Friday, November 28, 2008

Post-Thanksgiving Post

It is Friday now, and the kids are all down the street playing at the park, so I thought I would come in and check the email and update the old blog. The office is closed today, so it is really, really nice to have my play list playing loudly and the phone NOT ringing....and, too, nice to have small break from the kids without feeling guilty. The park is just not even a block away, so they are free to wander over here, and I will wander over there in a few minutes, and everyone wins.

Just wanted to let you all know that I did end up going to Thanksgiving with Steve and family. It wasn't, actually, as hard to tell Janet as I had anticipating it being, so that was really, really nice. We had actually had a rather bad evening on Wednesday, so in actuality I wasn't entirely sure we would be going anywhere, but Hannah woke up feeling better and we decided if nothing else we would go get pictures taken, and then decide what we felt up to later. So Janet, in case we decided NOT to go anywhere else, brought over turkey and cranberry sauce and gravy before they left (which we will be eating today), and it was just a lovely thought.

The photo session went well; no one was really expecting the kids and I save for Steve, so I was a little unsure of what reception we would get. However, the welcome was genuine, and we were included in the BIG family photo, as well as getting some of our little family. We had some taken of Owen alone (because the other kids had them done at school, and the photographer "bought" them their school packages; he is also the same one who took the pics yesterday, and is Steve's brother in law. Convenient, huh!), as well as with Steve and I and all the kids, and of the kids all together. It felt very good, actually, to be included in such a thing-like I said on Wednesday, it is significant the Steve wanted us there, and it was really sweet to be in that place at that moment.

We opted to go ahead and go eat with them, which was chaotic and crazy and loud like family gatherings are. I think we counted 30+ people, but at least we knew all of them. Hannah did stick pretty close to either me, Steve, or his mom, which was fine (and what she needed, obviously), but the boys all went running around with all the cousins. The food was great, as it always is, and we were home settled in with a movie buy 6:30. In bed by 10:00, too, which is excellent.

I felt very much present in the moment all day yesterday. Hannah will be 16 in a few days, and I felt very strongly that we are never going to have another Thanksgiving just like this, in this place where we are. For good or ill, this is our life, and it was really good for all of us to have that slice of it be so sweet. I am rarely unaware of how blessed I am, even when I get n a mood like I was earlier in the week, but on occasion it just comes up and spills over. I AM blessed; if nothing else, I have these great kids, and these excellent moments, and so much more than I ever thought I would 9 years ago when I was a drunk.

Thank you all, so much, for everything. Mostly for hanging with me and traveling along with me while we see what might happen next. I hope you all had a blessed day (and April, I hope D-Land was the bomb!).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Petition (of sorts) to the Universe

Dear God/Universe/Goddess/Higher Power/Whoever it is that is up there,

Enough already, okay? It has been a really, really hard year, and I need a break. I know that you don't cause bad things to happen, but instead give us the tools we need to get through them, but I tell you, my tools? Either you sent me faulty ones or I am not using them properly because those fuckers are B.R.O.K.E. I got nothing left;I don't. And if I am being honest (which I know you will know if I am not) I can't help but be just the tiniest bit pissed at you right now. So be it.

I just need a little bit of a break, so I am just going to flat out ask you for what I need and trust that you are going to help with some of it.

1. I need to have a lot more strength than I currently have in order to be able to handle the coming weeks and months with regards to the situation with Hannah. I know (and thank you, by the way) that you will provide everything I need in order to make sure Hannah and the other kids are okay, but I worry about the toll it is already taking on me. I feel overhwelmed and crazy and I can't sleep at night, and I just feel afraid. I need for you to make sure that justice is well and truly served; I read in the paper this morning that a grown man who RAPED his girlfriend's 10 year old daughter (and impregnanted her) was sentenced to only 5 years. Five.fucking.years. And I worry that The Guy in our case will get off. Please, dude, just take care of this for me, will you? Take care of it so that Hannah will feel vindicated and strong, and so that he can't get his fat, grubby paws on some other little girl. Please.

2. I need you to give me the balls to tell Janet that I really don't WANT to go to Thanksgiving with them tomorrow. You know that Steve wants us there for family pictures tomorrow, and you also know that it is signifigant that he wants us there. I know that I am a firm believer in making plans and sticking to them, so I am obligated to follow through and go with R. and J., but I don't want to. I want to be with ALL of my kids, and with Steve, and I WANT to take family pictures with them. It IS a big thing, but I am such a people pleaser that I just can't tell Janet no. So if you could help me with that, too, I would be grateful.

3. Dude; the money thing? It is getting more than a little tiresome. How the fuck is $6.33 suppoed to last until Monday? I could totally get it if I were irresponsible and blowing money from hell to breakfast, but really, responsible is about all Iam good at any more. Could you just-well. Ican't tell you what to do, but there is a certain individual out there called CASEY LIN JONES who is, oh, a whole lot of money behind on child support, so if you could maybe nudge him to cough some of it up, that would help a lot. I am not asking for the lottery; all I am asking for is what I am owed. The constant worry and struggle about money is even worse now knowing that Christmas is coming up, and that I am all out of sick and vacation time and am going to have to be taking time off to get through this whole thing with Hannah. So-help? Please?

4. I am not having any luck finding a home to rent, and I need some help with that, too. We need a four bedroom where we will be able to keep the dogs. Now, I know that I should maybe be a little more flixible about the dogs, but ever since the whole CSG summer (and yeah, thanks a lot for THAT, too!), we feel safe with them and they are such a part of our family now that getting rid of them is only a last ditch option.

5. I am struggling with feeling very much cut adrift right now, and I need to feel cherished and special for a little while. I know how selfsih that sounds, and I guess it IS selfish; as long as the kids feel that way, I should just be grateful, and I am. But I need to feel a little of that, too, so....

So, Big Guy, this is the basics, and if you could help me out with any and all of htese things, Iwould be really, really grateful to you. It has been hard, and I know it will continue to BE hard because life throws shit sometimes, but I just need to get through.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Brief Update

I don't know how many times I have started to blog today only to get mid-way into a post before giving it up. My mind is running in a thousand different directions this last week, and I am not sure which thread I should follow.

Yesterday was a really, really bad day, to say the least. I spent the day either crying or in a fury, lashing out at everyone within reach. I am a rather toxic person to be around lately, and unfortunately those I love the most have been the recipient of my deep anger. Last night, after yelling at the kids and being THE world's biggest bitch to Jacquie and skipping the meeting (in which I was supposed to get my 9 year medallion) because I just, I sat in the bathtub and cried for a really long time, then I got out and called Steve and cried some more for a really long time, and then I called Jacquie you see a pattern emerging here?

But today I am a little better in that I have some more information about what will happen next. I called the courthouse this morning and got a woman whom I actually know, someone I helped out on some insurance stuff awhile back. She happens to be in a position of being able to access information very easily, and while it is all a matter of public record, I am finding out that even so, it isn't an easy matter. Anyway, she told me what happened at the arraignment, and when the pre-lim would be, and what I need to do next, so it helps a lot to sort of know what is coming. Not the outcome, not at all, but just to know what to expect in the next week helps. It really bites ass that the pre-lim next week is on Hannah's BIRTHDAY; does that fucking suck or what? Of course he pled not guilty, and even qualified for a Public Defender, which frankly baffles me; while I don't know exactly how much he makes, I do know that it has to be somewhere around $50,000, and he has no dependants. However, he couldn't post the bond, so that is a good thing.

I have also called to make an appointment with a counselor, for Hannah to start with but also for the whole family if needed. It was someone recommended to us by the CARES people, and they are going to "work her in" after the Thanksgiving holiday, so will be calling back today or tomorrow to set up the appointment. She is doing okay, and by okay I mean just that. Good days and bad days, and I think she is still feeling shocked and sickened more than anything else right now. At some point there will be grief for all of us, layers upon layers of different feelings that will need peeled away one layer at a time, but right now we are all focusing very much on getting through each day.

In case you were wondering, any of you, I have Hannah's permission to write about this. She doesn't want the details out there, which I respect. And she did pre-approve the other post about it BEFORE I put it up; this is her story, and I may not be able to give you more than occasional updates out of respect for her, and for the whole legal aspect of it. however, you all know my email, and feel free to use it. Please do, in fact; your support has been overwhelming, and I am grateful.

Monday, November 24, 2008

In Which I send You Elsewhere

If you need some reading material today, head on over to Maria's place today. Beause I got nothing, really, and if you want to know why I got nothing, go there. More will be revealed.

P.S. I have nine years sober today.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Sunday Post

I don't think I need to apologize for my lack of posting lately, and I can't even really give any kind of reasonable explanation other than that I just haven't had the inclination. Not a matter of not having anything to say, but instead a matter of having too much to say. So be it.

We have had an unexpectedly and wonderfully peaceful weekend, which has been much needed on so many levels. I have these amazing and wonderful friends who have been privy to the events of the last week, and they have nurtured and cared for all of us beyond any reasonable expectations. Jacquie and I went to dinner where I ate entirely too much of the wrong things (I have totally blown Weight Watchers this week; bygones.) and enjoyed every bite while doing so. We then went to AA, which was also an unexpected bonus; I hadn't thought I would be able to go. While there, I was able to talk with a couple of people whom I had been nervous about talking to, and all will be well with them. I got what I needed from the meeting and from being able to absorb the healing available, which is SO important.

After we left the meeting, we came over to Jacquie's house where I had the chance to talk with my friend Janet on the phone and receive some much-needed support, and then we (Jacquie, her husband Jim, and I) got into the hot tub and just sat. It was really the beginning of a period of rest, one we all needed. We have been here all weekend, and are just getting ready to head home today; we made it through the weekend, and are all the better for it.

I have and do talk about grace a lot, but I feel it again today. The unexpected lessening of worry and fear and anxiety, providing me with what I need to get through yet another really, really hard time. It is in the presence of friends who can and are willing to nurture me and my family with food and rest and companionship, even when I have nothing to say and certainly nothing to offer in return. It has come, too, in the unexpected form of Steve, who has managed to provide the exact right amount of support and distance. To show his support of me, he was at the meeting on Friday with me. I texted him (I borrowed Jacquie's phone to text; I haven't gotten so far as to cave in to the cell phone craze, I am not THAT fucked up yet!) on and off all weekend, but was not in a place emotionally where I wanted to TALK, and he was able to give that to me. The grace has come in the fact that because I have been surrounded by so much, I was able to have two full nights of uninterrupted sleep in a real bed, I was able to rest secure in the knowledge that there were people around for the kids to rely on, and all of that? It matters, so much.

We are headed back home on a few minutes, feeling rested and stronger and much more capable of dealing with the ball of shit life has handed us. How can I be anything less than amazed and awed by the fact that even in the midst of such sorrow and pain, we are given every single thing we need?

Grace, indeed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Grace Arrives

Daily we are surrounded by grace, even in the midst of sorrow and pain. Daily we are given the chance to live in the moment and see that for all of the bad, there is an equal or greater amount of good. Sometimes it is just a matter of changing your perception, of opening your eyes to things you maybe didn't notice before, or look for the good in everything. It is there, I promise you, no matter what it looks like from the outside.

This morning, I stopped for just a moment, needing to wake up Sam and get Eli to school and try to figure out a way to convince Owen that it is not necessary to immediately strip off and fling all items of clothing being put on him. I stopped-and Sam was nestled in his bed, just stirring, and I followed my impulse and climbed into bed with him. I rubbed his soft, bony little back and woke him up with sweet words, and felt filled with unutterable joy and peace. I have this-I have been given this, the gift of these four creatures, and there is grace and beauty in being able to love them.

As you all know, we have had some new trouble arise, trouble about which I can't speak right now. What I do know is that no matter how awful it is, it will be okay; whatever "okay" ultimately looks like for us. There is grace in that knowledge, that we are capable of getting through this process one step at a time, and will emerge stronger and more powerful at the end of it all. I know, too, that in order to be better than I am today, I have to follow this through, all the way, to the bitter end. Not for me, but for my kids, and for the example that my life sets, and... yes, for me.

I know that today, there is sunshine and warmth, that I can look outside and see the falling leaves and way the light shines on the windows, and I can be glad. I can be happy in knowing that in just a few short hours, we will all be safe at home together, with dinner cooking and baths being run. Today, and going to see the grace that comes from knowing how truly blessed I am.

And you are all part of that, whether you know it or not. I rejected an anonymous comment today, thinking, "Nope, I am not going there today." Instead, I am choosing to notice the beauty in your responses, your kind words and you heartfelt prayers, and there is grace in knowing that even though I can't tell you what is going on, you care enough to still send best wishes. Life is so beautiful, even amidst the crap.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Running Away Seems Reasonable

I want to not be here today. Not just here in my office, looking out at the crisp, clear day, but just-not here. Not in my skin, not in my house, not in my life. I have just gotten done talking to the kids about how no, we are not, in fact, being "picked on," but that things happen to lots of people all of the time, and it is just our turn. Finished telling them that even in the midst of great pain and confusion, there is beauty, and that really good things can come of really awful things if we are open to them. However, I am in one of those dark places where I am just not sure I can practice what I preach right now-hence the desire to just not be here. I know that running away solves nothing, so it isn't an option even were I serious, but of course the appeal is strong.

So I slog on. I fake it with the kids until they believe that somehow things are going to be okay. They believe in me, and yes, I know what a blessing that is, but it is also a burden. I am strong for them, and I don't let on that I am sick and worried and scared, and I pat them on the back and give them hugs and give them what they need and yet-well. At the end of the day, it's just me.

Seems like it hasn't been a very good year for us, doesn't it?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Massive Yet Unimportant Fail

Well, I have failed at the NaBloPoMo; too much going on and I just couldn't get the weekend posting done. Oh, well, since I know I have a problem with follow-through, I am not going to kick myself too much over it. Too many other things on my plate, I suppose.

It was a very eventful weekend, on some really not very good levels, and unfortunately I am unable to talk about the events that occurred. It will be made known in time, but for now just know that something awful happened, that we are going through something really horrible as a family, and we need your good thoughts and prayers. I am sorry for being so vague, but that is just how it has to be at the moment. But no, it had nothing to do with the Crazy Stalker Guy, though in many ways it is far worse than that.

The meeting at the housing authority went well, and I can officially start looking for a new place to live. The process is a little daunting, and it turns out that even though I have to use the voucher within 4 months, they ALSO only have a limited number of slots so if I wait, there is the chance that I still won't get a place. This is very frustrating in that four bedroom houses are slim on the ground right now, plus I really can't even contemplate a move until January when I get my tax refund; I just don't have the extra money for a deposit and such-especially now, with this other stuff going on. So even though I qualified and have done the stuff that I need to do thus far, there is still a chance that I will lose my spot. Seems like it never is simple. In any respect.

Apparently I was mentioned in a post of the week thing; does anyone have any idea where that is? I haven't been in to my reader yet this morning, so perhaps there? That is pretty cool, though. Gives me a little jolt of surprise and happiness, anyway.

Steve and I talked about Thanksgiving, and it was surprisingly painless. Sam and I were invited to go with Rob and Janet (we usually celebrate Thanksgiving with them anyway) to their friends' house (and we know them, they are also always there on holidays), and now of course Hannah and Eli will be going as well. For some reason, their dad has opted not to take them for the Thanksgiving break this year, which is fine with me. However, B. and J's house is not set up for a toddler; as Janet said, "B.'s house is DECORATED!" so while Owen was certainly part of the invite, it would be easier were he not there. So I asked Steve last night if it worked out for him to take Owen for the day, and made sure that he knew that they were both welcome, but since Steve doesn't much like to go there anyway either, it would maybe be better for him to take O. to his family dinner, and then we can all meet up for pie and such in the evening. He seemed pleased and grateful, and I think it will be fine.

Now, with this written, there is nothing left to do besides put one foot in front of the other and do what I need to do for today. Please keep us in your thoughts over the next few days and weeks.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Loving the Good and the Bad

I remember a time in the last town I lived-a town of 300 people-when the electric company was doing repairs and maintenance and were going to shut the power off to the entire town at midnight. I worked at a truck stop then, and we got to leave early so that we could be home and do any last minute things before the power was shut down for the night. I went home and did what I needed to do, then went out and sat on the porch to smoke. Sitting there, it was the strangest sensation to watch each section of the town go dark, one by one. We lived in the country then so you would think it was always quiet, but you would be amazed at how much noise electricity makes without us even noticing it. It was almost eerie to be sitting in the middle of town, to see the shadows of the houses but not hear anything other than the slight rustling of the grain in the breeze and the sound of crickets. It was also at the same time very peaceful and strengthening in a way that only true quiet and solitude can be. My kids were inside the house sleeping, my neighbors surely doing the same, friends were just a phone call away; I did not feel lonely or isolated, just alone and quiet. At that time, I was in the first weeks after my then-husband's departure, and sitting there in the dark with nothing but the warm night air around me, I began to take apart my life bit by bit and try to figure out where I was going to go from there.

There was so much back then that I didn't like about my life, about myself, about where I had ended up. I can look back now though, over five years ago, and see clearly how much my life has changed. I can see how much I have changed, for better and for worse, and be utterly amazed.

I had a couple of interesting things happen last night. T. (the instructor I really like) was sitting with the kids and I at our table and we were having a really great discussion about politics and religion (the two absolutely TABOO things to being up, right?) and she said to me, "With as intelligent and political as you are, I am impressed with the fact that you and Eli can live peaceably in the same house with as different as your views are." And I am not saying this to toot my own horn here, but to say this: that I was disgustingly pleased by this comment, like a slavering dog; here is this woman whom I respect and admire and think is just pretty all-around great, and she likes me! She thinks I am a good mom! Wow! Talk about a ridiculous need for validation-and shouldn't I be past that? So I was disgusted with myself about that for awhile, that it still matters so much what some people think of me.

*****Though on the flip side I will say that I found out that a couple of the moms-the Bad Mom and a woman I will call the Bad Mom2-are friends outside of class, and they have apparently decided that I am The Enemy. Bad Mom wasn't there last night but Bad Mom2 was, and felt free to say that there are "some people" in the class who think they are better than everyone else and won't even let "their kids" give the Bad Kids a chance. I just had to laugh at that one, and I did defend myself there. I told her it was my responsibility as a parent to make sure my kids were hanging out with the right people, and when her daughter has been off of probation for 6 months she is welcome to call.*****

So much I still want and need to change; the way I look at certain things, the way I will hurt someone first rather than risk getting hurt by them, my tendency to judge people. I tend to be emotionally unavailable and distant, and I can really hold a grudge. Don't get me wrong-this is not a catalogue of " I am such a piece of shit I don't how I live!" but instead a very open look at some of the things I need to work on. I think it is really important that I am aware of these character defects so that I don't go too far the other way and think my shit doesn't stink; I am perfectly capable of that as well. I think it is, as April is so fond of saying (and she is right), all about finding a balance between the person I am and hte person I want to be, being able to clearly see both the good AND the bad, and loving myself anyway. I think I am in a good place to do that right now, and as long as I continue to do what I am doing, I might be okay.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Random Thursday-And an Update

Many apologies for the lack of reading everyone's posts yesterday; I try to stay caught up, but yesterday I had to leave unexpectedly to go pick up Sam from school-poor kids was sicker than a dog, high fever and achy and just all the way around feeling rotten. Just got him all settled with Gatorade and some soup and some Motrin, then J. called-Owen was also ill, with the same thing. Had to pack Sam out to the car and go get the baby, and boy. having two whiny little buggers home sick is trying. Still, they both got dosed up and finally fell asleep, where they stayed until late afternoon. I came back to work for a little while when the other kids got home from school, but opted out of bowling for work last night. It was actually quiet last night, too, all of the kids in bed early; Eli had started to not feel well, and in fact is staying home from school today.

The wind is blowing like hell today-I went to take my walk at break time, and even if my hair had looked good before (which it didn't), it sure doesn't look good now. I like the wind, though, within reason. It is kind of invigorating to be walking out with the leaves flying everywhere. They-the leaves-are also a huge source of entertainment; one of the men in the office has a real issue with leaves getting blown into our doorway. It is recessed off the sidewalk, so the leaves get caught in there and, of course, don't get blown out. So this morning D. was outside trying to sweep the leaves out of the doorway, and every time he would get a nice little pile going, a gust of wind would come sweep them right back into the doorway. After about 15 minutes he finally gave it up as a lost cause, which was about 13.5 minutes longer than it would have taken me.

I have a couple of awards to post and pass on, and for those who gave them to me, I thank you and have not forgotten. I just haven't gotten around to it yet. The problem is not in posting them, it is in passing them to pick, of course, as all the blogs I read deserve some kind of mention! I am pondering, though, and will get them up as soon as I can.

Still haven't decided whether or not to send that letter to the school board. As most of you know, this IS a very, very small town, and it very well may have repercussions on my kids. However, there is a Weekly Mailer paper thing that allows you to send in letters without your name, so that may be an option. I know that I should be more ballsy ans just let it all out there, and I should be able to do that without repercussions, but come one-we all know how the real world works, and just because because we know how things *should* be doesn't mean that is how they are.

I got nothing today, really. I am not even halfway through the month yet...please, guys, suggestions! Memes! Something!

*****Went home for a break and to check on Eli a few minutes ago and got the Official White Envelope from the Idaho Housing Authority. My briefing is tomorrow afternoon (nothing like some really short notice, as it means taking the afternoon off work), and at that point I guess I will find out what the exact rules are, find out what the landlords have to do to qualify, and get my voucher. Which is, I don't know, a piece of paper or something? At that point, then, I have four months in which to find a house. I am just really, really hyped about the qualification being official; I mean, I knew I would be, really, because we hover at right around $20,000 for a family of 5, which is waaaaay below the Federal Poverty Level. Still, that old saying about ocunting your eggs before they are hatched has been in the back of my mind. So-this is the beginning, and wish me luck!******

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Letter to The School Board

To Whom it May Concern:

As the parent of three students at two different school in this district, I would like to express some of my growing concerns regarding several things that have happened in the last few months at the schools.

My first cause for concern is the fact that ads endorsing John McCain for president were broadcast throughout the high school on the school's television station, but no corresponding ad were shown for Obama. I understand and support open discussions in classrooms regarding the electoral process and differing political parties. However, just as religion should only be discussed in a historical/social studies context, so should politics. The fact that the school showed ads for only one of the candidates was nothing but a very public endorsement, and that was and is offensive to me. There is no place in a public school for a select group of individuals to tout their political beliefs and attempt to brainwash students into thinking there is only one way to believe. And if any of you had ever taken the marketing class offered in your very own school, you would know that such propaganda does make an impression and supplies name recognition-so whether you publicly said that you endorsed McCain or not, the message was loud and clear.

I also understand that yesterday, Veteran's Day, there was supposed to have been both a short time of acknowledgement in the morning as well as a Veteran's Day assembly, and both were cancelled. Had there suddenly arisen an emergency causing the slated speakers to have to cancel, I would understand that. However, the sudden realization that you scheduled two assemblies for the same week is not cause to cancel; the fact that the football assembly scheduled for today took precedence over honoring our Veteran's both disgusts AND angers me. While I am not intensely interested in Veteran's Day on a personal level, I do know a lot of families that have been and ARE affected, daily, by the absence of loved ones-those who have been killed during military service and those who are fighting in Iraq as we speak. To cancel an assembly honoring these people is nothing but a slap in the face to the families and friends of those people who get up, go to work, and get killed every day in the service of our country. And to cancel it for something so ridiculous as a football assembly? Please.

I know that sports have always been and will continue to be a huge thing in schools; there is little or nothing that I can do to change that. However, if there is enough money for the best coaches and new uniforms and all that comes with it, perhaps the school should also come up with some extra money so that every child who wants to play in the orchestra will be provided an instrument, every child who need to Talented and Gifted program is given the opportunity. If there is enough money to send the entire fleet of school buses to an out-of-town game, there should also be enough money for the elementary classes to take two buses to Boise to tour the Capitol. There are so few opportunities for the non-sports minded, and that makes me angry. It makes no sense to me to see the school wasting such a huge amount of resources on kids who are never going to play anything but high school ball, when instead the same amount of money could be used to foster things like critical thinking, life skills, coping with problems and stress-the tools that are actually going to make a difference to kids when they leave high school and enter the real world.

Another cause for concern is the fact that when my daughter went in to remove herself from the Seminary Class, she was told that she could not get out of the class because 1. she signed up for it, she has to take it and 2. it would mean finding another class for her to take instead. First of all, both the Seminary and the Christian Education buildings are off campus and are not counted as a class, elective or otherwise, so far as the school is concerned. If my daughter does not want to take the class, the school has not authority over that and cannot force her to take it. Second, because they are not affiliated with the school itself and are held prior to the school day beginning, there should be no "extra" work involved in finding another class for her to take. Even if it DID, that is what we are paying the guidance counselors to do.

My daughter has changed her mind about taking the classes because of the LDS church's support in helping Prop 8 pass in California. Our family is militantly for Equal Rights for everyone , and support gay marriage absolutely. If the school is going to tout progressive thinking (which is an obvious misrepresentation) then the school should look into the reasons why my daughter does not want to take this class, and applaud her for taking an unpopular stance in a very LDS/Conservative area. Don't attempt to make her feel guilty and God help you if you force her to take the class. It seems to me that the school has gotten away with offering both the Christian Ed. classes and the Seminary classes off campus and not during school hours, but it seems to me that you are blurring the line between church and state; perhaps in these changing times it is necessary for the school board to get together and decide to cut both of those classes from the slate.

While I certainly expect no response from the members of the board, I would hope that my letter has given you something to think about. I know it won''t make a difference while my two older kids are in high school, but perhaps by time the younger ones get there, it will be a different story.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Totally Subjectless Post

It has been an eventful morning already. I did not sleep well last night for some reason, lots of really strange and unsettling dreams that I can't quite remember this morning, so I subsequently overslept a little. This meant my morning started off rushed, which for me is never a good thing. Hannah and Eli needed a ride to school this morning, so I didn't have time to finish blowing dry my hair, so I have the lovely 80's feathered look going. Believe me, it didn't look good then, it doesn't look good now. Meh, whatever.

So the kids got to school on time, no problem, and I had to stop by the house to get my breakfast and refill my coffee cup. I had told Sam to just leave the door unlocked because I would be right back, so I ran in, got what I needed, firmly locked the door behind me and when I got back out to the car realized I had locked my keys in the car. With the car running. I have an extra set to the car, of course, but where were they? In the locked house; my house key is on the keyring that was in the car. I remembered that awhile back Steve had put one of those magnetic thins with a key in under the car, so I found that (which was not as easy as it sounds, and involved laying down on the cold concrete), and just as I popped up with key in hand, I realized that all this while, my window was unrolled part way; I could simply have reached in and unlocked my door. Geez, what a dork. This is what happens when I don't have my allotted amount of coffee in the morning.

All is calm now; I think it will be slow here at the office today, because the post office and bank are closed, as well as the majority of our companies. People will also probably think we are closed as well, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. One of my coworkers needs to leave early today, so it is a good day for that to happen. I don't have a single thing going on tonight, and neither do any of the kids, so perhaps we will get to have a rousing game or two of Skip-Bo-I am currently the champion, and need to keep that status. The rest of the week, evening-wise, is filled up, so I am just going to enjoy this night.

Had a terrible meeting last night; there were only 6 people there, which isn't itself a bad thing. In fact, oftentimes those are the best meetings, when people have the chance to really open up in a small group. It was a bad combination of people, though, a small group of people who are court ordered (save myself and one other man who has 25 years sober!) and who really don't care to be there. It is hard when that is who the majority of the group consists of; we are supposed to carry the message, and we do, but it sometimes seems futile when you are amongst a group of twenty-somethings who are more concerned with who is banging whom than listening to anything being shared. E. and I talked for a little while afterward, and I got way more out of that little slice of time than I did the entire meeting. Thankfully, it doesn't often happen like that; I can chalk it up to one not-great meeting, and I guess it served its purpose in that I didn't feel the need to drink, so all is well.

I have a lot in my head today, but am having a hard time putting it all into words. Nothing bad, just internal stuff, and with hope it is all just kind of percolating in the back of my mind and will either go away or make sense. I am just going to let everything simmer and not stress about any of it. The only thing ever to come from worrying and fretting and over analyzing everything is a stomach ache for me-and who has time?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Birthdays, Egg Rolls and a Thank You

Okay, guys, Hannah turns 16 in just three weeks or so. She informed me over the weekend that she either wants a) to get her nails done, b) get her hair done, or c) get her bellybutton pierced. She must think I am smoking some crack on the side if she really thinks that I am going to let her get her bellybutton pierced. I mean, really. The past few years, what we have done on her birthday is have an afternoon of us time. I take the afternoon off of work and take her out of school, and we drive to Twin and have lunch and just do whatever. I think this year she would like to do something a little bit more exciting, but I am SO not doing a party. I can barely handle ONE teenaged girl in the house! I know that 16 is a big deal, because it is the beginning of a whole new chapter of her life-dating (YIKES), driver's license (double yikes!), the beginning of becoming an adult. So I understand all of that, and I want to make it a special day, but I am SO not letting her get her bellybutton pierced. Maybe next year. Or not.

Getting closer and closer to getting final approval on the housing thing. There was one Verification left to be returned, and it was mailed on Friday. Maybe right this minute my caseworker is opening the mail and thinking, "Great! Last one!" I am starting to get just a little bit wonky about it, though. All of the additional financial stuff involved in moving-the rent will probably be slightly higher than what I am paying now, so I worry a bit about that. Then what if it costs too much to heat? What if I have to come up with first, last, AND a deposit? There is also the furniture issue-a must have is a bed for myself, and we all need dressers, and...the list goes on. So the sick part of me, the part that doesn't like change (even GOOD change is scary!), is all like "Hm, maybe this isn't such a bad place after all..." and I could very easily mind-fuck myself into thinking that we should just stay where we are. Thankfully, I have learned enough to know that I can feel that way all I want and need to, but I am still moving forward, through the fear and the worry. It will work out-I want this, the kids want this, there are a lot of resources for free or cheap furniture, and it WILL work out. I just have to let this one go, let it fall into place as it will, and trust that God is going to provide what I need at exactly the right time.

It was a good weekend at our house, arguing about the piercing aside. Hannah and I made egg rolls on Saturday, and I blame them on the fact that I didn't lose any weight in the last week. They are SO good, and we made this ginger-garlic dipping sauce to go with them. The fried rice we made was not that great, though, and Sam refuse to eat any of it. He ended up having a bowl of cereal while the rest of us totally pigged out. Even Owen loved them, eating an entire one and part of another, and getting into the fridge and devouring an uncooked one as well (uncooked as in not fried yet, all the ingredients were already cooked!). We try to pick one weekend day to cook something special-and it has been a lot of fun. We have done the egg rolls a lot, we are all (save Sam) Asian food lovers, we sometimes do lasagna or ravioli (a personal favorite, even though it is time consuming; well worth it!), but it is always something we don't have time to do on weeknights. I love to cook, and it is neat to see the kids becoming more and more interested in it.

And we otherwise were not especially productive. It rained most of the day yesterday, and the kids were all pretty wound up. I got slightly disgusted so came down to the office for a little while, and when I got home the kids had apparently disgusted themselves as well. All of them were outside in the rain, playing-even Hannah, who generally doesn't go out much. It just kind of drizzled all afternoon, but even after Owen and Hannah came in, Eli and Sam stayed out there and played together. I don't know how NICELY they were playing, but nobody (meaning Sam) came in bleeding or crying, so my assumption is that they did okay.

Thanks to all of you for your lovely, kind comments about my letter (s). To answer you all as a whole, I think I AM going to mail the letter to the instructor AFTER the class is over, and I don't know what to do about the ones to Hannah and Eli. Perhaps fine-tune them a little, add a little more non-sex stuff (and take out the dick part in Eli's, right?), and put them in their stockings at Christmas? It was good to write them, to put down on paper what I hope for both of them, the things I want them to hear from me. We have touched upon most of them, but somehow it has more impact when it is there in black and white. Anyway, thanks for all of the support; it means a lot.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

And Now A Letter To Eli

Dear Eli,

I wrote a letter to Hannah yesterday, and now it is time to sit down and write one to you, but for some reasons the words don't come as easily. Partly because I am a female raising a son; I know what I would have liked to have heard from MY mom, as her daughter, which made it easier to know what to tell Hannah. With you, I am navigating strange and turbulent waters, and I am in awe every day of the responsibility of raising a son in this world.

You know we started that class in part because of your changes in attitude and your sudden assertion that you are a man and therefore cannot and should not be told what to do. Now that we have been in the class, though, there is not a session that goes by where I don't feel stunned with gratitude that you are nothing like those other young men. You are a normal, healthy, assholish teenager, and while I will not go back to the previous leniency I showed you, I do have a greater understanding of the fact that you are growing and changing in ways I can only begin to imagine, and that much of what you are going through is part of all of those changes.

Some of the things that were brought up in the adult class on Thursday, the one taught to us by N., made some alarm bells go off in my head, and I wanted to address them in my own words and with my own personal spin so that you know that her way isn't the only way, nor is it necessarily the right way. It appears that she doesn't like women very much, and is willing to cut young men a lot of slack, and I want to tell you that in this case, her viewpoint is absolutely wrong.

I know you hate it when we talk about sex, I know that it is embarrassing for you to be taught these things by, gasp, a mother! but Eli, I love you enough that I don't care if I embarrass you. We have talked, you and I, about birth control, and one of the proudest moments in my life so far is hearing you ask why "people" always blame the women when she gets pregnant, because it is just as much the man's fault. You are SO on the right track there, sweetie, and I am proud of you for having that perspective.

The thing is, getting a girl pregnant is not the worst thing that can happen anymore, though it is quite bad enough. There are sexually transmitted diseases out there that can and will kill you, cause it so you cannot father children, and cause a whole bunch of long term health issues. The odd thing about it is that you are not very likely to get most of these diseases; the way your body is made up makes it pretty difficult for the germs to get where they need to get in order to cause an illness. Instead, you can be intimate with an infected girl and you might not get it, but your next partner almost certainly will. This is why condoms are SO important; not only are you protecting yourself from becoming a teen father, but you are also protecting not just your current partner but any other partners you may have in the future. By engaging in risky sexual behavior, you are impacting not just your own health, but the possible future of your partner-and that isn't right. Carry condoms with you any time there is even the slightest possibility that you may engage in sexual activities. You may be called presumptuous or the dreaded "player" by having them accessible, but it shouldn't matter. Use one all the time, the whole time, every time; there will be girls who will tell you that since they are on birth control you don't need to wear one, but do it anyway. There will also be girls who will lie and tell you that you are their only partner, their first partner, whatever, but I don't care-use one anyway. The only way to completely prevent both pregnancy and STD's is abstinence; the second best thing is to glove up every time.

I was told on Thursday that sex should be saved for marriage, and I want you to know that sex is a wonderful, beautiful, enjoyable thing that should only be shared with someone you have a committed, respectful relationship with. As you well know, that doesn't always mean marriage, and I would really be heartbroken if you rushed into marriage with someone you don't really love just to allowed to have sex. However, I want you to know that sex IS a big thing; it is huge, and not something to be taken lightly. Women think about sex differently than men; for us, it is a natural progression of strong feelings, it is something we want to give you. For most women, the hootch's in your school aside, sex is a gift that we want to give someone we feel very strongly about. I know that at your age, it is all about how great it feels, and I understand that-but before you decide to become intimate with someone, you need to remember that it is a fragile thing, not to be taken lightly. You have got to respect the woman, you have got to listen to her, and Eli, I don't care if she is naked with your dick in her mouth, NO means NO. You never, ever continue the activity if she says no, no matter how far you have gotten. And if I hear, EVER, the words "I couldn't help myself" come out of your mouth in respect to having sex with someone, I will make arrangement to have you permanently incapable of having sex. ("eunuchy, snip snip"). Sweet boy, if you cannot control yourself enough to stop things even when you are so close, you are not mature enough to be having sex with anyone, period.

I love you, and am so proud of you. I know that you have heard things about how "doomed" you are for not having a father in the home, and I hope you are discerning enough to know it is all a bunch of crap. I know that you can see M. and his family, the continuing issues with his parents and with W. in and out of jail, so you can see that even two parent, tow-income families are susceptible to problems. I also know you are smart enough to see that you guys are the only kids in the class with just one parent, yet you are also the only two not in trouble. Please don't let anyone tell you that we are not a "real" family because your dad isn't around. In that vein, though, I want to tell you that you will have plenty of time to be the man of your own house; you don't need to do it right now. You are a handsome, talented, brilliant young man, and I love you enough that I am going to tell you that you can watch, you can learn how to behave in an appropriate manner, you can learn how to treat your future wife and kids, and you can grow-but I love you so much that for now, you can just be a teenager. You have so much ahead of you that you have no idea-and I want you to enjoy the now, because it will all happen soon enough.

I love you, Eli. I love who you are, and I love who you are going to be. I love your gentleness with your little brothers, and your happy attitude. I have seen some wonderful changes in the last six weeks, and I couldn't be prouder of you.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Letter to Hannah

Dear Hannah,

In case I have not told you this lately, I love you. I love you so much that there is no way you can begin to understand it, not until you have a daughter of your own. I hope you know that we are taking this class on Thursday nights NOT because I think you and Eli are bad kids, or because we are a family at risk, but because there are a lot of things that we could be doing to make it that much better. It isn't going to be very long before you are out on your own, and my hope is that you are going to learn some useful tools with which to navigate life.

When N. was teaching her class to us adults last night, though, I realized that she may be expressing her own personal beliefs and stating them as fact, and I wanted to take this chance to address some of the things she brought up. I want you to know how I feel, in case I haven't made it clear to you before. Neither of us is necessarily all wrong or all right, and I really need to make sure you know that there are many ways of looking at things as there are hairs on your head.

First, while I do believe that it is important for you to wait until you are in a committed, mutually respectful and loving relationship before you choose to have sex, I don't believe that has to be under the guise of marriage. Would I like to see you happily married to someone you love? Of course; what mother doesn't want that for her daughter? However, look at me and my life, sweetie, and you know that sometimes love doesn't come along until you are in your thirties or later, and I would really hate to see you marry some loser simply because you think that is the only way you are allowed to have sex. I really believe that if you approach sex as something precious and important and beautiful, you will know when the time is right.

And I love you so much that even if you choose to not wait to have sex, I am going to make sure you have the protection you need. You and I have already talked at great length about birth control, which is why you are on the Yaz. We have also talked about sexually transmitted diseases and condoms, and I cannot stress this one enough. The only way-ONLY way-to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases is abstinence, and the second-best way is to use a condom. All the time, the whole time, every time. You have to be responsible and vigilant about this, honey, because a lot of time, boys won't be. If a guy tells you that "I just don't feel it as much with a condom," or if he says, " I had an accident when I was a kid and I am sterile," or "I will put one on right before I come," not only is he full of shit but he doesn't care about you. If the man with whom you are going to have sex does not respect your need to take care of your own sexual health, he is not the one you should be having sex with. You may be called a slut or whatever if you carry condoms with you, but I am telling you, you should do it anyway. Stop and think about whether the embarrassment it MIGHT cause is worth dying for-because there are some really, really nasty diseases out there than can kill you, or make you sterile, or cause all sort of other life-changing health issues. Don't take that chance. Take control of your own sexual health, and realize that it just makes you a better person in the end. Make wise choices, and you will not live to regret them, I promise you that.

Another think that I am not sure we HAVE talked about much is the impact that not having your father present in your day to life has had on you. If the things that N. said in our class is any indicator of the things she is talking about in your class, this has probably come up. I want you to remember that you do have a dad who loves you, and the fact that he is far away does not negate that. There are a lot of really awesome people-including the President-Elect of the United States Barack Obama-who were raised by single moms. Don't let her make you feel like you are doomed for failure simply because you don't have a father in the home. Don't let her diminish the strength of our family by telling you that I have done something wrong. you father and I made the decision to get divorced because we were very, very young; we were too young to have ever thought that marriage was a reasonable choice. It is easy now to say that we could have made it work, but 16 years ago, it didn't seem possible. I don't regret that decision, because it doesn't matter now. We did what we thought was best given the information we had at the time-it's done.

You are a strong, powerful, beautiful young woman, and the choices you make from here on out are the choices that are going to dictate the direction your life will take. I love you so much that I promise to make sure you have all of the information you need to make choices that are best for you, choices that are not based on what some other person or entity says is the "right" way to believe. I love you, and I trust you, and I know that you can do anything you set your mind to-not in spite of circumstances, but because of them. Believe it, Hannah-because this is just the beginning, and you are too young and too smart to listen to anyone who will tell you that you can't.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Take it Back, Bitch! A Letter to the Instructor

Dear N.,

I am a participant of the "Strengthening Families" class held on Thursday nights at the Jr. High. I had been aware of some attitude changes in my 14 year old son that prompted me to take this class as a proactive measure, in the hopes that we would all learn some tool to prevent the widespread problems of at-risk youth from happening in my home. For the most part, the class has thus far been a benefit too not just the three of us, but our entire family. However, your presentation last night was one of the most offensive diatribes I have heard, and I am appalled that you would use this class as an opportunity to present your personal beliefs as some sort of model to live up, that you would attempt to tell us that your way is the only way.

You mentioned several things in class last night that I would like to specifically address. The first thing is your assertion that marriage is the only way to have a healthy, loving, intimate relationship with someone, and that we not only have to make sure our children know that, but we have to not only prevent them from having sex but also refuse to provide birth control. If we provide access to birth control, we are telling our children that we think it is okay to have sex. One of the things you talked about was how we need to have these discussions with our children, and I agree. We also need to preface these discussions with "I love you so much that...." and I agree with that as well. However, you continues on with the statement, "I love you so much that I am not going to allow you to engage in premarital sex because you will regret it for the rest of your life," and that is where my agreement ends. I have been married, twice, and I can attest to the fact that marriage itself is not the one thing required to enjoy a healthy level of intimacy with a person. In fact, at the risk of making you uncomfortable, I will tell you that my intimate life is far better with the man who is not and never will be my husband than it was with either of my husbands combined. You are operating under the premise that all marriages are loving, committed, fulfilled ones, where trust and mutual respect is a given, and you are expecting our children to hold out for those things as being things only a marriage can provide. Please don't devalue those relationships where both partners are committed simply because there is no piece of paper to legitimatize it.

My suggestion, and what I have said and will continue to say to my children, is this: "I love you so much that I would really love to see you wait until you are in a committed relationship before engaging in sexual activity. However, I ALSO love you enough to make sure that if you DO choose to become intimate with someone, you will be as protected as I can make you be." You talked, too, about how girls are willing to put themselves out there sexually, and at great risk to themselves; the boys, you said, will "just take it" if offered. As the mother of both a teen boy AND a teen girl, I find this offensive for several reasons. First off, I agree that girls are taking sexual risks every time they choose to have sex with someone. However, and to give you the benefit of the doubt I am sure you did not mean to come across this way, when you say that if it is offered the boys will take it, you are implying that they males in the scenario are somehow not to blame. In my opinion, the blame should be shared equally; we females are not offering sex like we are offering a cup of tea, and while there ARE young girls who think of sex in those callous of terms, then we should also be teaching the boys to not take what is being so freely offered. Responsibility is a two-way street, and if we women are supposed to respect our bodies then the males should also be taught to do so.

As a woman in the year 2008, I was mortified by your willingness to state, out loud, that you believe the Women's Movement/Feminism was one of the worst things ever to happen in our society. While I have no intention of telling you that what you choose to believe to be right is, in fact, wrong, I want you to stop and look at the incongruity of your statements. You felt free to mention the election, in which you voted. You are standing in from of us, a working mother of an adopted five year old boy. You are married to a man who provides everything you need financially. N., has it not occurred to you that you are where you are BECAUSE of the women's movement? Women years ago forged the way for you to vote, to be able to have a job that you love and to make the choice to have a son in daycare while you pursue a career and get paid for it. The women's movement has enable you to appear in public in denim jeans and high-heeled boots, and to wear a shirt that leaves your neck and chest visible to a room full of mixed company. Our beautiful, strong, independent ancestors fought so that you would have ability to make your own choices and have the freedom to stand up in front of a room full of men and women and help them learn how to make better choices-please don't denigrate all they have worked toward by telling us how wrong it is. And if you truly believe it to be wrong, leave. Go home, take off your boots and cook your husband and son dinner; that is where you belong, right? So get out of the classroom and into the bedroom, where all good women belong after they have fulfilled their household duties.

The other two things I am choosing to address (and believe me when I could say I could take your entire 2 hour presentation and pick it apart point by point, but I picked only the things that made me the most angry) go hand in hand: your comment about how a father is the single most important person in a child's life, and how we now no longer need to worry about taking care of ourselves or our children because Obama is going to come in and take care of everyone.

I do agree that fathers are important in their kids' lives, undoubtedly. However, to say that they are the single most important person in a child's life is not only unfair, but also inaccurate. I would like to point out to you the fact that of all of the parents in this classroom, I am the only single parent. My children's fathers have been at best uninterested and uninvolved in the day to day raising of all four of these children. I don't say this as a ploy for pity, but instead to point out to you that of all of the youth in the class, my two fatherless teens are the only two who are not and have not been in trouble with the law. I have been told by ALL of the instructors more than once that both of my children are not only kind and respectful, but that they are presenting good examples to children who are already on a downward spiral. We have worked really, really hard to get to this point, all of us, and to say that none of it matters because there is no father is like a slap in the face. I dare you to pull my kids aside and tell them that they are doomed because they have "lost" the most important person in their lives-you may very well have a fight on your hands.

You also made the sarcastic and offensive comment that Obama is going to come in to take care of us so we don't have to, and that is also incongruous with your statement about how fathers are the most important person in our kids' lives. You see, Obama is going to make an attempt to step in and do the jobs of these fathers who have walked away from their children. I understand the national outrage against welfare and public assistance and "handouts," but the problem does not lie in how many government programs there are, the problem is how necessary they are. I personally would be in no need of a single bit of assistance from the government were I to be paid the amount of child support the court has ordered for my children. If their all-important fathers were, in fact, fathers, they would all have health insurance provided by the father's workplace instead of having to welch off the State of Idaho's Medicaid program. If their fathers paid the amount of daycare they have been court order to pay, I would not need to have Idaho Child Care pay for a portion of it. And if I were given the actual cash payment as ordered by the state, I would be able to provide a bigger home for my children without having to accept assistance from the Idaho Housing Authority. You see. these programs are in place, rightly so, because too many people (the majority of whom are men, fathers) are not doing their job. We need Obama to come in and take care of us because people like you won't.

So far last night, I heard a lot of things that "should" be different, but just like any other person who corners the market on perfect choices and nearly unlimited resources, you failed to provide any solutions. You spoke about the 17 year old with four kids who wants to be a nurse, and you can't understand why she laughed at you; of course she can be a nurse, but how are you going to help her achieve that goal? Since you do not agree with or support government programs, are you going to offer to babysit this young woman's children while she attends college, offer to pay her rent so that she doesn't have to work full time while also going to college? No, N., you aren't. You are going to look her right in the eye, tell her she is capable of doing anything, and then you are going to walk out of your office without telling her how she is going to do it.

I enjoy the class, and I know that we have learned and will continue to learn a lot of really great things from it. However, this is going to be in spite of you, not because of you. Please keep that in mind; my children are not going to become statistics, and that isn't going to have anything to do with you.



Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Parking Lot Story, or Why I love My 30's

My coffee pot broke last night. Not the actual maker contraption, but the glass carafe thing. Now, if you are a regular reader you know that in my house, in my life, this is a problem of major proportions. I mean, even the idea of getting up and not having that fresh, steaming, delectable brew waiting for me is enough to give me the no-caffeine-jitters, so you can well imagine my chagrin when I bumped the spout on the faucet while filling the carafe and a huge chunk broke off. It was 10:00 pm, too late to just run out and buy a new one, plus a new carafe is not in the budget right now, so I was in a mild panic. Upon closer examination, however, I realized that I can still make just over half a pot of coffee without it spilling over the broken part-good deal. There is just enough in the pot, then, to have two cups when I wake up and then fill my tavel mug to take to the office. I felt like my life had been saved, and then just had to laugh at myself. How ridiculous, really, and also a little embarrassing to admit how much I love my coffee, and how willing I am to act in a desperate manner in order to get it. It reminds me just a little of how freaked out I used to get when I was drinking and didn't have any alcohol handy-though of course with much less disastrous results.

Speaking of laughing at myself, I have to say right up front that while I am a great driver, I totally suck at parking. I drive a mid-size SUV, so it was a little bit of a challenge to learn how to park it in a somewhat reasonable manner. I have been used to driving smaller vehicles, the little four-door sedans, so to turn this vehicle. with it having a much longer and higher hood than I was used to. Thankfully, it really does turn on a dime, and once I got used to it, I found it just as easy as a car. Before long, I was whipping in and out of parking spots like I was in a Ferrari (not that I would really know what that was like). So the funny part is this: when we were in Seattle up in the space needle, I was taking pictures of the view from different spots, and I looked down and there was the lot where I had parked the Blazer. After we left the lot and walked over the place we were meeting our friends, someone else with a white Blazer (because it is such a rare color, you know) came and parked right next to ours. Can you tell which one is mine? I had to take a picture of it because it made me laugh out loud all day at what a dork I really am. I don't know which is funnier, my horrible parking job or the fact that I thought it was amusing enough to take a picture of it:

I actually have a point to all of this. I am 36 years old, 37 rushing toward me at a lightning pace, and I tell you, I have been loving my 30's. I did have a hard time turning 35, but it passed quickly and the rest of my life has been-well. Let's just say that at 16, when I got into a car for the first time in my Driver's Ed class and backed over two trash cans, I was mortified and skulked around the halls with my head hung low for fear that I would be the laughingstock of the school (turns out I was, but it had nothing to do with my Driver's Ed class; I was just one of those misfits). At 25 when I got all liquored up and ran into the back of a semi that was stopped in the middle of the road to turn left, I was ashamed and mortified, and even, perhaps, earlier in my 30's I would have looked down at my car from the top of the Space Needle and hoped like hell no one would know it was mine. Life is so much funnier to me at 36 years old, so much crazier and wild, and I am happier than I have ever been. Taken as a whole, of course; there are bad times, a lot of ups and downs, but that seems to be the very nature of living. I laugh at myself all of the time now-not in a bad way (and even though I joke about what a dork I am, I don't mean that in a "I am such a loser I am going to kill myself because nobody likes me" way), but just in the sense that life is really, really funny to me most of the time.

Over the weekend, Steve and I got into a discussion about life and how you can either choose to be happy or not. You can either get up off your ass and work toward making a better life, you can choose to be content where you are, or you can lock yourself in the house and drink yourself into oblivion (or whatever mode of escape you use) and let it all go by. He was a little bit man about it; "You mean to tell me that you really believe all that shit? You CAN'T tell me that you are really happy!" And yeah; yeah, I DO believe all of that. I do believe that we-I-have to look at life as a work in progress, to take the steps necessary to make my life better. Not in terms of money, but in quality of living. And yes, I am happy. The difference between the two of us, though, is that I was willing to do the work in AA in order to begin to see progress. He, on the other hand, can stay sober for a time but doesn't do the things suggested, so his life doesn't get any better, so he drinks again-it is a vicious cycle, and one I can't help him with. I can tell him until I am blue in the face what he could do to start to see positive changes, but he doesn't want to hear it-and I can't waste my precious, precious time trying to convince him that there is a better way.

What I CAN do is just keep living my life. Regardless of his drinking, Steve is and always will be part of it. I love him, plain and simple. Now, we will never be "together" in the accepted sense of the word, as I am not going to move in with or marry someone who is an active alcoholic even if he wanted me to, which he doesn't. But in time, maybe he will start to get it, start to become a little more willing to see that the stuff that is suggested is a lot easier than dealing with the snowball effect of alcoholism-I don't have the answer to that. But for me, I am 36 years old and I think life is fucking hilarious and I am just going to keep living it, keep laughing, keep doing everything I need to do to either eke out every possible drop of joy during the good days, and at least keep my head above the water on the bad days.

Today is another new day. My application got accepted for BlogHer Ads, so that is cool-maybe now I should actually post something over there on occasion, right? I was able to talk to my friend in trouble yesterday afternoon, and she got some really good news (and said, "See? Obama has only been elected for one day and already things are looking up!" THIS is one of the many, many reasons I love her) which takes the pressure off a little. I was able to call someone I was supposed to meet with from AA last night and be honest with her in saying, " I just don't feel up to meeting tonight," without any real fear of making her angry or causing future problems. And the blessing in being honest and open is that good things happen. She said, "Oh, good, I was working in the polls until late and could really use a quiet night." It worked out well for both of us.

And I agree with my friend: for years I have blamed everything on George W., from the rising cost of gas the the decline of the public school system to the fact that the goddamned dog keeps climbing over the fence, I have been able to find a way to blame him. Now, I get to work on finding a way to give Obama credit for good things happening. Really, it's a win-win situation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I've Unpacked My Bags

My sincere apologies go out to Mr. Lady, Huckdoll, Anna-Banana and any other Canadian friends I have out there; it looks like we are not going to be neighbors after all. I have unpacked my bags, so to speak, and decided that I don't need to become an American Expatriate anymore. So, sorry ladies, it would have been fun (and April was going to come with me, so you should be doubly disappointed), but I think I am just going to stay right where I am at and be part of the changes that are inevitably going to take place in our country.

Special thanks go out to April, by the way. She knows I don't do TV, so was more than willing to call and give me updates as the votes began to be counted. I have NPR in the car, so I listened to some coverage there, and found an AM station in the house that was providing non-stop coverage, so between April and the radio, I was well-informed. I can't begin to tell you how exciting it was to be sharing that experience with one of my favorite people in the world, even via phone. To be able to talk to her right after the election was called was just an added bonus to an already fucking great night. I love you, April!

I was disgusted yet not surprised that Idaho went red; we had three Blue counties, which is two more than we usually do, but McCain still got all four of our electoral votes-sickening. It was really neat last night to get down to the precinct, though, and see all of the young people there voting. I would be willing to place a wager that this was definitely the highest turnout our county has ever seen, which of course follows the national trend. It was really encouraging to see how many people were there to have their say, regardless of how they voted. I took Hannah and Sam with me, and I was almost a little disappointed in how efficient our polling workers were. I was almost hoping to have to stand in line for a little while, for there to be more hustle and bustle and excitement, because both of them were all like, "That's it? You're done?" It seemed a little anti-climactic for both of them. Still, Sam was interested enough to want to be woken up when the winner was announced, and Hannah and Eli were both still up at the end-very cool.

After the election results were in, after I basked in the glory for a short while, I called another friend and left a voice mail about how "our guy" won; she called back, and we ended up talking until after midnight, which was really good. She is the one who has been having some problems in her marriage, and events occurred over the weekend that have made the end both inevitable and necessary. My heart just breaks for her on a thousand different levels, and I don't know what to say or do to help her other than to just listen. As the result of events, she has a shitload of problems that are going to have to be dealt with one small step at a time, and that is hard enough without having to even go into the sadness and feelings of betrayal she will have to deal with later. Keep her in your thoughts, all of you, ans she starts out in the direction her life is taking right now. She needs thoughts and prayers for strength and peace, and also for her fighting spirit to sustain her through this. I will say that even in the midst of the turmoil and pain in her life, she was telling me that while she was driving home from an appointment last night, she listened to Obama's speech, and it was as if his words were directed specifically toward her, and applied to everything in her life at that moment; what greater tribute to our President Elect than to have that kind of experience?

My mind is reeling today, so any attempt I make to articulate the thoughts and feelings running through my mind would be futile, and better left untried. I will leave you with this quote from Obama, though, and know in my heart that he is what we need to begin to become a country united once again:

"This victory alone is not the change we seek — it is only the chance to make that change"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Poem

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~Mary Oliver

I have been taking a walk on my morning break, part of this new Weight Watchers thing, heading out of the office and through the town for 15 minutes of brisk walking. Every day I walk a little faster, a little further, and I swear sometimes I can hear my fat cells screaming at me in protest as they are slowly being eradicated. "Take THAT!" I say as I stride along, laughing maniacally all the while. It is a small thing, but a definite beginning.

This morning it is really cold and windy, and I felt very much alone, yet also part of something. I have this one life, and I am trying so hard to live it well, and all around me are people going about their daily lives-going to work, to the post office, to the store, all engaged in this very elemental thing we call living. Life for me today is a series of small steps, of getting through each day by footing one foot in front of the other. Not in a bad way, just-along with some of the decisions I have made and will be making, there are a lot of little steps I need to be taking, so that is what I am really working on doing right now. And how is THAT for enigmatic, right? There will be more, I am sure, but for right now I am just feeling quiet and peaceful.

It is, as you all know, Election Day, and after work I will be heading over to the polls to cast my vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Depending on the results, I will either be at work celebrating tomorrow or will be home packing for my inevitable move to Canada. I hope that every one of you, regardless of who your candidate is, will be voting, or already have. I have been talking to my kids about how this is truly an historic election, and we all need to get out and be part of history. Hannah and Sam will be heading down to the precinct with me tonight, so they can get a first-hand look at what the Election Process entails. I wanted to go first thing this morning, which just didn't work out, and then I was going to go during lunch, but then the kids wanted to go, so....

And in the meantime, I will keep breathing, and moving, and loving and living.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Last Day of Filing!

It looks like my little cyber-stalker friend is back; I have enabled comment moderation again, of course, and to answer someones question, no, I don't KNOW this guy. He is just some freaky dude who is totally against AA and all it stands for. I just have to laugh, really, because he is so ridiculous. Believe me, if I am going to go to hell, there will be a lot more legitimate reasons than me going to AA. Just sayin'.

After I blogged yesterday, my day got appreciably better. Not that it was terrible to begin with, but I have been struggling with that crap for a long time, and it felt really, really freeing to say out loud that this is no longer something I hope for or even necessarily want. I do want to clarify, though, that it isn't as if I have been looking, and no, I don't think I need a man-I have lived without one for most of my adult life, 4 children notwithstanding. And, okay, I'll be totally honest here, I am not lacking for companionship-I have almost too many friends, and I choose to spend most of my time with my kids but I don't HAVE to. I have also had and will continue to have the opportunity to, um, as Mr. Lady has said, "take a walk" with several men of my choosing if I so desire, so it isn't as if I am taking a vow of celibacy. As I have said before, I am not unhappy, not as a rule; this "giving up" so to speak is mostly just verbalizing the life I already live.

***As an aside, none of this has anything to do with Steve, at least not directly. He is and always will be a huge part of my life, not just because he is Owen's dad but also because he is my best friend, and I love him. I think he is "the one," but I also know that there are a million other men in the world whom I could love and make a good life with. The fact that I love him so much does not mean it has worked for us, nor does it mean that I can't fall in love with someone else. Just so you know.***

Anyway, this is where things are today: it is gorgeous today, the sun shining so brightly that it hurts the eyes, shining on the rain-soaked trees and grass with an especial brilliance. I am down 1.4 pounds this morning, I am in the middle of doing my last bit of filing before the receptionist will take back over this morning, and life is good. Hard, yes, and scary, but also immeasurably good.