Wednesday, January 31, 2007


My days were one long blur of brushing, compressing, Floor Time, speech, physical, occupational and social therapy. Because our boy was under three, the Early Intervention therapists came to our home. I welcomed them like the long lost brothers and sisters they were. Some adult to talk to. Some adult to help. Some adult to truly understand. I don't know how much they helped my son, but they kept me from "jumping" and that's saying something.

Together we rolled him tightly in blankets and swung him like a hammock. The full body pressure awakening his sensory system. We gently bounced him on the bed to get him to make gutteral vocalizations. Lying on his back, our hands on his shoulders, pressing playfully to get the "ugh ugh ugh" sound, training his mouth to do more than cry. We stacked cups and put body parts on Mr. Potato Head endlessly.

"Nose!" we said gleefully, while placing the nose on Mr. Potato Head.
"Nose!" we cooed while touching his nose.
"Nose!" we sang while touching our own noses.

And so it went, and went and went.

The boy stopped crying. Almost two full years of crying, then he stopped. The crying stopped and the talking began. The talking began and the underlying Obsessive Compulsive Disorder came into the light. He found something he loved and we spoke of nothing else for days, if we were lucky, years, if we were not.

"FIVE!" he ordered, and we rewound the VHS video to Elmo singing, "Yo, Five!" "Yo, Five" was replayed no fewer than 20 times a day for months. Months.

As he learned to walk and was rehabilitated, he soon was running.

"BLUE TWO!" he barked. Out the door he went (until I childproofed all the exits) outside looking for blue twos.

Let me tell you something I didn't know until he came along. License plates, in Oregon anyway, have one sticker for the month of registration, and another for the year. February had a blue sticker. Blue two. The sticker can't be bigger than 1 1/2 inches squared. It's way down on the lower left hand corner of a license plate. These blue twos were a source of endless fascination for him. We took several walks a day, not being able to return home until we'd found a blue two. It didn't take me long to stake out which homes had one, and to begin praying their car was in the driveway.

We took road trips in search of blue twos. Parking lots. Safeway, Target, apartment buildings.

"BLUE TWO!" he shouted joyfully each time we found one.

We looked for blue twos the greater part of each day, for four years. One thousand four hundred sixty days in a row I took that boy in search of blue twos.

Not a bruise on 'em.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Very shortly after our visit with Dr. Budden, I received a call at home one evening. A Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrician at Emmanual, Dr. David Willis, had been given our name by Dr. Budden. He was bringing pediatrician and child development expert, Stanley Greenspan (not Alan) to Portland, and was looking for kids to study under Dr. Greenspan's tutelage. Our kid was "perfect."

We didn't realize at the time that Dr. Willis was "the" guy in Portland, and almost impossible to get in with. We felt we were doing him a huge favor by agreeing to partake in his study.

For months we met with Dr. Willis while he videotaped us with our son. He taught us techniques called "Floor Time" and chronicaled the journey for Dr. Greenspan and his students to study. I went from not having anyone take me seriously, to receiving national attention in one week.

In the meantime, we were working with an occupational therapist, with a specialty in sensory integration therapy. Integrating his sensory information, apparently, was something this little guy could not do. Everything was either too much or too little. He was both hyposensitve and hypersensitive. Naturally, the most complicated version to treat. The therapist explained that while "typical" (we don't use the word "normal" in the special needs world) babies were soothed with gentle rocking. All this did to our guy was annoy the hell out of him. He needed vigorous jostling for his sensory system to register "movement." He needed highly seasoned food for his mouth to register "food", while his ears that we suspected of having hearing loss, were so keenly sensitive he may as well have been a German shepherd. Smells, too, highly, highly sensitive and easily disturbed by them.

We were instructed on the joys of brushing therapy coupled with joint compressions. Every two f'ing hours we stripped this boy down to nothing, brushed him vigorously with a sugical brush, only in one direction and with a specific head to toe pattern, then compressed each and every joint in his entire body. Every joint in the hands, legs, arms. Every two hours. Every day. For months. The theory being you overstimulated the sensory system so it could swich "on" and work as it was designed to work. It worked. It wasn't a miracle cure, but there was definitely some settling down of this unsettled boy. Definitely.

We'd turned a corner.

Stanley Greenspan, internationally known for his work with infants, young children, and their families, and his colleague, nationally recognized child psychologist Serena Wieder, have for the first time integrated their award-winning research and clinical experience into a definitive guide to raising children with special needs. In this essential work they lay out a complete, step-by-step approach for parents, educators, and others who work with developmental problems. Covering all kinds of disabilities—including autism, PPD, language and speech problems, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and ADD—the authors offer a new understanding of the nature of these challenges and also specific ways of helping children extend their intellectual and emotional potential. The authors first show how to move beyond labels to observe the unique profile—strengths and problems—of the individual child. Next, they demonstrate the techniques necessary to help the child not only reach key milestones but also develop new emotional and intellectual capacities. Greenspan’s well-known ”Floortime” approach enables parents, as well as clinicians, to use seemingly playful interactions that help children actually move up the development ladder and often master creative and abstract thinking formerly thought beyond their reach. Including vivid case histories, the book also offers deep and compassionate understanding of the stresses and rewards involved in raising a child with special needs. whose amazing work with autistic and other special needs children is nationally known, and his colleague, child psychologist Serena Wieder, have integrated a lifetime of research and clinical practice into a single, comprehensive guide for parents. Covering all kinds of disabilities—including cerebral palsy, autism, retardation, ADD, PDD, and language problems—the book offers specific ways of helping all children reach their full intellectual and emotional potential. First the authors show how to move beyond the label and observe the strengths and problems of the particular child and the key milestones that must be reached. Next, they move step by step through the techniques necessary to help the child reach these milestones and show how to tailor these to each child. Finally, with a deep and compassionate understanding they outline the marital, educational, and social stresses and rewards in raising a special needs child. 320 pages. 1998

Friday, January 26, 2007



Before I can rip him a new one, the doctor tells me, "We've waited long enough. It's time we have this boy thoroughly evaluated. I'm going to send you to Emmanuel Children's Hospital."

Never has it felt so wrong, to be so right. I just wanted him to tell me that indeed, this boy cried too damn much, but that he would out grow it. I did not want to hear he needed a thorough diagnosis from a children's hospital.

The appointment is made. My husband and I take our boy to the best of the best, Dr. Budden. She has a reputation for uncovering every possible cause for every possible problem, and quickly.

We spend 90 minutes with the woman. Our boy fusses, twists, cannot get settled the entire time. She looks him over head to toe, asks us a million questions, in addition to the million we've already answered on all the forms we've completed.

"He is completely flat footed. He needs to wear orthodics. That will help him with the walking and balance.

He has moderate to severe dyspraxia - poor motor planning/firing of information from the brain to the mouth.

He has low muscle tone. He needs to see a physical therapist.

He has moderate to severe auditory processing disorder (APD) - poor communication between what he hears and what he understands.

He has moderate to severe sensory integration dysfunction (SID). What his eyes, ears, mouth, nose and body senses is extremely disturbing to him, he is not able to process it effectively.

He probably has ADHD, but we will want to hold off on that right now.

His pectus excavatum ("sunken chest") may be putting pressure on his heart and lungs. We need to have that x-rayed to determine if that's the case.

You need to get in touch with Portland Early Intervention Program (PEiP) and have them evaluate him for services.

You need to call this physical therapist, that speech pathologist, this occupational therapist and that pediatrician."

In 90 minutes we've I've gone from being the lone voice, trying to convince others there is a problem, to being inundated with facts that prove me "right." Hearing PEiP is particularly disturbing. Must be the water in NE Portland. Everyone I know that was having children around the time I was, ended up in PEiP. PEiP is not where you want to land. Ideally early intervention changes the trajectory of these child, and I believe it can. I've never seen a kid from PEiP move from the "Special Needs" category to "Neuro-Typical" category, though. Never. They improve, they are never cured.

Stunned we leave the office, obligatory "Thank yous" and we go home. Home to where our new lives begin. Home to where we cannot live in denial for one more minute. Home to where the two-year-old lives, too, for whom we must maintain our composure. Home to where I manage the chaotic estate of my recently deceased father, long-distance. Home to where we have already broken ground for a new house and are in the building process, acting as our own general contractors. Home to where my husband has told me he plans to leave his job, work from home, do his own thing. Home to where I have no choice, none, but to put one foot in front of the other, indefinitely. Breaking down will have to wait. Right now I must go home.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Continuation from yesterday...

Time for the toddler to go to bed. Hard to sleep in the 850 sq. ft. house with all the crying, especially since they share a room. The baby and I leave every night at bedtime.

"WAAAAAAAAAAA!" from the backseat.

Eyes so tired, mind so numb, I observe my own driving as though I'm playing a video game.

"I wonder if I'll hit those cars over there," I think, not caring what the answer is. It doesn't matter to me one way or another.

We arrive at Fred Meyer. Biggest carts, biggest aisles, biggest store. In goes the whole infant car seat and away we go.

Back and forth, determining a pattern for the night, to occupy my mind while I nearly run through the store. Can't stop to buy anything, slowing the cart for a second will start the crying again. Shopping is for another time. We are not here to shop, we are here to shove this baby into silence.

Every night is the same. Nothing distinguishes one from the other besides the weather.

"After three months it gets better," everyone tells me.

Colic, they say, unconsolable crying that goes on for more than 3 hours a day. Yep, 21 more than 3 hours a day.

After three months it goes from inconsolable crying to requiring constant consoling.

Changing my diet, homeopathic tablets, peppermint, nothing. Nothing soothes this child other than the jiggling, and something in his mouth, my boob or a pacifier.

None of the milestones I'm looking for are being met. Sitting up, making sounds, even trying to roll over.

Back to the pediatrician I go.

"There is something wrong with this child! He is miserable! I am miserable!"

"Let's give him 'til 6 months, then see," he tries to reassure.

I knew in my gut that waiting will not make a difference. There is something not right here. I don't know what, but I know it's big. Too comatose to argue or advocate, I agree. We'll give it some more time.

The scene repeats itself at 6 months, 9 months, 12 months and even 15 months.

At 18 months this child does not say baba, mama, daddy, up, nothing. There are no utterances from this child's mouth, only cries. There is no crawling, no scooting, no creeping.

This child is in my arms with a pacifier or bottle all the time. No wonder this child doesn't talk or walk, I try to convince myself, all the while knowing deeply that the problem is much worse than I've let myself think.

I go back to the pediatrician again. New-found resolve that I'd better get a different answer this time, or I'm taking this kid to a whole different doctor.

The doctor beats me to the punch.

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

This is the latest exerpt from my memoir...


Forehead pressed to the wall, shoulders slouched, first the right arm until it tires, switching then to the left, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...

The crying dies down, almost stops. I slow my swinging down to match. Too soon, the crying amps back up, so do the arms. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

The crying stops fully. "Don't stop the swinging," I remind myself, "just five more minutes and you'll be done. For now."

I bring the swinging down from alarming viciousness with which it always needs to start, to strong, to medium, to mild, to barely a rock. Then I count.

1, 2, 3, WAAAAAAAAA!

"FUCK!" I shout, not caring whom I wake or offend. "FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!"

The cycle begins again, from the top.

Head to the wall. Shoulders slouched. Vicious to strong, medium, mild, rocking... rocking...rocking...

Then I count.



Exhaustion beyond exhaustion, sleep deprivation to the point of torture. Hallucinations and complete and utter loss of interest in everything. With no way out. None.

"I understand why women throw their children over bridges," I think to myself. Ashamed at my harsh judgment of them, originally. This is beyond what humans can stand. This is pure hell. I hate this child. I hate myself. I hate my life. I hate my husband and if I actually could spend a minute with my two-year-old daughter, I'm sure I'd hate her too. Right now her mother is named PBS. PBS is doing a much better job than I could possibly be doing.

"I wonder if he is going to think his first name is 'Fuck'?" That would be funny. That would be hillarious. I laugh at my own wit. The laughing disturbing even to me.

"Maybe that will be his first word. Wow. That's what ever mother longs to hear from her baby's mouth." I chuckle again. Sickened at what I am thinking. Sickened by what I have become. Sickened with the thought that this will never ever end.

There is no relief come night. Days and nights all one long blur of swinging. There will be no rocking in a rocking chair, no battery or electric swings, those are insulting to my little guy. He wants ACTION! When not in the child seat he is in my arms, feet jumping, his whole body bouncing vigorously.

"I'm afraid I'm giving him Shaken Baby Syndrome," I tell the pediatrician."There must be something wrong with this child. How can any child cry all day and night, every day and night, and not have something wrong?"

The doctor tells me I've got a fussy baby. Well fuck him and fuck fussy, this isn't fussy. This is so beyond fussy there isn't a word invented for it yet, but all those hours I spend with my head to the wall, I'm coming up with a good one for it. Right now all I know is it involves the word "fuck". The other words are a waste of time. I need the big daddy, the monster swear word of all, this is a dire situation calling for dire action. "Fuck" is the best I've got.

I know I am right up to the edge where one step over and I'll be crazy. I don't care. Bring on crazy, if crazy will get me some relief, I'll take crazy.

"Vivi was misunderstood!" I rant to anyone that will listen to me. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood has just been read by everyone I know. Even I thought, when I first read it, that Vivi was a selfish bitch to leave her kids and go sleep for days in some random hotel. Vivi is my hero. I long for sleep. I fantasize about sleep. I want to check in to some random motel room, too. I want to give a false name, pay in cash, find the bed and never leave. I want out of this life I am in.

To be continued...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Wow. Not enough can be made of these two incredible movies. Add "The Secret" and you've got all the material you'll ever need to fully blow your mind and possibly, achieve enlighentment. Just saying...

Both movies came highly recommended from people I highly recommend. Still, took me forever and a day to "get around to it" and watch them. SO glad I did. You will be too.

The quote that's left me shaking is this:

"It all starts with consciousness.
Our thoughts produce our words.
Our words produce our actions.
Our actions produce our habits.
Our habits produce our character
Our character produces our culture."

Both movies operate under the premise that we are one. No duality. Our thoughts can change us. Our thoughts can change others. Our thoughts can do anything.

Gotta go give all this some more thought...


Monday, January 22, 2007

In case you missed it on 60 Minutes, this is what Andy Rooney thinks about women over 40:

As I grow in age, I value women over 40 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why:

A woman over 40 will never wake you in the middle of the night and ask, "What are you thinking?" She doesn't care what you think.

If a woman over 40 doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do, and it's usually more interesting.

Women over 40 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant.

Of course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it.

Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it's like to be unappreciated.

Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 40.

Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 40 is far sexier than her younger counterpart.

Older women are forthright and honest. They'll tell you right off if you are a jerk if you are acting like one. You don't ever have to wonder where you stand with her.

Yes, we praise women over 40 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well- coiffed, hot woman over 40, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year old waitress.

Ladies, I apologize, for all those men who say, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?", here's an update for you. Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it's not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage!

Saturday, January 20, 2007


My mom gave me the greatest Christmas present, a page-a-day calendar of quotes from the Dalai Lama. It's extra meaningful because my mom likes the Dalai Lama very much, but would like him even more if he were a Christian. Her giving me this calendar is signifcant. It says, "You're an adult now, I see that your path is different than mine, and while it is not the path I would choose for you, I respect it." All that from a $10 calendar. Not bad!

Love this quote from today's page...

"I feel that the essence of spiritual practice is your attitude toward others. When you have a pure, sincere motivation, then you have the right attitide toward others based on kindness, compassion, love, and respect. Practice brings the clear realization of the oneness of all human beings and the importance of others benefiting by your actions."

No wonder my mom likes him, he sounds a lot like her friend, Jesus.

Friday, January 19, 2007


My friend, Red, has a new blog! If you like funny and incredible women, you'll like Red. If you like to cook, you'll REALLY like Red. If you're like me, you can love Red, but hate to cook, and still love the blog!

Check it out! Red Hot Mama Cooks at:

Think Martha meets Lucy, and you'll have Red!

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I have an addictive personality. There, I said it.

I am easily influenced by others. True confession.

"Get a Mac," she bossed. I bought a Mac.

"Bubbly water is what you need to be drinking," I started buying it by the case.

"Use 'Mail' on your Mac, then when you're doing anything else, you'll know right away when you get a new message." I obsessively and compulsively check each message as it comes through, allowing my concentration to be broken 50-60 times a day. Cuckoo.

When my kids and husband are home it's non-stop interruptions. When they are gone, it's non-stop interruptions.

The other day I had the big bottle of Pellegrino on my desk, a glass, my coffee mug, cold pizza, had everything going at once until a too-strong tug on the stale pizza caused my hand to whip back, knock over the Pellegrino, and spill it all over the relatively new Mac.

Plugs were pulled, battery removed, towels and hairdryers were put to good use.

Nothing. The Mac wouldn't turn on.

I got my crazy friends to hold vigil, called on the Virgin Mary, even, totally prayed for this life to be saved.

Of course I had not properly "backed up," and my life was in that contraption. That contraption with zero signs of life.

"If only you'll dry out and turn on, Mac, I swear I'll change! I swear I'll use my thumb drive! I swear I won't ever mistreat you again! Please! I'm at your mercy! PLEASE!"

Well, happy, happy. The Mac dried out. My files were saved. The battery is shot, but that's easily replaced. The important thing to remember here, Kids, is no matter what they try to tell you. Water is bad for you AND computers.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


From Ann Pizer,
Your Guide to Yoga.

"Definition: Om is a very simple chant with a complex meaning. Often chanted three times at the start and finish of a yoga session, om is the whole universe coalesed into a single sound and represents the union of mind, body, and spirit that is at the heart of yoga. When chanted, the sound of om is actually three syllables - a, u, and m.
Pronunciation: aaaaauuuuummmmm"

Working on my meditation envy over here. I'm over it. Judgment? Not useful.

Union of mind, body and spirit. LOVE that. We really are three legged stools. When one of our legs is cut short, or missing altogether, the stool can't support a darn thing!

I know people who have such a strong mind "leg", or spirit "leg" or body "leg", but so few with all three in equal proportions.

There have been times in my life when one leg is stronger than the others, and that strong leg moves around. Now, the goal is to get them all strong, doing their part, working together. Union.

But not until this effing snow melts and these kids get back to school. Today the plan for the body is cinnamon rolls, the mind? Sudoku puzzles. The spirit? Gratitude the forecast calls for a warming trend...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I Heard You

Thirteenth birthday, living in Prineville, Oregon, my mom drives me, my cousin, and two friends over to Kah-Nee-Ta, a Reservation with natural hot springs and a resort.

In the car my mom decides to do a little facts of life lesson. She explains how boys our age are so full of testosterone and sperm, she really feels sorry for them. On and on she goes. I am dying of humiliation, but my friends keep asking questions, obviously starved for this information previously denied to them.

I am a huge Judy Blume fan, read all her books a million times. Except for one, Forever. The Prineville public library has it, but the librarian will not check it out to anyone under thirteen. I march myself in there on the morning of my thirteenth birthday and make my demand for the book. The book is a key component to the away slumber party. No book, no "activity" planned.

The four of us devour the book, speculating on our own far off loss of virginity.

Weeks after the birthday weekend, one of my friends, Julie, corners me at school, panicky.

"Will you ask your mom a question for me? It's a secret. Don't tell anyone, and don't let her tell anyone."

"OK," I reassure.

"Ask her if you have sex before you start your period, if you can get pregnant later, when you do start your period."

I didn't really understand. I knew she hadn't begun to menstruate, nor did she have any sort of boyfriend.

"My brother's friend..." she shyly said.

I knew then that she had been raped, and for years had been worrying she'd be retroactively made pregnant.

I asked my mom. She explained that impossibility. The next day I took the good news to Julie.

That was the last time Julie and I ever spoke of it. Our friendship was never the same, and eventually I moved away and never saw her again.


Thirty years later the look on her face still haunts me.

I heard you, Julie. I know it didn't look like it to you. I know you think I forgot. I know you think it was no big deal to me. Not true.

Rape of children and women is a very big deal to me. Very.

I heard you, Julie.

I am working to increase awareness of this epidemic.

I am working with survivors to help them heal from this profound trauma.

I am working to change the world so this crime of shame and silence is a thing of the past.

I heard you, Julie.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Four of us have a meditation practice going, one week only, same time every day, two on the West Coast, two on the East. We're each to meditate on the same thing, then e-mail each other with what "came up" for us.

I am flunking meditation.

Everyone has better meditations than me.

The others are mystical, three dimensional, vivid, and oh so impressive.

I am flunking meditation.

"That's OK," I tell myself, "I meditate while I write. Yea, that's it, my writing is my meditation."

Only not so much. Pretty much doing 10 other things when I write, meditating not being one of them.

"Well, I meditate when I sweep, vacuum, iron, all those repetitive and mindless housekeeping jobs."

Sure, that would work, but that's when I catch up on the phone calls.

"Sleeping is my meditation."

I'll go with that. It's all I've got.

Friday, January 12, 2007


I'm devoting this weekend to hermit-like behavior. I must. I am a sponge, porous, absorbant, but capable of reaching a saturation point. I've reached that saturation point. I am saturated. One more drop of anything and I will explode from overload.

The telephones, Internet, TVs, humans, noisy, noisy, noisy. Demanding, needy, requiring responses from me round-the-clock. Enough.

"When the voice on the inside is louder than the voices on the outside, you've mastered your life," I've heard. ALL I can hear are the voices on the outside. Loud, offensive, disonant. The voice on the inside rendered mute.

"I can't even hear myself think," my mom used to complain. If she couldn't hear herself think in a quiet house, no cell phone, no Internet, no career, how do I think for one minute I can do it? I can't. Period.

So, dear friends and family. I'll re-emerge when I can hear myself think. Promise. Until then, may you all be able to hear your own voice. I wish that for you.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

"A warrior of the Light accepts his Personal Legend completely.

His companions say: 'He has remarkable faith!'

For a moment, the Warrior feels proud, then immediately feels ashamed of what he has heard because he does not have as much faith as he appears to have.

At that moment, his angel whispers: 'You are only an instrument of the Light. There is no reason to feel proud or to feel guilt. There are only reasons to feel happy.'

And the Warrior of the Light, aware now that he is but an instrument, feels calmer and more secure."

From the book, The Warrior of the Light, by Paulo Coelho

Monday, January 08, 2007

Check out this site:

Sunday, January 07, 2007


The doors did turn long enough for the man for whom I was waiting to be spit out, released.

My life did change after spending time talking and getting to know one another.

Not in the way you probably think.

It's a six degrees of separation kind of thing. I know someone who knows someone and so it goes. One good turn deserves another. Year after year feeling alone in the battle of life, leads me to this day. This day a product of my past, of time spent with a quiver full of arrows being shot with abandon, never knowing where, or if, one would stick.

Turns out one did stick. It stuck in a tree, piercing the tree, leaving that tree changed. The tree grew fruit, and from that fruit came this man at the airport.

Today is a day I set in motion long, long ago. What will be set in motion by my actions today? Where else stands a tree with an old quiver? Where else will today's quivers strike?

I sit waiting, in a borrowed car, borrowed life, waiting. Eyes on the glass doors that swing and swing and swing. People entering the airport, people leaving. Side by side, partitioned by glass, divided by their destinations. Home. Away. Home. Away.
A deep sense of knowing that when my guest moves from inside to outside, circularly making his way to me, my life will be dramatically turned as well.
I don't know this man for whom I am waiting in my borrowed car and borrowed life. Both the car and life will one day be returned to their rightful owners. Tomorrow the car, "tomorrow" the life.
"Tomorrow never comes," my dad used to say. Funny words from a procrastinator.
This life that I wear is "mine," but it will go back to the creator at some point. What do I want from this life while I have it on loan?
Thoughts of limitless now fill my mind. Perhaps grandiose. Perhaps not.
"I am calm."
"I am trusting."
"I will gladly walk the path upon which I am placed."
These mantras are my company as the waiting and watching continues.
People outside go in. People inside go out. None of these are the one for whom I wait.
Another day they may have been. Not today. Today I am on the brink of a transition.
Old waiting to exit. New waiting to emerge.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Step I: Get two plates from the pantry. Plastic. Make sure one is his favorite, magenta with white polka-dots. The other one can be any ol' thing.

Step 2: Select 4 pieces of sourdough bread from the bag. Make sure the bread has smallish slices. If you buy the loaf with larger slices, he'll still want four, it will take you twice as long to prepare them, then he will leave two on his plate, un-touched. If you are stuck, and the only bread in the store is the larger version, buy it, then start praying he won't notice you taking two slices, cutting them each in half to produce 4. You have a 50/50 chance of this working. Don't let him even see you thinking of using an end slice.

Step 3: Place the four pieces in the toast oven. Let them brown through one cycle. When the toaster button clicks back up, let him say, "The toast is ready." If you do not allow for him to say, "The toast is ready," you will have hell to pay.

Step 4: Take all four slices out, gingerly, avoiding the burning of your fingers, and flip them over in reverse order. The toaster oven has hot spots, and if you don't reverse the order, some pieces will be darker than others, thus rendering the whole batch unacceptable.

Step 5: Push the toaster button down and stand nearby until it pops up. Do not leave the general vicinity! Panic will ensue. It is just not worth it.

Step 6: When the button pops for the second time, allow for him to say, "The tosat is ready."

Step 7: Take out the four slices, place them on the "bad plate."

Step 8: Using the room temperature real butter and the proper knife, butter each piece to perfection, on the bad plate.

Step 9: Cut the crusts off, entirely. Don't leave even a hint of crust remaining, or again, you will have hell to pay.

Step 10: After cutting off the crusts, move each piece to the "good plate."

Step 11: Generously sprinkle each slice with garlic salt. GENEROUSLY. Then move the garlic salt out of his reach.

Step 12: Present with a flouirsh.

Step 13: Do not leave his side. Watch while he pulls each piece apart into tiny pieces and eats noisily and messily.

Step 14: Remind him to wash hands, with soap, immediately upon leaving his seat.

Step 15. Remind him to use the nearest available sink, avoiding contact with the walls.

Step 16. Remind him that the upstairs laundry room sink is not the nearest, it is the farthest.

Step 17. Remind him that the walls from the kitchen, all the way upstairs, now have crumbs and grease, and you said, "DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING!"

Step 18. Clean-up. This process is approximately twice as long as the prep. time. While you blinked, he took the time to shake each generously salted slice, upside down, all over the kitchen counter tops, behind the sink, in the sink, on the floor, and adjacent chairs.

Step 19 - 100: Repeat 4-6 times a day, every day, for months on end.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


God bless:

I say this every night before falling asleep. If I don’t, bad things will happen to these animals (5), and people (4). Even though some of these animals are already dead, I cannot remove them from the list. If the list isn’t this exact way, bad things will happen to the animals (5) and people (4).

But before I can bless these animals (5) and people (4), I need to make sure all the doors are locked, or bad people will come into our house when we are sleeping, and hurt the animals (5) and people (4). I go to each outside door (2 glass and 3 wooden) and place the sign of the cross on them. Jesus will keep the bad people out, and the good people in.

There are two problems with the basement door. For one, it has a plastic piece that shoves into the hole. Everyone knows plastic is easy to cut right through. I wish the lock had a metal piece, instead of plastic, but I can’t tell Mommy and Daddy that, or they will know that I am scared, and I can’t tell them I am scared, that will wreck the whole routine. This routine is just between me and God.

The second problem with the basement door is that it is only one room away from my room. That means that it is the easiest door to break into, and I will be the first one they get, since I am the closest.

If I’m not sure I got all the doors, I’ve got to get up, do them again, then do all the God Blesses again. The God blesses are always the last thing. They have to be the last thing, or bad things will happen to the animals (5) and people (4).

If Mommy or Daddy is out at night, I can’t do the things I need to do until they come home, and the doors are all done being opened and shut for the night. It has to be my hands on the door for the very last time, or bad things will happen to the animals (5) and people (4).

Monday, January 01, 2007


The nightmares are back. Every year at Christmas time they return. It is time to go back to college, William & Mary, and I live in a state of perpetual dread…

1980 and I’ll be graduating in the spring of ’81, time to figure out where I’m going to college. I’ve got the grades, the activities, even the legacy advantage, at Stanford anyway. For seventeen years I’ve been brainwashed to believe I was going the Ivy League route. From there, straight to medical school. Now the time has come and there is no where I want to go, can even imagine myself going. Every choice fills me with dread.

The harder my parents have pushed for me to study “abroad”, the more I’ve wanted to remain close to home.

“Home,” don’t know where that is anymore. The minute I graduate from high school, Mom and Jim are selling this house and moving to Carmel, California. They’ll “figure something out” for Mike, who has no intention of moving with them, and frankly, I don’t blame him one little bit.

My best friend from high school, Ruth, has it all figured out. “I’m going to OSU. If you go there too, we can be roommates!” That’s about the best reason to choose a college as any. I’ve always wanted to be close to home, home is moving away from me, but I can re-define “home” to mean “near loved ones.” Ruth is a loved one. Her name, same as my mom’s, is more than a coincidence. For the last few years I have turned to her for advice time and again. She has never steered me wrong. Her nickname, even at fourteen, was “Mom.” Everyone counted on Ruth to be the designated driver, the dispeller of wisdom, the giver of hugs and comfort. She even has a few grey hairs starting in already. She is a mom to me in all ways that matter.

The only college I could choose that would cause more of an uproar would be the University of Washington. My family lives in Eugene, Oregon, home of the Fighting Ducks! The Ducks’ biggest enemy is UW, the Huskies. “Huck the Fuskies” say the bumper stickers and t-shirts. My mild mannered cousin, Julie, has already chosen that for her school. Beat me to the punch. Her parents, both Ducks, try to support her decision, even giving her a bright purple and gold Pendleton wool blanket for Christmas. Never forgotten, at least by her parents, I am given an obnoxious orange and black one. At least one set of “parents” backs me up and loves me unconditionally.

Fall 1981 and my mom and Ruth’s mom drive us up to OSU. We unload the cars together, hug goodbye, and off they go. In that instant I am left to be mothered by an eighteen-year-old.

Summer 1982 I am nineteen and have tasted freedom. I love college. I love the independence, the smoke-free living, the choices, the steady, reliable presence of Ruth, as opposed to the bipolar chain-smoking life with Jim and Mom.

I go to Carmel to visit in the summer. While visiting for the summer, meeting friends, finding a job, Mom tells me she and Jim are moving to Southern Virginia. New job for Jim, who has had several since abruptly quitting his general manager job in Eugene promptly after turning 50.

I return to OSU, making plans to visit Mom and Jim in Virginia at Christmas time.

Christmas 1983 finds me college shopping again. Now that Mom, Jim and Mike are clear across the country, what am I doing alone in Oregon? I visit University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary, picking up applications and making plans in my head to transfer. Being close to home, all I’ve ever wanted.

I finish the year at OSU, and find I’ve been denied at UVA, but accepted at W&M. I know in my heart it is only my Oregonian status that got me in. I’m smart, not brilliant. I know this, soon W&M will too. Not one other kid from Oregon goes to W&M, I’ve checked. They boast “diversity.” I don’t know what is so diverse about Oregon vs. Virginia guess I’ll find out.

Having left me in Oregon with her divorce trophy, the pumpkin colored Volare station wagon, woody sides and all, Mom now flies across the country to help me drive to Virginia, and my new college.

The Volare has no air conditioning and vinyl seats that stick miserably to our legs all 3,000 hot, humid, excruciating miles. It’s just Mom and me in the car, day after day, mile after mile. Long about day three she casually mentions, “Jim and I are moving back to Oregon, Portland this time. New job for Jim. A great one.”

“WHEN?” I ask. Not believing, yet kicking myself for falling for it again, the false security Mom offers.

“Oh, right away, just a few weeks.”

The rest of the drive is in silence.

I cannot believe I am driving “home”, while “home” is simultaneously packing and planning to go in the direction I just came from.
William & Mary is a university for the super smart, grad school bound, East Coast go-getters. I am none of the above. I am a fish out of water there. Nobody even pronounces Oregon right, saying it like Or-ee-gone, instead of “Orygun”, the real way.

Because I am a transfer student, I am put in the transfer student dorm, two miles off campus, conveniently located adjacent to the state hospital. Me and the crazies. Perfect. Perhaps I’m at “home” after all. If there’s one thing I’m familiar with, it’s crazies.

Twice a day I hear the buzzer, loud from my dorm room, telling me the crazies are free to roam the grounds of the hospital. From my dorm there is no sign of college life, only life inside a state hospital.

My roommate would fit better next door, than she does here. She is one crazy chick. We have less than zero in common, and although we have a sink right in our room, I never see her wash her hands, her face, nor brush her teeth the entire time we share the space. Never.

Finally the semester ends. I’ve been trapped in this hell since August, now in December, I finally am on a plane headed to Portland, Oregon. Four weeks away from these crazies, four weeks in close proximity to my own familiar crazies. I can’t wait.

I spend the time off with friends from Oregon State and my cousins, who always have lived in Portland. The family that gave me the orange and black Pendleton blanket, what seems like a lifetime ago.

Eventually the break ends, and I’m back on a plane headed east. My stomach revolts, my head pounds. I may as well be on my way to the gallows. I am so depressed I can’t see straight.

Nothing improves at W&M for me. In fact, having been away, the re-entry is intolerable. I fall into a deep depression, crying all the time, doing poorly in my classes, not caring about anything.

I know my mom will be of no help. I finally get that. So I call mom #2, Ruth, still thriving at OSU, living out Plan A to its fullest.

“What you’re going to do is come back here,” she tells me. You don’t have to finish everything you start. Some things weren’t meant to be finished, only started.”

Knowing in my gut this is the best advice I’ve ever heard in my life, my spirits instantly rise. Grabbing paper and pencil I make a list of all the things I need to un-do before I can get the hell out of here.

Again with the Volare, my mom and I travel east to west, in the bitter winter this time. We saw many sights along the way. I don’t remember a single one.

Arriving in Portland on my 21st birthday, I attend my brother’s high school basketball game that night. No 21-er for me. No parties. No celebrations. I know, though, I’m running the show from now on. I will live where I want to, and with whom. I’m 21 now. An adult, in every sense of the word.