Thursday, December 21, 2006

Running low...

well, the last few days' rants have taken it out of me. Not entirely true, but close enough. Actually, the last few months have taken it out of me, whatever it was. Today my mind rested, while my body rearranged the furniture in my bedroom and threw a bunch of stuff out all over the house. I also began a nice large stack for the Salvation Army.

I think that today has been something of a funk. Certainly not how my days usually wind up. But this morning I woke differently than usual.

I was dreaming about my dad, and I was dreaming that he had died. I was sitting on a curb, crying and confused, trying to figure out what to do next, from getting funeral arrangements ready to retrieving my kids from their other grandparents, to simply standing up. The whole thing was as real as any dream I've ever had. When I was jolted out of it by my son's small voice calling "Mommy!", I didn't know where I was. I turned to tell my husband about my strange dream and he wasn't here. I had to take a few moments to figure out where "here" was, remember that my husband is eight thousand miles away, and then I actually had to think back to July to decide whether my dad really had died or not.

It was the most disconcerting dream I've ever had, combined with the most confusing awakening I've ever had. I did eventually get my mind back on track, but the emotions surrounding the death of my dad (the real death as well as the dream), the absence of my husband, and the stress of this past year have had me in a funk all day. Ok, let's just call a spade a spade: I've been depressed today.

So I do what I always do when I get depressed. I went on a cleaning spree around the house. Now my bedroom is completely redesigned, my living room and kitchen are free of quite a few unnecessary items, and the place is starting to look tidy. It's a hard look to go for with a 2 year old constantly bringing out all the toys that I just put away, and toting them all over the house. But it keeps me busy trying!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shopping Days are Running Out...

If you're a man who hasn't bought gifts for Christmas yet, you could be in a heap 'o trouble. First of all, you're running out of time, man! That Black and Decker cordless drill you've been meaning to buy your girl may be all sold out and you may be forced to buy her jewelry instead! Hurry, man, hurry!

Christmas is my least favorite holiday, next to Valentine's Day. Oh, no, not because I can't get into the romance of mistletoe and twinkling lights, or hot cocoa and a warm fire. No, I get into that just fine. I even enjoy the romance of Valentine's Day, if such a thing still exists.

What I hate is the commercialism of both. At least some people or groups of people still pretend to uphold the Spirit of Christmas with their giving back to the community, and nativities can still be seen for those who still remember that this pagan holiday was adopted by the Christians so that they could celebrate the birth of Jesus without detection.

Valentine's Day doesn't bother to mention the saint it's named for, nor why, but I'm not Catholic, so I don't really care about that. What does bug me, however, is how the 364 other days of the year when people can (and should) be romantic and loving towards each other get ignored and pushed aside in the rush to buy the most expensive chocolates, bouquets of roses, sparkling jewelry, or other tokens of appreciation. And it's so ingrained in our society that women everywhere spend the next week at watercoolers and over lunches bragging about how "over the top" their man went this year. Now I have heard some pretty incredible and romantic stories about how Valentine's was spent, but what's wrong with an ordinary Friday -- or Tuesday! -- night in the middle of August?

So while people are teaching their kids that the spirit of Christmas is who can get the best gifts, or the most expensive new toys, therefore validifying "parental coolness" amongst preadolescent and adolescent peers, and while couples are buying into the notion that romance can only really occur on Feb. 14th with any credibility for exemplifying "true love" to each other, I sit back and unenthusiastically watch it all happen with sadistic glee.

My tree is up, but the skirt is empty. There are lights on my house, but there are not piles of toys for the kids to unwrap on Christmas Day. I prefer moderation at this time of year, blowing all out for birthday's instead. Why? Because on top of being frugal -- or at least logical, and refusing to go into debt to buy Christmas gifts -- I have a problem with material gluttony.

Little gifts are given all year round around here. Sometimes they're given as rewards, sometimes for no reason whatsoever. But we don't do a countdown to Christmas starting on Thanksgiving or in July or on December 26th of the previous year, because it just doesn't matter to us.

I'm not saying change your traditions to match mine. I'm just saying that there are certain ideas promoted by Kay Jewelers and Macy's and Wal-Mart and others that this is the time to take out a second mortgage to impress people (kids, co-workers, relatives, neighbors and the like) with how much you probably shouldn't afford and possibly can't afford. This is the time when giving gifts tied with ribbon should come second to giving time and giving to those in need -- like the hungry, the unexpectedly jobless, those that just found out they have cancer and no insurance... people who need healing of the heart, not a new sweater. There is plenty to do to spread Christmas cheer other than stuff your kids' rooms with more stuff.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ain't it grand to be a woman and abuse the system?

I am sick of efforts to equalize race, gender, sex, political slant, religious bias, hair color, length of nails, and such ending in a mandated regulation that ends up with reverse age/sex/gender/blah, blah, blah discrimination.

Here is one brief example:

You men out there. You go sign a contract swearing your oath to protect the U.S. from foreign and domestic enemies so help you God, and you give 4, 6 years of your life to the Armed Forces. Good for you. Shy of a nervous breakdown resulting in some mental disorder, or breaking yourself, you're gonna spend those years serving your country. And thank you to all who do.

Now you women. You sign the same contract, state your oath, and ship out to BCT (that's "Basic", for all you old-schooler's). You get through it, go on to AIT, and fall in love with another soldier. (You fall in love with another soldier, because all you've seen for the last 9, 12, 26 weeks are men in green uniforms; blue if you're Navy, etc...)

Over some various leave, it doesn't matter which one, you and your new beau run off to the courthouse and get hitched, have lots of sex in a cheap hotel for 3, maybe 4 days, and then you return to the barracks and your military way of life. Good for you. You PCS (that means you go to a new duty station), and find out you're knocked up!!

(stay with me, folks....)

Your hubby is excited; he's gonna be a daddy!! Yay!!! You're thrilled, you're a mommy-to-be!!!

Now what to do! You're on the Pacific Coast and he's in Germany. How are you gonna do this?! You're still trying to get Ops to fix paperwork so that the two of you can get stationed in the same place!!

Not to worry, oh newly pregnant one! Your husband may have to serve his country to the letter of his enlistment, but *You* are entitled to a "Get out of Jail Free!" card!!

Yes, you, young and irresponsible girl, can be chaptered out of the military!! Hell, we're talking Stay-at-home-mom-Army-wife stuff here!! You can be a hero and an inspiration for simply getting pregnant!!

The U.S. Taxpayers -- John Q. Public -- just spent $35,000 to get you through BCT, let alone your specialized school (AIT), and you went off and got pregnant before being in the military for one little year, and now you can go home like it was all summer camp with grenades and live fire.

Oh, and you don't even have to repay John Q. Public for the free job training, either.

Now, I am a woman, so I can be embittered without anyone screaming sexism. HA! But I take oaths seriously, and find that women who follow the example mentioned above (and I know a couple personally...) to be irresponsible and dishonorable beyond words that can accurately convey my current emotions.

Being a soldier is something I thank every current, former, retired, and veteran member of the armed forces for. Being a woman, a wife, and a mom is a great honor as well -- individually and cooperatively. But using one to back out of the other is despicable in my opinion.

Take both seriously, and honor your word. You sign up to serve 4 years? Then bloody well serve them.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Offspring

Ever wonder what happens to the kids of various infamous people? For example, what will Michael Jackson's kids grow up to be like? Or how about Madonna's, Britney Spears', or Brangelina's? What will Prince Harry grow up to be?

I've pondered this a bit over the course of my life, occasionally enjoying the answers as time has passed. For example, Stella McCartney became a famous fashion designer while Julian Lennon had one hit and faded out of the tabloids quietly. Paris Hilton, well... who thought being the daughter of a Hotel owner could result in more tabloids, influence a character in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody (the character "London), and be enough to get a record contract with little talent and no prior dues to the industry. Oh, and the "Simple Life" show. Wow. In my opinion, it's a complete waste of energy of all those involved to promote her, but it does show that America is still full of opportunity for the ambitious.

But what about the lesser known infamous people? Those that had their fifteen minutes of fame for one tabloid reason or another? The lesser scam artists, murders, rapists of the 5 o'clock news? What about their kids? Anyone got any stories on the children of the modern day Jesse James' and Bonnie and Clyde's?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

November in a nutshell

I'm back after a nice hiatus. Okay, not at all a "nice" hiatus, but a necessary one nonetheless.

I noticed that the last time I blogged was November 7th. Well let me describe life as of the 10th of November:

It was a balmy and warm day on the 10th, and I took homemade pink (strawberry-flavored) and white (vanilla-flavored) cupcakes to my daughter's school at lunch so we could celebrate her birthday. We were celebrating early because on the 11th she went into the hospital to have surgery. The 11th was the last day she walked, by the way.

Now let me skip to the ending for a minute and mention that she is not paralyzed. Atrophied, but not paralyzed. Let us return to the story.

On the 11th of November my 6 year old daughter was admitted into the hospital for a 5-in-1 surgery that would completely rework her bladder and bowels to theoretically improve her continence and allow her a more "normal" life. It would also save her kidneys; her left kidney was scarred and functioning at only 23%. And it would minimize her bladder/kidney infections, of which she has always suffered chronically. Oh, and it would allow her bowel maintenance, something she has never had. Some neat side effects would be decreased pain and discomfort, increased health... little things like that.

So on the 13th she went under the knife after two horrible (unimaginably horrible) days of bowel prep. She also went in just under the wire as her previous two days came within one hour of being unsuccessful for surgery. But she made it and then I spent 17 hours waiting.

Yes, seventeen hours, she spent in surgery. It was 1:30 in the morning the following day when the surgeon called and said she was in recovery and headed for the PICU.

She quietly entered the PICU where she slept peacefully. They kept her under for all of that day (the 14th) so she could rest after such a long surgery. On the 15th, all hell broke loose.

She had been interred (on a ventilator) until the morning of the 15th, and at that time they took her tube out of her throat so she could breathe on her own. Her lungs collapsed later that afternoon. I stood at the foot of my daughter's bed in the pediatric ICU and watched her drowing on the fluids in her lungs. I watched her pulse-ox (amount of oxygen in her blood) drop to 40% before they got the tube back in her throat. I was watching her die, and I could do nothing but stay out of the doctor's way. She was re-interred, stabilized, and put in a medicinal coma for the next 60 hours.

On Saturday the 18th she was allowed to come to a bit and eventually had the tube removed again. This time she did fine. By this I mean that she was able to breathe on her own, not that she was fine.

Somehow, that little girl came home on Thanksgiving Day. You call it what you will; I call it a miracle.

Her weakness was a trial, and carrying her everywhere with three tubes extending from her abdomen, two with foley bags attached, was a trick. Tending all her medical needs -- her new ones as well as her old ones -- was time-consuming, mentally exhausting, and emotionally draining. Tears were no absolution, so there was no point in crying.

But looking at her was like looking upon a wise sage. She had aged so much in such a short time. Not because she turned 7, although she did, somewhere in the middle of all of this, but because her understanding of her own body, how medicine works (doctors, nurses, hospitals...), and the extent to which hurt can happen in the name of progress was now more deeply ingrained in her than ever before.

I've always promised my daughter that I'd never let anyone hurt her. I ask her if she believes me, and she assures me that she does. Hugs and kisses follow and much comforting cuddling.

Then I let "them" carve into her abdomen and change her entire world. Explaining that I did not let them hurt her, as it was necessary for her to get better, to a little girl that was hurting was absolutely a lie and unacceptable as an answer.

She no longer believes me; not like innocent children blindly believe their parents with unwavering love. She just knows that they did, in fact, cause her to hurt. It has been the most sobering realization of both of our lives.

November rolled into December unnoticed. The tears are still no absolution, but at least I'm more willing to let them fall now. My daughter struggles to regain her strength, and her sanity - to some extent- and I struggle to regain her trust. Every day she sees her belly with it's incision scars and is reminded that I let them do this to her. It will be years before she understands why, if she ever does.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sometimes I need to dust off presupposition and circumstance and just stand in the sun without cobwebs aging me and dating me.

yeah, that's vagueness for ya. But every once in a while vagueness is just what is needed. Oh, sure it's not as juicy as gossip or as reliable as facts, but if there were a specific story to be told here, instead of allusions to the greater potential, then I'd tell it.

Perhaps the greatest thing about life is that the best moments are stories that are not sharable with the whole world. Usually it's only for the people that experienced them. Sometimes the stories are sacred, like trips to Vegas, that are not to be disclosed even under duress. Sometimes they just wouldn't mean anything to anyone but those that lived them. I've had a few experiences like that lately.

So for vagueness, I get an "A", and for storytelling I'm gonna fail this one.

I'll leave you with the quiet and gentle nudge to sit back for a minute and relish a moment that is yours -- or mostly yours -- alone to enjoy. Smile, indulging that chuckle or grin that wants to excape your lips... it's okay to do so. If there is another friend or two that will enjoy reliving the moment with you, give them a call or drop them an email.

Chances are these are the great stories that go unsung in our lives, the ones that will never be turned into novels, movies.... They're also the ones that don't have to be, maybe even shouldn't be, but have more meaning and are more cherished for it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

perspective

To my readers, I must seem like a lazy writer. I'm not. I'm a busy writer, complete with all sorts of fun anecdotes in various writing styles. I'm a lazy blogger.

Now, it's not because I don't love to write -- or blog. It's because I'm terribly self-absorbed these days. Living all the great things that become greater stories sooner or later. Hopefully sooner.

Today, living great things means that my back door is open and I'm listening to the rain bounce off of my back patio. The sound of wet wood is refreshing, as the rain is cooling and the sky is grey and full of dull ambient light.

Today has been a quiet, slow kind of passing of the time; the kind of day where curling up with a good book is all it takes to be completely content. I spent it cooking leizurely over the stove and then watching one of my favorite movies on DVD. It's been a great day.

Sometimes all I need is a good rainy day to slow down and enjoy doing nothing. Basking in something of an afterglow, I'm gently bragging about it to you, dear reader, because I hope if you've not had a day like this lately, you have one soon.

Monday, October 23, 2006

In the details

I had Lasik performed a couple of days ago; now I see better than I have in more than 22 years. What I see has almost brought me to tears. Not because it's beautiful, though sometimes it is. Not because it's funny, though sometimes it is. Sometimes it's ugly, or painful, or the like, but it is always amazing and intriguing and fills me with wonder.

For example, pine trees really do look similar to Christmas trees with a likeness I had never been able to identify before because I had never been able to accurately see the top of a pine tree from the ground.


And I had never noticed before the actual tire tread in the black marks on concrete highway dividers. There are also many smaller scratches within the larger black mark that may be white or some other paint color. I had no idea such details ever existed before.

It's a fabulous thing, being able to see. I mean really being able to see. I had no idea that I was missing so much in life.

I look forward to seeing what's next. Pun intended.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

well isn't this fine news

So now I need surgery too. And since the body part in question no longer has enough usable parts to patch it back together, it's going to require a "cadaver graft", which is exactly what it sounds like... grafting parts from a cadaver into me. Yay. I've seen too many B-rated horror movies for this not to be a bit creepy; it's only cool that modern medical science can do such things until your doctor tells you that he's going to be doing it to you.

On the up side, once my daughter is healed from her extensive surgery, I can go under the knife for my own, therefore only putting one of us down at a time. On the down side, It's gonna eat up the next 6 months of my life in pretty efficient and chaotic fashion.

When this is done, I should be "fixed". Good. I think modern medical science is almost out of options....

Monday, October 09, 2006

and it wasn't even a shot that rang out

The butt of a handgun makes a definitive sound when it is whacked hard against wood. The sound changes a bit when it's a doorframe versus a dresser, or a dining table, and certainly the metallic clang reverberates a bit longer when it's an oven door. But the point is, it's a sound that rings out in the afternoon sun as "not belonging".

It's not as loud when two people are yelling at the top of their lungs at each other, but it's still definitive against the white noise of a attic fan in the background.

Whack.

"Get out of this house now and don't even plan on coming back, you here me?"

Whack.

"I don't want to be here. You're an asshole...."

Whack.

"What are you gonna do? Shoot me? Then be man enough to just do it."

Whack.

"If she wasn't in your arms I'd shoot you dead where you stand, I swear I would...."

Whack.

Every few steps he would hold the revolver by the butt, his finger on the safety, then turn it around and whack... he'd hit something else with it. His face was red, distorted with rage and rebellion. His features were cold, his eyes were black fire.

She cradled me to her, close, as though he might really shoot her, as though I might just save her. I stared at my father wide-eyed, unbelieving. This was too much for a three year old mind to comprehend, and yet I understood everything perfectly. This was something I could do nothing to salvage, I could be no salve for this wreck of a marriage. At best I'd get out of this with two parents. At worst my mother would bleed out from under me and I'd fall from her arms, a bullet severing her claim to life, shot into her by my father's hand.

"You bitch, just get out. Get out before I change my mind and shoot you between the eyes."

Whack-thwongg.... The sound of metal reverberated from the oven door, filling the house and my ears.

"I'd still try to save this if you would just be reasonable..."

Whack.

"Are you kidding me? Get out now, woman. There's no reason for me to ever say another word to you again."

She pried open the door tearfully, hysterically, with one hand and all but threw me inside, scurrying in beside me, slamming the door, and peeling out down the driveway.

My dad stood in the carport, his hand wrapped around his pistol, his finger on the trigger, malice and hatred on his face. Our eyes met as the car disappeared down the driveway, and I didn't know if his hatred was for me or not.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

out of fuel

It's amazing how easy it is to run out of fuel.

With regards to automobiles, it's as simple as ignoring the E, the flashing "low fuel" light, the letters on the dash that spell out "low mileage" (depending on the age of your auto, of course).

With regards to life, it can be forgetting/refusing to eat, it can be failing to get enough sleep, or it can be news that your daughter needs and will receive extensive surgery.

For me, today, it was the latter.

So here I am, ready and willing to burn paper crowns and exorcise demons, and I'm sideswiped by news that leaves me numb and reeling, even if it was somewhat expected. Granted, the news went far beyond what I expected, but it's the reconciling myself to the new reality that has left me speechless this evening.

And don't I have quite a bit to say for someone who's caught offguard and speechless?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

and so begins the burning....

The princess was born with a queen's name -- Catherine -- and came into the world unknowingly bearing the weight of her entire kingdom on her shoulders. She was raised to carry it, as a feminine Atlas, and she accepted her lot long before she understood it.

It was when she was still very young that Catherine woke up one day and metaphorically made a paper crown of hearts that she donned as her daddy's princess. The problem was that her daddy didn't need a princess, let alone want one, and she spent the rest of his mortal life staining it with glue and tears.

The grass is grown over the hole in the earth where he is buried now, leaving no visible trace of his footsteps on this earth, just a marker listing his life in succinct dates. Catherine is a woman now, with all the responsibility of her past, her present, and her future on her shoulders, and it is time she burns the paper crown.

Monday, October 02, 2006

bragging rights

I didn't marry a doctor.

I didn't marry a lawyer.

I didn't marry an executive, a middle-level management ladder climber, or a man of status.

I married for love.

Love. And companionship. We share similar mindsets, values, and ethics. We share laughter. We share smiles.

To hell with the rest. Bragging rights are not for parents to sit over coffee, wine, cigars... and live vicariously through their childrens' successes. Bragging rights are for those who live the life first hand.

I'm a parent, so I know something of bragging rights. I get to brag that my kid can walk (at all), overcoming a debilitating birth defect. I get to brag that she is sweet, loving, caring, good-natured, and even more... and one day I'll brag that she has made her life exactly what she wanted of it.

Regardless of whether or not she marries a doctor, a lawyer, or a man of status. Regardless of whether or not she marries at all. I'd rather that she loved with her whole heart than with her mind and her manipulations.

To hell with the rest.

Monday, September 25, 2006

From a lizard's point of view

My friends recanted a story about their afternoon with a lizard. I'll recant it for you now from the lizard's point of view:

There I was lounging around on my favorite balcony. The sun was shinin', there was a gentle breeze... then this shadow of a large monster of a thing on two legs came up and grabbed me by my tail. Naturally I dropped the thing like last year's headlines. But he grabbed me again, and this time when the tail had to go, it hurt! (They ain't supposed to get that short! Now I know how a Jew feels after a Bris...)

Anyway, the huge bi-pedal thing took me into his dark lair and threw me into a tiled room with some large furry animal with claws and teeth. The furry thing batted me around for a while, and then he brought another furry thing into the room, and it chased me and pinned me to the floor. So I fought back. I bit it right below its mouth, and I hung on.... Eventually the large beast thing pulled the cat away and I fell to the floor. There was a large flat furry thing, so I bit it before it could get me. The large monster laughed and the other furry cat grabbed my leg in its mouth and started pulling at me. I thought I was going to die!! Never have I ever been tortured so much! I told them (in lizard language, of course) that I had no idea what they wanted from me, but that I knew nothing! It didn't seem to matter. I was chewed on, pulled on, grabbed, and finally the big monster pulled me off of the dead furry thing and fought over my body with the cat. Finally I just passed out from the pain.

That's when I found myself placed back on the balcony. I sat there, just basking in the pleasure of not being accosted by anything, and then the big ugly monster tried to flick me off the balcony. As the feeling of air underneath me almost lifted me out into space, I grabbed onto the balcony and held on for dear life.

That's how I found myself here, bruised, lightly broken, and scrambling to get some solid ground underneath me. I'm telling you, if you ever want to bask in the sun... stay away from that place....

Friday, September 22, 2006

some greater purpose

Sometimes I think that I've chosen the hardest profession in the world, and I don't mean freelance writing. I mean being an at-home mom. Add to it that I'm an Army wife, and I think that maybe I need my head checked.... But possible insanity aside, I've chosen the job that truly makes me happy.

And yet I feel that I have to defend my choices as though I were less than a prostitute. I am surrounded by intelligent people, and there certainly are those that approve or are proud of me for my decisions, but there are those that hold their intelligence, their jobs (read: professions), and their own choices in such high esteem that they look down their noses at me for being "just a mom".

Oh, I'm also an unpaid counselor to all my friends, but I get it back in love and support, so it's okay....

That we live in a world where it is considered (by those that support women's lib to the extreme) oppressive and beneath a woman to simply be a mom is sickening to me. I thought the entire women's lib movement was for the greater acceptance by society for whatever a woman chose to do with her life?! So where's my acceptance by society???!!!!

But before I get off on a redundant rampage, let me segue to some greater purpose that I'm pondering. I don't need the limelight to find self-validation. I am better behind the scenes, organizing, supporting, adding to those that shine by being me. And I enjoy it back here. I will probably go unknown by many and unacknowledged by even more for the things that I do do. I am a great think tank, and my ideas frequently end up used and improved on by the movers and shakers I've met. Sometimes my ideas get passed on from me to my mom to someone else who loves the ideas, and success is born. Sometimes I just lend a shoulder to cry on and make things better and allow perspective to show itself without a word from me.

So what? So... maybe I'm supposed to be exactly what I am (in the chorus) and no principal diva at all. So what indeed. In my opinion, the chorus usually sounds better.... And the divas usually need all the help they can get.

My point to all of this? To all you that disapprove or to the feminists who think I'm single-handedly destroying all that they've worked so hard to eradicate.... I am as liberated as a woman can get. I choose to be me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

opinionated again

So I've fielded phone calls from friends whom I care about describing the evils of the actions of the men they've married. Dammit, women!! Why commit yourselves to people who cage you, suppress you, deny you your own dreams, and want you as their mommies and not their wives??

Example:

1. "You're so much better [in bed] than all those other women...." This was said to a friend of mine deep in the night after conjugal relations with her husband. He then denied cheating on her.

2. "Yes, honey, you can go work on your master's degree for the next eighteen months... but I'm never gonna see you (in a whiny voice) and I'm gonna miss spending time with you...." Pouting, moping, and melancholy ensued.

3. "I don't want you to go get a job. I want to take care of you." Followed a few days later by "All you do is cook and clean while I go work all day. What do you contribute to the marriage?" Don't get me started on this one.

The women that are married to these neanderthals will call them "nice guys", to which I say "puh." They may be nice, but they are severely lacking in some common sense and some respect and admiration for the women they married. Oh, and they are acting like jerks.

Women, please realize that "nice guys" do not guilt you into giving up your dreams, do not belittle your efforts in a marriage whether you are the rocket scientist or the housewife, do not make comments about how great you are in bed when compared to the other women that they are [not] sleeping with. I cannot even begin to describe how ridiculous it is to justify and excuse actions such as these with "but he's a nice guy" or better yet, "but I love him." Sometimes love isn't enough.

And sometimes love is warped and twisted and sees various evils as lesser than others, therefore excusing them. Please take an honest look at yourselves and do not settle for less than the best from your man -- any man. And men, do the same with regards to your women.

Relationships -- healthy relationships -- are supposed to be the very best of both people involved. One should not be carrying the other all the time. One should not be raising an adult child (or trying to), it should be an equal partnership between two equals. If it's not, there's a good chance it's not a healthy relationship. And if you won't suffer with the flu, pneumonia, or even allergies because of how they make you feel... why would you suffer in a relationship that's making you sick?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

whew... the rewrite

Well, after sweating the rewrite of Anya's chronicles, I finally managed to get through it with all my hair and teeth (there was much pulling of both to get this one out).

I'm going to repost it here with a request from my readers: please comment. This one is a rough draft of my current assignment for my class (yep, I'm in school again...). I'd like some feedback while there's still enough time to throw it out as junk and write another story.

Thanks so much...
MC


I sat on the cold floor of the white tiled bathroom with my hand on the silver handle of the toilet. Blood pooled between my legs, thick and horror movie red. In the toilet was a lump of tissue slightly larger than my fist -- my unborn child, my miscarried child -- and all I could do is cry.

Should I reach in the toilet and pull out the mass and... do what with it? Take it home by airplane for a "proper burial"? Should I just flush the toilet and send my child to the bowels of the city? Tears rolled down my face, and I looked around the stark white room, noticing that the only color in the room was the blood on the floor and in the toilet.

I flushed, finally. And then I sobbed and choked on my sobs.

Alone in the bathroom, alone in the hotel room, alone in Washington, D.C., I returned to my bed. There was nothing to do that interested me. Not flip channels on the TV, not read the Bible in the top drawer of the nightstand, and certainly not leave the room. Numb, I stared at the wall until I forgot to stare anymore and fell asleep, some time later.

I woke sometime later to a wet feeling beneath me. The sheets were more red than white, and it took quite a bit of effort to wash them in the hotel bathroom to turn them back to a dull pink. The bleeding wouldn't quit, nor did it seem to slow much. Drawing a bath for myself, I sat in water immediately tinged red with blood, wondering about absolution, and thinking of Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat. I drained the water, then refilled the tub. It turned pink as well.

The living nightmare of my unborn mass of tissue swirling its way through the sewers was fresh in my mind, and I relived the whole experience every time I looked at the porcelin toilet wiped fresh with the blood stained towel that cowered behind it, shoved between the toilet and the bathtub.

I remembered the feeling of passing the mass. I remembered how I stretched as it slid out of me, how my body expelled it with painful cramping, and I remembered the resounding plop as it hit the water in the toilet basin. My toddler back home with my husband was born by C-section. I pondered that my only living child is not "of woman born" and my miscarried one slid lifelessly through the birth canal.

I had spoken with my husband, a bit by phone, but there was nothing he could do to help. No words penetrated me, as I was so numb that all others' emotions bounced off of me, while I stayed cold and bitter, empty and lost. He was distant as well, unhappy that he could accomplish nothing for me from half way across the country.

His being a good man didn't help ease the pain. His care and concern didn't provide me with arms to hold me while I cried. His soft voice didn't stop the bleeding. Talking to him on the phone only make my state of aloneness even more acute than it otherwise was.

After I cleaned myself and the bathroom up as best I could, eradicating the evidence of blood as much as possible, I crawled back into bed and pulled a pillow into my lap. Sitting cross legged and strangling the pillow caught in my tight embrace, I returned to staring at nothing.

Another hour passed and I knew that I had to go to the hospital. The blood was just as thick and red as it had been for the entire night, and it was not slowing down. I called an amblulance.

When the gurney was wheeled into my hotel room, with EMT’s and hotel workers alike streaming like cockroaches through my open door, I panicked. They wanted to lay me down on the gurney and strap me in for security… for a miscarriage. I felt like a victim of a heinous crime, on display for everyone to gawk at as they wheeled me through the hotel lobby and loaded me into the ambulance.

It was not long before a young and good-looking doctor came into my semi-private ER room and very quickly said “You know you had a miscarriage, don’t you?” He followed this with small talk asking me about myself, and becoming very uncomfortable upon finding out that I was in town alone for three days. I remember him asking very quietly “Do you want to talk to a social worker?” and being relieved when I thanked him and assured him I did not.

Discharged soon afterwards with a “take it easy for a couple of days”, I walked out of the hospital into the cool late summer three a.m. air. I don’t remember seeing anything, instead staring glumly at all of it. I approached a cab that was waiting at the ER entrance.

“You on duty?”

“Yeah. Where to?”

“I only have a credit card….”

“Not a problem.”

I got in, gave him the name of my hotel, and let the night slide by as the car returned me to my temporary home. There is nothing lonelier that I have known than leaving a hospital in the middle of the night by cab and returning to an empty hotel room.

While I was gone, the very courteous staff at the hotel had had my room completely changed; fresh sheets, fresh towels, and a clean (and white!) bathroom. It was sterile and oddly comforting.

When I fell into a fitful sleep, I dreamed of a beautiful little girl, horribly disfigured in a human form but with a glorious angelic face as a cosmic being. She smiled at me and caressed my face and told me that she was okay, and that I would be too.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

9-10-01

I can’t find words enough
to say when life is grim
and tomorrow grey,
I’ll be forever here,
holding your hand.



This poem was penned the day before 9-11-01.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

and then there were crickets

This is a gentle complaint. I feel that I am no longer reaching an audience. Yes, I write because I love it and live for it, but I've gotten spoiled to having *some* feedback from my readers. I could read the absence of commenting as that I am so dead right that you all are out there nodding your head in appreciation of my witty insightfulness, but I am not that presumptuous.

So that leaves apathy. I hate to think that my writing breeds apathy. With all due respect, I can easily write for myself and keep it to myself. Yes, I have become a bit more lax with regards to my self-imposed tight schedule, but it does not help when I feel that I am writing to crickets.

Although at least crickets sing.

A brief written nod in the way of a comment (or a long-winded counter rant) would be appreciated. Let me know there's life out there.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

It was a dark and stormy night

The great writers of the past have taught me some important life lessons that I'd like to impart to you now:

Take the road less traveled; it makes all the difference.

Your conscious can sound like a beating heart when you're particularly guilty.

If you crawl under a porch to die, and don't die, you just may wake up with earthworms crawling all over you.

Sometimes there are snakes in the grass.

The best laid plans of mice and men often go all wrong.

Avoiding a curse/prophesy by changing your lifestyle will not change your destiny.

Go chase that whale. Just don't obsess over it.

When a siren is singing to you, close your ears.

Best friends are not above stabbing you in the back.

Unrequieted love is torment.

You don't have to be beautiful to everyone else to be loved by one.

When all else fails, find a place like Walden Pond for some good ole-fashioned soul searching.

Lip Service to Hide a Heart

Sitting in the shade of a large oak
that we used to climb as kids, we reminisced back
to when we pretended that we weren’t grown
with jobs and responsibilities. Your voice trembled
a little when you spoke of the good ole’ days, and I thought
for a moment that maybe you hadn’t completely let them go.
Scared, I asked you about work, and you answered smoothly,
rapidly, with the flawless speech of a man unable to speak
his heart’s deepest yearnings. It was so long ago that we danced
to the car stereo under a cloudy sky threatening rain; I remember too.
I remember saying our goodbyes later that summer, just before
going off to different schools. I couldn’t hold onto a memory
any more than you could, and we agreed not to ask about it.
Wondering what you’re remembering, what you’re thinking,
I look over in time to see your eyes cloud over, locking it all
inside you again.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Anya Chronicles

I invite all my loyal readers to go read the Anya Chronicles as they unfold on Star Crossed Chronicles.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Forgetting

The sky is growling at me right now. I sympathize with it. It's been a tough day.

The thing is, when a day gets tough, I get through it with gritted teeth and held tongue. Okay, mostly held tongue. There are times when the tongue does a double flip with a half twist straight into a cesspool of things that should've been left unsaid. Oops. Apologies ensue, and eventually all is well again.

With kids, though, one can never tell if the apologies will still end up leaving permanent scars across their psyches. Yeah, they're resilient. Yep, they're pretty darn unconditional with their love. Oh sure, they're forgiving. But it's not any of those things that worry me; it's the forgetting.

I, for one, can remember plenty of horrible, sarcastic, cruel, cold, unemotional, thoughtless things that loved ones spewed out at me. Sometimes because of me, sometimes because they were transferring other frustrations onto me. Yeah, I forgave said loved one. But I never forgot.

Big brown eyes and large blue/green eyes gaze at me every day and expect me to get it right. Or as close to right as humanly possible. I'm still a superhero to them. Sometimes I choke on the superhero cape.... The easiest thing to forget, however, is not that I have said hurtful things when I wasn't thinking, but that I'm still their superhero. When do I remember? After I've tucked them into bed and they're asleep and it's too late to bury my tough day under hugs and kisses and smiles and giggles. The next morning they always greet me with a smile like nothing was ever wrong. They certainly seem better at forgetting than I am. That's a good thing, too.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Just an Old Fashioned Love Song

This week has been a week of reminiscing. I've listened to some of my favorite 80's songs, pulled out pictures from high school, smiled back at faces I haven't remembered in years, and recalled memories that were long forgotten (or so I thought).

Memory Lane is strewn with confetti tears of joy and grief. But the bittersweet taste I've been savoring looking back is worth it.

For example, I had forgotten that I ever went to a military ball (ROTC), and the sheer number of friends I had that were there with me. I had forgotten a birthday party my friends and I threw for my step-father that involved a silly string war in my front yard at 10 o'clock at night. I had forgotten about the time I met my girlfriend at the movies only to sneak into another movie with the guy I was crushing on, leaving my girlfriend alone and missing out on a far better movie than the one I snuck into.

There is a list of songs that remind me of a litany of people. "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House is one. "Dare to Dream" by Yanni is another. "Unskinny Bop" by Poison, "What it Takes" by Aerosmith, "Thank You" by Led Zeppelin, "Hysteria" by Def Leppard, "Brass Monkey" by Beastie Boys, "Always" by Atlantic Star, "Push It" by Salt n Pepa, "Can't Help Falling in Love With You" by UB40 (Elvis cover), "You're the Inspiration" by Chicago, "Enjoy the Silence" by Depeche Mode... these all have definite and memorable meaning attached to them with regards to specific people. I miss each of those people.

Each memory is like a love song to me, whether it's a good memory or a bad one. Most are good. And the bad ones became pretty good when I matured enough to learn something from them. If you recognize yourself in that list up there (and a couple of my readers just might), then thank you for the memories... and the dance.

Monday, August 28, 2006

New Jeans

Today was a good day. I bought new jeans. Now indulge me while I explain.... Every woman can tell you that successful jeans shopping ends with no tears and a jeans purchase. Most women have some story about trying to find the "perfect pair of jeans" and ending up in tears over a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream instead.

So I went to the store, not even looking for jeans, and found a cute pair. Assuming one cute pair would not a purchase make, I perused the racks until I found four cute pairs, and decided that either one of them would fit or at least I'd stop before I was reduced to crying. Then some miracle happened. All four pairs fit, and fit well! Well, I had decided to buy one pair should I find a good one... so I bought three. Come on, three perfectly fitting pairs of jeans in one shopping trip? This is the stuff of legends.

Naturally, as soon as I got home, I had to put on a pair. So I did. They still fit! (I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes clothes change shape in the bag after purchase and do not wear as well in the bedroom mirror as they did in the changing room).

Now, this new pair of hot jeans is the slim leg, low rise kind, and this is foreign territory to me. I'm not a size six; I'm not a size twenty-six either, but I'm in between enough to feel anxious in low rise pants. Oh, and I have hips. I am certainly not shaped like Kate Moss.

Anyway, the empowerment I felt in the dressing room when these pants slid up over my hips and buttoned like they were tailored for me was being replaced with a renewed sense of self-awareness, and that brought on the nervousness. I could not get an accurate rendition of how my butt looked in the low rise jeans, but I remembered all-too-well how a friend of mine's looks, and it's not all that pretty. I did not want people to think of me what I thought of her when she wore them.

So I chose a slightly longish tee shirt to wear with the jeans, in hopes that it would sit quietly on the hips and cover the top of the jeans. No such luck, but I did not learn that until later in the day.

Embarking out again, I picked up my daughter from school for a doctor's appointment. I was not kicked out of the school for indecent exposure, so I felt a bit better. Next I went downtown to the children's hospital. A young doctor held the elevator for me, and he noticed my jeans with a light grin. Considering I was pushing a wheelchair and a stroller, this made me feel a bit more confident. Leaving the hospital, another man held another elevator for me and also took note of my jeans. I grinned and stood a little taller. Finally, a soldier ran into a car noticing me instead of watching where he was going. Yeah, it was a good jeans day.

Now I am not trying to be smug, but there is power that comes with confidence, and confidence that comes from being favorably noticed. And it was my teenage years the last time I had a day like today. I wish one on each of my readers, male and female. Not because I am an advocate of vanity or superficial beauty, but because everyone needs to feel sexy from time to time. Apparently a good pair of jeans is good medicine. Anyone for shopping?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I admit it

I've been slacking off. Sure, I can offer up a litany of reasons (read: excuses) for my behavior, from new scheduling to scheduling conflicts, to writer's block to feelings of lethargy. The reality remains that I'm slacking off.

For this alone, I apologize. For enjoying my time catching up on my reading, playing with my kids, talking to that certain someone in Korea, spending time with my friends, and for enjoying life... I will not apologize.

It is in living that good stories are born, and I've been doing my dead-level best to get some living in these last few days (ok, weeks).

Maybe I've been running from responsibility. It's heavy to carry two (sometimes four) blogs every day, to entertain the two people who religiously read me. It's heady to have two people religiously read me. My ego refuses to allow me to post junk that is not entertaining. So (shrug), I've been avoiding hitting the "publish post" button.

Again, I apologize. If my two readers are still reading, then as early as tomorrow my scheduling conflicts should finally resolve themselves. And I'm working through the writer's block. :)

Monday, August 21, 2006

According to Ethan Hawke

“The hat was curvy in the middle
and straight at the edges
and exactly not like a jacket”,
and I thought how creative,
also thinking that that was
the hightlight of his book
The Hottest State.
It was an easy read over mocha latte,
biscotti untouched for at least an hour
while I poured over the novel as if it were,
in fact, novel. Not that I prize myself a critic
of anything other than my own fancies,
it’s just that I was not moved by the sad,
silly goings on of a young male obsessed
with being in love with his obsession.
Blah, blah, blah, they’ve all done it better:
Poe, Shakespeare, Plath. What a group
of pained lovers they were!, but at least
they captured the torture of obsessive love
without hiding behind pop culture to do it.
But then, who am I? The arrogant reader!
So laudable as to buy a book, but the only
shelves I occupy are in the dusty recesses
of my mind.

Leaving the oh-so-necessary Starbucks
with a new steamy cup o’ joe, walking needlessly
in the wrong direction to the subway, Ethan’s
first novel – in hardback – tucked under my arm,
I begin to fantasize what it must be like to sit
quietly at home, awaiting my first check
from a publishing house, and realizing that
at that very moment strangers might be pouring
over my pages, coffee in hand. A stranger bumped
into me, brusquely passing by in his hurry to There,
but he paused long enough to tip his hat
in a quick apology, and I noticed that Ethan
was right: it was curvy in the middle
and straight at the edges and exactly
not like a jacket at all.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Young without a care

Yesterday it stormed. The cooling raindrops against the hot humid day was a welcome relief, and the sound of the storm on my roof comforted me. My son, apparently found the whole concept of rain equally appealing.

So the toddler asked to go outside. Well, I remember being young and loving to splash in the rain, and play outside during a shower, so I agreed. He went out fully clothed into a steady rain -- certainly not a downpour, but heavier than a drizzle -- and he was happy as a lark for quite a while. When I checked on him, he was pretty drenched and eagerly came inside.

I thought that was the end of that, so I stripped my boy down to a diaper and his shoes. Freed of his wet shirt and shorts, before I could complete the transformation from dripping wet drowned rat to dry child, he ran back outside. Well, he was having fun, so I giggled and let him go.

Some time passed and I had not heard a peep out of him. So I checked on him, and almost fell over laughing.

He was sitting in the fish pond, in the rain, just watching the world go by all relaxed and kicked back.

The fish weren't so happy about this.

The fish pond is actually a kiddie pool some 8" deep and 7 feet across. It is stocked with lots of green water, three plecos, 18 goldfish (they're small), and a plethora of floating plants that reproduce quickly. At that moment, it was also stocked with my toddler, his shoes, and his very ineffectual diaper.

Now convincing a child to do something that you'd like them to do while laughing is not the best means of getting them to obey. I was telling him to come inside through my giggles, and he started giggling. It took some time to convince him to exit the pool. When he did, I cringed at the squishing noises his shoes made as I led him to the bathroom for final stripping and insertion into a bath complete with chlorinated tap water.

My son didn't care either way. Rain, fish pond, bath tub... they were just all ways to get wet and enjoy life. I did note that little fact as I was pouring soap into his bath and washing his hair. Sometimes it doesn't matter how we get wet, just that we do. Sometimes it doesn't even matter if we get wet, just that we laugh.

Well, I got wet and I laughed, and I had a great time doing it.

So far, no fish have been traumatized by the brief addition of a toddler into their domain. They're goldfish, however, and only have a 3 second memory anyway. Too bad; yesterday is worth remembering.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Celebrating Uniqueness

Magnificent, the ______ of _______.
Each of us impressed by different acts,
different experiences, yet always impatient
to share our stories as salespeople, trying
desperately to gain recognition enough
to hear our listeners say “you’re right!”
or “wow!”. How deflating it is to tell
a great and personal story only to be met
with a blank stare, yet how predictable!
Why assume that any living soul would –
or should! – respond to life as any other might.
What perfect clones we would then become.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

For the thrill of it

Routine makes for very boring story telling indeed. Chaos, on the other hand, makes for great-yet-scattered stories. These could be major contributing factors as to why this blog has become so irrelevant lately. I've had my fair share of both.

This roller coaster I've been on the last few weeks may finally be slowing to a stop. Good. Now I can go spend my $50 a ticket and take my kids to Six Flags and get on a "real" roller coaster.

Such is my plan.

The thing is about roller coasters, after a while the thrill goes (hopefully before the nausea sets in), and boredom sets in and the bar must be raised. At this point, if my thrill factor bar needs to be reset any higher, I may need to consider becoming a stunt woman (or stunt person for you overly-sensitive PC types). I'm in the land of Golf. How much stunt work do you think I can get here?

Wanted: Person to hang from 50-ft. pine tree by ankles and catch wayward golf balls flying towards them just behind the 15th green. Must be able to catch with accuracy, swing from the branches nimbly, and rappel quickly. Pays by the golf ball caught, no health insurance offered.

Or maybe I could be a stunt driver for Club Car? You think I could get a golfcart up to 50, 60 mph on an obstacle course? (You think I could get a golfcart up to 50, 60 mph??)

The last time I was on a rollercoaster was in June of 2005. It was great. It was a time when I could be carefree for a few hours, and kick back and relax in a way that seems as distant to me as childhood.

I'm not complaining, no. I'm a more centered, calmer person than I was then, too. Mellowed, even. Maybe I'm finally growing up a bit (God forbid!), and maybe I'm just getting more flexible in my old age... it's becoming easier to adapt to changes. And maybe I've just met some good people that have it worse than me and have taught me a more genuine appreciation for my own opportunities.

But without waxing philosophic about it, let me say that I still love roller coasters. I love the anticipation, the excitement, the wind in my hair (preferably whipping my face a bit).... I love the g-forces, the turns, twists, spins, loops, all of it. I can be carefree when I'm on a roller coaster.

But coasters also remind me of my dad and my youth, as they are as close to flying as I get these days. I need to finish my pilot's license and get back in the sky, searching out my own twists, turns, loops.... (Yes, private pilots can learn aerobatics safely and easily....) I miss having wings, even if they are the metal kind. I miss dancing with the clouds in the clouds.... And I'll find my way back there again, be it on a coaster or in an airplane. Just for the thrill of it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The end of Summer

Summer ended for me. Maybe it was in the first few days of August, when my daughter started school. Maybe it was last week, when daily ritual expanded to include homework. Maybe it was yesterday, when I watched my husband fly off to Korea for the next year. It might have been this morning, when I made my empty bed without fully understanding what the act of making it is supposed to do other than keep me busy and teach my kids the importance of making beds first thing in the morning.

So what is summer? Is it just the few months of excruciatingly hot weather (in the South) and high humidity? Is it the time between the end of school and the beginning of it again? Is it a euphemism for something intangible and important? Is it just a dream for both parents and kids of freedom from responsibility and opportunity to live out fantasies?

I can tell you what today is. Today is none of those things. Today is the beginning of something else. And until I get there, I can't even tell you where I'm going. It's an adventure of a different sort, and one I've never been on before.

My husband now lives thirteen hours in the future from me. He has already been where I am going. In many ways it encourages me to ponder the possibilities of bending time, simultaneous universes, and the implications of his being in immediate contact with me, and me half a day behind him. It's as moot as it might be significant. It's fun to let my mind wander though (I wonder if I shouldn't put it on a leash...).

With the internet, we can share our lives instantly in text, voice, video, even as we are separated by those thirteen hours. And we can share ourselves in a way that was not possible before all these neat technological advances were invented, patented, and marketed. It's exciting to me.

Now if he could just somehow reach through the computer and make the bed....

Friday, August 11, 2006

Georgia Sunset

For whatever reason, I cannot load the image that I would like to. So instead, imagine this if you will:

It is an amber glow with deepest oranges, bright purples, and vibrant yellows. The sky fades to comforting blue hues in the East. The clouds are not the large tumultuous thunderheads of stormy nights, but sleek waves of dancing colors behind the bright orb. It is a quiet sunset, not flashy and awe inspiring, but gentle and subtle. When the glowing sphere finally dipped out of sight, it was still high in the sky, slipping into a calm sea of clouds far to the West.

I noticed it because it was the kind of sunset that gives me peace. It was not vainglorious, was not eccentric, and would have gone unnoticed if I wasn't intentionally taking the time to watch it. This particular day I was at the park with my kids, watching them play, slide, run, laugh, romp... just watching them be kids. Occasionally they drew me into their play, and I couldn't have asked for a better evening, but mostly I enjoyed simply watching them. Not often enough do I pause to take the time to see life unfold around me as it was that night.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Making Good...

I promised a friend of mine (male) that I would blog today with regards to being wrong, as he thought it important that some woman somewhere be able to admit when she was wrong to someone.

Now, what I was wrong about is irrelevant (and scientific and boring, to be honest), but I immediately saw that I was indeed wrong, and apologized quickly. So at his request, I'm making good on my promise and stating the following:

I, a woman, was wrong. I also apologize for being incorrect.

I am taking measures to ensure that it does not happen again.

Monday, August 07, 2006

In a moment

It was just a glance, that lasted for two, maybe three seconds. His large brown eyes met mine and held me captive for just that long, and I imagined the rest:

The feel of his fingers lightly caressing my face sent tingling lightning across my body. But he did it keeping my gaze locked onto him. He did it smiling, too. And when his fingers reached my chin, I felt an imaginary tug to lift my lips to meet his in a smooth, barely-there kiss drenched in passion. When I realized his hand on the small of my back, pulling me towards him feverishly, I knew that he had me... completely. I would follow him anywhere, just to feel myself in the curve of his arms, against the line of his torso, warm in his heat.

When he looked away I felt a chill unlike I had ever dreamed possible. My body wilted a bit in a physical reaction to his machismo. The air temperature dropped a few degrees, or maybe it was just me. And my fingertips burned with longing.

Moments passed and it was all just a (deluded?) memory of a pair of daring eyes and an unrealized fantasy. Still... could it be more?

Friday, August 04, 2006

A Healthy Rant

Leslie is a dear friend and pregnant woman. The other day we had lunch with another wife and mom who was gushing over the news and then immediately began sticking her very high-maintenance pedicured foot into her glossy-lipped mouth.

"So what do you want?" the accused trophy wife inquired.

"I don't care, so long as my baby's healthy" replied the ever-logical Leslie.

"Oh, everyone says that, but everyone has a preference. What's yours?"

Dear reader, I had the presence of mind to keep my mouth tightly shut. As did the now tight-lipped Leslie, who mumbled something about her husband wanting a boy and letting the rest go.

Good girl! Later, of course, we all but yelled out fool heads off at the audacity of the aforementioned Princess.

"When one of your best friends has two children -- one with spina bifida and one with a severe allergy to cow milk protein -- that the medical community considers both to be "unhealthy", things like whether the newborn has a penis or a vagina seem particularly petty and inconsequential!" I almost screamed.

Leslie concurred in her own vehement outburst.

Because we are both enlightened enough to get that sometimes there are more important things like our own selfish personal prefereneces for certain things, from what we want our spouses to get us for our birthdays to the sex of our unborn children. Sometimes those are the little things we just shouldn't sweat.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Embracing Opportunity

Samantha* is a seventeen year old girl with Spina Bifida in the end-stages of renal failure. She travels over 200 miles one-way twice a week to receive hemo-dialysis. Her live expectancy is very short.

She is also one of the sweetest, most cheerful people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Big-hearted and sincere, her smiles are infectious, her words are tinged with wisdom that comes from having to live too hard too soon, and she is tempered with complete acceptance and peace as to who she is. Truly, she is another hero of mine, and certainly an inspiration to all who have met her.

Born with the same birth defect as my daughter, they formed a bond very early in Em's life. In fact, Sam is probably the friend she's had the longest. They've always shared laughter, and have had wheelchair races when Em was confined to hers, and Em has pushed Sam around when she was able. Sam, you see, has never taken a step in her whole life, being paralyzed from the waist down. She also weighs a whopping 50-ish pounds and is not much larger than my notably small six-year old. But you've never met a more determined girl.

She's been before Congress lobbying on behalf of the Spina Bifida community. She's a long-standing ambassador for Children's Miracle Network as well as one of their miracle children. She is an advocate for the disabled community as a whole, and is as involved in her education as she is in her volunteering. Yes, Sam just completed her junior year of high school.

I asked her once why she was so committed to her education, considering her prognosis, and she said something brilliantly akin to "because I intend to live much longer than anyone else does, and I need my education." Wow. Draw your own conclusions as to her character, work ethic, and drive.

Sam only has one working kidney, and now it is in end-stage failure. It is the gravest fear of every parent of a child with spina bifida. They just can't do anything about kidney failure. It's certainly Em's Kryptonite.

But Em walks (with assistive devices). She can move even her toes, if only a little. She can do what no one told me she could. They told me to expect a child with the physical abilities of Sam. You want proof of miracles? Samantha and Em share the same birth defect to the same vertebral degree. What I mean by this is that they both had a myelomeningeocele at the L3, L4 level. They should have been identical in abilities. My daughter, too, should've had a "short-life expectancy" prognosis. My tears for Sam should be as guilt-ridden for tears for my daughter as they are sad for Sam.

Somehow, by some miracles, my daughter is almost unscathed by comparison. Or maybe I just take her relative health for granted. Probably both.

It's easy to forget that life is disturbingly fragile at times. Given an "Em should be able to live well into adulthood" prognosis, which really means only that she should survive 18 by a few years, but no guarantees that she'll live into her 30's, 40's, or beyond, I am allowed a cavalier attitude that I do not deserve. But Em does. And so does Sam. I cannot control either of their fates, but I can embrace life as it has been offered to me and hope that I can learn from Sam as to how to live life to its fullest, making something special out of what we are offered. I hope we all can.

*Samantha's name has been changed to protect her identity.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Metaphor

A bromiliad is growing in a large cobalt blue footed pot on my dining room table. The plant is a lovely yellow-with-orange-edges petaled thing and looks a bit alien by many standards. Some people wonder if it's real, others wonder if it's indigenous to Georgia, and still others just wonder why I don't have a nice bunch of cut flowers in a vase like everyone else.

To this I say "because my centerpiece is living and growing, not cut and dying". I think I've had enough death this year already.

I don't even notice my plant much anymore, where before I memorized the colors fading one into another every single day. I used to turn it this way and that to optimize its exposure to sun. Now I just make sure it is still green with a large flower shooting out its center and still watered enough to be happy.

It's a sad metaphor for much of my life. With mourning comes the numbness that carries me from one moment to the next, not really noticing the details, but allowing me enough energy and attention to meet the essential needs of my family. Sometimes I even take a moment to genuinely lose myself in my kids' smiles, returning their unconditional love unconditionally. Sometimes I actually have fun. These moments are unexpected and as spontaneous as is the recurring numbness.

The sad thing is that I am not sad for myself. That's also the odd thing. Perhaps it's stress, perhaps it's an overwhelming sense of taking on too much responsibility that bychance I don't have to take all of, but mostly it's a refusal to mourn, as though I have no time for it. And to insure I have no time for it, I keep myself busy by taking on too much responsibility.

I'm about one step away from volunteering at the hospital.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Oranges and knives

I have stayed away from oranges and orange juice for almost a decade now because they are migraine triggers for me. Nevertheless, I love both the fruit and the juice. A couple of weeks ago nothing sounded better than an orange. So I picked one out for dinner.

At this point I should veer into a brief description of me handling a knife. First, I properly poise the instrument of destruction on/over the item to be cut. Then I apply just a bit of pressure; enough to know how hard/soft the item I intend to cut is, so that I successfully cut said item. I take my time, I am careful, I am cautious. And somehow I always end up bleeding profusely from some random digit.

Within but four short days of each other I had cut one finger to the bone and sliced the tip off of another one. Both hands had bandages. Both hands didn't quite work as efficiently as I'd like them to, as both were dealing with healing the damage I had wreaked upon them.

So I am sitting at the dining facility surrounded by uniformed soldiers, one small band-aid on one hand and a rather large bandage covering the tip of my middle finger, holding an orange in my left hand and a knife in my right.

A friend of mind notices me and pipes up "Are you sure you want to do that?" and followed that question with "Do you have any more band-aids with you?" Those that knew how I had come to be covered as I was laughed.

One soldier, however, just took the orange out of my hand and peeled it for me, then returned the rindless orb. Amidst the "Wow, aren't you spoiled?" and "Man, will ya peel one for me" and various other jeers, I thanked him and he winked in return.

I didn't care that the orange was especially juicy and that I ended up with juice running down my chin and both forearms, or that the citric acids were stinging my wounds. I felt delightedly spoiled anyway.

It's always the little things....

Monday, July 31, 2006

My own episode of "Lost"

Yesterday I got lost in the woods. Not "lost" in the "Wow, where does this trail go?" sense, but "lost" in the "Just start singing the theme song to Gilligan's Island" sense. And I was on a horse when it happened. A guided trail horse. You'd think the beast would've gone into auto-pilot and headed home. Nope. I had a beast that actually responded to its rider.

Let me set the scene for you. My friend (we'll call her Sara) and I were the last two riders in a trail group. We hoped to go unguided, but apparently the horses get tempermental in the heat (don't we all!), so we were encouraged (and by this I mean that we were told) to ride in the group. Now Sara's horse had some very noisy gastrointestinal issues, although we can't be sure that this is the reason she was told to bring up the rear. I was just in front of her.

In front of the two of us sat a grayish horse with a woman wearing a gray tee shirt. Eventually we learned that her name was (possibly) Emily, and her horse's name was (definitely) Eclipse. Well, Eclipse was a trail horse from hell. As far as trail horses go, I'd never known another so beligerent and hostile towards his job.

I had been noticing how beautiful the trees were, covered here and there with kudzu, and was taking curious note as to the small ferns that dotted the forest floor and did not much notice the group disappearing from sight. What I did notice was that I was getting very close to Eclipse, so I pulled the reins and halted Donna, my horse. Eclipse had decided to stop and eat. And Eclipse was not one to be restarted again. Emily tried pulling on the reins to lift the horse's head, tried nudging, then kicking the horse in the ribs, tried "h'ya's" and "click-click's" and other sorts of attention-getters. Eclipse cared nothing about anyone's attention at that moment. When the horse decided to go again, he went. But he went very slowly as if on a Sunday afternoon drive some fifty years ago. Eclipse did not do this when the trail was large enough for Sara and I to pass, and if we had we would have been leaving poor Emily alone in the woods anyway. So we three stuck together.

Well, twenty minutes passed and we hadn't seen any signs of life through the trees. We were laughing, following what looked like tracks some dozen horses had just recently made, so we weren't completely disarmed, when we came to a four-way intersection with untouched sand in one direction and green fauna covering the other two paths, one of which was even arguable as a path. Of course that's the one we chose. But we really didn't feel comfortable doing it. The fact that it turned us back to the South, the direction of the stables, was the only reason I wasn't violently protesting the decision. And then Eclipse protested.

We were half-way up a hill that was barely wide enough for the horse and our legs hanging off to the sides, and Eclipse stopped. Donna stopped. Sara's horse stopped. Sara and I waited patiently for Eclipse to change his mind, and then he did. He started backing up fast. Before I could do anything else, Eclipse backed into Donna, who was none too thrilled. I pulled her off to the left as she was backing into Shorty, the gastrointestinally challenged horse, and she found a way out down the hill between some very narrow openings in the trees and over ground that looked questionably supportive. I was not happy with her decision, considering I didn't want either Donna or me to end up injured.

Somehow in the commotion Shorty decided the best way to handle Eclipse was to pass him. I quickly got Donna under control and heard Sara's voice question "How did I end up in front?", to the laughter of Emily and myself. What the incident taught me was that Shorty did indeed know how to go home. And he was plenty eager to do it.

So now we have Shorty leading the way at a power walking pace. Eclipse is bringing up the rear with all the quickness of... wait, scratch any reference to "quick" regarding Eclipse. And Donna and myself are in the middle, my sweet horse easy to handle and quick to respond. Except that I'm trying to stay where I can see both Sara and Emily, because they can no longer see each other.

"Just follow the sound of my voice" Sara calls repeatedly.

"Just keep singing Gilligan's theme song" I yell back.

Somewhere behind me I hear laughter. Now I can't see either of them.

"Are you okay back there?" Sara yells.

"Well, we're still back here!" Emily replies. At least we can hear each other. But the voices aren't close anymore.

What to do. Leave my dearest friend who also is something of a novice on a horse alone in the woods although probably headed for the stables, or leave a complete stranger alone in the woods with no real assurance that she'll ever see the stables again. I am about to break my mind in the decision making process when I see Sara, and I see other riders in front of her. Apparently our yelling has caused the rest of the group to stop and wait. Finally.

Knowing she is safe, I go back for Emily. She's still lumbering along on the slowest horse known to mankind, laughing (cause really, what else can you do?). We plod along for another 5, 6 minutes before finally catching up with the others. Okay, I had caught up. Eclipse had slowed even further behind at this point. But at least with the large ravine we were now in, we could see him.

I really should mention that signs reading "Do Not Run the Horses" were posted along with "If you run the horses you will be prosecuted" signs all over the stables. So I did not run my horse. I figured worst case scenerio is that they figured out three of their animals were not back with the rest of the group, and someone would come find us. When Emily and I finally rounded into sight and a long line of waiting horses and riders greeted us -- some with cameras -- I was not even embarassed (an exception for me). I was just glad that we had ended up exactly where we belonged.

We dismount the horses, lead them to water, and turn them over to the stablehands. Sara, laughing, giddy, and grinning from ear to ear (still humming "three hour tour" under her breath), bursts "Let's do it again next weekend!"

Emily scowled at her.

Friday, July 28, 2006

It's Friday

It's hot, and it's the weekend. My much-adored spouse is on his first day of vacation before he leaves on a one year tour in Korea. With all due respect to my loyal fans, I'm taking the day off!

Ya'll have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ordinary Thursday

It's an ordinary Thursday, here. The sun is shining, the wind is stilled, and life is quiet.

In other parts of the world, people are burying their loved ones, or celebrating new birth, or going off to work at war.

I'm not saying this because it's just a general truth; I happen to personally know people who fit each of these descriptions. Odd, how the funerals are piling up this month... but I digress.

While I am blessed with a quiet day at home, to do nothing more than laundry and straighten up around the house, play with the kids, and feed the social experiment*, I have friends that are having a much rougher go at it today. And the celebrating new birth thing isn't really a "rough" go compared to being deployed to Iraq by comparison, but those deployed will return home (if at all) long before that new kid is raised to 18. It's all relative, you know.

But that, I suppose, is the whole point today. It's all relative. Very Buddist, or zen, or transcendental, or New Age, if you think about it. Granted, if I see a cockroach, I probably will not refrain from squishing it as the Tibetian Monks would, but I will consider the implications afterwards and hope that I am not stuck with another bug of even less desirable fashion because of my actions. These considerations will take but a moment, and then I'll move on.

The larger considerations, however, I may ponder all day. Certainly this would not be a quiet ordinary day were I in Israel today. It would not be ordinary if it were last Thursday, when I was attending a graveside service. And it will not be quiet a week from now when my daughter goes off to school.

So today, "ordinary Thursday" may only apply to me. However yours is going, I hope that it is going well, relatively speaking.

*The social experiment I am referring to is my fish tank and the blog can be found in the June archives.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Playing the game

Yes, I have always been a sucker for men in uniform. Despite the fact that I have always avoided them. For example, growing up as a kid I was introduced to the amended version of "If you need help, ask a police officer." My version was "if a man dressed as a police officer ever comes to you and says he's been looking for you, run as fast as you can in the other direction, but if you ever need help, find a police officer."

No wonder I'm a bit ambiguous at times....

Nevertheless, the warning I should have been given would be "Don't ever sleep with a virtual stranger, even if he is a firefighter."

Now, I appreciate and respect firefighters. They have tough jobs, and there are plenty of other professions that take less work, less physical and mental demands, and pay better.

But when I was very young and stupid, emphasis on stupid, I stumbled into a situation that a less naive, less trusting person would've seen long before I consumed three beers, 1 bottle of Hot Damn, four fuzzy navels, 6 peach schnapps shots, some homemade concoctions I couldn't recall nor identify now, and a large daquiri (drive-thru, of course).

Well, I was young and very stupid once, and I did drink without regard to consequence, and I did find myself passed out in an upstairs bedroom behind closed doors while the impromptu party was still going strong downstairs, and my room and my sleep was interrupted by a young firefighter still in training, who thought that my night would not be complete without drunken sex that I did not ask for, did not want, and protested at the time. Let me tell you, it was a sobering experience.

To add insult to injury, the next day he called me and said he needed to talk to me. I did inquire as to why, but he would not divulge that until he saw me in person.

So to appease him, I agreed. His big secret? "You know I used you, don't you?"

No, genius. Couldn't figure that out on my own. Thanks for the tip. Jerk.

I learned some important lessons that day: 1. Stay sober at parties, even if the party starts out as just you and your best friend. 2. Lock doors, even if they aren't yours to lock. The owner of the room can always knock when they want in. 3. Don't trust people because of their job title. 4. Despite current vernacular, hate the playa, not the game. "The game" can easily be likened to a game of Monopoly: you can't win if you don't play.

The best thing I learned was control. Take it, keep it, use it. ...And that, kiddies, is "how I became a dominatrix...."* Now let me wiggle out of this leather....

*If there even has to be a disclaimer for this sentence, you have no sense of humor. Really.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Something blows

The winds of change are blowing. Or maybe that's just the storm outside. It's so hard to tell when things are about to happen as opposed to the perfect vision of looking back and seeing that they did indeed happen.

Whatever that is in the air smells, however. Maybe it's change, and if it is, it stinks. Maybe that's a paper mill. Probably it's my imagination. Creative thing, the imagination. It can allow you to believe all sorts of improbable things.

Now this may seem like a rant or a complete waste of time. It may be both. Today I'm just this side of my dreadful pet peeve of writing in a stream of consciousness. Ugh. But let me first list a few things that have grabbed my attention lately and refused to let me shake them off:

1. my fish quit dying when my dad did.
2. Korea is but a couple of weeks away.
3. a vacation is becoming a need.
4. school starts next week for my daughter, and I can't get the person I need on the phone to get her enrolled with a 504 plan.
5. after years of sameness, even my close friends have different names than they did a few months ago.

Time and distance are finally forcing my hand in many of these things. Certainly #'s 2 and 5. Well, #4 too, considering last week I had a bit more time but was a good 750 miles away.

On the up side, my friends tend to be lifers. Public school are required to allow my kid to enter school... eventually (they are also allowed up to 60 days to comply with the 504). And I don't have to replace any fish this week!

Today is one of those weird days that always feels like only I have. I am not sad, frustrated, nor depressed. Neither am I thrilled, compelled to act with my usual efficiency, nor comforted. I'm just numb and taking notes.

Anyone else get this way sometimes? With the possible exceptions of sex and chocolate, got any advice for me?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Margo's Amazing Advice #1: "Go Geek"

I received an email that is abbreviated and paraphrased into the following:

I'm dating a jerk, really. He disappears for days on end if I mention the word "committment", he doesn't ever want to talk to me about anything, he won't take me anywhere on dates, instead he comes over to my house and then watches TV all night and drinks beer. He's not even all that good in bed! How do I get someone like you described in "Life as Chess"?

Well, first of all, quit keeping beer in your fridge for your boyfriend. Secondly, dump him. Or sleep with his best friend, then he'll just leave on his own.

You've got to understand that men don't talk. They fix things. You complain that some bimbo in a convertible cut you off at the gas pump so you left and your tank is on empty, and a guy worth his weight will go get in your car and go fill it up for you. You say that you don't like the way your vaccuum picks up dirt, and he'll have the thing upside down with a screwdriver in one hand and the vaccuum belt in the other and tweak the thing until it is offically broken beyond repair or sucks as well as that one girl from high school who didn't need a bathroom wall to get her phone number circulated.

But you start a conversation with "You won't believe what Charlene in the office said today about Mitzy's shoes..." and you've got a comatose lump of maleness who is thinking about the fishing trip he wants to take with the guys, not an attentive and caring boyfriend. Not even if you try having the conversation wearing whipped cream and strategically placed maraschino cherries.

Now let's discuss how to get a man like mine. I suggest looking around computer and technology stores -- smaller independent ones, not chains like Best Buy -- for computer geeks. They're usually easy to spot because they're talking to someone about the lastest computer do-dads and what-nots. It's also easy to flirt with them because most will respond favorably with a "How do I set up a printer server to my wireless network?" I do, however, suggest that you know what a printer server and a wireless network is before you use this line, because if you're a complete idiot they'll blow you off rather offendedly.

But once you spot and lure your computer geek towards you, get them started talking about techie stuff. Within an hour they'll think you're a gift from Aphrodite herself, and will more than likely agree to a subtle suggestion of going out sometime. Don't worry, by this time they're so thrilled that a chick picked them up that you can pretty much take over control of the situation and pick the restaurant, the movie, and for the most part call many of the shots from here on.

Why a geek? Ever slept with one? I recommend it. "Revenge of the Nerds" was onto something when Robert Carradine's character responded to the question "are all nerds good in bed?" with something akin to "Yes, it's all we think about."

Another good reason to "go geek" is because when it breaks (whatever it is) they either know how to fix it or know someone who does. Usually they can also McGuyver stuff better than it was originally anyway.

Now, I've had my share of musicians, jocks, white-collar-middle-class-middle-management-ladder-climbers, an engineer or two, members of academia, and even a lawyer, but I'll take my computer geek any day of the week. Believe me, they know the right series of buttons to push to make the system work like it was designed to.

In closing, get rid of the dolt, go find yourself a nice geek, and indulge yourself with some chocolate just because relationships are such hard work.

Your brilliantly talented and humble self-proclaimed and I.Q. tested genius,

Margo

Friday, July 21, 2006

Goodbye cruel week

I'm ending this week with the same words that were last spoken at my father's memorial service. This is my goodbye to a week of emotional rollercoastering and tilt-a-whirling. This is also a proper internet farewell to the drama that has surrounded my hero's final days. This is not a farewell to my hero, but that is for me more than it is for my blog.

Without any further ado, here are the words to "Taps" that were read by my husband, who will be travelling to Korea in a couple of weeks, to uphold his duty as a U.S. Soldier from the same installation where my father once tread:

Taps

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake from the hills, from the sky,
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,
May the soldier or sailor God keep.
On the land, or the deep, safe in sleep.

Fading light, dims the sight
and a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.

Thanks and praise, for our days,
'Neath the sun, 'neath the stars, 'neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.

While the light fades from sight,
And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
To thy hands, we our souls, Lord, commend.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Friends in Low Places

Growing up, I was surrounded by doctors, senators, and other various professional types. These were movers and shakers, people who got things done. I went to school with their kids. They were my Sunday School teachers. And for those that didn't grow up in the South (Louisiana, particularly), let me tell you that Southern hospitality ain't dead.

That's a great thing after the loss of a loved one. There's more food than a battallion can eat. There's always chicken, potato salad, and lots of desserts. On the upside, if one is willing to be a constant companion of the house of the deceased, one's eating expenses can be cut to $0.00. On the other hand, one is also going to get very fat on pineapple cake, cookies, carrot cake, brownies, pies, casseroles, breads, pastas, and the endless parade of various homemade specialties.

My eating expenses are not $0.00 on this trip. In fact, the night Dad died, his widow, two close friends of hers, myself and my toddler went out for Mexican and she and I had daquiris, just as he would've wanted to do had he been able to join us. It is one of my best memories of this trip.

But to get back from my tangent, the people I grew up with were "high brow" and they were my dad's friends, my grandparents' friends... not mine. I always chose the people who were more likely to be the deceased rather than be attending a funeral. But these were good people, with large hearts, even if they didn't want to become the next greatest thing in heart surgery.

My friends in low places have grown into adults of sustaining means. By this I mean that they pay their bills, they raise their kids, and they could care less if their clothes are bought at a designer department store or on sale at Goodwill. They get it done.

They also, after years without word from me in some cases, remember what it is to be a friend. It means sometimes you show up with a couple of beers and just sit and talk about whatever comes to mind until long after you should be getting back to routine. It means that when you don't feel all that great with your own illness, you still manage to have dinner with a friend who's hurting, who you don't see very often. It means you drive for an hour or more from another city to come visit an old friend, even though you have to rearrange your schedule with real effort, just to be a comfort.

Bless their hearts.

From my friends in higher places, another long-standing friend of mine is taking time away from her one month old son to support me, and God bless her, one of my dearest friends in the whole world is flying in from the Midwest to be here today.

My point is this: all those doctors' and senators' kids have never kept in touch with me, and were not close to me during my childhood. My friends were the ones that either made something of themselves from less financed means, or they are content to be hard-working blue collar folk. But my friends are not "aquaintances" nor are they "fair weather" friends. I am impressed at their outpouring of support and friendship, and am so blessed for it.

Ya'll, may you have friends like mine. Oh, they're not gonna bring me a cake nor send flowers. They're gonna bring drinks and sit up late into the night. But when we get together, we celebrate life, not reminisce death. Man, I've got good friends.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Butterflies

A great man passed away this morning within moments of my other blog. He is a former U.S. Army officer, he is a Vietnam veteran, he is a retired schoolteacher, he is a good man, friend, husband, father, and grandfather. He leaves behind many who love him.

But it is just his physical body that's gone, not him. He is still alive in spirit and in the hearts of those who love and remember him. His widow told me that he was a butterfly now, having left this body behind like a cocoon shell and flown away in his new body. My daughter thought that that was beautiful and spent the day coloring butterflies in her coloring book -- beautiful pink, blue, brown, red, purple, yellow, and green ones.

As a neat final thought, it is often said that for every life God takes, he gives another. Within five minutes of my father's passing, the hospital played a lullaby over the speakers signifying that a baby had just been born.

Drive-Thru Daquiris

Back when the drinking age in Louisiana was still 18, I was 18. I remember my then-best friend Jennifer and I driving all around Shreveport, as teenagers will, flirting with all the cute boys in the passing cars and peeling out from stoplights.

Driving around the same streets yesterday gave me cause to pause and relive some of those days. The city has changed a bit, certainly grown in some areas and withered in others, and some streets are as manicured as always while others have even more green poking through the cracks in the sidewalks and even in the tar patches on the road. Many of the crepe myrtles remain the same, if they are taller. Many of the old oaks are still there, covering even more of the four laned drives with their shade.

My old house has a red front door where it used to be an off-white. The shutters are green where before there were none. The large grandfather graybeard that was weeping in the front yard -- the one I used to climb and swing from as a kid -- is now a memory and not even a stump remains behind. But that particular street is as inviting as always, being my home.

It reminded me of Jennifer, ironically, not my grandparents or even my dad, who lays in a hospital bed barely breathing, mostly unawares of his surroundings, now unresponsive to anyone's voice.

Jennifer used to have this Toyota Camry, baby blue, that we would fly around the streets in. We would sing to the radio and "car dance" little routines we made up to various songs. In this particular memory, I remember going through the drive through daquiri store and drinking our daquiris, giggling ourselves more tipsy than the alcohol ever could, singing our hearts out, heading for my house so I could get some clothes to stay over at her house.

I remember this clearly because I felt I had "pulled one over" on my strict Southern Baptist grandmother, as I had been drinking in the car before we got there and she never said a word about it. I never did either, and she died with me still not knowing if she ever knew (and I'm sure would've or did have an opinion) about that particular instance. Well, the rest of the story quickly dissolves into a nighmare of a sorts, with an impromptu party getting way out of control and not a single soul being sober enough to remember it the same way, but that's for another day.

Let me go back to the drive-thru daquiri store.

These Louisiana staples are stores where you do, indeed, drive through, and get an alcohol -laden frozen beverage in a styrofoam cup with a lid. But what about open container laws?, you ask. Louisiana has them. The drinks are handed to you, the buyer, sealed with a straw taped horizontally over the hole in the lid, and the tape extending down over the lid onto the cup on both sides, so that the straw and lid are effectively taped to the cup. Ergo, closed container, and it's legal. Purchasers are on a code of honor to leave it in that configuration until they are not driving anymore.

Yeah, right. How many adults do you think adhere to that, let alone teenagers? But I digress....

So there we are, Jennifer with her peach daquiri and me with my white russian, heading back to my house. It was probably the single most illegal thing I've ever done. Wait, no... no, that may have to go to driving 135+ on I-30 that one time.... Oh, nevermind. But maybe it was breaking the open container laws, or maybe it was being 18 and in the summer after my high school graduation and maybe it was being in between a child and an adult and maybe I was celebrating one of the only remaining states that allowed 18 year olds to drink, even now I'm not sure what it was. But it was hot, and we were crusing in that Camry with the windows down late that afternoon, preparing for the summer of our lives, drinking our drinks from plain white styrofoam cups and to hell with the consequences.

Fortunately, the consequences didn't come while driving. Arguably, it would take a real featherweight to get much effect at all off of one of those daquiris. But I'm glad to see they're still around. Now all I need is to locate Jennifer again, and we could have ourselves another party. While I am watching my "home" dissolve into surreal blends of color and memories of what was and what will never be again, I wish I could cling for one last time to my childhood, just to know it was all real. Now the only place I can go to find someone who shared in my youth is the cemetary. I feel too young for this truth.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Day for disasters, indeed

Al prophetically wrote the comment "Have a happy birthday but go easy on the birthday candles on your cake, this may be your day for disasters."

Al, with all due respect, please don't ever prophesize for me again. It's nothing personal. Just Murphy kicking me in the rear end with all he's got, and laughingly accusing you of being the catalyst for it. No, not really. But the irony cannot go without notice.

Dear reader, I promised myself I would not let my personal life become an interfering whine here. And I will make good on that promise. So without any further ado or sugarcoating:

My father has taken a turn for the worse. I have been called "home" to his side as his time is quickly drawing to a close on this earth. Tomorrow I will prepare to travel and either begin my own journey across country (Thomas, couldn't you have planned your own trip a little better and we both could've saved on fuel expenses!), or take a final respite and leave out early Saturday morning.

For those that know the man, my father, his body is shutting down. The complications are piling up. The cancer is winning and the chemo is wrecking havoc on his body. The doctors say "come now", and I am going, two small children, one wheelchair, a plethora of medical equipment (for my daughter with spina bifida) and enough clothes for the swimming pool and the graveside in tow.

If you are an avid reader, please bear with me for the next few days. I will blog when the opportunity arises, trying to maintain my schedule as I always have, for my own sanity. Tomorrow morning (Friday) will probably not be a time for a new blog, so I am writing now.

I am also thanking all of you in advance for your well-wishes. For those of you who already have news of this situation, your thoughts and prayers have already been felt by me, and I thank you for them. It is through your outpouring of love that I am remaining as strong as I have been.

I have not always been the daughter my father wanted me to be. I have not always been proud of myself, let alone him of me. Mistakes have been made on both of our parts over the course of my life that I have learned from. The greatest of these was when I finally learned how to forgive and let go. The last few years have been the best of my life with regards to my relationship with my father. I am not nearly as sad that this chapter of my life seems to be coming to an end as I would have been had I not ever had this chapter at all. I go home to my father's side with no regrets and a heart full of good memories and love.

So many people do not get the chance to make their peace until they are on their deathbeds. I was blessed with a man wise enough to make peace with me while there was still a chance to enjoy life together, and I was smart enough to embrace the opportunity. I wish we were all so lucky. I also write this knowing that I have one other in my life with whom peace must be made at some point, without me being the one to sacrifice my sanity, my morals, my better judgement, and my beliefs for it to happen. This one person knows who they are, and disagrees with me in that I would have to sacrifice any of these things, ergo the standoff. To that person, should they ever read this: I am at peace with you, even as I disagree with you wholeheartedly on so many issues. These issues are, at the heart of them, mine to be responsible for legally, morally, and ethically. While I value your opinion, please do not require me to act according to your will, subconsiously or consciously. Please let our peace be one of mutual love, even if it is not necessarily mutual like.

Enough of these vagarities. This began as a blog about my immediate future, and there it will end. I leave you all begging any of you that have grievances to be forgiven that you consider doing just that. Life is too short. Cliche, sure, but oh so true.