a Tiny description

a full time artist, stepmother, radio personality, and mom to an energetic Chug dog, tries to get through the days without committing a felonious act. My life is a rickety Zen circus.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

a very long story

i'm waiting for both glue & paint to dry, so this isn't procrastination. i'm working on a piece called "She Tried." the interpretation will be up to you when you see it. but that got me thinking about all of the women i know that tried. and the different ways that "tried" can be interpreted. and the different things that were "tried." and if "tried" is an end-all, or a way of life, or simply one solution that failed/worked and will continue. and my thoughts kept coming back to the single most remarkable woman i have ever known. i will never know another person, male or female, who embodies the word "tried" more than Ursula. some would dismiss her as a cartoon. some would just dismiss her. but to spend enough time with her, the bits and pieces of her life will be revealed to you, and you will never be the same. ever. i first met Ursula when i was 6. we had moved to a suburb of Syracuse NY (Dewitt) to a brand new apartment complex. it was still being built. 20 buildings, 10-12 apts in each. THE place to live, if apartment living was where you were at. All Jewish. we secretly called it Hanukah Heights. mostly older people. And Ursula. she were not Jewish. and she sure was not old. Oh how entranced i was by her...she was beautiful...wore beautiful clothes - although all i can distinctly remember was her leopard print bikini, and her German accent was just thrilling! AND and! she had a poodle! no dogs were allowed in the complex, but Ursula had a POODLE! the complex was owned by a local family, who, it was alledged, had ties to another "Family." anyway, i would go knocking on her door after school everyday and beg to walk her dog. she always let me. (being the owner of an over-loved dog now, i cannot fathom how she let that happen). i remember the day i came home to fire engines and seeing the smoke pouring from her apartment. Suzette was dead. Ursula was seemingly broken. she had not been home when the fire broke out. and this is where i thought her story of a Phoenix-like life began. but it wasn't. Ursula was raised in Germany, and although not Jewish, was pretty, even as a very young girl. soldiers took a liking to her, and that's all i have to say about that. after falling off the back of a motorcycle, she was left for dead by the side of the rode - a discarded toy. but she rose. she found her way somehow to the States and started over. doing anything she could. at the point where i met her, she had a lot of "boyfriends," and also worked at a construction company. one of the boyfriends had a jealous woman in his life. a jealous unbalanced woman. who fire-bombed Ursula's apt and killed Suzette. soon after that, Ursula was in a car accident and totalled a car the company let her use. she was fired from the job. she sold cosmetics and whatever else she could. she got another poodle. she found a new job downtown. one night when she got into her car to drive home, a man was hiding in the back. he had recently pre-released himself from prison. he drove her to a cemetary and raped her at knifepoint. she had the presence of mind to tell him then that she would enjoy it more if she could be on top. as they switched, she turned his knife against him and ran, naked, to the nearest house. police were called and the man was caught. the end of her story? no. when i was married the first time, we moved to another suburb on the other side of Syracuse. the first day in our new townhouse, i was left with boxes and boxes to unpack, and painting to do and more boxes to unpack. and a knock comes at my door. i'm sweaty and crying and feeling very sorry for myself. i opened the door to an older woman, perfectly groomed, bright red lipstick, the shortest shorts, and a silver carafe of coffee. as the woman was trying to see around me to get a look at my stuff, and welcoming me to the neighborhood, her German accent exposed her:Ursula! could it be? yes - i could smell the Scotch. (did i mention Ursula was always well into her cups by 10 or 11am? but somehow got more done than most of us do when we're sober). i re-introduced myself. tears came to her eyes, and that only-Ursula cackle came from deep inside her..."oh my Gott! oh my Gott!" and yes, she was on poodle #4. (this one was nasty...biting anything and anyone that came within it's range). she was also on husband #2...a quiet, incredibly myoptic, geeky guy who probably wonders every day how he got so lucky. during the next ten years, Ursula would accidentally discover a pimple that turned out to be melanoma, a lump in her breast which required a mastectomy, a fall from a ladder as she was putting the star on top of a christmas tree, and then, as she was walking poodle #4, a truck speeding around a corner and hitting Freddy killing him instantly. i was walking Kita, and came around the same corner to find a woman screaming and hugging a tree as 2 men tried to pry her off it. i yelled at them to stop. as i neared, there was Ursula....still yelling gut wrenching "NO GOTT's" clinging to the tree for support, still holding a leash which ended under the truck. she refused to budge and i ran for help to our neghbor. we took her home and offered her tea, which earned us a raised eyebrow and a Look as she reached under the sink for her scotch. next they got a beagle. one night as i worked at 911, a call came to me...the woman in barely coherent english/german asking for an ambulance. i looked at the address on my screen - Ursula. her husband was having a stroke or an episode of vertigo. i listened to her heartbreak once again. soon after that, i remarried, and moved 10 minutes away. a year into it, as i walked Kita and Nikki down through the echo echo tunnel and through the beechwoods, i saw an older couple headed toward me. you have GOT TO BE KIDDING! Ursula! and her husband. she had not changed 1 iota...hair still perfectly set, red lipstick, daisy dukes, and these cool fold-up black sunglasses with rhinestones all over them. she must be at least 112. "you haf gotten older" she proclaimed. thanks. she had not. she was still cackling, still unsteady on her feet, still going. "whir do you lif?" she demanded. i knew for sure she would appear on my doorstep at any time of day if given this information. scotch in hand. she volunteered that they had to put charlie the beagle to sleep because he bit someone (no surprise) and the senior apts wouldn't let them have a dog that had a biting history. Ursula has been through more in her lifetime than i would want to face. any one of her vignettes (and there are many many more) would have pummeled and destroyed me. but she rises. she tries. she goes on. she's slowed down on the scotch - just one after dinner. or around dinner. she doesn't dance the cha-cha at the slightest suggestion anymore. but her spirit is still strong and bold...charming and taunting you to get up for gott's sake ...go on...rise...try. i have yet to determine if Ursula is indeed made of mortal flesh and bone, or if she has been sent to the earth for me...to inspire, to chide, to be a better me. (other people have indeed seen her, so it's not like THAT). i say that i would like to be more like her. but would i be willing to pay that hiway's toll? in honesty? no. but if i could just sit under her golddust and have some sprinkle on me...just enough for what i need... for what i face....now, that would be sufficient. and the memories....they would scold me into rising, going on...trying. L.

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