Sunday, June 17, 2018

When life becomes a Dystopian Novel

There is a new app form our Public Library that suggests books based on your reading habits.  Considering that I use only one card for all of us (even though the boys have had a library card since they were 5) I think I broke the app.  I read a very eclectic variety and then being summer I also checked out books for the my boy's.

One of the books it suggested was The Giver. I knew that it was made into a movie fairly recently and honestly I could not remember if I had read it, or one of the boys did, or if I just saw the movie trailer. So I downloaded the series on my Kindle.  I am currently reading book three in the series.

And this morning while I was cooking breakfast I started thinking - I am not reading a dystopian novel - I am living it!

How many people: children, teens, young adults, have to be diagnosed with Cancer and poisoned with Chemo to save their lives? How much of the Ice caps need to melt, and plastic needs to be found in oceans, and fresh water disappear. How many natural disasters have to happen earlier and stronger and further in. And not to mention the leadership or lack there of, weapons of mass destruction, and school shootings.  Obesity, starvation, Ultra-Rich, Ultra-Poor, Republicans, Democrats, Communists, the gaps get wider, greater, stronger.....

I could go on and on, but I am already having a panic attack writing this. I am not totally sure what my gift is, although I have always thought it was writing, but this I do know. This is not a drill. We are no longer a maybe. We can no longer pretend it is not happening or expect the next generation to take care of it. We are all responsible for this world and for each other, because we are in this together. Destruction, Dystopia, or Destiny. If you do not choose someone else will.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Help, Thanks, Wow

Anne Lamott wrote a book called Help, Thanks, WOW:The Three Essential Prayers. I was introduced to this writer by a neighbor who gave me this book just before my mastectomy. I liked the book and I am glad that I own it.  I'm never sure about giving a book to others though - I always wonder - What if they hate it?

A beautiful family that I know is going through an unimaginable time. The woman is a friend from college, we were in a sorority together albeit briefly when I was at University.  She met her husband there, after I had transferred, but I have met him several times since as we all live in the same community. She has two handsome boys about the same age as my oldest son. Her husband has cancer.

I'm not on Facebook so the news that this is happening and hospice has been called in has taken my breath away. How quickly my life has become small. A circle, the size of my family. The day is filled with our stuff, our busy, and then I go to bed.  The only places I frequent are work, the grocery store, and the places that my kids need to be. 

At first it was a very conscience choice. It was a choice I made to insulate myself from the ugliness of a small community. The gossip, the clique's, the politics, all the stuff that I suck at and that make me feel like that 12 year old bullied girl all over again.  But here is the problem with insulating myself - it's also isolating myself. And now, I live in a small community that can rally in times like these for a family going through something heart breaking, and I am not in the circle.

I know that I need to reach out - not only to my friend - but to people in general. I know that I need to widen my circle. But as the saying goes...Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

For someone who fancy's themselves a writer, I struggle for words right now. I want to tell the family of the impact their love and light has brought to others. That seeing a couple so perfectly matched makes me believe in SoulMates not just RoomMates.  Watching them raise two amazing young men and interact in their community is more than inspiring. It sets the bar high for the rest of us.

More than that, I want to reach out with my words and wrap them all in love and support. Giving them a literal, or literary hug.  I wish that somehow, my mere words could convey warmth and comfort in this devastating time, but those words seem to evade us all.  If only my words could conjure the Angels, I would write them, shout them, sing them.....but I end up with only one.

It's ok that someone else has the words, writes the prayers. I'll write the jokes. Right now all I can think of, is Help. Please dear God, send them your Angels to wrap them in all they love you have.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Silent Sunday....

It's Sunday morning, 7 a.m. I have already been up for two hours. #1 son had to be at the marathon split by 6:20.  #2 son has day three of soccer tourney that is a little over an hour away. Even though I had two alarms set, I have been up every half and hour since 3 am thinking I overslept.

So here I am at 7 am on Sunday, already exhausted. I'll take it. With #1 son finishing his Freshman year I know that it won't be long before I am sitting in the silence on Sunday morning, wondering what they are doing now?

When the kids where 6 and 3 I didn't think this house would ever get quiet but now as I sit in silence I miss those days. When there was non stop noise. Cars zooming, Thomas blaring, sword play, gun fights, hungry hippos and kids.  Now a days the only thing the TV is good for is Xbox and if the boys are even home they are engrossed in their device watching something on YouTube.

Everything changed but it happened slow enough I don't seem to notice, until it was too late.  #2 son has grown three inches this year. By the time he is out of Junior High he too will be taller than me. He is upset with the status quo and meeting with the principal on Monday to discuss it.  #1 son is organizing his schedule and planning for his senior year, on top of still growing an inch a month.

So it's 7 am on Sunday, I am sitting in the silence for a little while longer. I am finishing my tea and my thoughts and remembering those days that I thought would never end. Enjoy your Sunday.

P.S. When eating breakfast before dawn, make sure you check the labels chili powder and cinnamon are not the same.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

How far have we come?

I was just thinking this morning about a recent conversation that I had with another mom.  She has a daughter at the JH school this year. I do not have anyone there right now but I did and I know that the athletic director is infamous when given the micrpohone.  He goes on and on for way too long and says things that make even the kids cringe.

This woman is not only new the the JH scene but new to our scene as they just moved into the area. Her daughter didn't make the Volleyball team and she said after hearing his message at the Winter Sports Meeting she felt better about it.

Mr. Microphone always gives a legnthy intro to the meeting like we are all new to the district. Then he talks about how hard his job is as there are 1200 students just int he 7th/8th grades, then about how he came from a larger district where he was band director and that was an even bigger challenge....I'm not kidding. Very predictable. Takes two and half hours.

When it was time to acknowledge the volleyball team this woman said she was cringing because he started the introduction with "These girls have come a long way. There were a lot of social issues with this group - they just didn't get along. Right girls?"

She said you could have heard a pin drop and all 12 girls were staring at the floor looking like they wanted it to open up and swallow them whole. Oh but he didn't stop there, she said, and went on to say they worked hard as a team on and off the court and he did praise them for coming together in the end. This mother was horrified.

But I have not been able to get that out of my mind. Why? Why is that still rattling around in there I keep asking myself?  What is it that is bothering me? Knowing I am stuck for the next two years listening to Mr. Microphone blabber on each quarter when all he has to say is Great Job athletes and call them up for their certificate?

Nope. That's not it. And this morning it hit me. Well, actually the door hit me in the head as I was half asleep getting #1 son off to school and carrying two laundry baskets upstairs, but I digress.  It hit me that what was bothering me was that I wasn't bothered by what he did. I was actually thinking - that may just be what some of those girls need right now. To feel the shame of their actions on a public stage. Maybe they will think twice the next time.

When I was maybe in third grade and attending a catholic elementary school the class bully was a girl. (Even the boys were afraid of her) She decided that she wanted to pick on one particular girl, but in true bully fashion, she didn't do it herself. She got all of us to do it. She planted the seeds of disgust and watered them with innuendo.  And when that wasn't going far enough, she found me. The weakest link. And she played on my need to get in the group, feel connected, be a cool kid - and she told me what to shout across the playground.

We were immediately hauled into the Principal's office.  He let us have it, particularly me. (rightfully so)  Lesson learned. But it would be a few years before the Bully got her hands on me. Fast forward to 8th grade and the JH Washington DC trip. For those of you not in the Midwest, it used to be iconic and every JR High kid within 8 hours of DC got two nights on a bus and 4 days in Washington DC. Now I love DC don't get me wrong, but that trip was literally hell on wheels. 250 thirteen year old kids traipsing around DC with a handful of chaperones.Ugh. Boys- you ain't missing nothing.

On the first leg of the trip the overnight bus to DC the bully decided that the boy she liked was giving me too much attention. Not wanting to lose her non-existent boyfriend she started a rumor about me. Remember this is LONG before cell phones, because I am old. And the one and only time that anyone from the 6 buses could even talk was the rest stop in PA at 4 am.

But she did it. By the time the bused rolled into DC not one of the 250 kids on that trip would speak to me. No one. They all avoided me like the plague. Her cronies then did things like sidle up next to me and say "Speak of the She Devil". They would accidentally run into me, push into walls, or off a curb into traffic. Where of course I would get screamed at by a chaperone for being stupid. (Midwest parents in the 80's)

By the end of day one I was confused, humiliated, exhausted, defeated, I just wanted to leave.  For weeks before the trip the teachers had threatened up daily with good behavior or they would put us on a plane and ship us home at our parents expense. Right then I was all for it. But still a good catholic white girl taught to always shut up and take it, I did nothing.

Day two got horribly worse. I started my period for the first time. Thank you ladies for that collective sigh, it was exactly like you imagine. Alone in DC, no knowledge of WTF just happened (Midwest parents in the 80's) blood on my clothes, toilet paper waded up in my underwear, and my sweater wrapped around my waist all day. Now I truly wanted to die and thought I was.

Day three they put us on a boat and shipped us over to Monticello. When we arrived there was a lot of jockeying around as they had to split us up into very small groups for the tours and we were there with 500 other 8th graders on their trips. Not even thinking conscientiously about what I was doing I went straight to the bathroom when we arrived as I had been doing every where we went so far on this trip not that any adult noticed.  When I came out of the bathroom I looked around and didn't see anyone I knew and for the first time in two days, I could breathe. I could just be. Then these beautiful girls with gorgeous southern accents came up and one of them said Hello. To me. I must have looked like a deer in headlights because they all started to giggle and one of them said "I thank you scared her half to dith!"

In the next three hours I would very little about Monticello but I learned all about my new friends from North Carolina.  We talked and laughed and giggled and they gave me tampons and pads and showed me how to use them. They trash talked the bully and her crew and said if they ever ran into her they would kill her! That's when it suddenly dawned on all of us - I wasn't one of them.

Oh shit! They saw the panic in my face and we immediately went to a teacher.  We simply said I think I lost my group.  They contacted a park ranger or house ranger what ever they are and sure enough. My group had been sitting on a boat for and hour and a half counting heads, interviewing students, and finally getting the whole story from one of the girls who couldn't take it anymore.  I was whisked away from my new friends who saved my life and sent back to the boat of bitches. I wanted to die again.

Oddly enough, when I got back to the boat I was suddenly the big TB. Total Badass.  The rumors were flying that I had said F'it and run away. That I had been found hitchhiking back to Ohio (off an island people really? 13 year-olds).  But the best was that the Bully had found me alone and beat the shit of out of me and left me for dead. That one cracked me up.

The rest of the trip went very differently, that night at the dinner theater everyone wanted to sit at my table. Which didn't matter because they had assigned seats three months earlier, but as we sat in the dark eating cold chicken waiting for 1776 to start I had time to think about everything that I had been through.  And the fact that the boy next to me kept trying to slip his hand up my skirt. I wasn't won over by the girls who were suddenly "not" her friend any more. I wasn't stupid. They wanted to be cool so badly that they would change who they were for the next best thing. I learned that lesson at 13. In a way I was lucky - in a way it made HS even worse.

I never did find a group of friends and haven't to this day. I don't trust people easily and rarely see friendships as lasting.  I also learned that week to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Which I think I took too literally and ran with my enemies for way too long.

My point to all of this....if even one of those girls was truly horrified by being called out in that gymnasium that day. If even one girl figures out that she does not need to tear others down to get ahead - then was it worth it?  Because I believe that far too many woman, still think being cool is the only thing that matters - that being mean is the only way - and that taking care of each other isn't on the agenda.

I remember thinking at thirteen, Doesn't she know how scared I am? How awkward I feel? How much I want to a friend too?  34 years far have I come? How far have you come?

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Plato

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A message to my teenager son before you start High School


Girls will love you 
Boys will hate you
Teachers will test you 
Coaches will push you

Life will try and break you
and that is why I'm here

When you need a hand to hold
Or a place to rest
When you need a shoulder to cry on
Or a place to call home
That is why I am here

When you need to know what love is
Or why bad things happen
When you can't find the answers
Or even know the question
That is why I'm here

When you need reassurnace
Or picked up from the ground
When it's time to celebrate you
Or toot your own horn
That is why I'm here

To my teenage son before you start High School-

Girls will love you 
Boys will hate you
Teachers will test you 
Coaches will push you

Life will try and break you
and that is why I'm here

Friday, February 16, 2018

Solitare:The Game of Life

Like my mother before me, I taught my kids to play solitaire. Long before it was the only computer game that you could play while pretending to work, (Yes! I am THAT old I keep telling you) it was a card game that I played a lot. Mostly because I was always by myself, and also because I love the game. Especially when I got a little older and my mom taught me to play Vegas style. OhhhLaalaaaa

Actually, I was struggling in math and I think it was a ploy to get me to practice adding and subtracting. It was a good for this anxiety ridden partly OCD kid.  Once I learned Vegas style there was no turning back! Even when I said, "oh I'm not playing for money just for fun." I would find myself cursing at the aces to get their ass out of the deck so that I could at least over the cost of the cards. Sheesh. Is that too much too ask.

The Holiday's were good around here, it was a lot less crazy than the fall. A well deserved break. But boy did I pay for it in January. The month was crazy busy and I am still scratching my head that February is almost over.  It didn't help that we have passed around a cold or sinus infection or whatever this was and it literally took us down one by one.  I was the last to go.

The overlap between #2 son passing it to #1 son was a rough few days.  Everyone was snotty - in more ways then one. Tempers flared, exhaustion reined, and the world was not cooperating.  Toward the end of one of those long days I finally got out the lysol sprayed everyone into their rooms then kissed them all soundly and put them to bed.

As I lay in the dark looking at my Kindle with barely enough energy to set my alarm let alone read my book I remembered Solitaire. I busted out the tried and true.  Not really even paying attention I would start the game, click away, get stuck, start a new one. This pattern repeated so often I started clicking new game, if I didn't like the way the cards looked. No Aces? click. All red? click. 4 10's, how is that even possible! I clicked new game again, and again, and again. 
Just one WIN and I could go to bed!!

Finally frustrated that no amount of starting over was getting me that win I let go of winning and started click, click, clicking....and then it happened. I won. The last card clicked started that beautiful falling, shuffling, flying of cards all over the screen that says - "YOU DID IT!"

Just when I thought it would never happen, there it was in the most unlikely cards. I thought about how much this game is a metaphor for life. Since I really started this blog to leave my son's the musing of their mother I want to say to them....

Solitaire is a lot like life. While you may be surrounded by people, friends, and loved ones- the only one who can play is you. Sometimes the cards are good. Sometimes the cards are bad. Sometimes you play hard trying every angle possible, and still you can't win. Cut your losses. Reshuffle.  Sometimes you play for fun and the cards are easy and you win. Enjoy it!

Like any game; you will only get out of life, what you put into it.  And when you least expect it, it will surprise you. Enjoy the good cards and the bad because all of them make up the game.

PS Your Mom is always up for a game of  Peanuts!!