Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Evening Service

Route B was the way to go after my shift the other night. Route B consists of a short walk to a bus stop, a south-bound bus ride of about 1.5 miles to a transfer point. The second, west-bound bus ride is about 11 miles, after which I walk about three blocks home. The trip, including wait times, on a good day, takes about an hour.

The alternative, (route A) covers more ground via two trains, as I must ride a bit south-east before heading west. The A route is generally faster but the walking and stair climbing associated with this route makes this route less attractive at 9:15 pm after a day that started at 5:30 am.

Fatigue on this day, dictating route B found me boarding the first bus after short wait. The second bus arrived after only a very short wait, as well. The happy happy joy joy dance is done mentally. Four blocks into the almost 50+ block ride, Preacher Man boards.

While not overly crowded, there is a healthy mix of humanity represented. Various ages, genders, ethnicities, manners of dress and degrees of decorum were all about to be treated to ... something. Preacher Man with King James planted firmly in the palm of his right hand, commenced to address his congregation. Some, who seemed to be the prime target for his message, immediately took issue with his disruption of their shrieking contest.

"Blood...Vagina...Jesus," he said, over and over. There were more words in between, more to the message, I am sure, but I couldn't make out much of what he was saying. He said these words with vigor and because of my recent invasion which turned into a 20 day marathon before it was done, I was just a tad transfixed.

Some of the flock engaged Preacher Man in a bit of dialogue. He took this as a sign to AMP up his fervor. Oh joy. Most of the rest of us, moaned and groaned wondering what we did to warrant being held captive by this impromptu service.

The congregation began to dissolved, as did my hope that each stop would signal Preacher Man's exit line. Finally, he got off, imploring young people to...blood...vagina...Jesus, or whatever. I was just a shade under half way home.

As usual, I am the lone passenger when we reach the end of the line, my stop. As I depart, the driver wishes me a blessed day. I do manage to eke out a tepid good-night.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

OB Where Thou Art

If you were to ask me about my childhood, I would have been reluctant to tell. It's old and tired and I try to excise it from my mind; but it keeps coming back, at the oddest times, invading my space. The travail I endured certainly served a purpose, as it strengthened me for what lie ahead with my own children and beyond. Never-the-less, had I been in charge of the script, it most assuredly would have had a different plot line.

Tar-Baby, Sambo, Buckwheat, for a time I heard these taunts on a regular basis. My OB's litany of derogatory comments color my image perception even today, for his opinions were shared and voiced by many. Moreover, I expected my OB to 'stick up' for me, it was not to be. I might have been able to chalk his abuses up to big brother bs had it not been for the intensely vitriolic delivery of not just words but pushes, shoves and punches.

I don't know why he was so angry, at me, at the world. It came in waves and flooded our family with venom.

Ultimately, OB's anger spiraled from bad attitude to bad acts. He spent most of his teens and early adulthood stealing, gambling, lying, drinking, drugging, fussing and fighting. He was in and out of jail, in and out of his mother's house, in and out of his mind.

It was the late 80's when he was in his late 20's that he decided to leave. He took a 2nd, 3rd or more hand bicycle and headed towards Louisiana; toward his dad and away from those who tried to help. His parting grace, kiss his ass.

My mother cried, drank and sedated. All the while, YB sought and found different ways to destroy.

OB stayed away for over 15 years. Most of those 15 we didn't know where he was. We found out that he made it to Louisiana, not on the bike, found his way to Texas, then California, then back to Texas. It was during the second stint in Texas when Mom got a letter from prison authorities wanting, among other things, to confirm the existence of his next of kin.

He came back to Illinois six or seven years ago. The reunion was short and not at all sweet.

OB went back to Texas and eventually back to jail. Mom writes, he calls with the calling card she sent him, probably with the money I gave her. She passes on his greetings to me. I pass them back.

He's due to be released, again, soon. He needs clothes. He asked for jeans and shirts, please. "Uhm, but could you send Levi's; I only wear Levi's."

In between a multitude of medical appointments, managing pain from a variety of syndromes, anxiety attacks, medication stupor, church, dealing with YB (and his family), making sure that I'm ok, she scours the resale shops looking for Levi's in his size.

And she cries, as do I.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Try It You Might Like It

I like coffee, now. I'd been a tea drinker, besmirching the merits of coffee whenever the subject arose. I'd tried coffee as a teen-ager and decided, yuck. Someone whose opinion I'd come to trust, suggested I try again. I did. I now drink coffee.

In much the same way I've developed appreciation for various musical stylings, authors, films, other foodstuffs and so on. Some tastes are carry-overs from childhood experiences and memories, but many were developed as an adult, on the suggestion from some source deemed worthy of trust, after some consideration.

My generally cautious nature is sometimes besieged with suggestions and I find myself leaping without careful consideration. Sometimes landing unscathed, sometimes not. Overall the damage hasn't been that great, leaving me vulnerable to consider now...


As I child, I detested the taste, smell and look of beets. I'd been forced to eat them because 1. We didn't waste food and 2. They were good for me. Having decided that they were the worse substance on the planet, I vowed that when I was making my own decisions about what to put in my mouth, beets wouldn't be on the list, ever!

Whenever beets came up in conversation my eyes bugged out, I cringed and gagged, leaving no room for doubt as to where they fell on the likeability meter. A colleague and I were talking and he brought up beets. The *routine* started almost automatically. Showing considerable patience and restraint, he waited for me to get myself together; then suggested, that perhaps I'd been too young for my first beet. "Maybe your taste buds just weren't ready."

Not quite ready to let go of my parlor act, I'd decided his theory was a load of crap. Then I thought, well, I didn't like coffee, at first. And, I considered the reverse; there were things I ate as a child, peppermint sticks with sour pickles come to mind, that I would eat on a dare these days. So, maybe there is something to this taste buds maturity or lack thereof, theory. Hmm.

After careful deliberation, I'm firing up search engines, on and off-line for acclaimed beet *treatments.* No leaping on this one though, the beet demons are too powerful a lobby. I am considering; at least my eyes don't bug out anymore when I hear the word, beet.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Saturday, Fun Day

I should be in bed because I have to work in the morning. Lots of people are looking are for jobs, many of them call my call center. Most shifts, I receive calls, from time to time I must make calls. Last night I had an assignment to call candidate: Ofakivahamamao. Seeing the listing, I spent several nervous moments trying to determine just how I was going to *address* this person or how I was even going to ask for them. Thankfully, the recruiter who had developed the file added a note: Candidate prefers to be called Regina. I'm thinking, no kidding and THANK YOU.

Today was the best Saturday in a long list of full of lists Saturdays. I didn't do any yard or housework and not because I was ill or just too tired. I was busy most of the day, having fun. I had a bike ride this morning, I didn't get up early enough to test run the skates, but I'm hoping next by next Saturday to have a few runs under my belt.

YL and I then went to a ball game. She won tickets to the Sox and she invited me to go along. We had brats and soda, the plan was to drink later at the Pride Fest. Although, when we saw the Frozen Margarita vendor we thought, hey... She never came back to our section though. We surmised that she was the lone such vendor and when she realized she had to work the whole park, dropped her pack and quit...

Anyway, the Sox came from behind and won in the 10th. What a hoot. We came home and she changed clothes, because she is, after all, YL and then we took off again.

We arrived at the Festival site, parked the car and commenced to feast on the Fest. There were happy people EVERYWHERE! It was fantastic. We ate, drank, and shook our groove thangs, yeah! We collected magnets, literature and CRUNCH (fitness) bags. YL boughprovocativetive tee - shirt, because she is after all YL.

She got comments on the REHAB is for Quitters tee-shirt she was wearing, especially while we were giggling over the Spitters are Quitters tee-shirt we saw at one booth. (No, she didn't buy that.)

We had fun today and I'm thinking, THANK YOU.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Girl, Oh Boy, Woman

She threw, climbed and kicked. She was active and daring. Three years younger than her brother, she was first to conquer diving and master two-wheeled bikes. She rocked roller-blades with ease. She even liked to ice skate. Competitively, she played softball, volleyball, basketball and soccer. Oh boy, what a girl.

The girl lived in addidas athletic shoes and cleats. She sported many brands of sweat pants, shirts and bands. There were balls, shin guards and uniforms to buy. There were games on many days and in many conditions. Soccer goes in all but lightening and hail. There was car-pooling, orange slices and giggles. Oh boy, what a girl.

Stop the presses. YL buys (or asks me to buy) fashion mags, gets manicures and pedicures. She's asked me to buy hair, for her micros (braids.) She likes, well loves, shopping. She always has really, but now instead of all things athletic, she's looking for big shades, hats, make-up, skirts and heels. She still buys T-shirts, jerseys and caps, but she's gotten all color and team coordinated on me. Oh boy, what a girl.

We spend a lot of time together; my girl and me. I would go so far to say that we are friends, the best of friends. I am sometimes surprised by how much fun we have together. I mean, I don't particularly like shopping. I don't generally pay people to do my nails, hands or feet. I have never bought a fashion mag, for myself. I would never, ever buy hair for anyone to weave into my head.

She's become a woman, different from me, and that's OK.

YL thinks we should go to a spa. "Mom, you should try it. Facials and pedicures are fun." I tell her I'd feel weird about strangers rubbing, stroking and scraping on me. Besides, why would I spend money for a pedicure, I don't even wear sandals. "Oh Mom, you always think about money." Sweetie, someone has to. Yl follows with how it makes you feel like royalty.

Oh boy, what a girl!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I Blame Peaches and Herb

I've not always been the most physical of creatures. Biking was and is fun, but I'd really used the activity as an escape hatch, not for physical pleasure. I have over the years tried basketball, volleyball, softball, swimming (under duress,) tennis and rolling skating.

Most of the activities, taken up during high school years, provided 1. Escape from home 2. Appearance of *normalcy* and 3. Kept my emotions from overtaking my body. I also tended to be a bit klutzy. The challenge to be less so was also a impetus to participate. I have deep respect for athletic prowess.

Since joining the gym I've come to understand that you either need an affinity for physical activity of that variety or a steel trap resolve to keep on going and going and going. My early progress was encouraging, my enthusiasm high and thus, not hard to plug away one hour stints five afternoons a week.

The resolve has started to wane. I need to shake up the routine. Let's face it, treadmills, climbers, stationary bikes and such are great, but after awhile, can get, well, routine, if not downright boring. I can't take any of the classes, so it's clear, my variety will have to come outside of the gym.

I'm not a runner, knees too wonky for that. I need a bigger bang than walking, even fast-walking will provide. Biking is aerobically beneficial, but to get a really good work-out, I have to be on it much longer on the week-end than I usually have time for. My solution then, is roller skating. That's right! I'm going to re-visit the seventies and strap on some roller skates, quads not blades. Blades take a level of balance that I never ( I tried) had and don't see myself developing at 45 almost 46 years old. Quads, I think I can do, again. I'm much less klutzy than I used to be, but even then, I got to be a pretty good skater. I read somewhere that the aerobic benefits were as good, even better than running, with much less impact.

Sometime over the next few days I'm going to start skating, rolling toward renewed vigor, a more active, efficient metabolism and continued better health and happiness, to augment the gym routine.

Don't worry, I'll be taking a spotter the first few times, until I get my *wheels* back.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Any Difference?

YL told her boyfriend my news. Apparently, Los was taken aback, presumed that YL was in some distress over the recent developments and asked her what she was going to do. She replied, "what's to do? It's not like I'm going to come home and find her on the couch having sex with some woman, she's still my mom."

There it is. I'm still her mom. Still t o d, still the shy, slightly nerdy, wordy (with them and keyboards) home body list maker who enjoys hanging out with them, art, music, books home improvement shows and conquering lists.

Never-the-less, I am changing, awakening long dormant skills and muscles. I'm discovering new interests. Some, due to recent circumstances, like gardening. Some others because I'm allowing myself the freedom to breathe other air.

I've had pockets of happiness, even force feeding, at times as I deemed that vital to my survival. These days have me believing that continued survival will depend on having the entire outfit as often as possible; freely, openly and honestly.

Note to YL: You absolutely will not come home to find me on the couch sharing intimacies with a woman. I do believe that your mom would find a room with a bed and most likely, a door.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ahh, Summer

As a child, I was a bit of a hermit. Oh sure, I went to school, church and to visit relatives. But basically I could be found at home; reading, writing, watching TV, listening to music, drawing or day-dreaming a way out of my existence. During better times, Mom tried to find me something to do, outside, especially in the summertime.

One year, I think I might have been around ten, she decided that I had to go to the boys club, (it was really a kids club-they just hadn't changed the name yet) for swimming lessons.

Hello?? Swimming? I HATE FREAKING SWIMMING? Doesn't anyone EVER listen to the GIRL?

Besides, just before the end of the school year, I'd been labeled gifted. Which to my mind meant that I stayed awake, listened to the teacher, did what I was told and every so often stepped outside the box and did more. In my neighborhood, the gifted label made you a pariah, fodder for every bully in the tri-county area and in the summertime, they were ALL at the POOL.

Left with no choice, I packed my swim gear and fear in a plain duffel to brave the pool. It was my hope that my older brother would offer some insulation from the kids who were just waiting to whale on the nerdy, goody-two-shoes, gift girl. He did, until he decided it was more fun to join in with the tormenting of me. Ah, to be ten, again.

I spent that summer at the pool. To say I learned how to swim would be putting a too generous title on what I did (do) in the water. I did come in third place at the summer-ending Olympics. Mom, proud of my ribbon, let me have two friends over for crackers with jelly and Kool-Aid, well, they had Kool-Aid, because of my allergies, I had to have Yoo-Hoo .

Years later I confessed that 1. There were only three people in the *race* and 2. To ribbon, I just had to get across the pool.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Feeling Sloggy

Clogged sinuses plus grogginess from lack of sleep equals sloggy. Feeling sloggy, in case you were wondering is the polar opposite of feeling groovy. I began Saturday, 6/17, feeling right sloggy.

Slogginess can be overcome; it generally requires a combo of motivation and proper medication. I'd felt the motivation and as I didn't have the medication on hand, added that chore to the already loaded list for the day.

The slog, truth be told, started on Friday night. I got in from work about 10:15 p.m. and YL tagged me as soon as I hit the door. She'd been upset about her work, her dad and such. I talked with her for a few hours, got her settled down so she could lie down. YM picked up where she left off, telling me all about his day full of auditions, plans to get a new *day* job and the general progress toward becoming a working actor. In releasing some of his joys and frustrations of the day, he began to feel better about the choices he'd made.

I prepared to rest, at 1:30 a.m. The phone rang at 5:00 a.m. Mom calling to say she'd be over later that morning and would I braid her hair. Slog in full effect now, repeating, do not forget the meds, do not forget the meds.

Mom arrived. We talked. I braided. She gave me stuff to read, again. She complained about the post office, again. She told funny stories about aunts, cousins and walker wielding seniors. As we were saying our good-byes, I could feel the resolve dissolve. Still, no meds. Wait, I think I can hold up long enough to tackle the yard; reasoning, if I expend the energy to go get the meds, then take the meds, the yard's a wash for today.

Out to the yard and after a few swipes at the weeds, with the sun bearing down on my sloggy head I realized I'd made a tactical error. Barely able to breathe or concentrate long enough to weed, sweep, or mop, let alone, read, write or eat; I sent YL to the store for antihistamine. I took said meds immediately upon her return and then, I slept.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Enough Already

Vaughniston...... PLEASE. JUST. STOP.

On another note:
MOM: What are you doing on the 4th?
ME: I'm working both jobs the day before and the day after, I'm not doing much on the 4th.
MOM: So, the 4th is on a Tuesday?
ME: Yes, this year it's on Tuesday.
MOM: They didn't move it?
ME: Huh? Move it where?
MOM: You know, like they did the other holidays.
ME: Oh, no. The 4th (Independence Day) is always on the 4th, it's like December 25th in that way.
One of those test pattern storm warnings is looping in my head.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Dad: Theirs

I was seven-teen when we met. He was thirty-one. When I was almost twenty, we got married. I thought that he would help me achieve the safe, stable family life I was convinced I wanted. He said he would. He said he wanted that as well. To this union, two were born. YM arrived a bit over two years and YM followed in another three.

Infancy and early toddler years were pretty close to bliss. Hard work, but fun. The dad was fully invested and involved. He was positively giddy over the first pair of jeans and navy blue hoodie for the boy and the first pink and white frock for the girl.

As time went on and the clothing, feeding and nurturing of two young people became harder, especially in the wake of (his) joblessness and financial fall-outs. The novelty waned. It's too simplistic and unfair to say that he lost interest. It was much more complicated than that. Yet, I was determined to make it work.

His day-to-day enthusiasm and participation dwindled. He 'forgot' to go to games, plays, concerts or any of the other thousands of things kids are involved in when growing up. He once remarked that they were in too much stuff. Believe me, they were the least scheduled kids in the cul-de-sac. I fought, pleaded for an explanation and more.

YL the more outwardly emotional and vocal of the two wanted to know why he didn't love them. I did my level best to continue to sing his praises. I know what it's like to have a dad go missing, in any sense of the word. I tried to assure her that he did, that his expressions were different from mine. She eventually stopped buying what I was selling.

I could and did accept much during our marriage. This family was (is) the most important thing in my life. I committed myself, body and soul to making it work. The look in their eyes when we would return from some game or event, only to find him vegged out in front of the TV, tore me apart.

We were together for sixteen years. Even though the last few years were pretty divisive, the eventual separation and divorce was hard on YM and YL, not made any easier by his re-marriage a few months later.

He's recovering from a stroke. His wife put him in a nursing home. He is but a shell of himself, I'm told. The kids go see him, together, but they support each other. Whenever they return from a visit they are very quiet. I've pulled out photos, videos and spark stories of the better times. I hope this is enough to sustain them, to help them remember that while he loves differently, he did (does) love them. I hope this is enough, for he is after all, their dad.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dad: Mine

My dad lives in New Orleans. He and his wife had evacuated just before Katrina hit and have since returned to rebuild.

The information about the safe evacuation and return comes to me third hand. My dad and I don't talk. Since he and my mom separated in 1968 and subsequently divorced some years later, I haven't had more than 2 dozen conversations with him.

Not, that I didn't try.

When I left my mom's home, I wrote my dad many, many letters. I sent him cards and after the kids were born, I sent photos and cards and letters. I was even more determined to forge some kind of relationship with him.

Dad would respond to one of my many missives once every three or four years or so, with a note or a phone call. Either would start the same way; "baby, I got your (letter, note card) I mean to get in touch sooner, I've been so busy..." He would usually throw in at some point how bad he is about writing or how he couldn't afford to call. He would also toss out that he loved me.

Sometime after his divorce from my mom, dad re-married. YB told be once that dad's wire didn't like the *fact* of us so he couldn't be involved with us. I thought it was more complicated than that, but it stung all the same.

The silence and seeming indifference year after year has had a thunderous effect.

I wrote him five years ago. That letter, I wrote that I finally got that he wouldn't or couldn't be more and while I have mourned the loss of his involvement with me and my children, I was done. I would leave him be. I would respond to him, but would no longer initiate.

He called four months after that letter was mailed. "Baby, I got your letter, I meant to get in touch sooner, I've..." We talked for about 30 minutes during which time he related that he understood how I felt. He thought the letter sounded angry. I struggled to sound the opposite of angry, but I assured him that I was not, I was done with angry. He vowed to do better, to be better; he professed his love for me, again. I asked if there was some way we could communicate that would be easier, email maybe. He said he didn't have and couldn't use a computer.

I wrote him a letter a few months after this conversation. I haven't gotten a response.

When Katrina hit, I searched message boards, data bases and added my name to *looking for* lists. I didn't see his name. I didn't get any news as to his possible fate or whereabouts.

One of his sisters, who had heard from another sister that dad and his wife had evacuated before the storm and had been staying with their son until it was safe to return. This information was conveyed to my mom, who passed it on to me.

This was a month ago. I called the number I have for him. An answering machine or voice mail mechanism with his wife's voice picked up the call. I left a message. There hasn't been a return call.

Many years ago, shortly before she died, my maternal grandmother and I were talking about my dad. I was going on and on about how he was such a doo doo head (or some similar sentiment) and she said; "you know if your dad was in trouble and he called you for help, you will help." At the time, I was thinking she must've been smoking some of my cousin's stash.

But, you know what? She was / is probably right, because he is, after all, my dad.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

four thousand and one

Excuse me...just one moment will be just one...more...OK. I'm sorry to keep you waiting. I was just recording my 4000th screen-name / password combo. I no longer use a phone book for which to store just phone numbers.

The home edition, is a yellow pages size tome full of phone numbers, email addresses, internet sites, usernames, passwords (yeah, I know, not supposed to write them down, but come on, remember 4000 passwords? I have trouble remembering what I had for lunch yesterday, oh wait, I remember, cottage cheese, right, how could I forget?) and notes. It's beginning to look like the bound federal budget.

Anyways, I fear, I might be running out. Do I have any more variations of my name, the streets I've lived on, the pets I didn't have, pets I did have, schools we attended, crimes my brothers committed, years they committed them, cars I've had, various colors my hair has been, number of coffee cups in the cupboard, number of coffee cups in the sink, number of plates broken in the last 6 weeks, number of spoons lost, (lost spoons? who in the hell is taking all the spoons) number of times I've asked someone (the last one) to refill the toilet paper roller, number of times I've changed light bulbs in the common areas, number of squirrels I've seen eating my flowers or ounces of fox urine I bought to keep the squirrels at bay?

I must, because I keep on going.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Designer Final

Since becoming a homeowner, I've spent a lot of time viewing home design and decorating shows. I'm looking forward to the eventual gutting and re-fashioning my home to something more in keeping with my personal style and function.

These shows, with various agendas, all have a similar format. The introduction, the before showcased, the work performed and then, the moment we've all been waiting for, the REVEAL.

The abject horror that flashes every so briefly in the eyes of the homeowners as they pretend to just love the plastic flowers glued all over the walls or the dung colored carpet in the family room is worth the price of cable.

For the past year or so I've come to terms with many truths. Namely, my sexuality. Finally, my REVEAL: I am a lesbian. I uttered these four little words for the first time this year. I told my son and my daughter.

There aren't any prospects and thanks to this, a very low libido. But aside of the effects of 17 days (seriously? 17 days!) of a visit from Auntie-I don't-know-what-I'm going-with-her-FLO, I'm feeling better than I have in years; for now there is freedom and hope.

Mind you, I have never so much as kissed a woman, but the desire to hold and be held in kind, long denied, has been there. I've been clueless, powerless and without action for far too long.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Working for A Living

Part of my function for the office is to purchase supplies. I buy pens, toner cartridges and various sundries to outfit our little company so people can perform their work. The task is not riveting and is just one of many that I perform.

One of the purveyors that I've used over the years announces in a recent marketing campaign that they are passionate about office supplies. Passionate about office supplies, bears repeating, does it not?

I wondered if the passion extended more for paper clips or did rulers have the edge. (get it? rulers/edge...) yeah, I know. It's Friday, whaddaya want from me?

So, as I ponder why I don't have or how I can find a passion for invoices, collection letters, financial and other statements, not to mention, pens, toner cartridges and so on; please note that while not passionate (yet?) about the office or the call center both offer some measure of enjoyment and variety.

At the call center (PTG) I am required to ask the following question of a number of candidates who are applying for any of a number of jobs with any of a number of potential employer. Response is voluntary and does not affect the outcome of the application:

Which of the following racial categories best describes you?
a. Non-Hispanic White
b. Non-Hispanic Black
c. Hispanic
d. Asian or Pacific Islander
e. American Indian
f. Prefer not to answer
One respondent considered for several seconds and then: "I don't know, I'm from Arkansas."

Have a great weekend. I have a list of stuff of do that might actually get done.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Surprise Nostalgia

For as long as I can remember, well not really, just since I was 7 or so (I have snatches of memories from when I was 4, I remember going in school in a green jumper and white shirt) I've kept some kind of diary, journal or something. I don't have sisters, my brothers certainly weren't confidante material and my mom rarely talked to me about much more than being a "good girl," the diary was my friend.

I wrote stuff down. A lot of stuff. Regrettably, I don't have much any of the earlier writings. We moved around a lot; we lost, left or gave away much over the years. I learned early to live light and to pack lighter.

Some of the later editions were lost in an unfortunate pipe bursting incident. A few days ago I found a sketch book that I thought I had lost. The sketch book apparently did double duty as a makeshift journal.

The brief notations centered on my early parenting hopes dreams, skills (or fears for the lack thereof) and snippets of the lives of a toddler YM through infant YL.

Late 1984: "YM turned 2 this year, he will however, tell you he's 5." I was starting to feel a bit more confident in my role as a parent. There was some goofy young mom gushiness about life in general. I must have been feeling pretty warm and fuzzy, which most likely led to the conception of YL, as she was born toward the end of 1985.

And apparently, I had a thing for Prince.

Smatterings of gushy stuff fill out some of the other entries. There was also the obligatory disgust with YB and the fact that OB had been voluntarily *missing* for 7 years.

June 1986: "YL is crawling and standing with assistance. She doesn't have any teeth." I was happy on this day at this time. I didn't write about it, at least here in the sketch book, but as I recall the walls started crumbling shortly after this. But on that day in June of 1986, watching my baby daughter crawl and learn to stand; watching her big brother look out for her and watching their dad look like he was happy to be there, on that day in June, all was right.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Home Alone

This evening, I had home to myself. This phenomenon is happening more and more these days as YM and YL move forward with their lives. That which will inevitably move them out of our home and towards homes of their own.

I’m home alone and I’m at a lost for what to do. There’s tons, of course. I’ve got laundry, caulking or cooking. I could also be sleeping, that is if I could sleep. I can’t but I we’ll not talk about that now.

What I did was, purge. You know, throwing out owners’ manuals for products you no longer have, catalogs from places you don’t intend to buy from, dusty magazines that offered bad advice and worse recipes and lists. The old lists you had stuck inside of a book you didn’t remember you had there.

I found an old list, how old? I won’t say, I’m embarrassed. But it is OLD. The list is titled "Personal Agenda/Goals/Aspirations/Hit list." It was full of short term and long term projects, as well as, affirmations, motivations and admonitions.

Pleased to report that some of the items from the list have been cleared. I didn’t have to take the car for the emissions test, because it was stolen. I did get the vacuum cleaner, curtains for the dining room and got at least one painting project done.

As I look at some of the rest of the list, the circled items, I realized are more like works in progress. As there is no deadline, the list lives in perpetuity.
The last item: Continue to improve.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I Love It When I'm Cruising

This time of year is a favorite because the weather is usually agreeable enough to allow for more bike riding. I simply adore riding my bike.

When I was in my teens, before I had a car, my bike was my alternate transpo. When I wasn't walking or taking public transportation, I was on my bike. Usually for transportation, sometimes for exercise, but sometimes, oh sometimes, it was just wheeeee! Freedom.

On Sunday I rode 12 miles to the PTG. I'm supposed to be logged in by 9:00 a.m. so I leave home at 7:30. The goal is to arrive by 8:30, leaving plenty of time to freshen up and get prepared to work.

I grab my backpack, water and tunes; usually Madonna or Stevie Wonder, as my cassette collection is now very limited (yeah cassettes-not part of the MP3 nation) and safety equipment. Off I go.

Mile 2 is when I get my rhythm. Cruising along pretty smoothly until around mile 7. I'm stopped at a light, take a drink or two, sit through the light a cycle or two, garner my second wind and then I'm off. Around mile 9 I start to think about the bridges. The distraction of the music is not enough for me to forget about the bridges. I really detest going over bridges-especially on a bike. The two bridges in question combine two of my biggest fears; heights and large bodies of water. Falling from a great height into into said body of water--Oh. My. Goodness!

The bridges come up at mile 11. I am sufficiently prepared to take them, ruthlessly, fearlessly-I do however, get out of the street-what? Me ride over the open grating? I. Don't Think. So.

Whew, that done, I survived both bridges and cruise into the final leg. I lock by Bella Vista Cruiser at the bike rack, go in, freshen up and log into the phone/computer system at 8:50 a.m.

For the next 4 hours I ask and answer questions, record and assess responses and make notes. At the end of my shift, I log out, go and get back on Bella Vista. Ride 2 miles to the nearest train station. Bella & I get on the train and go home.

Still freedom, but a woman can take only so much wheeeee!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Vee, TC and Me

Despite being sandwiched by two brothers and a slew of cousins, I had a lonely existence for most of my childhood. Being the only daughter of an absent father, teenaged brothers in wild and crazy mode and a stressed out, unapproachable mother meant, 1) I had no one to confide in and 2) I felt compelled to hold everything, including myself, together. Emotional steadiness and control became my defense.

In the summer of my 16th year I got a job with a youth recreation program. I was a junior counselor to elementary school aged children. Vee was a senior counselor. She was 25. She had a boyfriend, her own apartment and a Chevy Malibu. I thought she was funny and smart.

Her boyfriend was the director of the program and they had a slot opening up for a year round position. She put me up for it and I got it. This meant we were together a lot, usually with kids in tow, but sometimes not. She and the boyfriend were in a bowling league and involved in all kinds of recreational pursuits. Since I had a crappy home life and taking part in recreational activities seem to be a good way to be better at my job, I tagged along. Vee and I got close. She became the sister I'd craved my entire life.

Celebrating at Vee's 26th birthday party, I had too much to drink, which, because I didn't drink, wasn't much at all. Never-the-less, I got drunk. Vee let me hang out at her place until I could drive home safely.

She talked with me. We shared secrets. I began thinking about her all the time. I got scared, very scared. My defenses were being breached. To re-build my shields I ramped up my dating. I'd met a guy that I'd placed in a holding pattern. I allowed him more access to my time. We got married, in the interim he had decided that Vee wasn't the right friend for me. I had decided that he was right. Shield replaced.

It was ten years later, I, married with two young children, when TC came into my life. She was a new hire at the office. She was a fun-loving, free spirited, divorced mother who nagged me daily about going out after work. In spite of our social differences, we did become friends. I resisted and declined her invitations for weeks and weeks. She persisted, saying, "you work so hard, you deserve to have some fun."

TC eventually wore me down. I devised a plan whereby we could go out on a Thursday evening, since the husband who though it wasn't right for mothers of young children to be in bars without their husbands, would be working late. If TC would drive me home, we could go, have a cocktail or two and still beat him home, he would be none the wiser.

Nope. Zombies and I were acquainted that night and I discovered 1. You can't have just one (they're like Lay's that way) and 2. It is nearly impossible to walk and talk after having more than 2 zombies especially when you are a novice like me.

Needless-to-say, I was caught stumbling out of TC's big 'o Buick. Husband, predictably blew several gaskets demanding to know who that guy was. I threw up on his work shoes. Much later, I insisted over and over and over that "it wasn't a guy, that was just TC."

TC called. She even came by to show Husband that She wasn't a He. Husband never really believed. TC and I continued to hang out from time to time, on weekends, during the day and of course we still worked together. The more I saw her, the more I SAW her. Yikes, breach in progress. I allowed Husband to convince me that TC was too much of a party girl and wasn't good for me. Shield replaced.

I engulfed myself with the wants and needs of everyone else, I always had. It seemed the *safer* road to travel. I always did what was needed, what was expected. Notions that had the potential to crack the carefully constructed shield were quickly and completely quashed.

No one but my children were allowed access beyond the shield. There were no more Vee's or TC's and several years after TC, there was no Husband.

Several more years later, I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to go where my head and heart lead.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Wearin out the Welcome

Day 9
Memo to Auntie Flo:

If this is your very last visit, then please stay as long as you need.

If not, if you intend to return, please for the love of Petra, pack up and go, already.


It's who I am

I am the middle girl. In fact, I am the only girl. The Only Daughter. My OB (older brother) is 20 months older than I, my YB (younger brother) is 19 months younger. For 5 months a year we are consecutive, currently 44, 45 and 46.

For close to 40 years my brothers and I have been at odds with one another. For reasons I have yet to discern, they were placed on a road that drove and continues to drive a wedge into our family. They can't seem to find the exit ramp.

I have many theories on the subject, none of which matters one whit. They don't care about my theories; they don't or can't care how their actions affected and continue to affect our mother. For her sake, I try to give them grace. She says, "they need help." That, they do, but I see no evidence that anything we have tried these 30+ years has helped.

Our dad, absent from our lives for most of this period, has had little to no positive impact. For a good part of that time he's been involved with his newer family.

Between her health concerns and the plaintive guilt she suffers, mom is growing increasingly despondent. I've spoken with YB, (OB is out of state and basically, homeless) and her doctors. I've gotten a list of her meds, researching to determine if any one or combination, thereof, could be contributing to the growing malaise and paranoia.

I do because it's who I am. I am the only daughter.
I try.
I'm tired.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Go Where Your Dreams Take You

Her eyes, deep and warm, like the color of mink. They sparkle like new pennies when she's happy. The smile, it sneaks up on you and then erupts, all teeth and whimsy. It is my most favorite of her features. She is strong and fiercely loyal. The heart, once broken has healed. The spirit, bruised but not crushed.

YL is going on a trip this weekend; taking another step towards mending her spirit and affirming her independence.

I will miss you sweetie, be safe and good luck.