Category Archives: In My Life

Where in the world is CorporateMommy?

June 12, 2009

First of all, I do have several new posts at Chicago Moms Blog already published or in the queue to be published soon. Please visit!

Second, after more than 5 years - this blog will be closing down. The reasons are many, and I will write about them soon. I will be porting many of the archives over to a new site that we're launching so please stay tuned :)

Last, and most importantly, I DO micro-post both on Facebook and Twitter and hope you'll join me there. I miss you, too...

Tags: Blog, Chicago, Mom, Announcement,
Posted on June 12, 2009 at 10:15 AM and filed under: In My Life
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They should thank their lucky stars and shut up!

April 13, 2009

I HATE how some people are using the "State of the Economy" to push their own agenda!!!

The paternalistic, 6-figure and car-allowanced, condescending School Board President of my friend's town is shutting down the academy for the gifted kids. Almost 60 kids are being sent into mainstream classes.

Two beloved teachers are losing their jobs, and being replaced by an administrator that will... well, not teach. But will be paid more than either of the teachers ever were.

Because of a budget shortfall? No.
Because of a better solution? No.

Will he accept corporate grants, parental assistance, or listen to the questions of the hurt and confused parents? No.

The program was put in by his predecessor and he's using the threat of the recession to shut it down.


I was one of those that thought having special programs for the top 3% was elitist. A luxury item.

Until I watched my little friend try to slow down his mind for "regular" first grade. And fail. And be called a problem by his teacher. And unable to socially integrate.


More info at Chicago Moms.

Tags: elite, gifted, recession, kids, parenting, rant
Posted on April 13, 2009 at 04:24 PM and filed under: In My Life
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You-You, MeMe

March 31, 2009

Spend 15 minutes on Facebook and you'll end up tagged for a MeMe. The electronic equivalent of one of those folded notes you got passed in junior high.

"What is your favorite soda?"

"Have you ever..."

"Do you like Steve? Rate Steve 1-10 for cuteness."

These used to be fun. Perhaps because I didn't give up my adolescence until, hmm, last December?

I have now, however, reached my fill. Past my eyeballs and all the way to my hairline. While I am happy to read others, there is no way God or the devils could drag me to fill another one out.

Maybe it's because I'm still in recovery. Maybe it's because I get distracted by the opening licks to "Slippery When Wet". Maybe it's because there's other things to be written - bodacious, velvety words to be romanced onto a page.

Maybe it's because I never did pass those football-shaped rule-lined notes way back then.

I didn't peak in high school. Hell, I didn't even get started in high school. I ripped off my training wheels in my mid-20's. Roared up the stairs of Piper Hall with my backpack swinging off my shoulder. Jumped over a pond with God at my back and no limits before me.

We may be older now, wiser, fettered by Roth IRA's and term life insurance - but are we even remotely there yet?

I strongly suspect my life hasn't peaked. Hope so. Hope the same is true for you.

So, no. I don't know how much I like Steve. Today, I'm not even sure I like my dog. So, with your forgiveness, I'll love the you-you... but I'm done with the meme.

Tags: facebook, meme, life, opinion,
Posted on March 31, 2009 at 10:15 AM and filed under: In My Life
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The secret is plastics...

March 23, 2009

earthmuseumscience.jpgOnce upon a time, I was a nut for Mother Earth.

I built recycling programs, and championed re-use/reduce schemes at work, and rinsed out my plastics before carefully tucking them into my green box.

Then came motherhood.

Oh, I am sooooo ashamed.

I used disposable diapers. I DID. I have a very low "ick" factor and about 5 seconds of dry heaves were all that was needed to send my arms around a massive Costco crate of Huggies.

I would wince, thinking of them piling up in landfills. But convenience and comfort and cooties won out over my better demons.

...And then came my plastics addiction.

It started simply enough. No dishwasher. Newborn. Muck. Mess. The need for cost-cutting measures.

I was carrying plastic freezer bags on me to dispose of the disposable diapers and wipes when I was out with my baby. I was chopping up salads and packing up leftovers for my husband's lunch in those little plastic containers. I was portioning out carrot sticks and teething biscuits for Bear.

With all the best intentions of cleaning everything out and re-using them, I would end up with stacks of foul-smelling baggies and incomprehensible pile of square lids and round containers. And back to the store I would go.

The bad habits followed me even into recent years, even after I had a dishwasher to help keep things clean and get several uses out of them.

I know, I know...I was saving the planet with one lo-water showerhead and bashing it with a stack of binned bags and lids.

My son recently called me one it. As his teacher, it was important to share with him the state of the environment. As his parent, I reaped that whirlwind.

"Mom!" he bellowed Saturday, tapping his foot as he looked into the cabinet stuffed with mismatched plastics.

"Um, yeah?"

"You're killing the environment! Remember that picture? Piles and piles of garbage and chemicals in the air?!"

"Yes, but -"

"Mom!! Seriously?"

"Look, it saves money for us to use-"

He raised his copper eyebrows at me and I admit it, I caved. Big strong momma bear went....mush. I imagined a mountain of odd-shaped lids and seas of baggies. *sigh*

"Why don't you help me clean this cabinet out and come up with a better system?"

"Wait a minute, you want ME to do the work of helping fix it?"

"Yes, dear. It's a little something called passing the buck. Er, sharing the responsibility."

He gave me a dirty look as he dug up a cloth bag to put the lids into. A slow smile spread across my face, as we got down to work.

Tags: Recycle, plastics, re-use, reduce, green, environment, parenthood, humor
Posted on March 23, 2009 at 09:40 AM and filed under: In My Life
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I think it's about forgiveness...

February 26, 2009

Despite having a great weekend, a better life now than before, Helen's revealing and provocative post got me thinking.

It's amazing. When you get a bit stronger, how much more you realize you have to deal with.

Forgiveness. What is it, really? What does it mean to give it - and receive it?

I tangle with the weightier concepts, the overlays of God and Jesus and women and men and trust and mess and relationships and betrayal, then all of a sudden, I am sliced to the heart with memories and this sudden heartache.

Like it won't stay in the box, the one I laid it all to rest in so long ago.

If I forgive you, and we work on getting past this, can you guarantee me it will never, ever, happen again? Can you? The question is a trap, you know. I want you to say yes. To promise yes. As I promise it to you. As I dream of Before.

But we know that what you can do once, you can do again, I can do again, and will do again. Part of my trust knows this. Lies to you. Wants everything to be all right even as it clutches its brokenness.

Tags: Forgiveness, betrayal, relationship, love, hope, trust
Posted on February 26, 2009 at 06:24 PM and filed under: In My Life
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I Can't Give Them You

February 18, 2009

Have you ever wondered, if people could watch your life like it was a television show... what your ratings would be?

What kind of show would you be? Would your home be the primary set? Or the local coffee house?

BlogHer is doing a workshop about how to re-invent a blog after the initial reason you started it - ends. I've been struggling with this for years.

I began a website when CD and I were getting married. I shudder to remember the little animation I coded, that made my dress twirl. That I didn't embed Midi music must have been the intercession of a compassionate deity. That site? Won an award.

After I got in the habit of living out loud. I sorta... didn't stop. I've journaled my whole life. This was just a new interpretation of that.

I remember the first person who ever signed my "guestbook". I had never met her in real life, yet she was interested in reading about me. And me, in her. Despite our subsequent life changes since, we remained, virtually, friends.

I began an anonymous blog in a moment of crisis. I had a great job. Challenging, rewarding. I worked from home most of the time, always engaged with room to grow, and had a great team that I loved working with.

And yet?

I was unhappy.

Because as much as I loved my career and everything it meant - I never had a single day when I went to bed thinking I had done right by my son. I told myself it was just guilt. I told myself it was the universal complaint of working parents. I reminded myself of the amazing life my son had.

And then, I cried.

We cannot reason our hearts.

I quit and took on a new life, with wide open eyes. Homeschooling, living on a shoestring, keeping house, cooking dinner, paying bills. I signed up for this woman's army and Hoo-rah, I don't need or expect it to be easy. I stand behind that decision as one of the best I've ever made.

But it's played hell with me as a writer. Hell.

When you stop being mad, and put out the fire in the living room and the marriage and fill in the hole of your life with the whole of your life, well....

Thank you for listening the past month. I know I went quiet for a few days here, but I have not been away. I have been here, re-reading. A lot of very bland, and silly posts. But a couple of goods ones, I think.

I'm not Friends. I'm not Lost. And I've never even been to Las Vegas.

But that doesn't mean that there aren't things left worth saying. Or that this writer can't write them. Here.

Tags: Blog_her, Blogger, Write, Dream, Family, Change,
Posted on February 18, 2009 at 11:31 PM and filed under: In My Life
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The Backless Dress and The Long Drive

February 11, 2009

About 8 weeks ago, I got a call. I wrote this, and now it's time I think to share it here....

It was late spring just about 15 years ago. I headed to England with $350 in my pocket, an open-return ticket, and a new journal tucked between my spare jeans and the extra underwear in my backpack.

Long story short, I ended up dating a Coldstream Guard. Who invited me, one summer evening, to a dance. I found a little black halter dress in a thrift store and twisted up my hair with an antique rhinestone clip. But like Cinderella, I had a curfew - the B&B I was living at locked its doors at midnight.

And like Cinderella, I lost track of time. I realized it with a panic. One of the more senior men, Ian, had a car and offered to drive me across London.

We raced, but not quick enough. I rang and rang, and eventually realized I was stranded.

"What will you do?" Ian asked.

"Get a hotel room," I mused. I had an emergency credit card stashed, well, somewhere. I knew I couldn't stay at the barracks, and all my contact numbers were up in my room - on the wrong side of that impassive door.

"Dressed like that? With no luggage?"

"What's my alternative?"

"I'm headed home for the weekend," he said, opening the passenger door with a smile. "You can kip with me and my family, if you like."

I nodded slowly. It was uncomfortable, accepting a ride and the offer of a place to stay from a near-stranger. He had ginger hair and a big laugh and that's about all I knew of him. I wondered if I was going to end up in the pages of the newspaper, with the headline 'Unknown Woman washes up on Thames!'

"The thing is, it's a bit of a drive," he said as we headed onto the M1.

"It's far?"

"250 miles, give or take," Ian laughed.

It was nearing dawn when we finally got to Darlington. My gut was full of butterflies. Ian had proved to be a complete gentleman on the trip. Dropping the military persona, he told me stories of how his 3 children had been born and what they were like. And especially about his wife, Susan. How she'd saved lives when they'd lived in Ireland, by noticing something 'off' about a car parked on their lane. It had turned out to be a bomb. They'd lost everything they'd owned when it had gone off, but not a soul was hurt because she'd had the presence to sound the alarm.

I wondered what she would make of her husband showing up at all hours with a blond American in a dress down to here.

I needn't have worried.

She pulled the door open with a merry smile and offered me tea. Her husband looking at her like she was a hot cross bun and he hadn't eaten in days. By the end of the weekend, it was a done deal. Like Sandra Bullock's character in 'While You Were Sleeping' - I was in love with whole family. Ian and Susan and their kids and friends. All of it: their home full of happy noises and the smell of tea cooking, the greenhouse in their back garden filled with pots of dirt and bulbs, and the barbecue where Ian liked to char three kinds of meat while chomping on a cigar. I was in love and grinning and giddy.

As Ian ushered me out on Sunday, for the long drive back to London, Susan made me promise to return. And after my long, hot London summer had ended, I did - eventually moving in with them for several months.

Even after I came back the States, we stayed as close as we could. Exchanged phone calls and Christmas cards. I have pictures of the kids growing up. Clippings, and letters tucked in a box.

When Susan left me the message the other night, I knew. You always know. It's that tone of voice, you know?

I think I was crying, even as she told me.

Leaving the Darlington F.C. game, Ian had a bad fall. He died in hospital later that night, probably of a massive heart attack. He was only 53.

He leaves behind the sweetest woman on Earth, 3 great kids, a brother, and countless mates, co-workers, and former brothers in arms - as well as a desolate dog who is still waiting for him by the door.

He was the kind of guy who wouldn't leave a soul stranded, even if it meant hauling them 250 miles. The kind of guy who would bring a stranger home to his family, and make them welcome. There are too few people like that.

And now, there is one less.

Tags: Memory, Friendship, Love, Life, Death,
Posted on February 11, 2009 at 08:06 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Like those who curse their luck in too many places; And those who fear are lost

February 09, 2009

It's dark and windy outside. And still, surprisingly, warm.

I head down the sidewalk away from the library. A bag hanging from my hand, weighed down with a few new books that I'll probably won't find the time to read.

My car is behind me. Nestled into a parking space between two SUV's, up against the railroad tracks. And though the car keys jingle in my purse, I keep moving away. Into the night.

A gust lifts my hair, a mist sprays my face. The hems on my jeans are long and dragging; damper with each step.

I don't know where I'm headed.

An old Sting song is echoing in my mind. Memories of a time before. When I belonged to no one, and nothing. I cross over the street. The streetlight is flickering and dying. The buzzing noise entrances me for a long moment. I look up. In those thick clouds is a moon full and just as fickle. It won't stay on for me.

When I need the light, it's never there.

Breathe deep; the world smells like something from a memory.

And I'm washed clean.

Tags: Life, Rain, Memory, Sting
Posted on February 09, 2009 at 10:01 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Chinook Wind

February 07, 2009

I have spent almost my entire life north of the 40th parallel. CD grew up around the 74th, and although surrounded by a warm channel of water - I think we can all agree, that's damn cold. The farthest north I've lived is about the 53rd, and....nope, CD still wins.

Boston, Chicago, Buffalo, Toronto, Detroit - these are the cities of hugging about the 41st-42nd degree of latitude. And having spent some time in all of them, I can say what they have in common...4 real seasons, deep cold in winter and blazing hot in summer. You get the full spectrum around here, which is somehow deeply satisfying to my soul.

One of my favorite things about this level of North is the Chinook Wind. It's like the world saying "ok, you gonna get your ass frozen off for 4 months - but we'll give you a nice day in the middle there, to keep you from going absolutely out of your freaking mind."

Although too far East to get the real snow-eater, we still get that day or two of a "false spring", of improbable warmth. A soft wind seems to sweep the snow away, bringing dripping puddles of mud and short sleeved shirts hastily dug out of the closet.

paintingparty.jpgToday was it.

Bright sun, gusty breezes, pokes of green grass in February. A little miracle just at the moment when we are all so sick of winter that we want to cry.

I woke up early, with a full schedule ahead of me. They'd been promising that today was the day - and as I stepped outside around 7:45, the snow had already half melted away from the lawn.

We've been telling Bear since he turned 8 that we would change around bedrooms with him and get him some 'big kid' furniture. So, catching the sunshine in a jar, we raced over to Home Depot. Bear had to choose from the palette offered for the no-VOC paint we were using. (It comes in 65 organic pre-mixed tints) He shocked both of us by choosing an aqua color called "Summer Dragonfly" from their 'Waterscape' shade.

"Really?" we asked, our eyebrows inching up to our hairlines.

"Yes," he insisted, firmly.

You know how it is. The Chinook Wind comes blowing in, and you push open all the windows. The neighbor boys come over. You empty out the room, patch and fix the rough spots. Take down the curtains, and roll on the new paint.

Then, suddenly, everything is new. And possible...

Tags: chinook, spring, weather, spirit, paint, organic, freshaire, parent, life
Posted on February 07, 2009 at 08:03 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Domain Pirates

February 03, 2009

After I started this blog, I began thinking that eventually I would move over to my own domain. So I reserved the domain name "CorporateMommy dot com" through a friend.

In 2007, I forgot to renew it on its expiration. When I went to try, I discovered that a squatter had taken the name and parked it. Meaning - they didn't want to do anything with it themselves, just re-sell it to the highest bidder.

For a $12 name, they were asking thousands. Pirates.

Continue reading "Domain Pirates"
Tags: Pirates, domain, name, blog, plan
Posted on February 03, 2009 at 11:52 AM and filed under: In My Life
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January 30, 2009

icelandicsheep.jpgThat? Is a sheep. Yes, because I was jealous of Kate's sheep.

But this is a special sheep. This particular sheep, at least its image, belongs to Tim and the whole picture is so much cooler than that snapshot.

Why a sheep? I'm glad you asked. Because it is an Icelandic sheep. And today, CD gave a presentation at Bear's co-op school (he goes one day a week with other homeschoolers.)

This is notable because a) CD has never given a presentation on his native Iceland before and b) CD is about the least likely person to ever GIVE a presentation on anything. He's incredibly shy. But a couple of years ago, he took that required "Speech" class at college and didn't suck. So he girded up his loins and...

Continue reading "Sheep!!"
Tags: Sheep, Iceland, Homeschool, Life, Community
Posted on January 30, 2009 at 04:49 PM and filed under: In My Life
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January 28, 2009

fbscreencap.jpgI've been spending time on Facebook lately. So, duh, what else is new? I'm still all gosh-gee-whiz about the mix of high school, corporate, real life, and online contacts all gathered in one place. It sort of feels like how the Internet used to be. Back when Gore had just pulled it out of the oven, fresh and steamy.

I have a beef, though.

An itty, bitty little beef. One I am soooo feeling funny about admitting.

Here it is: I don't get the de-be-friending thing.

One day I noticed that my number of "friends" had decreased overnight. I went looking at the list, up and down, and scratched my head. I could see who wasn't there anymore - I just didn't know why.

I started writing the person an email; "did your Facebook break? You seem to have fallen off my friend list." God saved me from making an ass out of myself by taking down the Internet before I could send it. ('Cuz God does little things like that, just for me.)

By the time systems were back up, a real-life person had set me straight. "Hun," she said. "Don't send that email. People will de-friend and be-friend left and right. Lots of people will friend you just to look at your info and then drop you again. It's the way it is. If you make a fuss, you'll totally look like a dweeb."

She said that; dweeb.

I didn't believe her. So I asked an acknowledged expert in the field: an actual college student. (Yes, free-range.)

"Don't sweat it," he advised.

"I'm not sweating anything. I just want to know why."

"You don't get to know why. It's not your 'why'."

"But they dropped me!"

"Yeah, it happens."

"But they DROPPED me!"

"What are you, 12?"

So, in my expansive research I have discovered that the no-ask no-tell policy of de-Friending on Facebook is just a long-standing bit of culture. One that has given rise to some interesting behaviors. Not to get all Margaret Mead but it started making me curious.

"So, will they re-beFriend me?"


"On what?" I was a little outraged. This felt like when we were voting for peer advisor, back in college. It was a perked-up job, with a patina of aloofness about it. People who wanted the the job would screw themselves if ever seen actually lobbying for it.

"If you run into them at a party or something, maybe they'll send you a friend invite again. Otherwise, it's on you."

"To do what?"

"Get closer to them in real life so that they'd want to know you on FB."

Oh. God.

I am, in the words of our beloved Indy, getting too damn old for this. Which may be the point. This is a medium originally created for college campuses.

So people you don't know, friend you. And people you do? Unfriend. And in between, well, a world that sucks too much of my time and still leaves me a little curious about the why. (Or is that just me?)

Tags: Facebook, policy, contacts, unfriend, friend, life
Posted on January 28, 2009 at 05:07 PM and filed under: In My Life
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January 27, 2009

Sometimes, I watch those commercials for Lysol or Fabreze and wonder if there was a product like that for life - would I use it?

Blogs seem to fall into two groups - the anonymous, outrageous ones where people are free to be exactly what they want to be and the real, identified ones which have to be carefully edited.

This one falls somewhere in between: I mean, it started out anonymous, but I wasn't very good at it. And eventually, I dropped the curtain and had to start being careful what I said.

It didn't go well at first. I though "coming out of the closet" would make me feel more free. As it turns out, I actually felt hog-tied.

What followed has been a long ramp of learning how to write again.

Continue reading "Sanitize"
Tags: Blog, Honesty, Life, Reveal, Private, Sanitize
Posted on January 27, 2009 at 05:55 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Sniffle Sniffle

January 24, 2009

By the time I went to bed last night, I felt like someone had poured concrete into my brain and it had dripped and hardened all the way down to my sinuses.

I may not even brush my teeth today.

As I crawl for the comfort of the bed, all I can think is.... "Nyquil, oh where art thou, Nyquil...?"

Posted on January 24, 2009 at 04:44 PM and filed under: In My Life
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It Just Doesn't Pay to Look at your Inbox

January 13, 2009

I woke up to an interesting mailbox.

The Case of the Novice Newspaper

First of all, my daily drop from my local newspaper informed me that the blizzard warning had been dropped. OK. That's gotta be good news - right?

Except: Horrible weather still predicted. Plus they spelled it 'Bizzard' - right there in the headline. Which made me briefly wonder if, as a cost-saving measure, they fired all the real reporters and hired eager high school kids instead. Then I slapped my head and realized - high school kids would actually know how to use the spell-checker.


I looked outside. The sun is blindingly bright over an inch of fresh snow. You're batting 0 for 2, Lee. (*Updated: They fixed it.)

Continue reading "It Just Doesn't Pay to Look at your Inbox"
Tags: Obama, Politics, News, Moderate, Extremist, Humor, Life, Opinion, Social, Media, Technorati, Facebook
Posted on January 13, 2009 at 11:59 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Paisley Jeans

January 12, 2009

ebyskiiing.jpgI found this old picture while cleaning up my archives. Those jeans? Are paisley.

I'll give you a minute to wipe the milk out of your nose.

Almost as bad as the fact that I bought, and wore, and thought I was COOL in those terrifying pants is that I still had them in my closet in 1998.

I can remember, grudgingly, making more room for CD. He used a bureau. I hate bureaus. I like shelves and baskets. It seems all good on paper - but in reality, he's a clothes horse. The fashion encroached, and I had to make room.

And there I was, with paisley jeans in hand, thinking: I should save these. Styles always come around again.

Memo from Above: No, Virginia. Paisley jeans will not come back. Nor should they.

I was thinking about that as I've been working.

Schooling my son, figuring out how to crock pot a pot roast (because the oven's dying), and teaching myself about RSS and Digg and Slashdot and Tags vs. Keywords and meta crawling...

Paisley jeans. Will Technorati ever be like Paisley jeans? Will StumbleOn? When Kalisa and Helen and RP and Ben (both of them) and who-all-else and I all started blogging - 5 years ago, now - "social media consultant" was a made-up phrase for "spends too much time on the Internet".

I just organized 5 years' worth of mastheads. Watched as trends came and went, as my skill with photoshop matured...

For the first time in my life, my insatiable curiosity has become a little...sated. At least around the edges. My neck is sore. My brains is stuffed.

I need a good, stiff drink.

Posted on January 12, 2009 at 09:33 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Almost There

January 11, 2009

Although far from done, I see a light at the end of the tunnel. And it's not a train.

Disturbingly, I was looking at a magazine article the other day and began imagining how it would be coded if I wanted to use the layout online.

Time to take a break. And cut back on the Dunkie's. Cuz, seriously.

Oh, and last night I saw "Zach and Miri make a porno". Can I just saw that I never, ever needed to see Jason Mewes naked? Now I need an itty bitty scrub brush for my eyeballs.

Posted on January 11, 2009 at 04:25 PM and filed under: In My Life
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13 Going on 3

January 09, 2009

Helen has declared it "International Internet Reveal Your Horrid Teenage Years Picture Day".

It would be crazy to go along with this - and I wouldn't - but a) I happened to be organizing my backups and found some old (old, old) pictures of me that made me all nostalgic (although wondering why - the good ol' days weren't particularly good) and b) after seeing what she posted of herself, I couldn't help but have a bit of a laugh. A lot of a laugh. So, it's only fair.

Here's me, about 2 months before turning 13. It's the last time I'll be cute for at least a decade.


Want proof?

Continue reading "13 Going on 3"
Tags: family, childhood, pictures, photography, confession, life, memory
Posted on January 09, 2009 at 05:00 PM and filed under: In My Life
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January 03, 2009

Walking the tightrope. If you've visited lately (despite my radio silence) you have probably noticed that I'm editing live.

It's a long story why.

Don't I have a program in which to build this site before uploading? Why yes, yes I do. FIVE of them.

But Pixy, Dude amongst Dudes, hosts me on Movable Type 2.something. Pixy? Is faboo. I do not complain about MT 2.prehistoric. However, my site-building programs DO. They are ungrateful bitches, every last one of them. And reward my situation by confirming code that absolutely looks different (if it works at all) once uploaded.

So...armed with a text editor and sheer chocolate-fueled will, I have been weeble-wobbling a design. This front page is the prototype of the new site. It has not yet been propagated. Comments and archives are limping behind. But the core is here. The style sheets are lovely and simple. The layout is decided.

I would give a small kingdom (say, Lichtenstein) to be able to use American Typewriter (see Title Font on background) for my titles, Costa for my subtitles, and my all-time favorite, Optima, for my text. But it turns out that even in 2009, one can not have everything.

And I? Can have even less. Simply because I don't know what I am doing. It's my own dumb fault. While smarter folk were diving into the curvy deliciousness of CSS, HTML, and Java - I was sitting cross-legged with my massive SAN boxes while the EMC-rep crooned 'This Land is Your Land' to the data center.

So this is what I have so far. I thought it would take me 3 days to upload. It's taken me 3 weeks. And I'm not all the way there yet. But I've got my "Style for Dummies" book, a bagful of Hershey Kisses, and a half-full bottle of acetaminophen.

Yeah. Hit it.

Posted on January 03, 2009 at 08:18 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Hush, Hush

December 09, 2008

Sense of joy fills the air, And I daydream and I stare, Up at the tree and I see... Your star up there. And this is how I see you, In the snow on Christmas morning, Love and happiness surround you... As you throw your arms up to the sky. I keep this and by.
- "Wintersong", Sarah McLachlan

I've been caught up in myself lately. I mean, in terms of Bear. He's an only child, and a homeschool kid at that. So if I'm not giving him my attention, well, then it's just him and the dog. And while she's cute - she's not much of a conversationalist.

Between Edward Scissorhands-ing my blog, finding a whole slew of CD's relatives on Facebook (hello, Iceland!), being all courageous with the bills, planning and executing a food budget that means everything is being made from scratch, writing/addressing Christmas cards, making lists - checking them twice, and generally tripping over the Christmas boxes to get anywhere... well, I'm sucking big eggs as a mom.

This morning, Bear crawled into bed with me (as you will) to catch some early(ish) morning one-on-one time. But one look at my expression and he had to ask me what's going on.

"The governor was arrested," I broke the news to my politico pre-teen.

"The bribing thing?" he asked, sounding disappointed but not surprised.

I nodded.

"Oh," he sighed, shaking his head. "That's not cool. It's Christmas. Who's going to sign the things he's supposed to sign so everything works all right? Is there a Vice Governor, I think?"

I nodded. "Lt. Governor Pat Quinn," I confirmed.

"So, that's good. But I guess it's not a good Christmas so far," he mused.

"For the governor, you mean? Or Illinois in general?"

"For the whole... everyone. Hardly anybody has their lights up. We don't even have a tree yet. It's like people are sad."

"Are you sad?" I asked.

"I guess," he sighed, reaching for my hand.

"But you were happy before. When Daddy got the new job, and I got better, and the new president was elected."

Bear gave me a long look and slowly nodded. "Mommy? Is bad mood contagious?"

"I think it is," I agreed.

"Is good mood contagious?"

"What do you think?"

"I think it is," he decided. "So maybe we could start it."


"Put up some lights, maybe? And send cards to people. I don't know."

"All right," I agreed, feeling a little sparked by his enthusiasm. "Of course, we still have to start your new vocabulary list, and drop off the dry cleaning, and..."

"Hush," Bear laughed, finding the remote control. "How about you do some things, and I watch a cartoon, and then we do some good mood stuff?"

"I can get behind that," I agreed, slipping out of bed to make myself some coffee.

"Hey, Mommy?" he called, just as I was walking away.

"Yeah, hun?"

"Everything's gonna be all right, right?"

I thought a minute. Years slipping before my eyes. His faith in my answer weighing the words. "Yes, it is," I vowed. "It's going to be all right, soon enough."

"OK," he smiled.

And for a moment, we believed.

Posted on December 09, 2008 at 11:22 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Don't Look!

December 01, 2008

If you hadn't noticed, I'm STILL re-coding the site.

First of all, it needed an overhaul. The CSS was so full of abandoned style choices that every time I tried to update something, I would trip over it all and it would become a mess. Just total freaking chaos.

Second of all, it needed to be organized. My archives are a mess. My categories less than helpful. And nothing was easy to navigate.

Third of all, I want rounded corners. I can't explain it, I just do. And that has meant figuring out CSS and Movable Type once and for all. Which? Ain't easy. Especially for a woman who sometimes wears her bras inside out.

And finally?

Well, we're getting to that.

Just, please, I beg you. Don't give up on me yet.

Posted on December 01, 2008 at 09:28 PM and filed under: In My Life
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While You Were Sleeping

I'm not whining.

Just reeling.

The fallout from last summer continues to pile up.

While everyone (mostly) was supportive of me while I was "out of it", I continue to burn in real time from the after-effects.

From renegotiating debts (because I don't have the freelance money anymore) to making amends to people who feel betrayed that I missed out on some months of their lives.

I don't know what to do. I don't know how to make it better. Some days I wake up and it's like reporting to an ongoing siege - looking at bills that got ignored and are now rimmed in red; leaving messages for people who don't call back; trying not to hyperventilate about making the COBRA payment (almost $1500/month).

If anyone has any advice, I'm listening. Because there is a part of me that is growing bitter and I hate it. I hate that there's snow on the ground and holiday cards to address and all I feel like doing is throwing my head back and screaming.

Posted on December 01, 2008 at 10:30 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Ignore Me

November 26, 2008

This is a test post for the new layout

Posted on November 26, 2008 at 11:28 AM and filed under: In My Life
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An International Perspective

November 05, 2008

From the Associate Press, my favorite line of the morning:

"What an inspiration. He is the first truly global U.S. president the world has ever had," said Pracha Kanjananont, a 29-year-old Thai sitting at a Starbuck's in Bangkok. "He had an Asian childhood, African parentage and has a Middle Eastern name. He is a truly global president."

Posted on November 05, 2008 at 08:47 AM and filed under: In My Life
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November 04, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama.


Just wanted to see what that looked like.

To be in this city, in this moment, sitting next to my a blessing beyond words.

Posted on November 04, 2008 at 10:18 PM and filed under: In My Life
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You Have To Go There To Come Back (Part 1)

September 28, 2008

2.5 years ago, I got lost coming home from the bank.

The bank? It's less than a mile from my house. The experience? Scared the shit out of me.

Headaches that had been a growing annoyance became coupled with a sort of sensory fuzziness. It's hard to explain. But getting lost that day forced me to realize that something was really happening to me. I presented myself to the doctors, with the firm instruction that they fix me.

After several false starts at a diagnosis, I was tested from my eyeballs to my kidneys. Test after test gave me reasons to twirl around shouting "EEK!" - but nothing that ever explained the symptoms.

I began to wonder. If the doctors can find nothing, then maybe it was all (Ha Ha) in my head? No, dammit. Something was wrong, but at the same time I told myself that I should hold tight to my place on the wheel. Not lose the present worrying. Embrace the autumn, as the leaves began to turn.

Even though it's been a challenge to slip away from my own words, my own memories, and the people I care about - you'd be amazed how easy it's also been. We humans are magical creatures. We can make anything normal. We are infinitely adaptable - especially to things that happen to us slowly.

This summer, an infection in the base of my skull gave me and my doctors a reason to take a fresh look at what's been happening.

Suddenly, a new pair of eyes told my primary doctor and I what we already suspected. With that came a moment of Grace, when I was offered a way to halt this slide my life has been on.

It's not an easy option. It's a bold, proactive thing. It would demand that I run to the cliff - and jump.

You know, I went to Greece some years ago. A little island no one's ever heard of. Anyway, I was riding my little moped and there was the little cliff and I was feeling bold.

So I went ahead and stripped off my clothes... and jumped.

It was like I was leaping right into my fear. I don't like heights, I've never been thrilled with my naked body, and even worse - as I fell, it occurred to me that I didn't have a plan for getting back UP.

I flew, though. And it was a hell of a thing. A hell of a thing.

But as I waited for that cruise ship to sail by so I could start climbing out of that deep blue sea - I knew, KNEW, I never wanted to do it again.

Ah. Well.

Posted on September 28, 2008 at 03:24 PM and filed under: In My Life
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August 08, 2008

I've lived everywhere BUT BOSTON for the last 2/3rds of my life, but....

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Boston

You definitely have a Boston accent, even if you think you don't. Of course, that doesn't mean you are from the Boston area, you may also be from New Hampshire or Maine.

The West
The Midland
North Central
The Northeast
The Inland North
The South
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz


Tags: Accent, quiz, hometown, fun
Posted on August 08, 2008 at 09:58 AM and filed under: In My Life
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I'm the crazy lady you live next to

August 05, 2008

The neighbors are having a new garage built, which means they need to get their cars out of their driveway before all the big rigs arrive in the morning.

Driveways are a premium around here - of the 20 houses on our block, maybe 5 have one. And if you don't have one, you can't get one - so they actually add around 3 grand or more to the worth of your home.

We? Have a driveway. It's beat up and has weeds growing in it, but it's all ours and we love that stretch of asphalt.

The neighbors came by and asked if their son could park their extra car in our driveway for the duration. Our driveway is not quite wide enough for two, but long enough for five. Of course! Says us. Just put it at the top of the drive whenever.

Well, God unleashed a fury on us this evening. A storm, for you lay-folk. It didn't abate until about 1AM, and I was still up writing when I saw the lights crawl past my window and park NEXT TO CD's Passat.

I pulled on pants and ran outside. Waved my arms, my bra-free bosoms bouncing in the night air. "Kid! KID!" I shouted. "Pull all the way up!"

"What?" He demanded, utterly freaked out at my appearance at whatever time in the middle of the night and peering at me disbelievingly.

I crossed my arms and stopped bouncing. "Kid, you gotta pull up! You've blocked me, here!" I tried to be all subtle in pointing out that my van would now need a ramp, Evil Kneivel (or Wile E. Coyote) and 16 ounces of government grade explosives to escape the driveway.

So he pulled the car up. Next to my van. Practically had to crawl out the window to escape his car.

"Kid!" I shouted as he landed with a grunt in the bayberry bush. "Not there, Kid! Up! UP!"

He held up a hand, and dove back through the window back into his car. Pulled it up so it was now halfway past my van.

"KID!" I shouted as he attempted a hurried escape over the fence. "Not THERE, KID! I'll hit you!"

"You'll WHAT?!" He squealed, peering at me from the property line.

"I'LL HIT YOU!!" I waved my arms around, gesturing at the cars. My bosoms once again doing the Macarena. "No DEPTH perception," I explained at a half-boom. "Crash!"

"Uh," he shook his head. "I'm afraid to run over your bush there."

The one you landed in and flattened, not 5 seconds ago? I wondered. "No WORRIES!" I explained. "Just MOVE IT on UP!"

It began to rain again, and he scampered back to the car and started it up. Pulled forward another 5 feet, just clearing the bumper of my van. "Is this OK?" he asked, jogging away again. "Please?!"

"FINE!" I shouted, ducking back onto the front steps. "GOOD NIGHT!!"

"Whatever," he shrugged, disappearing back into his house and turning off the lights before I've even got my front door open.

Clearly? I'm THAT woman in the neighborhood.

Posted on August 05, 2008 at 01:36 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Cracking Myself Up With Myself

July 23, 2008

So I am going through my archives, cleaning up the category settings and making backups, etc. etc.

When I was leaving my job, I carefully went and hid any post that had anything to do with my job. Now I am un-hiding those, little by little.

Some of them are so, so sad and angry. But others? Just crack me the hell up. (How pompous does THAT sound? Ew.)

How do you know how to deal with this? She asked me.

I could have said; it's standard Project Manager process. Which it is, but of course I didn't learn it that way.

I learned because I once took a flamethrower to a vendor over a 50 million dollar contract. And once I had pretty much burned down the house, the yard, the block, the car, the vendor, and oh - myself.... along came a guy, probably dressed in black.

He leaned over my steaming self and said, calmly; You know Maverick, we got lawyers for this.

Posted on July 23, 2008 at 07:36 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Everything that is done in the world is done by hope*

July 20, 2008

When you're making 6 figures, you got options. You can live in the city, near the city, or in some palace left of nowhere, just down the lane a mile or two.

But when you're contemplating something a lot less finer for a lot less coinage, then it's time to draw a line down a piece of paper and really weigh what you get for what you give on the geological side of things.

This is not a post about real estate.

Several years ago, CD and I decided to reevaluate how and where we were living. We knew if we were going to cut back to his salary, that it would be smart to move somewhere more rural. And, hey, our dream is a log cabin on a lake somewhere so it wasn't like we were twisting our own arms.

I had a lot of fun, we did really, researching and traveling to different places and getting the flavor of them. All of us enjoyed comparing the realities to the ideas we'd get in our heads, the discoveries, the sort of Hemingway-esque romance of it all.

Last summer, we got the house ready to show and put up on one of those 'sell it yourself' sites. The world hadn't crashed yet, but you could smell it in the air like rain. So even though there was a list of things still to be done - we were willing to lose some of that sweat equity to get it sold.

And then? We didn't sell it. And then? We didn't go anywhere.

So every once in a while, I get these emails; "Hey - you talked about moving for, like, eons. What's up with you still being where you is?"

Instead of continuing to point lovely people at the archives, which don't actually explain why we didn't move, I thought I would actually explain why we didn't move.


Continue reading "Everything that is done in the world is done by hope* "
Tags: Lupus, Moving, Arachnoid, Cyst, Medical, Cerebellum, Marriage, Support, Illness, Health, Family
Posted on July 20, 2008 at 09:56 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Reasons I Am NOT a Published Author

July 15, 2008

5) Over 3,000 people look at my first page. Only 700 turn it to see what happens next. Clearly? I SUCK.

4) I don't write in complete sentences. No. Really.

3) My dog has a bright blue wet splot of paint on her butt. My child has informed me that he's taken up 'Bratology'. And my partner just whispered in my ear that he's only got about 30 minutes left in him, so if I want sex it's all on me.

2) My esteemed and learned editor, employer, and Yoda of Words says that I need to start using plots, 'cuz they're important.

1) I dangle my modifiers. I hang my participles. My female characters hate me. My male characters swagger a lot. The pets in my stories NEVER have freshly painted bottoms. In other words, see #5: I SUCK.

(Off to drink his orange-infused vodka and see if nail polish remover works on dog fur.)

Tags: Publish, Writer, Reasons, Humor, Family
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 07:54 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Randomly Pictorially Happily Lazily

July 08, 2008

I am trying to finish editing 2 articles that were due yesterday. I THOUGHT they were due today, because I can't count to 7. Clearly, I have lost my mind. Funnily, I don't miss it.


1) I hated the finale of Doctor Who, Season/Series 4. Partner loved it, but I thought that RTD took too many easy outs as a writer and I'm so disappointed that it's been 4 days since we curled up to watch it Saturday night with all our excitement on and... it's still making me wince.

2) One of my additions for the Chicago Mom's Blog got picked up into syndication at several newspapers, including the Miami Herald and Sacramento Bee. That? Feels better than chocolate.

3) Two friends are going through divorce, a cusp of troubles so many are having. Bad times seem to begat sad times and I'm getting a LOT of hits on my 2004-2005 archives to when CD and I were watching our own marriage just fall apart. It makes me wonder if I should dredge that up and write about from the perspective I have now - or if anyone cares to hear that sometimes, it does get better. Not very salacious, though.

4) This Todd Bentley/Lakeland Revival thing is making me go 'hmmmm'.

5) NEVER would I EVER have thought I would be a homeschooling mom that makes her own laundry detergent. ME?! Who had a standing drink order at the American Airlines Ambassador's club? I'm going to get a t-shirt made - "Not the woman you think I am, won't vote my demographics. Try again." (Although, I have to admit to loving the whole clothesline thing.)

Updated Flickr, because I am SOOOOOOOOOOO frustrated with this assignment and needed one more thing to distract me???? Even a screencap of my newly organized Mac desktop!

Tags: Divorce, Flickr, Marriage, Todd Bentley, Lakeland, Doctor Who, Opinion, Demographic, Clothesline, Laundry, Summer
Posted on July 08, 2008 at 05:31 PM and filed under: In My Life
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The fish played dead until it hit the bucket, anyway

June 30, 2008

John Steinbeck once wrote "So in our pride we ordered for breakfast an omelet, toast and coffee and what has just arrived is a tomato salad with onions, a dish of pickles, a big slice of watermelon and two bottles of cream soda."

Ever had that happen to you?

I woke up this morning, determined to be pleased with the world. I gave it all the benefits of my doubts, made a keen breakfast for the men, and rolled up my sleeves at the computer to tackle a good days' work.

And what I got? Was a plate of pickles and a cream soda.

Look, I know life doesn't owe me anything. Not a positive bank account, not a steak dinner and a margarita, not a healthy dog with a fresh stick. But when you factor in how hard and fast I run in the wheel on a daily basis, all I'm saying here is that eventually it just ain't outta line for me to expect to be somewhere when I get off at the end of the day.

And to still be there in the morning, when I get back on.

No, I'm not high. I'm not altered, undone, ill, or even recently ravished. Well, depending on your definition of recently - but mine's "in the past 5 minutes" and I'm standing pat there.

I'm just a stay at home freelance writing homeschooling tomato-growing dinner-making God-loving semi-socialist pink-haired womanly woman who's getting over writer's block and just, wouldn't it be nice, if LIFE WOULD SHUT UP AND LET ME GET ON WITH IT????

I'm gonna go do something insane, tackle some billables with a greased-up mitt and a steely eye, and let the committee of sleep whack the rest into line.

Posted on June 30, 2008 at 06:27 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Missing You

May 30, 2008

They would sit around the table, in tan pants and button-downs. And they would tell me about the plan. And argue about the plan. And I would sit, serenely. Listening. Bending, when need be. And ultimately, nodding. Saying "Yes, this is what we will do. It will be done. You will do your part." And they would, ultimately, nod and say "Yes. Despite all my arguments, despite my enthusiasm one way or another, I agree."

Then we would shuffle in a bundle out the door. Chit chat and empty coffee cups. Maybe head on down to the bar for a drink or over to that Chinese place. I would tug my Citibank card from my wallet, the one with no limit, to pay.

Or sometimes a vendor would, waggling his fingers at me to say he had the tab. No worries.

At the front door, home, I would kick off my heels. One, then the other. Never pantyhose or nylons. I would drop my laptop bag with a soft thud. Scoop my hair up into a scrunchie.

By the time I hit my office, she'd be fading. The senior staffer with the flashing eyes and serious agenda.

And I wouldn't miss her.

I'd be glad to be back in the light-filled enclave, with cables and phones. Able to get actual work done, away from the cubicle canyons with people popping up their heads over the half-height foam core walls. Like Meercats and Prairie Dogs- "Just one sec, Elizabeth?" they'd call.

Those seconds would snowball into hours. Every. Time.

I'd see an unfamiliar me in their eyes. A decision maker. Curved and female and maybe a little wise, but never soft. And taller, in those black pumps.

I wouldn't miss her the next day, when I'd be back in yoga pants and a ponytail.

I'd obsess on what my son had been doing while I was away. On what tragedies were smashing and crashing at home. On the little details I could never quite push out of my mind about the real estate taxes and cupcakes for the party.

One day, you know, I just quit. Like a Merry-Go-Round ride, I held on to the pole and pushed out my leg off the base. Finding just the right moment to leap. Springing into the air as the carousel spins away from under me. Landing a little wobbly on solid ground.

Still spinning a little.

And then finding my way.

The seasons have come and gone since I leaped. And now I am back there, in a tiny way. Interviewing a senior staffer for an article.

"Oh," he chuckles as we traced our lineages to find some history in common. A telecom we both worked at, long long ago. "Oh, I bet you don't miss that!"

I laugh.

And never tell him that I do. Sometimes with a yearning that makes me wobble on steady ground.

There are no perfect paths, just roads taken. And sometimes I miss the me that walked the other one. I miss her curled hair and lipsticked lips. I miss the way people stopped to talk. I miss the way she sat, actively listening. Deciding things that stay decided.

I never missed her then. But now, sometimes, I do.

Posted on May 30, 2008 at 08:23 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Do you know?

May 29, 2008

Am I happy? I ask him.

You tell me, he shrugs. Big eyes bright as he falls back into quiet.

Are WE really happy? I push.

If we agree we are, then who's to argue, he responds.

But we fell apart. And once broken, the fairy tale ends. We fell apart, and there is still so much scarred and not-quite about us. I think we're lying to ourselves. I think its all wishful thinking.

He looks at me, thoughtfully. He looks and doesn't say anything.

I lie to myself a lot. I tell myself I'm skinny

You're not, he makes half a smile. But you're beautiful.

Don't say things like that. Just tell me true things. Tell me about how we fell in love, and had a baby, and then the dark and now we'll never have that trust again.
I rub my face. Sometimes I don't know what to think. I get scared that we didn't really heal. That we just stopped hurting. And it's not the same. And this love is just....

What? He asks, waiting.

The moment ticks on. I don't know, I admit. Love?

Yeah, said gently. It always was.

Bridge with Bear and his friendsSpring is giving way to summer. The ped-bridge in Riverside, Bear and his friends scampering across.

Tags: Divorce, Marriage, Relationship, Depression, Survivor, Family, Advice,
Posted on May 29, 2008 at 06:30 PM and filed under: In My Life
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And this is part of the reason we need to change things

Thank you so much for the comments and emails about this strange "debt".

I called Loyola, AGAIN, and got a live body who seemed very confused by the 'situation'. They're gonna call me back, they say....

I know that the letter I wrote was not the 'proper' response, and I did add the necessary FDCPA language to the letter, which someone asked about. Here it is, in case:

To put it bluntly: I dispute the above-referenced debt. Please verify this debt as required by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

While this debt is being disputed, you cannot report this debt to the credit reporting agencies. If you have already reported it the credit reporting agencies, please contact the credit reporting agencies, inform them that the debt is disputed, and ask them to delete it from my credit report. Reporting information that you know to be inaccurate, or failing to report information correctly, is a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other applicable laws.

Posted on May 29, 2008 at 10:27 AM and filed under: In My Life
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And Then They Piss Me Off With Fake Collection Letters

May 28, 2008

We opened our mail today to see an invoice stamped 'Second Notice' and informing me that 'by my lack of response' I had affirmed that a debt to my alma mater, Loyola, is legitimate. The company, "William and Fudge" (really?), wants me to 'remit $150 immediately' - to THEM, not Loyola.


I can say with 100% certainty that I owe Loyola nothing. Almost a decade ago, I actually went to the campus and paid off the last remaining balance I had with them in person, on a loan they'd extended me during my senior year. That loan had been a bane over my head and on my credit rating and after they printed me out a clean accounting, I skipped all the back to my car. And there's been no new activity since.

Trust me. Loyola knows where I live. They would like me to die and leave everything to their new library. They would like me to be $1000/head tickets to their alumni dinner.

I hate scam artists like Fudge & Williams. They are a bane on society. I mean, bottom feeders at least have a purpose. These people? Just cruise old rolls and try to scare money out of people. And you gotta know that some people fall for it.

If I believed in assault weapons? I would advocate using these people for target practice.

Instead I wrote them a nice letter.

Damn lying liars.

May 28, 2008
To: Williams & Fudge, Inc.
300 Chatham Ave., P.O. Box 11590
Rock Hill, SC 29731
Acct.: blah

To Whom It May Concern,

I received a letter from you today dated May 23, 2008. It stated that you were “assuming a debt to be valid” because of some kind of lack of response from me. This was utter nonsense as this was the FIRST correspondence I have ever received from you and, I hope, the LAST.

I DO NOT owe so much as a penny to Loyola University of Chicago in any way, form, or fashion and I especially do not owe YOU. I have, in fact, confirmed this with the school itself. I have been square with that organization for a very long time, especially considering I finished in 1993.

If you continue your blatantly ridiculous efforts to extort money from me, or in any way do ANYTHING derogatory to my credit, I promise you that I will unleash an onslaught on you and your employees in the form of my lawyers that will make hiding in the bowels of hell seem like welcome sanctuary.

You will cease and you will desist immediately.

Quite sincerely,

Tags: Collection, Debt, Collectors, Credit, Scam,
Posted on May 28, 2008 at 10:52 AM and filed under: In My Life
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May 13, 2008

This is the email I sent out to folks last night...

To (mis)quote my favorite movie; There is too much, let me sum up.

I homeschooled Bear this year through first grade. Under no misapprehension that a handful of Elementary Ed classes back in the stone ages make me qualified, I suppose it would have been all right if I had bought some kind of pre-approved box o' curriculum and followed it, squinting owlishly with focus.

I did no such thing.

With a mismatched & motley collection of CD Roms, textbooks, workbooks, and fizzy science kits that made all kinds of cool foam (plus mentors, a big ol' library, and an enrichment 1-day school he attended on Fridays) - we made our way like a 3-legged dog through the year. Consistent with Reading, Phonics, Writing, and Math and shooting in the dark with the rest. (We began and stopped with many topics, textbooks, and projects that turned out just not to fit us.)

At 7, Bear still struggles with left and right. The only switch hitter on his T-Ball team, you can be sure. The reading/writing is an uphill struggle that does, occasionally, get the best of us. There are days (weeks) that I wonder if we shouldn't let the experts step in and implement the exercises that are helping him map his way. But those months he got the special ed help while in Kindergarten remain some of his least favorite memories.

So we've pushed on.

I wasn't sure, at all, that I hadn't done more harm than good. So I spent a week giving him standardized tests. As it turns out, shockingly, he's learned everything Illinois would like him to know for first grade. In fact, in Math he's doing 3rd grade Geometry.

I'm absolutely gobsmacked, in a good way. He was pretty confident all along.

This has been one of the most incredible years. I'm fairly certain that I have learned much more than he. And the biggest lesson has been that everything seems to present an opportunity to be curious. From listening to how Bobby McFerrin uses his voice to sound like different instruments to growing rock candy in a Dora the Explorer cup on the counter. And, in the end, precious if only because we got to just be with each other so much - all 3 of us, really. Learning and exploring and discovering.

In a few weeks, Bear will go to a little presentation thing and we'll tell him he's "officially" promoted out of First Grade. And tonight he gave a few second demonstration of his Karate (one more belt to black!) at an 'end of the year' homeschool gathering.

Which has all left Bear just about walking on air, proud of everything he's accomplished this year, and wanted everyone to know that, given the choice (again) between all his school options - he's choosing this homeschooling experiment for next year, and has some pretty lofty goals about it, too.

So he asked that I would tell everyone, that he's a second-grader now. And, proudly, I have.

Posted on May 13, 2008 at 09:13 AM and filed under: In My Life
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April 22, 2008

I think I miss my cat too much.

Strange thoughts like dust motes crowd my head.

Or, is that just me?

Once upon a time CD and I had this idea, like a dream, that we wanted to raise Bear up North. Under the Northern Lights, like his father had. Skating and skiing and shoveling, like I had.

We loved this idea. We traveled to towns across the continent, looking for the right place to make our pin in the map. We bundled up suitcases and pillows into the van and watched the miles slip under our tires.

For 3 years. But finding the right place takes time.

Unless, of course, you admit you've never found it. Not really.

We found a place that felt sort of nice, and began thinking we should make the move there and quibble perfection later. It was close enough to my family on the East Coast that we could use them as a launching pad.

That was last spring. Coming home to lilacs already waning.

A year ago.

We didn't move, I've noticed. My rooms are the same. The clutter follows me like a friendly children's show monster. It sips daintily from a mug of tea and gives me a wink.

The reasons we stayed and didn't go are over there in the corner. They're real, tangible. They can be drawn and measured and they all make sense.

So here we are, now. Still in this place. Still in this house. Because instead of moving North - instead we find we must move South. Something we dread.

But my body has put its foot down. For my health, we go what feels like the wrong way. Still smitten with the idea of huffing cold air and watching the pink light of afternoon splashing on long snowy stretches of Earth. Smitten, but realistic.

With greater debt, stumbling credit scores, and a goofy puppy with a poodle afro. We wonder about pulling up stakes and going somewhere. Without the enthusiasm of the destination, logistics overwhelm us. We're stuck. We're afraid.

But we have something we didn't have, before. Before I left my career and began us on this spin.

On Sunday, Bear read his first book from cover to cover - all by himself. It was Green Eggs and Ham. He read it out loud, understanding the words and punctuation.

Perhaps this is no big deal. At 7 and a half, it may be considered overdue by some. After a school year of brutal hours spent trying every which way you can imagine, inch by inch, to get him to read.

And then, to listen to his clear voice ringing through the rooms - suddenly utterly confident and sure - well, it was nothing short of a miracle.

He just grabbed the book from a pile and began.

Maybe we'll figure this out. Maybe we won't. Maybe we'll find a way to move. Maybe we'll still be here next year. Maybe I'll go back to work. Maybe CD will homeschool Bear or I will or he'll make so much progress that he mainstreams back into school.

babybear.jpgI don't know. My brain is operating on half a cup of coffee. I have 4 deadlines I'm juggling. My son is dawdling about starting his lessons and I think he's decided not to wear clothes today. And I haven't even brushed my teeth yet.

It's just a random Tuesday, juggling corporate and mommy and 10 other things besides.

I used to be smitten with this idea - that someday, we'd get wherever it was we would be going.

I'm not sure if its wisdom or lack of faith that made me let go of all of that. I'd need another cup of coffee to even begin to think about it. I look at a picture of Bear from when he wasn't yet 2 and laugh at the ideas I had then. He's 7 now. He wears a size 4 shoe. He can read.

And maybe his mom is growing up, too.

Posted on April 22, 2008 at 08:53 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Burn Down the Mission

April 10, 2008

An amazing offer fell from the sky recently to do some corporate ghostwriting. Just as we were feeling pressed against the wall, teeth bared against the wolves - well, it was like a little, happy miracle.

So I installed a new version of Word, sharpened all my pencils.


Turns out that I suck.

First of all, I have utterly forgotten how to play corporate politics.

I flopped about like a carp in the bottom of the boat. Interviewees gave information grudgingly, passing me about like a frisbee. Every time I'd string together a nugget of information, flares were sent up demanding its inspection for the corporate party line. The teacupped tempests that followed drove me under my desk in confusion.

Oh, I miss THOSE so much! (Only, not.)

Second of all, Blogging KILLS writing.

No, really. My grammar has become so sloppy that a new word needs to be invented for what I'm doing to the English language. The poor editor had to re-write my first attempt to the extent that when I opened it up in Word - it looked like one big long RED LINE.

I figured, after tortuous weeks, that I was fired.

For 3 days, I waited to hear if anything I'd submitted was even remotely usable.

And then, a call. A mixed signal. Nothing cut and dried. "You sucked, but with promise. Here's another assignment. Try again."

Don't wanna, I thought, utterly embarrassed.

It was humiliating how poorly I'd done. Like watching a video of me attempting to ice skate for the first time in 10 years. "And she's up! And look at those arms spin, ladies and gentlemen! I haven't seen windmilling like that since the toddlers took the ice last Saturday! Oh, and here she goes! Clear the space, people...she's...she's...DOWN!"

Suck it up, Elizabeth.

So I took a deep breath and began working, again. With lots of loud replaying of Elton John's Live in Australia CD. And lots of ginger candies for nausea.

Guy on the other side of the world, being interviewed by me one sunny afternoon, said "You HAVE to have some harder questions in that bag of yours?"

Oh, HELL no, I thought. Burned and timid.

And then, at one point, he jokingly repeated the famous Nelson signal: England expects that every man will do his duty.

I laughed, right on cue.

But it reminded me a of different Napoleonic quote. John Jervis, First Lord of the Admiralty, who was so sure of the British Navy that he stood in front of the House of Lords and said "I do not say, my Lords, that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea."

Commitment and confidence will win any battle. You just can't walk into an assignment believing that the result will be anything less than a success.

Of course, starting from an emotional humbled puddle on the floor... it wasn't easy to rebuild my enthusiasm.

Eventually I began crawling, walking, and finally really working.

CD watched me tap away at the keyboard one night not long after. He crossed his arms, and smiled down at me. "You found a line to hold?"

I nodded, not pausing. "Maybe I'll still get fired," I told him. "but if I do, I'm gonna leave an Elizabeth-shaped hole in the wall. I'm going to give it everything I got and see what happens. So, I suck. But I used to be a good writer, it's got to be in me somewhere."

"Never give up, never surrender?"

"By Grabthor's hammer," I agreed.

Burn down the mission, indeed.

Posted on April 10, 2008 at 09:42 AM and filed under: In My Life
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The Phone Calls You Get

April 07, 2008

Last week, someone I once knew died.

When I was growing up, I thought death was optional. I really did. Didn't you? We were little and grown-ups were big and the pillows were soft and night lights were magical. And we didn't know then that everyone dies. We thought that only happened to goldfish and far-off grandparents, maybe.

My son was was just a year old when my grandmother, who was also my dear friend, died. My husband was separated from me and I didn't have the money to get to her as she lay dying or afterward, to get to her funeral. I spent the day they laid her to rest holding him, tucked beneath my tears.

Each year since, there have been these phone calls. These horrible, horrible phone calls. A cascade and sometimes trickle, but never-ending.

I hate the phone calls I get.

"What are you doing, Mommy?"

"Someone I once knew, died. I am writing cards to his family."

"Oh," he leans against me, his narrow shoulder digging into my arm. He pats my cheek softly. "It's sad, Mommy?"

It is, and I am. I nod.

"I wish no one had to die," he says quietly. "At least for a while."

I agree, and wish I could make night lights magical for him again. And, to be honest, for me.

Posted on April 07, 2008 at 08:31 PM and filed under: In My Life
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God Loves Maxell, And God Loves Me

March 30, 2008

I'm listening to 9 minutes and 7 seconds of nirvana. Actually, Lynard Skynard. Freebird. On Maxell noise-canceling headphones. AND DID I MENTION... LOUD?

...There's too many places I got to see.

Behind me (Don't Look) three rambunctious boys are playing some insane Wii game that includes stormtroopers, carrots, and shouting "TURN INTO A FETT GUY RIGHT NOW!!" at odd intervals. Three Boys. Two Controllers. YOU do the math.

Damnit, you looked. I TOLD you not to look. Now they're gonna want snacks or juice or some kind of refereeing before blood is shed. Do we have time for that nonsense? We do NOT! Eyes front and nod your head. C'mon now.

If I stay here with you girl, things just couldn't be the same...

Do NOT look. I tell you, they are NOT arguing for the 100th time about how to get the blue discs and the left out one isn't screaming for the GILLIONTH time that it is HIS TURN!

Here's the good part:

Why don't you fly high, Freebird (instrumental)....

I am in the midst of writing 800 words for the Australians, I'm pretty freaking sure my editor hated my last 3 articles and is waiting for me not to answer my phone so she can fire me via voice mail, and on Tuesday my sort-of-agnostic cousins are gonna renew their vows in the freezing cold somewhere off highway 90 and I'm gonna be there, BCP and all.

I have only thrown up once since Good Friday. This is a record, since I went on the new medicine last November. A huge relief, like finally being well after having the flu? It's like a little more sunshine can filter into my life. PLUS husband is feeling much better himself, which has a trickle-down effect that Reagan only could have wished for.

But still, 800 words. In the next 2 hours.

While not 30 feet away, in a land far, far too close... "No! Jump NOW!" "It's my turn!" "I said turn this way!" "My batteries are dying!" "You just SHOT ME!"


Though this feeling I can't change.
But please don't take it badly,
'Cause Lord knows I'm to blame...

And, from our trip to Madison, WI, yesterday:

Lake Mendota, looking down from the piano bar at the Edgewater hotel JUST as the sun had set and it was so damn blue it reminded me of God:

The frozen lake, from where we were sitting noshing on hamburgers and fruity sodas, these were taken through the plate glass window and I thought not so bad:

Me, on Easter, happy... Because Jamie Curtis inspired me to just post it, ruddy cheeks, waggly chin, messy hair and all. Because happy should be beautiful, in any moment you find it. Even when you itch to Photoshop it into something not quite the same...

Posted on March 30, 2008 at 04:22 PM and filed under: In My Life
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It might even be a true story

March 26, 2008

I was in love, and hopelessly so. "Lin," I cried to my college suitemate as I sat with my head in her lap, crying. We were in one of the study corners in the Library. "He's never coming for me."

"No," she agreed, for the hundredth, thousandth time. "He's never coming, Elizabeth. And it's not like you've been waiting by the phone this whole time, either."

"Details," I muttered, incurably sad and needing comfort. It was an impossibly sunny day. The kind that Spring tosses at Chicago after too much rain. Deep blue skies and the rare puffy white cloud. "Get my mind off it, please. Of his beautiful eyes, and his incredible a-"

She hit me over the head with a book and left me there to read it.

A screwed up mind-games kind of book. Was she trying to tell me something? Nevertheless, I devoured it. I fell in love with the fictional island of Phraxos in Greece. I was hung over from reading too much too fast and saw stars when I finally stood and stretched. The sun had deserted us, giving way to a rainbow of dusk.

"Lin," I announced, wrapping myself around her as we walked home. "I want to go to Greece."

"Don't we all?" She laughed, kissing my hair indulgently, playfully.

A month later, I got on a plane for London with a one-way ticket and a backpack full of everything but clothes. Two weeks after that, I found a cheap vacation in the last-minute ads for some British-flavored hotel on an island in Greece.

spetses.jpgWe landed in Athens. A bus ride to a ferry to a horse-drawn carriage later, I was standing naked on a balcony overlooking impossibly beautiful water.

OK, I was wearing one of the many sheets left in a pile for me, wrapped and tucked like a big towel.

But underneath that- I was naked, and ready, and awake.

At last.

The next morning, I went downstairs for breakfast. The Englishman with impossibly long sideburns leered at me. "Alone, are you?"

"I'm looking for a fictional place that I think might be real," I said. "Phraxos."

"You are here!" The hostess exclaimed, an ex-pat with a beautiful smile.

I could hear the blood rushing in my ears. "You know what I mean?" I asked, disbelieving.

"Of course! The Magus. It was set here, in Spetses. You can rent a little motorbike to get to the school," she pointed towards the scrub-covered hills.

My anticipation rising, I raced down the lane and rented a moped (no helmet, thank you) for a couple of pound notes and attempted to drive it along the rutted lane, following the map the nice woman had drawn for me on a napkin.

But my skill with motor vehicles was overset by the sandy, uneven roads. Before I could get my balance back after a particularly sketchy slide, my wheel caught and I was propelled into a forest of pine trees.

Hanging onto the handlebars for dear life and I bounced crazily down the hill until a nicely placed log stopped my bike.

But not me.

I landed like a rag doll onto the back yard of a little house. A litter of newly born kittens mewing by my filthy face and a tall, tanned man making a shadow over me.

"You are OK?" He asked, reaching out to help me up.

"I am, I think," I answered, taking inventory of my scratched and abraded parts.

His name was Denis, and he pulled on a shirt as he boiled water to make me tea. He had band-aids and salve and heated eyes. And he didn't seem to mind that it had rained down a blond American woman onto his lawn.

His parents came with lunch, and they insisted on sharing it with me. Afterwards, one of his brothers fixed my bike while his father showed me the hull of the massive wooden boat the family was restoring. Side by side, I helped them sand down the layers of old paint, until my arms grew sore and my bruises began to ache.

After some discussion, it was decided that the prudent thing would be for the brother to ride the bike back to the rental guy while Denis walked me back to the hotel. Shoulder to shoulder we headed down the road in comfortable silence.

"You were riding for fun? When you made yourself lost?" Denis asked, finally.

"Uh, no," I laughed. "I was looking for a school, actually."

He stopped and looked up at the waning sun. "It is not so far," he told me. "But not the way to the hotel."

"You'll show me? Please?"

He thought a moment, and nodded. We changed direction and walked for a long time. The breeze kicked up, but it was welcome.

Finally, we turned a corner and there it was.

"Oh," I said. Looking at the apricot buildings and the dark waters beyond.

"Yes," Denis chuckled. "Oh."

He showed me around the campus, ending up at the shore.

The first stars came out.

"You are..." he searched for words. "Bad love?"

"Not at first," I said sadly. "But then he never came back for me."

"I would," he told me solemnly. "I would not leave. For a woman such is you."

He had a doctorate in flirting, and it felt good. A long way down the shore, bars and restaurants were beginning to light up like Christmas. I indicated the way with my jaw.

He nodded and led the way. Once we got back on the road, he reached out his hand.

I darted away, at first.

But then, I realized that there are moments. And this was one.

I walked closer to him, and gave him the half-biting-my-lip smile.

He laughed out loud and reached his hand back out to me.

And I took it.

Posted on March 26, 2008 at 07:58 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Naked and Nameless

March 19, 2008

First of all, there are TWO new posts up by me on the Chicago Mom's Blog. I'm excited to be writing there again, because that is one cool group (who were obviously on Crack when they invited me to join!)

I am living a very, very humble life these days. There is no one I haven't failed, no one I can look in the eye and say I did right by - even though I have been trying my very best.

When my high school class graduated, they made a banner to hang over the dais. A quote from William Ernest Henley's Invictus (Invincible):

Beyond this place of wrath and tears; Looms but the horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul

I write this from a black chair in front of a massive old wooden desk. It is scratched and faded, like me. And sits firmly in this place of wrath and tears.

This week is traditionally a time of prayer and contemplation for me, but there is no peace for that now. Just shadows outside a fading light to fear, and a menace I can not shake or fight.

Our country is feeling the sting of the wounds that have been piling up for so many months and years. I am feeling the sting, too.

And here I sit, in this chair. After a good day. A happy one. Feeling naked and nameless.

And the opposite of unafraid.

Posted on March 19, 2008 at 03:03 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Just back from Florida, and boy are my arms tired!

March 16, 2008

Out of the blue a couple of weeks ago, my mother called and offered to fly me and the Bear down to Orlando to meet her for a week fun and relaxation.

Boy, howdy, ain't that a shame?

Leaving CD to his midterms and work, I packed up everything we owned and hustled the kid off to the airport, shouting 'Bye bye, honey!' as the door slammed behind us.

There is something so supremely soul-drenching to be warm in winter.

The hotel was very family-friendly, but unfortunately not business-equipped. I couldn't stop working and went a lttle crazy because there was no business center, no shared printer, and no public fax.

That said, the breakfast buffets were sublime. After 2 years now as chief cook and bottle washer, I just LOVE me some breakfast buffet. Uncaring about the dishes, tickled by all the choices.

The weather was breezy and overcast (perfect for us), and the day we spent at a water park was a blast. As an unexpected break from the usual frigid days and endless worry and work... it was a miracle.


Fake beach at the water park, but strangely warmer and cleaner than the real thing. I feel so plastic even admitting that.


Bear runs into the big wave pool. Now that he has passed into Intermediate swimming, ALL his fears about pools have faded and now he has this dolphin-like joy of the water.


Bear under the water mushroom. I have another one of these where he has this total smirk on his face. I swear, he's a Calvin Klein model waiting to happen.

Yes, even though it was cloudy - Bear and I always wear sun guards with our bathing suits. Even before we knew I had Lupus, I very easily got sunsick and Bear? Well, he can get a sunburn from a 60 watt light bulb and a bubble gum wrapper.

Mine come from Coolibar; where I also get other sun protection clothing. I am forever getting compliments and questions about them.

Children's sun/rash guards have become fairly easy to find (thank God) but we are saving up to buy CD one from the same company, because grown-up sunguard clothing is still pretty pricey.


'Cuz nothing says 'sexy' like a middle-aged domestic goddess scrubbed out by a day in a water park and being directed by her son to 'pose cool, Mommy!'.


He said to me as he took this picture, 'Wouldn't it be wonderful if the clouds could really catch you, and sad people could rest there until the hearts felt better? Because you'd be so close to God?'

No, I don't know where he gets these ideas, either.

Tags: Florida, Coolibar, Rash guard, Adult, Aquatica, Holiday Inn, Orlando, Vacation
Posted on March 16, 2008 at 07:55 PM and filed under: In My Life
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March 14, 2008

Elie Weisel said that;
"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference

I don't know the moment we went away from love, but I do know the love didn't die.

My heart expands and then aches, but never deflates. The room it made for you is still there. If you were to claim it, I don't know what I would do. It would be messy, and painful, to wake up something that's been falling asleep for so long.

In that moment, those last times we shared a laugh and a look and an intimacy that was ours...I couldn't imagine a time when it wouldn't be like that. We get older, we get wiser, but so many things we stay willfully stupid at.

Everyone leaves, eventually. But let's tuck that away in a box because there's no way to live with it written large.

You are good. You are infinitely precious. Because you live, the world is a better place. Where you inhabit, I know there is joy and meaning. I wish sometimes that I could make myself so small that you wouldn't see me, so I could be where you are and see the rich colors of your life.

As I am now, as we are, there's a white lake between us that seems impossible to cross. So I am left, once in a while, imagining. Envisioning your loud claps of laughter shared by people I wouldn't know. Creating a picture in my mind of you sipping from a steaming mug as you look out the window, or sifting through the mail as you walk in the door.

I still love you.

I will always love you.

It's nothing in your days, maybe.

But it matters to me. I am a better person because of it. A gift you gave me a lifetime ago, that I still cherish. With a quietness that is not indifference. In a new way that is not death.

The sun came out today. The world stopped to warm itself. My fingers over a phone, knowing I would never call. That was then. I live now. But I wanted you to know.

Posted on March 14, 2008 at 11:47 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Everybody? Quiet!

January 25, 2008

12AM: Amid coughing and hacking, I realize that there is no way I am going to finish the two articles that are due tomorrow for this new gig. I hammer down a handful of meds and collapse on the couch.

12:30AM: Having watched one of the new "Chuck" episodes without my husband, I am tortured with guilt. I firmly turn off the TV before I can be tempted into watching the other.

12:45PM: Face towards humidifier, I fall asleep.

6:45AM: CD should be halfway to work. Why is he wondering around the hallway? Why is he doing it in my fuzzy pink bathrobe?! Am I even awake?

7:15AM: "Hi Mommy, when I cough it makes me pee." Big eyes looking at me from the edge of the bed. :blink: :blink: "Uh, sweetie, you have Away School today. You only have it one day a week. You don't want to miss that, right? How about some cough syrup?"

7:20AM: Cough. COUGH. COUGH! COUGHCOUGH! "Mommy, I don't think I should go to school today," COUGH! COUGH! "My throat is falling out."

7:30AM: Sit down to work with son propped on pillows and medicated. Dog begins to whine to go out.

7:40AM: Dog in, son crying for juice. And yoghurt. And a different TV channel.

7:50AM: Child fed, watered, appeased. Dog farting. Loudly.

8AM: Dog back in, harassing cat. Cat begins to heave. While perched on a hamper of clean laundry.

8:05AM: Dog settled, Kid settled, Cat locked in bathroom. Email pings with an urgent request for information.

8:30AM: Staring at the coffee maker as it percolates. Pretty, pretty steam....

8:35AM: "Mommy! There's a big wet spot on your blanket! I think I spilled my milk!"

8:45AM: Finally typing; 'And the answer to this is anything but a simp....'

8:50AM: Cat begins screaming in the bathroom. The tub is now dripping a torrent of hot water, which we can not afford to have a plumber fix at the moment. I suspect stupid cat tried to drink from it and burned her tongue. Hey, she's old. And stupid. Dog begins barking at the bathroom door. Son gets up to see what's going on and does a dramatic limp. Informs me he needs a surgery to fix the pain.

"What pain?"

"I fell down before."

With no signs of blood or trauma, I give him a glow in the dark green Band-Aid.

8:55AM: Finally typing again. "...but a simple fix. The model needs to be matured.."

9AM: "Momma" "WHAT?!" "I got a problem..." "Do you need a hospital?" "No." "Do you need emergency services of ANY kind?" "No." "Then please deal with it yourself. If you are too sick to be at school, then you are too sick to be wandering around every 5 seconds." "FINE!" (Slams Door. Then opens it again and apologizes quietly.)

9:01AM: "What is wrong?" (Tapping foot impatiently.) "I've already seen this episode of Jimmy Neutron. AND my leg hurts. And I'm lonely."

INSERT HERE: silent scream.

Posted on January 25, 2008 at 09:27 AM and filed under: In My Life
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But Orlando Jones Knows The Bus Stop, too.

January 17, 2008

They say to you that there's something bad in your brain. The size of golf ball. But no worries, yeah?

And at first, I was afraid (but not petrified). Thought, I'm not ready to leave this life. But then I bounced back, because there's no other good option that I've found. I made soup and loved my family and painted the dining room.

And then I fell down again.

Because I'm still afraid. It's still there. I don't want it there, but it is and no matter how hard I try I can't make it go away from my body or my awareness.

I fell down and stayed down. And cried.


Then someone called. Said they had work for me. The real thing, and a little money behind it.

And so I worked a bit. And taught my son some new sight words. And went for a long swim.

And now, I think, I'm almost standing. Not yet dancing. And still afraid.

But more here than before.

Posted on January 17, 2008 at 09:50 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Welcome to Wherever You Are

January 09, 2008

I'm sort of surprised how sad I feel.

How cowardly I am.

I avoid the news, especially since Bhutto's assassination. I breath deep and tell myself the bills will keep. I watch the neighbors out the window, terrified to wave back.

I'm scared, and stretched thin over too much broken body. And unsure how to be, what to say, how to act.

I'm sorry, I ... that's all. Just sorry. I have nothing to write here, nothing to say. Right now, I wake up each day and I make a list of things I need to do. Then I put my head down and just try to get through them all. Set the pins up one by one and then knock them all down. Try to do it all with good humor even if I have no memory of what humor feels like. Because it scares them so much, even more than it does me.

And no one on this planet is interested in the aches and pains and whatnot. I'M not even interested in it. The planet has more to offer.

And someday soon, I want to look up again and see it.

But for right now, it is literally all I can do to quietly change the bed sheets, and tutor Bear in subtraction, and I haven't even brought down the tree yet....

Posted on January 09, 2008 at 11:34 AM and filed under: In My Life
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December 20, 2007

I got up this morning, scrubbed my face, and meant to make myself a pot of tea.

Instead, I began chopping. Slicing. Celebrating my still nimble hands and my one good knife. Onions, beets, carrots, leeks, potatoes.

One pot bubbling with a tawny port and a touch of beef stock. Layers and layers of onions growing a warm brown.

Another pot an explosion of color. Mounds of vegetables, blending into a happy maroon.

The steam fogged up the winter window. The dog and cat collapsed with happy sighs against the wall. My son at the table, writing a letter to Santa.

And still in my nightgown. Hair piled into an untidy bun. Nose still pink with a fading cold. My hair streaks a fading pink against my darkening winter hair.

I'm listening to a mix that I made for my Dad. Ramsey Lewis Trio doing 'The In Crowd' and Buddy Rich's 'Keep the Customer Satisfied'. Every once in a while, Bear and I break out in the white man's shuffle; dancing like pecking pigeons while biting our lower lips and bobbing our heads.

Years from now, I'll teach him to sway with a lighter going in his hand whenever a certain Southern Fried Rock tune is played. It's important to teach your kids to respect the classics.

A dozen or so years ago, my Dad, who is all about being with the one you're with, got with a nice New England lady who had two young kids. I was in my late 20's, doing my own thing, and took little notice.

As the years went by, he became more and more a part of her life, her family, her world. Months would drift by and I'd wonder how long it had been since he and I had spoken.

Once I had Bear, we began reconnecting. As you do. And so, the last couple of years, I have finally gotten to know her a bit. Met her kids, finally. Her daughter, just last summer. I am no one to them, really. The mother of their stepdad's grandson.

We went to dinner, one night. And she and my father had a playful argument. "But we alllllways go there..." she teased him, about his choice of restaurant. And I realized, with a start, that they'd had an entire childhood with my Dad.


We awkwardly try, belatedly try, to blend things now. For him, for Bear. So I pack up boxes, with gifts for those people I do not know. With smiley faces on the tags.

And listen to a CD I never sent. Spell out a word for my son, who is still such a stranger to them. Add dill to a soup they do not know I make. Let the warm kitchen air curl the tendrils of my hair as it spills from that old ratty band.

This is not the family of the Christmas movies. This is not gingerbread houses, and hoof sounds on the roof. You get older, and realize that most moments are a compromise between history and today.

And that's OK.

I mean, it wasn't, before. And maybe won't be tomorrow. Something will happen, rip the wound back open.

But for right now? Yeah. It's OK.

Posted on December 20, 2007 at 01:13 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Playing Through

December 12, 2007

So, the Neurologist did a neuro exam on me and determined that the ping pong ball is not currently causing me any (additional) impairment.

Next stop? Neurosurgeon.

Who, Not-McDreamy informed us, will probably tell us what symptoms to look for and otherwise prescribe regular MRI's going forward to track this stupid thing.

But I probably will not be bald and running from some souped-up Black & Decker over the holidays.

And for that present come early? I am going to don a slinky negligee and attack Santa senseless.

Just saying.

Posted on December 12, 2007 at 11:28 PM and filed under: In My Life
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I'm 15 for a Moment

December 01, 2007

OK, so yesterday I met with the doctor to discuss what has been diagnosed as severe Secondary Raynaud's.

I first developed Reyanaud's in 2005.

Luckily for me, it remained very low-key. So I almost forgot about it, except for the odd 'stabbing' sensation I would get every so often. And my bizarrely cold nose.

Until my hands went stinging numb 6 weeks ago.

Now that there's a clear diagnosis, the path forward was fairly straightforward: They're going to do a pretty insane electrical test to see how bad the damage is, and I've been put on Calcium Channel Blockers to treat it.

I have to watch for gangrene. And most importantly, keep my extremities warm. Buy mittens. Big woolly mittens. All I have is gloves.

So, just to recap: Eyes, Toes, Hands and Nose. Yes, I'm a regular children's song. Even got my own dance to go with it.

Over the long term, this is the condition that is going to be the shits to live with. But live with it I will, because despite all the crap it causes - it ain't fatal.

Let's hug that sentence for a moment. C'mon, you know you want to.

Ah, that's better.

On to the other shoe...

An incidental finding of the MRI (besides the slight infection) was a benign cyst sized 7 centimeters... in my brain.

As my brain is not to be used as a storage facility for foreign objects, off we now shall go to the Neurosurgeon and Neurologist (hoping for McDreamy, what are the odds?) to discuss what happens next, if anything.

Maybe it's a 'watch and see' kind of cyst. Maybe not. Won't know for until after the appointment.

I'm taking a LOT of comfort right now from the word 'benign' and in the fact that it was in the 'incidental findings' part of the MRI and anyone who bursts that bubble for me will be ripped limb from limb by a pack of rabid dogs.

In the meantime...


Posted on December 01, 2007 at 12:15 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Blinded by the Light

November 27, 2007

It's a universal truth of humans, I think...

Believing that there's always more time.

So, wait, I have a point somewhere.

Right. Now I remember. So, on the way to St. Ives with this sack of cats, trying to find out why my hands go numb.

We've found so many fun things so far. Infections and brains and such.

But the root cause still not determined.

So the next step, in my Doctor Bingo, was to spend yesterday with an aging and abrupt Ophthalmologist. My beautiful son patiently playing with his Leapster in the waiting room.

"You see your Optometrist annually?"

I nodded.

She sighed.

She shook her head slowly.

My heart sank, my ultra-dilated eyes trying to make out the expression on her face.

So, anyway.

Lupus has quietly been killing my eyes; the inflammation causing a retinopathy that is robbing my sight. Sneaking like a thief into the night, collapsing the blood vessels that carry oxygen to my retina.

It is permanent.

The most severe damage so far to date is to my left eye. My right eye is stronger, rocking the house while that lazy ass left one has been out by the pool. Unfortunately, depth perception needs 2 eyes in stereo so that probably explains why I nicked CD's Passat some weeks back pulling out of the driveway around it.

Ahem. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

She said that this moment, right now, is the best that my eyes will be for the rest of my life.

It is downhill from here, and the only factor in how long I have is how well I can control my flares and my blood pressure going forward. So, more steroids, more tests, more awareness.

I guess the damage has been happening quickly so it was damn lucky that my doctor got a niggle that I should see an ophthalmologist for hand numbness.

Which? Have I mentioned? Is still unexplained.


I'm pretty pissed. At no point on this carousel did I expect that looking for a reason for hand numbness would lead to losing my sight.

I should have had some damn warning. A pink slip into my dreams. A dove crapping 'check your eyes' onto my windshield.

A premonition.


I haven't seen all I want to see yet. There is still so much more ahead of us.

The slow, exploding smile of my son as he figures out a puzzle. The sly sparkle of my husband's come-hither glance. The swirl of hair and teeth and arms as they throw leaves at each other in the yard.

Until I've seen it all, then it can't go dark. Every pout, every landmark, every freckle.

There is daylight left in this day. Some random Monday doesn't get to echo with the Imperial Death March, bringing shadows and gloom.

It doesn't.

Because I say so.

There is still time.

There has to be.


Posted on November 27, 2007 at 07:20 PM and filed under: In My Life
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November 23, 2007

We got a preliminary diagnosis before Thanksgiving. I should have said something, but it sounded scary at first and there were certain people I thought I should call before, basically, publishing it.

It still sounds scary, but a few days with something leads me to a much more sane place. It's treatable, won't make be barking mad (or madder than I already am), and isn't going to cause any surgeons to tackle me in a hallway with a chainsaw.

So, you know, all good.

We went into our Thanksgiving holiday with CD's Icelandic care package (salted licorice, lamb + pork hot dogs, orange + malt soda, canned peas, and assorted candies), Christmas tunes blasting, and (for sentimentality's sake) a tiny turkey breast and some stuffing.

We argued talked about whether to cut down a tree this year or buy one from the 'good' lot. My inner child clapping with joy because the guys have agreed to a room re-arrange that will allow me to have the Biggest.Christmas.Tree... EVER.

Wait, what I said before. I lied.

It's not all good.

I suck at lying, so I'm surprised I lasted so long.

I have this rule, about doing no harm. But there is an even more important one: harm not thyself.

For the past couple of months, I've been in a fight with someone.

Like back in junior high, that kind of fight. Where you smile at each other in the hallway, but know for a fact they're talking trash about you behind your back because you had the temerity after some pep rally to tell them that they had bad breath.

You see, there's a pod of people in my life who are by nature very critical. The word 'fine' for them is ALWAYS a euphemism for 'There is something very wrong with it, but I believe you incapable of fixing it so I won't say anything.'

In a really providential light it can actually be seen as having high standards - which is a virtue, really. And in any event, this flaw doesn't define this group. As much as my passionate love of run-on sentences doesn't define me.

It's just that, since I quit my job and forever changed the course of my little family... there have been a lot of people - this group included - who have thought I was wrong.

No, don't argue. Deep down, it's what they think. Whatever politically correct thing each of them may say, it all has dripped of disapproval.

I have been frustrated, to the point of tears. I mean, literally (not figuratively) sitting in CD's arms at night and having him remind me of how we did the right thing. Listing the reasons like a catechism. Butterfly kisses against my cheeks, and faith against my hurt.

One after another, I have lost it with this attitude. I understand all the reasons that my quitting a successful career has been stupid, thoughtless, wrong, short-sighted, and somewhat treasonous.

I have tried to be patient with the criticality, I really have. The reactions and the advice and the anger.

But if I suck at lying than I suck even harder at being patient, so I've exploded a couple of times.

And about 2 months ago, I had another small explosion against yet another member of this group. This one quite close to home.

And since then, there's been a frost.

This morning, my son crawled into my lap and asked me why.

And I lied. I said it wasn't so.


I suck at lying.

So I had to find a way to explain. Tell a 7 year-old in a way that was both true but not apologetic. I didn't want him to think there was a war and he needed to side with me. I didn't want to him to think there was anything he could do to change things or that he was in any way responsible. I didn't want my own anger to poison his opinion or for him to feel like this was apocalyptic.

I was striving for a 'Grown ups have disagreed, will eventually make up, and I'm sorry it's affecting you in the meantime. You are a miracle and special and no one is mad at you.'

And fuck it, I think I failed.

I know I did.

He nodded sagely and parroted back the right things but in his eyes was a world of hurt.

That HE has been frosted out too isn't fair. He's felt it, and it has gripped his heart with confusion and pain.

And that has enraged me to the bad place beyond words.

I tried to hide it, as we laid in my bed, stupid dog between us, saying nothing. Wise and sad child, wiggly puppy, and furious mom.

And right this minute now, that has me feeling a hell of a lot more helpless than some infection. I have no clue what to do, or how to make this better.

Posted on November 23, 2007 at 12:14 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Thanks Be

November 20, 2007

Today I:

Organized the box of 96 crayons (and sharpener!). By color.

Walked the dog in the drizzly rain.

Taught my son to count by 10's. To 1000.

Sorted out his clothes. By season. And size.

Took a long hot shower.

Told my husband I love him. 5 times.

Stopped to sniff my birthday bouquet, which yet blooms.

Planned our simple Thanksgiving dinner.

Unpacked a care package from Iceland.

Yelled at the dog to stop shredding paper.

Daydreamed about what it would be like to be able to afford some nice furniture.


Played a hidden picture game with Bear.

Drank a steaming cup of chai.

Breathed a little, wrote some bad poetry, gave the phone the stink eye when it dared ring.

Discussed country music with the handyman.

What I'm saying?

Is if it all had to end tomorrow...

I'd miss days like these.

It's a damn fine life. Even with all the bad news. And much to be thankful for.

Posted on November 20, 2007 at 12:27 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Believe With Me

November 14, 2007

Sometimes I think that it's harder to be the one that loves. As I submit to tests, and take action against a sea of paperwork, all they can do is stand by and watch.

Bear begs me to literally lean on him, offering his little shoulder as my crutch. And CD? Well, CD struggles. Whispering on the wind of the fears we don't speak.

Reminding me that I married him for a lifetime. As though we are promised so many years.

My heart breaks. I want to race to the end of this, and show them this will all be all right. It's just another complication. And probably a negligible one for all that.

There is no monster under the bed. Get to the part where the white coats back me up on this.

But days can not be skipped. And who would want to?

So we live our days in order.

I made this for him. It was my birthday yesterday, so I got some free hours to spend any way I wanted. Luxurious snippets to create, without the guilt of whatever else needed doing.

I made this for him. Who has come so far with me. We have so much farther we dream of going.

This is my shout to his whisper. And maybe more hope than know.

Posted on November 14, 2007 at 09:32 PM and filed under: In My Life
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November 12, 2007

Just got home from the hospital. The tests from Friday came back clear, but the symptoms persist. So off to spend the day with yet another plastic bracelet around my wrist.

NOT my best look, darlings.

More tests. More good news. Cat scan clear, blood clear, etc. etc.

Which, of course, leads you (and I) to say... well, is there anything REALLY wrong that some aerobics and chamomile tea won't cure?

Alas, alack. I failed the 'drunk driver' test... which sober people shouldn't do. On the plus hand, I only failed it the equivalent of a guy who's had a couple of beers. I was able to find my nose and the doctor's finger, if a little off target.

Doc teased that if it had been vodka? I would have found my ear. Scotch? HIS ear. Funny doctor. Ha ha.

I also have a halo on things looking out my left eye.

Boring boring boring... seriously. What's next is a an MRI and an opthamologist exam. Actually, what's next is my damn birthday tomorrow. Then they can cut me open and shine a light in my innards all they want. :)

All I want to do tonight is think of lovely things, and promise my guys that everything is gonna be all right.

Sung to a reggae beat, with heads nodding, amen.

Posted on November 12, 2007 at 08:11 PM and filed under: In My Life
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November 11, 2007

I cried Uncle.

Yeah, me. Big baby in pink streaked hair.

Made the appointment and went into to see Wonder Doctor, whom I love.

Friday morning, sitting in the chair pretending not to see that vinyl examining table. The one with the hidden stirrups, no you can't fool me.

"You aren't better?" she sighed, with those big compassionate eyes and her 'To have more, want less' button shining under the fluorescent lights.

"It still hurts to breathe, and my hands are going numb more and more often."

"Numb?" asked she.

Turns out, this is a bad combination of symptoms. Not normal Raynaud's.

This, as CD likes to say, is why the woman WITHOUT the umpty years of medical training should leave the diagnosing to the woman WITH it. And make appointments more often.

Hurrumph, I say.

But the next thing you know, it's 3 long hours of testing to be done on everybody's favorite lab rat. It's big machines and it's the hospital annex, and it's an EKG and Ox Sat and it's MANY tubes of blood and it's X-rays....

And it's my poor husband, arriving into O'Hare with no wife to meet him. Just some hastily arranged hired car with a driver that in no way looks like a kissable woman.

The list of what could be wrong with me reads like a script from House, MD so we're not thinking about that this weekend.

Instead, a quiet weekend of to-do's and naps. CD and Bear went off to the Museum of Science and Industry to decorate the Icelandic tree and then to the Bee Movie. And I have stayed home in the moist of a vaporizer, strung together with pills and instructions and my trusty quadrupeds at my heels.

And, finally, in the twilight of the weekend this lab rat's father calling from a Police concert. "Listen!" he shouts, enthusiasm bouncing over the line.

And I hold the phone to my ear, listening to Sting sing in concert 900 hundred miles away. My father holding up his phone like a candle, imaging me hearing it all.

Yeah, Dad, I hear it! I hear it!

The crowd sings along, echoing in my kitchen.

And I join in.

...But I should have known this right from the start
Only hope can keep me together
Love can mend your life....

Life is sweet, even as you wait for test results. Maybe because. He strokes my hair and slips in for a kiss, like the one he missed Friday. We hum songs my dad is dedicating to me from half a continent a way. Bear splashes away in a tub, telling us what he liked about the day.

Damocle's sword swings overhead, we see it there. Let it hang with the homemade snowflakes and cobwebs.

Today was for living, in song. And pink cheeks. And laughter.

Today was for today, unrobbed by what comes tomorrow.

Posted on November 11, 2007 at 09:24 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Ha Ha

November 07, 2007

My husband just sent this to me... isn't he funny?


Posted on November 07, 2007 at 08:58 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Just, Breathe

November 06, 2007

It should come to no surprise that I am in a flare.

We'd thought I'd turned the corner with the pneumonia, and the stiff hands, etc. So CD got on a plane and went off to Philly on a business trip.

Of course not.

Mostly, I am just breathing as best I can. And basking in the warm glow of a son who is ridiculously helpful.

No, really.

And? I miss you.

Posted on November 06, 2007 at 07:11 PM and filed under: In My Life
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October 15, 2007

The theme of this week seems to be abandoning.

And it's SO pissing me off.

I am so very tired of people who give up, who walk away, who posture in another room rather than fight it out.

Because you know what comes next?


They become ghosts.

Am I the only one who has them?

People who were gonna call me and get together, or have lunch and chat about whatever it was, but then it's years later and you wonder where they are, and what happened in their lives and if they are OK?

Is it so easy to just.... walk away?

And then, where do they go?

Tags: Friendship, life, conflict
Posted on October 15, 2007 at 12:04 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Voice Mail

October 14, 2007

God, I hate voice mail.

Prior to hating voice mail, I had a nice sideline going in hating answering machines. But you get older, times change, and you gotta update your habits.

Basically, if you call me...I'll see your number on the Caller ID and call back. Ignoring that thwudda-thwudda noise that says you said something to the computer.

This is, on occasion, I'll admit, problematic.

"Hey, it's Elizabeth. You called?"

"Thank God you called back so fast. So what's the number?"

"The number?"

"Of the emergency vet?"

"You need an emergency vet?"

"I LEFT A MESSAGE!! Diddums has swallowed a hypodermic needle full of crack and I need the number of the vet that helped you that time when it happened to you."

"I have never....! Why? Uh, I mean...."

"I LEFT A MESSAGE! Didn't you listen? This is life or death, here! I mean, poor Diddums, I think he's dragging himself to a corner to...oh, what is that number?!"

So, sure. Once in a blue moon, it causes trouble that I avoid my voice mail.

On the job, it was not unknown for me to listen to my voice mail barely once a week, on Fridays....

"You have 17,000 new voice mails! What is your frequency, woman? You think I got nothing better to do than stuff myself full of chat from your people?"

Instant messages, email, and text messages I am fine with. Prompt, attentive, responsive. But the bugaboo of voice mail has remained my nemesis.

Recently, we decided to turn off our home line. We never use it much, and it's costing us $50 a month to, in essence, give chimney sweeps and siding companies a way to contact us about their seasonal promotions.

So I've given myself permission, even though there is still some dial tone on it, to ignore the thing altogether in preparation for it being gone.

CD gave me the fish eye this morning, the phone against his ear, after I asked him if he thought I'd missed a call I was expecting.

"Please check," I begged.

"We have 33 new voice mail messages," he said with an arch of his eyebrow.

I shrugged.

"Have you EVER checked the house line for voice mail?" he pondered.


"Prove it."

I stuck out my tongue when he wasn't looking.

He pushed some buttons and listened a moment.

"Chimney sweep. Siding company. Chimney sweep. Credit card protection offer. Oh, Katie and some kid's mom are going somewhere and want to know if you want to go with," he relayed.

I looked interested.

"In SEPTEMBER," he added, all he-man snarky-like. "Computer talking, time sensitive offer. Hey, the counter tops are ready."

I looked in the kitchen where they are already installed. Turned back to the window, where I watched the drizzle that was delaying our annual pumpkin excursion .

He pushed more buttons. He listened some more. Counted them down for me. "20 more messages..." he sighed. "15, we're finally into October..." I scrunched my nose. "More computers, they love to leave messages...." I nodded. "5 more."

I waited.

He looked at me. "Sorry, hun," he said.

I shrugged.

"No big deal," I said.

But he knew better. He knew that this is why, deep down, I really hate voice mail. Because it never seems to be the locker of good news, of voices you really want to hear.

Ah, well.

Tags: voice_mail, humor, life, opinion, telephone, work
Posted on October 14, 2007 at 11:45 AM and filed under: Rants & Raves
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The Tumble of Seasons

October 10, 2007

I woke up this morning to find fall had arrived. Crept into the world during the dark, long night.

Closed the windows, watched the trees bend against the coming of the autumn.


Days ago, the bizarre Chicago heat helped killed a marathoner. And I began to wonder if the Global Warming would shout like a lion, after generations of roaming in like a lamb.

And rob us of all our seasons until we took notice and gave up our vans for hybrids.

But no.

Now I'm nervous because we sort of count on late September through early November to be almost 2 months of low electric and gas bills. The 'tween time of the thud of the ancient heater kicking in and the rumble of cool from the air conditioning.

And even more than the eternal burden of worrying about money is the selfish consideration that this should be the time of year that recharges my batteries.

This is my season, my breeze and fresh thoughts and packing away for the winter.

Have I been robbed of it?. From hot winds and dry dirt instantly into fluttering leaves and drizzling chill?

I've been counting on the emotional break I get with cool nights and warmish days and colored up leaves. This is my time of year to start making soup again. This is my time of year to write furiously, ideas too fast for my hands to type.

Instead I've got a case of emotional whiplash. Sitting in a hoodie and long pajama pants and giving Mother Nature a dirty look.

I feel out of sorts and robbed by the tumble of seasons.

Tags: Life, Dreams, Autumn, Season, Change
Posted on October 10, 2007 at 01:57 PM and filed under: In My Life
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And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor

October 01, 2007

I know God must be close.

First of all, the Cubs are going to the playoffs. This was foretold when my beloved Red Sox won the World Series. There is only one other team with such a losing streak. One other team playing in its own old park with rabid fans and basement stats.

But that's not the only reason I spend most of my hours propped up almost entirely by faith these days...

I remember when I got my first real, full-time paycheck. I was 19, living in my first apartment, and I'd given up my 4 part-time jobs in favor of going to a temp agency and asking for something beyond minimum wage.

I drove the check to the bank and deposited it. Then I spent. I paid back a friend who'd loaned me some the month before. I did my first real grocery shop. I had the oil in my car changed. I got my hair cut.

Each and every expenditure was the right thing to do.

Except, I didn't have enough left over to pay the phone bill and it got turned off.

This is the lesson of the forest and the trees. And big pictures. And budgets. Hans Christian probably wrote a couple of fables about it. Much better than my nonfiction version, I bet.

We said we knew better. And we made one big decision: to have me be home with Bear, Homeschooling him until he could read and write at grade level - or until we decided there was a better way we could support to get him there.

And everything since that decision last April has come from it.

So, like a million other families, we face each week a million right decisions we can not afford to do. Oil changes for the car. Eye doctor appointments.

It saps your soul, you know?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not afraid of things being hard. Sure, it's humbling to be living on 30% of our former income. It's a challenge. It's word for challenge that means even more than just 'challenge'. But life should be hard; we're ready for it to be hard. I wouldn't bitch and moan about that.

OK, maybe I would, but I wouldn't mean it so much.

Like complaining about the snow as you hike up Everest. It's not like you expect ponies and rainbows, you know. It's EVEREST. You expect the snow, you're dressed for the snow, so even if you say 'Damn! It's a lot of snow!' - you don't really mean it.

I'm not complaining about not having money. I left the job that brought the money. So, there that is.

But there's hard... and then there's the edge of impossible.

That makes us question ourselves. Bends our confidence.

If what we've decided is truly right, then how come we aren't able to take care of the basics?

And that's where we lean on our faith. And each other. Or drown trying.

There's no nobility in being poor. Any honor in it must come from the reasons for the condition.

And so we hang on to that. And look for the silver lining. Or, as CD says; Brass. We'll take brass. Or any shiny rock.

We celebrate our newfound simplicity. Solidarity. And faith.

Good things, and yet some days they don't balance out the pain.

Brought to you by the letter F, the number 1, and the conviction that wavers and then finds a gust to soar on, wearing a blue baseball cap.

Tags: Budget, Faith, Money, Family, Struggle
Posted on October 01, 2007 at 06:45 PM and filed under: Rants & Raves
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You Live, You Learn

September 18, 2007

I have been toying, pretty seriously, with the idea of creating password-only entries. I wish I'd had the foresight to know that someday, having my real name attached to posts about blogging naked would be a real damper on my professional life.

Yeah, OK, seems obvious now.

The other day, I discovered a prospective employer read this blog. And despite the fact that I go to extreme lengths to respect the wishes of those I work for and live with in regards to privacy and intimacy?

Just the fact that I have a personal blog was enough to scare him off.

I don't know what this means to the Facebook generation, although maybe not much - since Facebook like Twitter, etc, is much more in the moment.

On the one hand, it took a lot for me to stick my flag in the dirt and say - this is ME. This is who I really am. I stand behind each word and each story and each post.

On the hand? Dude, I need a J-O-B. I need to work.

It absolutely destroys my creativity and honesty to be self-censoring each word and comma because something might be unacceptable to someone.

But what the hell is the alternative?

Meanwhile, the counter top guy will be here in a couple of hours and I'm thinking... shower? Clothes? Probably good idea.

Posted on September 18, 2007 at 07:29 AM and filed under: In My Life
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September 13, 2007

I looked at the bills today, and what is left to be done to sell the house.

Then I sat Bear down with a maze book and did the inconceivable.

I applied for a full-time job.

If I get it, I will be thankful. I will work my ass off to be successful. And I don't blame anyone for the situation. I'm not a victim. I stand by every choice I have made that has brought me here. It's not the government's fault that being a stay home parent is a luxury. It's not society's fault that I hate the idea of daycare.

It is what it is. And we do what we must.

But that didn't stop me from laying my head on the table and trying not to cry. Quietly, so he wouldn't hear.

Vizzini: He didn't fall? Inconceivable!
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Posted on September 13, 2007 at 07:05 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Maggie Bear

September 12, 2007

Last fall, we lost Zazzoo. He was our elderly cat, and we were sad but also at peace. He'd been sick, and passing was a relief for him.

When he died, we told out remaining cat, Maggie Bear, that we wished she would stay with us a little longer. At 21, she is truly a grand old dame. And at 21, she is also the living embodiment of so much history.

She perked up a bit when we got Sara the Big Fluffy Dog. But now it's clear that was an Indian Summer... a short idyll before the winter.

We are losing Maggie Bear. Of all the bad news we've had lately - this is the most expected.

And yet, the worst to face.

Posted on September 12, 2007 at 04:24 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Who lost the nipple cream?

September 09, 2007

Some weeks ago, I had a Girl's Night Out with the women of the Mom's Blogs just before Blogher.

Afterwards I gave some of the out-of-towners a ride to their hotel.

I strongly suspect that someone lost a jar of flavored nipple cream when they were retrieving their swag bags, etc. from the trunk.

(Strawberry, btw.)

Either that or my husband's look of utter confusion and bugged-out eyes as we were cleaning his car yesterday are worthy of an Oscar.

Hyperventilating as I glared at him with the offending jar in my hand, he swore he had NO IDEA how FLAVORED NIPPLE CREAM got in the trunk of his car.

Eventually, we backtracked enough events to decide what must have happened.

Returning to his normal respiration, he took the jar and looked it over.

"As long as we have it..." he said with a smile.


Posted on September 09, 2007 at 03:35 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Me and Job, LikeThis

August 23, 2007

We've had a tornado touchdown about 35 miles to the west.

Already we've had so much rain in the past month that our roof, ceilings, and walls are permanently wet.

It's too much.

Bear is, at this minute, saying prayers that 'only bad guys and mosquitoes' get caught in it. Oh, and that 'it doesn't water inside the house'.

08232007 093c.jpg

If you're the type that likes to listen to the rain, or thunder, here is the view out my front door about 1 AM. I just let the camera record for a minute...

Posted on August 23, 2007 at 03:08 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Playing Violins on the Titanic

August 21, 2007

Since my powerful trip, fall, twist, and rise a couple of weeks ago, I have come to a very Zen place.

Somehow, believing him when he said that everything was going to be all right... made everything all right.

You'd be shocked.


I somehow took a shovel and cleaned the house. Gathered up the rest of the construction materials and got them put away. Emptied out, packed, trashed, and dusted the clutter. Got a couple of handymen in for quotes. Started pulling together the upcoming school year's homeschool materials. Dishes. Laundry. Play dates, swimming, meals of some kind (even though I have the dishwasher, the sink had to be pulled out again so the plumbers could get in). Even found the courage to open up all the bills and do the math with my bookkeeper.

"You're so calm," she noticed.

"And unmedicated," I added, a little surprised myself.

I have dutifully taken a sleeping pill each night with enough time to get that 8 hours. I have begun packing to drive out to Boston on Thursday. My son's teeth are brushed. The menagerie of animals is tended.

I mean, it's not all gleaming like in a movie.

But it is solid, and finished. Slightly disconnected but very decidedly productive. It is a shrug, and a 'keep on moving'.

Friday and Saturday night, the rains came and the patch on the roof gave. In it came, in it sprayed. Buckets and pots and pans overflwoing. Bits of plaster and lathe crashing onto my desk, trashing the fax machine and the speakers.

Yet somehow we got through it. Him climbing up to do what he could as I pulled things out of the wet and cleaned them up.

Sunday morning, I tracked down Bear's babysitter, who's been strangely out of touch for a couple of months. There she was, answering the door, with a timid smile and a huge bulge.

Due next week with a daughter I am only now realizing will be born.

I rested my cheek on hers as we left, trying to say all the right things. Intensely grateful I knew how to say 'I love you' in Spanish.

My Uncle and Aunt visited our home for the first time in my life on Monday and there were dirty dishes where the sink used to be and I just smiled and said 'Welcome'.

This morning after they left, I rested on the front stoop and watched the world go by over my coffee cup.

Thick warm mist floating above the grass.

Young couple walks by, holding hands. Their long legs in a matching stride as they head to the train station.

An older woman, with her little dog. She waves and I wave back. And her dog pees on my tree.

A couple of kids on skateboards and roller blades, down the middle of the street and shouting bits of conversation to each other.

It is not a refrain of 'In My Life'. It is the real shadows and sun trying to beam through.

And on this random Tuesday, it is the tidy house, it is the quiet of being the only one left awake, and it is the cat on my lap purring. And it is finally finishing a day feeling stronger than I started it.

Maybe this is what they were felling when they played violins as the ship sank. But even so, tomorrow I intend to play on.

Posted on August 21, 2007 at 11:06 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Oh, the humanity!

August 17, 2007

We go to this wonderful HUGE town pool that could easily fit 1000 giggling kids and their parents.

But there's this guy. He's got to be in his 70's. He's got a beer belly.

And as GOD as my witness, he wears itty-bitty day-glo daisy Speedo's.


I have to go scrub my eyeballs in acid now.

Posted on August 17, 2007 at 08:31 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Crash. Into Me.

August 10, 2007

You've got your ball,
You've got your chain
Tied to me tight, tie me up again.
Who's got their claws
In you my friend?
Into your heart I'll beat again
Sweet like candy to my soul
Sweet you rock,
And sweet you roll
Lost for you, I'm so lost for you
Oh, and you come crash
into me*

It seems inevitable now, looking around me at all I have not done and wished I had and all I thought I could but never did.

Inevitable that so much wouldn't get done. That the race-fast years of having to be it all and do it all would give way to a quieter, slower, less-productive phase.

I am a failed SuperWoman. Failed.

Terrifying, to look around and see what needs to be done...stupefying. My energy sluices to my feet and the clock races with my heartbeats. Time, literally, flown.

Look back.

Listen to the song start. The up and down and strum of it. Sip iced coffee that drips into my lap. Shiver in the heat.

Remembering. In November, 2004, we hit bottom. The lawyer on retainer; divorce imminent. The life we'd built in tatters around us.

How we crawled back from that, I am still not sure. Slowly, painfully.

Who thought after all those times he rocked between failure and nothingness, wrapped up like blankets over his mind... that I would spend this summer failing him?

But I have.

I've been so lost for trying.

And then the stretchy skipped-along day curves into a soft afternoon. Bathing suit dripping in the shower. New freckles on our noses.

Then. Then, he comes in the door. Long and lean and his bag over one shoulder. Sunglasses reflecting the late summer sun, his strong jaw and the pressed neatness of his shirt.

Then he walks in and my heart leaps and then, I can.

For you, I can.

He crashes into me. And another slips between. And another. Lips and arms tangling. Fingers seeking. Giggling and kissing and that puppy's nose is....

"Daddy!" Rough shadow scraping our cheeks.

And he piles dog and boy in front of transforming television superheroes before coming back for me.

With those eyes naked to me now.

For you, I can.

I don't know how to even get there. To where we need to be. How to to get from here to there. And I have just about fallen apart in the past months, with fear of the unknown. Even though it was me that insisted we steer this ship in that direction.

Touch your lips just so I know
In your eyes, love, it glows so
I'm bare-boned and crazy... for you.
Oh, and you come crash into me*

What's next? I beg him, pulling into myself on the couch. Crumbling, shaking. At the end. Giddy with it, full of hope and loathing.

I don't know, he says.

Where's next?

I don't know.

I'm afraid.

Me, too.

I gave up on you once.

No, you didn't.

I gave up on us. How did I do that? God... I...

No, you didn't. I'm here. You're here. We're a family. Still. Again. We're a family. And it's going to be all right.

It's not. We're going to have so little left. Because I failed you. I failed....


I'm so sorry....

No. Don't be.

I'm so sorry. I was so sure, and I made these decisions. And I said... and then, it was me, me who failed you. The spackling, and the laundry, and I was supposed to paint, and God....


Look around! See what a wreck I've made of our....

Shhh. Don't look there. That's just stuff. That's just money. Listen.

I am so...

Shhh. Listen. Are we together? Are we a family?


Are we?


Will we be together?


And do you forgive me? For back then?

Yes. Oh, yes. And do you....

Yes. So we pack. We spackle. We ask for help. And we get as much done as we can. And we sell. And whatever is left over, we finish starting. Only, this time with some closet space - OK?

What if we have to rent?

So, we rent.

What if I have to go back to work?

So, you work.

What if....?

Shh. It's going to be all right.


It's going to be all right.

Then he wipes away my tears and opens his arms to me. I nod. And a little, I believe. And a little bit, I can breathe. The lines at the corners of my lips are from the thousands of smiles we have shared. And from the thousands of times I have frozen, trying not to cry.

It's going to be all right, he promises.

We have had a lifetime, now, together. And I want another. And another. I hike up my skirt and give him a watery smile.

Everything is going to be all right, he repeats.

Long fingers catch my tears. I know he's as afraid as I am, but right now you can't see it. Right now, he speaks to me and everything that matters is in that faith.

I want to hide myself. For being weak, for being frozen, for all the days I have let us down. I want to say I'm sorry some more, as if it would matter.

And his face is forgiveness. And his skin is home. And his arms are still open, waiting.

And I crash. Into him.

*(Dave Matthews Band)

Posted on August 10, 2007 at 10:00 AM and filed under: In My Life
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LightBulb Moment

July 27, 2007

I was sitting in BlogHer this morning, in a break-out about branding.

And I had this moment of utter clarity.


Since I walked away from my seat at the big table, I have been completely demoralized. Not because I missed my career so much - I had a great run, and was ready for a new challenge, frankly. Not because I dislike being home with my son - I love hanging with that kid - even on the days when his horns are showing.

Around and around, tumbling in the dryer of thought. A big Bounce sheet stuck to my head.

Unable to name my discontent.

And then, suddenly, a presenter say something and it all clicked together.

I am an IT Chick. I LOVE being an IT chick. For 20 years now, I've been wired up. And for some reason, I thought that I had to stop being one when I left my job. Because the job? It validated me as an IT Chick. It gave my fancy business cards and responsibility and an association in the Fortune 200 list.

But that's bullshit, right?


I mean, I can STILL be an IT chick even if I also happen to be replacing the plaster on the kitchen walls. I can be one even when I am teaching my son a new sight word.

I can still be me, somehow.

Wife, Mother, Daughter, Friend, Writer, Teacher, Pink-haired Coldplay-loving G&T sipping freelance loud proud Christian tolerant foreign-film-watching IT CHICK.


Posted on July 27, 2007 at 07:14 PM and filed under: In My Life
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I Meant It To Look This Way. Really.

July 25, 2007

People? I have pink hair.

I'm practically Stephanie.

I did it for Blogher. And for the Chicago Moms.

Tomorrow night, I start meeting in person some of the glorious writers, bloggers, bitches, and chicks that have so engaged my spirit and mind for the past 7 years.

That all sounds like an acceptance speech for some kind of glittery award, but it ain't.

The truth of it is that in the past few years, since getting cobweb lines and lots of extra weight, I have let my own vanity and the screwed-up tapes in my head keep me close to home.

I'm not pretty enough. I'm not a good writer. Trite. Loud. Over my head.

Me. Who everyone says is SO outgoing.

Utter panic, sure I'm not...whatever... enough.

I have come to realize, though, that I don't want the fear to put walls between me and my life.

I want to step in the door and meet you. BlogHer and ChicagoMom women.

And something that empowers me? Pink Hair.

(She started it...)

"Vanessa," I told my favoritest hairdresser this afternoon. "I need Dutch courage."

She met my eyes in the mirror.

"Pink?" she asked, kindly.

"Make it a double," I agreed.

This is what it looked like 15 minutes ago. (It would have been 16 minutes ago, but I made CD wait while I swiped on some lipstick.)


This is what it will look like if I come in the door sideways.


Oh, wait, my glasses are crooked!


Dagnabbit, CD, could you tell me when I've messed up my hair!?

(His response? "Honey, you have to crop anyway - your nightgown is kinda see-through." Me: "Doh.")

Wish me luck...

Posted on July 25, 2007 at 08:51 PM and filed under: In My Life
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No, I'm not you

July 20, 2007

I got asked in the park yesterday how long I've been out of the corporate world.

I got asked because I brought it up.

A bunch of stay-at-home moms hanging in the park as our kids play, but I had to bring it up.

I had to say "This - over here - judge me by THIS."

Because I feel so damn incompetent otherwise.

Don't look in my house. It's not me. Don't look at my kid's room. Don't eat the food I make, I can't cook without this kitchen, really. Don't hunt my nails for polish or seek pink streaks in my hair - faded away, gone. Don't....

IT'S NOT ME!!!!!!!

The person I am inside, besides being much thinner and taller, lives in a simple, tidy home with pictures on the wall and tea ready to brew in the kitchen. The person I am inside? Is wearing a CLEAN BRA.

I brought it up, because there is nothing right now of me that feels like is is really ME. No yardstick I can point to and say - THIS, judge me by THIS.

I was so very good at my job. Quantified, with a simple to understand title.

I am a woman trying to seek a way to affirm myself and my choices in a life that is rolling too fast to breathe.

Posted on July 20, 2007 at 07:05 AM and filed under: In My Life
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You Don't Have to Like Me

June 21, 2007

This entry was written in the midst of some kind of haze. It is definitely one of those self-flagellating, TMI, bad-language and all sorts of other edgy you-may-not-want-to know posts.

It freaks me out that I wrote it. But I decided not to take it down. So....

Enter at your own risk.

Especially if you know me in real life.

Continue reading "You Don't Have to Like Me"
Posted on June 21, 2007 at 10:55 AM and filed under: In My Life
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The problem.

June 06, 2007

I never expected to resent him.

For 5 years, our relationship was mostly brilliant hued dates. Family dinners and funny anecdotes. Long afternoons snatched out of our regularly scheduled programming, playing and laughing and nodding at how happy we were.

Oh, I'd say. I want this all the time.

Your freckled smile, your sly wit, your intelligence and goofiness. I don't want to miss another day.

Almost a year and a half ago, I woke up and stretched and realized - "This is IT!"

Bouncing around like cartoon character to be free to be with my son without all the other priorities ripping me away.

A year and a half.

I'm a wreck.

Not from being his mom. This kid? Is a rock star. So many months spent has only confirmed his Twinkie goodness. Even at his absolute worst - overtired, bratty, and manipulative in a way only a 6-year-old can be - he's a walking miracle.

I'm a wreck from ME.

Working a highly demanding career, loving a complicated man, mothering an amazing son, propping up a crooked house, and juggling fire sticks all one after another left me with a razor-sharp wit and a lean, swift imprint on this Earth.

But behind that blur that was me there was a secret: I rarely did it all, all at once.

My sequencing came in hours-long stretches. Yes, with overlapping moments of multi-tasking. But by and large, when I was working - I was working. When I was walking with him under dusky sky to the library, I was with him. When my husband and I sat side by side, on the front steps, bumping shoulders and exchanging anecdotes at the end of the day, it was just us.

I thought it was chaos.

I was wrong.

THIS? This is chaos.

There is a titanium structure underneath the seemingly loose and flowing life of raising children. And I didn't build mine well, at all.

My fault.

My consequences.

Except it has also been all the people who love me who have paid. As I've flailed about, exhausted and confused... they've had to watch me. Like a bad movie. Maybe one of the strange Keanu Reeves flicks.

So many times I've tried to figure out how to fix it...and?

I still don't know the answer.

But I thought I'd start this morning by defining the problem.

Posted on June 06, 2007 at 10:16 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Enough, Already

April 27, 2007

I need a new t-shirt. One that says "I'm Sorry".

Because I am.

My husband, my friends, my house, my son, my family, my blog have all put up with being neglected for almost 6 months, now.

Well, "put up with it" is probably stretching things.

"Endured" is a better word.

I read on a board today ... "It helps to have low expectations" and almost snorted my coffee out my nose.

It's just so true about my days right now.

I look at pictures even from as recently as last summer and realize how barely I am keeping my head above water.

My doctor acked if there was any way to lower the stress level, and we didn;t come up with anything.

Mostly, though? We need to sell this house.

I wish my husband was the kind of guy who could take the lead with that. Or even, you know, help.

He hasn't done anything, though.

CD says he wants to move, but is completely and utterly paralyzed about doing anything about it. He can do chores, take our son to T-Ball games and Karate, even balance the bills.

But when it comes to the stuff that needs to happen for the house to go on the market - the roof, bathroom, and kitchen - he can't so much as arrange for someone to give us a quote.

When we got back from our Canadian trip, I just sort of collapsed again. Overwhelmed by what needs to be done and how alone it feels to be facing it without him.

I think if a truck rolled up tomorrow, he would go sit in the car and pretend it wasn't happening.

A 100-year old house with plaster and lathe walls that constantly shed a fine dust that makes out son sick is obviously something that needs to be addressed.

A 100-year old house that we can not afford because of our reduced income? Ditto.

A 100-year old house across the street from a pedophile and in a poor school district? Yeah, you've caught the trend.

The point is that we need to move. Canada, Iceland, Maine, Timbuktu. Don't matter where, so much as SOON.

We agreed this last Thanksgiving, and put together a plan. One that needs two people to execute, but only me is doing. And as I battle my illness, I have become so afraid that a disaster is looming.

And I don't know what to do.

I don't want to be Chicken Little in my home anymore. Flapping my arms up and down and trying to get CD motivated to DO something for the house.

Enough already.

Enough, dammit.


Posted on April 27, 2007 at 01:54 PM and filed under: In My Life
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I'm Fine, How Are You?

April 02, 2007

I woke up this morning with a to-do list as long as my arm. A headache. And a bad attitude.

Moving to Canada? Is killing me with details. And this could go on for as long as two years.

Trying to climb on top of it all, I let Bear watch some Power Rangers while I made calls and answered emails, and it was the wrong wrong wrong damn thing to do. Television during the day is like pouring some kind of anti-happy poison down his throat. Fine when he's sick but otherwise? A recipe for an U-G-L-Y mood.

Sure enough, Bear got snottier and snottier over about 90 minutes. At one point, screaming at me to bring him popcorn and refusing to do chores or come study when I turned it off. We ended up arguing and as I type this, he is in a serious time-out.

It's 2:30PM and I want to go to bed and pull the covers over my head.

So, while we wait for the dear child I love to return to me and the Advil to kick in... here are some pictures.

1. This was "Corporate Mommy's" inbox just a couple of hours ago. I love checking it. The joy of these emails - even when I am so so so very behind in responding - keeps me going sometimes:

2. This is the picture I had in my mind when I told CD yesterday at Lowe's that yes, thank you, we should wait to put in our annuals. It has snowed every April I can remember...

3. This is Bear after Saturday morning's Easter Egg hunt. That boy LOVES him some Easter Egg hunting!

4. I was looking through some pictures as I compiled a batch for this year's family calendar, and I came across this one from Paris. It made my heart flip-flop. After a quarter of my life, he still makes my heart flip-flop. I practically fall to my knees in gratitude on a daily basis that we survived those last few years of his recovery.

Posted on April 02, 2007 at 01:46 PM and filed under: In My Life
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March 28, 2007

That sound you just heard was me falling off my high horse.


I think what I need for those special occasions of moral indignation is a much lower high horse. Sort of a medium-sized one.

Good thing I only climb up on it a few times a year.


So! Back in the land of normal (or whatever it is we live), I am no more sure today than I was a year ago that I am doing what is right for Bear - especially educationally.

I look back on my decision to quit (which was also a decision to pull Bear from the posh Happy Private Montessori school - being that money is finite), and I wonder what the ramifications will be in 10, 20 years.

He still mentions Happy a few times a week.

Although he loves being homeschooled, I do take him over to the Bad/Public Kindergarten on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for gym, music, and art classes.

At home, I have no lesson plans, no over-arching vision. I just sit down with him a for a couple of hours (or more, or less) each day and we work through things - lots of maze books (for fine-motor, which is his personal challenge) and writing books. Sight word flash cards, brain puzzles (matching sight words, 'what's wrong with this picture'?).

Some days we work with math problems, or money, or the clock. Some days I remember that science is good and we cook something or make something explode.

Some days the house is messy and we listen to music and clean the worst of it. Some days there's TV for him as I write.

Some days we study a time or a person in history. Or we talk about God.

The public school evaluated him a few weeks ago, and showed him testing higher than he did before I pulled him out of that school.

But if you think their evaluations give me any kind of warm fuzzy, you're off your rocker.

Some days, I frantically decide that we must be more organized. Lesson plans! Themes! Educational experts showing me how to teach for dummies! More Jesus! More Budda! More Yoga and Carrots!!!

Other days, I realize we're eating waffles at noon and talking about whether the Power Rangers could kick Batman's butt.

I am, slowly, finding good homeschool stuff we can do with other kids. We go to a pool to swim with a homeschool group. We joined a homeschool nature group that does cleanups and tours of forest preserves.

Last Friday night, we went to the Shedd Aquarium to join about 150 families in a lock-in; letting our kids loose in the place after hours. There was a buffet dinner, a dolphin show, games, glow-in-the-dark necklaces, music, and all the exhibits were open - with no lines or waiting.

Bear loved it.

There's this part of me that says - despite the chronic allergies/illness, he's having a good childhood. He's learning, he's (otherwise) healthy, he's happy.

But that part of me can't outweigh the doubts.

The dolphin pool at night.

I get face-painted.

Fish that look like rocks.

Bear's blue-light necklace reflected in the store fronts on our way home. It was so misty out, we drove with our window-wipers on.

Posted on March 28, 2007 at 09:01 AM and filed under: In My Life
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The Evil We Do

March 27, 2007

I have been in a flare, caught up with my muse (tip-tapping the characters and stories out) and, just to avoid housecleaning, strutting up and down my yard (coincidentally gardening) to show off my pink hair. But I was IM'ing along today and found out about a blogger getting death threats and the absurdity of it stunned me in my tracks. So here are my thoughts on the matter - or, rather, my anti-thoughts.

Wherever there is good, there is also evil.

And evil will always grow, until it reaches the undefined threshold that stirs us up to take a stand.

Good will always be handicapped. Because good? Plays by the rules.


This is the age-old axiom that no-one has been able to solve.

More restraints do not make a civil society. The evil just pours istelf into domination.

Less restraints do not make a civil society. Just look at the Internet - a more fertile ground for anarchy there never was, and it just gets crueler every day.

What started out as a grassroots forum of the brilliant and tedious has slowly evolved into a place that harbors malice and screams for controls. We walk here, brittle in the knowledge that to say our names is to paint a target on our backs.

For every happy wedding site, with giddy updates about lace and favors... there is someone lurking by the light of a monitor, tapping away a comment full of hate and vile. A little meaner, now: Next time I will say worse, and worse. And you will rage, and I will win.

It will not get better. High school kids find themselves destroyed in a single night's whim with a vindictive MySpace page. Pedophiles troll openly to rip apart the children barely old enough to launch the Disney site. Politically loud bloggers will find their names eviscerated on a web of sites aimed at making some folks feel big by ripping others down - and most of all, making a hit-count rise.

There are no arms to take up. No plug we can pull. This is the brotherhood we belong to by birth. The one that will define us after we die. It is why we slow down to look at car accidents. It is why we gather for the tragedies, but not the mundane.

It is the evil we do.

It is why we pray there really is a God.

Machiavelli once dared to respond to the question: Is it better to be feared or to be loved?

So many of us would prefer feared, if it came with the attention of kings.

But there find the seeds of evil.

Good is not weakness. It is not boring or pedantic. To seek its growth does not ring the death of ripping honesty, of lively debate, of genius, of wit.

Good is kindness without untruth. It is laughter without meaness. It is critical thought and creativity and yes, heaven help us, sometimes blogs about lace and favors.

Today I wanted to thank and celebrate those who will hold themselves open, knowing trolls live beneath the bridges and daring them up into the sun.

They who are smart, and sometimes spurt-out-your-nose funny, and generous with themselves. They who have stayed, when many have shuddered, sighed, and shuttered up.

And most of all, they who remain wicked but never evil - and would, frankly, smackdown evil with a spoon long before it would occur to them to join the fray.

There are so many, and here are just a few. Thank you:




Chris & Beth

The Snooze Crew




Posted on March 27, 2007 at 06:04 PM and filed under: In My Life
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I Did It

March 18, 2007



For a year and a half, I've wanted to dye my hair hot pink... my hairdresser, Vanessa (whom I adore), didn't carry the vibrant shade I was thinking off but said if I would buy it at a local supply place, she'd put it in for me.

My courage never managed to hold long enough for the mission.

Then, yesterday morning, in the family troops for our haircuts (yes, we use the same stylist) and guess what Vanessa had?!?!

I said 'be gentle' and we decided to just do some highlights.

I'll admit.... I like it. Can't believe I was so nervous!! The guys think it is wicked cool. In fact, Bear is the one who took these pictures.

Posted on March 18, 2007 at 09:09 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Feet Smoothie, goes down easier

March 15, 2007

When I was working at Mega, I had to socialize with a lot of other executive and glossy-shiny-corporate types. And it was never natural.

Everyone talking passionately about neutral things...

"I can NOT believe how badly Tiger played last week - did you see that round? It was like watching a preschooler on a putt-putt course. Especially the 16th hole. If you missed that one, all I can say is that you missed a lesson in when bad physics happens to good golfers , I tell you what."

And me, who would not WATCH GOLF ON TV even if you baked it in a cheese pie and told me it was calorie-free, would nod so enthusiastically that you would have to check my feet to be sure I wasn't a bobble-head doll.

Except, inside my head a strange crazy lady who looks exactly like me would be screaming "RUNNNNNNNNNN! THERE'S THE EXIT!!!! GO GO GO GO!!!!"

I had a kind of break from all that when I left Mega. For the last year, my professional and social calendar has been, well, yeah, empty. Things have dwindled to the point where there have been no more fund-raisers, no cocktails and crackers, no working dinners at Mortons, no conference ice-breakers, not even a block party.

Which has left me free to sort of rip up the cardboard-cut-out Elizabeth and let it all hang out.

I even giggled to myself one afternoon, thinking of a t-shirt I could make....

Hi, I'm Elizabeth...

I didn't vote for President Bush, I don't agree with many of his decisions and I don't really want to discuss it. I believe good citizenship means shouting with my vote, not tearing others down, so please don't EVEN mention Dick Cheney to me because that man makes it hard to be polite.

And while we're on the subject of non-subjects, yes, I'm Christian and I think it absolutely stupid to parse what flavor. What some do in that man's name curls my hair and hurts my head so let's take that subject off the table too.

I think people should parent according to their own conscience and abiding by the laws. As a working mom I treasured the dedication of stay at home ones and as a stay at home mom, I deeply respect the sacrifice of working moms. I think that people who paint those choices as polar ends of social schism are either misogynist warmongers out to divide and conquer or magazine publishers out to sell an issue.



But I figure by the time anyone was done reading it their eyes would end up in a place where only my husband's eyes should ever be so...

The point. Was there a point? Probably not.

It was just something that got into my mind because I spent part of yesterday and this morning with our neighbors - she homeschools and the weather's turned nice so her brood has been out playing. Bear, of course, could not be contained against the prospect of going outside to romp in mud with kids his age.

As I talked to her, it was like trying to remember how to ride a bike. Once we got past the weather, I was sort of nervous trying to think of neutral things we could chat about so it wouldn't be awkward standing together for so long.

It didn't go so good. At one point I vaguely remember babbling something about children who die in accidental drive-by's. It's all sort of a horrible slow-motion agony for me.

As Jane Austen wrote, it is something that comes (and, apparently GOES) with practice. Luckily for me, today when we met again, the neighbor lady had apparently decided I wasn't taking my prozac as prescribed and jumped in to fill the white space with kind chit-chat about homeschool websites and such.

God help us if the weather is nice again tomorrow.

Posted on March 15, 2007 at 01:17 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Taking Back My Life

February 23, 2007

I interrupt my musings for a rant, that will not be written in iambic pentameter.

I have rarely done this. However I feel about President Bush or the war or the Italian Prime Minister or the UNICEF study about children in rich countries or Darfur or Bono or the couple that recreated the "Dirty Dancing" scene at their wedding reception....

... I have always been a little nervous to vent my spleen on this off-off-off-Broadway internet stage. Because this is a Bully Pulpit (of sorts) and I've always been a little in awe of the written word. Its power should be respected, even if little old me is the one writing it.

That said, I get to break my own rules - right? Right?

I have a friend, and I loved her. But we had an age-old problem. She made choices I didn't agree with and because I knew it wasn't my place to say anything, I tried not to. Yet, she knew. How can you not?

How can you miss the cool tones of disapproval? The first reaction of rejection, covered quickly by a sort of false enthusiasm?

I fucked up. I knew I was. I knew I did. I am so sorry for it. Yet, faced with the same dilemma today - I don't know what the right answer is.

Be a better actress? Find a way to make real peace with the decisions, no matter how much it makes you wince? Detach for a while?

We'll never be close friends again, although that's more because we didn't know how to make peace or trust each other again. A whole different kind of stuff than the stuff that wedged us apart in the first place.

And because there is such a thing as karma, and providence, and a great wheel - now I get to taste my own medicine.


Not so much.

There are people in my world, now, who disapprove of the choices I make. Who talk to me in those calm, measured tones of someone forcing themselves to be what they consider neutral.

And I'm (believe it or not) an interpersonal wimp. I have such a hard time sticking up for myself in a way that is productive. Usually by the time I say something, I garble it so badly that everything around me erupts in a lava-like consistency of confusion, emotion, and bad grammar.

So instead of dealing with my relationships, I've just been nodding and smiling. And it has been KILLING ME.

Please note here that, funnily enough, I am venting to a slice of the world that has probably offered me the most support and honest dialogue. Not funny 'ha-ha' but funny as in 'watch me shout at the wrong audience'.

But before I explode....

Yes, I want to dye my hair hot pink for a while. Yes, I quit a lucrative job so we could fritter away our savings. Yes, I let my house get cluttered and somewhat sloppy between scrubs. Yes, I am overweight, undermoisterized, and somehwat unevenly tweezed (although really, my eyebrows are naturally unmatched... you can only work with what you're given!). Yes, my family is emigrating to another country. Yes, I know entirely too much about Tom Cruise.

So what?

Honest to the Lord above... so what?

I am so tired of feeling defensive about my life. And I think that is part of the reason that I pulled away from writing about it.

When I was a corporate mini-titan, juggling an insane career while being primary point on my son's upbringing, my exhaustion and long hours were easy to understand, even sympathize with.

Maybe even respect.

I don't know.

Bear had the best education money could buy, my wardrobe was from Talbot's, the housekeeper kept the kitchen spotless, our retirement was secure, and isn't all that the American Dream?

And didn't I throw it all away?

Memo to those who disapprove - Yes. I did.

The American Dream, for anyone taking notes, was originally Protestant Fanaticism. But since World War 2, it has come to mean a "successful and satisfying life".

Someone give me a list of 20 indicators of what that breaks down into, that I can use as a checklist.


Would capitalistic achievements and social standing be on that list?

That's a real question.

For me, for CD, and for Bear - we didn't undergo an complete change of priorities overnight. We did not enter into an impoverished (monetarily) state with glib one-liners.

We have made choice after choice of the heart, and that's how we got here.

And here is OK.

I think, I don't know for sure, but I think that I am OK, too.

And if you want to blast me in the comments, disagree with me, send me an email asking me if I know what I am doing, ping me with question marks and an opinion that differs, and talk with me about the world and how we think we should make our places in it and even quote Thomas Paine while you're at it - I am cool with that.

Dialogue is good.

I welcome you. I welcome your thoughts and ideas.

But if you want to pick up the phone, hissing with disapproval of me and my life, with nothing to offer except this prevailing sense that I am doing it wrong...

...then I invite you to hang the fuck up.


/end rant.

Well, I think I've embarressed myself enough for one day. Mutter. I think I'll go pour myself a cup of coffee and have a bit of a sniffle.

And if you're still reading this, thank you for not being one of the people I wrote this for.

Posted on February 23, 2007 at 12:52 PM and filed under: In My Life
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The Lie

February 21, 2007

Last weekend we went to the Enchanted Castle for a birthday party. It was a heaving mass of sneezing, hacking, nose-wiping, sugar-high kids. Of course, Bear had a blast.

As soon as I got him home, CD and I hoisted Bear into a tub and scrubbed a fine layer of skin off. Dagnabbit, we didn't get there in time.

This morning our beautiful boy awoke with that barking cough that we know, and hate.

Vaporizers are now set on stun, captain. Benedryl locked and loaded.

Back here at the ranch...

1) Moving to Canda. This is true.

It will take about 2 years to get their equivalent of a green card (landed status).

They have a streamlined paperwork version of the application, not currently available to Americans living in America, and we were all hyped because it was availabe to CD. The catch? The queue time for THAT process is about... 4 years.

So we'll go the American route, and look for a job there in the meantime (work visas are available - I've had two).

Why Canada? It was a long, long decision... if anyone remembers when we first started thinking about moving. And not all the reasons are logical, listed.

Like when I landed in England, got to London, and walked along the Thames that first afternoon. I knew - solidly in my soul with no more proof than the sun on the river and the distant traffic - that I could spend the rest of my life there and be happy.

Come to think of it, I almost did.

The more we looked for where we should go, someplace with a great education system that was much more rural, geographically beautiful, family-friendly, and had enough of an IT field for CD .... the more we kept casting our eyes north. First to Minneapolis and Buffalo. Then, as Bear would say, Norther.

I think if I hadn't wanted Canada, we might have ended up in Sweden - which is where most of CD's family has emigrated. But with due respect to the Ikea mothership, no.

So, Canada.

On a side note, Michelle pointed out to me yesterday (oh, I love me some Gmail-Chat), that another member of the blogworld is poised to make this trek already. Chasmyn and her brood are moving up to Canada in about.. hmmm... 6 days.

2) Heath Ledger and Tom Cruise. Yes, heaven help me, this is true too.

3) Bear's School versus Corporate Mommy.
This is the lie.

In fact, I was fired as room mother.

The teacher put on that glazed smile a few weeks ago and informed me that she had decided to the all the planning and preparation for the class party for Valentine's Day, wouldn't need any help with the 100th day celebration, and gee, if she did suddenly need my services again - why she would CALL.

Bear and I got together his Scooby-Doo Valentines and made that banner and I just pretended that everything was fine. Because this is SO not his battle. And I was told, when I made the obligatory "WTF?!" phone call, that while Room Parents do have traditional responsibilities - we serve at the pleasure of the teachers.

As though all this comes with free rides on Air Force One.

The principal? The one that told me that 'children from lower-socioeconomic strata are sometimes taught at home to use violence to solve problems and that I, as a parent, had to understand that?' She didn't return my call.

Holy Hannah, yes. Yes, I am THAT mom.

4. Lapband. Yes, this is true. I am considering it. Also the new medication out there. I am very, very serious about getting help because the long-term effects of obesity are terrifying, and also because I want to be healthier for my life. I want to be able to ice skate with Bear and twist into monkey love positions with CD (should, you know, his back ever fully heal).

5. The End of the Ravings of a Corporate Mommy. Yes, this is true, too. I had decided during my 100 days recently that this blog had run to its natural end.

But I couldn't pull the plug. I am now considering either a blog with private posts or setting this blog up on a regular schedule like Helen does. Although she posts every weekday and I might choose just 2 or 3 set days a week. CD got me the software to make podcasts, so there's all kinds of options.

I read all your emails, and the comments, and it made me think that I was being silly to think that now that my journey from corporate shark to freelancing minnow is sealed that the story seems to have strolled to where it should end.

But there is a part of me that wonders if I am hanging on after jumping the shark. I am scared that somehow I will get to be like this sad caricature of who Corporate Mommy used to be.

And I have learned, since revealing my real name, to be timid in my words. And that just has to stop.

I want to keep this blog alive, if anyone is still reading. I want the freedom to write what I feel and think, really. I want to stop pulling down drafts because I am afraid.. of the reaction, of who might be reading.

It's just... how?

Posted on February 21, 2007 at 08:45 AM and filed under: In My Life
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4 Things That Are True

February 19, 2007

The other night I got in the Passat, turned up the music, set the seat warmers to '5' (also known as the 'Holy Shit You Could Cook an Egg on my Ass!' level), and hopped on the Eisenhower Expressway so I could sauvely idle my way into the city.

Yeah, it's hard to be humble when you're in gridlock on a Saturday night.

Me and a girlfriend went to see Breach. The movie about the spy, Robert Hansson. Good movie, although not as good as The Queen. But I'm rambling.

The spy says to the clerk - 'Tell me 5 things about yourself, 4 of them true...'

That really caught my imagination.

Sunday morning, after pancakes and sausage, I asked Bear to do it. He said:

1) I have lots of freckles
2) I like using my manners
3) Other people tell me I'm polite
4) I don't like being polite
5) I'm good at karate

I grinned at him. "Don't tell me I'm cute. I hate being cute!" he warned as I opened my mouth to say something.

So I just kissed his nose.

Then I asked CD the question. Half an hour later, he was still struggling with an answer. "This isn't so hard, Daddy," Bear told him. But CD never talks about himself. And when he's coming out of a relapse into Depression, which he is now, he is also digging out of an isolationist imperative. Eventually he came up with some things about his childhood.

It wasn't a bad list, although I guess his lie too.

I've been struggling with this post. Struggling with what to say. So instead of tying myself up in prosaic circles - here instead are 5 things about me.

4 of them are true.

1) I love Chicago. I have loved this city since I first stepped foot in it.

Every other family member I have, on both sides, lives within driving distance of the ocean. I have often felt like a cuckoo's egg because I was happy here. But I woke up recently and realized, I'm not. Not anymore. And that maybe no opportunities for anywhere else ever came real because I wasn't really ready to leave.

Now I am. Which is what started the conversation that led to CD and I deciding to emigrate to Canada.


2) Symmetries fascinate me. Beats and patterns twirl in my head unbidden.

But not in the usual way. Like Tom Cruise and Heath Ledger.

OK? First, these two guys are out there, partnered up with Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman, who are great friends. That goes on for a good long while, and then it ends.

Naomi and Nicole? Still pals. But Toma nd Heath are off the hook - no longer freinds-in-law who have to make nice while the women chat.

Ah, maybe not. Tom Cruise and Heath Ledger decide to move on to Dawson's Creek - there were two female leads on the show, Katie Holmes and Michelle Williams.

In the fall of 2005, Tom and Katie announce their having a baby. 2 weeks later, Heath and Michelle Williams actually have their baby. And eventually, both couple marry.

Jeez. It's not like I want this stuff stuffing my thoughts. But there it is, in my brain. Health Ledger and Tom Cruise. And their women. Gak.

3) I have managed to make peace with Bear's school. I cheerfully planned a great Valentine's Day party, per my Room Parent official duty book. The principal and I reached an agreement to disagree place where I think we're both managing to respect each other's positions. When I delivered the banner Bear made as his project for the 100'th Day of School celebration, I really felt part of the school community.


4) I have been over 200 pounds now for almost 5 years. I have decided to do something drastic, since all reasonable measures continue to fail. I am considering letting a surgeon place a rubber band around my stomach to controll how many calories I can physically ingest. Just thinking about it scares the crap out of me, especially since a lot of the reason behind it feels like vanity. But I know that the long-term effects of obesity are heinous, so it all feels... crazy inside.

Especially when I do something like a project with Bear about the concept of 'What is alive?' and we make homemade pretzels (it was an experiment for both of us!). They came out great, but I felt guilty even trying one with him. Instead of being able to nibble and have the conversation about yeast - I was thinking 'oh these are fattening, how can I even bite into this?' It's just a fucked up way to live.


5) During my 100 Days of Wild Winds one of the basic questions I asked myself was if I should dismantle this blog. I decided that I would, because I need the absolute ripping honesty that comes from a private place - and this one? Has my real name on it, searchable to just about the uh .. entire planet.

But each time I take that breath to start the end, I can't do it. I am addicted to it. I am addicted to you. I am addicted to Cheryl and Kalisah and Helen and Suzanne and Kimberly and Michelle and Jim and oh.... stopping before I fry my hand. I am addicted to this community of write and read and share and breathe. And I don't know what to do now, when before I was so sure.

I've spent a lot of time admiring the new front door (yes, for those who remember.. the 'thwacka' door that rode 900 miles on our van).... thinking about how I can save this and me. No answers have floated in with snow, though.

Damn snow.

front door

Posted on February 19, 2007 at 10:54 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Say it out loud

February 02, 2007

A strange coincidence this week, a couple of emails asking me when and how I knew I should quit my job. Actually, three of them.

I'm going to hope it wasn't the same person, thrice, and take the cheap bathbubbles exit on the drug store highway and say... I didn't know.

I told the executives that I wanted an unpaid leave with my heart beating THWACK THWACKA in my ears. But I was literally having chest pains from the stress, and I didn't want to be a complete weenie and die on the job. So I asked for the leave.

I filled out the paperwork for my unpaid leave thinking "Well, when the 30 days is up, I'll just end up back at work..." even as I was saying to the person who was backfilling for me that he had to take over with the assumption that I wouldn't be back.

When I got a couple of offers for other positions within Mega while I was on leave, I just sort of... let them fade away. "Oh, thank you," I would say, honestly. "It's nice of you to think of me, but I'm still deciding on my next step..."

When the guy pinged me via IM, the hatchet-man? - I thought as I dialed his number "Oh, huh, so maybe..."

And when he said I was being laid off effective Friday, with that smile in his voice like he was a cat presenting me with a half-dead mouse with its brains hanging out, it finally hit. What I had done. And I actually put the phone on mute and did this half sob - half giggle thing. I mean, I had to stand up and shake my hands really hard like I'd just been crowned Miss America. Only, without the rhinestone tiara.

How did I know it was time to leave Mega? How did I orchestrate leaving?

I don't know.

I'm not sage. I'm not wise. I still am unsure when to use Saffron and when to use Cumin.

There was no light bulb moment.

I was always torn, wanting to be a stay at home mom when my son was young and yet working 60 hour weeks.

My dad is a Vice-President. My mother is a CPA. And I am so deeply proud of them. They are good people.

The world told them, when they were raising me, that 'Greed was good'. And they worked their asses off to provide me with the years at prep school, the bedroom with the picture window and flowered wallpaper, the ski vacations and the ballet lessons.

And I am grateful.

But that doesn't mean that I want to make the same choices.

It began to occur to me that I didn't know the last time I actually hung out with either of them. Grabbed lunch somewhere, just the two of us, to shoot the shit. Relaxing and laughing over some sun-drenched table.

Just never happens.

Oh, God. That makes me sound like some disgruntled whiny-assed daughter. Which I am not.

For the record, my parents worked really hard to build a family that spent time together.

But the truth, to me, is that people just don't change gears like that. At least, I can't. I couldn't spend 10 hours in heightened rush mode, telling other people what to do and fighting to get my goals met, and then just popover to the soccer field and plug into being a parent. My cell phone would go off and I would be answering it and pulling off the sidelines. Coming back and asking another parent 'What did I miss?"

It's just that... look. This is my own shit.

But I really hated being hung up on my salary, and my title. And I... couldn't multi task the demands of my corporate responsibilities with my parenting in a way that respected the sacredness of undivided attention. I was constantly juggling.

And my son and my husband and I began to stop eating family meals around the table. We started missing the details of each other. In tiny little ways.

I would have flashes of the future, of Bear talking to me like I talk to my parents - in a status report.

The more I suited up onto the corporate battleground, the more I succeeded - and failed - the more I became convinced that I knew where this road led... and I wanted something different for my life and that of my family.

How did I know it was time to quit?

I didn't. I just... became sure inside over time that I was doing it wrong.

CD looked at me and said "What would make you happy?" It was a frigging throwaway question. He was a little pissed even. Said it kind of snotty, but with real curiosity for what I would say.

The answer took a while. It bloomed in me over weeks. Over nights. Over teleconferences.

It feels counterintuitive to contemplate raising my son with fewer social and material advantages than I had. Like somehow I am making this crazy bad mommy decision.

But eventually, I just started saying out loud, that I would like to ... be home with him while he's growing up. To be his parent and his teacher. To live simply with my family, preferably by the water - which seems to feed all our souls.

Nothing I hadn't said before. Maybe it was that this time, I was serious. Something changed when we began talking about what it was going to cost to pay the piper to make it happen. Like we were really going to do this now.

We talked about what it would mean to leave the lucrative job that sucked 60 hours a week from life. Sell the house. Move our little boy far from the only home he has ever known. Be responsible for the dishes and the laundry for the next, uh, 400,000 loads.

And for CD, who was crushed by a major depression more than 5 years ago, and had to leave me pretty much to carry everything while he recovered, I think it was harder for him to decide this than me. Because it would put a lot on his shoulders. But he started saying it, too. Like, "We'd want to wait until the school year was over to move..."

And then I said to my boss one day, after layoffs had been announced, that I would slip a twenty to get my name on the RIF list. Because I needed a long, serious break.

And she laughed. So I laughed back. But neither of us thought it was funny. Then a hundred little steps after that.

I don't know which moment it all clicked. There was no Prince Ferdinand, getting killed and starting a war. I'm sorry. It just... happened in small decisions, in 'what if...' conversations, and in slowly changed priorities.

And then, we were here.

My friend Dee has a passionate love for the Gandhi quote

Action expresses priorities.

She says that once we decided to change direction, it was inevitable that we did. And I guess, that is all the answer I have.

Posted on February 02, 2007 at 12:40 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Life is not an adaptation of a famous cartoon strip. Maybe.

January 29, 2007

!00 and some days ago, it rained.

I made a pot of soup.

I'm always making a pot of soup.

How many hours have passed over days, weeks, months? With my shoulderblades dancing as I chop-chop-chop with my favorite blade against the plastic cutting board. Maybe slower now, since being sick. Maybe more of a waltz, or a tango - chop-stop-puff-chop....

The snap of the carrots. The wet shuffle through the onion. The slicing long into the heart of the celery.

The steam tickling up from the silvery stock pot as the mirepoix boils.

The feel of the counter pressing into my back as I ponder up where to go with my prepared canvas.

An amethyst swirl of beets? The earthen bubble of puffy white mushrooms? The tang, with a fistful of fresh basil, of simmering tomatoes? Or a do I twist back to the onions, cutting long loopy curls? Reach for a fine port to share with the pot - a sip for me, a gulp for the soup.

It has been a rainy autumn. A rainy winter. It has been mud tracked through my house so thick that, unmopped, it hardens into something that takes scraping off with a butter knife... and much muttering of swear words.

Spiders huddling in our corners.

We waited for the brittle cold, that still has only flown through here and not yet stayed. We salted the stairs again and again, ripping the paint down to wood with all that salt. But no ice to save us from.

The winds have howled through our attic. They have gnashed at our trees, ripping through limbs. Sticks rain down in the night, to be gathered in the morning.

Little damages. Cracked birdfeeders. Scratches on the cars.

We dip the green-sapped sticks in old candle wax, and use them to start great roaring fires in the fireplace. And then, when the rain slips down the chimney, it makes a sudden hiss. And a pop.

It's a long 3 months to be forever refilling the windshield wiper fluid. To be seeing different doctors. To be making and taking appointments long put off. Of stunning moments of clarity that I have not let my shame pull me from.

But I'm not there yet, in stitching it together. I am still remembering the soups. The recipes, all in my head. The different steams and tones and jewels of it all.

I'm remembering the hours spent with my Bear-cub beside me, measuring. Making himself sandwiches. Wrinkling his gorgeous freckled nose at my soup even as he learned to read by recipes, held with a magnet on a can of chicken stock.

Rolling around in the big bed in the dusky afternoon. Maybe one of us jumping, a little. Full of soup and sandwich snack. Waiting for Daddy to come home so we can be all together, our little family.

Meanwhile, pushing my leaping cub to pay attention, to point out the words he knows as we read from a a big book full of vibrant cartoons about a red-headed boy (yes, like you, beautiful Bear) and his friend, a tiger (yes, like your own tiger there, tucked under your arm.)

"It's a magical world, Hobbes, 'ol buddy..." we read. Admiring that the boy gets to be in front of the sled. And that the tiger gets a bright scarf.

And they shove off, down a hill. "...Let's go exploring!" he shouts into the wind.

"Where's the more?" Bear asks me, leaning down from his jumping to turn the page, only to find there are no more pages to turn.

"There is no more," I tell him.

"Of the book?"

"Of all the books. That was the last thing the cartoonist drew of Calvin and Hobbes. This is the end."

Bear stops leaping all together. He huffs, standing still. "No," he says.

"Yes," I refute, flipping the book to the back cover again.

"No, Mommy. Member? They're going exploring. That's the begining. We just don't get to watch anymore."

Oh, I think.

There is something important here. Something in this moment, in the gloaming of the winter sundown. In this exact space on this crumpled bed.


"I'm home!" CD shouts, bursting in with wild winds slamming the doors open as exclamation. Bear spings off the bed with a high bounce and a shout, "Daddy!" And I follow, more slowly.

Something. Almost ready to be known.

(to be continued...)

Posted on January 29, 2007 at 11:23 PM and filed under: In My Life
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The Air Up There

When I was younger, I would wrap the heating pad around the thermometer. Pushing the fine red line up. It's funny how a child thinks that a fever of 115 will get her out of school, but not send her quickly into hospital. It's funny how a parent indulges, with gingerale and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Life is sometimes a cold, winter wind. And you need to huff a few times into the scarf at your neck to warm up your breath. Or rest a bit under the covers on a not-quite-sick day.

I used to feel guilty, about all the people who had it harder than me. The people who fight for any breath, frozen or moisty warm.

My pity didn't help them that needed it. Dropping my allowance into a plastic jug never saved a life. White upper-middle class guilt is shit-all at being productive. In fact, what it does is paralyze.

It's all right to rest.

It's all right to be all right.

It's all right, when the fear creeps into the edge of life, when you're laying awake at 3 in the morning wheezing for breath, to not feel guilty that you have the love and support and yes, damn it, the health insurance to help make sure that both lungs work again. And to pray, pray that one as blessed as I am, could again be blessed to breathe again.

Breathe deep.

It's amazing the thoughts that begin to fly through a brain after so many days of shallow air. Of drowsy lapses in time.

How it was so wrong of me to be angry at the sickness. At how good I have it, and how selfish I was to resent the constraints and other-time-ness of being ill. How I must be lacking in grace, and gratitude, and faith. Because I cried in frustration. And lashed out.

And then I remembered, shrunk back to being little. The old-fashioned stick thermometer. The smell of Vicks and my mom letting me watch television in the daytime. The rest of a day smuggled out of routine.

What it was like, to wake up again to a new sun, a new number on the calendar. Her determined face. Pulling on school clothes. A little sad to not have one more day. A little excited to be rushing for the bus, wondering what gone on while I was away.

I finally felt better yesterday. The doctor said on Friday, when I finished the drug therapy, that I would. In a day or two, she said.

And then, suddenly, she was right.

I took a long shower, and got clean. We did errands, a bit. We cleaned the son's room, determinedly. We squabbled, and made up. We made dinner and played Old Maid after.

I said to myself, "oh tomorrow"! I went to sleep, excitedly knowing I would wake up better in the morning.

But then, I woke up and found that I just didn't want to race back into life.

Two weeks of awful ill. Of coughing so hard I would pee myself. Of breathing in ragged, shallow sips and dying for more. Of pills and puffs and disgusting yuck.

But this morning? Was my sick day.

My indulgance, that I didn't deserve. That others can't afford. A long last nap. A cup of actual coffee. A stretch and the nothing of listening to my own lungs fill up, and pause, and slowly release.

When I was younger, this would have bound me in guilt. With lectures to my self about sloth and the hardships of others.

I am older now.

And able, finally, to understand why the airlines always tell you to put your own air on first, before taking care of others.

Breathe deep.

Posted on January 29, 2007 at 03:08 PM and filed under: In My Life
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(Not so fast) Not Dead Yet

January 22, 2007

Last week, instead of posting about the end of this 100 Day challenge, I crawled into bed with a chest cold. And there I still am.

Forgive me. I hope to be back to health soon.

Posted on January 22, 2007 at 10:34 AM and filed under: In My Life
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And then what?

January 09, 2007

This blog is a true story.

It's my life.

And now the question I am facing... is there anything left to write?

Yeah, the last 7 years have been like a soap opera.

You know the plot, right? First Luke and Laura break up. Then they get back together.

The bad guy ties her up and she swings over a vat of something nasty. "Oh, Luke!" she cries, her hair rippling down her back. "I've always loved you!"

He shouts her name and struggles to get to her, but in a puff of mist.. she is gone!

Or maybe that was Bo and Hope.


The dips and rises of a life can seem like that sometimes. Like the chapters of a story. Working through time ... to find love, to get pregnant, to stay pregnant, to give birth, to stay married, to stay faithful.

In 2000, the first crisis tied up with a little blue bow. Bear was born after a very high-risk pregnancy. For 7 tense months I had written out my fear and his progress. But on September 6, he was born pink and squirming.

I remember thinking that I was at 'Happily Ever After'.

Yeah, anyone who has ever watched a soap opera knows .... there is no 'Happily Ever After'.

But who could tell me back then? After so many pregnancies, and so many months, there I was. Happily married and a new mother to the most amazing child ever born (just saying).

We'd just bought our first house, a fixer-upper on a quiet street yet so close to the city that we could see the top of the Sears Tower in the morning sun.

We were unpacking. Living in clutter. Hunting the extra toilet paper out of a box titled 'kitchen' and laughing over dinner made in a single saucepan.

Wasn't that the way it was supposed to be?

But just underneath the Rockwellian picture, there was something wrong.

Cue the music from Jaws.

You know how it is. Like a cold coming on. I knew something wasn't right, but I couldn't know how bad it would get.

It got bad.

Dread, anyway.

My baby was pink and perfect. My husband was ashen and oversleeping each morning. Struggling to get through the days.

It wasn't a cold.

I called my old company and asked for my job back. They gave me a new one. In North Carolina. I hired a nanny, and stuffed my swollen boobs in a blouse, and got on a plane every week.

A few weeks later, "Honey," he said on the phone as I paced a garden in Raleigh. "I was just fired."

After that firecracker explosion came the avalanche. All the stuff we'd built up slid down and I watched, horrified, as the next 6 months ruined the bright man I loved.

Until October came, with brilliant orange and red leaves. In a moment of utter exhaustion and agony, I asked him to leave.

Just for a while, I said. Just until we remember how to breath.

He wasn't supposed to agree. He was supposed to suddenly change back and put on a cape and swoop me into his arms and tell me that everything would be all better now.

He left.

You know how it is. People rally. They help out. But behind your back, they don't understand. They say things like what an awful guy he is and how everyone saw it coming.

I didn't see it coming.

And he isn't awful.

He came back 6 weeks later and we had to face facts; what was driving us apart was more than just a little bad patch.

And for the next 3 years, we struggled. We did not go lightly into turning things around. To keep sane, I started another blog. I started writing it all out. Teeth clenched, wit sharpened.

Furious, invigorated, screaming over the soap opera life could be:

And then the smoke alarm went off in the front of the house... My living room was on fire.

Perversely, in the midst of it all, I was getting promoted. Get a larger staff, larger budgets, more responsibility. Projects to install a new server somewhere became projects to replace all servers, everywhere.

It made me all dizzy. The highs and the lows and the ominous organ music.

Some days, I would wake up and still be in love with the man I saw - even if I hated how we far apart we were. Some days, it would seem like there was no hope.

Some days, I would eat too damn much chocolate.

Most days, I thought I would break.

So I went a little crazy myself and got into fights with the people at Dunkin Donuts, and watched my own health declinee - taking my sanity with it.

"Well, OK," I told her. "But you understand that it's no win if my fingers stop hurting but I wet the bed."

And just when I thought it was already as crazy and awful as I could stand, came that day. My son had been suffering with a 104 fever for 7 days and nothing was helping. The hospital could treat the heat but couldn't find a cause.

And I was ready for him to crumble. I was ready to deal with the craziness that normal had become.

But in a stunning turn of events, my husband was steady. He seemed ready - the crisis proved something we hadn't even realized....

We were all right.

You know how it is. You struggle with something for so long that you can't exactly know when it got better. When the cool began to warm. When the pouring rain began to putter down to a drip.

A week later, one lazy afternoon, in a big bed. My husband rested at the center. Our blessedly recovering son asleep in the crook of one arm. Me curled up under the other. "I'm going to quit my job," I said. Like I had threatened so many times before. "I'm going to stay home, and take care of him. While he still needs me to. While I still need to. I'm going to give my notice, I mean it this time."

And he sighed. "I know," he said.

And then it was quiet.

It was almost year ago that I told my management that I was leaving. Started a long, slow, chaotic rebuild of this unpredictable life. It was almost 100 days ago that I decided to stop mourning what had happened, and challenged myself to make more of this time and this chance.

And today, this morning, I woke up to my son climbing into bed next to me. Laying his soft cheek on my shoulder.

I opened the door, and blinked at the sun.

I ground the coffee, and made breakfast.

I checked my mail, and hunted up clean underwear.

I touched my toes, and brushed my teeth.

I had a thumb war with my son.

The thing about Luke and Laura is that they can never just be. I mean, who would watch that?

Would anyone watch if Luke got Laura down from her perlous perch, and took her to live in the suburbs?

The most amount of drama we have these days was when my husband used a flashlight to find a pair of matching socks yesterday morning, because it was still dark and he didn't want to wake me up.

It's not much to read about, I guess.

In fact, it's not much to write about.

It's this fragile, new rhythm in our lives and sometimes I don't understand. It leaves me with calm days and little inspiration for dramatic posts and a kind of dizzy unfamiliar sense of things.

But God. I think it's happiness.

It's happiness.

You know how it is.

You struggle to find things to say, wondering what happened to all the brilliant drama.

And realize...

Life got good. Well, better.

But it makes me wonder... what does it mean when these 100 days is done? What will there be to say?

And I don't have an answer.

I don't know if there is one.

What if video killed the radio star. And there was no 'then what' to the former Corporate Mommy?

Posted on January 09, 2007 at 10:34 AM and filed under: In My Life
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January 08, 2007

I'm just gonna say, that as I get a little older I am noticing that once a month I get sentimental, crabby, and dripping melancholy. No, I was never like this before. Yes, I was one of the lucky ones. No, I don't think it was about time. Yes, it may affect my tone of voice and my topics. You got a problem with that? Then send Midol.

Posted on January 08, 2007 at 11:46 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

January 01, 2007

Wow, it's 2007. When I was young, I tried to picture what it was like to be alive in the '2 thousands' but really, besides the certainty of flying cars (dammit), I couldn't really wrap my mind about something so far away.

A few days ago, I was convinced tha we would start the year adopted by a new little smudge of a cat, but that slut went back to his own family a few blocks over. It was nice to have him around, for a couple of days. Even if he was a screamer. It gave us thoughts, of the adopting kind. Although we have a lot on our hands with our fading old dame, Maggie.

So instead, we cleaned ourselves up and went a-visiting. Saying 'Happy New Year' to everyone we passed. Wait. Have I mentioned? HAPPY NEW YEAR!

At Dee's open house, a freind of hers was saying that she'd butted heads with the new pastor at her church a couple of weeks ago when Colossians 3:18 - "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord" had come up in the Lectionary.

I guess the new pastor had avoided discussing the passage in his sermon.

I could see why.

Not too long ago, just as far back as my childhood, a pastor could have stood behind that lectern and said "Women, remember that your husband is the head of the family. He is the final word."

Then he could have stood at the back of the Church and everyone would have smiled and shook his hand and said "nice sermon". Maybe, in some places, he still can.

I'm not going to argue the context of the passage. Wikipedia does a better job at it than I could.

I think our agreement, sipping Sangria in Dee's Logan Square condo, was not in how outdated and demeaning such a passage can seem - especially as it is almost always read standalone and out of context.

But that there should be dialogue.

The point is no longer to prove who is wrong and who is right, but for there to be a way for us to have a peaceable discussion even if we disagree.

I realized that this is part of my excitement at being alive in the world today.

20 years ago, the woman would have been calling up the pastor demanding that the passage be called out as sexist. Now? She called the pastor to ask why he avoided opening the topic up in his sermon. Because there is so much valuable work that happens when we talk to each otehr. And listen.

And for the record, I have struggled with the most of Paul's letters most of my life. But I like how my New Testement professor, long ago, used to sum up all of those chapters into one sentence;

Be good to each other and let Love lead in all the relationships of your life.
Posted on January 01, 2007 at 09:19 PM and filed under: In My Life
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A Dragon Tale

December 29, 2006

Ever have a day where nothing really went wrong, but by the end of things you just felt beaten flat?

Little things, like my 'fat' pants being tight, my hair being flat, watching the funeral of Gerald Ford. Bear's sports class not being in the actual building we were directed to. Pictures from Darfur splashing before my eyes on my news home page.

And all of it felt a little too dramatic because I was high. Like a dummy, I didn't cut the muscle relaxant in half. The one I took to help with my sore back. (I ice skated on Tuesday. Um. Actually, it is more honest to say that I cleaned the ice with my ass. And wrenched my back each time I fell.)

It was nice to have my mom here, because around 3:30 I just fell flat into bed.

Next thing I knew it was 2 hours later.

Most of the pill had worn off, the fuzzy glow gone. Thank heavens.

After dinner of a salad and a cold glass of milk, CD and I took advantage of my mom being here for the 2nd time today, and headed off to see Eragon.

A very nice movie until some editor was allowed to weedwhack it.

The cuts were so jarring, I would actually jump a bit between scenes.

Head to the library, get the book. It's fun, and it's inspiring -written by a 15 year old about a 15 year old.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking about going back to bed. I have resolutions to ponder, photos to organize from the week, and a sore back (and, yeah, heinie) to nurse.

Posted on December 29, 2006 at 11:50 PM and filed under: In My Life
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The Black Cat

December 28, 2006

This morning when CD got up at dark o'clock and headed off to work, there was a young black cat in the driveway.

It purred and rubbed his legs and did just about everything it could to say "Hello! I'm tame! And hungry!'

This evening, when we returned from teh free Festival of Lights at Brookfield Zoo (amazing, pictures later) - it was baaaaaack.

It followed Bear up the front stairs and into the house. Like we wouldn't notice an extra furbot in the place.

Ah, well.

We fed it, and watered it, and patted it. Clearly someone's beloved pet, it is used to small children and was very timid and respectful to our Grand Old Dame, Maggie.

We decided to take a picture of it and try to find its owners.

But it wasn't spending the night IN our home, we agreed. Because first off, this is Maggie's House - full stop. She'd old and very unhappy that this little peppy black smudge of a thing wanted to play. Second of all, little smudge of a thing TALKS. A lot.

Up to me to put it out.

I carry it out to the front porch, give it a pat, and close the door. Turn around and it was standing in my living room.

Blinking at my so flirtatiously and purring like a motor.

I chased it down the hall, caught it, and tried again.

Yeah. This happened like 6 times.

My mother was having laughing conniptions by the time I finally managed to get me and the cat on opposite sides of the closed door.

Now it is out in my driveway under the window, screaming as I type this that it wants to come back IN.

Is it possible the ghost of Zazzoo has come back to adopt us?

Posted on December 28, 2006 at 11:18 PM and filed under: In My Life
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This is a song for you

December 15, 2006

I have writer's block.

The juiciness and flavor has gone out of my wordsmithing. I can force myself to write, but then it sounds... forced.

One of the ways I plug back in when this happens is to look outside myself for things that move my heart, and my mind. That bring my emotions back into my skin and spirit.

So I was thinking about that today, as I went to pick Bear up from school. I stopped at the intersection and the women in the neon green vest help up a "Stop" sign for a bunch of kids to cross the road.

And I thought, "What a thankless job".

And then I started thinking about all the thankless jobs. The undersung heroes, if you will...

I mean, whoever remembers to thank the crossing guards?

And the umpires and refs for kids' sports? These folks who take their time and give back to the community and often end up the butt of tirades and anger.

And the hospice workers, and NICU nurses, who combine so much skill with so much love?

And the teachers, God, the public school teachers. Mrs. Grady and Miss Sarni from Plymouth River, Mr. Sutich from Ridgefield High School, and Doc Hooper from St. Lukes - these people have literally shaped my life and I never did thank them enough for it all.

I was just coasting along the mile-long trip that is punctuated with a stop sign at the end every block. My thoughts flitting around with Christmas Carols on the radio.

We thank the Librarians every week, but we can never really thank them enough. When I think of how many times one of them has patiently listended to my son's request and then guided him to what he was looking for, impressing on him how precious books are and how the words are such amazing adventures.

Gratitude is a blessing.

I have some thank-you cards to write.

Posted on December 15, 2006 at 10:03 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Its the seconds that heal, and the hours that hurt

December 13, 2006

So, 2/3rds of the way through my 100 days - I crashed in a ball of gray fog. Landed face down in the mud. Huh.

I hate my own self-wallowing. The icky pity headache. So, housework. So, routine. A million parents have marched before me, over the mountain a step at a time. Finding the joy and the crinkled up laughter and making peace with rest.

So I push a foot in front of me.

And breathe deep.

And look at world news.

It's a tonic, to dwell on the planet's life and struggles beyond my kitchen. Or to stand under the spray of a long hot shower, using up the nice shampoo in luxurious handfuls. Or to dwell my thoughts on the little things that make progress.

With barely dry hair, Bear helps me gather up stuff for Goodwill and the shelter. After lessons at the dining room table, we carry the bags to the van, him barely able to see around his bundle.

He asks me why we don't bring the homeless people home to our house. And I don't have a good answer, except to repeat the old homily about "give a man a fish, or teach a man to fish..."

He reminds me that he asked Santa for a fishing rod.

I remind him to get his homework zipped up in his backpack.

Oh, and now it is Tuesday. The gray fog faded to blue. The blue lifted into the sun. The house got a little tidier. The dishes humming in the dishwasher.

I bought plastic bins for our haphazard collection of photographs. Another item on my 100 Days - to face the pictures, and who I was, and we were. And make peace. And pack away.

So this was overwhelmed, in yawning hours. And then this was better, found tucked in the quick seconds of in-between. And now I can stretch, a good night's sleep ahead.

A relief inning, maybe the first of many. I'll need to learn the signs.

Posted on December 13, 2006 at 08:44 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Isn't it strange

December 06, 2006

You know, when I imagined being a stay-at-home mom, I thought for some reason that I would invent a way to do it without the drudgery. All the fun & laughter & Kodak moments and none of that back-bending scrubbing lost-patience counting to ten stuff.


I have NO IDEA what kind of drugs they used to put in my water.

That's all. Because I have to try and scrub a bathroom, clean the front room, and dress my son and myself in 29 minutes.

Posted on December 06, 2006 at 09:31 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Roses are Red, Nyquil is Blue

November 06, 2006

I'm still sick.

I'm still sick.

I'm still SICK.


Flashes of wellness taunt me. Tease me. Like a 3rd grader on the playground hogging the hopscotch squares.

Oh, I hate being sick.

Yes, I understand the irony.

I've drank about eleventy gallons of Gatorade. I'm peeing green. My nose glows like you-know-who and let's be clear, I bark like a seal - not a dog.

Where's my Nyquil?

Yesterday I drove home from Indiana. Still don't remember much of the stay. The drive home was coughing and staring at the lights ahead of me.

"Dee," I said, gasped, on my Bluetooth. "I can't talk, everytime I try I end up hacking up a lung. But I'm zoned, with 50 miles to home. Say something. Say anything. Don't stop."

If she'd had 'In Your Eyes' at the ready, she'd've blasted it into the phone. Instead, she hummed it at me.

This? Is why I love that woman.

Meanwhile, she's reading recipes at me while I putter through construction. Bear's out like a light in back and it's all I can do not to pull into a McDonald's parking lot and climb back there with him for a nap.

Hack. Wheeze.

Arrive home and beg CD for Nyquil. Need Nyquil. And a brandy chaser. With honey and hot lemon juice. It all goes down fine and I feel alive for about 30 minutes, mellow and myself again.

Then I get a blessed 5 hours sleep before I cough myself out of my dreams, off the bed, and land face-down on the floor. Mano y mano with a dust bunny named Ralph who was looking a little frisky about having me in his territory.

Holy shit, do I need to clean.

Hack. Hack. Shiver.

It's been a long few days. Blurry, with moments of jello. And sanity. Aha, all better. An hour later? Not so much.

CD stayed home today so I could rest. Turned a corner, hurray. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Or maybe that's an oncoming train?

My tongue raw from sucking on drops. But the coughing attacks linger. With a vengeance. Like the everlasting John McLane, they still hammer me long after they should be dead. Without warning, they shake me so bad that I have to press my breasts back into place; I'm a Ruben before, and a Picasso after.

Now it is night, and time for Nyquil. I need another 5 hours. Maybe 6.

But someone has put away my Nyquil. I need my Nyquil.

Give me back my Nyquil.


Posted on November 06, 2006 at 11:58 PM and filed under: In My Life
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October 22, 2006

Warning! Explicit Entry. Those who may be related to me may wish to SHOO!

It's my blog. But. I keep dancing around all these thoughts that I won't say.

It makes my legs hurt.


Beth wrote this post last week. About which came first: the chicken or the egg? Except, in this case, the survey was about oral sex and not-just-oral sex.

And it got me thinking. And remembering. About chickens. And eggs. And how, despite all the years of foreplay and the protection and the reading up on it - all I could think that first time was "We can't possibly be doing this right."

Years later, I finally had that morning when I woke up with a smile on my face. I mean, a smile so big that made my dimples sore. And actually said out loud "so THAT'S what the fuss is all about."

(It turns out my main impediment to the glories of sex was having it with teenaged boys. Once I ended this ridiculous habit, things improved muchly.)


I miss sex.

I miss sex.

I've missed it for so damn long that sometimes I want to sit in the middle of the driveway and just scream and cry.

Depression, the kind that attacked this family with its vicious apathy and gaping voids, kills the wants. The desires. The warm skin Sunday morning throw your leg over and be inside moments are snuffed out. Pressed flat into memories.

The medications that treat Depression are evil in irony. The happiness comes back at the same time that desire is surpressed. We can laugh now, and the laughter tickles my blood. I get drunk on eye contact, the big brown eyes and endless lashes that make me want to lick his face.

And then I have to hold myself still. Praying over and over in my head that he'll make the move. No pressure. No anger. It's not anyone's fault. It's not...

The doctor actually said "Do you want to be treated or do you want your sex drive?" As though this is the freaking choice. As though somehow bringing a soul out of the flaming chasm of gray nothing is a success even if the toll is their very bodliness, their skin and sensation and sweaty connection to the romance of their mate.

Every possible drug, every possible combination. Tried.

Hours of reasearch, visits to another new guy, and another.

I want MORE of my husband back.

I want my husband, most of the time.

I want so much that I'll lose track. That I won't be able to count that high. While I still have the youth and flexibility, I want to bend in the ways I can bend.

I want.

It's this undercurrent to my days. It is the remembing what it used to be.

It is the tingle to a Friday, to a weekend ahead. The sly hope of it, the wink of it.

Bombarded by a society that sexualizes every possible product purchase, leaving my tongue bitter and my mind assaulted. With all those lies. People aren't taped into their clothes and then airbrushed. We don't walk over cars to each other. That isn't sex, that's fantasy. That's pictures without pulse.

I want the pulse.

I want the real.

I want the bond of it, the uncontrollable of it, the not quite knowing where he's going to touch or how slow or how fast of it. I want the start and stop of it.

I want the real.

I want the backs of his knees and the hard line of his jaw. I want him to want me. I want his finger wrapped around a strand of my hair. I want his breath on my neck. His palm down the stomach, over the stretch lines that made room for our child. I want his broad shoulders as a pillow, our gasps quiet not to wake the boy next door.

I want the man I love. I want his wanting. Not in these small doses that strike with full moons and found money. No more sips.

I want gulps.

I want what is true between us. The memories of a hundred other times flared up again into our living days.

I love him. I love this man. I love each year of him, each limb. I love the hairs on his tummy, the accent in his voice, the dreams his soul flies on. Last year, I saw the cloudiness begin to fall away from his world. I saw jewel tones in his laugh again.

It is so much, to see this miracle.

I just want more. And often... :)

Posted on October 22, 2006 at 03:39 PM and filed under: In My Life
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About, now in progress.

September 20, 2006

I decided to try my hand at a graphic for the "about" page...


Whaddya think?

Tags: self-portrait, picture, life
Posted on September 20, 2006 at 12:52 PM and filed under: In My Life
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If You Give a Pig a Pancake

September 19, 2006

I finally, finally got a manicure last Thursday. And it's already ruined.

Freaking TV broke.

Let me sum up.

No. Is too complicated.

Let me explain....

See, once upon a time, we bought an antique door while in New England. Then we strapped it on the roof of the van and drove it the million billion miles home - with it fluttering and crashing "thwacka thwacka THWACKA" the entire way.

70-dozen-bajillion Advil later, it was raining when we pulled into the driveway. So we untied it and carried it into the little garage at the back of our property.

"Careful... careful... ok.. HEAVE!!" *crash* "We'll take it out and strip it and revarnish it as soon as the weather clears..."

*crickets chirp*

Then, 2-plus years later, the television died.

So hi-ho, hi-ho to Best Buy, where the nice people smoked crack and decided to give US (of which, half is unemployed) no-interest for 18 months. An hour later, we're walking back to the infamous Thwacka van with a TV as thick as Volume 1 of unabridged Shakespeare and costing as much as my first semester at Loyola.

CD's hands sweating and face grim. Because my husband? Is very fiscally conservative. He loses sleep when our financial health slips from Kermit to Ernie.

However, this is a terrible reality for him because as an Icelander he is also bred to be acquisitive and gadget-crazy. He's always fighting the cat-like compulsion to bat around and buy bright shiny things like tin foil balls and Surround Sound systems.

So it's just best for him if we NEVER go into Best Buy. Where the one half of him is thinking about the cost of money and interest rates and getting nauseaus and the other side of him is thinking "ooooh! Pretty dials!"

We survive the trip. We survive the parking lot. Then he looks at me after sliding the Thinnest.TV.Ever into the van and says "next to the house and the car, this is the most expensive thing we've ever bought." He's wrong, the couch cost more but I'm not arguing the point with a 6-foot green-faced husband.

We get home, and place a plank over the stairs and roll a wheelbarrow into our living room to snag the Dead.Humongous.TV and roll it into the alley and then, with quiet pomp and a little circumstance, CD gently rests Thinnest.TV on the stand.

Which is in direct line of sight of the front foor.

Which we never lock unless we're home.

Because, frankly, the door is older than the dirt in the front yard, literally. We suspect the lock in it was made by Barbary Pirates. It can't be replaced, the holes aren't in any place useful to current lock mechanisms. The only key we have for it is the copy of a copy of a copy of a sailor man and only works on days ending in "shit!".

CD stands out on the front steps. He looks in at the new TV. The old TV weighed 250 pounds. We figured, if someone stole it we could always find the thief in the emergency room with a hernia. We got nothing worth stealing, we always said.


So this weekend, the "thwacka" door was uncovered during an archeological dig of the garage and pulled onto sawhorses to be restored.

To the sounds of Ziggy Marley and Muddy Waters, we sanded and sanded and scraped and sanded. And scraped. Oh, and swept the driveway.

There is a children's book called "If you give a Pig a Pancake" about how one thing ALWAYS leads to another. How, if you give a pig a pancake, you'll end up with a syrup-covered bovine in a tutu using up all your Polaroid film.

And what I'm saying is - my fingers are sore and my manicure is destroyed.

Because the TV broke.

front door
(But worth it, maybe?)

Posted on September 19, 2006 at 09:01 AM and filed under: In My Life
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I make a lousy wife

September 13, 2006

It has been CD's complaint since I left my job that I don't clean enough.

When I worked, we had Elia here every day. And Elia? Is a clean freak. God love her. Each night, I would exit my little office to see the tidy floors and hear the hum of the dishwasher.

It took a LOT of stress off a stressful few years to have Elia around. Because I am NOT exactly Lady Tidy and CD? Good Lord. CD is a living PigPen.

My messiness comes with 3 scoops of guilt. My old-fashioned Yankee parents drilled into me from the youngest age that a messy house is a sin.

His cleaning dysfunction comes with a strange sort of blindness. He can't even see the chaotic mess that erupts in his wake. He just knows that when he comes home from work that the Mess is here, waving to him cheerfully as it snacks on Lorna Doones.

So his first, terror-stricken, thought when I left my job and Elia left us was... WHO IS GOING TO CLEAN?!

(With a beady glance that said 'And it better be YOU'.)

There were negotiations, there were discussions. Jimmy Carter visited and facilitated a treaty. The UN sent in troops to enforce the terms.

And yet. Our house is a bloody wreck.

In the past 6 months, I have attempted to maintain a 50%-and-no-more policy with a don't-mess-don't-clean codicil.

But mostly? I haven't written.

(What? You didn't notice?)

I lost a gig that 6 months ago I could have whipped out without a sweat. I have sat, impotent, at my keyboard.


In a messy house.

Conflicted, unable to concentrate. Trying to put up blinders so I won't be distracted by laundry that needs folding, toys that need tidying, trash that needs binning.

Feeling waves of guilt like a fever, because how dare I take time for this? How DARE I - without Elia to clean and mind Bear - lock myself in my mind and my words?

Last night, CD said - 'You are Depressed! You need therapy!'

I gave him a blank, dead-fish kind of a look. A little bubble over my head with the word "huh?" in it.

'If you weren't,' he told me, 'the house would be clean!'

See, when all you got is a hammer - then every problem is a nail. Believe you me.

I've been to psychiatrists, therapists, neurologists, and my GP. You know what they say? That I am going through a major shift in life, that I need to sleep more, that I would benefit from having a counselor to help me wade through my choices and my direction, and that I should work out 3 times a week and take fish pills.

I sigh.

He said, 'I'm tired of coming home and the house isn't any cleaner than when I left and you expect me to clean AND watch Bear while you..."

It took a whole night and this morning for my fuse to finally reach the TNT that is the deepest part of my brain. If his cell phone was made of a flammable material, it would have exploded in hs hand - leaving him with smoking eyebrows and a shocked expression.

I'm rolling up the damn doormat, and I'm declaring independance.

I can't live like this anymore.

I left my job for many reasons, good ones.

And none of them included becoming a better maid.

I can't let my indecision wreck me anymore. Sure it sounds specious - unwashed dishes doesn't equal writer's block.... right?

But in my case, it has.

Like a blogger I once loved, I'm not Donna Reed.

I have to put those expectations away. And I have to refuse to let anyone else put them on me.

It is time to lay down the guilt. Gently. And then kick it smosh it burn it with that crappy incense leftover from my college days.

If you love me, you want me to be happy. You want me to write, because I am a writer. Maybe not a very good one - but it is in my DNA, this compulsion. You want to hear the tapetty of the keyboard more than the hum of the dishwasher. You understand that my sanity and my bliss comes from this.

And maybe it isn't fair to say all this aloud, on a blog visible from space.

But I needed to say it.


And screw the house.

Posted on September 13, 2006 at 10:24 AM and filed under: In My Life
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September 02, 2006

verisimilitude \ver-uh-suh-MIL-uh-tood; -tyood\, noun: 1. The appearance of truth; the quality of seeming to be true. 2. Something that has the appearance of being true or real.
I wrote an article on spec a couple of weeks ago. It lacked verisimilitude. Too shiny-happpy-people, if you know what I mean. I only live cinema verite - can't write it, unfortunately for my bank account.

Well, we'll see.

We're now 6 weeks away from running aground. CD is doggie paddling against the undertow, trying to stay afloat long enough to breathe. Bear swings between acting out and clutching at me madly.

It's been a wonderful summer, wish you were here.

Fall's coming, the breezes are chilled. Remembering back to when the teachers would assign a 500-hundred word essay on what we wanted to be when we grew up. Remembering the view outside the bedroom window, the taste of the pencil eraser in my mouth.

An astronaut?

A parent?

A doctor?

A teacher?

A ballerina?

A cop who shot out of highrise buildings, bullets flying and dripping blood as the bad guys stood on the steps long enough to get a clear shot?

The music from the radio, the posters on the wall, the breeze.

"What if I don't want to go to the new school every single day?" he asks from the backseat.

"Because why?" I ask.

(Mumbling) "Because I don't like the new teacher."

"Sweetie, you're going to have to man up and go to kindergarten. Every day."


"Because it teaches you how to get what you want."

"What if I want to NOT go to school?"

(Score one for the kid.) "Well, Bear - tell me something. What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"Everything. I want to fly jets and be a police officer and a paleontologist and a black belt. And a Daddy."

"Those are great things to want to be. So think about them for a second."

(Softly, looking for the trap.) "OK...."

"The only way to get to make those dreams come true is to study, and practice, and you'll really need money which you can get from working everyday. And I want you to get your dreams, but I don't have a fairy wand that could make your them come true. But I CAN help you learn perseverance."

"What's that?"

"That's going to kindergarten. Every single day."

(Long silence.)


"Yes, honey?"

"What did you want to be when YOU grew up?"

(Glance in the rearview mirror, the copper hair, the cherub's cheeks.)


"This what?"

Almost out of money, CD's struggling, will we have to sell the house? Can I get a waitressing gig, maybe?

"This sweetie. Right this minute now. To have memories of teaching and serving and traveling. And to be in this car, right now, with yummy leftover birthday cake and balloons in the trunk and you. To be Daddy's wife. To be your Mommy. I wanted this, and maybe - just an ounce more faith."

"Really, Mommy?"

"Yes, Bear. This. This was my dream, and now it's true."

Posted on September 02, 2006 at 11:20 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Will Luke and Laura ever get back together?

August 09, 2006

And now, we interrupt this show for a very important health announcement:

Dr. Specialist the culprit thanks my disorientation and clumsiness is...

Lack of sleep.

No. Shit.

See, he thinks that a combination of the joint pain that comes and goes with Lupus combined with the stress of leaving my job is probably why I don't sleep through the night (I sort of come awake off and on but hadn't thought anythging of it) and THAT culminates in sleep deprivation.

And extended sleep deprivation would cause these bouts of crushing fatigue, the disorientation, forgetfulness, and clumsiness (and all other fun stuff).

Seriously? Sleep.

All that drama. The serious face of the docotor who sent me to a neurologist. The anxious explanation of a brain virus that occurs in second-stage Lupus. CD, Bear and I holding hands before the appointment....



They're confirming the diagnosis with an MRI and other tests to be sure. But in the meantime, I've been prescribed Ambien and a blankie.

Posted on August 09, 2006 at 08:07 PM and filed under: In My Life
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In the heat of the night

August 07, 2006

I stood in the cool lobby, our movie finished. Dee was headed to the bathroom line but not me. I leaned against the wall and watched the people go by.

A woman is having a heated discussion into her cell phone on the other side of the fake palm tree. I debate informing her that it has no soundproofing capabilities, because she seems to think it does.

When I was in college, one of my suitemates was a Cancer survivor.

At 15, a growth had been found and removed. She'd been given a course of radiation. And then showed no signs of any illness after that. I knew her at 21, and would sometimes make what I thought was a callous remark - like "that boy is a Cancer on the Sorority."

I'd look at her, and mouth "sorry" and feel awful.

One day, she pulled me aside and asked me to stop apologizing. "The thing is, it was a month of my life 6 years ago. I hear about chemo and all that, and I feel like an imposter."

On my other side came a couple of ladies chattering in French. Both dressed more fashionably casual than I could ever hope to be. My size huge shorts sagging down my thighs, the red paint half chipped from toes. I close my eyes and try not to hear either conversation.

Dee takes forever. I suspect she has been kidnapped by one of those infamous Florida alligators that can swim up the plumbing and attack women on the toilet.

"You don't have authorization for that," Intent cell phone lady says. "You didn't have to pull me out of a movie for this. You already knew the answer."

I hope to myself that at least she'd shown the good manners to have her phone on vibrate.

"I'll speak to you in the morning," she snaps. "At the staff meeting."

She brushes past me, grim and tired-looking, and into Theater 2. "Barnyard." And she's ALL about the jolly kid's movie, I can tell.

It's Sunday night, and Dee has been kidnapped by the Ghost of Ladies Toilet. Right here in Oak Park, Illinois, a grave mystery has occured. But I don't have the strength to go investigate.

I am an imposter. I feel it humming through my veins.

I was diagnosed with Lupus 10 years ago, and since the initial sickness have never really suffered since.

Sometimes tired, sometimes, clumsy, sometimes confused. And a funny red rash like a sunburn on my face for a few days.

This is not the disease that kills so many. That is always a Usual Suspect on the TV show "House".

I used to feel like an imposter to even say I had the damn condition.

But now, I am ashamed. I feel like somehow, I have brought this on. After years of whining about wanting to quit my job, I finally do - and cursed us. Cursed us, yes. I am being frivolous in thinking I could have that power, but yet I suspect it. Did I make this happen? This crazy rush to ruin?

The fast approaching disaster of our finances, our lives, or my health.

You see me standing here, a regular Midwest Housewife. Except I am just a new kind of imposter.

Behind my facade, my nonchalance in the glow of a fake palm tree, is a tangled web of "what if" and "what next".

She climbs up the stairs to me, her sapphire eyes snapping.

"Thank Heavens," I said. "I didn't know if the kidnappers would release you. After all, I couldn't make ransom. Couldn't come up with enough Flounder to fit their demands."

She looks at me, a wrinkled-nose confused smile. And then she slips her arm around me to help me to the car.

"That's OK," she confides. "I used my ninja Yoga powers."

"It's all good, Supergirl," I commend her.

And laugh loud enough that the French ladies paused, to glance at me.

Posted on August 07, 2006 at 09:46 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Seems to be, brilliantly, memories of you

August 03, 2006

Quiet times have come before. A hush falling into my world, my thoughts racing maybe - but my words, still.

A saxophone playing while pictures slide across the screen. But no lyrics. No rhymes or soft alliteration. The sunset speaks for itself, because I can not.

Some call it writers' block, but the truth hides behind the label - as it will.

It's easy to write when life makes sense. Angry, lusty, giddy, wistful, grinning, yawning, yearning, bristling with outrage. Wanting a baby. Losing a baby. Seeking God. Losing weight. Gaining it back. Propping up my husband. Agonizing over my son. Tangles of friends. Battling the corporate titans. And sometimes winning. Tripping over the mess in the hall. Groaning over the mess in Washington. Striking up the grill over some new recipe. Striking out on a trip across the ocean. Stroking my son's hair and wondering how I would explain that daddy doesn't live here anymore. Slipping, with relief, back into love with my husband and sneaking something more than kisses before our son wakes.

Everything that is life. The granules that fall from my hand back into the sandbox. Reflecting the sun sometimes. And real.

I am sick, and that is real. My Lupus has flared up, due in part to my own carelessness. I have done all the things I should not do since leaving Mega - tossed away my structured (if stressful) existence for hours in the sun, poor diet, not enough sleep.

Lupus flares mean that my body is, sort of, attacking itself. My short-term memory flits on and off. My bones break easily (I have a broken knuckle and toe). I fall, for no reason. I become crushingly tired, holding my son in my arms in front of Noggin TV while I doze in and out. My kidneys struggle.

This is the worst flare since my diagnosis, a decade ago.

But it is not what silenced me. Only the last straw, really, in a battle against the quiet.

Life has stopped making sense.

Not that I contemplate the alternative.

But I do not know, quite literally, where I am going from here.

The money is running out. There is no better job for CD on the horizon. I had thought he would get one, at the last minute - which is his way. After all, before his Depression, he was making a fine living. But that hasn't happened, although he has looked.

Happy Montessori became a battleground last year, and is not for Bear this year. I am not even sure anymore that holding him back for a second year of Kindergarten is the right thing to do. And even if it is, the local public elementary school is so poor that it is regularly reviled in the newspaper.

There is no Elia, to help. I miss her. Our new health insurance, switched to CD's job after I left Mega, is inadequate. Our out-of-pocket for even regular lab tests is about 50%. And I am sick, which means even more bills. And even a part-time job waitressing is out of reach until I'm well.

We are about to run aground.

I am 40 years old, and I walked away from a lucrative career. I thought it was the right thing to do, and in many ways it has brought this family closer together than it has ever been.

But, I ... think it might have been a mistake that will cost us all everything.

Would CD and I have divorced if I'd stayed at Mega? I don't know. We were headed there, for a long time.

I don't know.

But I do know that the money is finite. And almost gone. And economizing simply won't make it be enough. 1+ 1 will never equal 3.

Something will be changing. Soon.

6 months ago, I was sleepless in fear for my marriage, my priorities, my son's childhood. I made a decision that I revisit every day. A leap of faith that is quickly turning to disaster.

There's a piece of dialogue I remember, vaguely. About someone saying, sadly, "look how things turned out". And the other person saying "we're not at the end yet."

That's what I hold on to. That in the next 2 months there is some kind of... miracle. That he gets a better job. That my health improves, so that maybe I can work too. And, you know, not end up in the hospital calling my mom for a loan and one of her kidneys. That ... well, that we find the path forward.

But for now, I battle my body. My terror. And my words? Have fled. For the dark quiet, and the unknown.

Posted on August 03, 2006 at 02:36 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Fog. Bridge. Stubborn. Sorry.

July 29, 2006

I wrote a long entry here. And to sum up, I've been ill. My ability to write, walk, shit even remember my way home from the bank has all been compromised over the last month.

I've talked about having Lupus before, but before it was inconvenience to my life.

I made some mistakes with my health, and then made the situation worse with a dose of pride and recklessness. I kept thinking if I could get through the day, then it wasn't so bad.

It was my first time facing a flare without a backup resource, and if it was a test - I failed.

I did manage to write about it, but it took more courage than I have at just this minute to have it out there.

I'm sorry.

Posted on July 29, 2006 at 09:19 PM and filed under: In My Life
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... and not so much with the "right back"

July 14, 2006

We came home from, uh, .... Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana... to discover that Mega finally had the DSL turned off. It had been a perk of my previous position.

You'd think, in 2006, getting connectivity would be a fairly simple matter. Not so much.

But we back. We're somewhat unpacked.

And now I have to take a shower.

Posted on July 14, 2006 at 10:05 AM and filed under: In My Life
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In Other News

June 23, 2006

First of all, see that picture? See that hole in my Bear's mouth? YES!!!!! You guessed it! The tooth fairy is coming to our house tonight!!! (That squealing is me, 2 parts grossed out and and 1 part loving the wicked milestone)


We are nowhere near packed for our trip, but we're heading out at dark o'clock tomorrow morning come hay or high water.

Don't know if I should be so hep to get to somewhere called the "badlands" ... but the excitement in my Bear's face is contagious.

Westward, ho!

P.S. Someone asked Bear the other day what he wanted to be when he grows up.

He responded:
"Police Officer, Doctor, Explorer, Soccer player in the Wold Cup for Iceland or America, Archeologist of Dinosaurs. Also I hope God makes me a Daddy. I just want to be everything. Except an astronaut."

"Why not an Astronaut?"

"Well.... I think going into space would freak me out. Even if I was a Superhero."


"I am so sure. Spiderman never went into space and he was the best superhero. So I'm not going into space, too."

Posted on June 23, 2006 at 09:05 PM and filed under: In My Life
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I fire myself

June 07, 2006

I don't know what this is, this antipathy I have for Happy Montessori.

(The rest of my whining is below the jump...)

Continue reading "I fire myself"
Posted on June 07, 2006 at 06:55 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Grace Under Pressure (The Housework's Lament)

May 30, 2006

It's hard to know what I feel comfortable writing about.

I don't want to alienate my husband.

On the other hand... last week CD complained about the amount of housework I've been doing since I stopped working.

I was stunned.

Because he was, like, serious.

I'm going through a life crisis, redefining my understanding of my world, and you're complaining about the laundry?!

First of all, both of us lean more towards Oscar than Felix. And I have always done more housework than CD. Always, even when he was a stay-at-home dad (which I used to complain bitterly about and then I just hired someone to help.)

I was clear when I told him of my plans to stop workig for a while that I wouldn't not be playing Suzy Homemaker. I told him so right infront of a therapist. And he nodded like he understand and respected my need for some time to repair and take care of me.

Clearly, though, the monster that is his expectations would not be denied.

He brings up "those 5 hours a day when you're doing nothing".

Because, you know, these hours between dropping Bear off at school and picking him up - when not frittered away with errands, dishes, part-time work - should be spent ... vacuuming??

And hey, I have been doing more. Organizing long neglected cabinets and drawers. Decorating. Scrubbing. Just not enough by his scorekeeping.

I want to take him by the shoulders and shout into his brain. That we just started working as a team again.

But I am a grown-up. (Sometimes.)

So I breathe deep and point at the Hoover. Honey, if the rug ain't clean enough for you - then you have all the power in the world to change it.

But no....

Instead, I feel myself being inelegantly shoved in the direction of what he expects of a housewife.

And I thought I only had my own neurosis to untangle.

Posted on May 30, 2006 at 10:42 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Don't Pull That String

May 15, 2006

I grew up in the era of Fair Isle and monogram sweaters. Fine wool and cotton and even, for special, maybe some cashmere.

Here was the rule: Don't pull the string.

Because, as my mother informed me, the entire sweater would unravel if you did. You'd be left standing there like a cartoon character buck naked from the waist up except for maybe the monogram letters hanging around your training bra and a pile of thread at your feet.

Also? You'd look like Betty Boop.

Meanwhile, back in reality.

The OT Specialist lady whose name means Happy (As Bear likes to say) informed us that he has a mild large-motor sensory integration disorder (still no clue what the means), a possible vision thing (referral to pedaitic opthamoligist here), and? Bear is truly non-dominant. You know, ambidextrous. Texas gold, my friend.

Except? Not.

It means double the work for my kid, whose fine motor on both hands is at about 3 years old instead of his true age of 5.5. Because he's been learning everything on both sides. For that, he will get OT therapy and a lot of it. But it is good news because he will get all the help he needs now instead of later.

But that's not all.

Included with the Ginsu knives and the dashing set of referral sheets (in Blue!) came one for allergies. So today we hiked over to the pediatrician's to check it out.

Man, do I ever suck as a mother.

Turns out that Bear's entire back of the nose-and-throat-and-ear areas are a hive of swollen and detracted and, well, I don't know the fancy term for it all. He's got allergies, right here in River City. He's got stuff to pump up his nose and other stuff to swallow.The pediatrician shook her head and said "You didn't notice?"

"Well, he's more tired than usual lately," I said (feeling like a moron).

But wait - one more thing. There is a fine sprinkling of bumps on his cheeks and hands and legs. Because he's also allergic toour laundry detergent. Tide, if you're wondering.

After she left the room to get more prescription sheets, I picked Bear up and he clung to me like a baby octopus. "Sorry, kiddo," I whispered.

"For what?"

"I didn't know you were sick," I told him, resting my cheek in the hollow of his neck as I rocked him back and forth.

"It's ok," he whispered back. "I didn't know too."

I stood there, my purse fat with referrals and information. And feeling like there must be a pile of string at my feet from a simple tug.

And then I bought him an ice cream cone to make it all better.

Posted on May 15, 2006 at 03:23 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Hello, my name is...

May 11, 2006

When I first said that I was leaving my job, someone asked in a comment if I would be shutting down this site or changing the name. At the time, I couldn't imagine either. After all, I am the Corporate Mommy.

Laptop bag over one shoulder, kid on my hip, hair highlighted, cell phone buzzing.

Only... not anymore.

karate tournament 002.jpg
Me & Bear, Karate Tournament, 2/06

There's a great Princess Bride quote;. "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." I've always wondered how Inigo would introduce himself if there had been a sequel, once the guy who murdered his father had died.

03253006 071.jpg
CD & Bear, Minneapolis, 2/06

How do I introduce myself now? As simply the 'Mommy'? or 'Wife & Mommy'? These two males, are they my identity anchor now?

"What now? Who am I?" have been the questions that would pop into my head over and over as the roller coaster of the past few weeks has ripped me along for the ride.

If I thought life after a full-time job would give me a field of breathing room, I was seriously deluded.

I hosted a bridal shower for my firend Laura. I tackled a mountain of paperwork that came with becoming ex-employee. I discovered from a reporter that the nice neighbor across the street is an ex-Catholic Priest and a pedophile. I had my son tested for ADD.

Painted a bedroom. I returned to the Cathedral for the first time since I resigned, and took Communion. I reconnected with my husband after 5 years of growing apart. Attended a race. A Karate tournament. Visited with my father and stepmother. Made about 70 frillion pipe cleaner animals. I lost my mind. Cried my way through an economy bundle of tissues. Got my hair streaked with magenta. Contemplated a tatoo. Prayed.

Wallowed in self-pity even after I kept thinking I was "over it". Spent some serious sessions with a therapist.

Cathedral 089.jpg
St. Jame's Cathedral, Chicago, Easter/06

Did a bagazillion errands. A small desktop publishing project. Decorated the bedroom. Cooked. Cleaned. Spent countless hours with my son.

laura shower 204.jpg
Bear, Lincoln's Monument in Grant Park, Chicago, 3/06

And something I didn't do...


The longest break I've taken in my journalling since I was 13 years old.

I didn't mean to. There were some technical problems. But mostly, there were spirit problems. As in, the spirit wasn't willing.

I would get up and look at the computer or at the notebook on the desk. And I wouldn't start.

Just... wouldn't start.

"Who" and"What" questions wrestling in my mind. My fingers still.

There's been no sunbeam moment that solved anything.

I hope that I'm forgiven for disappearing.

Now that I found my start.

laura shower 228.jpg
Sunshine, Chicago, 4/06

Hello. My name is Elizabeth Blair York.

I used to be a corporate mommy.

This is my journal.

Posted on May 11, 2006 at 11:33 AM and filed under: In My Life
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April 20, 2006

I've been running around the last few weeks volunteering for anything I see.

Which is how I am going to spend 7 hours on Saturday at a zoo, setting up a charity thing.

Yeah. The zoo. 7 hours.

Clearly, I need medication.

I thought it was the weather. The burst of spring flowers. The warm sunbeams. But I was wrong.

The last 5 years is begining to unwind. Really.

Not the way I expected it to, either.

Not in a few weks of abject misery and then "sproing" ....All Better!

The house is still a wreck. CD is still the only one making attempts at daily dishes or laundry. Bear's lunch is still being made on the fly 5 minutes before we run out of the house. I still watch too much TNT and Lifetime.

On the other hand, Bear and I have had a few adventures now. And each afternoon we run errands. The other day, the high school's drum line was practicing in the park and we pulled over for 20 minutes and listened. That would never have happened before.

The winter coats are at the cleaners. The library books are returned. I've started a new project (for money). I only cry every few days, instead of on the hour. Bear and I are planning to visit 5 states this summer in the Stupendous Mommey-Bear Road Trip.

Last week, I was agonizing to Dee about all the monumental screw-ups I've made since hanging up my laptop.

She cocked her head. "You're just human, Elizabeth," she reminded me.

And that got me. Humanity. Flaws and all. How unexpected.

It's hard to admit, but I really thought that because I was so good at the "Ruler of the Corporate World" thing that it made me somehow... super-competant. Because mistakes there could cost millions of dollars or people's jobs, I lost tolerance for them - especially in myself.

So I had all these superhuman ideas of how I would be as non-working person. Even though the entire world, you, warned me different.

Michele hoped I would find some light - and I think I have. (Unfortunately, it shows up the dirt on my kitchen floor.) But it is here. It is why I could go back to the Cathedral. It is in the daffodils my son picked for me. It is in the lunch I am about to pack for him. And it will follow me as I volunteer at the zoo on Saturday.

Thank you for believing I would find it.

Posted on April 20, 2006 at 06:57 AM and filed under: In My Life
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The Permanent BandAid

April 13, 2006

Note: I want to promise that this is my last "self-absorbed belly-gazing writing about my big change of life and oh, mutant insect bites" posts but, maybe not.

When I was about 13, I went on a month-long kayaking trip with a bunch of other kids to Quebec. It was a freaky and amazing trip, and I still carry the indelible memories.

Like bonking a moose on the antlers with my paddle. The moment I tipped down to ride my first (little) waterfall. A sidetrip to a old mill with a cute (and injured) guy. The look on everyone's faces at my first supper home when I looked at my favorite ham and potato casserole and sheepishly asked for salad because I'd become vegetarian.

But the biggest memory from that trip has to be the mutant insects.

I will never forget the look on my mother's face the first time she saw my back after I got home. I think there were over 100 bites - all red and swollen, like stings.

But the bite that was the worst was actually on my shin.

I got it one of our first days out. We made base camp at the bottom of what was supposed to be a fairly easy river. Good for getting started.

Yeah, ok. Bad maps, inebriated guide. Long story short, we spent most of the first few days portaging, thankyouverymuch. Miles and miles in pairs, carrying our kayaks and packs through brush.

At the end of one of those treks, I remember looking down to see this huge welt in the middle of my shin. At first I thought it was a snake bite that I somehow didn't remember. Nope. Mutant insect.

That bite drove me nearly insane.

Day after day once we found good water. I spent hours in the 1-man kayak with my legs tucked out of reach and I remember being in near tears because I wanted to itch it so bad. And when I would give in to it and strip open the plastic diaper that sealed away my lower body to scratch the thing - it would be so sore that I would actually break down and cry.

It grossed out the other kids, too. We became the bug-spray addicts our parents had always dreamed we'd become.

But too late for my poor, lamented shin.

On our next run into whatever local town we happened to be near, we headed over to a chemist and bought me a box of big huge band aids. The kind you put over bullet wounds - I am so not kidding. That and first aid spray and enough surgical tape to stock a mobile hospital.

And each morning, before we headed out, we'd douse my leg bites in spray and calamine and whatever else was on hand and then wrap it in the band aid. (A guy named Yuval made a great medic, if you got past the white man's 'fro he had going on).

And the thing is, it healed.

Slowly and with lots of little disgusting scabs. But it healed.

And yet, I would still insist on slapping a band aid on it every morning. A pair of keds, my maroon one-piece bathing suit, about 2 gallons of sunscreen, whatever t-shirt was least filthy, a helmet, and a band aid over most of my shin.

I got so in the habit of protecting it that I was scared to stop. Which is strange when I remember how I ignored my back completely at the same time. (And it got absolutely infected, much to my mother's horror.)

And it wasn't until I ran out of them when we were probably at least 50 kilometers from the nearest store that I finally slipped my legs into my kayak one morning without my gauze companion.

I don't know why I thought of that today.

I have been so retreated inside myself for so many weeks.

Even though things are so much better.


The sun is out. The lilacs are budding. Most days now, I remember to shower and do errands and I'm even starting to track today's date again.

Corner turned, right?

I have offered myself up to a couple of charities. And the library. Andeven started battling Bear's school again - so, yeah. Right?

But I am not sure how to stop reaching for some kind of gauzy buffer each day.

To stop wanting to hide the healing wounds away.

Posted on April 13, 2006 at 10:01 AM and filed under: In My Life
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I am a rock

April 11, 2006

My father introduced me to to Simon and Garfunkel when I was knee-high to a tadpole. I knew the words to "59th Street Bridge Song" before I'd learned the Pledge of Allegiance.

You have to admit, them there some damn fine harmonies.

The last few weeks, as the world has thawed and my life has spun around, I've been humming alot of Simon and Garfunkel. I've been remembering pigtails and my mom's dinners and the way my dad would burst through the front door - coat slung over his arm, keys jangling in his pocket.

I've been watching the forsythia bloom in my backyard and remembering the rows of forsythia that bloomed back then. Bright yellow branches in an almost-warm breeze.

How much of love is real? How much of it is wishing it were so? How much of life is a sheer force of will? How come we lose the ability to live in the moment as we grow older?

The birds fight over the straw, the chirp through my open window. Bear and I will look up what kind they are later.

We will rake, and seed. We will cook, side by side. CD will burst through the door, calling out that he's home. I will put on Simon and Garfunkel, and try to get them fed before Karate class. Our life is my son's memories, yet to be.

Posted on April 11, 2006 at 11:21 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Free. Or Cheap.

April 03, 2006

OK, now that we've turned a corner on my nervous breakdown - time to figure out what's next. So I am offering myself up to the world.

For the next 6 months, I am entitled to Unemployment Benefits. As long as I am able to work (check), willing to work (check) and looking for work (check - there's an executive search firm as part of my severance pounding the pavement on behalf of moi as we speak).

They say (you know, the unknown "them") that it takes someone at my level 6-8 months to get a new job. OK.

In the meantime.

I am solvent, and free. (or Cheap).

Looking for a volunteer or at least charitable gig.

My skills are a mixed bag. Hmm. I am a computer savvy, overeducated, professional project manager, former Episcopal layworker with multi-faith experience, fluent in English (most days) and American Sign Language and a smattering of French and Spanish and Pig Latin.

I have experience with grant writing, proposals, publishing, event organizing, and lug wrenches. Also? I answer phones and do windows.

My availability extends from morning dropoff until it is time to pick up my son from school at 3PM.

I'm looking for a few good ideas.




Posted on April 03, 2006 at 10:44 PM and filed under: In My Life
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March 31, 2006

I used to sit at this desk. For 5 years, I sat at this desk. Except on vacation or business trips. I sat at this desk.

I responded to instant messages in 3 different languages (and all with my infamous bad grammar). I spent hours on the phone. I planned projects that spent millions of dollars on equipment maybe a handful of people would understand. I smoothed the feathers and organized the efforts of hundreds of people.

I compiled succinct PowerPoint slides to present to executives, with words like: deliverable, return on investment, risk factor, earned value, escalation, customer facing, business driver, gain, break-even, up, down, strength, challenge. My friend M used to say I spoke the "corporate language" - as though you could take a Berlitz class in it.

And this was, 50 hours a week, this was reality. When people asked "what do you do?" this is what I did, therfore - this is who I was.

7 weeks ago, I walked away. The piles of paper in this room remain where they were that day.

When I was a little girl, my dad travelled all the time. On the rare days he wasn't on the road, he worked from home in a tiny office over the stairs. I remember watching him punch the numbers into a calculator as he analyzed his quarterly reports. His forehead crinkled, his pencil sharp.

I am a second-generation Corporate Brat. I was learning to take phone messages at 6. I was helping choose my father's ties at 8. By 10, I knew most of his employers and employees by name.

There isn't the panache, the tradition, the identity in being a corporate kid like there is in having a military or political or religious family. We aren't a tight-knit clan like those in a union. We don't do 21-gun salutes. Or honor codes.

In fact, there are many who think, in fact, the the "suits" eat their young.

We don't. Well, not often.

You want to find a pack of free-ranging corporate types? Walk into any airline club in any airport in the world. We're hanging at the bar drinking imported beer while we tap out responses to our overstuffed Blackberry email inboxes.

And I miss it already. So badly, in fact, that I have spent a lot of time over the last 7 weeks wishing I could go back.

Wishing I could sit down again at this desk, click a button, and see my own overstuffed email inbox.

Which is maybe why it has been so hard for me to sit down at this desk for any other reason. Knowing I can't. Knowing that I would see a little gray box that said "access denied".

This isn't self-pity.

This is change.

It is slow, like a cruise ship pulling a u-turn. It is painful, like running in the cold. It is necessary.

So yeah, I had alot of my self-worth tied up in my corporate status. And I've been afraid to look at who I am without it.

Dancing around the issue, and crying for it all.

My friend Laura says it took her 6 weeks to stop crying.

Took me 7.

Today the sadness didn't reach my eyes. And this chair, this desk, didn't pang me quite so much.

Time, finally, has salved the worst of the wound. Time, now, has arrived to let go of the tears.

Time to find out, what's next.

Posted on March 31, 2006 at 05:53 PM and filed under: In My Life
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If I loved you

They did "Carousel" at my high school, junior year. I liked to build things, so I crewed it.

The story of a brute of a man, who in this era would be plastered in restraining orders and a long rap sheet, who falls in love with a sweet, kind woman. Of course. She gentles him, he inspires her to marry well below her prospects. Then she's left a single mom who spends the rest of her life pining for the dead guy who never treated her quite well in the first place.

It's like a Law and Order episode. Only, set to music. With a merry-go-round.

Oy, and that music. Check it out sometime. My personal favorite was "June is Busting Out All Over" - but that's because I had a friend named June who, at that time, was indeed busting out. Ahem. Drove her nutty when I hummed it.


My bitchiness aside, the worst of it all is the cliche-driven "If I loved you". One of those declarative ballads all about how I love you but I don't. Get it?

And of course, I thought I was in love at the time.

I wasn't.

I asked him to sing that song to me.

He wouldn't.

I was so very sad, because I so very, very much wanted to be that girl. The one some guy is agonizing over. The one he says "I Love You" too in that strangled, sincere voice.

Hey, I was 15. Give me a break.

And he so didn't love me.

The guy when I was 27 didn't love me, either. We were walking, holding hands, out to the pier at Pratt Beach. It was night, and warm. Lots of people out, under a full moon that almost felt like day.

He leaned in to whisper something in my ear, our bodies bumping as we walked, and some guy steps of the pier. Drunk or high and loving life.

"Hey! You guys in love?" he asked as we passed.

I smiled, but my date shook his head. "No," he answered. "We're just friends."

Yeah, well. Loose interpretation of friendship aside - he was right. But it made me sad the way he said it so easily and casually. Like, "no way, dude". I look back at that moment and wished I'd listened - and left.

For all the times I thought it was love, I was wrong a lot.

One of the things that Jane Austen novels and popular television dramas and Saturday afternoon theater tickets DO teach - Love is more precious than that. It should be sacred, you know? Cliches and bad lyrics aside - It should be rare. It should grip a soul, and make you gasp out loud.

Anna of Between Stupid and Clever described something the other day as "I feel like I've ridden the train through the tunnel long enough: it's worth staying on a little longer to see what might happen on the other side."

That's how my marriage has felt for a long time. Lost were all those feelings of ticklish lust and dizzy admiration. I was surviving. My worry lines carved deeper, my body swelling, my heart squeezing. My partner was ill, and I was carrying him and our son as well and...

Sometimes at night I would wonder if I still loved him.


I cried in my therapist's office, begging her to tell me if I was numb or if my love for him was truly dead.

But I didn't know, and I didn't know how to know.

I fought back my own memories of love and the temptation to surrender to the terror that I might be in a marriage with someone I would never love again.

One of the reasons I left Mega was for this very reason. A choice. It enraged him at first, when I explained it.

That if I didn't stop martyring myself and build something new and equal and healthy with him that our marriage would die.

But I think he's beginning to see. As I fall apart, finally. As he steps forward, more and more.

Love isn't dumb musical plots. It wasn't that guy who wasn't deep enough to know better. It isn't Jane Austen novels or the first guy who really kissed me, either. And yet, Love is what inspires all of that.

I used to confuse the sentiment with the reality.

I'm wiser now.

Love was CD, tonight, collating my family's calendar. The one a dozen people are waiting for but that I have just had disaster after disaster trying to get done. Around and around our dining table as I watched, curled up on the couch. Heading back to the office with a sigh to keep fixing misprinted pages. And back again to collate some more.

And then as I looked at him, sad and lost. He said "I want you, Elizabeth."

"Body and soul? " I teased.

"Body and soul," he promised.

And something else was healed, between us. I want to walk with him, up at Pratt Street Beach. I want that guy to show up.

I have a new answer for him.

Posted on March 31, 2006 at 12:08 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Merrily, Merrily

March 28, 2006

(As I slip back behind the keyboard)

Last Friday my soul was officially sucked out.

I signed up for Unemployment.

It took more trips to more government offices in one week than I have ever, in my life, done before. It was hours and hours over 4 days... waiting for my name or my number or my turn. It was bad fluorescent lighting, worn chairs, metal tables.

Funny how I have read so many descriptions of it and heard second-hand but I was still surprised as I walked along the thin-pile grey carpet at what I experienced.

In the meantime, I have quietly been trying to put my pieces back together.

Some sweet souls may suspect that I really, really miss having minions to boss around. After all, I was once teased as being the Evil Queen of the Empire. (As a joke. Really.) It's probably true. Let's face it, as minions go, Bear is a much better Emperor. ("Mommy! Make me a peanut butter and honey sandwich! With raisins! Uh... please!")

There's the added aspect that this is spring break from his school. I have been filling the hours with tons of activities - trips downtown to the museums, library, zoo and crafty things like starting the seeds for this summer's garden and painting home-made magnets.

It all sounds so good and yes, we have wind-flushed pink in our cheeks and we hold hands and Bear announces, as fill up his milk cup or fork over the extra 5 bucks for the additional exhibit at the museum that I am the best mommy he has ever had.

But in the shadows, don't tell....I feel utterly inadequate, all around. I catch my reflection in the mirror, in a window on the train. I look away, slightly repulsed. This is me?

I keep expecting CD to look me up and down and dial up the hotline for Wife Swap.

Did I mention that the house is a wreck?

The family calendar I publish each year is about 3 weeks past deadline. The dishes are piled up in the sink.

But the days are begining to pass a little easier. I think.

Merrily. Merrily.

Posted on March 28, 2006 at 06:51 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Breaking it off with those other guys

March 21, 2006

My crushes have matured. It makes me sad.

When I was a teenager, I was ga-ga for Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy. OK, I am STILL ga-ga for him. Talk, dark, brooding, loyal, confident, good, rich, and able to see beyond all the superficialities to fall in love with someone who the rest of the world would deem less than him.


I cheated on Darcy with that guy from Highlander. Talk, dark, talked with an accent, wielded a sword, and had a bitchin' ponytail. Poor Darcy, with his chaste kisses, had to stand on the side while me and Highlander guy did all sorts of naughty things in my dreams....

I can't remember the actor who played Highlander guy, but to be honest it's never been about the actors. Actors are guys, with the foibles and flaws that all human beings are prone to. My fantasy crushes stay just that... fantasies. Characters from imagination.

I dumped Highlander guy for Mr. Darcy when the BBC did that amazing mini-series. I was reminded of my long-lost crush and found a battered old copy of Pride and Prejudice to re-read (again and again).

Then I discovered the television show "Farscape" and fell utterly for John Crichton. Tall, tanned, passionate, strong, honest, and all about the teamwork.

But I am fickle, and behind John's back I was melting for Josh Lyman from the "West Wing". Others may point out that Sam Seaborn was more my type - tall, dark, etc... but it was Josh's enthusiasm and intelligence that had me giggling on my sofa.

John and Josh continue to delight, but recently I have been thinking about breaking it off with both of them in favor of Leo Wyatt. Again, a television show - this one called "Charmed". Leo is tall, tan, a good listener, a healer, strong, and passionate. His is the wisdom of 80 in the limber good looks of 35. And he cleans up, watches the kids, comes when he's called in a flash, adores his partner loyally, makes the right moral choices, and.... serves tea.

This? Is a character I can get hot for.

I'm just saying.

I was never one of those who had teen idol posters on my walls or swooned for an autograph. I have always been grounded in reality so deep that even suspending my disbelief to get through a 1-hour show took some doing. CD long ago got used to my desire for new magazines or how-to shows.

But everyone has a sweet tooth of some kind, a guilty pleasure. And right now? Mine is Leo.


Posted on March 21, 2006 at 01:08 PM and filed under: In My Life
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How to eat an elephant

March 20, 2006

As the old saying goes - "How do you eat an elephant?"...
"A bite at a time"

I have a new cell phone and a new cell phone number. It is this thin thing, and now I have to program it.

I have to get a temporary social security card for the nice people at unemployment, and fax in the papers for CD's new (used) Passat, and file the remainder of my 2005 cafeteria plan, and FedEx the last of my equipment back to Mega.

I have to....

a bite at a time.

CD has begun to show a wisdom and gentleness that surprises me.

And it is helping.

An astrologer friend once told me about something called a "Saturn Return", this life-changing process human beings go through every so many years. We reinvent ourselves.

I wasn't sure I believed that it was real, although I could tell it was real for her.

But right now, I think that is a good explanation for what is happening.

I am excited and terrified and - oh, everything - all at once. There is a mountain of things to do to get me from here to where I think I want to go. A pile like an elephant.

And I am tackling it, a little bite at a time.

And smiling.

Posted on March 20, 2006 at 05:30 PM and filed under: In My Life
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It will be OK, even if it's not OK

March 09, 2006

So, in between walllowing and my Charmed re-runs *cough*, and the regular stuff - like my little part-time writing gig and cooking 3 meals a day and being a Bear cab service and whatnot, there's been the ongoing matter of Happy Montessori.

After all, one of the reasons I walked off the job was to attend to my son. And Happy Montessori was glad to oblige with becoming more and more high-maintenance.

They insist that Bear has some kind of attention problem. And are now saying that there is nothing more they can do for him if I do not get him tested.

They will not be specific on the problem, I have since learned that it is considered unprofessional if they label him or attempt to diagnose.

Which means the whole thing is a communication farce.

They tell me, over and over, that they have "concerns".

I ask what they mean.

They tell me all about his "symptoms".

Monday, the headmistress told me all about how Bear yawned 16 times and picked his nose twice in the 30 minutes she'd spent observing him the week before.

I'm like... "well, was he tired, maybe?"

And she was like "I don't think so," in a tone of voice that clearly called me a dim bulb.

All righty then.

The specialist (who no longer speaks to me) sent home a note that informed me that Bear had become too distracted to complete his assignment after 15 minutes, and that he was to finish it at home.

I thought 15 minutes of focus from a 5 year old working independently was pretty good. I was informed that I thought wrong.

Finally, I gave in and called Dee. Unloaded that things since our meeting at the school last month have gone from bad to worse.

So she came over this morning and I repeated everything they have said - I estimate that between the school, his teacher, the headmistress, the specialists, the pediatrician, the OT intake person, etc. that I have spent roughly 20 or 25 hours on the phone talking about this in the last 3 weeks.

Not including internet research time - that is, when the dang link is holding steady.


Where was I?

Oh, right.

Over homemade cinnamon rolls and coffee (bribery is a good thing) she listened to the whole song and dance from the beginning (It's turned into the "Alice's Restaurant" of tales).

"Sounds like they've think he has "ADHD-Inattentive Type"," she told me.

I went from 0 to 60 in about a nanosecond. "Bear is NOT Hyperactive!!" I roared.

"No, he's not," she agreed. "ADD or ADHD Inattentive Type means that they suspect that he's got something in the way of him focussing, sustaining his attention, and resisting distractions from his task. That he's not choosing to be distracted but that he can't help himself."

"But he's only 5!"

Dee nodded. "Yes, one of the conditions of this diagnosis is that symptoms appear before 7 years old."

"But he's great at home, or at karate!"

Dee nodded again. "Often, the symptoms aren't obvious until a child starts school. That's where he would be put in settings that would really showcase his challenges."

I leaned against the counter. This is Dee. About a dozen years' experience in the area and a wall full of accolades. I would trust her with Bear's life or future without thinking twice.

I felt all my rejection of the whole situation drain down into the floor. 'This is real,' I thought. Like it was the first time.


The last 3 weeks, all these phone calls and meetings and research. I have been consistent in my insistence that there is nothing wrong with my son. I refused to even consider the idea. I clung to his lack of hyperactivity and his ability to focus well at home and at karate as a sign that the school was terribly wrong.

And the truth is, Bear isn't the only one in trouble. CD is struggling and while he wants to be part of all this - he must renew his efforts with his own demons. My lack of employment has knocked the stuffing out of him, and he's trying to get back up.

So. I had decided, in my vast imitation of a Divine Being, that nothing could be actually wrong with Bear because CD was struggling. Only one at a time, right?

Heh. Cause I got all that Power. (When I was a chaplain, we used to help each other remember our limitations with little jokes like "Hey, Elizabeth. God called. He wants the car keys back.")

Remembering that helped. I'm here, whole and healthy.There is nothing stopping me from doing what I can for Bear and letting go of what I can't.

I looked at Dee and nodded. "No medication," I said firmly.

"Absolutely not," she agreed. "He's 5."

I nodded again.

"So have him tested," she touched my arm. "And remember that it is going to be OK. Even if it's not OK, it will be OK."

"It will be OK?" I repeated, disbelieving. "He can still live like..."

"Yes," Dee promised with enthusiasm. "If this is what he has, then remember - it is a common diagnosis. You wouldn't believe all the amazing people who have lived with it."

"We were thinking of moving anyway.... now, for sure we need to find a good school district for him. Especially if we can't afford a Montessori program next year..."

"One step at a time," Dee warned. "One step at a time..."

I hugged her for a long moment. And then she drank more of my bad coffee and I nibbled another roll.

Here are the symptoms of AD/HD (known as either/both ADHD or ADD) Inattentive Type. The key is that they have to be consistent, persistent (not triggered by something like a parent's divorce or an illness like a cold), start before the child is 7, and impair the child from expected developmental levels:

# often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities;
# often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities;
# often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly;
# often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions);
# often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities;
# often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework);
# often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments,pencils, books, or tools);
# is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli;
# is often forgetful in daily activities.

Posted on March 09, 2006 at 11:34 AM and filed under: In My Life
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In the sunbeams, with the violins

March 08, 2006

It was years ago that my Aunt Martha and Uncle Mike bought the red Victorian house on the hill. From the balcony, you could see the Boston skyline. Still can, when I visit each summer.

There is an old intercom system, and my Aunt would set it so that a classical radio station would broadcast through the rooms. On visits, I would listen as I would wander the hardwood floors and stare out the tall windows at the trees.

Because of her, I was exposed to the baroque music I love so much.

The romantic notes of violin, piano, and guitar like breezes.

My parents both love music. Our home was filled with folk and Broadway. With rock and jazz. They always had the stereo on. By junior high I had formed favorites of Buddy Rich, Simon and Garfunkel, Carly Simon, Elton John. I could sing along with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin through the entire score of Evita .

But at the red house on the hill, the voices faded away. Curled up in a sunbeam I would drift along with the harmony and counterpoint of Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi.

Over the past three weeks, I have been stalled. Emotionally, physically. I thought that once I didn't have the 50-hour-a-week distraction of my job that all the things I'd been delaying - like exercise, writing, cleaning, grieving - would slip into the vacuum.

As usual? Me. Wrong.

Well, I have been crying a lot, but otherwise - yeah, still wrong.

I have spent unknown hours watching Charmed reruns, calling people, and an amazing amount of energy avoiding things.

And feeling guilty about that. Don't underestimate the amount of time a person can spend feeling guilty about avoiding things. Boy, howdy. I tell you what.

Yesterday morning, as I was driving Bear to school, we got held up in traffic. While we were waiting, I turned on the radio to our local classical station and they were playing a piece that was so pretty that it made me pause.

Dust played in the morning sunbeams as Bear and I sat listening.

"This is nice," he said.

"Yeah," I agreed.

And I remembered how it used to be at my Aunt's and Uncle's. How they would leave me to my thoughts, and my daydreams. How they understood the importance of staring off into space, with music drifting in gently.

There was something in that memory that I still haven't figured out.

But the baroque piece tugged at it, yesterday morning. Suddenly here was this reminder of... something. I pulled over, and turned around to face my son. He smiled at me. I smiled back. We each rested our heads and listened to the song.

There was something begun in that music, that goes back to the time before. Something in the music. But I haven't figured out yet what it is or was.

Bear and I paused, and then went back on our way. I think like everything else that is going on inside me right now, I will have to be patient with myself.

Or at least try.

Posted on March 08, 2006 at 11:45 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Countdown to 100,000

March 06, 2006


Can I get a timpani roll please?

Sometime today or tomorrow - this blog will have been "hit" 100,000 times. How whacked is that ("whacked" is good, right? Aw, man... Is my uncoolness showing?)

Since its creation about 2 years ago, I've treated this space as much like my journal as I could- only holding back to save possible harm to someone else.

I didn't think for sure anyone would read this except my mom.

But you did.

Through 22 months of juggling executive deliverables and a preschooler. Through a crumbling/rebuilding marriage, a spouse's demons, a son's illness, gaining and losing the same 20 pounds. Through raises and professional accolades, disappointments and possible lawsuits, writing awards and failures, war, faith, a miscarriage, four therapists, three kinds of happy pills, a resignation, and one small housefire... this blog has kept me sane - and the people who read and comment have made it a blessing and a joy.

So.... not exactly Three 6 Mafia's acceptance speech but...

Wow. 100,000. Who knew we'd still be here? Um. I'd like to thank the Academy. Also my Mom, my Dad (Go Red Sox!), and my brother for razzing me every step of the way. No. Seriously - you all rock. Thanks to my guys - CD and Bear - for making every day and adventure and for believing in love. And for believing in me in all ways.

And most of all, to the readers - friends - who have made this place a dialog. An exchange of thoughts and ideas and support. You all are living proof that the world is full of good people with kindness and intelligence and grooming tips and snark. Thank you.

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!

(Did I mention that the 100,000th visitor will get the official CorporateMommy mug... and if you could send me a screen cap - please!!)

Posted on March 06, 2006 at 04:21 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Somebody's Going to Emergency

March 05, 2006

This is my best recollection....

Friday, March 3, 2006.

2:30PM and I was racing around the house dripping wet from the shower. Holding the towel closed. Looking for who only knows... 15 minutes left to leave the house to pick up Bear from school.

2:35PM and I felt a 'crunch' under my left heel as I walked near the front door. Picking up my bare foot, I see a flash of metal and feel a sting. I wondered what I'd stepped on, and hopped to the kitched to find the first aid kit.

2:36PM oh, yeah. It really hurt. And I think I'm bleeding.

2:37PM Deep breath. Dial CD at work to ask him if he knows where the Bactine is. Look down as I am dialing and see a thin river of blood flowing down from my heel, across my foot, and onto the floor. As CD answers, the puddle on the floor grows and trickles with the slight slope of the floor towards the stove.

2:38PM the sound of CD's voice startles me from my fascination with the red stream. I begin to feel the pain and start crying. "There's so much blood," I tell him when he answers. "You have to get Bear from school. I don't think I can drive."

2:39PM CD reaches his car in the parking lot 25 miles from home at a dead run. He is asking me for details, but I've become light-headed at what's going on South of my knees. CD and I hang up so he can call Bear's school. I tug the towel off my body and drop it under my foot to catch some of the blood. I am still wet from the shower, naked, and injured.

Not a lot of people I can think to call in this situation. Times like these, a woman's mother would come in handy - but she is about 1000 miles away. Dee is stuck downtown, at least 45 minutes away. She tell sme to call my neighbors or even 911. Maybe, if my bikini line was cleaned up. Heh. Did I mention the light-headed?

2:45PM and I am sitting on the floor of the den, with my foot up on a stool. The bleeding slows. I look around and try and figure out how much blood I've lost. Who knew heel wounds bleed so much?

2:50PM I pull myself up to a stand and hop to the bedroom.

3PM and I realize that after 10 minutes of puffing breath and whimpers that I have managed to put my underwear on inside out. No way I am going to the hospital with inside-out underwear. Plus, they got blood on them now.

3:15PM the bleeding slowed enough, I managed to pull on underwear and some clothes. Wrapping a fresh towel around my foot, I hop to the front room.

3:20PM leg propped up, watching a Law & Order rerun. Pretending there is no pain, no hurt.

3:50PM CD and Bear come racing through the door. CD says it looks like staples in my heel. Bear crawls next to me and kisses my foot gently. I beg CD to clean the kitchen floor before we go to the hospital (I have visions of the cats running through the puddles and leaving rusty-brown pawprints through through the house).

(Yes, CD wisely decides to indulge the crazy person who is me and cleans it up before hoisting me into the van for the trip to the hospital.)

4:15-4:25PM CD wheels me into Emergency to the nurses station. I sit and fill out the paperwork, my heel throbbing. I have no idea why it is so important to me to be polite and pleasant, but it is. Thus it takes about 10 minutes before the nurse realizes that there is something wrong.

4:26PM I am in ER bay 7 with 4 nurses looking at my foot. I am, it seems, the chief attraction in the zoo. Show and tell, anyway.

"Ooh," says one. "That must hurt." I start calling her 'Nurse Obvious' in my head.

4:35PM lovely ER doc pulls 12 quarter-inch steel staplegun staples from my heel in one swift motion.

"You want these as a trophy?" He asks, cleaning my wound and getting ready to superglue to the wound shut.

I shake my head violently. I have no idea how this clump of metal got on the floor by my front door.

In the background, you can here Bear at the nursing station insisting that they take him to his mommy right now. My little baby is channeling Shirley MacLaine from Terms of Endearment. The doc wraps about 300 bagazillion feet of gauze around my foot. I give the OK to Nurse Obvious to go bring Bear back to me.

5:30PM after an X-ray (to make sure nothing else was in the wound) and an antibiodic (my tetnus is up to date, thank the Lord) and some bemused advice from the doc ('think shoes...") and a hushed 'where did these staples come from?' discussion with CD and a couple "don't do wheelies in that wheelchair!" to Bear - we are dismissed.

After picking up Thai food (the doctor said "treat yourself as if you had just donated blood - good meal, lots of fluids, rest" - I decided that meant I could have chicken satay. Even though it was a Firday. In Lent) and getting back home, safe and sound, I decided that it was all right to cry and be a big baby.

And then I was like 'Gee whiz, as if I haven't been doing this every day since leaving Mega anyway....'

But I guess now I had a pretty concrete reason. Two long gashes that are superglued shut on my heel and the embarressment of being the talk of the Rush Hospital's ER room. Dork. Me.

Posted on March 05, 2006 at 12:25 PM and filed under: In My Life
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And then what

February 27, 2006

I'm having my nice little breakdown here. Crying a lot. Overwhelmed. Really overwhelmed. The house looks like an 18-wheeler ran through it, then backed up (beep! beep! beep!) and ran it through again.

Over a week ago, I decided to attack the laundry that never got done. The piles at the bottom of the laundry chute. The stuff that had been sitting ignored (CD was in charge of laundry, I want to say it right here, OK? In charge of getting it clean. Is this noted for the record?). You know, blankets that needed washing. Summer clothes that got sorted out when winter came along. Hell if I know all the reasons.

Elia and I took a box of garbage bags and gathered it all up. We braved the chaos that is the basement and looked under beds and in the back corners of the closets. And we found 16 bags' worth.

I am SO not kidding.

I made CD turn himself around the moment he came home and help ferry me and the 16 bags and the jumbo bottle of Tide to the laundromat. I was in a royal snit. I mean... 16 bags?! I'm talking the big green bags here, not the skinny white ones.

And they got washed, and they got dried, and they got reloaded into the bags and into baskets and all stowed back in the van and then heaved and carried in the dark cold from the driveway into the family room.

Ah, but then what?

Then they had to be pulled out of the bags. And folded. And sorted. And good Lord, ironed. And some needed to be rewashed. And some mended. And some donated.

I have sat on that blasted coach, every day since, doing a little bit at a time.

Yes, it is not done yet.

Stewing, and angry, and blaming CD but not knowing why - other than the obvious that hey, he's a slob and that pisses me off in general.

Spring clean trips to the laundromat happen every year. All comforters, pillows, throw rugs and sundries. Things too big for our machines. A sweep of it all, to rinse away the dust of the long winter.

This year, however, as I try and get it all put away my brain is also doing a spring clean. With nothing to drag my attention away - like crazy managers and insane deadlines - my mind tries to process all the stuff it pushed away for the past half-decade. Just like the 16 bags of laundry.

Suddenly I find myself in these fugue flashes... experiencing the loss, and betrayal, and exhaustion more deeply now than I did back then, in the moment.

And it hurts.

It hurts to strip the rest away. I mean, of course I am still Bear's mother. I am CD's wife. I am my mother's daughter and my friend's friend and former soldier of a Fortune 200 corporation.

But in these days, with no fixed engagements and no meetings demanding attention.... there is mostly just this. And the laundry.

And I .... HATE folding laundry.

Posted on February 27, 2006 at 02:02 PM and filed under: In My Life
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February 25, 2006

Is it wrong that I am so happy about a television show?? That I am so excited about this whole Josh and Donna thing on the West Wing?

Ever since I saw the promo showing them kiss in the next episode, I've been squeeing.

(This, I am told, is the technically correct term for the little exclamation squeal that accompanies my highly dignified tail-wiggling and hand-waving dance of joy.)

Posted on February 25, 2006 at 11:34 AM and filed under: In My Life
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A step at a time

February 17, 2006

I want to thank you for your comments and emails of support. Friday afternoon was probably the most melancholy of my life. And that's saying something for a sentimental fool such as myself.

I don't think I have ever felt more alone in my life. More aimless, superfluous, or insignificant.

When CD came home, it only took one look at me to know that I had let go of my grip on the cliff.

He did what any superhero would do.

He made reservations.

So, Friday night, there we were...walking into our favorite local restaurant, It has wonderful food, eclectic atmosphere, and crayons for kids. Dee joined us there. To celebrate the begining of, well, maybe the end of...?

Anyway, Bear had a hamburger, French fries and milk.

We had bruschetta and cocktails. We had steaks and martinis. We had crème brûlée and port.

We had hangovers.

Saturday morning, CD and I played the "Parent Possum" game. It goes like this - both parents awake at the sound of the child and then see who can pretend to stay asleep longest. Or at least until the other one gives in and gets up.

After a few long moments, I propped up on my elbow and squinted at my husband. One look at his grimace, and I pulled myself from under the covers.

Poor CD.

Despite my advancing age, gender, and general all-around lazy state of health ... he was much worse off than me.

He claims it was the chocolate martini that did him in, but I know it was that I drank the port and he didn't.

I am new to port.

Port rocks.

In fact, I am so enamored of port that I ran out to buy a couple of bottles - a Late Bottled Vintage and a Tawny - the next day. A red wine I can get behind, is all I'm saying. My doctor will be so pleased.

Monday morning, I woke up and got Bear ready for school and then.... went to my office and sat down. My feet took me there before my brain could figure out what was going on.

[Brain]: Uh, feet, dudes, where we going?

[Feet]: Where we always go in the morning. Duh.

[Brain]: That sounds reasonable. Let's stop in the kitchen for some port on the way.

By the time I plopped my fanny in the chair, I was already feeling a panic. I sat and stared at my computer monitor completely at a loss. What was I doing there?

[Brain]: Hey, feet, let's go.

[Feet]: Go? Where? You mean, walk? Walk? Because, seriously, we don't do that anymore. We get you to this brown room and then we have to take a break. Union rules. Read our contract. Really.

[Brain]: You lazy shits! C'mon, c'mon. We need to stretch and move. Explore. New vistas, unknown country. It's the first day of the rest of our lives and all that...

[Feet]: You've got to be kidding us. Look. We get you to the brown room. Then you take over. Year in, year out. Ya dig?

[Brain]: You know, there's a pair of skimpy golden pumps in the back of the closet. The ones with the 4-inch heels-

[Feet]: You wouldn't dare!

[Ass]: Look, you two, can I say something here?

[Brain] & [Feet]: NO!

[Brain]: Feet, don't fail me now. All I'm asking is that we try something new. A step at a time. That's all. A step at a time....

[Feet]: Just one step at a time?

[Brain]: I promise. Cross my synapses and hope to die.

[Feet]: Well, all right then. If you can convince ass to get outta this chair than I can take you there. A step at a time.

[Ass]; As if, you-

[Feet]: Don't MAKE me kick you, because you know I can!

[Brain]: Ladies, ladies. Let's work together here. We got whole new worlds to explore. Ready?

[Feet] & [Ass]: Let's do it...

And that's when I turned off the monitor, and took the first step.

Posted on February 17, 2006 at 09:29 AM and filed under: In My Life
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The future is begining, now

February 08, 2006

I slip in the Coldplay as I slip into traffic. The snow swirls, the tail lights make foggy red halos, the heater tries to kick in.

They call this 'lake effect' snow, but I have never known what that means. It's not special, except that it's slowing us all down. I glance at the clock and sigh.

Can't be late.

When I was growing up, I hated being the last one. The girl leaning against the wall and watching the door. Wandering if I'd been forgotten.

I won't do that to Bear.

I press the gas, flip my blinker, find a little space in another lane. In a split second, I'm down a side street. Weaving like a New York cab in slow motion.

The Scientist plays;

Running in circles
Coming up tails
Heads on a silence apart...
Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard

I think on all the perks I need to replace, the research I need to do. Cell phone, DSL, home line...

When I was my father's daughter, I loved visiting him at work and playing grown-up at his desk. He'd give me a pen and a pad of legal paper all of my own. Crisp white sheets with faint blue lines, waiting to be filled up.

Questions of science
Science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart
The snow grows thick, my wipers slamming back and forth to keep up. I put the van in a lower gear, and sip my coffee at the stop light.

I'm so tired of this. The constant evaluating of my life and these decisions sours me, like a metallic aftertaste. There are others out there, grappling twisting living struggling laughing crying working in their own lives.

Margi has brought home her new son, born premature but growing strong. Sol has walked away from her career, too. She tends to her own boy, while two new hearts grow beneath hers. Helen dreams/seeks/is making a baby while alternating between globetrotting and having knighted people give her awards.

I watch Philip with admiration as he's found ways to fight his constant pain. Pain that won't be treated, won't be cured, and carves into his days. As Kalisah has looked for the silver lining after waking up one day to find herself fired.

There is no time, left, now. To agonize about a decision already made. To paralyze myself with those fears.

Lessons abound. Faith. Strength. Grace. Humor. I push my mind to them. Tentatively, I force myself to let go of the thick bundles of terror and doubt that have gripped me for so long. They slide away, slowly. It hurts.

The future is beginning, now.

Clocks starts, the cascading synth intro echoing.

Come out upon my seas,
Cursed missed opportunities
Am I a part of the cure
Or am I part of the disease, singing

I wipe at the side window, where the defroster doesn't reach. Check the mirrors.

Today CD found a second job. Maybe. Probably. After months of me pacing and shouting and begging him to find something better than he has now.

He'd say "Better paying jobs don't fall from the sky!"

And I'd accuse him of not trying hard enough. Of not wanting to take care of us. Another of my secret fears. And he'd grow silent, impassive.

A few hours later, he'd walked quietly into my office. Stroke my hair as I typed away. Offer to get me a drink.

The sparks of a once-passionate love glowing again. And I'd touch his hand. And we'd pause. The hope lives here, still.

Thinking of it, thinking of the possible second job, thinking of his willingness to work 6 days a week, thinking of those lessons of faith. Think and pushing a few more of those paralyzing bundles off the cliff of my brain. To the place where the names of acquaintances go, where the location of my glasses goes. Gone into a chasm, never to return.

And the gray clouds overhead seem lighter somehow. The roads clearer. The last mile easy. The traffic lights go my way.

I pull up at Bear's school and slide into the carpool lane. My plastic number in my windshield. My claim ticket for his bright blue eyes and pink chubby cheeks. The teachers move quickly through the little cyclones of snow that race up and down the sidewalks.

The kids are ecstatic. As they exit the school in one's and two's and stand on the line waiting to be escorted to cars, they laugh and look up. They nudge each other and throw back their heads in wonder.

My turn, and I unlock the doors with one hand and flip the switch for the automatic door with the other. Whipping off his backpack, Bear climbs in with a grin that could be used as an alternative power source.

"Snow!" he announces. "Enough for snowballs!"

And as he pulls on his seatbelt, and I push the button to close the door against the wind, the clouds actually drift past. The sun bursts through like an explosion, blinding us in reflection against the new snow.

I squint and wipe the tears from my eyes.

"Whoa," Bear says slowly. "That's like the sun coming from heaven."

And I agree. "Beautiful World" starts thrumming from the speakers.

Here we go, here we go

And we live in a beautiful world,
Yeah we do, yeah we do,
We live in a beautiful world...
Oh, all that I know,
There's nothing here to run from,
'Cause everybody here's got somebody to lean on.

Despite the glare, I pull into gear and turn around for the return trip home before the cars behind me start honking. Slowly navigating into the sun.

The future is beginning, now.

Bring it.

Posted on February 08, 2006 at 05:21 PM and filed under: In My Life
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February 07, 2006

Dear World,

I have written, posted, and then deleted 2 3 4 5 6 posts in the last few days. More than a strong indicator of my present level of craziness (If I were a terror level, I would SO be Ernie), I know this is bad, bad, no-good blog manners and I humbly apologize.

Please forgive me.

I read what I write and realize that I am mumbling, ranting, nonsensical (and not in a lyrical James Joyce way). I realize that I wheelie across boundaries, use poor grammar, swipe at the people I love, gaze profoundly at my own navel, wallow and wallow some more in a pity party I am giving myself, and generally act a mallow-headed prat. And I forget to spell-check too.

I am no better in real life. Saturday night I rented "Kingdom of Heaven" and treated myself to Orlando Bloom in leather tights while eating a plate full of fattening pasta.

Sounded like a relaxing plan when I thought it up.

Turns out? Not so much.

I ended up screaming at the screen about the historical innacuracies of the film until my face turned pink. (No! Really! He was married, faithfully, to her STEPMOTHER! And Italian! And LEGITIMATE!).

My only defense is that I have, regrettably, lost my mind.

(And between you and me, I don't think it's coming back anytime soon.)

My only comfort is that I don't think anyone is watching.


Elizabeth, Corporate Mommy

Posted on February 07, 2006 at 10:29 AM and filed under: In My Life
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And I’d like to change my life, and you know I would

January 26, 2006

I was on the phone this morning with about a dozen different engineers. A server that was supposed to have a 75gig drive only had a 32gig drive and you wouldn't think that was a big deal - but when you only have a guy for one day to load the software and the software needs a 75gig drive, well... it becomes a big deal.

At one point, I hijacked someone else's conference call. My hat in hand, begging for a 75gig drive.

After I made my desperate plea there was a pause. Then I heard a vaguely familiar voice say.... "If it isn't Professor Peabody and her Wayback machine!"

And I had to laugh.

It was a guy I had worked with in 1998, when I was a newbie at Mega and still wearing thrift store (I mean Vintage! Bohemian!) clothes and learning what the heck "Deliverable" and "Return on Investment" meant.

It was a guy who'd screwed me over.

Who had stubbornly refused to meet the deadlines I'd set because back then, I wasn't senior enough for him to notice. And he was new to Mega, too. Hired away from a competitor and eager to show how important he was.

And today we ended up getting on our phones and chatting like it was .... well, a whole new world. After all, we knew each other when.

We saw each other at the begining of our careers with Mega. We had both attended the same long dinners at Morton's, crowded into one of the private dining rooms with 20 others. The rounds and rounds of drinks at the local pub after pulling 20 hour days. The "All Hands" conferences at the local hotel ballroom - a division president barking inspirational words into a corded microphone as he paced the parquet floor.

We both worked our way up, in a corporation famous for rarely promoting. From Lead to Senior Lead. To Partner. To Management. To Senior Management. Hovering in front of the executive washroom, scrambling to take on more responsiblity.

We left behind the core skills that got us in the door for PowerPoint presentations and budget challenges.

And now we're old-tiimers. You know, from way back when.

He refuted me when I told him I was going, disbelief thick in his voice. It took me a few minutes to convince him.

It's a strange thing, inside Mega we are always fighting our own co-workers for the fewer and fewer spots up the food chain. Like a athletes that travel together to competitions.

After the race is run, we all file back onto the same bus. We compliment and commiserate. High-5's as we shimmy down the narrow aisle to an empty seat. Internally plotting to beat each other next time.

"You're coming back," he announced to me smugly. "You're at the top of your game. You won't walk away from that."

And I told him that no one knew the future. If they did, Lotto would go out of business.

And he sighed, and changed the subject. Started reminiscing, and we lost a good half hour that way.

We used to battle and now that is what links us. We were witnesses to a slice of each other's lives, which is a powerful bond.

And I truly believe that when he said he was sorry to see me go... he meant it.

I know I did.

(And we got that 75gig drive from him. But don't ask how. Or from where. Or anything. In fact, we never had this conversation.)

(oh, and p.p.s. - the comments are working again. Wouldn't you like to be my neighbor? Or, at least tell me that the gang's all together again and no hard feelings for me blowing up the website? I'm blatantly begging here...)

Posted on January 26, 2006 at 08:14 PM and filed under: In My Life
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A visit from my former self

January 18, 2006

(Note: I never meant for this to be synchronistic to Helen's post today and wrote this completely unaware that she tackled similar themes - and much better than I. I recommend it!)

This morning we met with the head of Bear's Montessori school as well as the learning specialist who has been working with him.

Normally, when I approach these meetings, I fall apart. Because I am overweight.

People who have met me know this, I can't hide it. I am over 50 pounds overweight, and I have gained over half of those pounds since CD became Depressed. I can't even blame the pregnancy with Bear - although sitting on my fanny for 7 months atrophied every muscle in my body including my brain.

I was 20 pounds overweight when I married CD. I wore a size 14 wedding dress, off the rack. I was also, Oh Happy Day, bloated with stress and my period. (And you wonder why I don't post my wedding pictures. Heh.)

I can be 10 pounds overweight. I will wear a size 8/10/12 and carry those extra pounds in my stomach and my upper arms and a little waddle in my chin. But these can be addressed. After all, God gave us special underwear for the first and tailored shirts for the second and for the last, well, I had a waddle under my chin when I was in high school and weighed 105 pounds and wore a size 6. So that's a nip/tuck or suck it up situation.

I am built like a brick shithouse, as they used to say. I got boobs, too much. I got a pinched-in waist even now. And I got junk, and it's in my trunk, and I made peace with THAT a long time before J. LO thank you very much.

I have short curvy legs and short curvy arms and a dimple in my apple cheek. And the only way for me to look thin - like Bette Midler - is to be about 10 pounds underweight. That's when my hip bones jut out so much that I can't sleep on my stomach and my ribs stand out under a t-shirt.

I remember gaining the freshman 15 and having to buy a size 8 pair of jeans and sitting on the dressing room floor, sobbing so hard that the saleslady asked if there was someone she could call to help me.

I was 120 pounds, and disgusted with myself. In a frenzy of self-loathing I would pinch myself, hunting fat everywhere - at the sides of my breasts and under my arms and between my ribs.I would push on my thighs and cry when I saw how grotesque they looked. My mother would chide me to cut back on dessert and I would stomp away, terrified of my own digestive system and angry with her for saying it our loud.

I decided to do something I had never done before - diet. The summer after my sophmore year of college, I gave myself 500 calories a day and excersized at least an hour or two every morning and afternoon. Then I would bundle up in soft, draping clothes already sizes too big and despise my reflection in the mirror.

The battle became my life. To this day, I look back at pictures of me and realize I was beautiful in my skin and gasp when I remember how scared I was of getting fat.

But I still can't turn off the tape inside my head. The one that says other people are lovely and wonderful no matter their size - but for me, there is a different set of rules.

At 50 pounds overweight, in a pair of size 20 jeans, I hate my body. I look away when I get out of the shower. I hide from meeting new people.


But for my son, I will do anything. So I got up, took a shower, blew dry my hair, and put on clothes. I sat at the table with un-manicured hands and no make-up and dressed well and I got to business.

It was the first time in years that I didn't walk through the door feeling apologetic for how I looked.

Appearance was always so important in my family, in a New England sort of way. To be dressed nicely, but not fashionable. To be well groomed, but not 'done up'. To be naturally attractive and glowing with good health and boast a trim, active body.

I have realized over the years that I don't want to be attractive in a New England sort of way. I like some honey glints in my hair and my eyebrows waxed by someone who isn't me (I am terrorist with a pair of tweezers. What I have done to my left eyebrow - on numerous occasions- is a crime against women everywhere). At my natural weight, when I feel healthy, I wear a size 10. I have a lush body, with cream and pink skin, and my full lips were made for gloss.

And kissing.


But right now I am still 50 pounds away from that. And I have let that weight interfere with how I live.

Until today. Today I forgot about my looks, forgot to be self-conscious, forgot lose my self-esteem at the door, and just had the meeting. It wasn't until I got home and my friend was complimenting the cut of my jeans that I realized what had happened.

Last night, I looked inside and saw all the darkness that I am fighting. All the anger and resentment and stress that has built up in a swarm slamming inside my soul. And then, this morning, a visit from my former self. The one who used to walk talk at 5 foot 2 inches. I used to love being female, with a Marilyn Monroe body. I used to feel confident in my skin, and that meant I could focus on other things.

I am not sure how it happened, because it was a crappy kind of morning before the meeting. And the meeting itself actually wasn't all that productive. But then, I was sitting in my office sorting through my work mail and I realized that I had never had my panic attack this morning - the one I have before meeting someone new about my first impression as "a fat girl".

And then I remembered before. When this is how it used to be.

And I wonder, I mean, just a little bit... if maybe somehow I can become OK with this body even as I finally give myself the time and energy to get healthier. If maybe, in facing the darkness, there is a path to the joy of my former self.


Posted on January 18, 2006 at 11:50 AM and filed under: In My Life
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The Darkness Inside

January 17, 2006

There is a darkness in me these days.

I want to write, but my words seems stuck in a single groove of the record.

I am afraid.

I am angry.

I am angry at CD for not finding a job that pays what he knows he needs to make. For not hustling harder. For waiting until the last minute. Mere weeks before we lose my income. Knowing that if he doesn't support us, we'll have to sell the house or else have me go back to work. I have been saving him so long that I suspect, in my darkness, that he's just waiting for me to do it again.

I am angry at my co-workers, the ones on this fucking nightmare of an assignment. Especially the management. For treating people with such an utter lack of respect and dignity. For treating me as if I were a problem because I had the gall to file a complaint. I am pissed that I even care. But sometimes I think that my heart is my strength. I care. I CARE. It's part of what gives me power in my world, my heart beating strong. And I care. So it hurts.

I am angry at my child, for acting out. He's confused about what is happening, and I bet he is scared to. And it makes me furious at myself for snapping at him when he yells at me for eating his half of a donut when I was hungry, the donut I stopped and got for him as a treat and he never said thank you. I know he's a little kid, and that my expectations are way out of line. I make myself crazy not knowing if I should enforce the high expectations I always have or let it slide that he is so whiny these days, full of sudden tears and bouts of callous selfishness.

I am angry that I don't know what to do.

And then into this miasma of frustration and tension, I get angry at CD again. And at myself for giving me away for so long. To save him or enable him, I don't know where the line is anymore.

I don't know how far I will go.

I don't know what I will do to meet the darkness in me and find my light again.

I don't know how many times I will snap back at perfectly nice people who make the mistake of stepping on my last nerve.

I don't know what I will do if I am forced to sell the house. If I have that much forgiveness in me.

Actually I know the answer to that one.

I am fighting to save my marriage, my health, my wellbeing, my ability to parent. Against a darkness that has clung too long.

And I don't know if I will win.

Posted on January 17, 2006 at 04:01 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Cliff Jumping

January 12, 2006

I work with some of the greatest people in Corporate America. For example, one of the engineers called me today:

Him: You're really leaving?

Me: Yep.

Him: So where are you going? "Competitor Corporation"?

Me: Uh, no. Actually, it's not really...

Him: Oh, you're not. You ARE, aren't you?

Me: Uh...

Him: You're cliff-diving, aren't you? With no parachute!

Me: If you mean that I don't have another full-time job lined up...

Him: Just taking it on faith, huh?

Me: I guess you could say that.

Him: Wow. You know what, Elizabeth?

Me: Uh, what?

Him: That is totally cool. I wish you luck.

Posted on January 12, 2006 at 07:32 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Hang on tight, it's going to be bumpy ride...

January 01, 2006

So our bookkeeper sent us a lovely email message wishing us a new year and reminding us, gently, that people who are about to slash their incomes in less than half probably shouldn't be running a grand over their weekly budget.

*long, terrified gasp*

Although I HAD scheduled my freak-out for next week, I think I am going to have to start now.

*running in circles and waving my hands in the air*

Which, I must point out, is VERY inconvenient because I had really intended this week to kick off my 12-step Nyquil Anonymous meetings.

Posted on January 01, 2006 at 03:54 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Happy Something.

December 31, 2005

This is a note of warning - I have been ill for 6 days. 5 of which I vaguely remember in shadows and gulps and sweaty sheets. For all I know, I am currently inseminated with some evil alien's hybrid child that will split me open like an overripe melon. Look, it could be true. The past few days are lost to me like a bad NBC drama. I have no freaking idea.

And into the dim, comes New Year's Eve.

I hate New Year's Eve.

The best New Year I ever spent, on a balcony overlooking Reykjavik. A thousand blooms of fireworks lighting up the sky. Iceland brings in a new year with bonfires and hearty meals and drunken song and dozens and dozens of blasts in the sky. And even that night, that happy night, was book-ended with tears and maudlin moaning and trepidation.


Because New Year's Eve sucks.

It sucks rocks and there's no convincing me otherwise. You just can't attempt to encompass a year's worth of possibilities and realities and have that live up to itself. I mean, you blend up bad champagne, overly veneered strangers, shiny shoes that hurt your feet, and some guy who's decided he's getting lucky for sure and you will NOT come out the other end with anything good. No, my friends, you will, in fact, come out with the sum total of the umpty-ump remembered New Year's Eves of my life. A veritible sausage of disaster.

I'm talking about starting off the new year with worse than just blurry eyes and ringing regrets and vomit on my shoes.

The best of intentions, each year. The worst of results. The kind of stuff that you can't plop plop fizz fizz back into anything good.

*sigh* Not the best of moods to be contemplating a year in. So, I won't.

Instead, I will stubbornly do as I usually do. With the added festive touch of mighty blue Nyquil. Which is to say - count this as a night when it is best to stay at home, eat snack food for dinner, and watch reruns until bedtime.

But before I begin hauling all the pillows and blankets into the living room, I wanted to stop as I did last year and say this...

Thank you for the dance so far. This blog and each soul who has stopped by for a piece of the journey has been an incredible blessing to me.

And, please - drive safe tonight (if you must insist on revelry and merriment and/or shiny high-heeled shoes), remember to kiss your designated driver all over, and see you in 2005 2006.

Peace on Earth, God's peace to us all. (Or, at the very least, a mutual non-combatant treaty).

Icelandic New Year's Eve Chant:
Let those who want to, arrive.
Let those who want to, leave.
Let those who want to, stay.
Without harm to me or mine.
Posted on December 31, 2005 at 12:34 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Best Laid Plans

December 29, 2005

I had intended on hoarding my remaining sick and vacation leave to buy me an extra paycheck at the end of January...

Ah. Well.

By Christmas night, my fever was already topping 101. The last 3 days are a blur of Nyquil and my husband cajoling me into eating things like soup. I just woke up and had no good idea what day it was.

Bah. Humbug.

Posted on December 29, 2005 at 01:41 AM and filed under: In My Life
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A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night

December 24, 2005

As we exited church this evening, the light drizzling rain had begun to fall in earnest.

"Oh," I sighed. "I wonder if Santa can deliver in the rain..."

"Hmmm," CD agreed. "Do you think he can switch the sleigh skids into wheels? How can the reindeer pull without snow?"

"No," Bear corrected us with a long-suffering expression. "Rein-deer. Get it? REIN-deer! The first part of their name is 'REIN' so I think they can handle it. OK?"

Well, he had us there.

Then, to prove that homonyms notwithstanding he really does know his letters, Bear proceeded to spell out the next sign he saw.... "N-E-X-T-E-L" So it is with a glow in our hearts that we will always remember this as the year Bear learned to read cell-phone advertising.


Although I have had to temporarily hide away all my corporate posts, I have added the Holiday email I sent out to my teams in the extended portion of this email. And I mean it all very sincerely - may your and yours be blessed this sacred season.

And to all, a good night.

Continue reading "A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night"
Posted on December 24, 2005 at 07:11 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Confidential to the cute guy in the steel blue Honda on Oak Park Ave. this morning

December 22, 2005

Dude, it was "Bohemian Rhapsody", by Queen - the whomping deep bass bridge that starts about 4 minutes in. Yes, I had it on repeat. Yes, I know my head thumping is much more Butabi wannabe from Night at the Roxbury than Wayne from Wayne's World.

No, I have no shame.

Glad I could give you a laugh so early in the morning.

Carry on.

Posted on December 22, 2005 at 09:17 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Everything's gonna (not) be all right (Chrysalis)

December 21, 2005

I'm driving down the road after morning drop-off at Happy Montessori. I just started helping out one morning a week with carpool.

I share my new Wedensday duties with 2 moms. One is tall and glamourous and sweet. The other is from Europe, and talks about the relief work she used to do in places like Chad. I was the roundy nodding lady in between.

And then, I was driving home. To work. I was going to get the car washed, but I forgot to make the turn to the bank, and besides - I think I've spent my budget for the week anyway. I was going to stop at Walgreens and pick up the enlargements I had made for Christmas gifts, but I forgot my receipts with the claim numbers on them back home.

My new morning partners were talking about the gifts they had gotten for their kids' teachers. $60 Border gift certificates. I forgot to give Bear's teachers their gift - $20, to be shared between them. I feel terrible inside. I think I should have at least made it into a gift certificate or something. Cash seems so crude now.

Bear was very eager this morning to make sure that today was an "Elia Day" - that we would be picking her up on our way home in the afternoon. He likes being with Elia - she indulges him, and cuddles him, and tells him he's wonderful. He often grabs a cape when she's around, announcing that he's "Super Bear!" because that's how she make him feel - he jumps on the bed pretending to fly, he runs with his arms outspread - shouting to imaginary people below that they needn't worry, he's got the bad guys on the run.

I was driving home, and listening to music, the sun bright in my eyes as I turned.

I feel jumbled up inside. I think about how much Mega takes care of - our house and work phones are directly paid by them. So is our DSL and my cell phone. We'll lose the stock options, the 401K plan, the dental coverage. The good laptop is theirs.

And CD, his current salary won't take care of us.

I think about not being a Senior Manager at Mega any more. About how I am a small cog, but at least I have a place. About how my place will be gone.

Bear is 5 now, and likes me in the doses he gets me as a working mom. I tell him I am going to be home with him, and I get the quizzical look from him that says "Uh, and how is that different from now?"

I don't kow how this is going to work. I never did relief work in Africa. I have never made a craft with popsicle sticks. My cooking is good, sometimes, but my meal planning is poor. I struggle and most weeks fail to keep exactly to my budget. I say things like "Deliverable" and "Total Cost of Ownership" and "Risk Contingency" as though that is how normal people talk.

My marriage is shaky. The trust is slowly being rebuilt, but we fall backward all the time.

What the hell am I doing?


We are going to lose the house. What am I going to do with my days? How will I survive without Elia? What if my marriage falls apart? I can't even remember the receipts for the ^&#%^$* enlargements!!!!!

This is a disaster.

I don't know what to do.

I'm scared.

Posted on December 21, 2005 at 09:58 AM and filed under: In My Life
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I miss nylons

December 20, 2005

Once upon a time, a woman was naked without nylons.

These were dark terrible bad times. Because nylons are evil. Unless you play outdoor icehockey, in which case - rock on with your own bad self. But under everyday skirts, nylons - which do not have the "give" of lycra, cause the buildup of static to the extent that entire outfits are known to sponateously combust and are prone to bunching up and causing a tourniquet sensation whereby your toes go numb but you can't do a thing about it because adjusting one's self in public is a naughty thing to do...

Wait. What the heck was I talking about?

Oh, right. Nylons.


Except, there was this brand called L'Eggs. And they nyons came in these FABULOUS plastic eggs. Sturdy, locked tight, and were the best thing to happen to the preschool crafts scene since popsicle sticks.

And Bear is about to have two weeks off from school to celebrate Christmakuhwanzaa and he's getting a little nervous. He doesn't remember what it is like to be with Mommy during the day.

I picked him up this afternoon from school, and from the moment the minivan door started to slide open, he was asking me about our plans for his school break. He wants a list. An outline, with bullets. A schedule, that includes outside activities and inside activities and snacks.

And he has been very clear about the kind of outside play ("Tag. Sledding. Maybe build a snowman, but we need new snow. The old snow is dirty.") and snacks ("We can make banana bread if Auntie Dee gives you the recipe because she makes it best, and fruit skewers, and shredded carrot from the salad bar at Whole Foods") but his biggest concern is inside time.

Oh, my budding control freak. They are so cute at this age, before they get their first Blackberry.

So far, the only ideas I have had that interest him consist of playing umpty-ump games of War and Go Fish and maybe starting an indoor herb garden. Which means we got about 200 hours left, people.

So this afternoon, I was telling him, we can do crafts! We can use the eggs that nylons come in and we make, uh... crafts! I'll get a book, about crafts! We'll do a project.

"Sound good, Bear?"

"Yeah, Mommy!!!" Came the shout from the back of the van. "Let's make exploding crafts with eggs!"

"Uh, ok... I can get a science experiment book. We can make like an egg volcano or something."



"Mommy? What's nylons?"

(Countdown to staying home, let's start getting nervous now...)

Posted on December 20, 2005 at 04:21 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Pardon My Dust, Please

December 12, 2005

And you may ask yourself
How did I get here?
And you may ask yourself
Where is the Corporate Mommy I am used to?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my usual Mommy!
And you may tell yourself
This is not her beautiful site!

Well, on account of the lawyers wanting a retainer somewhat equal to the gross national product of Liechtenstein, I decided that I was going to have to make the most recent round of Corporate Mommy site edits all by myself.

Turns out, I am a moron.

Now that doesn't come as a shock to most folks but it does, in fact, come as a shock to me. I really thought I could create a new .CSS stylesheet for MT using uh... Notepad.

No, I'm not kidding.

GUI Editors? We don't need no stinkin' GUI Editors! (Actually, I didn't know there was such a thing).

So I spent a couple of nights skimming some CSS tutorials, declared myself an expert, launched notepad, and uh... pooched my site beyond all recognition.

But no worries. I have some Halls cough drops and a will of iron. Things should be fixed any moment now...

(and I'd love to hear your opinions but... the comments? Yeah, I broke that too.)

Posted on December 12, 2005 at 01:13 PM and filed under: In My Life
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He held my hand

December 07, 2005

Every day, I drive the same way home after picking up Bear from Happy Montessori. Happy is about 20 minutes from our house, and along the way there is, like, a LOT of schools. And they all let out around 3PM and there is no path between Happy and home that isn't clogged with kids.

In the past 8 or 9 weeks, I've come to recognize some of them. The girls in the Barbie outfits. The punk kids smoking cigarettes and taking flak from the crossing guards. The loner ones, who I see day after day with their heads into the wind and no one by their side.

And there's this one boy.

My first impressions were of him walking alone. Back straight, no hat, hands in his pockets. He caught my eye the first time because I was stuck at the light so long that he passed me on foot easily through these two intersections by our house.

I realized over time that each day, he walks away from one of the public schools towards one of the parochial ones.

Handsome kid, maybe around 12 or 13 years old, somber face.

Then, one afternoon, I saw him standing on a corner, not walking. While we waited at the light, a girl in a parochial school uniform walked up to him. As she approached, they switched backpacks and then walked away from me.

Over the weeks, Bear and I saw that happen a couple more times. One day I said to myself, "I wonder why they switch backpacks..."

From the back seat, Bear said "He carries the bigger one, mommy."

I realized Bear was right.

So many afternoons, we'd pass him walking down towards that parochial school. And knew when he got there, he'd switch backpacks with his friend. And I decided I liked this boy, although I don't know him.

Last week, a cold day and traffic was snarled and slow. I watched the boy come from behind me and pass by on the sidewalk. I watched him get to the corner. I watched the girl approach and they exchanged backpacks.

And then they stood, looking at each other for a moment. He pulled off one of his gloves and held out his hand. I held my breath.

With a shy smile, she pulled off one of her mittens and took it. And the walked away, holding hands.

I exhaled deeply. Mistily.

...And suddenly it was the 1980's...

Early high school years. A warm house, a birthday party. And I, as ever, was an outsider. Sitting on the floor in a corner of the living room. A plate of uneaten food in my lap. Watching the clock on the wall until my mom came to get me.

One of the popular guys, John, was working the room. Talking, laughing. Somehow, despite my attempts to be invisible, he ended up in front of me.

"Come on," he teased, holding out his hand to help me up. "Join the party."

With a sigh, I reached out and stood up. Looking down at me, he smiled. He took my plate. And instead of letting my hand go, he entwined our fingers.

I stood, paralyzed, until he tugged me along with a quick grin.

For the next hour, we moved from room to room. Me standing quietly by his side, my hand inside his. I could feel everyone looking at us. I could feel their questions. Electricity and confusion running through me.

And when it was time to go, I gently pulled away and headed to the door. He followed. As I opened the door, I felt a hand on my back.

"Leaving?" John asked, making eye contact despite my sudden and abiding fascination with my feet.

I nodded.

He held out his arms, and I don't quite know how I ended up inside them. I just know that we went to a small school and most of the student body was in that house and it felt like every single one of them gasped when his lips found the curve between my lips and the dimple in my cheek.

"Good night," he said into my ear.

I nodded again, and tried to remember how to breathe.

He reached down and squeezed my hand and I somehow made it out the door. And into my mom's car. When we pulled into our driveway, I launched myself into the night. I remember running across the street and screaming at my friend's house. I remember shouting up to her bedroom window. I remember her face, as she stuck her head out and looked down to me as I waved my arm over my head.

"He held my hand! He held my hand!"


"Uh, what, honey?"

"Green means go."

I blinked and realized the light had changed. Down the side street, I could barely see the boy and his girl, their hands still clasped between them.

I pressed the gas, and we went home.

Posted on December 07, 2005 at 10:50 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Bear Tracks

December 02, 2005

Bear is starting to struggle.

Yesterday during karate meet, the kids were evaluated for moving to the next belt color. Bear has been an orange belt so long that some little kids who hadn't even started karate when he got his orange belt are now a yellow belt, one rank higher than him.

That's because he hasn't been there for the last 3 evaluations. He missed one at the start of summer because it conflicted with an end of the year school event, he missed one in the midst of summer because we were in Cape Cod, and he missed the fall evaluation because he was so sick. They have 5 a year.

His orange belt is frayed, and covered with tape showing his accomplishments. He is eager to go on to yellow belt, and he's been told twice now he was ready to get it.

Then last night he and another boy walked through his moves. The other boy struggled to remember his, but Bear knew them all. However, he didn't know them with the correct hand. He turned 5 a couple of months ago, maybe he should know them, but without a dominant side this is going to happen slowly.

The other boy was given a slip that said he was ready to get his yellow belt. Bear was not. He ran over to me, with a wounded expression on his face. He knew he'd done well, that his forms had been strong. I had no words for him, just a hug.

The evaluators were two women instructors who seem fair and knowledgable, but I don't really know.

I stayed up last night, looking at the wall. This is a bit of an icy patch for my son, and I want to handle it right. I want to help him in any way I can as he struggles. I want to roar into that karate place like a dragon and breathe fire of outrage.

My son is an amazing person. The list of how talented and accomplished he is goes on for a big paragraph - I know because I just had to delete about 30 lines of run-on paragraph about all the great things he does and all the great ways he is.

CD and I have decided to go ahead and let the school do what they want to help him. We're out of our depths, with only our inner voices telling us that there's nothing wrong. That Bear is actually where he should be. But we seem to be in the minority, and this is too important.....

Posted on December 02, 2005 at 08:15 AM and filed under: In My Life
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What a swell week

December 01, 2005

Friday! Friday you beautiful thing!!!!! And not a moment too soon!

If this week doesn't end soon, my brain will pop out my ear and go looking for a new host. And I'll be better off without it.

Which of the following do you think happened this week?

1) Had a milkman wake me up at 3:30AM after I fell asleep not 10 feet from the front door and scared myself so bad that I threw up...

2) Realized after tripping on my way out of the school that I had just cussed "Oh Shit" in front of about a half-dozen kids. (Softly, but still...)

3) Attended my son's practice meet sitting in the front row, in front of a mirrored wall, never realizing I was wearing khaki's that had a split seam and my pink underwear was showing for the world to see.

If you picked all 3, then ding ding ding! You're a winner!

(skulking back to bed, and praying for a do-over...)

Posted on December 01, 2005 at 11:38 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Not in my day...

November 29, 2005

Now that I am 40, I get to say things like "back when I was young...."

So, back when I was young, my brother had books full of pictures and shelves full of trophies and ribbons. He played every sport there is. Oh, and he was good at it.

Me? I have the natural athletic grace of a pet rock. But I tried. Yes, I did. I skiied, I swam, I played softball, and field hockey. I sailed. I was a cheerleader for a couple of seasons, too. You don't know this because there are no pictures of most of it. And certainly I was never given a trophy.

Because back when I was young, boys were still graded on their physical accomplishments and girls? Not so much.

So we're at Bear's karate this evening. And as his class was ending, the kids for the next one were trickling in. And in walks a couple of girls, about 8 or 9 years old. One in a faux leopard skin coat and purple clogs and her friend in braids and a bright pink jacket and matching earmuffs. They changed into their uniforms and got in line waiting by the door.

The friend admires the first girl's pedicure.

"Is that sparkly purple?"

"No, it's called 'royal blue glitter'. I got it to match my new karate trophy."

"Oh, I didn't go to the tournament. But I got a purple trophy for coming fist at the spelling bee."

"Sparkly purple?"

"No, regular. But it would be a good color for my toes anyway. And I spell way better than my dad now."

"That's cool. I do math better than spelling. If you get the purple can I try it on my toes?"

"Yeah, sure."

Oh. My. Stars. We have so come a long, long way....

Posted on November 29, 2005 at 07:30 PM and filed under: In My Life
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If you decorate it, they will come...

November 28, 2005

I know this couple, they're in love. They have a baby and each other and they are so happy that every time I am around them I have to promise myself not to compare my life to theirs.

Because, they really are happy. Right this minute. I mean, as I write this, they are porbably kissing or teaching their year-old toddler Portugese or piecing a quilt for the local AIDS hospice while there child gently sleeps.

Their home is comfortable in the way a home is when it has so much love and vibrancy. Their lives are spilled out on the walls, in little posters and pictures. Their kitchen is well organized, to acommodate both their talents. Their child's room is a haven.

This couple, I have known them a long time. And like my Aunt and Uncle, like my friends out of state, their world didn't happen by accident. It was a natural outcome of their shared dreams and the hard work they put into it.

I look around this house, and I see all the dreams we packed into our moving boxes with our incomplete china sets and our throw pillows. We headed out of the city with an infant, an unmatched collection of furniture, and big ideas.

We were going to have a home like that. We plotted it in our minds a thousands times.

This was where we would put that armchair we're going to buy someday. And this would be where we keep the menus from our favorite restaurants. Here is where we will track Bear's growth on the wall.

But then....

Well. Yeah. Then all that stuff happened and then we were miserable but we didn't give up and yet sometimes it does feel like what I keep thinking is progress is really just being stuck in the same place but on a new day.

And our house is like that. It isn't warm, and comfortable. It is rumpled, and unorganized, and it doesn't stay clean. There are pockets of sanctuary and long lines of chaos and construction. I feel jittery, looking around. And sad. And frustrated. And there were so many, many days when the only thing that kept me here was picturing Bear's face if ever I told him that it was time to leave.

And it was not so long ago.

But you know what? On Sunday afternoon, we went to the Christmas tree lot and we bought some real honest-to-goodness used-to-be-alive evergreen garland. And we wrapped it up in white lights and draped it around the front door.

Sure, our neighborhood is practically the universally agreed upon house-decorating Olympic winner of Pleasantville and a little scrap of lighted swag don't mean a hill of beans in land where National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is required viewing and folks start laying the concrete platforms for this year's giant Frosty display in September.

But we did it. All three of us. It was a crappy weekend, and it could have ended like so many before - rumpled, disorganized, unsatisfied, snapping.

But instead, and heaven help me I don't know how, we were standing in the misty rain in our socks, with pine needles stuck to our arms, grinning at the joy of a strand of white lights, and home.

You can't tell me we don't have the most gorgeous 16 feet of swag around.

I know it's not okay yet. I know, there's no need to tell me.

Yesterday morning, I cried in the shower. I wanted to rip down a wall in frustration. I didn't think I could take one more minute, one more hour, one more day of how hard it can be. It is so hard sometimes. I felt so strung tight. And I have ... no idea at all how the rest of the day got easier.

But it did.

It hurts. So much. So often. But we're here. We're all here, in this home right now. We're here, and I know it's not okay yet but tonight it sure feels okay. We're here and we do love each other. And by God, our door glows.

And I believe.

Posted on November 28, 2005 at 07:22 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Muted Screams

November 26, 2005

Sometimes I feel like turning into a corner and screaming until my lungs fall out onto the floor.

But I mute myself. And keep moving forward.

That is all.

Posted on November 26, 2005 at 06:36 PM and filed under: In My Life
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There's No Place Like Home

November 16, 2005

We're home. I'm 40. And what have we learned?

The Louvre is big. Paris is just as beautiful as you think it is. Nothing feels as good as your child's arms around your neck after being seperated. Nothing smells as good as your own pillow as you crash into sleep. Crepes are yummy. So is my husband. Never get lost in Belgium when the only map you have is of France.

More later.


Posted on November 16, 2005 at 10:57 AM and filed under: In My Life
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La Vie En Rose

November 11, 2005

I made a list about a dozen years ago. I was sitting on a ledge on the isle of Spetses, wearing nothing more than a silky white sheet tied around my waist and a sunbeam. I remember watching the blue sea, pen poised over my journal, feeling so powerful I could have roared.

I wrote down all the dreams I could think of. The obvious and the ones that I had never admitted before. And through the years that followed I added and subtracted. Many of the things I have actually done - given birth, worked a salaried job, finished a work of fiction and let others read it, forgiven old hurts...

But then a few years ago I stopped. I stopped praying, I stopped deaming, I stopped looking at my list. I lost track of me. Gave me away to the days.

Until a couple of months ago. When all the little cuts bled me to a fury that left me in enraged tears on the phone - drawing the line in blood.

So, around number 10; "Walk along the Seine before my 40th birthday..."

And would you look? My bags are packed, my ticket is in hand, and I'm about to fly away to a dream - with 17 hours to spare.

I've taken me back. And damn, it feels good.

Posted on November 11, 2005 at 01:40 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Blah Blah Bras

November 09, 2005

Earlier this week, I bought 3 new bras for my trip to Paris. Because I just couldn't see me going to Paris in my tired old badly fitting beige ones.

The new bras are all the same size and manufacturer. I decided to wear each one once to make sure it fit - because you don't really know until you're about 10 hours into the day.

Monday's bra was a cute yellow number that looked great under a low-cut shirt and my green suede jacket. Comfy and supportive all day. Forgot I was wearing it. Thinking of marrying it.

Tuesday's bra was pink and a little tight across the chest and rode up a little. Had to adjust it a few times. Felt a little saggy, but not too bad.

Today's bra is a black lace torture device. It is tight across the chest, saggy, and the underwires are poking my arm. My ARM! As I type!

Do you know how hard it is to type while being poked in the upper arm by your underwire? Do you? Well?

I do NOT UNDERSTAND THE BRASSIERE INDUSTRY. I am completely baffled. I am about to be umpty-ump years old and having been wearing bras for most of those years and I am no closer to foundation garment zen than I was as a teenager.

We caught a piece about a bra shop in Paris that will hand-make a bra to women's precise measurements. The cost? Around 2 grand. If I had it, would I spend it? YES. YES. YES. Because these things NEED a bra. They can't be let to waggle loose, you know. They could put an eye out. Probably mine.

So - 3 bras in identical sizes and identical manufacturer with the results being 1 that fits, 1 that will do but not great, and 1 that should be classified as a weapon. Ye Gods.

Well, I hope Paris likes Yellow.

Posted on November 09, 2005 at 01:43 PM and filed under: In My Life
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November 07, 2005

All these years of getting so close, and now - finally - I am days from getting on a direct flight to Paris.

Except, you know, the rioting. The disenfranchised of France are rising up. My heart goes out to everyone touched by the violence.

And I'm looking at my non-refundable tickets, and like so many people in the world today - I am not sure what to do.

Posted on November 07, 2005 at 01:21 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Warning, Warning! Disengage Mouth

October 18, 2005

Just when you think the world has evolved....

Guy: So what are you going to do? Do you have another job lined up?

Me: No. I'm hoping to pull together enough work to make Bear's tuition at a Montessori. Maybe a little more.

Guy: How?

Me: Writing, I hope. Maybe some technical writing.

Guy: Not full-time?

Me: No, no... Full-time taking care of Bear. When he's at school, stay at home stuff.

Guy: I give you 3 months, tops.

: What do you mean?

Guy: You're just not the type to sit around eating bon-bons, you know?

Posted on October 18, 2005 at 12:47 PM and filed under: In My Life
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20 Random Things

October 17, 2005

Joli at On a Bad Day I Wish I was 23 things tagged me with 20 Random things. Now, I rarely do these but....

1) I dream of being a Sous Chef, with a specialty in sauces.
2) The songs 'You're in my Heart' (Rod Stewart) and 'The Space Between' (Dave Matthews) always make me stop. And listen. And go somewhere else in my mind.
3) I am a radical believer in random acts of kindness and beauty.
4) When I watch my son sleep, it almost always makes me cry in wonder.
5) On Saturday, I had an excise biopsy of a small lump under my left arm. Now I have 4 ugly black stitches.
6) I don't have my Project Manager Professional certification - it became industry standard long after I got into the career. I'm on the fence about how I feel about that, and whether I should get it.
7) My favorite Sr. Vice President has a round face and a tragic combover and I have such a work crush on his mind.
8) I don't like Mondays.
9) Lilacs are blessings.
10) My favorite chef is my mom.
11) I used to be naturally very happy. I hope to be again.
12) The color of blue just after the sun has set. Mmmm.
13) I fantasize about having (ahem) relations in the cab of an 18-wheeler. (With CD, of course!)
14) Went on a long bike ride with Bear on Sunday. Want to do that alot more.
15) I am a free spirit.
16) When my boss asked me if I was staying at the job because I was hoping for some kind of salary bump to entice me to stay, I couldn't stop myself from laughing.
17) Some people never worry about being able to look themselves in the mirror. I don't understand that.
18) Every so often, I go vegetarian for a while.
19) I have no interior decorating skills. At all.
20) I believe that love, once given, lasts a lifetime - even if it just in memory.

OK, your turn!

Posted on October 17, 2005 at 06:03 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Pardon My Dust

October 13, 2005

OK, how is it that nobody noticed the circles? I mean, the seashore-y squares were replaced with BIG BRIGHT CIRCLES! This somehow escapes everyone? Or, wait, is it that the circles are so HEINOUS that noone can bear to look? Is that it? You can tell me the truth. I can take it. It's not like I just QUIT MY JOB or anything. I'm not fragile. Oh, no. Don't think of me, scouring Monster in tears in one browser window while I frenetically mutilate my blog template in the other. I mean, just a regular day here, so feel free to mention the circles.

Or not.

(*ahem* I seem to have thrashed my Individual Archive Template into an ugliness heretofore never envisioned by human eyes. If anyone has ANY idea how to fix it (*cough* forgot to make a copy of the good one)... well, I'm offering chocolate here. The good stuff.)

Posted on October 13, 2005 at 09:50 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Push Me Pull Me

October 11, 2005

There's one episode of the Simpsons, where Homer has all these baby pictures of Maggie up in his office, and you see the words "Do it for her".

I grok.

The good news was that there was a way to be home with my son and make enough to suport this family through the dark times. On the other hand, I have gained 50 pounds and aged 20 years since I went back to work. My mouth seems to relax into a frown. I rub my chest red trying to ease the tightness. And lately I have felt like a firecracker looking for a match. My patience is shot; my mood sour.

I've been dreaming, all these years. In the back of my tired mind. That one day things would be so much better, stronger, and in a rush of love and compassion, he'd get on a white charger and race to my rescue. Wrap me in his arms, and tell me everything was all right now. That I didn't have to carry it alone anymore.

And then, everything would be all right. Disney bluebirds would chirp in the mornings. And everytime my nose twitched, we'd win the lottery.

No, really.

My therapist said that I had to be my own hero. I guess I started today. When my boss and I got into it, she made some crack about my future career with Mega and I laughed. Next thing you know, I was telling her I was quitting my job.

Although I agreed to stay until they find my replacement.

Cue the frigging bluebirds.

Posted on October 11, 2005 at 02:11 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Pebble Pie

October 05, 2005

When I was learning how to cook, pie recipes would tell me that I should bake the crust before filling it. So I would dutifully bake the hard-made crusts, and the crusts would bubble and bulge in the pan and be ruined.

I asked around, and one woman told me to use dried peas to hold the dough in place. Another cook told me she been using the same bowl of washed pebbles as weights for over 20 years. So I dug up handfuls of tiny stones and scrubbed them clean and carefully laid them down into my crusts.

And that's how I made pebble pie.

You see, no one had told me that you needed a layer of parchment paper between the pebbles or peas and the dough. I guess it seemed obvious. But as I chomped down on that apple & rock pie a la mode, all that was obvious to me was that these women must have been a lot better at picking stuff out of crust. Then again, maybe I am slow.

Today, I took Bear to the new doctor to get cleared to go back to school. Part of me was dreading it, because the last day or so - as Bear has improved - has been a very special time for him and I. We have spent hours cuddling on the couch and reconnecting. And I know that once he goes back to school, I will have to re-enter the whirlwind of stress and power plays that is my job.

But that's my shit, not his. And the sooner he gets back to life as regularly scheduled, the happier he will be. So off we went, and the doctor certified him as healthy and wonderful and raring to go.

He raced ahead as we exited the exam room and the doctor looked at me and said "You are, for lack of a better word, ballsy."

I got that confused wrinkle in my head - the one that says "huh?".

"Chutpah, ma'm. You got it. Most mothers are in here demanding MRI's if their children have that kind of fever just a day."

You know, that didn't make things any clearer.

"Normally," she explained to my Joey-like expression of interested ignorance, "when we tell a parent that we can not do any more for a child and that only a hospital is a logical next step..."

"Did I do something wrong?" I asked.

"No, no..." she said, patting my arm. "Look, he's fine... perfect. You certainly listen to your instincts."

She told me that Bear's fever - at 10 days - is the longest she's ever had a patient go. And that she and her partners couldn't believe we didn't bring him back to the hospital when it got bad again on Thursday.

So, yeah they'd told me that we should check him back in at Children's if he didn't improve. But his fever never hit 104f again and CD and I felt that while he was uncomfortable and sick - he wasn't in danger. But now she was making it seem like their advice to us had been some kind of code for "wrap your child in a blankie and race him in"?

The doctor told me no, that wasn't what she meant. But I got the sense as I walked away that I was missing something obvious. That I'd somehow been a bad parent. In a way much worse than pebble pie.

Posted on October 05, 2005 at 12:58 AM and filed under: In My Life
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A Change Is Going To Come

September 30, 2005

We drove home in silence.

I watched the skies out the car window. My knees up to my chest and my feet on the dashboard as he maneuvered the van through the murk of Lower Wacker. Every few feet, a crash of rain on the roof as we would be exposed to the world above.

My son was asleep in his car seat behind me. Around his wrist, a bright yellow hospital bracelet. I looked back at him often, my heart swelling in gratitude at his peaceful expression, he feverless cheeks.

Down on the car floor, my phone lit up and I ignored it. Despite being on Emergency Leave, my phone had logged over 30 incoming calls. 13 messages. My deputy had been let go due to budget concerns and my manager was attempting to fill in. I had told him a dozen times that I was not in a sitaution where I could deal with work. He kept calling.

Twenty feet outside my window, the river danced with the rain. I watched the boats push against the wind and the people rushing with umbrellas over the bridges above. The flags lining Michigan Avenue flapped and pulled violently.

In the passenger seat, I thought about my son. I thought about how he was fine. I swallowed back the terror that something truly evil was unfurling inside him. I clenched my eyes shut and prayed.

"He's going to be all right," my husband announced softly, firmly.

I nodded, and gripped his hand.

It was like a kaleidoscope, in my mind... The day I came back to Chicago. Walking into my old apartment for the first time, the creak of the wood floors. The flash of light as I was slid into the torpedo tube for my MRI when I got sick. The chalky smell of books in the room where I got my job as a corporate trainer. The feel of slippery hotel comforters in dozens of towns. The touch of CD's hand brushing mine the night we met. The dry, earnest expression of the guy who interviewed me at Mega. The moment of disbelief as I waited before walking across the backyard to get married. The stink of chlorine as I pulled myself from another set of laps. The sound of my son, alive inside me after the doctors had sadly warned me that he was probably gone.

My phone flashed again at my feet. I looked away just as the road corkscrewed up from the underground. We exited the tunnel and he flipped on the wipers. Ahead of us, a bouquet of thousands of taillights on a congested highway.

I traced my finger into the fog on my window.

I thought about the advice I'd had lately. About how, if I quit my career, I would be bereft of it. About how I'd never get back to the kind of income again, which was probably true. About the sacrifices it would mean, the struggles. About how, now that he was in full-day school, the benefits of an at-home parent were not as high as when he was a baby. I thought about never getting another emailed "attaboy". About how my personality needed challenge.

I grabbed up the phone and called my boss back. The conversation quickly disintegrated. He told me I wasn't being a team player. He fashioned an inconvenience into an emergency. Exhausted, angry, I finally hung up on him.

I rubbed the heel of my hand against my eye. Tears of confusion and frustration. Of fear. Of relief.

For an hour, we rolled towards home. For a guy who grew up in a rural world of dirt roads, my husband is an extremely skillful city driver. He gently tacked across surface streets, finally bringing us into town the back way.

The driveway was shiny and wet. The cool air burst into the van as we hopped out, moving quickly to the back. The door slid open and in a practiced, synchronized motion, he wrapped our son in a blanket and carried him away as I reached in and gathered up all our things.

I paused on the stoop, looking up at the still-green leaves of our big tree dripping with rain. The air had changed. I shook the wet off my hair as I stepped into the house.

"The weather's turned," I called, closing the door firmly behind me.

He caught my eye and nodded. "I know."

Posted on September 30, 2005 at 08:05 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Je m'appelle Elizabeth

September 09, 2005

eiffel-tower.jpgThat choice on the poll was more a hint than a joke....we're going to Paris!

(No. Not forever. Alas.)

But just me and him, our first time away from Bear for more than 48 hours. Yes. We're going. For my birthday.

He says it is so, and I believe him. I need to.

For so long, we've teetered on the edge of falling apart. As my therapist said (the good one, not the pill guy I just fired) a relationship can not be so much for the benefit of only one person and remain whole.

It's not that I have martyred myself. I am not a victim. But I have made some bad choices. I put everything I had in a communal bucket, but it was taken out in unequal measures. And I allowed that. I allowed him to take, and I just kept giving.

And finally, it was enough. We were all sick with the unfairness and unhappiness that brought. So I drew the line some time back. It's been a battle for us to change our ways, but now, maybe, he's begun to see...

So we're going to Paris. And I will have new underwear.

Posted on September 09, 2005 at 11:08 AM and filed under: In My Life
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August 31, 2005

OK, I actually went and attempted to make a poll. My first, and it has somehow turned my site green but I have decided that this is a good thing.

Posted on August 31, 2005 at 05:56 PM and filed under: In My Life
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The Map, She is a-pinned

OK, first of let me say to all Minnesotans that the Twin Cities do indeed rock. And not just because I am all about the snow (really, I am like a reverse lizard). Also, there's the throwing my hat in the air and twirling on a street corner thing - which I could do all day and night, you betcha.

And the "Midwest IT Corridor" (No! It's Real! Really real! Not like Sasquatch. Really! They said so in a magazine article that one time!) is anchored there (*cough* Seymour Cray *cough*).

So we're planning, so far, 3 scouting trips. One to the Pacific Northwest. One to Denver. And one up Wisconsin as far towards Minnesota as we get before the snow gets too bad and we have to kill the tauntauns to stay warm.

I was telling this to my friend this afternoon and she replied, in her best scary movie voice, "....I see white people."

She had a point. It's hard to imagine living in a place with little diversity. A place where good Thai can't be had at 2AM. A place without a big water, where you can skip rocks and watch the clouds reflected.

When CD asked me, would I be willing to move in order to have my dream of being a SAHM, and I said yes. I meant yes. I am excited to announce "Yes!" But that won't mean it will be easy.

I wrote a long email to a friend in Denver about our choices. I said that our long-term goals were crashing into our daily life. As long as we live here, I have to work. The cost of living is just too high - no matter how frugal we try to be.

So we search for a place with a thriving tech base, low cost of living. An amazing neighborhood. A house full of character. Where the landscape will feed our souls.

Posted on August 31, 2005 at 03:14 PM and filed under: In My Life
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I said it out loud

August 26, 2005

When we (and I mean me) were writing our vows, I included the promise that we would be partners in parenthood.

I said it out loud. And I meant it. But the truth is that I am the primary parent -I research the care options, I take care of the insurance and the appointments, I do most of the driving, I make the recommendations (and most of the decisions) about schooling and activties. I am the one who is permanently flexible to accomodate changes in schedule.

And I am so sick of it. I am so sick of being shot down and patronized. I want someone who suits up with their own opinions, who is as invested as a I am in the long-term, who is right there in the trenches with me.

You see CD and Bear together and you know that these two just adore each other. And then you see me, the pack mule following behind with kit, the kaboodle, the immunization chart, the babysitting schedule, the bag of holding, and the exhausted expression.

It is this just how it is?

Posted on August 26, 2005 at 11:06 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Blink Blink Yawn... are we there yet?

August 18, 2005

In a development that stunned the long-distance travelling world, it took us 31 hours to get home. This is a new family record, people! The longest we've ever taken to drive the 1120 miles previously is 27 hours.

That kind of meandering takes talent and focus.

Oh. Stars. Now I have to unpack.

Posted on August 18, 2005 at 09:15 AM and filed under: In My Life
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On The Road Again

August 09, 2005

We left Thursday.

Since then, we have: driven 1260 miles, go-karted, slept in a smelly Days Inn in Erie, Pennsylvania, bumper boated, found the rental house on Cape Cod, been to the beach, eaten seafood, bounced on a trampoline, hunted for shells, caught hermit crabs, patted a skunk at the zoo, slathered aloe vera on the sunburn, shopped at quaint stores, listened to a free big band concert in a methodist church, sampled several ice cream stores, cleaned the sand out of the van, and ridden a pony. OK, I did not personally ride a pony. But Bear did, and I have pictures to prove it.

We've got another 4 days of this happiness.

So I'm typing this from the wifi-enabled Brooks Free Library in Harwichport, Massachusetts. I'm the one in the lime green halter top and jean skirt in the fiction section, between Len Deighton and John Irving. Please, I beg you...bring coffee. And a flask of liquor.


Posted on August 09, 2005 at 12:57 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Not so fast, said the doctor...

August 03, 2005

At my doctor's appointment today, I mentioned that my hands had started hurting - especially at night - once in a while since I went on these beta blockers.

She looked down at my hands, with the dusky fingertips, and back up at me.

"It just isn't going to be easy for you..." she said with a sigh, as she changed my prescription.

It's called Raynaud's Phenomenon, a syndrome probably triggered by my Lupus.

I asked about the treatment. She said that when I woke up with these stinging pains, I should put my hands in warm water until the sensation passed.

"Well, OK," I told her. "But you understand that it's no win if my fingers stop hurting but I wet the bed."

"Absolutely," she agreed. "On the other hand, I hear they're making Depends in coordinating colors now."

Posted on August 03, 2005 at 05:44 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Tom Cruise Is Wrong

August 01, 2005

Well, I've been off the LexaPro for several days and I have one thing to say: Tom Cruise has his head firmly wedged up his heinie. I'd send him a can opener to help him with that, but with all these international mailing security concerns it just wouldn't do. So here's my advice: Katie! Grab the Crisco! Your boy needs some lube and a whole lotta help!

Let me take you back, back to last night at 1:10AM. I'd been in bed for a couple of hours, trying to sleep. After a bathroom visit, I notice as I peek from the hallway that my son is still in the same position as when he fell asleep.

10 minutes later, from my side of the bed....

Me: Pssst, CD? Honey?

CD: Mrhmf?

Me: Can you go check on Bear?

CD: Mrhurdihrumf?

Me: He's still in the same position as when he fell asleep.... (voice trails off with the following thought deeply embedded in the silence: "... and he usually flops like a fish in his sleep ending upside down and backwards by now so obviously something DRASTIC has happened and I am too terrified to go check for myself...")

[pause for the whir of the air conditioner]

CD: Hrm, OK.

A few seconds later.... he stumbles back into bed.

CD: He's fine, honey.

Me: And you checked...

CD: He's breathing, he's sleeping, he's fine.

And then? Then I was relieved enough that I could get up myself and check. I sat in my son's room, watching his chubby hands and toes stretch as he snored softly. I thought about moving him from this house he loves so much, with these wonderful neighbors. I thought about how sad it would make him. I thought about the fleeting nature of childhood and how the mistakes we make as parents echo through a lifetime. I thought about all the evilmongers who would harm my child if they could.

I got myself into such a tizzy that it took me over an hour to get back to sleep.

So what have we learned? That my current levels of anxiety had mutated me into Shirley MacLaine in "Terms of Endearment". I am Aurora, crazy lady from Chicago. It took a few years of advanced stress squishing me like a bug, but it's official - I've passed some kind of threshold into a bad, strange, spinning place.

I am calling Dr. Wonderful. I'm gonna tell him that Tom Cruise is Wrong, that just because Lexapro didn't work that I am not giving up. I need a new drug, and a kind voice.

And I need it now.

Posted on August 01, 2005 at 09:41 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Side Effects

July 29, 2005

Well, it's been 2 weeks on Lexapro.

On the plus side, I have decreased anxiety overall. Not a huge change, and I still feel sad and overwhelmed, but there is movement in my life. I've been able to make some decisions, and enjoy things a little better.

On the negative side, oh - the side effects! During the day, now I'm sleepy. But at night, still struggling with insomnia. I mean... c'mon!

And I've got acidy stomach, acidy gas, and I feel like I licked tin foil - nothing tastes right and I'm not hungry.

And scariest of all (look away, mom!) is that I'm anorgasmic. And can I just announce how unnacceptable THAT is?!?!

I have to touch base with superDoctor today with my opnion whether I want to stick with it or try something new. And I have no idea yet what I am going to say...

Edited to add: CD would like it noted for the record that "acidy gas" was a euphemism for stinky, heinous, unannounced farting. Of course, he's overlooking all the practical applications of these, like removing paint from the antique door we bought.

Posted on July 29, 2005 at 09:26 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Decisions, Decisions...

July 26, 2005

And from the "it's about damn time" files...

We've decided to sell the house. First to take out a home equity line of credit and take 6 months to fix up the obvious issues: finish the kitchen, the bathroom, the front door. (Oh, how I wish it could be faster!) Once we realized that we wouldn't be making it perfect for us, it was clear that we could make these things nice enough without nearly as much effort or investment.

We've decided to move to a nearby town that is quiet, green, and has an excellent school system. But is still close enough to Bear's current Montessori school to keep him there as long as he needs.

We've decided to buy the house that is right for us and to no longer hold ourselves to the rule that we must only buy enough house that I could pay the mortgage with just my salary. If CD wants to finish his education in Robotics, he will find a way - nights, weekends, whatever.

I know this is just a little baby step, but for me - a giant leap.

Posted on July 26, 2005 at 01:10 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Don't you wisht y'd go on forever?

July 25, 2005

We started traveling with him almost from the moment he was born, so I never hear things like "are we there yet?". But he's a little kid with a little bladder, so I did hear things like "I got to go potty" - and by that, he means now.

But the path to my friend's house in western Illinois was decidedly not paved with McDonald's. It was almost an hour on country roads once we exited the highway; it was farms and fields and cows and corn and, yes, at one point I think I saw a surrey with the fringe on top.

Luckily, we did keep finding potties just in time.

Then, finally, we found the "s" curve at the bottom of my directions. The nearly-hidden driveway that pulled up the steep hill. And we came to a stop right in front of the red barn. Bear looked at me and announced (as he eagerly pulled off his seat belt) "Mom! I like this place!"

5 rampaging boys made immediate friends. Through dog licks, kitten scratches, water fights, a wasp sting, bruises, running, screaming rounds of tag, tears, giggles, sharing, not sharing, stops for snacks and clothing changes, and the periodic shout to behave from my friend or I.... it was a wonderful time.

She and I had hours to visit, to chat or just sit and sip, to prepare dinner and do the chores of life, to marvel at how far our lives have come since college so long ago.

It was a whole 'nother day by the time I pulled into our driveway - in more ways than one.

By then, many decisions had begun to settle in my heart. As I watched CD carry our sleeping son to bed, the chubby hands instinctively wrapping into his father's hair, I knew the magic of the trip had worked on me. As I followed behind with the blankie and the luggage into the cool rooms, I knew the words would keep.

I took a deep breath, already missing the country air.

Now comes the work of setting vision to action. But in that moment, I was still in the medicinal peace of a day away. To a place I hope to go back again, soon.

When we hit that road, hell fer leather,
Cats and dogs'll dance in the heather,
Birds and frogs'll sing all together and the toads will hop!
The wind'll whistle as we rattle along,
The cows'll moo in the clover,
The river will ripple out a whispered song,
And whisper it over and over:
Don't you wisht y'd go on forever?
Don't you wisht y'd go on forever?
Don't you wisht y'd go on forever and ud never stop
In that shiny, little surrey with the fringe on the top!
- written by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rodgers, originally from the musical "Oklahoma!" (1943).

Posted on July 25, 2005 at 11:57 AM and filed under: In My Life
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I'm driving, Bear's got shotgun with the map

July 21, 2005

My inner voice, and no- not the one that harrasses me buy some chocolate or get a breast reduction, no the other inner voice - the sane one, the one that sits back and watches the chaos with a raised eyebrow while taking breaks from Kant and Steinem, that inner voice... she tells me that it is time to take a break.

She whispers "load up the car, chick, and go for a drive..."

And I look left and right, and then peer at the drugs the nice doctor gave me.

She whispers "it's time for a tall glass of iced tea and some girltalk.."

I check my calendar, quiet-like, before anyone notices that I have some openings. Shhhh.

She whispers "you know you want to..."

There's an old friend, who moved to where the corn grows tall and that shed out back is called a 'barn'. Where sun tea brews on the back porch, and dogs bark as the sprinklers spray. Where her gaggle of small boys run through the grass and "going into town" is a half-hour's drive. She sends me an email, reminding me that I perennially promise to visit.

I grin at Bear, wrinkling my nose. He grins back.

"We're going on adventure," I tell him, as I tuck him into bed.

He nods, and I nod back.

"OK," he says. "You drive. I'll be the navigator."

"OK," I agree.

And we're off.

Posted on July 21, 2005 at 10:43 PM and filed under: In My Life
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It's been a WEEK on Lexapro and so far here's what's going on:

1) My mouth feels like I have been licking tin foil
2) My poops are amazing, even by Bear's standards - and that boy has some OUT-freaking-STANDING poops
3) I could sleep all day
4) I just might
5) My world is still unshakable CHAOS with no end in sight
6) We can't afford to move just this second
7) My son is delicious, except for the poops thing
8) My blood pressure is in the normal range

The doctor says give it another week... and all I can think is "fine, whatever."

Posted on July 21, 2005 at 03:13 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Never put me in charge...

July 19, 2005

Of dinner conversation.

At dinner, tonight, with newly engaged friends;

Me: ... I don't look good in white, I looked like a meringue. I wish I'd worn hot pink instead...

CD: You'd look good in hot pink.

Me: We have some hot pink hair dye at home, the idea of it on me gets CD all hot and bothered.

CD: What can I say?

Me: I don't think he knows it's only supposed to go on the hair on top of my head.

Our friends
: (spewing out their drinks)

CD: No, no... I just think you should match.

Posted on July 19, 2005 at 08:08 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Good Advice

Fredette asked me an important question a few weeks ago: What do I want?

She assumed I knew the answer.

I don't.

Continue reading "Good Advice"
Posted on July 19, 2005 at 06:00 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Like I don't have enough to deal with, or, Never Speak French at the Dunkin Donuts Drive-Thru

July 18, 2005

The $250/hour psychiatrist put me on something called Lexapro. I've been on it 3 days and I can tell you, it clearly sucks rocks. I have not had any epiphanies. I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel. Or, if I do, I still believe with all my heart that it is a train come to smash me.

My little house is still a dangerous warren of chaos. Just yesterday, my son got a scratch on his tummy from smashing into a computer in the middle of the den and a bruise under his eye from frolicking in my bed (*ahem* possibly a tickle fight) and bumping himself on my desk -which is crammed up next to the mattress.

So it was with my continuing "running on empty" personality that I decided to tangle with Dunkin Donuts this morning. Not that I knew I was "running on empty" until recently, but now that I do know - well, it's my excuse du jour thank you very much.

All I wanted was an iced coffee and a plain croissant.

DD Drive-thru lady: "Football?"

Me: "Pardon? uh, no. I'd like a croissant (Kwa-sahn)."

DD Drive-thru lady: "Roll?"

Me: "Croissant!"

DD Drive-thru lady: "Donut?"


DD Drive-thru lady: "Hot cross bun?"

Me: "Is this thing on? I want a CROIS-SANT!"

DD Drive-thru lady: "Please pull around!"

Me (at the window, pointing at the picture): "CROIS-SANT!, CROIS-SANT!"

DD Drive-thru lady: "Oh! You mean a crescent roll! Gosh, that accent of yours!"

I am SUCH a dumbass.

Posted on July 18, 2005 at 11:26 AM and filed under: In My Life
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July 14, 2005

I went to see a psychiatrist this mornng.

He was quiet and nice. When I sat down, and he asked me what brought me to his office, I started to cry.

I didn't tell him about my heart, or my high blood pressure.

Or how my doctor thinks that I might have a chemical imbalance that is causing a depression that is screwing with my heart and my blood pressure.

Or that I can't stand living in a rehab project.

Or that the garden is withering in this drought.

The words that came out of me were a surprise.

I said that my life has gone gray except for my son.

I said I didn't remember what happy felt like.

I said that all the things I love to do have become chores.

I said that I was angry, because finally my husband shows signs of healing and life and now everything around me was crumbling like a sand castle.

I choked on my tears on his uncomfortable couch and apologized for being incoherant.

And he said it was okay. He said it was okay. He said I would be okay. And that he would help me get there.

Posted on July 14, 2005 at 10:07 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Giving Up

July 11, 2005

We bought a fixer-upper and rolled up our sleeves with a 5-year plan, money in the bank, and a new baby on my hip.

In the 4.5 years since, we have started and stopped a thousand times, always keeping things as orderly and pretty as we could in the meantime. After all, this isn't just a job site - it's our home.

So even in the darkest days, somehow we managed to keep most things tended: lawn mowed, plants trimmed, paint fresh, pictures hung and squared on the wall, buckets and baskets to hold the piles of things that didn't have any other home.

But to look around now is to see tall weeds in the unmown lawn, grass growing in the cracks of the driveway, scattered mess and piles, and only a token effort made at keeping it all under control.

My doctor asked me to take a long look at what was going on in my life. She says that my heart is strong, and that my spirit is, too. But she says that my blood pressure is telling a frightening story. One that shouts "there are no reserves!"

She compared it to people who live paycheck to paycheck - there is just no "float" for emergencies, so they build up the debts on credit cards in order to get through the unexpected things you can depend will come regularly rampaging through life.

That is what is going on with my health. I am running on minimum tolerances and so with every crisis, every bad day - I borrow from my future in order to find the strength to last the day.

I am, slowly, damaging myself.

I look around this house and know what she says is true. There is no stretch of space in the home where you can rest your eyes. The chaos reaches every corner, and leeches from soul.

I have given up.

I now know that it will be years before I have a kitchen that would hold all my dishes, much less have room for pots and pans. I now know that it will be years before I have a closet that could hold my vacuum cleaner (so it will stay in the corner of my dining room).

All that energy, that hope, that time, I once had to get me from here to there is depleted.

I know this house has great "bones" and gorgeous woodwork, stained glass and a working fireplace. I know that it has brilliant possibilities. That the neighborhood is lovely, that the location can not be beat.

To give up and walk away would be to leave behind so much in dreams and possibilities - not the least to walk away from possible return on investment. To sell it in the state it is in now would be to take a loss.

But my body and soul are screaming out. This life I have is not working, and something must be done to bring serenity back, to refill my reserves.

So I dream of a house with closet space. I dream of a home that doesn't take my husband away from Bear and I in endless work. I dream of going wild with new recipes, and cooking without having to factor in twice the time just to dig through all the nooks and crannies for the right tools. I dream of floors new enough that you can get them clean. I dream of weekend hours spent any way we want, without the crushing reality of desperate projects that need doing before winter comes.

And although I love this place, I do - I dream of someplace else. And sleep with a smile.

Everyone tells me how stupid I would be to walk away from this house.

But I don't know how to stay.

Posted on July 11, 2005 at 01:22 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Since I saw you last

July 07, 2005

I've written this in snippets through the week and saved in a Word file. If it seems uneven, it's because it's really a gaggle of fortune-cookie-sized thoughts wrapped together in a big tortilla. Damn, I think I'm hungry.

Sunday, I took all the fine advice I was given to do nothing.

But then Monday dawned in hazy sun. And it was warm, wet, and full of chores. Thinking about my little "lost day", the guilt was a quilt over my head. I couldn’t see anything but what needed doing.

Laundry, dishes, paperwork, bills, getting ready for my trip, praying, cleaning, cooking, shopping.

My father called, a quick little "hi" in the afternoon. I debated saying anything. Finally, I took a breath. "Dad," I said. 'It's about my heart. There's been an ... event."

*That went about as well as could be expected. I told him I would call when I got the results next week.*

By sunset, I was back at it. Walking back and forth through my shotgun home, dropping off and picking up and putting away. It was dark when some noises startled me out of my working stupor and I went outside in thick mist to look.

Fireworks, floating in the sky.

Rev, my next door neighbor, came out. "I wasn't going to drive up for the show." he told me. "Traffic is always crazy, after. I forgot we could see it pretty good from our yards."

I nodded. We stood side-by-side and watched from that invisible property line between our yards. Watched through the trees, with many sparkles of colored light reaching so high we had to crane our necks back to see. Our silence was broken by snippets of conversation and far away booms. We stayed to the very end, even though it was raining and we got soaked through. And we clapped, though no one could hear.

Tuesday and more to do. Updated my spreadsheets, dropped off the dry-cleaning, cashed a check, packed, replicated the laptop to the home system, and headed for the airport.

Late afternoon and I was kneeling at the gateway door at an American Airlines arriving flight. Bear saw me and began running. I was crying in relief when I finally had him in my arms. I belatedly kissed CD. He was bemused at how adults get forgotten in the greeting process once children are added to the mix.

Our little family shared a picnic in a row of empty seats at a semi-empty gate and then I jogged down to my own departing flight. Looking back every few feet, hating and dreading the distance growing once again between me and them.

Tuesday night I got to the hotel and realized I had left my Gmail and Blog passwords back at home. Too tired to think about it, I went to sleep.

Wednesday and it was 11.5 hours straight in conference. It was stared with an ice-breaking exercise where we were asked, in all seriousness, "If we could be a dessert - what kind would we be?"

Breakfast and lunch catered in as we slogged through, arguing process and format and dependencies and interdependencies and predecessors and drop dates.

We were at a hotel outside St. Louis, Missouri. That night we ate at a local restaurant where the horde of us happily enjoyed clams and lobster and salmon that were better than any of us expected, accompanied by a surprisingly good wine selection. A lot of wine, actually. So much so that two hours later we were all laughing so hard that our cheek muscles hurt even though I don’t remember anyone as being all that funny.

Thursday morning was terrorism, disaster, broken hearts, and broken bodies. I awoke at 6AM to MSNBC's breathless coverage and quickly turned to CNN.

Called CD and begged him to send me my GMAIL password. Then it was a flurry of quick, frightened emails to dear ones in London.

And pause for prayer.

Then another 5 hours of more debate club antics back in the conference room. At 2PM, I excused myself and my team. Several of my projects got the green light, and we were gave a rah-rah teleconference to prepare for next week's kickoff workshop here in Chicago.

3PM and we commandeered my architect and his Audi to take us to the airport.

5:40PM and I was Earthbound once again, through cobalt skies dipping low to the concrete runway.

And finally, home again.

Posted on July 07, 2005 at 09:12 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Alone Again, Naturally

July 03, 2005

Happy Independance Day, America.

I am spending it alone, since Bear and CD are off on their every-other-year excursion to CD's buddy's house.

Don't ask why I don't go, too. Years of learning that some people are oil and water and better left in their separate bottles.

I have a "Honey Do" list for myself as long as your arm.

Ready, Set...

oooh. Pretty flowers.

I'll get started just as soon as I take a look.

Posted on July 03, 2005 at 08:49 AM and filed under: In My Life
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July 01, 2005

When I arrived at the cardiologist's office, it was all business and smiles.

The folks at the reception desk guided me through the paperwork. They liked my purse. It's an aqua leather shoulder deal with white piping. I've become a purse whore lately, like some are with shoes. But I have platypus feet, so it's purses.

Once in the testing room, the two lab women introduced themselves quietly. I was told to strip to the waist and put on a gown, open at the front. I was asked if I wanted privacy.

Hell, yes.

A few minutes later, we begin. They open my gown and have me hold my ponderous breasts out of the way while they stick 10 plastic circles all over my chest.

Then they strap an octopus of wires around my waist and up clipped onto each lead. The glue on some pulls at my skin and I twinge.

I haven't eaten or drank anything in almost 3 hours, on a day of 95 degrees (F) and no central air conditioning at my house. Now my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. I lay on my side, my chest open to anyone walking down the hall.

"Close the door, please," I ask softly. She pushes it mostly shut, and I decide not to argue the last inch.

A wand with cold goo is pressed, hard, against my sternum. The little bit not covered in wires. I look on the screen. Last time I went through this, I was watching Bear squirm and hiccup.

This time I watch an impossibly small muscle beating.

I try and relax.

That little thing is all that keeps my world going.

I feel infinitely frail.

They lead me over to the treadmill. I tie one of the ribbons on my gown shut and then begin the fast walk.

I try not to look at the screens. I try and look anywhere else. I am panting immediately, dehydrated and out of shape.

I imagine my house, after a rehab. I imagine finding a pink party dress and dancing with CD (clearly a fantasy since neither of us knows how to do more than shuffle around together), I imagine cooking school in France, I picture Bear's grinning, freckled face.

None of it helps. I can see the monitor. I can see the irregularities.

In only 5 minutes, I am done. Moved off the treadmill and over to the bed again. More with the wand and the goo. Wait. And then again.

And again.

And my blood pressure, many times.

I am light-headed, now, and chilled from the air conditioning on my sweaty body. I keep trying to cover my breasts, a modesty born of the door that they left opened, again.

These women, they are trying to be nice. They rush to close the door again when I point it out. They get me a small paper cup of tepid water. They cluck to me that it is almost over.

I am feeling exposed and broken.

Alone, I wipe myself down with wrinkled gown. Dipping a corner in the small sink and cleaning the goo off as best as I can. The sweat from under my breasts. The leftover adhesive from the circles ripped off my skin.

My breath is sour. My eyes close to tears.

I dress. Brush my hair. Reapply lip gloss. Deep breath, purse over shoulder, I leave.

They say the results will be given to my doctor in less than 24 hours. I nod.

I pass through doors and hallways and down the stairs. I think about that small beating heart that keeps my whole life going. I think about what happens if it stops. If it is sick.

I feel disgusting and unhealthy and afraid.

I get in my car. And go home.

Posted on July 01, 2005 at 11:40 AM and filed under: In My Life
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The Little House of the Big Price Tag

June 29, 2005

Once CD got home from work today, we piled into the van and went for a drive to meet with a realtor and take a tour of this house.

In case the link doesn't work, heres a picture: 05145836a.jpg

Let me tell you what $400K won't buy you in Oak Park, IL. It won't buy you a driveway, a bathroom on the first floor, an eat-in kitchen, a working fireplace, central air conditioning, or square footage.

Oh, and the front rooms were bright orange.

I guess the best part of the whole tour was CD, walking with me and holding my hand. Knowing that he was finally trying to really understand who much it hurts my soul to live in this chaos and being open to solutions.

Another baby step to good.

Posted on June 29, 2005 at 08:45 PM and filed under: In My Life
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The Talk

Well, I talked to Elia last night.

She was apologizing before I got my first sentence out; she knew she'd made some very poor decisions.

It was awful. Just emotionally yucky. There are hundreds and hundreds of people I have managed but for 4 years, she has been one of the foundation rocks of Bear's life.

We left things on a positive note with clear rules.

I am praying that she is able to work through this profound emotional confusion that being in love for the first time is having on her.

Posted on June 29, 2005 at 09:47 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Inflexible Git

June 28, 2005

OK, you know what? I have had a good long think and I've decided that it is perfectly ok to be pissed off.

In fact, I think that being pissed off in the moment is probably a much healthier way of life rather than stewing.

Elia is taking advantage of the situation and she's crossed the line.

I don't even KNOW this boyfriend - like his last name or driving record or if he's a frigging pedophile. So she shouldn't be putting my son in HIS car (without a carseat when I JUST told her that she is never never to do that) and then WALKING AWAY.

Good Heavens.

What am I, made of mashed potatoes?

So my standards are high. So what?! I'm the Mommy, I get to have the highest dang standards in the land if I want to - right?

Well, now I am good and steamed. Seriously. You could cook salmon on the mist that's rolling out my ears. I'm gonna go call Elia and lay done the law.

And then I am gonna do something else. Like go for a walk. Chase fireflies. Whatever.

I am woman.

Hear me roar!

I have to stop being such an inflexible git.

(Which is British for "Childish Pain the Ass")

Elia let Bear ride in her boyfriend's car today for a few blocks - without his carseat - and without her (but with his seatbelt) when it started to rain while they were at the park. (She walked home the other kids but wanted to make sure Bear stayed dry).

Bear's camp informed Elia when she picked Bear up that they were having a party tomorrow and we had to bring this that and the other thing of food.

My boss tried to force me to work during the only hour I had blocked off as unavailable tomorrow and even tried to get me to explain why I wouldn't make a last-minute meeting.

And all three of these things just made me mad.

It's summer, and lovely, and we have weeks and weeks of fun ahead. But I have turned brittle, and dry, and, yes, inflexible with my moods - things just seem to piss me off a little too easy. Since my health scare a couple of weeks ago, I am on edge.

Posted on June 28, 2005 at 06:55 PM and filed under: In My Life
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June 27, 2005

There are tapes in my head that I can not shut off. They become nightmares and I surrender my sleep to them.

The victims of the terrorists in Beslan.

The children unprotected from idiot busdriviers.

The AIDS orphans.

The children, hurt anywhere, anytime.

The echo of me falls to her knees, nauseaus, engraged, impotent.

So we're at a little boy's 5th birthday party on Saturday afternoon. Bear is romping with about 25 other little kids in this little gymnasium. Us parents are on the other side of the pony wall, watching teenagers corral our kids with bubbles and games of "Simon Says".

One mother, one of the many, many soically-sconscious-used-to-be-a-supermodel types that we know from Bear's school (no, I'm only a LITTLE freaked out by them) turns on the little stool and says to us standing-up ones (me, personally, afraid to break the little stools or look ridiculous like an elephant in a tutu balancing on a pin) and she says....

"Did you all here about those boys..."

"Oh," I interrupted, glancing at the children. "Let's not..."

"The ones who were missing..."

"Please, no," I interrupt again. There is nowhere to go in this storefront zoo. There is a strip of floor, 20 foot by 5 foot, and she's smack dab in the middle.

"I was watching CNN and they had it almost immediately..."

I walked as far away as I could but her voice still resonated. The teenaged kid-wranglers blasted some music in waves. Some demented version of musical chairs.

"The trunk closed automatically...."

Is that Freebird? A muzak version of Freebird? Oh, that's just wrong.

"And they couldn't get out..."

Oh, those parents. Please, no....

"Just baked. Hours, maybe days..."

She has to shut up now, right?

"Can you imagine...?"

Yes. God. Please. No.


Posted on June 27, 2005 at 11:22 PM and filed under: In My Life
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The Start of Goodbye

June 22, 2005

Yesterday started the night before. We packed, and hemmed, and ironed, and organized. Collapsed into bed so late that when the alarm went of at 5:30AM, we resisted. But eventually we did pull ourselves up and into the day.

6:30AM We started for the car, although it took about 20 more minutes before we had finished running back into the house for "one more thing" and actually pulled out of the driveway.

7:00AM Bear dropped off at Elia's, we headed to Midway Airport for our flight to Boston.

8:00AM Midway security being the clusterfudge of all time, it took us over 45 minutes to get through the scan line. They were announcing our names over the loudspeaker as we scrambled to our gate.

[time change + 1 hour]

11:30AM It is a running joke in my family that I can't get a ride from Logan Airport. Today was no different. We caught the "Silver Line" - a bus that becomes a subway. We switched over to the red line to MIT (Kendall Square).

Met up with my mom and brother and we all grabbed a quick bite at the food court. It was easy just to chat, look through the most recent Bear pictures, and share a laugh and pretend that it was just another day.

But then it was time to head over to MIT's unique chapel for the service.

1:45PM The whole family gathered in an anteroom. The lovely obituaries mention 2 nephews and 1 niece. But families are more than common blood; marriages and children created 17 people who called this amazing man "Uncle Mike".

2PM We approached the chapel in pairs as a lone bagpiper stood in the dappled shade by the entrance and played the mourners in. It finally hit me why we were there.

Mike had attended MIT from undergraduate through doctorate and then returned to teach. The eulogists had pulled his school records going all the way back to the beginning. It was bittersweet to hear how he'd always been special, always been kind and smart, always been more interested in the questions than the answers.

Another of my uncles talked about Mike, the guy. The one who loved to laugh, who joined in on games of Rail Baron, loved crosswords and was always interested in the world.

Then my cell phone went off. It took 4 rings for me to silence it.

[insert several moments of embarressment here]

His co-workers talked about Mike's amazing teaching skills and genuine rapport and devotion to his students. One brought with him a book that contained the thousands of emails the school had received from all the people who'd heard of Mike's passing and had to reach out and tell someone how much Mike had meant to them.

Most of us count ourselves lucky if we have a pond of people whose lives we touch in any meaningful way.

Mike had a rushing, roaring river.

Mike was universally recognized for being an amazing teacher and advisor. He won the sardonic Big Screw Award, the prestigious Baker Award, and at one point he had won MIT's "Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year" for 10 years straight.

At the end of the memorial, it was announced that MIT was renaming that last award after Mike.

3PM We walked up 3 flights of stairs to the reception. A long dark-clad line of solemn faces past chattering students who watched us with curious eyes.

I pulled into a corner at one point to check my phone. It had been Elia. I quickly called back and discovered that there had been a misunderstanding about the child seat but Dee had taken care of it. As I was talking, I looked up and realized I was surrounded by a small crowd of family friends waiting express their sympathy.

We walked together into the large reception room. The food was amazing, but I couldn't taste it.

I put on what CD calls my "Chatty Cathy" persona - I was engaging and talkative and accessible.

I was miserable.

4:15PM With red eyes and wrenched hearts, a cousin, CD, & I grabbed a cab back to Logan. Windows down to the hot Boston sun, we looked out at the blue water and the brick apartment buildings as we rolled by.

5:30PM There's a Legal Seafood inside Boston's airport. As we sat down, my boss call my cell phone. I answered it long enough to tell him to go away.

Then the 3 of us ordered strong cocktails and ordered food and talked about how the rest of the family was doing. As if we were doing any better.

Well, after an hour or so, maybe we were.

[time change - 1 hour]

8:00PM We landed into the Chicago sunset. Last hugs and off to our car and home.

As we drove, CD talked about the tour Mike had given him and Bear of MIT last summer - before we knew Mike was sick. Before the end began.

They'd gone to Mike's classroom and office, had lunch in the cafeteria.

Mike told CD how there's an aisle at MIT called "the infinite corridor". In what has become a sort of ceremony ("MITHenge" [thanks, Kimberly!]), twice a year all the doors along the corridor are opened and people line the sides and then, just at the right moment, the sun will shine through from begining to end.

I would like to think that, somehow, from now on, whenever they throw open those doors, Mike's spirit will be there. Traveling the sunbeam along the rows of rapt students, teachers, and staff.

[I thought I'd done with tears, but I was wrong.]

We pulled into the driveway and Bear came racing from the backyard into my arms. As I held him tight, he whispered to me "Did you say goodbye to Uncle Mike?"

And I kissed him hard. "Not yet," I told him. "Not just yet."

Posted on June 22, 2005 at 01:11 PM and filed under: Family, It's a Trip
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What's In A Name?

June 19, 2005

Pleasantville is this|close to Chicago and the residents are an eclectic mix; you got yuppies rehabbing the big old homes with granite countertops, you got working class folks in the small rows of brick bungalows with perfect postage-stamp lawns, you got every color, religion, sexual orientation.

So I keep expecting the town employees to reflect that.

Not so much.

Thursday I picked up Bear from his summer camp. This is a morning program being held at one of the fabulous parks. The teacher, "Miss Lilly May", is a frenzied middle-aged woman with frizzy hair and a big smile.

She was (finally) instituting security by having parents sign their children in and out.

She watched closely as I carefully signed my name next my husband's (who'd dropped Bear off).

Her brow scrunched.

She pursed her lips.

"Are you signing on the right line, dear?"

I tapped Bear's name and dragged my finger to mine down the dotted line.

"You didn't sign clearly, did you? I can't read your name."

I touched it up to make it clearer and the furrows in her brow became downright trenches. She began fishing through the registration cards.

"I thought Bear's last name was 'Daddy'?"

"Yes, and mine is 'Corporate Mommy'," I replied.



"With a hyphen, you mean?"

"No. Like Mary Tyler Moore or Dick Van Dyke. My name is Elizabeth Corporate Mommy."

"Oh," she heaved a sigh. "So you're divorced."

"I'm married to Bear's father," I said.

"Then who is the man who drops Bear off in the mornings?"

"Bear's father."

"And who is your husband?"

"Bear's father."

"Then your name is Elizabeth Daddy?"


We stared at each other for a long moment, and I could tell that she didn't much appreciate me cracking her cosmic egg. Now, if only I'd been wearing my recently bedazzled women's libber t-shirt, then she'd have had fair warning. But ah, no.

"I need you to sign your legal name. For security pruposes," she told me.

"For security purposes? Are the police reviewing this register?"

"In case of emergency, we need to know if the parents picked up the children. Could you sign it 'Elizabeth Daddy' for me here?" she tapped the register where I had already written my name onto the dotted line.

"No. My legal name, my only name, is Elizabeth Corporate Mommy. It is on that registration card," I said, indicating the white card in her hands.

"They didn't ask you for identification when you signed up?"

"No, but my identification is in the name Elizabeth Corporate Mommy."

She huffed at me, clearly peeved. "Once you married, you have a legal name change whether you use it or not," she informed me. "It's security issue."

"Me signing a fake name would be a security issue," I told her.

She sighed again, and put the cards down. "Well, I'll talk to the Camp Director and see what he wants to do about it," she informed me with a bit of a snarl.

"You do that," I agreed.

Yeah, you do that, Lady.

Posted on June 19, 2005 at 01:03 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Parenting Magazine thinks I'm provactive? Obviously they've never seen me in my flannel jammies!

June 17, 2005

Eagle-eyed Grace reports that Corporate Mommy is mention in the July 2005 Parenting Magazine on page 57. She says

you can find it under the heading "Creating an online journal" and yours is under the subheading "and check out..." The blurb under your link is 'This Chicago mom writes provocative entries about balancing work and family."

Can anyone confirm this?!?!?!?!

UPDATE: Lilan Patri at Parenting Magazine provided the link. You can view Parenting's blogging article online here.

Posted on June 17, 2005 at 11:44 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Day One of the Rest of My Life

June 15, 2005

OK, it is Day 1 of the Rest of my Life. Here's the plan, taking a half-day and eliminated 20 items from my tickler list. Here's what's left:


P.S. Yes, the manicure and pedicure are important. Haven't had them in, uh...
P.P.S. And yes, I have already send most of the condolence notes. And I would appreciate it, terribly, if no one else would pass away for at least a year. K?
P.P.S. Yes, the VP thing is a medium deal. My boss is having 3 run-throughs. IF it goes well, my budget will finally be released and I can really start work.
P.P.P.S Yes, I am putting off the outfit decision for Uncle Mike's memorial until Kalisah gets back to me on the all important shoe decision.
P.P.P.P.S. After watching "Second Sight" on BBCA last night, oh yeah Clive Owen is SO totally my new celebrity boyfriend. I know Beth is pregnant and all, but hey - that doesn't mean she can't share!

Posted on June 15, 2005 at 12:04 PM and filed under: In My Life
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And the doctor said...

June 14, 2005

So the EKG's have indicated that the elephant I felt sitting on my chest on Friday was not a heart attack. It looks like it was just a very high spike in blood pressure combined with bad indigestion (yay for stomach aches!). I still have to undergo a cardiac stress test and some blood tests, but this is the doctor saying he really thinks my heart is all right.

We are going to change the way my blood pressure is being addressed. Instead of taking a big-prescription pill every night, I am going to be taking my own blood pressure several times during the course of the day and taking a more mild prescription to assist.

The reason for this is that my blood pressure is something called "labile" which I guess means spikes up and down in a very responsive way to outside influences. I guess my previous doctor responded by just prescribing the biggest dose to address the worst of the spikes - but that meant I'v actually had very low blood pressure in between. This group wants me to be much more involved - taking measures when my blood pressure rises to relax, go for a walk, stay hydrated.

To give you an idea, my BP went from 120/98 to 140/110 in about 15 minutes this afternoon. The difference was the first was taken when I arrived, the second was taken just after my EKG and before I had the results.

So environmental changes like adding more excersize, continuing a healthy diet, and managing my priorities (God/work/family/self) in a more reasonable manner would actually make a huge difference for me.

I feel like I've just had a HUGE wake-up call.

Posted on June 14, 2005 at 06:17 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Boggle, Blink, I found my gastric twin....

June 13, 2005

I knew there was a reason I liked this guy - tuirns out he's my gastric twin! As I was reading this post at Random Pensées, I realized wow! ... someone else who shares my tastes in food!

(Pun intended)

Do you know how AMAZING it is that someone else also thinks that summer is made for soft belly clam rolls, fresh corn, and tomato/onion/bleu cheese salad?

Do you know what a food MUTANT I thought I was?


"...Speaking of summer (note correct capitalization), may I say that I need more fried summer foods. Specifically, fried belly clams. Them's fine eating. Seriously, there are certain things I feel one has to eat in the summer time, when the living is easy, catfish jumping *whap*. Down boy, down. Back to my thought, things one has to eat during the summer include, but are not limited to: fried clams; lobster (I actually like mine broiled over boiled or steamed); steamers; raw clams; watermelon; ripe local tomatoes mixed with raw onion and blue cheese (my four year old loves this, go figure); an ear of corn picked no more than an hour before; berries and cream; grilled burgers (Jim's look good, I'll take two, Jim!); and, surely, a peach so gloriously ripe that the juice runs down your chin and stains your shirt."

Posted on June 13, 2005 at 07:59 PM and filed under: In My Life
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It's extremely aggravating not to be healthy.

In any event, last week after a series of poor decisions on my part and bad, horrible news from the world, I had a little incident with my blood pressure.

Now I must make a series of good decisions in order to claim a healthier life.

I don't know why I keep messing up my priorities. I need to tape a sign over my desk - "Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine".

And stick to it.

Off to the doctor's.

Posted on June 13, 2005 at 08:49 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Bad Timing, Jamie

June 10, 2005

Here is the email she sent me today:

Hi Elizabeth:

I came across your Ravings of a Corporate Mommy blog and found it very interesting. My name is Jamie and I work for RDF Media and ABC's Wife Swap and we are currently looking for interesting families to participate in our show.

If you're interested I have attached further information regarding our show. If it at all possible it would be great if you could direct me to any other families or blogs that may be interested in this great opportunity. Feel free to email me at or Sandra Philippeaux at


If you're interested, feel free to contact Jamie! She says it is a GREAT OPPORTUNITY!

As for me?


Thank you for the email. I wish you great luck with the show but, personally, I'd rather stick a needle in my eye.

Wrmst rgds,
aka Corporate Mommy

Posted on June 10, 2005 at 01:21 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Pardon my dust

If you notice some silliness or silly puttiness around the site, it is because we just loaded Photoshop and such on the new system and I can't sleep and I'm have professionals overhaul the site so why the hell not screw with things and learn a bit?

Or not.

Posted on June 10, 2005 at 01:04 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Requiem for a Hard Drive

June 08, 2005

Let's take a moment to remember F:/, the little drive that could...

Steadfast for years as a sturdy companion to C:/, and D:/, it passed over this weekend to the Land Where Hard Drives Choke, Rattle, and Die.

In its last moments, chilled from a stay next to the Klondike Bars and Omaha Steak Tips in the family freezer, it gave up its most precious secrets. A flow of bits and dats and bytes and pauses through a ribbon attaching it to a new system. As it pulsed its last, the gigs of information spewed with haste to a new host, did it know? Did it know that it was moments away from the final sieze that would forever consign its future to that of a doorstop?

We can only hope that it was painless, and unaware.

We remember F:/ with that sort of antiseptic fondness for which all Microsoft-formatted systems incur. The handicap of not being a Mac never showed in any tangible way on F:/'s surface activtities but, of course, one wonders about what could have been.

F:/ was only briefly survived by its longtime mates C:/ and D:/. In the brutal reality that is the computer world, those drives were quickly tainted with F:/'s failure and emptied of their contents. Within days, they too were cast aside.

As a new system is built with the ghosts of what went before, we remember F:/. The drive that lasted, improbably, for the better half of a decade. The drive that is now at rest after nobly serving for so very long.

Good night, F:/. And thank you.

Posted on June 08, 2005 at 01:06 AM and filed under: In My Life
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No one to dance with

June 07, 2005

There's a part of me that would love to be invited to groups like the Cotillion, where women bloggers who are sharp, witty, and passionate swap their stories to expand their dialogue and audience.

But then I remember that I am a Leftist Pinko Abortion-loving Godless heathen. Even if I found a way to crash the party, I'd have no one to dance with.

Oh, yes. It turns out that I am the enemy.

I read it, so it must be true.

Now, I'm not like like the Queen Enemy. Heck, I'm not even cool enough to wear sweatshop-made bracelets around my fat wrist to announce that I am against poverty and hunger and bad stuff like that.

Well, maybe I AM cool enough, but only because I am sucking about eleventy billion gallons of oil right now to chill my house so that I can turn around and sleep under a comforter made by off-shoring good ol’ USA jobs to underage Malaysian children.

I'm just a tent pole in the enemy camp. I SIP the kool-aid. I FEEL for the people wearing those bracelets. I ALIGN with them. Because Brad Pitt is a hottie. So is Angelina. And I am like the swallows to Capistrano, yes. Where Brad and Angelina tell me to pray, that's where I pray.

You see, it's just like Pat Buchanan suspected all along. Yes! It is TRUE and I can no longer deny it! We Liberal anti-marriage morally corrupt traitors DO hang out together in a secret cave plotting ways to defame that paragon on honest leadership, George W. Bush ("Don't call me junior"!).

We have flow charts and PowerPoint slides and we carefully transcribe all our evil machinations into action items every night and publish them with a secret decoder ring. Then we hit Dunkin Donuts for a cup of Joe and a sprinkled donut.

Hell, yes. I hate America.

Also? Mom, Apple Pie, and all U.S. Soldiers.


I'm lying.


She reads this and even to be a rocking Hollywood scum I could never deny her.

Mom, I love you. Sorry about what I said there.


The soldier I married. Yeah, I love you, too, you socialist-raised crazy man.


The truth is that I love God. I mean, really love God. And Jesus, too.

I also love America, Apple Pie, and pretty much every drum-banging parade I've ever been to.

Crap, I'm a LOUSY liberal.

I'm losing my membership card over this, aren't I? And dagnabbit, wouldn't you know that I JUST had my "Radical Libber" t-shirt bedazzled and dry-cleaned.

OK, you got me. I just can't stand up to your amazing tactics of stereo-typing. I give, ok? I GIVE.

Turns out that even though I vote Democrat most of the time, I am not the Conservative's enemy. Sure, wouldn't this world be a better place if us pessimistic evildoing ACLU types just stuck to script so that those nice people who think the flag belongs just on their flagpoles would know who the bleeping bad guys are?

I guess in the meantime I'll just have to look like every other American at the local park playing with my kid. Maybe they'll just have to actually strike up a conversation with me to see what I believe.

Maybe they'll discover that in some ways, I may be the opposition.

But never the enemy.

Oh, never mind. Then what fun would bashing us be?

Posted on June 07, 2005 at 06:05 PM and filed under: In My Life
Comments (6) | Permalink

New Beginings

May 27, 2005

Like an internal alarm, I've been realizing lately that there are things in my life that have been going on too long. That I have been letting slip and slide. Thinking about changing but never really getting a foothold.

So I made the decision to get moving. After New Year's I began slowly putting my shoulder to the roadblocks in the path of my happiness.

I had my bookkeeper separate our finances, so that we could each shoulder a fair share and I could stop feeling bitter about having to go back to work. And it is begining to help, emotionally.

I told my management that I wanted the luxury of off the promotion track, and they agreed.

I put a deadline on how long I would work in this house, under these conditions (this place has been stalled "in the middle of a rehab" for years and it is a miserable place to spend 20 hours a day). And CD agreed.

And finally, I looked down at my overweight body and decided I needed help. Real help. So I found a new GP, and we came up with some strategies. She's a wonderful doctor, and supportive of what I've done so far and the goals I have (which are reasonable).

I came out of her office pumped up but then I immediately began wobbling. For 3 months now, I have been wobbling. Toes in the pool, but still undecided.

This morning I made the call. In 10 days, I begin down the path that will ultimately have a rubber band tied around my stomach to help me lose this weight. (Note, this is NOT Gastric Bypass. This is something called "Lap Band" - reversable, adjustable, and much less invasive, less risky, and less drastic than gastric bypass.)

I'm nervous, and scared.

I feel weak for needing help.

But I want back the energy and health and attractiveness that I had. It's been 5 years since I began gaining the weight, and I have to give up this idea that somehow it will melt off if I just eat right, or try a new diet, or just excersize a little more.

So even though I am scared, I'm going to put one foot in front of the other.

Posted on May 27, 2005 at 08:22 AM and filed under: In My Life
Comments (12) | Permalink

Because You're Beautiful: One Day Only Answers

May 26, 2005

My Blogiversary is tomorrow today over!

Thank you.

You crazy people have honored me with almost 40,000 visits. 1300 1457 comments. You are amazing, amazing, amazing.

All my life, I wanted to be an author. And you made me one. Because of this blog. Because I wrote, and you read.

So, thank you. Thank you for listening. For allowing me to get to know you, for this dialogue, for this community.

In my gratitude, I'm going to answer the 3 most popular questions I get and leave this answer up until the end of tomorrow. So without further ado:

1) What do I look like?
2) Am I really a senior manager in a Fortune 400 company?
3) Can I read the SciFi story you wrote?

Words can not express my affection and indebtedness to the folks who have stopped by and commented. You've made this year, you beautiful nutty wonderful people. You ....complete me.

Now I'm all sniffly.

Posted on May 26, 2005 at 01:36 PM and filed under: In My Life
Comments (26) | Permalink


May 02, 2005

I understand the her feelings. I remember a day in Butte, Montana - back when I was a road warrior - I remember watching the thick gray thunderclouds scroll across the sky bringing rain. The moment that the drops began to fall on me.

I remember that sensation, of knowing it was moments away.

It is overcast today, and I sit at my desk and look out the windows at the mottled sky. I am not in St Louis. I am here, in my pajamas. Watching the sky. Hiding from my email and my thick pages of project documentation.

By day, I plan my life. I make steps to get healthier, leaner, more polished, better trained. I read about how to better parent my son. I make steps towards all those executive responsibilities. I think about a future in local politics.

By night, I loathe it all. What, the world needs one more powerhouse program manager? Ha! I want to be ....actually raising my son - instead of reading about it. I want to be kicking a ball around, teaching him to cook, going for our long walks in the daylight. I want to be writing a book. I am no longer enamored with this work-in-progress we call a house. I am done being Suzy Corporate.

How much time do I really have on this planet? Why is my life upside down... ? Part of me woders if I have the guts to do it. Stick a "for Sale" sign in the front yard and buy a different life. So what, CD isn't going to help make it happen. Can't I just make it happen myself?

It is overcast today. The furious wind of my discontentment is rushing through the shadows. Part of me hopes the weather passes soon.

The other part cries for change.

Posted on May 02, 2005 at 09:04 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Letters to my Bookkeeper

April 26, 2005

There are two women who keep the Good Ship Corporate Mommy afloat.

Elia, Bear's babysitter, who treasures my son as though he was her own flesh and blood. And Monica, my bookkeeper, who keeps my finances untangled, bills paid, and allots me a decent weekly allowance.

I love these women. I need these women. I am constantly amazed that they choose to work with me, because me? I am a pain in the ass to work for.

No. Really.

This is how I informed Monica that I was going to be about $1000 over budget this week, out of the blue -

Monica -

1) My computer is dying. It's is making a noise right now that is scaring the cat. I need a new computer ASAP - like, this week. My company-issued laptop will limp me through but the hard drives on this baby are what I need. The noise just got louder. A jet is landing in my office. Yikes!

2) Our lawnmower is dead. I can hire a service (which would be nice because we're both lazy when it comes to lawn maintenance) or we can spend $$ on a new mower - we have a couple of weeks to decide, after that we'll need to put a bright orange antennae on Bear's head when he goes out to play (so we'll know where to find him)

Are we having fun yet?

Posted on April 26, 2005 at 11:23 AM and filed under: In My Life
Comments (4) | Permalink

Running in Place

April 13, 2005

The new project that I whittled down to a very manageable thing spawned a BIG thing.

You see, it would have been fine if we'd had a Data Center in (insert fictional town name), so I could transfer everything there. But we don't, so I went looking for a Data Center I could use. Things being what thet are, of course, life won't be that easy. Instead I am now tasked with building a Data Center in (insert fictional town name).


At least it won't mean a whole lot of travel.


Meanwhile, Bear is clinging to his daddy like a baby monkey. My heart melts with how happy he is to have CD home - as though they were apart for months, not days.

And Me?

I don't know how to describe it.

I feel like a wind-up toy that has been wound too hard. Ask Jim and Clancy. I met those two amazing guys on Monday night downtown (my first real-life blogger meetings!) and they were so nice, funny, good company. And me? I was running in place, brittle, caffeinated.

I'm hiding from the decisions in my life. But things CAN'T stay like this. I feel like Hamlet, dithering and wrenching like a drama queen. "Alas! Poor Corporate Mommy! I knew her, Horatio. And she was a pain in the ass!"

(Psst, Clancy - welcome! There are some links for you in the extended entry)

Continue reading "Running in Place"
Posted on April 13, 2005 at 09:48 AM and filed under: In My Life
Comments (4) | Permalink

He's Home

April 11, 2005

CD's home, and Bear slept through the night last night in his OWN bed without waking up crying once. What a relief.

Me? I was up too late and now I'm tired for the same reason. CD's home, and I didn't have the bed to myself anymore. For some reason that meant I stayed up until almost 3AM, until I was too tired not to finally crawl into my side of the bed.

Posted on April 11, 2005 at 11:09 AM and filed under: In My Life
Comments (3) | Permalink


April 06, 2005

Well, I'm officially a dumbass. Having shirts and hats made up to say so.

Talk about slipping my mind. It took ALL YOUR COMMENTS PLUS TWO people calling and suggesting to me that ya'know, maybe I was sick and, ya'know, maybe it was a a flare. Seriously. It's shocking that I am an official walking and talking adult, y'all. I'm even a licensed mom.

So I scraped my brains off the floor and realized, I'm going to have to crawl into bed with a bottle of Tylenol (preferrably tanned and singing like Il Divo). I'm going to have to stretch and rest and eat (yuck) kale and spinich. I'm going to have to suit up and beat this thing or else the nice men with steroids will have their way with me and then life will seriously suck for a while.

They think I'm going to be there tomorrow and I just realized that I am going to have to cancel out on this trip.

For the first time since I was diagnosed, some 9 years ago, I am going to have to take an actual Lupus-caused sick day.

On the one hand, don't think I am not bloodying my knees in thanksgiving above that I have been so immensely blessed to have such a disease and still go on to live this amazing life - including a miracle child.

On the other hand, this milestone sucks.

But I'll pony up. After all, the world has scattered shimmering rainbows over my life and I'd be a fool to complain that some of them faded too fast.

P.S. Yes. I did. It's Number 38.

Posted on April 06, 2005 at 02:05 AM and filed under: In My Life
Comments (11) | Permalink


April 05, 2005

There's something wrong with me.

I woke up Sunday with a high fever and sweaty. CD got concerned and drugged me up. Next thing I knew it was like 10 hours later.

Since then I have been suffering under a malaise that I can not explain. My throat is sore, I'm hot and... crunchy inside.

Perhaps more importantly, I am disaffected. I have been plowing through my work at this slow pace but it is the best I can do. I am easily distracted and tired.

CD is in Texas for work until Saturday night. The sun is out and a breeze is coming in the open windows. Bear has a tummy ache and is watching cartoons and sipping juice.

I should go and get his babysitter. I should pack and hem up my pants. I should finish doing my self-evaluation for my review. I should take a shower, and do all that grooming that needs doing before a big corporate meeting. I should synch all my files over to the laptop. I should... I should....

But all I want to do is sit down and stare at the wall, my son curled up by my side.

In 7 hours, we are supposed to be on the road. I have no idea how I am going to make that happen.

One of the team members just instant messaged me with a list of things he would like me to do before I arrive tomorrow morning. I mumbled to myself as I read it "what. ever." and responded to him that we could discuss it when I got there. Which is so unlike me (hey, I push back with the best of them but hey, I'm usually nice about it.) I stunned us both, I think.

Something is wrong. I hope it passes soon.

Posted on April 05, 2005 at 12:21 PM and filed under: In My Life
Comments (4) | Permalink

Stayed too long at the party

March 31, 2005

I have a friend in trouble.

She is the most decent, honorable, and professional person I know. Her career is to help the most disadvantaged children in the state. Look in the newspaper - those horror stories that you read about children who have been found to be abused or neglected in the most heinous ways? That's when my friend's phone rings.

Unfortunately, her mentor and boss slowly lost his scruples along the way. And a sterling example of everything a private welfare agency should be was eaten away until only my friend was left to champion the ideals she still holds.

She knew something was going very wrong. Like a distant bell that would get loud and then fade again.

About 2 years ago the emergencies - no money for payroll, overdue audits - started coming every few months. She'd rally and rant until the boss would clean up everything. We, her friends, would cluck our tongues and suggest that maybe, just maybe, she ought to build an exit strategy.

And then, in the last year, the slippery slope got slicker. And she ended up taking out a bridge loan to keep things going for a while. But she soon realized it was irrevocably over.

Tearfully, she closed up shop and cobbled together care for the clients still in her agency's care. Meanwhile, her boss was hard to find and his stories harder to believe.

Her savings almost gone, her career in crisis. And then the letter arrived from the government, followed by meetings with lawyers and accountants.

And all because she stayed too long at the party. For all the right reasons. For the kids to whom she was the only consistent adult in their lives. For the kids who clung to her, in a sea of beaurocracy. She ignored that distant bell.

And it may end up bankrupting her and her future.

As we talked today, with tears in our voice as we tried to reasonably walk through best-case and worst-case scenarios, I couldn't help but see the parallels. Dressed up in neon and bouncing on that trampoline, I'm pretty sure the whole planet could see them.

"I don't want to admit..."

"It's OK."

"It's not the same."

"I know."

"I mean, we're talking about..."

"We're going to get through all this the best we can."

And I couldn't believe that she was comforting me at a time like this, selfish bitch that I must be.

She wanted to hear about the latest fight CD and I had, and how we're losing ground an inch at a time. It took her mind off the quarter million dollars in back corporate taxes and fines that she can't possibly pay and frankly shouldn't have to.

Then we cried some more, and yelled, and thought up fundraising ideas (would anyone pay to see me naked in a calendar?) and ridiculous notions (she is so NOT moving back in with her mom!).

And I love her. And she loves me. And we are messy, fallible women. Who stay too long at the party.

But for all the right reasons.

Posted on March 31, 2005 at 05:20 PM and filed under: In My Life
Comments (8) | Permalink


March 29, 2005

*Turns out that Average Mom and I decided to write almost the exact same post. Only her first. And funnier. And a little more insightful. Heh.

Over Easter dinner, I was asked why I blog.

And the conversation careened and stuttered from there, as I felt compelled for some reason to explain all the good that has come out of my blogging.

But what about the drawbacks?

Have I turned myself into a soap opera?

The troubles finding a partnership that works for my marriage, the struggles in raising my only son, my windmill-tilting as a female in a strictly masculine corporate structure. My slow slide to what I am sure is a stress-induced nutty.

Why share all this?

Is it still a diary if you purposely share it with the world?

Or just expositional exhibitionism?

Posted on March 29, 2005 at 09:27 AM and filed under: In My Life
Comments (3) | Permalink

Life is a highway

March 22, 2005

A couple of targets were hit in the last few days.

First of all, I finished writing a story. After umpteen years of starting and never finishing the Great American Novel (and coming to the conclusion that I just suck rocks at fiction), I had an idea and finished it. 135 pages, 10 chapters. Not quite a book. On an idea based on characters someone else created. Just to see if I could do it. And then I let some strangers read it and provide criticism and feedback. It was all very nervy of me, really. The response was kind, but I am not sure I will ever do it again. Just proud I did it this time.

I went clothes shopping, too. I hardly ever do this because I am overweight. Since becoming pregnant with Bear (and lying down for most of a year), I gained a LOT of weight. And I couldn't afford to. I had spent my adult life fighting chubbiness (although I was a skinny kid) so now I well and truly look like a weeble. I have 4 decent office outfits that I can mix and match, and none are great quality. I invest our clothing budget more in CD (he never asks, I just buy the stuff). He's always the same size and very well shaped and fun to dress. (ahem)

So for the past 3 days, the three of us have hauled ourselves through shoe stores and clothing stores. Trudge trudge trudge. Up to Lord & Taylor's and down to Talbot's. Yes, the upscale places do make clothes in my size (not that I'm saying what it is). I got black silk slacks and a silk blend black blazer. And a deep-blue short-sleeved silk sweater. (Silk, it was a theme.) Even bought high-heeled pumps, although God knows they don't slim me the way the magazines say. I think I look more like a bowling pin on sticks but I'm trying, and I think that's probably progress.

Got my hair done, and my nails, and some treatments on my face. Even bought some new makeup.

In short, I have done all those external things that I slowly have stopped doing for myself since Bear was born. Because after that, I stopped liking my reflection. That's it, I guess. And I realized last week with a start how bare my self-care regimen has become.

Not that I am going to throw myself back into the world of constant spa treatments and $50 underpants, but I decided that maybe I needed to stop martyring myself. No one is asking me too and it's not exactly making me a nicer person (or nicely dressed).

And, finally, I got myself somewhat of a demotion. Working for a conservative corporation the size of a small European country, executive positions are very hard to come by. Mega is not top-heavy by any stretch of the imagination. So this last assignment, which was Director-level responsibilities, was a pretty big "get" (which, of course, I was hiding from). Somehow last week I managed to downgrade my position in the program to Deputy Director.

I'm still not sure how I pulled it off. But after the initial 60 days this summer working on location, I have been told (since I'm only a Deputy type now) that my work schedule will be much more flexible. That sounds good, right?

After that, I sat CD down and told him that I did understand all his practical concerns (I make twice the money, am vested in both stock and retirement, have full benefits, etc.) I get that it makes no sense, none at all.

But if we are going to make it together, we need to find a way to make this happen no matter the sacrifices: Me as a full-time mom. For at least a year, soon.

I know that there are a lot of people in the world who would think that cutting our family's income by 2/3 is crazy and irresponsible, that there will be little financial security and a lot of sacrifices.

But I needed to say it - that this was the most important thing. And I needed him to hear it, and not just nod his head and walk away and another 6 months go by. One of my weakest traits is that I don't communicate my personal priorities well. The people I work with think I must be devastated that I got the Deputy assignment ('You were robbed!' said an IM I got).

Well, that's fine. But at home I needed to change tactics. I think it is possible that I never shouted loud enough to be heard before.

I have now.

Bulls-eye. I don't know what happens next. And maybe that's OK for right now.

So off I go, southbound for a few days to meet my team before kickoff. Wish me luck.

Posted on March 22, 2005 at 09:53 AM and filed under: In My Life
Comments (10) | Permalink

Headline: Not breaking up

March 18, 2005

Note to self: Honeypie, until you find your freaking brain again, stop making blog posts and then, you know, POSTING them. It just leads to editing, re-editing, and apologies. Time to sit quietly with your words and have a nice glass of chianti, mkay?

I want - must - say thanks. I am more misty-eyed than you know that there is a whole bunch of people, non-strangers, who have showered kindness at a difficult time.

I know my situation, although it has me in considerable pain, is nothing against the real hurts in the world. My life is full of blessings - a healthy family, a good job, and a home in a safe and pleasant neighborhood.

But such compassion, despite this. Each and every one of you is my favorite person in the blogisphere.

To answer the big question. We are not filing for divorce.

I need a lawyer because we've decided to write down a post-nuptial agreement that, if nothing else, will make a legal promise that in taking Bear to St Louis for the summer, I promise to bring him back.

All things considered, it is a fair and reasonable thing to do. Many movies of the week say so.

Don't knock movies of the week; they also drove home the importance of condoms, cell-phones, and a good hair stylist.

Posted on March 18, 2005 at 01:10 PM and filed under: In My Life
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What Project Managers Do

March 16, 2005

So, first off let me say HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAURA!!!! You insanely beautiful and creative person, you! (How do you keep getting better all the time?)

Secondly, let me say: Thank you. I will respond to everyone who has commented. I try to do that anyway, but right now the love and support is overwhelming and healing and I can't begin to express my gratitude.

Thirdly, let me say: I had to edit my entry. I broke a promise and I feel bad. It was wrong of me to reveal what I did without the someone else's consent.

Forthly, and is that a word?: So I have plans in place now. I spoke to our bookkeeper and my boss and made about a bazillion calls. I will need a lawyer to help put some things down on paper, but otherwise it looks good.

Door #1: If it is St Louis, then I talked to the Admissions Director of an outstanding Montessori there and he's got a place in their summer program. I'm not saying that it would be the world's most fun summer, living in a Hotel. But we could make it QUITE the adventure and still find fireflies to catch and still drive home to Chicago on weekends.

DOOR #2: If it is the suburbs, then I will take Bear to work with me. There's a Montessori near (minutes!) away from the client site.

What happens after the summer is still a big dark blank, but then again - this is what Project Managers do. If there is anything I can do well then it is this - plan, manage, adjust, assess risk, balance the budget, and plan.

But just so we're clear, I would much rather be good at play-doh, treasure hunts, homemade cookies, flashcards, and lego's.

Meanwhile, I'll find out more tomorrow.

Posted on March 16, 2005 at 04:56 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Dreams go poof, like tissues

Note: I had to go back and edit this entry. Because I did agree that I would not discuss CD's medical issues, treatment, our marital issues, treatment, or 'what happened' openly in this forum. And I broke that agreement. I was wrong. - C.M.

When we decided to become parents together, we decided that one of us would always be home with our child. It was something I felt strongly in my bones, no judgement on how anyone else does things.

We both had good jobs, either salary would do, so I stayed home.

But it didn't last.

Now there are 18 months between now and Bear going to Kindegarten. And my job pushing (hard!) for me to step up with a new level of commitment that I just don't want to give. I've been dreaming of being home, being this kid's mom. This last big chunk of time before school starts.

But that expectation is a lot. No matter how I would have structured it - what package or part-time job, it still would have made CD's job the prime income.

Clearly that was too much expectation. And I ranted and I raved, but really that was for my own benefit. Because this dream of mine is just not going to become real.

And as I sit here, trying not to cry like a big wuss, I realize that I truly don't know what to do next. I have held on to this dream being just around the corner for so long, that I never really thought about what the alternative would be. Expecially an alternative that keeps me away from my son for 12 hours a day.

I know I'm an idiot. But with our our earning power, I've really just thought me quitting was always - "just as soon as..."

I've got to take Bear to preschool now. And then come home and get to work. Yes, of course this is what millions of people do every day and I know that I'm not special and all this is like so much wet tissue disintegrating in a puddle somewhere.

It'll just take some time. That's all. And then it'll be just fine.

Posted on March 16, 2005 at 08:31 AM and filed under: In My Life
Comments (9) | Permalink

Aurea Mediocritas

February 01, 2005

If life were General Hospital, CD and I would have broken up by now. Our son would have been rapidly aged and be dating his cousin. I would have re-married a mob boss and discovered he was behind my ex-lover's unsolved murder. And CD would have discovered eight children by nine former girlfriends.

But in real life, things are about the same.

I mean, yes. About a week or so ago, we had a bit of unpleasantness. But I haven't been able to blog about it because I promised CD not to share certain stuff anymore. (Speculum warmers? Yes. Fights over the dishes? No.)

So I had to let it out in private writing, in camera. In respect for CD's wishes. I've actually kind of been stitching myself up, trying to figure out how to blog freely and honestly inside the boundaries.

I seek the Aurea Mediocritas. The Golden Mean. The place in the middle where ethics and truth mutually reside.

Has anyone else found this place?

Posted on February 01, 2005 at 09:27 PM and filed under: In My Life
Comments (16) | Permalink

Women's Troubles

January 25, 2005

Off I went to the doctor today.

Before Bear was born, I had an amazing doctor. He was the kind of doctor that other doctors raved about. And the day we found out we were pregnant was the day I found out that Dr. Amazing was retiring.

Since Bear was born, I have been Desperately Seeking Dr. Amazing, Jr. with no luck. This was my 7th first date with a new doctor. I've only gotten to a 2nd and 3rd appointment with 1 doctor in that time, and on the 4th meeting he told me he was leaving medicine.

A woman begins to take these things personally.

Meanwhile, I've met some bad doctors. Very bad doctors. I'm talking Cult Film Classic bad doctors.

But my blood pressure medication was running out, my boobs were swollen like freakish water balloons, and, well, other stuff.

So in I walked, to new doctor's office number 7.

I didn't strip, I didn't weigh in, I just said to the nurse -Just send the doctor in and then I'll decide if we're getting to 2nd base.

A few minutes later this gorgeous lady walks through the door. She looked at me and said Hello, I'm Dr. 7, and you have a great smile.

Oh, she had me at hello.

I laid out my issues, including my recent women's troubles. Boob-wise, I mean. And she walked me through it all and did the exam. I was in her office almost an hour and she didn't even check her watch. I think I'm in love.

Guys avert your eyes - but she even had a speculum warmer!

I still remember CD's first introduction to a speculum. Dr: "CD - this is the big shiny medeival device I am about to insert into your wife" CD: "Gah?"

Turns out, I'm just fine. The boob thing should, uh, deflate within a couple of weeks. In the meantime, all is good in the world. CD can enjoy his brief time as Dolly Parton's husband. And I can bask in the joy of finally being in a committed Dr/Patient relationship.


Posted on January 25, 2005 at 06:14 PM and filed under: In My Life
Comments (9) | Permalink

Where I become Dolly Parton

January 24, 2005

I'm just saying it now: this is a TMI post. Enter at your own risk.

Continue reading "Where I become Dolly Parton"
Posted on January 24, 2005 at 07:46 PM and filed under: In My Life
Comments (7) | Permalink

How To

January 11, 2005

I was born under a rock.

I have no other explanation for how I ended up, at nineteen years old, living on my own without any of the most basic skills.

My first month in that first apartment, I washed my car with undiluted Spic and Span. Just poured the granules onto the car one sunny day, sprayed the hose and went to town.

The cop who pulled me over the next week had to ask.

Miss, what did you DO to your car?

I told him. I said I washed it with Spic and Span and now it was fugly and I didn't know why.

To this day I think he gave me that speeding ticket partly on account of my being so stupid.

Other people, they are a story of great romance or high mystery in their walk through life. They are self-help relevations. They marvel at the world as though it was a travel book full of big glossy pictures.


Yeah, I'm the 'How-To' experience. White paper, black ink, and some 3D sketches.

My very competant parents tried, Heaven help them. You clean the gutters every fall. You break an egg like this. You write thank-you notes immediately.

But somehow, none of it stuck to my brain. The words went in, bounced around, and then fell out my ears while I slept.

So there I was, on my own. And I had no idea how to check the oil in the car, how to balance my checkbook or create a budget, had no clue from pilot lights in the stove and couldn't properly shave my legs.

A day didn't go by that I wasn't either bleeding, broke, hungry or scrambling to find a ride to work.

This went on and on. Until I realized, Hey this is life.

As soon as I learn one thing, shit if there isn't always going to be another to learn right behind it. And knowing me, the hard way.

I was thinking about that today when I got a call from one of the junior folks.

My vendor had a meeting with my customer. Without me. She confessed. What do I do?

This was bad.

As a project manager, you are the Contractor on the job site. You represent all the work and all the vendors to your customer seemlessly. If the Roofing guy talks to your customer and tries to cut you out, that is a violation of the entire process. It's also a breach of contract.

And Junior was counting on me to tell her how to deal with it.

So I did. I walked her through it.

How do you know how to deal with this? She asked me.

I could have said, it's standard Project Manager process. Which it is, but of course I didn't learn it that way.

I learned because I once took a flamethrower to a vendor over a 50 million dollar contract. And once I had pretty much burned down the house, the yard, the block, the car, the vendor, and oh - myself.... along came a guy, probably dressed in black.

He leaned over my steaming self and said, calmly, You know Maverick, we got lawyers for this.

Junior laughed. They say there isn't much you don't know how to do.

I thought about the Engine light on mini-van, my "Universal" remote control, the so-called instructions to my son's Lego Pirate Ship, the dozens of burnt Christmas cookies I threw away this year, my unused wireless laptop, my unsubmitted travel expenses, and the 72 inches of paper that represents my retirement plan.

They, I told Junior firmly, would be wrong.

Posted on January 11, 2005 at 05:29 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Quod erat demonstrandum

January 09, 2005

That which was to be proved...


Is this thing on? Testing... testing... 1. 2. 3.

OK, for the record. ...

Continue reading "Quod erat demonstrandum"
Posted on January 09, 2005 at 11:17 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Update Something Good

December 15, 2004

I wrote Sue.

Sue wrote me.


Posted on December 15, 2004 at 01:39 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Tell me Something Good

December 14, 2004

[begin rant]

My best friend growing up was an amazing Mary-Tyler-Moore scrap of a girl named Sue. You met her and 10 minutes later you were laughing your guts out as you shared a soda.

When a guy named John held my hand at a party the autumn of my sophmore year of high school - she was the first person I wanted to call and tell.

When I got my heart broke in college, she was the one I cried to.

In my 20's, when my ex-partner gutted my life with a revelation 6 months after we'd bought a home together, she hopped a plane and met me where I'd run to - my grandmother's condo in Florida.

Late that night, we snurched my grandmother's yacht of Lincoln and made for the cigarette smoke and Rum & Cokes of the local scene. I had valiantly decided not to deal with my life for the night and she had decided to be supportive of that decision.

We wore short skirts and lipstick and as we left one pub to look for the next, a pair of cute guys made their move.

Out in the parking lot, we let them flirt. We let them lean. Kept watch on each other from the corners of our eyes as we had our hands held, our beauty exhorted. B-52's thudding from the radio of our getaway boat.

We managed to make it back to the condo complex with our modesties still relatively intact (phone numbers stashed in our purses). My lips tingled; her cheeks were pink. We slipped into lounge chairs by the pool and chatted as I went through half a pack of Marlboro Lights. We slipped into that silence that falls after you've laughed too much.

After CD left this morning, his duffel packed for another business trip, I was hit by a wave of homesickness for Sue so strong that I got nauseated. When did we stop being the kind of friends that would hop a plane for each other?

When did I become this woman, who ponies up each day? Who lives in the very stoicism that I rejected as a child? When did I stop calling on my friends, when did they stop calling on me?

Dammit. I want to hop a plane to somewhere warm. I want to fluff my hair and dance to Chaka Khan and drink frothy things with umbrellas in them with a girlfriend and giggle. I want to forget my dress size, my age, and my position.

Life is grey and life is hard and I'm lonely. And every small step towards a better future with CD is still anchored in today.

Today. Today when no one looked me in the eye. Today when no one dragged a thumb down my cheek, hoping to get lucky with my lips. Today when no one splashed me with water from a pool and dared me to see how many miochardial infarctions we could cause by skinny dipping in the pool at the middle of a retirement village.

I was looking at pictures of that trip today. My grandmother, who never understood Sue's vegetarianism ("Not even chicken?") and loved Sue's grace ("What elegant handwriting! What excellent manners!") - my grandmother is gone now. And Sue? She's the one happily living in Florida.

But the years took her even farther from me.

I miss Sue.

I miss Chaka Khan. I miss Rum & Coke and giggling in the dark. I miss knowing I can say anything. I miss the kindness. I miss the eyes wise with all the shared memories of childhood and womanhood.

And I miss the adventures. I miss leaning. The pounding of my heart. I want to be kissed, but good. With a hand tangled in my hair and my toes curled.

I don't mind getting older. And I love all the things responsibility has brought to my life. And I believe in the things that we are slowly building.




[/end rant]

Posted on December 14, 2004 at 05:52 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Getting Out of the Way

December 10, 2004

It's overcast again. And cold.

CD just left with Bear. As part of our new thing, you know, every morning he gets Bear up and dressed and drops him at school.

Yesterday, I messed with CD's alarm clock so this morning it didn't go off and they were running late. I felt bad, and offered to help, but CD shrugged me off. He said he was fine.

I didn't believe it. I got up, got ready, and braced.

Yet CD was fine. He got himself and Bear up and washed and dressed and out the door. The two of them did a sped-up version of their new morning routine as I sat on the couch in the playroom, waiting for the yell.

It didn't come.

The most help I gave was putting on Bear's shoes and fetching a fruit roll-up. And otherwise, staying out of their way.

I'm a little dazed.

... There's a saying in therapy - that the therapist shouldn't work harder on your life than you do.

In my previous job description as a martyr, especially when we would come under stress? I would run around working harder on his life than CD did.

Oh, you're running late? Let me pick out an outfit for you and iron it, while you take a shower. Don't worry about Bear, I'll get him to school or just take a personal day. You hurry along now!

Feeling needed and used all at the same time, and CD coming to expect this treatment. Eventually, this would have killed us completely. But we're learning new ways.

I can not work harder on anyone's life than they do. It does nobody any good.

I have to work hardest on my own life.

To take care of me.

And to tell you what a screwed-up place we've been in - that sentence seems so incredibly selfish.

It's baby steps. Starting, I guess, with CD dealing with being late. And me? Getting out of the way.

Posted on December 10, 2004 at 08:58 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Random Words and Little Decisions

December 02, 2004

Two weeks ago was a week of anger and acting mean. Last week was one of despair. This week started in immobilizing sadness. But by yesterday I had begun to breath again. I've been making decisions. Little ones.

That is not to say that I am gearing up for big decisions. What is next is not a momentous announcement. What is next is more little decisions.

I heard one that 'Character is in the choices we make first thing in the morning and not in response to something that has gone wrong'. I am trying to feel out my character. I am trying to make choices that build love and peace. Even if they hurt. Even if they confound me. I am pushing away at the yummy isolation - moving from reaction into action.

On that note, let me say .... I think I am in love with all the people who read my site.

Except that one, and that other one. Who seemed to think that I was doing them a favor by being in a brittle place because they felt stronger in comparison. My advice, and no one asked for it, is that if there needs to be a comparison study to feel good about one's life then somewhere someone got the definition of "life" wrong.

And on that note, life is too short not to be panting for one's Celebrity Boyfriend. Therefore, and I know this will break his heart, but I really think I need to break up with Bradley Whitford. I'll still adore him, but for the second Thursday in a row I realized that *whoops* 'West Wing' was on last night and I forgot. My celebrity boyfriend needs to be compelling.

I am trolling for suggestions.

And as a practical follow-up to "Sorry seems to be..." I have almost finished the holiday not-newsletter. It is December 2, and normally I would be done by now. But I found myself unable to write about the year. Not because it is all bad. Of course not. There was much good. But because right now, this minute - the prism of my perspective is muddy.

Instead I created 10 minutes of a DVD with the un-Photoshopped JPG and AVI files of the year (yes, raw. I'm not brave, it's just that the program I was using is an intolerant b*tch) . I finally picked the music. "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys, "Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong and "Love is all you need" by the Beatles and sung by Lyndon David Hall.

I have decided that if I never hear "Love is all you need" again, that would be just fine.

That accomplished last night. By this morning, I was feeling a little more "me".

I got up this morning at 4:30. Actually got out of bed at 5:15. Pulled it all together for a strong status report today. I put my head back in the game. I told a new exec out in the UK who was talking to me afterwards that yes, I was might be interested in relocating to the UK. I brushed up my CV.

Most of all, today I cherished Bear. Like the tingling you get when your foot wakes up - sometimes being so connected to another human being just plain hurts. I don't want to think about his dad and I but how can I not when I look at Bear's smattering of freckles and impish grin? I love him for who he is all by himself. But in him, there is always the both of us.

I have decided to take Elia, our own Mary Poppins, home and then to give Bear a bubble bath. I have decided to take tomorrow afternoon for us to make cookies. I have decided to call the doctor in the morning and have my annual check-up - even though it means that I will end up with my breasts frozen and squished in a metal vise in the torture that is genteely known as a mammogram.

And between CD and I, there has been no major improvements; no unbreachable gulfs. There is respect and gentle civility. There is a mountain ahead. I don't know yet where the path will lead.

I have decided to keep walking. Until tomorrow. In little steps. And see.

Posted on December 02, 2004 at 05:54 PM and filed under: In My Life
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I Don't Know

November 30, 2004

Wednesday night, around midnight, Bear and I were dozing in the van. In the parking garage. At O'Hare.

Just before midnight, CD called. His plane, which had been idling on the tarmac for 90 minutes, was finally finally pullling up to a gate. A half an hour later, he was swinging out of the elevator. Grim Tired. Anxious.

He looked at me.

"Are you OK?" he asked.

"I don't know," I said.

The next morning, he came into our room. I was sleeping, truly sick now. I could hear Bear watching in TV in the den. It was quiet a long time.

"What do you want to do about Thanksgiving?" he finally asked.

"I don't know," I said, and rolled away from him into the pillows.

Thursday night, curled up on the couch with Bear. The kitchen smelled of the "Thanksgiving in a box" he'd bought at the grocery store. CD poked his head into the living room.

"Could you handle some food?" he asked.

"I don't know," I said. And I got up to help make the gravy.

Friday morning, on the phone with my bookkeeper. My babysitter is a no-show, Bear is racing up and down the hallways. CD is at work. I've had to call him 3 times to get him to give me the numbers - he needs to rent a car for a week. This. That. It's playing havoc with the budget. My bookkeeper is gamely "making it fit". She's giving me choices.

But I am paralyzed. I can barely make sure my kid isn't licking electrical appliances.

"I don't know. I don't know what to do," I tell her quietly.

"No problems; let me put together a budget and just see if you agree with the choices I make."

Sunday afternoon, working on the holiday stuff in jammies in my office. The guys come in, CD trips over a pile of stuff on the floor. He tells me to put it away.

I remind him it is my office, the one place where I can keep rocks on the floor if I want to. I run a home from here. I run an international program from here. I have supported my family for 4 years from here. I blog from here. I organize the family finances from here. Here. My floor.

CD realizes that I am really not going to shrug it off. I rise up like a viper. He storms up the hall. He comes back. We patch together a peace.

Later a friend asks me. What am I going to do. I can feel the tides pulling me in different directions. I am conflicted. And hopeful. And sad.

I don't know.

Posted on November 30, 2004 at 08:33 AM and filed under: In My Life
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While my Bear gently sleeps

November 23, 2004

In recent weeks, this site has turned into a vent for some of the hardest times my family has faced.

I want to thank you for responding in such a way that has powered me to get through the days. To do what must be done. To be sane where sanity is needed. To give love and comfort to Bear when I didn't even know I had any left. Your generousity has restored some of my faith. It is a wonderful surprise.

One of you had me in hysterics, comparing my life to a Country Song if only I had a truck (or a dog). Another made me tear up by offering to visit. Another reminded me not to make decisions in anger. The collective goodwill, hope, and honest comments have got me through yesterday and the day before and the...

But if there's an update wanted then I have nothing. Because nothing, esssentially, has changed.

I hang up the phone tonight, with the angry words still ringing in my ears. But of course we didn't mean them, we take them back. We'll sort it out, smooth it over. Of course we will. Of course.

And my bright spot, he's snoring in his bed. His forehead is only slightly warm. His hair sweaty, his nose finally a little less clogged. I slip into his room and tuck the blanket around him. Add water to the vaporizer. Look up at all the printouts taped to his wall - of all of us. How can we all look so young in pictures taken just a couple of years ago? Did we age so much overnight?

.....So John keeps daydreaming about this woman he has lost. Daydreams that they are still together and still in love.

One day, though, he goes into his daydream for the last time.

He imagines her and says: I'm not coming here anymore.
And not-real her asks: Why not?
And he answers: It doesn't change anything. And it makes me sad.

I know the feeling.

Posted on November 23, 2004 at 01:36 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Take me home, country roads

November 19, 2004


I took this picture during our recent trip to Boston. There is nothing like New England in the fall.

I look at this picture and remember, Bear in the backseat and me driving the smooth roads. Pointing out maples and oaks and elms.

"It's pretty colors" Bear said.

"Yes, the leaves are gorgeous. I am so glad you and I are sharing this."

And he responded, in a little voice, "I miss Daddy." And my heart skipped a beat.

We've taught him this. That family is the three of us. And for as long as we live now, anything less will feel incomplete.

Last night, in the deep chasms of silence between CD and I on the phone, I felt like screaming. Screaming that we have to work this out. Have to. Because we are a family.

But I don't get to make decisions for CD. I don't get to direct his heart.

In the world where I grew up, my family was related or connected to everyone else. You know, my father and your father went to school together. My grandmother's sister was your aunt's best friend. My son, on visits out East, plays with a boy - and they represent the 4th generation of our families to befriend each other.

So you can imagine. In such a cloistered world. You keep what is private, private. Divorces would seemingly come out of nowhere, because "Gee? The Andersons? Really? Why, they were just at the Smith's Bridge party last weekend and weren't they laughing up a storm?"

Where I come from, you could accidentally amputate your leg at the knee and you'd STILL finish the round of cards before asking, ever so politely, for someone to please fetch an old dish towel before you bled out on the antique Persian rug? Stiff upper lip, old bean.

So I imagine the fact that I have brought the problems between CD and I into the open would unilaterally horrify everyone I know East of Niagra.

But it has helped, so much, not to try and play "happy shiny people" more than I have to. To be able to say that when Bear crawled into bed with me this morning and said, in his little voice, "I miss daddy" ... I cried. His sweaty hair and stuffy nose close to my chest. I held him tight and we burrowed under the down comforter.

And I told him (but meaning it in a different way....)"Me, too, honey. Me too."

Posted on November 19, 2004 at 10:52 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Tick Tock

November 18, 2004

As Mindy (of "The Mommy Blog" fame) put it so well in a recent DotMom post:

I find myself frantically groping for some solid and instructive point of reference. I need something that doesn't give when I ask it to support some of my weight.

I feel so fragile and alone. As I responded to an email (or two) today - I'm reacting by being curled up in a ball under my desk.

It's amazing and encouraging that so many people who have been through this too - and found ways to make it work. I can't begin to explain how much all the kindness you've shown me has helped.

Since a series of major events about four years ago, we have been stuggling between periods of improvement, even joy, and periods of pain. In the times of pain, such as now, CD pushes me away to this "parental pedestal".

And as so many of you suggested, yes - we are getting help. It's just not... well, helping.

He's still on his business trip. I'm still home with Bear. He and I need to make some major paradigm shifts and get back to being partners. Ultimately, the decision rests with CD. I am praying that his heart leads him to join me at the table - so we can stop fighting each other and start fighting for us.

This isn't about love. I have always loved him. This is about life.

So now I'm waiting. And, yes, spending a little too much time curled up in a ball under my desk. And praying. Praying a lot.

Tick. Tock.

Posted on November 18, 2004 at 05:33 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Couldn't get much worse

November 17, 2004

Bear is acting out.

He's doing it because life around him is frayed and he's only 4. His communication mechanism for announcing emotions is to act them. One day, he will be able to sublimate the feelings into healthy creative ways (like eating an entire Sara Lee Black Forest Cake in one sitting). For now he makes do with stomping his feet and telling his babysitter that she's a doody-head for not letting him have his way.


Since I'm not sure that Bear notices what is going on with my job or my diet, I think he's reacting strongly to the fact that CD and I are not doing well. Because, you know, it's important that everything in my life share a communal moment of suckage.

CD's been treating me, more and more especially in the last 6 months, like I am HIS mother as well as Bear's.

And not in a nice way. In the crappy way that a teenager treats their mom.

Like I am somehow responsible for making sure his team shirt is clean on game days and remembering to hit the ATM so he can have money for hanging at the mall and hey, while I'm at it, make him dinner and then wash the dishes.

It's ok to forget you mom's birthday and then do some idiotic last-minute thing and expect that to make it all better. It's ok to drown her in the details of your day and then hang up without asking how she is.

I mean, it's NOT ok - but in a sense it's ok in that it happens. In a short time period of years. For a child. And their PARENT.

But not for a wife. So finally today I took a deep breath and drew a line in the sand.

Either he starts up the time machine and starts turning his behavior back into adult, equal, romping partnership that we had or else he needs to take his adolescent self out of the nest.

I'll keep you posted.

Posted on November 17, 2004 at 01:35 PM and filed under: In My Life
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History cannot be unlived*

November 16, 2004

This is an anniversary of sorts for me.

Just after my birthday in November, 1994, I donned my cassock for the last time.

It was a sevice led by Boston's Bishop Thomas Shaw. He was newly elevated to being a Bishop and I was newly back from Europe. Somehow I had been asked to assist in a Unity service he was going to lead.

Before the service, the Bishop made a point of finding me to shake my hand. I quickly tucked the last of my hair up in a bun as he held out his hand to me. "You worked with Bishop Griswold?" he asked, all egalitarian and earnest.

I nodded. We shook.

The courtesy address for a Bishop is "Your Grace" - the same as for a Duke or Duchess. But Frank Griswold is the only person I have ever called that. So with other Bishops I do that thing you do with prospective in-laws - wait to make eye contact and avoid any kind of reference at all.

"We're glad to have you with us here," Bishop Shaw said, very kindly. "I think I was told that you'd resigned from the Chicago Diocese, but you should come by the diocesan offices..."

"I think that it's my last service 'in uniform'," I interrupted, with a smile and sad eyes. I pointed to the pews with a lift of my jaw. "My mother is in the congregation..."

"Oh," he said, understanding my motivation. We continued with making smiley faces but we each pulled back into ourselves even as he let go of my hand. "The offer's open if ..."

And it was done.

The service went well. They used me as a glorified sign language interpreter. My part in assisting was given to a bright-eyed sycophant.

As a civilian, I still tried to make it work in Boston for another 3 months. Riding the salty ferry into the city every morning for an assortment of temp jobs. Combing through thrift shops for an office-worthy wardrobe. Fingering momentoes of my previous life and then tucking them back into my suitcase at the back of my mother's closet.

My brother had already moved back home, so I slept on the couch. Carefully putting away all the bedding every morning.

As the crocuses pushed up in the first taste of spring, 1995, I called my girlfriend Dee back in Chicago. "Help," I cried. "I want to come home."

The next day, I got up and left a note for my mother, and took my suitcase to the airport. My mother caught up with me there a few hours later. I used that true and old tired line "It isn't YOU; it's ME."

Dee was there when my plane landed. A week later I had a temp job at the TeleCo. 2 weeks after that, we moved me into the apartment building that would be my home for the next 6 years. 2 years later, I met CD and soon he moved in there with me.

On the 5th anniversary of this time, CD and I went downtown to look at all the shop displays. It was cold and there was a little bit of snow. CD and I had just reconciled after a hard time. We'd began couple's counseling and just returned from a mini-break up in Door County.

He carried our bundles. I held a paper cup of coffee. We made our way, in the dusk, over to Huron Street.

"This was home," I said. Althought there have been many more people who have spent much more of their lives in the Cathedral and Diocesan Offices than me. Still, for a time, this had been the center of my purpose in my life.

CD stood, somewhat impatiently, as I pointed out where my office had been and all the little landmarks. That was the little chapel where I had led services. That was the hall where I presided over Bingo.

And now 5 more years have passed. A decade since I was in black. And it still seems like if I just reach behind me, it is still there. Just. The last "Amen" ringing in my ears.

* "History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again." - Maya Angelou
Posted on November 16, 2004 at 11:09 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Well, that sucked

November 14, 2004

My birthday? Well, that sucked.

Picture CD asking me for present suggestions at 11AM on my birthday morning. No, he wasn't looking for GOOD suggestions (like a chunky sapphire and platinum ring or a vintage Jag) but BAD suggestions (like things he can get for under $10. At the grocery store. While picking up a gallon of milk with Bear in tow).

And when Bear whispered to him later that it was time to light candles on a cake and sing, CD looked at him blankly and said "no cake".

Those two words? Are EVIL.

Luckily? My girlfriends are the kind of women who came galloping in, like shimmering Valkyries in Hondas.

Off first for an outstanding manicure. We were laughing so hard in the spa's front window that an old man walking up the street in an old-fashioned camel hair coat and plaid hat stopped and looked in at us.

He waved. We waved back. He grinned. We grinned back. Before it got creepy, he took off. A few minutes later, he came back down the sidewalk. And older lady on his arm, her shopping in his other hand. He mimed an introduction, we smiled at them happily.

Then it was off for some fabulous authentic Itlalian food. With lots of cocktails. We twizzled our fingertips under the candlelight and said - look, how pretty our red nails look in this light.

It was a rotten day that improved with age. My girlfriends let me know that I am loved. They are the kind of women that will drive round-trip 6 hours and never let me feel the obligation for it.

The night finished with the new inane Bridget Jones movie. Because, well, Colin. And Hugh.

I slept in a comfy guest bed and in the morning there was homemade cafe mocha, with cinnamon sprinkles.

The best gift I got for my birthday this year? The friendship of my amazing girlfriends. Who are, in real life and in the blogisphere, some of the most amazing kick-ass strong beautiful women you could find.

Posted on November 14, 2004 at 07:45 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Goodbye Summer, You Piece of Crap

September 22, 2004

It doesn't seem fair to blame summer for the problems we've been facing the last 3 months.

But? I'm still happy to see it GO GO GO.

Complaining isn't my bag, but these last days of the season have been a BITCH in need of a smack. To get you in the mood for this recent litany of woe, let's choose some music. There was a mean, tacky song about Ted Kennedy when I was growing up. It went:

Your Father's Dead
and Your Mother's Dead
and Your Brother's Dead
and Your Brother's Dead
And Your car doesn't float.
(And you'll never be presidenttttttttt...)

In the mood? OK here goes...

1) My brother hurt himself catching a football. My brother, who has played hockey for 25 years, got hurt catching a football. This morning, he had 4+ hours of open-throat surgery (yeah, ew) so they could dig pieces of a broken disk out of his spinal column and put in some titanium. How scary and awful is that?

2) Friday, the phone rings. "Honey?" CD says. "Where are you?" I ask. "Walking home," CD said, huffing. "Guh?" I respond, intelligently. "The van wouldn't start when I came out of Blockbuster," he informs me. Turns out? Broken battery electrical thingy or something. 2 days of cafutzing, plus $$$ out of savings.

3) Friday, some more. My mom calls to read me letter that came for me at her house. Seems there's been a freakout with the DMV's computer, and they're suspending my license. For an a fine that was levied 18 YEARS AGO. (Also? PAID) Mom asks me "Well, didn't you take care of this?" "Yes mom. I went through this 10 years ago, had to get receipts and letters of clearance when I got my Mass License. Don't you remember?" "Well," she says, "Then you should still have the receipts, right?" Uh, no. No indeedy. When I moved cross-country to start a new corporate life, with only a backpack of belongings - can you believe? I DIDN'T SAVE THE RECEIPTS. Oh, it's going to be suspended in 3 weeks. In the middle of my business trip. For an executive summit. Gah.

4) Sunday, watching Bear at the playground. He'd just completed his first week with CD as a temporary stay-at-home dad and it had been a trying week for all of us. So we were having a "fun break" but then Bear bumped his head and started crying. Bear couldn't stop crying, and I started rocking him and cuddling him and trying to comfort him. I had been sitting in a little blue house, playing along with him because there were no kids his age around. In between snotty bouts of tears, Bear asked me if I was going to miss the blue house when we left the playground. He insisted I take a picture of it. Even after I did, he was not consoled. I think maybe that he was missing his school, and his friends, and that the new arrangement with Daddy was wearing on him. Realized that I am an awful, bad, evil mommy.

9-19-2004 017.jpg

5) Monday. Am informed by actual operational boss that I will no longer be running my program. Am being somewhat demoted so I can support another program. Apeshit ensues.

6) Monday night. Dinner meeting with vendor. They had giveaway goodie bags. This was supposed to be GOOD. Except? The shirts won't fit me. They are classy button down shirts, with NO ROOM FOR BOOBS. Women, in my part of the industry, still uncommon. Not UNHEARD OF. But hey. Also? I got HUGGED. No one else got hugged. Just me. Maybe they liked my boobs.

7) Tuesday, really ready to vomit with stress. Limit future career options to save my current posting in a series of political machinations that would make Machiavelli proud. Some people in my company are very glad, and cheer. Others are giving me the stinkeye and plotting.

8) But wait, when I woke up - my phones weren't working. Took 2 hours to fix that. Lovely phone company. Lovely. Not like I was trying to rearrange breakfast meetings, save my job, or find out how my brother - who was having OPEN THROAT SURGERY (thankyouverymuch) - was doing.

To recap:

Brother. Ow.
Son. Oh, honey...
Car. $$$.
Current Job. Yikes.
Career. Yeah, tired of being the only one with boobs. Well, wait - some of the guys... ok ok. Let me rephrase. The only one in a bra.
Driver's License. tick, tick tick...

And? And? I'm back up a pant size since vacation.

(Dare me to say it? Dare me? You DO?!)

And my car doesn't float.

Tags: Life, work, vendor, bad news,
Posted on September 22, 2004 at 02:07 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Anatomy of a Perfect Day

September 19, 2004

Sometimes a woman's got to do what a woman's got to do. In the case of a group of my close girlfriends, we've been letting life get in the way of our sanity. It was time to march out the door and do whatever was necessary to recharge ourselves and our friendships - a day together in Chicago. No agenda, no schedule, no kids, no partners, no work, no diets, no plan.

This is my photojournal of the day.

11AM Off we went from my place, in C's Expedition. We rolled through a Dunkin Donuts for coffee. I started making fun of the way Bostonians give directions... "Go to the Dunkie's, bang a left. Now you're on Route 3 South going west. So go another - one, two, three Dunkies - the one with a drive-thru - bang a sharp right."

The highway bled into the city and we decided to swing onto Lake Shore Drive up to Roger's Park, a lakeside neighborhood to the north. It took about 30 minutes to untangle our way through the downtown streets because of setup for the Celtic Festival and the ongoing hordes for the AIDS Walk. The delay didn't bother us in the least. We agreed that it was a perfect September Chicago day - deep blue skies, soft breeze, about 70 degrees.

12PM Found us in the most northern part of the city at Berger Park. We sat on the rocks and watched a guy throw sticks for his chocolate lab to retrieve from Lake Michigan. We listened to the waves, talking in fits and starts about life, dreams, men, women, children. We agreed that the guy from Highlander - the TV show, not the movies - was serious fantasy material.


12:30PM We walked over to a local diner. We found a booth and ordered, trying not to be obvious the way we stared at the Elvis impersonator. The food was forgettable. The jukebox was fine, fine, fine. We played the Beatles and Santana, we sang along with Earth Wind and Fire. The diner was a run-down local institution, full of people from every part of the social spectrum. We dawdled, soaking in the moments.


2PM We parked on Clark at Division and walked towards the beach past all the bars and night clubs shuttered to the sun. I remembered that fantasy guy's name was Adrian something. We decided it was the ponytail, the accent and the body. Well, C liked the sword. OK, we all liked the sword.

A bride and groom rolled by in an horse-driven carriage. In the tunnel under Lake Shore, a violinist played. Up on Elm Street Beach, there were only a handful of people enjoying the glorious afternoon. Another friend joined us, and we dug our toes in the sand and took pictures of the afternoon sun across the skyline.




3:45PM We drove south to Millennium Park, the newest attraction in dowtown Chicago. Yet another bride, this one dashing in front of the Prudential Building with an attendant holding her train.


4PM Despite its name, Millennium Park opened just last year. The cost overruns, delays, and controversy over the art and architecture are by now legendary. This is Mayor Daley's baby, his vision for bringing even more recognition to Chicago as a world class city. The park replaces an old trainyard that was a blight for years - smack dab in prime real estate adjoining Grant Park and the lakefront.

We explored the paths, landscaping, and sculptures. There's one we called "Coffee Bean" - a silver sphere that cast all sorts of interesting reflections. We joined the tourists at an open air restaurant and drank martinis from plastic cups and munched on a light, yet overpriced, dinner. Our waiter was a cute guy, young. But no Adrian-from-Highlander. I'm just saying. Plus? Bad service. The sun streaks had turned golden in late afternoon. We talked about our jobs, the politics of our careers, our plans for the future.


5:30PM We headed north for a mile or 2 up Michigan Avenue. At each intersection, the east-west crossing street would be aglow. We'd stop and gaze into the deepening sunset.


The city was bursting. We wiggled and clapped for the buskers - drummers, guitarists, and a horn section. We admired the skyline, pointing out buildings to each other. We were yelled at to repent or vote for LaRouche by street corner evangelists.


We walked in different configurations, changing partners, slowing down here and there and then speeding up, running against a yellow light. Eventually we ended up at the Water Tower and headed into Ghiradelli's for hot fudge sundaes.

7:20PM By the time we were done, it was dark. Riders in the stream of horse carriages now had blankets. We walked a block or so and then hailed a cab back to Millennium Park.

7:30PM We'd left ourselves a pair of sculptures to investigate. Two towers with water flowing over them and into a shallow pool. The towers alternately glow different colors or have faces of Chicagoans on them - they are best appreciated at night.


Every few minutes, one of the video faces "spits" - a stream of water projected from the mouth. You got wonder about the pitch session for this purchase. Spitting Sculptures? But they were a lot of fun. There was a crowd milling about, children playing in the shallow pools.



8PM We dug out the car from the garage and headed for home. We passed under the 'El" train - each of us used to commute on that train once upon a time. We looked up at it in silence, comfortably ensconced in leather seats and climate control.


The ride slipped by too quickly. I think we all wished the day could last a little longer. I was grateful it lasted as long as it did.

Total tally:
Statistics of party:
4 women representing -
Combined age of 145 years old, 5 kids, 2 husbands, 2 ex-husbands, 1 live-in partner, 4 cell phones, 4 dogs, 6 cats, 1 SAHM (and Partner in family-owned business), other 3 Careers representing 2 senior positions and 1 executive with combined salaries of over a quarter million. Average salary when we met in the early 90's - $5/hour (we worked at the same place).

Other Statistics:
Number of Brides seen: 5
Number of pictures taken on Canon Digital by me: 127
Number of shampoos it took to get the sand out of my hair: 3
Hours slept, in blissful exhaustion, afterwards: 10

Costs of the day (per person):
Dunkin Coffee: $2
Brunch at Diner (with tip): $7
Parking: $2
Buskers: $1
Dinner at Millennium Park: $20 (with Martini)
Sundae at Ghiradelli's: $7
Cab: $2 (We all pulled crumpled dollars from our pockets)
Total, per person: about $42

The Perfect Day with old friends? Priceless.

Tags: Chicago, Tourist, Landmark, day trip, life, pictures, humor
Posted on September 19, 2004 at 10:12 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Fenway Cathedral

September 02, 2004


Fenway Park, from Sect 18, Box 39, Row G, Seat 1
Game 67: Ana 7 - BoSox 12 (Yeah Baby), 09/01/2004

My old friend Kevin was into baseball in a very big way and infected me with it when I was in my 20's. I lost count of how many games we caught together.

I remember one night, Kevin and I drove around Chicago looking for a somewhere quiet we could talk. It was a melancholy night, just before he moved away.

Finally he pulled over on Addison, and I looked up at that old sign over the stadium. "I think this," he told me quietly as we gazed at Wrigley Field, "is about as Holy a place in Chicago as you could find."

I understood.

Baseball is a language that has given me common ground with other people as well. Like my dad.

Last night, he took CD and I to the Red Sox-Anaheim Angels game. Dad surprised us with amazing seats, and we lucked out with weather - warm with a cool breeze and a bright moon.

Johnny Damon got 5 hits for 5 at-bats and made it home 3 times. Millar got a 3-run homer. Manny got walked a couple of times. Red Sox spanked Anaheim. It was a rollicking boisterous game, and a great time.

It was the second Fenway game I've been to with my dad.

Aug 18, 1993 was the first time we'd taken in a Red Sox home game together. We got same-day SRO tickets, White Sox/Red Sox and grabbed some programs and some beers.

Danny Darwin, #44, was the starting pitcher. Usually, the Red Sox go through pitchers in a game like a cocktail nuts at a bar - but this day would be different.

It was a sunny summer day and my dad and I found a piece of railing with a good view. As the first outs were made, Dad and I got into a rhythm - he held the beers while I scored the game. He'd look over my shoulder once in a while, correcting my marks - "That was 9 to 3" he'd say. Or, "I'm not sure they gave him the error on that play."

Midway through the top of the 3rd, and a hush began to spread around the stadium. Dad peered at my box scores and asked, "Is that what I.." and I nodded. We shared a long look, and then held our breath.

Darwin, that inconsistent pitcher, was pitching a perfect game.

The full stadium was riveted. We watched in absolute silence.

5th inning, into the 6th and we still had, unbelievably, a no-hitter on our hands. Danny was throwing strike after strike. The catcher, Tony Pena, had practically crawled out of his shorts. Darwin was cool. We were praying, pulling, with glistening eyes and bated breath.

The Chicago White Sox were swinging with everything they had. And theirs was a roster of power hitters.

But no one could get a piece of Darwin.

Finally, in the 8th, with one out, Dan Pasqua connected and ran hell bent for leather before settling on 3rd. Darwin retrieved the ball, ready to pitch to the next batter. As though nothing had happened. No sign of disappointment, just steady focus.

But the fans had were not about to let the moment slide by. Before he could throw the next pitch, we stopped the play.

The noise erupted all at once, overtaking me with emotion. My eyes were puddled with tears. I looked around and saw that every man, woman, and child was up. Dad put out beers on the ground and we joined in pounding our hands together in a beat that shook the walls.

"Darwin, Darwin..." came the cheer. We screamed ourselves hoarse for long minutes, while the refs let the man have his due. Darwin stood alone, tall on the mound.

This wasn't Ripken, or Williams, or any of the guys who I've cheered for before or since. This wasn't Ramirez last night, used to the pounding affirmation from stadium full of admirers.

This was Danny Darwin. Traded around, stats up and down, the oldest guy on the team. You think he'd want to bust out in the Macarena. But there's an unwritten code in baseball. It's dictates a calm, unruffled gratitude to appreciation. A stoic's approach to the boiling emotions of the game. Darwin embodied all the class and grace of that code on that August afternoon.

He simply nodded in acknowledgement.

And I joined with 30,000 fans to peal a last hoot of frenzied joy and appreciation before allowing Darwin to finish his day's work- a 5-0 shutout that was much more than the stats of the day.

It was the best game I've ever seen.

Last night, my Dad driving out of Boston and we look back at the park, windows open and the night breeze still soft and cool.

I got a chill watching Fenway recede. It's as Holy a place in Boston as you could find.

Tags: Baseball, Boston, Chicago, Family, Memories, Fenway, Red Sox
Posted on September 02, 2004 at 03:59 PM and filed under: In My Life
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Dear Paul Mahoney

August 17, 2004

Dear Paul Mahoney,

I bet you're surprised to see your real name on the internet. Well, I gave that some thought. And I realized, I could counter some of the dark corners of life by outing YOU. I hope you don't mind.

You are a real person, and you did something noble at an age when nobility and kindness are almost out of reach. I thought that deserved the credit of your own name.

You may not remember. So let me help you. You went to school in Fairfield County, Connecticut during the late 70's. And for the last 15 minutes each day it was just you and me.

You were popular. You looked like a young Paul McCartney, a little. You were comfortable in your skin, with a quick sense of humor and a big heart. You were known for being a flirt, but a good guy. You were into music, and as soon as the bus was a little emptied you'd convince the bus driver to turn up the radio.

I thought you were the coolest person I knew.

Conversely, I was pretty beat up. The kids bullied me something fierce for a while. Over the months, it softened to a dull roar; I made a few friends and had someone to each lunch with.

But I hated school, Paul. Counted the days in between the holidays.

At the beginning of the year, you were strictly a "back of the bus" guy and I was at the front. I would curl up behind the bus driver for safety. You'd expand, somehow. Taking up the entire bench seat with your arms and legs and white smile.

One day, in the crisp end of autumn, you yelled to me. It took you a week to convince me that it was all right for me to move to the back of the bus once it was just us and the driver.

You were a bit of the firefly, you liked the attention. You liked having someone to talk to.

You made me laugh.

I had girls in my life. Neighbors, cousins, girlfriends at school. I'd had crushes. But you were the first guy to ever hold a conversation with me without your mother forcing the relationship.

Did I mention you made me laugh, Paul?

You used to use your hands to tell the stories. I never saw so much happy personality tied up in so much testosterone before.

I wrote about you in my diary. Then I destroyed the pages because I had no privacy back then. But I didn't forget your name.

One day, in the spring, someone had really gotten to me. I couldn't face you, because I was crying. Huddled behind that chain-smoking bus driver, staring doggedly out a window that only opened from on top, and pretending not to notice that my cheeks were chapped. And wet.

You tapped me on the shoulder, and I still couldn't face you.

You'd moved. To the front of the bus. For me. And it only made things worse.

You said "Come on, now".

You said "What's wrong?"

You sat behind me. Until it was time for you to get off.

The next morning, you got on. You took my hand and led me to the back of the bus. You sat me against the window and took the aisle. And as the stops piled up, and disbelieving kids punched your shoulder, and you didn't move from my side until we got to school.

Then you silently exited, melding into your crowd.

So for a few weeks until school ended, I sat at the back. Everyday. With you.

No one said a word. That was a lot of power you had in the Darwinian ooze of adolescent political structure.

Why were you so kind? I wonder if you even remember it. Or if it was just a blurry moment out of your life, just something you did from some decent impulse. I guess it doesn't matter anymore but at the time, it mattered a lot. It was a domino that got knocked in the right direction, and my life was better for it.

The last day of school, you squeezed my hand and didn't look back. You said goodbye to the driver. I never knew what happened to you. I always kind of wondered.

Dear Paul Mahoney,

You were the only good thing that ever happened to me on a bus.

I hope you're having a splendid life.

Thank you.

Continue reading "Dear Paul Mahoney"
Tags: School, Bully, Memory, Decency, Kindness, Story
Posted on August 17, 2004 at 07:34 AM and filed under: In My Life
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Moons and Junes and ferris wheels

July 13, 2004

I was dreaming about you in 1988.

That's when you started to become real, when I knew in my heart that I would see you soon. You'd be the first of many; a loud, chaotic, affectionate bunch that I was in training to manage. Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians were singing "What I Am" on the radio as I made vanilla potpourri or some other homey craft and fantasized about non-alliterative family-friendly furniture that wasn't criminally ugly.

I was dreaming about you in 1991.

The cats and I moved into Chicago so I could go back to college. That summer, I was cleaning homes for cash and living in an empty, gusty apartment. I would sit on the fire escape with my dinner and watch the alley in the twilight.

I would sleep under the window: the bedroom always smelled like peaches and there was a little breeze. I had to get used to the occasional wail of sirens as I laid quietly, rubbing my belly and feeling you slipping farther away from being real.

I stopped dreaming about you in 1993.

Curled up in a bunk, clutching a plane ticket, and mourning. You already know that I don't cry pretty. My eyes turn red, my nose runs, and my face creases.

Oh, honey. It was like I couldn't wash that sweaty sad hospital scent off me. No one could help and it was such aloneness. Alone, as it slipped away. And then, I slipped away, too.

It was over a year before I exhaled and came home. It was a long time before you were dreamed of again.

I dreamed of you again in 1997.

Music by Goo Goo dolls and Savage Garden and Sugar Ray on the radio. A new job with Mega Corp. A new love, with your Dad. And suddenly, you were there again.

Clear in my dreams and my waking hours. You and your siblings, and a home for us all. I walked in sunshine, chewing peppermint gum and grinning like I had the secret of life.

You were real in 2000.

We'd joked about a millennium baby and then, suddenly, we had one.

Bright coppery tufts of hair and clear curious eyes. I was singing Joni Mitchell to you in my arms, feeling "The dizzy dancing way you feel, When every fairy tale comes real."

We whispered, the three of us deep in the night, about all our dreams.

There would be sandy summer days with relatives. Wind chimes and dragon tales and soccer balls. There would be homework and snowball fights and band-aids.

We designed tree forts, planned car trips, and imagined big Sunday dinners and holiday traditions that we would invent and carry into the future. I wanted you to be able to share all this - your childhood - with other children. Siblings to grow up with and against, challenge and enjoy, hate and love.

In my dreams of you, there were always more.

But it doesn't seem like it will be a blessing we'll have. And I'm sorry.

I've thought about this so much over the last few weeks and you should know, it isn't for lack of wanting or trying. I'm not normally a quitter. But the miracle of you took the dedication of an entire group of doctors, the bedrest of your stir-crazy mom, and the bedrock belief of your dad.

Somehow, now, I feel it in my bones. Lightning is only going to strike this particular spot once.

It is what it is.

For all the lonely times you may have in the years ahead, know we will be doing everything we can to saturate your life with the camaraderie of others.

For the times when there will only be your parents on the other side of the dinner table, know that we will do everything in our power to expand your view of your world.

No, this wasn't the original plan. But that doesn't mean that the reality will be any less amazing. If ever there was a child who was dreamed of, and then came true - it was you.

You are loved, you are enough, we are enough. We are a family.

Continue reading " Moons and Junes and ferris wheels"
Tags: Infertility, Pregnancy, Life, Parenting, Family, Goals, Plans, Hopes, Love, Baby, Children, Award-Winning, Blog,
Posted on July 13, 2004 at 04:41 PM and filed under: Mother to the First Power
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Things to do at work, besides work (A Greek Travelogue)

June 22, 2004

Some days, you just can't win.

"What's the schedule?" "Where's the process?" "Are you going to use the new Change Control?" "Do I have some of that budget?" "What pool is providing resources?" "Where is the testing lab? How long is the soak?" "Will this hit the account P&L?"

Being a project manager means putting up with a lot of people wanting to know, in essence, "Are we there yet?"

Ick. bah. stresscakes.

At times like this, I do what I must. To mangle James Taylor (more than he did to himself): For a few moments I take my mind on vacations and I go to Spetses in my mind.

spetses.jpg Spetses, Greece (copyright: Member Maurizio42)

Spetses is a smallish island of Greece. After landing at Athens airport, take a cab to Piraeus Seaport and then catch a slow ferry. After about 4 hours of hitting all the islands in between, you'll be deposited at Spetses.

The water is warm there, and the year-rounder folks are friendly; well-seasoned in tourism, with the British being the main visiting population. There are shops, pubs, and disco's at night.

But for those seeking peace; Spetses is an idyllic goal. Outside the 20 square blocks of the main town, most of the island is hushed and quiet and covered in pine trees. Most of the ground - even down to the blue sea -is rocky, and the roads little more than paths. There are only 2 cars on the Island, but about 200 mopeds. A salad of tomato, feta, and onion will cost you about $1. A Diet Coke? $3.

I never got the "Toga" thing until Spetses. They left piles of soft, thin sheets in my room and I eventually realized that they were for wearing. The hottest part of the afternoon, dip in for a swim and then tie a sheet loosely around golden skin. My usual modesty left back somewhere cold; dozens of Spetsians have seen my breasts - back when they were something to see. Not that anyone cared.

Glorious hours lazing in the shade, the world on "pause". Maybe a stroll towards the old monastery. If you get lost and end up at a fisherman's house, the family will probably teach you some Greek and show you their nets and the new hull in process. Maybe invite you for lunch.

At least, they did for me.

Tags: Business, Jobs, Work, Careers, Life, Corporate, Telecommuting, Project Management, Balance, Greece, Vacation, Travel
Posted on June 22, 2004 at 08:17 PM and filed under: In My Life
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