Archive for April, 2007
They say there’s a sucker born every minute. At 7:31 p.m. on December 18th, 1958 it was me. Arggghhhh…will I ever learn that the same brain cells that are stimulated by creativity are also the ones that control GREED? I had the meeting with two thirds of our creative team today, the two thirds that actually wrote and illustrated THE BOOK. Dr. B, the one that asked for our help, and has failed to return phone calls or e-mail for weeks, e-mailed me a brush off while I was away at that meeting. Hmmm…its not that he can actually do anything with the book, like get it published without me, its mostly that I so desperately misread this poor excuse for a human being. I’m so frustrated at myself that I didn’t insist on a contract. On the positive side… the experience did permit me to meet a wonderful illustrator who is fast becoming a very good friend. We’ll write other books. He’ll always be a loser.
My date with Pap was interesting. “Date” is defined by me as: 1) He calls and asks if I’d like to go somewhere. 2) He picks me up 3) He spends copious amounts of money 4) He drops me off afterward. He did great on everything but the dropping me off part. Drat that crazy chemistry he and I have. We deliberately avoided all serious conversation through dinner, a walk through the mall and then a movie (Fractured, with Anthony Hopkins – fantastic movie). We saved that for today…right before I found out I’d been dumped by my writing partner. Did I mention what a sucker I am? Anyway…love doesn’t have anything to do with why I left Pap. We’ve been in love for 25 years, we’ll be in love for 25 more. The issues we must sort out in order to actually live together are solved with giving up the big house I can no longer take care of and him taking his medicine. Its impossible to have a meaningful relationship with a manic depressive. Made more frustrating by the fact that his is completely under control when he follows his doctor’s reasonable instructions. Then there’s that little control issue we both seem to have…. I have time.
Arbor Day was lovely, we had about 60 people, planted 6 memorial trees and ate ourselves silly at the reception afterward. My last one, I’m glad I went out with a bang.
Tomorrow is Arbor Day in Ohio. “A day set aside for the planting of trees, both forest and fruit…” that from J. Sterling Morton’s plea to the Nebraska Board of Agriculture in 1872. Since then Arbor Day has become big business and is recognized in every state.
My job for Arbor Day over the last 12 years has been to organize a “do” and the poster contest for the elementary school. This is my last one as organizer, the additional duty comes with my day job. Of all the things I’ve done for the community, this is my favorite. Our group has landscaped the water plant, built a park on Main Street, replaced trees all over the big park and the museum property. There is immediate gratification in planting a tree, and no arguing about the necessity for maintaining a healthy urban forest in our cities and towns. At the very least, with no trees all those squirrels and chipmunks will start trying to move into your guest room. Personally, I prefer them outside.
Sunday I have a meeting with Dr. M from our writing project. THE BOOK was finished and delivered to Dr. B, who brought us all together, and we’ve barely heard from him since. He isn’t returning phone calls or e-mail. We suspect deception, but part of me is just worrying, worrying, worrying that Dr. B has been in an accident or something. It’s stressful and sad. I should be marketing this book right now, not wondering where its gone.
Tonight I have a date with Pap. Hopefully it isn’t to White Castle or something equally nasty. I’ll be left with no choice but to divorce him.
Dear Karma Police,
Whatever heinous act I performed to get on your bad side, I’m sorry. But enough already, I’m one small woman. I’m not asking you to pave the way to personal fame or fortune. Not even whispering for the skills to cure aids, heart disease or cancer. I would just like to curry enough of your favor for one good night’s sleep and one day without SOMEBODY being mad at me. Do this now, and I’ll let you kick me around some more later when I’m feeling a little more like myself.
Whiny Ranting Woman
Last night I went back to the house to haul away the last of the things I can’t live without: my big lacquered dresser, the sideboard, a four foot vase made by my favorite art potter, Jack Valentine, and the table from my craft room. While I was waiting for my friends and kids to arrive to load up all these heavy things, I walked through all the rooms. The house doesn’t feel the same anymore.
The library is still my favorite shade of red, the dining room and kitchen are virtually unchanged. The den is missing my computer, but otherwise the same. The window in my craft room still has my stained glass painting on it and the door still wears my favorite sayings surrounded by flowers. But it doesn’t feel like home, and it doesn’t feel like me. Even the master bedroom, from which I took nothing, feels like it belongs to a stranger.
I thought I’d be sadder about leaving the house I’ve occupied longer than any other in my life. I thought I’d made a home there, for me, the kids and Pap. But this seperation has shown us all something: home is wherever I am. That’s part of the problem between Pap and I, I think.
On the surface, he’s more popular, successful, outgoing and friendly. But it’s only a facade. He knows the name and face of everyone within 90 miles of us, but no one he could call to bail him out of jail. He smiles, but only with his mouth, never with his eyes. Beneath the shallow surface, he’s all alone. Worse, he doesn’t know how to be any different, how to escape that yawning, echoing hole inside himself that should be filled with friends and kids and this goofy wife.
If I could teach him how to be a friend, I would. He and I have this crazy chemistry, five kids and a quarter of a decade worth of life experience together. We’re too entangled to ever completely seperate, our job now is reconcile or find some kind of compromise.
It’s been a long time since I lived in an apartment. I’d forgotten how chummy you get with the neighbors. The girl next door is named Amber. I know this because that’s what her boyfriend begins every sentence with when he’s yelling at her. His name is either shutthefuckup, or getoutamyfaceasshole. She uses them both.
The people downstairs have triplets. Adorable little toddlers no older than 2 or 2 1/2. One of them suffers from night terrors. He goes off like a fire alarm every morning around 1 a.m. His mother must be a graduate of the Joan Crawford school of parenting. Her strategy for calming him down consists of yelling over the top of him with vile threats of orphanages and dismemberment.
These are really nice apartments. They have controlled entries, cathedral ceilings, real wooden wood work. They aren’t cheap and there’s all kinds of rules about where you can park and what you can put on your balcony. Everyone who lives here has a job… and still the residents act like they’re on the Jerry Springer show. I shudder to think what I’d be hearing if we lived in an apartment we could actually afford.
Shelli, from Shelli’s sentiments, surprised me this morning with a thinking blogger award. I had to follow the link on her blog to realize it was me. Despite having been a writer since I could hold a pencil in my hand, any awards hanging on my wall came from sources other than writing. Shelli is one of those people that reads between the lines, and if she finds lurking pain, she reachs out and says “I’m here, I’ll help you, I’ll listen…” She writes about family and the commonalities we all share with kids, husbands, siblings. Shelli also has a second blog she uses to share her opinions on many things. She makes me think about how we are all interconnected. There is nothing new under the sun, and that makes every day go by a little easier.
You may have seen these thinking blogger awards popping up other places. The rules are very simple:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think!
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme or blog that you enjoy.
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.
I’m happy for this opportunity to share some links to great blogs that have enhanced my life, changed my opinion, taught me something, made me laugh… everyone in my blogroll does some or all of that, but I can only pick five:
1. Quilly’s Quips: I’m a huge, gushing, blubbering fan of Quill Dancer. She’s the teacher I always wanted as a kid, the one I still want for my grandkids. Quilly shares the stories of the little people she teaches, their triumphs and failures. She also has a second blog called The Grownups Wanted Us Dead where she tells the laugh out loud or cry until your eyes swell stories from her childhood. I love her engaging writing style, she’s quick witted and smart, I never leave her blog without something to think about.
2. Guyana-Gal is a story teller. From tales of her everyday life in Guyana to old stories she learned from someone else, she is an engaging and entertaining writer. She makes me think always of the fact that America isn’t the only country in the world. Back in the early days when I wasn’t seeing much, if any traffic, GG popped in regularly to remind me to quit whining and just write.
3. Leesa’s Stories Leesa is a new read for me. I like her sassiness, wit and the sheer variety of her topics. You never know what you’re gonna find on Leesa’s blog, her opinion on a current topic, a movie review, details on her latest obsession… every day is a surprise. Leesa not only makes me think most days, she frequently leads me to further research on something she’s talking about.
4. Meditations from the Messy Middle of Things Dr. Kate is an Episcopalian Minister and widow who shares stories of her family complete with the antics of the clumsiest dog in the universe, as well as essays on religion, politics and the things going on in the world and her church. Luckily, Dr. Kate doesn’t post every day because I frequently must wander away and think about what she’s said before I can comment.
5. Lyric Flight Hayden is another of my favorite thinking blogs because you never know what you’ll find there. Maybe a philosophical discussion, maybe a story about her dog, maybe a recipe for chicken pot pie or a peak from her perspective of my native state. She is warm, and so very bright.
My descriptions don’t do justice to these fine blogs. Go there, visit, say hello and leave with something new to think about. Just five doesn’t do justice to the wealth of interesting, funny, heart warming, chatty and informative blogs that reside on my blogroll. If its raining at your house, like it is mine, take some time and check them all out.
My friend Bob correctly pointed out in my last post that the corollary to The Mother’s Curse, is “When you have kids you’ll understand”. My parents got ME with that one.
When I was about 10, sister-mom’s hobby was painting ceramic things. I don’t remember all the things she made, but I distinctly remember the pair of siamese cats. She was especially proud of her work on these two cats, and they resided on a TV in the Living Room. Like most 60’s and 70’s houses, the Living Room wasn’t really for living…atleast not for kids. It was the room my parents saved for guests. We were supposed to pass by it with our eyes averted at all times. Naturally, that’s exactly where we headed any time she wasn’t looking.
One afternoon she ran to the store and left us, my sister-niece and brother-nephew, on our own. Mike had a nerf ball we were throwing around, that turned into a game of keep away that turned into a rousing game of monkey in the middle. Before we knew it, we’d drifted into the living room, someone threw a wild pass that missed the receiver and knocked one of those siames cats off the TV. It shattered into a million pieces.
I may have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. My sister-mom was very strict. There wasn’t a single thing wishy-washy about her, she had no interest in being our friend, she was THE MOTHER. Her punishments were swift, unrelenting and achingly painful despite the fact that we were never spanked, beaten or abused in any way. She punished us by taking away our fun or our freedom.
The three of us just stared at the broken pieces, our mouths hanging open, our hearts racing. We were in such shock we didn’t even pick up the pieces, we just walked to the den and sat in a line on the couch. Silently. She came home and seeing us sitting, silently, immediately clued her in that something was amiss. She set the grocery bags on the kitchen counter and walked off to look for the damage. We continued to sit, silently. I couldn’t think of anything but the impending punishment. No pool privileges, no TV, no movies, no friends, no phone calls. I assumed we’d be grounded to our rooms, put on slave labor to replace the cost of the cat. She was always clever in her punishments, there was no telling what fiendish thing she would do to us once she saw the broken cat.
We saw her pass through the kitchen, heard her walk through the dining room and held our breath for the howling we were sure would start when she reached the living room. We waited. Nothing. Minutes ticked by, still nothing. Finally she came back into the kitchen and took the broom and dustpan out of the closet. Sister-Mom came back with the broken cat on the dustpan and the other cat in her hand with the broom. She looked calm, and controlled. We watched her dump the broken shards and put the broom and dustpan away. Then she took that other cat and dropped it into the sink breaking it into a million pieces. Once she’d cleaned up the mess, she looked calmly at us and said “Why don’t you kids go outside and play, dinner will be ready soon.”
We walked on eggshells around her for weeks, wondering when she was going to decide how to punish us. She never did and I forgot about the incident until I had kids of my own. I used to be a cross-stitcher. I had boxes and boxes of embroidery thread wrapped onto spools and stored numerically so I never had to search for materials for a project. I kept the hoops, floss boxes, patterns and needles in a bag beside my chair. It was the only thing in my house my kids knew they were not to touch. I shared everything else I owned with them, but this was mine.
I came home from work one day and found the boxes a mess, floss all in a tangle, felt pen marks on a piece I was stitching, pages torn out of my pattern books. The older girls had got into the bag to make bracelets and failed to watch the younger two wreaking havoc on everything else.
In that moment I knew exactly why sister-mom hadn’t punished us or even mentioned the incident. What is a suitable punishment for discovering your children don’t respect your passions? I did’nt mention anything to my kids either, just threw the whole mess away. I did call my sister-mom, and apologize for breaking her ceramic cat.