Monday, December 04, 2006

Theme Week 16

Tis the Season…Part II

I try to make up my New Year's Resolution list on December 1st; I figure that by January 1st I am too worn out to actually follow through with them.

1. Be more forgiving. This is going to be a tough one, I have already been tested 14 times in the past 3 days, yes I have been keeping track.

2. Lose that last 15 pounds. If you look at my previous post this clearly is not going to happen. For me it is a yearly tradition to at least put on my list.

3. Spend more quality time with my kids. This means spending time doing activities that they think are fun. I am guessing that baking cookies with Mom does not qualify.

4. Set aside a date night with my husband at least once a month. I believe that the last grown up movie that we saw together was back in the mid-nineties. This year our dates will not be held at the local diner either.

5. Learn to say NO! and actually mean it. No more wimping out, I will hold my ground and not waiver. I will look requests for time and energy right in the eye and shout out it, "NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
It is already December 4th and so far so good.

Theme Week - 16

Journal Day 1

Tis The Season…

12 dozen cookies…baked, glazed, piped, packaged and ready to go
11 mornings in a row with a headache that even two cups of coffee and three advil won't touch
10 more days of school – actually four classes – but a lifetime away
9 parties and functions to attend – must have a dish of some kind for each
8 pounds to lose before Christmas day to fit into favorite dress
7 more pounds of sugar to finish up holiday baking (doesn't look like 8 will happen)
6 trips to the grocery store this weekend alone
5 hours of hell in the Portland Mall on Saturday
4 temper tantrums - mine
3 "To hell with Christmas" threats (before noon today)
2 hours of stressful Christmas play practice
1 hour of peace listening to "Carols in the Round"

Theme Week - 15

Risky?

Anxiety, weird, surreal, frightening, surprising, emotional
in control, obedient, eager to help
focus and discipline
mental images, one after the other
all of which might be offputting, but...maybe not

positives
focus and discipline, not looseness
triumphs, hopes, dreams, fantasies, strengths
a bee-yoo-ti-ful swan dive

Exaggeration, not looseness
Twisting your mind into a pretzel, you've got to be agile
Why is he alienating us, playing games with our heads, messing with our minds?
And it gets worse, I was kidding myself

something close to home, something small, something humble and modest
This is not touchy-feely hogwash, smarmy greeting card goop
there ought to be roses on the other side of all those thorns!
"Hey, dearheart, wanna be my sweetie-pie?"
And, desire, desire

I would be the first to sing praises to heaven, the tone, the essence, the truth
light & shadow, shape, form, mass, line, and presence
a spirit watching over and protecting a pasture, a woods glade, a cliff, a swamp
surrender to it


insights, wit, wisdom, madness, clarity, logic, poetic feeling
voice, ideas, things, places, people
You might have the touch, might not
tricky, eh?

thousand million things
bombard your eyes, mind, brain, skin, ears, heart, and soul - weaknesses
blizzards raging outside - Proceed cautiously!
raw, and, alone - late nights, gnashing teeth, muttered curses, fist-pounded keyboards - That's no good.

You don't have to write about your shoes!!! Shoot from the hip
'What the heck is he talking about?' give him what he wants, or else!
Shoot from the hip, "Listen to this, see what you think."
Does that have potential? - Throw out the ending - change endings
DOA?

Ironic Huh????!!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Theme Week - 14

I was swimming laps in the pool and trying hard to de-stress after a particularly rough day at work. Breath in, breath out, arm up and over, up and over, kick, repeat.

A flash of skin to my left interrupted my backstroke.

There are certain decencies that we should all be afforded in life. I was raised to believe that there are some things that are just not acceptable. You never wore white shoes after Labor Day, you didn't ask an adult their age, and then there was this. I stopped mid-stroke and looked again to be sure that what I was seeing was correct.

Alongside the pool strutted a sixty-ish prim and proper British gentleman. Wearing. A. Thonnnng.

I know. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Oh, but it gets better. He had no muscle tone, was thin as a stick, and his ass cheeks sagged as he walked. His glutes didn't have the juice to hold his thong in place, which flapped more the faster he moved. I'm just happy he was walking away from me. At least, he wasn't wearing white shoes. And I didn't ask him his age. I have my pride.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Theme - Week 13

They sit and listen and laugh for the first few minutes. They tell of stories of their son and talk jokingly of his laziness.

Teacher # 1 sits at one end of the table in her flowing silk dress and crazy quilt jacket. Her long hair is completely out of control, and her cheeks are flushed. She speaks in an excited manner with hands flying as she tells of the wonderful things that the son is accomplishing in her class. She regales the parents with stories of his giftedness with performing arts and the care he takes with his art projects. She says that she hasn't had a writer like him in a long time and his interest in government is astounding.

The parents are sitting taller in their seats as they listen to the praises of their oldest offspring.

Teacher # 2 sits opposite, waiting for her turn. She wears a pant suit and speaks in careful, clipped tones, pursing her lips between words. Her nose crinkles as though meeting an unpleasant smell as she occasionally unclasps her hands to write in small notebook. Her hair is cut short, not strand out of place, completing her severe appearance. She tells of the not so wonderful ways of the son. He seems disengaged, and he hurries too much with his work. He can't or won't take the time to spell correctly. She is not so sure that he is as bright as the parents think that he is. She tells about how she hasn't warmed up to the boy and is concerned that he doesn't show her any affection.

The mother slowly slumps forward. She reaches down to grab her pocketbook; then she leans on it as if to prop herself up. She looks at teacher #2 and wills herself not to scream or cry. She thinks to herself that no wonder he doesn't show her any affection -- not that he needs to, anyway. She glances at her husband and says to the teachers, "we are late for our next meeting." She simply walks out, her husband in tow.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Theme Week 12

1.

The sky that has turned pink has darkened to a shade of purple. The rain that has been a steady presence for the past several days has cleared and for a moment a ray of sunshine has hit the lake making it almost glow.

The cap is put back on the toothpaste and the sink cleaned after a morning shaving ritual. The tub is draining properly, cleared of a hair clog. The bins of summer clothing that have been littering the play room are finally stowed away in the attic. The leaves in the yard have been blown and bagged and sit in neat piles by the driveway.

The sound of running water and laughter precedes steam billowing down from upstairs, a fun game at bath time. Later, hysterical laughter interspersed with the soundtrack from the Pink Panther drifts from the living room.

The little rays of sun brighten an otherwise gloomy day.




2.

It stops. The insistence of the alarm. The hurrying from point to point, wet to dry, empty to full, hot to cold. The traffic growls and train whistle shrieks, the sounds that push and pull at us, moving us along. Meals that need cooking. Fights that ensue. Bake sales, rummage sales, charity auctions, hands outstretched, forever wanting. Chatter. Appearances to keep and masks to wear, even for the mirror. The idleness and boredom of chit-chat, like verbal ping-pong. Computers; who waits for whom? Television. Homework. Doorbells, telephones, horns, and buzzers calling Me! Me! Me! Grocery lists, never blank and always wanting. Church bells, sweetly keeping time while reminding. Broken appliances. Doors slamming. Jaundiced fluorescent lights.

No moon, no sun. No expectations, nothing to happen.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Theme Week 11

You always do the right thing even when it is painful. You love people even when they are unlovable. You are infinitely patient. My husband writes on the card in his neat handwriting, with the cartoon image he has drawn of me on the cover. He folds the card, seals it into the envelope, and later hands it to me with a smile as though I am all he has described.

The card floats in my mind, like a flashing neon sign and I can see it as I head for yet another church supper. Where does it all go? We pour love into our lives, unaware of where it will run out and hoping to catch just a drop from others. I am not what my husband has written. I am so filled with holes that I don't feel that I am able to hold on to any of it.

Where on Earth does it all go?

I remembered the words when I was asked to donate "just a little more time on a weekly basis" as though it didn't amount to more than a few minutes when I don't even have a moment for myself. In truth, the cause was not as dear to my heart as I let on. My firm no was met with rolling eyes. I wondered if the person could see all my holes. Are there that many?

I remembered the words when my son brought home a report card yesterday, sobbing as he handed it to me. I wanted to call his art teacher and scream at her. I wanted to ask what she stood to gain from damaging her student's self esteem.

Then it occurs to me that the holes in my son's life are larger than my own, and he needs my love more than I do. I know what my husband meant.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Theme Week Ten

"It is thirty degrees outside, do you think that maybe you should wear a coat?" I say as we get ready to go to Tae Kwon Do. Sam gives me a blank look walks to the door. "Are you forgetting something?" I ask as I look down to see that he still doesn’t have his coat on.

"I left my coat at school," he says very matter-of-factly. This makes me cringe as I imagine him riding home on the unheated school bus in his out of season short sleeved shirt.

"Well, grab your fleece then," again I am met with a blank stare. I knew what was coming next.

"I left that at school too."

I just decided to shut my mouth and off we went. At class I talked to my friend who is also the parent of an absent minded boy. I went on a three minute tirade about how disorganized he is and how I have to remind him about everything from putting on underwear to packing a snack for school.

As class finished up I went to put my shoes, socks and jacket on. As I looked around for my things I realized that not only did I forget my socks, but I wore my slippers and forgot my jacket.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Theme Week Nine

We were headed for unfamiliar territory, cruising down back roads in the wind and rain. As my car hydroplaned across the road I said a silent prayer and hoped that the kids didn't notice that we were no longer traveling in the same direction. I came to a stop and looked in the rearview mirror at my grim reaper and black cat and took a deep breath. A superstitious person might have decided that this night was not worth the trouble. I righted the car and started to head to the party, straight ahead, without a word.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Theme - Week 8

"We missed you at Tae Kwon Do yesterday," he said.

He entered the church kitchen, with deliberate steps, glancing at me as though placing me on a shelf with the baking powder and pie pans. But for me it was an invitation to spill my guts.

"Man, I gotta tell ya! Alex got home from school yesterday and waited a whole two minutes before he went into major meltdown mode. He forgot his homework assignment and was sure that the teacher would not only keep him in at recess but perform some medieval torture on him. I am trying to teach him some responsibility so I refused to take him to school to pick it up."

His gaze clouded over.

I just kept going. "I finally got him calmed down and then Sam decided that it was his turn to let it go. When Sam finished up his tantrum I decided that I we were all too tired for any physical activity."

"Well, it may have been a good release for you all to come to class." Said like someone who has no responsibility other than himself.

I resent people who see the world like this, centered on themselves and their own needs. For me, it's the opposite. I longed to tell him that sometimes I'm charred or burned out. I'm spread far too thin, unable to connect the points in my life enough to make any sense. There is only so much of me to go around. I know that the world won't stop spinning long enough for me to catch my breath; I can just stand back and watch it go by.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Theme Week 7

"Stop me if I have already told you any of this," is the way that she starts every conversation. It's not like I could get a word in edgewise. She gushes about her newest real estate conquest or brags about her above average and exceedingly talented offspring. She often forgets that she has told me all of it before. I wonder how many people she has to keep updated. Maybe, it confuses her.

She is hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt yet has the nerve to preach about people having unhealthy relationships with money, whatever the hell that means. She has appointments, contacts, and business partners yet doesn't dare answer her phone for fear of bill collectors. She pleads poverty yet daily fills her enormous SUV's gas tank and buys thirty dollar a bottle wine.

I have a home, friends, and two wonderful, average boys that I live for. My debt is to the rich blessings in my life. It could be worse.

Theme Week 7

"Stop me if I have already told you any of this," is the way that she starts every conversation. It's not like I could get a word in edgewise. She gushes about her newest real estate conquest or brags about her above average and exceedingly talented offspring. She often forgets that she has told me all of it before. I wonder how many people she has to keep updated. Maybe, it confuses her.

She is hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt yet has the nerve to preach about people having unhealthy relationships with money, whatever the hell that means. She has appointments, contacts, and business partners yet doesn't dare answer her phone for fear of bill collectors. She pleads poverty yet daily fills her enormous SUV's gas tank and buys thirty dollar a bottle wine.

I have a home, friends, and two wonderful, average boys that I live for. My debt is to the rich blessings in my life. It could be worse.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Theme Week 6

After a day and a half of traveling through the never ending hell of North Dakota we were getting close to Montana. I knew that eastern Montana wouldn't be any different, but just the fact that it was closer to our destination made it okay. We drove through mile upon mile of nothingness. It was what I imagined the moon would look like, boulders and dirt. The road went on forever, not even a noticeable bend anywhere, hardly a hill in sight. Just straight ahead, the only beauty was the endless blue sky, but even that was getting old. I longed to have something new to look at. Anything at all, even a cloud.

I knew that midway through the journey I would be rewarded with some beautiful scenery. I had heard of the Badlands, but the name always sounded menacing to me like some scene in an old western, maybe. But I was up for anything at that point, menacing or not. My weary eyes would welcome the change of scenery.

We arrived at Theodore Roosevelt National Park early in the morning just after sunrise. I hopped out of the truck in complete awe. I understood why they called it the painted canyons. I reached out to touch the view. I couldn't believe my eyes. It looked like a watercolor on a grand scale. There was something almost unnatural about it; it seemed to be overlaid with a fine mist. I couldn't make sense of what I was looking at. I stood willing a tree branch to move or the clouds in the sky to drift away, but there was nothing to indicate that what I was looking at was real.

A hand on my shoulder shook me from my trance, signaling that it was time to hit the road again. Back to old landscape for another day of travel. But now I had the memory of the beautiful canyons to occupy my thoughts. The rest of the trip would seem shorter.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Theme Week 5

I arrived home from school this afternoon feeling like crap, my nose plugged and the space between my eyes hot and sore. If it was a sinus infection, I'd need antibiotics. I decided to make an appointment with my favorite doc right away.

"We care for your family." That's their slogan. It's corny, but I needed some TLC. I'm not a fan of sitting for hours in the Emergency Room waiting area on a Saturday morning. I found the office telephone number in my trusty black book, dialed, and a voice message told me to dial a new number.

I called the new number, and a voice message told me that the person scheduling appointments was away from the office and wouldn't return until 1:30 PM.

"If you need immediate assistance," the voice said, "please leave a message. BEEP."

I left a message asking for someone to call me back, leaving my telephone number and cell phone number, and then I waited.

At two o'clock I called my stepfather, who is a retired family practitioner, to confirm my suspicions about the infection. He said it sure sounded like one to him.

At 2:05 the call came through. This time it was the doctor's office and not the central scheduling that I had initially called. "I'm sorry we don't have any available appointments for several weeks," she said in a bubbly voice.

"I'm sick now, I can't wait two weeks. You must have sick appointments." I said in my nasally voice.

"Well let me have another look. Yes, it seems that we have an appointment available with the family nurse practitioner at 2:30 today. We also have sick appointments tomorrow." Her voice was not quite as bubbly this time.

"I'm sorry, my kids get off the bus at 2:30 and I can't be at both places. I will take one of the appointments tomorrow instead." I said between nose blows.

"I'm sorry; you will have to call in the morning for one of those appointments."

I started to laugh at this point, surely she was joking. "Excuse me?"

"You will have to call in the morning for a sick appointment." She was losing patience; she clearly was not finding this as humorous as I was.

"I am sick now, I know that I am sick now so could you please schedule me for an appointment for tomorrow?" My voice was starting to get a little louder; it was not quite as funny now.

"I'm sorry ma'am but our policy states that we cannot schedule sick appointments ahead of time. Perhaps if you call our main office they could fit you in with one of our other providers…"

"Okay, could you please transfer me to your main office?"

"I'm sorry ma'am, but you will have to call over yourself."

"Is there someone else I could speak with, an office manager - anyone?" I was almost begging at this point.

"One moment please."

"Are you the infection?" a voice asked gruffly.

"I've been called worse. My name is Sarah."

"I'm sorry, Sally. Are you one of our patients?"

"SARAH," I repeated. "With an H. I have a—"

"Oh, here is it. I have it. What's the complaint today?"

I took a deep breath. Calm, now, calm. At least, I was talking to someone in the office. I might get somewhere.

"I'm sorry Sarah, but there is nothing that I can do on my end. If you call the main office you can check with scheduling again to see if there are any other providers that are available." At least she got my name right this time.

"You have got to be kidding me! I have to call another number? Can't you just transfer me to the other number? This has got to be the worst costumer service that I have ever received! I shouldn't have to jump through hoops to get an appointment!" I had completely lost control at this point.

"I understand your frustration ma'am, but there is nothing that I can do, what I would recommend to you is to call our main office like I said before and see if they can help you. Again I'm sorry."

I was not sure that my patience would hold up through another round of phone calls at this point. I paced back and forth and tried to rehearse what I was going to say, willing myself not to lose control again.

I picked up the phone and dialed the number again. "Good afternoon, blah, blah, blah, blah, how may I direct your call?"

"I would like to speak with scheduling again, please."

"One moment please."

"Yes, can I help you?" A new voice on the line. Maybe there was hope, after all.

"Hi, it's Sarah. I was told that you have appointments available tomorrow and I would like to make one, I will be able to come in at any time." I try to sound pleasant and accommodating.

"We only schedule sick appointments the same day. Oh, look it seems that we do have a provider that is available tomorrow at 11:00. It is Dr. so and so, would this work out for you?" She seems to be surprised by her discovery.

"Yes, I don't care who I see, I just need to see a doctor!!!" I had completely lost my patience at this point.

"Okay, I just need your name again, date of birth, and a list of the symptoms that you are experiencing."

"I…HAVE…A…SINUS…INFECTION!!!...Would you like the details or would you like to just like to take my word for it?" I couldn't figure out for the life of me why the person scheduling the appointment needed to know my symptoms. I knew that I would have to share them with the receptionist at the doctor's office and then the nurse and finally the doctor, but if she really wanted to know them I could give them to her, in detail.

I hung up and took a deep breath, maybe I was expecting too much. I put on a tea kettle and waited for the familiar whistle. "We care for your family!" What a joke! I felt that my complaints had fallen not only on deaf but dumb ears as well. I rummaged for my peppermint tea. Reading the box, I smiled.

"There shall be Eternal summer in the grateful heart." – Celia Thaxter, it said on the package. The irony seemed rich. Grateful for what? I poured myself tea, and inhaled the steam. Honey, I need honey. Where is it? I hope the kids didn't eat all those Milanos. At least, I could pamper myself. Maybe, that's all any of us can ever really count on.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Theme - Week 4

# 1

As soon as the alarm beeps I start to dread the day. It is Thursday and a school day. I stayed up too late the night before finishing up my homework and five o'clock came around too early today. I stumble out of bed and make my way to the kitchen for my coffee.

I click on the news and hope that I get my thirty minutes of peace and quiet before everyone needs something from me.

So far so good, I head upstairs to wake everyone up and then it dawns on me that it is Friday and it is going to be a great weekend.

# 2


beep-beep, Beep-Beep, BEEP-BEEP!! of the alarm clock. Slam!! Oh man, I don't want to get up and go to school today. beep-beep, okay, okay. Oh great, 5:15 already, time to roll out of bed. I stumble down the stairs and head straight for the cabinet and my favorite coffee mug and onto the coffee pot.

I walk into the living room and plop onto my favorite section of the sofa and click on the local news. My morning peace is disrupted by the ka-thump, ka-thump of eight year old feet on the stairs. We have the unwritten but well understood rule in our house that no one speaks to me until 6:00 am unless it is an emergency. I hold my breath and wait to see if he will notice the time and head back upstairs and he does, without a word. This may not be a bad day after all.

Slowly my mind becomes clearer and then it occurs to me that this is not Thursday, it is Friday, and there is no school for me today. I don't even have to crack a book, this is the day that I head to Bar Harbor with seven friends for an overnighter. Two fun-filled days of shopping, eating, and most importantly – laughing.

#3

The alarm sounds and I am awoken by the beep-beep, Beep-Beep, BEEP-BEEP!! of the alarm clock. And then - Slam!! I hit the snooze so hard that I knock the clock to the floor. Oh man, I don't want to get up and go to school today. beep-beep, okay, okay. Oh great, 5:15 already, time to roll out of bed, well maybe ten more minutes. Beep-Beep. I don't want to be late for school so I stumble down the stairs and head straight for the cabinet and my favorite coffee mug and then onto the coffee pot. The minute the aroma hits my nose I feel myself start to become more alert.

I walk into the living room and plop onto my favorite section of the sofa and click on the local news. My morning peace is disrupted by the ka-thump-bump, thump-bump of eight year old feet on the stairs. I hold my breath and wait to see if Alex will notice the time and head back upstairs and he does, without a word. We have the unwritten, but well understood rule in our house that no one speaks to me until 6:00 a.m. unless it is an emergency. My children hold fast to this rule but my husband forgets more often than he remembers. Two minutes later I hear the rhythmic gate of Scott on the porch coming back from his morning walk. I sit and pray that this will be a morning that he decides not to speak; maybe I will just give him the look when he walks by. Not a word as he heads straight for the coffee pot. Maybe this won't be such a bad day after all.

Slowly my mind becomes clearer and I head up over the stairs to start to wake the boys up. As my foot hits the top stair it occurs to me that this is not Thursday, it is Friday, and there is no school for me today. Not only is there no school but today is the day that I am going on an overnight trip to Bar Harbor with seven friends for two fun-filled days of shopping, eating, and most importantly – laughing. This is our yearly ritual and I have been looking forward to it since July.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Theme week three - second try

"I'll just grab a sandwich in the cafeteria. Don't worry about cooking anything." Scott hangs up.

Damn. He's working late again. Then it dawns on me: Maybe I could make this work to my advantage.

I glance at the kids in the living room. They're watching TV, and I wonder what I'll do with them. I pick up the telephone and dial, walking into the other room out of range of little ears.

"Hellooooo," says a voice on the other end.

"I have called to see if I can corrupt you this afternoon," I whisper.

"Hhhmmm, sounds very intriguing, whatcha got in mind?"

"Scott is working late and I thought that we could meet up," I feel like I am pulling off a bank heist, I look around as if someone might overhear my conversation.

"Hhmmm, let me think on that one for a second," it takes less than that, "Okay I'm in."

"Okay, see you then."

Driving over the guilt sets in, I swore two months ago that it was over. We both agreed at the time that it just was not working for us. But I just can't stop thinking about it. I know that it is wrong, I just can't help myself.

I pull into the parking lot, Sue and her kids are waiting patiently. We look at each other then we both start to laugh, "We are so weak!!"

The boys finally look up from the back of the van, "Oh, sweet!!!!" They yell in unison, "Are we having ice cream for dinner?"

Theme Week Three

"I'll just grab a sandwich in the cafeteria. Don't worry about cooking anything." Scott hangs up.

Damn. He's working late again. Then it dawns on me: Maybe I could make this work to my advantage.

I glance at the kids in the living room. They're watching TV, and I wonder what I'll do with them. Then I remember driving by the other day and thinking that it had been a few months since I'd been there. I pick up the telephone and dial, walking into the other room out of range of little ears.

"Hellooooo," says a voice on the other end.

"I have called to see if I can corrupt you this afternoon," I whisper without announcing myself.

"Hhhmmm, sounds very intriguing, whatcha got in mind?"

"Well I have an idea; do you want to meet up for dinner? It has been a while." I feel like I am pulling off a bank heist, I look around as if someone might overhear my conversation. I am not feeling at all guilty; I just don't want the kids to hear.

"Hhmmm, let me think on that one for a second," it takes less than that, "Okay I'm in, what time? I should probably hop in the shower first. Why don't you give me twenty minutes?"
"Okay, see you then."

I set the kitchen timer; I don't want to be late. It slowly ticks down the minutes and dings. I grab the keys and tell the kids to jump in the car quickly, afraid that I might change my mind. The kids look at me suspiciously, "Where are we going?" they ask.

"You'll see when we get there," I start heading down Broadway ignoring their pleas. I don't want to let it too soon. I pull into the parking lot and look in the rearview mirror a little more cautiously than usual. I scan the lot for the lipstick red van. I spot it and pull in next to it. The side door opens and out spill Sue and her kids.

The boys look up from their Game Boys. "Oh, sweet!!!!" They yell in unison, "Are we having ice cream for dinner?"

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Theme Week Two

What strikes a chord in me about my history is music. My life seems to have a soundtrack. Just like a movie, certain music plays at certain scenes. Not the da dum da dum of Jaws but more like "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" from The Sound of Music. And it's all Moms fault, really.

Our house was always filled with music, on the stereo, in the car, or from my mother's fingers and lips. She still plays the guitar, piano, flute, or sings or whistles whenever the mood strikes. She can be embarrassing, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

When I hear a song I can remember where I was when I heard it, sometimes it brings with it a flood of memories.

Carol King's Tapestry when I was a toddler. Mom played it incessantly. Driving away from a big building, Dad waving from a second story window. "Why are we leaving?" I was too little to remember, Mom says, but I didn't understand why he couldn't be home. He'd suffered a heart attack, and there were no child visiting hours.

Fiddler on the Roof, Guys and Dolls, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, and Oliver with the Ellsworth Players after Dad's recovery. Afternoons at the City Hall and Grand Auditorium in Ellsworth while my family had play rehearsals. The curtains that hung on the walls and the cool feeling of my bare feet on the cement floors.

Roberta Flack singing "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", so sad, and the gaudy VW van with the peace sign on the front. This time I wave to Dad from the car window. Heading to San Francisco, I was three years old. I don't remember a lot of the trip; I do remember leaving a tour of some caverns, getting lost, search parties, being found.

Roberta Flack sang "Killing Me Softly" on a rainy afternoon in the car on the way to buy tomato plants. The smell of unripe tomatoes and the song still makes my stomach turn. This is the last memory of my parents together.

Carly Simon sang "Playing Possum" and Captain and Tenille swore that "Love Will Keep Us Together"…apparently not. It was all final around this point; Mom had moved on. No hope of her reuniting with my father.

Moving into the house that we built and the whole back to the land movement made famous by the Nearings. That composting toilet! We grew our own food and became vegetarians. Minnie Ripperton is on the car's eight track. "Why do you like her so much?" Something to do with singing in many octaves. Never understanding what it means.

Sunday mornings with classical guitar, usually Fernando Sor or Villa-Lobos. Sitting around the fireplace in the living room reading while drinking hot tea, feeling so grown up. Afternoons spent cross country skiing behind the Black House in Ellsworth. Pickup games of ice hockey.

Lawrence Welk on our first color television with my grandfather followed by The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. Popcorn made on the wood cook stove with real butter and parmesan cheese.

Christmas in Michigan watching Michael Jackson's Thriller video. My first Christmas away from Dad. Excitement at seeing my sister for the first time in four months, so much to catch up on, her first year of college, my first year of high school.

I still listen to music and my tastes are diverse. I always walk around with a tune in my head and much to my children's chagrin I break out into song at inappropriate times just like my mother does.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Journal Day 6

I spent the day chasing my tail. I should have just taken a break from studying but being the anal retentive student that I am I couldn't let anything slide. I'd like to think that as the semester goes on I will get a little more lax but I know that I won't. Chances are that I will become more obsessive.

There are no great insights today or wonderful words of wisdom. I am spent and on my fourth round of ibuprofen and acetaminophen to try and delay the migraine that is knocking on my door.

Scott is patiently sitting on the sofa with the Sopranos ready to play, I think that I will go and join him. It will be a nice little escape before sleep.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Journal Day 5

I am not a romantic person, but recently I had a moment with my husband that went like this: "Honey, I was thinking this morning, with our 14th wedding anniversary approaching and all, I just want to say that I'm just as much in love with you today as I was when we got married. More, even."

The moment passed as quickly as it came. My emotional outbursts are usually more along the lines of crying jags or yelling. I returned to studying for my psychology quiz. I believe it was something along the lines of personality disorders.

I felt my husband standing beside me. To my surprise, when I looked at him his eyes welled with tears. For the rest of the evening he grinned like a kid, staring at me and sighing. He was as taken aback by my comment as I was. By bedtime I'd forgotten all about my "moment."

He came home for lunch the next day and said, "I just want you to know that what you said yesterday really … really moved me. I just want to say—" he breathed deeply, "—that you and I—"

"Oh don't be queer about it," I said quickly.

His face fell. Why had I cut him off? I wondered. Was it just my pride? I searched for my earlier feelings, but all I could remember was the quiz material that I had to memorize before the class that evening (I think that I was starting to wonder if perhaps I had a personality disorder).

I guess I'm not a fan of words; actions speak louder. My heart sank as I watched the confusion on his face change to hurt.

"It was a moment," I said. "I've moved on."

How frigging lame was THAT? I returned to my Wal-Mart list: kitty litter, deodorant, candle for the bathroom. God our house stinks.

I glanced at him, and he grinned. We both laughed, and now my "moment" is his favorite story to anyone who listens, told well with love and humor. That tells me more than any words what his real feelings are.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Journal Day 4

We spent the last week of vacation visiting my family. I started to notice a visible change in Scott when we arrived home. I asked him what was up and got the response, "I was just wondering if you were happy with our life here."

"Of course I am," I replied. "What makes you ask?"

"I don't know, just curious."

This set my mind zooming in a hundred different directions. Is he thinking of leaving? Is he unhappy and just waiting until we got home to tell me? Then it occurred to me what the trouble was. My family has money and all of the wonderful things that go along with it, fancy cars and homes and all of the headaches too. This always makes us feel a little inadequate.

I slept on it and woke up the next morning and explained to him that I didn't need all of those things to be happy. Well okay, a nice car would be really nice and a comma or two in the checkbook would come in handy but they wouldn't make me happier. I didn't tell him the last part; I'll keep that to myself.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Journal Day 3

As I sit here to type my mind keeps wandering off in other directions. I have a to-do list that is growing by the minute.

Talk to my advisor about a class that I am contemplating. It would be a hell of a lot easier to talk to her if I knew what I wanted to be when I grow up.

Organize my house. I figure that if I can get my surroundings in order maybe I could also get my inner life in order.

Pay bills. Like there is any money for that anyway. Two weeks vacation and car repairs and purchases have cleaned me out.

Call the kid's Tae Kwon Do instructor to find out the fall schedule. I am putting this off because I don't have the money to pay him.

Pack away summer clothes and swim gear. I hate to admit that we won't be swimming or kayaking again this season. I will wait.

Stop procrastinating. I'll put this off for another day, this is way too much to handle.

Cut back on the caffeine consumption. Although, a friend just gave me a beautiful new coffee cup that holds twice as much coffee as I need. Maybe I'll just cut back to one cup in the morning. And one in the afternoon. Maybe one more in the middle of the morning.

Put laundry away. If I do this I would have to face the fact that I could actually clean out half of the clothes in my closet and donate them to Goodwill. This would actually involve decision making, see number 6.

Yoga followed by a nice long soak in the tub. Now this I can handle.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Journal Entry - Day 2

Car troubles again! The car is in the shop for the third time this month and we are close to a thousand dollars in the hole. The last time they had it for ten days. This time they tell us that the part will take three weeks to arrive. We will be without a vehicle all of this time.

So the decision has been made to buy a new vehicle. Something very practical that gets good gas mileage of course. I am trying to act casual and have no opinion which is just about killing me. We looked at the four vehicles that were in our price range. One was a pimped out Caddy, not quite the look we are going for. The others just screamed middle aged mother of two with graying hair. I am all of these things I just don't want to advertise it.

What I really want is a kick-ass sports car that is totally impractical or an SUV the size of Rhode Island that gets a mile to the gallon.

I know that reason will win out on this one. There is a beige Chevy Malibu in my driveway that is probably here to stay. I will have to act excited and make my peace with the whole business.

Journal Entry 1

He stood at the head of the class and just looked us all over, summing us up. When his eyes met mine I knew that he decided on the spot that I didn't belong in his class. It brought back all of my high school nightmares about Algebra. My teacher told me that I should try business math, as Algebra was clearly not my thing.

I should have known when I picked up the book the previous week that it was more than I could handle. I just thought that it would be different this time. I sat there and contemplated whether I should just get up and walk out or if I should be polite and wait until the end of class before I went to see my advisor about dropping it.

I felt sixteen all over again, hormones and all. I went back to the car and had a good cry.

First, Second, Third

Part I

I have always worked with numbers, I like the way that all numbers can fit together. Words are a whole other story; they don’t' work in the same way. Words are not logical; they can mean so many things.

I started my first writing class last semester and almost became paralyzed with fear. I would post an assignment and then double and triple guess myself. I am much more laid back this time around. Maybe the tide is turning.

Part II

You wonder what good all of the writing classes are doing for you. The checking in day in and day out for your assignments trying to figure out what purpose it all serves. Then the semester moves along and it dawns on you that your thinking has become clearer. You don't have to rewrite things ten times to get your point across. Then it starts to seep into other areas of your life and you find that you can hold your own in a conversation.

Part III

She didn't mind writing when she was younger. But back then she didn't have anyone reading what she wrote. She wrote because it helped her sort out her life. Things always made more sense on paper. Her mother always thought that she would become a poet. There was always that sense of disappointment that she didn't pursue her dreams. Those were the dreams of a twelve year old; dreams at that age often die.
Aaaarghhhh.....The dreaded writing class again!