Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Teacher Furloughs

I have a real problem wth teachers having their pay cut, or being furloughed. Here in Hawaii it is happening for 17 days this school year - 17 unpaid days off. A 20% cut in pay. To the people who are literally shaping our future.

My friend Jess posted this on Facebook, and I wanted to share.....

Leaving on a jet plane, feeding my inner fears - but first..........

We are leaving for the mainland today, but first a brief update on the nightmare of my last post:
The principal investigated, spoke with the girl who had started the whole thing in graphic, vivid, gory detail, and asked her where she had heard such language.

From her mother.

Jaw ? Floor.

So needless to say, the school counselor was called in and of course it is all confidential but I would hope that the mother was called to the school and someone from CPS was also present to discuss her daughter's advanced understanding of oral sex. Because, well, really.

Let's move on, shall we ? Because really, every time I talk about this I feel nauseous.

So today. Today I am getting on a plane with the kids to begin a 6 leg trip to the mainland. Sami is not coming - which means I will be solely responsible for luggage, rental car, packing, carrying, lifting, loading, and everything else. We will be flying during the day, flying over night, staying in airport motels and traveling through 5 time zones.

I. Can't. Wait.

But you know, it's more then that. Sami and I are more then partners and best friends and spouses. We are an active team, giving each other breaks, support, encouragement, and playing the ever-important role of co-pilot. This is going to be a long and lonely trip for me, and there of course will always be that niggling fear I have in the back of my mind - to be traveling without him means that if something were to go terribly, awfully wrong....and if in some horrible accident we were somehow taken from him.....he would be left behind.

It sounds so melo-dramatic, but I assure you, it's not. I'm not sitting here wringing my hands, I'm just realistic. If he and the kids were to be involved in a tragic accident, and I was left behind, I would jump in the crematorium with them, I swear to god I would. I just cannot imagine that life. I just can't.

And the thought that by taking this trip, I am somehow opening us up to that possibility, seems foolish at best, cruel at worst.

So, needless to say, we'll have Lucy pray for us on the flight, and during the drives, and when we cross the know, just in case.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm sorry, WHAT DID YOU SAY ?

Today Max recounted to me a very alarming playground tale, involving claims of consensual oral sex amongst 8 year olds.

You read that right.

If you need to go throw up, please feel free. I have been nauseous all afternoon.

The setting for this tale was not ON the playground, or even on school grounds, but it was recounted in graphic, vivid detail, according to my son.

I am, in a word, speechless.

He is 8. He is in third grade. He still has his BABY TEETH for christ sake.

In third grade, I didn't have even the vaguest idea about oral sex. I had a basic understanding of reproduction, sure. But not sex as a fun activity you do with friends.

I have two fervent hopes.

-I hope to god he isn't making this up, that this isn't a story he concocted from various bits of knowledge he has floating around in his brain - because I would have no idea where he learned about that sort of thing, and I would be devastated and totally panicked about how he could have acquired this knowledge with no TV and limited internet. And I would have him sitting in a shrink's office by the end of the day. For real. He seems confused and embarrassed. I don't think he's lying.

-I hope to god that the little girl he says is the one who was spinning this yarn isn't speaking from experience. Because if she is, she needs help. She needs support. She needs a safer living situation. She needs therapy.

And me ? I need a sleeping pill, because I cannot get this out of my head and I am literally sick over it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

And that is that

Alrighty then. Everyone still with me ?

Today was my last day of work at the cafe for two weeks.

I am a little bit sad, and a little bit happy, and a little bit nervous about taking so much time off. (Though I am glad I have this flexible work situation, I sure do miss paid vacations....)

But mostly, I am lot excited to go to the mainland to see my family and my friends and IKEA.

I love IKEA.

It's not time to goYET, however, and now - right now - I am exhausted and emotional, and confused and confident and overwhelmed with everything I need to do before I leave.

I am making lists. I"m a list maker. And traveling presents the perfect opportunity for lists. I love lists. Or rather, I love checking things off lists and seeing the progress I am making through my day, my week, my life...because the days go by so fast sometimes, I wonder what I did that day ? I really do. And the lists, they help to answer that question.

Oh., I see. The reason I am still in my pajamas at 1:20pm, shaky and thirsty, is because I forgot to eat breakfast, and have spent the entire morning photocopying and faxing documents, and cleaning the bathroom. So it may not LOOK like I got anything accomplished, and yes I do see the dirty dishes and piles of laundry.....but have you ever tried to fax a 45 page document one page at a time on your trusty home fax machine ? I thought not. Turns out, it takes about 5 hours.

SO I am making my lists. And checking them twice. Tomorrow, the suitcases come out - something that always gets everyone in the traveling mood. Slowly over the next two days, I will fill them with clothes and gifts and rainbows and sunshine and probably some sand (by accident).

And at some point while the kids are at school I have a feeling I am going to sneak away to the beach and lie down and take a deep, deep breath of my beloved Maui. It is my home, in every sense of the word.....but where I am going ? Is also home. It's my roots. And New England is as much a part of me as the island life I have chosen for myself and my family. Somehow, the two manage to combine and grow together like vines....climbing and twisting and holding on tight.  These two incredibly different and very beautiful collections of people and places make me who I am - and to stay true to myself, I can never be away from either for too long.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

HAHAHAHA you suck

So my last post, I was all boo-hooing and butt-hurt (not literally, thankyouverymuch) by the mean queen who wasted my time and didn't buy the car and wah wah wah shut up.

I'm over it - oh so over it - because literally ONE HOUR after that bitch had me running around at her beck and call (and giving her a free one-way ride to town HAH ! How was tha walk home honey ?) I got an offer, that was better then ladyfriend had ever tossed my way.

Suck on that.

And yesterday ? I sold the car, was paid cash, and put the wheels in motion to get what is literally the car of my dreams....well, the car of my dreams right now - but I'm fickle, so I leased. Plus, I am never selling another car again. You're welcome.

Life ? Is good.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The queen and me

Hi. Today? Suuuuuucked.

Let me tell you a little story.

I am selling my car. Selling a car is an ugly, tawdry affair. Yesterday I took great pains to write a lengthy and informative ad on Craigslist, with a photo. I put an ad in the local paper, too. And as soon as I was done, the calls started coming. And with those calls came exposure to all sorts of people, with their weird hangups and insecurities and need to prove themselves better negotiators, and more knowledgable then the owner.

So today I had an appointment to show the car. The guy had spoken to the dealership, knew the exact condition of the car mechanically, and just wanted to see it. He was meeting me in town with cash. I dropped the car off to be detailed first thing this morning, and took the bus home - a lengthy process with multiple stops and a circuitous, 2 hour route that left me carsick and aggravated.

Three hours later, I had to walk to both schools, collect the kids and then run (in the rain) to catch the only bus to town. With the kids. Did I mention the kids were with me ? Then I had to catch a cab, because we missed our connection. At the bus stop, in the rain, with the kids (have I mentioned the kids ?) my phone rang. The guy who was meeting me couldn't meet me. I offered to bring the car to him. He agreed. He had the cash. He was ready.

In the midst of all of this, we missed our connecting bus, had to take a cab and then, hours after we started, finally got to the car. Grabbed the kids some take out. Hit the road. Called the guy to get directions. Found out he lived 15 minutes PAST the town he had told me before.

And I should have stopped the car right then.
I should have turned around and headed home and said never mind, screw this, I am too old and too tired and too busy. But I wanted to be fair, and he had called first, and he had CASH and was WAITING. So I said OK, but that I had to leave at 5pm, in order to get the kids to their classes tonight. "Of course !" he said. "NO problem."

45 minutes later, when we got to his house, he did not produce cash. Instead, he jumped in the driver's seat and started driving. He wanted to go to his mechanic, in another town. Sure. No problem. I had nothing to hide. I welcomed the idea of having the mechanic confirm what he had been told by me, and the dealer. I went over what needed to be repaired again. Reminded he would need new tires. Pointed out the flaws. Left him and the mechanic to take a look.

5:05pm. Still looking.
5:15pm. Still. Looking.
5:20, he is done.

And he wants to make a deal. And I tell him no, no deal, I already came down in price. I drove out here. I disclosed everything. You confirmed my disclosures. Money. Please. Now.

"Well, the dealer said it would cost ____."

"Right. But you aren't taking it to the dealer. You are taking it to your mechanic. Who doesn't cost nearly as much."

"Right, mechanics are always cheaper, so-"

"No. I know how much the dealer would charge, and I wouldn't pay that and neither would you so it doesn't matter. Kids, get in the car."

The kids were watching, wide-eyed.

He says, "Well, if you want to see if you can get a better deal....."

I look at him. I look at my two kids, who have now missed gymnastics and tae kwon do.

Seeing as how he was a single gay guy, living in a fabulous child-free condo, I had a feeling that he wasn't real familiar with the wrath that can shower down on someone who denies kids their gymnastics and tae kwon do. And dinner.

"Kids, get in the car. Buckle up."

"Mommy, is he NOT BUYING THE CAR ???"


My son is looking back and forth between the two adults, his blue eyes darkening. He knows exactly what is going on. His mommy has just been had. And he is not happy about it. His eyes narrow. He starts to glare.



And this guy, this big stupid man, puts his hand on the door handle. "Can I still get a ride back to my house ?"

And that is when I used every reamining ounce of strength to remain calm. "I said I needed to leave at 5pm. It is 5:20pm. I took 2 busses and a cab and drove an hour and put 100 miles on my car for you. I am leaving."

And I did.
And as we drove away, I looked in the rearview mirror. Both kids were sitting straight up in their seats, with middle fingers held aloft towards the figure disappearing behind us.

I hope he didn't miss the bus.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Listen here, people. There is going to be some sign waving and walking in circles. And I might even make it to the protest.

Things are heating up vis a vis the closure of schools here in Hawaii.

The teacher's union voted, and ratified the vote, and now the public schools will be closed for 17 Fridays.

Not 17 DAYS. 17 Fridays.
Not 17 CONSECUTIVE Fridays. Just 17 assorted Fridays, scattered here and there thoughout the rest of the school year.

God forbid they just shorten the school year by 17 days and call it a wash.
Oh no, they need to spread it out so that we can really SAVOR it.

And the mommy brigade is ANGRY.

So starting next week, look for lots of excitement on the sidewalks in front of the public schools throughout the island chain. I have a feeling we are going to see some real "only in Hawaii" moments. I would like to think that anywhere else in this country, a decision to close public school on random days for almost a month's worth of school days would not be tolerated. It would be the lead story everywhere. It wouldn't even GET to a vote because it would just not be considered an option.

But not here. Here, it's a blip on the radar.

This is illustrated by the 13 other news stories that were deemed more important then the fact that our teachers and our kids are getting screwed over, for example:
The closure of a sugar plantation
a mysterious home fire

I am relieved to note, however, that they ARE drawing attention to the fact that kids who depend on free meals at school are going to be getting less to eat, and going hungry for 3 days in a row, 17 extra times this year.

It sucks that the teachers are getting a pay cut. It's wrong. It's terrible. It's DISGRACEFUL. But they won't go hungry.

The kids will.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I can tell that we are gonna be friends. except on Fridays. Fridays won't work for me.

Fall is here, hear the yell
Back to school, ring the bell
Brand new shoes, walking blues
Climb the fence, books and pens
I can tell that we are gonna be friends
I can tell that we are gonna be friends

-The White Stripes

WooHoo !!! Back to school, ya'll ! Nine heavenly months of free childcare education.

Except on Fridays.

Because here in Hawaii, and maybe coming to a school district near you, budget shortfalls have led to furlough days for government employees. Varying numbers of days without pay, in order to reduce swelling deficits. And people included in those furloughs ? Teachers.

You are going to have to excuse me, because I have found a soapbox, and I am climbing up and waving signs and yelling until everyone hears what I have to say. Houston (or insert any city name here) we have a problem.

You know, I am down with one less day of postal service, or reduced hours at the department of motor vehicles. If you need to close the library an additional day every week, or limit the hours at the Smithsonian, I understand. Times are tough. We all have to sacrifice. But not my kids. My kids don't have to sacrifice. They had nothing to do with this budget deficit.

So when I hear they are going to be saving money by closing the schools ? I don't buy it. That doesn't make any sense to me at all. If schools are closed for an additional day (here in Hawaii, the proposal has schools closed almost every Friday between now and January, and then 2 Fridays per month for the rest of the school year) then parents will either have to take the day off of work, or pay for childcare. Either way, it is going to affect their income, and when you look at the big picture, it will effect the taxes they pay. Which will lead to less money. Not to mention, some pretty aggravated parents. And we haven't even started talking about their employers.

And this also means a lot of kids out of school, and potentially left unsupervised. Bored kids find things to do. We were all kids once, I think that it is safe to say that some kids would make poor choices about what to do with that extra time. Here are just a few things that come to mind: How about teen pregnancy? Sex is a fun, free activity perfect for the teen home alone all day! Or maybe increased drug use? Or criminal mischief i.e. destroying public property, breaking and entering while homeowners are at work, leading to the ever popular theft or vandalism. Not to mention the kids who could be injured while home alone during the day, either at home maybe cooking theselves some mac n cheese or on on the street riding bikes without helmets or darting into the street. With increased unsupervised hours, comes increased problems across the board. Not by every kid, of course - but it's not a reach to say it could happen.

And what about the teachers, who are already spending their own money to buy school supplies, working late into the night and arriving early in the morning all for our children ? Why are they being penalized ? Did they just give Too Much ? Yes, let's cut their pay. Absolutely. Clearly, they are living too high on the hog.

I have to be honest - if I didn't have children, I probably wouldn't think twice about this. I mean, why should MY tax dollars go to pay for the schools. Why should the schools remain unaffected - is one less day going to matter ?


Yes it is.

And that is why we have to get loud. We have to come up with alternatives, solutions, ideas, other ways that our towns and cities and counties and states can save money. Because closing schools should not be on the table. Not even for one day.

I made light of it at the beginning of this post, but I'm very serious about this. It's not just about childcare. Or competing with other developed nations. Or about having kids in a safe and productive environment. You may not know this, but in many places (my town included) school provides the only real FOOD these children get. Now, I am not one to crow about the fabulous cafeteria food (chicken patty, anyone ?) but at least they are getting a hot, filling meal with some fruits and vegetables. And even that isn't enough.

Teachers, the ones who's salaries are so blithely being cut by my state government, are not just using their own money to buy things for the classroom - many teachers are also bringing in food, because the children were so hungry they were having trouble concentrating in class. Too many kids come to school on Monday mornings weak and lethargic, because their parents are having trouble putting food on the table. And often times, the food they do get outside of school is not healthy, because people operate under the misconception that healthy food is more expensive. The kids are not getting fruits and vegetables, or whole grains. Their diet is frequently loaded with sugar and salt and fat. Which leads to obesity, and affects their immune systems and their development. Which, yes, you you guessed it, leads to more expense, more time off of work and school, diminished productivity, and in the end, less tax dollars, and less money injected into the economy.

It's all connected, and if we do not stand up and say NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT, NOT IN MY TOWN, NOT IN MY SCHOOLS, NOT IN MY NATION will the children be given any less then everything we can give...if we don't say that, their rights, their well being, their future, will diminish.

We have to make a case for our kids. They are losing out already. Art, music, physical education - those programs have all been cut to varying degrees. Whitney Houston (and I cannot believe I am actually saying this - but you can quote me) was on to something - the children are our future. And if we don't look out for them now, they will not be able to lead us to a bright and prosperous tomorrow.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Snatched from the jaws of a killer

I am sitting down to write this, and my heart is pounding. Mostly with outrage (cause, you know, it's ME we're talking about, and I take indignant outrage to a new level).

This morning is a beautiful morning.
The sun is shining.
The chimes are gently swinging in the breeze.

Lucy wanted to walk to school, which I always think is a great idea.

I asked if we could bring Boston, and she said .....yes.....(reluctantly).

So we snapped on goofy Boston's lead, and off we went down our little street towards the church at the end of the road, where I would deliver my Catholic schoolgirl with golden braids and swinging lunchbox.

As we walked, she chattered away about anything and everything, Boston trotted ahead stopping to sniff yards and send a quick "Heyhowareya" bark to our neighborhood dogs.

I should stop here and say this:
This is a doggy neighborhood on a doggy island.

We have dogs on the neighboring ranches working the land, and dogs riding in cars, and dogs running in wild packs in the gulches, and you know, dogs on surfboards. No really.

So we are pretty comfortable around other dogs, with our dog, but it hasn't always been so. Until we adopted Boston, the kids were terrified of dogs - Max for good reason, and Lucy because Max was - which was a good enough reason for her. Max had been bitten by a friend's dog, while the friend was actually holding the dog and encouraging Max to pet him.

Yeah, I know. It DID suck, trust me.

Ok, back to the story. So we were enjoying this lovely morning walk and suddenly, literally out of nowhere, these two dogs exploded around a corner and headed straight for us, barking and snarling and leaping. One of them ran directly in front of an oncoming car which braked and avoided running him over (thankyoujesus that would have REALLY sucked). The other bee-lined for Boston with ears back and teeth bared. Boston was still on his leash, mid-"Heyhowareya" greeting, and seemed confused by the aggression.

I froze. I didn't want to run, because I was afraid they would chase us. I didn't want to stand still, because they were getting closer and the growling and snarling and leaping was escalating. Mostly though, I was PISSED and I was waiting for the owner to come over and get her dogs under control. The dogs were pretty small, and though I knew it would suck to get bitten, I also knew that I would be able to at least kick them and slow them down. I looked around, to assess my surroundings. Big garbage can, car in street, lunchbox, leash. That's IT ???? That's all I got ?

F to the UCK people. I was screwed. And did I mention, barefoot. (sigh)

At this point Boston was lying on the ground, submissive. He is smarter then I give him credit for - but do not discount the fact that he is also an enormous pussy. Lucy was screaming - but not crying, I realized. She was just as indignant as I was.

And the owner of the dogs ? Was somewhere in her yard. I heard her call them once, but she sure as hell didn't come out. She never left her driveway, and stayed about 100 feet away, just.....watching.

Lady, this is not fucking ANIMAL PLANET.

Both dogs were now about a foot away from us, snarling and barking and growling and advancing. I had to do something. But What ? I had a child in one hand and a leash in the other and I wasn't letting go of either one. A neighbor headed our way. The car that almost hit the other dog had stopped and the driver and passenger were sitting in the car watching it all go down. While I didn't want to force them to get involved, I could have used a car horn or something at that moment. I looked at them, and the panic may have translated. One of the guys got out of the car. As he walked towards me, I yelled down the driveway at the owner, who was still in her yard "What the hell is your problem ? COME GET THEM. That one almost got run over !"

She shouted something back but I don't know (or care, honestly) what she said. I had been loud enough to startle the dogs, and now I turned my back, and walked away....Boston skipping alongside me, Lucy clutching my hand and muttering under her breath about "Dose BAD DOGS mama".

And as we rounded the corner, I realized that we had turned a corner figuratively as well. If that episode had gone down a yeah ago, Lucy would have been hysterical. Now ? She was just annoyed. Which will serve her well in her future endeavors as her mother's daughter.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Awkward moments in time

Today I am adding to the annals of "uncomfortable things that happened to me". I am writing this propped up on the bed, completely blitzed on muscle relaxers and Vicodan, so bear with me, this might not make any sense at all.

Thursday, I went to get my nails done at my favorite nail salon - which should have been relaxing but totally wasn't. I have a hard time in many nail salons to begin with, because I can't hear very well, and the nail techs wear little surgical masks and have heavy accents. So I can never understand a word anyone says to me, and I can't call to make appointments because I certainly can't understand anything said over the phone through a face mask with a heavy accent. I am always too shy to ask where they are from, because I don't want to offend them by assuming that the heavy accent means they are recent arrivals to the US. These techs have my total admiration for being able to move to another country where the language is completely foreign, find jobs, and get crack-a-lackin. It just totally blows my mind, and drives home what a total pussy I am. I mean, I have been sitting on my dream for about 20 years, and still haven't worked up the gumption to make it happen.

A few times I have been brave enough to ask where they moved from - only to be met with the answer "Colorado" or "New York" which leaves me feeling like a complete tool. I am telling you all of this to illustrate just how very shy I am in the salons. Very un-Daffodil like. I usually sit quietly, never ask questions, try to explain what I want up front and hope for the best. If they have a TV to watch, so much the better. If they are watching cable TV instead of foreign music videos I spend the entire visit with my eyes glued to the screen. However, in this salon I have been going long enough to know a few of the techs, and I usually try to keep up some polite conversation for at least part of the time.

In this partucular salon, I have heard several nail techs talk about trips home to Vietnam, and when they bring it up I always ask them questions about their family and homeland. I have had several really nice chats there about Vietnam, and their families, and how old they were when they left. I find it all incredibly fascinating, and a reminder of how lucky I am to have been born here in the US.

Which is why, when the entire salon was watching a Nat Geo special on the Vietnam War, I was totally uncomfortable and felt like I needed to apologize and leave a big tip.

So we all sat there, in silence, watching this special. And the TV was over one shoulder, so I spent the entire time with my head twisted around, with a feeling of complete horror in my stomach. As we watched, the nail techs were mostly silent. Every so often one of them would comment about their personal experiences in connection with the war - family members that were killed, homes that were destroyed....the special was pretty graphic, and I was frozen in my seat. I wanted to distance myself from what was on the screen. I wanted to whip out my ID and prove I hadn't even been born yet. I wanted to explain that my parents voted for McGovern, that no one in my family had been in Vietnam, that I had nothing to do with those children running panicked down the dirt road, with flames all around them.

I was, in a word, tense.

I went home, and my neck was bugging me, so I lay down as instructed last week, and took a muscle relaxer. The next morning I woke up and couldn't turn my head.

Dudes, I threw out my neck watching National Geographic channel. I am so fucking old.

Which is why yesterday I went back to the clinic (sidenote- With my medical history, I will never ever EVER get health insurance again if I lose this coverage). It was my 3rd trip in one week. The doctor probably thinks I am insane (shut up. I totally heard that) and he decided that the best way to deal with the current situation was to shoot massive doses of muscle relaxers into the muscle that was all knotted up. So first I am sitting there in agony, and then I am sitting there in agony with a needle stabbed in my neck. And oh the blood from that needle. The doctor probably gave me 4 different injections - they didn't really help, actually, but they did burn like hell and leave a bruise, so that's something.....

It was, like, 3000 kinds of awesome. Then he told me to get a massage.

Gee doc, you know what ? You are right. I gotta get more massages. You buying ?

I am totally submitting the bills for these massages for reimbursement.

In the meantime, I walk with my head tilted slightly to one side, I am trying to make it look sexy/quizzical, by sort of mysteriously smiling and batting my eyelashes, but it's not really working out that way. I look like I have had a stroke, perhaps. I am always walking just ever-so-slightly to the left.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Yeah, you know what, PATRICK ? I'm not taking any crap either.

Listen, Patrick, I know. I know my kid is a spazz. He's eight. Pretty much all of his friends are total spazzes too. It's just how it goes. They can't help themselves.

That is why, when I introduced you to my son, I sat right next to you, to make sure he didn't spazz all over you or something. No yelling, no running, no waving his arms, or legs, or sticks, or legos, or palm fronds or whatever other damn thing he could find and wave in your face.

Because I get it. It's scary, and unsettling, and FUCKING ANNOYING OH MY GOD SO ANNOYING.

Which is why he was carefully instructed to ignore every natural instinct he had, and sit still (which, oh Patrick, was a feat in and of itself) and hold his hand out for you to sniff.

And you had no reason at all to snarl at him.

You just didn't.

But Patrick, I gave you the benefit of the doubt. I brought him back inside. We gave you some time. Then we seperated you from Boston - who is, granted, even more of a spazz then Max - and let you hang out by yourself for a bit. Have a nice quiet dinner. Chew a bone. Enjoy the evening.

And then, when Max quietly walked outside and again sat down next to me and held out his hand, you really could have given him a chance.

A sniff.

But no. For the next 12 hours, you did everything you could to make sure Max knew that you did not like him. Not. One. Little. Bit. It was heartbreaking to watch this all go down. Max reaching out, you rejecting him, over and over and over again.

And I have had enough passive aggressive bullshit to last me a lifetime, thanks. And this morning, when my son came into my room crying because of you, it was pretty easy to see what needed to happen.

You didn't like him. Or you were scared of him. Either way, this was not a love match. It's not fair to you, it's not fair to my boy, and as sad and awful as it was - I had to accept that this was not the right home for you.

I have to put my boy first, Patrick. He's my boy. He will never be calmer and gentler and more patient then he was today and yesterday. I was so proud of him. He wanted it so badly, your love and acceptance. He would have taken just your tolerance, really. He was trying his damndest to charm you. And if it didn't work for you then, it won't work for you later. I hope you find the family you are looking for. Or maybe you are hoping your old owner will show up and reclaim you - I can't blame you for that. No one likes to be rejected.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Patrick is not taking any crap

Today Lucy and I put Boston in the truck, and drove to the Humane Society. We were on a mission, a mission to find a buddy for Boston.

Boston is a sweet, sweet dog. He also has a LOT of energy - so much energy that when the kids come home from school he tramples them in his enthusiasm to play and lick and sniff. It didn't matter if I had just taken hiim to the beach, or for a walk in the woods, he was always ready for more - twenty four seven this dog is "on". We needed a solution. And in my muddled, murkey mind, that solution was a playmate.

So we marched into the squat concrete building with our shoulders square and our game faces on. We would not be easily swayed. The perfect dog had to have it all. Cute looks, gentle demeanor, and a willingness to be chased in circles around the yard all day long.

We looked at every dog in the place. Puppies, adults, chihuahuas and hounds....and I fell in love with two - an enormous spaniel named Domino, and a freshly neutered basset/chihuahua puppy with the sweetest gray eyes and those silly duck feet that bassetts have.

But Boston's enthusiasm was too much. Neither of these dogs would have been a good fit. Domino would have plowed over any child in his path, and the puppy was absolutely petrified.

And so we returned to the first dog - the one suggested to us by the guy behind the counter, who clearly adored him. Boston did all of the things Boston likes to do - sniff, lick, chase and eventually, hump. And this dog was down with all of it, right up until Boston tried to mount him.

And what we witnessed was the dog equivalent of "I don't think so, asshole."
With all of his strength, this little dog threw his hindquarters to the left, and Boston went flying, legs akimbo, and landed right on his ass. And that, no pun intended, was the end of that.
Introducing Boston and his new best friend Patrick:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A boy and his kidney

Thanks everyone for your positive thoughts prior to Max's ultrasound yesterday. Some of you know the story of Max's kidney, some of you don't, but either way it's a story worth telling again, if only to put things in perspective.

It starts, of course, with the infertility. Years and years of it. And finally, the positive pregnancy test. And then, the ultrasounds began. When you are undergoing fertility treatments, you get a lot of ultrasounds - and this pregnancy was no exception. Max was photographed for the first time when he most closely resembled a fried egg. Then there was the flashing heart beat a week later. And then, a few weeks later, the shrimp with legs (think: creature that comes out Sigourney Weaver's stomach in "Alien"). And all along, everything was going great. I felt like shit, which apparently was a good thing. So with everything on track, the ultrasounds dwindled, and I went for several months without a new photo for the baby album.

And then we went in for the Big Ultrasound. The fun one, where you find out if you are having a boy or a girl. We invited my mom along. The mood was celebratory. Spirits were high. Anticipation filled the air.

And we got the answer right away - Boy oh boy, was it a boy. I know every parent jokes about it, but HOLY CRAP there was no question what we had going on in there. They measured it. They tagged it. They labeled it. We all giggled, Sami pounded his chest, my mother gushed, I realized that I needed to re-think the nursery.

And during all of our excited chatter, we hadn't noticed how.....quiet the tech was. Until we noticed that she was still looking. Peering at the screen, punching buttons, twisting dials. Photographing. Measuring. Labeling. And then she left the room and said she would be right back.

She returned with backup. Serious looking white coats, stethescopes, clipboards, concerned looks, sideways glances.

Hallmark signs of "A Problem".

I froze. Sami looked concerned. My mother looked distraught. The doctor who turned to us looked grim.

"Did you have the triple screen test ?"

"No, why ?"

"May I ask why you didn't have the test ?"

"Because there are so many false positives, I opted for this ultrasound instead."

"I see."

"WHY ? What's wrong ? What's going on ?"

"Well, we are seeing an abnormality. One of his kidneys is very large, and does not have the typical structure of a kidney."

There was more information given, some back and forth, and the doctors left, one of them heading off to find the genetic counselor. The ultrasound tech scurried out, avoiding eye contact. And I lay there, in shock, I think. Then I looked over at my mother, who was crying. And all I could say was:

"Something is wrong with my baby."

There were many, many tests. Ultrasounds, interviews with specialists, we chose a local hospital with a NICU for the birth, that was associated with the children's hospital we had selected for our son's care. And we prepared ourselves.

When Max was born, he peed right away, which meant that at least one kidney was working. So we dialed down the drama, and just focused on adjusting to life with a newborn.

We couldn't just forget about it, though. The specialist we had chosen put Max on a daily dose of antibiotics to prevent a kidney infection while they decided what to do, and they ran more tests. The tests were invasive, painful, and extremely traumatizing for us as parents. Max, thankfully, will never remember them.

The test results weren't good.

One kidney was not actually a kidney at all. It was a large fluid-filled mass. And it needed to come out. The other kidney was functioning, but it's connection to the bladder was not, and he was at increased risk of serious infection in his one, precious, all important kidney.

Surgery was scheduled.

On May 1st, May Day, we arrived at Children's Hospital early in the morning, in a daze. We were escorted to preop. Max was undressed. We hugged him goodbye. And then a nurse, a perfectly lovely woman who was also a total stranger, took my newborn baby out of my arms. She put him up on her shoulder, and walked away.

As I watched his little face bobbing over her shoulder, as I watched him disappear through the swinging doors of the OR, I really and truly thought I might throw up. I was numb. We went to the waiting room, filled with other parents who looked as catatonic as I felt. We watched TV, we addressed invitations to the naming ceremony, I pumped. And pumped. And pumped. It was as though my body, having lost the ability (temporarily) to care for my child, was trying to prove itself worthy of the task. I could have fed a small country that day. Bottle after bottle was labeled and taken to the freezer. Labeled with the name of my baby.

After what seemed like days, but was really only hours, we were called to the recovery room, and there was our boy. Dazed and confused. "He looks stoned." "Yeah he does. Lucky kid. Wonder if they'll give us some." "Somehow, I doubt it." "Yeah. Bummer."

We had to keep it light, because we were faced with a reality that was anything but funny. Tubes, wires, tape, monitors, lights, beeping, blood, stitches, hoses......stuff you see on TV, but this was all attached to our tiny son.

We lived at the hospital for a few days, Sami leaving for work each morning, me staying behind to care for Max. And then we headed home, south down route 3, with Sami's cousin driving alongside.

More quickly then I expected, then I could have hoped for, he healed. The tape came off, the adhesive left on his skin wore away, the stitches came out, the wounds least the physical ones did.

But having a child who is sick, who is born with a birth defect, changes you forever. The cold hard reality, that the human body is not guaranteed The reminder that when a baby is born "perfect", it is indeed a miracle, not to be taken lightly. Life is a gift. When something - anything - goes wrong, your heart is always a little bit broken, because the pure joy of having a child is altered by the fear and concern for their wellbeing, and the burden (emotional, financial and otherwise) that comes with the reality of medical care.

One way that the reality of his condition haunts us is with the annual exams. They are just ultrasounds at this point, because we have refused the more invasive, painful tests. As long as the ultrasound looks clear, and he isn't having any infections, we want to leave well enough alone. But we will always have an extra layer of concern, and we will always remember that the most important result of a prenatal ultrasound is not finding out the sex, but being sure the baby is healthy.

These days, Max is an enormous, thriving third grader. The only sign of his condition are the two large scars on his torso - one on his belly, and one on his back. Someday, he will make up cool stories about those scars to impress the girls, but for this girl, the reality is impressive enough.

Are you following me ?

I am trying out this "follow" feature on google. I don't know if I like it, so I am also putting up the "subscribe" button.

If you do read this blog regularly, please feel free to subscribe or follow. Or, in comments, let me know if you don't like these features.

I am not sure they are going to stay up there for long. I am not very tech-savvy, and I don't know if one is better then the other.

In other news, I am going to be back soon with the tale of a boy and his kidney. It's an interesting story, actually.

Monday, September 14, 2009

In which I forget all the disparaging thoughts I have about organized religion, and pray like crazy and hope you'll join me

Max had his annual checkup on Friday and YES it's about 10 months late but don't judge me, Judgy Mc Judger. (Ooooh, that looks weird and now the word judge doesn't make any sense - I hate it when that happens.)

ANYHOW, what I was about to say is that when Max had his belated annual checkup, our doctor reminded us that he was supposed to have an annual ultrasound of his kidney. He only has one, you see, which is a long tale in and of itself and I will certainly bring you up to speed on that later but for now let's just hit the high points.

Max. Has one kidney. There are usually two. He only has one. He had kidney surgery when he was four months old. Because that one kidney didn't work very well.

OK, are you with me ? Good.

So today - right now, actually - we are going to have an ultrasound to make sure that his one kidney is doing what it is supposed to be doing.

More later.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

11 years of hotness

Today is my wedding anniversary.

Eleven years, ladies and gentlemen. This man has put up with my shit for eleven years.

And what better way to celebrate then back-to-back trips to the urgent care clinic for IV fluids, and pain and anti-nausea meds ? I mean really...right ? Super Romantic. Hot. Sexy.

So yeah, this anniversary is only a slight improvement over last year, when I had to have surgery. So thankfully, we had the bar set very, very low.

Tonight I am going to enjoy another anti-nausea suppository before our candlelight dinner, and if everything goes smoothly (as in, I don't throw up or collapse like yesterday) we should be having a nice little evening.

The restaurant has a sign posted saying "No Outside Food". I hope they don't mean saltines, because I'm bringing mine.

No baby, I love YOU more.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I was doing the same damn thing

8 years ago today, at about this time, I was sitting at my laptop making travel reservations for New York City on Hotwire.

And then, after reviewing my confirmation email I clicked over to and sat, frozen, at the photo that was on the home page.

I didn't understand exactly what I was looking at.

I looked over at the TV, tuned to the Today show, but muted because Max was napping....and saw a similar image.

Matt Lauer looked pretty tense.

I turned on the volume and sat and listened, and as I listened my tension increased ten-fold. And right now, even as I write this my stomach is in a knot and really I don't want to think about that day AT ALL.

So rather then spending this morning reading everyone's therapeutic posts about where they were, and what they were doing on 9/11, I am closing this computer and I am not going to re-live the day.

I wasn't there.
I didn't lose a family member.
I didn't lose a friend.
But I will always remember and never forget.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Don't get all "Just Say No" on me now

Yesterday I mentioned that perhaps a little wine at the end of the day might help me deal with the ginormous task of Third Grade Homework.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But there is something else that would probably help too......and I am just not sure if I need more of it or not. I am speaking, of course, of prescribed pharmeceuticals.

My mother just LOVES it when I talk about my depression on this blog. Oh, she does. She really does. She would never encourage me to keep it quiet, in case anyone ever read about it and made a judgement about me based on my mental health - WHICH IS FINE. My mental health is fine, just a bit droopy, and a tad manic, and maybe a little OCD. Nothing major, I don't think they're gonna lock me up or anything. I mean, if Nancy W. Kappes (paralegal) and her Judy Garland Trail Mix is free to walk the streets, I have nothing to worry about.

Point being, I have tried a few different kinds of anti-depressants at the encouragement of multiple doctors, and they all leave me feeling sleepy and groggy and not myself. At all.

And I am FUN when I'm myself. So why ruin a good thing.

Which is why I am currently not taking any pharmaceuticals at all, and why by 1 pm yesterday I was shaking and teary. (Or maybe that was because I had not had anything to eat that day, and the only drink I had was an americano with about 2 inches of sweetened condensed milk stirred in. Don't knock it till you've tried it, but for GOD'S SAKE try it with food. Trust me on this one.)

ANYWAY the point of all of this is that I am not taking my antidepressants, so I'm depressed. Which means that this morning in addition to my espresso with sweetened condensed milk, I also had 3 strips of bacon. And now I am thinking about what else to eat, and reading The Pioneer Woman for inspiration because if anyone can come up with something that looks tasty to someone with no appetite, it's Ree. I'll bet she doesn't take antidepressants either, because with all of that bacon and all those cowboys, how could anyone possibly be depressed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Homework sucks big hairy horse balls

I think that homework is going to be my undoing. My kid is in the 3rd grade, and half the time I don't even UNDERSTAND the assignment - never mind know the right answer.

Directions are vague at best. And - BONUS - according to my son the teacher many times tells them they can do it a different even following the instructions to the letter does not mean it will be done correctly. That is, if I can understand the instructions, which as I mentioned, I frequently cannot.

AND if I manage to understand the directions, and come up with an answer that makes sense, I certainly won't be able to explain it to my son.

The whole thing is a fucking DEBACLE (I LOVE that word) and almost every night I end up shouting about homework. Third Grade Homework. By the time this kid gets to middle school I'm gonna be in a straight jacket drooling on myself.

Homework sucks and I hate it and I always have and I always will.

The difference is, now I can write notes to the teacher. In the future, I may be sending notes that read something like this: "Max did the work the way I TOLD HIM TO and if it's wrong it's not his fault so please don't mark him down because of it."

And things like "This is the lamest book ever, and there is no way to outline a problem and solution in a chapter that covers 3 pages - with illustrations and large print. And trying to do so ended in tears. Family-wide tears. I hope you're happy."

And I also like to point out that "We stayed out late and Max didn't have time to finish his homeowrk, so we'll catch up tomorrow."

In case it appears that I am downplaying the importance of homework, I am NOT. I get the point of homework, and I understand it's importance. But I think homework is something my child should be able to do INDEPENDENTLY to show that he understands what he has been taught.

Since the only thing my son handles independently is wiping his ass (and even that is far from a A+ situation, if you know what I'm saying) we still have a long way to go.

Which is where we get to the real heart of the matter. The purpose for this post. The motivation behind my tirade.

I need more wine.

Monday, September 7, 2009

She's crafty

Today we were rocking out in the car, heads nodding in unison to the beat. The beat of my beloveds......The Beastie Boys. The Beastie Boys is the only rap music (wait, is it even rap music ? Oh god I sound like my mother) I can listen to without feeling like a complete fraud/poser. I'm not saying I can pull it off - I'm sure I still look like an idiot bobbing along to the Beastie Boys. But I don't feel as awkward as I do trying to bop along to, say Snoop Dog.

Anyway, as I was saying, we were driving today, with the volume turned way up, all of us bouncing and shouting and singing along. I can only imagine what other drivers thought of us as we pulled up to the intersection, with the bass booming and our heads keeping time and then every so often the kids will shout out the last word of the lyric for emphasis, finger jabbing with enthusiasm.

So there we are, grooving along, and suddenly in the opening lyrics of "She's Crafty" Lucy screams "IT'S ME ! IT'S A SONG ABOUT MEEEEEEEE!"

And I'm all "for the love of CHRIST it's not about you. Everything in this world is not about you ! How can you possibly try to make the claim that a Beastie Boy's song from 20 years ago is about YOU ?"

And she looks me in the eye in the rearview mirror and says "Play it again."

So I do. Sitting there in the Walmart parking lot, with the rain pouring down, we play it again from the beginning.

And damned if she isn't right.

First we had to deal with "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and now this

Saturday, September 5, 2009

And more and more and more

You know, it's a little disheartening to be selling things for 2 weeks straight, and STILL HAVE A HOUSE FULL OF CRAP.


I am re-committing myself to lengthy ebay and craigslist posting this weekend, and after that, I'm done.

I will drag everything that is left over to the church charity shop, and let them have at it. Because honestly, at this point the money I might get from this is not worth the time invested it trying to sell it.

Except the car.

I still haven't sold the car - but I am not dragging my station wagon down to the church auxilliary. My daughter may love Jesus, and he may be her best friend, but he can't have my car. Plus, he strikes me as the kind of guy that would prefer to drive a stick.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fly Away Home

It's really happening. It's not temporary, it's for The Rest Of My Life. I will never again be a stay at home mom with a baby, carefully scheduling my days around feedings and naptimes and loads of laundry that can't sit wet in the washer for more then 3 seconds because then they will reek and have to be washed all over again.

Yeah, I'm a little OCD. What ?

ANYWAY, now that the kids are out of the house, I am kind of freaking out. A little bit. Okay, listen, I am totally freaking out. What the HELL am I going to do with myself ? No, really. WHAT ? Between the hours of 8 and 2, 4 days a week (I work Fridays, and some nights and weekends) I am going to be free as a BIRD ! FOREVER !

That is a lot of time, y'all.

I have put out feelers for volunteer opportunities, and that is definitely in the works. But in the meantime......

It's been a week. What have I done with myself for the past week ? Well, first I shoveled all of the accumulated crap out of the house. The kids rooms are SPOTLESS. I moved furniture and everything. No, I really did. And then I had a yard sale. And then I listed stuff on Craigslist. And then I kind of ran out of stuff to do. And amazingly, I STILL forgot a doctor's appointment yesterday morning. (shakes head sadly) I used to blame that stuff on the kids, but now there is No One To Blame.

This empty nest thing is lame.

In an attempt to feel productive, I have been filling my hours gradually, running errands and doing chores around the house. But that can't be the be-all end-all. I will lose my mind. I'm halfway there already after 8 years at home with the kids. So maybe I should have a little R and R. Yes. Right. Me Time.

First I went to a yoga class. At the end of the class, the instructor announced he was going on vacation for a month.

Alrighty then. Forget the yoga.

I spent an entire morning at the DMV, then went out to lunch with a friend and had a bloody mary - and I ended up kind of woozy and had to take a nap. So I guess I won't become one of the "ladies who lunch". Which is too bad, because that sounded pretty good to me.

I was going to clean the bathroom yesterday, but (I'm going to be honest here) I just really didn't want to. So I went to the beach and lay there with my eyes closed because I could. And that was AWESOME (and FREE!) but I can't possibly just go to the beach all day every day for the rest of my life.

Or can I ?

All the ladies out there who are stay at home mom's to school-age kids, and have time during the day to actually, you know, think. And do things. I know you are out there. I'm new around here. What do we do ?

You know what I do ?
I start another blog.
I'll be there looking for things to keep me busy.
Suggestions welcome.

This post can also be seen on Momversation


Sometimes, you just gotta eat the worm.

Last night, after two days meditating on my Smokey McSmoker post, I broke down and bought a pack of smokes.

But not just any smokes.

No, not that kind of smoke. The other kind. No, not that one either.


I bought a pack of clove cigarettes and sat there and smoked and licked my lips and remembered my first CLOVE cigarette, which I enjoyed with several classmates on a trip to see "A Christmas Carol" in Providence (I think. Maybe Hartford ?) I believe it was Monique who introduced me to these fabulous little treasures. And we sat there in a coffee shop, smoking and talking and we probably didn't even leave a tip but the memory? Priceless.

And then, cruising down the highway all grown up and 20 years later, after maybe 4 or five leisurely puffs, I got dizzy and felt like I was going to throw up. So I rolled down the window and drank more coffee, and when I arrived at my destination I ate a taco (Thanks Trouble - yummy !) and ate some fruit out of the bottom of the sangria the Bethness had prepared, and then the Superstar showed up and before you know it we were back outside under the stars and almost full moon, reaching for another clove cigarette.

I'm done now. No really.
Except that the fucking clove cigarettes cost me $9 and Holy Hell I'm gonna have to get that money back one way or the other. I think I'm gonna be selling clove cigarettes to the Not-As-Young-As-We-Used-To-Be nostalgia crowd for the next week.

I'm a hustler, what can I say.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Some issues that need more discussion then just a status update on facebook

A few things I would like noted.

The Duggars need to stop having sex.
Just stop it. Jim Bob or whatever the hell your name is (all I know for sure is it begins with a "J" because every fucking one of them except the poor mother has a "J" name, just more proof that the man is a total control freak) leave your wife the hell alone. She probably can't sit with her legs closed anymore because of all of the damage you have inflicted down there, and I'll betcha she pees a little every time she moves. For the love of god, we get it. You are VERY VIRILE. Potent. Hot. A hunk of burning man love wishing to spread his seed.

Fine. Just stop spreading it on Michelle. Or, at the very least, stop telling us about it. That is not family television. No one wants to know how much sex you have had. Because the whole time I was pregnant, all I kept thinking was Oh My God, everyone knows we had sex. Everyone. In the world. Knows. Including my mother in law.(((shudder)))

Second thing I want noted: This Catholic School thing is rocking my world. Obviously, unlike Jim Bob over there, I am not as comfortable professing my religious beliefs, and talking about it, and letting people know what I believe and how I feel. So when I walk in the bathroom and my 4 year old is in the shower praying ? It freaks me the fuck out and I don't know whether to ignore it or discuss it or WHAT.

Third thing I need to share:
When I have just dropped $1000 on car repairs, it is NOT FUCKING FUNNY when the "service engine soon" light comes on within 24 hours of picking up the car.

Not Funny At All.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Smokey McSmoker

"When did you quit smoking?"

It was said in a tone that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Accusatory ? Condescending ? Definitely not "YAY YOU FOR QUITTING !" - no no, that was definitely not the tone of this comment.

What was this all about ? For the record, I haven't been a "smoker" in a long, long time - and by "smoker" I mean someone that purchases cigarettes and smokes on a regular basis. That is not me. It used to be me, absolutely.

(This is where my mom should stop reading.)

I have no idea why I started, but I remember when. I found a forgotten pack of my dad's cigarettes in the pocket of an old yellow rain jacket one day when I put it on to go get something outside. And I couldn't stop thinking about them. So one afternoon, I sat out on the front steps with a pack of matches and a single Merit cigarette, and lit up my world. I was 11. Maybe 12. It was autumn, with crackly brown leaves skittering along the step behing me, and a squirrel chattering (lecturing ?) in a tree branch overhead.

Oh, I loved smoking. Loved it. The smell, the taste, the warmth in my chest. No coughing - I was a natural.

I would ride my bike over to a local restaurant with a pocket full of quarters, and buy cigarettes out of the machine. Camel Lights, usually. I switched to Marlboro Lights later on.

For about 10 years (10 glorious, wonderful, romantic years) I smoked. I was never addicted to nicotine, because I would stop smoking for months on end with no thought. And then I would be at a party, or a bar (because god knows I spent more time in bars BEFORE the age of 21 then after) and someone would be smoking and the next thing I knew, I was bumming a cigarette and lighter and I'd be right back in the groove, hard pack of smokes with a small lighter tucked inside and a hair elastic stretched around the box to differentiate mine from everyone else's.

I imagine that my smoking gave added years to an already mature appearance, which would be why I was able to sit in bars starting at the tender age of 12 without raising an eyebrow. That, and I drank like a fish with no noticable consequence.

I spent occasional weekends in New York City with my beloved cousin, riding subways and buses late into the night, sitting in CBGB's listening to loud music and talking to men (MEN !) with tall purple mohawks and interesting jewelry. Sipping cappuccinos at sidewalk cafes, or even better, the cafes in the basements of old brownstones, with dim lighting and italian music and FLORIO prints on the walls, and we would laugh because it was the family name and that made us feel so sophisticated to have our name emblazoned all over the walls of this uber-cool hideaway. And always, a cigarette gently held between two fingers of my right hand.

Eventually, I got bored with the smoking. The smell on all of my clothes, in my hair, my very pores were saturated with the smell of smoke, tar, tobacco.....I was developing a little callous between my second and third fingers where I seemed to always be holding a cigarette.

And then it started to get expensive, and you weren't allowed to smoke in bars or restaurants, and as I got older people didn't want me smoking in their cars or their homes and eventually it just got INCONVENIENT.

So I just stopped.

The day after my wedding, I had a lovely cigarette, lying in the sun with the smell of ripe tomatos on the vine and the blooming stargazer lilys and crashing surf all polluted by my Marlboro. And that was it.

I have, in subsequent years, purchased cigarettes now and again. But those moments happen so infrequently, with years between them, that I don't think they qualify me as a smoker.

So what up, cranky health clinic doctor ?

Apparently, I told some nurse at some check in god knows when, that I smoked occasionally at parties - and she labeled me as a smoker.

And I was. Oh, I was.