Sunday, December 30, 2007

Kids Back, Titans In, Everything Else Up And Down

My boys are home and the Titans are in the Playoffs! Yay!!!!!

It's so hard to blog during the holidays. I have mixed feelings about everything and none of it seems like it would be particularly interesting to anyone but me. The ups have included a kick ass job interview for Linus (thank you, oh senders of good mojo), third anniversary with Bet (we don't count the first thirteen), and a re-commitment to the triathlon (please not to laugh at the girl who has not run for a month). The downs have included Mr. Tapioca telling Havoc there is no Santa (I hate him, I hate him, I hate him - errr - I hate Mr. Tapioca - not Santa. If I weren't so tired I'd have gone back and retyped to make the antecedent clear instead of explaining, but do you see it's almost midnight? Goes to show you how much I love my Titans that I'd stay up this late.) The inbetweens have included six novels in four days (gotta love avoidance behavior + Borders gift cards!!!) and dogs with new names: Sir Stinks-A-Lot and Princess Fart-So-Fresh. (They LOVE the homemade dog treats we made - bacon biscuits and "snickerpoodles" but man, it is NOT pleasant to have them sleep in the same room with us anymore!)

Shout out to LT - who broke her clavicle immediately after retiring! The surgery went well, the metal plates or rods (or spirals for all I know) are doing their job holding her arm on. I can't see a mere snapped bone holding her back for long - but send her healing mojo anyway, ok? (I mean, you were such the bomb diggety on the job interview mojo that you know I'm going to be hitting up from now on!)

I'm rejoicing and rejoicing and rejoicing that all my chickadees are home to roost! My Grandpa Jack used to have a line about how he couldn't sleep until he counted all the heads in their beds. When he counted and got to the right number, then he'd "hit the hayfeathers" himself and surrender to the "arms of Morpheus" and often as not wish us "bony snowshoes" on the way (which was his goofy way of saying buenas noches. He was an odd duck, my grandpa, but oh how I adored him!) And now I understand him that much better. Heads in the bed tally: 8 (of the human variety) and 2 (of the canine (and smelly) variety). Bony Snowshoes! And Peace.

PS - Havoc's FF team (the Gridiron Chefs) won their league (which is no surprise seeing as how he had Tom Brady and Randy Moss) but Bet and I won our league too (which was a huge shock)! I know you all were wondering how that all turned out. :D

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Merry

Holiday Cheer to all!
Egg bake casserole, link sausages, sweet rolls and plain ones, fruit salad and mimosas - Christmas breakfast is all over except for the dishes. We've delivered our presents to the neighbors - bacon dog biscuits and "snickerpoodles" - nothing for the humans but our neighbors love us anyway. We've spoken to everyone except for the boys (Chaos, Mayhem, and Havoc) - which is a big exception. I've left two messages. What else can I do? I'm trying not to get into a snit that I've gotten to talk to my nephew and my godson but not my own children. (See this - this is me not pitching a hissy fit. Look quickly because it may not last long.) The tree is sparkly and the dogs are chewing on their new toys. We're down to video games on the PS3 and naps on the couch. Overall, it's a sweet and cozy Christmas. I hope everyone else is tucked in celebrating with those they love most.
Peace.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Unpiercing

I wonder. What would the opposite action of piercing be? Piercing is so decisive and immediate. It can be reclamation or destruction. Rite of passage or passing whim. Piercing is an act of invasion but also of willing acceptance. Vulnerability and toughness both come into play. It is intense. Whether it's disfiguring or decorative - it is intense.

Tattooing is completely different. It's more permanent for one thing. For another it takes longer in the moment but heals much more quickly afterwards. The intensity of acquiring a tattoo is drawn out, flattened. The experience of having a tattoo (once it's healed) is mostly visual.

Not that I mean to attach comparative value or to impose any hierarchy on body modification attempts. Whether you're into putting on or taking off weight, cinching your waist or wearing pointy shoes, painting your toenails or getting your eyeballs lasered, collecting ink or showing off metal spikes - to each his own, right? They are all valid attempts to change our bodies in certain ways for reasons that make sense to us (at the time).

I just wonder why I can't unpierce with the same satisfaction as I pierced. To change a tattoo - you have to get a cover-up tattoo or go have the ink painfully burned/sucked out of your skin. To take off weight you've put on or to put on weight you've taken off - you pretty much just reverse direction. But it's hard to unpierce. (In fact, my stupid spell check program keeps underlining it in red to inform me there is no such word, even.) Sure, you can take out the jewelry. You can wait for the hole to heal, but besides that not being what I mean by unpiercing is the fact that you can't count on that. Depending on how long you've been pierced (and where), it may or may not heal over. You might simply end up with an empty piercing. That is hardly the reversal of either process or result that I'm looking for. Maybe the issue is that I'm not seeking an about face. I knew going into the piercer's room that it was a permanent-ish line to cross.

No, I realize now as I write all this, what I'm looking for is a step as bold going out as I took going in. Piercing (for me) has an element of symbolic grief, a dash of decoration, a bit of intuitive fun and a liberal dose of "don't you fucking judge me" to it. Those are the ingredients that my piercings have in common - but they each have their own place on the spectrum too. I have a couple of piercings I'll never, ever even think about taking out. My earlobes - because I love earrings but also because not having pierced ears is really more of a statement than having them is in this day and age. My lip - because it signals my commitment to intentionality about what I say, what I eat (and about it staying down once it passes my lips), whom I kiss and also because unlike other piercings, it remains an intense experience after it's completely healed. The other piercings, though, cover the range from "Already took it out because what the HELL was I thinking when I got that pierced?!" to "Meh. Why bother taking it out? It's done, it's fine. It's no big deal." Somewhere in the middle of that range is "Hmmm. That was exactly what I needed to do at the time but not so much what works for me now. In fact, I need something completely different." It's that one in the middle (or rather two, since they're a matched set, if you get my drift) that I'm wondering about today. Where is the bold step? The next action that affirms the experience of the piercing but also affirms the validity of being done - done with the decoration and the sensitivity.

It is much the same way I didn't have a good ritual for the divorce. Yay - I wasn't married any more. This little (expensive) piece of paper said so. It even said that I'd been done being married ten days ago. The precise act of a judge saying (or stamping really) "I now pronounce your marriage sundered" had passed with no way for me to mark it in the moment. Discovering the embossed and official petition in the mail was anticlimactic. I could have thrown a party, but I didn't. (The rotting corpse of my marriage had sat around stinking up the place until I'd buried it long before the judge got around to engraving the tombstone. A memorial service after the fact might be just the thing for some folks but for me, it was too little too late.) Yet... tiny step by tiny step I began to feel whole in a new way. My ringless left hand stopped looking stripped and in need of covering up. Celebrating the daily achievements (like continuing to breathe in and out) helped. I may have even toasted my "single mother" status a time or two with a fabulous red wine - but on the whole, I had no definitive liturgy for "that was then and this is now". I leapt into that marriage much more decisively than I emerged from of it.

This is a much (much!) smaller curve in my life path - this impulse to unpierce. But it's got the same angle to the curve no matter the scale. I have no step, no act of demarcation to propel me utterly from "pierced to unpierced". The jewelry is out and sterilized. (Useless, but still pretty.) The sites are clean and healing even after four years of being pierced. (Bare, but still pretty - if I do say so myself.) Does this mean I am officially unpierced? This I wonder.

Maybe the answer is, I am if I want to be. The forest being easier to see when you're out of the trees and all that. Maybe the other answer is - who the hell cares, woman? No one* would know one way or the other if you didn't blab and blather all angsty to the internet about it. We all go around piercing and unpiercing ourselves (metaphorically) every day. You get to decide if you want it to be marked by the equivalent of the society pages or a few quiet words in front of the JOP** or somewhere in between. So, y'all (and especially St. Ann who was my confidante for the step in) - Guess what I got unpierced today?
Peace. And happy holidays!

*"No one" in this case meaning technically "only two people" who wouldn't have said a thing to anyone so the point is the same but I had to make a note of it because (on the off chance either of the two read this entry) I didn't want them to think I thought they were "no one's". Phew - cya'ing is torturous. And probably unnecessary. The word probably being the tricky part.

**Justice of the Peace. Isn't that the coolest job title ever? Sounds right up my alley - peace and justice all in one. Too bad, it's a mis-named side job usually performed by old, white men who spend their other days presiding over juvenile court and the like. Still, someday I'd like to meet a really cool JOP. If you know one, tell me!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pre-Christmas Chaos

Pistachios and peppermint, oranges and sugar cookies, exams and eggnog, wrapping paper and crackling fires - I am having a FANTASTIC time. I have pictures I want to post and ideas I want to share, but I only have 48 hours left with three of my sons in 2007. I'm going to go hang with them. I will leave you with two quick, Chaos-related tidbits:

Thing 1: Chaos is his very own person. He wore his brand new Christmas kilt to school today (with his converse shoes and his chains and a death metal t-shirt). He assured me he would ace his German exam because not only had he studied (a little), but he had been listening to Rammstein for an hour and a half. (We'll see how that plays out, shall we? At least he knew LAST WEEK what exams were on which days AND he had study guides days in advance. My longtime readers will appreciate what a huge switch that is. Previously, exam prep has been a tad slapdash.)

Thing 2: I was telling the family about a bumper sticker I saw that said:
If you were agoraphobic, you'd be home by now. (<--Which I thought was freaking hilarious, but then again, agoraphobia runs in my family.) Chaos laughed and then said, "But wait, why would you be home?" When I explained what agoraphobia was and how the name came from the Greek word for marketplace, he said, "Oh! I thought you said 'Al Gore-a-phobia' and I didn't understand why you'd be home unless it was to save energy." Bwahahaha.

Thing 3 (=Bonus Thing): At supper we were talking about the two house/apartment fires that have left two families in our school homeless the week before Christmas. We are grateful the people are ok because stuff can be replaced, but still. Replacing stuff - ALL your stuff - except the pajamas you were wearing when you crawled out the window - it's a daunting task. The kids were thinking of ways to help and what to give. Ideas were flying. Clothes, toys, toothpaste and deordorant, these folks need everything. Big and small, they've lost it.
Bet said, "We could give them the Steam-A-Wok we just won."
I said, "We could, except I gave it to Havoc."
Chaos said (with perfect timing) in an ah-ha tone, "We could give them Havoc!"
There was a pause and everyone burst out laughing. Havoc most of all (because he really does know his brothers won't give him away.)

But somehow I have to figure out how to let all three of them go away. I said it last year and I have to admit to not having evolved a bit in 12 months - I hate sharing my boys during the holidays. I am looking forward to getting them back at New Year's!
Peace.

Monday, December 17, 2007

It's Beginning To Smell A Lot Like Christmas

This Saturday was Cookie Day at our house. Cookie Day is a tradition that we stole from share with some good friends. Everyone piles into one house and each person makes a few dozen of their favorite cookies. At the end, each person gets to take some of all the cookies that were made. It's cookie chaos, but gobs of fun. This year it was at our house. Our huge island was covered with cookbooks, flour, nuts and chocolates, extracts, rolling pins, and icing. We had three Kitchen Aid mixers mixing at once. Havoc was in the thick of things. There were a half dozen adults baking (including Bet's mom who came for the weekend). We also had a couple extra girls whose "help" consisted mostly of experimenting with leftover bits. Linus (after buying a Christmas tree and sending the boys to the attic for the decorations) pitched in here and there and everywhere. He loves to bake, but this time he was more of a troubleshooter. He helped Havoc change blades on the mixer; he pulled things out of ovens; he organized Qbert during the baking intermission, etc. I baked a little but then snuck away to put up most of the Christmas decorations by myself, unlike last year. It was ten hours of holiday cheer and socializing. By the end of the day I was happily exhausted and frankly, sick of talking to other people. I was very ready for a day of football.

And what a day of football it was! Sunday was well nigh perfect in Football land as far as I'm concerned. The Titans, the Colts, the Dolphins (and the Patriots for Havoc) all won. Icing on the cake? Dallas lost to the Eagles! (Sorry Jeff. Can you believe I have a friend who's a Cowboys fan?? Weird but true.)

I know some of my pals around the country are snowed in. I'm sending y'all some mojo for a day that's all hot chocolate and kids making snow angels and not like the day the weather channel is showing which is all cars buried in snow drifts and icy trees downing electric lines. Peace to the people!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

In Which Lilymane Falls In Love

Linus has been traveling this week. He went to Boston and then Detroit (by way of Chicago where his flight was canceled and his luggage took five hours longer than he did to get to Michigan) and now today he's on his way home from Detroit (by way of Dallas). Sounds like fun, no? Yeah, not to me either.

While he's been gone, I've fallen in love. With a hair salon. Crazy but true. Among my other loves, now I heart the Aveda Institute. I went in simply to buy Bet some Blue Malva shampoo. While I was paying, I noticed the huge room full of empty salon chairs/stations. The little guy at the desk (whose makeup was flawless) explained that Tuesdays through Saturdays they offered full salon services provided exclusively by supervised students. I must have looked as skeptical as I felt when he tried to get me to book an appointment. He launched into a fairly dramatic description of how wonderful and fab-u-lous it was, only all-natural products were used, they were the first to have an emphasis on the whole person, and that it was more than a haircut, it was an experience at Aveda. I tried to pay and scoot out the door, but the festive lout insisted on showing me the salon price list. Eeek! A haircut was half the price of the shampoo I'd just bought! He smirked and asked if mornings or afternoons were better for me. He promised me I'd love it.

I admit I had doubts and almost canceled. I thought about the only beauty school I'd ever seen before which was called something like Elite Beauty & Style Academy. Wedged between the Books A Million and the China Wok in a strip mall, there were always sad looking waifs in smocks tossing their cigarettes to go in and little old ladies with bad perms coming out. The store section of the Aveda Institute was a gazillion times cleaner and classier than that so how bad could the salon section be? I figured I didn't have much to lose. I hadn't had a haircut in nine months and I'm planning to shave my head after the triathlon anyway. If worse comes to worst, I could shave it now. That was my thinking.

I showed up at 9:25 for my 9:30 appointment. I was not the only one. In fact, I was one of about 38. I was totally unprepared for that many people. Yes, I'd seen all the empty chairs but I didn't think they'd each and every one be taken! It was a bit of a cattle call. You gave your name and signed a sheet of paper saying you knew they were students and then you lined up along the side wall and waited to have a stylist call your name. I stood flat against the wall marveling at how many people there were. I was a trifle bit intimidated about how hip the stylists appeared at first: lots of spiky hair gelled into interesting geometries, quite a few piercings and tattoos, all black outfits everywhere, and several gals with great boots. I watched a bit more and noticed that there were folks of all shapes and a few older students than at first glance. I saw that some of the stylists that I'd thought were sneering at first actually looked more nervous than anything else. Stylist after stylist came and called a name and took away the women along the wall one by one. More people kept coming in, though. I began to notice that some of the ones who'd just come in were starting to get called too. It felt like grade school, standing there waiting to be called, wondering what to do if I didn't get called, trying to decide how long I should wait before I said anything. Feeling uncertain about the process and overwhelmed by the noise, I'd just started to inch towards the door to escape when a girl with a lovely smile waded through the crowd calling my name. She was maybe all of nineteen but she radiated kindness. I answered and she took me back to her station, which turned out to be in a room I hadn't noticed off to the side. It was MUCH quieter. Her name was Megan. She offered me tea (organic peppermint and licorice). She talked with me about what I wanted done with my hair. She got her supervisor. She told her supervisor what I wanted, her supervisor checked it with me and then advised her on how to go about it. Then she walked me back to the even quieter shampoo room where I got to choose whether to sit or to lie down while having my hair washed. What a fantastic thing, to get to lie down while having your hair washed! I highly recommend it. Megan washed my hair (lather, rinse, repeat!) and gave me a mini-facial (toner, moisturizer, short massage, steamy towel). Then we went back to her station where she gave me a stress reducing treatment (a short neck and shoulder massage). Then she cut my hair (exactly the way I wanted it) and styled it (way better than I can do myself). All of this pampering for the low, low price of $19. And they don't let you tip the students. It was nineteen bucks total. I'm used to paying upwards of $60 for about a tenth of the attention. I mentioned I heart the Aveda Institute, didn't I? It was quite literally my favorite haircut ever. I'm thinking of going back every two weeks. Haircuts: cheaper and more fun than therapy! Be warned, if you ever come visit me, I will give you a whirlwind tour of UNC and Duke and a day long saunter through Aveda. Peace.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Three Near Postings And A Virus

-I had started a post (that I may or may not finish and which I may or may not publish) about racism. (Hey, it might not be lighthearted, but it's better than bitching about my ex, eh?)

-Speaking of the Tapioca tide - thank you for your support and offers to stomp. It makes me wonder if I might not be quite as nice as I wish I were that those offers make me happy (even though I would never ever wish him actual harm.) On that note I started a post on the seasonal theme of naughty vs. nice. I won't finish it because mostly it ended up with me getting coal in my stocking this year. Maybe next year, I can get past wanting to smack the shit out of several key icky people.

-I will likely finish my post about Havoc wrestling again because it involves some complicated geography and interesting smells - but I can't do it today. I have Havoc home from school with a stomach thing. If you need me, I'll be fetching ginger ale and saltines to a wan little boy snuggled on the couch with Tallulah Rockstar. They're watching Harry Potter and trying not to puke.

-Hope your day has more finished posts and less vomit than mine! Peace.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I Need Some Cute Waders

I wish they made these in my size, because then maybe I wouldn't mind wading through the tapioca muck as much. I found out from my ex (= Mr. Tapioca Head) that he will be changing jobs AGAIN in about a week. "He really hates to do this" to me, but that means the insurance will change too, come Jan 1. For those of you keeping score at home, that makes the third insurance plan SINCE JULY and either the 7th or 8th job change since the divorce 6 years ago. (Linus insists I've forgotten two jobs so that it's really the 9th or 10th change, but no matter how you look at it, that's not what I'd call a pattern of stability.) Mr. Tapioca head went on to name the company he'd be working for and said he was planning on being with this one for a long time. He told me that they have one of the lowest layoff rates in the country. I won't name the company, but you'd know it. And, like me, you would probably know their reputation of having a ridiculously high turnover due to burn out. Now, I've never worked for them. I hope what "everybody" says is totally wrong. I hope the rumors of the long hours, back biting, and political wrangling are all false. I am not going to waste my time ferreting out statistics to prove or disprove the word on the street. What I am going to do is wonder out loud (and to my attorney) how the hell this man thinks that taking a "high powered job" (<--his words to me as he was patting himself on the back for advancing from being a manager to being a manager of managers) is going to give him any time to be with his kids if he (God forbid!) should win custody. Bleck.

I'm not even going to tell you about the furious email he sent me because he heard that I'd said something about Mayhem being ADD. (I will however let you know that he said something bulled him over when I'm pretty sure he meant "bowled" him over. We were married almost twelve years and I had NO IDEA he was such a moron. Typos are one thing, but general dumb-assed-ness is another.)

He sent me an email this morning saying he was DONE with me. All communication (except about kid logistics) would be through our attorneys. Yay!!! I can stop dreading my email.

Then five minutes later he sent me an email which a) had nothing to do with the kids and b) included the sentiment that my email responses were "not welcomed" by him. Ahhh, I should have know. Business as usual then. I am so sick of him! Aren't you? My to do list for tomorrow says "Find something else to blog about!"

Peace.

Friday, December 07, 2007

From The Mixed Up Files Of Ms. Lily E. Maniac

I have just spent an hour on the phone with a television news reporter (anchor) from my hometown. Last week when I posted about Havoc's turning nine, what that meant to me and how it was connected with the traumatic disappearance and murder of my childhood friend, I linked to a story about a new suspect they had in the case. There have been stories every few years for the last few decades - new evidence, new speculations on old information, and recently new techniques to apply to old evidence. This week the case was broken - or maybe it's still breaking. It hits me on so many levels that I haven't been able to break off bite size pieces to blog about. The first level is gratitude to have some closure and to take some comfort that this guy has been in jail for a majority of the intervening decades. I feel vindicated on behalf of our neighborhood and particularly on behalf of the young boys that were persecuted unjustly in the quest to solve Marcia's case. I have extremely mixed emotions with regards to the police and with regard to myself as a writer. I have been working (off and on in between all the family drama) with a writer (a crime blogger) on a book project about this very case. We've been working to tell the story from the center of the ripples on out. How this one little girl's life and disappearance affected the neighborhood, the city, the region. How it brought people together and blew things apart at the same. I have written so much about this personally in order to settle it enough that I could write professionally the story I feel needs to be written. It's unsettling in the very best way to have the whole project go sideways. So much of the challenge has been to write and ask about something that has remained a disturbing mystery. And now, there is an expectation that it will not be a mystery for very much longer.

I want to talk and I don't want to talk. I want to say more of what is swirling around in my head and heart. I also don't want to link back or say specific things that could be searched and have my ex find randomly my site. I feel wide open to the healing process that comes with the new revelations. I feel drawn to add my voice to tell the part of the story that is mine to tell. I feel protective of my children and my life. I want to make peace with all the many layers. I feel rambly and incoherent. The news anchor was fantastic: warm, personal, easy to talk to, and insightful. I look forward to speaking with her again. I feel relieved, grateful, trustful (which is soooo unexpected for me where the media is concerned), angry, ambivalent, and drained.

And I have yet to open the ominous letter from my attorney that has been sitting on my desk for two days. Bleck. It is too cold to run. I don't have a pool or gym membership. I don't have a way to work my physical being into a state that will help absorb and process such big chunks of emotional/intellectual turmoil. Contemplative silence is the only other tool I can think of for this much churn. I don't know how to manage it, but I need to sit today. I will sit today. My head might explode otherwise. We don't want that now, do we? So, dear web friends, I will be sitting when I normally visit and comment. I won't be thinking of you because I'll be trying not to think of anything (which is a tall order for my buzzing brain), but I will be back as soon as I can. Peace!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Scary Items At The Pharmacy

Remind me never to wait for a prescription again. The pharmacist told me it would only be about five minutes. And it would have been, had the computer not frozen in the middle of processing one of the prescriptions. Natch. I don't know if you've noticed or not, but the drug store is not like the grocery store. The stuff by the checkout counter isn't candy and People magazine - it's Luden's cough drops and diabetes pamphlets. It didn't take me long to be bored enough to wander further afield. There is some powerfully creepy stuff on sale at down at the Eckerd's.

Did you know they even made "at home" drug test kits?! I had no idea. There were several different kinds: for cocaine, marijuana, and one for meth. They were out of the meth one, which makes me worry a bit about my neighborhood. The boxes that were on the shelves were cheery and cheesy to the point I expected to see "As Seen On TV!" in a bubble on a side panel. What were the marketing people going for with that? It was mighty peppy. I was going to post a link so you could see for yourself, but I got distracted when I found this site. Holy cow! Test yourself for ten drugs at once? Dude, if you've got the possibility of having ten illegal substances in your body at once, you maybe have more to worry about than testing in the privacy and comfort of your own home. I would think that at that point it would be a choice between rehab or the morgue. Worse even than that site was this one. Please god, I do NOT want to need that site. Ever.

But back to what else I discovered in the store and not on the web. I thought I'd be safer if I got away from the drug tests and personal lubricants, so I browsed the diet and weight loss aisle. They were having a huge sale on some fat blocking pill. The front of the package said that for every 5 lbs. of normal paced weight loss, studies showed that folks on this supplement lost 2-3 additional pounds. Huh. I read the back wondering exactly how that worked. I still can't tell you how it worked because I got freaked out by the warning "this product may cause anal leakage and gas emission with oily residue." Er, no thank you.

I tried to concentrate on relatively normal things like fake logs that burned the creosote out of your chimney but it was hard. Right next to that display was a row of plastic Santas that blurted out holiday greetings when I got too close. I am not a fan of inanimate objects talking to me. My kids would laugh if they'd seen me jump and nearly smack the crap out of a boxed holiday decoration. I did find some laundry detergent on super sale but even 50% off is not enough compensation for having to reach past packages of vaginal yeast suppositories or adult diapers claiming to be twice as absorbent for extended outings. I recognize how lucky we are to have products to treat such ghastly discomforts, but egad! Who has the stomach to face all that? Not me.

I was terribly glad when the computer system came back up. Almost glad enough not to curse Mr. Tapioca Head when the clerk tells me (on December 6th) that the new insurance he's gotten for the boys has a $200 annual Rx deductible. Almost, but not quite.
Peace.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My New Favorite Bumper Sticker

This one is for my mom - who despite her best intentions, is almost never on time. It says:

I'm always late. My ancestors arrived on the Juneflower.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What A Day Dad Had

Linus story #1 -
Linus has a complicated job situation. The past year has seen flux, corporate takeover drama, RIF's, political wrangling complicated by cross cultural misunderstandings and being told by the company didn't need his services followed by "oops - we realized we can't run this technology you built without you". It is so hard for Linus because he's put his heart into this company. He believes in the product so much that he took a huge (30k!!) pay cut in order to work 60 hour weeks to help launch the company. (Do not ask me how we managed to eat that first year, I still can't believe we pulled it off.) He has tried to focus on his responsibilities in an ever-changing landscape of expectations and job titles. Linus is good at staying away from the emotions and politics of the situation as much as possible. Me? Not so much. Particularly the emotional part. I am bewildered and frustrated with his boss' waffling and ill considered policies that keep undermining Linus' work. I don't know how he can keep working in an environment with a boss who is actively trying to foul him up to protect her turf. He tells me not to get so riled up, it's business, and he'll just keep doing the best he can as long as he can.

Then he gets an email yesterday from his boss about the business trip they are taking together today. She said she had already booked herself a hotel room with a king size bed and a couch "settee" and (presumably in an effort to economize?) that they should stay in the same room. WHAT? and NO! (And even "Hell no!") What brand of crack do you think this woman is smoking? I wigged out. I know it can't be the come on it sounds like it could be. As in that's just not even a possibility. In some ways, it would make more sense and be easier to deal with if it were. I'm not some naive thing in denial about her man's wandering ways. It's just that this is so bizarre. I promise you that if he wanted to, Linus could stray and I wouldn't find out. He certainly wouldn't be dumb enough to be freaking out loudly in the other room to the point that I rush in and demand to know what's wrong. The second point being that if he were to stray, surely (heaven help us) he would have waaay better taste than to choose her. The third point being, if it is a come on, on her part, how stupid does she have to be to commit it to writing? And why hit on a guy she knows can barely tolerate her when she's 8,000 miles away? Which brings us right back to what on earth can she be thinking?

My mind ran around in circles. Is she trying to set him up for some crazy sexual harassment suit? He said that was incredibly unlikely. I am out of explanations. I realize that dealing with a non-US mindset makes some things hard to translate - but this woman is English. Not only that, but can anyone begin to believe that this is normal business practice anywhere? The words inappropriate, unprofessional, strange, and uncomfortable race through my brain. How did a woman with such horrible boundaries and an inability to follow rock bottom, basic business protocols get put in charge of anything? I mean, who needs to be told male employees should not being pressured by their female bosses to overnight in one room together to save the company money?! Linus is going to tell her that he most definitely requires separate hotel rooms. He said he will be polite but firmer this time and hope the issue ends there. This time?! I found out that - horrifyingly - it is not the first time she has made this suggestion. Linus thought he'd made it clear before - because, holy crap - who but a complete moron would have to be told not only once but TWICE how wrong this suggestion is?! When asked why he didn't tell me about the other time, he said it was only one of many stunningly odd suggestions/policies/ideas this woman brought up and not even the worst in his book. Mostly because he didn't have to go along with it they way he had to swallow his criticisms and go along with some of her other decisions. He said he'd be CRYSTAL clear in his response and consider obtaining legal advice if it happened again. I (intolerant of corporate games to begin with and waaaay past my ability to be polite/professional to a creepoid like her) would probably have written an email response back that would have gotten me fired. I guess it's a good thing Linus works for her and not me. (Although - hey, put some mojo out there for fantastic job offers to come flying in the door for him. I admire his commitment to the shareholders and to a product that saves lives, but enough is enough, don't you think?! It would not hurt my feelings for him to change jobs.)

Linus Story #2 -
Linus let his hair get a little long over the Thanksgiving holiday, when he wasn't traveling and meeting with clients. He went and got it cut yesterday, very short - very professional. (Side benefit being, he'd look great at those job interviews you're sending his way!) The kids were not so appreciative of his efforts. When he came home The Ninja Princessa yelped, "But you look so old now!" and Havoc asked (sincerely), "Why did you have them shave a circle on the back of your head?" Eeep. Poor Linus. He stuck his bottom lip out looking for sympathy. I wish I could have shown the sympathy I feel, but I was laughing too hard.

This man needs a break. He's promised to try to relax with a good book in his hotel room (alone!) tonight. I'm thinking we might bake him some chocolatey yumminess for when he gets home. Shhhh. Don't tell him.
Peace.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Why God Invented Uncles

As a Christmas surprise, Unky Dunky took Chaos to an all-ages death rock, goth billy, metal something or other show at a local (and supposedly very hip ) venue. I immediately feel the need to explain that Chaos not only had done all of his regular homework, but had spent four hours at a friend's on Saturday working on a project that isn't due until after the holidays, AND that I'd made him take a nap before going to a late concert on a school night. (Can you tell how defensive I feel about every parenting decision I make? Gah. The court stuff is wearing me OUT!)

Chaos had a fantastic time. "It was pretty awesome," he said this morning in the car. He told me all about what I first thought were the Coughing Cats but turned out to be the Koffin Kats. There were also the Necrosomethingorothers and the Chop Tops (Pops? Cops? Hops? - I don't know.) It was great to hear all about it even if I didn't quite get all of the names. I love how much my fifteen year talks to me, though if he makes me crazy when he says things like, "There was this drummer who spun his drumstick around and hit the syllable over and over." Syllable? "You mean cymbal?" "Yeah, you know." (I do know, but why oh why doesn't he know? Why does he say things like this? He reads like a fiend and does exceptionally well on standardized tests but I can't help wondering if he has some bizarre language disease.)

Chaos then said, "I'm pissed about my bandana though." ?? He launched into details about how the new Koffin Kats bandana Duncan had gotten him was stiff. Chaos wanted it to look worn, not brand new, so he'd rinsed it and hung it to dry. This morning it was still too starched feeling so he rinsed it again and threw it in the dryer. I offered to wash it in the machine for him this morning. Silly mama. The point is to get to show it off at school today, of course. I got home from dropping him off and got a call from Duncan. I thanked him again for being a fantastic uncle. We are lucky to have such a wonderful village. What do people without hip uncles do? I am glad my kids get to do cool things in safe ways. Dunc said, "No problem. Loved it. By the way, how's his eye?" ?? "I was worried at first he wasn't having a good time because he was just standing there, but then he asked me if you had to be 18 to mosh. His face lit up and he jumped right in when I told him you didn't have to be. He got elbowed and we thought he might have a shiner. Is it bad?" Gack. Ok - so make that relatively safe ways. Chaos didn't have a black eye (that I saw). I'm sure he wished he did. I've thought about the scrapbook page I could make if I were that kind of mom: My Child's First Mosh Pit. I might do it anyway, because we haven't added anything to his Rehearsal Dinner Box in a while.
Peace.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Birthday Parties You Remember

Havoc and Linus spent the better part of Saturday afternoon getting the pizza fixings ready for the party: grocery shopping for fresh ingredients; measuring, mixing, and kneading the homemade dough, etc. It was a LOT of work. Havoc said, "If I bake bread a lot, I won't have to work out at a gym." I helped chop and display. I also helped by preheating the ovens just before the party got started. The boys were arriving - some of the parents stayed to chat and help (which was WONDERFUL, AMAZING, and PERFECT - sorry to scream at you but it was so much fun to have new adults to talk to!!) About 15 minutes after the first guest arrived and just before the last three showed up, Linus came into the kitchen and yelped, "Who turned on the oven?!! Oh no!" Guess where all that homemade pizza dough had been put to rise? We had 10 nine-year old boys, six other kids, four newly met parents, our favorite in-town Uncle, dozens of ramekins of individual pizza toppings - and a GIANT bowl of BAKED bread, but no pizza dough, no longer. All my fault! I thought I'd ruined Havoc's party. Havoc was a wee bit shocked when he saw singed towel and the huge bread creature on the counter. He gave me a look and a hug to say it was ok, but he couldn't hide that he was bummed. I really felt like crying. Good thing all those other adults were around. They got creative. "When life hands you unexpected bread bowls, make garlic butter!" they said. Havoc jumped right in on the new direction of things. He gave me another hug and said it would be all right and maybe even better this way. Spices. He LOVES to add spices to things. He and Unky Dunky started went out to cut fresh rosemary, one of the parents chopped garlic - and voila! An appetizer to feed the children while Bet ran to the store for pre-made dough. It was a good thing we thought of something to tide them over, because they were hungry and smelled yummier than little boys usually do (having tromped around the herb garden together) - and I was a tad bit concerned they would start gnawing on each other.

It ended up being a GREAT party. Wine for the adults, crazy pizzas and milkshakes for the kids and a little Ratatouille on in the background. Havoc's pals know him well and got him fantastic presents. He got this cookbook, and a stack of silicone, red, mini bundt cake forms, and bionicles and legos, and mancala, and a wooden dragon to build. What did I tell you? His friends have him pegged. I enjoyed meeting the other parents; I thought the boys were great - even the three who were on their third birthday party for the day by the time they got to us were sweet in their rambunctiousness. Now it's time for the Christmas decorations to come out. (We make sure neither to let Christmas take over Havoc's day nor to let it linger into Bet's in January.) It's sixty degrees here today which makes it a bit harder to get into the holiday spirit, but I am NOT complaining. I love it. I'm going to run in the sun while I still can and send good vibes to my pals in the Northeast who are wading through snow. Peace.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

First Saturday In December

And you know what that means!! Go Navy!!!

Yay Australia!

I meant to post about this the other day and got too caught up in my own crapola. I am THRILLED for Australia. I wish I could pull Australia just a little bit closer and rub shoulders with her in the hope that whatever fever of sanity her electorate caught is contagious. Howard lost because he was seen as old and out of touch with the rest of the world. I do not discount the many positive things Howard has done during his long tenure, but it's like he missed the part where his people are concerned about the climate change and the war he's supported, and that cost him. The environment was a huge election issue and the younger generation voted vocally to support a prime minister who would ratify the Kyoto protocol. I am impressed by Australia's forward-thinking move. Gee, where can I get me some of that? Peace.

Friday, November 30, 2007

What Nine Means To Me

My baby turned nine today. Nine. Is it a big deal to other parents? It took me a while today to remember exactly why nine jars me so - why my vision of my child flickers between baby and big kid. It took me a while because it's a gut thing, a sub-terranean thing - this business of what it means to be nine. The first nine year old I ever remember knowing was a strangely wise "big kid" - cool by virtue of her advanced years. In our small troop of neighborhood girls, she was just enough older that if she had pretended not to know us at school, we wouldn't have blamed her a bit. But she never did blow us off. She wasn't like that. She was both too kind and too popular to give in to the schoolyard caste system. She was unquestionably the girl boss in our neighborhood games - the one who came up with better poses for "Swinging Statues"; the one who told us Brownies the spooky Girl Scout campfire stories; the one who knew when to sass the boys back and when to make peace so they'd show us the bird eggs they'd found. I thought her very grown up. In fact, she was so grown up in my mind's eye, that it wasn't until I was in my twenties and saw her fourth grade school picture again after so many years that I realized what a baby she had been at the time. I wept. Big, fat, hot tears splashed onto the ducky fuzzed head of my newborn as I stared at her picture. In that, admittedly post-partum hazed moment, it struck me - literally STRUCK me - that she'd been a baby, someone's baby on the awful, February day she disappeared. I'd known her parents, so my brain must have realized at some point that she was someone's child, but it was my heart - my wide open, new mom heart - that broke all over again.
I had double vision: the confident, capable, compassionate big kid I remember overlaid by the image everyone else had always seen of a vulnerable, achingly innocent, and forever nine-year old girl. Nine. Never ten.



There are some images engraved in my mind that have not changed from that day. These photographs - dark and stark - match my memory exactly. They evoke the hot smells of cigarettes and coffee and the voices of the dozens of tired volunteer searchers - all carried on the cold wind. I can hear the ragged rustle of the bushes outside of my window as the German shepherds lunge through our hedges and comb our yard under the moonlight. I can feel the hexagonal pattern of the fabric on the back seat of our car - a pattern that I traced with my fingers over and over while we waited to be waved through the police cordon to get to our house. This is a view of my neighborhood in 1975:
Copeland Drive, in front of the home of Marcia Trimble, is crowded with police cars, Civil Defense vehicles and other cars as Middle Tennessee joins forces to search for the missing nine year-old. (Gerald Holly / The Tennessean) 2/28/1975


Tom McGinn, a Philadelphia dog trainer, unloads two of his German shepherds with the help of Metro Youth Guidance Officer Howard Bassham, while Sgt. Sherman Nickens, right, watch. (J.T. Phillips / The Tennessean) 3/4/1975



It's been helpful for me to dredge up these images, to write, to acknowledge the links. The formless dread I've been feeling is no longer so formless. I am facing a threat to my family - even if it is "only" a custody challenge and it resonates back in spiraling and layering ways with early trauma, fear, and the first loss I ever faced. A loss that I shared with my neighborhood, my city, and my era.

Now that I have connected some dots - it makes sense that the bare trees, the fading light, the cold wind, and the barking dogs have felt ominous. The pieces are settling. I am settling. My old grief is very much a part of where I come from. My fear of future grief and loss on any scale relating to my children is understandable. Strangely, connecting the two has melted the icy panic inside of me. Connecting the dots of experience enables me to connect to the healing and growth I've gained too. Someday maybe I'll detail how and why Marcia's faith impacted mine. Maybe someday I'll own up to exactly how much time I spent (and how much mayonaise and lemon juice I used) trying to get my hair to look just like hers. Tonight, though, I'm going to go sneak a peek at my sleeping big boy/little kid. Tonight I'm going to breathe deeply. I'm going to trust the process - not necessarily the court process or the police process or even the family process - but the bigger, wider, more cosmic process. Strangely I find that tonight, after all this, I can trust that it really will be ok. No matter what. Peace.

**Edited to add - here is the link for the first story breaking on this case. It is a pivotal story for me personally - and a huge story for Nashville then and now. Peace.

Awry

I so wanted to have a kick ass post for the last day of NaBlo! Instead, pretty much all I can dish up is crap with a side order of stress. Weeellll - that's not completely accurate. Today is Havoc's birthday. That's fun. My "baby" is nine! I am working hard today to concentrate on him - his excitement, his sweetness, his enthusiasm. I want to be fully present to his nine-ness without the tinge of sadness that seeps from the past and the worry that casts shadows on the future. It's taking some work not to let my thoughts spiral back to the day Havoc was born. Towards the context that involved my ex. Towards the mixed up way things were when I was desperately trying to hope and pretend away my concerns. I can see myself that day: deliriously in love with my new baby, delighted with my sons who were now big brothers, joyful that my mother was so close and helpful, and lonely/sad/worried about Mr. Tapioca leaving us in the hospital because he was sick and needed to get enough rest to be able to go back to work. I want to shout to my then-self from this point in time and say, "Yes - you're right - those little red flags are not your imagining! Brace yourself! It'll be a little better for a little while and then it's going to suck glass shards! But you and your babies will be ok!"

But I can't shout back to myself. I also can't hear my future self shouting back to me today. I wish I could! I would love to hear that it's going to be rough going for a bit, but ultimately ok. I want that to be the message I would hear if I could. But what if the message is - "Hey - those looming depositions, the lying petitions, and the rest of the soulless court stuff? It is going to shred you and your family! Enjoy what peace drippings you can muster right now, because it's only going to get worse!" Gaaak. Fears, hopes, faith and rage. Nausea. I can't navigate that today. I can't make it go away - or be funny. (I wish I could make it funny! If Linsey can make a post that was both touching and hilarious about the love of her life being diagnosed with celiac disease - why can't I pull an iota of wry humor out of the absurdity that is this pending court case? NOT to trivialize what is so hurtful but to be able to enter into it fully enough to get past the paralyzing aspects. I want to hold up the ridiculous parts in affirmation of the entirety because being able to do so would mean my faith that it will be "ok" was solid. Can't do it today. Not by a long shot.)

No. Here's what I can do. Even if it's it's boring to write about. Today I can go to Havoc's classroom to see their international project presentations. I can admire his "German" chocolate brownies (even if I can't eat them because coconut give me hives.) I can pick up a few more birthday gifts from the Kitchenworks store for the budding chef. I can squeeze him and get us ready for tomorrow's houseful of nine year olds. I can scream and rage "Mr. Tapioca Head is a pathetic, empty liar no matter what happens in court!" in my head all the while smiling at and being pleasant to everyone. (<--I'm Southern like that.) Today I can be a flawed, angry, loving, and not-funny mom. Tomorrow I might could be something else. (<--That's the best cliffhanger I can manage. It translates to "Y'all come back, now. Ya hear?")
Peace.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

In Which Mayhem Is A Weirdo (I Mean Boy-o)

Last night the kids were maniacally jolly as they cleaned up after supper. They were ricocheting around the kitchen, scrubbing and pinging off of each other. It was NOT quiet but they were operating just under the reprimand threshold. They were silly and sarcastic with each other - all five of them dishing back what they were served - all the while loading dishes, wiping counters, and sweeping floors. The three adults (and the two dogs) retreated to the library which is connected to the kitchen by an open doorway as well as a window-like pass-thru above the sink. In short, we could hear everything but couldn't be seen. Often this is an ideal set up. Every once in a while, it means the adults miss a key element to a situation.

As the kids finished up their chores they trickled into the library one by one. Mayhem, being in charge of trash and recycling, was one of the last to finish. The normal rattling and rustling sounds I heard from the kitchen in no way prepared me for Mayhem's appearance. He walked through the library with trash bags in hand and his (abundant) hair sticking straight up off the top of his head. We are talking a 10-inch long, crazy, white boy 'fro. There was a moment of utter silence, then everybody gabbled at once. "What happened?" "What did you do?" "Your hair!"

Mayhem's face was bright red and his voice choked as he said something about needing to remember to be careful around wall sockets - but he could not maintain when he saw my panicked face. He burst out laughing. He hadn't gotten even partway electrocuted. He had made his bushy hair stand on end by rubbing a trash bag on his head*. Ha ha ha. Not only did he get laughs for looking ridiculous but he scored on mom. The kids think "getting" me like that is absolutely hilarious. Last night they thought it was so funny that it spurred them to reminisce about past successes in pushing the mama juuuuust far enough. They brought up the time Chaos gave Mayhem a swirlie. That memorable incident happened on a day they were being weird and push, push, pushing me. They weren't being "bad" or breaking any actual rules but they had hovered and interrupted, been rambunctious and loud. Some days using every mama tool in my kit just barely covers it, you know? The kids know to a scarily exact degree how hesitant I am to waste my mama credit on minor infractions. They know this, in large part, because they have repeatedly conducted experiments to find out precisely where the line is between pranks that will "only" earn them extra chores and behavior which will result in restriction (or worse). Bet couldn't believe the swirlie. She said to them, "I can't believe y'all did that! What if she hadn't laughed?!" and she made a mock serious "oooooh" face to indicate the trouble they would have been in. Chaos said, "We'd already had to do all our laundry, pick up our rooms, clean the kitchen ("And the bathroom," reminded the Princessa), and walk around the block!" ("Yeah, twice," added Mayhem.) "What else could she have made us do? It was a joke and we had nothing to lose!" Bet mouthed to me across the room, "What's he going to do? Sue you?" Spot on! That day I had played all of my (minor suit) cards and the kids had totally called my "bluff", winning the hand. Although the look on their faces last spring and the look on Mayhem's face last night, when for a split second they had to wonder, "Oh crap, what if this joke is too far?" tells me that we're still squarely in the midst of healthy limit testing and I still (for a few more short years) do hold the trump cards.
Peace.

*You may think - as did I - that rubbing a plastic bag on one's head is a strange and random thing to do (especially when one has been told all one's life by one's worry wart mom not to put plastic bags over one's head). I asked him why. Was he trying to make his hair stick up? Did he know that would happen? And why a garbage bag? His answer, "I had no idea what would happen. That's why I did it, mom. To find out. It's called an experiment." Ahhh. You know, even as a middle schooler, I did NOT look at things and wonder what would happen if I hit them with a hammer, put them in the microwave, or rubbed them on the top of my head. Linus says that's because I'm not a boy. You think?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jackpot

I LOVE playing the lottery. I know, I know - tax on the poor, the evils of gambling, the curse of sudden wealth syndrome, yada, yada, yada. Still. I love to play. It feels like play. I'm a lucky person in general and it's fun - so why not. It's exciting to pick numbers and dream about what I would do if we won. I don't HAVE to play. I don't buy a ticket every week, but I probably buy one a month. I certainly don't use the lottery as my retirement planning tool or spend money I don't have. I do, however, enjoy it as a big, wild, "what if". If I had to justify it, I could point out that I spend significantly less on the lottery than the average American spends at Starbucks. A chai latte gives me a tummy ache but a lottery ticket gives me a license to dream. This flimsy piece of paper may not be an exotic guilty pleasure, but it's mine and I'm savoring it. For a few more hours anyway. Until I make myself go to the Powerball website. Between now and then, I'll just hang out here with Schrodinger's cat and dream a little dream.

What about you? Lottery - love it or hate it?
Peace.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Morning News And Compulsive Peace

Maybe reading the news first thing in the morning isn't such a good idea.
This is sad. This is horrifying. Both are senseless. This helps if I can overcome my cynical side sniping and dismissing it as political theater.

My new wf Jeff asked me yesterday about my obsession with peace. I want peace. I yearn for it. I have a passion for it. I am searching for inner peace, outer peace, and sideways peace if it's available. I will visualize it, grow it, document it, explore it, sit with it, and share any little bit of it I can find. If I were a superhero, I would want my superpower to be peace. I'd dish up some serious Pax Lilymana. Peace talks, peace walks, peace deals - grasping at straws is better than refusing to reach. I don't mean to be glib as I repeatedly write the word peace, wish it upon random folks, and generally sling the concept around in my daily life. It's my way of praying without ceasing. It's my antidote to this morning's news - or any morning's news for that matter. The microscopic glimpses I have of peace are redemptive to the degree that I believe a full-sized, industrial-strength, global dose of peace would be nothing short of heaven. If we have the capacity to perceive even the shadow of it - how can we not ache to bring it fully about? Dynamic hope. Transformational love. Universal salvation. Divinity: inclusive, transcendent and immanent. Relational unity. The peace which passeth all understanding. That's what I'm talking about.
Peace be with you.

Tallulah Tinklepants

It is hard to believe that a dog this tiny could piddle so much, so often. Just saying.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Turkey Tettrazini For Eight Hungry Folks

Ingredients:
1 pound of spaghetti (cooked)
1 stick of (salted) butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped (I like sweet ones)
garlic, chopped (I use about six cloves - but we love garlic)
1 cup flour
1 quart of chicken broth (I very much prefer Wolfgang Puck's organic chicken broth)
1 pint heavy cream (yummy but fattening - oh well)
1/2 cup cooking sherry
mushrooms (1 medium package, fresh - mixed wild ones if you can get them, or boring button mushrooms or even a couple of small cans if you have to)
chopped leftover Thanksgiving turkey - 3 or 4 cups preferably but we don't always have that much left over
1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan
(seasoned) breadcrumbs for topping (optional)
sea salt (to taste)
pepper (I have a mix of several types of peppercorns - and it makes a difference) (also to taste)
*My boys like it best when I throw in a few dashes of Tobasco but if I'm making it for me, I throw in some Worcestershire sauce.

1. Cook pasta, drain, and place in the bottom of a large casserole dish. (For this much, I use two of the deeper Corningware ones.)
2. While pasta is cooking melt butter and sautee onion and garlic.
3. Stir in flour. (I cook this for about five minutes over med-low heat, because I don't like the flour to taste raw - but some folks are impatient and go right on to the next step.)
4. Whisk in liquids - broth, sherry, and then cream.
5. Add mushrooms, turkey and salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes if using fresh mushrooms - sometimes I even throw them in at the beginning with the garlic and onions but they work fine if added in here.
6. Take off heat and stir in cheese. (And any seasoning like Tobasco or Worcestershire.)
7. Pour mixture over pasta (top with bread crumbs if you want) and bake at 325 for 30 minutes.

So What's He Going To Do?

I was stressing as the boys were going to their dad's (=Mr. Tapioca Head's) before the break. I've wanted to get their hair cut for weeks and weeks but the boys were adamantly against it (and the Princessa weighed in on their side). My mother SNORTS when she hears me say anything about their hair. Her comment is that at least of none of them have purple hair. Ahem. So I let the boys go on being shaggy, until of course the day before they were to go to their dad's when both Mayhem and Havoc said they wanted their hair cut and Chaos said he would allow his to be trimmed. Where do you think that came from? (One guess.)

I also discovered too late to rectify the situation that the boys have outgrown (or put holes in - grrrr) the only khakis they have here at my house. No doubt about it, they need new nice pants and they'll be getting some - but there was no time before Thanksgiving. I let them go to see Mr. Tapioca Head's parents on "my" weekend right before the break and I didn't think to check their clothes two weeks before break. (My bad.)

I sent the boys as clean, well-groomed, and nicely dressed as possible given their baseline scruffy and khaki-less status. I was talking to Bet about it. She was taking a shower. I was pacing our (very large) bathroom and fiddling with stuff on the counters - stressing about what grief I was going to get from Mr. Tapioca Head about it. Grief that I feel like I might deserve (sorta) but that I don't want to deal with anyway. Bet leaned her head out of the shower and watched me for a second as I anxiously racketed around. Then she said, "What are you worried about? What can he do? Sue you?"
Well, there is that. He's already played his trump card. It's the only one he's got and it's on the table. He's got a petition in court (as I recently officially found out) suing me for custody of the children - in his words "to get them out of that warped and demented environment [I] have subjected them to." Yeah. Haircut shmaircut, eh?

In other (and way more fun news) - Happy Blogiversary to me! Two years today I've been in the blogosphere. I love it. I've decided to stay!

I've got more to say today, but I may have to say it tomorrow. My "to do" list is a mile long and for having been up for five hours, I've not gotten a heck of a lot of it done yet. Hope you're making more progress on your Monday. OH - and a total shout out to my buddy Solsys for coming up with the word "Frazy" to describe yesterday. Frantic, frazzled, lazy and maybe a bit crazy to boot. Excellent wordsmithing pal!
Peace to the people!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

If Angst And Ennui Had A Love Child

You know those days when you're hungry but don't want to or can't decide what to eat? I need a word for that feeling. Maybe not one that revolves around food though, but one that describes the urge or impulse to do something that is thwarted by the equally strong and opposite pull caused by unwillingness or inability to figure it out. Stymied is too strong, depression too permanent, blah too formless. Stress and lethargy are factors. Miasma, irritation, lassitude, dread, compression, implosion and funk are all part of it, but they're bit parts - not the starring role. I want a descriptor for a feeling that makes you want to pace but robs you of the energy to do more than mope. I need a concrete label for this vague sense of enervating dissatisfaction.

Today, I am full on wallowing in whatever this feeling is. I have it about eating and also about blogging. I keep standing in front of the open refrigerator without moving until my indecision makes the heat in the kitchen kick on. I want to blog. I "need" to blog. I don't see the value of anything I have to blog about. I have the feeling about running. I want to run, need to run, can't figure out how to tumble into my shoes and go. Too many variables about weather, route, and timing. I've been looking forward to football all week but at the moment could care less. At the exact same time that I have three different thoughts about what today's games mean and who's playing and what my fantasy team's stats are - I have this "why bother" attitude about even finding out where the remote is or what channel the games are on. My skin feels too tight like I might burst, but my brain feels soggy, my thoughts are drowned. I imagine this is what being on uppers and downers simultaneously feels like. (Thankfully I don't know, I can only surmise.)

The most oomph I can muster is to fret about what to call this crappy state of being. Is it even an actual emotion? I want to name it, pigeon-hole it, have power and dominion over it. If I had a name for it, I feel half-heartedly convinced I would be able to banish it. I wish there were a recipe process for building words. Some languages just let you keep adding on syllables and root words until it means what you want it to mean. I guess if AT&T can push cell phone service in Philawarepragacago, then I should be able to make up my own word for how I feel today. But laziness and uptight perfectionism are allied in preventing me from even the semblance of an attempt. Fuck it. <--That's eloquent, eh? I may not be able to come up with a name for this feeling, but I've got a two-word, easy to remember motto for it! My hope for you, dear web friends, is that you need neither name nor motto and can just enjoy your day. (Root for the Titans for me in case I can't my poop in a group to watch the game, ok?)
Peace.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's A Good Thing She's Cute


Tallulah decided at 4 a.m. that she was done with sleep. I'd forgotten that puppies keep baby sleep schedules. We took turns entertaining her - but it was Wasabi that did the best job. He's such a good big brother! He hops and nips and chases her but he's gentle. They played tug-o-war with that pathetic rag of a toy squirrel. Tallulah tried every trick she knows but Wasabi stood there like a rock. Then he backed up a step or two and dragged her. They both thought that was fun.

He better enjoy that while he can - she's going to be bigger than he is in about three months. He tuckered her out enough that we got another nap out of her. Now if only the adults in the house could catch a few extra zzz's.
Peace.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Dog Lips

Guess what we got today? She's a seven-week old Redbone Hound. Tallulah Rockstar is her "working title" so far. Linus wants to call her Red Sonja. Bet is still deciding what her permanent name is going to be. I'm going to call her Tallulah for now. She is fiesty and independent, sweet and such a gorgeous color. We went to Rebel Red Kennels to meet her. I have nothing to compare the kennel to. Maybe all kennels/breeders are gracious, have beautiful land, provide run space for each dog, have cozy and clean dog houses and well-mannered, beautiful dogs. It seems unlikely - but maybe they are all as wonderful as Rebel Red Kennels. Tallulah came right out and played with us. She and her brother puppy Fred made a bee line for Wasabi - who we'd brought along to make sure he and the new pup would be compatible. I had been a bit worried that she might be afraid of such a bigger dog, but it was entirely the other way around. She had no fear and lunged for his beard. He jumped straight up in the air and cowered behind Linus' legs. They adjusted quickly but the first few moments were amusing. I think all the playing tuckered her out. She slept the three hours home!
She's a kissy little thing. Her face is all wrinkly. Her nose is velvety and she has the softest, flappiest little dog lips. Bet says dogs don't have "lips" but look at her! She has dog lips. And puppy breath. And a poochy little belly while the rest of her is bony. She bunny hops towards Wasabi to play. Her ears are so big and floppy that they dip in the water when she drinks from her bowl.
Then she has to toss her head and flippity-flap them dry. Looks like I might be a doggy blogger again for the next little while as we all adjust to being a multi-dog family! Peace.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey And All The Trimmings

Bet and I ran five miles this morning - two and a half of them UP HILL. I feel entitled to eat all I want today. Good thing, too. We are having a feast.
Baked brie, steamed shrimp (with Old Bay), turkey, cranberry relish, green beans, "company grits" (=with heavy cream, white pepper, and gruyere), stuffing and dressing, gravy, french silk pie, chess pie, butterscotch fudge, and chocolate fudge. Mimosas early on and later a gorgeous white wine. This is the first year in a decade that I haven't made my carrots, parnips, and leeks au gratin. We already have so much - and only five people sitting down to supper - that I'm saving that dish, maybe for a supper next week. I hope everyone out there in Blogland is having a wonderful day.
Peace.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Uni-dogs, Math Fertilizer, More Pigskin

Canine Singular:
I've never* had more than one pet at a time. I know people with menageries - but my fur babies have always been only children. I bring this up because Bet wants a puppy. She's grieved her sweet dog, Sluggo, for three years (almost exactly three years) and it's time. Bet has been ready for about six months but the timing, what with our family moving, hasn't been right until now. She loves hound dogs. Her Sluggo was a blue tick hound-mutt. We've found a good Redbone hound kennel. And they have a six week old girl pup. We're going to see her on Friday. I'd be surprised if Wasabi is still a single furchild on Saturday. I'm excited and nervous. I don't know if I'll be able to love another dog as much as I love Wasabi. Puppyhood about killed me the first time around. I don't know if I can handle it again. Of course, I know more about what to expect. Maybe that will make it better. I think Wasabi would LOVE to have a sister. He loves the human kids and they romp with him - but it's not the same. Having our friend's dog Grace stay with us for a few days was so much fun. Wasabi and Grace played and played and played. He was so sad to see her go! It seems like such a big step to me though. (I know, I know - for a woman with five children - having two dogs shouldn't cause this much angst - but it does!)

Teacher's Helper:
I helped Bet grade papers today. Having two seventh graders of your own in no way prepares you for the weirdness of seventh graders en masse. It is amazing to me the detailed sketches, doodles, and colored-in silliness that adorns papers that are otherwise devoid of the homework that is supposed to be on them! I think it is beyond strange how many of her students do their math tests in PEN. Ink pen. For math. It is even stranger how many seventh graders turn in papers with what appear to be bites taken out of the corners or sides of the paper. I showed her one with actual TEETH marks on it. "Yep," she said, "they eat the paper." Why? Why would a child eat their own homework? And last bit on the grading front: Bet is teaching prime and composite numbers. More than one child wrote "Compost number" on their paper. Bwa ha ha.

Thanksgiving means:
Football! Glory be - a week with football all over the place. I love it. (I secretly love it more than turkey.)

Is anyone eating something fun and non-traditional for Thanksgiving this year?
Peace, peace, peace.

*Ok - unless you count fish. We had an amazing clam and a puffer-fish cousin that made kissy marks all over the side of the tank - who knew fish could have such personality? But it's not any harder to take care of two fish than it is to take care of one. Know what I mean?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

At Least Chaos Is Happy

Piss. The Titans blew it. I hate that. Vince Young played his heart out but the defense was like a sieve. Rob Bironas did his part and refused to be iced. Our defense better figure out quick how to play without Haynesworth. Even when he gets healthy, I don't expect him to be with the Titans for long. His contract is up and he's been playing like someone with something to prove (and after last year's mess, he better be!) I feel sorry for LenDale White who is from Denver and had 50+ friends and family at the game. I know he wanted to show top form and celebrate a Titans win - neither of which he did last night. Double rats!

This may be it for my posting abilities today. Four of our chickadees are flying the friendly skies this afternoon and that's a little bit of airport craziness right there. Today I am thankful for the unseasonably warm weather in Denver which means the Princessa will not have to repeat her being-stuck-in-an-airport-during-a-blizzard exerience!
Peace.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pigskin Report, Thread Deficiency, And The Sports Physical From Hell

I didn't run or lift yesterday but I think I did some of everything else on my list! I'm sad to report that I'm still struggling to find a solid balance/peace about the looming court crap - but I've made enough progress that I can eat without throwing up. (Hey, it's a start!) In other news:

Football: (*Non-football freaks friends can skip this part.)
It was an ok day in football land because the Colts won even if the 'Skins and the Dolphins lost. I'll reserve my final verdict for after the Titans/Broncos game tonight. Chaos and I were jokingly trash talking this morning in prep for the game. One of us is going to be sad tonight (and I hope it's him!) :D The Patriots game was crazy. Havoc hasn't seen it yet because he can only stay up for the opening drive of the night games but we recorded it for him. What a happy boy he'll be. He was a tiny bit upset with me yesterday for forgetting to switch his fantasy football team around while he was with his grandparents. About five minutes after game time, we realized he still had Adrian Peterson starting. Oops. He tried to be comforted by his projected stats being a few points ahead of his opponent's, but he really, really didn't want to lose this matchup (and undefeated status). Never fear. The boy is still crazy undefeated. Tom Brady and Randy Moss (just the two of them) got him 70 points while his opponent's whole team got a total of 66 (their QB was Donovan McNabb). And Havoc still has a player - LenDale White - in tonight's game. He's three games and 150 points ahead of the next closest team in his league. He's the FF equivalent of an NFL rookie whose team wins the Super Bowl. I want him to enjoy it while he can because I don't know that he'll ever have a chance to dominate in FF like this again!!

Art/Quilting:
Here is a picture (in process) of my mermaid journal quilt page. She's my triathlon winning mergirl: my personal talisman for 2008. I've got a veritable goal trifecta - a finished novel, a full size art quilt and an olympic distance triathlon - all on my plate for 2008. She'll eventually have a medal dangling from her left hand and a bike tattoo on her right shoulder. This pic is her in her basic components (my drawing on the right and her fabric self on left). I based my cartoon of her on an antique woodblock picture. I practiced free motion quilting her on a mock up cartoon/muslin quilt sandwich last night, but I got sucked into football before I got to work on the real deal. (You can click the photo to see more detail. Her hair is awesome shiny, auburn/gold! And her tummy is white on white paisley. I had to layer her right arm to get the depth/texture I wanted. With only one layer - her bathing suit and hair showed through her skin. How weird would that be?) I get stuck sometimes with my lack of technical knowledge about quilting. I don't know if you're supposed to stitch the edges of applique before you make the quilt sandwich or after. Same with embellishments - should those stitches show on the back with the quilting or be hidden inside? I'm forever making it up as I go along and wondering what "real quilt artists" do. Eventually I'd like to be in a show so I suppose I should start finding these things out. It just seems I hit those decision points at ridiculous hours and I'm impatient to keep playing. I don't want to stop and wait hours (or days) to find out the "right" way. I want to keep going! On the other hand, I do value skilled work. I want my art to flow through my medium, not get hung up on crappy craftsmanship. And I don't want to waste my time trying to invent a way to achieve a look or texture that someone else has already figured out! Quilty dilemmas!



The other thing that gets me stuck is that I buy lots of fabric but not enough thread! I love thread. I don't know why I don't buy more of it. Oh wait - I do. It's because I spend all of my money on fabric. It's difficult to convince myself to pass up a fabric I love because the chances of it being there when I come back are slim. I have less urgency with thread. It will be there. In fact, that's the problem. It will be there, right on the quilt shop shelf instead of in my studio at 5 a.m. when I get the urge to quilt! I do the same thing with embellishments - I have hordes of beads and gorgeous fibers - but recently realized I didn't have the right (or for that matter, any) needles or threads with which to sew them! It will probably not surprise you to learn that I also have to force myself to buy fusible web and batting. I hate what that says about me - like I'm a superficial quilter who doesn't remember or value the un-glamorous quilty bits. Am I the Marie Antoinette of the quilt world? "Let them eat beads!"

Kidlets:
I took Mayhem back to the doctor to "finish" up his sports physical. We have been through an awful lot just to make it so this guy can play FRISBEE at school. (I realize that it is a sport and they do run around, but come on! It's not a high pressure, contact activity! It's FRISBEE!) Two weeks ago, Bet took him while I was out of town and he FAILED. He hasn't had an asthma attack (or so we thought!) for two years but at the doctor's he could not "pass" the peak flow meter test. He couldn't blow enough air out for them to be happy at all! I don't even have an inhaler for him anymore! I made him use Havoc's and we practiced (which was funny - "Come on, you can blow harder than that! What if that were your birthday cake? Huh? Don't you want your wish?") Guess what? When we got there today, they didn't make him re-do the breathing test! They gave him his own Rx for an inhaler, tested for hernias (he HATES that part), and stressed out about him not having his flu shot yet. (Sidenote: The boy is a shot magnet. Every time we go to the doctor's they discover some shot he needs. It's a little weird. It's also a hassle because the boy has no fatty parts in which to inject vaccine!) While we were waiting for the nurse to come stick him, he asked me if I thought he could have surgery and get a robotic finger when he grows up. (For anyone joining us mid-story - Mayhem was born without a pinky on his left hand and his left arm has it's own size and muscle/tendon geometry.) He began to talk about all the things he thought would be cool about having a robotic finger. I think he's been watching Inspector Gadget. He wants an all-purpose robotic finger: knife, scissors, file, toothpick, flame thrower, etc. The nurse came into the room just in time to hear me say, "I don't think they'll let you on the plane with your Swiss Army finger." She gave us quite the look. Mayhem was laughing too much to even notice the shot. AFTER insisting on him getting the shot and giving it to him, the nurse said, "Now, make sure to stay away from anyone with a cough or cold for the next two weeks, ok?" WHAT?! You'd think she could have mentioned that warning before the shot was given. The boy is getting on a plane tomorrow night along with a million and twelve other people traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. I was already worried about the mutant cold virus but NOW I have to worry that my kid is at risk from the common cold because we got him a shot to prevent him from getting the flu?! Ever feel like you can't win? I don't think I can talk him into wearing a mask, but maybe I could pre-soak all of his clothes in Lysol. Two-fold benefit there - wholesale germ slaughter and potentially cold-infested folks staying away from the kid who smells weird. What do you think? Anyone else have a better idea?

Peace.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Avoidance Behavior

What I want most to do this morning is not talk - not let anything out for fear it will be a scream and rant of epic proportions. But then there's NaBlo. I'm not very good about talking without saying what's on my mind. I'm not very good at blogging without spewing if things are brewing with my ex (=Mr. Tapioca Head for any new readers.) And they are. Looks like we'll be in court for this custody battle sometime around the beginning of the year. (Such a great way to start out a year, eh?) The papers saying he is the better parent would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that these are my kids on the line.

My brain is so full of anger that I'm not going to post any more today. I'm going to go get some thread and quilt. I'm going to dig up my favorite book (Rimrunners by CJ Cherryh) and get lost in a (hot) ex-space marine's troubles. I'm going to get sucked into football and probably cheer too loudly. I'm going to run (but not the ten sets because Bet is sick) and I'm going to lift. Through all of it I'm going to pray and throw spells and say affirmations and all that cheesy stuff that has comforted folks and worked magic through the centuries. I'm going to be grateful that my children are healthy and beautiful beings and remind myself that as awful as this crap seems, there are so many moms who deal with worse situations on fewer resources. I hope somewhere in all that avoidance and gratitude I recover the parts of me I like best because the part of me that could easily spend the next two hours typing about what a lying, dickweed my ex is? Not so much my best side.
Peace.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My Morning View: Decisions And Memories


I realized, as I brushed my teeth and looked around this morning, that it might be a bit odd to have my rock/paper/scissors dice juxtaposed with my healthy choices affirmation card. I also noticed that I still had my all time favorite grocery list on my vanity. (We keep a communal grocery list on the island in the kitchen and all manner of things end up on them. Click to see the picture larger if you can't read it.) And I wanted to show you that it is almost time for the wearing of the Bracelet of Awesomeness. I have it out and ready to go, but I can't officially put it on until Thursday.

I was lucky enough to know and be close to both of my grandmothers and they each have their own holiday association in my head. The Fourth of July was my holiday with my Grammy Lois and Thanksgiving came to be connected to my Grammy Mil - even though that's not the time of year we typically got to spend with her. When I was little (starting when I was about 8?), my Grammy Mil sent all of the granddaughters (four of us at the time) a Towle silver charm bracelet. The first charm was "The first day of Christmas" and we got a new charm each year thereafter for 11 years. They were pretty but not a surprise and our mothers didn't let us "play" with them (as you can imagine) - so for the first several years they didn't register very high on our list of favorite Christmas presents. I can't put my finger on the exact year that began to change.

It was tradition that the bracelets could only be worn from Thanksgiving supper until Christmas Day. Thanksgiving was the first time we could wear the charm that was given us the year before. Slowly that became more and more exciting to us. Somewhere in my teens I began to appreciate having a beautiful, formal, and adult piece of jewelry to wear during the holidays. It was fun at family gatherings to have us all wearing our bracelets - the tinkling of the charms an integral part of my holiday memories. Later, for the years I wasn't able to be home during the holidays, wearing my bracelet made me feel closer to my family. My grandmother died when I was twenty one and missed getting to see her final granddaughter's entry into this world. My sister and my cousins and I got together (with our moms) and bought my baby cousin Patricia a bracelet too. A charm a year for twelve years. She's a junior in high school this year. She told me a couple of years ago how much it meant to her that we included her that way. We're all apart this year - not even two of us in the same place - and it will be ok. Physical location is the smallest part of what we've ever shared. We will cook and feast (and watch football) with friends and different parts of our families and we'll remember the even wider circle. Thursday the heavy, silver charms will clink one against the other on my wrist while I stir gruyere, butter and heavy cream into the grits making them "company grits" as Grammy Mil did every year - and I will be connected to my sister and cousins and our generation will be connected to our mothers' and aunts' and grandmothers'.

My charm bracelet is still beautiful and formal and grown up looking - but it is most precious to me because it has become an outward symbol of the way the women in my family are joined by love, shared memories and traditions that span time as well as space. As I fold my hands together (clinkity, clinkity) for the blessing on Thursday, I will give thanks for those I hold dear, but especially for my grandmother Mil.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Squirrel Guts Everywhere

There are so many things I have in my brain to post about this morning - the debate last night, how meeting new friends is stirring up old memories, Beowulf tonight on the IMAX, Bug's 17th birthday party (OMG we are old enough to have a 17 year old son!!), football matchups this weekend (Havoc's fantasy team the Gridiron Chefs are still undefeated even after the Patriots' bye), comments about being transparent but not invisible in my life, etc. And I would post about all of that - or at least about SOME of that except I can't hear myself think!! This is what's going on at the foot of my bed (from which I blog):
(**The soundtrack doesn't come through but imagine if you will - "GRRRRL! RWLLLL! RRGHHHH! RWLLL! GRWWWL!" And toss in a few dozen SNORTS and a few whines.**)



Wasabi has a friend Grace staying over for a few days. They have been playing tug-o-war with a fluffy squirrel toy for HOURS. (You may remember this is Wasabi's favorite game.) Squirrel fluff is flying. Everywhere. It's on my bed, my floor, my hair. Wasabi is ridiculously happy. He and Grace are very cute. They are also very loud. I have tried to shoo them out of my room, but they think I am trying to play with them. Real posting may have to wait until tomorrow!
Peace.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Else What

Last night Havoc and I talked about his teacher some more. He told me he'd figured out her system. He said that now he knows he's done something right when she stops telling him all the things that are wrong with whatever he's working on. I asked him if she ever told him he'd done a good job. He said no. I asked him if she was that way with everyone. He said no, there were a few kids she praised a lot and some other kids like him that she only said "bad" things to. He said it was ok though, now that he'd figured out her system. (Doesn't that make you want to cry? Or SMACK that bitch? Maybe I've said that before. Sad to have to say it again.)

I am really not in favor of creating and and "us against The Man" kind of mentality but I need my kid to know that I do NOT agree with this woman's "system"!! I told him exactly what I objected to. We talked about how this is likely not the last terrible teacher that he'll have. We talked about how we needed to come up together with strategies for him to learn and be nurtured despite the somewhat toxic environment this teacher has created. Havoc promised me that he would keep being respectful to her and that he would work hard to correct the challenges she'd identified for him (being more focused on the work at hand, reading only the books she wanted him to read in class, not talking or squirming around). He also promised me that he would say ten good things about himself, to himself every day and that he would listen for when other grown ups said positive things about him and share them with me. He told me that his other teachers - the math group teacher, the art teacher, the teaching assistant, the literacy coach - are all positive and encouraging people. He said it was easy to see the difference between the way they taught and the way his main teacher taught.

Havoc was glad I talked to him about all "this stuff". He was proud of his report card and surprised about the other things the teacher said about him. He'd felt sick to his stomach when he'd first heard how the conference went. He'd been outraged in a very 8 year old way that his teacher told us he was so far behind when he wasn't. ("Mama, I promise I'm on Chapter 16 but she'd told me to go back and write more about earlier chapters before writing about that one, so I did! I'm not behind! She KNOWS I'm not.") He knows now that he's not in trouble with us. He knows we are proud of him and he has some appropriate strategies for navigating better in that classroom. He loves his friends and doesn't want me to try to have him switched. He loves school in spite of his teacher. He said that he can find a way to make it work. He told me that it was like how he was sure when he grew up (to be a chef) that he would love his job even if there were one or two difficult people to work with. I LOVE my kid!

Later he said, "I forgot to tell you one more thing about my day when I got distracted by us talking about 'elllsnowot'."
Me: "By us talking about what?"
Havoc repeated what sounded like "ellsnowot."
Me: Owl sweat? Elf snot? What were we talking about?!
Havoc: Elf snot? Mom, gross! We weren't talking about elf snot or owl sweat. We were talking about elsewhat. ELSE. WHAT. We were talking about elsewhat and I forgot to tell you this funny thing.
Then he went on to tell me the funny thing - but I think the word elsewhat is funnier. Look at my kid making up words to fit his need. And his teacher doesn't think he's creative? I am fixing to give her what for (and maybe a bowl of elf snot or owl sweat too.)
Peace.