My parents are arriving at my house immediately after work and will not be gone until sometime Saturday, so I will be indisposed until then. This leaves me one hour starting right now to get it together and write something.

This isn't going well.

The last three sentences took me twenty minutes to write.

There's such a creative drought going on that my cubicle is filling up with tumbleweeds.

Have you ever gotten tangled in one of those? It's nasty. Or at least it was when I was eight and less than three-and-a-half feet tall. I was wearing white socks with white sandals, because all the pretty girls wore white socks with white sandals that spring, only my socks always went from white to beige to deep grey by morning recess. By then, they would have already rumpled down my legs and bunched up at the ankles, but I couldn't pull them up to look all cute and tidy like Holly, because the dirt gathered in stripes according to how the socks bunched. I felt like a homeless girl in the Dirty Thirties, and I would wander the outter schoolyard at recess, toeing rocks and pretending I was hungry and lost.

At eight, my life was a party on the verge. Holy crap.

I loved playing at games in which I was starving, dying, irreversibly sad, homeless, orphaned, and/or chronically ill. If I was really heavy in need for my perverse kind of fun, I would pretend to be a combination of any number of those things to compound the desperation and loss.

One time, a slightly younger female cousin was over, and she asked what we should play. Little did she know of me and my twisted lust for gloom. I suggested that we were orphans and that the woman who ran the orphanage was a brutal dictator (that stupid orphan Annie movie was out around that time); and then I suggested that the orphanage was closing, and that we had to live in the streets, and that it was worse than living with the orphanage lady, because we got beat up by lots of different people instead of just one, and that we had to split up for a while in order to better our chances of getting food; and then, from my place in the hallway where I was begging for food with my hat out, I heard my cousin sobbing. My game had made her so freaking sad that she wouldn't get a hold of herself until I assured her that that sort of thing never happened to anyone, even though I knew it did and had a keen awareness that the world was a painful mess for a lot of people.

I really resented her lack of fortitude, but I let her lead me through a lame game of shopping to appease her. I also did not want to get into trouble again for traumatizing a younger cousin.

But, back to the schoolyard and my dirty socks and that tumbleweed reference I made earlier... It wasn't so odd for me to be pretending that I was homeless in the thirties, because Saskatchewan was in the midst of a drought that year, and it was not at all uncommon to have actual real-life tumbleweeds come rolling through the schoolyard. Some of them were massive balls of hook-lined branches standing at least two feet high.

One afternoon during recess, a sudden wind whipped up a dust devil that spun its dirty, whirly way in my direction. Before I could move out of the way, it ran right into me and threw dirt and pebbles and other debris into my eyes and hair and precious once-white socks. I turned to run but found myself hobbled by something that pricked my legs something fierce, and when the dust devil finally swung itself into another part of the schoolyard, I saw that I had been ensnared by a large tumbleweed. It had blown against me and become entangled in my socks when I turned to run away.

I felt like an idiot hop-hobbling my way from across the field to the school doors. By the time I got there, recess was over, but there was no way I was going to drag this hulking mess of barbs with me into my classroom, so I waited there until I flagged down a teacher through the window. She patiently disengaged me barb by barb, cleaned my scraped legs down with a damp cloth, and advised me to tell my mother about the barbs imbedded in my socks, because they would not come out in the wash.

I don't think I ever tried the socks and sandals thing again. After the tumbleweed incident, I gave it some thought and decided that having to be constantly mindful of pulling them up, the impossibility of keeping them clean, and the feeling of dirt accumulating under my toes with no means of release was just not worth it.

After that, it was back to my old navy Sonics with the velcro closures for me, even if they were kind of tight and sweaty.

#446: Everybody Better Be Real Nice to Me Over This Coming Week, Because This Morning I Found Out That I'm a Darn Good Menacer