Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I always say that I love the rain the way only a kid raised in the desert but moved to a rain forest loves the rain. I think I have realized that I love Halloween the way only a Christian Conservative Reformed can love Halloween. For years it was my number 2 holiday and closing in on Christmas quickly. Some of that has died off because of where we live. Year after year of putting out my cool Halloween decorations to only get a dozen trick-or-treaters starts to suck the holiday joy. But I still love to see everyone's costumes and decorations.

Growing up there wasn't a lot of Halloween love. We did "Harvest Festival" at church and at school. I didn't trick-or-treat for the first time until High School when I took my nephew on the rounds. No scary costumes or decorations allowed. Nobody believes in the Occult like Christians. You have to have a bad guy for your good guy. And if you are raised super conservative you are forbidden from experiencing all of that Halloween spookiness. No ghosts, witches, vampires, Ouja boards, voodoo dolls...nothing like that. So of course once I hit high school my costumes started to shift from cute to scary pretty quickly. Sophomore year I was a Court Jester (much to the chagrin of my much cooler locker-mate, Jane). Senior Year I was a freshly turned Vampire wearing a dress that was about two sizes too small in the bust and cut so high I had to watch the way I walked.

From there it was a collection of witches, and vampires anything I could wear all black and tease my hair and put on extra make up. Now this was before the days where Whoreween really took off so though costumes could be and often were sexier than normal you didn't have the porn star quality to all of them that you seem to have now. Think Elvira instead of Sexy Children's Book Character. Seriously, that shit creeps me out. What are you going to do in a few years when you are reading Little Mermaid to your darling daughter and have the flash back that it was mommy dressing as Slutty Ariel that caused you to have your daughter in the first place? Just ewww....

Anyway...back to loving Halloween. Part of it is the dress up. I was a theater kid in school and nobody loves a dress up day more than theater kids. And we make a big deal out of it. The freshly made Vampire my senior year? Well there was a story. See Brent dressed as a Vampire for a party the weekend before and we umm...we spent a little time together at that party. Get your minds out of the gutter, it wasn't THAT sort of time. It was a few bases back from THAT sort of time. Anyway....he was supposed to come to this party and I thought it would be fun to dress as a Vamp myself. Of course it gave me an excuse to make a sexy costume (Goodwill, god love them, outfitting Halloween for years!) and it gave my friends and I an idea for a grand entrance. I was wheeled in to the party in a coffin. My friend Cinnamon was dressed as Morgan la Fey (theater kids don't always make common choices either) and she would call upon the black arts to raise the dead. So the lights are dimmed, candles are lit, she does her spell and I bang open the lid and rise from the dead. We got people to jump and scream. It was awesome. Turns out Brent never made it to that party so the sexy costume to get his attention again was in vain. Well for his attention anyway.

I love companies that do dress up days. I have friends back in Louisville that work for an agency that does it up right. Each department competes with the others. I get pictures each year from them. Peter Pan and crew. The Scooby Gang including a real Great Dane. This year there was even a video clip. They dressed up Gangnam style complete with choreography. They were fabulous!

I love the little ones whose parents dress them up as peas in a pod or burritos. This year my new best friend Gigi is dressed up as a box of pop corn while Daddy is Orville Redenbacher. It's too sweet for words. I loved watching C decide what he wanted to be each year, and how that reflected what he thought was cool. He went to a creative arts high school so they dressed up every year and picking him up on Halloween was always fun. To see what kids who wore the most interesting things on a day to day basis would choose for a costume? Fabulous!

This year we have a hockey game on Halloween so I didn't bother pulling the skulls and gravestones out and putting them up. No outside decorations, no inside decorations. I did "decorate" my Facebook page and dressed up there. But the holiday will be about dropping the puck instead of passing out candy this year.  Though I have decided on a costume.....

I'm going as a sexy hockey fan. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What did you just say to me?

You all know I have a lot of friends on Facebook that I talk to on a daily basis. And for the most part most of you do as well. And you know those times when you are looking through your news feed and you see a quote or a post that seems to be just what you needed to hear that day? That makes you smile. Or makes you think. Or someone posts something on your wall at just the time you needed it most. I have a good friend who is a master at this. She seems to know just when I need a little encouragement or shot of good will and will post just a quick note to let me know she is thinking of me and she loves me. I try to return the favor but as you all know I am pretty lousy at that sort of thing. I think about it, but I don't always remember to follow through (excuse me for a minute while I dash off to post something to her while I am thinking about it).

You all also know those conversations that happen on Facebook where a friend posts something, a link, their status, and everyone comments. And sometimes you end up talking with friends of friends that you wouldn't normally ever meet. Sort of like a party at their house. All of their friends are there but you might only know them or a few other people. But you still all talk. And then there is that line where you aren't sure if you should comment or not. Like when someone posts something on your friend's wall. It's a message from them personally and you wonder, it like eavesdropping if I pop in here and say something? I usually look at it as the same party atmosphere. If I was at a party and saw two friends talking I would go up and join the conversation. If I saw my friend talking to someone I didn't know and it looked like a serious conversation I wouldn't. 

Now you are all wondering where this is headed right? Well that's because I am stalling. You all know I write about pretty much every momentous thing in my life. It's kind of a joke. If it happened and I didn't blog about it did it really happen? I write about good stuff and bad. I write about happy days and sad days. I sort of feel compelled to write it down to sort it all out and then move on. This is something I've been debating about writing about since it happened and I kept pushing it off. I didn't feel like I had fully worked through all of the ramifications, and I'm still not positive that I have. But it's time. So here we go...

A year ago I was having an online conversation with a friend of mine and a friend of theirs said the vilest thing to me. I'm not going to repeat it, because I've given it too much head space already, but just know that it was bad enough I had a physical reaction when I read it. I actually recoiled. I was reading Facebook on my phone and shut off my phone and put it down away from me. It was a strong enough reaction that Brent asked what was wrong. And when I told him what was said I could feel myself going pale. It was just shocking to me. I logged back on and deleted the entire wall post from my friend's wall because I didn't want anyone else to see it. It was that ugly.

Not because someone said something mean. People say mean things all the time. Especially online. But because this person didn't know me but didn't hesitate for a second in posting something that was beyond mean and well in to vile. They are a friend of my friend. They came in on a conversation we were having and felt the need to be deeply nasty to me out of the blue. I sent my friend a private message that basically said, "Did she say what I think she just said?" and yes, that's what she said. Now here's the thing, I can give you every excuse for why she said what she did. She was drunk. She was trying to be tough. She wasn't looking me in the eye so it was easy to spit venom at me. But all of those are excuses for bad behavior. And that's what it was. Bad online behavior. Because being slightly anonymous makes people brave. I say slightly in this case because I could see her name, I know she is a friend of my friend, so she wasn't totally in the clear, like most internet trolls are. But she didn't know me. She had never met me, so I wasn't real to her.

And the other thing is that I am sure that if you were to talk to her today about it she wouldn't even remember it. It wouldn't have made that big of a difference in her life. And for me it actually changed my view on part of my world. Like I told you earlier it happened a year ago. I don't mean last Fall, or around this time. I mean a year ago today. I know the day it happened. I know the time of night it happened. I know what was said, I know how I reacted, I know how my friend reacted and I know what else it set in motion and what the aftermath of it was. It was that profound to me. It was that big of a deal. To me. Not to everyone. To me.

And over the past year it's popped in to my head at random times. At first every time it did I was shocked all over again. Then I was mad. Then madder still. Since this person actually lives in my area of the country there was a stretch a few months after she said what she she did that I thought about driving over and visiting with her. Just to look her in the face and ask her to say it again. To see if she could. Once I was real. As you know Bad Denise was well in favor of this plan, Good Denise talked her down from the ledge. Because once the mad started to wear off the sad hit. Sad that she would feel the need to say something horrible to a stranger. And sad that I might have been guilty of the same sort of thing.

You all know I look for the lessons in life. There were a few with this one. Like I said, it changed the way I viewed the world in a few ways. One of those ways was to wonder if I had ever done something like that. Obviously not on the scale she did. But have I ever popped off something snarky to someone that then left my head as not important but stuck with them? That caused them pain or doubt or changed them in some way? I know when I was younger I did. Have I done it as a grown ass woman? Have I ever let my tongue get ahead of my heart? Probably.

So a year later I look back and I realize she did me a favor. She reminded me that everyone, no matter how well they think they have it together, no matter how set they are in their ways, no matter how comfortable in their skin they are, no matter how awesome their theme music is, everyone can be hurt by the right combination of words. And that I need to make sure I am doing my best to watch mine.

And I need to hide the car keys when Bad Denise wants to go for a drive....

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Weathermom...

There are times when I know that I am my mother's child. Like when I go in to the grocery store for a quart of milk and come out knowing the checker's weekend plans. Or when I automatically smile at the person walking towards me even if I don't have any clue who they are. When I catch myself having a conversation and nobody is home but me...

Or when I ask C if he has enjoyed the rain or snow or sunshine at school because I know the weather where he is. My mother was probably one of the first people to discover The Weather Channel on cable. If you called her right now she could most likely tell you not only the weather in Albuquerque but the weather in Portland, Colorado Springs and Burlington as well. Because she always knows the weather where her family is. It's part of what she does. And it always made me laugh when I was younger. She would call and know that we had had record heat in Florida, or were facing a monster snow storm in Idaho or that there had been a water spout off the coast in California.

Knowing the weather is important. When we are going on a trip I plug in the location on my weather app on my phone and track what it will be while we are there. Did I say when we are going on a trip? By we, I mean them as well. I don't have to be going. When Brent went to Germany last summer it was in my phone, when he goes to Salt Lake next month, it will be in my phone. Burlington never leaves the favorites list. I check in on the weather in Vermont 3 or 4 times a week.

I've come to realize that I am my mother's child in this area. And now I understand why she does it. There is something about knowing if C is walking to class in the sunshine or the snow that makes me feel closer to him. That makes the distance not seem so far. If I can see what his day will be like weather-wise I can feel that little extra bit of connection to him. And if we are having the same sort of weather? Well that just makes me smile...unless it's snow...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Month Two How Did I Do?

Okay, so yesterday was the end of the second month and I have to admit I was more than a little concerned about doing my measurements and tests. We all know that last month was a challenge (no pun intended) for me. I had a lot of injury time off, I realized that I had to cut back on the program to prevent even more injury time off and then all last week I was sick and didn't work out. All of that combined to me not really wanting to do the recap yesterday.

I debated pushing it by a week. Since I was off all of last week wouldn't it make sense to just pretend like it never happened and go from there? But it did happen so that felt like cheating. And yes, I know, it's my game and I get to make up the rules so technically there is no way to cheat, but it still felt a little cheap to do that so I took a deep breath and tested anyway just hoping that I didn't move backwards last month.


Well, I didn't move backwards. I lost a little weight, 1.6 pounds, so yes, just a little. But that puts me down 6 pounds overall and since I was thinking 10 total that's not bad at all for 1/3 of the way through the challenge. I also lost 2 1/2 inches overall. So I'm still pulling what I've got in, which is excellent. Though Brent did make fun of me for how I measure my biceps. Difference between men and women, I measure relaxed before the fitness tests, he would do the push ups first and measure it flexed if it was him. I am looking for smaller arms with more definition he is looking for larger. It was a funny moment.

And fitness tests, well lets cover all of that...
Seated reach is still in the "poor" range but I've increased another 1 1/2" so I am pleased with that. By the end of the six months if I can hit "average" I will be well pleased.

Resting Heart Rate is down to 60 BPM which is "excellent" for a woman my age.

My sit-ups in a minute went up by 4, I'm still in "good" but knocking on "excellent's" door. Hopefully next month.

I can still do squats for days and am well in to the "excellent" range for those. Which is nice because that's actually where I lost the inches this month. Hips and thighs, so they are shrinking without losing strength. Very important.

And the best for last! Push-ups went up by 8 pushing me into the "excellent" range. Now what this means is that this morning I did a second fitness test for myself in a full plank position instead of the girly version the fitness tests had me performing, so from here on out I will be testing myself from that baseline and we will see if I can get back up to "excellent" but in a full plank by the end.

Not going to lie, this morning's workout was tough. A week off with a cold made a difference I could feel today. But I made it all the way through, including those blasted weighted surrenders. I imagine by next Monday I won't even be able to notice the time off.

As you might have noticed I've dropped the weekly check ins now that I am a few months in to the challenge. I will still be checking in here and there as I feel like I have something to share progress or challenge-wise and of course I will be back here in 5 weeks to let you all know how I did (remember the program has a month at 5 weeks) . Starting the holiday season so it could get tricky from here.....

Month 3 plan:
I have a new Yoga DVD that has a different workout for every day. It should be interesting. So 25 minutes of yoga 5 days a week.
I am sticking with the Jillian DVDs. Not feeling that those are easy just yet... MWF for toning.
I bought a series of cardio DVDs to try out since I have been doing the same Zumba cardio for two months. There are 4 different work outs so those will fill in on Tuesday and Thursday.
Saturday is still an optional day. And it will be what ever I feel like doing if I chose to workout.

One third of the way through. Modified like crazy but still going. I am calling it a win.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Answers? I got your questions right here....

I was chatting with a friend of mine last night about a project she is working on and she said, "I hope you know that I don't expect you to solve all of my problems for me." I told her that I was relieved because my strength isn't in answering questions, it's in giving you more questions to answer.

I was talking with another friend today about the same thing. She is the mother of a highly gifted son. Now, she is closer to the beginning of her journey while I am closer to the end but I still remember all of the challenges and special problems and considerations that you face as the parent of a super smarty pants kid. One of them is that simple answers rarely work. Because in life there often aren't simple solutions. There are a lot of answers to simple questions. And if your kid is one of those with an expansive mind they will come up with a lot of the answers and then ten more questions. Which as anyone who knows me can tell you, I dig.

You all see it in my blog. I like to question things. To ponder. To wonder. To figure out different answers. And to figure out why one answer is better than another, and does that answer change or is it absolute?  And what makes your answer different than mine? And is one better than the other? And how does my answer affect yours?

And sometimes when I am asking you questions I am asking them of myself at the same time. Take my girlfriend from last night. We share a few issues. So while I was asking her why she felt the way she did I also asked her what she would tell me if I said the same thing about myself. Because I have. To her. And I knew she would more easily have an answer for me than for herself. But I wanted her to see that it was the same answer. And that it's okay to have the struggles in life that we all share, we just have to step back and recognize that if you would have the right answers for a friend you probably have them for yourself as well.  You just have to have faith in your own answers and listen to what you are saying.

Or you need to ask more questions.

If you need help with that just ask me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gratefulness comes at strange times...

I've been sick all week. Actually sort of sick for two weeks. All last week I had a sore throat but the true cold didn't kick in until Sunday. Sunday I felt bad. Monday was worse. I took cold medicine and had McDonald's for dinner, it was that bad. Yesterday was better than Monday today better than yesterday. But sick all week.  Fever, sore throat, stuffy nose, headache, exhausted, short tempered, blah and really lucky.

Yes, lucky. This morning as I was getting up to take Brent to work he noticed the hesitation and said, "you can stay in bed, you're sick." Which is what I've done the past two days. Monday I started to get up and then went right back to bed, yesterday I didn't even pretend to get up. Today I was planning on it, the car needed gas, I need to run to Target and the grocery store, but none of those things HAD to be done today. Well, except for the gas part and Brent will take care of that. And that's why I am lucky. I could just go back to bed. I slept in all week. I took naps. I watched cheesy daytime TV and I read an historical novel about Washington crossing the Delaware that was really excellent. And I didn't do anything else.

This is a new luxury in my life I've had over the past couple of years and it's amazing. See we don't do this very often when we are sick. Actually stop and be sick. When you have kids you can't. You don't stop being a parent just because you have a cold so you soldier on, most of the time taking care of a little one who is also sick, or who just got over being sick so they have tons of energy while you feel like poo. When Brent and I were first married before we had C I had jobs where taking a lot of sick time was out of the question. You got a day, with a doctor's note. And even then it usually wasn't worth it. So you medicated and went to the office. Which means every one there is doing the same thing so all year long you are sharing germs. Someone is always sick, getting over being sick or starting to get sick.  And then there were the years where I did both, worked outside the house and had C. So a day at work, sick, then home to take care of everything that needed taken care of here, sick. Because you had to save your sick days for when the kid was sick because you couldn't send them to school.

So yeah, I am lucky. I know that I am. And I am grateful. Sometimes you just need to feel like crap to realized how great you have it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Week 8. Weak 8?

Welcome the the recap of Week 8, also known as the week where I finally waved the white flag.

As you all know at the beginning of the week I was powering through, hitting the wall and busting out the other side. Well that lasted one more day. What I finally had to admit last week is that I am sore. Not the good sore, the look at how these muscles are growing sore, but the my knees sound like cellophane paper when I walk up stairs and the ice and Advil aren't keeping on top of the step, ouch, step, ouch cycle. And the my back feels like it is one slight twist away from being out.  All the time. After adjusting my shoes, my workout surface, adding in another day of rest and none of it making a difference I had to just own up to the fact that I cannot do that much exercise in one day without paying a really stiff penalty.  So I threw in the towel.

And it was fine. No big deal at all to accept that I set this challenge and I have pushed through the mental barriers and kept going only to be derailed by the fact that I physically just cannot do it. I was fine with it. Fine. Which is why when I told Brent on Thursday that I was stepping back to one work out cycle a day instead of two because I couldn't hack it I only cried a little. Just a few tears, so obviously it was no big deal right?

Okay, yeah, it was rough. But today when I worked out my left knee didn't scream at me during every lunge.
And after having Brent help me work a knot out of my low back yesterday today was the first day in I can't tell you how many weeks (though my guess would be about 7) where my back wasn't giving me fits. There is still this piece of my brain that says I might try and step it back up to two sets a day again after a few weeks down at one, but there is also another part that says, NO!

So what does this mean for the 6 month challenge? It's still going. Just modified. Instead of working full time I've gone to part time to keep the workout like it's a job analogy. Instead of two sets a day 5 days a week and one set on Saturday I will be doing one set a day 5 days a week with Saturday as an optional day. It means my results probably won't be as drastic. But it also means that I should be able to walk without looking like an old lady.

And yes, it still sucks a bit that I couldn't do it the way I had planned. But that's also part of a challenge right? Sometimes it's just knowing how far you can go and pushing beyond. And sometimes it's knowing how far you can go and realizing that, yep, that's how far. And I'm fine. Really. Fine.

Holiday Creep....

Remember when we were younger and it seemed like each holiday had it's own time in the sun before the next one started to crowd it out? Like the end of October was fully Halloween before giving way to Thanksgiving which held back the Christmas rush? And now more and more you are seeing a bleed through, a holiday creep. The first Christmas decorations seem to go on sale with the back to school supplies. Maybe not a full display but certainly a corner of the store. And as soon as Christmas is cleared out Valentine's Day hearts are up. There is just this constant mix mash of holiday season.

I noticed today that the holiday hate started even earlier than I remember it starting before. Now being raised religious I know a lot of people are going to think I am going to talk about Halloween. But really for most churches they divide into three camps, one ignore it as it's the devil's holiday, two lighten up Francis, it's just kids and candy or three turn it into Fall Harvest Festival and do all of the things you would do for Halloween except don't call it that. My church and private Baptist middle school were strong Harvest Festival groups. There was always a party at the church on Halloween night and we were encouraged to go there instead of mixing with the heathens, I mean other kids. In fact the first time I went trick or treating I was in high school and I took my nephew.

No, it used to be that real holiday intolerance wasn't around until Christmas and it was pretty focused there. Don't wish me Merry Xmas and all of that nonsense. Then a few years ago I noticed it spreading to Thanksgiving, with people refusing to celebrate because of our troubled history with the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. And lately there has been a really outspoken group popping up around Columbus Day. Which is one of those that holidays I have to say I have a hard time getting overly excited about. I have to make a confession here though, I grew up in New Mexico and I cannot remember Columbus Day ever being a big deal. It was a day off of school, and obviously I knew who he was, sort of, but see, Columbus Day falls in the middle of Balloon Fiesta so while the rest of you were learning about ships and trade routes and bad directions I was making a paper-mache hot air balloon.

When I went to college in San Diego I was sitting in my history class and the professor says..."In  fourteen hundred and ninety two...." and the entire rest of the class except me chants back at him...."Columbus sailed the ocean blue." What the hell? How did I miss this little rhyme? And the names of the three ships? The something, the something else and that other one? Seems they all knew it down pat...the NiƱa, Pinta and Santa Maria. It's like they had all taken totally different classes than I had! Now of course this particular professor went on to blow everyone's minds with what a total asshole Christopher Columbus actually was and they were all shocked, shocked I tell you! Except me. Because see, I had recently made my own mind-blowing discovery in San Diego regarding history and I wasn't as easily impressed with the way we were taught (or would have been if not for the allure of balloons you can ride in) history and how the story changes depending on who is doing the telling.

You have all heard me wax poetic about the food of New Mexico. There is nothing like it anywhere else. And the reason is that it's not Mexican. Or Spanish. Or Native American. It's a blending of the three. It's all of it. Living in Albuquerque I had friends who were Isleta Pueblo, Navajo, Spanish and Mexican and trust me you didn't want to get them confused. If you called someone who traced their family line to the conquistadors Mexican they would have a few choice words for you. And god forbid you mix up a Pueblo with a Navajo...just not good. But all of these influences color New Mexico's history (and food!) and you learn about different perspectives because of it. But you don't notice it while you are growing up there. It's just part of what is there. Until you see a different perspective.

So fast forward to moving to San Diego. A friend and I (she also was from Albuquerque) are in an art museum looking at at statue of the Conquistadors and the local Indians. And we are both just staring at it. Because it's a familiar name and a familiar story, just from a different perspective. See, where I am from the Spaniards were actually the bad guys. They tried to convert the natives through bloodshed and violence. It was a horrible time period until it all sorted itself out and we all learned how to live in peace without prejudice (okay, that last part didn't happen, but it got better). But in San Diego they were the good guys. Now how could I tell that just by looking at the art work? Because where I come from if you are looking at art depicting that time period the Natives are tall and strong and regal looking while the Spaniards are kind of short and gnarled. But in this art work (and we saw it repeated through the gallery) the Natives were short, squaty, unhealthy looking people and the Spaniards were tall and strong and regal! Mind. Blown. It was one of those moments where the phrase "History is written by the victors" really made sense.

So it wasn't that shocking to me to hear the stories about the bad guys coming to a land that was already peopled and laying waste to the inhabitants, first by germs that they had no immunity to and then once that took hold by sheer numbers. They just kept coming and coming and coming. I already knew this story. I knew that it was cute that the East Coasters thought a settlement from 1565 that was still a US city was a big deal when I had been to Acoma which was settled hundreds of years before that. European history is different than Pueblo Indian history, you see and it depends on who your teachers are on what version you get.

So this leads us to now, where people take your stance on days like Columbus Day and Thanksgiving and use it as some sort of litmus test as to what type of person you are. And I roll my eyes. (For those of you who are friends on Facebook you know this leads to much Good Denise/Bad Denise dialog in my head) I get it, you are appalled at his behavior. Who does something like that? Land someplace and see that the people are peaceful and the first inclination is what great slaves they would make? Kidnaps some locals to take back with him to Spain for show and tell? Who is like that? Well, a lot of people in that era were. And even later. It wasn't uncommon for people to think that anyone who didn't look like them or pray to the god they did was less than. Good thing we've fixed that little problem right? Oh wait...that's uncomfortable let's not dwell on that right now.

Anyway, am I saying that we should celebrate Christopher Columbus? There has long been debate here about it due to the fact that he didn't even reach the US. He spent most of his time in Cuba and Hispanola. A little bit of time in Central and South America, but not really any farther north. But what he did do was start the European fascination with the Americas. And that looking at what he did do, slavery, forced conversions to Catholicism, disease spreading, starting the European fascination with the Americas, shows that this isn't someone that we should be celebrating. But see, here is the thing with history. It's what happened. It's why were are here. And it's messy. And bloody. And appalling. And we read about what happened in 1492 through our 2012 mindset and think, "How could that have happened?" because we all like to imagine that if we were born in those times we would have been enlightened enough, advanced enough to see that treating people differently because they are a different color, speak a different language,  pray to a different god is wrong. We would have been able to be who we are NOW even THEN.

Sure. What ever helps you sleep at night.

I have a friend who thinks I hate our founding fathers because I like to point out that they weren't perfect. They owned slaves after all. They didn't think women were entitled to vote. They really thought only white men who owned land were worthy of those rights that all men are entitled to. But I always agree with him that they were products of their time. And in their time that was the held belief. Would I have felt differently if I was born in that time period? If I was Martha Washington would I think that owning slaves and not being able to vote was great?  I can say, of course not! I can stomp and rail and say I know better than that, we all know better than that! But I'm not so sure. See, we are all products of our raising. And unless someone in there plants the seed that something is wrong, we don't know.

Like the kids in my history class who at 18, 19 years old were first exposed to the idea that maybe the Italian working for the Spaniards was a bad guy. Or my 19 year old self being exposed to the idea that people actually thought the Spaniards were the good guys and the Natives were the bad guys. And what does that mean? Maybe the truth is complicated? And messy? And someplace in between?

I don't have a huge dose of white man's guilt. I will admit it right now. I find the history to be fascinating but it has nothing to do with me. As in, I wasn't there so I am not going to feel guilty over what people who happen to share my skin coloring did in the past.  My family history is such that we are pretty sure my great-grandmother on my mother's side was Native American but we have no idea what tribe as she was passing as white and the only way my mother came across the idea that she was Native was from derisive comments from other family members. My father's side we kind of suspect was passing as well. Just from their physical appearance and looking at the members of the Klamath Falls tribe out here where his family is from. But we don't know for sure.

My ancestors didn't own slaves as far as we know. Not because they were abolitionists who realized that it was wrong but because they lived in the wrong part of the country for it and were too poor. You want to see how opinions on race change? My grandmother saw her first black person when she was in her early 20s and he was robbing her so you can imagine how that formed her opinions. When she first met my best friend and spent time with her she said, "She's very nice for a darkie." A few years later she had a picture of the both of us on her dresser in the nursing home and would proudly tell everyone that those were her grand daughters. Does that mean that I shouldn't say that I loved my grandmother? Because she started out as a pretty solid racist? Or that I was proud of her because she realized in the end that people shouldn't be judged by color? Or should I just understand that that is how it works. When we know better, we do better.

So good for you, you don't celebrate Columbus Day because he was a douchebag. Or good for you, you celebrate Columbus Day because it's a good excuse to eat Italian food and drink wine. I'm not going to judge you either way. I'm also not really going to get in to big debates at Thanksgiving on the same subject. Just so you know. I will be eating my turkey, enjoying my family and being thankful that I live in a time and place where I can judge you over what you do today, not over what your ancestors did. And as for Columbus Day? Well I can sum it up with this....

Seriously, Balloons you can ride in!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dream a little dream of me....

The human brain is a pretty fascinating thing. Last night a friend of mine told me about a dream she had recently. It wasn't a tough one to figure out what it meant and it was pretty amusing as well. So that was on my mind as I went to sleep. And then I had this dream (the story you are about to read) not the dream the women are talking about but I actually dreamed about the women talking about a dream. It was a dream discussion in the middle of a dream, Inception style. Now while I was dreaming it last night I thought the women talking were the two women from the series of short stories I have been working on for ages but when I started writing it out I realized that it couldn't be.

The voices weren't right. Kat is very confident and sure of herself and this woman wasn't quite there yet. Alex (she used to be Sandra last time you read about her, I'm pretty sure she's an Alex now) wasn't quite compassionate enough and she seemed single and Alex is very married. I thought maybe it was them at a younger age, but that didn't work either. So this bit just doesn't work with the rest of them. So instead of tucking it away into the half formed ideas folder you all get it. It's still half formed but I thought how it came about was interesting enough to share.

"I had the weirdest dream last night. I was at this like neighborhood picnic thing. There were all of these families and kids around and we were all in this big open house. So anyway, there's this guy there and we keep like accidentally touching each other. You know? Like reaching for a drink at the same time or bumping in to each other leaving a room. And it's like pure electricity every time we touch. I mean there is like this spark jumping from him to me and back. So we start doing it a little more frequently and a little less accidentally. At one point I looked down and we were holding hands. We both did that 'Oh! Sorry!' thing and pulled away but it was just hot. Like I wanted to keep touching him just to see where it would lead. Because there was something there for sure.

But then the night started wrapping up and the guy's wife shows up and he leaves with her. And right as that happened I realized that I wasn't real. I was like a figment of his imagination. Nobody else there had even noticed me all night and I hadn't realized it was because I wasn't real.

So what do you think, Madam Freud? Weird right?"

"When did Damon call?" Janine asked sounding almost bored.

"What? This wasn't about Damon. He's not even married. How could it be about him?"

"Please. He's as unavailable as if he were married. The big thing the two of you have going is great chemistry but it never works out because you lose yourself every time the two of you start to date. You won't take out of town assignments unless he can get the time off of work to go with you. Even though he never puts you ahead of work. You won't make plans with your friends or you cancel if he is free. You don't even have time to grab a drink with a friend and talk about the weird dream you had last night. The last time you two broke up you said that he doesn't even know you. That you are just another prop for his success story. The hot girlfriend."

"We do have great chemistry."

"And he's totally unavailable. Don't call him back. You know it doesn't end well. He will make all of the right noises about how much he's missed you and you will cave. Do you want to go back to living on hold? Waiting for him to let you know when he is free to see you? When you fit in to his life? Waiting for that call?"

"But he's sooo hot!"

"Then go buy a new vibrator and think about him. And while you are at it think about that hot guy you dated in college. The tall gorgeous one? The actor? Who looked like he was chiseled out of granite but was as dumb as a box of rocks. Girl, you just need to get laid, you don't need to call Damon back!"

"Oh my god! I can't believe you just said that!"

"Am I lying?"

"No, but I can't believe you said it!  And for the record Damon hasn't called me."

Janine looked at her friend and raised her eyebrows, "Oh really?"

"He sent me a text. God I hate it when you are right!"

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How B and D found their C....

For anyone who knows me you already know all of these stories so you can just skip the blog today. I just realized that I don't think I have ever written them down and since I can't think of a better day to do it, I am doing it now!

As you all know Brent and I married as mere children. We knew a few things about kids and our future when we got married. We knew we wanted them and we knew we weren't ready for them yet. Now fast forward a few years. Brent was ready long before I was, I had actually started to rethink my position on having children at all by this point. We had friends who had kids and their lives were completely different from the lives of our childless friends. I liked our life and wasn't really sure I wanted to change it. But Brent was positive he wanted them. I used to joke that he was going to get us kicked out of the mall because he was staring at the babies too much. He doesn't remember it this way, but the man had baby fever.

The other thing I also knew about us and kids was that I didn't want to have kids while he was still going out to sea. He would leave for 6 months at a time and though 6 months out of my life wasn't a huge change 6 months out of a baby or child's life means you are coming home to a whole different kid. Or a brand new kid. The first guys off of the ship when it would get back from cruise were the new dads. Men whose children had been born while they were gone. I couldn't even imagine Brent missing the birth of his child. I also didn't sign up to be a single mom and had no urge to take on that role. So we waited until he got shore duty to decide to go ahead and take the plunge. In fact the call I got while he was on his last cruise was "I've got shore duty in Idaho until my enlistment is over. Stop taking the pill."  He also doesn't remember that part, but trust me it happened.

So while he was finishing up his cruise I was finishing up my birth control. He got home the day before Thanksgiving 1991 and I took the pregnancy test on February 2, 1992. I would have taken it a few days earlier but we went to Disneyland that weekend and I didn't want to risk knowing I was pregnant and not be able to ride any rides. See, I knew that at that point in time if I was pregnant that the baby was pretty solidly protected, but I also knew that as soon as I saw the "No Pregnant Women" sign on a ride I wouldn't ride it. So I did the logical thing and didn't take the test. So there you go, C's first trip to Disneyland was when he was just a few weeks past conception.

The day I picked up the pregnancy test I was already starting to show. I've always had a, let's say, ample bosom, but that Sunday I put on the t-shirt I had bought at Disney the day before and thought, "Wow! This makes my boobs look huge!" Then we went to the grocery store and I proceeded to knock over a display of oranges with them. See, when you are used to a body part sticking out a certain distance and all of a sudden it sticks out farther than that your spatial relations are a bit off. So yes, the first place I showed was in my boobs (which is totally normal) and the way we first realized it was by me knocking over a pyramid of oranges with them. So while we were at the store we picked up a test. One pink line for pregnant, no pink lines for not pregnant. What I got was a bright fuchsia THICK line. We decided I wasn't a little pregnant, I was very pregnant.

We had one small scare a few weeks in to the pregnancy where I started spotting. Trust me I was starting to regret the Disneyland trip right about then. We ended up at the hospital and I got a transvaginal ultrasound. The reason I bring that up is because since I've had one every time it's brought up in the abortion debate I can speak to just what one is, and how invasive it really and truly is. Now as any woman who has had a baby can tell you the invasive procedures you endure during a pregnancy are many and varied, but this one is in a league of it's own. Anyway, we had the ultrasound and everything was fine. He wasn't far along enough at that point to be anything more than what they called a fetal pole. Not even a heart beat yet just a flutter and the thickening where he was. But it showed that he was fine and the spotting was nothing to worry about.

I remember a few things very clearly from that appointment, the transvaginal ultrasound of course. And being so relieved that Brent was able to come with me. See, in the military it's not a given that your spouse can get the time off to come with you to appointments so I am not sure if it was a day off for him, or how he got the time but he got it and that's a good thing because I was terrified. Then there was the sheer relief of knowing that he was fine. And the last thing, Almond M&Ms. There was a vending machine at Balboa near the office I had the ultrasound and after the appointment we got Almond M&Ms out of the machine. They were brand new and I swear they were the best thing ever. Stress eating chocolate after hearing the pregnancy was fine. It took years for those M&Ms to go mainstream and they are still one of my favorite candies. The mix of chocolate, almonds, candy shell and can't be beat.

So after our brief scare the rest of the pregnancy was pretty non-eventful. If you call moving from San Diego to Idaho Falls and changing houses there twice before C was born non-eventful. The second move before he was born might have been the first "parenting" decision we made. The house we picked out when we went back up to Idaho Falls was fine. Not great, just fine. But it had some issues and the farther along I got in the pregnancy the more the issues started to bother me. The house was older and had some drafts. The landlord was a nice enough guy but not really quickly responsive to problems. Finally I decided that there was no way I was going to be able to bring my baby home to that house. I can't remember what the last straw was, possibly a loose board in the kitchen, but I found another place. Much more expensive. More house than we needed. But cleaner, newer, better maintained and with a washer and drying in the main house. And so we moved.

You will also notice I called C he from the start. I knew I was having a boy. Just knew it. The ultrasound at 19 weeks or whenever it was just confirmed it, but I already knew. We did go ahead and pick out a girl's name just in case. If C had been a girl he would have been Britney. How does that happen? Names rise up and become popular? There weren't a lot of Britney's around at the time, I actually don't even know where we came up with it, but by the time he was in school there was almost always one in his class if not two. In fact a friend of ours was so glad we had a boy because she was due a few months after us and she wanted to take the name! And of course, Ms. Spears. We went through a lot of boy names before we settled on Christopher. I liked some unconventional choices, Chance and Chase. We both liked Parker and talked about Alexander. Evan or Ethan were in there as well. But once we said Christopher out loud that was it.

So fast forward to the last month of pregnancy. My first appointment in September comes and I am dilating already! They told me I was going to be early and to be prepared for him to come any day now. The next week, same thing. Oh any day now. The next week...the next week...Finally the last week of September they tell me to come in on the following Monday and we will talk about inducing labor. I was huge by this point. I had been partially dilated for a month. I was more than ready to get this kid out. My official due date was October 1. Which came and went without event. Then the morning of October 2 arrives.

Brent had been working rotating shift work and was coming off of mids (working all night, sleeping all day) on to day shift. His routine was to stay awake all day the first day off and force his body to shift over to sleeping at night that way. So October 2 is the first day off of mids and he hasn't slept since 4pm October 1. We were having dinner that night with friends of my family that were living in Idaho Falls at the time and my parent's best friends (the people that would have had custody of my siblings and I if anything happened to them) who happened to be traveling through town. But here's the trick, I started having contractions that morning. Small ones, very far apart. So we went walking. We walked all over the mall and all over Shop-ko (like a Target) and timed those contractions. They stayed at about 30 minutes apart all morning. Then up to 15 minutes apart.  I can't remember now exactly what it was but it was something like we weren't supposed to go to the hospital until they were 10 minutes apart for an hour, or 5 minutes apart for a half hour...anyway, they weren't so we didn't.

We were at dinner with our family friends that night and I am chatting with my mother's friend and I keep glancing at my watch. Barbara finally has had enough of my rudeness, "Is there someplace else you need to be, young lady?" I apologized and let her know I had been in labor all day and was just timing my contractions. Well that changed the entire tone of the conversation, believe you me. But I will never forget how upset she was with my rudeness at constantly checking my watch while people were talking.

So dinner is over and we head home. Contractions still too far apart to go to the hospital even though I had been in labor all day.  Brent goes to bed and I try and rest. About a half hour after he fell asleep they sped up and got much more intense. Any first time mother wonders how you know when real contractions start. There are so many mild ones and even false ones that you think, how will I know? You know. It's a totally different thing than what you had before and the only thing it feels like is contractions so you can't ever explain to anyone what to expect. So I am timing them, and it's time to go to the hospital. I am trying to get Brent to wake up and he is struggling with that. But we got him up and us out the door and finally I am going to give birth!

Or not. We got to the hospital around 10. I went through transition around midnight. While Brent was sleeping in the chair a few feet away from my hospital bed. Now I did not have an epidural during C's delivery. The thought of having a needle in my spine was so much more terrifying to me than the thought of any pain. This is the time I started to wonder the wisdom in this choice. There used to be a comedian (and I can't remember who it was, maybe Rita Rudner?) who said that they tell you that women don't remember the pain of childbirth...sure...stupid women. You don't forget the pain. You just can't describe it. Or you choose not to scare the bejeezus out of every pregnant woman you meet by telling her, but you remember. And while I was going through this part there was Brent sleeping peacefully a few feet away. If I could have gotten to him I would have pinched him. But between the contractions and the I.V. and the other wires I was pretty much stuck. Lucky man.

So transition lasted a few hours. By a few I mean A LOT OF HOURS. I wasn't ready to start pushing until 4:30. By this time Brent had woken up from his much needed nap and I had forgiven him for daring to sleep when I couldn't. And I made him tell the nurse she was going to have to stop talking. See she would come in to check on me and she was so loud. And one of those we talkers. How are we? Are we feeling okay? It was driving me nuts. So I told Brent he was going to have to go out in the hall and tell her to shut up or I was going to lose my shit. Once she quieted down and Dr. Hall gave me a touch of Demerol in my I.V. I was feeling much better. So then it was finally show time. But it didn't work out so well.

We have talked before about how C works on his own time table. He won't be rushed. Pokey kid really. Well he started at birth. Not only was he two days past his due date after a month of "any day now" he still wasn't ready. I would push, he would start to come out, I would rest and he would slide back home. Finally the monitors began pinging that he was in distress, I was exhausted by this point as well, I had been straining so hard that I actually stretched the ligaments in both wrists. So out came the forceps. I am glad I had the doctor I did at this point. They didn't use them on his head but to hold me open to slide him out more easily. And by more easily I mean Dr. Hall cranked me open and put his hands inside my vagina to pull out the boy. Yeah, no epidural...I'm a genius. But still, all things considered this is much better for the baby than if they had used them on his head.

I've written about the first few weeks at home before so I won't talk about that again (since this blog is already SUPER long).

It's been 20 years today since C joined us in his own unique way. Being a parent changes you in ways that you never expected and I am so grateful for all of them. Happy Birthday to the best thing Brent and I ever made.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Practical Magic...4

When Cal and Deeds first announced to their family and friends they planned to marry there were a few who worried that a pairing of two warriors would end in heartbreak. Tempers would flare, patience would be tested or the ever present possibility of an early death always loomed. Deidre wasn't worried. The life of a warrior was a hard one, she had already lost friends from school and her father had lost many friends and co-workers as well. The possibility of an early death was something that all those called to be a warrior understood.

When she was home visiting her family soon after the engagement she spoke to her mother about the life of a wife of warrior. How was she always able to be calm when her father left on patrol? There had never been a point in Deidre's childhood where she could remember her mother worrying about her father returning from work safely and it had always made her and her siblings feel as though they had nothing to worry about either. Deidre wanted to know how to project that sense of calm if she and Cal ever had children. Even though she knew that each and every time she or Cal walked out the door it could be the last. Her mother just smiled and told her she should probably talk to her sister. 

Instead Deidre went to her Aunt Dot. "Did you tell Mom how Dad would die?"

"Always an interesting conversation starter aren't you, darling?"

"Did you?"

"Fine, we will save the chit chat for later. What have you been taught about prophecy regarding death?"

"Any vision of the future is just a possible outcome. Even the fact of telling the vision can set in motion a series of events that would change the outcome. Prophets are not fortune tellers who can pick a vision of the future out of thin air and so knowing when or how someone will die is not a possibility. Death is unpredictable and true visions of a person's demise are unlikely to happen more than a few days before the death occurs."

"Very good. You remember your lessons from prophecy classes. So why would you think I could tell your mother when your father would die?"

"Because I also know there are many things about being a warrior that only other warriors know."

"Always a smart girl."


"Conversations between sisters are just that. Conversations between sisters. Did you have anything else?"

Deidre smiled at her aunt, "No, I just wanted to know how mom was always so calm. I believe I know now. Thank you."

"And will you be having a conversation with your own sister?"

Deidre shook her head, "No. I know Cal loves me truly, you or Joy would have told me by now if that weren't true. I know that I love him. I know that no matter how many years we have together they won't be enough. I don't want to know anything that would make me act differently, greedy with his time or mine. I know enough to know that we are meant to be together and any time I have with him would be better than time without him. That's all I need."

Aunt Dot hugged her niece fiercely, "Always a smart girl."

Monday, October 1, 2012

And that ends week 7....

When I first started talking about doing this challenge a friend of mine told me that out of all of the stupid ideas and harebrained schemes I have had over the years this was probably one of the stupidest. See, I hate to work out. Always have. The only time I am consistent with it is when I am working out with C and he was on his way back to school when I started this challenge so that motivation would be gone. I view working out as something I have to do a few times a week to ensure that I can eat cake a few times a week as well. Not as something that I would ever do a few times a day just to see what muscles I could bring out. And this morning as I made excuse after excuse not to go downstairs and strap on the tennis shoes and pop in the DVDs his words came back to me. This is the stupidest idea I have ever had.

I wrote last week that I had finally broken the lose one week gain the next week cycle and just stayed flat last week. Well I stayed flat again this week as well. Hmmm...okay, I am not looking to lose weight, or at least much, so this is not a big deal. But weight loss is the easiest thing to track To see tangible results weekly. The other is slower going. Saturday night at dinner I was showing Brent my new barely there biceps muscles. For the first time he could start to see the definition in the muscle as well.  Seven weeks in and it's the first time he's really seeing any difference. And even then it's something that I had to point out to him. I'm still exhausted at the end of my workouts and pouring with sweat. It's hard, ya'll.

I'm 44 and my body complains about the work I am making it do. It likes that gentle workout, eat cake agreement we have come to over the years. The walks, the treadmill work, the light toning just to make sure my arms aren't still waving goodbye 5 minutes after you've left. It's comfortable. And comfort is good. Right? So what if I weigh a little more than I want to, it's a healthy weight for me and I look good, even if I say so myself. My blood work comes back fine every year, cholesterol is good, blood pressure is good. Why in the world should I care about the rest of it? Honestly? Why?

So then I put on my shoes, I went downstairs and I powered through all of my workouts back to back to back, knowing that the odds of finding my motivation twice today was someplace between slim and none. And two hours later when I finished, exhausted and pouring with sweat I gave myself the answer I gave him 8 weeks ago. Of course it will be super hard. The hard part is what makes it a challenge.