November 2009 Archives

Yesterday we took Willow to Monterey to see some jellies and seahorses.  After we left the aquarium we walked down the road to this candy shop that has all sorts of single-wrapped candies in these old barrels.  The rows of barrels go up and down the store, and there are shelves filled with all sorts of Pez and weird gummies and pop rocks.  We turned Willow loose to get some candy, but she ended up falling for a big stuffed Hello Kitty, and decided to get that instead of candy.  So I can be healthy, she said.

I found that a little alarming.  Maybe they're going overboard at school with all the health education.
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Lex zooms in on the Statue of Liberty (mom steals photo from kid's facebook account)

The three big kids are on the east coast with their dad and stepmom, and having a great time.  Tonight was the first time I talked to them since last Friday (we sent a few texts back and forth, but that was it) and they sound happy and well.   Soph was really tearful in the days before they left, worried that she'd miss me.  Tonight she said, Remember when you said that I'd be having such fun and would be so busy that I would hardly even miss you?  No offense, Mom, but you were right!  Except now that I'm talking to you, I'm feeling like, well, like I miss you

I told her I was really glad to hear that she wasn't missing me too much, and then listened to her tell me all about how she learned that she is totally phobic when they went up the stairs inside the Statue of Liberty's head.  She meant claustrophobic, I am sure, but in this case it was also rolled up with altophobia (which I just looked up and wow, did you know about this?  "Arachibutyrophobia - Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth."  Or this?  "Bolshephobia - Fear of Bulsheviks."  Or, uh, this?  "Genuphobia - Fear of knees."  And, also, this one?  "Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia - Fear of long words."  I guess if you have that, just saying what you have is totally out of the question, so you have to explain it without saying it, like a game of Jeopardy or Charades.)

It may snow where they are on Saturday, and they are looking forward to seeing Boston before they head back home.  Favorite city so far is D.C., but they did think New York was pretty incredible. 

I miss them.  So do Willow and SG. 

The three of us went over to SG's parents' house for Thanksgiving, and it was really, really nice.  His mom is an excellent cook, and Willow had fun going through all the sale fliers from the newspaper that SG's aunt had and circling the things she wanted.  You know, like $300 diamond earrings, $3 pajamas, socks, baby toys, pink watches, dolls, cameras, barbies. . .  Turns out, she thought she was *ordering* all these things, and was fully expecting them to arrive on Christmas Eve.  Whoops.

Tomorrow we are going to Monterey for the day, (Lutraphobia - Fear of otters!  Thalassophobia - Fear of the sea.  Cymophobia - Fear of waves or wave like motions.  Ostraconophobia - Fear of shellfish.  Ichthyophobia - Fear of fish.  And, well, Osphesiophobia - Fear of smells or odors.  Strangely, there isn't a fear of sharks listed.) and have all the things we need to make tacos down near the beach.  I'm so lucky it's pretty ridiculous, and I've got so much to be thankful for that it's on my mind every single day.  You know when you're watching a favorite movie, and as your favorite scene gets closer you say to whoever is with you, or even to an empty room, Ohh! This is the good part!?  I feel like that, almost all the time.  I'm so grateful.
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I was 99% over the funk I was in yesterday, and then I watched this (again, it's from awhile back) and now I'm 101% over it.  Which is good, because I was a little much for a bit there, even for me.

Too much candy from Capucha on Vimeo.

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that I am marginally good at taking care of other people, but terrible at taking care of myself.  And, related: I am not as smart as I think I am.

Know what I mean?
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Yesterday Willow and I went to San Francisco to visit the (totally cool, supah-renovated) Academy of Sciences and the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.

Aquarium and Garden with Willow Nov 09 045.JPG
Buddha says hello

Because I am not an excellent driver, this was sort of a Big Deal.  I went to school in San Francisco, but I lived far away in the Santa Cruz mountains for much of that time, and SF State is really easy to get to from the south bay, so I didn't get in much city driving.  It wasn't originally going to be that much of a Big Deal; I mean, I do know how to drive to and from Golden Gate Park (85 to 280 to 19th to the park.  It's easy!), but I was still nervous, because any city driving takes all my focus and minivans aren't really at all very mini.  Anyway, we were still on 280 when I saw a sign that said something about a closure?  On 19th Avenue?  So I ignored that, because I didn't want to give up my plan, but I did ask Willow to take a break from the nonstop string of jokes so I could think.  Not jokes in the usual sense of the word, but jokes like little kids who don't quite get jokes tell.  Since the jokes all sound random and nonsensical to them and everyone laughs, then the ones they make up are hilarious.  You know how it goes; you tell the kid a joke: Why was six afraid of seven?  Because seven ate nine!  And, because they don't quite grasp that, you get this back: Why was five afraid?  Because it saw a turkey!

Ha. . . haha.

I think after a two minute dissection, she did finally get the seven ate nine joke, but she's still young enough to be a) too literal for jokes, and b) a crappy liar.

Anyway, by the third very clear warning, it's dawning on me that my route to the park is not going to happen, so I pull out my phone and start looking at the map.  I think I've got it figured out, and because I see a lot of streets with arrows on them, I have a little faith that the map is showing me (Thank you, map!) all the one way streets.  Which, really, I think it may have been, but what it doesn't get are the ones that may as well be one way because in San Francisco the precious and rare left turn is only allowed on the summer solstice between 4:46 and 4:47 pm, and not during a leap year and not if the solstice occurs on a Friday or if you are actually driving a car.  Sorry!  You can SEE where you want to go, but if you really wanted to get there, you'd have made sure to approach from the other direction, and what are you anyway, a REPUBLICAN?  Jeez.

And that is how Willow and I found ourselves driving away from where we needed to go, and toward l-o-s-t.  We made a right turn, parked in front of a residential driveway without our hazard lights on, texted SG that 19th is closed and I am LOST, and then consulted the phone map which thought we were someplace not where we really were.  That was ok, because I figured it out, but I didn't have a lot of faith at the time that I was right. 

By the time I parked in the parking garage (which I am very frightened of because this is a known earthquake area, and parking garages are made of heavy materials and also I am pretty claustrophobic) I was certain that I would not be able to drive us home, so I started figuring out how SG could come get us.  Maybe he could ride his motorcycle up, and we could fold the seats down in my van and put it in back and he could drive us home.  Or something.

Originally I just wanted to go to the Japanese Tea Garden, but Willow sniffed out the Academy of Sciences and so we went there first.  I paid $24.95 (she is only six and gets in for free without me having to lie about her age) so that we could power walk around the place for two hours while she asked every seven minutes to go to the rooftop garden.  We saw the aquarium, and we sprinted through the rain forest exhibit, and we had lunch (side of chips FOUR DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS.  I hate to think what they'd charge if the chips weren't stale), and then we power walked through the aquarium again and then, I finally figured out that I had the map turned around and that is why what should have been the stairs to go to the rooftop garden were just bathrooms.  We walked up to the garden, and I am not kidding, she walked around the perimeter in fifteen seconds, and then cut in line for the elevator back down.  I told her we needed to wait in the line, at the back of the line, and asked didn't she want to see the garden since she'd been asking the whole time?  She looked up at me, with pity, and said, I just saw it.

Yeah.  I guess you did, I said, and we went down to cruise the gift shop.

By that time it was 4:05, and the Tea Garden closes at 4:45, so I talked her into going.  She wasn't really into it on the way there, but once inside?  Total favorite place, ever. 

willow at the tea garden.JPG

She made the loop of all the walkways within moments of arriving, and then I trailed her and took pictures.  At one point, the arches of both my feet cramped so badly I nearly cried.  I couldn't walk, so I just stood there for a few minutes, and then sort of shuffled over closer to Willow and took some more pictures.  I was still sure that we'd just have to sleep in the car in the garage, because I wasn't going to be able to face finding our way back home.  The phone map wanted me to head east in some convoluted way and cross Market St. and then take 101.  I was thinking about that while Willow was jumping around.  And I decided that I'd just try taking the way I (sorta) knew home and seeing how it went.

blurry tea garden.JPG

We went to get a cup of tea, but the person in front of us was the last one served and we were told that they were closed.  Willow was sweet about it, so I took her back into the Tea Garden gift shop and let her get the mini Hello Kitty that she'd been clutching earlier.

So we left, finally, the sun setting and Willow clutching her Hello Kitty and me positively grim about having to drive.  I looked at the map one last time, thought about following the directions that would take us east to 101, and then chucked the phone onto the passenger seat.  I went the way I thought was right, and then started home, fingers crossed.  And, miracle of miracles, it was the right way,  I was able to turn LEFT to get where I needed to be, and the road wasn't closed in the other direction.  We drove past the construction workers tearing up the road and working on the train tracks and I pointed them out to Willow and said, That's what caused all our trouble today, right there!  Then the light turned yellow, and I sped up, because that is how city drivers drive if they don't want to get the shit beaten out of them by the other city drivers behind them when the light turns yellow, and just as we were headed out of the intersection there was a flash against the mostly dark sky above us and now it's just a matter of checking the mail to see if we were busted by the red light camera.  And construction zones?  Double fine.  I figure it must've been nearly instant payback for getting that left hand turn. 

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Aquarium and Garden with Willow Nov 09 032.JPG

at the Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco.

My three older kids flew to Washington DC this morning with their dad and stepmom.  Lex and I texted back and forth until nearly noon about the weather delay and when they might actually get to take off.  I'm such a mom; I told him in one text to drink lots of water instead of soda so that he would feel better later on.  If there is a text symbol for eye rolling, he kindly did not send it to me.  Or, maybe he did and I just didn't recognize it.  That's even worse than telling him to drink water instead of soda in the first place. 

While they were still in the air, I sent him a text that said, Welcome to DC, enjoy your stay!  He wrote back later to let me know they'd landed, and then he sent another note:  Guess what?  I replied, What? 

And, HE said (my 13 year old son), I just saw my first hooker.

I wrote and deleted several different replies, before finally just sending him a That's nice, honey

They called to say goodnight around 9 our time, but after midnight there.  They were sort of getting settled for the night, at least I could hear them being told to get some sleep, and tomorrow they will go to the White House. I bet Sophie thinks this means she'll get a private audience with The President. 

While that all happens, Willow and I are maybe going to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.  Or maybe a movie.  She also mentioned staying home and trying to make pretzels in the Easy Bake Oven.  She's so sweet, wanting to save cookies for her siblings for when they get back, and asking why she can't send them postcards. 

Ok.  SG brought over a copy of The Last Picture Show (from the library) so I think we will go watch ten minutes until we fall asleep.           
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SG and I are Domo fans. 


Because, really, how can you NOT be?

Domo has a website, of course, and you can find him on Twitter, You Tube, in marshmallow and chocolate form on Flickr, and - I just discovered - Facebook.  SG even got me a slurpee cup at 7/11

Favorite video so far?  This one:


I am so sleepy I can only open one eye at a time to conserve my energy.  Enjoy the Domo dance.  Sweet dreams.  [:-*]=  (That's a little Domo text kiss for you)  (You're welcome!)

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I took ballet classes for years, five days a week, even though I wasn't ever very good at it.  I'm so relieved that soccer is over, just to be done with the driving to and from practice and I think of my poor mother driving me to and from ballet, every day, and I feel really, really badly.

Being all short and more buff than gazellelike, I should have maybe stuck with gymnastics or soccer, but I loved ballet.  I loved the music and the repetition and the challenge.  I'd never been to New York, but I wanted to live there and be a dancer.  My apartment would have space for a barre, and I'd look out over the grey city while I went through my warm up. 

Once, my studio went to watch the San Francisco ballet practice at their studio, and I was so impressed I couldn't stand it.  I could hardly breathe.  For some reason I remember that trip as the first time I ever heard Paul Harvey on the radio.  It was when we were looking for a place to park. 

It's been a long, long time since I took a dance class, but still, when I'm really busy and trying to focus, I count.  one two three, one two three, one two three  It's just this background, soothing thing I do when I'm overwhelmed and need to keep my brain's hands full so it doesn't choke me.  That maybe sounds much more dramatic than the reality.  But, you know, when your mind is going off in all directions and they're directions like sad and worried and stressed, it's handy to be able to pull in the reigns with some number repetition. one two three, one two three, one two three
So I never put together a 40 before 40 list, and now if I wanted to make a goal of doing 40 specific things before I turn 40 years old, I'd have to fill the list with safe dates like Drive to work; Get haircut; Make breakfast; Lose car keys; Sleep

But, you know, maybe ten months is more time than I think.  I mean, a lot can happen in a week around here, and, well, you just never know.  Right?

Maybe I should have done this when I could put more thought into it, but with a half hour to go to not bust my NaBloPoMo gig, this will be stream of list consciousness:

  1. Replace the windshield wipers on my van (starting off easy)
  2. Get a twin lens reflex camera and make a contraption.
  3. Try to scuba dive (see how quickly the list got all serious?)
  4. Figure out what the hell to do with my hair
  5. Buy some art for the walls (doesn't have to cost very much and can still be gorgeous)
  6. Make some art for the walls
  7. Knit scarves for the children of mine who have requested them
  8. Take and pass a statistics class
  9. Try the biscuits at babycakes (last time I did just cupcakes)
  10. Purge, declutter and organize my house, one room at a time (this will take until I am seven hundred and twelve, but here it is all the same)
  11. Get a mammogram
  12. Finish reading the Little House on the Prairie series to my girls
  13. Ride on a skateboard without falling off for thirty seconds at medium speed
  14. Get my savings account up to two month's worth of expenses (I know it should be three.  I will be thrilled to get to more than one.)
  15. Get rid of the crap in the garage
  16. See some snow
  17. Sit on the beach with SG with nothing at all else to do but sit
  18. Get rid of all my ugly underpants
  19. Make Domo marshmallows for SG
  20. Take the kids to Texas again
  21. Take the kids to Portland
  22. Kiss Max's toes
  23. Change my last name back
  24. Get a good collection of cloth napkins and ditch the paper stuff
  25. Buy something from this designer
  26. Get a cover for my cell phone
  27. Stand up on a surfboard.  While on a wave.  In the ocean.
  28. Have a weekend away somewhere (not picky here) with SG
  29. Have a picnic with SG and the kids, where the kids make all the food
  30. Send out holiday cards.  With photos.
  31. Clean out my clothes closet
  32. Get out of debt (not counting car payment)
  33. Convince the general public at least one person that saying two thousand ten is just better than saying twenty ten
  34. Have a weekend away just me just for me (would like it to be this, but I think I'd better keep it more open-ended)
  35. Deliver really good news to someone
  36. Hold a new baby and sniff its sweet little head
  37. Get back into the swing of yoga
  38. Have dinner here again with old friends
  39. Be proud of myself
  40. Get healthy
Phew -- two minutes to go!

Tonight when I went to finally switch off the light in the boys' room, Nathan was already sleeping, but Lex was still reading.  Nate was curled in a quilt on his bed, the bottom bunk, and a few inches away from his head was Kate's new book.  My mom brought it over for us tonight, and because of several turns of circumstance, she also brought over Nate's early birthday present; a new camera.

He's been taking pictures for the school newspaper this year, and I am loving the way he frames things.  I think this will be the first of many cameras for him.  She gave it to him early because he's about to leave on what I hope will be a fun adventure with his dad and step mom and brother and sister.  New York.  DC.  Maybe Boston?  Definitely Connecticut.  I wonder how he'll photograph all of it.

Before I switched off the light, I went to sneak the book so that I could read some and then put it back in the morning.  But his bookmark was a shoelace, one end between the pages and the other tied to the bunk bed ladder.  And I decided that I could wait.  He woke up, and smiled at me, something we both needed.  Today was a little rough and we'd gotten over that part, but still, we still needed some more warm.

Here, I said, handing him a corner of a slip of paper from the desk behind me.  Put this in the pages so you can take it places and not lose your spot.  And, um, honestly dude, it's a first edition and I totally don't want you to warp the cover.

He nodded and said, Mom, your friend sure can write a great book.  And I'm not just being nice.  I really, really like it.

I do, too, I said.  And I haven't even read it yet.

The kids leave on Friday morning, it'll be good if they are nice and sleepy for the plane ride because they've stayed up late all week reading.  Right?   
SG and I have been watching movies lately, which is something we hardly ever do.  Recent selections include:     

Million Dollar Baby
Run Lola Run
The Wild One
East of Eden
Away We Go

Sometimes, NaBloPoMo is just painful.
willow last game nov 09 023.JPG

Yesterday I did the last soccer practice drop off of the year, and tomorrow the boys have their last games.  Willow's was this morning, and she played so well.  I'm surprisingly a little sad that the season is over.

I'm sure I'll get over it next Saturday when I get to sleep in, if you count waking up at 7 and not having to *go* anywhere sleeping in.
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Willow's last soccer practice was tonight and a few days ago her coach sent an email saying Hey!  Wouldn't it be fun if we had a parents vs. kids scrimmage?  So I put on some yoga pants and my ref socks and cleats and off we went, because yes, why yes it would be fun.  

I scored the first goal, (a sweet, left-footed shot) and then I took the ball away from my own kid and kept her from scoring.  I am a mean, mean lady.  I made up for it by letting Willow score the game-ending, little-girl-team-winning goal by kicking the ball off my leg and into the bitty net behind me.  I played a lot of offense, too, and I missed about ten chances to score on beautiful passes right in front of the goal because my body doesn't run fast enough anymore.  I didn't really need to be made aware of that.     

It's much harder than you'd imagine to play soccer against a bunch of little six and seven year old girls.  I mean, you can't really go all out, even if one of them, who has already, at such a tender age, perfected the Withering Stare, sticks her tongue out at you and makes that "bllemmaaaah" noise every time you stop a goal.  (I really hope she's not the one that Willow wants to invite over.)  She called me names, too, and so I just consoled myself with the fact that I have already served my junior high time and she not only still has to, she has to go an extra year because they've lumped sixth grade into it since I went when it was just 7th and 8th back in the early 1980s.  In your FACE, snotty little girl.  In five years I will be pushing 45, but you will be in hell so ha ha ha. 

One of the moms had a pretty rad foot, and every time she'd send a ball over the crossbar on the minigoal, she'd cover her face with her hands and yell that she was sorry, that she was trying to not kick it in the air but it happened anyway. 

Willow had to sit on the sidelines with me twice: once for an elbow to the nose, and once for a ball to the belly.  Both times she sat in my lap and cried for a second until I finally said, Ok, you ready to go kick some butt?  And then off she'd jet.  I thought about cheering her up by telling her that all that running around had me about two seconds away from peeing my pants (I've carried and delivered four children, walking fast is a challenge for me most days) but she was on the other team and therefore the enemy and I didn't want to give them an inch. 

We played until it got too dark to see well, but I think most of us could have stood to play a little longer.  Willow ran up to me after, so happy that she'd scored against me for the winning goal.  She held out her hands for me, Feel my fingers, Mommy!

Those aren't fingers!
  I said, Those are Popsicles, brrrrr.

Then she was off again, kicking the ball and chasing after it and singing and still full of energy.  As we were leaving some of the other moms complimented me and asked if I still played.  And I did my usual self-depreciating oh I just got lucky compliment-bounce, but honestly it was nice to hear.  Especially since a couple of times when the ball went between my feet it wasn't because I was letting the girls win.  I'm ok with all the other moms thinking that I did that on purpose because I'm nice.  Totally ok.     
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And, really I don't know any details yet and probably I shouldn't even be sharing this, but it is looking like he's going to spend the next twenty years in prison.  He isn't even thirty yet.  He's a father.  His kids are so little and will be grown when he gets out. 

It's easy, very easy, to look at him and say he belongs in jail.  God knows I've wanted to kick his ass pretty much for forever.  Like most people facing what he is, he has done some bad things.  Sometimes to other people, but maybe mostly to himself.  I haven't talked to him in a couple of years, and before that it had been a long time. 

It's a huge awful mess and it's not my story to tell, but what is mine to tell is the part I own: the part about being a mother to boys; the part about struggling with depression and self esteem; the part about seeing that addiction has the power to hurt you from angles that you never even knew about until they'd already knocked you flat.  I'm so far removed from his life and his story, but the big picture I see is one of a person who just doesn't have enough belief in his own worth to make the choices that he needed to in order to thrive.  If you don't care what happens to you, or if you don't think you deserve good things, then doesn't it follow that you'll end up placing yourself in the path of all kinds of disaster? 

Probably most people have felt that recklessness of not caring about what happens to them, even if only for a moment or two.  Maybe you felt it and took a totally dumb risk or said something you shouldn't have.  Or, just, I don't know, acted stupidly and couldn't really explain why.  And think about how different your life might be if you felt that all the time and all your choices were governed by that apathy.  Or how about being born with the brain chemistry that predisposes you toward addiction?  It sounds like I'm making excuses for him, and I don't at all mean to.  He was born with so much and he chose to quite literally throw it away.  He was given chance after chance after chance after chance, usually at the expense of the people who loved him.  Then he was given more chances.  And, still, he couldn't get it together.  And.  But.  I really think that he is suffering and I am willing to bet that if he gets psychiatric treatment in prison, he will be diagnosed with depression and maybe post traumatic stress disorder.  I know I sound like what my Poppa would have called a "bleeding-heart liberal."  I also know that I'm the mother of two children who have been diagnosed with depression and that stories like my cousin's make my stomach cold with worry and fear for my own kids.  How do I steer them through this shit, I wonder, so that they will be okay? 

Sophie's eye doctor today wrote her a prescription for glasses and so she tried on all the frames they had and chose a pair:


And tonight I heard her telling her dad about them.  She said, "I think I look better without them, but I'm still pretty with them and they help my eyes."  This was before I heard about my cousin, but I was still so happy to hear her say that in this very matter-of-fact way.  It's like every good comment they make about themselves is a layer of protection from all the worries I have for them.  Those worries that get more real on days like today.  Days when I think, Damn, I remember the day he was born.  I remember him so thrilled when he was a teenager to get his Girbaud jeans and nice shirts for Christmas because he was all about dressing well for school.  WTF?  How did this happen, exactly?
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first in line.jpg

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nov 09 leaves 014.JPG

When Willow first learned to write, and for a little bit afterward, she wrote her Ws upside down so that her name looked like "Millom."  I'd totally forgotten about that until last night when she was showing SG some of her old signed drawings.

She's decided that she wants SG to have a sleepover on Christmas, and now every day that is the first thing she asks me about.  Today she got off to a slow start, and so she was halfway through her breakfast of toast with mashed avocado and salt before she was ready to talk.  She pushed her hair out of her face and asked, Is SG sleeping over on Christmas? 

Maybe.  I don't know,
I said.  Well, she said, member what I told you last night: it doesn't have to be the couch.  You guys can put me and Sophie to bed in your bed, not our beds, your.bed. and then we will, like, fall asleep.  Then, then you can just, you know, like, move us? to our beds while we sleep, because it's not like we will even know because we will be, DUH, sleeping and stuff.  Then you guys can sleep in there and then it will be Christmas and I'll get my American! Girl! Doll!  Can I have more of this?  Is there more aaahvoughcaaawwdoough?

I took a sip of my coffee, thinking, Shit, I am totally on the hook for an American Girl doll now, but also sort of laughing, because my six year old is encouraging me to invite my boyfriend to spend the night, and how funny is it that he and I seem to be much more uncomfortable with that than the kids are.  Of course, the reason we don't do things that way is because of them, even though I know they totally don't care and would, I'm sure, love to see him at the breakfast table.

And while I was cutting up more avocado and waiting on the bread to toast, she started asking about us getting married.  Again.  She's really hoping that will happen, so that Spencer can be her cousin.  Spencer?  Is SG and his parents' dog. 

Spencer and SG.jpg

She's also looking to pick up some more grandparents (the kids and I all love SGs parents, big time) and extended family.  But sweetest of all was when I was brushing her hair the other day and she said that she'd like SG and I to get married so that she could be related to him.  She is big on family.

I have to be honest and say that I beat myself up all the time for being divorced twice.  It's not that I am wishing things were different, but all the same I feel awful for my kids that they have to shuffle back and forth between houses, that there's all this unsettledness at the center of their lives.  The main thing I beat myself up over is how much damage my choices may have caused them.  But then here is this little girl in her pajamas, bouncing in her seat and kicking her legs under the kitchen table, sitting, in fact, in the same chair at the same table I sat in as a kid, and she's smiling and happy and laughing and asking me about how many new people will be related to her if I get married.  She's not broken.  Not even close.  And she sees me happier than I've ever been, which is good because I want her to expect to be a happy adult.  I hope she never puts up with things she shouldn't have to because she thinks she must.  I hope that I've taught all my kids differently.  I'm definitely a big believer in the follow-your-heart philosophy, because even though it tends to be messy, it zeroes in on the beautiful parts of life and that's what makes it all make even a little bit of sense, at least for me. 
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nov 09 leaves 012.JPG
I never get tired of autumn leaves

When I was little I had a book (still do, it's on the shelf in the girls' room) called Unfortunately.  Only my copy had my very own name in it, and my hometown (Richardson, Texas) because I think the book club my parents got kids' books from had a little thing where you could get a personalized copy.

The story is about the character -- me in my head, but a little boy in the not-customized version -- trying to get to a party, but things keep happening.  So it's: Fortunately, Jeni was invited to a surprise party.  Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away.  Fortunately, a friend loaned Jeni an airplane.  Unfortunately, the motor exploded.  Sometimes I settle into that thought pattern as I go through my day and size up what's happening.  Today was full of that, and I don't know if that's fortunate or not:

Fortunately, I woke up on time today.
Unfortunately, I forgot to make the kids' lunches last night, and so I had to open up a can of tuna before the coffee was even ready to drink and that was just wrong and gross.
Fortunately, I have lots of coffee because SG brought me some so I would not run out.
Unfortunately, I accidentally bought vanilla flavored soy milk.
Fortunately, I had some left over real, actual, cream and I put some in my coffee.
There is no unfortunately to that.  It was really, really good.  Especially since I am not supposed to have dairy.
Unfortunately, the children didn't want to get up today.
Fortunately, they finally did and I got them to school.
Unfortunately, they were about 90 seconds late.
Fortunately, that is close enough.
Unfortunately, once I finally got to work and settled in, the school nurse called because Sophie was barfing.
Fortunately, I can tell my employer that I need to work from home for the rest of the day, and while it's not great, it's not the end of the world (or my job).
Unfortunately, just thinking about having a kid with the stomach flu made me feel nauseated on the drive to get her and I was on a work call.
Fortunately, I didn't throw up!
Unfortunately, we got home and settled and it was soon evident that Sophie wasn't sick.  At least not anymore.
Fortunately, that means the rest of us won't be ill.
Unfortunately, it meant that she ate nearly all the stuff for tomorrow's lunches while she watched four movies in a row while I worked.
Fortunately, she will be the one with the boring lunch tomorrow, because I have leftover supper packed and ready to go for tomorrow.
Unfortunately, I have three other kids.
Fortunately, I got to take two of them to see the other's wrestling match tonight, and he won!
Unfortunately, we walked in the door about thirty seconds after he pinned the other guy.
Fortunately, the match was over earlyish.
Unfortunately, my kids talk more than I do and so it took forever to leave because they were socializing in three different directions.
Fortunately, we got home and they loved their supper.
Unfortunately, I have no clue what to feed them tomorrow.
Fortunately, I am good on the fly.
Unfortunately, I am a little tired and off my game.
Fortunately, SG came over at about 9 after school to say hello before he went home to get some sleep. Fortunately, he liked supper, too.
Fortunately, he likes me, and fortunately, I like him, and fortunately, he and the kids are pretty crazy about one another, too.     
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About two and a half years ago I went to Barcelona.  The entire time I was there, I was photographing doorknobs and crumbling brick walls and graffiti, and my European friends thought I was, well, a total dork, but I didn't really care, because I'd never been to Europe and everything was so old I couldn't get over it.  This one afternoon we were walking past some shops on La Rambla, and a man who was walking behind us and carrying a big banana stopped on the sidewalk and stuck the banana between his legs, rather up high, so he could adjust his coat.  Steve pointed him out to me, saying, There is a shot you shouldn't miss.  And I hesitated, because, well, you know.  And then Steve said to me, totally disgusted (but kindly, too, because he's English), Diane Arbus would've gotten that one. 

He's right.  I totally wish I had. 
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I had to go to the happy place in my head many, many times today.  So here is a picture I took while I was actually sitting in it.

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One of my boys is going to meet a girl he's fond of and some of her friends after school for ice cream later today.  SG was over last night and pulled him aside to see if he needed a little pocket money.  I was at the kitchen table so Willow would use my fingers to do the adding for her math homework, but I overheard a little of the conversation:

MyKid: Naw, it's okay.  I've got two dollars, and the minicone is a dollar.  I'm good.

SG: Yeah.  But what if she wants a milkshake?

MyKid, taking the cash, and SG, in unison:  SHE GETS IT. 
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out my bedroom window while working this afternoon

Last Saturday my mom drove me to the hospital so I could sit in a creepy recliner and get started on the new medication I'm trying.  I'm terrified of planes, tunnels, and small spaces, but they get me where I need to go so I deal with them from time to time and pretend I'm fine.  I had that same feeling when I was checking in and the nurse was starting my IV.  That whole, Okay, so I'm doing this thing that's making me panic but I will play it cool and just not think about it.  Much.

Chances are that this medication will work, will get me off the eighteen pills I take every day, and won't leave me with any of the potentially fatal possible side effects.  Having a shot of Benadryll in the IV first did help me to mellow out, and I even finally took a nap about a half hour before I was finished.

Hospitals are weird places.  I was feeling cranky Saturday and for four or five hours kept muttering to myself, That is a *curtain* between our recliner areas, *not a wall*  Shut up, already.

I got to hear a woman's son pontificate (and I do mean pontificate) about on the job safety, health care, politics, and something else that I was able to avoid by listening to music with my iPhone headphones that only work in one ear and smushing the other ear into my pillow.  Some people just know they have a captive audience, and so they talk to the other people they're with extra loud to, what, impress the rest of us?  Like we're going to hop up and roll our IV stands over and say, Hey!  You are so onto something. Mind if I move my recliner over here so I can hear you more clearly? 

There was a young guy there, though, with his very ill father.  I didn't see them, really, just a little bit of the incredibly frail man's legs through gaps in my curtain and theirs.  He'd arrived late, and the son was very plain and direct with the nurse.  No excuses or anything, just, He is very weak today. 

Later he walked to the hallway to quietly make a call.  I couldn't see him, but I pictured him with his hand cupped around the phone.  Can you bring Daddy's dilaudid? he said quietly, I brought him down today.  Can you bring it?  Please?

And soon the mother, the wife, arrived and I decided to quit feeling bad for myself.  I'm fine, really, so I just took a nap.  
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You can't really tell just how gross and sunken it is with the cell phone photo, but in person, you would have said, "Ewwwwwwwwwww."

Today I shoveled up rotten, liquid, fuzzy, moldy, melted pumpkin off the front porch and put it in a nearly-full trash bag that I'd just pulled from the kitchen garbage and then I tied the bag closed and you KNOW what happened as I hoisted it up to swing it into the outside trash container, right?


It broke open and the pukey pumpkin remains fell out, along with some coffee sludge from the French press, some old wagon wheel pasta leftovers, sausage grease that I'd wiped out of a pan with a paper towel, and Halloween candy wrappers.

So that was fun to clean up.   It will be awhile before I eat any pumpkin pie.
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Oh, my. 

This came in the mail today:

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Lovely photo courtesy of Wendy of House That Crow Built

When SG and I were in Maui in September, we spent a couple of afternoons at a beach reserve called Ahihi

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We snorkeled together, holding hands and kicking past some of the most purely beautiful scenes I have ever put my eyes on.  And there were sea turtles, too, which made me really happy, even if it's a little bit of an adrenaline rush when they're jamming through the water, swimming right at you and you know they can't really maybe see you, exactly, since you're not to the side of them. 
Still, though, when I need a little happy, closing my eyes and recalling a sea turtle swimming along the ocean floor beneath me does the trick no problem.

When I got cold, because I am a big baby, I sat on the shore and just looked while SG went out to dive.  I started noticing all of these tiny pieces of beach glass on the shore, and the more I saw, the more started appearing.  Like they'd all been invisible, but then just decided to start glowing.  I gathered several handfuls, stooped over for a good hour or so, and because the glass isn't supposed to be there, it was okay for me to bring the best pieces home with me.  My favorite bit from that day was a tiny milky clear one; a perfect little wobbly heart. 

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So as we were packing up at Ahihi and I was putting the glass I'd gathered into the pocket of our dive bag, I found the garnet ring in the photo up above.  Wendy made it for me earlier this year, along with a pearl one, as a custom order.  I'd been missing the garnet ring for a long time (probably since an earlier beach trip when I'd stashed it there so I wouldn't mess it up in the ocean), and while I was thrilled to find it, I was so disappointed to see that it had broken from being smashed about in the bag.  But the break was just where the stone was set on the ring base, and I could see that it was fixable.

After we'd been home awhile, I finally got in touch with Wendy, and asked her if she could please repair the ring I'd broken and make something, a ring, maybe? from my little beach glass heart.  So I packed it up and sent it off and she got it and said that sure, she could make a ring, and how would I like it to look?  I asked if she could make it like the other two, so I could wear the three of them together (or two or one).  And not only did she not charge me to fix the garnet ring, she did such an incredible job on setting the heart ring.  It's perfect.  I put it on when I got it out of the mailbox today and an hour later my cheeks hurt from smiling so much.  And this is embarrassing to admit, but I put my hand near my mouth and I actually whispered to the garnet ring about how very much alike our paths have been.
I was really stoked awhile back to find my journal from when I was eight years old, because the ones from about age eleven on are painful and don't do much more than reinforce my low self esteem.  (Yet I can't seem to toss them on the fire?)  I sat down and opened up this little blue diary, the kind that you can lock on the front, the little paperback book sized kind, and had to laugh when I saw what about 75% of the entries said:

Reg day at school.

Of course, now, thirty one or more years later, I can't recall what a "reg day at school" was.  I remember a little bit, but I wanted to smack myself upside the head, then grab my own shoulders and yell DETAILS, WRITE THEM.  THANK YOU.

Oh well.  I remember a few things from around that time.  Like when Mr. Ward made me go sit in the hall because when we were talking about the sun and light years I said that, you know, it was totally possible that the sun had already burned itself out, and as soon as the last of its heat goes flying past us, we're pretty much all done here.

I remember swinging really high on the swingset at my elementary school with my best friend, Becky, and singing On Top of the World, worrying that I'd flip around the bar over my head.  I remember that someone kicked the ball when we were playing kickball at recess and it landed on top of the chain link fence and popped (was it me? I don't think so?  Maybe?).  I remember a girl called another girl a bitch, and she got the paddle broken in half on her butt.  I remember hiding beneath the lockers in the hallway when a funnel cloud was sitting over our school.

But the regular, day to day stuff?  I think that is all gone.  I do remember the mornings at home, getting ready for school with my brother and watching the Three Stooges while sitting at the coffee table with our oatmeal or cinnamon toast or cereal.  But maybe that was just Sunday mornings?  I think my memory may be not as great as most people's.  SG has a freakishly accurate memory, and the contrast of his to mine may make me seem like more of a forgetter than I really am.  Do most people remember that stuff?  Their routines and comforts from when they were eight?  Do you?   
Partner since June 2006




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