Is it lazy to spend a day reading? Why should I feel guilt over that? Should. Hmmm. I am going to declare that reading is not being lazy, that pursuits of the mind are acceptable forms of movement. My body may be relaxed, but my mind inspired.
At the forefront, the trigger for many of my issues is an event that happened I 2005. On a Wednesday evening in the first week of school of my daughter’s junior year of high school, she and I sat on my bed and had a wonderful, intimate heart to heart that left me going to bed contented, hopeful and proud. Less than 24 hours later, those moments were forgotten and sheer terror invaded my life. I called home as I ended my school day. As a middle school teacher, my day ended later than hers, so by the time I was done, she was usually home off the bus and doing school work. No answer. And then I remembered! She said she was joining debate team and would need to be picked up at some time in the evening – I think 5. I headed over to her school, eagerly waiting to hear of her excitement over debate team – she is an awesomely smart girl with a ton of debate skills which she honed in years earlier.
I arrived at the school and got in the line for pick up for after school activities. I listened to NPR, and called her cell to tell her I was there – left a message as I knew they couldn’t always have their cell phones on. When every parent had received their child and left, and I was still waiting, I got a bit concerned but not much. I imagined she was still debating the coach, holding her ground on some topic she held in passion.
I entered the building. In my new slim figure (recently losing massive weight due to gastric bypass) and high heels, feeling pretty, I strutted through the entire building. I finally found some kids and asked where debate club was…. their response was chilling. “There is no debate today, it’s on Tuesday.” My heart sunk. I thought immediately that she was with her new boyfriend hiding out somewhere goofing off. I felt my anger rise.
Headed off toward home, I called his mother. She answered with a moan/cry/wail sound and moaned out words that didn’t compute: They ran away! Oh my god, I found a note……….Mark left a note…. they’re gone….
Heart racing, racing around the corner I squealed the tires and raced furiously into my driveway…. I ran into the house and on the counter waiting for me a
Four page note written in red………. I barely read it…. I called 911.
I ran to the neighbor…… I stood in their front yard screaming asking if they saw anything……all the neighbors came out….the sirens came… I called a fem trusted friends……… that evening we tried all we knew……. I called Scott, he got on the next train. I may have thrown myself on the ground in the front yard. The pain increased because the county police didn’t understand. They didn’t know that my girl wrote she was long gone and had a big plan. They thought she was typical and was in the neighborhood. They didn’t believe me that she was under influence of another student (not the boyfriend) who IS a sociopath, and they thought I was crazy -even questioning my sanity in private to my friends. “Is she always this crazy and dramatic?” friend: “No. Only when her only child is missing and in danger.”
That first night was only the beginning of the next several nights and days of pure and utter hell. And the years since have been good and bad and never free of that night. That experience has changed me for good and bad, but I find that I am stuck in some sort of cycle.
The next few weeks were pure torture. Two a.m. Walking Du Pont Circle. 8 a.m. Posting flyers on Metro station walls.
4 a.m. Calling Covenant House’s nine line leaving heart felt messages for her.
Hours in between scouring MySpace, stalking and messaging all her friends.
Hounding detectives who ignored me. The one guy called me back to yell at me and tell me “How dare I ruin his kid’s birthday party.” I replied, “I may never see my kid again birthday or not.” He was uncaring, unfeeling, cold, and mean.
Walking every street in downtown with flyers. Crazy street woman telling me she saw her that day! Hours wasted looking.
Not eating for days. Mom feeding me a sandwich, forcing down. Emergency room visit. Sitting on the floor rocking. Family searching state parks. Tears. Fears. Watching, waiting. Panicking. Mourning.
Call from NYC to her “friend.” SCSO ignoring the info, saying NYPD won’t help YOU. Calling Port Authority and the guys all took patrol around the pay phone she used, had no problem helping, called in NYPD, they helped – no problem! They took the flyers I faxed them and handed them out in the city. New York City!!!!!! More help than SC.
Resolution. She is gone. Must go back to work. Must go to bed, take meds, go to bed.
Phone call. I can’t answer. Scott answers…..several minutes of him listening. I hear, “You have her there?”
She was found. Farther away than she said in the letter.
After consulting professionals (I was unable to make any decisions on my own) I followed exactly what they said. Verbatim.
We got her. Time to heal….
Back then, I liked wine. I had it a little bit – maybe twice a month. I could actually keep a wine collection.
Back then, I could go to sleep easily since my job tires me so much.
Back then, I could look in the mirror and find a good person.
Back then, I wasn’t afraid to feel happy.
Now, if I feel happy or contented, I stop myself. I must not be happy, for if I am, tomorrow will bring great sorrow. I must not deserve happiness.
I’ve gained back a lot of the weight, and wine is no longer a special treat, but a medication.
My healing is not happening. Despite her success. I am still damaged and hurting. How do I get over it. How do I heal. When will the pain end?
Having l lived in many homes growing up and as an adult, I’ve always just dealt with whatever kitchen I had. In this house, I have not done much since it was fairly new when I moved in. Over the years I have painted, added a new window, a new door, a deck and furniture to it. Recently, we’ve been updating more.
The Jenn-Air with two burners and a grill was perfect for me and little Katie. I could grill a chicken breast, and cook some veggies and a starch with no problem. With Scott, a burgeoning foodie/gourmet, and at the same time a messy cook, the kitchen has taken a beating. We’ve replaced the dishwasher, the fridge, and the sink and faucet. We’ve filled the cabinets and broken a few.
So, we’re doing a refresh. New stove is the main thing. Investing in top of the line, installing gas, so we can really cook. Can’t afford to rip the whole kitchen out and start over, as we’d like. The cabinets will get a paint treatment, and Scott thinks he can install granite tile. I’ve picked stainless peel and stick tile, and we finally agreed on the stove. Perhaps we’ll get comfy barstools, and cabinet inserts that create cool pull out drawers. And, maybe we’ll put a cabinet door in that wonky cabinet that is virtually not functional now.
It’ll all take a while, piece meal, as everything does. Hopefully, no major repairs will interrupt our plans. Next up, I think will be:
a new rug in the living room, and covering the brick around the fireplace – or painting it, and making a hearth.
refinishing that weird cabinet thing I have (perhaps I’ll get Dianne to do it for me)
the bathroom ceiling!
the extra room with no identity: painting room? dressing room? guest room?
the bedroom: walls, floors, curtains, furniture
Not to mention the landscaping, the fence, and the ughhhh basement. And, also not to mention the attic, the little things in each room, etc.
If I knew how to put up my “mood board” for the kitchen, I would, but ha ha I don’t so, sorry.
Ok, we have a large number of cats. We couldn’t have children of our own, besides Katie, who is an adult now, so the cats really are our babies. We are both very attached to all of our cat children. Despite their various disgusting practices: pooping, peeing, and puking. All babies do that, and you know it, so if we think of them as babies, it makes the chores of cleaning up after them tolerable. (I am assuming that because Scott does the majority of that task). To make our home cat friendly, we have done many things.
Built a screened porch. (I enjoy it myself, too)
Made two cat litter stations with several boxes.
Made a former sofa table their dinner table to prevent the dog eating all their food. (Cat food is delicious to dogs in any form, digested, or undigested).
Allow them to share our bed, pillows, etc. Sometimes I think they think it’s their bed.
Ignore the fact that they have shredded molding, curtains, and a chair.
Forego scatter rugs, for various reasons.
Allow outside time, and do catventory each night.
Applaud carcasses of moles, voles, and mice oh my.
buy treats, feed every time we walk by the food table – a few x’s and they are happy.
Pet vigorously and in the proper manner: LuLu likes her ears rubbed, FiFi likes all over, Petey and Scout are lovers of the chin scritch.
Make toys out of tin foil, and probably endure more cat hair on our clothes than anyone who reads this.
And provide them cozy spots: The metal tub on top of the fridge is a favorite haunt of
Lilly. And, see below, baskets in warm spots and their dining table.
I guess this post could go with the turning forty six and the New Year’s one. Recently, we’ve discussed life insurance. And death, and what we would do with our corpses. Bleh. It has made me think again with some urgency about things I’d like to do. Maybe won’t get to these in twenty eleven (I love writing the words of numbers vs. the numbers) but I hope maybe to get closer:
1. Travel. Europe, Hawaii, South America, Africa.
2. Do major renovations on my home. Or, sell it.
3. Rent a beach house for a week when it is not too hot to enjoy it.
4. Retire from teaching and do something else.
5. Buy life insurance (probably WILL do this in the coming year).
6. Go back to California, and just breathe and relax.
So, another year dawns. I am so much better at reflecting than I am at resolutioning, or predicting. So, here goes:
Today, my (beautiful, articulate, intelligent, and congenial) daughter and I had a good time. It has been a very, very, very , very, long time coming. I love her so much, and finally I think we may be on the road to a good (wow) relationship. I still didn’t disclose my feelings well and she still said some abrasive things, but it was good. And, that, was: awesome.
This year has been without major drama or events. Thank Who Ever! My parents though aging, are relatively healthy. My bills are relatively paid. I have a decent home (although it is not fit for public sharing, sadly). I have wonderful friends. I am overwhelmed by my friends. I am so aloof sometimes, and prefer hermitude to reaching out, so to be a friend of mine requires work, and I soooooooooooo appreciate those who get ME and still are my friend. I love you.
This summer was a summer of lazy. My nephew, who hates me now, was here for a few days, and we had fun doing as little as possible. At like 3:00 each day, I’d say, “Hey, let’s go look at something historical or beautiful.” and he’d say, “Nahhhhhhhh/” and I’d say, “Ok, let’s watch more crime TV” But we did manage to swim in a few lakes – awesome – I want a lake in my backyard now – and read a bit, and he and I went to DC and I showed him one of the many secrets of DC – the Library of Congress and the tunnel, and the Botanical Gardens. (oops, that is three, not one – plus we toured the Capitol).
Fall arrived, and I “put the hammer down” on my new students who came with quite a bad rep. So far, not TOO many major problems with them. But, still enough that I question my existence. I wanted to take a mental health day, but for the first time in 14 years, I have yet to take a day off. I really need a day in my classroom alone, and perhaps that will happen, but I am such a people person, I will visit with another teacher and help them do their room before I do mine. I should work on that.
I was so bored this summer, so I decided to take painting classes. The fear nearly stopped me. What I found, after apologizing for my lack of talent, is that I may actually have a tiny bit. I found something that was life transforming. My instructor, Bill Harris, really has shown me a whole new world. I love the process of art – always have. The feel of the chalk, the pencil, the paper, the water, the paint colors, the pastels, the clay. The product has never (and still isn’t) been important. Probably because I never had a worthy product…until now. Now, with a bit of instruction, I feel like I can produce (reminds me of Dean Lines – high school art teacher who told me that art = production) something that is worthy. I’m still going to approach it from a process point of view vs. a product, but if a nice product comes out, I will try to accept it. In the end, it is fun.
My house is evolving, but with a disjointed plan. I have a master plan in my mind, but to convey it to the master is difficult. If I tell him the whole thing, he forgets, and it frustrates me. If I hold back – he gets frustrated that I didn’t share my desires. Can’t win.
couch and rug
counters and backsplash
bedroom – paint, floor and furniture
fence – damnit!
landscape – just some minor things that are DIY
basement – and attic – dejunkify……..
So, I have goals, and I have had some progress, this year, I am just gonna keep on truckin’………..
Nobody told me the realities of things growing up. Or, maybe they did but I didn’t listen. Having children for starters. That was way harder than I thought it would be, not glorified babysitting at.all. But, turning what I am now accepting as middle aged, has proven to be humorous, in addition to solemn. First off, I am glad I have turned 46, considering the alternative would be not being here. And, although I humbly admit I have had moments where I wanted to end my existence here seriously, I am glad I got through those tough times, and hope the future ones are not as severe.
But, the realities are still stunning to me. Brace yourself for brute honesty. No sugar coating ahead! You’ve been warned.
So the realities are:
I no longer shave my legs. (I am mostly a sparsely haired person anyway).
I occasionally shave my…………………face.
I have started to not care about my white undercoat. As a redhead, my hair started whitening quite a while ago, and after many experiments with home dye resulting in what my daughter called Bozo hair, I just sort of said, “Oh, well.” I got some henna this summer, and I tried it and loved it, but have yet to find any free time I am willing to spend an hour slathered with a muddy substance reaking of cow manure…and gritty hair for a day or two. So, white peaks through, and I don’t freak out.
One of the great things is: I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about me anymore. I dress in what I like, comfortably, trying to be somewhat attractive, neat, etc., but it is only for me. I can go to the store in snow boots and pajama pants in Scott’s coat (only once!) and not care. I try to not be repulsive. To not stink. Good goal if you ask me.
My bucket list (unwritten) is starting to take on an urgency. There are things I really never imagined NOT doing, and now the reality is scary. What if I don’t have the money? What if I am not well enough? My parents were incredibly fortunate to have travel opportunites at my age, and I fear that I won’t.
I can no longer treat my body as a roller coaster ride. My stomach is sensitive, I get bathroom issues, I get carb issues. I fear doctor visits. My uterus is not my friend (a gyno actually told me it was once) anymore, rather a monthly enemy determined to kill me, but my womanly coat of honor refuses to allow me to succumb (I did call in ONCE…and I am still ashamed). Snow shoveling causes a slight pause of thought, but only slight.
I marvel at women older than me, who seem to thrive…they are my inspiration! Mormor – wow! She lived to 99! She had great-grandchildren…side thought: Katie has announced she won’t be having children, which will render me grandchildless, which while I respect her decision, am a little sad because I have seen how much joy grandchildren have brought to my sister and my mom, but at this point in Katie’s life, is a wise decision on her part. Back to inspiration, Mormor was a bit feeble in her aging years, but sharp as a tack mentally. She was awesome! My aunt Joanne is another inspiration. Saw her at a wedding recently, and she rocked out in a layered modern dress, and her figure is still good. She still travels and is very active. I have always admired her spunk, she was an ambulance driver! and she raised a bunch of kids – who were challenging I am sure. But they all came out successful, and knowing what I now know, THAT is incredible. She is 12 years older than my mom, yet she is still close to her younger sister(s). I will never forget visiting her house in Nutley. As a Navy brat, the homes of my aunts – Nutley, New Jersey and Wayne, PA along with the ubiquitous 183 Forbes Street, Rahway, were major constants in my young life of changes.
Have I mentioned my Aunt Melva?! OMG – she was a dancer in NYC, kept a perfect home, always bubbly, and runs (perhaps “ran” applies now?) marathons in her elder years! My Aunt Melva is the most beautiful woman in our family (sorry, but she IS). Always stylish, always hip, always put together. She is an IT girl. Always has been. And she smells good, too. Growing up, I thought of her as some kind of angel, we’d visit during holidays. She had a gold silk sofa stuffed with down! (We were told before we got there to look, but not touch anything in the gorgeous home she kept). Another post topic would be her husband: Uncle Cort. Loved and missed, but I’ll save him for another post.
Aunt Nancy. Beloved sister of my dad. Literally hundreds of letters my dad sent her through the years have been saved, and presumably treasured. I can’t comprehend the strength of my Aunt Nancy. First off, she was beautiful. Blonde, dimpled, and just very pretty from day one. She, from the time I knew her, had a big, perfect home on the Main Line outside of Philadelphia. I loved that house so much. It was another constant in my life of nearly a dozen homes which one couldn’t bond with much. Another post: Elizabeth’s room and play closet + attic…can’t do that yet – this many years later, but still too fresh a wound. But, Aunt Nancy – the pinnacle of style, elegance and taste. She endured what no mother should, the funeral for three of her five children. Even though, I asked her, and she answered, I still don’t know how she did it. I am talking about a woman who had the box of crayons belonging to her daughter as a child when we were both in our late 20’s. She adored her daughters, and her sons, and her strength, and endurance are incomprehensible.
I also am lucky to have my Aunt Helen – the baby of her family – and I am the baby of mine! What fun I had at her house as a child: peanut butter and mayo sammies, pajama time, Sesame Street, the home movies!!!!!!!!!!! Uncle John: digitize them! and my beloved four boy cousins who are all big old Dads now!
Well, I feel a lot younger now having written about so many older than me people (left out my MUCH older than me sisters!) And didn’t mention my mom, who has endured more than all of the above in a way (although she still has us to nag her to go to doctor appt’s) but I’ll save my mom post for another day.
Off to actually write that bucket list!
Post post: Might I mention that in addition to the above side effects: sex ain’t on my to do list top ten, I have to take Tums more than I should, Advil is my best friend, I have wrinkles for real now, Oil of Olay lied, my boobs point south, my butt touches my upper thighs, my hands are “old lady hands” and my students say “Wow! You’re THAT old?” Also, the music I thought was cool is played on the radio in “Oldies” segments. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
I lose them and consequently, I have an extensive collection of single earrings…. But, I want to win these anyway! I’ll probably give them as a gift. But, maybe not. Maybe I’ll keep them in the box, wear them, and put them back in the box so I won’t lose them. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
Food, Family, and Football are the perfect trifecta of my favorite holiday.
First off, don’t fuck with the FOOD! On this holiday, any changes should be kept to a minimum. Make the traditional turkey (butterball) stuffed with Pepperidge Farm herbed seasoned cubed stufffing. Make sure you double the butter in the stuffing! Creamed onions, squash – acorn or butternut, or both! Mashed potatoes, homemade only, please! Cranberry sauce – the canned, jellied kind that you slice in perfect discs. Rolls, real butter, pies – homemade only – pecan, apple, pumpkin -and in recent years the addition of chocolate. We don’t deviate or alter the Menu to be spicy, different, new or those crazy things. That our menu is perhaps boring, well, is frankly comforting. Over the years there have been more deletions than additions and that’s ok. Nobody feels like making the stuffed cream cheese celery sticks, carrot sticks and olive tray. The stuffed dates go to waste, so why bother.
Family. Again, don’t FUCK around. Like Caroline Manzo said, “In this family, we are as thick as thieves!” Once you’re in, you’re in. And if you can’t quite fit in (cue EX spouses) – sucks to be you! We laugh, we work, and we play, mostly. Sometimes we argue, and sometimes we fight. It all comes from passionate feelings. That is fine with me. I don’t much like the fighting, because there are some deep wounds in our lives, but it is pretty rare these days, and with our advancing ages, we seem to avoid it more, which is good. I look forward to playing Monopoly and or Scrabble, taking a walk in the woods (there are bears out there!) watching too much TV, reading New Yorker magazines. Sitting around the kitchen table with the womenfolk, or lounging on the couch with the men, cue the Football part.
I’ve always wanted to have a backyard Kennedy-esque touch football session on Thanksgiving afternoon. I have this vision through blurry, clicking old film footage in my head as I envision my family from afar as the quintessential American family. It never happens, and it never will – but that is fine.
As far as memories of my favorite holiday, I won’t explain them all, but here is a list, and I am thinking a few of my closest family will remember:
Driving on the turnpike, White Castle, the stern reminders to be ladylike – help in the kitchen-do the dishes-etc. the faint gas smell in Grandma’s house, going upstairs to visit MorMor and her canary, exploring Forbes Street, sitting on the stairs with your plate of food (maybe that was only me and Elizabeth?) that one glass of sherry/wine/liqueur we were allowed, the turquoise china, the checkerboard tablecloth, the silver polishing, the mountain of dishes, that oneyearmomandotherunnamedfamilymembersmayormaynothavesmokedseveraljointsafterthemealand ateseveralpieswithcoolwhip, the inclusion of people unrelated but who had no families nearby to share (that was awesome).
And finally, I recall my precious daughter’s first Thanksgiving, which I am sure she doesn’t remember. Her dad had to work at the prison, and so faced with his weird family for the day, I opted for serving dinner at the VFW with her in a carrier on my back. We spent the whole day there, and it was awesome, the old vets loved to see a baby 11months old, and I felt proud to be teaching my baby that this holiday is about being thankful, and what should we feel more thankful about than our veterans?
HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE! I am thankful to just be alive and that I still have my baby, despite the fact that I most likely won’t get to see/talk to her…maybe soon she will come around.
Some people are cat people, some are dog people, and some are just plain animal people. I am the latter. I love most animals, excluding arachnids, bugs of any kind, snakes (as pets, but I am not afraid or weirded out by them), and other odd things – I mean fish don’t really give back a whole bunch, they are not snuggly, etc.
Growing up, and throughout my life I have almost always had cats, or a cat, and a dog, or dogs. Dogs are great pets. Their affection and loyalty are bar none. I have fond memories of my dogs: Daisy, Nicky, Nicky, Nicky, Rocky, Megan, Murray, Maddie, Jack, Penny, Scotty, Kaylee, (some of these are not mine, but family dogs) the dalmation whose name escapes me, and the current dogs, Max, Fritz, and Sandi. Oh, Bowser and Bruti, too! All of these dogs are loyal, protective, and loving. All have their good/bad qualities. (except Fritz, who is of course perfect, a genius, and without flaw).
Cats have also usually been involved in my life. Earliest memory is of a cat named Sydney, but I couldn’t tell you what he or she looked like. After that were the Siamese: Puss Puss – cat to beat all cats, weighing in at least 20 lbs., with gorgeous markings and blue eyes, and hogging the heat vent, and killing all tiny rodents within a 5 mile radius, Puss Puss was a champion. George, who my mom used to sing a special Georgie Porgie Puddin and Pie song to all the time, who was cross eyed, and had a taste for knitted items and bathroom rugs – he ate them. No lie. Weird cat.
Fast forward a few years and there was Ollie. He was a huge, gorgeous orange tabby, and all mine. It was during my “only child” years when my big sisters had moved out. He was thrown in the neighborhood pool as a prank, and died from chlorine poisoning. (ONE of the reasons I hate people).
I had a cat when I lived on Fort Ord, he was a twin of Ollie, but we moved, and somebody who doesn’t deserve to be named made me just leave without him.
The next cat I remember was Tigger, who I got right before I had Katie. He was a tabby, and Katie as a toddler loved him! He loyaly tolerated her toddler squeezes. She used to imitate his meows before she could talk, and when we would say, “What does the kitty say?” She would make a purring sound. Awesome.
Then came the million dollar cat: Whiskers. Named for Barney the dinosaur’s cat, he was a tuxedo. He was beautiful. It was when I was a single mom, in college, on food stamps, that he got hit by a car. The vet’s prognosis: not good. I said to go ahead and euthanize since I had no money. I went into the room where Katie, in kindergarten waited. i explained he was not going to live. Her wails were so loud and anguished (I can hear them to this day), the vet came in and said he would lower the price, and work out a payment plan to save him! Whiskers lived on and strong until a few years later.
Callie, the Calico, who was really named Calixta after the Kate Chopin heroine I love so much, she ran away.
Bitsy and Socks, who were gifted to me by a friend who gave up her cats for a man. DUMB! (the man didn’t last) Socks was shot in the lung with a BB gun, Bitsy, survived a car hit, but eventually died of old age.
Then I met Scott. He only had one cat. I could’nt predict he would be so cat crazy! He had Tabitha, an all black, very skiddish little girl, even though now she is an old lady. Bitsy and Socks passed, in the interim, and I don’t remember the timeline exactly, we got CiCi or XiXi as I like to spell it.
It went like this: I had to take Maddy to be put to sleep. Very. Sad. Day. As I was leaving, I walked through the ‘cats for adoption” area of the shelter. I saw this gorgeous Siamese cat, unkempt, sad, lonely and very distraught in a cage. I couldn’t leave her there. I adopted her and she quickly assimilated, but chose to favor Katie. I was supposed to get her fixed, but…… I didn’t. I have very little to explain this, but it was bad on my part, except for the fact that we take care of all of the outcomes of that lack of action on my/our part.
CiCi loves outdoors. In 2006, we noticed she was developing a baby bump and we were right! Katie and I stayed up all night to comfort her in labor, and we all three helped deliver a beautiful cat that is pure Tabby (?) and because we have no imagination is named Baby. It was a wonderful night and a happy night.
But….. we didn’t know we should get Cici fixed so soon! We went away for a family function ( my parents’ 50th) on a weekend, came home and there was a new kitten! We just were flabbergasted. We called her the little kitty while we debated names, and then one day Katie suggested Lilly, as it sounded like Lil, and we had a Lilly.
And then, senior year hit. Katie’s junior year almost killed me (literally) and so for senior, I pledged to be on top of things relating to Katie. And I missed alll things meaning CiCi, so on Katie’s graduation night party, cici gave birth to four adorable babies. And that, is almost the whole story on how I have ELEVEN cats.
but three more cats have a story to be told….next time.