Saturday, June 30, 2012

And done....

Well there you have it, the end of June is here and so the Blog a Day in June (that would have been better in May wouldn't it?) is over.

Not too terrible really. There were maybe three blogs that were "OH no! I've got to get something up!" blogs and the rest actually were real and true bloggy blogs.

A few things I learned:

I have discovered that I need to go back and update my past blogs with labels. As I am writing and I want to link to a past blog I have to really think hard about what time of year I wrote it and what I might have titled it. Now I could solve this by using more descriptive titles that match what I am actually writing about, but that wouldn't amuse me as much so that's not going to happen. So I need to get better about using the labels. And also going back to the beginning of my blogs and adding labels to those.

I am still really bad about adding the extra space at the end of the sentence. Years and years of typing with the double space is extremely hard to break. I go back in and take them out when I notice but I don't always notice. And this sort of makes me feel old. Because it used to be a "thing" and now it's just a sign that you learned to type when it was a "thing" and now it's not.

I prefer to write free flow. Even with fiction. That's not something I just learned, I've always known it, but I reinforced it this month. I tried a few times to make an outline for future blogs or fiction pieces and they would stump me. I would get partway down the list and nothing. Any idea that had been in my head was now gone. But if I took the same ideas and just starting writing then they would word vomit out of me. This is a real challenge for me when I am writing longer pieces. Sometimes you just NEED that outline to keep you on track. I am experimenting with a hybrid outline word vomit formula right now. Just putting ideas in as place holders without the formal feel to it. We will see how that works.

I really like feedback on what I write. I know you write because you have to, and I have plenty of stuff that doesn't see the light of day because I just wanted it out of my head for the time being. But it pleases me when I know that people actually read what I've written. Even if the feedback is just, "hey, I read that and you are full of shit" at least I know someone read it! it's June 30th and the last day of the month I know I am owed one more fiction piece from My Caffeine Fueled Muse so I consider that the reward to the end of my challenge.

What's next, happy campers? What should we do for July?

Friday, June 29, 2012

This one band camp...

I said it in the title so you don't have to later, but you will anyway.

Okay, so this morning at the gym I was watching a story on what to do when your child gets homesick at camp. As they were giving all of the handy dandy tips I was thinking, never happened. C never balked about going to camp or being at camp. He never flinched when getting dropped off at daycare. Not a sigh of discontent the first day of school. Didn't even blink when we left him on his first day of college, though at that one I went straight in to the ugly cry. He just never had that separation anxiety issue. Ever.

I can remember the first time we sent him to daycare. He had been a stay at home kid for three years by that point and this would be the first stretch away from Mom and Dad for any length of time. I was so worried that he would have a hard time. And as Brent and I dropped him off for his first day and we saw other kids his age start to cry as soon as they hit the door and realized their parent was leaving I started to panic just a little bit. What was I going to do when he started bawling? How was I going to possibly go to work knowing that my baby was miserable? Well he was fine. He went off to play with his group and never looked back. Now, when Brent picked him up he was filthy and hadn't eaten lunch so he only lasted at that school for three days. So you would have thought when we found a new school for him and dropped him off the second time he would be a little wary? Nope. Not at all. Off to join his group and didn't look back.

This was after Dad cleaned him up a bit.

Same thing every year for school. Every change in schools. Every change in cities and schools. The kid was just unflappable. I felt simultaneously smug and jealous when I would see the kids that would tear up when Mom and Dad walked out the door. Knowing that my kid was already playing and had no clue if I was there or not. The first time he went away for a long stretch was the week at Outdoor School in the 5th grade. I worried more than he did about how he would handle the time away, because of course, he handled it fine. As we dropped all of the kids off to catch the bus for camp there were parents fussing over kids who were anxious to go and then there were those of us standing in the cloud of dust our kids left behind like a cartoon character as they ran to leave us!

And every summer was the same. Band camp at the coast and then at Western. He never balked about going, couldn't wait to get there and really had no urge for us to stick around. I am sure there were parents there who would have stayed all week if they could have. But we were usually on the road again within a half hour of getting there. Long enough to check him in, move him in and see if he needed money for anything. 

Looking at colleges I kept trying to steer him towards the west coast. It was closer. He pointed out that no matter where he went he was going to be at least a plane ride away so it didn't really matter how long that plane ride was. (He might feel a little differently now that he's done the coast to coast commute a few times) So he wasn't concerned at all about going to school in Vermont. On the other side of the country. WAY far away from his parents. His school handled the hanging on parent issue by taking the kids away from you after you get them moved in, having you stay on the lawn for a few more speeches and then "inviting you to leave." Yes, that's how they put it. You are then invited to leave. So when they called the kids away by dorm  as soon as he left I broke right in to the ugly cry. And he joined his group and....

...was perfectly fine.

I had a handout from the college for things to watch for during freshman year while they were adjusting, the moment to wait for that they all go through where they don't want to be there anymore, they just want to be home. And of course, he never hit that point. It's not to say there weren't rough patches and adjustments for him during his freshman year, being an only child with two rooms to himself at home to being one of three people in a dorm room and one of the other two is a thief, well these are things you learn to deal with. And he did. He moved. And got a good quiet roommate in a dorm closer to class and things went along swimmingly. Last year by the time we got to campus to drop him off (Hurricane Irene sort of mangled our original travel plan) his room was already party central filled with his friends waiting to welcome him back and when I asked if he wanted to grab dinner before I headed back to the hotel it was, "No thanks, you can go." And this year he is going back to school three days before he has to to make sure he gets settled in with plenty of time before class starts. 

So yeah, when it comes to tips on how to handle a homesick kid I have no space to relate. But if you ever want to know how to handle the blow to your ego when you realize that you are not the center of your three year old's universe? That I can help you with....

Thursday, June 28, 2012

More about writing...

So it's a mini blog today. I have some household chores I am doing plus I am trying to get a short story to pull together in my head by Saturday so I am focusing most of my bathroom fume enhancing creativity on that today.  But I have a question for you all to ponder....

In a fiction piece, the sort that I seem to do, the relationship, slice of life stuff, could you ever root for a heroine that was an unapologetic adulteress? I have had this woman in my head...this scene...for YEARS. She opens her door one night to find her lover on the other side of it. He's holding his suitcase and he's come to move in with her. His wife has kicked him out and now he thinks he can go live with his mistress and life will be grand. But the thing is, she doesn't want him. She likes being the other woman. Likes being on her own. Likes the dating with no risk of commitment. Doesn't want it. Doesn't need it. But now it's sort of forced upon her and what does she do? In my head, in my outlines, she starts working on getting him back together with his wife in the present and we see scenes from her life on how she got to the point where she was someone's mistress in the first place. And more importantly why she likes it.'s a comedy.

So what do you think? Could you get past the part where what she is doing in her social life is the thing that most of us married women find to be the unforgivable sin? Could you find her to be charming enough, funny enough, to want to spend a few hundred pages in her life? Or would the concept be such a turnoff that you couldn't even pick it up?

And yes, I know you don't write for your potential readers, you write because the story needs to come out and since this woman and that scene have been in my head for at least 10 years, maybe more considering I think she is wearing shoulder pads, I am pretty sure she will eventually see a fully realized light of day... *deep breath* BUT....could you read it? Would you read it? And more importantly could you see yourself liking her? Because I see her as likable. Just morally ambiguous.

Okay, off to think about Princes who have been turned in to Beavers.....

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

And a story starts to take shape....

It's always interesting to me where the nugget of a story idea comes from. I like reading about the ideas from famous authors I like. I like it when friends of mine who write share with me where they came up their ideas and I really dig it when I am reading something they wrote and I recognize part of the story. Like a line of dialog or a setting and I know I was with them when the seed started. So today I got a seed for a story idea and I thought I would share with you how it came about and then the very very raw beginning of the story (since that's all I have right now) and see if you like it too (not the story so much since I won't have reworked it and it will be really raw, but the seeing where the idea sparked and then where that led).

This morning as we were going to drop Brent off at work the alarm on his phone sounded reminding him of a 7:00 meeting he had. As it was 6:55 right then and we were at least 15 minutes away from his work he wasn't going to make it on time. So we did the next best thing and dug out the headphones and had him call in to the meeting. As we got him dialed in the car recognized his phone and linked to it through the blue tooth. Which made me think of a time it happened in another car we owned. C and I were coming home from errands or school or something and Brent was in the house on a conference call. When we pulled in to the garage his call switched from his blue tooth headset to the car. So all of a sudden instead of him being on the call we were. I quickly turned off the car thinking that would switch it back and instead hung up on everyone. Oops!

So while I was thinking about that I thought, boy that would be a bad thing if you were on the phone with someone you shouldn't be...and the story started percolating from there....this is what I have so far:

Janine sat on the edge of the bed and repeated to herself, "Put your shoes on, Janine. Put your shoes on, Janine." It had become her routine for the past two days. Going through the motions. "Brush your teeth, Janine. Eat something, Janine." Every step needing a reminder on what normal people did. How she needed to survive. Because Janine was falling apart. And what do you do when the person you rely on to put you back together again is the one who broke you?

Two days ago Janine had come home from work to find the garage door open. She could see that Kyle had been working on something at the tool bench so assumed he had just run back in to the house for a minute leaving the door up. As she pulled in to the garage the blue tooth on her car activated picking up Kyle's call.  Janine cussed silently under her breath. The last time this had happened the call had dropped as soon as she turned off the car leaving Kyle disconnected from his conference call and scrambling to get back in. After the moment of panic that she might accidentally disconnect Kyle's call passed she actually focused in on the words being said.

"I have to go. Janine will be home soon. It was great seeing you today." Janine heard Kyle say

Then a voice she didn't recognize came on the line. A woman's voice.

"It was good to be seen. Very good." and she laughed. That deep throaty I've just gotten laid laugh. "When will I see you again?"

"Soon. Janine has a function on Thursday so we could go grab dinner. Spend some time out together. It will be fun."

Then the woman again,"Or we could stay in. That would be more fun."

It was Kyle's turn to laugh."Yes, yes that would be. Okay, I have to go. I will talk to you soon." and then the last part, the part where Janine thought she might actually be sick. "I love you."

"I love you too, Kyle."

And then the click of the disconnect.

Janine sat in the car for a few more minutes. Trying to process what she had just heard. It couldn't be right. They had a good marriage. Everyone said so. Everyone could see it. They had been together for almost 30 years. Their kids were grown and off living their own lives now. This was their time. They traveled. They went on date nights. They enjoyed each other. They were going to be grandparents soon. And...and...Kyle was in love with a woman who... who wanted to stay in because it would be more fun? Wanted to stay in and have fun with her husband? Who obviously had stayed in with her today. While Janine thought he was at work. While she had been at work.

As the thoughts kept racing in her head Janine took a deep breath and steeled herself to face him. She closed the garage door and walked in to the kitchen. She saw Kyle standing there with his cell phone still in his hand. He jumped a little when she came in.

"Oh, I only heard the door open, not close. You scared me."

Janine opened her mouth to speak but found she had no words. She walked past Kyle, through the living room and down the hallway to their bedroom. The room they had shared since buying the house almost 20 years ago. The room they had made love in last night. LAST NIGHT and today he was off with the laughing woman who wanted to stay in? Janine put a hand on the doorway, she needed something solid to touch. To remind her that this was all real.

She hadn't really thought anything through on her walk but her body seemed to have a plan and she was just following it now. She pulled a suitcase from under the bed and set it out. Kyle came in to the room at that point.

"Janine, what's going on? Are you okay? Are you going someplace?"

Janine turned and looked at him. He was still holding his cell phone. And the look of true concern on his face was the last straw. That he dared look at her like he cared about her and her feelings while still holding the phone. That phone.

"I'm not going anywhere. You are. Pack a bag and get out."

"What? What are you talking about?"

"I heard you, Kyle. I HEARD YOU. The car picked up your call as I pulled in. I HEARD YOU. And right now I am doing everything I can to hold my shit together but looking at you holding your phone. Your phone that you just used to tell another woman that you love her is making me lose it. So pack a bag and get the fuck out, Kyle."

"Janine, honey, I don't..."

"Don't, Kyle.  Don't call me honey. Don't say anything to me at all right now. I am going to pour a drink and sit down. You pack a bag and go. Call your friend and let her know lucky her Thursday is coming soon this week and you can go out to dinner or stay in because that would be more fun...."

Right then the realization that Janine had heard too much dawned on Kyle. She could see it in the set of his face. How very very tired he looked suddenly.

"Janine, I...."

"Don't, Kyle, just don't."

Janine hadn't talked to Kyle in the past two days. Every time he called she let the phone go to voice mail. She couldn't stomach the thought of talking to him on the same phone he talked to her on. She hadn't told anyone at work. She knew the response would be shocked and then supportive. But she just couldn't say the words yet. The only person she had told was her mother whose first response when Janine said that Kyle had moved out was, "What did you do?"

What did she do? The only thing she could think of was that she had come home five minutes too early.

"Put your shoes on, Janine. You have to go to work now, Janine."

And that's all I've got right now. Like I said, I will probably rework it quite a bit. But this is the way I usually treat a story nugget. I write up what is in my head RIGHT NOW and tuck it in to a folder to come back to later to polish it and sometimes completely change it all together. Unless it's a short blog piece just for you all. The I write fast and dirty and post before I work it too death. "Post the blog, Denise."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I got bored today.

Let me let that sink in for a few of you. I (me, Denise, squirrel girl, shiny objects amaze and amuse me) got bored today.

I rarely get bored and it always comes as a sort of shock to me when it happens. Talking to my mother last week she described me as the most "self-contained" of her children. I have never needed someone else to amuse me or play with me. I can sit patiently waiting for things for a very long time. Now usually, to be fair, I have a book with me. And I have been known to read the owner's manuals in cars when left too long waiting without one. But I've never much needed a lot of activity to find something to keep myself busy. And when I do start to get bored I just move on to something else. So I don't often get bored.

When Brent and I first started dating he told me his parents used to tell him that "only boring people get bored" if he would tell them he was bored. Which I thought was about the worst thing you could say to someone ever! Because everyone gets bored sometimes. Everyone. Even those of us who make up stories inside our heads for fun get bored.

So I got bored. C and I were waiting at the dealership while they did a maintenance check on the car. I had figured it would take about 45 minutes and as they were closing in on an hour and half I was done. I didn't sleep well last night so reading my book wasn't working out too well. Stephen Hawking's idea on the theory of EVERYTHING is hard to digest through a foggy brain. I didn't want to play any of the games on my cell phone. C was playing his own game and didn't think me kicking him was all that fun, though it amused me and I realized...I'm bored...

So I started to think about it and decided that I was bored because I was over the time I had allotted in my head for sitting there. I had other errands to run today and a story I had been working on before I left the house and other things I was ready to go do and sitting at the dealership was over! So then I I really bored or am I just restless? When made me think of the Bob Seger lyric from Night Moves  "we were just young and restless and bored..." and wondered how often people mistake restlessness for boredom. Are they really bored or are they just ready to move on to something else? And is that the same thing? Is being done with something the same as being bored with it? What would the line be between restless and bored? Would restless mean you just wanted to go do something else for a little bit and bored be that you never wanted to do it again? And how long would you have to be bored before you did something else? Like if you were really and truly bored with everything around you how long could you exist like that before you changed something? And could you ever really be bored with everything? Wouldn't that be crossing the line into depression? Which isn't boredom. It's a whole different thing. You might feel bored, but you were like bored cubed. Not just regular bored. And....

Then the service tech came to get us because the car was finished so I didn't have to be bored anymore. Thank goodness...longest five minutes of my life!

Monday, June 25, 2012

We now join our previously scheduled rant already in progress...

Okay, back to the rants. I think this is the last one for awhile, don't hold me to that after all stupid things happen every day and I might just feel the need to talk about them.

So the Jerry Sandusky verdict came in over the weekend. He was found guilty in 45 out of 48 charges. Not a real surprise there when at the end of the trial when addressing the media the defense said they would be surprised if he was acquitted due to the overwhelming amount of evidence against him. The DEFENSE said this. Now maybe that was part of their plan for appeal, they say they didn't have time to adequately prepare, but who really knows. What I know is that he was found guilty. And due to the mandatory sentencing laws around some of the charges he will spend the rest of his life in jail.

I blogged about this when it was breaking news. And I was angry then. Really angry. I was angry at the people who were missing the point that this wasn't about the firing of a beloved coach but it was about a serial pedophile who had been left to run rampant for years. And I said it then, and I will say it again, if it had been your child would you still feel as though the school and the coach "did enough"? Because for me, it wasn't. What you had to do versus what they should have done has always been the issue for me. And when Sandusky's own legal team talked about the evidence against boggles your mind.

During the trial there were snippets reported on the news. One of the things that struck me was in the court reporting cartoons that they draw he always seemed to have a little half smile on his face. Like he really felt he was going to walk out of there with a not guilty verdict. He released through his lawyer today that he just wanted people to know that he is not guilty no matter what the verdict was. Okay, Jerry, sure. There was also one night where they reported that the defense said he had a personality disorder. He suffers from Histrionic Personality Disorder. And that this explains why he was so overly affectionate in letters to the boys he molested. (I can stop using allegedly because he's guilty right?) Okay. I will give you that he has a personality disorder. He might very well have histrionic personality disorder as well though I would have gone with the more over all pedophilia diagnosis. But the thing that made me want to throw something at the TV when I heard that was how it was reported and talked about in such a way that we were supposed to feel sorry for Sandusky. Poor man suffers from a personality disorder...

I think I fall in to the camp of the Texas father on what should be done in stopping the abuse of a child. When his story broke last week our local news channel posted on Facebook to ask if people thought that he used "excessive force" in stopping the attack. My comment was is there an excessive use of force if you found someone raping your 5 year old? And when the 911 tapes were released and you could hear this man, and hear that he was genuinely worried that he had beaten the rapist to death you understand "crime of passion" a lot more and you understand that this father did what he had to do to protect his child. He wasn't out looking for a reason to hurt someone but in protecting his child, protecting her from the worst nightmare of a parent, his instinct took over and he did what I think many of us would have.  Brent and I agree that the only place we differ is in the fact that he seems remorseful that he killed the rapist. Neither of us thinks we would be.

So right now Sandusky is in jail. There is some sort of closure starting for his victims. Though it's going to take a lot more than a guilty verdict to heal their wounds. They might not ever be okay. Ever. He took kids that he was supposed to be helping, supposed to be bettering their lives and he hurt them in a way that we can't even let ourselves think about. And he did it over and over and over with new boys, new victims. He broke so many lives it's hard to wrap your brain around it. So he is in jail. On suicide watch. And I wouldn't be sad at all if someone handed him a rope and then turned their back for awhile.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A little stumped....

Trying to think about what to write today. I have a Jerry Sandusky blog in my head to get out but I've been sort of ranty all weekend so I feel like I want to take a little bit of break from that. We went to go see Brave today so I could write about that but I really want to give people more time to see it before I do that one. I don't have any fiction snippets floating around in the gray matter so that's out. what should we talk about?

I bought a new bird feeder yesterday. Or I should say, Brent bought a new bird feeder for me. I kept saying I didn't really need one but then I would tell him about the birds in the tree right outside the study and so he decided that I really did want a feeder. And so now I have a new feeder. It's right outside the window that I face when I am on my computer. And I can't wait for the birds to discover it and start flocking to my feeder. So I guess he was right after all and I did want a new feeder.

Let's see...what else? Movies left for the summer...well...Ted opens next week then Spiderman then The Dark Knight. There are some other maybes in there but those are the for sures. Two comic books and an foul mouth teddy bear. Yeah, I'm highbrow when it comes to my entertainment. Don't doubt.

I'm reading Stephen Hawking's The Grand Design right now. Reading Hawking always makes me feel simultaneously smart and stupid. I feel really smart when I understand a point that he is making and then really stupid when I realize that he and his writing partner have dumbed down simplified everything they are talking about just so I would be able to understand it all. But that's okay. I always walk away from his works with a lot to think about and ponder and try to figure out.

It seems like there is a lot of strife going on with my friends lately. I have friends going through divorce, cancer, bankruptcy, the loss of a child, unemployment, ill parents, unexpected house repairs, depression and all manner of ennui.  It seems like there is a lot of joy going on with my friends lately. I have friends who are getting married, expecting children, just got promotions, bought a smoking hot new car, about to be grandparents, lost a lot of weight, moved into a fabulous new house, celebrating anniversaries, celebrating birthdays and just plain happy to be alive.

So I guess that's enough for today. Seems like a pretty decent lazy Sunday blog to me. The sort of conversation you would have while lounging around with friends after a trip to the beach, or a hike in the woods, or catching the matinee at the local theater. Nothing deep, nothing complicated, just the buzz of a pleasant conversation going on all around you.

Oh, and I will be back to ranty tomorrow probably. Just so you know.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Don't look now, your bias is showing...

Earlier this week a friend of mine who leans decidedly more right politically than I do sent me a link to the latest news on George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. In the video clip you can watch as Zimmerman leads police through his version of what happened that night. And when they sent me the clip they said, "Don't you feel foolish now?" Which of course led to quite the heated debate on what my issue had been all along in this case versus what they interpreted it and then to what they were saying.

Let me break it down for you.  Brent and I actually heard about the story before it broke as big as it did nationwide. When we heard the basic details about it I said to him, "That's just not right. There is no way he shouldn't have been arrested. Dead body on the ground, gun in your hand, that's pretty much all you need to justify the arrest." And that has been my stance all along. It's the prosecution's job from that point forward to see if there is enough evidence to take the crime to trial or to see if there was a crime in the first place. Because of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" laws (which Oregon has as well, to be completely fair, in fact A LOT of states have them) Zimmerman might very well not be guilty of anything. But it's not the job of the police at that moment to make that call. Dead body on the ground, gun in his hand.

Do I believe the media added fuel to this fire? Absolutely. There was the 911 tape that NBC edited to cut out the dispatcher asking Zimmerman for a description of Martin so it sounded like he was just announcing Martin was black out of the blue. Which was so wrong it's crazy. You don't edited the evidence to fit your narrative, if you are the news you just report what happened. YOU have no narrative. There was Fox News insisting that Zimmerman did nothing wrong and that the "mainstream media" was just looking for a victim. Which I have issue with, because see, we had a victim. That would be the body on the ground. And then you had the emails that went out where they showed pictures of Zimmerman in a nice suit instead of his old mug shot (not recent because he wasn't arrested that night) that the media had been using and a picture of a gangbanger with his tattoos throwing his signs and holding a beer that was the most recent shot of Martin. Except it wasn't. The pictures were of some other kid, I guess who ever put that clip together didn't realize that you can't just drop in one black teenager for another and have no one notice. So yes, things got heated. But my stance was still, we have a dead kid and a guy walking around who hasn't been arrested for the shooting which he admits to doing. There is a problem here.

Then Zimmerman was arrested and I was glad. This same friend thought it was just awful and wrong that he had been. We argued about that at the time as well. If he is not guilty under Florida law then he will go free. That's the way it works. We have no doubts that he shot the kid, we just don't know if it was justified. That's the point of the investigation. Yes, I realize that most everyone has an opinion on this, I think he should have stayed in the damn car and all of this could have been avoided, but there is a legal answer to the question. And finally we were going to get to it.

Then the videos of Zimmerman walking the police through his version hit and I was asked, "Don't you feel foolish." Why would I feel foolish? Did we not expect Zimmerman to feel he was perfectly justified in what he did? Just because he says this is what happened doesn't mean this is what happened. Now will it be hard to say anything different? Yes, because the only other witness is, well you know, dead. So no, I don't feel foolish to hear Zimmerman walk the police through a series of events that portray him as acting in self defense. I question it, because it sounds, from his description, that a kid who was smaller than him was kicking his ass pretty seriously right up until the time he reached for Zimmerman's gun and at that exact moment Zimmerman got the upper hand in the fight and was able to over power doesn't seem logical to me. But I wasn't there, and I won't have to decide if he acted in self defense or not, which I am glad of.

I also won't have to weigh in on the fact that even if everything happened the way Zimmerman described it couldn't it be said that Martin was acting on the "Stand Your Ground" laws as well? He was being followed in the darkness by a man with a gun. I would say that's a pretty good reason to be fearful for your life. And in his case it seems he was justified.

My friend said I was just biased. That I was too much of a bleeding heart liberal to be able to say that a young black male was out doing no good and this was the consequence. Which gave me pause. Is that true? Am I so determined not to be prejudiced that I am blocking out everything else? Now, I do have experience in this area as a peripheral player. When I was in college in San Diego the Trolley stop that serviced the school was at the junction of two different area gang territories. They didn't fight at the stop (much) and it was really pretty safe, but you did keep your head down when things were going on. No sense calling attention to yourself for troubles that weren't yours. And in San Diego in this area the two gangs were made up of predominantly young black men. As opposed to the gang problems I was used to in New Mexico where the members were mostly young Hispanic men. Does saying that make me racist? No, it makes me observant. day leaving my business law class the police came screaming up to the side street and grabbed one of my fellow classmates. They put him against the car and started patting him down and he kept asking what was going on. Calmly, quietly, patiently. Much better than I would have done in the same situation but he was a young black male who had been taught to expect this sort of treatment and to know what to do about it. Right as this was happening my professor came out and I pointed out what was happening. He went over to speak with the police. Older white gentleman so he got treated differently from the start. When he also let them know he was a lawyer and a law professor they got even more careful. Seems there had been a robbery down the street and my classmate fit the description. Which was young black male. He wasn't wearing the clothes the robber had been described as wearing. He wasn't running from the area. He wasn't carrying anything but a book and a notebook when they started patting him down and they wouldn't even answer his questions as to what was going on. But they would for my law professor. So yeah, it happens. You hear about it. You see it. Being a young black (or Hispanic depending on the town or part of the town) male is a justifiable reason to worry about your behavior in a lot of people's eyes.

So does it make me biased to try and factor that out of the equation? Am I being a bleeding heart liberal to say that Zimmerman shouldn't have suspected Martin was up to no good because he was walking around while black? I can live with that if that's the case. Because if my bias is going to show I'd rather it show in that way. That people of all colors can commit crimes and it doesn't make you more or less guilty depending on the color of your skin. And that walking to your girlfriend's house in the rain while wearing a hoodie doesn't necessarily add up to being up to no good.

And just so you know, if Zimmerman is found not guilty (which I think there is strong possibility that he will be) I won't feel foolish. I don't think I will ever feel foolish for wanting the right thing to be done. And in my mind the right thing has always been to arrest and investigate Zimmerman. Body on the ground, gun in his hand.

Boys will be boys?

This week the news stations all blew up with video of four middle school boys bullying the 68 year old woman who was working as their bus monitor. They taunted her, called her names, made fun of her weight and suggested that her family should kill themselves all while recording it on their cell phones so they could later post the clip and show the world how cool they were. The problem (blessing?) they soon discovered was that very few people think it's all that hilarious to be total douche-bags to the grandmotherly lady who rides your bus to make sure the kids are safe.

There is now a fundraiser online that (last I checked) had reached right at $400,000 that started as a "let's send her on a nice vacation" and quickly turned into "let's give her enough to retire" fund. She has made the rounds of talk shows and news programs talking about it. And I have been struck by a few things, basically she handled it the way we tell our kids to handle bullying. She ignored them. That's the first thing we tell our kids right? Ignore them and they will go away. But they didn't. They got crueler and crueler. Because it was never about her, it was always about them. They were showing off to each other. Look how cool I am...I can top what you said. I would bet you any amount of money that any one of those kids on their own would never have said any of the nastiness they said with their buddies there. Boys in groups are operating on a different level than a boy on his own.

Okay, let's be fair here. Kids in groups. Right now Portland is experiencing it's own odd kids in groups phenomenon. The flash rob. A group of kids, up to 30 at times, rushes in to a store and takes everything they can then rushes back out. They've done it in convenience stores, department stores and grocery stores.  And there is security tape of them doing it and in some of the shots you can see the kids looking at the camera and smiling. They know it's going to be on TV and they are excited by the idea! It's insane. You're committing a crime and you're gleeful because your grainy black and white security footage image will be shown on TV? What the hell is wrong with you?

When I was a kid and working for my dad at the gas stations or helping him with cars or yard work he would tell the story about the old man who hired a boy to mow his lawn and pull his weeds. He had a really big yard and it took a lot of work to maintain and the boy suggested that he also hire his two friends and they could get the work done quickly. The old man said, "If I hire one boy I get one boy. If I hire two boys I get half a boy and if I hire three boys, I get no boy at all."  Which when I was younger translated to me that I wasn't going to get any more help so just get my chores done and don't whine...but as I got a little older I got it. Boys (kids) in groups stop worrying about what needs done and just worry about each other. Look at me! Look at me!

Back to the boys on the bus. I told you that a few things struck me with how the monitor handled things. Another was that she never reported the bullying. Until the little jerks posted the clip it wasn't public. And she also isn't pressing any sort of charges against them. She hopes their parents will handle it and they will learn a lesson. Well I can tell you that one of the lessons they are learning is that one of the other things in life that ends up with a force of its own is a group of boys (kids, adults) on the internet. You had the good response, "Hey! I've got a barn let's put on a show!" or wait..."I've got a page let's raise some money!" and you have the bad. These boys and their families have now had their names and addresses posted online. They are receiving death threats. You live by the bully you die by the bully? Is that the lesson here?

Now, please believe, and anyone who watched me parent for the past almost 20 years knows this to be true, if C had ever been involved in something like that he would have been punished and it wouldn't have been pleasant for him at all. I would like to be able to sit back and say there is no way he would have been. Because I do truly believe that. He was a good kid who has grown in to a good man. He has always been kind hearted and I do think he wouldn't have participated in a situation like that but I also saw the father of one of the boys on the news who looked shell shocked that his child participated in such an event. He said he just had the hardest time dealing with it because this wasn't anything he would ever expect from his child. And I believe him. He had the look of a truly ashamed parent. No defiance. No justifications. Just sorrow. And I would bet if you had asked him two weeks ago if his son would ever have been involved in something like that he would have said no way.

But I'm not sure that a lot of righteous indignation is really going to help these kids at all. By bullying them online aren't we just teaching them that what they did is okay but that they just chose the wrong target? And really if you are a grown ass adult and you are calling for the death of a 12 year old how does that make you any better than a 12 year old calling a 68 year old woman disgusting and fat? Doesn't it make you worse because as an adult you should know better by now? Or does being able to post online anonymously turn all of us into 12 year olds again?

I don't really have any larger lessons here. Just a few things to think about. First off, keep reminding your kids that thinking for themselves is important. And that it's really easy to get carried away in a group and go along with the crowd but personal moral codes aren't decided on by majority rules. If it's wrong to steal, call names, make someone cry when you are on your own it's still wrong when all of your buddies are doing it. Just much harder to carry through. And then remind yourself of the same things when you are tempted to post something online that you would never say to someone's face.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Okay, not a lot of sleep due to airport pickups that were supposed to happen then didn't and early morning doctor appointments and errands and just flighty head took over and I didn't write today!  Oh no!

Yes, I know I could just toss something brilliant out there right now, because my brain is just swimming with brilliance all of the time or I could play let's make a deal...

So...tomorrow not one but two, TWO pieces of blogging brilliance will be posted in this very spot!

Or...there will be another mea culpa...but what are the odds of that really?  I mean come on...we are talking about me here...brilliance is my middle name.

Okay it isn't.  It's Leann.  But still...

Until tomorrow!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

And who are you really?

So I had two seemingly unconnected things come together in my brain to make a blog today. I kind of dig when that happens...

First off this morning I spent a lot of time on Goodreads rating books and I realized two things, first off I "really like" most things I read.  There were only a small handful of books that popped up on the list that I didn't like or even that I sort of liked. For the most part when I saw a book title I thought...Oh! I really liked that one! The second thing I realized is that I spent a lot of time exploring religion and spiritual thought. And for every title that I had read that popped up that came with a recommendation for another book I thought...oh I need to read this!

Okay...leave that thought for awhile and walk with me over here....

I used to have a very distinctive sneeze. Or sneezes I guess I should say. I never sneeze just once it's usually 3 or 4 times in a row. But the sound that used to come out when I sneezed was very distinctive. It was very high pitched and kind of had a lilt at the end. After years and years of being teased about it about 5 or 6 years ago I snapped and decided that that was it! I was changing the way I sneezed! And I did. When I would feel a sneeze coming on I would concentrate very hard on making the sound lower and not doing the lilt at the end. I just wanted to sneeze in peace. I could never change the multiple sneezes in a row but after awhile I finally got to the point where my sneeze was lower in tone and had no lilt and I could do it without thinking so very hard each time I sneezed.

Then this afternoon I was cleaning some things in the garage and thinking over a few things so my body was busy and my brain was busy and I sneezed. High pitched and lilt. Well shit. Isn't that funny? All this time I thought I had changed something pretty fundamental about myself and I hadn't. It was there all along just waiting for me to not pay attention so it could sneak back out. And it made me laugh. And I liked the way it sounded. It's very much my own sound. I've never heard anyone else sneeze like that and I guess I missed being me. Free to sneeze the way I want! Or something like that...

So then I started thinking about things that are just fundamentally me. The things that come out when I'm not paying attention. And I came back around to the Goodreads website. I really like most things I read. It took me YEARS to be able to admit that a book could be bad and that it was okay to put it down without finishing it. And when I do that I don't think about the book again, for the most part. A book really had to make me angry to stick in my head as something I didn't like (Jonathan Franzen I am looking at you here, oh and Justin Cronin, you can come stand next to him for the second half of The Passage) but for the most part the books I remember are the ones I really liked. I don't spend a lot of time dwelling on things I don't like. I just let them slide back out of my head.

And the spiritual searching? Yeah, that's hard wired in to me as well. If you read the background blogs that I referenced in yesterday's post you remember I was baptized in my parent's faith at 6 which is super young for my church. But I understood the rules of that faith and needed to follow them. But then I kept on following things and eventually my path led me right back out of their faith and in to my own. But I have never stopped looking at things. Wondering. Feeling. I love to hear what people believe and why. I can so understand people who feel closer to god when they are in nature. How it speaks to them. You all know how I feel about the ocean.  Well the mountains come a close second to that. Part of that is because I can just let my mind go and be, and feel, and question, and wonder, and marvel.

So what does it all mean? I have no idea. That's another part of me that just is me. I will always look for the thread that ties things together. I will always want to know what else there is going on under the surface. I will really like most things, I will keep looking for the big answers and well....I will sneeze the way I want to.  Deal with it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Well that's not very Christian of you...

I had an interesting experience recently. Someone on my friend list on Facebook posted on their status a prayer request, which is not unusual, but then went on to specifically ask those that weren't religious to refraining from posting "thinking of you" posts. Which of course then led to people asking why and getting really insulted. Which is what generally happens when religious and non-religious people argue. (They all need to read this article) Her reasoning made perfect sense if you are of that particular faith. She felt that each time someone said I am thinking of you, instead of I am praying for you, she was participating in their belief in false gods and felt hypocritical. Someone else pointed out that maybe by them thinking of her, her god could then pick that thought out because if he really and truly was God then wouldn't he listen to everyone not just the people who had already sworn allegiance to him? She said it didn't matter, it made her feel wrong so she was just asking them not to do it on her status. Which prompted the reply, "Well that's not very Christian of you." Which struck me as funny.

Just to be upfront, I read all of the discussion but I did not participate in it. On one hand I think it's silly to ask people not to think kind thoughts about you but on the other if she really and truly believed that by doing so she was participating in something that was against her religion I have no issue with it at all. Religion is a very personal thing, even among people of the "same" faith you have a lot of variation. And I think that trying to argue your way into agreement about religion never ever works. That's not to say I won't challenge your beliefs if they conflict with mine, but usually I will only do that if you come to my post and say something. And I will usually challenge you from where you stand. I'm not as well versed (so to speak) as I used to be but being raised in the church I still have a pretty firm grip on what the bible does and does not say about issues. And I also know that it contradicts itself and espouses rules that no one follows anymore. Not even the most devout. So my most basic argument is "But why? Why do you believe that? Why do you do that?"

And if you've thought about it you have an answer. And sometimes that answer is just "It's what I believe and feel is right." And I'm okay with that as well. My entire moral system is based on what I believe and feel is right. Some of it I kept from the teachings of the church. Some of it I cherry picked out of other belief systems and some of it I just feel. I can't explain why I believe what I believe, I just do. I'm not atheist, though people assume I am. I believe there is something greater than just me out there. I just don't know what it is. I have an idea, but it's sort of wacky so I mostly keep it to myself. But I also don't believe there is only one path for the faithful to walk. I think there are a lot of roads that get you where you need to go. And for me the end results are all that matters. (I blogged about my beliefs along time ago here and also here.)

You can call yourself a Christian and if you are forgetting the whole "love your neighbors" aspect I won't believe you are on the right path. You can call yourself an atheist and if you are kind and loving towards the people around you I will imagine you are on the right path. See the labels don't matter much to me. And it doesn't matter to me what you say you believe. That's your business not mine. I have some wonderful caring friends who are Christian. Who walk their walk. And I know some people who call themselves Christian that I feel like handing a highlighted and annotated copy of their bible to, because they've missed some of the most important lessons. The same thing works for the atheists I know. I know some that are wonderful and caring and some that I want to point out their whole, "I don't need an imaginary friend in the sky to do what is right and wrong" argument doesn't hold water if they aren't doing right instead of wrong. And of course, I have friends of many other religions and beliefs that fall in there as well. I don't care what you call yourself. I imagine you are on (or not on) your path in life.

But see that's just what I believe. I believe in paths, and walks, and living life as a kind reflection. And if you want to pray for me I will graciously accept it. If you want to think kind thoughts for me I'm all for that as well. Hold me in your heart, offer my problems up to God, any and all of that I am okay with. And just so you know I will think kind thoughts and send healing wishes, and hold you and your family in my thoughts as well. but I won't tell you if it bothers you. Because it wouldn't be very Christian of me if I did.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Well isn't that just perfect...

Today's themed picture is "Imperfect" and my first thought was it was self-portrait time. When I was younger before people started wearing the WWJD bracelets there were PBPGINFWMY bumper stickers. That stood for Please Be Patient God Is Not Finished With Me Yet. And I always loved that idea. That we are all always still improving. When I graduated from high school my best friend bought me a front license plate for my car that read "I might not be perfect, but parts of me are excellent" I liked that thought as well.

I'm not perfect. I'm about as far from perfect as you can get and I am really okay with that. I am a firm believer in the school of thought that perfectionism is a disease and you have to learn to let things go. There are areas that I can get obsessive about and I have to remind myself that it's okay to not be perfect. That in our imperfections the best things can be found. That mistakes can be the best part of your day. That the wrong turn can have you end up in the place you were meant to be all along.

I've also been accused of trying to be perfect. Usually you get that one when what you are doing is different than what someone else wants you to do. Or if your moral stance doesn't line up with theirs. And that's another area where I have to say I am imperfect. I have an ideal in my head that I am working towards. Let's say an enlightened me. But I still fall short of that ideal. A lot. I have a wicked temper at times. I can be judgmental. I can be impatient. Those are things I don't want to be. And I think I am getting better at it. Except when I'm not. And that's okay as well.

Imperfection is fine. It's a good place to be. If I were perfect I wouldn't have a chance to learn. To grow. To change. And that's really what life is about isn't it? Growing, changing, learning?

At least that is what I keep telling myself. For now I will be happy to be perfectly imperfect.

Oh and as far as the picture went? I used an older picture of myself. Today I look grubby and didn't feel like putting on makeup or doing my hair...vanity...yet another one of my imperfections. And that's a good thing for anyone who had to look at the picture. You're welcome.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Remember earlier this month when I was stumped for something to write about and I promised a brilliant and shiny blog later that would make up for it?

Yeah, this isn't that one.

I have nothing for today so I will share a few funny bits of conversation from yesterday's field trip.

Me: Look at that! On the road 15 minutes earlier than planned and Dad isn't even here!
C: know the beach is west right?

Driving down the road and C's head whips around to look behind us...
Me: What's up?
C: We just passed the Charbonneau District and I have a friend back home whose name is Charbonneau.
Me: Umm...THIS is home!
C: It's funny when I am there I do call here home. And when I am here I call there home. No place is home when I am there.
Me: That's deep...Home is where you aren't.

Mother to 9 year old son: Can you see the octopus?
Boy: No
Mother: When she takes a picture the red light shows him.
(being helpful I take another picture)
Mother: Did you see it?
Boy: No
Me: (stepping to the side and pointing to where the octopus is hiding) See him there? It looks sort of like a pile of sticks and a bulb.
Boy: (now dripping with attitude) I see it. Thanks so much for all the helpful information.
Me: (turning to look at him giving back all of his attitude plus an extra dose to show he is not being nearly as clever as he thinks) And thank you for being so polite about it.

Driving home passing the Burger King we stopped at on the way to the beach to get something to drink and use the restroom...
Me: And there is the Burger King. Did you want to stop again?
C: No, I think I am okay. Cause it's you know...Burger King.
Me: It was a good Burger King, just exactly what we needed it to be when we needed it to be that...
C: Ummm...Okay....
Me: Remember when we stopped at that Burger King that one time?  Good times...good times...

There were many other moments but those are the ones I can remember right now. It was a good day. A good trip. The aquarium was nice, but we remembered why we don't go often. Lunch was excellent. If you are in Newport we recommend Georgie's and the blackened crab melt.  Oh. My. Gosh. Seeing the dock was very cool (see yesterday's blog) and of course just being at the ocean was excellent.

So I still owe you a brilliant shiny blog. Or I at least have to hope your memory fades about promising you one. Which it would probably help if I didn't remind you....

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Field trip!

Today C and I headed out to the coast. The weather was okay, not excellent, but okay. But we went to see a piece of history. At the beginning of the month a piece of debris from Japan washed ashore. But it wasn't just any old piece of debris, it was a 70 foot dock that had broken free during the tsunami last March. And for some reason I wanted to see it for myself.

And I am not alone. Since the dock washed ashore thousands of people have come to see it. The parks department said last year there were around 2000 cars through the parks department parking lots the first two weeks of June, this year? Over 12,000! All to see a piece of junk basically. Why did we all go? Why go look at it? I can't answer for everyone else but I thought I'd try and pin down why I went.

We could see the people there to see the dock before we could really see the dock!

I guess first off, if I'm being totally honest, it's because it was an excuse to go to the beach. I love going to the coast as you all know. And Newport isn't one we get to very often. It's another hour further away, it's not as California-like as Seaside so I don't love it as much. It's not close to Tillamook so there is no ice cream on the way back.... But it does have the Oregon Coast Aquarium and it's still the ocean after all so it will do.

But the real reason is that I had a hard time wrapping my brain around it. The whole thought of the dock being HERE when it was THERE. We all watched the footage of the tsunami with our mouths hanging open. Just to see the devastation was unreal. The water wiping out everything, lifting cars, trucks, buildings... And then to think that this dock had been part of that devastation but it wasn't done. It then floated across the ocean and ended up here on our beach. Just over a year later. And no one noticed it. There is a lot of hubbub about that right now. Because this wasn't a small piece of debris, this is a 70 foot long dock, and NO ONE saw it until it washed ashore! Isn't that amazing?

And here it sits.

Now one of the first things they did when it washed ashore was check it for radiation, safe. And then scrape all of the wildlife off of it so it didn't contaminate the shoreline with a host of non-native species. Then they just left it there. There is a lot of debate now on what to do about it. Taking it apart is going to cost money. Who pays for that? The company in Japan doesn't want it back, which is good because how would we get it to them anyway? There are some people who say, leave it there! Turn it in to a monument to the lives lost during the tsunami and let people come see it! There are others who want it off their beach. It's an eyesore! It's causing crowds! And then there are those that are concerned about the safety. It washed ashore during a storm, what happens during the next storm?

For me I am just glad I saw it. And touched it. I will be thinking about that dock, what it represents to me, for a long time. There is something to it, you know? Torn from it's moorings during a storm only to survive a perilous trip across the ocean to wash ashore in a sleepy little Oregon coastal town to be turned in to a tourist attraction....

Okay, or I just wanted to see it because it's cool. Because it came from the ocean. Because one of the things I love the most about the ocean is that it is vast. That the water washing up on our shore touched countless other shores and will do the cycle over and over again. I love the ocean because it makes me feel small and large all at the same time. And seeing this dock, knowing I might have watched it fall apart during the tsunami coverage and then be able to touch it here now?'s just cool.

Yes, I made him touch it too....

Saturday, June 16, 2012

One year later....

Last year this time I was checking the weekend weather forecast and getting ready to do one last cleaning of the house.  Brent's cousin Kim and her husband Dave were headed to Portland to spend the weekend with us. It was their 26th Anniversary trip and we were really excited to show them around our part of the country for a change.

Then the phone rang.  It was my sister Ann. All she could choke out was..."It's Dad.  It doesn't look good."  She said she would call me back and hung up. Now this wasn't the first time in my life I had gotten a call about Dad being sick, or in the hospital or even not doing well. But this was the first time I could feel the bottom start to fall out of the world during the call. For those of you that remember when Brent's dad died I actually thought it was my sister Ann calling to tell me Dad had died instead of my mother-in-law Ann calling to tell me about Jack. So to say that it was unexpected would be lying. But to say I was ready to accept it would be as well.

I texted Brent to let him know Dad was failing and by the time I got a response from him asking me what I wanted to do (we are talking a matter of minutes) Ann had texted me to let me know Dad was gone. Brent told me he could get a ride and would be home as soon as he could. I started to try and put together all of the pieces of what needed done. The moment when grief and practicality collide is always an interesting one for me. It's like your brain splits in to two pieces. There is the part that is wailing, tearing your clothes and putting ashes on your forehead and the part that is making to do lists and they are working together so you are functioning while tears are streaming down your face.

We still had company coming. Yes, they would totally understand if we all left them here for the weekend on their own but what good would it do to drag Brent and C to Albuquerque until the funeral? I would fly out as soon as I could and start on the things that needed done there, they would stay here with Dave and Kim and then fly out for the services. I would leave an itinerary for Brent to follow of all of the places I had planned to take Dave and Kim.  He and C would still have dinner with them that night but I would beg off. I just couldn't. Everyone would understand. I got a flight for first thing the next morning.

During that time my mother called as well. She wasn't sure if I knew yet but of course as soon as I heard her voice and started to sob she knew. Most of you remember that my father died on my mother's birthday. We were all in shock about that one as well. How could that happen? How was that fair? How do you reconcile my mother saying it was God's will and now Dad was in a better place with the fact that she believed God would think it was okay to take him on her birthday? There were times over the next few days that I had to bite my tongue when people would tell me about God calling Dad home and how wonderful it was. I would smile and nod and squeeze my hands together to have something else to focus on so I didn't point out that this belief they held meant that God deliberately chose my mother's birthday to kill my father and that didn't seem like the kind of God I really wanted to spend eternity with. Instead I just smiled and nodded and squeezed....

We all made it through the weekend. Brent and C entertained Kim and Dave and sent me pictures of all of the places they went.  The weather was just about as good as you can hope for June in Portland. Some rain but some sun as well. And I was really glad all of that went mostly according to plan. Albuquerque was what you would expect it to be. I wrote about Dad (of course) here and here and I'm sure other places as well, but those were the two I wrote closest to his death. The things that stick out the most from that time period are the feelings of being adrift. Of not being sure what exactly we were all supposed to do. There were the funeral plans to make, of course, but that didn't really take a lot of time. My Aunt Carol handled a lot of the little things, kept us all corralled on the same page. My family spent a lot of time sitting together semi-quietly. My grand nephew was our comic relief. To a two year old it was just a bunch of people together telling him how funny and fabulous and adorable he is. So he was the bright grief free spot for all of us.

I also fondly remember getting together after the funeral. We all went to my brother and sister's house and ate lunch and played games. It was as close to a normal family visit as anything that weekend was. I think we were all so tired of being sad we needed a time to laugh and relax and since it was just us, just the family, we felt like we could. And that for me was our first piece of, it's going to be okay. Because that's what happens. You have to figure out how to make it okay. To keep moving. To keep laughing. To keep living. Because one death isn't all. Even if it's your father.

So now it's been a year. We are finally at the end of all of the firsts. Which I knew from Jack's passing that those were the worst. From here on out it will be the big days that you dread. His birthday, Mom and Dad's Anniversary, the anniversary of his death. And it will be the little ones that take you by surprise.  The times you see someone who looks like him. You catch yourself saying something that he would. The times he shows up in your dreams. And for a few minutes the grief will clutch your heart and you will feel like you just want to stop again. To sob, to tear your clothes, to get those ashes out. But it passes...and you keep moving. Because you have to. And because that's what Dad would want. And for me I know my father would want me to keep living the best life I can, as the best person I can be, and telling the worst jokes I know.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Family trees....

Samantha sat on the back porch of her sister's house and bit in to the peach she had just picked. She closed her eyes and tipped her head back enjoying the feeling of the juice fill her mouth. The fuzzy skin of the fruit against her lips and teeth, the flesh of the fruit almost melting in to her mouth more than being bitten off. Warm from the sun and just almost too ripe it was the only perfect moment of a very hard day.

As she took her second bite her niece Elizabeth (Lilbet to everyone in the family) announced, "I like to play pretend."

Samantha smiled at her niece, "I liked to play pretend when I was a little girl as well. What is your favorite thing to pretend?"

Lilbet peered at her aunt ignoring her question and said, "Momma says you still like to play pretend. She says you like to pretend you're better than all of us."

Samantha almost chocked on her peach. "Does she now? And what else does Momma say?"

Now that Lilbet knew she had her aunt's full attention she launched in to an almost pitch perfect imitation of her mother. "Momma says, you like to waltz in here wearing your fancy shoes that cost as much as her entire outfit and look down your nose at her and her house. She says that since you moved to the city you like to pretend that you weren't raised on a farm in the middle of nowhere and that you are..."

"Elizabeth Ellen Gardner, you get in the house this instant." Samantha's sister had appeared at the backdoor of the house just in time to prevent Lilbet from sharing whatever else Lori felt about her sister.

"I'm sorry about that, that girl talks like there..."

"...was a two for one sale on words at the 5 and dime." Samantha finished one of her father's favorite sayings with her sister. Though when he used it, it had been about Lori herself as Samantha recalled.

Lori had the good sense to look at little chagrined about what her four year old had just shared with sister. "I'm sorry, I wish she hadn't said that to you."

"You know what Ms. Cicily would say, Never say in front of a child what you don't want them to say in front of everyone else."

As Lori looked down at her feet Samantha fought with her self about letting her sister off the hook or making her squirm just a little longer. "Look, I know we have our differences but this is about Momma so we just need to work past it right now."

Lori took a deep breath and launched in to what was obviously a rehearsed speech, "I am doing the best that I can. I don't know why Ms. Cicily thought she needed to call you anyway. We are handling things. You didn't need to drive all the way out here to check up on us."

It was Samantha's turn to take a deep breath and to try and keep from yelling at her little sister. "Ms. Cicily felt that she needed to call me because this is the third time this month Momma has wandered off. I know you are doing the best you can, but you can't take care of your house, your kids and an old woman who doesn't remember what year it is let alone where she lives half of the time. I'm not saying you are doing a bad job of it, I'm saying no one could do a good job of it. You have too much on your plate and trying to take care of Momma is too much for you. It's time we took her to the nursing home in Alsatia. I toured it when Daddy was sick and it's a lovely place. They do a really good job watching out for the folks that are there. It's clean and well run and the staff is just lovely."

"Momma said she didn't want to go in to a home like some woman with no people of her own. You know that." Lori crossed her arms and set her face into it's most intimidating glare.

"I know what she said, and I know when she said it. But that was 5 years ago when Daddy died. She wasn't wandering back then. She was able to take care of herself. She can't do that now. You know it and I know it and I don't know why you feel you need to be so stubborn about it."

"You don't know what I do. You don't know how hard I work to keep things running out here! You waltz in every few years and throw your money around and think you are being the good daughter when you aren't! You are the one who left! You left! You left me to take care of everything and run everything and do EVERYTHING! So don't tell me now that this is what we have to do. You don't know anything about what we have to do!"

"Three times this month, Lori. Three. And how many times last month? And the month before? She's not going to get better. I'm sorry, but that's the truth. She isn't going to wake up one day and have all of her memories back and never forget again. Each day that passes she gets farther and farther away. It's not your fault. It's not my fault. It's not even her fault. It just is. And we need to do the right thing by her now." Samantha knew she was using her "professional voice" with her sister right now. And she knew that it drove Lori crazy when she talked to her so calmly when she was so angry. But Samantha also knew that she was dangerously close to yelling at her sister and she wasn't sure if she started that she'd ever be able to stop.

"You always do this! You always think you know everything!"

"I always do this? By always do this I guess you mean I always have to be the one to play the bad guy? Who had to take Daddy's keys away from him when he kept insisting he could drive and that the scratches and dents on the car happened in parking lots when he was no where around? Who had to come out here when Daddy was so sick and forced him to mind the day nurse so you and Momma could get a little bit of a break now and then? Who had to threaten to put him in hospice care if he didn't settle down? Who had to make Momma move in with you when she couldn't manage her own house anymore? Who was the one who had to show her how nice it would be living in your guest room and getting a chance to see her grandbabies every day? If that's what you mean by I always do this, then yes, yes I do. I always have to fix things because you won't!"

"You left me with all of this to take care of! You waltzed out of here at 18 and never looked back and left me to deal with all of it on my own! So don't you dare try and tell me how much you have had to do over the years!" Lori's face was turning bright red as she yelled at her sister.

"Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit. I'm tired of that, Lori. That's always your line, I left you to deal with all of this. I went to college. I got a job in the city. I have a life out there. You fell in love with your high school sweetheart and couldn't wait to get married. You bought the little house down the road from Momma and Daddy so you and Gary could help them work the farm and live out here in paradise just like you had always wanted to. You benefited from all of that all along. You got to be the golden daughter. The one who Momma passed all of her recipes to. The one whose children got all of her and Daddy's attention.

Did you know I am up for a full partnership at work? I've worked hard for my company and I am this close to it paying off. More money, more responsibility and my name on the goddamn door. It's between me and another one of the junior partners. One who went to all the right schools, lived in all the right places and thinks it's just wonderful that I grew up calling my parents Momma and Daddy. That I have actually milked a cow with my bare hands, can you just imagine? And that I've done so much to better myself. Like there was ever anything wrong with me because I happened to be born in a small country town instead of in a big city.

And then I get a call from Ms. Cicily that Momma has wandered down to their old house and is yelling at the lovely young couple that live there to get out of her house.  And that though they are truly lovely and patient this is the third time this month she's done it. And I might want to come on out and talk to you about what needs done. So I had to leave work early. And you know Mr. Man didn't leave work early. You know he probably worked late. And you know he probably told the partners that it's great, just great that I am making sure to take the time to be with my Momma out on the family farm and that who knows...I might just decide to pack up and move back out to the country because after all you can take the girl out of the country, but you can never take the country out of the girl. And there goes my fucking partnership!

But here I am, Lori. Here I am. Doing what I always do. Which is telling you what you already know but don't want to admit to yourself so you can keep on being the good daughter and I can keep on being the bad one. Momma has to go in to the home. I called them on my way over and they have a bed for her. Pack a bag and I will take her tonight. You can get the rest of her things together later and you and Gary can take them this weekend. I will arrange for the payments out of the trust Daddy set up before he died. You won't have to worry about anything. Because that's what I do, Lori, that's what I always do."

Samantha turned and looked at her sister who was staring at her like she had just lost her mind. And maybe she had. She was just so tired of fighting. Finally Lori's expression softened.   Lori shook her head a little and  set her mouth in to a firm line.

"Well if they have a bed for her and they are expecting her I guess it would be rude to keep them waiting."

And with that she turned on her heel and marched back in the house to pack up a few of their mother's things so Samantha could take her in to Alsatia to the Whispering Pines Home for Active Adults. Though there were no pines and the adults weren't exceedingly active. But she hadn't lied to her sister, it was a lovely place with a kind staff. Ms. Cicily's husband had spent his final years there and she highly recommended them.

Lori brought Samantha her mother's suitcase and gave her a little basket for herself. "I packed you a peach pie I made this morning. Give it to the partners tomorrow. I bet Mr. Man won't know what hit him then."

Samantha looked down at the half eaten peach she was still holding. Sometime while talking to her sister she had squeezed it hard enough that now she had a handful of peach goo instead of the tempting fruit she had started with. While she was washing up at the kitchen sink Lilbet twirled in to the room. She was wearing a princess hat with a veil dangling from the top and a long skirt made from scarves that she was playing with as she danced. "I heard you cussing when you were yelling at Momma. Ms. Cicily says that people who cuss show a distinct lack of imagination."

To hear Ms. Cicily's words spoken so carefully from Lilbet's mouth made Samantha laugh. "Yes, she does say that. I have heard that more than once from Ms. Cicily."

"Are you really taking Grandma away?" Now Lilbet looked concerned.

"I'm not taking her away. She is going to move in to town. You and your Momma and Daddy can visit. You can bring your brothers and you can have Sunday dinner with her if you want to. Or you can sit with her in her room. When ever your Momma says you can visit you can visit."

Lilbet narrowed her eyes, "Are you going to take her in your truck?"

"My truck? I don't have a truck, honey, I have a car."

"But Grandma always says that out of her kids you were the one who didn't truck any nonsense."

Samantha laughed, "Yes, yes she did. But it doesn't mean that I drive a truck. It sort of means that I just do what has to be done. No matter how hard it is or how many excuses could be made."

Samantha turned to go back out on the porch and saw Lori standing behind her holding Momma's suitcase. "Lilbet, you go change out of your play-clothes and clean up that mess you left in your room. It will be time for dinner soon." Lilbet did one more twirl and left the room. "I swear that child will be the death of me. Always in everyone's business."

"She'll be fine. A good mind is a questioning mind. Or at least that's what Ms. Cicily says."

"How old is Ms. Cicily now anyway? That woman never seems to age."

"I would bet she wouldn't tell you, or she would have something to tell you about someone who asks a lady her age."

Lori looked down at her feet. "I'm glad she called you. I was just so ashamed that I wasn't doing a better job. I just...." as the words failed her the tears started to flow down her face.

Samantha crossed the room and took her sister in to her arms, "Hey, now, none of that. You did a fantastic job. You have taken the best care of Momma that you could but she just needs more now than you can give. You know if you could go back in time and ask her she would tell you that we are doing the right thing."

As Samantha held her sister rocking her back and forth like when they were children she repeated over and over..."it will be all will be all right..." She wasn't sure if she was trying to convince Lori or herself.

Lori took a step back away from her sister, "Are you going to be okay getting her settled on your own? Gary won't be home for another hour but if you want to wait until then I could go with you."

"Ms. Cicily has offered to come with me. You know she volunteers there three days a week? They told her that if she wanted to stay tonight with Momma and help get her settled in she was welcome to. She has been getting ready for us to make this move for awhile. I think she was just waiting for the right time to call me.

I will call you when we get her settled in. You all still go to the church up in Alsatia right? I was thinking you could visit on Sundays after services? Eddie and I can make it out here on Wednesdays or Saturdays. And with Ms. Cicily there her three days Momma won't really be lacking for company. It will be okay. I know it will."

And with that Samantha squared her shoulders and took her mother's bag from her sister. "Now let me go put this in my truck and we will tell Momma together...."

*edited ending 6/16/12

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Old stories....

Okay, going to go in to the way back machine for this one. It's about old boyfriends, being totally wrong about something and not going to jail. And it's long and probably only interesting to me.  :-)

I was raised in the church, I know I say this a lot but it really did shape the way I was raised in a lot of different ways. There are some subtle differences in growing up that happen if you are raised in an environment like that. A big one is around dating. Dating as a teenager is supposed to be about fun and hanging out and having a good time. Well in the church (in my church anyway) dating is really more about looking for your spouse. The way our youth minister described it dating is like a job interview. And so dating as a teenager in the church, especially dating other people in the same sisterhood of churches, is a little different than what is probably your experience. Talking about marriage at 15 or 16 was perfectly normal behavior. Not that we would get married that young...don't be silly.  I was 18.

So anyway...this blog is about two different boyfriends I had before I started dating Brent. And a point where their stories cross in that "it's a small world" sort of way. The first boyfriend (though not chronologically) I'm going to talk about is Charlie. Charlie and I were completely mismatched and should have never EVER dated. And so as teenagers do we did off and on for close to three years. I first met Charlie up at the camp our church and sister churches went to during the summer. My sister wanted to take her fiance up to show him around the camp that had meant so much to her growing up and a friend of mine was head cook that summer so I tagged along for the ride. We were only going to spend the day up there and then head back.

As I was walking in to the dining hall to find my friend there was a boy laying down on one of the porch swings. As I walked by he craned so far to watch me walk that he fell out of the swing.  Now how is that for a way to get a girl's attention? I laughed and kept on going. I ended up staying the night with my friend Amy and riding back in to town with her the next day instead of going back with my sister and her fiance. And that was the start of me and Charlie. We spent time together that day and exchanged addresses (this was back in the day where if you wanted to talk to someone who lived in another city or state you sent them writing on paper...through snail mail, I know, right? How did we ever survive?) and found out that we were actually going to be at the same camp later that summer working so we would see each other again soon. And I ended up seeing him even before that. He and his two friends decided to drive up to Albuquerque from Portales to see me. Not a lot to do in Portales and a trip to Albuquerque was better than sitting around watching the grass turn brown during the summer.

So for the next few years we did the long distance thing. Not in the traditional way, I dated other people, he dated other people, we just didn't tell each other about the other people. I think we did things to each other just to see how miserable we could make the other one. Once on a trip to Albuquerque as he dropped me off he said, "I love you." my response was the automatic, "I love you too." to which he said, "No you don't. You just think you should." What?? Okay... One time up at camp (stop snickering!) I was up working and hadn't mentioned to him I would be there, because I knew he would show up and I was interested in another boy that was up there...anyway.... he found out I was there and sent me letters. Lots of letters. See up at camp if you got mail the joke was to write something on the outside that would be then read out loud to everyone at mail call. So for the last three days of camp I got letters every day with a lot of "Oh baby, I miss you so much" written on the outside.  A few weeks later he did show up to the camp I was working, it also happened to be right before my birthday and so he brought me a present. Charlie lotion. I know...that sounds really gross, but it was a perfume in the 80s Charlie and Charlie Girl.  He brought me the big bottle of lotion so I would "Think of him everyday." I was allergic....

That Fall he came up to Albuquerque for the big marching band competition and my friend Chrystal and I went to see him. He was busy being the big man in front of his friends, putting down my school and their band. Now I had a lot of friends in marching band and besides that it was MY school so I did the only logical thing in response...I got together with one of his friends that was there. I was a peach in high school, I think I've mentioned that before?  You would think that would be the end of our relationship but for whatever reason we kept getting back together off and on for another stretch. Though we were awful to each other each time. I can remember very clearly one night sitting at the kitchen table on the phone with him. Not talking. I can't remember why I didn't hang up, but there was something I was waiting for, so I sat in silence on the phone (long distance! I cannot believe my parents didn't kill me for that) for ages and I thought..."I am going to end up married to this guy sitting in silence for the rest of my life." Thank goodness I was wrong about that one!

The summer before my senior year and his freshman year in college we ended up at camp together again. It was a weekend camp and I was working with my friend again. Charlie showed up to visit and had a beard. I took one look and said..."Shave" that was how I greeted him. But that night we sat up late talking, sitting on the swing sharing stories and for the first time in our entire time together I thought, I might actually love him. Really love him.  And the funny thing is we weren't a couple right then. Just friends. And barely that. The next morning he came in to the kitchen with a face that looked like it had been through a meat grinder. He had shaved. One of the guys he bunked with said, "I don't know why he did it, but to shave a beard with no cream is brutal." I knew why he had done it. And I felt a little bad because the night before while we were talking the beard had grown on me and I thought it looked nice...ooops!

So fast forward again to part way in to my senior year. Charlie was coming in to town with his college singing group. He wanted to see me and after our time together at the end of the summer I thought, okay, this might actually work. The knock on the door comes I open it and yell..."Ricky!" Not realizing what he was doing he brought a friend with him from college to visit. See, his friend sort of knew my family and Charlie thought it would be fun to bring him. Not realizing that sort of knew my family translated to his older brother and my sister had been engaged at one point in time. My parents LOVED his mom and brother and sister and everyone had been heartbroken when Matt and Susan split up.  Oh and had Rick forgotten to mention that he and I had dated when we were younger?

My parents came out and greeted Charlie politely and then fawned all over Ricky, excuse me...Rick. How's your mom? How's the rest of the family? What are you doing? On and on. The light was beginning to dawn on Charlie that he had been duped. It got worse when we went to visit a friend of mine. Charlie decided to bring out the "big man" persona. He popped his cowboy boots up on Cinnamon's table and told me (yes, told me) to get him something to drink. Rick on the other hand was polite and nice and took the time to fill Cinnamon in on our past history. Which just made Charlie madder as he realized how tied our families had been.

See, as I mentioned Susan (my sister) and Matt (Rick's brother) had been engaged. And during the time they were together I met Rick. We were friendly as the beat upon younger siblings of big personality older siblings are. We understood each other pretty well.  My sister told me that Rick (though it was Ricky at that time) thought I was cute but I really didn't think he did. I just thought she was trying to embarrass me by having me flirt with him only to get rejected. Yes, I had serious trust issues where she was concerned, you can't say you blame me. But it ended up that it was true and we did get together. In that very innocent way you do when you are 12 and 14. And we spent a lot of time writing letters to each other and became pretty good friends through it all. Though we only had one very short stretch where we were any sort of real couple and like I said, I was 12 or 13 so it was pretty sweet and innocent even then. And this was the first time I had seen him in a few years.

So we all went out that night and then made plans to get together the next day. Now here is where I am not sure if it was a set up by Charlie the whole time (long awaited revenge for me getting together with his friend) or something he came up with on the spot when he realized how much attention Rick was getting. But anyway, we all went to the mall together and while we were there Charlie met up with two girls he knew. They were college age girls and took great joy in treating me like I was a child as I was still in high school. As Charlie flirted relentlessly with them in front of me I, of course, got madder and madder. But instead of making a big scene I went for a walk. Standing up on the second floor at Coronado Mall looking down at Charlie and the two girls (they knew I was watching and put on quite the show for me) I reached my boiling point. Rick had come up to talk to me. And I tried to talk him in to lifting the cement planter next to us and dropping it on Charlie's head. He laughed, assuming I was joking, then spent the next half hour telling me hilarious college stories to calm me down. It worked. By the time he was done talking I was less homicidal and just amused. And I knew Charlie and I were never getting back together again. Finally.

Rick and I spent a little more time then talking about Matt and Susan and how sad that had made everyone. Though it was the right decision for those two it was especially sad for me because I already knew that her current husband was not a good guy. And to know how close she had come to being with a good guy who had a family my family actually liked it was a little depressing. So then Rick made the offhand comment that he and I should get married to tie the families together after all. So we made one of those pacts you normally only see on sitcoms that if we weren't married to other people by the time we were 30... we would marry each other. He of course was lucky and dodged that bullet as I was married to Brent just over a year later. But it was still a funny turn of events. One boyfriend comes to visit and you end up with a pseudo-engagement to another in the same weekend.

And, Rick, if you are reading this...I totally wasn't joking about dropping the planter on Charlie's head....

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The one where I piss you off...

Okay, this is a political/personal mash up blog. And because it has both political things and my own (let me stress that again MY OWN) opinion on a hot bed item it's probably going to piss you off.  By you I mean everyone. This will be an equal opportunity offender blog. And sort of a mash-up so bear with me as I blend two different ideas in to one piece.

So this has been the political year about the War on Women. The Democrats grabbed on to a few legislation ideals from the Republicans and said..."SEE! LOOK! They hate women! Don't elect them." And for awhile the Republicans floundered with this. They didn't know exactly how to respond because well, it looked bad for them. Then there were a few pieces put out that I personally thought were very good points. They showed other parts of the world where women are raped as young as 10 or 11 because the AIDS epidemic has spread so greatly the men feel this is a good way to prevent catching it.  Of course the men are the ones spreading it, to girls as young as 10 or 11...hmmm....They showed parts of the world where genital mutilation is still common. Taking away a woman's ability to even get pleasure from her own body. Showed statistics on education of women in places where only the men are deemed worthy. And then said, maybe this is the sort of thing that a War on Women really looks like. Maybe we are just being a bit silly here by saying I don't vote the way you do so it's a war? And I thought, good for you, Republicans. And then the Ann Romney thing happened...

You know where Mitt Romney was out stumping and said that his wife has been telling him the number one concern with women voters is the economy and then Hillary Rosen pointed out that Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life and then the Republicans ceded their high ground as fast as they could and said..."SEE! LOOK! They hate women! Don't elect them!" And a *facepalm* and *headdesk* later and we were back to square one. Sort of.  Because then I talked to C on our weekly phone call. And I realized I was actually further back than square one.

See, he didn't understand what the fuss was. Because Ann Romney hadn't worked a day in her life. She had gone from her parents to school to marriage and kids without ever getting a job. And I had to explain that you can't say that. That raising kids is work. And he said, "Yes, it is. But that's not what they were talking about. They were talking about the economy and jobs and what women thought and she hasn't ever had a job. She doesn't even have to worry about money because they are extraordinarily wealthy." I told him again, that yes, he was right but you still can't say that women who stay home with their kids don't work. And he said, "But that's just being willfully ignorant and ignoring the context of the conversation. Everyone KNOWS what she meant by saying she hadn't worked."

And yeah, well, he's right. And that's actually my biggest issue with politics today.  You have to be willfully ignorant to participate with it. Neither side is willing to compromise anymore. To the point where Obamacare is vilified as left wing horribleness when it's based on a proposal put forth by the right when Clinton was pushing for his own healthcare reform. Where neither side can pick a side on an issue until they find out what the OTHER side thinks. Working across the aisle is seen as weakness instead of seen as the WAY OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM WAS DESIGNED TO WORK. You have to allow yourself to get bent out of shape when someone from the other political party does something sketchy while at the same time be willing to justify it when your guy does the exact same sketchy thing. You have to be willfully stupid. And I just cannot be willfully stupid.  Accidentally stupid, temporarily stupid, but not willfully stupid.

Okay, so that ends the political part of the blog and on to the personal part...which ties in to the political part but is a sort of separate issue.

As many of you know I have been stumped lately by the "What do you do?" question.  Because I don't do anything. But I get a lot of grief from family and friends for answering, "Nothing." Yes, I keep up the house. I run the family's errands. I cook (sometimes). I write a blog. I write some other things. But I don't do anything that I get paid for and I don't do anything that I wouldn't do even if I did do something else. If that makes any sort of sense. And that brings me back to Ann Romney.

I stayed at home with C until he was 3 years old. When I tell people that I always say I was lucky enough to be able to stay at home with him until he was three. When Brent got out of the Navy we (as a country) had just hit a bump in the technical field and jobs were not as plentiful as they had been so I went back to work. We couldn't afford for me to stay home anymore so I didn't. And I worked until C was in high school where I was lucky enough to be able to quit my full time job and work part time out of the house for another advertising agency and then with my own company. But it was very part time and mostly I was lucky to be able to be a stay at home mom for C again. So in case you weren't following all of that, let me sum up.  I've done both. I've been a stay at home mom and a work outside the home mom and here is where I piss you off...

Stay at home mothers don't have a job. Just like working mothers don't stop being moms when they get a job. Yes, being a parent is hard work. Being a stay at home mom is full of its own challenges and issues. But it's not the same thing. When I stayed at home with C I cleaned house, cooked, took care of what he needed. When I went to work outside the home I cleaned house, cooked, took care of C...You understand? I didn't stop being a mom just because I had to go to someplace else and get a paycheck. Being a mother isn't your job. It's your life. So stop trying to get some extra worth from what you do by putting a title on it like that. And stopped getting pissed off when someone says that you don't have a job.

And for all of you stay at home dads out there the same thing applies to you, though I feel a little more sympathy in your direction.  Being a mom who stays home has always had a place in our society where no one looks askance at you for your choice. Being a dad who stays home is starting to reach that place. But not completely. And I totally get that there are people out there that judge the choice you made and you really feel like you have to justify it by calling it your work, or your job. But, dude, you are a parent just like the rest of us who are parents out there. It's not a job. It's not your Work. It's your life.

For those moms and dads who stay at home and see their counterparts in the workforce who drop their kids off at daycare, pick up dinner on the way home and live the easy life, let me tell you that's not the way it goes. When I was working when C was in full time child care we figured out that I was making between $1 and $2 an hour once you took out the extra things we needed because I was working. Childcare, an extra car, those sorts of things. But it was an extra $1-$2 an hour we couldn't make it without. So I was putting in 8-10 hour days at work knowing that I was making less than minimum wage, that C was in childcare instead of with me and dreading the phone call that he was sick and I would have to take off work. Because you can get fired for that sort of thing and there goes that $2 you needed. Imagine the guilt you feel as a parent when your child is sick and part of you is worrying about them and another part is worried about your job. Then come the weekends, and they are filled with all of the things you don't have time to do during the week. You clean, you cook, you shop, you run every errand, when the kids get older you also have to fit in whatever sport they are playing. It's not easy.

And for those of you who work outside of the home, think about how hard your weekends are. How you are trying to get everything done and entertain the kids and take care of every thing that is going on and then spread it out over the entire week. It doesn't get easier. It's not like there is less to do. Housework is like a gas it will fill the space you allot it. And if everyone is home all the time the messes are bigger, the cooking is more, the need to find things to do is greater. And who do you think runs the school activities? The sports teams? The general day to day of what happens with kids out in the world? Yes, those are the stay at home parents. Add to that the times you get asked (really asking is a nice way to say it since they assume you will just do it) for a favor since "you don't have anything else you need to do". It's not easy.

So yes, it's work. Yes, it's a challenge. Yes, you are doing the greatest thing in the world (if you are doing it well that is) but no, it's not your job. It's your life. It doesn't matter if you do it as a stay at home parent or a work outside the house parent. Instead of getting all bent and twisted over someone saying you don't work or don't have a job or shouldn't work or shouldn't have a job just let's all agree we are parents. It's not a job. It's your life. So for all of you stay at home parents when someone asks you what you do proudly answer that you do a lot of things, but what you are is a parent. Try that one on for size. And for all of you work outside the home parents when someone asks you what you do you can use it as well. I am an accountant for a living but a parent for life. And stop just stop trying to pussyfoot around each other. Stop being willfully ignorant in what you say and what you take offense to.

And for goodness sake someone help me figure out what to answer for what I do when someone asks! I tried out I'm a stay at home mom for a kid who didn't stay at home but it doesn't really flow....