Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Messages received today

120:365

These are all things I read today in text messages and emails. I don't think it could get any more diverse. And odd. God, I love my life. (Also, I won these beautiful flowers pictured here. I am accepting bets on how long it will take me to kill them.)

"The wifi is down; it is anarchy in the library."

"Good afternoon parents. I received notification from the police that there is a domestic disturbance in the area. Until the situation is resolved, our school and surrounding schools are on lock down until further notice."

"Whoa! You've walked 250 miles!"

"My grandma passed away yesterday, two days short of her 106th birthday."

"Our young Liberace was at it again last night."

"Though the camera didn't pick it up, the power of the school library is streaming from her hand through mine, charging my body, mind and soul for a crusade that will be both bloody and glorious."

"Sounds like frisbee!"

"Nice detective work. You should start a PBS show 'Father A Crime Stopper'."

"Did you see the fork stuck in the ceiling of the library?"

"I decided I would like to visit one day."

"Please welcome Tristan and Isolde, yearling mute swans who arrived on the pond today."

"A very big sorry...I need to find a job!!"

"Their renovated love nest is named Neuschwanstein, on account of its resemblance to the original."

"Told u not to move to the ghetto."

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

too much

119:365

Someone left a bag of kettle corn on my desk. I ate most of it today, then felt sick for hours.

Kettle corn = bad.
My willpower = weak.

Also, I questioned the English Department Chair on why we require students to read "The Old Man and The Sea." Not only did I fail to convince him that this is futile as none of our students are 40 years old, by the end of the conversation I was somehow unwittingly added to the list of book discussion moderators when the boys return in the fall. This did not go as planned.

Summer Fun

After many hours, I finally have Zozo registered for her summer camps. It's a little like fitting together a jigsaw puzzle, and I usually feel like having a glass or eight of wine afterwards. Some of it has to do with our schedules, some of it has to do with what she wants to do, and two week-long overnight camps were carefully coordinated with a friend.

She's got some pretty cool stuff in store for her this summer. We're kicking things off right with our trip to Punta Cana right after school is finished. Then she goes into a wide variety of activities, including two dance camps (one for Hip Hop dancing and the other a more general Dance and Cheer camp), an outdoor camp at our local park, an American Girl camp where they bring their dolls and make things for them and have a tea party or two, a gymnastics camp, a first time to Camp Ondessonk, a Water Wonders camp at Girl Scout Camp Cedarledge, and of course we are reprising our "She & Me" mother-daughter camp. She also has a cousin coming in from Canada and will spend time with her during Grandparent Camp (which is with my dad and Judy and involves a lot of swimming and doughnuts and general spoilage of the granddaughter).

I'm excited that she's going to have blast, although I'm about ready to pull my hair out getting everything lined up.

But it's done. The summer is set and she's registered for everything.

Where's that corkscrew?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Today in Pix

You didn't think I'd let today go by with only a crappy snapshot of my cat, did you?

(I wouldn't be surprised if you did. I admit I have stooped to Cat Photos on more than one day of desperation.)

We made today all about Zozo:
Dunkin Donuts
American Girl
Build-A-Bear
El Indio
Custard Station
Amtrak Sighting (complete with having it smash a penny)
Playing at the Park
Goonies
Gremlins (yep, she wants a Mogwai)
Crap for Dinner (which may or may not include popcorn, candy, cereal, pretzel chips and hummus)

We think she had a pretty good day.

The Old Woman and The Book

I've been reading a lot lately. I've been reading so much that I wouldn't even call it reading. I'd call it inhaling. I've been sucking up prose like I've been on a literary diet and I haven't lost any weight so now I'll just binge to make myself feel better while saying, "It's okay, I'll start over tomorrow." Not that I have ever, ever done that with food. Or alcohol. Nope.

I found a bunch of great sites on the Internets, and rediscovered a few that I forgot usually make me laugh so hard I almost pee in my pants. (Or, now that I'm 40 and have had a kid, actually pee in my pants. A little.) I got a few literary journals. I started asking for book recommendations from friends in anticipation of a long, luxurious summer where I'm not so exhausted by work every day that I read two sentences before falling asleep.

Somewhere in all that reading, something tipped me off to Hemingway. I thought I should give him another shot. I last read Hemingway in high school and I hated him. Hated. Him. But since the guy is critically acclaimed and revered and had cats with six toes for Pete's sake, I thought I should give him another whirl. After all, I learned that while I hated asparagus as a child, I love it as an adult. (To be clear, what I was fed as a child wasn't technically asparagus, but something mushy labeled as asparagus and stuffed into a can, where it fermented into a substance that smelled similar to the deposits our cat left in his litter box. And on certain walls of the house.) After years of hating Indian food, I have discovered that I do, indeed, love Indian food. So I thought it was high time I took ol' Hemingway out for another spin.

I chose "The Old Man and The Sea" for several reasons. First: it is regarded as the work that cemented his Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Second: it is always on the lists of books people must read before they die. Third: it's short. Not necessarily in that order. Anyway, that's what I picked and downloaded to my Kindle. I mentioned it here and then had a discussion with a cousin who is currently in high school and who had to read it. (Hi, Dan!) I was part of the way through the story when we talked yesterday, and he swore vehemently that it is terrible, and that Hemingway was a terrible writer. "I'm not so sure," I said. "I think there's something to it."

Well, now I am sure. There is something to it. It is an absolutely incredible story, and I love it. I stayed up late last night to finish it, because I had to find out what happened to Santiago. So then I thought about why high school kids hate it, despite all of its critical acclaim. Why did I hate Hemingway so much when I was in high school?

Here's why: unless you have had life experience that involves real pain, real loss, real hope, and enough bashing about the head and shoulders as to what is important in your life - truly important - then you will never understand it. In other words, you need to be 40 or older to read "The Old Man and The Sea." Why high school teachers across American think that their students will get one iota out of this novella is a complete mystery to me. Did one of them decide, decades ago, that this was a good idea and so everyone else thinks they must also require it? Doesn't anyone see how futile it is to make children read this book?

When I first earned my undergraduate degree and wasn't too sure I was ready to grow up and actually work ("Ugh, finding a job is just so hard!"), I tossed around the idea of going immediately into graduate school for my MBA. I applied to a couple of schools, including Washington University. Wash U sent me a lovely rejection letter that I can paraphrase to this: "You are too young and you don't know shit about the business world to get anything out of our program. Come back in 10 years." I was offended. I had just earned a Bachelor of Journalism from The World's Finest School of Journalism, Magna Cum Laude thankyouverymuch. "But I'm a good learner! But I can keep up! But I can contribute!" I had a thousand buts. Then the biggest but happened: I found a job and forgot about grad school in lieu of earning a paycheck.

When M and I were in grad school for our MBAs a few years ago (not at Wash U...holy high tuition, Batman), we had people in our classes who were brandishing their newly-minted bachelors. They were much like I was: brash and smug and self-righteous with all the knowledge that comes from book learning in a sheltered environment. We laughed at their posts on our discussion boards, gleefully rebutting their naive ideas with, "Yeah, that'll never happen in the real world...and here's why..." We had actual experience under our belts, and we had learned that experience trumps book learnin' any day. Wash U back in 1996 was right...I was too young and I didn't know shit about the business world and I'd have gotten only a fraction out of an MBA program at that time. And I would have been able to contribute nothing.

This is how I feel about Hemingway's "The Old Man and The Sea." It's considered a great book for good reason: it's a freaking great book. But the only way you'll get anything out of it is to have some real world experience that involves actual stress. Not the pretend stress of "Oh no, I have a big test in a week and it conflicts with a project due in another class," but the real stress of "Holy fuck, we have a mortgage and bills and a baby on the way and neither one of us has a job."

I wish high school teachers would stop assigning this book. To a student, it is terrible. Hemingway is a terrible writer. Mainly because to a student, it is impossible to relate to Santiago's struggle. Without experience, it is impossible to understand. But to someone who has experienced the joys and frustration of a life and a career well-loved, who has scars (both emotional and physical) that are well-earned, it is a work of brilliance, completely relate-able and loveable and, perhaps most important of all: understandable.

Max does not have six toes, but he is missing a fang.
Perhaps when I am long dead and considered a great writer,
only by those 40 and over,
I will be also known as a woman with one-fanged cats.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

communion

Our girl made her first communion today. So very proud and happy for her. I wept almost the entire Mass. And I looked at all her little friends in their white dresses and veils and marveled that I get to know these girls through Girl Scouts and softball and soccer.

Huge shout out to Godmother Shelly for her mad skillz in hair styling. Her hair was so gorgeous!

Thanks to everyone who shared our special day. We will never forget it!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

ready

I have cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. Ordered food and cake. Bought gifts. I think we might be ready for First Communion tomorrow.

Downloaded "The Old Man and The Sea" tonight. I tried Hemingway in high school and couldn't get into him. Thinking back, I was coming straight off Faulkner's "The Sound and The Fury" which is enough to send anyone round the bend, so that could have influenced my Hemingway experience.

We'll give it another shot. This has to be better than "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," right?

Friday, April 25, 2014

A day of good

I had fun today. I laughed at lunch with old friends. I laughed at the office with my assistant. I welcomed my hubby back from Germany and we had a wonderful date night. I saw Finding Vivian Maier, which has been on the Want List for months. (It exceeded my expectations.)

I found an ad for a teaching position in The Review that made me laugh out loud. (Irony is delicious.) I saw a small deer in the middle of Clayton Road, recently hit, dazed, and still standing but bleeding from the mouth. I saw people pulled over, on their cell phones, trying to summon help. I read an insightful article about the death penalty that reinforced my belief that it's barbaric to kill people regardless of what they did. Murder is murder, whether it's done by an individual or by the state on behalf of many individuals. (Yeah, I know most people don't agree with me and that's okay. I respect each person's decision, even while I don't understand it. And before anyone complains about the cost of keeping inmates under life sentences, know that study after study shows that keeping them alive and in prison is far less expensive than the years of appeals and motions that invariably happen when someone is given the death sentence. And I won't even get into the statistics about how many people on death row have been exonerated after years of incarceration. End rant.)

I used my brain today. I experienced art and joy and sorrow. I saw beauty.

It was a day of good.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Gauzy morning light

114:365

The boardroom in the monastery was peaceful and quiet this morning, until the meeting started.

Things are starting to happen, I think.

A proposal

Every day when I drive to work I pass another high school: Principia. Lots of cars turn in and pull out, and I watch their maintenance guys resurface the football field and I see their students running cross country and I wonder what kind of a school appears to have stables (with actual, live horses) right there on the campus. Today as I drove by, I saw a boy standing about 50 feet from the entrance to Principia. He was holding a large piece of posterboard that had, "Hi LAUREN" written in magic marker. I figured there must be something going on so I slowed a bit and began looking for the next sign. Right inside the entrance stood another boy with another posterboard that read, "PROM?" He was also clutching a bouquet of flowers.

I thought that was very sweet, and I remembered some girl asking a Priory boy to prom last year by creating an old Western style "WANTED" flyer with his face, and then sticking one on every car in the parking lot. She had also arranged to have his friends plaster them around the inside of the school. I'm not sure if he was mortified or if he thought he was a stud for getting that kind of attention from a girl. Probably the latter.

The thing is, I don't remember this whole big deal about "promposals" when I was in high school. And I should remember something; I went to three proms my senior year, for Pete's sake. I think my promposals were something along the lines of a phone call that included, "Hey. Wanna go to my prom?" Romantic, no, but it did the trick.

I wonder if things aren't getting too crazy with all this stuff. The boys I saw this morning played it pretty simple - they were cute and adorable without going over the top - but I've heard stories and read articles about kids going to extravagant lengths just to ask someone to go to prom. And it's not like it's typically an unexpected request. These are girlfriends asking boyfriends and vice versa. When you're already dating someone it's pretty much a given that you're taking that person to prom, right? So what's with all the hoopla? And does that put undue pressure on the kids who a.) aren't all that creative when it comes to asking someone and b.) don't have the money to go all out by making 5,000 copies at Kinko's. What about the one girl who gets the "Hey. Wanna go to my prom?" phone call while all her friends receive elaborate proposals.

These are kids, after all. Teenagers. I saw one boy in the dining hall today who carefully fixed his lunch, which consisted of one large plate with a dozen hash brown patties stacked on it. Nothing else. These are boys who think it's fun to have contests about who can stretch a mozzarella cheese stick the furthest before it snaps. It's not like we're talking about an abundance of sophistication and class here.

Also, news flash to the teenagers: most of you will end up hating your prom date usually within the first year of college. I know this from experience. Not to be a downer, but let's be pragmatic. Save the proposal antics for the one that really counts: the marriage proposal. That's the only one you'll remember anyway.

Spring clean continues...


I have been on an absolute tear with cleaning things out. I pulled the trigger and purchased Adobe CS6, which means I'll be able to use my iMac again to edit photos and create layouts; my ancient version of CS no longer worked on the new operating system on my iMac. My Adobe version was CS. No number behind it, so I guess you could technically call it CS1. It was ancient. I think it was rolled out about the time those punkass settlers decided to make 'Murica independent.

Because this software is coming (it's on its way...already shipped, thank you B&H Photo!) I felt comfortable transferring all those personal files onto the iMac. I also cleaned up the iMac quite a bit, as I had files scattered everywhere. Lots of dupes, which does nothing but take up space on the hard drive and confuse the hell out of me when I'm looking for something.

There is still a shitload of work to do, but I've made a huge dent in getting everything ported over and somewhat organized tonight.

Given all the crap that is going on at work, it makes me feel better that there is something I can control. I've been cleaning up my file system there, too, archiving huge design files onto an external drive and freeing up space on the Macbook. This makes it easier to find things, and the whole computer runs faster.

None of this is creative work, but it makes me feel so much better that I'm positive it will eventually lead to creativity. I can't work when my space is cluttered, whether that space is physical or virtual or even mental.

I love spring. Fresh start!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zappos.



I got nuthin' today. Not feeling creative in the slightest. No decent picture. No words coming to mind.

M is on his way to Germany. He's back on Friday.

Zozo continues practicing for First Communion on Sunday.

I have food lined up, and paper goods purchased. I painted my toes tonight rather than clean the basement. A girl has her priorities. I did get my 10,000 steps in, for the second day in a row. Yesterday was easy; I wasn't working. Well, I wasn't working at work. When I work at work I sit on my butt at a desk the majority of the day. I have therefore determined that work is not good for my physical health and wellbeing. I should probably look at retiring soon. Or becoming a mail carrier who walks all day.

My cats this evening are making me wonder why on earth I ever thought it was a good idea to have cats for pets. Max has been alternating between wandering the house crying and trying to attach himself to me, and Tachi has decided that since she can't jump up on the bed she'll just sit there and meow incessantly until one of us stops what we're doing and go put her up on the bed. They are both annoying as shit right now.

Holy crap. I really, seriously, have nothing in the tank tonight.

I got an email from the Girl Scouts thanking me for volunteering. (Apparently, in addition to it being Earth Day, it's the day the Girl Scouts thank all their volunteers.) In the email, in the message from the president of Girl Scouts, a Greek proverb is quoted: "A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under which they will never sit." Damn, that's pretty good.

So I'll leave it at that.

(The photo of the Zappos box has a funny story behind it, but I've been politely requested to not post it as my hubster does not find it so humorous. I love him, and I shall honor his request.) (Please, M, can I post it sometime? It's good! Far better than anything written here tonight...)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cat boudoir photography

111:365

I may have found a new niche...

The Great Clean-Up

Last night, after Zozo was washed and in bed and the house was picked up (meaning: the plastic eggs were all gathered, snapped back together and placed in a basket to return to storage downstairs) and we were relaxing, I tackled the beast that is known as Facebook.

About every six months, I get fed up with all the email inbox deleting I have to do on a daily basis, and unsubscribe to just about everything. Some are messages that sounded like a good idea at the time and then just got annoying. Some are messages from stores where I gave them my email address in exchange for a discount. I do not mind doing this, but please don't take that as an invitation to email me four times a day. (Michaels Arts & Crafts, I'm talking to you. There's only so many craft projects a working mother can tackle.) I'd be okay with once every week or two, but damn. Who on earth thinks it's a good idea to communicate like that? I don't call my mother four times a day. Some emails are from businesses who already have my address because of on-line purchases, and who then decided, "Hey! Let's leverage these five billion addresses by sending them discount emails like Groupon or Daily Steals, because there's not enough of those floating around!" Ahem, cough, Amazon.)

Because I find myself deleting at least 20 emails each day that I don't even click open, I realized it was time for another purge. Only this time, I went crazy and extended it to Facebook.

There's a nifty little option where you can tell Facebook, "Hey, like, some of these people aren't totally close friends or family but I don't want to piss them off by unfriending them. I just don't want to see the garbage they post." It's called "unfollowing their posts in my News Feed" or something like that. It's perfect for people like friends of friends, who I've never met but who must be lovely because they are friends of cool friends. Not that we've ever spoken. Several are fitness fanatics whose posts largely make me feel like an underachiever at best and unworthy of taking up space on the planet at worst. No, my eggs aren't organic and yes, I let my kid stuff herself silly with m&ms yesterday. Shoot me. Still, there's a chance that some day, some day, we will want to get in touch with these people. Now, though, I can unfollow my good friend Smitty (whom I've never met) and get rid of the guilt! Beautiful!

So I did that last night. It took forever. Facebook apparently wants me to see all the mundane, inane, worthless shit that everyone in my friend network posts because it made me unfollow each friend individually. It took about four clicks per person. I started off small. "Well, sometimes she posts something interesting, in between all her kid's illnesses and her migraines and her trips to the grocery store..." And then, I got ruthless. If I follow you on Instagram (and what you post there is largely what you post on Facebook, only better because there's a pretty picture attached), unfollow. If all you ever post about is how crappy your newest ex-boyfriend is, unfollow. If you're back with your deadbeat ex-husband, again, after he's shit all over you multiple times but now he's homeless so he needs a place to crash and you fell for it again, unfollow. If I vaguely remember meeting you at a photography workshop and don't remember, really, who the hell you are or what value you bring to my life, unfollow. No, wait. Unfriend. I did a few of those last night. I prefer to unfollow because it feels much more civilized. "I still like you. I just don't want to hear from you."

This morning, I woke up to a streamlined Facebook news feed. Every post was relevant (well, except for those stupid sponsored posts trying to sell me something, but hey, thanks for being free, Facebook, so I'll deal with your pesky ads). Every post meant something to me. And it took me a fraction of the time to get caught up on what the people I care about the most are doing.

Then I headed over to my email inbox, and have been on an unsubscribing spree. "Tell us why you're leaving!" they ask. "Because you email the shit out of me, rendering your messages diluted and banal."

I've got a kick-ass cyber spring cleaning going on here, and it's awesome.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

More cousin love

Things I need to write about tomorrow, when I'm not so tired:

1. How Zoe followed our directions about not waking us before 7:30 a.m.
2. My Facebook resurrection. It's not nearly as exciting or impact up as the Resurrection we celebrated today, but it's probably worth a post.

cousins

Hmmm.

Lots to say.

And nothing to say.

These cousins had a blast today. That's enough!

Friday, April 18, 2014

today in snapshots

It was a good and colorful day.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Change of plans

 

Zozo had a half day, so I puttered around the house and got myself ready to go before picking her up at noon. Per her request, we had lunch at Steak 'n Shake before heading to Sam's and the pet store. I had a full list of errands for the afternoon, so I left my bag in the car while unloading and attending to a few things that had popped up for work while we were out. Zo changed into her softball practice clothes and I got her water bottle ready, and we climbed back into the car again. As I backed out of the garage I pulled my phone out.

It's never a good sign when you have three missed calls: mother, sister, husband. All within a 20-minute period. My mother was the only one of the three who had left a message, which is pretty much worthless because she's flustered on a good day and pretty much incomprehensible when she's stressed. I got the basics: the nursing home where my grandmother lives was sending Granny to the hospital.

Hours later we know that although she had complained of chest pain, all her tests were okay. One of her cardiac enzymes (whatever the hell that is) is slightly elevated and the ER doctor doesn't know what that means, so she's been admitted and is staying the night for observation.

I could tell she was frightened when I got there, but she settled down fairly quickly and we managed to get her laughing. By the time we left hours later, she was doing well and wondering how long she'd have to stay in that stupid bed.

She told the ER doctor she is 82, right before she started flirting with him. She is 90. I suppose those eight years make a big difference when you're flirting with someone less than half your age. She also chastised M for standing in the doorway of her room; she wasn't able to see the cute paramedics bringing in other patients with him blocking her view.

I am relieved that she appears to be okay. It could be something as simple as she forgot to eat today. Who knows. My Granny is the healthiest person I know, the memory issues notwithstanding. She's never in the hospital, and I don't ever remember her having so much as a head cold when I was growing up. She's a tough little lady who rarely complains despite having more than her fair share of heartache.

I was going to write "I hate hospitals." But then I realized it's not hospitals I hate. It's the emotions that come along with being in a hospital. Anxiety and worry. Boredom as we wait for the doctor to return. The inability to find a single surface upon which it is comfortable to rest, and the desire to set down nothing lest you pick up some weird germ on your handbag which you then bring home and share with your family. It's being crammed in an incredibly small room with someone wearing next to nothing who is radiating fear. It's the strange sensation of your entire world condensing down into a 100 square foot room with strange noises and smells, that whatever happens outside those four walls doesn't matter. The utter lack of control.

All of this is exhausting to those of us who are well. It's magnified a million times for the one in the bed hooked up to bags and beeping machines.

I hope Granny is getting some rest tonight.

I am finding myself irrationally irritable at just about everything. I blew up over a request made because it wasn't really a request but more of an assumption. I know that I should not be as upset as I got over it, and I know that I will be eventually fine with the whole thing, but coming on the heels of the hospital visit I lost my shit over it and reacted poorly. This is upsetting to me, and frustrating. I am trying to hard to see things like this differently, to react in a loving, kind way instead of feeling yet another obligation, yet another task piled on. So add "pissed off, overwhelmed and overloaded guilt" to the list of emotions I'm currently feeling. I think I need to just go to bed.

Two shots today. The one below is just for this space. No Instagram, no Facebook. Just my little Granny, resting in an alien world.


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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

reflect

106:365

Stayed up too late writing last night, so no writing tonight. Early bedtime!

I washes grapes for dinner and walked to under the clerestory with the bowl to see something on the evening news. After the segment, I looked down at the grapes and saw a dozen little clerestories reflected.

I love the light in this house.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Jealousy and Fear

I've been looking for - and finding - a shitload of inspiration out here in the Internets. Lots of amazing, talented, gifted writers who blow me away in 500 words or 4000 words of whatever. Fiction, non-fiction, blogs. I've even found one writer who is currently being celebrated while I think she's just kind of bitchy. One of her adoring fans, a fledgling writer, asked her how to deal with jealousy, and she responded that the girl didn't have enough experience yet to be jealous. WTF. Jealousy is jealousy. It's illogical and irrational and shitty and you can't help the way you feel. That's what makes it so awful. "Hey there, green monster. It's not time for you yet! Wait until I've sweated and toiled for 10 years and gotten nowhere. Then come back for only then I shall be worthy of harboring jealous thoughts." Get over yourself, already. And stop making women feel like their feelings aren't valid. That's not cool. It's like eating your young.

I found a new-to-me blog tonight that made me laugh out loud. Not the cutesy emoji-type "lol!" but a full on, gut-busting belly laugh. I promptly bookmarked it so I can go back and eventually suck up every last word this woman has written.

And then I got jealous.

I wasn't jealous of her writing style, necessarily, or her wicked sense of humor. (She's got the emotional posts, too, that sucker punch you right into tears...the woman has serious composition chops.)

I was jealous because I could easily read her blog. Anyone could easily read her blog.

She's out there, sharing her life with the world and not giving a rat's ass who sees it. She, apparently, doesn't work with grown men who behave like adolescent bullies.

Which made me wonder if I'm the one who is at fault. Those guys will be rat-fink fuckerheads no matter what I do or say or write. They will skulk around and cast dispersions and get drunk in the boiler room (really, who does that any more?) and I'm letting them win. I let them send me into darkness, locking the door behind me because I'm afraid of what? Them? Their laughter? Their judgement?

Good God.

I have outgrown the pimples and the mall bangs and the garish day-glo colors of the 80s, but I apparently have not outgrown the fear. This makes me want to vomit. (Insert "gag me with a spoon" reference here.)

I'm considering coming out of the dark.

I don't know.

I mean, I know I will eventually. Eventually I will not work with The Assholes and therefore their awful intimidation will quite simply be removed. Either they will leave or I will leave, and then for sure I will step back into the light. But until then, I will continue to wonder if I'm doing the right thing by hiding. Is it self-preservation? Or is it pansy-ass cowardice? And I wonder, have I been dark long enough that they are no longer hunting for me? Can I creep back out and fly under the radar? The only thing that is stopping me from assuming that is that I know I will walk around every day wondering if they are watching. That's a pretty nasty load to carry around, and I've got enough monkeys on my back right now, thankyouverymuch.

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What happens next?

Well, I haven't written much. I was on a tear there, and then, not.

I was sick.
I was busy.
I was tired.

Yeah. I really shouldn't have any excuses for not writing.

I mean, I did write some things. I wrote in my journal, which I fully intended to then type in here, but didn't. Which makes me wonder if the journal serves as a different outlet. Not that it really felt any different; it wasn't like I was pouring out my heart any more than I do here. I was just hand writing it instead of typing it. Although, looking back over my journal, I'm not entirely sure I could read my handwriting to transcribe it.

I had a meeting today for which I was fully prepared, and yet dreaded.

(Blah blah blah. Work shit I had to redact. Because of, you know, The Assholes.)

I'm just feeling really unsettled right now.

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wait

105:365

Waiting to see the Headmaster.

Why is it that no matter how old we are, some things take us right back to our uncomfortable childhood?

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Monday, April 14, 2014

grow

104:365

What an insanely normal evening! We all got home from work and school and did normal, everyday things.

Zozo read while I made dinner.

We ate together and shared our days.

We played games.

We started two avocado plants from the seeds left over from our homemade guacamole.

We tucked our daughter into bed, together.

We FaceTimed with Steve & Kelly in Chicago (O was in bed...we have to call earlier next time!).

We researched mattresses to replace the crappy mattress we bought mere months ago.

We worked on First Communion, which apparently requires epic planning. This, we think, is a way to let parents of girls have a taste into what planning a wedding will entail. God help us.

We talked and laughed and did non-work, family-centric things.

It was wonderful.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

A hunt, and a surprise


We went to Palm Sunday Mass and the Alumni Family Easter Egg Hunt at M's alma mater today. We tried to go last year but the event was snowed out. We had rain this year, but they hid the eggs in the hallway of the high school and the kids had a blast. By "hid" I mean someone threw a ton of plastic eggs down the main hallway and called it a day. M said, "It looks like the Easter Bunny had a blowout!"

While we were waiting for Mass to start, a man approached M and shook his hand. I waited a moment since I was helping Zozer fashion a cross out of her palm, and then stood up, extended my own hand and introduced myself.

He looked at me and smiled. "Amy, don't you recognize me? It's Will!"

Holy cow. It was Will. Will who had gone to high school with M, and college with both of us. Will for whom M stood up at his wedding. Will who was an usher in our wedding. Will who is now gray, balding, scruffy, and 40 pounds heavier. I grinned and apologized for not recognizing him, and he acceded that he doesn't look very much like he used to. "Or at all," I thought.

"How's Therese?" I asked. We hadn't seen them in so long and it would be great to catch up.

Will motioned with his hands, something similar to when an ump calls a baserunner safe. "She's gone." I assumed by his glee that his wife had not expired, but rather that they had separated. They had three children when Will figured out that he just didn't want to be bitched at any more. According to him, Therese had complained about how he cut the lawn, that he turned the porch light on when it was still too bright outside, and any number of things. They divorced and Will remarried, and he has two years left to pay alimony (which is why he's scruffy...he can't afford to buy blades for his razor). His new, blended family has six children, and his wife's name is Jennifer.

This is a lot of information to take in quickly, in the five minutes before Mass started. Will excused himself to return to his family and we sat down, stunned. I looked at M. "Did you know?" "No, I didn't know!"

We sat next to Will and Jennifer and their children after the egg hunt, while we all munched on doughnuts and waited for the Easter basket raffle winners to be called. It was awkward. I tried several times to start conversations, but got nowhere. Apparently they don't go on vacation, their kids aren't involved in sports, they don't have much of a connection with their parish, and Will doesn't keep in touch with anyone from high school or college. We know he works for Mitsubishi (something to do with air conditioners, but not air conditioners for cars), offices at home, and travels quite a bit. Over an hour breakfast, that's about as far as we got. M was largely silent unless spoken to, and he told me later he felt uncomfortable because everything he thought to say referenced Therese in some way. Will's three children look so much like Therese that I found myself staring at them, wondering what the hell had really happened. There are two sides to every story, you know.

So I guess this is how it starts. The cycle of divorce in our generation. We've been largely untouched by divorce in our circle. The disintegration of Will and Therese's marriage strikes a chord because their wedding was so near ours in the timeline. We were at theirs; they were at ours. It hits a little close to home. Who's next?

Later this afternoon, back at the house, I went to clean up the kitchen and thought about Will and Therese. And I thought about how I can't imagine getting to that point. I mean, M and I have rough times and we have fights discussions like every married couple, but we've never even considered a temporary separation, much less divorce. The worst of our fights discussions end with one of us leaving to drive around for a bit to cool off. (Driving is soothing for both of us.) But we always know we're coming back, and the person at home always knows the driver will eventually return. Our storms blow over quickly and we move on.

I looked around my kitchen, the kitchen that we designed and built, and thought about how much we've built together. How we could never have come this far individually, how my life is so intertwined with his that I don't know where I leave off and where he begins. And I can't imagine it any other way.

It makes me sad for Will and Therese, because of what they could have had and what they missed. There is a huge chunk of shared history that they won't ever be able to share with anyone else beyond telling one-sided stories that usually end with "I guess you had to be there." I'm not saying people should stay married for that - if it's over, it's over. I'm just saddened by the whole thing, mostly because I know how devastated I would be if I lost it.

M laughed at me tonight when I thanked him for not thinking I bitch at him too much. And I bit my tongue when he overshot the entrance to a parking lot by ten feet and had to oversteer to pull in (he does this regularly; it drives me crazy). We're both sitting on the couch now, me writing and him working on selecting a song for the next Christmas display. I couldn't be happier, although I wish that we could both kick this cold/flu/sinus crap we have going on right now. We may be stuffed up, coughing, hacking, wheezing, germy snotballs, but least we're together.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

pray

102:365

Awesome retreat today, except for the allergies that have swollen my eyes nearly shut and caused me to blow my nose so much it's raw.

I'm gonna assume it's allergies, because if it's the old flu coming back to bite me this will make week 4 with it. Was so miserable I left the retreat early to crash at home.

I've looked forward to spring for so long; it's gonna blow (literally and figuratively) if I spend it this miserable.

Today's picture is from early this morning, following the monks down the slype into the Abbey church for Lauds. It wasn't the first prayer...that would be Vigils at 6:10 a.m. After a rough night with a stuffy head it was hard to get up, but I'm so glad I did.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

pop

101:365

I'm on retreat at the Abbey this weekend, with a group of women discerning a call to oblation.

We prayed Compline with the monks, and then chatted and enjoyed wine and cheese and crackers. Now it's early to bed as Vigils is at 6:10 a.m.

I am so excited to be staying in the guest wing of "my" monastery. The whole weekend will be wonderful, and I'm thrilled to have this experience. M took Zozo up to Iowa for a special train ride with the Easter Bunny. The train and coach are vintage, and part of me so wishes I were there with them. At the same time, I love that they are creating daddy-daughter memories. (They took the Corvette. I'm not entirely pleased by that, as the passenger seat in that car is expressly mine, but I suppose if another female's butt will be planted there, it's good that it's our daughter's!)

My first surprise for the weekend was when I pulled back the sheets to climb into bed. Rainbow! The monks wear all black habits, so this pop of color both surprised and delighted me. Cute! (I so love my monks.)

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

uniform

100:365

Time for softball season! This year she has mommy's number.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Make new friends, and...lock the others in the closet


Most of the time, I love being a Girl Scout troop leader. I like planning meetings and thinking about what will help the girls learn while they have fun. I like the moms who are involved as my co-leader, cookie chair, treasurer, and April Showers chair. I like that my daughter is continuing a tradition that I started, that she's proudly building her sash like I built mine. I love that she loves Girl Scouts just as much as I did. I love that her grandmother was a Girl Scout, and is now helping at all of our meetings - ensuring three generations of my family at these meetings (you gotta admit that's just damn cool).

On meeting days, like today, I love being a Girl Scout troop leader right up until 2:59 p.m. At 3 p.m. the bell rings, the girls race in, and I question why on God's green earth did I ever agree to do this.

On the one hand, these girls are fantastic. They are all little bundles of promise and potential and hope. They are eager to learn, eager to earn their badges, eager to sing new songs and play new games.

On the other hand, they are a pack of Irish banshees who scream, squeal, chant and run about uncontrollably. There are a few who don't give a shit whether we are speaking or trying to give instructions, or that their fellow scouts are trying to contribute to the discussion. There are a few who refuse to listen to directions, then melt down because they don't understand what to do and are frustrated. (This is, interestingly, highly predictable. Same girls, every time. I'm sorely tempted to introduce the pre-instruction scream phrase "Shut the fuck up already" to each activity, but I doubt I'd get parent approval.) There is one little girl who seems to think she is the troop leader and that all the other girls, and the four adults at each meeting, are there to pay attention to her, and only to her.

Here's the thing: the girls really are wonderful. They are smart and sweet and mostly respectful. They listen. They say "please" and "thank you." They follow directions. Unfortunately, the girls who behave are routinely ignored so we can focus on disciplining those who consistently act up. I try to make a conscious effort to ensure these girls receive attention and compliments. I want to promote their good behavior and thank them for setting a good example for others. But I have to make a conscious effort to do that...I have to really make sure I'm doing it in between wrangling the little shits.

The other ones, the shits, I want to lock in the supply closet until their mothers show up.

I am thankful that my own child, while not perfect, usually falls into the majority category of wonderful girls. I don't want to think that perhaps she falls into this category simply because her mother is at every troop event, but I'll admit this might contribute some days.

Today's meeting was particularly bad. I am convinced that the two second grade teachers - in an attempt to either prove why they need massive pay raises or to simply amuse themselves - placed Red Bull in the girls' juice boxes at lunch. "We are here at this Catholic school, where we've secretly replaced the fine juice they usually serve with Monster Energy Drink. Let's see if anyone can tell the difference!"

To make matters worse, I had planned an activity involving the girls making their own snack, aptly named "Energy Balls." We are earning the Snack badge, and part of that is encouraging healthy eating habits. I found a no-bake granola bar-type recipe that looked tasty. Energy Balls have oats, peanut butter, honey, and either raisins or chocolate chips. (The secret, invisible ingredient, I discovered, is some sort of amphetamine.) You mix all that together and form balls, then refrigerate for an hour and eat. Or, in our case, you mix all that together while getting half of it on the table, on the floor, and in your hair, while randomly stuffing handfuls of the mix into your mouth. Sometimes, in the middle of this, you scream "I don't like peanut butter!" or "I don't like crunchy peanut butter!" or "I don't like honey!" or "Can I just eat all the chocolate chips?" Sometimes, in the middle of this, for no reason at all, you let out an ear-piercing shriek designed to attract dogs and make your troop leader's ears bleed.

While the Energy Balls were a tremendous hit, we have decided to try Tranquilizer Balls next month. The honey shall be substituted with valium (we first proposed Benedryl, then by the end of the day decided valium was a far safer route). We shall have the Tranq Balls ready at 2:59 p.m., and at 3 p.m. we shall tackle the girls one-by-one and force feed them.

Be it known that we also squeezed into our two-hour meeting these events:
  1. A discussion on different styles of painting. (Mondrian, Van Gogh, Monet, Close, Warhol, and Dali. All my favorites.)
  2. A discussion on murals, and what to paint on ours.
  3. The painting of said mural, which was a cityscape that included two Statues of Liberty, three Gateway Arches, several suns, snow and rain, houses, and unidentifiable creatures.
  4. Snack time, where we consumed Energy Balls and fresh fruit.
  5. A vote on what to do with the extra Girl Scout cookies we were unable to sell (because they were the "bad" ones, i.e. the ones with no chocolate or peanut butter). Decision: half to a food pantry, half to the troop.
  6. A money manager activity involving school supply lists and price sheets. 
  7. A game of "Down By The Banks."
  8. Opening and closing ceremonies.
My co-troop leader and I end every meeting exhausted both mentally and physically. My head typically hurts, and I feel like sitting in the corner of a dark room and crying for a bit. Zo and I came home tonight and I laid down on the bed for 15 minutes. Even though it hurt just to lay there, I was unconscious in under two minutes. I felt like drinking heavily, and the only thing that stopped me was that I knew I had to work tonight to make up for the 2.5 hours I missed at work today. I want to find the mom volunteers who ran my troop meetings when I was a Girl Scout, and apologize profusely while saying thank you by plying them with wine and shots.

Tomorrow will be better, and I will start planning the May meeting. Tonight, though, tonight I reserve the right to think that Girl Scout leaders should get hazard pay and counseling, plus free beer at any local bar on meeting days. I hope it will get better. I hope that as these girls grow and mature, that the meetings will be respectful while remaining fun, and that I won't feel like giving up after most of them. And tonight, I tucked my little girl into bed while giving thanks to God that she's one of the "good" ones.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Smile, work, ants, parents, ACTS, writing, SMILE


This morning I stopped at Starbucks on the way to work (I know, I know, you're shocked), and when I hopped out of the car I saw some new green plants popping up in the parking lot landscaped berm. I am so happy to see green showing up everywhere, and buds on trees, that it makes me smile.

And then I realized that what I was seeing was a smile.

I snapped a photo and hurried inside to get my decaf grande non-fat no-whip extra-hot mocha, then went off to work. At work I did various things like meet with my boss and tell him all the ways I think we can fix some major problems (he asked, mind you...this isn't something I typically just unload about), register a monk's book with Bowker to get an ISBN, finish layout of said book and send to printer for quote, photograph the junior school egg drop competition, code invoices for billing, respond to some emails while willfully ignoring others, and edit about 450 photos from the junior ring mass last Friday.

After work I picked up Zozo (remembering to finally drop off the after care check; bad mommy! no cookie!) and came home, thinking all I had to do was cook dinner. I was having my folks over and had planned my yummy chicken and apples recipe, which is a top favorite for both M and Zozo. Only once I got here I realized the sink still had dirty dishes because the dishwasher still needed to be emptied. In the midst of handling those duties: ants. ANTS! I hate ants. I abhor ants. They freak me out, because once you see one you know you'll find their gajillion little friends marching all over your house. I went on a killing spree before finally realizing that I needed to stop and track one of the little bastards so I could tell where they were coming in. I did so, then googled how to get rid of ants and found a non-toxic remedy: flour. There is now a tidy little pile of flour near the corner of the patio door. It has stopped them from coming in, but now all the ones inside can't get back out, so my killing spree continues. I vacuumed the great room because it made me feel better that I was possibly sending the ants to oblivion. I also removed every single item from my kitchen counter, cleaned and disinfected, then replaced everything before I dared to start cooking. Insert shudder here.

(Shout out to my FIL who took my panicked call, ran to Sam's to get bug spray, and then sprayed the perimeter of my house. Thank you!)

Dinner prep went fine. I was able to visit with my parents and Zoe played the piano and showed her homework and finished reading her book report book. Dinner itself was a little trying. I think more of my mother's food wound up on the floor than in her mouth. The first drop I let her handle. The second drop involved a huge lettuce leaf drenched in ranch dressing, which she then stepped in while attempting to get out of her chair to pick it up. I cleaned her shoe and the floor, and later went back for the rest of her food and blobs of ranch dressing. It was reminiscent of cleaning up under Zoe's high chair.

She repeated herself countless times, reminding me of my grandmother more and more. She went out to the car to put a bag away and retrieve something she left, only to come back still carrying the empty bag and without the item for which she had gone out.

It was all okay. She ate a good meal and spent time with her granddaughter and, I think, generally enjoyed herself.

She does not understand what Alzheimer's means.

Tonight, as I ushered my parents out the door, while waiting for my superhero father-in-law to handle my bug problem, with the prep work for tomorrow's Girl Scout meeting lingering in the back of my mind, my cell phone rang. It was a friend from church, asking me to serve on the next women's ACTS team.

My heart soared. Serving on ACTS is not another thing to do in my already-crowded life. It is a necessary touchstone that keeps me grounded in my faith and connected to other women. I have felt a hole since my last team ended, and I was so hoping I would be called again. This is wonderful, wonderful news.

The book I am reading now, "The Artist's Way," is fantastic and I'm not even that far into it. I can tell this will help me get back to my writing. I had to laugh, though, last night when I was trying to read it and barely keeping my eyes open because I was so tired. The first requirement for this "spiritual path to higher creativity" is to sit down every morning and hand write three pages. It doesn't even matter if I have nothing to write; I'm to write "I have nothing to write" for three pages if necessary. It's the whole idea of putting pen to paper and training yourself to write regularly.

Hmmmm. I'm already starting to figure out ways I can cheat. "Well, if I write something on the blog every day, that counts, right?" And this whole handwriting thing? Yeah, that's not going to happen with me. I'm a typist. Typer? (Shut up those of you who would respond "typo!") Fingers on keyboard is the only way I can keep up with my brain. Plus my handwriting has gone to shit over the last decade.

So I pulled up the blog tonight and thought about what I'd write, and then realized that I needed my daily photo. The only one I could remember taking today is of some beautiful fuchsia buds framing the bell tower on the Abbey church. That doesn't really count, I think, because I shoot it so often that it's like mailing in my photo of the day. Oh well, at least it's an image that I made today and it'll have to do.

Only when I went into my photos on my iPhone, I found the smile from this morning. I had completely forgotten about it, so it made me happy all over again to discover it.

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Monday, April 07, 2014

On the Path

I have heard so much about this book, and yet have put off reading it for so long. It's time now.

But, because I'm busy reading this tonight, I won't be writing. It's supposed to kick my butt into gear, though, so watch out. We may all be in for a torrent of words. Hopefully they will make sense.

Sidebar: Today was Field Day for the students at the school where I work. While this Field Day was just as cold, rainy and miserable as last year's, I did not take a dodgeball to the face. Mostly because I stayed away from the gym entirely and sent my assistant instead. (Yep, he gets the plum writing assignments AND the hazardous duty. I think that's a fair trade.) Anyway, I'm calling the day a success because I sustained no injuries and still got a free tshirt.

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Sunday, April 06, 2014

Wellies


We bought Zoe new rain boots today.

I pulled her size off the rack saying, "These look huge. No way will they fit you. Here...try them on." She tried them on, and they fit, and my mama heart crumbled.

Gone is my baby who wears cute little rain boots with froggies or Hello Kitty or lady bugs. Gone are the adorable weensy shoes that encase her adorable weensy feet.

Now I have a young lady wearing boots that look like something I would wear. Actually, they are something I would wear but they didn't have my size.

Slow down, child. Slow down.

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When Facebook Friendships Go Bad

I gave up Facebook for Lent.

It's been really hard, mainly because I discovered I use it to kill time way more than I thought. In line at the grocery store or Starbucks. Waiting for meetings to start. Walking across campus. That sort of thing. I've been forced to stay more caught up on email, pay attention to my surroundings, and watch where I'm going. None of this has been a bad thing, and after Lent I'll be much more conscious of just how much time I spend there. Plus, I'm now spending more time here, and this is making me much happier than Facebook ever did. (Sorry Facebook, I'm going back to my original love: Blogger.)

Right before Lent started, I realized that there is a Facebook friend that I don't like. At all. Not even one teensy tiny bit. Ironic, right? She isn't a real friend, but a cyber friend. Her friends run in the same circles as my friends (my photography circle, that is). I think she went to one of the Shutter Sisters events and I met her in passing. Obviously she wasn't someone who stuck out in my mind, but I do remember there being a lot of buzz about how she was someone to know. So in one of those moments where Facebook plays matchmaker and says, "Hey, you and this person have 5,462 friends in common...you should be friends!" we became Facebook friends. I honestly have no idea if I friended her or if she friended me. It's enough to say the friending happened and, hindsight being what it is, it shouldn't have.

I don't blame Facebook, really. All the algorithms stack up to say we should be buddies. We both photograph and write. We're both mothers. We have the same name, for Pete's sake (although she uses way too many letters to spell hers). We have the same friends. We both hate Wal-Mart. This should be enough to at least have a mutual like-fest going on.

Over the time we've been friends - maybe a couple years? - I have watched this woman cast so much judgment while talking about how awesome she is that I just want to vomit. There have been days that I wish there was a "shut the fuck up already" button on Facebook. And yet, I stayed silent. Maybe it's because I've watched her bully so many others that I don't want to put myself in that situation (thank you high school baggage). Maybe it's because we have so many mutual friends that I feel like we should be friends, even if it's just for their sake. Maybe my own insecurities are rearing their ugly heads and saying, "She's right, you know, and you don't know shit."

But then, right before Lent, I decided that no, I do know shit (some shit, anyway) and I know when a person is not someone I want to be around, even if "around" means in the Internets. Then Lent started and she fell off my radar, as Facebook wasn't available to stick her mush right in my face over and over again.

Well, today is Sunday, so I thought I'd treat myself to a little Facebook update. See what the family is doing. Catch up on the baby pictures and see who's running where (I seem to have a bunch of very fit friends doing marathons and half marathons and Tough Mudders and all sorts of things that I'm perfectly happy to watch from afar. Fuckers.) and see who is on vacation and who is still struggling with this hella winter.

And there she was. Right there, in my feed, being judgmental as ever. Here's a sample of what she's written recently:
  • People who commit suicide are selfish and stupid, and we shouldn't feel sorry for them or honor any of their contributions.
  • "Yeah, I know. I am a genius."
  • "Sometimes you just have to sacrifice yourself on the altar of bitchiness." (Sidebar: I don't even know what that means.)
  • A post that it's okay that her son spends an inordinate amount of time in bars with her, because she's "doing it differently than my dad did."
  • A whine session about how Facebook must be messed up because fewer people were liking and commenting on her posts. (Yeah, because it's Facebook's fault you're a bitch and people stopped paying attention to you.)
  • A rage against Facebook for showing Walmart ads when she doesn't want to see them. Apparently for all her self-appointed Internet genius she has failed to grasp that Facebook is free and therefore they can do whatever they want. You don't like it? Leave. Stop crabbing about something you get for free not doing exactly what you want.
  • Regular posts completely degrading people who try to connect with her on a business level using social media, in ways that she finds unacceptable. Like, uh, they politely asked if she would follow them on Twitter. This act of insanity led to a huge bitch session wherein she tore this poor marketing specialist to pieces on Facebook for having the gall to ask. Jeez, girl, just decline the request. No need to go all batshit crazy on someone.
  • A tirade against the two main actors in Dallas Buyers Club, because they suck and shouldn't have won Academy Awards. Not that she had seen the movie (she hadn't), she just knows. (For what it's worth, I saw the movie and I thought they did a wonderful job. It's graphic and hard to watch, but it tells an incredible story and opens the viewers eyes to the struggle for healthcare many in this country face. While I may not be crazy about these two particular actors, I can at least recognize talent and hard work.)
That first bullet point is it. It's what sent me over the edge. I'm done. One of my closest friends in high school killed himself and I just won't tolerate someone else casting judgment on his situation, his circumstance, his pain. Granted, this woman was referencing Kurt Cobain's suicide, which has been in the news a lot lately due to the 20th anniversary of his death. But she didn't know him, either. Who in the hell is she to judge someone else who is so depressed or has so many mental health issues that he feels that his only choice is to end his life? Don't those people deserve our compassion, our help, our understanding, more than anything? Isn't piling on judgment and an unwillingness to learn only compounding the problem?

I considered blasting her on her Facebook page. I considered sending her a private message. I thought about ways to send her an anonymous message so she wouldn't bully me. And then I realized that I didn't want to do what she does every day. So I went quietly into the night, choosing instead to simply "unfriend" her and erase her and her toxicity from my Facebook feed.

So why write about it all here? Well, my question is this: am I as bad as she is for judging her to be a terrible person? This, I cannot figure out.

While that ferments, I may have to do a serious reassessment of who is on my Facebook friends list. I think a purge is in order. This will naturally lead to a decrease in the amount of time I spend there just because I won't have to scroll through a shitload of inane posts by people I barely know or barely want to know just to get to the good posts (see what the family is doing, catch up on the baby pictures, the crazy people who run, who is on vacation and who is still struggling with this hella winter).

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Saturday, April 05, 2014

An ordinary day


I have nothing to write about today. Nothing funny happened, nor anything traumatic. We all had busy days, some together and some separately.

Me
  1. Mass
  2. Rosary
  3. Meeting for fundraiser sign-up party
  4. Tax lady
  5. Vacuum
  6. Girl Scout meeting planning
  7. Bills and filing
M
  1. ACTS administrative stuff
  2. Doctor appointment
  3. Tax lady
  4. Work (and work and work and work)
  5. Packing for China
Zozo
  1. Mass
  2. Rosary
  3. Girl Scouts April Showers Bag Drop
  4. Play date
  5. Reading for book report
  6. Nap
It was a boring day, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even the bills and filing. It always feels so good to get everything cleaned up, organized, filed, and recycled. I love going to bed knowing that there's nothing hanging out there, waiting. Zoe's yearbook has been ordered, and her field trip permission form filled out. Her piano teacher and after care checks are written. Her first communion video ordered, and the school assessment filled out. The kitchen counter is cleaned off. The checkbook is up to date and balanced.

I can't sleep when things are hanging out there. I mean, sometimes I can't sleep regardless, but I really can't sleep when things are looming. Bills, especially. And items I know are due for Zoe's school.

I have to plan the party for her First Communion. Okay, that'll fester overnight.

Well, shit. And here I thought I got some serious stuff done today.

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Friday, April 04, 2014

Three lawyers and a writer go into a bar...




Appetizers and drinks with three lawyers tonight.

This is not normally on my social calendar, but duty called. The one lawyer is legal counsel for my work. The other two are the guys our insurance company hired to defend us in the wrongful death civil suit. Lawyer Number 1 felt obligated to treat Lawyers 2 and 3 to a happy hour to thank them for all their hard work. I really have no idea why I was invited, except that I was there every day of the trial and therefore we have this shared, albeit terrible, experience.

I think I am healing. I don't think about the trial every day any more, and I can talk about it without crying. Tonight the four of us were able to dissect the case, and I learned a lot of background information I did not know, mainly because it wasn't allowed to be discussed during the trial. For instance, I learned that the day of the accident, at the hospital, the boy's mother had a melt down similar to the one in the courtroom. She screamed and wailed, and blamed herself for letting her son go to school that day.

I asked a lot of questions, and they graciously and patiently answered every single one. They asked for my opinions on various aspects, and I told them what I thought. I'm still trying to sort it all out in my own mind, and it was nice to be able to talk through some of my observations and conjectures. We spent some time trying to figure out the motive behind bringing the civil suit. The family does not need the money. One does not start expensive litigation because of a miscommunication (as was stated at one point in this whole debacle). It wasn't for an apology; we had already apologized. I realized that what they wanted, what the mother wanted, was for us to say, "It was all our fault." She didn't need it for money or for public humiliation. She needed it so she could stop blaming herself. I said that out loud, before I even really gave it a lot of thought; we were all just chatting and I was using the conversation to get my head wrapped around it. I barely got the words out and the eyes of all three lawyers went wide. Two of them pointed at me, and one said, "YES! That's it. That's exactly what she wanted. She needs a way to stop blaming herself." I was glad I had said something that was intelligent.

Despite the topic of conversation, it was a lovely evening. We were at the Three Sixty Rooftop Bar in downtown St. Louis, and I watched the sky darken and the city lights start to twinkle while we talked. I love my city, and I love that even though our judicial system is so messed up in so many regards, it is still the best in the world.

I realized tonight on the drive home that for the first time in a long time, everything feels okay. The world feels at rights again.

My kid and my husband are sick as shit, but at least they are here and I get to take care of them. Work is humming along at its usual frenetic pace. I helped out the mothers' club this morning and they rewarded me with a Starbucks gift card (apparently they know the way to my heart). I had lunch with my cousin and feel reconnected. I got my mother scheduled for her second round of neurology tests. Tomorrow I take all my paperwork into my tax lady, and make some more meals for my folks.

This little life of mine isn't dazzling or perfect, and it probably makes for some pretty boring reading, but man is it good.

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Thursday, April 03, 2014

An open letter to M. Nature


Dear Mother Nature,

Hi. I see you. I see you, and I hear you, and, perhaps worst of all, I feel you. I get it. You're there, and you're pissed.

Now that I've acknowledged your pain, I'd like to make a small request.

Stop being a bitch.

Or at least aim your temper tantrums at the people who abuse you. Scream at the people who refuse to recycle, adding to the landfills that scar your skin. Take out your frustration on the folks who scoff at your global warming. Rage against the litterbugs and the strip miners and the executives at Halliburton. Skip the wellsite engineers and the field hands, though. My hubby used to be the former and he knew a lot of good men who are the latter and they're just trying to provide for their families.

Leave the rest of us alone.

I'm tired, MoNat. I'm tired of your bone chilling cold and your snow. I put up with your winter, only to have you pitching yet more fits for spring. Hail, really? I know what you're up to with that, by the way. Don't think I haven't noticed that the only times you hurl hail at me are when I am driving a new car. 14 years ago you hailed on my three month old Honda Accord hard enough to cause a shitload of damage that I had to get fixed. Then you left me alone until I got my Corvette. Just biding your time, perhaps? Once wasn't enough for you then, though, perhaps because the Corvette was considerably more expensive than the Accord. No, you've thrown your little frozen spitballs at my Corvette no less than four times. (Joke's on you, honey. That car isn't metal and so far it has rebuffed your attacks. So stop trying.) Now, after 14 years, I have a new daily driver car again. It's about six months old. What happened yesterday? Yeah. You tried again tonight but I was already home and my new car is in the garage. Didn't stop you from pummeling my new roof, though.

And the tornadoes? C'mon. I'm tired of rounding up my kid, two cats and a guinea pig to go sit in the basement bathroom. Especially at 5:30 a.m. or when my dinner casserole should be coming out of the oven. I need sleep, Mama Earth. My family needs rest. We're all still in various flu stages and we need to get better and you're not helping with your nightly lightning and your thunder and your damn wind that causes the sirens to scream unmercifully. Stop tweezing trees and tossing our shit around. You're really just making life miserable for everyone.

I want to especially thank you for the torrential rain you've provided the last few days, especially since you pour that down during the exact times I must cross campus to get to meetings. You have soaked my socks, shoes, and pant legs countless times over the last two days. Yesterday was so bad I had to remove my socks and shoes and dry them out over the heater in my office. (I considered removing my pants but I work in an all-boys school, so that's not really an option. Well, not an option if I want to keep my job.)

So, Ms. Terra, it's time to get over whatever it is you're pissed about. Get up, put on your big girl panties, and stop being so damn crabby. Go get a manicure or a massage. Read a good book. See a therapist. Have drinks with your friends. Get Father Time to help out with the housework. For the love of all that's holy, do something, anything, to cheer yourself up so you stop being bitchy.

You're giving the rest of us, your sisters, a bad rep.

Ever yours,
Amy

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Oh, be proud of him ['cause after all, he's just a man...]


In the last 13 years, I've had four jobs. Four jobs where I sit at a nice desk and type a lot, and one of the biggest irks is when someone empties the coffee pot and doesn't start brewing another.

In the last 13 years, my brother-in-law Shawn has had one job. And his one makes all four of mine, even added together, look pretty paltry.

After 13 years, he made his last run on an ambulance for the St. Louis City Fire Department this week, and tonight we celebrated. My sister invited M and me to Shawn's going away party, and we were there to see the steady stream of friends flow in and out to say hello and goodbye and congratulations. We got to meet his last City partner, who has been his partner for four years. They joked that by this point they are like an old married couple, and I can totally see how that would happen.

We got a peek into the STLFD family, and it looks pretty amazing. These are people who have seen shit that most of us never will, things that we couldn't even imagine. These people have stories.

And in that vein, I'll share my favorite story from Shawn. Now, it's way better to hear it told in person, and Shawn is really the person who tells it the best, but you'll just have to bear with me. Some of you have heard this before, I'm sure, since it's one of our favorites. Some of you have probably heard it multiple times.

Shawn responded to a call and arrived at the scene to find a large black man with a gaping head wound. He said it looked awful. So he and his partner did what they are trained to do: they got the guy patched up and on the ambulance to take him to the hospital. After making sure he was okay, while they were driving to the hospital, Shawn asked him what had happened. He had never seen a head wound like this before and he just had to know. Apparently the patient had gotten into an argument with his wife/girlfriend/baby mama.

"Da bitch hit me wit da smoov."
"The smooth?"
"Yeah, man. Da bitch hit me wit da smoov."

Shawn must have looked confused, because the man then went on to explain.

"You know, man. Da smoov. What you use to smoov out your clothes." He made a motion like he was ironing.

Shawn lost it. "Dude, she hit you in the head with an iron?!"

Yep, that's what happened.

Last year our family started a habit of saying a Hail Mary every time we hear sirens. We learned it from someone on one of our ACTS retreats and thought it sounded like a good thing to do. For a long time, I thought we were praying for whomever was being helped. After all, that's how it was presented to us.

But here's the thing: the people driving those ambulances and fire trucks and police cars...they need our prayers just as much. We go about our business every day, commuting to work and running our errands and bitching about a rough day at the office or the asshole who cut us off on 40/64. We don't usually give those people - the people driving the ambulances, fire trucks and police cars - a second thought.

Until we need them.

Then, they're there. They show up and they take care of us, no matter what color our skin is or what kind of car we're driving or what kind of clothes we're wearing or how much money we have in our pocketbook. The first responders are just that: the first ones in, and they very often risk their own lives to help people they've never met and most likely will never see again.

I looked around the room tonight at people who look just like you and me. They have regular clothes and they were drinking beer and they were singing karaoke, sometimes really, really well and sometimes not so much.

If you didn't know them, you'd never know they are heroes.

Hail Mary,
Full of grace
The Lord is with thee
Blessed art thou among women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus
Holy Mary, Mother of God
Pray for us sinners now,
And at the hour of our death

Congratulations to Shawn on his new job. He'll still be saving lives; he just won't have the bat-shit crazy stories that come with working in the city. Let me know when you're ready to tell your tales, brother. I'll be your typist, editor and ghost writer. I love you.

(Today's pic is Shawn, belting out Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man," because his goofy sister-in-law made the request. Ever the good sport, Shawn went up there and sang with gusto. "Sometimes it's hard...to be a woman...")

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Keens


I got new Keens.

Other than that, it's been a pretty shitty day.

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