Enjoy one of your favorite posts from the past until I return to entertain you!
And thank you for your loyal following.
This is Yearbook.
The class I am in charge of at Millikan High School.
They are a wild, spirited group and I love them dearly.
One day, excited by the fact that the school had finally turned off the internet filters and had left the viewing discretion up to the teachers, I offered the kids a chance to create a Photoshop flyer for my friend Steve Soto and his band Manic Hispanic, believing that I was giving my students a life experience that would be considered valuable.
Now, being that this is high school, it wasn’t as if everyone jumped up and down and raised their hands to participate but… they did however… begin googling the name Steve Soto and Manic Hispanic happy to finally be unfettered from their technological bonds.
“This is so bad ass, Ms. Wood,” one of my senior editors said. “We can go on Facebook. We can go on Google images. Now we can really get some great Yearbook work done.”
I had my doubts about this statement but they were so excited, so punch-drunk with their new found freedom, that I felt I was in no position to bring them down: that would be like waking up on Christmas morning and finding out that you had received zero presents and Santa had also shit in your stocking.
“Oh,” one of the kids said after looking Manic Hispanic up online, “They do some type of Mexican gangster thing right?”
Everyone looked at me waiting to see if it was okay for us to like a “Mexican gangster” thing in the classroom.
“Well, yeah..” I said. “But it’s like a parody. Can anyone tell me what a parody is?”
Ten hands jumped up.
If we were going to bend the rules a bit… I figured I better find a way to keep the California Content Standards firmly in place while we did it and cover my ass in case someone found our Yearbook curriculum to be lacking.
I listened as they all babbled on about parodies and then I told them what they were supposed to do.
“Steve told me he wants something like Blood In Blood Out for the flyer. Do you guys know what that is?”
But before I had a verbal answer to assure me that they knew exactly what Blood In Blood Out was, a Latino cult classic crime-drama film, I saw twenty little teenage hands hit the keyboards hard and type in the words: Blood In Blood Out and two seconds later, there was a deafening moment of complete and total silence before loud screeches began to echo across the tops of computer stations and fill the classroom.
“What?” I screamed from my desk. “What are you freaking out about?”
I stood up to look at the computer screens and found that each and everyone of them was inundated by photos, photos once highly banned at our school site, now prominently displayed, in full-color glory, on our classroom monitors.
“OH MY GOD!” I shouted as I rushed towards the computer stations.
It was horrific I tell you.
A teacher’s worst nightmare.
A total lack of control.
A total educational malfunction.
Who would have known that the words: Blood In and Blood Out would bring a flood of cancerous anal polyps up on each and every screen?
My students were screaming.
My students were gasping.
Some of them just sat there, so stunned by the visual assault on their senses, that they just stared, mouths agape, at what they were viewing and all I could think was Jesus Christ how the fuck am I going to explain this one?
I knew what I had to do.
I stood tall and put on my teacher voice and said firmly, “Stop what you are doing and take your hands away from the computers.”
Everyone pulled their hands back as we continued to stare… mesmerized by the anal polyps… unable to look away.
“That is so weird,” one of the editors finally said followed by, “Can we Instagram them to someone Ms. Wood?”
Oh my God… NO… I thought to myself but out loud, I knew that if I didn’t act cool about this, they were going to pull out their iphones and start clicking because… that is exactly what teenagers do… when they smell fear in their teacher.
So I pulled out my iphone, snapped a photo of the anal polyps and made a big deal about how funny it was going to be for all of us to send it to my friend Sharla Bafia who was a “real goody two-shoes” and would totally freak out.
They all loved being in on the joke so they sat giggling softly, as if she could hear us, as we waited for Sharla’s response, which of course was almost instantaneous and read: “WHAT THE FUCK DUDE?”
We all had a good chuckle as we shut the images of anal polyps down and tried to strike them permanently from our memory.
I kept my game face on but inside… I was beyond relieved that I got out of that situation without it turning into a total clusterfuck.
“Okay,” I said calmly. “Let’s try this again. But this time, please type in the words: Movie Blood In and Blood Out.”
Everyone did as I asked, with only a sly devious smile or giggle here or there, which I shut down immediately with my most vicious teacher stare.
How’s it going? Steve texted right then.
I didn’t want him concerned about the anal polyp incident, he needed this flyer posted within the next hour, so I just replied: Great!… and went back to watching the students.
And for about twenty minutes, everything was totally calm as they pulled film images off the internet, and all vied to created the best band flyer for my friend until someone shouted out, “What should we use for a background?”
I was typing away on my own computer, not really paying attention to what they were up to once things calmed down, and so I shouted out absentmindedly, “I don’t know… black and gold sounds good right?”
And I heard once again twenty little hands go to type words… this time… black and gold… into the computer… and once again there was a moment of complete silence followed by a series of sharp screams, which this time, was punctuated by a few solidly loud, OH MY GODS!
I jumped, startled, and saw on each screen a large black man, walking two naked white women who were chained and completely covered in gold dust.
“OH JESUS FUCK!” I screeched without thinking.
Each head turned.
Each mouth dropped.
Suddenly, the focus was directly on me.
“You said fuck,” one of the editors whispered.. shocked by the unfiltered internet but stunned by Ms. Wood loosing her cool.
“You said Jesus and fuck in the same sentence,” someone else said in a mocking tone.
“God damn it,” I shouted. “Everyone shut down Google image RIGHT NOW!”
They didn’t move.
“I said RIGHT NOW!” I screamed as I pointed my finger at them and stomped my little feet.
Not one student disobeyed.
Everyone shut off Google image and sat quietly.
Really… what was there to say after what we had all witnessed in the last thirty minutes of class?
I wasn’t even sure how to proceed with the entire situation.
I was firmly in the camp of open internet filters in our high school community but obviously… I hadn’t thought it entirely through.
“Liz,” I said to one of my senior editors. “Make the flyer for Steve. Everyone else. Go on Facebook and just relax for a few minutes.”
Facebook: the crack cocaine of the high school world.
Suddenly, caught up in their social networking addiction, the incidents of the class faded into the background.
I went back to my desk knowing that Liz, responsible and capable, would knock that flyer out in minutes and if once again assaulted with anal polyps or black men with naked gold women, would just shut it out of her mind and continue to get her work done: There was a reason she was the number one editor and had a A+ in Yearbook.
She was an educational bad ass.
Once again I settled down… I prayed to St. Jude, Patron Saint of Lost Causes, and hoped that I wouldn’t have twenty parent phone calls by the end of the day.
And that was when my computer was taken over remotely… by our staff computer administrator: Mr. Rios… who had obviously been trolling for “inappropriate content” the first day of our unfiltered technology school existence.
Having fun with those unfiltered computers in there Ms. Wood? The message read.
I leaned my elbows on my desk and covered my face with my hands.
I had no response.
The jig was up.
He had witnessed everything from his secret post.
I wanted to type back: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
Or just the numbers: 1984.
But instead, I just sat there… eyes covered… mentally taxed… and listened to the happy click of my students fingers in the background as they blissfully went on with their Facebook instant messaging… until I heard another beep to let me know he had messaged me again:
Okay, it said. Being that I’m Latino I get the whole Blood In Blood Out mishap and obviously… they are enjoying the whole Facebook freedom right now but… how did you guys end up with the black man and the naked chained women covered in gold dust?
And right then my phone went off.
It was Steve of course asking about the flyer: Is it done yet? he asked innocently but already worked up from the entire event, caused by my need to please my friend, make my kids feel like big shots by having them create a hip band flyer, and show how totally cool Ms. Wood was in her “alter band world” I so wanted to respond from my flawed shadow self and text in all caps: SHUT THE FUCK UP STEVE SOTO! YOU’LL GET YOUR GOD DAMN FLYER WHEN YOU GET IT!”
But instead… I wrote… Almost done… and covered my eyes again with my hands… hoping that it would all just go away.
There was another “beep” signaling once again a new message from my computer administrator.
Well Ms. Wood? It said.
I had to concede.
And I hated to concede but in this case…. I had to admit that I might be wrong.
I’m rethinking my whole opposition to the internet filters, I typed.
You bet your @ss you are! He wrote back and then unlocked my screen and let me get back to work.
“Done,” Liz said from her station and I walked over to find that she had made a fantastic flyer for my friend.
“That looks great,” I said.
“You sure you wouldn’t like me to add an anal polyp or a black man with chained naked women covered in gold dust?” she asked.
I gave her the evil eye.
“Obviously not,” she said sarcastically. “So who am I sending this to?”
Five minutes later, Steve had his flyer and was posting it on Facebook, the bell rang and the kids left, and it seemed that maybe they were not permanently scarred after all… And I sat down for a moment to calm my mind and let go of the atrocities of the last hour, praying to God that I would never see an anal polyp, a black man with naked chained white women covered in gold dust, or a message from my computer administrator, in my classroom, ever, EVER again.
This is Rupert.
Rupert is my new pet.
A mini-pot belly pig given to us by a couple who realized they had made a seriously poor impulse purchase.
They had a backyard entirely of cement.
A front yard with no fence.
Both had full-time jobs and so leaving the little three-month old piggy man in the house all day while they were gone was a recipe for disaster.
Rupert is (and this is an understatement) a handful.
But… we were willing to take him from his owners. We had a houseful of pets and I had been hoping to get a pig or a pygmy goat to be friends with my chicken Matilda, for quite awhile and so… within the first week of taking Rupert… I believed I had made the perfect choice: Matilda loved him.
They wandered around the front yard together; Rupert rooting around in the grass making big dirt holes with his snout. Matilda by his side eating all of the worms that he uncovered… a bit like a gang-of-two and we began to call them by their aliases… Ham and Eggs.
They were inseparable.
But then… the trouble began.
Rupert became comfortable with his new environment and his Prima donna personality began to shine through.
He didn’t like to be touched when outside in fact, he squealed and jumped back each time one of us approached him.
But at night, when he came in for dinner, and to go to bed on his furry little leopard skin blanket on the cool tile floor of the bathroom, he flipped over on his side expecting a full body massage as he smiled, yawned, smacked his little piggy lips, and stretched his little cloven-hoofed legs out in front of him and batted his long piggy eyelashes.
He was adorable… but of course… he seemed to believe that he was completely entitled.
By week two, we realized there was trouble on the horizon.
The front yard had giant patches of grass entirely removed… Matilda’s chicken feed had to be hidden from him or like the pig that he was… he would gobble it all down without a second piggy thought and… being that he is a very smart little man… he seemed to know exactly when the clock struck 6:30pm and so… he would rush to the front door, squeal and bang on it repeatedly until we let him in for dinner and bed.
The sound was terrifying.
Charlotte, our youngest, actually heard his commotion and her eyes grew big as she said, “My God! It sounds like you have a Changeling at the door!”
A White Walker
A Pig Nightmare.
Or as my good friend Warren liked to call him: a Purely Evil Pig wrapped in Cuteness.
Now… of course my children loved to post photos like this on Instagram:
Fooling you into a false sense of pig security as you say to yourself, “Awwwwwwwwww. How sweet! That Rupert is just the cutest little thing! D.D. must be exaggerating in this story.”
But I tell you, he is the devil.
The other night, I wouldn’t let him in a half-an-hour early for dinner and as I stood in the laundry room, getting ready to turn on the dryer, I heard a loud crashing sound from the front yard.
Afraid that something serious had happened, I rushed to the front door, opened it, and there I saw Rupert, his little piggy legs spread apart in a stance of defiance, his snout held high, one of my prized ceramic gnomes now decapitated and lying severed; body on one side… head on the other… across the front walkway.
“Rupert?” I asked. “Did you do that?”
He wiggled his little piggy nose, pushed the decapitated head with his snout, and let out a loud snort as if to say, “FUCK YES I DID IT! And guess what? There’s more where THAT came from lady!”
I stared at him… he glared back.
I was shocked at the little bastard he had become… and just as I was about to punish him for his behavior by closing the front door and making him wait and extra hour for dinner, Ringo, aka Bastard Number Two, our male teacup chihuahua, ran outside, lifted his leg and peed inside the broken innards of my gnome’s head.
I watched as Ringo’s urine puddled inside of my gnome’s little broken red cap… dumbfounded for just a moment… before I became enraged that these assholes were actually biting the hand that feeds them.
“THAT’s IT!” I shouted. “You fuckers get the fuck away from my gnome!”
Rupert ran for the bushes.
Ringo ran for the house.
As Matilda watched from a distance, her head cocked slightly to the side, amused to see her little toadies torment and mock me.
“Keep it up,” I said. “You’ll be chicken dinner, he’ll be Christmas ham,” and here I turned to shout inside of the house, “And you Ringo will have your balls chopped off.”
There was complete silence.
No one moved.
I reached for my broken gnome, dumped the pee from his cap and placed his bisected remains into a large flower pot.
I turned on my heel and went inside to sulk in the quiet of my office but not ten minutes later… piggy brat Rupert was squealing at the front door.
“Mother fucker,” I yelled, which didn’t stop Rupert from squealing but did cause my mother to mute Two and a Half Men long enough to shout, “God, the mouth on you!”
Too worked up to even yell at the “Old” I opened the front door and watched as Rupert passed me without another sound and made a B-line to the bathroom where he expected to find his dinner in his bowl.
When he saw that it was empty, he kicked over his water dish and stomped his little feet and THAT… was IT!
I had HAD it!
I smacked his fat little pig butt, and he didn’t even care, he just threw his weight into it and then turned around and screamed at me.
I physically turned him around the other way, as he wailed bloody murder and pushed against me… but I wouldn’t have it… I made the little bastard go to his piggy bed.
“NO!” I shouted. “NO RUPERT!”
He refused to turn around then.
He faced the wall and stood there.. defiantly… ass to my face… refusing to listen.
“Do you understand I won’t tolerate this behavior?”
He begrudgingly swished his tail once, just like a spoiled child who realizes that he has lost the battle but that the war isn’t over yet, and he understood.
I swear I could hear him chanting in his little piggy mind, I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.
I closed the bathroom door and went to get his dinner.
By the time I came back… he was rooting about, fluffing his blanket, as if nothing ever happened.
The little shit.
I reached down and fed him, then watched as he licked the bowl clean before flopping over on his side, tired and world-weary from his little tantrum, ready for his full body massage… as if we had made up… and all that transpired was now: water under the bridge.
“Are you serious?” I asked.
I sighed as I sat down on the toilet and rubbed the little man down.
It was no different than dealing with a tired toddler.
He stretched and yawned and I resigned myself to my fate.
In the morning we would try again.
In the morning we would find a way to make this right.
In the morning, I would go to Jack-in-the-Box and eat a Breakfast Jack with ham and in that way… extract my revenge on Rupert.
Yes my little man.. that’s right…. a BREAKFAST JACK WITH HAM.
My little piggy demon.
I am new to the world of cycling.
In fact, I have only been on my bike a couple of times.
But, it seems that most of the musician men friends I know, are all about riding bicycles these days: R. Scott, Darryl Mitchell, Mike Martt, Johnny Minguez, Steve Houston and Warren Renfrow, all former or current members of well-know bands, participate in cycling and though I haven’t seen them all in action yet… I have noted an alarming number of them wearing tight little spandex pants and helmets with strange points on the back.
Now, these are not men who look like the men from the Tour de France… who look like they should be wearing spandex swag… these are big burly tattooed men… blue collared Blutos… rough and tough … and to see them sporting their delicate little panties and day-glow race helmets is frankly… a bit disconcerting.
But having grown up with brothers and raised in a houseful of an endless parade of boys during the 1970’s… where I longed to be the girl version of Evil Knievel… in on all of their ramp jumping fiascos… I find myself drawn to ride with them… ride fast….. and really… if I’m truly to be honest… kick their fucking asses all over the bike trail.
It’s a competitive thing… a feminist thing… but I honestly never planned to get the Seal Beach Police Department involved in my Battle of the Sexes “vendetta.”
It was early Sunday morning when I met up on the bike path with Warren Renfrow and almost fell off my 10-speed with joy once I realized that I might actually have a friend to ride with; Stephen my man, unwilling to delve into the world of hot spandex… more comfortable on his Schwinn cruiser then a Bianchi 10-speed… and always looking for a chance to work on his 64 convertible Valiant, unfettered by my constant interruptions.
Warren had been riding for awhile and since it was my first time out, I was a bit trepidatious about the thinness of the tire… the downward position of the bars… the speed which I hit each downhill drop… as I followed behind him from El Dorado Park past the Power Plants. But by the time I was nearing Seal Beach, I was out in front, moving at a good solid pace and ready to ride farther.
Now, maybe he was just being nice and cutting me some slack… but I don’t think so: I was really getting the hang of it.
By the time we hit the beginning of Bolsa Chica I was hooked.
I was about to ride on when Warren shouted out, “D.D. come back!”
I pressed my hand breaks and turned around.
“What?” I said all sassy.
“You still have to ride home,” he said. “This was a good first trek for you but, I don’t think you should push it.”
He’s lucky he didn’t lose an eye saying that to me.
I’m sure he was just being a good riding partner… concerned that I would be able to make the trip home… but all I heard in my demented mind was:
You’re a girl.
You can’t ride that far.
You weak-ass idiot.
You better go home now and leave the long ride to the big boys.
“Fine,” I said and took off at a fast pace as I cut back through the Sunset Beach housing.
Warren could have given a shit.
He lumbered about… totally ignoring me as he drank off of his stupid plastic sippy cup bottle that all of those bike guys have.
I stormed ahead: my chucks pushing hard on the pedals…. my Ramones shirt blowing in the breeze…. my big bun of hair bobbing up and down blissfully helmet free: I felt like a rebel.
He caught up to me at the red light off of Anderson, right next to Turc’s, and he was still in a nice glide when the light turned green. He gave me a smug nod and took off like a bat out of hell.
I was FURIOUS.
I started back from a total stop, downshifted and raced to catch up to him.
By the time I hit the first hill’s rise on PCH… in the Naval Weapons Station Wetlands… I had him.
I was beyond stoked.
I was gonna make him pay.
I couldn’t wait to be the rookie that pushed past the “Big Man” and road him into the ground.
And this is when I made the worst rookie move I could have ever made.
If there had been a video feed of this moment… cyclists everywhere would have thrown their arms up in exasperation, slapped their foreheads stunned and dismayed, and then turned to laugh at me with all of their little cycling friends.
I thought that the best way to conquer the hill was to shift into high gear and hit the pedals hard but my momentum slowed to almost a dead stop and by the time I adjusted my gears and looked up again, Warren was at the top of the second hill, drinking out of his stupid ass little sissy cup again, legs splayed wide, riding as if he was an old man on a Sunday joy ride through the park, casually enjoying the wetlands, his demeanor.. pleased with the fact that he left me, the idiot, behind, without a second thought.
I was sure at that moment… that my head was actually going to explode.
I leaned forward, clenched my teeth and started barreling up the second hill.
Warren was almost across Seal Beach Boulevard when I came flying down towards him at an impressive pace.
I broke into a wide grin.
I saw him stop on the other side of Seal and wait at the curb for me.
Fuck that shit, I whispered to myself, You’re going down Mr. Crane Operator Man.
I pedaled harder.
I pedaled faster.
I didn’t give a shit that I had the red light.
I didn’t care that cars were driving through the intersection in front of me.
I would die beating Warren Renfrow’s ass.
I held fast to my grips, leaned forward aggressively and steeled myself to run the intersection.
I watched as Warren’s eyes suddenly grew large.
I ignored him as I zig-zagged between moving cars and stopped pedaling as if I had just won a lengthy race, knowing that my advanced momentum would carry me through the finish line, in front of him, and that’s… when I saw the cop: About half way down Seal Beach Boulevard, moving at a good clip between the police station and PCH.
I couldn’t see his eyes through the windshield, but I heard the cruiser accelerate and knew someone inside was ready to give a big ticket and hungry for a chase.
I hit the pedals hard again, and blew past Warren like a rocket.
I was off PCH and turning down the alley behind 17th Street to hide in the neighborhood when I heard Warren yell, “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?”
And then the police car skidded around the corner after me.
I was almost out of view from the main drag when I saw the cop race down Seventeenth hoping to catch me coming out the other side.
I hit the breaks, flipped the handle bars to the right and stopped in a hard skid.
A quick backpedal and I was back racing towards Warren at top speed.
“GO!” I shouted as I rushed past him. “GO!” I screamed as I blasted on by and rode hard towards 12th Street where I turned right into the neighborhood behind the Pavilions and followed, my head low, hidden behind the concrete wall, until I cut through the back parking lot of the Chase bank on Bolsa and pedaled the last one hundred yards of PCH to the bike path at a furious pace, only allowing my legs to slow as I cut the gate by the stone remains of the legendary Marina Palace and caught my breath; chubby tired and worn as I coasted down the bike trail towards home.
Warren raced up behind me.
“Jesus!” He shouted. “Sonny warned me about you. You fucking Grishams are crazy!”
I pictured Big Sonny’s face, our mutual friend, his dark glasses, greaser vato, long bushy gray goatee, shaking his head in disgust as he said to Warren, “Just remember one thing bro… she’s a Grisham” and my face flushed.
I could just imagine him cackling, crowing actually, about being right.
I road on in silence… part of me… glad to keep our family reputation for insanity alive… part of me sad that I probably would never be riding bikes with Warren Renfrow again.
We made it home, and Warren took a moment to stop and talk with my man about cars, and music, and whatever else.
I straddled my bike from a distance, an outsider, just an ear shot away from their conversation, when I heard something about me and the cops.
“I heard that!” I shouted.
They both turned and looked at me.
“Obviously you didn’t,” Stephen laughed, Warren joining him.
So I climbed on my bike, made my best pouty face and rode off, leaving the two of them deep in conversation, most likely about what a total jackass I was.
The next day, I decided I better call Sonny and come clean about my antics before Warren got a chance to tell him.
“I told him you were fucking crazy!” Sonny said. “All you mother fucking Grishams are!”
I felt deflated… ready to give in and concede defeat when Sonny added, “Hey… hey….”
“Yeah,” I said quietly.
“I’m really proud of you. I like that you still know how to get away from the fucking cops.”
And then he hung up.
But I didn’t mind.
In Sonny’s eyes I was still the winner of the race that day.
And that… was enough… for me.