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


“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


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.


Driving a car without brakes--stopping the card Fred Flintstone style, new year at college with new roommates, a house so filled-to-over-flo...