Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Presence: Day 1 of winter break

It has been a while since I've written, blog-style.

I have been a bit overwhelmingly busy at work and I have had sciatic nerve pain, which has given way to some deep muscle pain and more sciatic numbness and pins and needle style tingling which is far more excruciating than the pain itself....  Not to mention all the horrible news as of late, the anger and dischord and the lack of justice in the news lately.

Which has left me at a loss for words at the end of the day.


I have taken the last two weeks of the year off of work and am going to try and winter break-alogue my time.

A few weeks ago a woman approached me, upon hearing me complaining about all my pain and tingling, and told me two things, both of which made me feel better.

1. It will go away.
2. Maybe it's telling me something about a change I need to make.

Indeed.  This can probably be applied, somewhat to the political and social climate too.  There's a change we all need to make.

I've been thinking a long time about slowing down.  About not worrying about where I'm not and what I'm missing and just worrying about where I am currently.  I even had myself a  bracelet made that I've taken to wearing every day.  It says:

I have everything I need in this moment.

So, I'm going to work hard this winter break on being present.

And already today I sat with my daughter for a full ninety minutes while she read aloud all the contents from her cubby at school that she brought home when she cleaned it out on Friday.  I sipped tea and just looked for a long time at our living room all Christmassy and cozy.

Admittedly all this presence and slowing down is a lot easier to do when it's holiday break.... but they say it takes longer to break a habit than make a new one or something like that, so I have sixteen days to try.

Yesterday was the first day of break.  Coen got invited to a friend's for the day and then for a sleepover.  Lucy got invited to a friend's for the day.  Thus, Tad and I found ourselves alone, with no children, in our house.

I left Tad to himself to blare music and organize all his old writings that he dragged up from the basement.  I ran an errand for the kids' school after dropping Coen off with his buddy.  I went to a re-sale store and bought a hat. I went to the library and took out six books.  I went to a coffee shop and finished a novel I was reading and sipped a white mocha. It was all lovely.

Then, after checking social media, went right home and told Tad we should go over to the courthouse to support our friends who were there, one of whom was waiting for her husband to be released from prison after having been arrested at the peaceful protests against the murder of Dontre Hamilton and others of whom were more people we know and people we don't know fighting for justice.

After the release of some (but not all) of the prisoners, including our friend, we went out for dinner and came home in time for Lucy to be returned to us.

After she was tucked into bed, Tad and I watched the pilot episode of Masters of Sex and went to bed where I fell into a very heavy sleep, the best I've had in weeks.

And now my son is sitting patiently next to me, wanting me to play Cat's Cradle with him.  And so I shall.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bleeding heart

This morning my whole family left the house at 6:45 to go vote right when the polls opened.  It was fun packing the kids a breakfast to go and standing in line as they opened the polls.

Coen and Lucy hung on my arms and followed me over to the booth, Coen looking between Tad and me as we penciled in the arrows and said loudly, "You guys are picking all the same things!"

We walked back out into the misty morning and Tad, who was walking a bit ahead of us, turned back to see Coen and Lucy both hanging on to my hands..
"So" he said, grinning at us, "You guys just want to stay close to the bleeding heart liberal, huh?"

We all laughed.  Make no mistake, Tad's heart bleeds too, (though he doesn't always admit it) but we have a different mode, walking around the world.  The other day we were talking about how much I worry about how people feel and what people think and we had this conversation:

Tad: That's why we're such a good match because I couldn't give less of a crap.
Me: Yeah! And I couldn't give more of a crap.
Tad: If you gave more of a crap, you'd have to be committed.

Happy Election Day people.

I think no matter how we vote, we all give a crap!

Monday, November 3, 2014

We belong

When I was in college, I was over at a friend's house.  We were blasting Pat Benatar singing "We Belong" and singing along at the top of our lungs, windows open.
After a while, a police officer came knocking at the door and told us there'd been some noise complaints. He was smirking. He'd heard us singing.  He told us to keep it down and left, smiling, calling back over his shoulder, "Don't quit your day jobs, ladies!"

We piped down after that and laughed together as the night grew late and we all went back home again to bed as the sky grew pink and yellow.

How wonderful it felt that night to be together, a group of girlfriends, people I saw every single weekend and some weeknights too....getting in trouble for singing to loud.

How wonderful it felt to belong.

And you grow up and trade in those every day girl friends for a partner. And children.  A job to go to every and and that guy or gal at the coffee shop you see every time you go.

And in that way, you do belong.  But sometimes you miss that larger belonging....

That is a feeling that I strive for all the time, to feel like I belong.  When I chose I school for my kids, I looked for one with a community.  When we bought a house, we wanted a neighborhood...  And I do feel like I belong.  To my family, to my work community, to Milwaukee...

But sometimes, it can be difficult. Especially in the age of online sharing, tweeting, face-booking, instagraming, googling plus about where you were and who you were with and what you were doing and how fun it was....

I don't know about you but I start to feel like I don't belong. Or worry that I don't. I see pictures posted of a party I wasn't at and I wish I was there.  I see a post about a gathering I wasn't part of and feel left out...   I wish I could be everywhere somehow.  I start to feel my reach growing and thinning and meaning less and less as I want to be THERE! And then THERE!

Oh why can't I be EVERYWHERE where EVERYONE is?!!!!

It's so funny too, because then I think about my schedule and trying to fit in a dinner party here or a girls night out there and it's all so trying.  And I have to wonder.... What am I so worried about missing when I barely have time for all the things I want to do?

I want to be better at living in the moment.  To be where I am and be happy with that.  We all belong.  We belong where we are in each moment we're in and the fact that we're not part of another moment is okay.  Good even.

I'm working on it. To be satisfied with my now, all the time.  Not to look out the window and wonder if there's something better going on out there... Not to wonder what I'm missing.  It doesn't matter.  I have everything I need right here, right now....

We belong to the light
We belong to the thunder
We belong to the sound of the words
Weve both fallen under

Whatever we deny or embrace
For worse or for better
We belong, we belong
We belong together

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It's funny snogging a girl when you're drunk and she's sober....

Do you ever listen to a song and suddenly get transported back to a certain time of your life in your mind...smells, sight, feel and all?

I was driving this morning and a James song came on my mix CD and I was thrown back to 1998, living in London on a study abroad program.  I was in college, so, as was often the case throughout my twenties, I was sober, hanging around a lot of people getting very intoxicated on a fairly regular basis.   I feel like going overseas made me expand in mind and soul and take me into the journey that I'm on today.  So when I'm thrown into that memory of my time in London, it all feels very magical and good and do many of my memories from my twenties.

But a lot of times when I reminisce about those days with others, they only can shake their heads over how much they drank and how they don't even want to think about that time of their life.  It makes me feel a little lonely when that happens--that a memory that's lovely and light for me is one someone else would rather not have.  I guess it's the same kind of lonely I felt back then, once it began to turn yellow out (as my dad always says) and people were drunk beyond their real selves, too far away for me to laugh with, connect with, or reach.

I was in a dance club once during that time--The Borderline--oh it was the best dance club ever, all British pop and cute bartenders.  I was kissing some boy I met who was drunk (of course) and assumed I was too. When he took me to the bar to order us drinks and I asked for a Coke, he was shocked.

"You're not drinking?" He said, aghast.
I shook my head, smiling.
"You're not drunk?"
"Well...I never kissed a sober girl before."

I remember feeling a little sad at that statement, but glad I could be someone who might stand out in his hazy memory of drunken make outs.

"It's funny snogging a girl when you're drunk and she's sober" He said later.
I doubt he could have picked me out in a line-up three hours later.
But that was part of my twenties.  Being sober in a sea of drunkenness.  I loved telling my friends stories about what they did last night, over coffee the next morning.

Listening to James today and remembering that time was fun, and a little moving.  I wonder what the other people who were in that program with me remember, if it feels like a good place to return in their minds, or something best forgotten.

Me (second from the right) in London, 1998

I know it's been awhile since I've blogged.  I've just been traveling again and thinking and having summer.  But as the weather gets autumnish and the leaves start falling, I usually want to write.  Thanks for sticking around.

Monday, July 7, 2014

How cheap plastic crap can sometimes lead to a tender moment.

We go down to the lakefront every year on July the third for the Milwaukee firework tradition.  And every year, a man comes by, usually smoking a cigarette and donning some of his horrible wares, pushing a cart full of overpriced garbage. Light up garbage, spinney garbage, cheap garbage hats and glasses, millions of balloons shaped like Dora the Explorer and fake swords, light sabers and other weaponry. And every year in the spirit of the event, we buy our kids one of those pieces of garbage each.

$20 total for some plastic crap that will, I promise you, break extremely soon after purchased.

It's effing awesome.

So this year, Coen got a knock-off $10 light saber for his fifth year running and Lucy and her cousin Sophia picked out these weird light up stick things with very fragile ribbon wrapped around it.  They were $7.00 apiece and were clearly going to cause problems later.

We could not wait.

My was elected to hold the girls' wand things while they use the port-a-potty.

Night fell, much to our excitement and we were greeted with just about the lovelies and most well spaced out display of fireworks we'd ever seen, this side of the US Bank Building.

The children enjoyed their light up crap as we packed up and headed back to our cars for the drive home.

Two days later, my niece came to sleep over, bringing along her little wand which had already broken the day before and was actually quite cleverly repaired by my mother.  My sister made an extra stop on the way to drop her daughter off just to pick up the ridiculous thing so the girls' new toys could be reunited once more in the dark bedroom of a sleepover.

Overnight, somehow Lucy's wand was crushed by being slept upon or rolled upon--who can tell--and she handled it with quite a lot of calm and grace.  Lucy's cousin, wanting to continue to match, snapped hers in half.  We packed the pieces in her overnight bag before we brought her home.

So this evening, my daughter, exhausted by two nights of fireworks and then a sleepover, called to me after I'd tucked her in. She was crying.

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"I'm upset about my wand!" She cried and then sobbed, huge tears falling down her little rosy red, sunshine-darkened cheeks.  I sat next to her and rubbed her back, waiting for her to pull away as she does.  My daughter wants nary a kiss nor a look of sympathy when she's hurt or upset, preferring to handle it on her own.  I asked (as I always do just in case) if she wanted a hug and she shook her head. I stood to go.  "I'll be back in six minutes to check on you." I said.

"Wait." She said as my foot touched the first step. "I want a hug."

So it was with the deepest pleasure that I hugged and soothed my crying daughter, though I was sorry for her loss.  "Want me to lay down by you?"I asked, pressing my luck.

She nodded.

So, in some ways, it was thanks to that $7.00 plastic junk toy, I got to cuddle my sad kid tonight.  I rubbed her back and felt the curve of her warm body against me and kissed her arm and felt lucky that this time I got to provide the kind of sympathy and love that I'm really good at giving.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The lofty perch of intellect

Yesterday I gave a presentation on healthy relationships, dating and social skills to a group of adults with Aspergers.  We were discussing things like jealousy, conflict in relationships, the importance of romance.  A few of the people in the group were saying that it was hard to answer some of the questions regarding their opinion on  certain aspects of dating and romance, having never been in such a relationship.  One young man, in his twenties said this:

"It is very difficult, from the lofty perch of intellect, to really get down to the earthy roots of the situation."

If only I could have made that distinction in my twenties.

It made me think about how difficult it really can be, not just for people on the autism spectrum or people with disabilities, but for anyone to really bring together what they understand in their minds and what they feel in their hearts.

In some ways, spirituality of any kind is like that.  People who believe in a God can't necessarily see or be able to logically explain why they hold that belief, why they pray or are drawn to their church every week...but they feel it.  People who believe in energy and Karma, in enlightenment...  That's not stuff you can grab and look at under a microscope.  But they feel it.

People who believe in love can't necessarily quantify the power of the feelings they have for a certain person. "True love" "Soul Mate" and "Fate" are often words used earnestly by believers and scoffed at by others as cliches.  But people who mean those words when they say them...they feel it.

Some children believe in the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.  In my house we have Winter Wendall and the Sticker Fairy too.  My children have never seen any of those characters; can't prove their existence.  But they feel it.

People who have had trauma in their lives--the trauma of mental illness or alcoholism or violence in their families or childhoods--often grow up and are able to intellectualize what happened to them.  They can logically explain and understand how they were affected, why they are the way they are...but emotionally dealing with that trauma is much, much more difficult to grasp and work through.

The earthy roots of the situation...much harder to explain, to understand, to believe in...  Especially from the lofty perch of intellect.  But what a wonderful thing when you can get there, bring those two things together.

That, I believe, is what faith really is.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Birthday blues

So Friday was my birthday.  I love my birthday.  I imagine it's because I love people saying things to me and looking at me and people look at you a lot and say a lot of things to you on your birthday.

I also love parties.  Being married to an introvert, I have cut back on my party throwing. But on my birthday, I figure, I can have a party if I want!  (Tad says I can have a party if I want anytime I want and that it doesn't have to be my birthday.  Which I should probably listen to because parties make me really happy).

I used to throw parties all the time but I'm a little out of practice right now.  So first I sent the email and forgot to say "Don't bring gifts!" But I didn't want to send another email separately, specifically telling people not to bring gifts. I mean, that would be weird.   Anyway, I like gifts! I mean people bring gifts who want to bring gifts even when you tell them not to. 

Then I was trying to keep it semi-small.  (Why I was doing this, I'm not sure. I mean I could say I was keeping Tad in mind and didn't want to overload our house full of people, lest that would be too stressful. Or that I was keeping Coen in mind because he was having some anxiety over the number of children coming.  I guess it was both...who knows.)  So then I started to stress because there were people I didn't invite..not because I didn't want them to come but I felt like I could go crazy inviting people! So I tried to invite only people that I hang out with on a regular basis.  But then I couldn't stop thinking about the rest of the people who I like and would have liked to invite and had to just tell myself to be quiet.

Then the cake. I ordered my own cake. I mostly do every year because I just really like cake and I want it to be the right cake.  Lucy made me a cake a week ahead of time on the playground at school and it looked like this:

So I thought I didn't want to call and ask them to write "Happy Birthday ALIE!" on it because then when I placed the order they would say "And what's your name" and I would have to say "Alie" all sheepishly since I was the one ordering the cake.  So I just asked them to put yellow flowers on it like the cake Lucy made me.

I picked it up on Saturday morning and upon having it brought to the counter, I saw that it was fricking enormous!  WAY bigger than I imagined and WAY more expensive too (I didn't ask ahead of time what the price was and had I done so, would have realized that it was going to be WAY more cake than I needed). The woman showed it to me and said sweetly, "Somebody's birthday?" And I just smiled and said "Yup." without elaborating. 

On the way out of the store I walked with my big enormous cake down the sidewalk and suddenly I stumbled, tripped and nearly fell right down on the ground. I had to grab the cake box tightly to keep it from falling and in doing so, smashed on side of the cake.

Of course.

I laughed all the way home. Because of course.  Of course I would order my own birthday cake.  And accidentally order a huge one. And then nearly fall down carrying it out of the shop.

That is exactly the right thing to happen to me.

And of course I would still be stressing two days later about the people I like very much and didn't invite and wanting to send them all singing telegrams about how much I like them and hope I didn't hurt anyone's feelings.  If you're one of those people and you're reading this, rest assured, you'll be coming to my fortieth next year.

Man, birthdays are stressful.

But fun too.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a soul mate....or isn't there?

A lot of my friends are sharing and posting this article a woman wrote about how her husband is not her soul mate
And mostly about how she doesn't want her children to go searching after this unattainable ideal that doesn't exist.

It was interesting to read. Especially as I've been on a love-searching expedition my whole life.

I tend to be a card-carrying member of the great believers in magical love club so I feel as though my opinion might be in order.

Now, perhaps you are already rolling your eyes about what my opinion might be... or you don't really want my opinion at all.  To that I say, that is FINE!  My goodness, if everyone wanted my opinion....
...well I don't really know how to finish that statement.

I just asked Tad. I said, "Tad, finish this sentence: If everyone wanted my opinion..."
He said "They'd be in for a long ride."

There you go.


I think before you go around asking people if they believe in soul mates, you must first clear up the issue of semantics. (I say this as a person who does go around asking people if they believe in soul mates)

I mean, by soul mates do you mean that there is only one person for everyone and that you can only be happy if you find "the one"?

By soul mates do you mean that the other person "completes you"--that you are not whole without them? 

Because if that's what we're talking about, I don't believe in soul mates either. And like Mary Graham, I am not married to my soul mate.

But what if by soul mate you mean kindred spirit.  Ah, so what's a kindred spirit? Someone who is connected to you through a strong and deep bond perhaps.  Someone who you reach on another level?  The first time I heard the term "kindred spirit" is when Anne of Green Gables told her friend Diana that they were thus connected.  And I thought, yeah, I can dig on that kind of connection

So in my friendships and romantic relationships, that's what I looked for.  Kindred spirits.

For me it means a relationship on another level ...almost spiritual.  It is someone who "gets you". It's someone who's eyes you can look into and see deeper.  It's someone who you can talk to without talking.  It's a person who you trust entirely with your full self.  It's a lot of things I guess and hard to explain, but I know it when I see it.

For me, Tad was a kindred spirit before we even became romantic.  Immediately after we became friends, I knew I would know him for the rest of my life.  And when we got together, yeah, I thought what a good partner he'd be for me and what a great friend he already was. And how fantastic to be with someone you laugh with and understand and who understands you.  But when we fell in love, it was magic.  It was outside my logical mind. I can't think of another way to explain that.  And I don't think everyone gets to experience it.  But it is true and real to me.

 In the end of her article, she says that God is her soul mate. And her children's soul mates.  I am a spiritual person, but not a religious one.  And I would no more tell her she's wrong about her soul mate than I would want someone to tell me that I'm wrong about mine.  In the end, what we believe about what LOVE means in our lives, can only be understood and experienced by each individual person.  That's why it's so hard to talk about and explain.  But that sure doesn't stop us from trying!

So yeah, does my husband complete me? No. I am a whole and complete person on my own.  And so is he.  That is one thing that makes our relationship strong, I think.  If he never came into my life, there would be things I would not have learned or experienced, absolutely, but I'd still be me.  If he left my life, it would leave a deep deep hole. But I'd be okay.  I'd still be me.

And if that's there, whatever you want to call it--love, soul mate, kindred spirit...that's a wonderful, beautiful thing.  But you still have to be whole. And you still have to work hard on being true to you.  On being strong in who you are and keep on making yourself whole. And that other person does too. 

So I think that the article is right, that we should not give our children the idea that they should go looking for someone to be their "other half" to make them whole. Let's teach our children to be whole all on their own.  But I feel like it's also okay to look for kindred spirits, both in friendship and in love.  To make sure that when (AND IF) you decide to spend your life with someone else, that you have something between you that connects your spirits, your souls.  Maybe that something is a shared belief in a higher power like God. Maybe that something is a shared experience that bonds you indomitably.  Maybe its something else, something that floats around you in the air that you can't quite catch and you can't give a name to. I don't know.

But I think it's okay to look for that kind of connection.  In that way...if a mate can connect with you soul to soul...I think that can be called a soul mate.

But only if you want to.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Not helpful

Yesterday was the last night Coen was gone camping so we told Lucy she could pick anyplace she wanted for the three of us to go out to dinner.

See now this is a lot of fun when we give Coen this option. He picks places that serve sushi and stir fry.

Lucy, when given this freedom, says, "I can go to CULVERS? Or MCDONALDS?"


So on the day of our little dinner, I go up to Tad on the playground and I says to him, I says,

"Hey.  Is it okay with you if I tell Lucy that McDonald's is not an option for tonight?  I mean, she can pick ANY other place. I just can't do McDonald's."
"Sure!" he says, "That's fine with me.  Want me to tell her?"
"No, no." I say. "I just wanted to make sure we're on the same page. So that when I say 'we can't go to McDonald's', you won't say 'Yes we can! We can go to McDonald's!'"
"Oh no, that's fine with me." He says again.

So when Lucy and I are ready to head home from school, I take her little hand and she jumps up and down talking about where she's going to pick for dinner. 
"McDonald's?" She asks, looking up at me.

"Honey?" I say to her. "Anyplace but McDonald's.  That's the only place we can't go." 
Her eyes immediately fill with tears.
"Well that's the ONLY place I want to go!" She says, her voice cracking.
I sigh.
"Well Lucy, we can go ANYWHERE else! We could go to Jimmy John's. Or Culvers?"
"No! Jimmy John's is a me, Coen and Daddy place and Culvers is a Grandpa and Nana place!" She says indignantly.
"We could go to that place in Tosa near Yo Mama? Or anywhere else!" I say.

Tad joins us after that and Lucy grabs his hand with her other one.  He looks down at her unhappy face.
"What's going on Lucy?" He asks.
"The ONLY place I want to go for dinner, Mama says we can't go."
"Where's that?" Tad asks.
He looks at her.  He's going to fix it. I think.
"Well let's go to McDonald's then!"


I look at him incredulously.  He shrugs. "Sorry." he says.
"I SWEAR we just talked about avoiding this VERY conversation!" I shout as he laughs.

We went to McDonald's

I brought a carry-in.  An egg salad sandwich and a baggie of sweet potato chips and half an avocado. I did get a Hi-C orange drink though.

Effing McDonald's.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Swimming in overwhelm without any water wings

Recently a friend asked me what I do when I feel stressed out or overwhelmed.  She knows I don't drink or engage in any substances that can sort of take you away... and all we ever really hear about people doing when they get overwhelmed is having a drink.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard it.

I need a glass of wine

I need a stiff drink

I think a drink is in order after today

From functional (and non functional) alcoholics to people who really just have a drink once in a seems like everyone's "taking the edge off"!

So when my friend asked me that, I was

1. Flattered (she's very intelligent and having my personal advice called upon is quite nice)
2. Introspectively brainstormy...  I am currently overwhelmed and am not sure how to deal with it.

What I told her is that I like to take some personal time for me during those periods--to do what I want.  But my kid keeps being sick and I am so busy at work and I have to take personal time from work for the purpose of my sick kid which does not at all involve me doing what I want but involves me trying to give my sick kid attention whilst staying focused on the emails coming through on my computer.

I'm not going to have a drink.  I never have and I never will.

I probably need to meditate or something.

But for now, this is me....

My question for you, dear reader: If you do have a drink every so often to soften things up...what does it do for you?  And if you don't, what do YOU do to take the edge off?

Sometimes for me it works to imagine myself as I am above..buried under a pile of things...and then imagine myself rising above the pile so I can oversee it and take each thing one by one and dismantle it.  But right now I feel like I have a lack of time for dismantling much less actually doing anything on my list!  

I know it will disperse. That shiny sun will stop yelling at me and I will have a great weekend with my coming visitors. My son will get over whatever this illness is that he has and we'll pay the stupid doctor bills and the work stuff I'm planning will come and go.  I know that.

So I need to take the edge off in a natural way...  I'll let you know if I come up with anything.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

TBT Post #3

It's a funny thing, retrospect.

In May of 2000 I was getting ready to leave for the Peace Corps. Excited for all the new adventures ahead of me but so pained to be leaving my friends and the life I knew.

I remember riding a bus from Latvia to Estonia on my twenty-fifth birthday and looking around at the people riding with me, hoping I would connect with someone, anyone during my time there.

And here I am, fourteen years later and right now I would like nothing more than just one of those dear, dear people to come over and chat with me tonight.  That there are people that I was just meeting, really, on that bus ride that would become my closest friends. 

Christina in Tulsa
Steff and Hannah in San Francisco
Ryan in Baltimore
Sinki in Australia
Brenda in South America
Rebecca in Madison

and Harald..wherever he is.

Estonian Flag

PC Estonia 2000

touring Tartu

Brenda and me heading to her host family's house

Swearing In ceremony

Summer Solstice, Kuressaare
 Next weekend Rebecca, Ryan, Steff and Hannah are coming to spend some time here! I am beside myself with anticipation. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Remembering Harald

Harald died two years ago today.

I miss him still very much.

Tonight is one of those nights that, were he alive, I would call him and he would tell me exactly what I need to hear.

I was looking through his letters tonight and found the very last one he ever wrote me. Strangely enough...on May 9th of 2011.  It was all about the house he was building and chopping down a tree and squirels and birds building love-nests all around his house in the woods.

His last paragraph:

Headers and trees! What a silly letter. I hope you don't mind my obsessing about my house but it is THE big thing in my life, and frankly writing about it is easier on you than if I had just fallen in love and went on and on about her!  Alie. I'll be seeing you in November.  Sorry it can't be any earlier, but that's life. Be well, be happy and love lots. Harald.

I didn't see him in November because the month or so after that letter, he started having symptoms of his brain tumor.  I was lucky enough to see him and laugh with him two more times after that.

I love you Harald Knudsen.

Friday, May 2, 2014

My heart skipped a beat

Since my last post about journal entries on the last day of April I felt like sharing this story.

It's funny because I just mentioned this story the other night when I was out for dinner with Tad's parents and the kids and Lucy and Coen were checking their heart rates using an application on their grandfather's phone.  And then I was going through journals and found it right there in my own handwriting!

I was sent home a couple months early from the Peace Corps because of the tumor in my ear that made me lose my hearing.  After my surgery to remove the tumor and all the healing, etc.. I had to have a full physical before I was released to go home once and for all.

I went to that physical on May 2nd of 2002, all jacked up and excited.  I had to pee very badly before I even left for the physical but decided not to since I knew they'd make me pee in a cup and I didn't want to waste it.  I arrived feeling extremely healed, happy, in an on top of the world-ish sort of way and also really really having to urinate.
When the nurse finally called me in she told me they were going to take some blood and then do a urine sample.
In my agitated state, I jumped up and said, rather loudly "Can we do the urine first!?!"
She laughed at me and I went to pee in the cup.
Afterwards, I shot out of the bathroom feeling quite relieved and walked fast right by the door of the examination room. I heard the nurse laugh and she called down the hall, "Where are you going?"
I laughed too and went back to the room to sit in the chair that was sort of high up and I found my feet were dangling so I swung them back and forth.  The nurse looked at me.
"Are you okay?  All I saw was a red blur go past and now look at you!"
"I just really had to GO!" I said.
After the blood and the pee I went into the other room and a doctor came in.  He was listening to my heartbeat and as he did I looked out the window and thought about how I was going to go home and see Tad for the first time in many week and really BE with him. Joy sort of surfaced in my chest and suddenly the doctor said, "Did you feel that?"
"Your heart just skipped three beats!"
And I was like---"Well...No!  I mean, yes. It's just that I was just thinking..."
He started to rise, talking about getting an EKG ready and then I said sort of loudly, "No! No! I'm fine. I was just thinking!"
I didn't really want to tell him I was thinking about my boyfriend.  But in the end I convinced him I was just fine and he listened again while I tried not to think about Tad and make it happen again.

Anyway, I was deemed healthy and let go.  I got to go home and see Tad one week from that physical.  It's a funny thing, love.

Tad and me...brand new

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The last day of April

Today is the last day of April.

 In 1998, I was still in school at UWM.  There was this boy I liked a lot and one night he invited me to hang out in his room with him to read his poetry.  College girl's dream, right?  Anyway, one of the poems he read me was called
The last day of April
And after that day, I noticed that in many of my journals I have written out "The last day of April" on April 30th.

 Part of the reason I know this is because I'm working on something of a written nature right now and for research I pulled out some old journals.  For fun I looked through for all the entries on this date.

Last day of April 1998
Journal Entry for Saturday May 1st, 1998 is entitled "The last day of April" and is about this night with the boy and the poetry.  My twenty-three year old self's journal entry that day was filled with phrases such as  "now everything has changed" (It hadn't), "maybe love?" (It wasn't), and "I can't wait until he calls me" (He didn't.) Ah, but that's the stuff of college, is it not?

Last day of April 2000

Exactly 14 years ago on the last day of April, I put this doodle at the end of my journal entry:

It was one month before I was to leave for the Peace Corps in Estonia.  I was struggling, obviously, with what to pack.  I had received news that I was leaving for Estonia only six weeks before my flight would be.  I remember saying to Tad (who at that point was my dear friend and downstairs neighbor) "It's so soon!  I only have May left before I go!"
And Tad putting his reassuring hand on my shoulder and saying with a smile "Well...look out, May."

Last day of April 2001

I spent the morning of Sunday April 30th, 2001 on a four-hour bus ride from Tallinn (the Capital of Estonia) to Kuressaare-The town on the island of Saaremaa where I lived.  I spent that bus ride listening to music and writing about the night before which was one of the drunkest, strangest and most memorable nights out with my Peace Corps friends.

One volunteer ended up in hospital with a nearly burst appendix and we all visited him and tried to translate his needs to the Estonian-speaking nurses.  Then we all went to a bar called Nimeta (bar without a name) and I watched my friends drink shot after shot.  One volunteer passed out in the bathroom and was unceremoniously dumped in the street by people who he described as "impolite ladies".  Another volunteer who'd just found out about a death in her family was crying in the bathroom while I rubbed her back.  A group of Russian women burst in, upon hearing her and yelled out in English "Don't cry, pretty lady! Men are SHIT!"  A group of us, hung out in an alleyway on the way back to the hotel as one of our party threw up into a plastic bag.  My darling friend Christina worked some kind of magic as three drunk Estonians walked by and she yelled out to them "WAITER! We need water!" And they actually went to a kiosk and bought us some.  The night ended with Harald and I, the last ones awake laughing together until it was time to sleep.

The last day of April 2002

 I wrote this journal entry from a hotel in Washington DC where I was after my tumor removal ear surgery.  All the Peace Corps volunteers who were "medically evacuated" stayed there.  Tad called it the Malady Inn.

All I knew at that moment, was that I would soon be on my way home to Tad who, by then, was no longer just my good friend and neighbor but the man I was in love with. 

The last day of April 2003

I wrote about finding out via ultrasound that the baby I was carrying was a boy.

The last day of April 2005  

I  wrote about a moment that night before I went to bed. And in the moment, eighteen month old Coen climbed off his Grandpa's lap, toddled over to the floor where I was sitting, climbed into my lap and hugged me hard around the neck.  And then he toddled back over to his grandpa and got back in his lap.  "I got tears in my eyes" I wrote, "but I didn't let anyone see."

The last day of April 2014 
I haven't written a journal entry yet today but if I did I guess I would say that Tad's camping with his students and Coen and Lucy are in bed and even though it's cold and windy and rainy and nothing at all like you'd want the last day of April to feel, that I feel....good.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Why the casino poster guy makes me cringe

I drive to work past the casino every day.  And there are pictures of  this guy everywhere.  He's the poster man for Potawatomi and he makes me cringe.  

"Oh! I hate him!" I'll yell, whenever he's on TV or a billboard I happen to be passing.  Tad laughs at me.  
But today I drove by his big billboard on Canal Street and I experienced that familiar rush of dislike and then I thought.....he might be a perfectly nice guy.  Maybe it's just the image he's acting out that I don't like.  
The billboard in question showed him surrounded by "beautiful" women.  And I tell you...I've been inside the casino and I have never seen people looking like the people on the billboard, all fresh-faced and airbrushed.  Wouldn't it be interesting if the billboard was a picture of the people really inside?
I realized that maybe I don't like him because he represents addiction in my mind.

And in some ways, addiction has taken center stage of much of my life.

I've been in a casino with someone who can't stop gambling.
And what I see is not flashy and sparkly like the ads, but hazy with desperation and want.

I've been in a bar with someone who can't stop drinking.
There are no smiling laughing faces, but the stink of booze and eyes swimming in an unreachable fog.

I've held the hand of someone shaking through the withdrawal of quitting drugs.
It's sickeningly, sobering, all quaking and pain and fear.

I decided when I was twelve years old that I would never drink alcohol and have spent every one of the twenty-six years since deflecting offers and pressure and near forcible handing of drinks to me, laughing it off every time. Because of my experience, it's hard for me to see a glass of wine for what it is: a glass of wine.  For me it represents disappearance and loss and the rocking of an unsteady boat lost at sea.  

But I know for some people it really can just be a glass of wine.  I guess the same goes for the casino guy. He's just an actor.  A trip to Potawatomi is just a trip to Potawatomi in so many cases.

And really, many of the people I love best in this world are people who were in that hazy world of addiction and pulled themselves out.  And they are the realest, truest people I know.  Maybe going through that haze is part of what brought them there.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday Post #3

My parents as frog and princess at a Halloween party in the late seventies/early eighties
I dedicate this week's throwback Thursday post to my parents, who on Easter Sunday this year, April 20th, were married for 40 years.

My mom attended Divine Savior Holy Angels High School and my dad attended Marquette University High School.  They met through friends and one of my mom's friends dated my dad.  There was a connection between them as they both describe it to me and they both traveled and saw each other when in town at the same time.  My dad spent his service days in Turkey and my mom worked as an airline stewardess. 

Eventually when my mom's friend was no longer dating my dad, he asked my mom out.  My mom asked her friend if she minded. 
"You want to go out with Joel Kriofske?  Go ahead.  I think he's gay."
Apparently he hadn't made a move on her.
My mom went out with him right after she was given the go-ahead.  She called her friend the next day.
"Did you have a good time with Joel?" She'd asked.
"I did." My mom said, "And he's not gay."

My parents love each other. It's clear in the way they look at each other, laugh together, and know each other.  I remember coming downstairs to ask a question after bedtime and finding them kissing on the couch. I'd run upstairs like I didn't like it but when I got back into bed, I would smile to myself and think that one day, I wanted a love like that.

Forty years is a long time.  That's almost how old I am.  My whole life, they've been partners.  My mom still sticks mashed up food in my dad's ear as retribution when he teases her and they still kiss on the couch. 

I appreciate being raised with their humor and openness and the way they showed us marriage can be.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Time, time, time...

Yesterday we were driving and Lucy spied a bumper sticker that read:

Life is short

"What?!" She said incredulously, "Life isn't short. Life takes forever!"

Time is a funny thing.

When you're a kid, time seems like an endless enigma. At least to Lucy.  When you're a parent, time in general seems to fly. One minute you're holding a brand new baby, hopelessly in love and unsure that you can even handle such a responsibility and the next minute you're telling your ten year old to clear his dishes. Yet when you're a parent, though the weeks, months and years fly by so fast you can scarcely believe it, some days can go so slowly you find yourself watching the clock tick tick tick towards bedtime.

Coen got a watch in his Easter basket at his grandparents' house.  He is so thrilled, when I ask him what time it is, to be able to report. "Now I can constantly know what time it is!" He said in excitement as he strapped it onto his wrist.  I remember my first watch too.  It was a Mickey Mouse watch, Mickey's hands telling the hour and minute.  I wore a watch from that day when I was about eleven to when I was twenty-two.  I went from the Mickey Mouse watch to a Swatch, to a nice plain one with an army green band and a white face and black numbers.  That watch died when I was on the airplane leaving the country for the first time for Bristol, England.  I threw it away when it stopped and decided not to wear a watch anymore. Who cares what time it is?! I had thought.

This week I feel overwhelmed by time.  I had to work late last night. I have a board event tonight. I have to work late tomorrow night.  Our weekend is full.  And when I think of time as a full week of events, I feel like crawling back under the covers.  But when I think of it day by's actually a lovely week.  Taking today separately, I don't feel overwhelmed at all.  I guess that's the trick.  Taking time as a minute by minute thing instead of imagining your week or month or even your life as an expansive block of time. That's just too much...and too little.

But right now.  Right now it is 8:45 a.m.  My children are in their classrooms, but that doesn't matter because right now I'm just me.  Sipping my coffee and breathing in and out and typing these words on a computer screen.  Trying to take my time.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Angry Drivers

I want to make some signs to hold up in my car, so people know what's going on with me when they get angry and honk their horns at me or glare as they drive past.

I really don't see why people have to get so mad.  98% of the time, it's not like I'm crashing into them. Sometimes I get a little dreamy and wait a half second too long to move at the green light.  Sometimes I stop at the occasional green light.

People get so mad!

They beep and honk and shout obscenities through their closed windows.  At least I assume they are shouting obscenities.  It looks hilarious though, like watching a really angry person on mute.  Really angry people on mute are funny.  I know because at our house we watch a lot of baseball games with music on instead of the announcers.  A lot of coaches go crazy at the umps and watching them on mute is highly entertaining!  You know what else is really funny on mute?  Symphonies.  Oh! And operas.  High quality entertainment, I tell you.

So I want to make these signs.  One that says:


Just simple. For when I wait too long when the red light turns green or am driving too slow. Anytime when there's an impatient honk or someone drives past glaring.  I can just hold up my sign.

The other one I want to make is one that says:


That's for the muted obscenity screamers and the flippers off.  I mean. There really IS no reason to be that angry!

But then again, you just never know. I mean, maybe they're having the worst day of their life.  Or are on the way to the hospital.  Or are going to get fired if they're late one more time.  Or maybe they're just unhappy in general and so minor traffic annoyances are just the straw that breaks the camel's back of their day. I think I'd be better off with this sign:

I think I'll use this one the most.

I'll let you know how they're received.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Throwback Thursday Post #2

When I was a kid, neighbors up the road from us had a ton of baby parakeets born.  They were selling them for $10 a pop.

My parents allowed me, for my 10th birthday, to purchase one.

Mine was blue with a lovely yellow head and green and black markings. 

I was told that when a parakeet is a baby the top of its beak is sort of light pink or violet  and it either turns brownish pink if it's a girl or violet or blue if it's a boy.  They told me that only the males can talk.

I named my parakeet Pixie and waited to see what sex my bird was.  And I started trying to teach Pixie to talk right away.

Within about six months, Pixie's beak was blue and HE started talking.  Pixie said the following phrases:

"Pretty Pixie"

"Pretty Birdie"

"I'm not a bird."

"Birds don't talk."

"Dogs eat birds."

My mom also Taught Pixie to say "Joel's a jerk."

Also, he whistled Beethoven's fifth symphony.  And he barked.  Like our dog.  Seriously. Once our dog was away at the groomer and I heard barking and was so confused... I searched all over the house until I realized it was Pixie.

He liked to fly free in the house and he'd land on your nose and pick your teeth with his beak.

And he'd land on the edge of your drink and help himself. If one of my parents was having a drink drink he'd go to town and then fly right into the walls. 

Oh Pixie.

Silly Birdie!

Monday, April 7, 2014

You must be so patient....

Whenever I tell someone I work with kids with disabilities, this phrase, invariably is what they say.

You must be so patient.


Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

I am probably the least patient of all people I have ever met in my thirty eight plus years on earth.  For real. 

My birth lasted roughly three hours.  I was like...what's everyone waiting for?! Let's get the show on the road already!

I have never liked waiting for much of anything.  Much less for people to do, say, or understand things.

Today, I could feel my impatience brewing like a hot coffee in a percolator.  I had a half hour to spare after my last class today so I took a walk.  I could barely stand the slowness of my own feet.  When I got to school, I felt a strange defeat.  I though about the afternoon ahead: homework, probably playing outside (how can you NOT in this weather), Coen's seventh day of ten in painfully theatrical antibiotic swallowing, bath night, dinner, and bedtime.  Tad wasn't going to be home tonight so I was on my own.  I almost wanted to go to sleep right there in the school hallway. Quite simply, I DIDN'T WANNA!!!!!!

After homework we went outside to play where several children were riding their bikes.  My extremely stubborn daughter refused mostly to ride anything but a ill-fitting tricycle all last year, but this year DANG IT ALL, she's riding her bike! She did want me to get the bike out but then proceeded to be terrified of it. She got on, it wobbled once, and she threw herself to the safety of the sidewalk yelling "IT WOBBLED!"
I tried to explain the natural wobbling of a bike on training wheels but to no avail.  She got on, got off, got on got off and I was about to lose my ever-loving mind.  I felt bad; she was quite upset by it and was just scared.  I know she gets very scared and unsure about new things but it's hard for me to understand.  When it came to bike riding, I scorned my parents, threw myself on my blue Schwinn and taught myself to ride at age six.  I wasn't afraid of much of anything as a kid.  Except for that 1983 Ronnie Milsap song, There's a stranger in my house. It was about, as I later found out in adulthood, a man who suspects his wife of an affair, but I thought there really WAS a stranger in his house and would run, terrified, from my bedroom anytime it came on the radio.  Aside from that though, not much scared me.  My daughter, however, is a creature of initial fears and worries and aprehensions. She always gets herself where she needs to be and does it with bravery and's just hard for me to relate to her start out reaction.

Here she is, once she got going.  Just fine.

 So, yeah. I wasn't all that patient. 

This is how I imagine I looked this afternoon.

But you know, my kids are in bed, fed, bathed and antibiotic-ed. And I gave them both my all when I read to them and tucked them in.  And you know, I did my best.  That's all we can do, right?

But patient, I am not.

No siree.  Hurry up and finish this post already!!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Throwback Thursday post #1

So, back when I was a teenager my sister and I hung out with a group of kids that were a mix among our two ages and years in school.  My senior year, we would go out to Denny's at 5:00 am before high school and drink coffee and smoke cigarettes.  After the meal, my sister would always turn to me and say "Face?"  She was asking, "Is there anything on my face" a phrase she just shortened to "face".

 I loved these Denny's mornings because it meant waking up in the dark before the sun rose and riding together in the car with whoever happened to have one or be able to drive their parents' to school.  For a good few months, my dad had a job with a company car and I got to drive his. We'd drive the twenty minutes from Hartland to Denny's in Waukesha, listening to L7, or Wild Kingdom or the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.   I loved these Denny's mornings because they were full of fun and laughter and a unbeatable before school special event feeling.

I also loved these Denny's mornings because we all would smoke cigarettes in the restaurant (back in the days when smoking happened right at the table) without fear of being caught by a parent.  We invented a word for cigarettes to say around our parents so they wouldn't know what we were saying.  "Shmeedie" was the word for a cigarette and "Shmeedie Gurp" was the word for a cigarette break.  We'd be sitting around at my house and someone would say "Shmeedie Gerp?"  And we'd all go out, feeling so sneaky.  I remember rubbing my hands with pine needles from a hedge outside, thinking I was masking the smell. I'm not sure that we were really getting anything past anyone.  I remember being questioned about the smoke smell and saying things like "Yeah, it was really smoky there. People were blowing smoke right on me!"  I mean, honestly!  Who did I think I was fooling!

After the Denny's runs, I'd get to school and sit on top my desk, ready to answer questions in English class, hopped up on caffeine and an early morning outing with friends.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

You won't even know I'm here

There's this strange thing that happens to me.

The harder I try to be quiet, the louder I am.

A couple weeks ago, I came home earlier than expected to find Tad just settling in on the couch to watch a sporting event of some kind.  I knew he was probably looking forward to the quiet calm of the post-bedtime house.  I felt kind of bad for bringing myself and my wild energy back home.  I hugged my husband and told him, "You won't even know I'm here."  He went in to watch his game and I immediately, whilst putting dishes away, dropped fifteen forks on the floor.
My children were now aware of my existence and wanted me to come upstairs.  I smiled sheepishly at Tad and went up the steps to greet my tucked-in children, now all un-tucked and jacked up at my presence.
After they were settled in again, I brought my bottle of water in and my book and sat on the opposite end of the couch from Tad...spilling my water all over the place, my water bottle falling down with a resounding THUNK!
Yep. Won't even know I'm here.


The other night, I was coming home from the Landmark of all places at nearly one in the morning and Tad was in bed.  I opened the door ever so quietly, tiptoed into the kitchen quiet as a cat, and then proceeded to walk into the counter and knock over two coffee cups.


I shushed myself and then walked through to the living room, forgetting to take my boots off CLOMP CLOMP CLOMP and then tripping over myself when I finally did get my boots off.  Then I went into the bathroom, shutting the door so Tad wouldn't hear the water running, etc.  The door didn't shut the first time. CLICK CLICK.  Nor the second. CLICK. Nor the third. CLICK CLICK CLICK!  Finally it shut and I got myself washed up and into pajamas and crept into our bedroom.  Just before I got into bed with Tad, I tripped over the space heater, fell on top of it, and accidentally turned it on. The WHIRRR, RATTLE started up and then I started laughing.

Finally I got into bed with Tad. He put his warm, sleepy arms around me and whispered, "Thanks for being so quiet when you came in, honey."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A blog post about blog posts.

A new blog post
A while back he wanted to start a blog for friends of his and my mom's while they were dog sitting.  They called me over to help them start it up.  Standing behind my dad's office chair trying to explain how to make a new blog and add pictures was highly amusing.  I texted my sister whilst this occurred (things like: Lord take me now! Mom and dad are trying to upload a picture) Oh, technology.

I'm sure someday I will have Coen or Lucy at my house trying to talk me through how to think a website into my eyeball browser.

Yesterday my dad left me a message asking me to talk him through posting a link to his blog on Facebook. We did it over the phone to great success!

You can check it out here!

A comment on a blog post

I like very much to read The Bloggess.  Here is a link to her blog.  I noticed that when I comment on her blog posts, I get more traffic to my blog, particularly when I'm an early comment-er (one of the first twenty comments--she generally has between 100-300 comments).  But I try to check myself and only comment when I feel compelled to comment, not just to leave a comment.  But I'm not sure what the etiquette is about commenting when you really have nothing to say.

But I suppose when it comes around to it, Facebook and Twitter are just places for people who have nothing to say to say things anyway!

A current blog post

So, those two things inspired me to write a blog post about blog posts.  Which, in and of itself, is not all that interesting.  But thanks for reading anyway!

I will try to fall in a mud puddle or walk into a wall so I have something much more highly entertaining to tell you about tomorrow!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I'm not sure how to do this...

I got home from a girls' night in Chicago this morning to a little girl in her jammies, with dark circles under her eyes.

Lucy's sick. 

She clearly had a fever.  She lay on the couch, sort of weepy and sniffly all afternoon. Here she is moments after denying that she was sick or tired AT ALL!

Here's the thing I am not sure I'm very good at...  Being a mom to sick Lucy. 

When Coen was her age, and he was sick and/or feverish, he would climb his hot little body into my lap and cuddle until he either fell asleep or felt better.  Not Lucy.

She does not want to be cuddled.  When I try to rub her back or smooth her hair she pulls away from me.  "Do you want me to let you be?" I asked her. She nodded and fell asleep after I walked away from the couch.


It's hard. I know how to cuddle and soothe, to lullaby and shush and sympathetically and lovingly gaze.  Lucy will have no such thing.  She wants to be left alone, to be talked to normally and above all things, not be coddled.  My mom says this is how I was as a kid.  I vaguely remember being perfectly happy left under the blankets on the couch.  So there you go. I have to be a mom to a kid who wants me to be a mom in a way that isn't comfortable for me, really.  But what a wonderful challenge, I suppose. 

She's in bed now.  And later, when she cries for me, I'll just sit on the very edge of her bed, not touching her at all or saying anything soft and loving and warm.  But I'll be thinking it. 

And I guess that's just what it means to be her momma.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A scattered post

I'm having bloggers block.

So I figured I better just write something and post it and then maybe I'll get over it.

I went back on facebook the other night.  Some people were sad to see that I'd lost my resolve.  Some people gave me a hearty welcome.  I was missed!  Hurrah. Isn't it a lovely thing, to know you're missed?

When I logged in (it was that easy, by the way, to reinstate my account: just log in!)  It's like those terrible break up/get back together/break up/ get back together experiences you always see people have in middle school.  Middle age too I suppose.   Anyhow, I digress.  So I logged in... and you know that feeling you get when you come home after having been at a really nice hotel for a few days?  That feeling when you walk in and your house looks sort of...dumpy?  Well that's how facebook looked when I logged back in.  Like a house after you've been in a posh hotel.  Sorta strange.  A little messy.  Weird.

During my absence, I did prolly what you did.  I went to work.  I came home and hung out with my family.  I got a new phone!  Here's me, trying to figure it out:

It was troublesome at first, but I'm getting used to it.

I watched the Oscars.

During the Oscars, Pink came on singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, as a Judy Garland tribute.  Immediately I thought of my friend Stephanie and texted her to let her know.  I knew that would thrill her to see that.  I felt good, making her feel known.  Isn't it also a wonderful thing, to feel known?

And then after a few back and forth texts, she texted, "I love that you know me so well"

That made me happy.

So that's all.  Not much has happened. But you know, I read more. I wrote more in my journal, but not the story I'm working on.  I just sat and breathed in the quiet of my living room.  That was really nice. I think I'll do that some more. 

Balance is nice.

So there you go.
1. It's good to know you're missed in an absence of sorts.
2. It's good to feel known (or to make someone feel known).
3. Balance is good too.

Happy Friday everyone!

Friday, February 28, 2014

I'm search-engine optimized!

I googled myself yesterday looking for a good picture (you'd think I would just have one but I needed a respectable business picture and turns out I just like to look ridiculous anytime someone points a camera in my direction). 

As you know I have been off Facebook for the month. Today is officially the last day of my face-battical.  And as excited as I am to get back to the world of knowing what is going on with everyone I even remotely know in down to the minute details...  Here's what I noticed when I googled myself:

Without Facebook, I'm search engine optimized!

If I were to apply for a job or something (which I'm not!) or be googled by anyone who wished to bestow upon me any kind of opportunity, endeavor or otherwise, they would find, after googling me that I'm a sexuality educator, I work at IndependenceFirst,  I received a 40 under 40 award last year, and various places they could have seen me do a workshop/presentation on sexuality education.

Once you throw facebook in the mix, it's a lot less about my professional accomplishments and a lot lot lot more silly pictures.

It's very interesting.  It gives me pause. 

Oh my gosh....I'm so sorry. I couldn't resist.

But it makes me wonder..just about the way something like Facebook can clog things up. 

Well, at any rate, I'll likely be back on come Monday.  It's been a nice sabbatical though.  I thought about nothing but what was currently happening and about who I was currently with.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Be what you are.

Be what you are.
This was written on a post-it note on our bathroom mirror this morning.  I know Tad wrote it for himself.  Because it's hard to be who you are and be a teacher at the same time. There are so many roles you have to play.  But then again, it's hard to be who you are and be anything else at the same time.
There are so many roles you have to play.
The other day, Coen was talking to us about the social stratospheres of his classroom. It's starting.  He's in a class with 4th through 6th graders and he is aware of who is "popular". 
"Oh, Coen" Tad had said, "Popular just means that everyone knows you.  Everyone can know you for good reasons and bad reasons. It isn't something you need to try and be."
"Oh, I know." Said Coen.  "Me and my friends are kind of the weirdoes."
"And the weirdoes have the most fun." Tad said.
Coen smiled.
He said that when he sat down at a table to work, all the girls who were sitting there got up and moved.  My face fell when he said this, but Coen smiled.
"Oh don't worry, Mommy." He said. "I didn't mind. Then there was room for my friends to come sit!"
Coen really doesn't seem to mind. And Tad tells me not to worry.  His experience sounds so much like the one I had in 4th grade. I was a weirdo. People moved to another seat when I sat at their table.  But, oh, how I minded.  But you know, Tad and I just affirm to Coen that he is a wonderful person and that this time of life is hard and going to get harder before it gets easier. But that we love who and what he is.  We're all weirdoes in our family. 
So we'll just keep teaching our kids: BE WHAT YOU ARE.  That's all you need to do.  Oh. And be kind.
-Elliot Rosewater's Baptismal Speech (Kurt Vonnegut, 1965)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Don't we all want to connect?  I mean isn't that the one thing, we, as the human race absolutely positively have in common?

You'd think we could use that to our advantage.

I just saw the movie Her. 

I thought it would re-affirm my feelings about my facebattical.  That I would think about our dependence on our devices for constant stimulation and immediate answers to all our questions.  I thought I would leave the movie and think. Yep.  Good thing I left Facebook for a while.

But no.  After that movie was over (I went to see it alone) I sat in the dark and music of the credits and I thought, first, of Tad.  I thought about my connection to him and the way it feels to be in love with someone in such a way that your bodies are immaterial.  How it feels to connect with someone right down to their soul.  If I were to loose all five senses except the sixth (that I believe we all have--not like we can predict the future or see ghosts--that we can feel people's energy around them and really know them if both are open to that), if I were to loose those senses, I would KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt, if Tad walked into the room with me, that it was HE who was there.  I know the way he feels in the air around me. 

So Her was about love, really. About how we connect with people or we don't connect with people or we start and then stop.  But we all want this connection...every single one of us. 

Today I was visiting the senators and representatives of Wisconsin for work. Lobbying for the rights of people with disabilities in the arenas of long term care, mental health and transportation (among other things) and I noticed that in the appointments where we were all reaching out to one another, no matter whether our political affiliations were the same or different) we had really positive communications.  And the two appointments where the person was closed to us, nothing was accomplished at all.  It was as if nothing was said and nothing was heard  How sad.  My own Representative Evan Goyke, he just spent three weeks going to each and every member of the republican party (not his own party) to connect and talk through issues.  What an amazing thing.  Because even when we're ideologically opposed to something, maybe if we talk long enough, we can agree that we're trying to do something good.

When I was in between appointments, I noticed a staff person in the building dropped a pile of papers and mail.  I smiled at him and knelt down to help gather the things.
"I don't want help." He said in a clipped voice.
"You don't? I asked.
How closed he was!  And I'm not trying to be critical.  Maybe he was having a bad day or just received hard news...but he was so closed. And I kept thinking, what if he'd smiled back and let me help. And what if we started talking and found a common ground or a shared interest.  What if we became friends or had a relative in common....what a story that could have been. 
"Open your heart!" I wanted to say to him.
But I smiled and walked away.

One quote in the movie Her was this: "Love is just a socially acceptable form of insanity"

What if we just opened ourselves up?  What if we just opened up, all of us, and tried to connect? What if?