Bent Words

Bent Words

March 30, 2021

3/28/1983: My 4th Birthday

A fire started at the Jeffris Theatre in downtown Janesville caused extensive damage to the adjoining Monterey Hotel and claimed the life of one tenant. The hotel, owned by my father, required extensive repairs.

3/28/2021: My 42nd Birthday

A fire started at PVM in downtown Janesville caused extensive damage throughout the structure and claimed the life of one cat. My niece’s current residence across the hall from the lowlife that started the fire. My brother’s place of employment. My parental units’ livelihood.


Little black cloud, hanging lower and lower, suffocating like the black smoke emitted from a mother effing fire. And about as easily fleeting which is not very.

I know it’s not my fault. I wasn’t drugged out smoking in bed (especially not at 4) but it IS my birthday so I do have some possession over it. Plus my own history with my own flames of fury. It’s just so much.

So I go to the trouble of telling my new boss all of this (quickly explaining my history as though that’s a quick gulp of blue juice) because it’s Spring Break and my kids are home and I have the focus of a piece of Styrofoam because of all the fires and yet here is all this stupid important testing we have to do that no one really told me about until a week or two ago but I’m still supposed to drop everything and make it hot.

I don’t DO fast. I don’t LIKE speed. Motorcycles aren’t made for speed – they’re made for curves and open roads and Sundays and surveys and stopping. Anticipation station. See it before it’s a problem. Know what they don’t because you’re expecting stupidity.

So I spew because I saw it ahead of time. How I fail at fast. How I crumble at hurry up. How fires mess with my mind. But my recent history at work is all mistakes and wrong turns and fast finger fumbles at a costly degree. I don’t have an answer for that. I just know what I’m not.

I’m not whatever she is. I’m not single and without distraction. I’m not NOT needing this day to hit the treadmill harder than the day before. I’m not bored with a ten-minute lull – I’m laundry and lunch and drying dishes. I’m thinking about Easter crafts and spaghetti dinner and the next appointment for whomever needs a shot/wellness check/lobotomy. The dog keeps messing up my files which I crudely place on the floor so I don’t forget about them. I’m not early out on a Friday because Saturday doesn’t mean the weekend is nigh – it means I have more mouths to feed and wipe while struggling to find time to do whatever stupid little things I can at work.

It's not a pity party at all. It is what it is and I made it so it’s mine but if I don’t get pissed off once in awhile, cry a little bit or spew, I dissolve and I cannot dissolve completely because then I really WON’T be anything at all. The crummy wife, the sad mom, the eh employee, the inept everything. So if the world just needs a graying head to place its little cloud over, fine. Here I am. Keeper of the clouds.

But I also wouldn’t mind relinquishing my all star status of Fire Woman…

Smoke she is a rising.

I’d prefer it not to be quite so literal, for eff’s sake.

Written at 7:30 p.m.