Friday, July 20, 2018

Something Right

Took the sheets off our bed, and started the laundry. Wil looked at the threadbare mattress pad we've probably had as long as we've been married and said, "There's something wrong with that one." You know how you look at the things around your house so much, you stop seeing them?

I decided he was right, so the next time I was at Target, I treated myself to not the RE, dormitory-level quality, but one up. $35 later, and one mattress pad richer, I decided to run into the bathroom before heading out to do the rest of my many errands.

"Mommy?" a little voice from the stall next to me said.

"Yes?"

"After we wash our hands, will you put your hands over my ears, before you turn on the hand dryer?"

"I'll try."

I came out of the stall, washed my hands, and decided to forego the hand dryer. The woman next to me, without a word, without a glance, did the same thing.

I'm sure that mommy and that extra-sensitive-hearing-kid of hers are in for a ride, but I hope along their route, they are surrounded by extra-sensitive souls.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Let it Be



I recently watched the Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney that's being shared all over Facebook. I loved it, and every thing about it. I giggled. I teared up. I sang. I hummed. I tapped my toe and snapped my fingers. I was into it.

I didn't realize the backstory on the song, "Let it Be," which has always been a favorite of mine. I didn't know it was about a dream Paul had after his mother, Mary, died, in which she comforted him by saying, "Let it be." All this time I thought it was about the Mother Mary. Does it even make a difference? Words of wisdom, are words of wisdom.

While beginning this blog post, my friend Kathleen texted me a picture of what we call a "Mary tree." She didn't know her timing would be perfect, but she knew, you know?

And when the broken-hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be.



Thursday, June 7, 2018

All Just Goin' Home




Tracy Grammer’s song, “Good Life,” runs through my head. Could be because nearly every time I get in my car without Wil, I turn on the CD player and press 7. Before I knew she’d written the song about her dad, it spoke to me.
Our fathers’ stories are different. Her father was 20 when she came along, mine, twice that. Her father dreamed of a one-level ranch, fishing with the dogs, a quiet, country life. I guess I'll never quite know of what my dad dreamed. Twenty-two years ago today, he left the physical world as a mystery, and remains one today.

Eventually, her father got “sober as a mountain and his river turned cool.” I am not sure how sober my father ever got, or how cool his river ever became. 

Her father called her up and they “cried themselves clear.” I don’t think it was within my father’s capabilities to do so. I don’t know that it was within mine, to cry myself clear during the time he was alive, even if he’d tried. Chicken or the egg? 

What strikes me most about the song, is Tracy’s ability to write it from his perspective. There is such love, understanding, and healing that comes through in her lyrics and voice. “It’s forgiveness and grace and I wish you were here.” 

“Let it all go now and wipe it all clean, ain’t no time for regret in the great in-between, it was a hell of a ride and I wish I had known, you can worry, you can wander, but we’re all just goin’ home.” 

My father worried. He wandered. I hope he is in the great in-between, free from both. I hope he feels it was a hell of a ride. I hope that he knows that although we didn’t cry ourselves clean on the phone or in person, or even with actual tears, the process took place. Bit by bit, year by year, memory by memory, wiped clear. No regret. Just love. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Fortunate


The most fortunate are those who have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy.
ABRAHAM H. MASLOW
This is Wil to a T. The basic goods of his life are appreciated again and again, with pleasure, wonder and (loud) ecstasy. They say that ignorance is bliss, but what is truly bliss, is naiveté. His first delight of the morning is climbing back under his covers after being awake for awhile, and telling me what he wants to wear that day. "Ice cream sundae and pomegranate juice." I pull out a pair of khakis, show them to him. "No, that is Italian ice." The game goes on until I've pulled out a combination neither he nor I had any idea he wanted, and both knowing it doesn't even matter.

We laugh.

Similar games go on throughout the day around meals, outings, shows he plans to record and watch. He gets a new cell phone, one that would be considered an antique these days, a simple sliding-front LG I got for $59 on eBay. He names it Larry, short for Lawrence. Customizes the wallpaper, adds six contacts giving them all a nickname, and using only capital letters. I am KIWI. Timmy is WALDPORT. Someone named TUESDAY is added.

"Listen to Larry's ring-tone," he tells me with glee, "call it and listen. You will love Larry's ring-tone."

I loved Larry's ring-tone, made me think of a fiesta, and left me wanting a Margarita.

"Text me, I'll show you how Larry vibrates," he bosses.

"How cute is Larry?" I text.

Larry vibrates, scoots around on the counter.

"DORBS," he texts back.

We laugh.

"I will go to bed at 8:02," he informs. "We will start the process at 7:57, and at 8:02 we will look at the Links."

At 7:57 I join him as he brushes his teeth, swishes with anti-cavity rinse, puts in his retainers, and climbs into bed. The scoreboard clock on his wall flashes 8:02. "Look at the Links!" he exclaims.

"Do you want to say a prayer?"

"Just a tiny one. We pray for Jesus, God is good. Amen."

We laugh.

Good fortune all the way around.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Universal


Catholic Rosary


Buddhist Mala

They say many artists recycle the same theme(s) throughout their body of work. The creative process allows the artist to wrestle with whatever subject(s) they find most compelling, perplexing, illusive.
If the title of "artist" is given to those that create, then writers are artists that shape concepts and quandaries, and try and make meaning - at least for themselves.

One concept I continue to turn over and over, is what is universal? What ties us together? The word catholic means all-embracing, wide, broad-based, eclectic, diverse.

At mass we pray the Nicene Creed. "We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church." We believe in that, a church that is all-embracing, wide, broad-based, eclectic and diverse.

In January, my dear friend, Ruth, and my sister-in-law, Sonam, both lost their beloved fathers, one day apart. In March, I was able to gather with both of them, as they shared their experiences. Ruth's dad, Larry was 90. He had eight children, and so many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I've lost count. A devout Catholic his whole life, a quiet man of faith and service to others. His wife Virginia had died five years before, and as he lay in his Hospice bed in their master bedroom, it was obvious to the 30-plus loved ones holding vigil, that he was catching glimpses of Virginia from the other side, and was peaceful and joyful to reunite. During the last few hours of his life, while in a coma, twice his eyes flew open, with his arms outstretched, a smile on his face. Virginia.

The last words he uttered were, "I am not worthy." Part of the Catholic mass, right before communion, we say, "Lord, I am not worthy to enter under your roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed." Then, he entered under his Lord's roof.

Sonam's dad was living with his wife, and his wife's mother and brother, in a Tibetan refugee camp in India. He went outside and sat in his favorite chair, and was doing his nightly prayers, using his Tibetan mala. Only when he became too still, did his wife realize he had passed, quietly, peacefully, prayerfully.

These two men from opposites sides of the world, completely different backgrounds and experiences, shared that which is universal.




Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Hash




I've been doing a ton of writing lately, almost all of it in my head. Writing while I'm driving, writing while I'm walking alone, writing while I'm showering, sleeping, eating. Sometimes, writing while I'm listening.

At a party, recently, someone made a tiny comment about her husband, and the other women in the conversation, all laughed in solidarity. The woman loves her husband. He's a good husband. She knows it, and every one else knows it, too. A woman whose husband recently died said, "The hardest part of losing my husband is not having him around to complain about." That brought down the house. I came home, wrote down that line to put somewhere, later. Wasn't sure how, or if, it would fit with anything else I had, but knew it was too good not to save.

My dad taught me how to make hash as a child. We slid out the wooden cutting board from under the counter, and clamped the grinder into place, turning the clamp until it was good and tight. He put in leftovers from the fridge: pot roast, potatoes, carrots, onion. He got it started until it got a little easier, then I gave it a go. Turning, turning, turning, the mushy mess landing into the green ceramic bowl - the medium-sized stacking bowl that had been his mother's. Yellow was the big bowl, blue the small.

We took the hash and fried it up in a cast iron skillet, filling the house with cooking odors that took days to fully clear. I don't remember eating the hash - can't pull up a memory of the taste, only how it looked, felt and smelled.

How old was I, then, eight? Nine? My dad moved out when I was eleven, so it was before then. How many times have I thought of that before right now? Zero. Didn't know it was even a memory. The stacking bowls sit on the lower shelf of my lazy Susan. I use them all the time. I used to think if ever there were a fire, they'd be what I grabbed before running out the door. They are precious to me, all that I have from that grandmother I didn't meet. A part of her story that was part of my dad's, and now mine, and my children. Generational.

Memories stack up, there are large, medium and small ones. Sometimes they fit together and make sense, sometimes they get out of order and don't. Sometimes, we pull out one and use it with another, and only after a new order is created, see where the others fit.

Memoir writing is like that. Memories, events, emotions, experiences, words said and remembered, feelings resurrected and revisited. Chopped up, run through the grinders of time and memory, they make hash.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Marian Mist

Got together with my dear friend, Val, yesterday. She's a soul-sister - we dive into the deep end immediately, and don't come up for air for two hours. We share a love and connection with Mary, and both showed up at the restaurant wearing the same Mary blue.

The evening was warm and sunny, our first in what felt like weeks. I walked her to her car, then planned to walk to mine, but the blocks were long and cutting over was not something that was going to be as quick and easy as I'd thought. Oh, well, I thought, what a nice night for a stroll.

I came upon a house with lots going on in the front yard. Red. Blue. Statues. Val and I had just talked about two friends' fathers whom had recently died, one Catholic, one Buddhist, and the many things their holy deaths shared. As I got right in front of the house and looked, I noticed Buddha on the left, in red, and Mary on the right, in blue. I pulled out my phone to take a picture to send to Val, and say, "No wonder Mary had me wandering around looking for my car, she wanted me to see this." Val pulled up right then. 

"Is that Mary?" she said from her driver's seat. 

"Yes! Look what she wanted us to see!"

After spending a few minutes looking, Val offered to drive me to my car, which we passed the first time, too lost in our reverie to even notice it sitting right there.

"Another sign of my dementia!" I said to Val.

"No, you were lost in a Marian Mist," she said.





Saturday, April 7, 2018

Happy Birthday

Today is April 7th. It would be my mother-in-law, Dode's, 90th birthday. A year ago, I was buying two hanging flower baskets and taking them to her apartment in the senior community. I placed both on hooks we'd hung on her patio, visible from her recliner, where she was eating, and sleeping, now.

Her birthday didn't go as planned. Her trip to the beach with her daughter, cancelled. She was in too much pain. Getting into and out of the car, the drive - all too much. Forget about walking on the beach, even getting to the window with a view, would be arduous.

I had learned all the ins-and-outs of how blood does or does not coagulate, and what contributed to that: diet, stress, pain, medication - a recipe whose secret was out-of-grasp. Wild goose chases to find the high-dose Vitamin K, stocking up on leafy green vegetables, painstakingly adjusting her daily pill boxes, cutting her pills carefully and taking all the extra pieces home in a Ziploc bag, so she couldn't possibly take the wrong dose by mistake. Daily trips to the "coag" clinic, extra trips to the lab, involving wheelchairs, extra bodies to help me get her in and out of the car, her nearly-useless legs placed into position on the footrests.

We knew she was dying. We didn't know she would be gone in less than two weeks.

We knew she was stubborn. We didn't know it would, ultimately, be the death of her.

We knew she was sweet. We didn't know that would be the word all the many that helped her those last few days, would use to describe her.

When she took her final ambulance trip, and returning to her apartment was no longer something any of us could consider, I went back for the baskets. I hung them up outside my back door, where I could see them through the windows of the kitchen. In contrast to Dode's view from her chair, my view was from my busy feet, back-and-forth, in-and-out of the kitchen, many times a day.

The baskets made it through the spring, well into the summer. By the end of August, they had lost their blooms, their vitality, they were ready for the compost bin. They had brought Dode a few days' worth of joy, and me many months'. It is time to buy and hang this year's batch. I will pick two that remind me of her - just what she would choose: pink flowers, mostly, perhaps a little yellow or blue. I will water them, fertilize, pinch off the dead "heads." As I walk in and out of my kitchen, opening and shutting the back door many times a day, I will not take for granted my ability to do so. I will send up a prayer of gratitude for the stubborn, sweet woman who welcomed me into her family and into her heart, and ultimately, into her life in a very intimate way.

Happy birthday, Dode. I know you're surrounded by all that, and many of those, whom you loved.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Early Reader

Wil is the proud godfather of Fi, the oldest daughter of our friends, Liz and Steve.. But you can call her Fiferoni, or Fifers, or any other Fi-using word. Liz and Steve now have the two cutest twins in the whole wide world, Amélie and Ramona, but you can call them Millie and Mona, or any other cute names you want. Cute, cute and cute. But even cuter, is how voracious they are as "readers."

I'll admit to having a bias towards reading actual books to your child, as opposed to electronic versions. I think it's important for little hands to hold, turn, touch, physically discover words on the page. Liz posted this adorable video of Amélie, 19+ months, reading:





I must have re-watched that video ten times - it delighted me so. Started thinking about reading, and the value it has in my life. I wouldn't write if I hadn't always loved to read. Some of my most valuable "experiences" have taken place in a book. Now, as I massage my work-in-progress into some sort of shape, I think about all the early readers I have relied upon along the way. I already have my first early reader of this "book" selected, have for a long time, but only informed her of it recently. 

Thank you, Jen, for being someone I can trust to hold my baby in your lap, spend loving time with it, but give me honest feedback on, and point me in whatever directions I need to go next. Thank you for being a trusted mother that will nourish and guide, lead and encourage, and gently correct and redirect when I've lost my way.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Good Sport

We'd had plans to go to a sort-of-nearby "family fun center," Bullwinkle's, for weeks. Mondays are my Wil and Tim day, and Wil takes these very seriously, planning them to the nth degree, weeks in advance. Last week had been the week to go, but a funeral altered that plan - still providing an almost-full Wil and Tim day, but not allowing enough time for driving back and forth to Bullwinkles.

So, yesterday cooperated in every way. Moods were high, the weather perfect. Fortunately, my party planner had Googled and learned Bullwinkle's didn't open until noon, and no one was willing to consider picking up Tim at any time other than the set-in-stone pick-up time. So, having a little time to kill, the party planner came up with a new restaurant for us to try, that would be on the way to Bullwinkle's, and have us arriving at 12:00:00.

Which we did.

It's a chicken/egg question. Is he so precise with time because he's my son, or vice-versa? It's not for everyone, this dialing down your schedule to precise seconds, but we seem to have reached pro-level.

Got the boys their loaded cards to do the arcades, everyone that needed to use the bathroom had found one and used it, and I went to my car to make a quick, but necessary phone call. In the ten minutes I was "gone," Wil had completely spent his day's allotment, and Timmy had lost his card after one swipe.

Re-loaded a bit more on to Wil's card, checked with the front desk and Timmy's card had been found and turned in. All was well with the Bullwinkle's world, and the merriment continued.

After redeeming their tickets for really neat things and a quick milkshake break, we headed to mini-golf. Having the course to ourselves, on a beautiful, early-spring day, was ideal. I was the scorekeeper, the carrier of prizes, and the hander of the milkshake for Timmy, who does not gulp his down in two seconds, as does Wil.

Despite explaining multiple times (over multiple times to a mini-golf course), that the goal was to get the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible, Wil determined the winner would be the one with the highest score. As his score climbed into the 40's, 50's, and eventually, 80's, he grew more and more delighted. "Timmy is being a really good sport about losing!" he exclaimed, as his score soon doubled that of Tim's.

Long about Hole 14, it occurred to me that maybe he was the one with the right idea. If the arbitrary rules and goals don't work for you, and adjusting them in a way that does, and nobody gets hurt, everyone turns out a winner.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Inspired



"Less is More #9"

Candace Primack, had a new show opening on Sunday, and with our friends, Laurie and Nancy, I went to see it. We went to support Candace, and to be inspired. It's tough to re-launch yourself after 50  - we're tired, and the world has changed a lot since we were doing our thing before marriage, children, and the decades-long demands on our energies. Now that her two daughters are both away at college, she has exploded, creatively. 

One painting in her show was called, "Less is More #9." "That looks like Wil's writing," I told her, noticing the "MORE" and the "LOVE" free-floating.

"Maybe he inspired me," she said. Candace has known Wil since he and her oldest daughter were in afternoon kindergarten together. Ten kids, they knew each other well. He went on to high school with many of those same kids, including Candace's daughter. Candace has personal experience, my stories, and those of her daughters' and their friends'. She is rich in the front and back story of all things Wil.

Later, I emailed her a sampling of his writing I'd kept, she wrote back, "That's so Cy Twombly!" That, naturally, sent me down the Cy Twombly rabbit hole. I learned he did a series of eight pieces, consisting solely of the word, "Virgil." Virgil was my grandfather's name, my father's father, whom I never met. No accidents.



(Artist: Cy Twombly)

A few nights ago, when putting Wil to bed, I said, "Do you want to say a prayer?"

I expected him to give me his usual, "I'm out," which comes with a lot of dramatic emphasis - part of his larger schtick. Instead, he said, "If today you hear His words, harden not your heart." It had been the responsorial at the student mass that day, and so it was in his head, but it felt like a message meant just for me.

It's very easy to harden our hearts, at times, it even feels necessary. But when we hear His/Her/Truth words, we are asked to soften and open our hearts - to love... more.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

When Completeness Comes



My friend, Joyce, and I went to see our friend, Candace Primack in her art studio, yesterday. I came home with this, entitled: "1 Corinthians 13." My awesome photography skills don't do this justice. You will need to zoom in, or see it in person, to appreciate the fact that the Bible passage is written in white, throughout the canvas, with the abstractions overlaid.

This is my ninth Candace original, and I keep saying my next one will be from her Contemplative Series. However, I keep coming back to her Abstract Brights.

After I got home and hung it in its perfect spot, I Googled 1 Corinthians 13 to refresh my memory.
"... but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears." I had not paid attention to that particular phrase before. I've heard 1 Corinthians 13 at church, and at wedding ceremonies, over and over again, yet it was only yesterday that I "heard" them.

Three friends in five days, have lost their beloved fathers. All three were sweet and kind, cherished by their spouses, children, extended family and friends. In two cases, it is the second parent to go - the end of an era, in a way, a "completeness."

I am going to spend time with my abstract bright, in contemplation, today. Words like "part," and "completeness," and of course the biggies: faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of these is love.



1 Corinthians 13 (NIV): 
1If I speak in the tongues13:1 Or languages of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,13:3 Some manuscripts body to the flames but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Returning



Ten days into the new year, and I think Christmas 2017 is nearly in the rearview mirror. The tree is down. The boxes, put away. The wreath carefully deconstructed and the wires thrown away, the greenery placed in the compost bin.

The items that didn't fit, have been returned. The pants that did, have been hemmed. Thank you cards are out.

The "vending machine" from Santa, filled with Tropicana fruit punch, was not what the recipient had in mind. It first sat in our living room, quickly unplugged, for a week. When asked where he might like to have it, he suggested his sister's old room - a room he never goes in.

"It's okay to say you appreciate the gift from Santa, but would like to pass it on," we said.

Never admitting it wasn't doing the trick, he simply ignored it altogether. I've been in touch with Santa, and he's agreed to take it back, pass it onto a child that would really love it.

January is the month of putting away, cleaning up, clearing. As the decorations went away, and our usual stuff came back out, I saw just how dingy, faded, worn-out some of it was. It's time to replace, or eliminate -- to return.

Monday, January 1, 2018

A New Year

Yesterday was our anniversary - 26 years of just about everything life can throw at a couple. The tenacity alone is worthy of celebration. 

We'd celebrated a few days earlier when Wil was spending the night first with Timmy, then with my mom, giving us a little breather in the high vibration joy that pulses throughout our house on a normal day, and up a few notches at Christmas.

Wil texted me Saturday night, " I have a anniversary suprisenfor u tomorrow morning Havent done it yet."

Then, "Just finished hashtag youll choke up a bit"

Then, the next morning, "ARE YOU READY TO CHOCK UP I'LL SEE YA IN ABOUT 25 MINTUES"

I got frequent updates as to his ETA, and right on schedule, he pulled up on his bike, I opened the back door, and he handed me a piece of folded up, yellow tablet paper. "A SONG LYRIC FOR CARE BEAR YOU TAUGHT ME EVERYTHING AND EVERYTHING YOU'VE GIVEN ME I ALWAYS KEEP INSIDE ME YOU'LL CHOKE UP LOVE WILSON," taken from the Boyz 2 Men song, "A Song for Mama."


I'm not sure how the note pertains to our anniversary, but it does. Maybe he's conceding - despite his best and sustained efforts, he did not tear us apart.

Here's to a new year, for all of us. For those torn apart. For those in need of being put back together. For those that are wounded, discouraged, and weary. For those that have a light to shine in others' darkness. For those with joy so intense and palpable the regular folk need small breaks from it.

For all.

Amen.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Hard to Tuna

Wil came bounding down the stairs yesterday morning, entering the room where I was snuggled with Flicka, drinking coffee, and attempting to store up on enough quiet to last throughout the day. "It's Christmas Eve Eve. It's double eve."

His goal this year, is to drive poor Santa to ruin. He emailed him early in the season, requesting a billion dollar iTunes gift card, and a vending machine filled with Tropicana fruit punch. Since then, he's added such items as a Mariner Moose and a Clapper.

"We're making cinnamon rolls for Santa tomorrow, and hot chocolate. Coffee isn't really a night drink. He gets enough cookies."

With Christmas Eve being on a Sunday, he's got even more masses to attend than his usual four-a-week. The excitement is almost more than he, or we, can bear.

When the kids were little, STM used to tell them what his father had told him when he was all wound up, "Simmer down now." Wil heard it as, "Simmer tuna," and we've since shortened the whole expression to simply, "Tuna."

STM and I were discussing the second place winner of "Survivor," and her self-proclaimed Type A personality. "She needs to learn to be more Type T, tuna," he said.

There will be no tuna-ing for any of us today, as we are swept up into the absolute joy of a pure heart, a believing soul, the epitome of the Christmas spirit. If I could bottle his and share it with each of you, I would.

Just a drop would do ya.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Sample

Took Wil and Timmy Christmas shopping at the mall, yesterday. Mind you, not the one closest to our house, but the one furthest. First stop: Babies R Us to buy Baby Magic hair and body wash - the purple kind. The other stores we've tried on the latest wild goose chase, did not carry purple. Purple is a must. Purple is the preferred color of all things these days.

Timmy found a rubber duck he needed, we found the purple Baby Magic, and on we went to the next leg of our quest. After getting the boys fed and going to the first store all together to help navigate, we found a meeting spot with comfy chairs, right outside a candy store. I sat there with my book while they took off in search of gifts for others. There were two rules to the plan: stick together, and don't buy anything for yourselves.

A text from Timmy arrived moments later, with a photo. "For Mom?" I won't tell you what it was, because Kim is reading this, and we want her to be v surprised on Christmas morning. But, I was proud of Timmy for finding something for his mom, first thing. I texted back that I thought she'd love it, and didn't hear from them for another half hour.

Deciding they were good for a little bit, I roved around the mall just browsing. Didn't know if I had two minutes or two hours before they'd be ready to go, so didn't want to get too invested in what I was doing. Having the mind set of window shopping was surprisingly peaceful, I wasn't there to buy, or find, or accomplish anything, I was just there to observe.

Got back to the comfy chair, and the candy store clerk didn't have any customers, apparently. She was outside the doors with a tray of samples. Her white apron, pulled-back hair and gloved hands made her look very official. "Hi! Would you like to try a sample?" she asked each person or couple walking by. "Would you like to try a sample?" "Hi, would you like to try a sample?" Over and over again she asked, with very few takers. She got a few no-thank-yous, but mostly she got hurried people passing by, totally ignoring her.

The mall was busy. Her question, constant. Impossible to read my book and I didn't want to move spots, so I closed the book, and just watched the whole thing. About every 20th time she asked, she got a taker. Sometimes, someone would even cross over the path of shoppers to seek her out, and she seemed thrilled to offer them a cherry-flavored gummy bear. Never once when I was watching, did her sample turn into a sale. Nobody entered the store. She was, by many accounts, unsuccessful in getting business.

Sometimes trying to get what we want, or think we want, feels futile. We turn over rocks. We make attempts, tweak our approach, try again. Nothing. Sometimes we get a taker, someone that throws us a bone to let us know that Universe hears us, our efforts are not all for naught. Sometimes we even get those that go out of their way to cross our path and make our dreams come true.

The boys bounded back and interrupted my reverie. Timmy had the gift for his mom and one for himself. He had, however, resisted buying several more things for himself that he really, really wanted. Wil had bought Kim a present, also. And four for Jer, his two-and-a-half-year-old "son," the bear. "You know he's stuffed," he responds when people ask if Jer is real.

But Jer is real, and Jer is going to have a great Christmas this year. So is Kim. I hope the lady at the candy store does, too.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Favorites

It first happened on Wednesday, when I ran into the store to buy a few items, and swung by the pharmacy to see if Sally was there. The last time I'd been in to get a prescription, she told me she was retiring. "Two weeks. Bring the big guy in to say goodbye."

"We came to give you a hug," we said, as she finished up with her customer.

"I'll take it!" she said.

"When's your last day?"

"Today!"

"We're going to miss you, Sally," I said.

"I'm going to miss you guys, too. You're two of my favorites."

It happened again yesterday, I had an email exchange, and she ended it with, "I'm not supposed to say this, but you guys are two of my favorites."

My ego was loving it, to be chosen, singled out, favored. All the poor schmucks that had not made the list of favorites - what a shame. But then I started thinking about the two women that made the comments - they treat everyone as though they are their favorites. They are kind, caring, compassionate, engaged, and present to everyone they're with.

No wonder they are two of my favorites.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Gaining and Losing

The little tiny one-hour time change, is really throwing me off. As I looked at the clock last night, 10:45, 12:11, 2:33, and finally giving into morning at 3:30, I thought how often it's harder to gain, than to lose.

I used to look forward to that extra hour of sleep, it felt so luxurious, so indulgent, so necessary.

My friend told me that she is often too tired to put her clean sheets back on the bed all the way, before climbing into bed, exhausted.

I had years of that type of exhaustion, where the days were just one long, brutal moment after another.

Years.

When did the years turn the corner?

When did I?

When did gaining time become a "problem?"

I'm re-listening to Eckhart Tolle's Stillness Speaks. If you're looking for wisdom from a modern-day enlightened being, you need look no further.

The extra time is for stillness. It is for "nothing," it is a gift, handed with an open hand, to be used carefully, and with gentle awareness.




Wednesday, October 11, 2017

We Got You



I'm making my way through Caroline Myss' audio version of Entering the Castle, again. Nine disks of Caroline kicking my ass. I can only take it for short bursts of time. Caroline don't mess. She is direct, blunt, bossy, often downright nasty. Think: Judge Judy.

Entering the Castle is the exploration of Teresa of Avila's work, 500 years ago.

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Teresa was a mystic. She was a promoter of reform and prayer. She outlined the deep interior of the soul the "castles," and the experiences within.

Our priest is speaking more on the topic of prayer these days, and has initiated "Name Tag Sundays" once-a-month. Everyone gets a name tag when they enter church, and at the end of Mass, you are to switch with someone you don't know (tough for Wil, he knows everyone), and pray for that person for the next month.

While switching name tags, asking someone to pray for you can be awkward and uncomfortable, it is so powerful. And such an honor.

I've got the Marys going for Maggie this month. Maggie has me.

We have each other.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tribal Love


Some of my nearest and dearest got together yesterday, to celebrate our beloved Nancy's birthday. Together we laugh. We cry. We share. We vent. We rejoice. We hold one another's confidences, fears, triumphs, joys and struggles. We prayerfully support each other, and those forms of prayer are as varied as we are.

When three hours feels like three minutes, that is one of life's greatest pleasures.

When the world seems to be falling down around us, and it's easy to despair, we need each other more than ever. To break bread together, raise a glass and share in deep love and respect, is healing and holy.

Here's to turning another year wiser.

Here's to turning towards one another in our homes, communities and greater world.

Here's to turning up the love.






Thursday, September 14, 2017

Aging

"The dog is outside," my husband informs me, as he walks through the kitchen one last time, before going to work, and happens to see the poor dog on the back porch.

"Please let her in," I reply.

"How long has she been out there?" he asks.

"I don't know - 15 minutes?"

Getting defensive I say, "It's nothing short of a miracle that I'm only as crazy as I am, and not any crazier. I can't hold a thought in my head, and it doesn't help that try as I might, I'm constantly interrupted with absolute minutiae."

We laugh.

"Blog that," he says.

And it's true. I should be a lot crazier. 

Poor Flicka Link comes in, after waiting way too long at the door, patient and obedient as ever. 

I see Flicka aging almost by the day, now. I saw that with my mother-in-law, too, each time I saw her that last year of life, she was noticeably older. It's like that first dramatic year of life, in reverse. 

We have non-slip rug pads on all the stairs - inside and out. She sometimes needs help getting up and down them, and we keep that to a bare minimum of times each day. Next step will be moving a twin mattress to the floor of the living room, and sleeping in there with her. She needs to sleep next to me, and I need to fulfill that need. 

Flicka has had a long life of faithful service, some we know the details about, and some we don't. She can hardly see due to cataracts, and has trouble hearing. I think there may be some dementia going on - she seems confused. She is full of large, benign tumors, and her legs give out on her. She could, ironically, use a guide dog right about now. 

I will be her guide.



Sunday, September 10, 2017

We are Them


Been in close communication with my friend and yours, Ilonka Michelle O'Neil. Ilonka lives in Florida, and I've been worried sick about how Irma is going to affect her. Her husband and kids are locked down at the hospital, where her husband works. She is home alone with the dogs, being the warrior and brave soul that she is. 

She posted on Facebook this morning, assuring us she was okay, providing an update, and ending with: 


"Sometime today turn off The Weather Channel/news. Take a break from it. Instead maybe sit quietly and think about our beautiful earth and what she is trying to tell us? Fire. Wind. Water. Smoke. Earthquakes. 

Let's ask her what she needs. Let's finally listen."



Wrote an email to Suzanne Finnamore, who suggested I post the email to my blog. Here is our exchange:

Sat with Mary this morning in my closet, and drew a card. Drew Our Lady of Sacred Sisterhood from the deck Mother Mary Oracle Cards The question in my heart was: How do we respond to what our Mother Earth is trying to tell us? The fires. The hurricanes. The earthquakes. It feels like since the eclipse, all hell has broken loose. I feel like Trump is accelerating the going-to-hell process, but we were headed there anyway. It’s so easy to despair, to retreat, to rage against “them.”

But what can we do? I’ve been listening to more of Charles Eisenstein, he seems to me to be one of the smartest and wisest thought leaders of our times. 

I feel that the “second coming” I heard about all throughout my childhood, is here. Now, I believe that to be our call to awaken. It’s the Christ in us, that is “coming,” the best of us, our true selves at the soul level, that must arise. It’s going to be the feminine energy that overcomes all the destructive male energy that’s gotten us where we are today, in my opinion.

Have you been spending time with the oracle cards? What does Mary say to you these days?



Her reply: 

You know what Mary says?


We are them.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Line of Totality


Got our glasses.

Got our outdoor chairs all wiped off and in formation.

Got the makings of mimosas, lattes, and sweet treats.

We are ready to gather and watch the solar eclipse, this morning. We are not along the line of totality, but we are close enough. Close enough that we couldn't possibly be bothered to drive, camp, be with the throngs a few hours away, that will be. Over a million tourists are expected in Oregon today. No, thanks, we will be in our backyard, quite happy with near totality.

I have a cousin getting married. She's actually more like a niece. She wants us to provide her with advice for marriage and relationships. When we come to her bridal shower, we will bring a favorite recipe, and this advice.

I am nearly obsessed these days with the concept of long-term marriage, and a book lies within me on the subject. I am fascinated, intrigued, confused, inspired, in awe, in solidarity, in a state of wonder that anyone gets married, and stays married for 30, 40, 50 or more years.

A miracle? Were they lucky? Tenacious? Blessed? Stubborn? Afraid? Brave? All of the above?

These are the questions that run through my mind.

I've been taking notes and gathering them into one place so I can compose just what it is I want to say to my cousin/niece. I asked my husband of 25 years, "What advice do you have for a couple just getting married?"

"Don't be a dick. Don't be a pussy" he said, the words sliding off his tongue as though he'd been preparing for my question.

Could it be as simple as that?

He is an over-simplifier, a black-and-white thinker, a put-it-in-this-box-or-that-one-but-never-a-third type of guy.

Grey might be my favorite color.

I strive to find and walk the middle path. When I get in my car and it's either too hot or too cold, I get it cooler or warmer, find the place I'm comfortable, and then dial it up or down - gradually. My husband turns it to full-blast hot or cold and then off.

Marriage lies along the line of totality. Through the course of a long-term marriage, we eclipse each other, block out the other's light, move into darkness, lightness, sometimes letting the other shine, sometimes making it impossible. That movement, that dance, that back-and-forth between light and dark is where the lessons lie, and ultimately, the love.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sustain

My son has held a huge fascination for the ice cream truck, for as long as I can remember. Seven years? Ten? Longer? “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” “The Entertainer,” “Little Brown Jug,” “Turkey in the Straw,” get hummed, sung, pulled up over and over on YouTube, and played on the piano. Right hand plays the tune perfectly; left hand bangs the bass clef keys sometimes making a harmonious combination, mostly not. Right foot planted on the right pedal, the sustain pedal, also known as the damper, or the loud pedal. The sustain pedal lets all the notes on the piano resonate after you lift your fingers from the keys, forcing the notes to echo and overlap.

Much of our summer days are spent in anticipation of the ice cream truck, When might it show up? What will my son choose? Do I want one, too? Which one? If I hear the truck before he does, I throw on shoes and run wildly into the street to find it, wave it down, and beg the driver to come to our house. If he hears it before me, it’s too late: there isn’t enough time for him to come find me, tell me, and have me track it down before it takes a different, torturous alternative route. As whichever song plays in the distance, he asks me the impossible: Will it come back to our house? When? Where is it now?

I would love to have the answers to these, and other of life’s big questions. I don’t. I can only guess. What I have come to understand is that guessing doesn’t help ease the anxiety around the questions - it may for a second, until the guess proves inaccurate. It appeases only temporarily, and then the unease of uncertainty, bobs right back up to the surface.

Trying to answer the unanswerable, is to keep your foot on the sustain pedal, it forces the notes of anxiety to echo and overlap.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Heat Wave

The instrument in my car reads the outdoor temperature as 73. It read it when it was 53. It read it when it was 93. It will probably read it when it hits 103. It has been dead-on reliable for the three years I've had the car, but now, during our current heat wave, it's off.

No accidents?

Could it be the Universe telling me, Who cares?

Or how about, It's only as hot as you think it is.

Or maybe this, Pretend it's 73.

I don't do well in the heat. Never have, never will, and am all done apologizing for that. There is a physical response to heat that is undeniable. I can take the cold all day long and twice on Sundays. I actually thrive in it. My husband says it's my Scandinavian heritage.

Who cares?

It's only as hot or as cold as I think it is.

Pretend, pretend, pretend.




Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Basement

I hate my basement, and everything about my basement. First of all, it's a basement. I don't like them. Never have, never will. They are so basementy. They are below. They tend to be dark, dank, spooky, even.

Secondly, my husband had the great idea of painting the concrete floor, red. I am not fond of red, as a rule, and the paint is chipped, dirty, uneven, and very, very red. You just can't forget for a minute that you are in a room with a red floor, and that alone is enough to make me scarcely venture in.

Ours is too hot in the summer, and too cold in the winter. At Christmastime I use ours to store, organize and wrap gifts. I have to use a space heater and wear a coat. In the summer it's sweltering. Fans are required, then they blow stuff around and that just makes me mad.

On top of the red floor, we have two hideous orange metal shelf thingies. They belonged to my dad. I didn't like them then, and my feelings haven't changed. Not sure what I was thinking when I arranged to haul them up from Eugene 21 years ago - probably in the midst of postpartum and who-knows-what-else. may have thought they were practical. Always fall for that one. Surely, I could forget they were orange. I could forget they used to hold all kinds of things I didn't want to be reminded of that they once held: dozens of used coffee cups, someone else's weird dental work, every cover/binder to every paper his students had ever turned in. I could forget he was a hoarder and those orange shelving units proved it.

But I haven't forgotten.

I think I have that hoarding tendency, but the neat freak in me wins out in the end. I hang onto things for sentimental reasons, and as though there will be a test someday, and I need to prove I was "there."

I haven't taught a day (strictly speaking) in 18 years. I gave away a ton of my teaching materials long ago, but held onto my faves. As all teachers know, you put a billion extra hours into creating meaningful lessons and activities for your kids, and to just dump them, ain't right. None-the-less, a lot has changed in education in the last 18 years, and my stuff - even the faves - are out-of-date. I pawned off what I could to a friend that still teaches, and the rest I've been going through. Can't just grab it all and throw it in the recycling bin, too many paper clips, overhead projector sheets, brads and clasps, things of the past.

My faves have amounted to two giant recycling bins worth of paper. One went out last week, one will go out this. I gave away three totes full of books at the neighborhood garage sales, and what wasn't taken, went into the various Free Little Libraries in my neighborhood. Those were just my young adult books that I could part with. Don't worry, I have more.

I've been stabbing at the orange shelving unit which held the teaching materials, all summer long. I'm done. The one next to it which houses way too many poorly organized photo albums, is mid-way through being dealt with.

In the basement is a ping-pong table wannabe. It's no good for playing ping-pong, but it's excellent for storing crap under, and sorting things on top of. We had a toilet flood in February, and in June we smelled something funny in the pantry... mold. The ping-pong table has held all the pantry items while the pantry got sledge hammered and re-built, after treating the mold.

As I put away the last of the pantry items and switched the table over to teaching material sorting, today, I thought how like our lives is that table. We all need a place to sort things out, spread them around, put them into piles and see what's what. The table can only really work best, when one mess is on it at a time. No room for both the pantry items and the teaching materials. No room for both the photo albums and the books.

For some of us, that "place" is meditation. For some, yoga. For some, time with a soulmate. For some, a combination or none of the above. Maybe it's solitude, or a long drive. We all have a "basement" and we all need to sort it out from time-to-time.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Complimentary Colors




I took art in high school and college. I am no artist, but I appreciate it, and have a strong need to be surrounded by it. I admire the artistic and creative mind - I have neither. It's no coincidence that I write memoir, and not fiction. Fantasy? Forget about it.

One thing that has stuck with me from an early art lesson, is the way colors work with one another. Freshman year in high school we had to create a color wheel, and we learned all about primary, secondary, tertiary and complementary colors. The traditional red and green of Christmas are complimentary. The preppie pink and green are complimentary. My favorite combination these days, is blue and orange. On my denim-covered furniture, rest orange accent pillows. I have orange shoes, belt, and could use a jacket.

I've been thinking a lot about long-term marriage. I look around at the couples I know that have been married 20, 25, even 30 or more years, and wonder sometimes, If I knew each of these people, separately, would I ever have put them together? Opposites seem to attract in many cases.

I do know couples that seem to be cut from the same cloth, totally simpatico, sharing the same interests, priorities, styles and ways of being. They seem to be the exception to the rule. And, let's just be honest, tend to be second marriages.

I think what's important to remember when butting up against your opposite, is that while their approach/method/response is not like yours, it can serve as a compliment.

When we re-paint our kitchen, I am thinking of going with white. White walls, trim, cupboards, countertop. Monochromatic. It will make a nice backdrop to our lives and personalities, that are rich with colors that compliment.


Friday, July 14, 2017

21-er


Twenty-one years ago today, I started the day looking like that, and ended the day looking like this:



What would I say to my younger self?

I recently watched a "Super Soul Sunday" in which Oprah took clips from several interviews, and you heard guest after guest answer that very question. Elizabeth Gilbert said, "There's nothing I would have said to my younger self, because she wouldn't have listened."

Would I have listened?

If I'd have told her to buckle up, it's going to get bumpy. Pace yourself. Let the small things go. Just about everything is a small thing, would she have listened?

If I'd have told her her whole life is about to profoundly change, and there will be no going back. There will only be Then and After Then, would she have listened?

If I'd have told her she's stronger than she thinks, can endure more, has more patience and sheer tenacity than she ever thought possible, would she have listened?

If I'd told her she can love more powerfully, wholly, profoundly than ever before, would she have listened?

If I'd told her she is not alone, that while her situation would be isolating, never was she alone, would she have listened?

If I'd told her that the one that cried and cried and cried some more, to the point she thought he'd never stop, would make her belly laugh every day for years and years, would she have listened?

Is there really any point in this exercise?

We can't go back, we can't tell our old selves anything. What we can do, is try now to listen to our future selves. What is she trying to tell me from her vantage point? What do I know in my heart of heart, believe in my soul, feel in my bones?

We can listen to that.

We must.



Saturday, July 8, 2017

Quotient

Not a single rubber tip remains on any of the door stops. Surreptitiously, one-at-a-time, they have all been removed and discarded.

I don't know why.

I occasionally find one, shoved under a bed, or tucked at the back of a drawer. I replace it. I wait. I watch. And again, it disappears.

There will be no peace until each of the door stops are without tips.

I hear a lot about Tropicana fruit punch and orange cream-flavored foods these days. Many hours are spent in the pursuit of them: time on the Internet, MapQuest consulted to find the stores that carry the items-of-the-month. Driving time, shopping, more discussion, then eventually, me finding good homes for the items we went in full search of, but were never intended to actually be consumed.

I've been thinking a lot about the subject of intelligence. We live in a culture that throws around words like "stupid," "dumb," "idiot," "foolish," with much smugness and little awareness.

The message is strong, it is loud, it is constant, and it is offensive to me. High intelligence is good, low intelligence is bad.

There is nothing "smart" about making others feel "dumb."

There is nothing "intelligent" about letting everyone know just how "intelligent" you are.

I'm grateful to those that consider intelligence in a multitude of ways: emotionally, socially, spiritually, relationally.

I'm grateful to those that comprehend the Beatitudes.

I'm grateful that rubber tips and fruit punch have taught me more than anything.




Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Leaving the Sandlot

I'm going to a writing retreat in August, led by an author I've not known a whole lot about until recently. It's one of those stories where everything came together quickly and easily, and I just knew it was meant to be.

I've been on other writing retreats, with mixed results. I guess all of that is coming up now in my sub-conscious, because last night I dreamed I was at my future retreat, but a former teacher was hovering nearby. I came to understand she was using my writing for her students to workshop. All kinds of boundaries were crossed and I felt there was little to nothing I could do about it.


Then, I spotted on an end table, a book I'd apparently written, Leaving the Sandlot. I could see the white jacket, the blue lettering, my name on the spine.

I woke up and repeated the title in my head a few times, so I wouldn't forget. Such a weird title. A sandlot? My only familiarity with that word is with some kids' movie, made before I was even a parent, and taking place before I was even born.


Maybe the message is in the word "leaving."

Maybe the message is in the definition of sandlot: a piece of unoccupied land used by children for games.

Maybe the message is in the combo, moving away from that which is unoccupied.



Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ode to a Father

I'm writing this on the 21st anniversary of my own father's death. That death was both the end and a beginning, as is always the case. An end to the struggles my father had, created, and all the ways those struggles rippled. His death brought forth the opportunity to put a period at the end of that story, and begin the process of healing, re-evaluation, and ultimately, compassion and forgiveness.

I knew what kind of father I would choose for my own children. Not only would my ultimate husband and father to my kids be addiction-free, he would be funny. He would be kind. He would be a good provider. He would be intentional in his parenting. He would co-parent. He would be heavily invested and involved in the emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being of our kids.

I didn't know that between our two children we would face autism spectrum disorder, eczema, flat feet, scoliosis, pectus excavatum ("funnel chest"), secondary anorexia, amblyopia, depression, anxiety, OCD, allergies, ADHD, and those are just the ones that are share-able and on the tip of my tongue.

I didn't know there were that many kinds of therapists.

I didn't know that no matter how much we earned and saved, our kids' needs would surpass whatever we had.

I didn't know that my ability to earn would be cut short, and my husband's ability would have to magically increase.

I didn't know that smoke, mirrors, and pulling rabbits out of hats, was required.

I didn't know that instead of throwing a ball in the backyard, my husband would be down on his knees doing Floortime.

I didn't know that instead of coaching one of his own kids in the sport he loved, excelled in and lived for for many years, he would coach other people's kids, and I would stay home with ours.

I didn't know that instead of taking trips, recreating, having adventures, like he had hoped and dreamed, he would make candles in the basement, watch endless reels of Elmo singing, "Yo, Five," and listen for the ice cream truck.

I didn't know that instead of going, having, seeing and doing, he would stay, go without, miss and skip.

I didn't know that a refusal to quit, perseverance, fortitude, stamina and sheer grit (all the same things that made him a successful athlete) would be the biggest job requirements.

I didn't know that humor wasn't a bonus, it was essential.

What I know now, is there is nothing like having both your kids working in the fields they love, and thriving. To see them earn their own money, and generously share it with others, is one of life's greatest joys. To witness them being kind, funny, helpful, thoughtful and good, is the truest reward.

What I know is I got the father for my children I wanted, and they needed, and we are blessed.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Surrender


“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
—George Orwell

Was looking for a quotation that said something along the lines of editors are those who know a lot about writing, but aren't cursed with the need to write. Couldn't find it. Found this one, instead. Love it, and everything about it.

Chicken or egg? Does writing drive you mad, or do you have to start off mad to write?

I have come to understand that when you're in the active writing stage, you're writing when you're dreaming. You're writing when you're reading. You're writing when you're walking the dog, pulling the weeds, running the errands. You're always "writing." It's there. This "being" is a necessary and burdensome presence you just can't shake.

I have lists on my phone, in my car, by the bed, taped to the computer. Everything is material, or possible material. Snippets of overheard conversations, memories, thoughts, wishes, lies and dreams.

I'm with you, George, one would never undertake such a thing unless driven - there is no resisting nor understanding, there is only surrender.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Excused

Wil turns 21 a month from tomorrow. Plans are underway for a big backyard party (if you'd like to come, consider yourself invited). As was the case when he was turning 18, I felt the need to celebrate, to usher in the milestone with hoopla and fanfare, and rejoice.

Slim to no chance he will partake in alcohol, on his birthday or otherwise. I'll get back to you whether or not he begins taking the wine at communion. This birthday has nothing to do with his legal right to buy or consume alcohol.

"I'm in my early 20's," he said to me, yesterday. At first I thought that came out of nowhere, but then realized we'd been previously discussing how old the others were in his music class. His friend, Timmy, had said, "I think the average age is 30."

Wil, Timmy and I have a standing Monday date. We pick up Timmy around 9:30, give or take, and go to a convenience store of Wil's choosing. Then, there is usually another random store picked out for a random reason, then we go to lunch at... a random restaurant. Then, we go to their class, and while they are otherwise engaged for one hour, I sip on an iced decaf latte and read a good book. I drink deeply from the latte, the literature, and the quiet, because then it's back in the car with two boys that both want to tell me different things at the same time, and I carry on two parallel conversations and my mind nearly explodes in a matter of minutes.

Yesterday, the random store was Target. We all know I'm a big fan of Target, and couldn't help but feel that Wil was throwing me a bone. They shopped for the things that matter to them: Wil, snacks, Timmy, Legos. I shopped for the things that "matter" to me: compostable garbage bags, an inkjet, and throw pillows. The rule is they have to stick together, and keep their phones on. We text each other with updates, and select a time to meet at the check stands.

When I got to the check stands, Timmy had already checked out. Wil was standing there, looking a bit lost and confused. He'd checked out, but hadn't paid. He got all the way through before realizing he had no money on him. He explained that his mom was in the store and would be there in a minute to pay, and I was, and I did.

But. How did he not get that you have to both have money and enough? I'd stopped having him carry a wallet when he lost it for the millionth time. Instead, I send him out into the world with a Ziploc with just enough to get what he "needs," but not enough to devastate him when and if he loses it. Because we were together and that wasn't the plan for them to check out without me, I hadn't done that. He had not processed that, and I was startled to realize the utter lack of awareness around that.

Later, when I went to get the mail, he'd received something from the circuit courts. I opened it after Timmy left, and saw that he'd been summoned for jury duty, on his 21st birthday. I read through the list of justifiable excuses, and no where was an option for disability. Instead, there was information about accommodations made for those with disabilities, specifically, mobility, vision or hearing.

No amount of accommodations were going to make Wil jury material. I fired off a letter, attached my Letters of Guardianship, and there's no doubt he will be excused.

I struggle to find that sweet spot between what he can do and what he should do. Too often, I make life easy for him, because it makes it easier for me.

Too many excuses.





Monday, June 12, 2017

You're Bald

I'm hearing the soft call of the muse, again, and I'm loving it. It's hard to sense the muse when you're v busy watching bad TV, and otherwise distracted.

Had my cards read, and the woman said, "You're allowing distractions to keep you from doing what you want and need to be doing in the world."

Told my friends, Terry and Greg about that, Greg responded, "Hope you didn't pay too much for that reading."

Sometimes we have to pay too much for a reading, to have someone point out the obvious.

How is it we don't see the obvious, in ourselves, but if you're like me, you're super good at observing it in others?

We have a long-time joke around our house, where we place our hands on either sides of our mouth, and shout at another, "YOU'RE BALD!" when they don't seem to get the obvious. Comes from "Seinfeld," of course, the episode where George won't date a bald woman, and Elaine has to point out to George the irony.

Had lunch yesterday with two very dear and long-time friends (almost 30 years). We have had that trusted, sacred circle of friendship surrounding us and allowing us to truly share. One had the nerve to up and move three hours away, so now, when she comes to town, we gather. Although, in reality, we probably aren't getting together that much less frequently, it feels different. Just knowing she's not in town feels weird, and having her back in town feels like a reunion.

Seeing her bask in her new life of retirement and relocation, was glorious. Came home on such a high from our time together, and from seeing her so visibly happy, after years and years of struggle, in one way(s) or another.

When I got home, I returned to two men who had not had good days. Neither were happy.

They may not have had good days had I stayed home, either. They were upset for different reasons, having nothing to do with me, but yet that feeling that had I been there, they would both have been happier, remained.

How do we beckon the muse, fill up our tanks, and keep everyone else in their boats sailing on smooth seas? Must one be sacrificed for another? Is it our job to build their boats, place them on them and control the moon that controls the sea?

Impossible, yet I will probably need some help reminding me I'm bald.







Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Losing Nemo

We went to a new eye doctor for Wil, today. He has been seen by the same pediatric ophthalmologist since he was in preschool, and has worn glasses since he was five. Love her as we do, I could not drag my 6' 2" almost-21-year-old in there, one more time.

Going to the eye doctor is not one of Wil's favorite things to do. He hates the drops. The drops freak him out. They sting his eyes, and he has had to be pinned down to get them in, and just thinking about those drops gives us both a jolt of PTSD.

I wanted to both warn him he had an appointment coming up, and not give him too much notice. Fine line. "I'm looking for a new eye doctor for you," I told him in the car a few months ago. "You are ready for one that treats adults."

"I know who I want!" he quipped.

"Oh, yea? Who?" I asked.

"Get one that looks like Steve Martin," he said.

Someone that treats his particular eye condition, that is within a few miles of our house, with a kind demeanor, were my requirements, not a Steve Martin look-alike.

Told him on Monday, "BT dubs, you have an eye appointment on Wednesday."

He started right in with the concern about the drops, and asked that I cancel the appointment. "CANCEL!" was his exact word.

When I convinced him I was not going to cancel it, he had me swear that next time he had an appointment, I would cancel it. Hoping in two years he'd forget our promise, but knowing he wouldn't, I agreed.

I'm happy to report that he did well, and the eye doctor, although looking nothing like Steve Martin, was a good fit for him. Pretty arrogant and self-satisfied, he was none-the-less just quirky enough to get on board the Wil train, and at one point asked, "What are we doing here, free-association? Okay, I'm in."

"Where's the movie?" Wil asked the medical assistant, "Finding Nemo?" I don't think he realized that not every eye doctor in the world shows "Finding Nemo" for years-on-end, to their patients and long-suffering parents. I have yet to see the movie in its entirety, but I've seen 10-20 minute segments, since it was released on video in the early 2000's.

This time, the medical assistant had a special technique for installing the drops, and he didn't cry. He didn't kick and scream. No one had to pin him down. He didn't love it, but he did great, and was very pleased with himself for getting through the ordeal with a minimum of drama.

"You're doing well, you don't have to come back for two more years," the doctor said.

"I'll come back in two years and one month," Wil said, getting in the last word, per usual.

"See you then," the doctor said.

"See you then," Wil responded.

See you later, Nemo.



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Riddle

I've been conflicted over something for awhile now. I've been processing it in my prayer time. I've been processing it with my inner circle. I've been been processing it in my psyche. I have not come to a clear "answer."

In the most general of ways, I asked Wil about it, while driving. "What do you think I should do?" I said.

"You should cross two streets," he said from the backseat, where he prefers to ride.

I looked in my rear-view mirror to see his face. Was he teasing? Serious? Saying something random? Revealing a deep, inner wisdom?

I have no idea. It does no good to press him on such things, he doesn't like to be questioned, and all attempts to further the conversation, gets you nowhere.

I've come back to his statement, however, and have turned it over and over and decided he's right, whether or not he meant to be helpful, he was. We cannot get anywhere by looping in our minds, spinning and circling, chasing our tails. Eventually, we have to "cross a street." We have to see where things look from that angle, from the "other side."

Crossing two, even better.