3/30/07

Time Out Of Mind

So everything went OK this morning....and things are settling down a bit. I just wanted to share a little something.

Is it just me or could Adam Sandler play Bob Dylan in a movie?

Is it just me? Does anyone else see it??

Maybe I just need some sleep?!



My Heart Just Stopped

It is the ass-crack of dawn, & I am awake. Today is going to be a rough day. Can't really get into details, but it will be keeping me away for the next few days. I just wanted to "report" on a few things.

I got my paper finished by 10:30 a.m. yesterday. It probably wasn't one of my better papers, but whateva.

The awards assembly was........awesome. Connor was so happy to receive his award. I swear, I don't think I've ever seen my baby boy that happy before. I was completely overwhelmed. I couldn't contain the tears. Yes, I think I must be one of those nutty mcnutster moms.
However, as soon as we walked into the school office & signed in, upon arriving at Connor's school, I knew it was going to be an emotional day.

This little girl we encountered, I haven't been able to get out of my mind.

When we walked into the office to sign in, there was a little girl standing in the office. She couldn't have been any more than 9. And there was a school "official" talking to her - I wasn't really paying them too much attention. And then I heard...

Sweetheart, I'm really sorry your mommy died.

And then the little girl said:
I know. Her heart just stopped.

I felt the tears welling up, my face fell, and I seriously wanted to hug that little girl so tight. I looked at her face as she was walking by me and she looked so....serene. She looked so strong.
But I know inside, that little girl has got be a wreck. Even if she doesn't know it.

Rav & I turned our backs to look at pictures in a display while waiting in the office & when I turned back around, that little girl was reaching out to touch Gracie's hand (who was in my mother's arms) and was talking to Gracie.
And my heart stopped.
The emotions that washed over me as a mom - for this little girl. A girl I don't even know. Watching her reaching out to my daughter. I was beyond words.

The emotions of the day were almost too much for me to handle & process.

Such sadness & then the next moment, such happiness.

I think I will be thinking about that little girl for quite some time.

3/29/07

The News

***Edited***

I am oh-so-tired.
I stayed up late last night in the attempt to write a paper that is due today.
If staying up late had produced the completed paper, I'd be alright. Because well, the mission is over.
But no, here I am dead tired with no paper in hand. In fact, not even really started.
I have to attempt to write this paper today before 12:30?!?! All while caring for two wild & crazy kids.

So, if I don't have much to say today, that's why.

Oh, and I'm still pissed off at blogger. I wrote a post yesterday - not a blurb, a post - only to have it eaten by the blogger goblins as soon as I hit "Publish". I got some crazy blogger error message saying that my request could not be granted, a bunch of technical garble, and no damn post. So, I'm still a little ragin' over that.

This afternoon, we are heading to Connor's school for an awards assembly where he will be receiving an actual award for good behavior (the same award that, at the beginning of the year, I said he would never get because even though he is sweet & caring, he has impulse issues that would keep him from getting this). But we have been basking in his little glory this week. Because our ADHD little boy pulled himself together enough - for one month, anyway - to receive the award.
He's so proud. He's so happy. And he should be. And we are too, right there with him.

Anyway, that's what I've got going on today, so it's not looking too good.

I'll probably be MIA this weekend too.
Except for Sunday, of course.

'Til then....

***When I said I mumbled that Connor would never get the award, I didn't say it to him. I said it to a friend of mine who has a son with ADD, who is similar in personality to Connor. She was reflecting on how she always hated 'Star of the Month' and crap that like because no matter how 'good' ADD/ADHD kids are & try to be, they have behaviors out of their control that always seem to keep them from these types of things. To which I added that there was a similar program at Connor's school & it breaks my heart because I know he'll never get it. ***

3/27/07

Straight Off The Boat

My daughter.
God love her.

I believe her genes are saturated with Rav's Italian genes. Rav's paternal grandfather & his family were straight off the boat from Florence. Rav's mom is of Irish descent. As am I - among the English & possibly Scott on my dad's side....and straight German and Dutch on my mom's.

If you heard Gracie talk, you'd be amazed she's not straight eye-talian. She says things like:

*I bump -ahmyhead.

*I wanna sit nex-ahtoyouuuuu.

*I need-ahthecrayon.

*Leave the gun. Take the cannoli. (Just kidding on that one)

And my typing these things does it absolutely no justice.
It is rip roaringly funny. I'd like to find an old Italian man - with an accent and listen to them talk to each other. Because the way she talks is extraordinary. She's got.it.down. Not to mention she's loud & has the hand gestures down.
No, not those hand gestures.

Now if I can just get her to make a good gravy (pasta sauce - not gravy), we'll be good to go.

3/26/07

I Just Came From The Kitchen & I Gotta Ask

What's the deal with my son? He eats a "meal" just so that he can eat a snack.

He'll eat just enough so that it appears that he has satisfied his daily intake requirements.

But then.....
But then......

As soon as he puts his fork down he says:

Can I have a snack?

WTF, kid?

This has been going on for weeks now. And I recognize that young children eat smaller amounts and more frequently.
But this nasty little monkey he has on his back just seems a little nutty to me.

Anyone else's kid do this?
Anybody? You there in the back, slouching down in your seat....your kid do this too?


3/25/07

Ray Lamontagne-How come

I know that I chose a Ray LaMontagne song a few weeks ago or so for one of my Sunday songs. But this one is so good I had to share it.
I've been listening to this song ALL week....on the iPod, on the computer, in the car. The funny thing is that I've heard the song on the CD a bunch of times, but this week I actually "heard" it for the first time. If that makes any sense?
I sort of wish that we could have a National How Come Day and blare this song down in D.C. and all over the country. But that's just me and my wacky way of looking at things.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the song.
And I hope you like listening to it rather than reading the lyrics.
I'm having some formatting problems doing it this way. Like I can't post a label. And Rav says that I still should type the lyrics.
You all will have to tell me what you think.
But don't forget to enjoy the song first!

3/23/07

Put That In Your Pipe And Smoke It

Ok, I'm really bad at keeping up on the bloggy world as far was awards go. I don't mean to be. I don't want to be. There are so many great bloggers out there. So many great posts.

I think they (the awards) are a great idea. I think they are wonderful at recognizing the bloggers and their posts for a job well done. It is great to have the spotlight on your blog, on your writing. Too often (for me anyway) I lurk, I read, and I don't let the writer know what their work meant to me. I need to work on this.

I get very embarrassed when the spotlight is turned on me. I've only received one award. Until today.....and last week. Slackermommy and Pippajo - over at The Knut Hut - have both awarded me with the Thinking Blogger Award.


I'm honored and flumoxed.
And I don't know what to do about this because a lot of the people that I would pick have been chosen already.

I think most of you know the rules but here they are just in case:


1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

So, for the 5 People That Make Me Think:

1. Jen over at One Plus Two - I know she's been awarded with this....and probably a bazillion times over. And it is well deserving because she's just.that.damned.good. There are too many posts to mention. You just have to go check her out. Dig in her archives. You won't be disappointed. She's truly a beauty. And her writing is beyond beautiful.
2. Deb at Tired Mummy - She's relatively new to me. Deb is so brave to share the pieces of her life, her struggles, her humor. She gets me thinking time and again. I don't often comment over her way...because she leaves me speechless time and again.
3. Jess over at Oh, The Joys - Again, another repeat "offender". Joy gets me thinking about how I need to wear Depends everytime I visit her blog. She is damned funny and damned thoughtful in her funnyness. Little firecracker, she is. And I luvs it.

There are two blogs that I read frequently, but haven't commented - hardly ever if at all. But they do get me thinking and I feel I do have to acknowledge them.

4. Sweet Juniper - They are just too cool for school. The writing by both Wood & Dutch is funny and though provoking - even Dutch's Sweet Juniper Press among other projects he shares.
5. Grace - Again, her writing is just simply put: Beautiful and she gets me wee noggin going.

Again thank you, Slackermommy & Pippajo. So sweet. Lovely, lovely ladies.

3/22/07

None But Ourselves Can Free Our Minds

Here is where, if you have had any respect for me (as much as one can reading & "getting to know someone" in this forum), you will probably walk away shaking your head in disappointment after this post.

Rav & I, since last season, watch American Idol.
Yes, yes we do.
The thing is, it's winter, see. It's cold. There's not much else to do.
Well, there's always something to do. But it's all too much like work.

Not only that.....
We're tired and totally zombied out by 8:00 p.m.
So, American Idol is a good fit for a couple in their late-twenty-somethings with two small children, living in Zone 7 and cannot hold an intelligent conversation when it starts getting dark.

Anyway, there are my sorry-ass justifications for why we have been watching American Idol.
They're not good ones.
But you'll just have to deal.

I've sunk to an all-time low, though.
I had a dream last week.
I had a dream about American Idol.
I had a dream that I was a contestant on American Idol.
If you heard me sing you know that I would be one of a million clips that would have all of America laughing at just how horribly they sing.

I'm that bad.
I would make William Hung sound like Ray Charles.


So, I had this dream.
I was somehow in the top 12.
I was backstage preparing to go on.
And my sheet music disappeared.
Someone was trying to sabotage me (probably Sanjaya).
I was frantic.
I was trying to think of the perfect song that I knew perfectly from beginning to end.
I was still frantic.
I was being called on stage by the producers.
I was ape-shit crazy frantic now.
Desperately, gasping for a breath, asking everybody, anybody what song I should sing.
I am thrust on-stage by a surly, smoking producer.
The spot light is on me. The audience and the judges are waiting.
And I sing

Redemption Song by Bob Marley.
No background singers.
No band.
Acapella.
I belt it. (As much as I could in a dream - and considering I was dreaming I'm guessing I could sing pretty well?)
I turn to the judges.


Randy says It was alright, Dawg. I'm feelin' ya.

Paula says I think you're outfit is cute. (and she looks at me a little cross-eyed)

Simon says I think you made a big mistake. Why would you chose a political type song? Why would you use this platform, this show to make that kind of statement?

To which I said, Well, Simon that's the whole point.
Then I woke up.

Do you think this dream is trying to tell me something??


3/21/07

Love Patterns

Connor's school, in an effort to promote early literacy, has this program called Book-In-A-Bag. And for those not familiar, in the beginning of the year, parents sign a form saying they'd like to participate, then on Monday your child comes home with a book in a plastic ziplock bag, you send it back in on Friday and the process repeats.
I think, for the most part, it's a good idea. The only downfall I see, and it's not really a downfall, is that they send home a lot of common titles. At our house, we have tons of children's books. And I realize some families don't.... But for us it means, that a lot of the books that are sent home, we already have. Every-so-often though, we get one that is new to me. Last week, Connor came home with this really cute book called Momma, Do You Love Me? The pictures were endearing, the story-line was an across the board story-line, however the characters were Alaskan Eskimos and the book introduced some of their culture.


Connor & I sat down last week to read the story. Each page started with Momma, would you love me if I _______.

The beginning started out with completely innocent things & then moved on to "would you love me if I did this [insert bad behavior here].

We finished reading it and Connor looks at me and says Mommy that book is in a pattern.
I chuckled and agreed, that it was sort of a pattern.
And then he said I love you in a pattern.
To which I said: Oh, yeah? Can you tell me what the pattern is?
And he said: On this day, I love you. The next day, I don't. The next day I love you. The next day, I don't.

What was I supposed to say? I wasn't completely ripped to shreds. The only thing I could think to do was chuckle to myself and say OK, Connor.

(And then I thought to myself Yeah, I can sort of relate, buddy.)
I'm kidding.
Really.

3/20/07

Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats

This is for Jen. Hope you enjoy, friend.

Strange And Beautiful

Not to sound narcissistic, but I've reread yesterday's post quite a few times. I don't really know why.
I think I've never really felt this stuff. Until I wrote it yesterday.
I've always known it was there. I've talked about it with a select few, but I always regurgitated it as if I were telling someone else's story. I had somehow detached myself from it.

After I wrote this post yesterday, I felt like I was standing naked (post 2 children - UGH) for all the world to see. Even as Rav was reading it, I was dreading having to look him in the eye.
However, I said to him: What is interesting to me is that, from what I gather, mom wanted out. And yet she was a mess. Dad wanted this family, he wanted to make things work. And I know he was devastated. You would think my Dad would be the one who sort of went off the deep end. But he didn't. He remained strong. And I think he found solace and comfort in me. He held it together for me. And yet, the one that wanted it to be over, fell apart.

I think I've decided to end the narrative here and begin with the strong male role stuff, which is the reason I had been writing all of this in the first place.
To get there - to get to where I can explain how I held onto every bit of what my Dad said - the goofy/crazy things my Grandpop Donovan did, to pick my dad's brain incessantly about my grandfather (his dad). As much as the men that were in my life during my days with my mom were pure chaos, I had this other end of the spectrum that I held onto for dear life.
And perhaps this is where the answer was for me. If all I knew were the men that had paraded in and out of my life during these years, things would have been different.
However, I knew better. I knew that I had a strong, dependable, good man who was my dad. Thank god I learned early enough that not all men were bad.

I also would like to state here (and though any of you who are reading because you want to, will probably know this) I am not reliving this as a means to gain sympathy. Nor am I doing this to proclaim I am a victim.
That is the farthest thing from the truth.
In my mind-set, speaking from my context, these things helped shape who I have become. I don't sit here and say Because such and such happened, I haven't been able to do _______, or I have not had this happen because ________, everything bad that has ever happened is because ________.
That's no my bag.
I could have most certainly take many a different path.
And the paths I've taken haven't always been the best. But that was because of choices I have made.
However, by saying this is where I came from, this is what happened, I can say that I will choose a different path but those things have no doubt left their mark.
The only way I can make healthy decisions are to give some things their due and proper.
And then move on.
Sometimes learning things about one's past can also give you a better understanding of why they are the way they are.
If you look long enough into the window of my soul, you begin to understand why I am the way I am.
You begin to understand why being cruel, or mistreating children makes the claws come out. My children - or anybody else's.
You may even begin to understand why I have a hard time with conflict. Inside I'm yelling things aren't right, but the words just can't come out.
To this day.

OK, now that the disclaimer is over with. I could go on a bit about the ridiculous situations my mom & I were in. But that is just gluttonous at this point. I've set the stage - I believe you have an understanding of what was going on.

Something else I need to acknowledge here is that while in my mom's custody during most of the week and on her weekends, I was in my grandmother's care a lot (my mom's mom). As were my 3 younger cousins. We got on & off the school bus from my grandmothers house, we ate dinner there every night. During days off, or school vacations we were all there. We were more like siblings than cousins.
However, what set me apart is that I was the only one who either a)Knew her father or b)Had a regular, on-going relationship with her father.
The other 3 didn't.
I can't imagine what that must have been like when I would get picked up or dropped off. Every-other Friday & Sunday.
How that must have hurt them. Though it wasn't my fault.
I know it was an issue because things were said about it.
I've often felt bad that I had that support system or that I always had that upon which I could count on.

And all of that became fodder for which to cast stones.
But I didn't care.

I hung on for dear life for the weekends with my dad. This was my hope.
I'm not sure if my Dad knew what he was doing when he was doing it, but he created a place where I could really be myself. He fostered trust and discipline. He was firm and loving. I was always part of whatever process was going on. Things that ranged from first growing his beard, to his new relationship, to his marriage. I wasn't "seen and not heard". I was respected as a human being, yet I knew he was in charge. This wasn't a relationship of excess. And when I say that, I mean I'm not talking about me being the likes of Veruca Salt. I just mean that he treated me like a little girl. I was never asked to handle more than I should.

I always knew that if I needed to talk, I could go to my Dad. I knew that he would listen in a nonjudgmental way. And he would give me his honest opinion. Not just an opinion in my favor. If I did something he didn't agree with, he would tell me.

He didn't force my hand in a positive relationship with him. He held me close, yet loosely and let the rest happen organically. This is something that my mom didn't understand. She didn't understand why I "chose" my dad and not her (those are her words, not mine).

The other thing my Dad did, possibly unknowingly, was foster the feminist inside. I feel that by taking me fishing, being outdoors, going everywhere with him on our weekends (ranging from car shows, or to his side jobs fixing up old cars to riding the motorcycle with him, teaching me how to fire a shotgun and handgun (and do it well), to hunting, and other things I can't recall as I sit here typing) he set me up to believe - to know - that I can do anything. And that anything I wanted to try - if it made me happy - he was willing to let me try.

My dad taught me to appreciate the simple pleasures of our environment and wildlife. My dad talked issues with me, as well as, history. Dad introduced me to the beautiful things the world had to offer, to seek it out, to explore, to think critically, and to question. He taught me how to be insightful, thoughtful, compassionate, and fair. He did this all by example.
As time went on and I got older, my stepmother, Eileen, is the one who modeled and taught me about charity.

Of course, you know....music.

Everything my dad (and eventually stepmother) did was about enriching me, about guiding me, and modeling for me. Though they probably didn't realize it. While my weeks were filled with survival, my weekends were where I was thriving.

Those weekends spent at The Farm were (now that I look back) constant learning experiences. Grandpop Donovan who was so knowledgeable about tending his garden and gaining something from hard, physical work. Even in your 80's and 90's. You have too keep moving, be active, feel the fresh air.
Grandpop's groceries were interesting to me growing up. He ate modestly, but he wanted his fruits and vegetables to be of good quality. He was very picky. And he loved his wheat bread. He never touched sweets (god love him, I wish I could stay away from them).
What is probably going to sound funny is that Grandpop Donovan never once said my name. And that might sound harsh. But he was hard of hearing - he (being a very old man) had lost his teeth and never got dentures - so he couldn't speak well. He was afraid to try to say my name because he didn't want to mispronounce it. So he just always called me The Little Girl.

I have always been so thankful for the times dad & I were together.
And I catch myself doing things he did, without even realizing it.
Like pointing out which fields are soy beans, corn, or winter wheat to the kids.
Squealing like a nut whenever I see deer and pointing them out to the kids.
My crazy obsession with music and sharing it with the kids.

I'm certainly not a perfect parent.
My dad isn't either.
But he did pretty good by me. When we were together.
Being a dad was so important to him. Is still so important to him.
I see the way he looks at Gracie when we get to visit with him. And I know where his mind is drifting to. I've even heard him call her Jess once.
If I can be half the parent my dad was/is, I know I'll be doing OK.

I don't think this post does my dad any justice at all. And I don't know that I'm adequately describing the strong men I had in my life. I'm wrapping up this post thinking I haven't even really touched on it.

3/19/07

Overexposed and Other Worlds

Continuing from here, here and here..........

I don't remember much about the 7-11 incident. I remember the look of panic and despair on my dad's face. I think, I remember being placed in my mother's arms in the parking lot. And I do remember that feeling of failing and betraying my dad was intensified by this whole scene. I once again, was screaming on the inside to let me stay with my dad, but absolutely no words came out.

The thing that I find so interesting when I reflect back on this is that up to that point, I had no real "reason" for wanting my dad over my mom. The worst was yet to come, though I couldn't know that. But nothing had happened yet to make a 4-5 year-old want to stay with one parent over the other. It wasn't something that had evidence behind it. I guess you could just call it a premonition.

I don't really know where to go from here. I don't really remember finishing kindergarten, though I know I did. I don't even really know what time of year it was when all of this was going on. I suppose it must have been Spring/Summer when I was actually 5. Some time had passed, but the memories, for me are compressed into one big lump.

The only thing I know for sure is that 1st grade was crazy. And where I'm about to go is a little disturbing. You'll know it when you read it.

When my mom & I moved into our one-bedroom efficiency apartment, she had a boyfriend, B. (I later figured it out & pieced together that B. was what happened to my family. Or I should say, B & my mom were what happened to my family).
B. would spend the night a lot. And when he did, mom & B. would sleep in the bedroom & I would sleep on the fold-out couch. One night, B. was over & it was bed time. I don't know why I had to go in my mom's room (I'm assuming to ask a question). When I walked in, B. looked me dead in the eye, he pulled back the blankets and exposed himself to me. I remember thinking This is weird. But I made no reaction. I completely ignored him. I walked over to my mom & asked her my question - or whatever I was in there doing. And left. It didn't come out until a couple of days later, that this had happened.
I know that they broke up & I'm assuming that by a smart-a** comment he made to me when my mom was giving him the boot that it was because of this incident.
Whatever, good riddance a**hole.

The next guy to join us a short-time later (still during 1st grade) was D. D was a raging alcoholic and drug addict. I really, really didn't like D. D lived just down the road a bit from mom & I. And he had a niece that was in my 1st grade class. I remember being at D's apartment - with a bunch of adults around (including my mom). There were 3 kids there - including me. They shuffled us kids into a bedroom, where we were supposed to stay and play. But me, ever aware that situations were screwy & wanting to do something about them, but not really having an understanding of what was going on, walked in on a circle of drug use.
I believe a large fight began, because I remember being under the apartment stairs, hiding while my mom & him raged on.
Another flash of memory and a short-time after that, we had to go pick up a wasted D somewhere. As I'm sure he was too wasted to drive (if he even had a license). He got in the car and about as soon as he sat down on the passenger seat, a fight started. I know I was retreating into myself - I don't remember what I was hearing. All I knew is what I saw. His face all red and crazy. Fists flying quickly back and forth....then bloody. From a scuffle with the dashboard of my mom's car.
And the next thing I know, we deposited him in a random parking lot.

That's the last I really remember of him, though I think he was around for a little while longer.

Though I remember it being a school night, rather late in the evening. And driving to this bar with my mom. We pulled in the parking lot & I remember thinking that I knew I wasn't allowed inside. And even if I was, I wasn't going in there. And surely I didn't.
Mom walked in before I even knew what was happening. And all I knew was I was inside our car, by myself in the parking lot of this scary place. She's taking a long time. When are we going home? What are we doing here?
Being ever resourceful and knowing that things aren't right, I began to honk the horn like it was my job. After a few minutes, she came out. I'm sure she had some words for me, but by then I had already retreated again. I had shut down. And when I did that, I heard nothing. I only saw.

During this time, my dad had moved in with my grandmother at The Farm.
This is where I spent every-other-weekend feeling normal and safe. This is where Dad & I would explore the farm. This is where Dad & I would drive around the country looking for ducks in the marshes, we would talk about the abundant life going on in the marshes and estuaries - even though you couldn't necessarily see it. Dad & I would fish together. We would talk about anything and everything. We would take motorcycle rides down to the beach or downstate to my Uncle & Aunt's house.
The Farm became my island. My dad became my strength. I felt that as long as I were there or with him, that I was OK.
When he would pick me up, and I would sit in the cab of his old pick-up truck, I felt like I was in a whole other world. A world where I was loved, safe, and treasured. I knew that being in the truck meant that I was being carried away to somewhere better. Even if it was only for 2 days. It meant that the only thing I had to worry about was how to get a slimy fish off of a hook, if I was going to find any arrowheads or cool pieces of broken pottery in the fields of The Farm, what songs my dad was going to play on the radio, what cool dessert my grandmother had made, what Saturday morning cartoons I was going to watch.
I never had to worry about being shut-up in a room while a bunch of grown-ups got high. I never had to worry about feeling scared.

And yet as wonderful as the two weekends a month felt, I couldn't reconcile in my now 5-6 year-old brain, why I felt so conflicted and confused all of the time. I couldn't reconcile why I wanted things to be different during the week and the other two weekends. I couldn't reconcile why I was so angry when I would come home. I couldn't reconcile the dread.

3/18/07

Sunday Morning Song of the Moment


I have to be fair to Dave. Since I chose a Bob song for a Sunday post a few weeks ago, it's only fair that I pick a Dave song, as well. I'm neurotic like that.

When I first became acquainted with Dave in '95 or '96 on mainstream radio I wasn't impressed. I simply couldn't, for the life of me, figure out just what the big deal was. And then as he became more popular, I didn't like the band on the simple fact that they were so popular.

Fast forward to '98 or '99 when I was driving the vehicle that belonged to a guy "friend" of mine, on our way to go skiing. In his CD player, he had DMB's latest album playing. The album was Before These Crowded Streets.
I once again had the experience whereupon I thought my head was going to explode. As I was driving north on I-95, I felt my heart race a little, I became tense (a good tense), I was gripping the steering wheel with both of my hands. OK, fine, I was white-knuckling it. And my tiny, mousy eyes were as big as saucers.
(Thank god the guy "friend" decided to sleep on the way up. If he saw me like that he probably would have cancelled the trip and taken me into a psychiatric hospital!).

I've only been to one DMB concert about a year and a half ago. Near the end of the show, the crowd was chanting Two Step! (clap, clap) Two Step! (clap, clap) Two Step!, etc.
And the dear, sweaty man and the band obliged us.
When I watch his concerts live, the fans on there do the same thing: Two Step!

The other night, I was listening to the iPod and a live version of Two Step came on. When Dave announced this was the song he was going to sing, it was dead silent. I turned to Rav and said This amazes me.
Why?
Because people go crazy for this song now. I can tell that he had not recorded that song yet. It was virtually unknown. The silence dates this song. That is amazing to me. Because if you were to listen to a more current live album and he played that song, the crowd would be going ape-shit.
Oh.
(Rav is not a Dave fan) or as nutty about music.

The song is beautiful. It's up-tempo and just a beautiful song. It has to be one of my favorites. Which, for me, is hard to pin down. I could listen to a DMB song, that I've never really cared for, on a different live album and it become a new favorite.
But Two Step is tried and true.

Lastly, let me just say that if you hate the songs you hear on the radio, give an album (preferably a live one) a try. His best work is the stuff he doesn't release.

So, now that I'm done ranting on about the ridiculously talented sweaty South African, I'll share the lyrics.

Two Step
By: Dave Matthews Band

Hey, my love, I came to you with
best intentions
You laid down and gave to me just
what I'm seeking
Love , you drive me to distraction

Hey my love do you believe that we
might last a thousand years
Or more if not for this,
our flesh and blood
It ties you and me right up
Tie me down

Celebrate we will
Because life is short but sweet for certain
We're climbing two by two
To be sure these days continue
These things we cannot change

Hey , my love, your can to me like
wine comes to this mouth
Grown tired of water all the time
You quench my heart and you
quench my mind

Celebrate we will
Because life is short but
sweet for certain
We're climbing two by two
To be sure these days continue
The things we cannot

Celebrate , you and me ,climbing
two by two ,to be sure
these days continue , these things we
cannot change

Oh , my love I came to you
with best intentions
You laid down down and gave to me
just what I'm seeking

Celebrate we will
Because life is short
But sweet for certain
We're climbing two by two
to be sure these days continue
Things we cannot change...
Things we cannot change

3/15/07

Flashes Of Memory

Before I start getting into the meat of this next post, I want to say that what is to follow is my heart and soul. It is seriously like ripping open my brain and exposing my beating heart to the harsh, refreshing open air. These are things I've shared with my old therapist and my husband. Possibly with my BFF. But not many beyond that. They are things that flow right below the surface. You can't always see them, but if I were to be scratched they would spill out all over the place.

When we moved to our house there are memories that go from seemingly good, straight to bad in a matter of milliseconds - to my 4 year-old memory, anyway. These images, these memories flash through my mind almost as if in a montage. They appear as if in a tunnel where the background is pitch black, but the image itself is in a bright spotlight.

Our House

The times spent in that house were my only recollection of being a "family". My dad continued to work days, my mom nights. This is where I fell in love with music. These are my earliest memories of music. This house - in the living room - is where I first heard Carly Simon on the radio singing "Jessie". Whereupon I said to my parents, "Jess. I like that name Jess. Just call me Jess." And they did.
And still do.

The three loves of my dad's life in '82

I remember sitting in the front seat of our Volare (or however you spell it), with the windows down, singing to the songs on the radio.
I remember swinging on the tire swing in our backyard.
I remember having a Christmas party at our house. My mom and I baked cookies. My dad had the wood stove going in the little addition/porch off the front of our house. Our house became full of people.

My dad & I in our front yard during our first winter at the new house.

(and the yellow is not in the snow, but a spot on the picture from age)

Like smoke that wafts up from an extinguished match, this was soon all gone.

I remember one day being home with my dad and I don't know what the precursor was, but he punched a hole in the wall. In front of me. I wasn't scared. I was sad that something made my dad that angry. Still to this day I don't know what it was all about. Probably just a stupid fight that escalated into something more.
I do know that at that very moment I realized that something was horribly wrong.
And I know I retreated.

I distinctly recall sitting on my bed, in my little girl room and looking around. I remember thinking to myself What if all of this isn't happening right now? What if all of this is just a memory? And really, I'm 16 sitting on this bed, in this room and this is just all a memory?
I also remember retreating to the spare room in our house while an argument raged on and someone was sitting with me. But no one else was there. Mom & Dad were in the other room raging, I was in the spare room....but there was a figure sitting next to me. It has always been one of the scariest, comforting memories that I have.

The memory that, to this day haunts me above all others though, is when it was all over. I don't remember what happened leading up to it. I don't remember anything after. All I remember is being loaded up in the car with my mom. Driving away from our house.
I turned around and looked out the rear window. And there standing in the driveway, all alone

was my dad.

The fear, the dread, the shame, the guilt washed over me in ways I still feel as I type this right now. I remember thinking inside This is wrong. I need to go back.
I couldn't say a damned thing. My voice may as well have been laying like a lump of glistening saliva on the driveway next to my dad's feet. I was limp. I had no words, no sounds. I had become momentarily mute.
I'm pretty sure that's the day I stopped being a little girl. That's the day the carefree attitude of a happy, well-adjusted little girl were lost and gone forever. That's the day I became so heavy.

I know that with that, there were battles in court to be lost or won.
Mom won.
I knew that was a mistake. But I had no way to say that. No one asked. And there was no one to listen.
After that, the two parties convened at my grandmother's house (my mom's mom). Another flash of memory and my dad is walking briskly - with me in his arms. We end up at the 7-11 near my grandmother's house. I think we get a soda or something. I look to my left, out the huge glass doors and there are more police cars in that one small parking lot than I had ever seen in my life.
And they were there for me.

The Beginning of the End


So here they were, high school graduates with an 8-month-old baby. And the following month, in July, they were married at the Justice of the Peace. Not only that, their last year of high school they were living on their own in a tiny apartment - while they both went to school and worked.

My earliest memories were when I was 2, living in a different apartment. My dad worked during the day and my mom worked at night. So, my dad & I spent a lot of time, just the two of us. For whatever reason, dinner-time is a vivid memory at that time.

As you can imagine, money was tight and my dad, at the ripe old age of 19, was taking care of his 2-year-old little girl. That entails making dinner. I don't remember the "main courses" that he would prepare, but I remember quite clearly we must have had 5 million cans of these mixed vegetables. Because he made them every night.
And I hated them.
I refused to eat them.
And every night it was the same.
He would send me to my room if I didn't eat my vegetables.
I still refused.
And he still sent me to my room.
I know this went on for some time.
One of us eventually gave up. I'm assuming we must have run out of those horrible, nasty vegetables. Because the other thing I vividly remember is sitting on my dad's lap, in the evenings before I went to bed, watching M*A*S*H.

Klinger fascinated me. I remember having a lengthy discussion with my dad over why Klinger dressed like a woman. My dad told me that where they were in Korea, there was a war going on and Klinger wanted to go home. And the only way Klinger thought he would get to go home was if he dressed like a girl. I believe he (my dad) chuckled when I said, "It didn't work!" His explanation was simple and sweet, but I still didn't understand - being only 2 years old & all. But I do know that's when I fell in love with Hawkeye & Pierce.
They kept my 2 year old curiosity peaked.

At some point around when I was 3 or 4, we moved into a house. And this is where it gets messy, ugly and scary. There are things I remember, memories I recall that I have been trying to work through for years. This is where at 4 and 1/2 I knew things would never be the same. I knew that my future as a young girl, living with her mom, was bleak. This is where I felt I betrayed my dad. Even though I was only 4 and had no say, no control. This is where I became acutely aware of wanting to save everyone, feeling responsible for everyone and feeling the weight of the world on my 4 year old back. That weight (to this day) has never been lifted. It has just grown to feeling everything for everyone.
And lastly this is where in the course of a month, I would lead two distinctly different lives, with two distinctly different parents. The life I would lead during the week was drastically different than the life I would lead every-other-weekend.
When I got to see my dad....

3/14/07

Beginnings

I've been thinking a lot lately about legacies. This has been punctuated by the fact that my dad's birthday was a few weeks ago & I've been thinking of him. I haven't seen him since the beginning of December. We still haven't all seen each other for Christmas.

Jen got the ball rolling for me about the strong men in my life - this is something I've been wanting to write about but have not been mentally up to the challenge.
If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that my Dad is it. He is referred to in certain circles as Three Dog Night Dad.
Let me just say here, before I begin that this may be an ongoing writing project on here. I don't think I can aptly say what I'd like in just one post.

To get started about the strong men, I need to go back as far as I possibly can - to where I think this began.

My grandfather (my dad's dad) was one of eight children. And their mother, Orna, died when my grandfather was very young of a massive infection. I believe that was the catalyst for this example - this strong male role - in my family.

My grandfather had an older brother Jacob - they were the 2 youngest children. And they were very close. It turns out my grandfather, Herbert married my grandmother Jeannette and Jacob married my grandmother's sister, Marie. The two couples were very close and growing up, my dad & uncle were very close to their double-first cousins (who were Jake & Marie's children).


I have always loved this picture of my grandparents.

When my grandfather & grandmother were first married, they were living abroad in Korea, Japan and then the Philippines, as my grandfather was in the military. My grandmother, I know, looks at these years as the happiest of her life. If I'm not mistaken, my uncle was born in the Philippines and then the young family moved back to the States shortly thereafter.


My grandparents entertaining. He is at the head and my

grandmother is opposite at the far-end.

My grandfather was very involved with his boys. Teaching them to fish, spending time outdoors, raising cattle on the farm, hunting, Boy Scouts, etc. He was very hands-on, from what I understand. I know that my Dad and Uncle still light up when reminiscing of the short time they spent with their father and the mark he left upon them forever.
Health issues are abundant in that family line - diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, etc. My grandfather died in his early forties of a heart attack on or right before Thanksgiving, as I've said before on here, when my dad was 9.
I believe at that point, Uncle Jake was a point of contact as a male figure, as well as my Grandpop Donovan.

My mom says that she doesn't remember very much about Uncle Jake, but when I was an infant, my dad and mom took me down to Uncle Jake & Aunt Marie's. Uncle Jake held me right away, and in his Southern accent said, "Bless her little bones". My mom says that has stuck with her to this day. I think back to what it must have been like for my dad, to momentarily have the closest thing to his father holding his newborn baby girl. Uncle Jake died just a few short months after that and I believe he had to have a leg amputated at some point before his passing.

My grandmother, who was left to take care of The Farm that her & my grandfather bought, had rented out the marsh area to hunters. My grandmother was always very good at finding the right people for whatever need she faced in her personal and business life. She became friends with a Mr. Robinson (who got my dad into hunting and Young Waterfowlers). I know that my dad looks at that time spent with Mr. Robinson as a very positive experience. I know that Mr. Robinson died some years back, but I'm not sure about his wife.
Although there was a great support system in place and my grandmother did all she could to make sure there were great men family friends around for her boys, I know my dad was broken. He wanted something of his own. He always felt overshadowed by his round-peg, everything goes as planned, older brother. My dad always had long hair and a rebellious spirit that went against my grandmother's grain. But he always knew who he was and he was never going to change.

In high school, he met my mom and they had me in their Junior year. My dad was ecstatic about having a baby - and having a daughter. Though the road was rough, having a kid while you're still in high school, I think my dad felt like he finally had his family.

And that is where this story begins....

3/13/07

The Poet

Last night in our bed, as Rav was settling into near-sleep & I was winding down in front of The Tube, a commercial came on for Empire Carpets' Wood flooring. I assume this is a national commercial that you all have seen. For those not schooled, Empire Carpets' deal is that they are quick to lay some carpet or wood/laminate flooring upon being hired.

While listening to the lovely serenade that is the Empire Carpet commercial (in which they boast of quality hardwood flooring), I'm sure now that Rav is drifting closer to the brink of what is known as dreamland.
I am caressing his stomach and getting dangerously close to his what-not. In fact, there might have even been a slight brush with danger.

And still Empire Carpet is singing it's hardwood floor praises.

Rav, never even opening his eyes, straight-faced and ever so cooly says:
How would you like some quality hard wood?

This is what I love about him. Total cheeseball humor and timing that is impeccable.
However, quality hardwood was not on my wish list late last night.

Maybe tonight.

3/12/07

Uncertain Futures

Rav & I, when we first started dating, had the usual conversations regarding our backgrounds - where we went to high school, what we did, who we knew. We soon found out that we knew many of the same people, but somehow missed each other. In fact, a good friend of mine from middle school and part of high school dated Rav's one older brother - and I remember when she did. Rav's other older brother was my ex's boss years back - and I remember vividly my ex speaking of Rav's brother. And another older brother of Rav's dated a girl of a friend of mine from a few years past. It was pretty strange. Our state is rather small, so it's not that much of a stretch, but weird just the same.

I went to the largest high school in the state which prided itself on it's athletic teams. We usually won everything, our kids were usually the kids to beat, etc. Since Rav wrestled for his high school & because of the high school I went to, we knew many of the same people. We began talking of a pretty talented wrestler who I went to middle school & high school with, L. L was a guy that a good friend of mine dated, he was one of the quiet, "bad" boys, however, seemed like a "nice" guy, if that makes any sense. At some point, L's life took a rather tragic turn. I didn't know him enough to know his home life, but I can't imagine it was all that great. It turns out that in 1996 (the year he should have graduated), he was involved in a double murder and now sits on death row in our state. Rav and I have sat and wondered how this could have happened to someone we both knew.

As Rav has been the assistant coach last year & this year of his Alma mater, we've become acquainted with some of the circumstances and messed up family lives these kids are travelling through. It's absolutely heart-breaking. A lot of them are in high school, participating in sports, and working jobs to help support their families - not necessarily working for money to blow at the mall, or money to save for a car. A majority of them are from single-parent (mother) homes. And the thing that strikes me is they are, at the very heart of it, great kids. Granted they get involved in stupid mistakes and general silliness - like most of us do in high school. But they really are just great kids.

Rav & I have tried to help out here and there when we can. Really, it's minimal things like giving rides home to kids who don't have one, we've given kids wrestling shoes and just asked them to "show up" as payment. If, at tournaments we notice someone isn't eating or drinking when everyone else is, we offer them a few bucks....things that might not carry them through the rest of their lives, but trying to do whatever little bit we can.

One wrestler in particular, Rav really took a shining to last year. He's a good kid with a big heart. Whenever we brought Connor to practice, he would make an effort to acknowledge Connor and would ask for his "little buddy" if I showed up to a practice or match without him. He was one of the kids we knew that had a rather rough home life. We knew that he would walk ridiculous amounts of miles from his home to school to make it to practice. We knew that finances were an issue for his family. We knew that he couldn't afford wrestling shoes. He was one of the ones Rav offered shoes to and just asked him to "show up".

This season, Rav noticed that something just wasn't the same with this kid. It turns out that the family has been split up, mom and other siblings living wherever or with whoever, just to survive. And this kid, is living with a family friend or relative (not sure which), while his mom lives somewhere else. Rav & the head coach are trying to provide a sense of security and comfort on the team, but this kid just floundered this year - as to be expected.

At the end of the State Wrestling Tournament a few weeks ago, when Rav returned home he was sharing the highlights and the low-lights of the weekend. He began speaking of an incident that occurred with one of his wrestlers who had money stolen out of his wallet, out of his hotel room (which he shared with two other wrestlers and one of those wrestlers being "Rav's kid"). It turns out through circumstances that are too much to get into here, that all trails led to "Rav's kid". As Rav was telling me the story, I kept saying Please don't say it. Please don't tell me it's him.
Turns out that they couldn't prove he did it or not, so they let it go. But I know we all took it personally. I think we all want different for this kid. We want so much for him to be one of the lucky ones.
After Rav told me this story regarding the kid, I looked at him and said S is a good kid. This is really unfortunate. We know what his situation is and most likely he did this because he came down to States with little or no money. All he's doing is trying to survive. What's unfortunate is that if he doesn't pull himself together, he's going to end up a good kid sitting in jail because he's just doing what he thinks he has to do to survive.

It's so easy for all of us to put up barriers between ourselves and the things that are really going on out there. Distance makes things look so much smaller and farther away. It appears as if we are travelling a road that could never take us there.
I know that we can't save "Rav's kid", S. Just like L's wrestling coach couldn't save him from sitting on death row. He made a bad choice that put himself there. But what is clear to me from seeing how many kids on Rav's team that have supportive families that are intact, is that America's kids are in a world of trouble. And I'm only seeing the context for a handful of kids on a somewhat small team.
I don't know the answers. I know that I can't save the world.
I just become infuriated at the idea that most of this country and many of the people I know, seem to travel through their seemingly comfortable context as if this country - our children -aren't in turmoil. People who are afraid to reach out, afraid to see. So wrapped up in their own that they have no heart for someone else's.
I think about the amount of people who protest about rights of unborn children.
And wonder if they give a shit about the children who are here now and are funneling through a school system, a health care system, a judicial system. Where is the rally for the kids who are so broken, possibly starving for food, love, attention, and acceptance and yet are expected to perform appropriately for state testing and to meet standards.

Tell me:
Do they feel left behind?

And yet I wake up and feel like I can't breathe because the weight of these kids is bearing on me.

I have been wondering and worrying about S ever since Rav shared that story with me.

3/10/07

Sunday Morning Song of the Moment

When planning our wedding, I think one of the things I stressed out about most was song selection - gee, go figure.
I had called my dad one day and said, I want you to take your time and think about this for awhile. You & I danced to 'Daddy's Little Girl' at your wedding. I know that is traditional. I don't necessairly want tradition. I want to select a song that means something. So, think about it and let me know if you come up with a song.
To which he said: I don't need time to think about it. I know the perfect song.
I was shocked (though I don't know why) that he had an answer for me so quickly because I had been going out of my mind to find just the right song.

So, I said OK. Hit me with it.
He: 'Father and Daughter'. I don't know if you've heard it or not. It's by Paul Simon and it's from a children's movie. But it's perfect.

I had never actually heard the song before he mentioned it. At that time, those years ago, Connor was too little for TV and I didn't really know my way around the goofy kids movies yet. So, I downloaded the song and thought to myself Damn, this is perfect.
But one thing stopped me. The song was way too fast. I called him and told him I thought the song was an excellent choice, but it was a tad too fast. He agreed, though I could hear disappointment in his voice.
We danced to When You Say Nothing At All (Allison Krauss' version). And though it fit too, I sort of regret not just winging it and dancing to this song with my Dad on my wedding day.

Hindsight is 20/20.


Father and Daughter
By: Paul Simon

If you leap awake
In the mirror of a bad dream
And for a fraction of a second
You can't remember where you are
Just open your window
And follow your memory upstream
To the meadow in the mountain
Where we counted every falling star

I believe a light that shines on you
Will shine on you forever
And though I can't guarantee
There's nothing scary hiding under your bed
I'm gonna stand guard like a postcard
Of a Golden Retriever
And never leave till
I leave you
With a sweet dream in your head

I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you'll always know
As long as one and one is two wooo
There could never be a father who loved
His daughter more than I love you

Trust your intuition

It's just like goin fishin'
You cast your line and hope you get a bite
You don't need to waste your time
Worryin' about the market place
Trying to help the human race
Strugglin' to survive its harshest hour

I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you'll always know
As long as one and one is two wooo
There could never be a father who loved
His daughter more than I love you

I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you'll always know
As long as one and one is two wooo
There could never be a father who loved
His daughter more than I love you


No Good Reason



I have nothing to type to go along with these pictures. I'm working on a post for tomorrow & one that Jen got me working on....
I just happened to be looking through my pictures today & these from a few weeks ago made me smile.

3/8/07

Passion And Indecision Are My Drugs Of Choice

Not long after Rav & I started dating, I found out that his mom made quilts.
This was something I had always wanted to learn how to do.
So she sat down and showed me.

I enjoy quilting. I really do (I'm an old, dorky soul). I don't do it often. I usually pick an "event" that is happening to someone close to me/us (a new baby, most likely) or a holiday, and I make a quilt. It becomes a bit of an emotional thing for me. As most things do.



This one I've been working on for a year & need to get of my butt.


It's for my BFF's grandson who is ONE now!


I enjoy playing with the colors, the designs, the patterns, the tedium.
However, the thing I think I like least is going to the fabric store.
As I walk back to where the fabrics are I become high. I'm excited by the prospect of the project, but start shaking as I look at the rows and rows of fabrics.
I imagine this must be what it feels like to be an addict. I get high.


I get itchy and jumpy and am lost in a fog of swirling colors, seemingly endless possibilities.
And I won't feel better until I have the desired product in.my.hand.
I seriously go into the whole quilting thing with little or no plan.
I'm completely opportunistic.


This one I just started for friends of ours who are expecting a baby in May.

I know what I want: to make a quilt for someone.

I know what I have to do: pick fabric.

But there are just so many options.

When I walk in, usually, with no pattern yet decided upon. And not necessarily a color scheme picked.
I walk the aisles, in a fit of jonesing, and touch the fabric, look at the fabric, until I "feel" what is the right one.

This is my general state-of-mind with almost any project.

Last night was my first class of this half of the semester. Pyschology of the Exceptional Child.
Good lord, my head already is going to explode.
The instructor began by saying all of the things about exceptional children that I was trying to say the other day in my post about Connor and people around children with exceptionalities/issues being more aware, more in-tune, more willing. I found myself saying in my head... yes,Yes!, Yes!
Then she began talking about the work we had to do this semester. And one rather large one in particular.
We have to choose a topic regarding exceptionalities, pick 5 medical/professional articles, cite them, annotate them and present them.
She gave us time at the library to start looking at our topic.
And wouldn't you know, it's as if I'm back in the fabric store.
There are just so many options.

And I feel passionate about them all. How do I pick just one?

Certainly I can jump on my soap-box about ADHD, treatment/nontreatment, behavioral/emotional issues, tactile defensiveness in correlation to ADHD, special ed. vs. inclusion, demographics, etc.
But I already know so much about the issue from living it. Which could be helpful.
However, my stepmother works with deaf/hard of hearing. She could lend some insight to their community and speaking/signing v. non.
And my mom, who has spent the last 10 years working with an Autistic adult in his workplace as his job coach, and how that program is being inundated with other mental health impaired and sex offenders because the state doesn't know where to put them.

Oh.dear.lord. My head is going to explode.

And nothing excites me more than reading, researching, exploring, learning, discussing, and sharing the information. Which, truth-be-told, has gotten me in trouble in the past. As I'm being asked to do these things for a grade, by someone who is actually interested in hearing different ideas, I'm already feeling the tingles of excitement and mental stimulation.

These projects, as much as they excite me, make me crazy. It is so hard to nail myself down to one. I guess I have to let my fingers do the walking on the internet today. I'll have to "touch" the articles, the different exceptionalities. And hopefully one will feel right.

This indecision and excitement I feel kills me. I feel unsettled until I can land on just the right one.

3/7/07

Of Dead Cadillacs and Golden Engines

Lately I've been thinking about my great-grandfather. He was the father of my paternal grandmother. He passed away in 1999, I think. At the ripe old age of 98 - give or take a year. It was quite possible he was born in 1899, but we think most likely, 1900-01.

What's somewhat interesting is that he sort of took the place of my grandfather. My dad's dad died when my dad was 9. So, in essence, he was the only "grandfather" I've ever known on that side of the family.

When I was 10, my great-grandfather came to live with my grandmother on The Farm. He became very sick from pneumonia and given his age and other "circumstances" it was best for him to live with her.

The "circumstances" are the things I've been thinking about.
My great-grandfather - or Grandpop Donovan as we all called him - was a character. I remember being a little girl, driving south to the beaches my fair state boasts of, and we would stop to "visit" Grandpop Donovan. He lived in this old, falling-down house that was right on the main highway that cuts down to the beaches. It had no electricity, no running water, no heat - nothing.
And we were never allowed inside.
In all the years we stopped by to see Grandpop, I had never set foot inside of his home.
But from what I saw of the front yard, which served as the living room on our visits, I was not all that interested in going in.
The only glimpse I got of the house was the front porch. Which was piled from floor to ceiling with newspapers, trash and what-not.
Yes, he was one of those people.

His yard was easy to spot.
It was littered. And I mean littered with the sad, sad rusting out, abandoned carcasses of once driven and loved Cadillacs.
Old, big, land yacht Cadillacs.
These were his babies.
It was as if he were tending to a garden of Cadillacs.
A garden destined to never live, or thrive, but it would inevitably grow. It would grow by him adding another deceased vehicle to the collection over the years.
He was so proud of these relics.

I remember my Dad sharing goofy stories about Grandpop Donovan (because as I've said, he was a character). And one in particular is monumental.
Dad told me on one of their trips to the beach as young boys, my dad, uncle and grandmother were traveling to the beach and da da da daaaa, they stopped in to see Grandpop.
He had recently purchased a near-death Cadillac.
However, he decided it needed some TLC.
And he was proud to show off his work to my pre-pubescent Dad and my 17 year old Uncle.
He was practically jumping out of his baby blue polyester pants to show them this car.
He says to them with his hand shaking, eyes welling up with tears (which they often did) "Looky here. This is what I did of a mornin'. Look inside that car. It has a TV in it!"
My dad & uncle peer inside.
And my dad says it was all he could do not to fall to the ground in fits of laughter.
There on the back seat was plopped and old 13" TV set....rabbit ears and all.
And as if that were not enough, he says "Looky here. I bet you'll never see an engine like this!" He pops the hood and again fits of stifled laughter ensue.
Under that hood was a shiny (spray painted gold) engine.
All my dad and uncle could muster up was Yeah, we've never seen anything quite like that, Grandpop!!!

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not trying to poke fun at the deceased. I loved my Grandpop Donovan very much. And he was a character. There are so many of these wacky, crazy stories that I could share. But that one just always comes to mind when I need a little chuckle. To me, it is endearing.
My Grandpop Donovan saw things in his long lifetime that I could only read about now. But listening to him talk, when he was around, was an experience. Granted that I would have to glean the truth out of the whoppers.
He was such a healthy man up until his death. He worked around The Farm almost up until the end. He loved caring for his garden, flower beds, and the yard.
He always ate well, kept up with current events, and shared his stories.
He could be a handful. What my poor grandmother had to put up with caring for her father. Oy.
He couldn't hear very well. And he would talk on and on and on. It was hard to break away from him when he trapped you during a story-telling session.

I wish sometimes that I had taken better advantage of the times when he was here. To find out what he thought about certain politicians, certain historic events that took place during his lifetime. I'm certain that his memory contained things that would've blown me away.

I grew up wanting so much to meet my "real" grandfather. And there will always be that void for all of us left behind. I can't imagine my dad & uncle losing their father. My grandmother for losing her husband and her best friend. Leaving her behind to raise 2 boys, look after and pay for The Farm, as well as, the business he had started. Leaving behind, eventually, grandchildren to make up a mythical grandfather to fill the empty spaces.

But in his place - which is a huge space to fill - I had this alternative grandfather. Grandpop Donovan. Who was wacky and quite frankly, maybe a little crazy. But he was full of so much history, so many stories and laughter that I can draw on now.

3/6/07

You Know You Have Problems When....

You have to do the following google search and then land at my blog:

How to enter the penius into the virginia.

Yes, folks. Someone actually did that search....with that spelling....and landed here.

That penius better check with Virginia before anything happens. She might not be looking for a penius.

Or for that matter, the whole state of Virginia better watch out. Don't bend over today. Don't uncross your legs. You just might look down to see a collective penius trying to enter a collective state of Virginia.

Good times.
Good times.

Learning What They Live

Guilt.
It's a dish I serve myself regularly. Many people do. I think when you become a mother it's how you feed yourself. You're so busy not sleeping and eating an actual meal, that you learn to glean some sort of nutritional value from it.

I have found that since adding another offspring, my guilt has doubled. When Connor floundered for a year or so before we got him the help he needed, before we got a diagnosis, guilt was a sort of comfort food.
I would feel guilty when I would acknowledge that Gracie was "typical", but Connor was not. I would feel guilty when he had meltdowns. I would feel guilty when, during his meltdowns, I would become so insanely frustrated, that I would have a meltdown right alongside Connor. I would feel guilty that I could find so much comfort in the "typical" nature of Gracie, but could not find that comfort in Connor. I love both of the kids for their own unique spin on things. But easy-going, relaxed, and "typical" were so much more comforting than high-strung, highly-frustrated, and seemingly angry.

The two best things we ever have done for Connor were to get him into the behavioral clinic at our local children's hospital and get him on Melatonin. I swear that Rav, Connor & I didn't sleep for 4 full years. Imagine how that must feel when you're brain processes information "normally"....let alone, when your processes are a little bit different than everyone else's. Melatonin did what we tried to for years. It put Connor to sleep at night. And it kept him asleep.
And behavioral clinic taught us the wonderful strategies of effective behavior modification. Rav & I put a lot of time and work into this. And we soon saw results.
The more educated we became about how Connor's mind, emotions and behaviors worked things made a lot more sense. I actually began to understand my son and not feel so guilty.

I've struggled with how to handle others not understanding Connor. And that would bring on more guilt. My heart would rip open and bleed when I would see muddled faces of confusion, furrowed eyebrows, the throwing of the hands in the air, the quick looks shot at others like "what the ?".

As I've grown to understand more and more about how things work with Connor, I have, in turn, come to expect more from myself, from Rav, from our little family unit. I expect us to rise to the challenges and learn to adapt and grow in new, exciting ways. And in doing so, I've noticed that I become less understanding of people who are not understanding of Connor. I have high expectations of people around us, his teachers, his team at school that oversees his special needs, his doctors, his friends, my friends, family, and ourselves.



Connor is such a brilliant personality and I delight in watching his light shine. He is heartfelt, he loves with wild abandon, he is thoughtful to a fault, he is tender and kind. And funny.
I feel so for him because as a person who is grossly misunderstood myself, I sometimes see his roads mapping out in similar fashions as mine have. Rather than see all of the rough, beautiful qualities - it seems as if it is easier to see the coarse, misunderstood qualities. It is easier to toss the idea aside that he is good.

I don't really know the aim of this post or what exactly it is I was truly trying to say.

I guess I just feel for the people who can't see what a treasure he truly is.
While Gracie's treasures are there for all to see and those treasures are easier to get at, Connor's treasures require a bit more work. They are there - all of the time. But as we all go along, we'll see those who truly aim to understand, accept and love Connor for all that he is and those who simply just resign themselves to never being able to understand nor wanting to.

And man, are they ever missing out.

3/4/07

Sunday Morning Song of the Moment


Here's the deal. I try not to "recycle" artists'. But it's tough. I mean, I've heard some songs lately that I have been so blown away by. But it's hard when I have one day and oh, so many songs.
I know that many people feel the Dixie Chicks should "shut up and sing". Which is, in my opinion, absolutely ridiculous.

I loved the Dixie Chicks before. But I love them even more now - after what they said, their conduct since. They are strong women. Women who are not afraid to say what they think. If they see something they think is wrong, they say it. They are women who know what it means to be strong women. I'd be happy to take a page out of their book any old day.

And more than I care to admit, I can relate to where they have found themselves. Stupid accusations, stupid misunderstandings. And I'm sorry, but I can't help but feel if they weren't women - strong women, opinionated women - this thing wouldn't have blown up the way it did. But nothing scares small people more than a strong woman/women.

I will forever lean on their example and their music.


Not Ready To Make Nice
By: The Dixie Chicks.

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting
I’m through with doubt
There’s nothing left for me to figure out
I’ve paid a price
And I’ll keep paying

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I know you said
Can’t you just get over it
It turned my whole world around
And I kind of like it
I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting

3/3/07

My Week In A Nutshell

Has looked pretty much something like this - or some similar variation.....



Yes, I've plopped my kids in front of the TV ALL damned week. At least it was Foster's for much of the week. However, what's the deal Cartoon Network?? During the whole month of March, during Foster's evening time slot....MOVIES!?!? I guess it means I'll have to run out and buy the 1st Season on DVD to get me through the month. Or I need to grow up and get a new obsession. But it's just so damned funny.

During this particular viewing, I was cracking up.....First of all, it's a funny episode. But Coco, who only speaks using "co" for each syllable, if you're not schooled in Foster's, was freaking out about that pink elephant. By that point Grace was sitting on the floor. And from the floor, I hear....

Coco, co co co!!!


This is Coco.

Dear lord. My daughter is speaking Cocoese. In perfect pitch, syntax, symnatics and intonation. Hilarious.

3/1/07

Grace Is As Grace Does


For those less observant readers, this week has been really rough. I have woken up everyday thinking this is the day that Grace & I will start to feel better. But no. Not just yet. I'm at the stage where, when I bend over, my eyes feel like they're going to pop out of my skull and land on the floor like 2 splattered egg yolks. And when I stand up, my wish is that the top of my skull does finally explode - just so some of the pressure would be alleviated.
But I'm not whining.

Our days have been filled with sleeping in that deep sleep that only a sick person can sleep. Waking up to that sweet little tickle in our dry, scratchy throats, easing that tickle, then crawling back into bed for another sick nap. We're wearing disgusting, dirty pajamas. Our hair is standing up at all sorts of weird, greasy angles. It's just boooootiful.
But really, in this sick haze I had something happen that I've been clinging to. I've had this experience that I want to make into a really beautiful post. Whether or not I can accomplish the really beautiful post part, I'm not so sure. But I'll share this little moment of sweet, sweet love.

During one of our sick naps, Gracie & I were sleeping in my bed. I guess at some point, she had awoken while I slumbered on. I was in this black, floating, sleepy abyss. No dreams. No sounds. Just sleep.
But then there was something.
And then again.
And yet again.
This light, gentle sweep - a tender brush of skin.
I lay very still, processing where I am and who is next to me.
Through the thin slits of my eyelids, I see my daughter. Resting on one hand and leaning over me.
With her tender little toddler-girl fingers, she is caressing my hair.
In the most feminine fashion, she rubs my shoulder.
Then moves back up to my hair.
She is caring for me in a way that paralyzed me with so many emotions.

I instantly got a smile on my face. Watching her as she did this. In the most quiet, loving way.
Then my heart swelled up at how pure my daughter is. How sweet of spirit she truly is.
And then I was afraid to move. I didn't want this intimate, tender moment to end.

Being the smart girl that she is, she realized I was awake. And like a bubble on a blade of grass the moment burst into thin air. There was left nothing but the feeling. The knowledge that it had happened.

It made me think back to how incredibly devastated I was when I found out I was pregnant a 2nd time. And just how devastated I was by the results of my ultrasound. See here how the lack of a pronounced penis is not evident? I do not have a good view, but if I were to bet, I'd say you're having a girl.

Oh, shit.

I had flashes of princess-stuff (oh dear god, how I hate that shit).
Absolutely, under no circumstances are you to buy us anything with the words/images of a princess, tiara or any such nonsense. Thank You!

I began to panic as I saw millions of frilly dresses, patent leather shoes, frilly socks, laced-bottomed what-nots, and faux fur embellished shirts. Ick.

I began to panic when I thought of the disconnect in my own relationship with my mother. How time has healed things over, but it's not the relationship that we both might have wanted over the years. How was I supposed to form a relationship with a daughter when I haven't been properly shown how to do so?

I relaxed a bit when my dad was ecstatic at the idea of not only another grandchild, but...
a granddaughter.
(Dad, I expected more out of you, really.)

I mean Easy-Bake Ovens. The very thought grosses me out.
Barbies. By their very nature make me want to hurl. I mean, I used to chew the feet of the two I happened to have, for cripes sakes.

I thought I had taken the time to get all prepared. My daughter can wear purple and pink...but other colors as well. She'll enjoy dirt and heavy-equipment (tractors, motorcycles, etc). The whole princess thing? Not here.

But then, she came. And I wondered how I ever had such dire thoughts about having a daughter.
And all of those things are true. She's a girl. I've managed to keep the whole princess thing at bay. She hasn't yet discovered that she can't live without Barbie. She enjoys being dirty and even tractors. When she sees Darth Vader or R2D2 she says, Ooh, Look! Star Wars!

But nothing could have prepared me for what, people like my dad, already knew.

The sweetness. The ability to look at you and melt you like a chocolate bar on a hot, summer day. The propensity to make you feel adored in a way that you've never felt before. The hugs and the squeals and the giggles that can only be so sweet coming from your own little girl.

The way in which she can be so good to me. She sits so patiently in the bathroom while I'm showering chattering away, asking me to sing songs. And as soon as I turn the water off, she's standing there, with my hair towel in her hand and a big smile on her face.

She gives without realizing that it could be painful.

People keep saying to me that I'll eventually lose her. That my time with her will be up soon and it will all be about Daddy.

On days when I'm exasperated by the close proximity of a needy individual whose whole world is wrapped up in me and only me - that is comforting news.

But the rest of the time, it is news that brings me to my knees.