Hope for Payback

I applied for a job with my alma mater today. I’ve actually spent the last few years occasionally looking at their employment section, hoping that there would be something I was qualified for in the administrative offices. And today there was. I got really excited and pulled together my application really quickly, sent out emails to all of my on-campus contacts asking for them to whisper in any ears or pull any strings they may have available to them and sent out a direct request to the universe to please, please, please just let me get this one.

College was an incredibly cathartic time for me. I arrived on campus wondering what I was doing there; being a high school dropout, covered in ink and metal and hugely liberal didn’t quite make me the poster child for this prestigious mid-western college. But when I graduated I had the utmost confidence not only in my intelligence, but also in my being and purpose. I was surrounded by a huge group of people who loved and supported me for who I was and I them. Those four years saw me come into who I am with power, humility and confidence.

So I’ve been looking for a way for years to pay that back somehow. We’ve never had enough money to really be able to make any kind of sizable donations, so I knew it wouldn’t be as some financial contributor. I’ve been hoping I could go work on campus and be a part of the institution that has come to mean so very much to me. This could be the chance.

The fact that we still have some of our closest friends living in the area is a huge bonus. They’ve all started having babies of their own, so it would be like moving back to an immense extended family. And the standard of living is SO much cheaper than it is here, so that would help our financial situation as well.

The only con I can find is being that much further away from my parents. That will be really hard. But the potential for all the pros may just even that out a bit. Maybe.


Sleepy Time, Please!

Here is my least favorite thing about having children: getting them to sleep.

It has been a struggle for them since they were very small. The Boy was never much of a sleeper. From birth it was like he fought sleep for fear that he would miss something. The first several months of his life were spent on the couch in our family room with me discovering The West Wing and catching up on movies because he would not sleep for more than 15 minutes at a time if I put him down. So we sat, and nursed and sat and he slept off and on and my head bobbed and I watched TV and talked on the phone. Other than never getting anything done, it actually was a really sweet way to spend his infancy.

The Girl gave me hope that she would be my good sleeper. And she was for about four months. She slept at four hour intervals at birth and those sleep periods only grew longer as she got bigger. Everyone told me that since she was so big at birth (9lbs 1oz) that she would always be a great sleeper. But then she started teething and everything went to hell and a hand basket. She started getting up every two hours to nurse and stopped taking her long morning and afternoon naps.

The Boy didn’t sleep through the night until he was about 18 months old; The Girl was about 15 months by the time she finally started sleeping straight through.

Part of it was my choice to nurse on demand, which meant I never said no to either one of them when they asked to nurse. I think it almost became habitual with both of them and I definitely turned into a human pacifier for both of them.

As they’ve gotten bigger and older, I’ve kept the secret hope that there will just come a magic age where all of sudden they will learn the joy of sleeping. But as with most things with parenting (and being a kid) there really isn’t a magic age for anything. So in the mean time I guess I’ll just have another cocktail.


Forgiving Tolerance

"You can forgive someone almost anything. But you cannot tolerate everything...We don't have to tolerate what people do just because we forgive them for doing it. Forgiving heals us personally. To tolerate everything only hurts us all in the long run." – Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness is a funny thing. I ran across this quote the other day and it’s been working its wily ways in my head ever since. Started me thinking about boundaries and how they relate to forgiveness and tolerance.

I’ve never been good at putting up boundaries, it’s part of that whole wear my heart on my sleeve thing. What that also means however, is that I have an extraordinarily high tolerance for a great many things. I mean, sure, I can get up on one of my many soapboxes and talk about respect and personal responsibility and how I won’t tolerate a lack of either one in my life, but the truth is that I’ve long tolerated a great many disrespects in my life. Although only when it comes to me. I will break apart those soapboxes and beat people senseless for any disrespect done to someone I love. But my own personal boundaries are pretty much nonexistent.

It’s something I’ve been really trying to work on the past few months. Although I must say that putting up boundaries in friendships and relationships that have existed for 10 years or more is not an easy task. It’s sort of like trying to build a dam in the middle of a raging river without getting wet.

One of the things that I’ve realized is that forgiveness plays a tremendous role in being able to put up those boundaries. Learning how to forgive myself for not feeling worthy enough to put up the boundaries to begin with is huge. And even though I’m sure it will sound strange and maybe even a wee bit conceited, learning how to forgive those in my life for not helping me put up boundaries is another.

It’s about not only taking care of the people I love, but also about encouraging them to take care of me. Allowing them to. And forgiving us both when we forget.


Game Night

We were a big game playing family when I was growing up. My parents had friends over, or were going over to friends’ houses, on a very regular basis and usually playing a game of some sort was part of that routine. It was Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly for board games and Gin Rummy, UNO and Bridge for the cards. Although I never got into Bridge I have to admit, it just never really held my interest. H tells me that was just because I haven’t yet properly applied myself.

I got really into Hearts in high school; it was a huge youth group game. And then I got introduced to Cribbage in college by dear SH and we went on to play it every day when were in Germany at the same time.

In the quest to find fun things to do with my mom that can be done from bed (or at least the couch) and don’t take a lot of energy, we’ve picked card games back up. My mom, my husband and I have been playing Gin the past couple of days. And we introduced the kids to UNO today. The Girl isn’t quite able to play it without help yet, but she’s still doing great. The Boy is totally obsessed with UNO and Go Fish; he would have played them both all day if we’d have let him. But mom and The Girl needed to take a break for a nap so we chased him outside to play with his friends.

Even though I scoff a bit at the silly “Family Game Night” commercials you see because they truly are just dripping with cheese, it really is a great way to bring the whole family together around something fun that doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t require a ton of clean up. It’s always fun to teach the kiddos something new and watch them love it and it’s a great way for all of us to get some good, quality time in with each other.

It’s one of those things you take for granted as a kid, but then are so grateful to have to pull out of your parenting tool box.


Into the Wild

My mom and I watched Into the Wild tonight. It’s a movie that I’ve wanted to see for quite a while and just never really got around to. It’s not really up my husband’s alley as the only guns it has are being used to shoot game, not bad guys, and there are exactly zero car chases. And to be honest when I do have time to watch movies, especially as of late, what I really want to watch is brain candy. The shoot ‘em up, blow ‘em up variety is best; this particular non-brain candy movie got pushed further and further down my queue mostly because of its tear inducing nature. I’ve got enough tear inducing in my daily life lately, so I’m not really down with choosing to cry on purpose.

But I’m really, really glad that I finally watched it. Because even though it’s sad and tragic and most definitely tear inducing, it’s also beautiful and brave and incredibly romantic. I love that it was directed by Sean Penn, he of the “movies are for serious statements, if I wanted to have fun I’d go score an 8 ball and a hooker,” (this is an almost exact quote from him from his Inside the Actor’s Studio interview). He who doesn’t smile when being awarded another Oscar or being lauded for anything for that matter. This movie, his vision and statement, through this movie is one of such hope, joy and love for his fellow human beings that I worry for his profound sense of chagrin and cynicism.

Ok, not really, but you know what I mean.

Between this movie and Milk, I do believe there is hope for Sean Penn yet.

And Emile Hirsch is just gorgeous in this film. He has a way of being in his own skin that is just lovely to watch. His character just embodies catharsis in this movie. For himself and everyone around him; he is a force to be sure.

It’s an amazing journey that gave me a chance to watch someone else walk their own path for a couple of hours. And right now, that is exactly the kind of brain candy I need.


A Glimpse of Life After

As I stood out on our deck this morning basking in the cool before the heat descended, I overheard my mom teaching The Girl how to play Go Fish through her open bedroom window. It was a lovely bit of eavesdropping full of grandmotherly love, 3-year old exuberance and a sense of normality which has been absent from just about everything lately.

The kids have been really sweet with my mom. We told them she was sick and so they had to be very gentle with her. The Girl laid down with her to take a nap yesterday. The Boy loves that she’s here every afternoon when he gets out of summer school bearing new artwork to hang on the wall in her bedroom. And they both love that she’s teaching them Go Fish. Nana not being able to get rowdy with them per the usual course is giving them a chance to really just be with each other and enjoy one another’s company, which is so wonderful for me to get to watch.

We took mom to the doctor today to have her angio site checked and The Boy dutifully pushed her wheelchair into the office so she didn’t have to work too hard. The Girl asked sweetly afterwards if Nana was still ok. And then I drug us all to the grocery store as we had close to zero food in the house except for Cheerio’s, marshmallows and tinned turkey.

It was a bordering on normal kind of day. It was a reminder for all of us that while mom is currently a bit on the fragile side that she’s still Nana. It was a chance to see past the trauma and into the present of healing and progress. It was a chance to look forward and imagine when I didn’t have to keep her from picking up her grandchildren or remind her to take her meds or take her blood pressure twice a day or memorize all of her medications or repeat the same terrifying story time after time.

It was a chance to see, a mere 5 days afterwards, that there is and will be life after my mom’s heart attack.


H Day 4

I really, really hate dealing with doctors. Especially when the only friend I have who happens to be a doctor, and could have been a gigantic help with navigation and resources, is in Cyprus for two weeks. When the hospital discharged mom yesterday they explained in no uncertain terms that her incision site from the angiogram/plasty needed to be seen within a week and she needed to follow up with a cardiologist within two weeks. I knew from the moment they said that that the cardiologist piece would be the toughest demand to follow. I thought perhaps I could find her one here in two weeks, but didn’t quite know where to start on the other.

But this morning I jumped in with both feet. I spent all morning on the phone getting appointments lined up. Explaining over and over again how mom doesn’t live here, but she just had a heart attack and is staying with me for a couple of weeks so we needed to get her follow up care started now instead of waiting for her to get home. And even though two different hospitals had no problem taking her insurance, I was told by a huge cardiologist group here in town that she had never heard of my mom’s health insurance company. So therefore, it must not exist. I finally got her to believe me and then she started in on the whole “we need a referral from her PCP in order to see her.” I was almost screaming by the time I got off the phone with her. But, if I can get her doc in NM to fax a referral letter soon, then they can see her on Friday.

I’m tired. Tired in a way that I never even thought existed. But I think that I’m doing better when I have something to do; something concrete to focus on. At least it was something to do this morning, haggling with these scheduling people and nurses. Just like doling out pills and taking blood pressures and asking over and over again how mom’s feeling.

Right now I’m better in motion, with purpose and determination. Rather than sitting still being tired.

6/23/09 - H Day 3

Days in hospital: 2. Nights of sleep: -2. Definitive answers: many.

Mom had an angiogram at 6:30am this morning. They found one 90% blockage in one of her arteries and several other 10-20% blockages. They did an angioplasty on the 90%-er and placed a medicated stent to keep the artery open. She did fine through the surgery, which is a great sign, although her blood pressure is staying pretty low and her oxygen is a little unstable. But otherwise, as long as she follows through on the medication regimen they’ve prescribed, she should be ok. But if she doesn’t, the stent will collapse and she will have another heart attack. Mostly it’s time to just flip into major prevention mode to make sure the smaller blockages don’t grow. The official diagnosis is coronary artery disease. The unofficial diagnosis is “she has plaque all over the place!”

My mom has by and large chosen a western medicine intervention-free life. Finding herself in the grips of western medicine fingers has been a tough pill for her to swallow (pun fully intended). She doesn’t understand why this happened. She does yoga every day. Her diet is healthy and clean. No smoking, no drugs, very little drinking, no red meat. This just doesn’t make any sense to her whatsoever. Which I think is at the core of her reticence to just take orders. For most anyone it’s hard to just take what someone gives you when it doesn’t jive with anything else in your life.

And I get it. Really I do. But I also know that if she doesn’t jump through some of these hoops that her dying because of it will make even less sense. So I have already been dubbed Nurse Ratchett. And I’m really fine with that.

Which is why when they discharge her today, the doc will be talking to me as much as to mom. And she’ll be staying with us for a couple of weeks until I can go back down to NM with her. And I’m taking her blood pressure twice a day and making sure she takes her meds. Whether it makes sense or not, it just is right now.

6/22/09 - H Day 2

“I am sorry to have to tell you this, but your mother is having a heart attack.” – ER doc

P and I had gotten mom on the ambulance and raced to her car to follow them to the ER. We got to the hospital, found our way around and waited for someone to get us as they were “still working on her.” We both uneasily, but thoroughly, convinced ourselves that it was food poisoning or indigestion or a panic attack. Even in the face of text book heart attack symptoms, we worked hard to find all remotely plausible alternative explanations. But they led us back to her room, where they were indeed still working on her, and the very nice ER doc kneeled down before me and crushed my illusions with a huge frying pan of reality.

P and I looked at each other and immediately started in on planning mode. How would we get my dad here? Where should we have her transferred to (the hospital didn’t have the facilities she needed for treatment)? What mode of treatment should we authorize immediately?

In the end we chose a brand new cardiac unit about an hour outside of Denver, where they would transport her to and a blood clot busting drug called Retavase which would be her best bet given how much time had already passed. I was going to book my dad a plane ticket for first thing in the morning and P would pick him up from the airport in Denver. J would help me pack up our hotel room and book the ticket. I would follow P in my mom’s car to the new hospital.

So many details and nowhere in any of those choices was there an answer to the simple question of whether my mom was going to be ok. The hospital in Laramie didn’t even possess the facilities to tell me the severity of the heart attack. Only that immediate action was warranted and they wanted her on the road ASAP.

I ticked through my check list as quickly as possible and got in the car, trying not to think, chain smoking and trying to figure it all out.

6/21/09 - H Day

My mom had a heart attack today.

As most days that end up changing everything often do, this one started out completely normal. I was up early after not much sleep (stayed up way too late and then shared a hotel room with my snoring mom). Had breakfast with friends who were also in town for the wedding, hung out with some other friends so that I could catch up on some much belated baby cheek chewing on their 15 month old son and spent the afternoon dozing while mom went down to the pool for a swim.

She came back up to the room smelling of chlorine and happy. Drank a beer and watched the US Open with me, then took a shower. By the time she got out of the shower and had come back to the room after going down to get our wedding present out of the car I knew something was wrong. She was pale and sweaty and saying her chest hurt. She sat in front of the A/C for a bit and got dressed for the wedding. All the while just breathing and telling me she was fine.

I didn’t really believe her. Which is why when we arrived downstairs at the wedding, I immediately went to search out her oldest friend to tell her what was going on and ask her to help me keep an eye on mom. When I returned to where I had left her not five minutes ago, mom was gone. After a brief, but frantic, search we found her in the bathroom, throwing up, crying and saying that she was no longer ok.

And I froze. I remember saying over and over, I don’t know what to do. Mostly I was in shock. And had it been one of my children I would have immediately snapped into action, but when it’s a parent who is obviously in need of significant medical action, it takes a minute to change roles. I had someone hunt down a cell phone to call 911 and kept talking to her until they arrived.

They took her immediately to the ER and I waited to hear what was next.


Fairytale Childhood

I’m sitting here trying to figure out what to write about as my mind swirls with sweet memories of the people we’re travelling to see today. Part of the problem is that so many of their names start with J so I’m finding my fool proof system for keeping anonymous those I love foiled. The other part is that so many of my memories are comprised more of feelings, responses and emotions than actions.

Walking down a country road picking wild flowers to go see Sweet Lady J’s chestnut horse or chasing her golden retriever through the meadows. Watching her throw pots and create Father Christmas; an amazing, huge pot with a lovely face always smiling out at exactly my height.

Chasing and playing and dreaming with Brother J until way past both of our bedtimes. Everything from board games to elaborately constructed journeys into some other world created by nothing but our imaginations and wonder. Him being four years older and having such unending patience with me as I lured him away from the grownups talk back into some previously imagined escapade.

Listening to Uncle J tell the most amazing stories. Stories that brought so much more color and encouragement to dream up fairytales of my own. Giving me permission to create an extraordinary life; to connect the dots between my imagination and the “real” world. Almost demanding that I color outside the lines and carve my own path through the daily convention.

It’s so easy for me to slip back into those feelings of being so completely safe that I could do anything. Living room plays. Stories of my own. Dreams of meatball downpours and skipping stones across elven rivers.

And Brother J is now a father and I a mother. I hope that we create the same kind of safe and gorgeous world for our children to grow up in. I hope that regardless of the number of siblings our children have, that they can find the trust and love that we found in this extended family. I hope they can cultivate the same vibrancy of growth that we were gifted.

Weaving an unbreakable foundation for a future of brilliance and beauty.


Wyoming Memories

I am an only child. My mom is an only child. All of my dad’s family lives in Nebraska. Needless to say the bulk of my extended family came in the form of family friends. There is one group in particular which populate my childhood memories from beginning to end. These were people with whom my mom was very good friends (one of which since high school) since way before I was even a glimmer in her eye.

J has just about always lived in Wyoming and he had a sweet little house in Lander when I was little. We used to go up there just about every weekend. Keep in mind that Lander is an 8 hour drive from Denver. And we literally would go every single weekend. They had a hot tub and kitties and the whole house just had a lovely, soft, homey feeling about it. I loved that house. Except for one thing. There was one exposed heating grate that you just knew to stay away from when the heat was because that sucker would get white hot. So I learned from almost the moment I stepped foot into that house to just stay far away from it when it was cold enough for the heat to be on. Period.

And then one day I was playing chase with the closest person I have to a sibling and forgot what I was doing. I suddenly found myself standing on that grate with both feet and before I knew what was happening I was just screaming. It hurt so badly that I just could not move. So I stood there, my feet getting more and more burned by the moment, screaming. J finally rushed in after a minute or two and whisked me off the grate and onto the couch. I had perfect lines in what were probably second degree burns running across my feet like railroad tracks. I will never forget that moment of pain paralysis. And I will never forget that house or the people who lived and loved in it.

My mom and I are heading back to Wyoming this weekend and I cannot wait to see these people.

6/18/09 - Crazy Afternoon

**Once you read yesterday's entry, you'll understand why I am tardy posting it! :)**

The Boy had about 25 other kids in his class while he was in kindergarten. He played with all of them pretty equally and often asked for playdates with several of them. But out of all of those kids, and their mothers, we only really got to know 2 of them. One mother in particular I’ve become really good friends with. She’d just found out she was pregnant with their 5th child when we first started hanging out, so I got to see her go through the whole pregnancy. And it just confirmed my thought that there are just some women who are meant to be pregnant. She is really one of them. Not only did she always look gorgeous, but she never ran out of energy, never used the pregnancy as an excuse to not go for walks around the neighborhood with the other kiddos, never let being pregnant slow her down one little bit. I have a great deal of admiration for her as a woman and a mother.

She had their baby girl about two weeks ago and she’s gorgeous! Of course part of the reason that she does pregnancy so easily could be because her babies are so small (at least compared to mine). The biggest of the 5 was barely over 7lbs. While mine top out at over 9lbs. She had a bit of a traumatic labor and delivery as her placenta tore and her labor stalled out at about 5cm. But baby and mama are now healthy and happy.

Well, at least the baby is. O found several lumps in her breasts the other day. We both initially thought they were just plugged milk ducts. But after much compressing, massaging and icing they weren’t going anywhere fast. So off to the doc she went. They wanted to do further testing pretty immediately, so she called me today in tears asking if her 4 kiddos could come play for the afternoon. Of course!!

So my house was crazy for the entire afternoon with 6 children playing furiously. And we’re waiting for the docs to get their butts in gear and schedule the biopsy. And I’m sending her love and light.


Not A Good Day

So. This day started with me totally willing to meet it head on and enjoy whatever came. At least until I opened my eyes and realized that I had a massive headache. That only got worse as the morning progressed. Damn it! Now I had to cancel my breakfast plans with R which literally took us about two months to get scheduled. I just couldn’t handle trying to sit through breakfast while my eyes wouldn’t focus and waves of nausea rolled over me.

Fine. Drop kids off, come home and relax, maybe go back to bed until I had to pick them up. Came home, was able to relax enough that the migraine sank into the background. Left to go pick up The Boy from summer school. Got there, was perhaps 1-2 minutes late, and went to the cafeteria where I have picked him up all week. He’s nowhere to be found. I go to his classrooms. Nope. Go to the office. Not so much. They make an announcement over the loud speaker that he should return to the office immediately. Five minutes go by and still no Boy. Now I’m getting worried. So I start combing the halls with any and all school personnel that I can find along the way. It took us 15 minutes to find him. Turns out he got tired of waiting in the cafeteria and thought he would just go get on one of the school buses to take him home. When we finally found him, my head was reeling with thoughts of “Oh my God! I can’t remember what he was wearing this morning! What will I tell people to look for if I can’t remember what he looks like?!?” I kneeled before him with tears flowing down my face and just hugged him tightly.

Got The Girl picked up (late), ran errands, came home. Checked email. Found a one-line message from the HR woman for the job I’ve been interviewing for saying that they’d “decided to pursue other candidates.” Emailed her in return to clarify; did this mean my interview next week was cancelled? Yes. Interview cancelled. Another opportunity vanishing before my eyes.

I need a cocktail.



Today is our 8th anniversary, and it has me predictably thinking about our wedding.

I’ve only just recently learned that I was a bridezilla. I seriously had no idea (other than one stress induced and unfortunate fight with G). In fact, I thought I was being pretty laid back about the whole thing given that I was planning it long distance and really had no idea what I was doing. I mean one of my bridesmaids had to remind me to order the dresses because it was getting so close. We didn’t have a rehearsal, just a dinner with open bar. We always kind of treated the ceremony like an afterthought, the reception afterwards was so much more important to us. For me, I knew it was one of the only times in my life when I would get just about every single person I loved under the same roof. And in the end that was what was most important to me. The majority of the wedding party all stayed at different hotels across town, and I wonder if my reaction to that is what qualified me as a bridezilla. Because I was pretty crabby about it. I mean every single person had to travel to our wedding (us included) and I just wanted us all to spend the weekend hanging out. It was the people who were most important to me. I planned a big wedding because it was expected, not because I was especially tied into the favors or pictures or anything else really.

Other than getting ridiculously drunk at the reception, the thing that stands out the most for me was how it felt to wake up the next morning. I didn’t really expect to feel any different. I mean we had already been together for 2 ½ years, living together and inseparable since our first month of dating for the most part. But I did. Radically different in fact. I felt like I could do anything. I felt like I could take on the whole world and whatever it had in store for me. I have never felt that strong or certain about anything. All because G was by my side.


Summer School

The Boy started summer school today and he was so excited when I told him it was time to go he couldn’t make it to the car fast enough.

When the district sent home the flyer about summer school what caught my attention about it the most was that they were doing a 2 hour reading class, it was dirt cheap and he got to eat lunch for free. So we ended up picking three classes for him. He chose gym and art (an hour each) and I chose the reading class. It’s a good compromise; he gets two hours of fun and then two solid hours of focused reading. I wanted to make sure we kept up on the reading through the summer so he didn’t back slide before starting first grade in the fall.

I just could not get over how happy he was to just to be there. He wasn’t nervous about being in classes with kids he had never met or with teachers who didn’t know his name. He didn’t even bat an eye when I told him classes would be at a different school. He practically drug me across the street to get checked in and then about ran to his first class.

It got me trying to remember if and when I ever thought about school like that. Was I ever that excited to go to school? I remember trying to get excited about it at the beginning of every school year and then having my hopes dashed by getting the mean teacher or coming face to face with problems requiring knowledge that had apparently leaked out of my ears during the long, hot summer. I remember wanting to love school and then just ending up feeling as stupid as can be within days. I never would have voluntarily signed up for summer school.

So right now, while making sure The Boy’s reading skills continue to progress is definitely a priority, I am just thrilled that he loves school. He doesn’t care what shirt he wears as long as it’s comfy. Right now showing up and learning is good enough for him and that makes me very happy indeed.


Motherhood Discovery

I went to a baby shower today for a dear friend. She’s one that I’ve known since 7th grade. As with most friends you’ve had for 20 years or more, there have been so many ups and downs through our friendship that I stopped counting. All I know is that we’ve reconnected and it’s as if we just talked yesterday. There are just some people out there that you have a soul connection with, you know?

This is her first baby. And I’m so excited for her I can hardly stand it. She is 8 months pregnant and looks completely fucking gorgeous (which does make me a wee bit miffed) and she is obviously adored by a huge community of support. They’re having a boy and even though they refuse to tell anyone the names they’ve chosen, I already know. Hee-hee…I just had to throw that out there. And it’s a lovely name. I can’t wait to meet this sweet boy and call him by his secret name.

It’s interesting for me to be around new moms and moms-to-be. I spend so much of my time being a mother and feeling completely inept. Feeling like the days pass in such a blur, how could I possibly know which way is up, let alone how to respond in a proper (whatever the hell that means) fashion with my children. But when I am around new moms and those who are anxiously anticipating the arrival of their first baby, I find that I often know more than I think I do. And I have a quiet (and not so quiet) confidence about this whole motherhood job.

I can talk your ears off about breastfeeding, baby wearing and cloth diapers. I can tell countless troublemaker stories and tales of sleepless nights making me bleary and silly. I can recount both of my deliveries with awesome clarity. But I can also just sit back and watch and listen as these women find their own way. And relish in simply being invited along on their journey. I’ve packed my road map, and they’re welcome to look at it, but mostly I just love being a part of their own motherhood discovery.


The Renaissance Festival

As a family, we don’t have a lot of traditions. But one we do have is that we go to the Renaissance Festival every year for opening weekend. It was a tradition that started when I was a kid. Opening weekend is always either right before or right after my birthday, so I had many years as a kid where my birthday party was going to RenFest with a couple of my favorite friends. And when we moved back to Colorado 8 years ago, we picked that tradition back up.

Now that we’ve got the kiddos, it makes it even more fun. Because it’s not just about the shopping and the food, but also so totally about the experience for them. They are now old enough that they want to dress up and have their faces painted. They have started looking forward to specific things about the whole affair. And all the dressed up people don’t scare them anymore. Or at least, not as much.

They both wanted to dress up this year, so they donned their capes and The Boy brought his wooden sword and shield (after much begging we yielded to The Girl’s request for a wooden dagger which she promptly tucked into the sash around her pretty dress).

I have such fun memories of the Renaissance Festival from my childhood and I’m grateful that we can help our kids build their own memories. I love that we can take them somewhere that plays to their imaginations without the necessity of flashing lights or the need for quarters or tokens. I love that we can walk through those gates and allow ourselves to become immersed in another time. I love that fully grown adults will search out The Boy to start a sword fight in the middle of the crowd or track down The Girl just to tell her how pretty of a princess she is.

It’s such a nice break from the daily grind. For all of us. There’s no reining in or distracting from play so we can run errands. It’s just a day long escape into fantasy and fun with turkey legs and frozen oranges thrown in for good measure.

6/12/09 - Interview Follow-up

***I done forgot to post this yesterday, sorry!!***

I had the phone interview today and it went really well. I was prepared for it take quite a while, but it only took about half an hour or so and by the end the human resources people I was talking to were fawning over me and telling me how great all my answers were. Which was pretty unexpected.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I know that I’m good at what I do. But I’m not entirely sure I have ever really considered myself a great interviewer. I can stumble over what I’m trying to say and often I look back and wish I had said something differently. But either I’m getting good enough at what I do that I don’t fumble my words anymore or I’m just getting better at this whole “sell myself” thing.

Probably the biggest thing I was worried about was that because it was a phone interview I knew I was going to be talking to these people on a speaker phone. I hate talking on a speaker phone. For some reason I start talking really loudly as if I imagine them sitting in the next room and listening to me through the wall or something. I always double check to make sure they’ve heard and understood everything I’ve said. It’s just plain taxing. Plus I just really like to be able to see people’s facial expressions. They can tell me if I’ve answered a question in a satisfactory way or if I need to keep going. With a phone interview I just have to guess that they aren’t sitting there making funny faces at each other over every word that I’ve said.

I got to learn a bit more about the company and the position. And I think my biggest hesitation at this point is that I’ll get bored. It seems that there is not a lot of creativity involved in the position and I will only be writing state and federal grants. I’m sure I’ll have my plate continually full; I just hope it’s full with different things.

So now I get to play the waiting game. Just kidding…no waiting game. I have another interview next week.


Another Opportunity

I scored another job interview today. It’s a position that I wasn’t sure about when I applied for it. Mostly just because the job advertisement didn’t explain it very thoroughly. But the human resources person called me today and she explained it more explicitly and I think it’s a job that I am completely qualified for, but would be really different from anything I’ve ever done before. First of all, it is a business, not a nonprofit and I haven’t worked outside of the nonprofit realm since I was in high school. Secondly, the company has 1,300 employees. Holy shit!! Not only has it been about 7 years since I worked in an office to begin with, but I’ve never worked in an office that big.

The idea of it is pretty daunting because of the sheer size and how long it’s been since I have had to really answer to someone else. I’ve essentially been my own boss for the last 7 years and when I was working with other people, it was mostly working with peers. It has been a long time since I’ve been immersed in a traditional office hierarchy. And I still maintain that I don’t play all that well with others.

The flip side is that the idea of working with that many people, of being a bit anonymous is kind of exciting. To just be able to put my head down and do what is assigned to me. Not having to worry about the huge decisions, not having to be the point of contact for clients. Just doing the express job that is put in front of me and then going home sounds extremely appealing right about now. And the idea of working with that many people would open up a totally new social atmosphere for me that I haven’t had access to for quite a while.

I’ve spent the last several years juggling being home with the kiddos while trying to run my business and I’m so tired of it I can hardly see straight. Aside from the tremendous help the steady paycheck will lend our financial situation, I just can’t wait to physically go back to work!


Choose your Choice

There’s a woman on TV right now whose name is Kiki. And I wonder if that’s her real name. I mean did her parents actually find that name in a book or conversation or movie and think “Oh! I love that name! We should name our daughter that!” Is that how those names happen?

And now there is a man throwing away a garbage bag full of money. And I know it’s supposed to be a funny and poignant comment on how quickly we all throw away our money on overpriced cell phone services or cars or whatever. But mostly I just think it’s silly. There was a room full of people who were paid large sums of money to come up with that ad campaign which is actually trite and anything but poignant. It’s a commercial for Christ’s sake. Is that what we’re supposed to take as truth now?

There are middle-aged moderately handsome men telling me that pills can improve my husband’s sex life. That simply by taking this little blue pill he can suddenly meet all of my unspoken needs and his own. It has nothing to do with me of course, I don’t have to do anything but lie there afterwards and relish in the aftereffects.

I’m frustrated and angry today. By the attachment to convention that this world seems to demand. By the people who squint their eyes good naturedly and cock their heads to one side whenever I get on one of my tangents about romance or hope or fairytales. By the fact that I am one of those people.

I watched Revolutionary Road today and I think it’s a very brave movie with a character that has tremendous courage. Some say she was a coward. That her choices were cop outs and that she selfishly ignored her responsibilities in some foolish quest to be happy.

And every moment of every day is all about choice. The choice to embrace or embellish or face with disdain. The choice to put on a brave face or refuse to suck it up any longer. The choice to be or become.
What will my choice be today or tomorrow or right now?


Live and Let Live

I have an extremely hard time walking the line between reality and love. There are so many people and things that I love and the boundary between them, with their vibrant colors and fantastical joy, disappears in the face of the cold and stark reality of everyday life. I have so many brilliant and talented people who sing, dance, play music and create amazing works of art with pen, paint and performance. I’ve such deep respect and adoration for these people whom I am lucky enough to call my friends.

The problem is that one of my biggest strengths is also my biggest weakness. I am an eternally hopeful, hopeless romantic. That capacity enables me to be a giver in the broadest sense of the word. I would give anything for my family and friends, especially if it was to help them achieve something they really believed in. It enables me to always see a silver lining. It enables me to always be on the lookout for the light at the end of the tunnel, even when I can’t see my hand in front of my face for the darkness. The flip side, however, is that if one of these people whom I love, has to pass on a gig because they can’t get the time off of work, or they have to shift their artistic style in order to land jobs that will actually pay the bills or they turn their passion into a job that takes them away from everyone who loves them, I get filled with so much irrational anger that I am sure they think I’m crazy.

Anger at the world for low-jacking them in an effort to ensure adherence to a predetermined flight path. Anger that the reality of doing your soul’s work most of the time is not as shiny and ephemeral as it could be. Anger at brilliance compromised.

But even that anger is romanticized I think. Because it goes from one extreme to the other. I think the real problem is not the world, or how artists exist in that world, but my attachment to a romantic vision which in and of itself places limits on love.


Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my 33rd birthday. It was pretty much a normal day except for all the people wishing me happy birthday and having a gorgeous new necklace to build an outfit around.

My birthdays have always just sort of come and gone with little fanfare. Since my birthday is the day after my mom’s, it often got swallowed into a joint celebration with mostly my parents’ friends growing up. It’s always sort of felt like a “oh yeah, that’s right” kind of day. And perhaps that’s my fault. In my reticence to bring attention to myself for fear of seeming like I’m begging for attention or special treatment, I never make a huge deal out the day. I never demand dramatic gatherings or hullabaloo. I just sort of think that those in my life who want to celebrate my birthday, will, and those who don’t, won’t. And that is usually how it goes down.

I don’t have a lot of vivid memories of my birthdays. But one that I do have completely clear memories of was my 9th birthday. I remember having a few of my best girlfriends over just to hang out. What I really remember though was my parents giving me my first 10-speed bike for that birthday. It was a red Schwinn with a black seat. And I think I actually cried when I came down the stairs, blind folded, to see it that afternoon. I also remember that was the year I had to really start wearing glasses and my best friend at the time, M, gave me these goofy plastic wiper things that I could clip onto my regular glasses so that should I be stranded in the rain, I could pop those suckers onto my glasses and voila! Instant non-rain smeared glasses. We both thought they were very funny. I remember it being a good birthday, full of laughter and fun.

Today I got an enormous number of the most wonderful birthday wishes on Facebook. A lovely day with my family. A super sweet card with a little “just for me!” spending cash from my in laws. And the chance to mark another year gone by. Cheers to 33!


People's Fair

Today is my mom’s birthday – Happy Birthday Mom!! She came to spend the weekend with us and we went to the People’s Fair in Denver today. It’s sort of a tradition for us as it always falls the first weekend in June so is always close to our birthdays. We’ve been going to the fair for as long as I can remember. Ever since it was small enough to be contained by Civic Center Park with room to spare. Now they close off a huge chunk of downtown around the park and it takes an entire day to go through all the booths, investigate all the food and check out all the music.

It is prime people watching fun. Although I do have to admit that it’s more fun when we can go sans children. There is a ton of stuff for the kids to do and see, but the sheer volume of people alone makes for a nerve wracking day just making sure I know where they are all the time. Plus my kids are just not all that fond of shopping. Especially for the things that I really like to shop for, like jewelry and clothes and art. I often find new (to me) artists that blow my mind. But it’s just really hard to peruse over expensive bobbles or canvases when you’re trying to keep your kiddos from pawing the merchandise. But with or without kids, it’s a beginning of summer tradition that I always look forward to.

And when I found a necklace that I absolutely fell in love with (and whose price tag made me squint my eyes in pain) that I went ahead and got (despite the miserly guilt voice ranting in my head) I did my best to talk my mom into going back for the necklace that had made her light up. It’s her birthday after all! But then the sky opened up again and we were getting drenched and she decided that no necklace was worth braving hail and down pour twice in one day.

Even with the deluge, it was a lovely day and as always, it I hope my mom had a lovely birthday!


True Blood

I have a new TV obsession. As if I needed yet another show to get totally into and anticipate every week. There is a slight problem (or bonus depending on how you look at it) with this one though. It’s an HBO show, which is a channel we don’t get.

I initially decided to give this show a shot because I remembered an interview I heard with its creator and writer (Alan Ball) on NPR, who also created and wrote Six Feet Under which I was able to grab snippets of here and there and always loved. Plus the interview with him stuck with me because he was just so cool. So now that the entire first season of his new show, True Blood, is out on DVD, I decided to give it a try. I needed some brain candy and I have a love for all things vampire, so why not, right?

I truly was not expecting anything other than amusement. Perhaps some clever writing, because it’s Alan Ball. But not anything that would really grip me. And I was wrong, wrong, wrong. I love it! It is easily the best thing I’ve seen Anna Pacquin do since The Piano. Her character is strong and willful, which stands in such sharp contrast to so many of the roles she’s played of late. The ancillary characters are probably the best so far; they are funny, clever and so completely full of the broadest spectrum of life. And there is some shock value (at least to my suburban living, out of practice eyes) in the truly explicit sex scenes. Holy cow…My mom is coming into town for our birthdays (hers is tomorrow and mine is Monday, yeah you can count on a “growing up with a birthday the day after your mother’s” post in the VERY near future) and this will NOT be a show that I watch with her. Holy uncomfortable scenario Batman…

Anyway, I’m far from a TV critic, I just thought I’d share some thoughts on a new distraction that I’ve found. It’s good stuff, you should check it out if you have some free time you’d like to devote to brain candy.


Sweet Surprises

My mother in law called this morning out of the blue. And the minute I saw the name on the caller ID I got worried, because she hardly ever calls out of the blue unless something is wrong. So when I answered the phone, I’m sure I sounded harried and tinny (oh who am I kidding, I always sound like that). Turns out everything is fine (thank goodness!) and she was just calling to tell me she put something in FedEx today, so I should be on the lookout for it.

I hadn’t had a chance to tell her about The Girl’s latest bout with pneumonia, so we caught up on that. And talked a bit about what we were going to do with this girl who I just can’t seem to keep healthy. And then she brought up my birthday (which is Monday) and told me that what she had put in that envelope was to be used exclusively for me. Not for the children. Not for bills. Not for the house. Only me. She was so completely sweet about it, that I was just about in tears by the end of the phone call.

Whenever I do talk to my mother in law, I always try to down play how hard something is or the toll it has taken because she is without a doubt one of the strongest women I have ever known. Her house is always clean. She always remembers birthdays and anniversaries and everything else that always seems to slip my mind. She’s always on top of all the things that I can’t quite seem to get nailed down. So I try hard to be that person too, even if only apologizing profusely for not sending a card for a birthday (which happens almost every year).

It’s been entirely too long since we’ve seen her and my father in law. I miss them. And I hope they know that. I hope they know that the only thing that’s kept us away is silly money. And that if we could get around that, we’d be there with bells on to ride on the tractors and relish in the magnolias’ glorious bloom.


On a sunny day...

We had a whole morning of sun today. After several days of rain and clouds, we had a handful of hours of sunshine. And if it weren’t for The Boy bouncing off anything standing still, it would have been a lovely morning. Well except for the lovely background music of The Girl hacking her massive pneumonia cough (her fever broke last night, so that’s a huge improvement!). But the infusion of sunlight did help me with my overall world view a bit. I’m not quite as crabby and woe-is-me this afternoon. That could be because The Girl went down for a 2 hour nap and I shooed The Boy across the street to play with friends. But as that makes me sound like a less than engaged mom, I’m just going to chalk it up to the re-emergence of the sun.

Also, it could be chalked up to this HI-larious video my friend H sent me. It’s probably not entirely safe for work, but you should watch it. It’ll get you all revved up for a saucy weekend, sun or no sun.

Step 1, put a hole in the box.

I mean you could riff on this sucker for hours, I’m pretty sure. Bringing hours of rejuvenated joy around the water cooler. Giving wings to cubicle-imprisoned imaginations. Encouraging dull, unfocused eyes to come into sharp focus on the clouds swirling overhead in a fantastic display of psychedelic colors shaped like woodland creatures. Or something.

Whatever. It’s an awesomely funny Saturday Night Live skit that made me laugh out loud. Check it out.

And now it’s raining again. My dogs are whining like the pansies they really are from the thunder and large raindrops hitting their gigantic, drooling heads. Even though the return of the rain has threatened to nudge the good mood I’m in out of the way, it is also filling my house with its delicious and clean smell (which since I haven’t actually cleaned the house in entirely too long, is a welcome change of pace). Instead of slipping back into the sulk I have so studiously perfected over the last several days, I’ll move my good mood back to center and anticipate the BBQ chicken we’re having for dinner.


Here We Go Again

The Girl has pneumonia. AGAIN. This will be the third time in the last year. The first time I kept her out of the hospital by my sheer force of will. The second time she was in the hospital for 2 ½ days after the fever caused a febrile seizure. This time who the hell knows what will happen. I think we caught it really early this time and have her started on pretty strong antibiotics, so I’m hoping that the worst thing will be her missing two camp days this week (which other than pissing me off is no big deal).

And it’s also made me remember when I was little and used to get pneumonia often enough that I remember it. I remember being really, really sick for just about every Christmas. My mom got to be a pro at building me a little sheet tent over the couch in the living room with the humidifier tucked inside. I would live in that tent for days at a time, alternating between watching daytime TV and dozing. I can distinctly remember the patterns on the sheet and my mom ducking inside to take my temperature every so often and bring me apple juice and chicken noodle soup.

I also remember that I had this green Tupperware bowl that I would put on my head when I was sick. It was one of the original pieces of Tupperware in that trademark green. My parents had started out by using it to pour water over my head in the bath and for some reason whenever I was sick I would immediately put it on my head in the most pitiful of ways.

I would emerge from my sheet tent long enough to don the bowl and open presents on Christmas Day. Then I would crumple back onto the couch and drift off into a feverish sleep listening to the rustling of bows and the ripping of wrapping paper.

So I guess she’s inherited my independence. My willfulness. My blue eyes. My drama queen tendencies. And my weak, pneumonia prone lungs. Had it been my choice, I’d have given her my wit, long legs and ravishing smile.


Hula to Hope

“Dig it up, dust off the tarnish and stick that sucker to the dashboard.”

I said this to an old friend yesterday in reference to hope. We were talking about the days when that’s all we have left and this little gem floated to the surface. The phrase itself has so much going on and so many cross references that it’s hard to tell what exactly I was going for here. But you can definitely tell that I’m all spun around attempting to find my bearings.

And that pretty much sums it up right now. I have no intention of making this another post full of whining and poor pitiful me. Lord knows I’ve done that enough both in writing and in an ongoing litany in my head to last us all a lifetime. This post is really about getting back to the hope that I try to distill from every day. Regardless of whether that day contains my daughter having a seizure, or having to return a car that we love, or my son struggling mightily learning to read. Or whether that day is absolutely nothing special. Because those are far more plentiful than the others.

It’s those daily grind days that really test my ability to dust anything off, let alone see through tarnish. The days when I’m treading water endlessly, trying to fix my sights on the endless horizon. The days when I’m bone tired. The days when I’m bored out of my mind and pushed to my limits of tolerance and patience.

Today was one of those days. I just woke up surly. Knowing I had a long day stretched before me with no real plans and two bouncing children. So we went to a sweet movie and then on to grocery shopping so I could actually cook this evening.

Making soup brought a grounding feeling and entertaining the notion that tomorrow may be the day when I get the call about the job brought a sense of uplifted relief. Tomorrow is playdate and camp. Perhaps sun will outweigh the rain tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the opportunity to affix hope, yet again, to my own dashboard, to hula its way into existence.


Hole Please

There is only thing that I despise almost the same amount as missing someone. I just really hate feeling embarrassed. It’s one of those emotions that make me want to cry and scream and throw things all at once. I want to crawl into the darkest, dankest hole I can find and stay there until every person I’ve ever known is gone and has long forgotten my very existence. Yeah, it’s really that bad.

I go to extreme lengths to avoid any potential brush with embarrassment. Going on 10 years ago, when my now husband had let on that he was going to propose I threatened to say no if he did it in any kind of public or embarrassing way. I research things within an inch of their lives to make sure I know stuff before I actually talk to anyone about just about anything. When I’m in a room of people I don’t know, I hang back and watch everyone else for a while to figure out where the bathroom is or what the flow of traffic is. I mean it’s a bit on the neurotic side, the extent of my aversion to even remote feelings of embarrassment. And I know it’s inching towards crazy.

This is why I’m now going to tell you about my day. My day that now has me wanting to chain smoke cigarettes and slam cheap beer in my deep, dark and dank hole.

On Friday we found a perfect car for my husband. A great, versatile car that would suit our family and him really well that we could have for a long, long time. I was excited and happy about the purchase.

And then today, we went back in to finish the paperwork and were informed that the dealership couldn’t get us financed. Apparently our credit scores are great, but banks are all fucked up and so we had to give the car back. Who has had to give a car back? Seriously…

And it was awful and they handled it poorly and I handled it really poorly.

I want my hole. I want it right now. Where is a good hole when you need one?