Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thankful for What?

Over the last year or so, since the miscarriage, my husband and I have worked hard to "get a life". Meaning, since we opted to not have children, we have created and built a lifestyle that blends us, our interests, and fulfills what did seem like a very empty house. As a result of our "project", I always have something to say or offer up. Have you seen THIS movie? Have you been to THAT restaurant? Have you ever been hunting? Do you like painting/reading/redecorating on a budget... ETC.?
We have done a good job in filling in the blanks and have become satisified with our lifestyle.
But a few weeks ago, there was some news from the female doctor about some "stuff". This "stuff" is very serious and out of left field. We have been coping and processing. We have been going to the doctor and I have three more appointments next week. It is slightly consuming and I am having a difficult time of not letting it get to me. It's hard to "forget about something for a while" when a large chunk of your free time is spent sitting in a waiting room. Flipping through crappy old health magazines and trying not to stare at the other patients waiting, equally as confused and thrown off.
I wish I could publish blogs about it, but at this point, I think I better keep it hush hush, at least until Wednesday, when I am going to see a specialist. I will know more. And I won't feel as if I am being too negative, or too hopeful. If I keep it hush hush, I feel I can stay removed from the truth, which is trying it's very best to upset my equilibrium. And while I have been writing about the experiences, I am keeping them to myself. I don't want certain people to read about it before I can talk about it with them in person. They may be offended, or unnecessarily upset.
It has occurred to me lately how precious our lives are. It dawned on me that until we got the news a few weeks ago, my husband and I were very happy, yet didn't stop to realize it. Life was good. Our jobs as a teacher and a public works employee, while not lucrative, are stable in the rocky economy. Our home is slowly but surely getting upgraded and fixed up to our liking. Our goals and dreams have just enough crossover to keep us connected yet just enough distance to give us space to grow as individuals. We have hit a pleasant rhythm in our marriage and life is good.
And perhaps it still is. We are both ultimately fine. But this recent "diagnosis" could change everything. Maybe for the better in the end, but also maybe for the worse. I am praying that God continue to show me that not only does everything happen for a reason, but that it happen in a way that I understand what that reason is. And sooner rather than later. I feel He has His hand in this. I am doing my best to not worry and fret about the future.
Since it's all very female and new and precarious, my husband and I are still working on making peace with it, therefore it's not the kind of thing we are ready to tell people in everyday conversation, particularly a holiday. When asked, lately, what I have been up to, I have found myself speechless for the first time in a long time. I think in my head, "You don't really want to know what I have been up to." and then hear myself say out loud out of desperation, "OH! Nothing! Really, not much at all," but really my life has been consumed and if I opened the floodgates I don't think I could stop talking about it.
In the meantime I am thankful I have my job and my supportive family and all of the other distractions that are keeping me from over thinking the possibilities and quite frankly, going nuts.
I know in the end everything will be okay. Our lives will realign and we will eventually barely remember this chapter in time. But for now, we are living it. Trying to be strong and mature and stable. Taking things one day at a time and waiting for the next appointment for more clarification.
*** Update: Everything is going to be fine!! Yeah!! Thanks for your thoughts and prayers!***

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Day After

I hate to say this for the risk of sounding bitter, but I am thankful that Thanksgiving is over. The food I fretted over making turned out fine, and in the end, I needn't have made half of it. In fact, one whole "ladie's" salad, as I like to call it, sits in the refrigerator crisper, unmade.

I was to make two salads, one special request being the age old "Seven-Layer" by my father, stacked fattily in my never before used Pampered Chef Truffle bowl, and then the "ladie's" salad, that I have refined over the years, including but not limited to: Blue cheese, strawberries, walnuts and red onion. I made the Seven Layer number the night before, as per the directions. The other was bought and bagged and waiting patiently until about five minutes prior to Turkey time, where it would be thrown together masterfully in my brother's kitchen in all it's crispy freshness. But there was no room for it on the table. Or the buffet. As I looked over the vast expanse of casserole this and casserole that, I began to question it's humble place among the mix, and even more so, it's necessity.

I whispered to my mother in an aside, "Do you really think we need another salad?". Her quick no left me hollering for my husband to run the ingredients back to the car, where it could refrigerate peacefully in the coolness of our Turkey Day November.

And judging by the huge amounts of leftovers distributed between 16 people, I believe it was a good call.

And when the feasting had ended, and the women began an efficient assembly line of dish washing and food packaging, and the men retreated to the living room, disaster ensued. Black gooey water began to seep out from beneath the sink. Husband's names were yelled and suddenly there was an odd role reversal. The women found themselves sitting in the living room, pouring another glass of wine, and settling in nervously. The men frantically began busting out tools and flashlights and taking off the dress shirts.

Eventually, as the minutes ticked by on the clock, I reminded my husband we had another Thanksgiving to get to, and I was holding the desserts hostage. Mid-project, we had to bolt. I still don't know how it ended, and judging by the looks of my sister-in-laws face, calling back later would not be appreciated.

We pulled into the MIL's at the perfect time, missing the dinner clean up and just in time for the coffee brewing. I whipped out my two desserts, one pumpkin pie and the other pumpkin cheesecake and hoped that they had not stuffed themselves to the point of no dessert. I questioned weather or not the cheesecake would have any takers, but in the end, should have reversed my concern.

In the land of pie-making, of which I am new, it is difficult to get a single pie crust. They came in "two's". Not wanting to waste it, I made two pumpkin pies instead of the one intended. Having an extra, we had previously made a quick stop to the police station to drop one off, so the cops on call would not feel unappreciated between domestic violence house calls and DUI's. Leaving me my precious "good one" for the MIL's.

And when I began the task of asking who wanted what, everyone wanted the cheesecake. EVERY one. As I sliced through the cheesecake time after time, I hearded myself pushing the pumpkin. "Sure you don't want a little slice of pumkpin, too?". But no. I am not all that great at sales.

So the cheesecake was devoured and the pumpkin sat. Sliced and ready but whole. Not a single slice missing. The MIL packaged it back up and sent it back home with me. And now it sits on the counter and I am wondering if we should take IT to the police station as well.

So in the end, I should have made the ONE salad and the ONE dessert. I will make a mental note for next year.

And today I need to hydrate beyond capacity and walk a million miles and nibble on lettuce leaves because tomorrow is the big wedding and the dress I spent WAY too much money on in is hanging in my closet and mocking me for yesterday's gluttoney. Stupid tight dress. What was I thinking?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

TV Situation

My parents are coming in for a visit today. I see them frequently, but rarely in my own home. Since both of my brothers live in the area, and have much larger homes which are much more accommodating, and kids to boot, we often find ourselves meeting up over at thier houses.

But today my parents have decided to make a special trip to visit us in our own stomping grounds. And I am excited. Well to see them, but also because they are bringing us a 43 inch flat screen TV. They bought themselves some kind of gigantic plasma and have no use for the 43 incher now. But we do. We really do.

There will initially be some furniture mayhem. The buffet our current TV sits on is way too high for a TV of this... girth ( that reminds of "the door is way to heavy sir"- I loved Bender-sigh! ). Speaking of which, it is also extremely heavy. Which means that when we do move it, what we find under it should be interesting if not embarrassing. Because I have never, as far as I can recall, cleaned under there. And I will be following them around with a broom and a dustpan, even though I am not supposed to "get in the way" of such a manly project.

Let's not forget that there will be two men, the combo being my husband and my father, that will be strong-arming my furniture. And while I have been reassured that a furniture "plan" is not in order, as a female, I know it most cetainly, IS.

If I leave the furniture placement up to the soul decision of the men, I am sure the aesthetics will leave me flustered, confused and unhappy. Whatever scraps of furniture they will happlessly "take" from somewhere else in my house to create the perfect viewing height will discombobulate some other "arrangement" that took me, most likely, several trips to Target to create.

And let's NOT forget the gigantic buffet that we currently use as a "TV stand". Where in the hell am I going to put it? I have a feeling if I don't have a "plan" I will be climbing over this thing every time I walk in the door. And I will reach my breaking point much sooner than my husband and will try to heave and hoe it myself, scratching up the floor and ruining the lay of the carpet. And I don't know if I have the patience to wait for the help of my husband if this might take as long as it has taken him to hang my wall art ( going on two years). No offense. I get it, it's all about priority. But you see, I need a plan. And fast! I gotta' strike while the iron is HOT!

So in my head, deliberately unbeknownst to the "men" a plan has formulated. It will require much more moving than they are bargaining for. They will be irritated at my requests. But at the end of the day, all will be well, and while my happy hubby plops himself on the couch to get a load of his new tube, I will pleasantly organize my new "arrangements", dusting and humming and taking a step back to see how it looks, and diving in to move this little thing and that little thing until all is right again.

It's going to be a long day before we get there, but it will be worth it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Forging Into the Nineties

When we moved into our condo, it was a flurry of chaos. We signed the week of our wedding and moved in two weeks later. In the process, we hired cleaning ladies to scrub it down, purchased replacement carpet for the bedrooms, and enlisted the help of the family to paint every square inch of wall.
I had always looked forward to owning my own place so I could look over paint chips tirelessly and create a vision that would awe my guests into asking." what color IS this? I LOVE it!"
Not so much.
We had three things against us. Time, money and the kitchen tile.
The tile in our kitchen is blue. Yes, blue. And since you can see the kitchen from the living room/dining room, we had what we call a decorator's dilemma on our hands. I priced out tile immediately. And then after seeing the totals began to swiftly work with the blue. That's right, easy does it, match the blue.
So we ended up with khaki paint. In our living room. It's like swimming in cesspool of bad eighties pants. Our couches just mere slabs of brown boat shoe. I tried to lighten things up with some oranges and greens, throw pillows- candles- art work, you name it. But it's still khaki. And I can no longer stand it.
So I have decided to do some painting. And after perusing a varity of web sites, like Benjamin Moore, Restoration Hardware, and Pottery Barn for ideas and color schemes, I find I am stuck with painting only one wall burnt orange.
And now I realize what I was up against when I was forced to make my original rash and hurried decision. That flippin BLUE TILE. It's ruining everything.
In the larger scheme of things, it's not so bad. It's paint color on the wall. But with the housing market crashing around us, I have begun to accept the fact that we are going to be residents of this hear blue-kitchen-tiled, one-bedroom, two-bath, one-boxing-arena condo for a long time. And I want to make it ours in a way that really reflects our tastes. Soooo isn't going to happen.
And based on our budget and some other "stuff" going on, tile on the kitchen floor is of low..low... LOW priority. So burnt orange it is people. Burnt orange straight from the mid-nineties. Right here in my very own living room.
At least it won't be so boring.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Hunting We Will Go

I woke up at 3 am. It was a mixture of anxiety and some other stuff, which will be addressed in another post. The departure time was scheduled for NO-LATER-THAN-7:30-NO-MATTER-WHAT. We laid out most of our gear the night before. Billy asked no less than four times if I had long underwear. The response volume increasing with each respective asking. 1. "Yep, sure do!" 2. "Yep." 3. "YES, I said that already." 4. "YES, I ALREADY TOLD YOU THAT ABOUT TEN TIMES!" In his defense, I actually don't have long underwear but I did have a plan. Which is really what he was asking anyway.

After climbing into so many layers of clothes I could barely move my arms, we loaded up the car. We needed to hit an ATM, and then the requisite-before-any-hour-or-more-long-drive stop at Dunkin Donuts. Which is literally across the street from our house. And I had to pee already. And then mid-stream I remembered we didn't bring the cooler. So now we neeeded to head back home again.

With the cooler in tow and steaming cups of joe and cash in our pockets we finally headed out. At 7:45.

After the hour long drive, wherein I asked my husband to be patient with me if I missed, we pulled into the sparse lot. The sounds of dogs and shotguns amid the rows of corn and marshy fields set the stage for our adventure.

The check in lodge was about as inviting as they come. With coffee on, two roaring fireplaces, free donuts, and ample sitting room. A myriad of men stood anxiously around joking quietly, as only men do at 8 am before a hunt. They eyed me cautiously. Wondering if I would be hunting as well.

Our guide, Alberto, saddled with his dog, called out to us. It was time. We zipped up our coats and grabbed our guns. We adorned ourselves with Day-Glo orange and loaded our pockets with shells. I was getting nervous.

Before we entered the field Billy starting asking Alberto some standard questions while the Brittany Spaniel ran circles around us. Alberto explained we would walk on either side of him and when the dog found a pheasant to flush he would tell us, since the dog was not a pointer. In other words, he told us to keep ourselves at the ready, safety's off and guns cocked and loaded. This was the big time!

We set out and it was easy going. While nervous, I felt safe. The ground we traversed was mowed and the dog, guide and Billy were easy to hear and see. Alberto then stopped in his tracks. "He found something... he found something... get ready!" We stopped and waited. A bird flew out and Billy and I shot at the same time. Feathers spewed into the air and the bird in flight landed like a rock on the ground. The dog ran and got it and brought it back to Alberto. Alberto stuffed the dead bird into his vest pocket.

We set out again after catching our breath and placing how it felt to shoot the bird down. Which I must say was good. Really good. The dog took off and we began to creep along again. Before Alberto could warn us, the dog came running back with a bird in his mouth. "Oops", said Alberto regarding his over-eager hound, " I will throw it up so you can shoot it."

He tossed it in my direction and as it flew off I aimed slowly and pulled the trigger. Bam! I got it. I really got it! Again the dog retrieved the bird and brought it back to the guide. Not sure if you could really call that hunting. But it sure felt like it.

As we progressed along, the terrain became much more difficult, we climbed through marshes, forests, trees, and six foot tall grass. The ground was hilly, rocky, and uneven. The guns became heavy as we pulled our thick, wet and mud-laden shoes out of the ground and over thick branches. It was exhasting.

The guide, sensing my weariness, offered to carry my gun for me. Not wanting to be a wimpy girl, I declined. After a couple of hours of this, and with increasingly longer and more frequent breaks, we decided to call it a day. We ended up with five birds in total. Billy taking claim to the majority.

We headed back to the lodge for some warming free beer while our guide cleaned and packaged our birds for us. After paying, we tiredly headed back to the car, feeling strong, successful, and hungry.

When we got home, all previous thoughts of cooking fresh pheasant immediately withered in comparison to my need for a bath and a nap. So in the freezer they sit, waiting for some time spent on and a stomach that feels up for it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Quitting. Again.

SO. I guess you could say quitting smoking is going really well. Since I am up at at 4:30 in the morning and have been for at least TWO hours. I want a cigarette so bad right now that if there was a half one in my garbage can you can bet I would be digging. I would dump that trash bag upside down in my kitchen, find the butt, light it and enjoy it while sitting atop the mound of garbage on the floor. So yeah, quitting smoking is going fabulously.

I keep trying to "think positive", but seriously, it's harder than it sounds. The arguments in my head are reminiscent of the back talk I used to give my mother.

Me: Just HAVE one already!

Me: No! I really need to quit.

Me: WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL? Hello? Hel-LOOOO? Who cares?

Me: Loser

Me: I HATE YOU. I am so leaving this house and marching over to the gas station and buying some RIGHT now. Becuase there is NOTHING on TV and I have already eaten dinner. So I am BORED. And I need a cigarette.

Me: This blows.

Yep. That is how mature and intellectual my thoughts have been today. Not feeling the pride so much right now. See a stop smoking commercial on TV? Flip it off. Watch my husband watch TV? Glare. Look down at my idle hands? Feel rage. Stand up. Sigh. Walk out. To... nowhere to go walk back INTO the living room. Sit back down.

This is going to be a long week.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank a Vet

I woke up today after sleeping in, feeling like it's a Sunday. We don't have school today in honor of Veteran's Day. To commemorate, I am drinking Pumpkin Spice cream with my coffee. No, just kidding. In honor, I had a guest speaker talk to my class yesterday.

He is currently a security guard in our high school after serving time in Iraq.

He was very open and honest about his experience. He let the kids ask him virtually anything. And aside from some sophomoric, yet interesting questions, about where he went poo, what he ate, and how he drank, there were some insightful questions as well.

He told three stories I will share with you:

1. He and some of the other troops were in Baghdad and made a trip to McDonald's. There were some females soldiers in the bunch, and being American, the guys pushed the girls to the front to order first. While standing at the counter, the Iraqi gentlemen behind the register looked past the women and asked the men what the ladies wanted. Ultimately, they flat our refused to wait on the women first. Tensions mounted, but eventually, the guys ordered for the girls. One of the girl's in my class said she would have punched him. He reminded her she would have then most likely faced an untimely death. It was enlightening to watch the students' faces as their minds met with the information and let it absorb.

2. According to him, he was privy to information about the weapons of mass destruction. He said they were found, and he was a part of that. He then went on to stress the cover up came when George Bush gave Iraq 72 hours to remove the weapons from the country. He said there soon followed a caravan of semi-trailers and trucks that moved the weapons Northeast over the border to Syria. While patrolling the caravan, a fellow soldier pulled over one of the vehicles for an inspection. After discovering a large amount of weapons, the soldier asked our speaker if he should shoot the driver, confiscate the weapons, or let it pass. Because of the orders of the President, our speaker found it difficult to say to his comrade, let it pass. But he did, and off it went, along with the hundreds of other vehicles taking the weapons to safety. He stressed concern for the imminent removal of troops and feels strongly that as soon as the troops are withdrawn, the weapons will make thier way back. I hope he is mistaken.

3. Since he has come back, he told us that many of his army friends are suffering from PTSD. He told us it is very real and that there is little help available for these people. Most prevalently, they suffer from flashbacks, anger, and nightmares. All of which lead to an unsettling life. When asked about support, he mentioned that most of the people he knows don't even bother with doctors or the like, anymore, but have created networks of people that meet in groups to talk about thier experiences. He told us he has yet to suffer from such things, but mentioned, "It could happen to me tomorrow or in five years down the road". How awful it must be to see so many of your friends suffer and feel as if your turn may be inevitable.

I understand the scope of opinion and sides and controversies. I could go back in our history and try to make plausible the necessity of war. I could pull instances from the Bible to suggest it is inevitable, even. But I won't. Today I will focus on thanking those that have done what they feel is right, and have risked thier life to do so. I will appreciate that I can go the grocery store all by myself. I will appreciate that there is order in my world and that it is not acceptable for the police to pull me over and force me to pay a ransom, or worse, for no reason. Ultimately, I will appreciate that others are suffering on my behalf and that I sleep well at night due to thier own personal sacrifice.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Weekend Re-cap

Friday was a whirl of activous opportunous. What should we do, what should we DO? The Union social was going at a local bar. Another guy wanted to maybe meet us at his "local", meaning paneled walls, Hamms posters, and a yellow tile floor, or, there was always home. After maybe twenty or so questioning texts and "who's going" e-mails, the fun got blown out of our sails and Billy and I opted to meet at home. Where he promptly fell asleep on the couch and I perused through the new US Weekly and sucked down a beer. Or so.
With a fresh start on our Saturday, we headed out to the gun range, stopping to pick up a friend of Billy's on the way. The front of the shop was filled with a wide variety of guns and gun gadgets. Second amendment posters and army knives. I felt uncomfortable in my baby blue Cub's hat and New Balance tennis shoes, but quickly got over it when I spied several other females in similar attire. We paid upfront for our stall rentals and paper targets and were ushered to the waiting area, which was comprised of a picnic table and an old soda machine. From which I purchased a 75 cent Diet Coke. When some stalls opened and our ears and eyes were fully covered, off we went to assemble and shoot.
Billy had me go first, so he could provide the proper tutelage. I thought I did okay on the targets, but the thrill of shooting was, as usual, more exhilerating than my ability mattered. Billy then went, and I was more than impressed. He kept getting Bullseyes and I felt a mixture of pride and jealousy. More than that, I was impressed with his manor. Confident, safe, and methodical. He would never hurry to forego safety.
While he continued to shoot with his friend I became bored, so went back to the waiting area to read. I was stared at once or twice but ignored the questioning looks, I didn't care what they thought, my book was too good. Who wouldn't want to read about elective mutism anyway?
As we left, a trio of odd balls came in that made Larry, Larry and Darryl look refined. I kept trying to hide my face behind Billy's shoulder just enough so my stares wouldn't be caught. But the combination of military regalia and loud over-talking about gun details and the oddly thick and dirty coke bottle glasses, mixed with ill fitting clothes made me feel hincky. We left quickly but overall had a great time.
Saturday night we had two parties. TWO PARTIES! We stopped by my friend's bi-annual chocolate and cheese party. The beatiful open fire place home and the Frank Sinatra and the chocolatey martinis made it hard to not get comfortable and have a great time. Besides, they were my friends, so of COURSE I was having fun. And right as the party was climaxing we made our exit to get on to the next party. A 25th birthday party at.... Dave and Busters.
It was a bust alright.
The crowd was mixed between gangsta teen, upset five year olds, and twenty-somethings on the prowl. The loud noises and flashing lights could have given anyone a seizure. And while I really did want to play enough Ski ball to win a gigantic stuffed pink panda, I could see the anxiety in my husband's face mounting. And as soon as he ordered a beer he said, "This isn't really my kind of place". Like I didn't know that the second we walked in the door. We stayed long enough to order the birthday boy his 40 ounce beer and for my husband to finish his normal-sized one and we bolted.
It's too bad we didn't hit the parties in reverse, but the ages of the party hosts would have made that nearly impossible, unless we wanted to pre-party with the twenty-somethings and then later helped clean up the empty chocolate mousse cups while Frank began to skip on the CD player.
After such a rough night ( we were home by eleven ) we had to sleep in. So by eight AM things began to finally yawn awake around here. I convinced my husband to watch Failure to Lauch with me ( thank God at least Matthew M. was in it ) and downed a pot of coffee with the new Cinnamon Bun cream ( which is good, but really, I was just hurrying through to get to my fresh bottle of the delicious and seasonal Pumpkin Spice).
By mid-day we were eating at my MIL's, which is great because not only is the food delicious ( she's a native Greek! ) this also means I didn't have to cook. We made our Thanksgiving plans and somehow I wound up with the pumpkin pies. Not that I don't think I can do it, or mind, really, but I have made so few in my life that I question my ability to make the perfect pie as the meal pinnacle for all the in-laws. The PRESSURE! If you think I am not getting at least three frozen back-ups you are nuts.
With time on our hands we headed to Wal-mart to pick up our hunting licenses for the big hunt next weekend. The man waiting on us, or actually as it turned out, the man we were waiting on, was an immigrant from South Africa. I was fascinated. He told us he lived in a mansion with a company car ( thanks to Hewlett Packard), two swimming pools and two and half acres. We didn't get to what sort of house he has here but he did say he moved here because of the crime, well that and his Grandson and feels compelled to remind his daughter of this frequently. He also told us that he and his wife, even after forty-two years of marriage will start out on a beatuiful day and for no reason get into a fight. Forty-two years!! He said, with exasperation and surprise. He made the experience a great one.
So end over end, the weekend went. A good mixture of activity and now it's Sunday night and I know I will be restless when I try to sleep tonight, because it's Sunday night and that is what happens when I try to capture the relaxed feeling I have had all weekend, but find my thoughts slipping into those of work.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Guffman Is So Not Coming.

Growing up in a small town in the seventies, before the internet, was to me, isolating. I dreamed of Michael Jackson's limo breaking down on the edge of our town. I envisioned him "going for a ride" through our town and noticing me. Pulling over to ask me questions about this quiet place. And then... drum roll, really looking at me. And deciding I was so beautiful that I would need to join him for the rest of his tour. Which of course would lead to my appearance in some videos, then tv shows, and ultimately, the movies. Fame. Wealth. The works.
In reality, I have never liked the stage. I have opted to be somewhat of a loner. I am as vain as I can stand and I could barely accept the attention I received at my wedding, which was all of thirty people. So this dream career as a movie star is really outside my comfort zone. Except for the wealth part. And really, I don't want to be RICH rich, just rich enough to not be in any debt.
Fame is different. Because, really, there are thousands of ways you can BE famous. I think being a famous writer would result in some kind of neurosis. All those NPR interviews. Thick stressing of silly words, "I DO, I DO, feel so DEEPLY of the CHARACTER'S connection to cake BATTER, as the metaphor for LIFE is so SO conslusive!". No thanks.
Fame for sports would be okay, I suppose. But then you would always be... dirty. It's a respectable kind of fame. It takes hard work and dedication. But then what would be the point if you only ever wore yoga pants or tennis skirts? To me, part of the "trade-off" to fame is the wardrobe and the red carpet and the jewels and all that sparkly pink stuff. So famous athlete would never do.
Fame for TV or Movies is just too lonely. Those Hollywood types, even the ones that are just in the "inspiring to be" stage, seem to be so driven and self-motivated, that they can hardly stand to be truly supportive of each other without stepping into a private bathroom and bitching out thier manager for not letting THEM know about the once availabe-but-now-filled role the "friend" got. And then let's not even get INTO the 'ole career is on the decline business. The celebrity has-been reality shows. Because if you are like me when one of those shows is on you sit around and say to yourself, who IS that? And WHY are they doing this awful show?
I don't even let myself consider famous singer or dancer. Those talents are as far away from me as Jupiter. I sing like a tone-deaf man and I dance, well.... I dance like a small town white girl who forgot her rhythm "back at the barn". If you think Elaine is bad, you should see me after four beers and some Euro-tech comes pounding in. Clear the floor ladies and gentlemen, or you MAY get hurt. And oh yeah, my lack of talent has NEVER stopped me from busting down a groove. When people stare I give them my personal catch phrase, " Dancing is a celebration of life, not a competition". And then I give them one of my signature hip-twirl moves, arms above my head, and knees knocked and cocked at an angle only a pretzel maker could have envisioned.
The bottom line is, I don't really think I am cut out for fame. Fortune, maybe, but fame, no way.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

'Tis the Season!

As the recipes in newspapers start to involve all things pumpkin and turkey, as the leaves turn shades of brown and fall off the trees, and as the clock rolls back and the afternoons get increasingly darker, I, my friends, get excited. Very VERY excited.

And it's not the Fall weather, or the suggestion of imminent snow, or the switch to a warmer and cozier and fat-hiding wardrobe as much as it is "The Christmas List".

In my family, the siblings draw names. And because there are many busy working Mom's and a hint of type A personality, the "LISTS" are due by Thanksgiving. And you must submit a list because it's a rule in our family. Or you will be forced to receive something "OFF-list"... and that leads to a cluster-fudge of receipts and returns and frowns on the happiest day of the year, as you enviously leer at the person next you smiling and enjoying a gift they actually wanted.

I am not sure HOW the due date came to be, exactly, although I am guessing it has something to do with a barrage of friendly-with-a-hint-of-impatience e-mail reminders sent out by, well, you know who you are.

And so with one eye on the calendar, I have stepped up the perusal of random shopping sites. Carefully saving my list of possibilities under my Favorites until I decide I officially want it. Where it is then cautiously copied and pasted onto my "List".

And I have found something glorious. Truly glorious. The Staxx ring. SO cute. SO wearable. SO diverse! And you can buy all sorts of parts and kits and colors.

And I can't wait to see the others' lists either. To see what has been pumping up THEIR jam lately.


I am so darn excited today I can almost trick myself into forgetting that I have to attend parent-teacher conferences later. Within 24 four short hours the election will be done. DONE. I cannot wait. I must admit that I am dying to see what happens in grant park tonight- as the votes roll in and no less than 500,000 calm, cool, and collected folks hang idly at the Obama headquarters under circus tents. Bring on the riot gear. Win or lose, I predict it will be total chaos.
Being a special education US History teacher during an election has not made any of this easier. Kids spouting off at the mouth in an UN-educated fashion mimicking parents.
Kids trying to understand the issues and really only caring about the drinking age and abortion rights. Neither of which have any real bearing on my presidential choice.
Kids arguing the merits of having a first black president and what that will mean.
Don't get me wrong, as I recognize my roll is to educate. And I really do try to lead discussions that are thought provoking and two-sided and unbiased.
But it will be pure bliss when I step into my little ballot booth and punch in those choices which are completley mine. Without explanation.
Because sometimes regardless of my efforts, students come from where they come from and no amount of class discussion or eye-opening video or enthusiastic mock election can change attitudes instilled in children since they were born.
During the last election I actually had one of my students say, "Our governemnt sucks, my uncle had to weight EIGHT YEARS to get his section 8."
Yep. Shore did! He did say that! My response? "It only take four to get a degree, so that seemed like a collossal waste of time!"
Either way, I cannot wait to get back to my regular scheduled programming. Because even the SNL skits are starting to get boring.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Sad Goodbye

I awoke on Tuesday at 2:30 AM filled with anxiety, tension, and stress. I could't fall back to sleep. Reading, watching TV, and surfing the internet didn't seem to bring any peace to my restless self and so gave up. Wednesday was therefore, exhausting.
Wednesday night was similar to Tuesday. And my husband asked me what seemed to be stressing me out. I didn't know. Couldn't put my finger on it.
Thursday after school I was meeting my friend Sonja and her five week old baby at a Dunkin Donuts a few suburbs away, and then joining forces with her to make the trek to go and visit our friend on hospice.
We had heard a variety of teary-eyed reports about what to expect. But nothing can prepare you or prevent you from your feelings of seeing your friend laying in a bed, so sick and so... barely there.
She was lucid and intermittently joined into the casual conversations, generally led by her husband, who has seemed to master the art of comforting those who walk into his home to well wish his wife he so obviously deeply loves. Cards and pictures and flowers covered the room, dripped from the walls and were stuffed onto the dresser.
On several ocassions he would ask her if she remembered some detail of an experience they had shared. A type of fish they ate. A name of a resort. An actor in a movie. And each time my friend would smile and give him the answer he sought. I almost cried every time as I wondered what he would do, or how he would remember these details later, when she was gone. How frustrated he might be to not be able to bounce those tiny, seemingly unimportant bits of trivia off of her. But we all know, these things are important. They are the ties that bind us into our relationships. The experiences of creating memories that we share just between ourselves.
When it was time to go, I hesitated. She looked at me and smiled and said, "Have a good school year and take care." And how do you respond to that?
I took her shrunken hand in mine and kissed her and told her to stay comfortable and that I loved her. She loves me too. I had to quickly walk out. I didn't want her family see me shed a tear. I felt like they would think I had no idea what it was like to be them.
When I got back into my own car, I tried to follow my horrible mapquest directions to Jen's house. I had pre-planned a trip to see my niece and nephew, knowing it would cheer me after such a painful goodbye.
And my distress and darkness of the night and bad directions and no GPS system left me in a tangled mess. I was incredibly lost. In every way. When I finally got to the house it was past the kids' bedtimes. I disrupted the evening and got the kids' all riled up.
Eventually I sat with my brother and Jen and had a beer. Finally having a chance to let the evening absorb.
And now I am still not sleeping any better.

Catherine Who?

Earlier in the week, my friend Catherine, via e-mail, had requested some advice about applying to work at a school, of which used to be my employer. I responded with some clarifying questions. So, on Wednesday, when she called, I was not in the least surprised. However, Billy and I were about to embark on an "early voting" adventure and we arranged for a phone call later.

As a side note, the "early voting" fell flat as we walked up to the second floor of city hall, only to find about 300 soccer Moms, toddlers in tote, snaking past the temporary guard rails, out the doors, and winding around the entire second floor. Guestimated wait-time? Hour and a half, minimum. We turned around and walked out. Instead we went to the grocery store.

Time escaped me and before I knew it I needed to make dinner. I texted Catherine to ask if we could push our phone call back until after the dinner hour. No problem, she was going to work out right now anyway.

After dinner was eaten, dishes were cleared, and I was tackling a few other random house chores, my phone rang. Must be Catherine! I ran to get it and missed. I looked at the caller ID to double check and realized the school social worker was calling me. Now, the school social worker and I are friends. I really like her. But we rarely call each other. We text often, but really, unless I am lost on the way to meet her at the police station, due to some kind of assinine student thingy, we don't call. We stick to the texting.

And then, in a moment of pure genius, it dawned on me: I had been texting the school social worker, also named Catherine, not my friend, earlier in the evening. When I double checked my texts I realized the poor social worker must be very worried about me, as the texts to her read like this:

Lori: Can I call you after 6:30 so we can talk?

Social work Catherine: Sure, I am going to work out now, but I will be home by then.

Lori: Okay, good, because I don't want to put this off.

Social work Catherine: No problem Lori.

When I realized my mistake was two-fold, A) My friend who needed advice was most likely feeling very blown off and B) The school social worker was freaking about what could be so wrong, I couldn't figure out who to call first.

After calling both girls and letting them in on my mistake, it crossed my mind that it is so typical of me to take an opportunity to help someone out and in the end upset two girls. Sigh.

It has taken me a good 35 years to realize that I do not have an eye for detail. And that maybe I should stick with the old fashioned wall mounted phone. I seemed to get into a lot less trouble that way.