Closed Door

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Part 20

Dear Diary, 

Yesterday was a hard day; lots of memories, the good overshadowed by the bad no matter how I tried to spin it.  I had the old nightmare again last night … I heard crying and crying and crying.  Then I was crying which woke up Feena and she started crying.  Then the sky opened up and it was like the angels were crying. 

Today hasn’t been much better and I’m exhausted but too wired up to sleep yet.  I hope writing it out will give me some sense of what direction I need to take in the coming days.   

I woke up this morning with an awful headache and I craved coffee but too late discovered that I’d run out.  I looked around the house and realized there were a lot of things I was almost out of if I wanted to keep canning and drying stuff.  I also needed to go by the feed store and pick up a few things for the zoo. 

It has been a while since I went to the store.  What I can’t get at the flea market or scratch and dent discount shop I usually buy in bulk and then just use it up and don’t go again until I’m almost out.  I made a list and then got Feena ready for a day of shopping; something that was not a favorite activity for either one of us.  I’ve discovered taking a baby anywhere is like going on safari. 

I had noticed that the flea market food stands and the scratch and dent store shelves were getting a little lean but they do from time to time and then they fill back up.  I never realized the same thing was happening at the regular grocery stores.  And the prices were out-freaking-rageous.  They were so bad all I did was buy a case of Feena’s formula and I almost didn’t get that except I keep the letter from her pediatrician in my purse saying that it is the only formula she can have.  The pharmacist was able to write it out. 

“What’s going on?” 

“Shortages and restrictions,” the lab coated woman explained. 

“On baby formula?  Seriously?!” 

She looked around and then wrote something on a piece of paper and stuck in it a bag with the liquid vitamin drops that I added to the formula.  I was escorted out to the car and told that I should put the formula in the trunk and cover it up so no one could see it, that the store had been told to ration all formula to two cans at a time and that EBT  and WIC card holders had first dibs.  That when I got home I should wait until no one was looking to take the formula into the house and once I got it inside I should lock it up and not tell anyone how much I had. 

The note from the pharmacist was instructions to go to a local clinic and to show them my letter from Feena’s doctor and to take all the formula they offered me and to not let my supply of the formula go down if I could help it.  I drove away in total shock thinking is this the USSR or what.   

I stopped at the gas station and got another shock.  They were limiting fuel purchases to forty dollars per vehicle and at the price per gallon that wasn’t much.  I went in the store to pay because the at-the-pump system seemed to be down.  It wasn’t down, it was off.  They were making everyone come in so that no one could cheat and get more gas than they were supposed to.  The system was rigged to deny any credit card sales if someone had already used that card that day for gas anywhere in the country.    

It was like the place was on simmer – there was even an armed security guard stationed by the register – and I was more than grateful to get Feena and I out of there.  I was happier than ever that Cal had brought several drums out and put them in a partially-buried concrete shed that he’d built in the middle of a palmetto thicket.  Two drums were filled with the special marine fuel that was now mandated by the state that he had to run in his boat and the others were regular vehicle fuel that he’d treated with something so it wouldn’t go all icky and useless.  I thought it was a little strange at the time but Cal told me to think of it like it was an investment.  Buy low, sell high … he saves the extra cost per gallon by buying the fuel when it is less expensive.   

I know it is his fuel but he’s already told me if I need it use it, just replace it when I could, that it needed to be rotated occasionally anyway.  I don’t think so, I’m no charity case.  I’m going to start filling up with gas every day that I can and coming home and emptying the car tank into gas cans with one of that hose thingie that is in my roadside emergency kit in the car trunk.  If I visit several gas stations in the same day and pay with cash I hope I’ll be able to build up a surplus. 

With all of that running through my mind I decided to pull off into a city park, feed and change Feena and try and strategize.  I had thought to grab a bite to eat for myself but a lot of the food trucks that I would have normally chosen from were nowhere to be seen.  After getting a fix on the shortest route possible that maximized the number of stops I could make I headed back out. 

First I hit the big box club.  There was rationing going on there too so while I was forced to pick up fewer of some items, I picked up more overall as I bought into the if-it-is-rationed-then-it-is-valuable mindset.  Diapers.  How can they possibly ration diapers?  I am so screwed.  I didn’t do any fresh or frozen stuff but I’m going to go back tomorrow and get a bunch of bags of frozen vegetables and dry them on Momma’s dehydrator that I got out of storage when Daniel and I got married. 

I bought as much canned milk and dried milk as I had cash for.  Thank goodness the checks had just hit at the bank and I withdrew enough to last me for the month … well, it is almost all gone already so it is back to the bank tomorrow.  I picked up several large boxes of baby cereals.  I’m not worried about baby food, not eating the store-bought stuff never hurt me any and Daddy always bragged that Momma saved the family a ton of money.  Daddy was always bragging on Momma’s memory like that.  I figured if it didn’t hurt me then it won’t hurt Feena to be fed the same way.  At least I won’t have to worry about chemicals and preservatives and stuff in her food. 

I picked up a lot of toilet paper, diaper wipes, and paper towels.  When I got to the head of the check out line a guy with a clip board came by and said he was taking a survey for the store and I’d get a free slice of pizza and a drink from the deli if I would participate.  I was too hungry to turn it down but in hindsight I kinda wonder if I should have.  He asked me about my shopping experience, would I shop there again, about the store’s cleanliness and if the staff had been helpful, and then out of the blue asked me if my baby enjoyed all of the baby products I was buying. 

Alarm bells went off and I gave what I hoped looked like a professional smile before telling him, “Are you kidding?  This isn’t all for my kid.  As part of the tuition the daycare is asking us to bring in supplies for the center.  I’d never go through all of this stuff on my own, it isn’t even the brand I normally use.” 

I’d heard a news story on that kind of thing just last week.  It bothered me at the time, nearly as much as realizing I could lie like a trooper when I had to, lie well enough that the guy in front of me bought it hook, line, and sinker. 

I got out of there as quick as I could – but not without my pizza and drink – and then stopped by the library to use the internet.  I have a smart phone with internet access but the screen is so small that surfing the web is really hard.   Printing stuff is impossible because I don't have a printer that has that feature so I have to make notes long hand … thank goodness I was smart enough to take short hand in highschool even though everyone thinks it is an archaic and unnecessary skill these days.  It sure has come in handy more than a few times. 

I noticed there were a lot of blocked sites; especially news sites, blogs, and vlogs.  It made surfing more time consuming than I had thought it would take and I was an hour longer at the library than I had meant to be.  At least I didn’t have to compete with a lot of other people for computer station.  It was the middle of the day and the kids weren’t out of school yet. 

Before I left I hit the Friends of the Library bookstore.  I couldn’t believe the books they were practically giving away.  There were a lot of the junky books they had a million copies of like those bodice ripper romances but there were also a lot of Mr. Fix-It type volumes and gardening books.  I also came away with some old recipe and craft books that reminded me of some of the books that used to sit on the shelf in Papa’s study.  I don’t know what happened to all of those books, the only ones that didn’t disappear at the probate auction were Papa’s and Daddy’s leather bound biblical commentaries and the family’s handwritten journals, but those had gotten put in a cedar chest and not on the shelves which is why they were probably missed. 

I got one bag of paper backs for a dollar … the whole bag.  Then I got two big paper grocery bags of hard back books for five dollars per bag.  Cool beans.  Not that it was easy getting it out to and then into my little car with Feena strapped to my chest like a time bomb.  Not a single person even offered to open the door for me.  People are getting really rude and surly.  It’s depressing. 

My last stop today was at the carneceria Papa always liked to shop at so I could place an order that I’ll pick up tomorrow.  They still remember Papa and my parents which is nice but freaky.  After being away for so long it is really strange to have someone talk about all the spots you had as a kid or some of the strange ways I used to have because I was raised in a house of older people.  Daddy and Momma were in their forties when I was born … but they never called me a surprise, just a blessing and when my brother died while out fishing with some friends they lavished enough affection on me for two kids.   

Between Daddy and Momma and Papa it was like having three parents.  I remember Abuela but only a little.  She had a massive stroke when I was small and after only three months had another one that sent her to Heaven.  My only other relatives are a great aunt and uncle that live in New Jersey.  They’re … different.  Papa and his brother got along much better so long as they kept hundreds of miles between them but after he died and I was alone they still offered to have me come live with them.  The probate auction was their idea, I was too shook up at the time to understand all the consequences but now I look around the house and see empty spaces where different things had sat or hung for generations and know they’ll never come back.  I still exchange cards with them at the holidays.  They kind of know what happened with Daniel but not really, they’re old and frail and the few times I’ve talked to them on the phone in the last year they keep getting me mixed up with my mother and Feena with me.  I suppose I don’t think of them as much as I should, they are family after all and had been willing to give me a home, but maybe they are happier in their slow dementia that holds the troubles of the real world at bay. 

Wish I could experience that a little bit.  Or maybe not.  I have Feena to think about.  I need to stay on my toes. 

Daddy and Papa used to be completely religious about watching the news and even reading it on the computer.  I think I had one of the few grandfathers that was more on the ball with technology than a lot of the fathers of my friends in school.  After they died I just didn’t see the point in trying to do it … especially since none of the foster homes I was in exactly made that easy.  They didn’t want us watching anything that upset us … but they didn’t seem to mind that the kids all played mindless and violent video games for hours on end.  Hey, I’m just telling it like I experienced it; I didn’t say it made any sense. 

Then when Daniel went overseas I watched and read the news until I was sick and Mr. and Mrs. Lowery suggested I unplug for a while or risk my health.  When Daniel came home I was too … too messed up and then too busy trying to cope.  Or that’s the excuse I used. 

Tonight for the first time in a long time I watched the news.  Broadcast news had a plastic feel to it, like it wasn’t real.  I tried to watch cable news but it had that same weirdness to it.  It was only when I got off the boob tube and on the net that things started feeling real.  Too real.  Very scary.  I only vaguely understood some of what people were frantically blogging.  I’ve got a lot to think about but I can’t do all the research I need to do by phone.  Tomorrow I am going to take my laptop to the library and copy as much from the net as I can. 

I’ve already got a really long list of things that need my attention but for now Feena needs a last feeding and we both need some sleep.  I know I’m going to need mine tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. This a fantastic story Kathy I hope you find time to work on finishing this one up along with the rest.