Sunday, April 30, 2006

Story of My Life
One month ago:
"Mom, I started a blog. I know you don't know what that is, but... (proceeded to explain as simply as possible) I don't expect you to buy a computer and learn how to use one, but I wanted you to know I have one, in case you hear from someone else."
One week ago:
Ring, ring, ring...
"I can't believe you're home, AND answering your phone!"
"Hi, Mom."
"I'm at Sharon's. We want to read your blog!"
"Let me talk to Sharon, I'll give her the address." (proceed to do so)
"Mom, did you ever read my blog?"
"Oh, yea, something about switching to decaf and public schools?"
"Well, that was part of one, yes, but..."
"Well, Sharon blah, blah, blah, blah...." (rambled on about Sharon for five straight minutes without drawing breath)

Friday, April 28, 2006


"I believe there are angels among us, sent down to us from somewhere up above. They come to you and me in our darkest hours - to show us how to live, to teach us how to give, to guide us with a light of love." From Alabama's song, "Angels Among Us"

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


1. Count remaining number of controlled substances, put notes on calendar for:
A) Call doctor for re-fills 7 days prior to running out
B) Take prescriptions to pharmacist 2 days prior to running out
C) Fill bottles at school one day prior to running out
D) Pray you don't run out
2. Splurge on a new $3.49 hairbrush - note to self: bad mood may be caused by stabbing sensation of old hairbrush with no remaining tips
3. Put the screens on the window - note to self: bad mood may be caused by bees and flies circling your head
4. Consider switching to decaf.
5. Consider costs to all involved in switching to decaf.
6. Send 200 thank you notes to people that attended school auction
7. Type up all notes involving school auction
8. Distribute all videos you created for school auction
9. Consider not being involved in next year's auction
10. Consider switching kids to public school
11. Consider moving to Deluth
12. Consider telling the next 10 people that ask you to volunteer, "NO"
13. Reconsider public school
14. Blow off everything on the list and spend the day drinking coffee and eating cake


1. Well begun is half done
2. Enough is as good as a feast
3. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
4. Feed the birds
5. Remember to have your chimneys swept
6. Money in the bank is precarious
7. Take jolly holidays
8. Love to laugh - it's elevating

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Once upon a time there was a girl, and everyone thought this girl to be "so honest". No one could believe she'd share the things she shared, with the people she did.
The girl found this phenomenon strange. She thought telling the truth was what you were supposed to do. She'd heard it would set her free, and she believed that to be true. She'd gone the secretive route, and that just left her with a host of nasty health issues and a sour disposition.
So this girl decided to live her life with truth and kindness. She would be careful not to hurt others, but she would not lie to them. Above all, she would be kind and honest with herself.
People did not think this was all that great at times. Some people, it turned out, did not appreciate the kind and honest answers she gave to their questions. They were used to hearing what they wanted to hear, and the truth was not appreciated.
This made the girl sad, and she began to doubt herself. Plenty of people encouraged this doubt, and wanted her to just keep the peace, at any cost.
The peace. What is the cost of peace, if it is at the sacrifice of one's own? When is keeping the peace more important than feeling peaceful with one's self? When is protecting the feelings of others', more important than maintaining one's own integrity and following one's own internal compass? The little girl began to doubt that she'd ever be free, by telling the truth. She remained convinced, however, that it was the secrets one keeps that have the power to kill.

Monday, April 24, 2006


1) Remember the 1/2 black, 1/2 white cat, Sweetpea? Now there is a solid white cat coming to my house from the south, and a solid black cat coming over from the north. Not sure what this means, but know it means something.
2) The flower garden I planted in 2 minutes? Not doing a thing... should be seeing spouts by now.
3) The all cake and coffee diet? Not such a great idea in retrospect.
4) "Twas the Night 'fore Menstruation"? Times that by 10 and that's me last week (see #3).
5) Fully caffeinated? Must redefine "fully" to not mean "in gross excess".

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Today I ate a cake, it wasn't very big,
But I ate 'til it was gone, feeling like a little pig.
It's not a thing I do too much, I'm happy to report,
But today was one of "those days", I'm sure you know the sort.
I also had some coffee, six cups to be precise,
What goes better with a cake, than coffee that is iced?
I had a lot to do today, time was of the essence,
Cake and coffee felt like just the fuel, to help me keep my senses.
Some seem to think that sugar, is like the Prince of Darkness,
Something one should keep away from, but I find it to be harmless.
What is harmful is the me, that is coming off caffeine,
That scene would make you shudder, not one you'd want to see.
You do your thing, with lean protein and brown rice,
For me I'll stick with things, that are proven to keep me nice.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I've been working on grief lately. I've been reading a lot about it, and trying to figure out what I do and don't understand about it, and how it does or does not pertain to me. This is what I've come up with so far, tell me what you think:
Grief is not restricted to "death", but to loss. Loss of a dream, loss of health, wealth, and possibilities, as well as to actual people.
It is cyclical, but not all that predictable.
There is a pattern to it, but not everyone experiences the stages the same way or in the same order.
What causes grief in one person, may or may not cause it in another person.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve, nor no magic length of time it takes to complete.
The best analogy I've come up with is that grief is like a Slinky. It winds around and around. You move through it circularly, while incrementally making upward progress. You don't know what is going to slow or speed the process up the Slinky, nor what is going to catapult you right off of it, forcing you to start at the bottom again. The newer the slinky, the more tightly wound, the easier it is to be jolted off. The older it is the more stretched out. There are bigger gaps between the circles, and the Slinky has lost a lot of it's tension. Hanging on is much easier, but the journey isn't over, you're still on the Slinky.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

When choosing a spouse
It's important to know,
Just what to keep
And what needs to go.
Take coffee, for instance
Some call it a vice,
If this someone's a spouse
You'll need to think twice.
It's important to have
Things you both treasure,
Things that bring comfort
And joy and some pleasure.
Treasuring love
Is all fine and good,
But coffee is something
Far misunderstood.
Keeping in mind
That most days are not tame,
Properly caffeinated
Keeps us all in the game.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

When Wil was four, and his sister, Lucy, was in first grade, he insisted that each morning after dropping her off at school, we went directly to Safeway. I'm going to say this went on for six months or more. And, I'm sorry, did I say each morning after we dropped her off? You probably took that to mean we only adhered to this routine Monday through Friday, and that would be Wrong with a capital W! Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays too! We were at Safeway by 9:00 AM each and every day! "Surely, not Christmas," you're now saying to yourself. Well, wrong again! But here's the thing, Safeway is not open on Christmas! And this was not what we counted on. Wil's Christmas, and ours as a result, was ruined that year. He didn't give a rip that at home there were presents from Santa. He was not allowed entry into his lair, and this was unacceptable.
The only thing that made this daily trek tolerable at first, eventually making it delightful, was the wonderful morning crew at Safeway. We had Marlies, Lonnie, Carmen, Carla, Kelly and Larry. Over in pharmacy we had Michael, Lynda, Demitria and Jake. The butcher, produce manager, bakery and deli ladies all were quite charming, as well.
"Hi, Wil!" shot out the voices the minute we entered the premises.
"Bye, Wil!" was heard as we departed.
When my daughter was in second grade her class took a tour of Safeway, and Wil and I went along. To this day that class remembers going to Safeway, where everybody knew Wil. I'm not sure what they learned about the grocery business, but they learned that there was a place on earth that embraced Lucy's quirky little brother.
When that phase ended, Wil began a phase of not wanting to leave the house, except to go to school. We're still in that phase, and I can't get him to go to Safeway now for all the tea in China.
His friends miss him, they ask about him all the time. I always report that "Wil is great," and that's true, he is great.
Over the years these people that first reached out to me as a mother at her wits end, have become friends of mine. We know each other on a personal level now, sharing secrets, heartaches, and the joys that go with living.
I arrived at Safeway yesterday and "my gal", Marlies was not checking. Instantly I heard Lonnie call on the intercom, "Check, Marlies, please check."
Marlies came out of nowhere, opened up a lane that was closed, helped me get my cart unloaded, then closed the lane again. As we chatted it up two customers tried to wedge through the obstacle she had placed to indicate she was closed.
"I'm sorry, this lane is closed," she said.
Yes, closed for most people, but not for me. I never thought it would be a national grocery chain with which I'd discover unconditional love and full acceptance for my special child, but it was, and it is, and I am forever grateful.

Monday, April 17, 2006

What is with these people that choose to read other people's blogs, but then have all kinds of ridiculous, picky, not-in-the-spirit-of-things comments? I have earth-shattering news, people! If you are reading a blog and you find it offensive, problematic, or provocative enough for you to comment negatively, DON'T READ THE BLOG ANYMORE! Nobody has a gun to your head, do they? You have chosen to read it, you may choose to stop! Not that you have to agree with everything posted on a blog to be an avid reader, but c'mon, to find fault? Is that really what gets you out of bed in the morning? These people! How 'bout you sweep the dirt off your own back porch before worrying about everyone else's "transgressions"? Huh? How about that?
Now, fortunately for me, I have nothing but the most warm, appreciative and supportive blog followers in the world, truly, but it's the comments I read on others' that has me all up in arms. Maybe I need to follow my own advice, sweep off the dirt on my own back porch before taking offense with these people. In fact, good idea, I'm off to find the broom...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Forty long days ago my son was told not to say "alleluia" again until Easter. Lent is a somber time, and words like alleluia are rejoiceful. My son is not somber, and thirty minutes after having his forehead smeared with ashes in the shape of a cross, he declared, "I hate Lent! I just want to say that 'A' word right now! When is Lent over?"
"Forty days, sweetie."
"Can my Lent be over now?"
"Yes, your Lent can be over now."
None-the-less, he refrained from saying "the A word" until today. He did, however, declare some B, C, D, E,F etc. words off limits from time to time.
"Mom! You said the B word!"
"Boy! Don't say Boy during Lent!"
And so it went, with no rhyme nor reason, for forty long days around here.
It's hardly as though we "alleluia" this and "alleluia" that around here, but just by being told not to say it, it became irresistable.
I'm thinking the obvious here. C'mon, say it with me, reverse psychology, baby! When my son becomes a teenager I'm going to forbid him from sobriety, abstinence and natural highs! What do you think?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Today is Good Friday. As a child I could never understood it's name, what was good about it? "It should be called Bad Friday," I remember telling my mom. "Someday you'll understand why it is good," she said.
Now I am the mom, and I do indeed understand the goodness of this day. I am a Christian, and always have been. I am blown away by Good Friday and the resurrection on Easter. Nothing and nobody can take away my deeply instilled beliefs and source of faith. However, and I know this is really going to bother some of you, it is not enough for me. Christianity does not fully encompass all that I have come to embrace and hold dear. I need more. For me it has been Buddhism. And yet there is so much Christian guilt bred into me, I feel blasphemous to even be thinking this, let alone "publishing" it. Am I a bad Christian because I need supplemental religion, much the way my mother needs supplemental health insurance?
I'm sure many disagree with me, but I have come to see Buddhism and Christianity as complementary, not opposing. They, in my opinion have much in common, and many of the practices in Catholicism, in particular, are so similar to Buddhism, it is impossible for me to consider them in conflict with one another.
We have become a country that is increasingly bi-racial and multi-racial. Is it too much to ask that we allow bi-religion and multi-religion? When people ask me what am I, I usually say, "Everything." Nothing is not the right anwer, that is far from what I feel, but "everything" makes people squeamish, too.
As a young girl in Sunday School I made a banner that said, "God is love". It hung in our home for years. What did that mean, exactly? I looked at that banner and tossed those words around in my head, and long after it was removed, the confusion lingered.
I now think all that you need to know is in those three words. God is love. To know God is to know love. To know love, is to know God. God may have many different names and ways of practicing, but in the end, to know love is to know All, and that makes every day of the week "Good".

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I've been accused, on more than one occasion I'm afraid, of being a perfectionist. Let me make one thing perfectly clear, I am not. I am Queen Half-Ass. Perfectionists don't have the problems I have with impulse control. They will tweak, tweak, tweak until things are perfect. They are often behind schedule because things weren't quite perfect enough to get them out the door on time. Great ideas are never finished, at times, not even begun, because the level of attention they feel the idea requires, is too much to even commence.
This is not my problem. I run off half-cocked most times. I accomplish a great amount of tasks, none of which are even close to perfect, some of which are just plain shoddy. Allow me to illustrate: Sick and tired of looking at the packages of flower seeds on my kitchen counter, I opened them simultaneously today, dumped them all in my palm, stirred them with my finger, and flung them around the approximate destination of our flower-garden-to-be. 1/16 of an inch was all they required to be under the soil. "Aha," I thought "a quick splash with the hose ought to drive those puppies in at least 1/16 of an inch." Done! 2006 flowers planted in under 2 minutes! Check, check!
I've been known to select a special occasion dress while shopping at Target for toilet paper, skip the dressing room, only trying on the dress for the first time moments before the big event. Perfection? I think not.
I once decided to recover the seats of my dining room chairs, drove to the fabric store, grabbed the first remnant I saw, and had those seats recovered before I'd even taken off my coat.
This brings me to my point. If you want something done, I'm your gal. If you want it done perfectly, well...
Are you familiar with that acronym? Yes? Well then, this blog's for you! For those of you fortunate enough to not be familiar with it, it stands for Pervasive Developmental Delay Not Otherwise Specified. Clear as mud? Exactly my point! What in the hell is that? It turns out, nobody knows. Its the umbrella term under which all the "squishy" special needs kids fall. They are a lot of things in general, and nothing in particular.
The part I like best is the "NOS". There have been days a plenty wherein I feel not otherwise specified. Just blah, not quite right. As it turns out I'm not alone, nor am I imagining this. My friend, Michelle, fellow blogger ( and mother of a child with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder), just e-mailed me after returning from a conference called DAN! (Defeat Autism Now!) They did brain scans of moms with ASD kids (lots of these kids are PDDNOS) and guess what? The moms' brains showed visible signs of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. They resembled those of Vietnam War vets! While this study was not comprehensive, nor conclusive, it does give credibility to the fact that these kids, do indeed, drive us crazy.
After raising my two special kids for six years, I went to my doctor and told him I had answered "yes" to all the self-test questions for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. He has been treating me ever since. I am a new woman, or more to the point, I am my old woman again, the one I was before the traumatic stress.
I'm not minimizing the trauma of Vietnam Vets, the horrors of war I am thankful I've been spared, but it does raise some interesting issues. Not enough has been made about the physical, spirtual and psychological effects raising these kids has on parents. I don't know all the answers, but I do know that raising awareness is part of the solution.
So, I ask you to consider this, the next time you're out in public and see a parent of a child with special needs trying their best to maneuver their child through life, smile warmly and make eye contact. We parents need to know that you are pulling for us, not judging us. That you are empathetic, not oblivious. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

If you're like me, and let's face it, who doesn't wish for that, you remember the show, "The Six Million Dollar Man." The show, the man, his real life wife, the vast sum of money, were all spectacular. Now that I am married, have two kids and am approximately in debt somewhere in the six million dollar range, that just doesn't have the same "wow" factor it once did. And might I say, thank God.
If large sums of money were to impress and/or intimidate me now, I'd never get through the day. My warm VISA card routinely gets swiped for large sums of money. My son, you see, is expensive. From head to toe he is costly. Psychologist? Check! Opthamologist? Check! Dentists?(plural) Check! Orthopedic surgeon? Check! You get the idea. Then tack on the various pharmaceuticals, therapies and costs of education and voila! The six million dollar boy! And those are our known costs. We don't even know the wear and tear on us he is costing, and don't get me started on the repairs to the house that he has made imminent.
What are you going to do, though, huh? Tell me that, what else can you do?
10. You are being seen by a specialist for your Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, brought on by repeated check writing
9. You look forward to school vacations just so you can take a break from all your volunteering
8. You had to quit your real job because the hours conflicted with your responsibilities at school
7. When you call the school, no matter who answers, your voice is immediately recognized
6. You haven't been to a party in years that you didn't pay to attend
5. You consider every friend and family member a potential donor
4. The school calendar equals your social calendar
3. You save cereal box tops, soup labels, newspapers, ink jet cartridges, and anything else that can bring in the moola
2. 99% of your e-mails and phone calls are school-related
and the number one sign your child(ren) attend a Catholic school...
1. Two words, tax deductible

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Monday, April 10, 2006

Civil Rights has done much to change the way we think of, and refer to, people "of color". The Women's Movement has dramatically changed the roles and perceptions of women. The American's With Disabilities Act has changed how we access our buildings for those in wheel chairs. All fabulous, worthy, necessary improvements for the greater good of everyone.
I say it is now time to re-think our attitudes towards the less able-minded. While no white person would ever use the "n-word", we think nothing of calling each other idiots, stupid or dumb. Those members of society with a less than average intellectual quotient, are fair game for ridicule.
"Sorry I'm being so retarded!" the salesgirl said to me when she had trouble with the cash register.
"Don't be sorry you're having trouble," I responded, "be sorry you said 'retarded'".
Ignorance is one thing. One can be ignorant and choose to overcome that ignorance. Intelligence is something we're born with, and there is often little one can do to change that quotient significantly.
To a mother whose child suffered oxygen deprivation at birth, those harsh terms for her child just add insult to injury.
To a parent of a child with Down Syndrome, the prevalent bantering of intelligence put-downs can be devastating.
It is to negate all that is good in a person of less intelligence, to so negatively dismiss them with cruel references.
If someone acts without much thought, please, I beg of you, refer to that as "silly", "mis-guided", "not well thought out", etc. Please choose your words to say what you mean, and not be mean.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I am struck again today by how children's memories work. I'd like to think it's the "important" messages I drill into my kids that will stay with them throughout their lives, but I'm not kidding myself, it's going to be the inane things I flippantly say that they'll never forget. Those, and TV commercials.
I sneezed this morning and Wil said, "It's allergy season again." My niece had spent a full minute trying to fall asleep before calling to her mother, "Mommy! I need Lunesta!" I understand the phenomenon. I can re-tell little from my childhood, but I know how Oscar Meyer spells b-o-l-o-g-n-a. I know you'll double your fun with Double-Mint gum. I remember that if I "want it my way", I'd better head over to Burger King. Wendy's knows "Where's the beef" and Stove Top Stuffing's "What's for dinner".
When I was little my mother drove us to church each Sunday morning. On the way there was a sign I couldn't understand. Each time we'd pass I'd ask my mom, "What're auntie-cues?" She'd say she didn't know, and the scene would repeat itself the following week. In my memory, this went on for years. It probably happened twice. Finally, I said, "Mom, a-n-t-i-q-u-e-s, what does that spell?" "Antiques," she answered. Ahhhh, relief, I finally understood.
The auntie-cue sign is still there. Each time I drive down to visit my brother in Eugene, I see that sign, and I'm a confused little girl again, impatient with a mother that didn't get it the first time. I know now, as a mother, that kids bombard parents with questions constantly. How, at the time, are we ever to know which ones to take seriously and which ones don't matter? I have tried to keep the auntie-cue memory alive when my own kids ask questions, but let's face it, we are not always on our toes when these questions arise.
My son, Wil, born with many disabilities, communication being a biggie, still remembers the one, and only one, time I said "fuckin' A". Honest to God, I said it at approximately 2:00 A.M., when he was but a toddler, and had gotten me up in the night for the umpteenth time.
Every day for nearly ten years I have told him I love him everyday, all day long, my whole life. Does he repeat this? Ever? But he has full use of the "f-word", and uses it with abandon.
This has forced me to do what any reasonable, and litigious person would do, document. He can say whatever he wants before the judge, but I've got proof!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

In my community most families have three kids, some even four. Yes, it is a Catholic community, and that definitely has something to do with it, but I'd like to think it's a matter of "weight", too. I have "only" two children. I've joked, almost from the minute that he was born, that Wil counts as two, though, thereby fulfilling the requisite number of family members.
Imagine my sense of validation when I realized Wil does not count for two, as I had thought, but as four! And, get this, my daughter counts as two!
Wil attends a Catholic school but receives special ed. services through Portland Public Schools. Recently Portland came up with a "weighting" system by which to determine class sizes. Depending on how many needs the child has, how many parent/teacher meetings are required, how many accomodations, etc., the child receives points. Their points equal the number of kids they represent when determining class size. Four. Count 'em. My son is four. His school will also use this information when admitting new students into his class. Because he is four, the class size will stay lower than usual.
Feeling Catholic guilt through association, I do everything I can to counteract his number four. I volunteer in the classroom. I donate my "time, talent and treasure" generously to the school. I hire my own aides to work with Wil so that the school employees are left to work with the other kids. Still, four? While validating, it is also hugely depressing. Am I up to the challenge of raising "six" kids? What choice do I have? In fact, I am more insulted than proud when asked, "How do you do it?" My only response... "Fully caffeinated. That is how I do it."
How do any of us do "it"? Every human on this planet suffers and is challenged. I don't know of one person who has a life easier than mine. There is nobody with whom I'd switch places. We are all "doing it", some with more grace than others, perhaps, but not with less "stuff". I look around and think, "Wow, their life is difficult." It is not better nor worse, easier, nor harder, just different.
I will embrace my life raising six kids, there are far worse things out there than that. For having six kids does have six times the rewards, as well. I'd like to think that my priorities have been shifted by having these six kids. Truly, there is nothing I want for them more, than to be happy. Report cards, popularity, sports participation, who cares? Are they happy? Are they peaceful, loving and compassionate? Do they return to the universe more than they take? I believe so, and that, my friend, is what makes me "do it".

Friday, April 07, 2006

I met my friend, Terry, when we lived across the street from one another, and were both home with our young children. She had a two-year-old and a newborn, I had a one-year-old. We went on lots of walks, drank a lot of coffee, and told each other the stories of our lives. In the six short months we were neighbors, we knew everything there was to know about one another.
Unfortunately, her family moved to Colorado, then New York and finally Philadelphia. With each change in address I flew off to visit. Terry was with me the day I took the pregnancy test to learn I was pregnant with Wil. She was with me when I brought Wil, as a screaming, inconsolable infant, and we tried to "Ferberize" him. She has been with me through many difficult periods in the last eleven years, and I have been with her. We know each other inside and out, there are no secrets, no skeletons, nothing we don't know about each other. Or so I thought.
In February I again flew out to visit. We went for pedicures one day, and laughed our heads off during the side-by-side process. All of a sudden, on my right periphery, I noticed something I'd never noticed before. There, on her left foot, sat four toes. Where the pinky toe should be, there was only foot, no toe.
"Where the hell is your left pinky toe?" I demanded.
"I don't have one!" she responded, stating the obvious.
"Why not?"
"The motorcycle accident, remember?"
I didn't remember. I didn't remember because of the one million hours we'd spent talking, never once had the motorcycle story come up. Long story short, she took her first motorcycle ride with a total stranger, no helmet, and being Terry, bossed the experienced driver around, causing a crash that landed four people in the hospital, and her toeless.
"Do I get a 10% discount?" she asked the pedicurist, dead pan. "I ask that every time, they never give it to me. Worse yet, they don't even think it's funny!"
Of all the great things I love about Terry, her humor is number one. She has been able to make my laugh over the most horrendous situations. Her best gift yet, though, was teaching me to laugh with my kids.
I'll never forget going to visit her in Rye, New York. Her children were young, only one and three, I think. She made mealtimes special. She and the kids sat at the table together for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When her husband was home, he joined them. Even with a toddler and one kid in a high chair, that time together was fun. She laughed and teased with her kids. When her husband came home one night I heard him ask her, "So, how was the day around here?" "We had a lot of laughs." was her reply.
"A lot of laughs," I thought to myself, "when was the last time I described a day at home with my kids in those terms?"
Since then I've consciously changed my attitude and parenting style. I've made an effort to bring humor to some of our darker days. I've tried to teach my kids to be funny, and to think funny.
Oh sure, they'll have plenty of time "on the leather", working out their issues with me to a shrink someday, but I hope they'll always be able to say, "We had a lot of laughs, too."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I'm sorry that this blog is even necessary. I thought the issue of rude cell phone users had been covered ad nauseum. I believed there was a general understanding amongst civilized beings with regard to using a cell phone in public places. Apparently, I am wrong, super wrong.
Yesterday I dropped my son off at occupational therapy, and sped to my nearest Starbucks to quietly enjoy the 50 minutes I had to myself for that day. I ordered my drink, found a seat, and was immediately accosted by the LOUD, annoying and long conversation by a fellow coffee lover. He took over a table for four, and looked as though he'd been there for days, and had no plans for leaving. He had his laptop, papers, snacks and drinks strewn all over. Fine. Take a table for four all day, that's Starbuck's problem, not mine. BUT THE LOUD TALKING? Oh my God! It went on, and on, and on. The poor person on the other end couldn't get a word in edgewise. The other patrons kept shooting him dirty looks, but nothing, his decibels didn't alter. Finally, in my passive aggression, I harrumphed, dramatically packed up my things and left. I moved to my car, which was parked right out the culprit's window, and sat there staring at him. Still nothing. Complete oblivion.
What's a person to do? Should I have said, "Excuse me, would you please lower your voice?" Should I have asked a Starbucks employee to bodily remove him? What? Is this the new exhibitionism? Streaking is so 70's, is the thing to do now just hold court on your cell phone while everyone is held prisoner? Is this how we get the attention we missed as children? What the hell?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

It's funny, I've got some friends following my blog, and they have such different reactions. One would prefer I not name names, one is OK with names, but nothing incriminating, one would prefer pseudonyms, and then there's the liz...
"Enough about Kathleen! I'm reading your blog every damn day, and not a WORD about me yet!"
This one's for you, lizzie!
the liz
I live in a wonderful neighborhood which contains two fabulous schools. Almost from the minute we moved in, I was asked, "Which school are you sending your kids to? " With a newborn and a two-year-old, I really hadn't finalized that decision yet, but it became clear to me that a choice would have to be made, if only to shut these people up.
As we reached the decision to go with the small, Catholic school, I began to hear all the stories. Right away I started hearing about the first grade teacher. Not only was she the only one at the school, she was one of a kind in every way. She was legendary, and any child would be lucky to have her. I could hardly wait.
The years passed, and at last I had a first grader. I, myself a former classroom teacher, was eager to be highly involved in my child's class. This teacher wouldn't know how she did it without me. I would be impressive, and she would be grateful.
One "goodbye" at the door let me know that this was not kindergarten. No more warm fuzzy greetings from the teacher, no more of the "take your time" attitude. Parents were given a curt, clear subliminal message, "This room is all about your children. I don't give a damn about you, and I have no problem telling you that." At Open House she announced that while she had given up many of the things she'd once enjoyed in the 60's, her name, written only in lower case, was not one of them.
Months went by and still I was not made to feel indespensible, in fact, I'd yet to gain entry into her lair. It was killing me. My daughter was flourishing, but I was withering. Finally, a friend, fellow parent and substitute teacher in the building, sang my praises to the liz, and I was "in". I was sworn in, so to speak. She spoke very seriously of the critical need to safeguard children's privacy. What they said and did in the room was not the general public's business. Who was "low" and who was "high", likewise, was confidential. Until I fully demonstrated my understanding of this, I was probationary. Although I carried a couple of advanced degrees in education, no amount of initials after my name could compare the pride I felt being one of liz's chosen.
By the time my son, three years later, was embarking on his first grade career, I was so "in" that I was slated to work, side-by-side, with the liz, two afternoons a week. What began as a respectful, cooperative arrangement between colleagues, turned into a deep, life-long friendship.
My son, Wil, came to school with lots of diagnoses stacked against him, but with one key weapon in his favor, a keen sense of humor. It wasn't long before he and liz, and he called her liz, were one. They "got" each other, playing off one another and working together in a beautiful symbiotic relationship. Soon I was coming early and staying late, being invited to parties in her home, talking to her on the phone, and then the drop bys.
Our doctors and orthodontists are all over in liz's neighborhood, eight miles away. Whenever I happened to mention I'd been to one or the other, she'd say, "Now why didn't you just drop by?" So I began to. And she began to. Being an avid bike rider, she rode to school and back. She'd often drop by on her way home from work, and occasionally before, coming to enjoy our morning prayer time.
That summer she joined a biking group from my neighborhood, that gathered at 6:00 AM. One such morning, following a conversation in which I had bragged that my washer and dryer were extra-large capacity, I awoke to find her laundry on my front porch!
We are now comfortably in our fifth year of friendship. On Saturday we will celebrate her 34th wedding anniversary together, sans her husband. This will be our third year, a tradition has been born. Last year her husband lay on the couch in front of Fox News, while we dined in style. Not to fear, their wedding picture was strategically placed in the center of our table. In their refrigerator at home she'd left a note attached to his nightly beer, "My mother called to wish us happy anniversary, and to tell you what a lucky man you are."
As I drove my son home from Occupational Therapy today at 3:55, he just happened to mention that he'd invited liz over. He'd seen her at recess, and told her she could come from 4:00 to 4:45, sharp! We got in the house just as the phone was ringing.
"Tell Wil it's 4:00 sharp and I'm still at school. Ask him if I can come at 4:15."
Wil did his best to adjust to the change in plans. When liz did arrive he wanted to take her upstairs and show her his new chin-up bar. He is proud that he can hang and let his feet leave the ground. A huge accomplishment for someone with "gravitational insecurity". liz realizes and appreciates his accomplishments as much as I do. She has watched Wil grow and develop these last five years. She is invested in him. He knows this. He knows how deep her love for him goes.
When liz passed my son to the second grade teacher she said to her, "He will touch your heart in places you didn't know existed." Thank you, liz, for doing the same for us.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

There is an expression in my friend Kathleen's family, "Getting the pink". It began when a niece collapsed one summer evening singing in a pathetic voice, "I didn't get the pink, I didn't get the pink, I didn't get the pink all day..." Apparently there had been lots of kids around, and several times Otter Pops were brought out to refresh, and damned if she didn't miss out on pink each time.
The expression, "getting the pink" has become synonomous with getting what you want, and/or getting plenty of what you need. "I'm not falling for it," Kathleen will say when one of her girls complains, "you've been getting plenty of pink". When one is particularly down, she'll say, "She just hasn't gotten the pink."
Last night my friend, Terry, called from Philadelphia. She too had a pink story, but in this case, she didn't want it. She'd had a friend come over and share a deep, dark secret. "It's like that Dr. Seuss book*," she said, "you know the one where the pink gets on one thing, and they keep trying to get it off, but it just keeps spreading?" I knew exactly what she meant. Deep dark secrets are like that. You swear, before even knowing the secret, that you won't tell a soul. Then, once the secret has been shared, so has the pink. It's spread now on you. You are contaiged, and the only way to get it off of you is to spread it to someone else. That's why she called me, clear across the country she could spread the pink, without risk of me telling anyone. Except that I'm dying to now! I don't even know this woman, and I'm just itching with the pink that is crawling on my skin.
"I just have too many friends, and know too many of their secrets," she said, "and I have ADT (Attention Deficit Trait)! I'm dangerous! I can't even remember what it was I promised I would or wouldn't do, two seconds after I promise!"
We talked about that for awhile and agreed. We are too old, too overwhelmed and overloaded, to be managing this many people's inner lives.
"Really, you can only have two close friends," she said. "That's all you can properly manage. Any more than that and you can no longer be held responsible for breaches of confidentiality."
I feel I'm one of the better secret keepers in this world. I am told it's because I am the adult child of an alcoholic. We are trained early and well to keep secrets. So far I've managed, but she's right, someone's going to be hurt if I don't shut down my secret-keeping operation soon.
So there you have it, I am hereby closed to further secrets. Some of you will, of course, be grandfathered in, but I am not accepting any more close friends. The ones I have are too dear to me to treat something as important as their privacy, with anything less than the care it deserves. I have the good pink. I have all the close friends I want and/or need. I don't want to spread any of the bad pink on them by spreading myself too thin.
* The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

My son will be ten soon
Some call that a "tween",
Ten-year-olds do things
My son only dreams.

They have over-nighters
They know where to poop,
They've learned to write cursive
Be on teams playing hoop.

They compose and divide
Things he can't even try,
They research and memorize
Learning how to get by.

They know about cities,
Countries and states,
There are things that they're good at
And things that they hate.

They're aware of the world
Understand they're a part,
They have hopes and dreams
They're eager to start.

Learning is hard for him
He came here to teach,
Things taken for granted
Stay out of his reach.

Love is his specialty
He's pure and he's kind,
Peace and compassion
Are what's on his mind.

Perhaps he is right
And the rest are all wrong,
What's best taught in school
Is to just get along.
'Twas the night 'fore menstruation, and all through the house,
Not a creature was safe, especially not the spouse.
"Goddammit!" she cried, while stomping on floors,
"Am I the only one who knows how to shut doors?"
"Who is it," she asked, "that works like a dog,
While all of you sit here like bumps on a log?
No thanks do I get, no praise and no rest,
For you I give all, left for me is the mess.
Just go, take the kids, get out, I don't care,
I want to be alone, will you go? Do you dare?
If you won't leave, then I'll take to my bed,
I've had it, I quit, I wish I were dead.
Tomorrow IS another day, say Scarlett and I,
I'll feel just awful, I"ll cry and I'll cry.
I love you, you, know, despite what I said,
I take it all back, I was out of my head"

Monday, April 03, 2006

There are some thoughts, some stories, some secrets that are so personal, they are shared only with one or two people in your whole life. Either that, or they are written about ad nauseum in a blog you are sending out to the universe.
My friend, Kathleen, is the one in this world that is the safeguard of my inner life. She knows all the places my "restless mind", as one doctor called it, goes. She patiently listens as my life spills out to her on our many walks together. Our lives are so rich with stories, our walking became marathon training. We walk with such pupose, such speed, we consider ourselves the walking winners of not one, but two Portland Marathons.
It is only on a walk, away from the rest of the world's ears, without the ability to look one another squarely in the eye, that our past, present and hopes for the future have all been laid out. We spend between 3-4 hours a week together, walking, exercising both our bodies and souls. My husband and I don't have that kind of uninterrupted time together during a typical week, unless you count after the kids got to bed, and I don't.
I tease that she is my "P.S." - preferred spouse. Her opinions, observations, and recommendations tremendously matter to me. When I ask for her advice, I am highly likely to do what she suggests, perhaps even using her words, verbatim. I know she has everyone's best interest at heart, especially mine.
Because she does have my heart in hers, she recently was swayed by my highly charged feelings, when making a decision of her own. She did not follow her own moral compass, but instead, followed mine. I'm sure this is the risk best friends inherently take, that the line between them blurs, for better or for worse. I am both honored and deeply ashamed that I have the power to dissuade, as well as persuade her. I will take this lesson to heart. I will learn from this experience that the weight of my "voice" has the power to build or destroy. I will tread a little more softly than before, careful to respond, and not merely to react.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Tomorrow is Monday, thank God. Monday is my favorite day of the week, and the Mondays following any sort of school "vacation" are my favorite Mondays of all.
"Have a great Spring Break!" the other parents shouted to me the last day my sanity was in tact, Friday, March 24th.
"You too!" I shouted back. And I meant that. I wanted them to have just as much fun as I would be having, home, all week, with just family around. I am a mean-spririted person, apparently. Only a mean person would wish torture on another.
I got an e-mail from a dear friend during the break. She and her family were enjoying day after day of skiing, dining out and board games with only each other for company. She couldn't bear to see it end.
Over here we "enjoyed" day after day of shared obsessions, anxieties and overall nerosis. We pondered career moves, friendship drama and Outdoor School angst, on top of our regular faire of mental disorders for which we are being treated.
"We live in a flippin' funny farm," I screamed before being fully caffeinated one morning "and there's not one damn thing that's funny about it!" Just calling a spade a spade does a bit to alleviate tension, I've found.
I am over the hump now, though, and oh so thankful for Daylight Savings Time. One less hour to kill. In a little over eighteen hours my three beloveds will head out the door, not to return for at least seven hours. I will smile, close the door behind them, wave one last time, and begin my vacation.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

You may have noticed that in the "about me" section of my blog, it states that I am happily married. I must admit, when I first created my blog and answered the questions on my profile, I didn't mention my husband nor kids. Hmmm... Where are you Freud? I love my husband and kids beyond belief. I would lay down my life for any of them anytime, anywhere, for any reason. I am committed to my relationships with each, and to our family as a whole. However, they so do not define "me", that I failed to even think of them when telling the cyber world about myself. It was only after sending my husband the link to my blog that I realized I'd hurt him. He called. "Great blog - great writing. I noticed you didn't say you were married or had kids." I gave him some smart ass retort about trying to keep all my options open, but still, I felt ashamed of myself.
Should I be ashamed that after 20 years together, my husband is not what I think of when someone asks me about me? How about the two children that came from my loins? Aren't they worthy of mention? If not immediately, relatively soon after being introduced to someone new? I cannot imagine my life without them. My days, do indeed, revolve around them and their needs. Perhaps it is those revolving needs that occupy so much of my "right this minute" mind, that I push them aside when given the opportunity to think beyond the immediate.
Dr. Phil, with whom I have a love/hate relationship, says your home should be a soft place to land. Again, I love my home and the people in it. They are, as harsh as this sounds, not the best at creating soft landings. They are skilled, however, at creating material from which I cull into my writing, my real soft place to land. My own inner soul is my crash pad. What does that make me?