Friday, November 17, 2006

Stop The Ride, I Wanna Get OFF

I can remember screaming that once, long ago. I was just a kid, and had been talked into getting on "The Spider" at a county fair up in north-central rural Arkansas, by some long-forgotten friend. Some of you may know this ride as "The Octopus," or another name. What it is, is a kind of a jacked-up version of the Tilt-A-Whirl, with long "arms," and the cars set on an angle. The arms move up and down, individually, from the base of the machine, spinning around the base simultaneously. While this is going on, each individual CAR is also free to spin at will, which it does, at a crazy pace. Good gosh, I was sick after just a few moments. I can vividly recall screaming at the ride operator to PLEASE stop the machine--and it seemed like a perfectly reasonable request to my 10-year-old brain. They could stop the ride, let me off, and resume the thing for all those fortunate, iron-gutted riders who wished to continue. But the thing was, I needed OFF, and I needed off NOW, before I slung vomit over all and sundry and ruined everybody's day. I even remember timing my shrieked pleas for mercy so that I was doing the bulk of my screaming precisely as my car swooped down over the ride operator's head.

But that carny was either hard of hearing, uncaring, or just plain MEAN, because he didn't stop the ride, and I had to, somehow, find within myself the literal intestinal fortitude to tough it out until the ride was over. I still don't completely understand how, but I did it. And I never, ever, EVER got on an Octopus/Spider/Hellmachine ever again. Although, go figure, I grew up LOVING "The Zipper." Hardly matters, because ever since my big surgery in the summer of 2000, I can't even ride the stupid Tilt-A-Whirl any more without getting woozy, and EVERYONE knows that the Tilt-A-Whirl is a BABY ride. Anyway.

My life is feeling a little like that Octopus-ride at the moment. And while I don't really want to get off and abandon the ride, I'd like to just slow it down a bit, please. Just for a while, so I can catch my breath, and maybe hand off my cotton candy to someone on the ground so it doesn't wind up spiderwebbed all over me (this is another reference to an ACTUAL childhood carnival experience, when my little sister and myself brilliantly carried cotton-candy onto a Tilt-A-Whirl, with hilariously embarrassing results) in the meantime.

Seriously: I'm not worried about anything superficial, like my metaphorical hair getting messed up--I just don't want to explode metaphorical stomach contents all over the whole metaphorical world. Wait--the world is real, isn't it? But you get my meaning. It's just too much, too fast, too up-and-down, too back-and-forth, and with ENTIRELY too much spinning, one axis mounted upon another, mounted upon yet another...and it seems like some cosmic, metaphorical carny is adding to the base, for yet MORE spinning potential, each and every day, just to see how much I can take. It's like a NASA stress-test, and I'm the rocket. What, I'm mixing metaphors now? Sue me.

I can't remember who was with me on the day of that fateful Spider ride, way back when. It can't have been my sister--she'd have been too short to get on. But whoever it was, whatever young peer, I do remember them more or less talking me through that nightmare ride that seemed it would never end. The way it worked was through distraction, pure and simple. Whoever that wise young friend was (MAN, I wish I could remember, and could thank them), he/she kept my attention focused on his/her voice, and gave me a metaphorical life-preserver to cling to until the vertiginous nightmare was over.

I say all that in the "now" to say this for posterity: Isabella is my life-preserver. It seems that I can't possibly be tossed about enough that a rousing rendition, complete with hiney-shucking choreography, of "Grey Squirrel, Grey Squirrel, shake your bushy tail..." can't bring things zooming right back into focus, and still the ground beneath my feet. Her sweet smile, her hugs and kisses, her mere existence is like BEDROCK. I want her to know, when she's looking back in years hence on these pages, why I did this, wrote these things down. I want her to know that she did this for me, even before she was born. She makes it matter, she makes it right, and she makes me stay on the ride and weather the dizziness.

I guess she made me a "mommyblogger." Among other things, all of which are vast improvements over anything I was before she came along.

Today's post was brought to you by the word "metaphorical."


  1. You know, normally, I dislike mommy blogs. But, you aren't the typical mommy blogger. *L* You aren't all..."look at this picture of the poop my little angel took today! isn't she just priceless?" No, you talk about meaningful interaction with your baby beauty and the trail you want to blaze for her. You infuse humor and the bittersweet into most of your tales. There is nothing superficial about your writing. It is all thoughtful, enriching and most of all, it's real. You put it all out there. Not just the glorious moments in the life of a mommy/wife, but the downsides. The things that make us divinely human, flaws and all. And, it's intelligent, it's witty and it's begging to be read.

    Face it, Lady. You're hot shit in a platinum jar and you don't even know it.




  2. I haven't gone on carnival rides for a really long time, but I LOVE the octopus! It's the ferris wheel I can't stand! I threw up on it once. I've never thrown up on any other ride! Not the zipper, not the octopus, not the gravitron, just the ferris wheel! So, I don't blame you for the octopus!

  3. CP: PLATINUM jar? WOW. Thanks--I *heart* you right back, you know. Glad to see you, and hoping things are coming back into focus over there, too.

    Cece: Isn't it weird, the things that set us off? I used to have to ride the Zipper with strangers, because none of my friends would get on it, but I'd have to stand by myself and wait for all of them to get off the Octopus!

  4. One time at the county fair I got heat exhaustion/sick from riding rides, and was taken to the "firsta-aid" tent, where I got to lie back with an ice pack on my head, a huge fan blowing on me, and a bottomless cup of orange gatorade. Plus, I even got some kind of "I got sick.... this lousy shirt" type t-shirt.

    I really could use a metaphorical first-aid tent in my life now, to cool my heels, drink some gatorade and get away from the bustle of carnies, whiny children and over-priced souveniers that make my normal existence somewhat unpleasant.

    Plus, knowing that food on a stick is just a few feet away at all times can be somewhat comforting.

  5. Belinda~~ beautiful words about what Bella means to your life. I can't ever begin to describe what my daughter has done for me and the path of my life. She changed me and made me stronger in ways that are still hard for me to understand. Kinda like that Nicholson/Hunt movie " As Good As It Gets" when he tells her "you make me wanna' be a better man". Only I'm not a man, and I am waaayyyyyy cuter than Helen Hunt or Jack Nicholson!

  6. Kay -- just looking at that ride picture made me nauseated! I cannot ride things that go in horizontal circles! Ferris Wheels are a-okay, because it's a vertical circle. I may need to lie down now I'm so nauseated!

  7. Oh my gosh, I used to LOVE all those rides. Me & my friends would actually sit in those baskets that went upside down & have the carny spin it around even before the ride started. Just reading this gave me a total rush!