Sunday, January 4, 2015

#IWSG (and ROW80) 1ST QUARTER 2015 - POST 2 – HACK JOB

Now that the Christmas trees have been dragged to the curb (or kerb for proper English spellers) and all the fireworks – well, mostly here on Nebraska Avenue, 33605 – are well and truly lit and exploded, although we shall be celebrating the beginning of 2015, well into March, unless that's the sound of AK-47s I hear in the distance, it's time to go back review some of the major craziness that once again, passes for just another day here in da 'hood.

I'm proud to say that THIS year, I didn't contribute to it for a change; at least, not in a way that caused anyone to bleed, or run screaming from the grocery store, although that one would-be mugger doesn't count and he had it coming to him, anyway. Alex still doesn't know what I did to him, and I'll never tell. It had to do with some of my more serious crazy ju-ju that I am able to summon at a whim, in a manner befitting Johnny Storm of Marvel's “Fantastic Four”; a sort of Flash-on, Flash-off thing that dowses itself when I'm no longer in harm's way, or like "woge-ing" if you're a Wesen in NBC's "Grimm". By that time, said wanna-be mugger was two blocks down the road.

courtesy: Grimm Wiki                                               

A fully-woged "Klaustreich", scars and all.

No, this past year just saw everything from the Sharpie Lady to my Fairy Opera Singer Neighbor, who truly cannot help herself. Sharpie Lady has a particular derangement, which lurks just below the surface of a cheerful countenance and it's difficult for me to really tell if she's delusional or just plain cheap. This is partly due to the fact that her English is worse than my Spanish, and she sells things out of her house, that are mostly junk with the most outrageous prices attached to them. Once, she showed me a bag full of children's beads, the kind that have both a male and female end, in different colors. You push them together and make bracelets and necklaces for kids out of these things. I played with them for about 5 minutes once. I was a crappy girl-child and was much more interested in blowing things up with my boy cousins.

These are about the most boring toys on earth, I think.

Anyway, she had these beads mixed in with a lot of junk and costume jewelry that wouldn't have looked good on a 2-dollar whore, which we have plenty of around here, and were probably the source of her collection. The Tampa Police Department have a habit of chasing the prostitutes north on Nebraska Avenue, past, say Hillsborough Avenue, or Fowler, and they'll stay up there for a while, until the local businesses complain, and then, the TPD, will run them south down past MLK, Junior. Boulevard. They'll migrate back down here, for 4 or 6 months. When I lived in the homeless shelter, there were three of us, who used to sit out back in the driveway in lawn chairs and watch the police run stings and take bets on which john would get popped. It was better than tee vee. The only thing better, were the Friday Night Fights in the mens' house. We bet on who would bleed and cry first; I could've taken them down. Good times, good times!

But, I digress. Sharpie Lady wanted like seventy-five dollars for this entire bag of junk and I thought, “No way. No one knows where it's been, and most of it's in a tangled ball of cheap metal, tears and regret. No thanks.” I didn't think all that poetic stuff; I just made that up. I'm trying with middling success here to be a writer and failing, because now, I'm just being self-aware. Gah!

I love Sharpie pens, I just don't think they're for drawing on your face, when sober.

So, on to my neighbor, who is really, well, different. She is beyond sweet and wouldn't hurt anyone, or take advantage of a soul. She herself on the other hand, has been damaged and taken badly advantage of in her much younger life and it harmed her brain and her body. She was brutally gang-raped and beaten horribly, and left for dead. She somehow managed to survive, crawl to a house, where she was given help. She really remembers nothing of her past life and pretty much lives in the here-and-now. She's about 64, and has been taken in and been cared for by Bernardo, our handy-man. He has watched over her for years. When he's off working, she somehow gravitated to me, originally, and she'll just come in the house, unannounced, now and then. She's always welcome.

She fancies herself an Opera singer, but has had no formal training, but she knows I am a professional musician; she hears me practice and she likes that. I make a HUGE fuss over her when she sings: “BRAVA! ENCORE!” and ask for another aria, even if I don't understand it. She's getting her sing out, and expressing herself and that's good. She's one of the several good, harmed souls that lives in this area. But, we all have a certain feyness, or oddity. I think because of my vision and my essential tremor, and now, lack of sensory perception, I “feel” things that may not be there - although, my mother always abjured me to try and keep at least one foot in this world. I've “seen” things in this old house for years, and not out of the corners of my eyes. I've completely lost my sense of smell, which was great this summer, when something or heaven forbid, someone died under the house. The police couldn't find anything, but I am told the smell was horrific. Thank God, I only had to hear about it.

Anyway, I digress once again; my Fairy Opera Princess showed up one day in my “computer lab” here in my house, recently to ask about ghosts. I was trying to type a string of code, that was being particularly stubborn, and then I looked at her, and. . . bear in mind, she's a tiny gnome of a woman; I myself am only 5' 4” tall, and she is probably 4' 7”. She has long, brown hair, streaked with some gray, as she is 64 years old. She was wearing some white dress, with a filmy, transparent, gauzy sheath over it, that was trimmed, like a feather boa. She had on a flamboyant hat with many colorful flowers, interwoven into the brim – she has many, many hats that she spiffs up this way and adds flowers and spangles and tinsel to, to brighten them up – and she was, of course, holding a fairy wand that she had made, a shiny metal, sparkly wand, that she had glued a pink, puffy ball to the end of it. Because, naturally, all Fairy Princesses should have Fairy Wands. I have one, too, but it's a different kind of Fairy Wand. It keeps me from falling into the street and on uneven sidewalk.


I don't remember if my Fairy Princess had wings; I don't believe she did. But, she did have a beautiful hat. She always, always has hats!

I looked at her for a moment very seriously and I totally Scoobied this and asked, “Are they the shouting kind, or the whispering kind?” She kind of chewed the inside of one cheek for a minute, thought and said, “The whispering kind, but there has been shouting. . . and that was the neighbor upstairs.” We both rolled our eyes, because we both knew who she meant. She does have some grasp on reality. I said, “Well, for the whispering kind, they tend to hang out more near the windows. What I would suggest is putting a dish with some table salt, if you don't have Sea or Kosher, down on the floor, by each window. Not a lot, just a little. That should do it. If that DOESN'T work, try putting dishes of water down by the windows. But, give the salt a try, and try it for a few days, okay?”

I was looking directly at her and she at me, as I said this. I took it as seriously as she asked it. She nodded her head, and said she would try it, and off she went. Sometimes, what people really want is just validation, that their existence has some kind of meaning to someone outside of themselves. She knows she has problems, she knows her man sometimes loses patience with her, but by and large, Bernardo is kind, kind, kind to her and she will come over sometime, just for a hug. Really, it's that simple. Anyway, her whispering ghosts have left for the nonce. They may return and bring friends, around here, who knows?

I have been carted out of here a few times in an ambulance (twice, I don't even remember; this was during my psychotic break of the famous “Let's Celebrate Mental Illness Month of March 2012”, of which there will be NO encores!) and twice for essential tremor-related heart things (prior to diagnosis and treatment) and she has come out and “sung me off” every time. Embarrassing, until you remember, that the EMT, Police and the Fire Department are all cheering her on. So, you have to love it, and her. Thankfully, since I began treatment in June of 2013, I am healthier and stronger every day. It just took 10 years of self-medicating, then searching, discarding, running up blind alleys, dealing with complete shits and morons before finally finding the very right doctors who completely understand what I'm about and it turns out, I'm not all that unique.

Anyway, there is a kind of mania that exists around here; witness the dude who thought his Hogwart's Cloak of Invisibility would keep the SWAT team from finding him two blocks south of me, a few months back. That wasn't a really special day around here. No more so than the drunk that James at Family Dollar and I played some kind of nightmare Tag (I'm it! Run!) with in the Parking Lot as the drunken fool first lunged for James than myself, as we attempted to keep him busy until the TPD arrived. It takes a special kinda drunk and stupid to run after a partially-sighted woman, with a cane and miss her every time he lunges at her. James and I had a good laugh over that. Another dumbass. Or maybe, he was the same dumbass who got tagged by the SWAT team a few days later, who knows. It's hard to keep up with the stupid around here, sometimes.

But, I myself am either STILL prone to the madness that prevails at the corner of Dumbass Boulevard and Batshit Insane Avenue, or my own brand of insanity has HARMONIZED with it. I hate split ends; hate 'em with a passion. I used to have a really good hairdresser that I could walk to, but she left over a year ago, and I have just kind of put up with the mess on my head, courtesy of lots of mousse, #8 super strength hair spray and clips. My hair grows pretty fast, and after the last round of medications and when I had my marathon stay in the hospital in 2010, I had completely whacked it off, so that it was very short. It had grown out again, and then I found this hair-stylist, who was very good. I could take 3 buses to “Fantastic Sam's” but that's such a pain in the ass for just a haircut. I tried the haircutter's across the street from my psychiatrist's office, but the Hondurans there, practically pulled every hair in my head out and I didn't like the way they cut my hair. It fell in steps and I thought it was horrible. 


Okay, so it didn't look THIS bad, but is was pretty awful; at least to me. Then, there were those darned split ends to consider. . . 

So, I took the desperate measure of consulting the innerwebz; a life-hack or a DIY. Being the careful sort that I am, when it comes to my hair, I grabbed the first thing that came up, when I Googled “cutting your own hair, DIY” and hastily skimmed the contents. I didn't have an “elastic band”, whatever that is, so I took some twine and doubled it over a few times, and made a knot in it, so I had a loop. I “dampened” my hair, per instructions, under my bathroom sink, but my head didn't really fit, so I kinda combed and brushed all the water through my hair, and then put the twine on it, and looked in the mirror. I looked like some kind of hellish gnome, gone wrong; red hat, rather than green, or a conehead, only minus the flesh.

Another quick skim of the DIY page: “sharp, barber shears, or scissors”. Rummage in junk drawer and find “scissors” part of that description, only “blunt-ended”, like for kids' paper scissors and Dollar-Store. Okay! Good to go.

There was something something about cutting “into” the mass, or lump of hair you had on the other side of the twine, but this was clearly not working. I think the correct term would be “sawing” and after 30 minutes of this, with the twin slipping and becoming uneven and sore wrists, I had one of the shittiest mullets that was ever seen in 1986. Unfortunately, this is 2014. The short part kind of ended somewhere around where my skull ended and where my vertebrae began and I was thinking of rummaging around in that junk drawer to see if maybe there was an ax in there somewhere , so that I could separate the two, but I decided to wait a few days. Three days later, I hacked off the longer 4 inches so that it doesn't look quite so mullet-y, and it will grow out, but I fear there is a gouge somewhere back there amongst all the curls. That's fine, because I do have curly hair and it hides a lot of sins; usually the venal kind. I'm afraid this is a mortal sin, but I still have my go-to mousse, #8 Suave Industrial Strength Hair Spray and Hair Clips in Black for those concerts that are coming up. Thank God my hair grows fast. Around here? I fit in; I look just like everyone else and that is fine with me! Happy New Year's!

My Goals this quarter and for this year are to stay sane and try to write more, just to get my writing "chops" back in shape. I fear I am in for a tough year, not for me physically, but emotionally, and I must stay creative and stay engaged to stay strong. Now, I sound like Lance Armstrong; ick. But you know what I mean. I am also coming up on 100k views of this here blog, which will be a milestone. I turn 60 at the end of 2015, which is another milestone, and I am going to begin planning my traveling itinerary for the next two years. It's time for me to put some mileage on these feet. 


Fundy Blue said...

Hi, VF! I'm visiting from the IWSG, and I enjoyed your lively post! It sounds like quite the neighborhood you live in. I fell like you've given voice to the voiceless. I love sharpies! It's those decades I spent teaching third grade! Happy writing ~ you have a great voice!

Viola Fury said...

Hello Fundy!

Thanks for the very kind words and thanks for visiting! I've lived here in dis here 'hood for a bit over four years now, and the voiceless are not only heard, they are kind. My Fairy Opera Princess took pity upon one of our homeless men and helped him, just yesterday. He was in some distress from his alcohol abuse (we don't pass judgment here) and as I was getting ready to call EMS, she had already done so, and waited with him and helped explain to them what he was feeling, as his English is poor, and her Spanish and English is quite good.

So, she truly is an "angel". When one of these situations arises, which they do with abysmal regularity here among people who have been dispossessed in some manner, we tend to work together. She's my neighbor, friend and yup, my Fair Opera Princess!

Again, thanks so much for your generous praise regarding my voice and I do so appreciate your visit!

Yvette Carol said...

Hi there VF, yes, I'm doing the rounds from IWSG too. Wow, what a story! Fascinating and then some. Keep up the good work. p.s. I'm glad you're not homeless anymore! :-)

Anonymous said...

All I can say is Wow! I admire your strength, gumption, and humor!

I'm thrilled that you have your own place and are no longer homeless.

I hope you will continue writing and posting for the IWSG. I'm still making my February rounds and noticed you haven't posted. I'm so glad I read this one.

It's so good to 'meet' you. Have a safe and blessed evening. Eva

Viola Fury said...


Hi! Thank you so much for the kind words and the visit! Sorry for the lateness of this reply; I've become involved playing in the Tampa Bay Symphony again, and been wayyy too lax in keeping up on my blog duties. Shame on me! It's a pleasure and thanks again for the visit; I must say, homelessness had it's humorous side, but I'm glad I have a place to call my own, too! VF

Viola Fury said...


Thanks! I am so sorry, I missed the February post and March as well! The fact that we only post once a month makes it iffy for me. I FINALLY got a wet/dry calendar, so I can PLAN my posts. I love the IWSG group and Alex has been super.

I've learned a lot about grace and humor in my nearly 60 years on this planet, and I figure that being homeless was just another phase. It had it's funny moments and it's very, very sad and tragic moments. For all of that, I have to say, I learned things I may not have learned had I not gone through that experience. I appreciate your comments and I wish you the best. I must come and visit you, as well! I will be doing the A-to-Z challenge and will be posting a "theme" post on March 23, 2015. Thank you again, lifepost! Life is good! Mary