Voicemails from my Mother

Below I have transcribed the best voicemails my mother left for me in 2014. Happy New Year!



“Hey Tasha it’s your Mom! The TV just fell off the wall, if you can believe that. I just called your Dad. It’s unbelievable. Missed Bart by a hair! He came screaming into the kitchen. And I was on the phone with a new provider trying to get information for Noah and you can imagine what I screamed. I’m sure she has special notes in her folder about how I need mental health referrals too. Oh my God! Oh my God! Unbelievable! It’s still playing smooth jazz, but the whole front, I mean there’s no cracks or anything, cause it bounced off the dog bed, BUT everything is a color grid. So I’m sure it’s like totally totaled. Your dad is having a fucking fit, as you can imagine. I missed your call last night cause we were out to dinner! We went and, um, opened a bank account, got a safe deposit box, you know, very close to the house and then we went to this Prime Cuts place that’s crowded all times of the day, every day of the week, and it was excellent, absolutely excellent. But I’m at the dog park now and there’s nobody here for Bart to bully so I thought I’d call and chat. A Cane Corso just left the other fenced in area and him and Bart were going at it through the fence, it was giving me a heart attack. And this woman was on the phone the whole damn time! These people with dangerous dogs show up and they’re on the phone the whole damn time, it just makes me crazy. But, my dangerous dog is like by himself with his brother, the poodle, so that’s the only reason I’m calling you. Just want to clarify. Bye!”

October 24, 2014 9:46 AM



“No!… Tasha, I need you to hashtag or tweet number sign boys sade and type in Delvin, because I don’t know how to do that and they’re eliminating my two favorite stars which is Delvin or Sassandra! Please do it quick! Bye!”
May 6, 2014 8:59 PM



“Hey Miss Natasha, it’s your mother and I was calling to go over this San Diego information with you. There’s a couple things I know your dad would really like to do. One I think we should drop him off and go somewhere else but Old Town is mentioned throughout so I’m sure if that’s where you live that’s cool. Um… what else… Oh, what was the name of the place that starts with a ‘B’ and has a bunch of museums and stuff? You can just call me back, maybe we’ll talk this weekend. It’s about a quarter to nine here and I’m exhausted so I’m gonna be going to bed soon and um I’ll let you, You probably heard that our second offer on the house, our counter offer, was accepted so we got a really good deal and Bethlehem is a great area to be in. So, I think we’re very fortunate. Um, that’s it. I don’t have to go back up there on an emergency house hunting trip, put the dogs back in the kennel. So I cancelled again! She’s gonna think I’m insane because I just begged her to take them this morning, thinking I had to go up there and look at a half dozen more houses. So, we are done, we will have the closing done the week of the 22nd, the week before we leave to come out to you. Hopefully we’ll um I’ll be moved in by mid-September and this will be listed by the beginning of October. But, I can purge happily! The garage door is broken and I can’t get out or get the trash out to the curb. I mean it really could have injured me today. It came right out of the ceiling, the entire frame, and Wow. Um, luckily Weasley was already in the car and I wasn’t standing where I usually stand when I push that button. But anyway, I couldn’t get back in once I got out and shut it so, um, hopefully the fix it man can fix that tomorrow. That’s it! Have a good evening. Hugs to Murphy. Hugs to Josh. Goodnight! (long yawn).”
August 7, 2014 8:45 pm





“Hi, it’s me just feeling sorry for myself because everybody’s at Ludfest, but me! WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Goodbye!”
August 8, 2014 8:09 PM


The horizon is bleak

Dear diary,

Another day, another dollar. 2012 looks awfully different from the beginning of 2011, although I’m unsure if it’s an improvement. Meowmy may have been unreliable during the apartment days and sleep deprived or missing more often than not but there weren’t two neanderthal dog beasts running amok, or grandparents! I don’t think Nanna likes me. She’s always yelling about the counters and the tables and the chairs. She’s clearly speciest. If I was a human grandchild I most certainly would be allowed in the chairs! But no! Because I have fur she thinks I’m just like those beasts of hers and sentences me to a life spent on ground level! It’s demoralizing! How can I come home from school every day, fighting for feline rights just by my mere attendance, when I haven’t even won them in my own home?! The importance of my battle is clearly lost on Nanna, who is more concerned with how recently my box was cleaned than whether accommodations have been made for me to participate in P.E. with the other students!

It may be time to move, dear diary. To where? I don’t know. I heard the Northwest was very progressive in terms of feline advancement, particularly in the Seattle region. My therapist says that college isn’t as far away as it seems, but when you’ve got a ball and chain like Meowmy–with her constant disaster and misfortune; it certainly seems like an eternity. She was laid off from work so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until the Hillside Science Diet food runs out and I’m back to gagging down Purina. My digestive tract was just starting to recover.

The horizon is bleak.


Keep the old

Happy New Year, internet friends!

As I watched this video I got to thinking about all of my dear friends, new and old. And I remembered a man named Skillet.

I met Skillet back in my apartment days at the end of college. I lived in a downtown neighborhood and one evening as I was walking the block or two to my car he was lumbering down the sidewalk. Upon noticing his erratic gait and disheveled appearance I started to cross the street, but he cut my path short,

“Ay, ay, can I getta ciggarette? You gotta dollar?”

“No, I’m actually on my way out I don’t have anything on me,” we were standing in the middle of the street.

“Nah, nah, I need a ciggarette. You got a dollar!” he threw his toboggan on the ground. I backed away, not sure what to make of this gesture.

“Yeah, I get that, I’m sorry but really, I’m headed out. All I have are my keys, see? I’m going to my car,” I walked to the opposite sidewalk, but he followed.

“I JUST NEED TO SMOKE! I KNOW YOU GOT A LITTLE MONEY!” and then I felt the pillowy blow of his parka hit my back which sent a gust of BO through my hair. He had begun stripping and his clothing articles became his weapons. I hopped in my car desperately as his shirt hit the door. “I’LL WASH YO CAR FO SOME MONEY!” he plead, now scrubbing his filthy jacket on the windshield frantically.

I started the car and his instincts led him to take enough steps backward so that I could roar off to safety. I drove to Erica and Carbone’s house, having already had plans to see them, and relayed the news to my friends who were effectively my college parents. Their verdict was in: time to move. Though, move I would not.

Within a week I ran into Skillet once again, outside my apartment.

“Hey girl! How you?” he smiled, unnervingly friendly.

“Umm, hi. I’m ok.” He looked much less bizarre in daylight, and I wasn’t sure what to make of the alter personality.

“Can I get a ciggarette?”

“Actually, we’ve been through this before. Do you recall throwing your clothes at me?” I felt much braver with the light of day on my side.

“Aw, nah. I didn’t mean nothin’ by all that. It’s ok.” He shrugged. I estimated him to be in his thirties, and still wearing the same puffy black parka and navy blue toboggan from before. It seemed a little juvenile, boyish even.

“I thought it was pretty rude.”

“Aw, nah. I’m sorry. My name James Madison. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Like the president? I’m Natalie.” Sometimes I lie for no reason.

“The president? Nah, like me. Well, it’s nice to meet you Natalie. You an angel.”

“If you say so.”

From then on James Madison and I were friends. I learned to gauge the level of his sobriety from a distance and occasionally gave him a dollar, I made him a sandwich once when he looked especially emaciated. Sometimes he sang me songs as I walked to my car, once he got down on one knee and proposed to me. The stories of our encounters continued to alarm my friends, who were convinced he was going to pull something crazy and they’d never hear from me again.

On the contrary, I found our friendship kept me safe from all the other street men, as Mr. Madison would explain to them when they walked past my porch that I was an angel. It felt like some sort of code. Don’t rob her. And there was quite a bit of foot traffic. I lived between the city mission and the courthouse. There was a near-constant stream of down on their luck passerby. Just to be on the safe side I started to circulate the rumor that “Natalie” was dating a corrections officer.

I came to realize that everyone except me knew James Madison as Skillet when my friend Brit met him and realized that he was a familiar face from the regional jail web site, which she trolls on a weekly basis. The local bartender a block away also knew him as Skillet, it turns out.

I knew that Mr. Madison/Skillet sometimes stayed with a woman down the block, but I also knew that sometimes he stayed nowhere at all. When there were weeks at a time without Skillet and I crossing paths I would begin to passively worry. I was afraid he had actually died in some drunken scuffle or overdosed. We were not close, and I knew very little about him, but I was fond of the man who was always singing outside. Alas, in due time he always turned up, and I would be very relieved to learn he had merely been picked up for drunk and disorderly or a similar charge and spent a short stint in the local jail.

For Christmas, Brit emailed me Skillet’s most recent mug shot. I was nothing short of overjoyed to see he was still alive and at least status quo, if not well. He had clearly been beaten up, but he was breathing.

For 2012, when remembering all my friends, old and new I have hope for my homeless brethren. While we never blatantly discussed his addiction, it seemed a little rude to point out the obvious, I still think he can do it. 2012 may be his year, just yet, to get clean, sober, and employed. The world is your oyster my friend! Seize the day!