Thursday, December 31, 2009

How quickly the conversation changes

Not that long ago, whenIMG_7996 we had *those* conversations with the kids about “IF you are drinking or with someone who is drinking, please don’t drive… Just call us… We won’t judge…” we were met with eye rolls and proclamations that they nor their friends drank.

Today, I went into my usual spiel with my college boy since tonight is notoriously amateur drunk driving night.  His response?

Don’t worry mom.  I’m spending the night there.”

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Got a lot of nothing here

I love vacation time because I’m able to stay awake long enough to watch the lame awesome television shows that come on after 9 p.m. so late.  Last night, we watched Hoardersa show about people who can’t part with their stuff (including trash)There is often a lot of crying and near break-down moments.  Can I just say, I love shows about people who make me look so boring non-psychotic normal.  Still, I feel sorry for the kids growing up in that environment.

Today, I cleaned out a couple of drawers just to prove that I. am. not. a. hoarder.  I’m not! I need all those random notes and lists.  Don’t even think about throwing out the recipes!  And how could we even begin to think about throwing out something the kids made/wrote? because I’ve had some extra time on my hands.  I found some old journals from back in the day when I hand wrote all my thoughts down you know, back when the Earth’s core was still cooling

1/1/01 Today is the beginning of a new year…. blah… blah… blah  and my resolutions are to:

*Start running

*Write more

*Wear more green


9/17/01  Blah, diggity blah….

So, let’s see how I did.  First, I DID start running.  On May 2nd.  Two thousand nine.  Eight and half years later.  Sadly, I struggle to remember my anniversary (I know it is in June… shouldn’t that count for something?) but the day I started running is engraved in my mind.

Second, after declaring my intent to write more NINE MONTHS passes before I write again.  How good am I?  I could have conceived and birthed a child in that time frame.

And the last one about wearing more green has been on my resolution list since the late 80s when my boss told me I should wear more green because it really brought out the color in my eyes.  This advice I took from a man with a serious comb-over.

While the rest of you may be thinking of ways to better yourself by making resolutions, I think I am going to work up a list of things I want more of.  Like eating more peanut butter.  And Stoned Wheat Thin Crackers (because the visual of crackers smoking something funny makes them that much more tasty to me). 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Growing up… no matter how many years it takes

It was two days after Christmas when my mother woke us up that fateful morning thirty years ago.  My sister and I had started sleeping in the same room again.  There was no discussion about it.  We just needed the comfort another person can provide.  I was twelve, my sister eleven.

I remember the look on my mother’s face.  Her eyes were swollen.  Her lips pursed.

“I have good news and bad news.  The good news is your father is no longer suffering.  The bad news is he is gone.”

The rest of the day felt like a dream.  We’d just spent Christmas Eve at his house and he had been smiling and laughing.  He didn’t look like a man who was about to die.  How could he just be gone?

A few days later, I sat nestled in between my aunt and my uncle in the front of the church during the funeral.  My mother was relegated to the back of the church since she was the ex-wife.  At that point, I couldn’t cry.  As the preacher’s voice resonated in the chapel, petals from the blanket of flowers lying on the casket began to fall off.  For some reason, all I could do was laugh though I did disguise my laughter into sobbing.  Several months would go by before I could really cry about what had happened.

My father had brain cancer.  He was 36 years old when he died.  Despite all the chemo and radiation, he quickly lost his fight with this disease.  At the reading of the will, my father left my sister and I almost nothing but chose instead to leave most everything to my step-mother.

As I grew up and became a mother, I then became hurt about how little my father had left us.  How do you not take care of your children - especially when you know you are dying?  It left me feeling confused and at times, angry.  I loved my children so much that I couldn’t imagine not being sure they were taken care of.

I watched my sister grow bitter.  My father’s family quit calling soon after the funeral.  We reached out several times but it felt awkward and forced.  It was just easier to stay away.  And to remain angry.

Over the years, I’ve never quit missing my father.  A couple of months ago, my father’s sister sent some pictures to me that she’d found when cleaning out my recently deceased aunt’s house.  There were pictures of my parents together in a time before I had a memory.  And there were pictures of that last Christmas.  They took my breath away.  In those pictures, my father looked swollen, pale, sickly.  Not at all like the picture in my memory.

For me, time has healed a lot of wounds.  Unfortunately, for my sister, her bitterness has festered and grown.  Now, I think I understand why he didn’t leave us much in his will.

He didn’t plan on dying.

And for that, I can easily forgive him.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It all depends on the viewpoint

IMG_7579 I’m not going to lie to you.  Christmas can be a tough time of the year for me.  Thirty years ago, my father died the day after Christmas.  It is impossible to think of Christmas without remembering that loss.  His death forever changed the landscape of my childhood.
Still, I revel in the joy that can be found in the season.  I am easily moved to tears when I hear of random acts of kindness.
One of my little students, Mr. Hero, has leukemia.  He has been responding well to treatment and we even anticipate his return to school sometime in January.  One of his friends, who also has leukemia, attends a neighboring school and is not doing very well.  In fact, the family is preparing to bring her home for her final days. 
My loss pales in comparison to what these parents must be feeling. 
Still, this little 9 year old girl has hopes and dreams.  One of her final wishes is to receive cards from all over the world.  I know this is a clich├ęd wish – but it is what this child wants.  If you are in a position to mail a card to this child, please indicate so in a comment or email and I will send the child’s name and address to you.
Remember to treasure your loved ones, today and every day.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Forget her energy, I want some of her wonder

clip_december001_LLittle Miss Loves Life is a frequent flier in my office.  She isn’t a *bad* child but she does have a lot of energy.  And by a lot of energy, she often jumps up and down while in conversation.  Sometimes the teacher just needs a break.

Little Miss Loves Life: “Do you know what is for lunch today?”

Me: “I don’t.  But we can check the calendar…”

Little Miss Loves Life (interrupting excitedly and beginning to jump up and down): “It is my favorite!  Toasted cheese sandwich!  I love how the cheese and the bread stick together…..”

How can you not love that?  She can make the most ordinary thing extraordinary.  I when Little Miss Loves Life visits the office (and for the record, she isn’t in trouble… we have a deal that the teacher sends her to us to do some work when she is feeling stressed with the flea-like antics).

As we have gotten closer to Christmas, Little Miss Loves Life has ramped up her energy level.  Yesterday, we got to spend some quality time together.

Little Miss Loves Life (vibrating, I swear she vibrates): “We bought you a Christmas present and I’m not supposed to tell you but we did and we bought it from Sams!”

Me: “You are so sweet.  Now let’s take a look at this math problem…”

Little Miss Loves Life: “My mom told me not to tell you and I told her I wouldn’t because I CAN keep a secret even if she says I can’t.  I CAN.  I really can!”

Me: “I know you can.  Can you read this word problem to me…”

Little Miss Loves Life (interrupting herself while reading a math word problem): “Miss Beth?  Do you love coffee mugs?”

Me: “I do!”

As a matter of fact, I do love coffee mugs.  Almost as much as I love her zest for life.  She amazes me and keeps me smiling.

And her secret will be safe with me.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Up for a downer

This past weekend, I worked as if I were a slave for free for my husband on several different catering gigs.  It was actually a lot of fun since when you are feeding people, they are usually happy.  We even got to meet the real-life version of Lorraine Swanson (a character on Mad TV). 

lorraine She was just lovely… and by lovely I mean it took everything ounce of patience not to push her out to the lake and hold her head under water.  I probably missed my chance to be a hero.  It must suck to be old and crotchety.

In between catering jobs, my mother and I went to see a movie and she picked Precious.  It was a great movie; however, I despise leaving a theatre with a red, snotty nose it was so sad!  I’ll never look at quiet, withdrawn students in the same way.tissues

To counteract the sadness I felt at the theatre, I came home and watched a movie from Netflix that has been sitting on my TV for 3 months.  Why did I not know Ordinary People was so glum?

And what is it with the crappy sucky mean mothers in both these movies?  Come to think of it, Lorraine Swanson kind of looks like the witch cow mother in Ordinary People.

I knew I should have held her head under water. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009


When I used to work in the business world, I once worked with a secretary who was… ahem… very blonde.  She believed everything anyone told her.  Everything.

One day, some of the guys I worked with convinced her that ‘gullible’ was not a word.  She hesitated because she had been made the fool so many times.  Finally, she looked it up in the dictionary where she should have found her picture.

Sometimes, I think about Secretary McFluffy when dealing with certain children. 

In the past, I convinced my students that the first of each month was that month’s Fool’s Day.  You know… January Fool’s Day… October Fool’s Day.  I told them that for some reason only April Fool’s Day was the one that stuck and became popular.  We played jokes on each other at the first of every month for the entire school year.  When it was April 1st, I told them the truth.  It was the ultimate April Fool’s Day joke. 

Those students were extremely gullible.

Apparently, so am I.

The other day, one of the secretaries came running into my office in a panic about some man on the phone who was insisting he get directions to the school so he could deliver the 100 pounds of shrimp we had ordered.

I picked up on line one while stammering and stuttering to him that no one had ordered any shrimp.  He insisted he had 100 pounds of shrimp to deliver and he’d need to pick up a check.

Turns out he was the husband of one of the secretaries.  I should have known they were up to something.

Does it surprise you to know that I am blonde?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

And then there was hope


As I cleaned out my hopeless chest the other day, I found a poem Mr. Strong had sent me when all was not well in our world.  It took me right back to that dark time when my heart ached and hope had faded.  Back to the time when I wasn’t sure that Mr. Strong was able to be my Mr. Strong.

I mourn my loss, an opportunity wasted, a relationship passes, a lesson learned

Lonely again, an empty heart

Next time I will live for me, I will show my love, I will share my love, I will watch it closely.

I want to cry in your arms, not alone in my bed.

I learned to love from you if only I showed you how well and how much.

The creased paper reminded me that what we had had was real.  And almost lost.

Thank God for second chances.