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!