The Pie Baker

Fresh from the Oven

The 5 Signs of an Idiot

While reading the following account, you will no doubt mutter to yourself, “What an idiot!” You won’t be the only ones with the opinion. I even said it to myself during the adventure, so I am aware of the idiocy that enveloped me. But here’s the good news: I survived.

On Christmas Eve, the Pie and I visited Mimi and Poppy for a Christmas celebration. During the festivities, the region was hit with an historic blizzard that made traveling quite dangerous. Mimi and Poppy both insisted that we spend the night in their warm, dry, and comfortable home, but I apparently had taken leave of my senses and decided to drive home. The first sign that it was a bad idea was when I found myself lying prostrate in their snowy driveway. The second sign was my inability to open the car doors. The snow and ice had frozen them closed, but in my ever resourceful manner, I removed my shoe and banged on the door casing to remove the ice. When I eventually accessed the car, I grabbed the scraper and began my exercise in futility. The snow was coming down so fast; it simply replaced what I removed in a matter of seconds. Once I got the Pie into her car seat, we were on our way.

The third sign that I was a moron arrived about 40 feet later, when I attempted to stop at a stop sign and simply sailed on through the intersection. Thankfully, there were no other dopes on the road, so we were OK. Less than a mile (and 10 minutes) later, I had to pull into a gas station and knock the accumulated ice from the wipers. Winds blew at close to 50 miles per hour and in the few minutes I was outside the car, I turned into a middle-aged Frosty the Snowmommy! The Pie asked if I was OK, and not wanting to alarm her, I said, “Sure!” We were off again at the sound shattering speed of 11 miles per hour.

The drive from Mimi and Poppy’s house is mostly dark highway with few retail or residential areas. I convinced myself that the darker the better, so there would be no glare off of the snow. That was the fourth sign. I discovered that in limited light, I was unable to see the tracks from previous traffic, so I wandered all over the road. At one point, I noticed a pair of headlights bearing down on me – I realized I was driving on the wrong side of the highway and was about to turn the Pie and myself into a tragic headline. Fortunately, I maneuvered the car back into the appropriate lane and into another gas station parking lot to again knock the ice from the wipers. Each time I left the car, the snow blew onto my head and instantly froze in my hair. It was not a pretty sight.

It occurred to me that I should follow an SUV for as long as I could. I waited until one passed me and pulled in behind it. I focused on the taillights of the vehicle in front of me, certain that they were going the same place I was headed. Nope. When the SUV turned off the highway, I no longer had guiding lights. So, I pulled over again, knocked the ice from the wipers and waited for another large vehicle. Personally, I thought this idea was truly inspired, and should negate at least one sign of my idiocy.

After about an hour of driving in the blowing snow, feeling disoriented, cold and frustrated, I pulled into an oasis: Quik Trip! During the by now old hat ice whacking, I somehow inspired the windshield wipers to stop working altogether. This meant that I had to drive about 4 more miles with no wipers. And so I did. That would be sign number five. Traveling at no more than 15 miles per hour at any given time, a trip that usually takes 15 – 20 minutes, took a total of one hour and 12 minutes.

The one good thing about the drive was that the Pie was asleep for almost all of it. It’s like she knew that I needed no distractions and so she just nodded off. She awoke just as I pulled into our driveway. I’ve said it before: she’s a smart girl!

We made it home safely, took warm showers, drank cocoa and ate popcorn while we watched TV. I was never so happy to be home, snowed in with my baby girl. And I was never so mad at myself for risking both our lives needlessly. I learned that I really should pay more attention to signs!

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December 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gotta Have a J-O-B

Starting a new job carries with it a number of emotions: anxiety, excitement, fear and frustration are foremost. Leaving what has become comfortable and familiar incites great anxiety – I think that applies to almost any life situation. There are things you leave behind at the old job – most notably, a little piece of yourself. For months to come, my former co-workers will see my name pop up in the computer system, just as I saw former employees’ names. New workers will wonder what happened to me, why I am no longer employed. Who will tell the true story in my stead?

I was excited to begin a new job with different people and environment. I was going to work for a stable, nationally recognized company and the money was just a little bit better. The drive time was significantly lessened and the job description was up my alley. Anything new creates some degree of excitement – just because of its newness. The problem is, it is eventually replaced with fear.

I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in with the other office staff. I feared that once I finally got to the office, the job wouldn’t be what I thought it was and that I had made a huge mistake. I was scared that the person who hired me decided that he had made an error and I would be without a job entirely! Eventually those fears subsided and were replaced with not a little bit of frustration.

When I arrived on my first day, there were “steps” that had to be taken to acquire a computer login, access to systems, establishing email, and other little logistic demons that took quite some time to line up. For the first week, I have done very little actual work and have been only minimally trained because of my lack of computer access. Sometimes the word “corporate” can sound like a curse. “Have to wait for corporate to handle that.” ARGH! I want to do my job. I want to learn to do my job. My enthusiasm may begin to wane if I am not able to get a handle on the tasks soon. I worry that I will get behind and spend the rest of my employment trying to catch up! Fortunately, I have a great office mate/co-worker who has shared all she can about procedures and I understand that I will begin training in earnest next week. Fingers crossed!

December 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Looking for a Family?

Strap on your boots, friends because this one is about to get pretty bumpy! I wish to share my musings on the newest ABC “reality” television show to really piss me off. If you have missed the alphabet channel’s latest installment of entertainment exploitation porn, then consider yourself one of the fortunate ones. I admit I was mildly curious when I saw the ads appear during my guilty pleasure Dancing with the Stars viewings, so I gave the sneak preview a little look-see. Color me horrified.

The premise of this treacle is to reunite biological children and parents who were separated because of adoption. Before I go any further, I need to clarify that I am a part of the adoption triad: as an infant, I was placed for adoption because my biological mother was just 16 years of age. And in the 60’s it was quite the blight on a family to have an unwed pregnant daughter. There are myriad reasons why women choose to place their unborn children for adoption and far be it from me to judge anyone for making the choice. I even considered it briefly when I learned I was pregnant with the Pie. So to me, the issue is not the irrelevant WHY a child is placed for adoption, but WHAT did the biological mother do with her life after giving birth? But I digress…

The show begins with a man whose teeth are far too big for his mouth explaining what the show is all about and showing off a remarkably cheesy “family tree” under which reunions will take place. He introduces the viewing audience to the victim…er, participant who has expressed a particular interest in locating a biological relative. Sappy music underlies the narration as we view photos of innocent youths who have no clue that someday they will pimp their personal business on national television. There is a thinly veiled suggestion in the show that every adopted child should feel compelled to find his or her biological parents, and that aforementioned parents should yearn to fill the void the adoption created in their lives.

We hear both sides of the story, music swells and each party tearfully runs toward the other beneath the tree. The emotional manipulation continues as they both sob “I love you” (to a total stranger, I might add…) and then everyone lives happily ever after. Right?

Umm…not so much. While I can certainly understand having questions, I never wanted to meet my biological mother. I was curious about what she became after school and what opportunities she had, but I never desired to show up on her doorstep one day and potentially ruin both our lives. Unfortunately, I eventually learned that she went on to have 4 more children and gave 3 of them up for adoption. Each child except the last one had different childhoods because the girl couldn’t seem to keep her legs together. The boy born after me is only 11 months younger. The youngest girl is 9 years younger than me. It seems to me that the egg-donor has some issues.

My parents supported the idea of searching for her if it was what I wanted, but I didn’t. When members of my biological gene pool came looking for me, it was not happily ever after; it was awkward and suffocating to face people who wanted desperately to be my family when I already had a right fine family, thank you very much. The only thing I ever wanted to tell the woman who gave birth to me was “Thank you.” And I did so clutching the hand of the woman who raised me – my mom. People speak of closure or completion when they meet their biological relatives, but to me, I experienced confusion and unease. I never felt comfortable in the years that followed our “reunion” and have since ceased contact with all of them. I know I have half-sisters and half-brothers out there, but I don’t feel like I am missing anything. If they do, then that’s their problem.

So for people who want to “find their families”, I suggest some wisdom from The Wizard of Oz: don’t look any further than your own back yard. I know where my family is and I always will. They’re in my heart where they belong.

December 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Remember the Time…

It is World AIDS Day and I am proudly wearing a red ribbon to show my support for finding a cure for the disease and in honor of friends I lost to its ravaging effects. This is the story of two of my friends who valiantly fought against the enemy and are gone but never forgotten.

The very first gay man I ever met was a student at the local beauty college and regularly did my mother’s hair. She talked me into seeing him for a haircut, but what I left with was a beautiful and sensitive friend. It was 1984 and I was fascinated by Jon. He was funny, artistic, attractive and mysterious. He was a bit older than I, so I looked up to him for advice and counsel – and to buy me booze. He lived in a funky little apartment that was dominated by a baby grand piano and featured little else but metal drink tumblers and pieces of his extraordinary art. One life-changing night, he and I sat with two other friends and shared laughs, bared our souls, wrote poems and shed tears.

I did not know until later that he had been diagnosed the HIV virus a few days before. He was the only one to know that our night together would be our last. It was his going away party… he was moving back to the Pacific Northwest where he grew up to seek treatment and eventually leave this world. It was my only chance to say good-bye. We managed to keep in touch through mail and phone calls here and there, but as he weakened, our correspondence waned. One evening in April of 1986, his partner called. He said that Jon had passed away on March 2 and it taken him nearly a month to garner the courage to call with the news. What the media was calling “The Gay Cancer” had stolen from me one of the most amazingly talented, keenly intelligent and smartly witty people I had ever known. A couple of weeks later, I received an audio recording of a song Jon wrote especially for me and I grieved…and finally found closure.

The summer after Jon’s death, I met a breathtakingly beautiful young man named Rob. He shared an apartment with a friend of a friend, but didn’t seem to fit into that teeming puzzle of guyness that permeated the place. He was tall and tan, blond and built. I was mesmerized by his ice blue eyes and beaming smile. He was the first of a long line of gay men that I would find myself in love with…and that’s another story entirely! Rob and I quickly bonded and found ourselves sharing more and more time together. He eventually shared his sexuality with me and introduced me to the man in his life…which brought me even more good friends. Rob brought nothing but goodness to my life in everything he did. We understood each other like we shared a brain and I loved him deeply. In an effort to spare me worry and concern, he chose not to reveal his HIV diagnosis to me. Over time, he didn’t really need to…when we visited, I could see the cloudiness behind his eyes, his body was changing and he was rapidly losing his hair. He complained of stomach aches, but had no explanation for them. When my mother died, he was not able to attend her funeral because he was too ill. I admit, I held a grudge.

But when Eddie called from the hospital in July of 1995, I let it go. Rob was fading fast and I needed to see him. I drove two hours to find him emaciated and unconscious. One machine removed the fluid from his lungs while another pumped oxygen into them. I asked if I could spend a few moments alone with him and I held his hand and told him he was the best friend a girl could ever have and that Heaven was certainly going to be a much better looking place with him in it. As the end neared, we gathered around his bedside, each one of us touching him gently. We cried, but we let him know that it was alright to let go – to release the pain and anxiety that plagued him. I sobbed as I watched him take his last breath, his eyes opening slowly as a reflex. Oddly, I saw not cloudiness as before, but a clarity I had never witnessed. He was finally at peace.

Take a moment today to remember those who lived with AIDS and died with dignity.

December 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment