Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The irony of an errand

Today is September 30th, the last day of the month and the last chance I would have to get my new car tags, seeing as September is my birthday (which I'm pretty sure I covered in an earlier post, but would hate for you to forget). And by the way, I think that is a cruel slight of hand...Happy Birthday!! Now write us a check for $75. The only person I know who gets around this is my husband who was born in March. When he bought his SUV, the brain surgeon who filled out his paperwork put "MA" for his birth month so now the DMV thinks he was born in May. Therefore we get 30 days of birthday bliss before the little pink and white postcard appears in the mail. Anyway, I decided that since I had to venture into downtown on a Monday morning anyway, that I would go ahead and set up my business license for Daisy & Elm, LLC (website is but it's so not finished give me a couple of weeks before you log in and do all of your Christmas shopping). I was instructed to go to the Government Building, which is sort of intimidating considering there is a big sign on the outside door that reads "All Visitors Must Sign In With Security". I was curious about what kind of security and annoyed by the capitalization of in and with. But I went in anyway.

The Government Building is adorned with lots of crown molding and reliefs of ivy and leaves around the ceiling. It contains one of the "painted horses" that were all the rage 10 years ago and 2 security guards that are obviously retired from some other employment (and enjoy their retired wife's homecooking every morning) but they are very friendly (I would be too if someone made me waffles and bacon/egg sandwiches in the middle of the week). They pointed me in the direction of the Revenue Department (to which I thought yes, it will be your revenue, even if it's not mine). When I got to Revenue, she handed me a small stack of paperwork to fill out and directed me to the Zoning and Building Permit Department because my business will technically be conducted from within my home. So, off I went to Zoning.

Upon arriving at Zoning, I was told that someone would be right with me. And when that someone walked around the corner, it was my first ex-fiance. Now, for those of you playing at home, there were a total of 4 fiances with the 4th being the husband that I was so lucky to marry. Upon looking back at the circumstances of my life, I absolutely believe that God had, as Rascal Flatts said it best, "blessed the broken road that led me straight to you". But that does not mean that the road never intersects with a previous road. I'm pretty sure it happens in San Francisco all the time. Unfortunately for you all, it was a pretty basic conversation with all of the "How are your parents? How is your wife/husband? Where are you living now? How is work?" and then "here is your paperwork for your business. Good luck and it was nice to see you again." Very boring, as far as scandalous blog posts go. And although it was nice to see him again after all of these years and know that if we wanted to go that route, we could actually be friends without re-living War of the Roses, I am reminded of one other song. Garth Brooks once wisely composed: We tried to talk about the old days; There wasn't much we could recall. I guess the Lord knows what he's doin after all. And as she walked away and I looked at my wife; And then and there I thanked the good Lord; For the gifts in my life. Amen, brother. (Now, the name of that song is Unanswered Prayers, which I think is a load of hogwash because I think God answers EVERY prayer, but maybe Garth and God were still ironing that out when he wrote the song.)

At any rate, it was a bit of a shock followed by relief and finally peace. And at the end, I had to come home and take a nap because that is a lot of emotion to process without much tequila.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The long day is over

I'm sorry to be so quiet over the weekend - there was all sorts of excitement...there was late-night beading to be done, Corona to be drank, and gossip-heavy stories to share. In short, my sister was here. It is always a craft extravaganza any time you put the 2 of us together, usually there must be a trip (or five) to Hobby Lobby and sometimes we hit Michael's too. I've recently had to teach my sister about the glories of Hobby Lobby and the delight of 50% off sales. Since you all have been so faithful in reading what I have to say, I will let you in on a tiny little secret: if you go to Hobby Lobby and what you want is not 50% off, wait a week and then go back. One week, half of the store is 50% off, then the next week the other half is 50% off. It is the 11th commandment: you shall never pay full-price again! Of course, then you start thinking about how they can afford to do this and you realize that we are all getting raked over the coals for the change that may fall out of our socks when we do pay full-price for anything. Because, as nice as those folks are at Hobby Lobby, at the end of the day, it still comes down to dollars and credit card receipts.

So, we had Shep's service on Saturday and my sister, who was the first to read my positive pregnancy test while sitting on the toilet in her guest bedroom, felt like she needed to be there. It's the alpha and omega of things - to put a melodramatic spin to it. And it's no easy task for her to get here. She lives in Jacksonville with a husband who works something like 80 hours per week and 2 girls under the age of 6. There must be planning involved. Well Jeanine put her perfectly-manicured hands together and worked a little miracle because she had about 7 days to make it work. And there she appeared, at the end of gate 7, in the Cincinnati airport Friday afternoon. She left her husband to deal with soccer games, birthday parties, 3 square meals a day, and a dog that has been pooping crayons for over a week to let me cry on her shoulder for a little bit. I am truly blessed.

It rained the entire time she was here and maxed out at a temperature that fell 20 degrees below what she was used to at home. But it didn't much matter. You can scrapbook and make jewelry and recall better times over a drink and a lime anywhere...particularly on a leather couch that reclines. After we dropped her back off at the airport on Sunday morning, the sun began to peek through determined clouds and I thought what a lovely send-off for the golden-haired girl from the sunshine state. We were given rain to disguise our tears and now it's time for a brighter day. I have no idea what she came home to...most likely a labrador retriever who had made a special present for her (probably all over his cage) and the adoring love of her family who is not used to days and nights without her. She will fall back into a job that challenges her every minute of every day, regardless of if she's physically there or not, and the routine of raising 2 children who are so close in age they could almost be twins. She will be exhausted as she falls into bed after a day of being all things to all people, but she will sleep better knowing that she did perform the impossible...she came to be with me.

Saturday was difficult, as we all knew it would be. And I can say that, at least symbolically, we laid Shep's soul to rest. We sang hymns for him and prayed for his safe return to the arms of our Savior. And we leaned heavily on those who braved the monsoon to sit with us in the pews. It was such a sacred time for us that I could almost hear Shep laughing and stomping through rain puddles while he gleamed through mischievous eyes. He would have sat in everyone's lap and played hide-and-seek in a house full of friends in fellowship. That is how I choose to think of him.

I will post the program from the service soon. I think it turned out well. And I can almost guarantee that thoughts of Shep and the loss we suffer will creep back into my future posts - as it is a piece of our history and I choose to remember and include him in all that we do. We are parents now who have lost a son and that is a huge and unimaginable thing. It will never go away and I don't really want it to. But I can take courage in the rainbow and breathe deeply in my faith in God to find the sweetest flavor of each new day. I still cry everyday...I still run from pregnant women in Target...I still cringe at the cry of a baby...I am still grieving. But I can also cook a meal with love for my husband...I can be there for a friend during the dark and uncertain times...I can grow my business and know that I am doing all of that because it is not as bad as it once was. And there is hope for a better tomorrow.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sweaty Satisfaction

Today...I did something that I have been putting off but needed desperately just to feel quasi-normal again...I went to the gym. I charged the Zune, put on a fresh sports bra, and laced up my mud-caked running shoes. I thought "this could last ten minutes, or I could go the distance. I could be here for hours." I had eaten a waffle for breakfast, so chances were good that I would not be there for hours. But I needed to go and I needed to sweat. I needed to wipe something other than tears from my cheeks and I wanted to work off some of the anger that had been creeping in subconsciously. And, as luck would have it, gym clothes are the only things that fit right now. Well, that and I do have one pair of fat jeans because you always save one pair of fat jeans. Always. God has a plan for me - I was a fitness director and personal trainer for 5 years and thus own an arsenal of lycra...perfect for post partum workouts (or for working out after a summer of margaritas and mojitos, apparently). Armed with Nickelback and Pink and the tiniest bit of Metallica, I charged through the door, up the stairs and onto an elliptical...for less than 20 minutes before I was breathing heavily and experiencing chest pains. Huh, I guess those pre-natal aqua classes weren't really the workout I was used to. I've gotten soft (which I already knew because right now, everything jiggles...and I mean everything). I'm glad I didn't start out with Spinning. So, I cruised into the Cardio Theater (which is about 15 degrees cooler and was playing Days of Our Lives on the big screen. FYI: Stefano was marrying a woman that I'm pretty sure he had killed off when I was in college. And Stefano has more lives than both of my cats combined). I did 20 minutes on the treadmill before I got my breath back and it didn't hurt to raise my right arm. Back to the elliptical I went...for 10 minutes before I thought "if I have a heart attack up here, in the dark, no one will know until the after-work crowd gets here. And I could start to stink at that point." So, back to the treadmill I went. I did my last 10 minutes, getting an hour of sweat in and a priceless amount of self-loathing out.

I have always taken pretty good care of my body. Although I was always the chunkiest, least "cut" instructor at the fitness conferences, I knew that I was probably more physically fit than half that crowd. I will tell you right now, group exercise instructors can down some tequila shots. No lie. So, after college, I tried to minimize the binge drinking, eat more vegetables and cook edible tofu. When I got pregnant, I flossed everyday, went to the dentist (which, as nice as he is, was still a nearly insurmountable task), refused to eat blue cheese or brie or any meat that was less than charcoal. I drank water without Crystal Light and found a new way to love decaf iced tea. In my head, I decided that if I did everything "right", there would be no problems. Well, I did everything right and here I am anyway. I feel betrayed by my body. I gave it everything it needed to nourish our child and it wasn't enough. The only proper justice is to abuse the hell out of it until it gives out from lack of food and too many Kickboxing classes. I want vindication and I want it in kilocalories. Twenty minutes into my workout today I realized that is not the answer. I can give that scheme a whirl, but it will only end with me on a gurney while paramedics try to find a vein for IV fluids. I do have anger that is best expressed in Spinning...anything else would be misdirected. And I do find peace in the counting of miles, the breath pattern of a chest press, and the eucalyptus intoxication of the sauna. I would prefer for women to be less naked in the locker room (especially those who want to talk to me while their stretched and saggy girl-dom is jiggling about)...but on the whole, the gym is satisfaction for me. You can't think about baby footprints or labor pain when you're doing shoulder presses. You can't just sit in front of a TV and eat Nutella out of the jar while drowning in a sea of Babies R Us commercials. And it's a great place to go if you want to fit back into those skinny jeans...because you always keep a pair of skinny jeans, too. Always.

More questions than answers

Today was my first doctor's appointment since the loss of our son. I had worked myself up into quite the frenzy, wondering and worrying about the tests they would do to confirm or rule out possible causes for my miscarriage. I stored water like a camel in hopes that my veins would bulge from my skin...that I would be able to provide all of the blood they needed to give me all of the answers that I needed. I came equipped with a list of possible causes (which, when read, sounded more like a list of things that I felt I should have done differently...a list of things that I could have done to save our son) and printed emails from a family friend who was also an OBGYN. I wanted to be sure that I was prepared with questions so that I could sleep more soundly tonight with whatever answers I was given. I was not prepared for the answer of "we don't know yet...and may never know." My doctor didn't do a pelvic exam, she didn't even touch me. She asked me questions about my post-partum recovery (which reads as "ante partum" on the check-out form. This is basically latin for before birth which I find infuriating and misleading. I wanted to scream at the nurse "I am POST...I am not ANTE...POST! POST! POST!" But I didn't. I just counted to 10 and thought about going back to bed). They didn't take any blood from me, just made another appointment for 6 weeks from now for me to come back and do the blood work. We can't determine anything yet. It's too soon, she said. How can that be? It's been an eternity. It's like that line in The Jerk: I know we've only known each other four weeks and three days, but to me it seems like nine weeks and five days. The first day seemed like a week and the second day seemed like five days. And the third day seemed like a week again and the fourth day seemed like eight days..and so on. That's how I feel. And somehow sometimes it feels like yesterday.

This evening I gave myself permission to laugh, to not block the sadness but not dwell on it, either. It was my belated birthday event, an evening with the girls I've known since high school (and some that I've known since I was 5 years old) and my husband to a pottery place in town. We painted mugs with polka-dots and paisley piggy banks. We made art of light switches and splashed color on Christmas ornaments. We wondered where one could safely pop the cork on a bottle of champagne in a pottery store, finally deciding that the lobby would be best. We ate a cookie cake with our fingers and shared stories from the past few weeks. I laughed when we thought Steph had sent her chair crashing into a bookshelf of clay chargers, knowing how we were all sort of like bulls in a china shop. We had dinner at Harry's and I listened to the intermingled easy conversation of some of my best girl friends and the man I love most in the world. I smiled at how this could have easily been a different scenario - what if my girlfriends didn't like my husband? What if my husband had estranged me from my girl friends in some sort of struggle for power and control? What if I had neither? I am blessed, I thought again and for the 1000th time this week. I am being challenged, but I am also being given the tools and people to meet the challenge head on and rise above it. The Lord is taking care of me in ways that I am not even aware. Be not afraid and somehow...I am not.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

For better or worse

Happy 3rd anniversary to the finest man I know. It has been a wild ride so far. 3 years ago today, I stood on the hard-packed sand of a South Carolina beach, beneath the heat of a setting sun and 4 layers of crinoline, and vowed "in richer and poorer, for better or worse." And here we the poorer and the worse part all at once. And still we find a way to smile. How incredible you are to bring joy to my life when I would be more inclined to cry. How fascinating it is to watch our marriage grow into something so complicated and yet stunningly so simple at the same time. I have never known a love so warm or so comfortable as I know with you. I can be who I am and still be completely entangled with you - like the vines that cover our patio. I know that someday we will, together and like those vines, provide shelter and shade for our family. Maybe these tears are just the watering that we need to grow. You can't have sunshine all the time, right? I've tried to give you the best and only gift I knew to give today: I got out of bed, I showered, and I got dressed. I found a way to do the things we used to do without letting grief saturate the day. And you allowed me the space for sadness when I needed it most. I could count all of the ways that I love you, but let's just start with a top 10. We would hate to burn through them all after just 3 years. What would I do for next year's post? Hopefully, I'll be too busy with the birth of our 2nd child, but just in goes...

10) You found a way to make heart-shaped buttermilk biscuits from scratch.
9) When you came home from the pharmacy on Wednesday, you brought flowers - and then tried to tell me that the pharmacy was handing out flowers with prescriptions that day.
8) You set your alarm to wake me up when it was time to take more medication.
7) You have only watched about 2 hours of HGTV to my 60 hours of CNN and MSNBC.
6) You let your cell phone be our home phone for the past week, knowing that I couldn't bear to answer mine.
5) When all I could do was cry, you told me it was OK. And sometimes you cried, too.
4) When taking a bath seemed like an exhausting request, you cleaned the tub, ran the water, and then washed my hair. And then you cleaned the tub again.
3) Even though you lost a son too, you still found the strength to gather and pack up every onesie, pregnancy book, maternity shirt, and baby magazine you could find. In fact, you did that twice.
2) When I was in so much pain I couldn't sleep, you stayed up with me...drifting off only after I did.
1) In the past week, you have been the cook, the maid, the gatekeeper and a soft place to land. How you managed it all I will never know, but I will also never forget.

Happy Anniversary, handsome! I am the luckiest girl in the world.

Monday, September 21, 2009

On, On, U of K

I think it would be a mistake of neglect to post again without singing the praises of those compassionate women who took care of me during the labor and delivery process, the University of Kentucky Hospital nursing staff...and specifically nurse Linda Berry (who would probably curl up into a ball and die if she knew she was being mentioned here). I really don't remember how or why UK Hospital got its less than desirable St. Joe East and Central Baptist exceeded UK regarding maternity and mother-baby care. I mean, UK has spent a lot of money on their pediatric hospital. If you see a UK-blue ambulance with children painted on the side, speeding down Nicholasville Road, that ambulance has a child in it. I've never seen a St. Joe or Central Baptist ambulance that is dedicated to the care of babies and children. And I've never heard of a baby or child being choppered in to St. Joe or Central Baptist - but that certainly happens at UK. And I don't know why I was met with such inner anxiety when I learned that the only OB-GYN's that were accepting our insurance were UK doctors. "Oh freakin fantastic," I thought..."I just hope they clean the rust off of the utensils before they stick em up there." Yes, it was probably not all that helpful when the UK doctor burned the UK logo into a woman's uterus after surgery. I'm all for school pride - but that belongs on the basketball court, not in the operating room. One way or another, UK has become known as the ill-behaved stepchild of hospitals.

So let me take a second to clear the nurses of Labor and Delivery of any wrong-doing. From the 60+ minutes it took for them to find a vein (through no fault of their own, apparently I am the posterchild for dehydration) to the moment we were released to go home, we were treated with such compassion and patience, that I just wanted to take them all home with me. Linda was working the night shift when we came in on Tuesday. She listened to my concerns, advocated for mind and body-numbing pain medication, shared her own story of miscarriage then labor and delivery, stayed past the end of her shift so that she did not leave me in the midst of delivery, and even stopped by the next day to see how we were doing. I count myself as one lucky duck to be guided through such impossible circumstances by someone who had been there herself. We became sisters that night...even though I may never see her again. Andrea was the 3rd shift nurse and although I was in a ketamine-induced fog and only remember her walking me to the bathroom around 4 am, I am told that she checked on me regularly. I wonder if I made any outrageous "could you have the cabana boy bring me another margarita? This one is weak. Stop watering down your drinks or I'll be asking for a full refund!" I do remember that my IV began to leak sometime in the night and I was convinced that I had wet the bed. I thought I was going to kiss her when she said "no, your IV is leaking". Thank goodness - I still had control over some things. And Edyie came on as day nurse, checking to see if we needed anything and practically shoving Ibuprofen 600 down my throat - as she knew what was to come and I had no idea.

We could very easily cancel our Tricare health insurance and pick back up with the state's Humana coverage. But there is really no reason. Why give up a good thing?
Much thanks to Linda, Andrea and Edyie. While the doctors were fantastic, it's the nurses who got us through the night.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

And then there were 2

I've thought a lot about how I would write this blog post, if at all. I've decided I could take this one of two ways: I could blog only about the funny and the unusual - the stuff that everyone loves to read because it's a dose of reality without being too heavy...or I could blog about my life and everything in it. I could be an authentic blogger who doesn't withhold stories simply because they do not fit into the description of ironic or silly. And I've decided to be authentic. That means that this and the next several blog posts will be difficult for me to write and difficult for you to read. But even in dealing with loss, there is always some humor to be found. And I intend to find it. My purpose is not to re-live the last 72 hours, minute-by-minute...I've done enough of that and feel like it doesn't do any good except to clear my sinuses - and who needs that...I've got a neti pot. So, here's the brief summary followed by what happens next. I am inviting you to go on a journey with me towards recovery, following the yellow brick road and meeting all sorts of characters along the way. There will be adventures and misadventures as I pick my way through the rubble and I expect that we will all laugh at one point or another. I have been in bed for 3 days, but it is not a Tempur-pedic mattress and we don't get HBO so I will have to leave the bedroom soon and see what life has in store for me. Honestly, I have no idea what's around the bend, but I'm getting to the point where I would like to find out. we go.

I was 17 weeks pregnant with our first child. We were preparing to have our 20 week ultrasound where the tech can determine the gender of the baby but we had already decided that we didn't want to know. My family was a-buzz with a new baby in the family and I was starting to feel some movement as I drifted off to sleep each night. On Tuesday morning, my water broke while I was at my husband's office. Having no idea what had happened we rushed to my doctor's office, 45 minutes away. About an hour later, I was beginning to hemorrhage and they admitted me into U.K. hospital. I was dehydrated from a stomach virus on Sunday and a small cup of coffee that morning, so it took 4 nurses and an anesthesiologist over an hour to find a vein for the IV. Two hours later, they induced me. I labored for 7 hours with my mom and my husband at my side and at 11:53, I delivered a silent and non-viable baby boy. They rushed the baby out of the room and then was asked to continue to push to deliver the placenta. An hour later, I delivered the placenta. And then it was over. We all went to sleep and had tortured dreams of what had just happened. They released us Wednesday afternoon with instructions on how to restrict breast milk expression and scribbled prescriptions for pain medication. But I knew that it was just the beginning. Since Wednesday afternoon, I've cried more than I thought a human could cry without shriveling up and blowing away, I've considered checking myself into the psych ward because I thought I was losing my mind, I've watched so much CNN that I now understand that the "24-hour news cycle" does not = 24 hours of different news stories, and I've received hundreds of emails, facebook posts and stories from loved ones who are praying and supporting us. So, that brings us to today.

When Neal was deployed to Kuwait 19 months ago, I sat down and made a list of everything I wanted to do to keep myself busy while he was gone. It included things like:
  • make a new dish every week
  • learn about really good wine
  • learn Italian
  • read a book each month
  • scrapbook our wedding
  • make things grow in my garden
  • start attending mass regularly
and so on....So, here is my first edition list of what I would like to do in the next 3 months to help me (and in turn help both of us) get through this. We will most likely not be able to try again for 3 months anyway, so I may as well do things that I know I can't do when I'm pregnant. (And I did have a healthy dose of that for over 4 months. I have never craved a bottle of Corona so bad as I did one hot August let the cutting of the limes begin!) The difference here is that I have my wonderful husband to help me through this as opposed to January when I made a list because of the circumstances created by him. This time it will be will be better.

  • have a service to remember our son, Shepherd, and to find solace in the scriptures and in each other
  • drink good wine and listen to good music on a fantastic patio at our local vineyard
  • snow ski for the first time ever (I can also do this one now because I don't have a job that requires me to be mobile, should my leg -or 2 - end up in a cast. Neal calls this negative thinking, I call this being very realistic)
  • have a wine and cheese party and serve (and eat) lots of brie
  • sit in the sauna to clear up my skin and cleanse my sinuses
  • use our garden tub more for long, hot soaks (I finally took a bath on Thursday and what do ya know - our tub has jets!! It was fantastic. I plan on doing that again).
  • hang my punching bag in the garage and knock the holy living hell out of it, over and over again.
  • find an episcopal church to try out (ok I can do this while pregnant but why not do it now? I like being Catholic but I also like investing in Trojan...and if Neal ever Madoff-ed me or Governor Sanford-ed me, I would like to have the ability to leave his ass Catholic, hello Episcopals.)
  • make my garden grow - without gloves. I love dirt under my nails but it is not safe for the mommy-to-be.
  • ride the motorcycle until it's so cold that my goosebumps have goosebumps.
  • cook my way through Martha Stewart's cookbook. No it's not Julia Child but I have absolutely no intention of de-boning anything. I want to make pretty pies and cupcakes with cat faces and things enveloped in puff-pastry. I have to prepare myself for first birthdays and Halloween parties.
  • run and spin and do yoga and lift weights until I am no longer relegated to my boxer shorts. Since I now know that my first trimester will consist of white foods and me lying on the couch watching Golden Girls re-runs, I may as well get ahead of the curve now.
  • yes, boys and girls...I'm bringing back Champagne Friday. Hooah.
  • get a tattoo. When I was in the hospital, the nurse put a picture of a butterfly on my door to alert other hospital staff that although I was in labor and delivery, I would not actually be enjoying any of the fruits of my labor so don't say anything stupid like "would you like to see your baby?" So, sometime in the next 3 months, I will be getting a blue butterfly tattoo on the inside of my wrist in memorial of our son, Shepherd.
  • I have ordered a book full of other women's stories of miscarriage - from the beginning of pregnancy to stillbirth and I have ordered a devotional book specifically for mothers who have miscarried. I will be working my way through both of those.
  • and of course drink lots of wonderful coffee and espresso. No more decaf for me. Load me up and watch me vibrate!
I think that's probably enough for now. I'm not sure how many adventurous stories will evolve from coffee house stops and weight training days, but you never know. It could just get crazy. If you read my blog and you yourself have suffered through a miscarriage, I hope you find some peace in what I write...because although I do this mostly for me as an alternative to tons of psychological therapy, if someone else benefits then I've done a good thing. This will be difficult, I know but as Queen says, the show must go on.

Rest in peace, our sweet Nolan Shepherd Miller, 17 weeks in the womb. You are missed and you are loved always.

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's the end of civility as we know it

1. Congressman Joe Wilson
2. Tennis champion Serena Williams
3. Award-winning musician Kanye West

What do these 3 people have in common? Their filter has stopped working. And apparently, they have forgotten how to sincerely apologize. Emily Post would be mortified. The rest of us are...well, not really all that shocked. I'm not sure when it happened - when we went from a polite nation of handwritten thank you cards to quickly typed, un-proofed emails...from accepting invitations for dinner to just dropping in on people on a Saturday morning...from listening and understanding to waiting until the other person is finished so we can get out what we want to say...from voicing an opinion in an appropriate atmosphere to blurting it out at the first opportunity. Is this really the society we live in? My husband refers to it as having a "me moment" but wherever I am - from the grocery store to the theater, it feels like we're all having "me moments"...all the time. It feels more like a "me lifestyle". And I'm not sure that benefits anyone except for maybe me, but that's only until the planet implodes from oil spills and drains clogged with Kroger bags and the extinction of deer. (If deer become extinct, you know we are really screwed). I know that I don't have a lot of room to talk. I once stole the Emily Post Guide to Good Manners from the Western Hills High School library - and yes, Mrs. Stanley, I'm REALLY sorry about that. I would even apologize to the House chambers. However, I would like to think that I learned from that and moved on, moved forward, learned to play nice with others and voice my concerns with a cooler, more logical head.

What makes this country great is that we can have an opinion. We can get on a bus bound for Washington D.C. and make several stops along the way just to proclaim how inadequate we think our president is. How do you think that would go over in...say...Iran? They shoot first and ask questions later for stuff like that. We do not proclaim "God Save Obama!" on a routine basis. And quite frankly, I haven't heard of anyone being prosecuted for treason in a really long time. So, we are allowed our concerns, our frustrations, our opinions without much reprimand. But there is such a thing as "crossing the line." It's just that some of have moved the line back about 10 feet and that's bound to piss off any line judge. It is my sincere hope that we will all take a moment to think about our think first, then act. Because if we end up carrying the heads of livestock around on pitchforks, I will just move to England. They have horrible weather, but wonderful manners.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Not just another day

Remember that line in When Harry Met Sally when Harry is comparing bad dates with his friend, Jess, and he is recalling going on a date with a woman who, when he said "where were you when Kennedy was shot?" she replied with "Ted Kennedy was shot?"? That's how I feel about today. I know that I will be talking to someone in the future who was born in 2002 or after. And they will have no understanding of the true impact of 9/11/2001. My own children will not really get it, even though I scrapbooked the entire thing because I couldn't bring myself to do anything else for almost a week. And they will not say to me, "Mommy, where were you on 9/11?" because I had never thought to ask my own mother where she was when Kennedy was shot until just recently. My children will probably not understand for a long time that if 9/11 had not happened, I would probably not have returned from living in Arizona and I would have never met their father. Everything is intertwined. Everything.

So, as I look out on the this beautiful blue September sky, much as it was in NYC 8 years ago, much as it was when I got out of bed in Flagstaff, Arizona 8 years ago, I remember that sometimes things happen that really do profoundly change our lives and events can become so buried in our bones that a smell, a picture, a blue sky can take us back to that very day in just one instant. When I look at the pictures of the towers tumbling, of smoke pouring from the Pentagon and the cratered wreckage in Pennsylvania, I feel tired and heartbroken and completely isolated because that is what I felt that day. 2000 miles from home and working in a bar to make ends meet - I sat at the bar that night and drank tequila shots and watched CNN until the image of a sky raining people was burned into my retinas. Then I went home and thought "we will never be the same."

I wait in eager anticipation of a 9/11 memorial that will truly reflect the horrors of that day. But with everything, it is slow to come. A friend said to me last night, "you cannot fight emotion with logic" and isn't that the truth?? Emotionally charged family members of 9/11 victims fight with architects and engineers, masters of logic, and very little has changed. But someday....
During a week of partisan outbursts, complaints, finger-pointing and uncivil behavior, suddenly today we all feel like one again. And that feels really, really good.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And Happy Birthday to Me!

Ah, September...what a lovely, refreshing month. It is the time of year when Kroger starts selling cranberry-colored mums, I wait in eager anticipation for football season to begin, and my wedding anniversary is marked by smiley faces at the end of the month. It is the month of my birthday and typically the first month of school (although in an act of unusual cruelty, county schools opened their doors in the middle of August this year. If you still sweat through to your underwear when you walk outside, then it is not yet time to return to school). So to celebrate my birthday (which was actually 2 days ago but I was too busy being a Princess to sit down and blog) I shall do something that I don't normally do. I shall lapse into the world of politics.

I tend to shy away from making obvious political statements here because what better way to run off readers - and since I seem to have about 13 readers, I would hate to lose even one. However, it's my birthday and I will cry (or blog about ridiculous right-wing behavior) if I want to. Please understand that I consider myself a tolerant individual and generally fall within the conservative democrat category. I believe in many things liberal and many things conservative. I strive to be the bipartisan posterchild. But events in the past few days have lead me to believe that I'm much more liberal than I had once previously thought. Let's take for example the events of Sept. 8th. Happy Birthday to me: President Obama will now address the school children across the nation. (and just to be clear, he is still the president. It would be really great if everyone - politicians, the public and media alike could stop referring to him as Mr. Obama. I think he has probably earned the right to be called President...y'know, just out of respect and all). So, we followed all of the debate about whether or not this was a good idea - yes we were on vacation but we still had full access to CNN (hallelujah) and sometimes it was even on a flat-screen plasma TV. The left said one thing, the right said another. I love a good long as it's logical, of course.

So fast forward to Tuesday morning. We headed down to the breakfast bar at the Homewood Suites in Baltimore and as I sipped on my coffee and broke off pieces of my cinnamon roll, I read the president's full speech in text in the USA Today. I looked up at Neal, "this is actually a really good speech. I would fully appreciate someone in authority telling our children to listen and respect us and to do their best everyday." (And the children would probably do anything the president asked, as long as they were not raised in a household that used "Obama" in place of a swear word). When I got back up to the room to check facebook, I had an email from a local conservative group in Lexington reminding parents who were pulling their children out of school to avoid exposure to the speech that they would be meeting at GattiTown at noon. Uh, wait, WHAT?? To prevent your children from hearing a speech by the president in which he encourages them to stay in school and aim for the stars everyday, even if they fall short everyday, you will pull them out of school to eat limp pizza and play video games that suck quarters like the wind across Indiana?? I am SO confused. Not being a parent to an actual birthed child, it is hard for me to say for sure what I would do. But I am a parent to one that is doubling in its size every month, so I would like to venture a guess. I would guess that we would allow our child(ren) to watch the speech at school and then come home and re-watch it with them (because that is the beauty of DVR) and use that as a teaching/learning opportunity with our child(ren). You can't really teach your children that if they are about to experience something they may disagree with, that it is OK to leave the situation and go have Italian. Only the Italians can do that. (And really, I must refer to GattiTown as very loosely Italian. It's more like American grease with a side of oregano).

Anyway, I was happy to see the nation come together (even if it was only for 30 hours) to express gratitude for a well-given speech to the nation's future leaders. After all, I believe Whitney said it best, "I believe the children are our future" and the future should not be skipping school to play air hockey.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

With Friends Like These....

We saw The Fast and the Furious, crotch-rocket-style, on the streets of Baltimore tonight...and it did not have a feel-good-movie-of-the-year ending. I always listen to a little music while I blog and to give you a hint of where this is heading, I dug out Kenny G's Dying Young Theme. I will not be offended if you stop reading here and go do something fun on the Sunday evening of a holiday weekend - like make chocolate chip cookies or watch Golden Girls re-runs. But here's how it all went down:
Setting: Fleet Street after sundown. We had just finished a lovely Irish pub meal at a place called James Joyce Pub and we were walking down by the Inner Harbor - attempting to burn off some of that apple crostata (but a vain attempt). A parade of about 20 guys, all on crotch-rockets, all doing at least 30 mph, and all helmet-less came racing down Fleet Street, some on 2 wheels, some on 1.

Neal suddenly exclaims, "Oh my gosh! That guy just wiped out."
"What? Where??"
"Right there. He popped a wheelie and fell off the back" And sure enough, there he lay on the pavement, totally not moving. The police officer that was in hot pursuit of the gang, sirens blaring and tires squealing, didn't even look back. But several of the other bikers, stopped, looked at him and then made circling motions in the air to the others. I have no idea what that meant, but then they all took off on the 1-way street and the ones that didn't, loaded (or rather tossed with great expediency) their bikes into the back of full-size pick up trucks. And still the boy with the jeans and the white shirt lay in the middle of the street, not moving. My heart skipped a beat, and then it skipped several. I could NEVER be a paramedic. A lady jumped out of her car and rushed over, several on-lookers gathered around and someone began taking pictures with a very nice camera. That caused commotion as the woman chased the guy off, but not before he got shots...meaning some newspaper will be giving him a nice wad of money for what's on that Canon. And then a security guard showed up, more people stopped to look (yes, I'm sorry, I became one of them...I hate it when people do it - I think they look like lemmings...but there I was in all of my gawking). Someone in the crowd was a doctor..they moved him out of the street..more people stopped. Then the police showed up. He started to move and satisfied that I had not just watched a chalk outline in the making, we ventured on. But coming to the end of the pier, we had to turn back and walk past it all again. By that point, the ambulance had arrived and had loaded him, although the crowd had all but dispatched and many passersby simply wondered aloud with weak interest what had happened. The police guarded the accident scene.

Immediately after the accident, a middle-aged couple ran over to the guy (and really I mean older early 20's) in an effort to help. But one look and the husband shoved the wife away from the scene and they took off in a jog. When we walked back by, I understood why: they thought they had just witnessed a fatality and there was nothing they could do for him now. In the street was a pool of blood - from his head. They didn't see him move an arm or roll over to his side...but that was all probably going to be moot. He went off the back of that bike on his the daughter of a psychologist who specializes in traumatic brain injury, I can tell you that the chances of the ambulance leaving the scene with sirens on are slim. And you have to guard the scene of a fatality - because investigations must be done.

Tomorrow, someone living in Baltimore...maybe the Mount Vernon area...will read about the accident in the paper as they have a cup of coffee and sit in the park and mutter aloud "well that's a shame but he was being stupid in the first place without a helmet. Oh well..." Somewhere else, a mother will cry because he was all she had left. And his bad-boy buddies will meet at a bar and pour out a beer in his honor, saying how that was really too bad - but really making no direct correlation to their own behavior and mortality. I'm not saying that's definitely the case, I'm saying it's the most likely outcome...and if it doesn't play out that way, then he had better hit his knees, sell his bike and find his purpose in this world.

I obviously have a hard time coping with such outcomes, no matter how predictable. Some would say "one less idiot in the world"...I don't. I know that just because he's nobody to me, he's everything to somebody and what would I do if I lost my everything?

So, boys and girls: wear your helmet, keep both wheels on the ground, and find friends who will wait with you until the ambulance arrives.