Sunday, December 14, 2008

25 Random Things

My beloved tagged me in his facebook note to play this little game. Y'all know me - I'll have a hard time keeping it to just 25, as I am so painfully random and tend to share entirely too much about myself as it is. SO, I'll try to throw in a couple of zingers that you might not actually know.

In no particular order of entertainment level...

1. There are several movies that suck me in every time I come across them on TV: "A League of Their Own," "The Shawshank Redemption," "Forrest Gump," "When Harry Met Sally" are just a few. I don't know if it's because they are just timeless and so well-made, or if its pure sentiment, or if it's just my tendency to procrastinate and/or divert attention...

2. I am a dog person. I don't really understand how people can love little tiny dogs, though. Any dog that weighs short of 30 pounds is a waste of fur.

3. I killed a kitten accidentally when I was a little girl. I had it riding on my shoulder on my big wheel, it fell off my shoulder, and I ran right over it. Still haunts me, obviously.

4. My parents haunt me, too. Particularly at church. I can literally hear my momma's voice singing certain hymns and anthems. It's troubling, on one level, but remarkably comforting at the same time.

5. I can't type. Not the way you're supposed to, at least... I have my own system and can type pretty quickly, but I have to look at the keys. I never took typing. Home Row means nothing to me.

6. I never took Driver's Ed, either. I was too young to take it while I lived at home, then my nerd school didn't offer it, so I just waited until my sophomore year of college when I turned 18 and got a permit without it.

7. I skipped a grade. Took 7th and 8th in the same year.

8. I went to nerd school. Left home when I was barely 15, and don't regret it one bit. That's truly the best thing that ever happened to me as far as achieving independence goes...

9. I was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow - doesn't mean much, except that I got to go to school for free to learn to do what I always wanted to do. Not that you learn much about teaching in undergrad - most of it comes in the field and through personal inquiry.

10. I truly think you're either born equipped to be a teacher or not. Just like I could never play pro basketball, some people just don't need to be in the classroom.

11. I love my job. I love the kids, I love the school supplies, I love everything about it EXCEPT for grading the kids, dealing with morons, and arrogant parents.

12. My husband is the funniest person I know. He makes me laugh when I least feel like laughing and says so many things I wish I had come up with.

13. I am a serious procrastinator and perfectionist. I don't know if that's a chicken or egg situation.

14. The hardest thing I ever did was put my baby in daycare. I wish I never had. I totally wish for every mom who wants to be home with their babies that they could. I get that some folks are better moms for NOT being at-homers, but I am SO not one of them.

15. I love my little man more than life. I could snuggle with him and listen to him and play with him all the time if I didn't have any other responsibilities. I pray he knows that.

16. My little girl is the most amazing and annoying thing ever. She is so much like me - I like to think that I was just like her when I was little, except she's a little more unbridled. It's going to be a long hard adolescence.

17. I had a hysterectomy this summer (for my not-so-regular readers) and I wish I had done it years ago. Periods are seriously overrated - not that most folks rate them very high, anyway - and I wish evolution would pick up the pace and figure out that we don't need one every month from the time we're twelve in order to produce an offspring or two.

18. I like to touch every page of the Sunday paper, whether I read it or not. Sports section excluded - I could so give a rat's behind about sports as a rule. Yeah, I'll do a yippee dance when the Tar Heels win, but truly, I could go the rest of my life without ever watching a single sporting event and I'd be just fine.

19. I was in a car wreck 8 years ago and broke my right wrist, third carpal, and a metacarpal - and it still hurts pretty frequently. Never finished the occupational therapy because we moved and I am a lazy daisy.

20. I am a mountain person, but I am becoming a beach person. Having grown up at the beach, I never understood why people would take an entire week of their lives to go there for vacation. Now I get it.

21. When I was little my momma used to say that if the world was shaped like a hot dog, that I'd eat it. Now, she had no idea how vile that sounded... but it's almost true - I love hot dogs and once I ate six of them on a campout. no kidding. I must have weighed all of 50 pounds at the time. If you're wondering: ketchup, mustard, chili. Cheese, on occasion. NEVER relish. Now I really want to go to Fuddrucker's for lunch.

22. I am a language nerd. I have taken Spanish (I was almost fluent at one point), Italian (one semester to raise my GPA), Russian (2 semesters to boost my GPA - see a pattern?), Esperanto (just a week at nerd school with the BEST linguist I ever knew), and Hebrew (a couple of weeks just for fun). I'd love to have the chance to live abroad and become seriously fluent in any language! Okay, not French. French is weird. But any of the other Romance or Slavic languages would be awesome.

23. If I had the guts and if I hadn't already spent my whole life digging Jesus, I'd probably convert to Judaism. All the liturgy and tradition, a whole lot less of the bullcrap. I say that, but all organized religion has its share of bullcrap, but the grass looks significantly greener...

24. I cuss like a sailor. If any of my students come across this, they'll probably laugh and say, "I knew it!" I put on a good act, but I think there are two kinds of people - those who cuss and those who use words that aren't cuss words (darn, crap, etc.) because they WANT to cuss, but they are too much better than the rest of us to do it. I guess there are three kinds - those who don't even say the substitute words - but most people either cuss or wish they did.

25. I love to write and if I am willing to bet that one day I'll publish something. It might just be a Master's Thesis, but mark my word...

So there's my 25 Random Things. Play along, comment away, or just have a good laugh at my expense.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

How could I forget Lolly?


Don't know how I left this one off. Oops. Meet...
Lolly: When we got the first batch of fish, we bought this one to eat the poo and other debris that our messy little brood would generate. The kids named it Lolly, like a lollipop, since it is a little sucker. Now the line in the previous post about Pop being Lolly's counterpart makes sense, right? Anyway, the thing has doubled in size already. Mercy. Very cool catfish.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The rest of the fish

Promised I'd share the second batch of fish with you, so here they are!


Chick: Yellow like a chicken, and a little shy, too. Chick has a cool black line along the top of his or her dorsal fin and has faint yellow and white vertical stripes. Really good-looking fish. Also the smallest in the tank, but seems to be sufficiently defensive.











Daphne: I think Kori made some connection between "Daphne"and "dolphin" - can't recall why - maybe the Fishy Business guy said this was a dolphin-spotted cichlid or something like that? I don't know...








Rocky: We couldn't bring ourselves to name this little orange guy "Clem" for Clemson, so we named him "Rocky" for "Rocky Top" - Tennessee, that is. No, he's not a fighter - he's actually one of the more passive fish in the tank.









Tiger: Cleverly named for the stripes, Tiger is almost as big as Sid and Morrison, and MY is he (or she) fast! I took a ton a shots of this one, and the best I could get was this - he was moving so fast that the camera thought it needed to focus on the algae.








Pop: And speaking of algae, this guy, Lolly's counterpart, had better get busy eating some of it! A little algae is desirable, but we bought this algae-eater sucker to keep the place clean for us. Within the first 24 hours, he had eaten all of the brown algae, but now that we have a new light, we are getting more green algae than he can keep up with. He likes to hide out on this giant fake branchy thing we have in the tank.



Okay, those are our fish for now. The guys at the store think we could probably safely introduce a few more eventually, but I have a hard enough time keeping track of them all as it is. Maybe one day we'll learn to identify their genders and buy some pairs to see if we can get them to breed - they are mouth brooders (cool!) - but for now, we'll just do our best to remember to do their partial water changes and such.

One of these days we'll videotape them eating - we all enjoy feeding time so much, but they are especially prone to overeating, so we are working really hard to make sure we don't kill them - and I'll be sure to post it here for your amusement.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fishy Fishy

Because I have nothing else to do, I spent countless precious minutes yesterday attempting to photograph the fishy residents here at 203. Then, I managed to find a few more minutes to waste and posted shots of each to the facebook profile. Seriously. I am such the queen of procrastination - AKA reverse prioritizing.

But, as some of you readers are too mature, too busy, too cool for facebook, I figure I'll post them here, as well.

And, if I may point out the obvious, if you find yourself reading this post (yes, I started it at 1:00 AM, but only AFTER I finished my paper for tomorrow's class), then you are also guilty of reverse prioritizing. :)

So, we have a 55 gallon tank of African cichlids of various yet-to-be-determined species. We like cichlids because they have great little aggressive personalities and generally vibrant colors that often rival marine fish. We started with the original six plus a catfish, then lost one (Oh, yeah, that one dude in questionable health did die a day or two after the post that said he was still kicking. Alas.), then added an algae eater and four more. So now there are nine cichlids and two waste management guys (good math, Meesh!) for us to enjoy. Allow me to introduce the first batch...

Morrison: This is our biggest fish - named after the dorm Jimmy and I met in back in the day because he is Carolina Blue (of course!). This fish is such a camera hog. Really. Kept following me around and showing off.




Sid: Cool fish - about as big as Morrison, and pretty aggressive, too. Getting prettier every week. Not sure if he's named after Sid Vicious or not, but I'll pretend he is.






Peach: This one loves to eat from our hands. Really - you hold a pinch of food pellets at the surface of the water, and Peach comes up and gets nibbling. We had a "Peach" in our last tank that we left with friends in Arkansas, but this one is named more for the Mario character, I think.




Poop: Yeah, Poop's the name, and it's also a traditional fish name for us. This one was fitting because for the first two days, the only thing we saw this one eat was, well...





Samus: Pretty little yellow fellow named after some character the kids know from TV or video games - don't ask me, I don't pay attention to the things they do! - I keep wanting to call him Seamus, but they correct me. Fast little booger, too.
I want to show you the rest of our fishy family but I seriously need to go to bed. So, I'll give this virtual tank time to cycle and I'll introduce the rest of the gang to you soon. Promise. It's way lower priority than all the other stuff I need to do, so you know I'll get to it immediately!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Giving Thanks

Holy Lord, it's November already - and halfway through, at that!

I don't have anything brilliant to add today, but I am so in the mood for the holidays and feeling like giving thanks. Plus, I really want to get back in the practice of writing, whether there's an audience or not.

It's also helpful sometimes to count my many blessings - keeps me from swimming in my own pool of misery and woe-is-me. Also, list-making is easy writing, as a rule, and as taxed as my brain is feeling lately, I'll feel pleased with myself for a few bullets.

Actually, I could just write my acceptance speech for the Nobel or the Academy Award or even Mrs. America (right!)... nah. I'll stick with the list.


To Casey, my mutt, for the sweet head in my lap that helps me to always know that love is meant to be unconditional...

To Austin, my baby boy, for not being too cool to hold his momma's hand in public, even if only for a few minutes...

To Kori, my mini-me, for still wanting me to check on her every night...

To my beloved husband who really does want to learn to do the laundry the "right" (read: "my") way...

To the parents who send their babies to me every day for trusting me to care for their hearts and minds and to help them grow...

To the little people I teach for giving me purpose every day...

To my friends, old and new, for accepting me and my odd little ways and for chats that keep me laughing and crying and feeling like me...

To our nation for electing a man who, I pray, will be an instrument of peace...

... Thank you.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Still Alive

As I know you have been wondering, all fish are still kicking almost a week later.

Also still alive, for the record, is the blogger herself. Nose still above water, praise the Lord. I keep thinking of Dory the blue fish in Finding Nemo - just keep swimming! I am intentionally doing NOTHING tomorrow but work around my house. It will feel so nice to have clean sheets, clean floors, cleared tables... We might even celebrate by reinstating family game night. Ahhhh.

And another random thought on the topic: One of the craziest songs we have downloaded for Rock Band is "Still Alive" - it's this bizarre little song you get to hear when you win some video game the kids play... It is so stuck in my head. Here are my favorite lines from it:

I'm not even angry. I'm being so sincere right now, even though you broke my
heart and killed me and tore me to pieces and threw every piece into a fire...
as they burned, it hurt because I was so happy for you...


If I knew how to find it online and post it here, I would. Just google "Portal still alive" and you'll find it.

So, I'm off to make my house a place I want to spend time. Just wanted to be habitual about writing (one of the habits I'll develop one day) and let you know that I'm Still Alive. I'm doing science and I'm still alive... I feel fantastic and I'm still alive... (sorry, more of the song there!)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gerbil Funeral, Take Two

So Saturday morning I actually went all the way upstairs - I try not to visit the land of small children if I can at all avoid it, but the cat's litter box was emanating some serious odor and it appeared to be my turn to clean it. While I was up there, I felt compelled to visit the gerbils and check their food and water levels, as said small children tend to "forget" to care for the rodents without reminding. Sure enough, the water was empty - bone dry - and sure enough, Harry Potter (who has survived two children, a cross-country move, the loss of a tankmate, the introduction of another tankmate, and a raucous den of Webelos playing doll house with him) was dead.

Now mind you, Harry was at least six years old, which is remarkable for a rodent being held captive by two small children. His buddy YG (AKA Yerbil Gerbil or Eric) had gone on to glory earlier this year (hence the new gerbil, Humphrey) and had been buried out back in a toilet paper tube beneath a cinderblock at the base of an oak tree. Harry, of course, was treated to a similar burial in the same location so that, as Austin put it, he could "be with his best friend for all eternity." Much sobbing, some lamentations, and a little dose of guilt later, we cleaned out the gerbilarium and gave Humphrey fresh food, water, and bedding.

I don't know about you folks, but when our family suffers tragic loss, we have to spend money. Jim's birthday is the 23rd, and he's been craving an aquarium since we moved here. Off we went on a comfort fix to all the local fish businesses. Ironically, we ended up at as place called Fishy Business (conveniently located behind Captain D's, if you need a little more irony) and next thing you know, despite debt and an unusually crowded and messy house, we were loading up a 55 gallon tank to ease our pain and greed. Dude, it was on an incredible sale and was priced lower than the 30gals we had been eyeballing all day, so don't judge.

We've started our own little Lake Malawi with a handful of African cichlids - one guy already looks a little weak and not-too-long-for-this-world, and today I found myself hoping he'd go ahead and die tonight if he's going to so that we can take him back... Anyway, it's a fun adventure in ecosystems and we are hoping the good chi from the tank outweighs the potentially gripe-inducing responsibility that accompanies it. I am mesmerized by these little colorful and aggressive guys and have already spent too much time just staring at them, but honestly, I already feel more relaxed.

Stay tuned for tales of fish funerals bound to come, and for pictures of the tank after we get it all prettiful.

RIP, Harry Potter.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Long-Range Plan

Holy cannoli, have I been out of the blogging habit. And I can't say that I really have time to be doing this right now, either, but since when has that stopped me?

So I've been working on my Long-Range Plan for the Evaluation Procedures sent forth from the great state of South Carolina. Basically, I've had to write what I intend to teach all year and how and why - which seems like no big deal, but when you have 150 word limits here and there and your name is Meesh, these things get complicated. Add to that the desire to actually make it a useful document and an accurate reflection of my pedagogy rather than something I just do because I have to, and the whole thing has been more challenging than it should have been.

ANYWAY, I thought I'd throw out some of my Long-Range Plan for life in general for you to review. You know - goals and assessments and management for day-to-day living in my little world as I have created it.

LONG-RANGE PERSONAL GOALS:
~ Mellow out, but not in a slacker kind of way - more in a don't-yell-at-the-people-you-love kind of way.
~ Make better food choices more often.
~ Make time to exercise. (This is starting to sound like a freaking resolution list.)
~ Figure out who I am and embrace that.
~ Become more satisfied with having less - stop being such a greedy-butt consumer.
~ Become fluent in another language.
~ Prioritize.
~ Habitually make my home a place other people feel welcome and comfortable.
~ Travel.
~ Whine less, praise more, do good things.
~ Learn to play a musical instrument well.
~ Figure out my spirituality.

BUCKET LIST (I haven't even seen the movie, but I get the reference):
~ Go to Europe. Yeah, all of it.
~ See the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, and all the other American icons.
~ Cross the country in an RV.
~ Get published - preferably a picture book.
~ Live on top of a mountain overlooking the ocean - not sure where this place is, but it is beautiful and my husband and our dogs are there on the porch taking it in together.
~ Know my children as adults.
~ Pay for a child (other than my own) to go to college.
~ Host a talk show - if only once.

Okay, I've wasted enough time and this is neither poignant nor amusing, so I'd better prep for bed. Maybe I'll add to this list soon. Maybe you'll be inspired to think of some of your own long-range plans. Maybe not.

More soon. Just remember "soon" is relative.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lottery Ticket

Friends, let me tell you, God is good.

On the first day of school for teachers, we had a meeting and the PTO did door prizes. Darned if I didn't win a little black-and-white TV with a built-in radio... 5 inch screen and will be totally useless come February unless I drop a bunch of cash on a converter box, but the point here is, of course, I AM A WINNER.

And then today, the entire district met at one of the high schools for a kickoff and they did door prizes, too. Guess who was holding one of the lucky tickets and won $100 kizzash from a local credit union! Yep, it bears repeating: I AM A WINNER.

So, I think I'll go buy a lottery ticket on the first day of classes. What do you think? Could the Powerball be mine all mine? It might just be...

Actually, if you'll allow me to pour melted cheez all over you, I have already won the lottery. I have a loving husband, two precious children, good friends, a decent home, food, water, and shelter. I was hired to do exactly the job I wanted at exactly the school I wanted and I have just spent the afternoon meeting what promises to be an unbelievable group of students I'll have the honor of teaching and learning from this year. Really, sisters and brothers, say it with me this time because you know it's true: I AM A WINNER.

But I still might go get a ticket.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

YESTERDAY...
I spent the day with my in-laws riding all over the Columbia metro looking for a house for them. Although I had a million other things to do to prep for school, not to mention around the house, it was great fun. I had forgotten how much fun it is to play realtor with clients who are comfortable, informed, and ready. I had no idea how much fun it would be with my relatives! Actually, Patty and I have played real estate together for years - we both have a thing for snooping around new construction and playing house - imagining our stuff in them, talking trash about the builders and designers and architects and their often ridiculous choices.

Anyway, I suppose the big news flash here is that my husband's folks are strongly considering a move here - so strongly that Nana didn't care that our house would not be even CLOSE to clean enough for Nana to visit this weekend! Pat would love to be on the water, but he doesn't want to spend that much, given that he'll be carrying two mortgages for a while (who knows how long their house in Charleston will take to sell! It's gorgeous, but HUGE and PRICEY and there's a Bush in the White House still...). Primarily, he wants to be in a courtyard home - nice brick wall in back, little tiny yard, no maintenance. He realizes that he can no longer do the work, he knows his time is limited and that Patty needs to be somewhere she can be happy and feel safe and that SHE won't have to maintain either. They both need one level, as he is always at risk of stroke and she is bound to have another back surgery one day. BUT, it has to have class and all the luxuries they have in their current home - granite and hardwoods and moulding, oh my!

Good day in fantasyland. And Hudson's Smokehouse for dinner. MMMMMMM.

TODAY...
We will likely meet with a builder this morning. I've been up since 6:30, even though we were up past midnight last night. I guess my body is prepping for school! Kori is going home with the Hayses for the next three days and I have to pack her stuff. Shouldn't take long since the child has lived out of her suitcase all summer! Once the Hayses leave, we'll be tackling laundry and cleaning and all those things I haven't been officially cleared to do by the doc yet, but my scabs are off the sutures and I figure anything goes at that point.

At some point today, I am probably going to do some reflecting on the meetings we had at school Thursday and Friday. I think that will help me to grow as a result of my experiences as a faculty member at OPES and as a person. Sorry, folks - as much as I think you would like to read about my mundane little teacher life, that blog is old-school - we call it a JOURNAL. Your people might have called it a diary. Whatever - it's a handwritten notebook because I am not sure how much I want to be open about those reflections... Anyway, if there's an occasional goodie, I'll share it. Okay?


TOMORROW...
We have meetings all morning and Pioneer Preview from 2-5 (that's a meet-the-teacher kind of thang). My classroom is tidy, if not yet ready, and I am completely ready to meet the kids and their parents, but I do not have any of the stuff ready yet that I want to share with them. I guess I should go back up to TODAY and add that - get Pioneer Preview Stuff Ready.

I cannot wait to have my kids again! My best teacher friend and I had a convo yesterday that went sort of like this...
Her: I'm heading over to the school. You coming?
Me: Urg. No, and I am soooo jealous. What does it mean that I would rather spend the entire Saturday at school in my room than riding around in the inlaws' Lexus looking at high-end houses?
Her: It means you are a better teacher than you are a realtor.

It was just what I needed to hear.

So, tomorrow, I need to spend time in my room at school, thinking, planning, greeting, and welcoming. I totally get off on all of that. It will be a goooood day.

Also tomorrow, I need to pay bills, call the benefits lady, make sure Austin is entertained, work on the playroom, enroll in online real estate license renewal courses (so I can get my referral fees from my realtorboss, can I get a hellyeah!), and plan meals for the week. Eating at home - a new and admirable goal at our house!

And tomorrow would have been Daddy's 75th birthday. I don't need to set aside time for this, but tomorrow I imagine he'll sneak up on me at some point and I'll let myself weep a little. My Pokey. My Poppa. My Daddy. Thank God I'll be so busy tomorrow!

More soon, dear readers and friends. It always catches me off guard when people tell me they are reading my blog... that's what is intriguing about this whole process - you have no idea who knows your dirt and who has shared it with whom. Forces me to choose my words, I guess! Enjoy.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

NCSSM 20 year reunion blurb

Most of you know that I went to a nerd school for my junior and senior years in high school (The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics), and our 20-year reunion is fast approaching. Two of our alumni (who ultimately married each other) have taken on the project of compiling a reunion book. They sent us a template for our blurbs - we could write, draw, post photos, whatever. This is what I finally came up with. Thought you, my dear friends and readers, might want to take a peek. Enjoy.

So here’s what’s crazy to me when I think about this 20-year reunion thing. We’ve been away from NCSSM ten times as long as we were there – more, actually, if you calculate it in months instead of years. I’ve lived 54% of my life post-nerd-school. Other than my recent and pathetic addiction to facebook and the reconnects that has brought about, I’ve kept in frequent contact with fewer than half a dozen former unicorns. But when I think about my most life-changing experiences, my most satisfying life choices, and my collection of fond and entertaining memories, that minute or two that went by sandwiched between Club and Broad always makes the top ten list.

Now for lack of time, confidence, or whatever, I don’t even know where to begin to sum up my “grown-up” years. I mean, I was not even 17 when we graduated – just a baby. I felt so worldly compared to my South Brunswick peers but recognized that I was still remarkably na├»ve. Honestly, it’s still like that – I’ve lived a pleasantly sheltered life. I’ve experienced plenty for me and I imagine and pray that I will have plenty more time to do the rest. The hard times haven’t been impossible. The good times have been great. I’m ever grateful for all the just-kinda-there-and-going-through-the motions times.

I remember sitting in the parking lot at Kroger one day this year listening to some geekin’ show on NPR about writing six-word memoirs – some Hemingway legend, some magazine collected a bunch – I think it’s a book now. Anyway, I was intrigued, amused, inspired. So in that spirit, to tell you what my last 20 years have been like, I’ll share with you some of my own six-word memoirs. Most of them are really quotes that encompass one of my favorite stories or memories, and if you hunt me down, I’ll gladly tell you the whole thing.

Who’s that cute boy studying Russian?

Could spend every summer at camp.

Snow in the mountains – nothing better.

Can I leave her my socks?

Ohmygod, I am having a baby!

What I want? I want somefing!

Oops. Forgot to carry the one.

Arkansas had neither pestilence nor famine.

Television? Family value! Pays the bills!

Too few liberals in my neighborhood.

Stay-at-home moms rarely do.

Hysterectomy is a girl’s best friend.

Momma, Daddy, dog died. Crappy year.

Teacher again. Happy. God is good.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Success!

Let the celebrating commence.

The elusive poo

If you're reading this, you know I'm one who will talk about anything - at great lengths, usually - and I know you are prepared for a post such as this.

I have never wanted to poo so much in my life.

Now really, I alluded to the need for poo in my last post, but I'm talking 72 hours post-op and nothing but wind. Don't want to take anything for pain (which is really nothing more than discomfort at this point) because I don't want to plug up the pipes any more than they already are. Don't want to overdo it on the stool softeners because, well, I don't want to "over-doo." I am obsessing about this, because I happen to know that the old-school way for docs to know it was time to release a patient was when their bowels moved. If this had been even a decade ago, I'd still be in the hospital, spry as anything but awaiting a good poo. Granted, they would likely have given me a more powerful lube than the OTC colace I've been taking the minimum dose of...

And isn't it just weird how the state of our bowels so often reflects the state of our lives? Right now I am in a holding pattern - can't really put forth a lot of effort to do the things I want and need to get done because I am "resting" - but can't really rest because there is so much I need to get done. Then again, there are times that I am busy busy busy and my bowels are, too. Coincidence? I think not.

How I have three days of real food in me with no flushable evidence is beyond me - I do not get how those of you who are perpetually constipated do it. And you know what else strikes me as odd? You, my nearest and dearest friends and you, the acquaintances I've kept along the way, are still reading about my dookie. Or lack thereof. What has your life come to?

Poo and sex are the things proper Southern ladies would never consider talking about. Guess I'm not a proper Southern lady. I figure they are two of the things most often on our minds, so why not make them fair game for discussion? I know each of you will be checking back here periodically KNOWING that I will have a celebratory post when the elusive poo arrives, and you'll secretly be hoping I'll go into great detail in my description of it.

But I won't. I promise. Or will I?

Hey, at least I'm not talking about my grief and woes. Or am I?

Lamentation for a missing poo:
Oh, gently moving bowel, how I miss thee.
Your plops, your surprisingly pleasant dumping sensations...
I long for the time when I could take you for granted.
Return to me, great links of waste,
So that I may once again know the pleasure of your passing,
Knowing that you will return to me with occasional rankness and shocking swiftness,
But always with the satisfaction of having spent time with you.
Oh, poo.

Okay, that was too random. Maybe the meds haven't quite worn off. Maybe I am just a freak. Maybe both.

I'll keep you posted. :)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Uterus? I don't need no stinkin' uterus!

Woohoo! It is day two post-op for me and I am currently NOT medicated at all, so I might as well get a few words out there before I need another Darvocet.

Okay, so I'm telling you, I needed this rest period. The great thing is, it isn't over yet! My body wants me to rest - my spirit needs it, and my abdomen demands it. Ahh, I look forward to napping more today.

The last thing I recall from Wednesday morning just before the surgery was the nice lady pushing vistaril or some other tasty drug in my iv and everything going all blurry. After that, I remember mumbling a little as they moved my bed upstairs (they warned me every time I'd feel a bump, going into or out of the elevator, and going into the room).

When I awoke a little more fully, I saw my beloved's face, mixed with concern and joy, there for me as always. I could have sworn I heard a voice saying "total vaginal hysterectomy" - which of course, is NOT what the doctor had ordered and which totally freaked me out, since I don't have the time to recover from such as that! I kept asking Jimmy, or least I thought I did, but he wouldn't answer me, which meant either a. it was true or b. I wasn't really asking it, but thinking it in my head. Turns out there had been a little mishap and Jimmy wanted the doctor to explain it to me. I was spilling blood from my iv site, so they had to check that out, but other than that, all went as planned. I am less one uterus, with cervix, tubes, and ovaries still intact. Sweet!

Now, if I could only go poo. Yeah, dear readers, I am anxiously awaiting my bowels moving. After Tuesday's enema experience, you'd think I could go for weeks without pooing again, but I know it is the one sure sign that everything is getting back to normal. I'll keep you posted, and I know you are anxious for word on that! :)

More soon. I might even try writing in my drug-induced state to see what I come up with - all the great artists do that, right? Maybe not, because by this time tomorrow, I'll probably just be taking ibuprofen. Super work, Dr. S!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Late July ponderings

Is it almost August already? Crikey.

So, I have been much out of the blogging habit of late and need to stimulate my brain a little, so I'll share with you some random thoughts I've had of late and see if anything interesting comes of it. Don't bet on it, but you never know.

Heading to Myrtle Beach tomorrow for a prisoner exchange and making the most of it. My precious niece, Beth, is coming to visit and rather than driving to Southport and back, we're meeting her in Myrtle Beach, which is about halfway. Millie (her momma) and Hope Marie (my little niece) are bringing her there and meeting us at Hard Rock Park. The kids will have a great time, Jimmy and I will get to play some, and we'll save enough in gas money to pay for our tickets - well, not quite, but close! I am looking really forward to the whole hot, sweaty, waiting in line experience of it all. I am hoping Tina will come (my other sister) as it is her birthday tomorrow, and because I want the kids to have some time with her. She probably won't, but hey...

So Beth is coming because we haven't had any time together this summer and the last time we were together was for Pokey's funeral. She always counts on me to take her shopping for bras (sorry, Bink, but it's true) and school clothes. I count on her for some good hugs and entertainment. This time I'm counting on her for childcare - my hysterectomy is Wednesday, and she'll be taking care of Austin and me both during the day while Jimmy's at work. I told her I'd pay her whatever she makes as a barista - I could be out a bit more than planned, since she just got a raise. Anyway, we'll have the amusement park tomorrow, some house time Sunday, and we'll go to Charleston to deliver Kori to Nana's for a week or so and to hit the Tanger Outlets on Monday. I have school stuff and a doctor's appt. on Tuesday, then we'll chill Tuesday night.

Yeah, I said I was having a hysterectomy Wednesday, which most of you readers already know. It's really overdue, and I am looking forward to it in a sick way, as the recovery time will afford me a perfectly good opportunity and excuse for resting. I know the start of the school year will be tiring and we'll all be adjusting to new responsibilities and schedules, so it will be lovely to have to force myself to be still a while beforehand. Well, all that and no more periods from hell. These are good things.

And school starts in just a couple of weeks! I love that I have the enthusiasm of a new teacher, the experience of motherhood and previous teaching, and the comfort of a familiar setting. My room is pretty well organized for now - seriously empty compared to what it will look like by the end of the year and in years to come. I still have tons of planning to do and plenty of reading stored up for my recovery time, and I'd love to think of some clever decorations to include in my room, but I am trying to keep it simple for a while, as I know it will get busy beyond belief soon.

I have some awesome geekin' friends and coworkers, by the way, and I love talking shop with them - we're too busy thinking and planning and discussing that we don't have time or inclination to piss and moan and whine - not that we have much to whine about at our school, for that matter, but the atmosphere of this group of ladies I'm connecting with is one of mutual support and courage and optimism and idealism. Ahhhhh.

Sunday will probably be a day of attacking the playroom and garage - I'd love to have those areas in functional order before I am "down" and before school gets fired up. We have many new routines to establish - well, they're actually old habits we need to bring back that we've never really given much effort to doing since moving here for one reason or another. I love it when our house is tidyish and cleanish and when we don't feel pressured to work at getting it that way because we've done a little here and a little there.

Ok, much to do, as always. Just needed a little procrastination break, I guess, and to feel like I'm still a blogger. Take care, friends.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bless the Beasts and the Children

When I was a kid, our little tiny choir sang a Carpenters song with the same title. Went a little something like this (thank you internet!)
Bless the beasts and the children
For in this world they have no voice
They have no choice
Bless the beasts and the children
For the world can never be
The world they see

Light their way
When the darkness surrounds them
Give them love
Let it shine all around them

Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from a storm
Keep them safe
Keep them warm

It's been playing in my head all evening. (I hate it when that happens!) I need to think through this to see if i can figure out why this song is stuck on repeat in my mental i-pod. Stick with me. It might end up making sense to us both at the same time.

So, my Casey dog is a blessing to me. Such a beautiful puppy, despite her continuing need to find miscellany in the yard and bring it to our back door and shred it to smithereens. She is still snuggle-icious and is proving to be a great companion for the boy, in particular. Her utter dependence on us for love and care is, well, satisfying. Maybe that's where the "bless the beasts" thought came from.

In other random news, I continue to be surrounded and dumbfounded by loss. My neighbors, whose last pregnancy ended in second trimester miscarriage, have just had to make a terribly difficult decision. She is again pregnant, this time much further along, and their second trimester ultrasound and screenings revealed chromosomal and physiological issues that had complicated the fetus's development. They were given very little hope that the pregnancy would come to term or that the certain-to-be-very-premature baby would ever have any chance of living for more than a few brief moments before being whisked to neuro- and gastrological surgeries, only to face almost certain lifelong (albeit brief) life support. They opted, after much prayer and consultation with their physicians, to terminate the pregnancy. This had to have been an immensely difficult decision for them, or any parents, to have faced, and I hurt deeply for both their loss and their sense of responsibility in it.

Before I even had a chance to fully comprehend this neighbor's plight, more bad news came. My dear friend and neighbor who is "barely pregnant" went for her 8 week ultrasound today, as she, too, is high risk for miscarriage, having had one earlier this year. She and her husband were giddy with excitement today, certain that they would leave the office having heard a heartbeat, having seen a "peanut," having a photo of their precious gift-to-be. Alas. (I know I use that word flippantly, but here I say it with all the angst and hurt I can possibly suppress on their behalf.) It appears she has experienced a "blighted ovum" (google it later, if you think you can stand it) in which a placenta develops, but there is no embryo. Her body just hasn't figured out yet that there is no baby in the sac. Eventually, the body will recognize this and expel the placenta, but it could be days or weeks, or God forbid, longer before the endometrium flushes. Per her doctor's advice and in accordance with her own best logic and emotion, she will be taking matters into her own hands and having a D&C tomorrow. Bless them.

I really struggle with finding the good news, here. I am such a silver-lining, make-it-okay, hold-on-to-what-you-can kind of gal, but this is a mess. I hurt because of the true love both of these families have allowed themselves to feel for these unborn babies, and for the horrible, medicinal endings they both have to endure. I know how real the loss feels, no matter how "developed" the fetus is, and that it is something you have the right to carry with you forever. Granted, I know that our bodies are miraculously aware of how to grow a baby, and when not to continue to grow one. I am certain that it is the right of each of these couples to decide to help nature out and help themselves in the process. I am absolutely grateful for the fact that I never was faced with the decision the first couple had to make and the "what-if-the-doctors-are-wrong" feeling both couples had to grapple with in their decision making. I believe that we only have as much drama and trauma in our lives as we perceive and certainly no more than we can handle, but damn. It just makes some stupid hamburgers and fireworks all the more ridiculous seeming when you know how much hurt people you adore are feeling.

So, I guess that brings me back to the song. We all know to protect the animals and the children, the weak and the downtrodden, because they can't do it for themselves. But do we know how to bless our friends and neighbors and families? Do we always recognize how and when they need shelter from the storm? Do we make every effort to keep them safe and warm? I know I don't. I like to think I do, but I can barely take care of my own some days.

I suppose I'll end this ramble with a prayer request for the peace of mind and spirit my neighbors (both sets) need. Pray that I may help light their way when the darkness surrounds them, as the song suggests. Pray that we may all give each other love and let it shine all around us.

Amen.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Waste, waste, waste

One day a while back, Austin asked me what we could do to be more "green." We talked about the things we already do - recycle, compost, reusable grocery bags, and such - and we talked about the things we might do better - take the trip to the dump to recycle glass instead of throwing it away, be more aware of turning the lights off, and reduce our CO2 imprint by driving around less. Good start to a conversation we all need to continue.

The hard part of the conversation we have yet to have and very much need to is this: We are SOOOOO wasteful. Our family, our neighborhood, our society - all wasters of resources. This whacked me on the head yesterday when I took the kids to see Wall-E.

Truly, go see this movie. It is beautiful animation and a precious love story, but more than that, it is profoundly disturbing. Wall-E is a little robot who was created for the sole purpose of making bricks out of trash and stacking it neatly. There is very little dialogue in the beginning of the movie - a silence that forces and allows the viewer to think. A company named Buy-N-Large runs the world, and our nasty consumerism is presented in a humorous way that takes the edge off of the viewers discomfort, but does not eliminate the oh-my-word-we-are-so-wasteful feeling that lingers in your throat.

As disturbing as it is from an environmental perspective, it also is from a political viewpoint. Adults of conscience will not be able to walk away from this film without pangs of guilt about the urgent need for our government to crack down on the filth created by our consumerism. It opens your eyes to how techno-centric we have become, how obsessed with our stuff we are, how oblivious we are to the waste we participate in daily. Ugh.

But really, the movie is appropriate for children! I am not sure they sense the total discomfort adults do, but it is a great conversation starter about going green.

My revelation? I am a waster. I like to think I am one who is constantly looking for a way to reuse refuse, to conserve energy, to love our planet, but I am a LONG way from it. All of us who live in a nice little house in a nice little neighborhood and who have tv's and cell phones and gaming systems and cars and all those "necessities" - we are wasters. We have moved so far away from NEED and so far into WANT that we are largely unable to tell the difference. I NEED a cell phone. I NEED a book. I NEED 100 channels. I NEED a van. Heck, I don't need any of that stuff, but I am able to convince myself that I do.

I can't even keep my house clean because of all the stuff we have - stuff we REALLY feel like we MUST have for comfort or happiness or whatever excuse. I am typing on one of four computers in my house, and next year, we'll have five. Really - more computers than people. But we think we NEED them.

And the really sad thing? Relative to so many people, we have so little! We live in a world where we are unable and unwilling to see how much MORE we have than the majority of the world and we only see what we still DON'T HAVE. I'm ashamed.

So, I want to think that I might keep this concept of waste in the forefront - that I might consider waste with all I do. Whether it is the water I don't need to use, the temperature on the A/C, the fuel in my car, the food in my refrigerator, or the possessions I buy - I need to ask myself, "Is the amount of waste this product or activity generates worth it?" Sadly, I know that I will often continue to make bad choices because I am a selfish little thing, but I hope I can heighten my own awareness so that those bad choices will become progressively fewer.

I think I'll talk about this more another time, because I am feeling rotten about sitting here doing "nothing" when I could be up working on something that will make a positive difference in my children's world. Maybe I 'll start the conversation about our wastefulness and greed while encouraging them to eliminate some of the JUNK we have accumulated. To goodwill, of course - not to the trash! :)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

RIP Estherjen

Really, seriously, how much more loss can a girl experience before she reaches her limit?

Okay, I shouldn't have asked that, because that's like poking God or Karma or Fate or whatever and saying, "Bring it on!" So, allow me to rephrase that.

I am becoming too good at goodbye.

This morning, my beloved husband and I took our "firstborn" to the emergency veterinary clinic to say goodbye to her. Ugh. Another ouchy day for Meesh.

But I skipped to the end. Allow me to reminisce.

Jimmy and I started our marriage almost fifteen years ago. He was working nights and weekends at WLOS in Asheville. I was all alone in a one bedroom apartment most of the time that first summer, living on his schedule, looking for work, and being all-in-all giddy in love with him and with marriage and with the mountains. But I wanted a BABY, because I had just spent the year prior living on Memory Lane (literally) with my precious Bink, then 4 years old, and I wanted wanted wanted to be a MOMMA.

Needless to say, we as newlyweds with virtually no income and 22 whopping years of age under our belts did not have any business being parents. By the time September came around, we had decided that a puppy was in order.

SO, for Jimmy's birthday we went to the shelter and picked out our new love - a "cocker-terrier mix" from a litter that had just come to the shelter. I picked out one and he picked out one and I succumbed to his choice since it was going to be his birthday present. To hear Jimmy tell it to E-dog for lo these many years, "Momma didn't want you. She wanted that other puppy."

All that first night after we had picked her and before we could take her home (she had to get spayed before she could go with us), we lay awake thinking up the perfect name. And did we ever find it.

Estherjen. Our primary method of birth control, since she alleviated my desire to have babies.

We picked up our sweet Esther and fell so in love with her. The first weekend we had her, Jim's folks came up and we all went gallivanting about the mountains in their Blazer with Esther in the way back. Sunday morning, she started to vomit and have diarrhea, which ended up being all bloody - a "mother's" worst nightmare. Jimmy was working that evening and I was all alone with my new puppy and mortified.

So, off to the emergency clinic we went - Monday hadn't even come for us to call the vet and make our hey-this-is-Esther appointment. It was just horrible. They poked her and I.V.'ed her and said they were going to need to keep her overnight for observation since she was maybe, MAYBE 8 weeks old and only a few days post-op from her spay. I was devastated. I cried and cried and they soothed and soothed, but I had already grown so attached to this wee one. The classic memory from that experience? I didn't want to leave her and have her think we had taken her back somewhere awful and that we weren't coming back for her. I wanted her to know I loved her and to have my smell with her for comfort (like they do with babies, you know?). So I said, no, SOBBED to the nice people, who by now thought I was completely looney toons, "Can I leave her my socks?" (Jimmy does a great impersonation of this although HE wasn't there to hear it nor to feel how awful and helpless I felt.)

Needless to say, she was fine and dandy the next day and came home ever so grateful and ready to learn to poop outside or whatever it would take to keep her from that place.

She became an appendage to me - she kept me company every day after school until "Daddy" got home at midnight and every weekend, she and I would "go-go car-ride" around the greater Asheville metro to find our future home. We would sneak naps on the couch (where Jimmy said she wasn't allowed) and we would take dinner to Jimmy and eat on the porch at WLOS, overlooking the Smokies. She came with me to work on teacher workdays and went hiking and camping and everything else-ing with us. At holiday time, she joined us on trips to our parents' homes, just as if she were one of the grandchildren.

And today it ended much like it had begun. We knew during the night that it was time. The tumor in her rear thigh had grown so large (like three to four times the size of her other leg) that she finally became lame as a result of it. It didn't appear to hurt her, but she was uncomfortable and confused and struggling to stand - walking was not even possible. We could have opted to explore amputation, but we had long ago decided that would not be fair treatment for a dog of her age and superior nature. She'd lost so much weight lately and could barely hear anything, if at all. I honestly can't remember the last time I heard her bark or do anything vocal besides moan. Her vision was questionable, her periods of dementia more frequent... Yeah, it was time.

We held her in our bed all night - the incontinence miraculously stopped some months ago, probably due to the increase in the size of the tumor - and we talked to her and loved on her and cried over her. Little sleep, but much needed snuggling to last the rest of our lives without her.

She knew. Just like Abby knew. There was a sense of calm in her as we went into the clinic. Even before they gave her the IV and the sedative shot, she was still and peaceful and Oh-So-Brave. Like always, she could sense our feelings and knew that we were terribly saddened. But she did not work to give us comfort as she had on so many occasions. She let it be about her, for once, and accepted our love as if she, too, knew that she needed to store it up.

Oh.

This has become quite a long post.

I want to share with you all the stories of a good dog's life, the memories that are part of our history and will always be a part of our future. So, if you are done reading the lamentations over a dead dog, feel free to click off now. But if you love or have loved a dog, I think you'll read on.

Esther, the pup-pup, the E-dog - I remember...

...hiking and watching you fall in the creek and Hammer (daddy's friend you adored) stepping into the water up to his knee to grab you out, then freezing as we finished the hike and the fall air dried out his wet pants leg.

...doggy obedience class - you were so smart and you were so good at "down" although you never got the hang of much beyond that. Not bad for the only mutt among a bunch of schmancy purebreds...

...Grandma swearing she wouldn't feed you from the table and slipping you hush puppies and beef fat with NO discretion. She also trimmed your eyebrows when they got all bushy so she could see your precious eyes and face.

...the day we brought home Abby and you showed us what they meant in obedience class by "dominance." You were patient with her and herded her and did ALL the training for us. True, you pissed on the futon on purpose that once to let us know of your displeasure.

...the day we brought home Austin and the way you lovingly smelled him and claimed the place under his crib as your own. We had played "Where's Austin?" so much before he was born that you were glad to finally put a name with a face.

...the day we brought home Kori and you told us that was just darn enough children. Boy, were you right.

...the Christmas break you and Abby escaped (one of us had inadvertently left the fence open). Some stranger in the next neighborhood over called us and left a message that they had Abby, but no one knew where you were. I envisioned you dead on the side of US74, and my daddy and your daddy left Southport for a 7 hour trip home to find you. We got the call before they had gone too far that you were in the basement in your crate, pretty scared and clearly worried about your sister.

...throwing racquetballs for you to fetch until you decided it was time to just lie around and chew on them.

...your little stuffed lion that was the most difficult thing I ever threw away.

...when you ate the flea collar and vomited the buckle. That's when we realized you were actually part goat.

...when you got into the bathroom trash and we learned to keep the trash under the sink.

...so many chewed up diapers. Ugh. And yet, we still let you kiss us!

...when less-than-a-year-old Kori put her hand in your food bowl at precisely the moment you decided to eat - you warned her but good and you scared the crap out of her, me and yourself. I will never understand how dogs know just how much to squeeze with their teeth to teach a lesson but to not puncture the skin.

...you chasing those damned hissing ducks into the pond and me yelling at your daddy because he didn't LOOK willing to jump in and save you. You could hear us yelling at you, but they looked so tasty and you were closer than you ever got to any squirrel. You finally realized that you couldn't swim nearly as well as you thought and headed back to shore. Stupid mutt.

...the traffic ticket incidents - one for dad on the highway and one for me in Irmo. You got me out of mine, but the state trooper wasn't nearly as sympathetic to your hysterical barking in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere.

...the way you looked up at the overpasses as we drove under them in the pouring rain.

...your patient love and diligent protection for my babies and me.

...the way you felt the first time I held you.

...the way you felt the last time I held you.

...your love and gratitude and relative obedience.

Rest in peace, my sweet pup-pup. You will always be treasured. Kiss your Grandma and Pokey for me, and stay out of the trash.

Get in the box, pup-pup. Go night night.


Friday, June 6, 2008

SUMMER!

Holy moly, it's summer time! The thermometer has been hitting 100 for several days now, so it definitely FEELS like summer, but I have yet to realize that school is really out.

Next week I am starting my master's program in Language and Literacy - WOOHOO! It'll take three years at $300 a month, but I'll end up with an honest-to-goodness degree at the end. SO many great things about it - here's a little list:

1. One of my best good geek friends is the facilitator. DOCTOR Deborah Ann MacPhee will be traveling from the far-off land of Aiken, SC once a week to lead our little group through each of the courses. She is brilliant and fun and a heck of a good instructor, PLUS she will be one of the better-known gurus of professional development in a few short years, so I am especially pleased to be in her tutelage.

2. We will be studying in a cohort model - same fifteen students for every course. Having done my undergraduate major courses in a cohort, as well 12 of my other graduate hours in a cohort model, I am MOST excited. Every course can build on the previous ones, you don't have to get to know the people every single time a new course starts, and the camaraderie formed is such a benefit as you go out in the world to do good works.

3. Classes will be primarily taught at OPES, where I ANTICIPATE working starting next year. Even if I end up working somewhere else, OP is the school closest to my house, so travel time will be limited. Hurray!

4. I am a freaking geekalicious nerd and I can't wait to fill up my brain with more theory, ponder the great thoughts, have excellent convos with peers, and put some of this new knowledge into practice. I am such a firm believer that teachers should ALWAYS be students so that we may fully realize and remember the demands we place on them and how it feels to be in a "little desk."

Needless to say, I am excited.

Other exciting summer plans include two (yes TWO) beach trips - one to the Gulf Shores in two weeks and one to Edisto in July. Feeling fat and unattractive, but getting over it and ready to change some habits so that I don't have to buy any more clothes than I already have. Both trips are weddings - the first is Jimmy's first cousin, Ashley, and the second is another of his first cousins, Matt. We think it's so funny to say that Jimmy's first cousins are getting married, but not to each other. Okay, so we're easily amused. The kids are in both, so there will be many pictures to enjoy.

Kori and Austin are going to an acting camp in July that will culminate in a little show. That will be hysterical. I love those two people (duh) and they always amaze me.

Kori will do her traditional stint at the DFHS cheerleading camp in July - always entertaining - and Austin and I will spend some quality time doing errands or playing Wii while she is away.

Here's some big summer news: Austin can stay at home alone for short periods of time, as long as one of our neighbors is home. Love that. Have to teach him to keep the phone nearby, though - he zones out upstairs and doesn't hear it. Alas.

OH! And I am getting that darn hysterectomy once and for all in July. Fabulous. VERY little recovery time for the kind I'm supposed to have. Love that!

Then there's momma and daddy's estate issues to wrap up, but now that Geno has his little Staph-in-the-heart issue, he won't be going to Korea (or Iraq or any other farflung reaches of the military planet) any time soon, so maybe we can all focus on that together.

So, while I hope to keep up the posting, I make no promises as to my frequency. Much cleaning and playing and reading and relaxing and planning to do... And I am going to scrapbook some, dammit!

Have a great summer!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I ask your prayers...

I have a few folks on my mind, which I have always taken as a signal that I need to pray for them. Believing, as I do, that prayer is powerful for whatever reasons from whatever doctrine you subscribe to, I ask you to join me in praying for/thinking of/holding them near to heart. For the sake of anonymity, as I haven't asked these dear ones if I may spread their trials and tribulations about the world wide web, I'll just allude to their identities. Besides, there are probably lots of people out there with these same situations - might as well pray for all of them.

I ask your prayers for...

...my after-dinner-mint friend who wants desperately to have a baby in her womb. This girl is the most fabulous mother and I also yearn to live vicariously through her pregnancy. All the waiting and hoping is taking its toll on her emotions and heart and faith. Pray for her to become a pregnant lady with a remarkably healthy fetus - and soon!

...my biggest-geekest friend who defends her dissertation this week. She is confident and brilliant and lovely, but a little anxious, I believe. Pray for her stamina, wisdom, and loquaciousness. (I may not have a PhD, but I can make up words, too!)

...my gay friend who is struggling with a recent controversy in our school district regarding a Gay/Straight Alliance forming at one of the high schools. Pray that my friend may be the voice of reason in this ridiculous struggle our world has to accept everyone.

...my family. We are starting a long hard summer of settling our parents' estate. Many hard feelings and bitter words could arise. Pray for our unity, our love for each other, and our courage.

...my beloved. He has an opportunity to show how brilliant and talented and managerial he is over the next little while. Pray he feels confident and that his skills are both noticed and appreciated.

...my scrawny friend who needs to be healthy enough to eat the foods that will help her return to her healthiest weight and energy level. Pray that her children will not think of her as being sick, and that they will not need quite as much energy so that she may use that on herself.

...my lonely friend who so deserves to have someone love her the way she loves him. Pray that she will find a companion who shares her respect, love, and wishes for the future.

...my teacher friends who have so much to do in the next two weeks! Pray that the students they teach will appreciate all that has been done for them.

...me. I'll always take whatever prayers you'll throw my way.

I love you people.

Friday, May 23, 2008

On HOLD

As I write this, I could be interrupted at any moment and have to pause - I'm on hold. There's a little piano ditty that sounds very Charles Schultz-y coming from the speakerphone in my friend Deb's office. I'm waiting for a nice boy (or girl) at ETS to pick up and tell me my Praxis scores which are available today for the low low price of 30 bucks.

I could wait until next week for my paper scores to arrive for free - but they won't be sent until Tuesday, meaning I won't have them in my grubby little hand until at least Wednesday or Thursday, maybe later. I just don't think I can wait until then.

Crikey. Here they are.

WOOHOO!

Okay, I passed. But let me finish my thoughts about being on hold.

I've been in a holding pattern about employment and life for some time now and I am ready for the metaphorical guy on the other end of the line to pick up the darn phone and answer my life questions! I've tried listening to the Muzak, doodling, and multitasking to pass the time, but I have reached my limit.

So, now that I know - PASS - and that I have hope of my certificate being up and running in a couple of weeks, I am ready to move on. The Hold is almost over. I can almost get on with it.

Phew.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Random Proclamations and Ponderings

For the record:

Cookies and cookie dough are two separate food groups at my house. Both are essential for life.

I never thought I wanted a cat. I love ours.

If we were all nudists, we wouldn't have nearly the laundry to do.

Weather continues to fascinate me. I like wind better than most anything.

I love the potential my back yard holds. I want to learn to unleash it.

My children are amazing, despite their rearing.

My minivan has 97000+ miles on it - accumulated over the course of almost 5 years - and I'll probably be driving it for another five years. How many miles do you think it will have on it then?

My DOG got mail from the obstetrics center at a local hospital today. I am not sure how she came to be on the high-risk pregnancy list, as she is almost 15 (yep, 105 human years) and has been spayed most of that.

I will never get tired of the hugs I get every day at school.

My husband deserves better treatment from his first wife. (yeah, that's me.)

Korianna is a scientist, an artist, an angel.

Austin Mason will always be "Mornin' Hays," and nothing feels better in the morning than him!

I watch WAY too much TV, but I don't think I want to quit.

I hold my pinkies out when typing - I wonder if it is too late for me to learn to use the home row keys and follow standard typing methods? I don't think I want to. Maybe if I were to become an actual writer...

More soon.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Yahrzeit

I am just realizing that fully half of my posts are about my dead parents. I'm guessing a therapist would have a good time with that tidbit...

Anyway, Mother's Day has come and gone, and with it my momma's yahrzeit. (If I knew how to embed links, I would highlight that word!) My friend Bonnie Nichols introduced me to the term some time back when her dad's yahrzeit was on my birthday. Apparently, in the Jewish tradition, the anniversary of a person's death is honored with prayers and candles and good old-fashioned mourning of the healing and cleansing variety. Great concept. It honors the loss of those living while honoring the life of the deceased.

So, I find it fitting that the first anniversary of my precious momma's death coincided with Mother's Day. It is still hard for me to think of Mother's Day as a day about ME and not my own momma, and now that it will always be marked around the time of remembering her death, I am not sure I ever will be able to let it be about me. I tried to make it about me by telling my husband, who had prepared THREE meals for me that day, that I wanted a present. It didn't feel greedy at the time because I really was trying to distract myself. In hindsight, it wasn't a very classy thing to do. Alas.

Well, my dearly beloved bought me a great pottery/herb pot (AKA the only thing they had at Food Lion that wasn't flowers...), but I bought myself a book yesterday that I had read earlier this year that is the PERFECT Mother's Day gift/slash/my-momma-died-and-I-still-hurt-all-over treat. It's called Someday and it was written by Alison McGhee and Peter H. Reynolds. You have to have this book if you are a mother or have a mother you love and miss dearly, whether she is living or not.

It's one of those I Love You Forever or The Giving Tree kind of books. It is so simply written, and SO perfectly captures the moments that define a mother's (and daughter's) coming-of-age. My favorite lines:

Someday your eyes will be filled with a joy so deep that they shine.

Someday you will hear something so sad that you will fold up with sorrow.

Someday I will stand on this porch and watch your arms waving to me until I no longer see you.

Someday, a long time from now, your own hair will glow silver in the sun. And when that day comes, love, you will remember me.

Except for the hair color I pay the nice lady to give me every six weeks, my hair is already glowing silver, and boy, do I remember my momma. The porch line makes my insides ache, as I remember how hard it was to leave her every time I went home for years, even when she wasn't actively dying-dying. Of course, it was especially hard when it really started to look like it could be our last visit. My momma would always stand in the driveway until our car was down the street and we couldn't see her any more. Something about that was such a comfort - and when she became confined to her bed, that goodbye wave was a huge loss. But, I suppose, it prepared me for the lack of good-bye waves I have now.

Man, I miss her.

So, here's a secret you learn the hard way: EVERY day is Mother's Day. Even the ones when you are yelling at your kids or pissed at your mother or annoyed with your mother-in-law - they are days that you won't have tomorrow, no matter how much you ball up in your bed and feel sorry for yourself.

I can't get my momma back, I realize that - but I can give Kori (and Austin) the kind of momma a kid deserves, a teenager needs, and an adult misses. Simple goal, right? So, to do that, I'd better close and go upstairs and love on them.

Monday, May 5, 2008

You know you're friends when...

Okay, I've blogged about online friends, but I haven't had much to say about real live face-to-face friendships yet. Yeah, I know, that last one was about fambly, and I guess this one really elaborates on that, too. There's some proverb about difficult times and friendships - something about how that's when you can tell who your true friends are, but with fancy language or metaphors or something. Anyway, I can't quote it, but you know it's true - fair weather friends are fine, but foul weather friends are forever. (Ooh, that's a cute alliterative statement that says what I was thinking! But it still isn't the one I was trying to remember.)

So, daddy's death has proven to be one of those times when I have really been able to tell who my true friends are. My new favorite blogging method is the LIST, so I will share with you, Jeff Foxworthy style, how to know who your friends are.

You know you're friends when...
... you still don't have to catch each other up when you talk on the phone after not having talked for a while.
... you forward each other emails - but only the REALLY good ones - not every one that comes along with the subject "FW: Fw: Fw: Fw: really funny!"
... you think nothing of borrowing feminine hygiene products.
... you know each other's family member's names, or have at least heard enough stories about them to ask things like "Is that the sister that such-and-suched at so-and-so's wedding?"
... you feel like your friend's friends are your friends (transitive friends!).
... you don't have to pretend to be someone you aren't.
... farting is not only okay, but is encouraged.
... your children are interchangeable.
... you can ask "does this make my ass look big?" and expect a straight answer.
... you harbor information that could be used against your friend in court.
... you can tell how your friend really feels with just one look or by hearing something in their voice.
... mi casa es tu casa, and the refrigerator and pantry are fair game, too.
... you KNOW what's in your friend's refrigerator and pantry!
... your house can be as messy as it ever gets, and you really don't care if they see it.
... you get ONE room in your house clean, and you call them over to celebrate.
... you pass by their place of business and call them to say something totally inappropriate that will make them laugh audibly - and you hope their boss is in the room, because that just makes it better.
... you finish each other's stories.
... no topic is off limits.
... you not only feel comfortable peeing while talking on the phone, but you don't even bother running the water and pretending you're doing dishes - in fact you announce that you're peeing and you flush with abandon.
... you have either peed in front of them, held their hair while they vomited, or shared deodorant at some point.
... you read each other's blogs!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Family and Fambly

A few random thoughts, as I am too weary to think coherently and use good transitions and all...

The St. Philip's Pastoral Care team provided lunch for our family prior to daddy's funeral yesterday. When they asked for a head count, I think they were expecting us to say something like 12, which would have been daddy's four children, our spouses, and our kids. Maybe even another half dozen to include daddy's sister and the folks who came up from Georgia... Instead, we told them something like 35, because it's hard to tell where to draw the line when you talk about family.

See, we have always had a big FAMILY - plenty of Harts and Hewetts out there - but we have also always had an even bigger FAMBLY - you know, the people who are not genetically yours but who belong at your Sunday dinner table and who live in your hearts in the same way (or a more favorable way) than lots of the people with whom you share blood. So when the time came to welcome the mourning family, we knew that included our FAMBLY, too.

My momma's uncles are just as much my daddy's brothers as his own brothers were. Our friends the Reiberts have known and loved us and been part of us for 30 years. Monty Ashby has been a better friend to my daddy than most people will ever have. These and so many who have gone before them are people who my family call fambly - the ones God chose for you but didn't put on your family tree so that you would be all the more grateful for having found them.

I think about "Aunt" Geneva and "Uncle" Tom Floyd and how much they were fambly to my momma and to us kids. So many St. Philippians raised us as part of that fambly. There were folks like the Hugheses and the Mills/Dions whose friendships were like fambly, even though they faded over time. But even family is like that - important for a season, then not as much...
but always part of your experience.

As I go through this adult-ish life, I find myself putting as much time and energy into fambly-building as into family relationships, but I think that's okay. I know that friendships wax and wane with proximity, purpose, and commitment, but I am fascinated by the prospect that each new friend could become fambly for my kids, my husband, and me. In another 30 years, I wonder which relationships I have today will have become permanent fambly for us all. After reconnecting with my cousin and his kids this weekend, I feel like they'll be part of a relationship we want to foster for a while - kids need cousins!! People whose phone numbers are in my cell phone or in my brain - those are fambly.

And most likely, if you're reading this, you're my fambly, too.

Anyone know which comedian(s) have done bits about fambly? I want ot say Jerry Clower did, back in the day... probably the redneck guy or the cable guy...

Anyway...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Gene Ashford Hart

Great to be the "writer" in the family. Here's Pokey's obituary that I had the true pleasure of writing this morning. It was easy, in that I just used the same format as I had for momma's last year - thank you, Lord, for word processing!

Anyway, how do you capture a person's life, their "themness", in a few short paragraphs without sounding like a bragadocious cheeseball? It ain't easy. I think my siblings and I have done a decent job of balancing our love for him with the things that made him most proud while sounding sufficiently newspaper-like.

My Daddy:

Gene Ashford Hart of Southport, NC died Sunday, April 20 at his home. He
was born in Pitts, Georgia on August 18, 1933 to the late Jasper and Melissa
Hart, and was the sixth of their seven children.

Gene was a tank commander in the Georgia Army National Guard and later transferred to the U.S. Army, serving in their field hospital in Verdun, France in the early 60’s. There he received his phlebotomy training through the University of Maryland. After his tour and discharge as an NCO, he returned to Georgia where he began a career as a laboratory technician, culminating in over 30 years of working at
Southport’s Pfizer/ADM Citric Acid plant.

His community involvement over the years includes service to the Dosher Hospital Board of Trustees, the Brunswick County Democratic Party, the Jaycees, Cub Scouts, South Brunswick High School Boosters, the St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Men’s Club, and several terms on the church’s vestry as a member and Junior Warden. His time as a volunteer at Dosher Nursing Center and his presence at the waterfront swings
have been among his greatest pleasures.

He is preceded in death by his wife of 41 years, Marie Hewett Hart. He is survived by four children, Geno Hart of Schofield Barracks, HI, Millie Hart of Southport, Tina Rice of Southport, and MeShelle Hays of Irmo, SC; and Beth Strickland of Southport, his oldest grandchild, who is responsible for naming him “Pokey.” He is also
survived by four other grandchildren, Austin Hays, Korianna Hays, Hope Marie
Copeland, and Finnegan Hart.

Burial and Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church on Moore Street in Southport at 1:00 PM on Monday, April 28. Immediately following the service, the family will greet friends in the Chapel of the Cross at St. Philip’s, and a reception will continue in the parish hall.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Dosher Nursing Center or Chapel of the Cross at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.

Well, dammit.

too tired to say much, too tired to edit or use the shift key.

my daddy died. just like that.

i was contemplating taking an extra lexapro this morning since i was crummy and unpleasant and not of good spirit yesterday, when millie called to tell me she found daddy dead.

dead.

my daddy died.

he's not alive, that is.

needless to say, i took that extra pill. thinking i'll do it again tomorrow.

much to say about how i think it all went down (involves his recurring dreams about momma), about how fabulous my niece is and how this must be for her, about how blessed i am to have the best job, the best friends, the best husband, the best children.

but i am tired, and i recall from momma's death that we must sleep when our bodies will allow it.

stay tuned. it could get comically ugly.

prayers for my daddy.

dammit.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The apples and the trees

Reading over that last post before I begin, I'm inspired to write about my little apples and the trees whence they came.

KORIANNA is definitely MINE because...
...she is always right, and when she isn't, she will continue to try to convince you that she is.
...she loves critters - we saw a momma duck sitting on her ducklings this afternoon, and we both had to tear ourselves away.
...that girl has got her some drama, and she can move that booty with no shame.
...she can go from raging tomboy to flamboyant girlie-girl in a flash.
...she loves to be held.
...she is fully Kori, no matter the situation.

AUSTIN is MINE because...
...let's just say it: the boy knows an unbelievable amount of trivial information that is not necessary for survival, but stuck in his head nonetheless.
...he has such a soft spot for the downtrodden.
...he takes everything to heart, particularly his own shortcomings and failures.
...he lives in the zone between distracted and hyper-focused.
...he loves snuggle time.
...he is fully Austin, no matter the situation.

KORIANNA is JIMMY's because...
...she has never met an animal that she didn't want to take home.
...she's freaky creative.
...she sees the line, and jumps right across it.
...she snores and jerks in her sleep.
...she can put away some food.
...she loves ME! (HA!)

AUSTIN is JIMMY's because...
...he can sit in front of a video game all day and not come out the least but bored of it.
...his brain is always spinning about something.
...he loves him some rock and roll.
...he does not have any clue how to sort clothes.
...he is so freaking adorable and I want to kiss his precious face!

I'm glad every day that my beloved and I found each other, because these two people we have are such a gift to us! We are trying to remind ourselves that the things they do that most annoy us are often the things we do that we're least pleased about doing. The very traits that make us Meesh and Jimmy are generally the ones we are least equipped to deal with! Sometimes, though, when we see ourselves in them, we are so amused at these little mini-mes that we have to laugh. I love them! LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE them! Did I mention that I love them?

Off I go to try to raise these people to be fully themselves while recognizing they are, to their delight or chagrin, OURS!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Way with words?

So, I'm cleaning out my Outlook inbox clutter (yes, I have over 5000 messages still in my inbox - which doesn't account for the thousands I've deleted over the two years it's been operating) and I came across a letter I sent out to my peeps around this time last year. Thought I'd post it for your review. Sometimes I am sooooo pleased with the words I've chosen that I can't believe I wrote them.

As you read it, bear in mind that I am reading a book right now about religious tolerance and how we can all be right without everyone else being wrong. It's by this rabbi with an amazing way with words that is feeding my spirit lately. Reading my word choices here makes me feel pretty good about my spiritual health, although my religious health currently has the sniffles.

Also, know that I went to church this morning for the third time since Christmas Eve. VERY unlike me to go so long away from public worship - and to have missed Easter was a first - but I feel her loss the strongest when I am there, and of course, it hit me again this morning. Usually it's a song that I hear her singing, but this morning it was the freaking flowers. I signed up months ago to provide the flowers for Mothers' Day (or is it Mother's Day? I think it belongs to ALL mothers, so...), knowing that this year it will coincide with Momma's yahrzeit (Jewish acknowledgement of the anniversary-of-death - thanks, Bonnie!). Well, I started thinking about what kind of flowers I would want the flower ladies to do, and the waterworks turned on, sure enough. Once I allow myself to weep, it is really hard to stop! I miss miss miss my momma, but I am so glad for her that she is not suffering. I hurt for her that she can no longer hug my boy or hold my Kori's hand. I hurt for me that I can't call her or crawl in bed with her when I visit. I hurt for Daddy that he is in the hospital for the first time in his life and doesn't have her there to sit with him. I hurt. BUT, I believe she lives eternally within me, within mine, and I choose to believe that that is enough to make up for any lack of religious passion I have had lately.

Despite the hurt, or perhaps because of it, I REMEMBER. I remember my beloved Momma with this replay of an old email that honors other traditions of faith pretty well, if I may say so myself. I particularly like my strategic capitalization of Right and Good and True and Love.

God be praised!

Hey, beloved people of faith-

I hate to take you all on our
continual roller coaster of parental health and illness, but strap on your seat
belts, because here we go again.

As you know, my momma is ticking
away the days at the nursing center at Southport’s hospital. The necrosis
in her leg causes her great pain and limits her mobility significantly.
Her osteoporosis has her down to about 4’9” from her original 5’4”. Her plethora
of other medical anomalies that she’s been dealing with lo these many years –
steroid dependence, sarcoidosis, cardiac disease, small vessel disease, and so
on and on… - keep her on more meds than most of us can ever imagine needing
(that is, the few she isn’t allergic to!).

So here’s what’s up
right now: She’s been rolled down the hall to the ER with a temp of 103 (unheard
of with the quantity of cortisone in her system). She has been near
catatonia this week because of treatment for an allergic reaction to a
beta-blocker (I think) and her usual level of anxiety from the pain she
endures. She is barely responsive and is struggling. My sister
reminded me that momma has always said that she’d rather die on her birthday
than any other day so that her kids only have to be upset once a year
(whatever!) – and she’ll be 67 tomorrow. We’re all a little anxious,
because those of you who know my bullheaded momma (the apple and the tree…) know
that she does what she sets out to do.

All of that said, I
need you all to talk with your Being/Almighty/Lord/Power about this for
me. She needs comfort, healing, strength, courage. Her existence is little
more than that, but she does not seem ready to die… most of the time.
There is so little that can be done for her to improve her quality of life –
total amputation of her leg from the hip MIGHT offer her a small chance to lead
a more full life with less pain, but her surgeons agree that she is not even
remotely a candidate for general anesthesia, even on her best days. (Remember
the episode a few years ago when they couldn’t get her off the ventilator?
Seems so long ago…) So, in a sick sense, I see every trip to the ER as a
chance for her to end her fight. Pray for her heart, her soul, her mind to
be clear enough to make her choice of how to be healed.

As for me,
I’m stable. I’m not rushing there unless she calls for me. I’ve got
my closure tucked away in a little box in my heart, and I can’t function in the
world of panic every time she has a downturn. I know that as long as this
roller coaster keeps moving, I won’t fall out (thank you Sir Isaac
Newton!). When the Momma ride finally stops, I’m sure there will be
another for me to ride!

Spread the word about old Marie.
Stick her on your prayer lists, light a candle for her, do whatever you do to
invoke the Being that gives us Love to hold her close. I am not asking you
to pray for her to survive or to get well soon or for her to pull through.
Just hold her name in your heart for me and pray for what is Right and Good and
True. She will feel your Love.

And so will I.