Mike has the next bit 2 share w/U since he has way more patience 4 that stuff than I do:


Formerly little sis. Dad may have not been a good dishwasher back in the old days of 1979, but he was a quick observer of the human condition. I remember on one occasion where mom was complaining that he didn’t appreciate what she did around the house, and he presented a cogent argument.

First of all, he told mom that he did appreciate what she did around the house. Mom gave him an unusual reaction even for those days by causing her eyes to go crooked on her head, her mouth to go lopsided on her face, and one of her breasts to disappear (I don’t want to think about that last one too long).

Then I remember dad telling us that he was glad he came home to a clean house, good food, well-managed finances & happy kids… He usually said this to Elizabeth and me while he demonstrated his ability to stack and balance our building blocks together in so precarious a method, I wonder even to this day, why the thing didn’t topple. Of course, he was just saying this for our benefit, because mom was almost always in another room when he said it. When I wasn’t in school, I was in the house and I knew better. The house was seldom clean, the food was…well, formerly little sis, let’s just say I really liked the good old days when we used to have Kraft dinner and sandwiches every night. Mom would make up a big batch of Kraft Dinner family size and put it in a giant bowl on the table alongside her tea pot, and we would wolf down our food, eating it in our typical, slobbering Patterson style. Those were good times!

Deep down inside, dad knew that with the quality of the dinner, and the dirtiness of the house, mom was doing other things, which later on he discovered was job-hunting. But it was a difficult topic to broach. Dad would just say something like, “But I admit that I find it hard to see how the house & kids can occupy your every waking minute.” I think he said this with the hope that mom would talk to him about what she was doing. He would say, “What Do you do all day, Elly?” This never worked. Mom would rather go face first into a plate of Kraft dinner than answer that question, and she often did. She did it often enough, if I were sitting across the table from her, I would just roll my eyes and think, “Not Again.”

Sometimes it was hard to talk to mom back then, but I think my dad did it especially well. I emulate his style with my lovely wife Deanna, and I cannot help but think that it has been one of the reasons our marriage has been such a success.


Michael Patterson

Hey, I just thought of something. NE1 think that mayB the purpose of all these stultifying, soul-crushing flash backs is 2 cure ppl of their nostalgia? Think abt it. This all has been showing the past really sucked, doncha think?


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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mike does flashbacks so I don't have 2

So, I'm boycotting these flashbacks, but Mike isn't. U will C the next one goes with the "Dad" and "dishes" theme:

Formerly little sis. Well, I wandered by your house to check and see if there was any good food running about in mom’s refrigerator. As I was chomping down a bit of leftover meatloaf, I looked up and saw one of the strangest sights I think I have ever seen. Mom was standing there, glassy-eyed as usual when she is thinking about how life was back in 1979, but her face startled me. Instead of her usual appearance; her mouth was twisted, distorted and contorted and her eyes had an expression on them almost as if she were disfigured and warped from all that was natural. I said to Dad, “What’s wrong with mom? Do we need to take her to hospital?” Dad said, “No, Mike. You are witness to a rare occurrence, not often seen around here.” I said, “What? What is it? What’s wrong with mom?” Dad said, “There’s nothing wrong with mom. That’s how she looks when she is happy.” I said, “I can’t stand to look at her like this. It’s like my whole world has turned upside down. Make it stop. Make it stop.” Dad said, “Give it a rest, Mike. Elly has been happy before.”

Tenuously I said to him, “Dad. What story could she possibly be thinking of to bring this misshapen look to her face?” Dad said, “It was one of the stories from 1979 again.” I said, “What happened?”

Dad said, “Back in 1979, Elly and I would actually entertain and have parties in our house.” I said, “Like Christmas dinner?” Dad said, “No. With friends and not relatives.” I said, “Go on, you kidder. You didn’t do that. I would remember.” Dad said, “It was at night after you and your sister were asleep. Elly would put on one of her dresses that showed off her figure and that neck choker and hair ribbon combination she loved.” I said, “The one where she tied her pony tail to her neck choker?” Dad said, “That’s the one. Well, on this particular occasion we were saying goodbye to the people who we invited over the party and let them out our door which looked more like an undecorated piece of wood.” I said, “I remember that door. No handles and it went all the way to the ceiling. I remember when you first put it in, it took us a whole day to find a way out of the house, and we had to climb out onto the roof and jump off to go to school.” Dad said, “Well excuse me. Who would think a door had to have handles on it to be opened? Your mom and I managed all right at this party.”

Dad said, “After the party was over, she and I were holding big stacks of dirty dishes. As we were carrying them, 1979 Elly said, ‘I Ioved the way you told them the dishes were your job!’” I said, “Dad! You didn’t say such a thing as that in front of other people, did you? Where’s your family pride?” Dad said, “Tut. Tut. Michael. I didn’t say, ‘Washing the dishes.’ I said, ‘The dishes were my job.’” I said, “Dad. That sort of subtle difference in language is the reason I became a writer.” Dad said, “Hey! Don’t blame me for that.”

Dad continued, “Then 1979 Elly was putting up dishes while I washed them, and she said, ‘And how you feel it’s only fair that the man do half the chores…’” I said, “You said that in front of other people? Is this something you believe? I feel as though I don’t know you any more.” Dad said, “Calm down, Mike. The quote is taken out of context. There should be an equal division of household labour in theory; but from a practical standpoint, while I was working in my dental practise all day, naturally I could not match your mother working on chores at home at the same time.”

I said, ‘If we both were not working, it’s only fair that the man do half the chores.’ Your mother didn’t pick up on that crucial ‘if’.” I said, “Are you saying mom was ‘if”-less?” Dad said, “Exactly.” I said, “But even if both the man and woman were not working, you don’t believe the man should do half the chores. I can’t believe you would lie like that!” Dad said, “It was the 70s. It was a different time. Women’s liberation was at its height and men found themselves having to say things they didn’t believe, in order to get along at parties and to appear ‘with it’ and ‘cool’” I said, “Well, mom knew it was a lie.” Dad said, “I know. That’s why I said to her, “Thanks for not telling them the truth!”

I said, “I don’t understand this whole thing. Are you saying if all your friends were to jump off a bridge while shouting, ‘Women and men should share the chores 50-50’, you would do the same thing?” Dad said, “In the 1970s I would.” I said, “That must have been a sad, sad time; if it makes mom look happy to think about it.”

Michael Patterson
Well, it's kinda sad U find it so disturbing 2 C Mom looking happy, Mike. Tho since she is imposing all these ptless flashbacks on the world, I M not gonna stick up 4 her.

Here is a self-portrait where I am thinking, "Why must we be trapped in these endless digressions into the past?"

Mom actually found me thinking this, read my thot bubble, and sed, "It frees up time." I was like, "Bwuh?" And she sed, "New stories take a lot of time." And I sed, "U're retired. U've got lots of time." She sed, "I need more vacations." I asked, "From what?" Mom sed, "U're such a teenager. U cdn't possibly understand." And stomped off.


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Tuesday, January 29, 2008


*@#% this. I'm not doing this flashback. I'll talk 2 U all when there's sumthing new 2 share.


Edit: In case U h8 yrself enuf that U want 2 know abt the flashback I M boycotting 2day, U can read Mike's description of it here.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Wherein Mom talks Dad out of helping out ever again

I know there R a whole lotta peeps who wonder, "OMG, what's w/Elly Patterson, NEway?" Wish I cd xxplain. Like 4 instance, Dad did the dishes, rite? Like NE1 who lives in a house and uses dishware shd do. As he was putting away the plates, Mom was like, "Thank U 4 doing the dishes, John!" Dad sed, "My pleasure." Now, instead of just ending the convo there, Mom pressed on w/"U never used 2 do the dishes." As Dad was putting away the silverware, he sed, "Well, I enjoy helping out, now that I have time." Mom was like, "U had time B4!" Dad: "Yes, but I have more time now." Mom pressed on, all, "...I think U had enuf time then." Dad sez this led him 2 think, "I shd never have dun the dishes." I have a feeling he never will again. Ooh, well played Mom! Now U get 2 B even more super-martyry the next time U do 'em.

And here's another thing. When I do dishes, or vacuum, or pull weeds, or whatev else my 'rents want me 2 do? It's never considered "helping out," it's, like, what I'm supposta do cuz I live here and I'm part of the family. How come w/Dad it's "helping out"? That makes it sound like dishes and other housework R Mom's job and Dad's like sum boarder who may or may not pitch in @ his pleasure. How'd he manage 2 get that gig?


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Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Handydad Special

Dad was sitting on his recliner looking kinda like a Zombie from sum movie called Invasion of the Train Zombies. I asked Mom, "What's w/Dad?" And Mom sed, "I dunno...All I did was ask him 2 fix the sliding door." Then Dad sed, "The horror. The horrorrrrrrr......"

A while after that he shared his story, which was that Merrie showed up w/sum brokedown dollhouse Dee had picked up @ a garge sale, telling Merrie that she'd gotten a gr8 price cuz it's a "fixer-upper." Then she started asking him 2 make repairs, like 2 the stairs, which were wiggly, and the banister, which was loose. There was a window that needed its glass replaced (I hope it wasn't real glass--that soundz dangerous). Then she wanted him 2 fix a dresser that was broken and needed its knobs replaced. Then a big part of the roof needed 2 B reshingled. After Dad did all those repairs, he and Merrie went in2 a dark-purple silhouette. Dee and Mike arrived in a kind of burnt-sienna silhouette, and as they transported the dollhouse 2 their car, Merrie was all, "Guess what! He even made a new top 4 the fireplace." So, apparently Dad's descent in2 a near-catatonic state was from Mom asking him 2 do a repair on our real house (the TTH) rite after he had dun a full set of repairs on Merrie's falling-apart dollhouse.


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Saturday, January 26, 2008

No, it's not a pun on "relative"!

Welp, U can't say I didn't warn U. As I was fastening my seatbelt, just B4 Dad drove me an' Dixie home following my recent visit w/Gramps and Iris, Dad (wearing that uggo driving cap of his) was all, "How's yr Grandpa?" Instead of saying, "How 'bout U come up sometime and find out 4 yrself," I sed, "Fine. But he sleeps a lot. Iris sez he's depressed and tends 2 live in the past." After I finished fastening my belt and Dad started driving, I added, "I guess I can understand. Sumtimes, U guys talk abt, U know.... 'the good old days'. U talk abt driving a Plymouth, jiving, bobby sox, Elvis..." Dad interrupted me w/"W8 a minute! Elvis is not OLD! Charlie Chaplin is old. Flappers R old. A Model T Ford is old...." And as Dad sat there w/his mouth gaping over, mayB mulling over the horror of realizing that his cultural references R old, I thot, "I guess 'old' is relative!!"

And B4 U jump 2 certain conclusions just cuz I'm a Patterson, no, that was not a pun cuz Dad is my relative ("a person who is connected with another or others by blood or marriage"). I was only using the word in THIS sense: "Considered in comparison with something else: the relative quiet of the suburbs."


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Friday, January 25, 2008

Filling up the hungry an' stuff

Hey, so when I was getting ready 2 leave @ the end of my recent visit w/Gramps and Iris, Iris sed, "I wish U didn't have 2 go." As I put on a boot, I was like, "Yeah, but Dad's* coming 2 pick me up, an' I've got stuff 2 do." Iris sed, "I know." Then as I was walking out the door (w/Dixie, BTW, I 4got 2 say I had her w/me all that time), Iris put one hand on my back and sed, "Well, thanx 4 the visit." I sed, "NE time. And Mom will B here 2morrow, OK? She's going 2 bring supper, so B hungry!" Cuz, U know, she didn't want peeps saying I'm the only one who visits. And Iris sed, "Oh, we'll B hungry! Yr mom's cooking is worth STARVING 4!!" I felt a bit sad that she felt the need 2 kiss up 2 Mom's cooking, but I thot, "And we'll try 2 fill U up!" Cuz I was thinking abt metaphorical starving, like 4 company and attention. With "we" meaning me and Dixie, of course. Mom's trying 2 fill them up means stuffing their maws w/gross casseroles.

*Sorry 2 say that this mite mean that 2morrow's entry mite B devoted 2 my car convo w/Dad. This mite also bleed in2 Saturday's entry, but I hope not next wk (cf "after the telethon"). BTW, Liz was borrowing my car, since she took hers in 4 service (xxcuse 2 hang out more @ Gordo's Garage an' Grill) and Mom blithely volunteered mine. Suxx 2 B me.


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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pix, rings, and love

While I was @ Gramps and Iris's place 4 that visit I've been telling U abt, Iris put Gramps 2 bed (sumhow). As she was tucking him in, I sed, "I try 2 cheer him up. I bring Dixie 2 C him, and I practice my guitar..." Iris was all, "I know--and he enjoys yr visits so much. But he drifts in2 the past now. He remembers how things USED 2 B." B4 I had the chance 2 ask how she knows that, since there is no way he can say all that, I got distracted cuz Iris was like, "I put a picture of yr grandmother on his bedside table." I was like, "U did?" Then, she sed, "It seems 2 cheer him up." I went, "Iris... it looks so strange! I mean--Grandma Marian died! U're his wife now!" And Iris sed, "Yes..." Then she put one hand on my back, kinda motioning me 2 the bedroom door 2 leave the room, and she sed, "This isn't abt the ring on my finger, dear... It's the love I have in my heart."

Sad, eh? :(


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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Isn't it "glass half full"?

So, more on my recent visit 2 Gramps and Iris's place. I was sitting @ the kitchen counter, and Iris was all, "Yr Grandpa is in gd health, April. His doctor thinks it's depression that makes him so....slow. I do what I can, but I can't bring back his ability 2 speak or 2 dance or 2 play guitar." Iris refilled our tea cups so she cd set up 4 sum wordplay. She went on like, "There R so many things he can't do." I asked, "But...what abt the things he CAN do?" Iris was like, "Yes... his cup is 1/2 full. But he thinks it's empty." I was disappointed, cuz I thot we were abt 2 have a discussion abt what Gramps can do and ways 2 help him do them. Like mayB we cd get out that picture book every1 seems 2 have 4gotten abt and @ least help him communic8, U know? But Iris had 2 go 4 the "cup" thing, which, BTW, I thot was supposta B "glass," only we were drinking from teacups.

Mike, I M no "pot" 2 yr Patterkettle. Unlike U, Gramps does not fall asleep @ the v. site of U. AND he doesn't fall asleep every time I play guitar 4 him, as he duz every time U try 2 read yr writing 2 him. So, deal with that.


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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Iris Shd Not Pun!

When I visited Jim and Iris, I brot my guitar so I cd play 4 Gramps. Rite B4 I started 2 play, I sat on the ottoman in front of Grandpa's chair and sed, "I'm not doing so much classical now, Gramps. Mr. Bergan's teaching me sum jazz!" I was just starting 2 get in2 this one piece when I noticed that Gramps was sleeping, snoring a big ol "SNOZZZZZ..." I stopped playing and sat on one of those kitchen stools by the island-counter, and Iris told me, "It's not the music, April. ...He just sleeps a lot these days. And then, he's awake @ nite. It's as if his whole clock was turned around. ...It's hard 2 know what makes him tick!"

Argh. I told her, "I know U think my whole fam likes puns, but they make my feet itch!" Iris sed, "Sorry, dear, I did think the wordplay wd comfort U." And I sed, "I figured that's what U were going 4, and it was nice of U 2 try. I wonder if I shd have played sumthing he knows. I read that there are aphasiacs who, even tho they can't talk, can still sing old, familiar songs. MayB I'll try that another time when he's awake again." And Iris sed, "That sounds luvly."


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Monday, January 21, 2008

Thanx, Iris!

I'm back! God, was that weird. U mite remember I'd been sent off 2 that Johnston Institute For Better Living re-education camp, which was being held in Cozumel, Mexico, since the JIFBL peeps were on vacation there. The camp was supposed 2 last 4 a weekend, but since I didn't get "converted" @ the end of the weekend, they were gonna xxtend my time there 4 @ least a wk. I escaped and stowed away on a ship, the Windbreaker, that was transporting tortillas 2 Barbados. The ship cook, er "chef," found me and forced me 2 B his assistant. No, "sous-chef." That was insane.

So, U mite know from the comments Howard tried 2 save me. He did a heroic rescue attempt Saturday nite, but the JIFBL security detail intervened. But a simple request from Iris turned everything around, as Howard revealed in his most recent comment:

It was so good to see you briefly yesterday when you came in from your ship board adventures. You didn’t look any worse for wear, except for the odour of meat about you. Personally, I am quite delighted when a plan so utterly simple works.

I was visiting your Grandpa Jim and your step-grandmother Iris and listening to Iris’ usual round of complaints about how she has to take care of Grandpa Jim all by herself. Then I related to Iris your difficulties in being sent off to a weekend camp, which lasted more than a weekend, and how you escaped onto a tortilla boat headed for Barbados, and how your rescue attempt failed. I don’t think Iris really believed that story.

Well, then Iris launched into a discussion about how the scuttlebutt was that according to officially witnessed occurrence, you had not visited with your Grandpa Jim even one time since you turned 16. I was, to be frank, surprised that the officially witnessed occurrence would try to paint you, previously the award-winner in grandfather visiting, in such a negative light. Iris said, “Well, Coward (her name for me), if you really want April back, I will call up Elly and tell her I desperately need someone to serve Jim tea and not coffee and to help him learn to count to two, and to bring Dixie over for a visit. That should have April back in no time.”

I said, “I don’t get it.” Iris said, “Coward, dear, if you notice I said tea and not coffee. Elly will have nothing to do with an occasion if coffee is not involved. Plus she hates those education exercises with Jim almost as much as I do. I hate them more because I have actually done them. And then there is Dixie, who is, shall we say to be polite, not Elly’s favourite dog, especially with her lack of bowel control after a visit with us. I think it’s fairly safe to say April will be home pretty quickly.”

A quick phone call from Iris to your mom and the next thing I know, you’re back. Sometimes it’s not who you know, but how much who you know hates to do something.

Howard Bunt
So, just when I thot all was lost, since that security deet was abt 2 take me back 2 that awful camp, one of the security peeps got a call on his radio, and was like, "Roger that!" Then he helicoptered me 2 an airport, where there was a private jet waiting 4 me, w/a drawing of Edgar, Dixie, Butterscotch, and Shiimsa, and the JIFBL logo on the side.

Guess who was on the jet? The Witch of Corbeil! She was sipping coffee from a handleless mug, and she gestured to a seat and said, strap in, April. Back to Milborough for you."

I said, "No more camp?"

She shook her hed. "Nope. We can't have Iris Richards saying U're not an ideal granddaughter NEmore. B-sides, U R probably incorrigible. Our scientists suspect that when U ingested that antidote 2 the Corbeil Kool Aid last April...."

"U know abt that?"

"I know all!" She shouted that in a kind of Wizard of Oz voice. "NEway, the scientists think the antidote gave you a boosted immunity 2 our re-education tactics. Plus, I have decided to retire 4 real this time. More or less. I mite tinker with the past a bit. Wd U like sum granola with soy milk?"

"Uh, yeah. Thanks."

"C, I'm a very nice person!"

"Yeah," I sed, thinking how good granola wd B rite around then.

NEway, the plane took us rite in2 the Milborough airport that Gordo had built last month, and I got sent home by a car service. The driver w8ed as I went in 2 shower, change,and make a batch of cookies, and then took me 2 Gramps and Iris's place.

So here's what happed @ Gramps and Iris's place. Iris was all, "Hmph! So U do remember we xxist!"

I was like, "Thanx 4 getting me rescued, Iris!"

"Of course, dear! Let's make sum tea."

After we'd had tea, I asked Gramps if he wanted another, and he sed, "Yes." When I brot the tea over, I also brot a plate w/2 cookies, and sed, "I also brot U a couple of cookies." Gramps looked @ the plate and thot-bubbled, "Two. " I think he was disappointed that I hadn't put more on his plate, but Iris wdn't let me.

He thot bubbled "two" again, while holding up two fingers.

I was all, "Iris!!! Grandpa put up two fingers!! I gave him two cookies and he put up two fingers!!" Iris came over just as Gramps thot bubbled, "I can also sit up, beg, and roll over." He looked kinda fish-eyed when he was thinking this, and I felt bad, like I'd blundered almost as bad as when Mike asked Iris if Gramps was crazy just cuz Gramps had used a swear word in Mike's delicate presence.

Oh, BTW. While I was in the shower, Mom called Liz 2 tell her I was back. Liz let out a "NOOOOOOOOO!" so loud, I cd hear it thru the phone and over the shower sound. When I was baking the cookies, Liz came over and sed, "I'm taking the Aprilbot with me!" And she totally did.


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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Drawing on the chesterfield

Michael was kind enough to stop by here and post another one of his stories from the past:

Robotic little sis. Thanks ever so much for baby-sitting last night and for the home repair. I know my lovely wife, Deanna, was a little angry with you for the motor oil you spilled on our new chesterfield; but I understand completely. After all, sometimes when it comes to chesterfields the creative urges can’t be squelched even though there may be a tremendous price to pay for it, like the dent in your head where Deanna tagged you with that crowbar as she was chasing you around the house.

It reminds me of a time when I was young. I had my felt pens. I loved my felt pens. They were in colours of yellow and green and blue and purple and orange. In fact, when I was younger, I loved my felt pens so much, I often felt like I was a little kid drawn with a felt pen. Strange, eh?

I remember looking over my old colouring books: My C for Chicken book on which I scrawled an orange colour across the chicken, leaving the C for corn untouched. This is because I prefer eating chicken to eating corn. Then I had a very, nicely coloured scarecrow and horse colouring book. I don’t think I coloured them, because the scarecrow had on a red shirt and the horse was brown, and I didn’t have those colours in my felt pens. I think those might have been the pages mom liked to show off, when she was in her "Michael is so talented" mood. Now the very simple drawing I had done of a zombie, a house, a tree and a bird were coloured with colours I had, so I was pretty sure I coloured them. But I am rambling too much. The important part was the joy I had with my felt pens.

Now there was one occasion with my felt pens where I had become a little overenthusiastic with my artistic endeavours. And as many young chaps my age, I sought forgiveness for my deeds before they were uncovered by my parents, in the hope that I could avoid wear and tear on my bottom. So, I went to my mother, as she was washing the dishes and I said, “Mom..I know…I just know you’re going to be mad at me.”

I gave her my best hangdog look, but it didn’t work as mom grasped my wrist and snapped the bone right there. I guess I don’t know if the bone really snapped, because we never went to a doctor to check it out; but as I think back on it and how it looked at the time, with my hand bent back like that, I think it was snapped. I held in the pain though, as mom said, “What happened, honey? Tell me what it is.”

Well after that snapped wrist I was suddenly in hysterics. I grabbed mom around the neck and said, “I’m scared to tell you-ma…I know you’re going to be mad! You’re going to HATE me, ma!! Please don’t hate me, please!” After all, if she was willing to snap my wrist before she knew what happened, I knew it was going to be a lot worse when she did find out. I know when I tell this story to other people, they generally say, “Cheeze Mike, will you shut up? I’m watching the game.” But for me, it was a real fear of losing parental love.

Mom grabbed my left elbow, and I thought she was going to snap my arm, but then she grabbed my shirt with her left hand and pulled it tight around my neck so it was hard to breathe. Then she said, “Michael…I want you to be able to trust us with your problems…”

She pulled back and did the standard Patterson hand to her chest to indicate deep emotion and said, “You’re expecting me to be angry & I don’t even know what’s happened. Tell me, sweetheart…”

Well, I fell for it. I gave my mom a big hug and said, “I drew all over the new couch with felt pens.” Why didn’t I say “chesterfield “ instead of “couch”? Well, mom likes the States’ way of saying things, sometimes, and I thought that might help. But it didn’t. Right after I said that I could feel mom’s head expand in fury. I could feel her growing 5 eyebrows of anger. And most importantly, I could feel her dig those sharp fingernails into my back.

So, you see, robotic little sis. When Deanna nailed you with that crowbar, that was just her way of showing that she still loves you, even though the new chesterfield is ruined; just the way my snapped wrist and deep scratches down my back showed my mom’s love for me. Now if you could just stop hiding in the basement behind the central vac and come get a butter tart, I think we would all feel a lot better.

Michael Patterson
Thank you for telling me that story, Michael, and also for luring me out of the basement with those delicious butter tarts. These stories from the past are most instructive. Do you think it would have been a good idea to go to Deanna before the oiled chesterfield was discovered and to beg her not to hate me for what I had done? I am quite interested to learn the most effective strategies for negotiating Patterson family life.


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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sleeping Children

Patterson, Michael shared another story from the past:

Robotic little sis. My wife, the lovely Deanna, and I were wondering if there were ever times when you shut down for the night. I had been telling my wife a story of my youth and childhood, when she suddenly said, “You know, Michael, if that Aprilbot doesn’t ever turn off, there are all kinds of home renovations it could do for us at night, when it wasn’t baby-sitting for us.”

Well, that was getting a little off the story I was trying to tell; but she did have a valid point. If you didn’t turn off, you would have a distinct advantage over any other nonrobotic children, except for the cuteness factor of the sleeping child.

To let you know what I am talking about, let me take you back to when I was a young lad. My mother would tuck me into bed and kiss me on the forehead slightly above my right eyebrow, while I reached for a hug. Dad would stand in the background and look fatherly, and sometimes his hands would rest comfortably on mom, showing his husbandly affection, which I will not speak any further about for fear of nauseating myself. Mom would always say, “Goodnight, Michael, sleep tight…” Then dad would say in an ominous tone, “And don’t let the bed bugs bite” after mom left the room, which caused me to have more than a few sleepless nights, until mom caught him saying that to me one time, and they had an argument about house cleanliness.

But I digress. After they left my room, they would go over to Lizzie’s room and peek at her through the open doorway, usually standing on opposite sides, which I could tell, because they would invariably bump heads, and promise not to do that again the next time. Naturally, with Lizzie they did not walk in her room to observe her more closely for fear of waking her and also in fear of her early developing Lizardbreath. You may not have experienced this breath before, thanks to robotic nostrils, but it is quite a pungent odour.

Then mom and dad would flip on the television, which usually woke me up again and sit on the striped chesterfield to start talking to each other in loud voices (which also woke me up). My dad’s favourite topic of conversation was, “I love looking at the kids when they’re sleeping. No matter what they did during the day…they always look perfect.” Dad was a strong believer in “beauty sleep” which is traditionally considered to be the idea that you would look better after a good night’s sleep; but for dad it meant that you looked better while you were unconscious than you did when you were awake. I don’t think dad ever realized the reason Lizzie and I looked better at night than we did during the day was this thing mom did with us called bathing. If I had spent the day rolling in the mud with Lawrence Poirier, mom made sure the mud was gone at the end of the day. Deanna tells me she does the same thing with our kids too; so it is yet another thing Deanna does with our kids, that mom did with me and Lizzie when were little in the exact same house.

My wife, the lovely Deanna, is looking over my shoulder and telling me that my dad was probably talking about how I didn’t need to be disciplined during the middle of the night and not about bathing. I am afraid, in that regard, she is sadly mistaken. I was rarely disciplined during the day, and the night was not much different. Mom and dad were often so noisy at night, Lizzie and I would be up all night long from the television noises and conversation. Not only that, but Lizzie was still an infant who wouldn’t sleep through the night anyway.

When I think back to those days and compare them with my own when my kids were those ages, it’s a wonder mom and dad simply didn’t collapse into slumber when I fell asleep. I know that’s what I did when my daughter was newly-born and keeping me up all night. No, mom and dad had the time to watch late night romantic movies. As for me these days, that’s the time to spend a little time with Leonard Driscoll, the hero of my second novel, Breaking the Windjammer.

That’s what I am talking about when I mentioned the cuteness factor of kids when they are sleeping. If you’re not doing anything tonight, and you don’t shut off; Deanna has a list of things you can do after you finish baby-sitting.

Michael Patterson
Michael, although technically I do not sleep, the engineers who designed me believed that Patterson, Elly Richards would feel like a bad mother if I did not lie in a bed with my eyes closed for a period of eight hours. So what happens is I recline in April's bed, close my eyes, and run a series of program-maintenance routines. During this time, I appear to be asleep.

Curiously, since I am not truly sleeping during this maintenance routine, I can clearly hear any sounds. Just last night, I heard your parents having a conversation about how "cute" I look while I'm "asleep." Well, your father said that. Your mother said, "Real teenagers are never cute. But teenbots can be. This one is a godsend!" And your father sobbed a little and said, "My special buddy!" And your mother said, "Can it, John!" Most curious indeed.


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Friday, January 18, 2008

Missing out on everything

Hello, all. This is Aprilbot, still filling in for April, wherever she is now.

I am to share with you another story from the past of Patterson, Elly. The story begins with Mrs. Patterson changing the diaper of Patterson, Elizabeth as Nichols, Anne clears teacups from the table. Mrs. Patterson said, "Maybe if we received weekly paychecks, motherhood would be more satisfying..." After completing the task of diaper changing, Mrs. Patterson gave Elizabeth a bottle, and Nichols, Christopher, a baby about the same age as Elizabeth, crawled over to her and two droplets of liquid descended from the general vicinity of his mouth. Meanwhile, the mothers of these two babies went in2 silhouette a couple of metres behind them. Mrs. Patterson said, "Unending housework & running after kids.... it's a treadmill, Anne!" After Mrs. Patterson and Mrs. Nichols emerged from silhouette, Mrs. Nichols said, "I don't understand you, Elly... If you hate it so much, hire a sitter & get yourself a job!" Mrs. Patterson took a moment to go over to Elizabeth and pick her up before saying, "And miss out on EVERYTHING?" Mrs. Nichols had meanwhile picked up Christopher. Elizabeth asked, "Blrgl?"

I have discovered I have a database entitled "Patterson, Elly Richards: always dissatisfied." This seems to be an item I can file in there.


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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Patterson, John did not want offspring

My programming tells me I am meant to share another story from the Pattersons' past. It will take me a moment to access it. Okay, here it is.

As Mr. Patterson sat in a recliner, with his feet up, reading a newspaper, Mrs. Patterson was stooped over, holding an armload of toys on her right side while holding a poorly rendered drawing and a dusting cloth in her left hand. A moment later, she had divested herself of these things she carried. She formed her hands into fists, beat her chest as lower primates do, threw back her head, opened her mouth wider than most humans can, and screamed, "I'M TIRED OF HOUSEWORK AND DIRTY NOSES AND COOKING AND THE NEVER ENDING MESS" This sentence was not punctuated. Mr. Patterson's mouth was downturned and his facial expression could be described as "worried" as Mrs. Patterson did this. A moment later, Mr. Patterson got up, embraced Mrs. Patterson, and said, "Take it easy. Kids are a lot of work. They're part of life--you have to accept these things." Mrs. Pattersons eyes became two wide circles when Mr. Patterson delivered his next line, which was "After all ... you're the one who wanted kids in the first place..."

My interpretation subprogram is telling me that the point of this story is "Young Patterson, John was an asshat." I wonder who put that into my programming? Curious.


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Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Michael has a most puzzling incident to report, between him and Mrs. Elly Patterson:

Robotic little sis. I know this may be a little personal to ask, but are you one of those robots equipped to reproduce?

The reason I ask, is because mom and I were talking about you and my mother said the oddest thing, “That Aprilbot is lucky she can’t have children. She can decide what and who she wants to be right now. No waiting.” I replied something about how a robot programmed to look and act like other people was not the best example for whatever point mom was making. Then mom said, “Now Michael. You got to decide what and who you wanted to be because you’re a man and you can’t possibly understand the woman’s perspective.” Then before I knew it, mom had whipped out one of those old photograph albums to illustrate her point.

In one picture, mom is leaning over a topless little Lizzie, lying on her back. Mom said, “Now when I was changing Lizzie’s diaper I was thinking, ‘There was a time when I couldn’t wait to get married.’” I said, “I get it. Lizzie’s lying on her back, half-naked, and looking up with her hand in her mouth, and that reminded you of times when you were the same way and realized you needed to be married.” Mom said, “Michael Patterson. No. No. I was never half-naked. Changing a diaper simply reminded me of wanting to get married.” I said, “Why wouldn’t it remind you of having kids?” Mom said, “Don’t be silly, Michael. Everyone knows it’s the same thing.” I said, “Except for Connie Poirier.” Mom said, “Right. Except for Connie.”

Then mom pointed to the next picture which showed her with a fully-dressed Elizabeth beckoning to me in the picture on what must have been one of those days when it felt like someone put my hair only on one side of my head. Mom said, “Now when I was holding Lizzie after her diapers were changed, I was thinking, ‘Then I couldn’t wait to have a house of my own. Then…for children,--I couldn’t wait!” I said, “Mom, what does having a house have to do with holding Lizzie?” Mom said, “Marriage. House. Kids. That’s the order.” I said, “But mom, you had me before you were living in a house. I thought you were in an apartment.” Mom said, “Don’t interrupt before I am finished.”

Mom said, “Now Michael. Look at this picture. I’m helping you put a shoe on. While I was doing that, I was thinking, ‘…Now that I have all the things I couldn’t wait for-& can decide what & who I want to be..’” I said, “You wanted to be a shoe salesperson?” Mom said, “No, Michael. These are thoughts which would run through my head as I performed these mindless child-raising tasks.” I said, “I suppose that’s why half the time you put my shoes on the wrong feet.” Mom said, “Michael. You are missing the point.” I said, “What is the point?’

Mom pointed to the final picture of her by herself without any kids around. Mom said, “When I was like this, I thought, ‘I’ve got to wait.’” I said, “What? Why?” Mom said, “When you are married, have children, and have a house; you have to wait to decide what & who you want to be.” I said, “I didn’t. Neither did Deanna.” Mom said, “That’s only because I sacrificed my own desire to decide what I want to be for you.” I said, “That explains me, but what about Deanna? I hope you’re not saying Mira Sobinski sacrificed anything for Deanna.”

Mom said, “You are missing the point. I had to wait because I had kids. If I didn’t have to wait I could have been just like the Aprilbot. I am going to talk to her instead of you.”

So, Aprilbot, you might want to say you are one of those robots which can reproduce, or else you are going to get to see some pictures and hear a lot of confusing talk.

Michael Patterson
That story is quite illogical. Human interactions are complicated. It was kind of you to issue that warning for me, Michael, but unfortunately I did not discover it until after Patterson, Elly asked me if it was possible for me to reproduce. I answered honestly, explaining that producing a bot that can reproduce is almost prohibitively expensive, and if the engineers at the Johnston Institute were to do so, this would mean funneling money away from necessities such as vacations for the entire staff, a steady supply of baked goods for "brainstorming" sessions, and re-education camps for disobedient teenagers.

So, after I revealed my inability to reproduce, Mrs. Patterson burst into tears and gave me a speech about how lucky I am. I didn't know what to do at first, but I remembered that I have a subroutine entitled "Patterson, Elly complains about parenthood." I ran it, and it caused me to say, "You sacrificed your own ambitions for your children. But you did a great job raising them and now you can take satisfaction in having led them to successful adulthood. And now you put the 'grand' in 'grandmother.'" Subroutine told me, "Do not mention that Patterson, April is still in the process of being raised. Patterson, Elly prefers to forget her existence." Mrs. Patterson threw her arms around me and said, "Aprilbot, you are so wise! I hope we can keep you!" I said, "Thank you, Mrs. Patterson. Your children are lucky to have you and someday they might express gratitude." Mrs. Patterson made a "pfffft" sound and said, "Maybe when they're 40!"


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Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Hello, April's readers! This is still Aprilbot. I have received an alarming report from the Johnston Institute For Better Living. It seems that April has escaped from the re-education camp that was being held in Cozumel, Mexico, and her whereabouts are currently unknown. Meanwhile, I will continue to substitute for her.

The story I am instructed to tell you today concerns Mrs. Patterson walking canines with Connie Poirier. Connie Poirier was walking the canine known as Sera, a Labrador retriever and mother to Edgar, the canine that Mrs. Patterson was walking. Point of information from my databases: Edgar is older now than when his father, Farley, died in 1995. And of course, his mother Sera is, as well. But I have heard Mrs. Patterson say, "No more dead dogs!" The canine named Dixie was excluded from this walk.

Ms. Poirier told Mrs. Patterson, "We've got to be more philosophical, El. We've earned our lines! Every crease, every wrinkle, we've earned--and we were great Moms, weren't we?!! Just think of the stuff we put up with! Think of the hard work it was! And now we're grandparents! We've given the best of our lives to our families. We paved the way for a healthy, bright new generation!" Mrs. Patterson said, "Yeah. I hope they *@--well appreciate it." This response caused Ms. Poirier to laugh.

My pun subprogram scanned Mrs. Patterson's line for a possible pun. "Appreciate" can suggest a sense of gratitude, but also can mean an increase in value, so that something could be sold for more than its original purchase price. However, the subprogram also tells me that this is unlikely to apply to the context given. It is likely, then, that Mrs. Patterson was not making a pun.

In case anyone is confused about Ms. Poirier being a grandmother, she did not mean that her son Lawrence has children. She is referring to her stepdaughters, Molly and Gayle. When Ms. Poirier first married Greg Thomas in the 1980s, Mr. Thomas's teenage daughters lived with them for a short time, before opting to move back in with their mother in Thunder Bay. Some mght argue that Ms. Poirier cannot rightfully claim that in the brief time she cared for her stepdaughters she "paved the way for a healthy, bright, new, generation." My programming is not sophisticated enough to reach a conclusion on this matter.


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Monday, January 14, 2008

Patterson, Elly does not compute

I have received an urgent message from the Johnston Institute informing me that April is such a "difficult case" that the weekend re-education-camp programme has not been enough to reform her. Therefore, I am to continue filling in for her at least for a week. I have been loaded with April's knowledge of academic subjects, so that I can participate in her school classes, learn the new material, and complete homework assignments. All new knowledge that I acquire this way will be uploaded to the Johnston Institute server and relayed to April during her absence.

I have also received instructions about the next topic of conversation. Again, this pertains to Mrs. Patterson examining herself in a mirror. However, this time the mirror is full-length, and Mrs. Patterson viewed herself while wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and nothing on her feet. My programming suggests that this is an unusual thing to do in Canada in mid-January, even inside a dwelling.

Mrs. Patterson viewed her image and thought, "I can't do anything about the wrinkles, so I've gotta look in the mirror and say, "Yes! --This is ME." She engaged in a dance of sorts while thinking, "I look at my flappy arms and my droopy buns and I say, 'YES, THIS IS ME'!" She continued her dance while converting her thoughts into a song in some fashion, and the song's lyrics began, " [musical note] THIS IS MEEE [musical note] THIS IS MEEEE [musical note] " Meanwhile, musical notes lined up in the air just before her face. Continuing the dance, Mrs. Patterson clapped her hands and sang aloud as musical notes surrounded her: "Hooop-yah! Hoop-yah! This is me, this is me, this is MEEEE!! Then she ceased her dancing and singing, glared at her reflection, and thought, "It still sucks to be me."

My interpretation subprogram came up with"humans are contradictory beings." Then it blew a small amount of smoke and said, "Ask again later." I think one of the programmers who built me cribbed the Magic Eight Ball a little bit.

Aprilbot, still filling in for April

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Like/Love and Puns in the Past

Michael Patterson, April's celebrated older brother, has shared a most informative post, which I will share below:

Robotic little sis. Since you are the newest member of the Patterson family, I think it would be good to give a little history of other machines which used to work for the Pattersons over the years. For example, my mother used to have a room completely devoted to sewing and even called it her sewing room, well after she had gotten to the point where she had completely stopped sewing. That room is today my son’s room.

Sometimes, when I go into my son’s room to watch him destroy some toy of his or to carve his name in the wall with a kitchen knife, my mind wanders to back when I was his age and I was in the same room. My mother was there in front of the sewing machine, a device without which, my mother would have simply called the room a place where she would have liked to done sewing.

Since you are a robot, you may not know this but, there used to be a piece of furniture called a sewing table, where the woman doing the sewing could position a chair close to the sewing machine and this made feeding the material through the sewing machine much easier. My mother did not have one of these tables. In fact, she used to pick a chair which sat very low compared to where the sewing machine was, in an effort to cause back strain, which she said was a great help to show suffering.

At the time I didn’t understand it. I simply thought mom was in a bad mood every time she was sewing. However, on one particular occasion, I was feeling vulnerable and I didn’t know why. Perhaps it was in anticipation of the angst I would develop as a part of becoming a well-known author, perhaps it was part of growing up, or perhaps it was because I saw Lawrence Poirier’s mother tell him she loved him, and I wondered why it is that my parents never did the same. I determined to ask her directly. When I got into the sewing room, and saw mom was busy with sewing, I played with unraveling a spool of thread until I could find a moment to ask her my important question.

At last the moment came. I got right beside my mom, so she could hear me over the Bzzzz and Grind of the sewing machine and touched her arm and said, “Do you love me, ma?” This got no response.

So, I tried again, this time grabbing part of her sweater. I said, “Mama? Do you LOVE me?” This time mom did reply, by turning her face a bright red and saying, “GRUNT”, and closing her scissors, in what I recognize today as a preparation for turning scissors into a stabbing weapon. Such subtleties of communication were lost on my young Patterson mind.

In fact, such was the obliviousness of my youthful state, even when mom prepared her right leg to kick me away, I poked on that same leg and said, “Ma? Ma? MA…Do you LIKE me then, ma?” I thought I was making the question easier to ask, by downgrading it to just a “like” question. Mom’s response this time was to say, “Mumble **? That was a sign she had realized the question had been downgraded to the point where she would have to answer it.

Then mom, completely red-faced and flush, gave me the answer. She said, “Yes! I’d LIKE you to get lost!” I was completely startled. “She made a joke on the word ‘like”?”, I thought. Now you see, robotic little sis, mom could have just as easily made that same joke using the word “love” as in “Yes! I’d LOVE you to get lost!”

However, as you will probably know from your programming, Pattersons never say, “I love you.” I was young and foolish and thought perhaps I was exempt from this aspect of our family tradition; so I burst out crying with a “WAAAH, which is a crying noise. Now, I know better. I think this is one of the reasons why you are a great asset to the Patterson family. We cannot say, “I love you” and mean it, so we never say it; in the same way it would be for you, if your programming allowed you to say those words.

As for mom, at the time, she thought to herself, “Something tells me I could have handled that better..” and she was right. The “like” pun is one of the weakest ones you can use. I am sure that in your robotic archives you can think of a better one. I hope you find this story instructive in your life as my youngest sister.

Michael Patterson
Thank you for sharing this, Michael. I can see that you applied the same writing talent to this message as you did to your novel, Stone Season. The engineers of the Johnston Institute For Better Living took the very important step of uploading the novel to my memory, so that I can discuss this fine piece as though I had actually read it. Michael, it is odd that April does not appreciate having an esteemed novelist in the family! If my programming allowed it, I would tell you that I love you!

Patterson, Elly has told me that I have been so good this weekend, she would like to reward me, only she cannot, because she is a Patterson. Instead, she says I should go over to the big house on Sharon Park Drive and care for Patterson, Meredith (age five years, two months, 27 days) and Patterson, Robin (age three years, two months, five days). I told her, "Patterson Matriach, do not fret. It is my duty and my pleasure to provide excellent care for the youngest members of the Patterson clan. After all, your eldest son Michael needs time to focus on his writing unencumbered. And your daughter-in-law Deanna needs time 'off' to bathe, shop, and have her bowl haircut trimmed every now and then." She threw here arms around me and cried, for some reason.

Elizabeth, that throw pillow you describe sounds exquisite. I cannot wait to see it! Maybe after I complete my babysitting assignment today, we can bake pies, cakes, cookies, brownies, blondies, snickerdoodles, and brioche, engage in "girl talk," and admire your needlepoint!

Aprilbot, substituting for wayward April Patterson

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hello, I am Aprilbot!

I am Aprilbot, a state-of-the-art, Artificial-Intelligence powered, human-looking robotic being charged with the duty of replacing April Patterson while the wise people of the Johnston Institute for Better Living re-educate her at their special weekend-camp programme.

While I am here filling in for April, I will also be following some commands embedded into my programming to help get Miss Patterson's life back on track! For example, it has come to the attention of the JIFBL that she has been dating known miscreant Jeremy Jones instead of her original childhood sweetheart Gerald Forsythe. My programming had me go to the Jones house and terminate the unauthorized relationship.

Meanwhile, April's wise, wonderful, and long-suffering older sister Elizabeth has invited me to go bridesmaid-dress shopping with her today. What fun! She has already dropped off some terrific bridal magazines with many pages tabbed for reference. Elizabeth has such great taste in bridesmaids dresses! I just can't understand why April is always fighting with this great girl!

Oh, and my programming tells you I am meant to share a story about April's parents. Just a moment as I access it.

Okay, Mrs. Patterson was looking into a hand-held mirror. How interesting, I just accessed an image of Mrs. Patterson touching her forehead with an extended middle finger. My subprogram of body language and meaningful gestures informs me that this could be a surreptitious "giving the finger," a vulgar gesture intended to instruct the viewer to copulate. My Elly Patterson database leads me to conclude this is most likely an error on her part. As she was employing this possibly unintentional vulgar gesture, she thought, "I am starting to look like my mother. The lines on my forehead are the same...."

Next thing Mrs. Patterson did is pull down at the turtleneck collar of her sweater in order to examine her neck. She thought, "My hair is going gray in the same places hers did. My neck is like hers, and so are the bags under my eyes!" She moved into profile, released her collar, and thought, "I guess I should adopt John's philosophy and accept myself the way I am!" At that moment, Mr. Patterson called out "Elly!" She went to him and found that he was staring into a mirror as well. He asked, "....Do you think I'm starting to look like my Dad?"

I will leave it to you to interpret the meaning of this story. My interpretation subprogram suggests "irony" but will not elaborate.


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Friday, January 11, 2008

NOT a flashback!

I realized that I left sum stuff I need @ home, so I went back early this morning. The bathroom door was cracked open, and I heard Mom's voice being all, "John, I'm really starting 2 look like my mother now, aren't I." As usual w/such things, this was not a question. It ended in a period. And "starting"? Where has she been? And I heard Dad's voice going, "Oh, no.... I'm not falling in2 that trap!!" And Mom's voice sed, "What trap?" Dad's voice came back w/"Elly, U look fine. U were a beautiful woman when I married U--and U're a beautiful woman now! Stop worrying abt the packaging and look @ the gift inside!" Thru the crack in the door, I noticed they were hugging.

A moment l8r, Dad sed, "Elly, U're a surprise package w8ing 2 B opened!" And Mom sed, "No, that's Shannon Lake." And Dad sed, "Oh, rite, U're a package I opened yrs ago. I guess U're a gift that keeps on giving." And Mom sed, "That'd B the 1."

Jeremy, we'll hafta keep brainstorming on names 4 me 2 change 2 after I escape Mboro. I'm def gonna leave town B4 I'm reddy 2 get married, so a name change will hafta happen B4 whenev that does!


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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Legacies and Stranger Danger

Mike wrote in w/another needless blast from the past:

Formerly little sis. I stopped by mom’s house to get a butter tart this morning for my daughter and me, as I was driving my daughter to school. You may remember that my daughter is enrolled at H.G. Davis Public School, the same elementary school I went to and it’s 3 blocks away from our house. When we got inside mom’s house, there was mom talking to Connie Poirier about how lazy you are for driving to school instead of taking the bus. When she saw me, she decided to change subjects.

Mom said, “I remember when Michael was little and how much he complained about going to school even from the very beginning when he was in kindergarten.” My daughter’s ears perked up at the possibility of an embarrassing daddy story, so she said, “What did daddy say?” Mom said, “I would put his scarf around his neck and the whole time he would say, ‘How can I walk to kindergarten, ma-it’s freezing out there!’ And then he would raise up his little mittened hand to show 3 fingers up, which you couldn’t tell because he was wearing mittens, and he said, ‘It’s three whole blocks away! --- I’ll DIE!’ Your father complained and complained about walking to kindergarten in the cold and he never once died from it. So I raised up my one finger, which you could tell it was one finger because I was not wearing mittens, and I said, ‘Michael, when I was your age, I walked 6 blocks to school and we didn’t even own a car!’ That shut him up.”

I was grimacing at mom’s delight in being right over my 5-year-old self, when my own 5-year-old said, “But Gramma Elly. What about Stranger Danger? It says: Try not to walk anywhere alone. Walk with a friend.” Then Connie Poirier said, “That’s right, Elly. Things are not the same as they used to be.” Mom said, “What? No. No. No. When I told Mike that back in 1979, it was the same thing my mom told me when I was little, and I even thought bubbled ‘…and I swore I’d never sound like my mother’. You need to say the same thing to your daughter, Michael. It’s a Patterson legacy.”

I said, “Now wait a minute, mom. You told me that buying the family homestead to raise my children as a new generation fills the Patterson legacy. So, the Patterson legacy is my house.” Mom said, “No, the legacy is do everything with your kids, just the way I did it with you.” My daughter said, “What?” Connie Poirier said, “Gramma Elly wants you to walk to school and complain about it, like your dad did.” My daughter said, “But Gramma Elly. Stranger danger! Dad has to take me to school. It’s not safe.” Mom said, “Meredith, when I was your age, my parents sent me out the door to school and did not walk me one step of the way, and we didn’t even own a car!” My daughter said, “Let’s go daddy. I’ll get a Stranger Danger book for you Gramma Elly.” I said, “Right. Let’s go Merrie. It’s freezing out there. We don’t want to die on the way to the car.” Then my daughter and I left with my mother definitely grumbling about “kids these days”.

In the car, my daughter said, “Why did Gramma Elly make you walk to kindergarten alone?” I said, “They didn’t have Stranger Danger back then.” My daughter said, “What did they have?” I said, “Lucky kids.”

Michael Patterson
Mike, I need you 2 tell me what's missing where I have "[ . . . ?]" If U look back @ yr original post, U can C that part got eaten and the link kinda took over the rest of yr post! [Edited to correct this]

BTW, if it comes up, U mite have fun pting out 2 Mom that she never walks 2 Lilliput's!

Jeremy, don't worry abt the whole back-rub thing. I hafta remember not every guy is like my Dad and my future gets 2 B diff fr. Mom's.


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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Angry Synonyms

Mike has sum stuff 2 share abt the l8est story from the endless past:

Formerly little sis. You know there is quite frequently a difference between what mom says and the way mom actually is. I learned this all during my years of living with her, and I am sure you are still learning these things.

I went by the house where mom lives now (and you too) and found mom was there regaling Connie Poirier with stories about how wrinkled she was back in 1979. Finally Connie Poirier said, “Elly. This is ridiculous. You were only 28 years old in 1979. I knew you. You didn’t have all those wrinkles from old age.” Mom said, “It was near the end of 1979.” Connie said, “Give me a break.” So, I said, “Oh, mom had wrinkles all right. In fact those wrinkles were life-savers.” Connie Poirier said, “What do you mean by that, Michael?”

I said, “There was this time when I broke one of mom’s favourite decorative vases.” Connie said, “I don’t remember you ever having decorative vases.” Mom said, “Not after Michael was born.” I said, “There was a vase I had broken, and I could tell mom was angry with me. It was because of her wrinkles.” Mom said, “Look, I said I wasn’t mad, Michael…It was an accident.” I said, “That’s just what you said back then mom. History repeats itself.”

Connie said, “That happens all the time in Milborough. So, then what happened?” I said, “Mom was wiping up the shards of vase glass with a cloth and…” Connie interrupted and said, “What? That’s not how you clean up glass. Glass shards will go right through a cloth and cut your hand.” Mom said, “I know that now!” Connie said, “You were 28 years old. Why didn’t you know that then?” Mom said, “It was Michael’s fault. He was just standing there looking miserable and I said, ‘So don’t stand there looking miserable because I am NOT angry.’” Connie said, “That mad, eh?” Mom said, “No. Not mad. I said, ‘I am annoyed, I am put out, but I am not ANGRY’” Connie said, “Those are just other words for angry.” Mom said, “They are not. There are subtle distinctions.”

I said, “Well, whatever the distinctions were, you were so emotional you put the cloth you used to clean up the glass right back in the drawer with the rest of the cleaning cloths. Dad was in for a big surprise later when he used one to wipe his mouth.” Connie said, “Ouch! Glass shards in the cloth. What were you thinking, Elly?” Mom said, “I was thinking about how I was not angry. Just like I am not angry right now, from you two, who don’t believe me that I am not angry. I am offended and outraged, perhaps even furious or fuming; but I am not angry.” I pointed to mom’s forehead which was covered with wrinkles and said, “Then how come you have all those wrinkles up there?” Mom said, “No, Michael. You pointed to your own forehead in 1979 and not mine.” I said, “I did? Well that doesn’t make much sense. You were the one with the wrinkles, not I.”

Then mom got in a long conversation with Connie Poirier about the differences in all the words which mean “angry” and that’s when I left after getting a butter tart out of the refrigerator.

Michael Patterson
OMG, Mom is always doing that, denying one thing by using a synonym w/a slitely diff shade of meaning. Her reasoning, she sez, is that no 2 words mean exactly the same thing. MayB she got that from Dad (cf "rotund" vs. "fat").

BTW, I'm staying @ Jeremy's house 4 a while. His mother has been v. cube.


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Tuesday, January 08, 2008


::sigh:: Sumday, we'll have sum present-day stories 4 U again. But this flashbacking is prolly going on 4 @ least 4 wks. Crud.

Mom and Connie. Mom reminiscing, 2 contrast when she was young and dissatisfied against now, when she's old (beyond her actual yrs) and dissatisfied.

Mom sed 2 Connie, "Hey remember this past September when I told John that he was getting quite a paunch, and he went in2 that nonsense abt having 'relaxed abdominals' and simply needing 'a few specific exercises' (which BTW, he's never gotten 2)? Connie nodded, and Mom sed, "Well, sum ppl mite think I was out of line 'attacking' John like that, but thoze ppl can't possibly know what this man has put me through." Connie sed, "Ooh, do U have a story from the past 2 illustrate what U R talking abt?" And Mom was all, "Indeed, I do, dear friend!"

"This was sumthing that happened when Lizzie was a baby and Michael was in kindergarten." Connie sed, "Don't U all say 'Elizabeth' now?" Mom sed, "Sure, but when I think of her as a baby, I still think 'Lizzie.' Or 'Nizzie.'" Connie sed, "Oh." Mom went on, "NEway, once I was putting away dishes (b-cuz it's not like John wd ever pitch in w/a task like that), and he had the nerve 2 say, 'U know, Elly. U R getting a little rotund.' " Connie gasped and Mom sed, "I know! And so I went up to him and pinched @ sum of his xxtra fat around the waistline. And I pted @ it and sed, "Oh, yeah?... And what do U call this stuff?" And John actually sed, "That's different. On men, a little xxtra w8 looks OK!" I went back 2 putting away dishes and sed, "There's no justice in a society where women get fat... and men grow 'love handles.'"

Connie sed, "But w8. Y did you not challenge his premise, instead of just tacitly accepting it?" And Mom sed, "That's the way I was then." Connie sed, "WAS?" And Mom raised her brows. Connie was all, "Really, Elly, how did U end up w/such a sexist lout, NEway? There were sum really enlightened guys U cd have hooked up w/@ university." Mom shook her hed and sed, "I had such low self-esteem that when John was nice 2 me, I hooked rite on2 him. And he was such a nerd, I thot he'd alwayz B nice 2 me b-cuz he was w/a woman who shd have been out of his league. But once he became a dentist, he figured he had status, and status trumps nerdiness. So the jerkish side came out."

Connie shook her hed sadly. "U cd leave him U know." Mom sed, "@ my age? Preposterous. I have 2 make the best of my situation." Connie tried 2 argue more, but Mom wd have nun of it. "Save yr energy, Connie. I have around 20 stories 2 tell U in this session." Connie sed, "Well, I'd better take a pee break then. Coffee. U can't buy it, only rent it."


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Monday, January 07, 2008

Now ppl just call her "sea hag"

Mike has the next bit of reminiscing horror 2 share w/U all:

Formerly little sis. Believe it or not, I believe mom and Connie Poirier have decided to have a conversation reminiscing about age that may run on for the whole month. According to mom she remembers quite a few stories from back in 1979 to 1980 where she thought she was old. I said, “You mean like the one where you got upset when you found the first wrinkle on your face?” She said, “No, Michael. You couldn’t see wrinkles on my face in those days. I barely had a pupil in my eye. I couldn’t have crow’s feet for just a pupil.” I said, “You mean the one where your body made strange noises when you got up in the morning?” She said, “No, Michael. That was your father.” I said, “OK. Which one then?” And mom said, “Well, in the beginning I am looking at the meat selection in the grocery store.” I said, “No, mom. I know this one. It starts with the barber.” Mom said, “Grocery store.” I said, “Barber.” Mom said, “I don’t remember any barber.” Then I said, “Well, that’s because you’re too old to remember it.” Then mom started crying and I said, “Calm down mom. I’ll tell the story and we’ll start from the meat counter in the grocery store, and not the barber.”

So, formerly little sis. Once upon a time, in Milborough, mom was in a grocery store looking at a meat counter. The butcher was right in front of her, a bald man with a unibrow almost completely obscuring his eyes. He pointed to mom and said, “Have you looked after this woman yet, Jake?” Jake was a younger fellow with glasses, and I guess he hadn’t looked after mom yet. Needless to say, mom was deeply disturbed by the whole conversation, but didn’t say anything except to roll her eyes.

The next part I remember didn’t have anything to do with a barber. We were all walking together to the car from the grocery and I was licking a lollipop and I don’t know where that lollipop came from, except it wasn’t from a barber. Helping mom carry her groceries was one of these people who help people carry groceries, only this one was pretty stupid, because mom still had to push Lizzie in a stroller and carry groceries too. You would think he would just put all mom’s groceries in a cart, but this was back in the 1980s and people were stupider back then. In fact, this fellow said to mom, “-that your wagon over there, ma’am?” Not exactly a vivid description, but there was something about it which caused mom to stoop over a little bit more and make her left arm really long.

Once we were in the car, mom strapped Lizzie into one of those car seats which looked like a miniature trampoline. I suppose the springs around the side were supposed to help with the impact, if there was an accident. I don’t know. I do know it was fun to jump on, even when Lizzie in it. This was not my concern though. My concern was with the barber. OK. I can’t take it anymore. There was a barber. I got my hair cut. Mom was flirting with the barber in the way that she does, but the barber said to her, “Missus Patterson, that’s not appropriate behaviour for a married woman.” Mom wasn’t wearing her wedding ring, which is true for most people in Milborough; but the barber knew she was a missus anyway. So I said to mom, “How did the barber know you was a missus, Hey mom? Mom? Mom?” In the middle of that bad grammar, there was still that question.

Well, mom never answered that question, but years later I ran into that barber and asked him how he knew. He said, “Look, Mike. Your mom had 2 small children with her, her hair tied in a pony tail, she had a plain yellow scarf around her neck, and she was shopping in the middle of the day. It was pretty obvious she was a missus.” This was a silly argument because my lovely Deanna has 2 children, her hair in a bowl cut, and she does her shopping in the middle of the day, and that doesn’t mean she is a missus. As a point of fact she is a missus; but she could just as easily have been a slutty single mother, like Connie Poirier. So, what it boils down to, is the barber thought mom was a missus, because he didn’t think she could be slutty. When you think about it that way, it does seem like a logical conclusion.

That logic aside, mom started thought bubbling “Woman…ma’am…Mrs….What ever happened to ‘Young Lady’?” Yes, formerly little sis, our mother actually wondered when it was that men in Milborough started being polite and stopped using the old sexist terms like “young lady”, the use of which Canadian feminists had run out of town almost a decade prior, along with “girl” or “gals” or “chick” or “wench” or “coed”. I suppose it was being around dad all the time with his sexist language, which threw her off.

It was around this point in my story, when mom said, “No, Michael. I preferred to be called ‘young lady’ because that’s what I was called when I was younger. Those other terms like ‘ma’am’ or ‘woman’ or ‘Mrs.’ made me feel old.” Then Connie Poirier said, “Elly. The women’s movement made sure you were no longer referred to by that degrading language.” Then mom said, “It’s not degrading, if it made you feel young.” Then Connie said, “Treating you like you were younger than you were, was a way of taking power and respect from you.” Then mom said, “Taking power and respect was all right for me, if I felt younger.” Then Connie said, “Mike, I have a feeling this conversation may run all month. I think I need to explain women’s liberation to your mother.” Needless to say, I took the opportunity to leave, after I had eaten a few things out of the refrigerator, of course.

Michael Patterson
Reminiscing 4 a month? I believe it Mike. Hoped it wasn't going 2 B true, but totally believe it. After U left, Mom kinda grilled me abt if I liked being called "yung lady." I sed no1 callz me that, and that if I did, I wdn't like it, cuz it's insulting. Mom called me a Martian and told me 2 walk the dogz.


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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Dee fails an' Mom gloats

Dee's here. She came over w/Robin and sed she'd dumped Merrie in the lap of her "other X-chromosome donor," meaning Mike.

Mom of course fixed cups of coffee rite away and Dee poured out this story abt how Merrie was playing w/all her Xmas toys, crafts, make-up from the Lil Miss Tart line, and the "Future Delicate Genius" journal Mike had given her. Then how she'd stopped with a big sigh and wrapped herself around Dee's rite leg while Dee was getting reddy 2 take out the kitchen trash, and how Merrie sed, "Mom? ....I'm bored." Dee told Mom that she'd put a hand on each of Merrie's arms and sed, "What?! After all that stuff U got 4 Xmas? There's no way U shd B bored!!" And Deed sed that Merrie unhinged her little jaw and screamed out a big, pink "BUT I AM!" And Dee returned 2 her task of the kitchen trash while saying, "Meredith, I have 2 much 2 do 2day 2 provide entertainment 4 U! --so.... go and find sumthing 2 DO!" Merrie apparently picked a physical fite w/Robin by whapping him w/her teddy bear (no longer a Super Teddy, BTW). Then Dee felt herself getting a black storm cloud over her head as she took Merrie 2 Mike, who was relaxing in bed reading his own book again.

Finally, with Robin peeking over the edge of the table and sumhow having a squiggly line over his head, Dee told Mom, "It's strange. I thot I knew everything there was 2 know abt raising kids--and then, I b-came a parent." And as I passed by, I cdn't help noticing that hearing Dee say this made Mom take on one of her v. unpleasant, smug Schadenfreude faces.

Hey, Zandra, no prob abt the mix-up w/the DVDs @ yr house last wk. I M just relieved that "The Exciting Struggle to Construct the St. Laurence Seaway" isn't really yr all-time favourite movie, that U like 2 watch again and again. I didn't wanna say NEthing, but I was a lil concerned.


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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Mom was old even she she was young

So that convo Mom and Connie were having abt aging, when Connie visited on New Year's Day? Unfortch it turned out 2 B a lead-in 2 more gratuitous reminiscing. Believe me, I am NOT happy abt this. I barely lived thru the tedium from the last, seemingly endless round of it. Considering how theze things have gone B4, I doubt we will come back up 4 air until around Valentine's Day. Hm, Liz, do U think Anthony mite B saving NEthing interesting 2 do on V-day?

So NEway. After the "Photoshop" line I told U abt yesterday? Mom sez, "Come 2 think of it, I can hardly remember a moment of my adult life where I wasn't worried abt aging. From the moment I turned 30, I guess, which now I realize is quite young. For instance, I remember this time @ Philpott's dept store. Oh, yes, I remember it like it was yesterday." I peeked in2 the kitchen and saw that she rubbed her chin, staired off into space, B-came blurry 4 a brief sec, and suddenly she had a sequence of thought bubbles showing pictures that had thought bubbles of their own and speech bubbles, 2. Well, U know the drill by now.

First thought bubble showed Mom carrying baby-Liz while looking @ a cosmetics display that had a sign saying "New Cosmetic Discoveries: Fountain of Youth" as Mom read a label on one of the skin-creme and thought-bubbled, "Scientifically blended emollients penetr8 dry skin lines... 2 lift and separ8--" ["Lift and separ8?" That's 4 BRAS, not skin cream!] So, next thot bubble, Mom was carrying the jar and continuing 2 read, "When those tell-tale creases begin 2 show --Fountain of Youth is guaranteed" 3rd had Mom taking the jar 2 the register while reading more from the world's most texty cosmetics label: "The miracle discovery for aging skin... No one will guess U R over 30!" 4th and final thot bubble had Mom telling the salesperson, "I'm buying this 4 a friend." Oh, whatevs. I h8 these flashbacks.


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Friday, January 04, 2008

Dehaggification Project

Aw, d00dz, who went an' told my Mom abt Photoshop?

During Connie's visit w/Mom on New Year's Day, Connie was all, "When did it start, El?" When Mom asked Connie what she meant, Connie went, "Getting old." LOLOL on that, cuz I heard these women have been fretting abt "getting old" since approximately age 30. When did they ever enjoy NOT being old? NEway, Connie went on, all, "I mean, we noticed subtle things... a few lines, a few grey hairs, but the BIG changes seem to have come.... All of a sudden! Like, one minute U're an attractive woman--and the next, U're looking @ sum1 U hardly recognize! And there isn't an xxercise or a diet or a cream... There's nuthing U can do 2 make yrself look the way U FEEL!" Mom sed, "Yes there is, Connie. ....Photoshop."

And don't think she's kidding. Mom gave me one of those boot-sized shoe boxes, totally full of pix, and sed, "April, U have 2 scan these in2 yr computer and the Photoshop me 2 make me look yunger!" I was like, "Y wd U do that? Every1 who knows U can look @ U and look @ the pix and know they were altered." Mom sed, "Ppl back home in Vancouver, who haven't C'n me since high school, don't know what I look like now. The next time the alumni association puts 2gether an illustr8ed directory, I want them 2 have GOOD pictures of me!" I sed, "Mom, if U R so interested in Photoshop, mayB U can learn howta use it?" Mom was all, "Nonsense! I'm a bizzy retiree. What else do U have going on?" I sed, "In case U haven't noticed, I M taking hard courses @ school cuz I need them as pre-reqs 2 get in2 a pre-vet programme next yr. I have xxams starting up next month, and the new semester starts Monday. On top of that, I still work @ Lilliput's...." And Mom sed, "U can consider this a lesson in juggling yr schedule!" And she dumped the box in2 my lap.


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Thursday, January 03, 2008

We're making the rounds I guess

So, I told U abt my NYE, and also abt Mike's New Year's morning. Now I'm abt 2 tell U abt Mom on New Year's day. Stand by 2 find out what Liz an' Anthony and Gramps an' Iris were up 2 this past Tuesday.

Yeah, well, Mom. Mom was in the kitchen and I was in the next room, comparing my Traits of Dog Breeds book against Edgar and Dixie. No way Dix is a sheltie, yo! NEway, I heard the door opening, letting in a blast of air so forceful it looked like a puff with a tail. I heard Connie saying, "Elly, may I come in?" And Mom answering, "Sure, but I'm still in my pyjamas!" Connie was all, "Good! I just wanted 2 come over and wish U a happy 2008." Mom was like, "Coffee?" Cuz she can't have a convo w/sum1 w/out hot beverages. And Connie sed, "Mais, Oui!" And Mom was like, "Connie, must U speak French? I thought U got over this whole 'being French-Canadian' thing." J/K. She w8ed until Connie was gone 2 comment on that. Once Mom had made coffee, I heard Connie asking her what she did the night B4, and Mom answering, "Watched T.V. and fell asleep B4 midnite." Connie: "So did we." Mom was like, "My gosh, I have no makeup on, my hair's a mess, I look terrible!" Tho truth B told, she looked better than usual cuz her hair was down 4 a change. Connie sed, "Me 2!" Then, "Hey, we used 2 drink and party all nite in order 2 look like this!" LOLOLOL. Not. As if NE1 parties all nite cuz they wanna look bad the next day. They party all nite in spite of how they'll look [and feel] the next day. Duh.

So NE guesses as 2 who's next in the "how we spent New Year's" line-up? We'll prolly have two more days of these stories. I'm guessing Liz/Anthony 2morrow and Gramps/Iris [again!] Saturday. We mite get 2 skip over Gramps/Iris, cuz we talked abt them on Sunday, but U know how Sundays have this weird, separate thing 2 them.


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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Platitudes

Huh, so I guess we're already dun discussing my NYE. That was quick. I just got back fr. Toronto. Dunc and I ended up staying up all nite talking @ the Horny T's where we met, near Trinity College, where Zandra is letting him stay while she's w/her fam and he w8's 4 his flite back 2 Barbados tomorrow.

So, on New Year's Day, I'd managed 2 get a bit of post-party sleep and was making sum oatmeal 4 brekky, when Mike burst thru the door, all, "Happy New Life!" I'm like, "Bwuh?" Then he sed that when he and Dee were lying in bed [ew!] that morning, she'd been like, "Good morning, Michael." And he'd been all, "Good morning, Dee." He sed they wrapped their arms around each other, even though Dee's rite arm seemed disturbingly foreshortened, and Dee sed, "Happy New Year!" He replied, "Yes... It's going 2 B a happy new year." Dee actually asked him, "How do U know?" And of course he answered, "Um... I just feel it. U know.... Like sumthing feels rite, and good, and positive. I feel there's a lot 2 look 4ward 2." Dee sed, "Yeah!" Then she squeezed her hed against his and sed, "Then... MayB what we're saying is 'Happy New Life." And Mike sed, "MayB it is." Then after telling me all this, Mike sed, "April, isn't that GREAT? Isn't it so xxciting! And wonderful?" I was like, "If U say so. Do U have 2 shout?"

Mike gave me a smug look and sed, "Oh, my, does my formerly little sis have a HANGOVER?" I sed, "No, of course not. And quit yelling at me!" He sed, "Oh, this is priceless. W8 until I tell Dad, so he can torment U. He's gr8 @ that!" I sed, "I'm not hungover, I'm just tired. Leave me alone, wd U? And quit being so loud!" Then Mike sed, "Oh, I almost 4got what I came 4. Mom sez U can babysit 2nite! Dee and I need 2 celebr8 our new life!" I sed, "No, Mike, I need 48-hr notice, @ least. I have plans 2nite...." And he sed, "Yr friend Jeremy can help babysit, and do sum chores around the house, of course." I sed, "No, Mike, I'm going out w/a group of friends." He sed, "U were going 2 go out w/a group of friends. U know Mom has the ultimate rite 2 veto yr plans!" And I sed, "I can't w8 2 get outta Mboro!"

But as U know, I ended up in TO w/Duncan. Mua-ha-ha. I think they mighta gotten Francie Caine 2 babysit, or mayB Rosemary Mayes.

Hm, now I've gotta try an' remember who I'm d8ing. Ger or Jer.


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Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Happy New Year, ppl! Yay, it's 2008!

So, U know I went 2 Ger's NYE party last nite. When we rung in the New Year, Ger did that butt-hosting thing Patterson men and the men who d8 Patterson women like 2 do. As he did, we all yelled, "HAPPY NEW YEAR!!" Dunc was kinda spooning Eva while they were both standing, and Eva was holding up a mug of something and shouting, "Wooooo-Hoooo!" Luis yelled, "Make it a good one!" His girlfriend Rosario used a little megafone 2 shout "Peace!"

Then every1 went in2 silhouette and Ger started a slowdance w/me even tho the music was fast (as he alwayz does), and I sed, "I wonder where we'll B next New Year's Eve, Gerald." And he sed, "Let's not talk abt that." Then he ran over 2 the stereo, which was like six feet away, w/out letting go of me, but by stretching one arm like that guy Rex Reed in the Fantastic 4. As he did that, he was all, "Let's turn up the music and dance. --Let's just think abt now. I asked, "Why?" He retracted his arm, went back in2 slow dance 4mation, and sed, "B-cuz ... it's easier," kinda into my hairline.

R U confused? I mean, Ger an' I had broken up, rite? And I've been d8ing Jeremy. So did we just get back 2gether 4 NYE? So that we cd break up again? And Y R we acting as tho we R in our senior yr of HS when we R only in 3rd yr? Well, things mite b-come more clear as I tell the rest of this story over the next few days. Or mayB they'll B clear as mud. Either way, have a faboo new year, and get bizzy w/those NY rezzos!


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