Friday, December 30, 2011

Last Post of the Year

It seems as though I should have something profound to say.

It seems as though my thoughts should have coalesced into something meaningful.

It seems as though, having had 357 days to contemplate my fate, my brain should have come up with something.

It seems that way.  Unfortunately, the truth is somewhat different.

I am no closer to understanding why or how or what if.

I have no answers.

I cannot predict my mood from day to day, or, often, minute to minute.

I have no certainty.

Instead of relaxing in retirement I am busier than I've ever been.

Instead of anonymity I am a public figure.

Instead of a baby blog I have a robust readership and, perhaps, the germ of a book.

Instead of wallowing in self pity I have picked up my big girl pants and made lemonade out of lemons.

Instead of being a part of someone else's project, I have created my own.

I have met the President and the Sheriff and the Attorney General and the Director of the FBI. 

I have met Tucsonans of all ages and descriptions, and have been welcomed into their warm embrace.

I have learned to accept help with grace and to be alert to those who might need a helping hand.

I have found strength and room for growth as I watch those around me cope with my injuries.

I have rediscovered pieces of my psyche, hidden away for years, now blossoming as I open my heart to the waiting world.

I don't know what my life will look like next year or the year after that, and that is vaguely unsettling.

I do know that I am surrounded by love and compassion and kindness and generosity.

I know that I will move on, dragging baggage I never asked for, carrying dreams and plans in my gunnysack.


I know that today, and every day, is a good day because the sun came up and I was here to see it.... and you were with me, keeping me company as I figure things out.

HAPPY 2012, DENIZENS!
MAY IT BE FULL OF JOY AND WONDER FOR YOU ALL
Free Hea

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Tripartite Life

Big Cuter left this morning. I was up early for some snuggling and knee rubbing through the grey cashmere throw Carol's Girls sent last winter; I needed as much of my boy as I could get.  Went back to bed as the boys drove off to the airport and rolled over at almost 10.  Facing a kid-less house was not enticing..... nope, not at all.

I mailed the 15 pounds of holiday goodies which didn't fit in his suitcase, marveling at the heft of those new t-shirts and gym clothes.  I laughed as I noticed that, for the first time in a long time, I was not wearing an article of clothing I'd inherited from him..... in the 5th grade.... when we were the same size.  He didn't feel so far away  any more.

Not remembering that she was taking an extended holiday weekend from work, I wondered why Little Cuter wasn't answering my messages. When her reminder email arrived this afternoon, I could hear her laughing at my forgetfulness."Oh, Mama.... you are so silly... I love you."  Being a source of amusement to my daughter has been a near constant certainty since she was 11 years old; it keeps me grounded.  It was also exactly what I needed to get over her brother's absence.

Part one of my life - I'm a mom.

I spent the afternoon at a press conference announcing the outdoor activities planned for January 7th. I'm ambivalent about the media in general, and this afternoon in particular.  "Yes, I have spoken to a therapist.  No, I will not share what I learned. "  I had to be polite; I wanted the publicity for my event.

People recognized me and hugged me and were glad to see me again.  In my cowboy boots I was less uncomfortable than the women who had worn heels for the occasion.  Sneakers would have been better, or the very comfy looking black rubber soled boots the National Parks Ranger was wearing as she eloquently described the beauty that surrounds Tucson.

Standing on the pebbles for an hour was an exercise in not fidgeting; I am proud to say I acquitted myself admirably.  I used the time to stretch out of my hip joint and fell all my foot centers and as I channeled my pilates instructors I amused myself with the notion that, in fact, not much has changed.  I'm still multi-tasking, as I always did.

Part two of my life - I'm a public figure.

tmcaznews.com
It was a beautiful drive to Tucson Medical Center's Labyrinth. Situated outside their in-patient hospice unit, it exuded a sense of peacefulness and exploration.  I found myself gazing over at it as the afternoon wore on.

The press conference was held in the park adjacent to the labyrinth; the parking lot was on the other side.  The walk from The Schnozz to the folding chairs, on a paved path, a few hundred yards at most, should have been a non-event.

Instead, I found myself shaking - literally quaking in my boots.  No matter where I looked, there was not a security guard nor a police officer to be found.

I began by smiling at everyone I saw, asking "Are you a person who is in charge?"  No one was in charge.  No one could find my friend, the Executive Officer who has spent the last few months herding cats. No one could make me stop shaking.  I found myself huddled in a corner, with a trailer behind me, my eyes darting left and right and up and down, looking for someone who didn't fit, who might hurt me.  I tried to be unobtrusive, but I was shaking and it was kind of hard for people to ignore.

The ExO arrived and put me inside the trailer with a cordon of lovely women between me and the world.  We were all focused outward, until the TMC angel brought their head of security to my side.  He assured me that I had not created a problem, that they were glad to help, that the K-9 unit and several officers were now on site and as I began to breathe again I saw them, weaponry holstered but available, scanning the site and keeping me safe.

I thanked everyone and they said they understood.  But I don't know how that can be possible.  I barely understand it myself.

Part three of my life - the last time I went to an event like this I ended up with bullet holes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Hap-Happiest Time of the Year

Television programmers channel my wishes during the period of time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.  I can turn to any of the many movie stations fiber optically sent to my cable box and find something that I really want to watch.  For example:

http://tinyurl.com/755f6r7
Witness for the Prosecution was on this afternoon as Big Cuter and I returned from a fruitless attempt to secure running shoes (for him).  Una O'Connor never liked him anyway, but JES enjoyed the show as I found out when I checked Facebook and found this as his status: "Witness for the Prosecution: great, great film."


I love it when those I love are doing the same thing that I am doing albeit thousands of miles away.


iolakeatoncelebration.org
My Man Godfrey taught William Powell how to be humble and gave Carol Lombard a chance to give full flight to ditzy behaviors.  The notion of The Forgotten Man, living in the city dump in the 1930's, now foreclosed out of his too-big-for-my-budget home, is a timeless one, as is Eugene Pallett's long suffering father. 

My favorite part, though, is how effortlessly Irene corrals Godfrey into marriage.  Breezing into his office/apartment with a butler and a bag of groceries, her words are absurd, her actions ridiculous, her logic convoluted, and the marriage accomplished.  I'm left shaking my head and marveling at how nuttiness wins the day.
imdb.com

TBG was watching Sanka and Derice slide down the bobsled run as my favorite-except-for-all-the-cartoons Disney movie of all time, Cool Runnings, came on the screen as he was channel surfing.  There are so many many quotable lines - Sanka,  you dead?....I'm freezing my royal Rastafarian nay-nays off!....Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, its bobsled time!  -  but it's the faces in the bar back in Jamaica that really get me going. 


This is one of the movies that anyone in our family will sit down to watch at any time, and that has been true since it was released when the children were 8 and 10.

goodfellamovies.blogspot.com
The Maltese Falcon greeted me when I came out of the shower mid-morning today.  I can watch Humphrey Bogart comfort Effie for 10 seconds before she toughens up and gets back to work and feel stronger for the rest of the day.  We've all had our falcons, our desires that are just out of reach, things we've wanted but could never attain.  It's true that these are the stuff that dreams are made of.



aveleyman.com
vintageculture.net

Two of the three Howard Hawks/John Wayne western series  - Rio Bravo and El Dorado - kept me company over the weekend.  It's the same movie; the actors are interchangeable drill bits.  I love arguing about whether Ricky Nelson or James Caan is the better side-kick.  There is no doubt, however, that Walter Brennan's Stumpy and Angie Dickinson's Feathers steal the show.

There were more, so very many more.  But the kid is leaving in the morning and there is laundry to be done and packing to be considered and I haven't even checked out the tv guide to see what other gems are awaiting me. 

So much to do, so little time.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hanukah, Oh Hanukah

Amster let me use her house and her guest list.  All I had to bring were the supplies.  It's a shame that Little Cuter and Elizibeth aren't in town, but we somehow managed to soldier on without them.  It's Hanukkah in the Old Pueblo, and I am the mistress of ceremonies.

It started innocently enough, with Amster asking if I was making latkes this year.  Like most of my projects since January 8th, this party grew from family only to half the western hemisphere.  I'm not complaining.  I'm just sayin'.... as Big Cuter has opined from time to time this week.

Costco made dinner and provided the potatoes and the vegetable oil and I brought the cuisinart and the plastic bowl and every Hanukah decoration in my possession. It filled the back of the Schnozz.

Chanukah-themed Go-Fish, thanks to a timely gift from FAMBB, was a big hit. G'ma and the Littlest Little One kept one another amused while I peeled and sliced and shredded and Amster pretended to take the day off from work.  Neither player was quite sure of the rules. There was much discussion over whose turn it was at any particular moment.  G'ma was quite willing to share the colors in her hand and her opponent had no compunctions about indulging her generosity. It was lovely.

By the time the guests arrived the oil was heating and the dinner was nearly warmed through.  I was happily making a mess that someone else would clean up and Amster was merrily hostessing.  Wines were poured - I had three different glasses on the counter before me - and Kinect took over the living room.

Big Cuter showed up and found Mr. 8's chess game much improved.  Learning to recover from his mistakes is an issue in life as well as on the chessboard these days for Mr. 8; he's very much a work in progress.  The seriousness with which they approached the game warmed the cockles of my heart.  This will be a tradition for the two of them from now til forever; I can hardly wait until Mr. 8 can really compete.

After an hour or so of dreidle spinning  there were cookies and there were latkes.  Oh, my, were there latkes.  Applesauce and raspberry applesauce and sour cream and a smoked salmon spread were arrayed on the table atop Hanukah placemats .  Only the jelly donuts were missing.... I just couldn't drive all the way to Krispy Kreme.

There were kids of all ages and few of them were familiar with the dreidle or the menorah or the whole small-band-of-cave-dwelling-Jews-fighting-Greeks-on-elephants backstory to the miracle of the tiny bit of pure oil which burned for 8 days and nights until more could be prepared to permanently rekindle the Eternal Light.  I sent the two littlest girls out to look for the first star and when they returned, beaming and spinning and delighted that they had seen not one but two stars in the sky , it was time to begin.

The lights were dim and everyone was hugging or sitting on someone's lap or leaning onto a shoulder and my heart was overflowing.  I told them about my father's many cousins and the big holiday parties I'd attended when I was a little girl as I walked around the table making sure that everyone had a shamash (the beadle - to light the other candles and then take pride of place on the top) and then we did the math to figure out how many years ago this all occurred.  The story was told and the miracle recounted.  I promised to say the prayers in English and then in Hebrew.  We could sing the dreidle song..

It was time to light the menorahs. There were seven of them.  It was the 7th night of the holiday so each  candelabra held 8 candles.  It's a good thing that Amster's love is a firefighter.

The big kids retired to the living room. Beautiful Annie, mother of two wonderful boys, happily skipped down the hall with the Littlest Little One, returning after a while with their faces made up in the girliest of girly ways.  The grown-up conversation covered warfare with elephants from India to Hannibal through Alexander.  It was a fascinating night.

The children all came to say a proper good-bye, replete with thank you's and hugs or handshakes.  Several offered kisses, and no one forgot G'ma.  Then a special little girl sidled up to my chair with a request - would I tell her if the miracle happened and the candles kept burning even when they were done after she left?

It was a serious request and required a serious answer.  Certainly I would inform her in the unlikely event that the miracle happened again.  But it seemed to me that there was a miracle more likely to occur.  She might come upon a situation where it felt like she was fighting elephants.  If she remembered that small band of warriors, retreating to caves and then bursting forth with strength, then, in that moment, if she felt powerful, she was her own miracle.

I'd never had that thought before, but it felt right and she was listening so intently and then her mom picked it up and we were enveloped in the sense that even the smallest of girls might someday be a hero, might someday be braver than she imagined she could be.

There are all kinds of miracles.  Last night I created my own.  I wish you all could have joined us, denizens.

HAPPY CHANUKAH !

Monday, December 26, 2011

To Sum Up

We were happy to share Little Cuter and SIR with his family, though we missed her reading The Night Before Christmas last night.

Using pre-printed holiday boxes leaves a much neater living room on Christmas morning, although they present fewer opportunities for ridiculous wrapping by the boys of the family and thus fewer opportunities for giggles by the girl(s).

Holiday breakfasts of multi-grain french toast and crispy bacon are things of the past.  My guys heated up a frozen pizza and were quite pleased with themselves. 

G'ma enjoys gifting more than anyone I have ever known.  The 25 decorated candy canes for the caregivers at the pod castle were dispensed with such glee, such joy, such love and connection that I had a hard time not tearing up.

Asking for something you'd like to see me wear results in a full day of "Doesn't she look great?!"  This is a prompt I will remember for next year and anon.

Hoarding empty boxes for the might-someday-be-purchased-gift-of-an-unusual-size results in a full cedar chest and much aggravation.  Recycling them (thanks JannyLou and Fast Eddie for the use of your container) takes up a lot of space for Waste Management, but makes the storage chest a much more pleasant place.

Socks are wonderful gifts, but polka dot socks do not go well with polka dot sneakers.  Yes, I made myself pink polka dot sneakers.  I'm just that kind of a girl.

Finally, because the season and a bottle of wine (thank you, Rillito Nursery) has addled my brain, I stop typing and leave you with this picture of my girl and her nephew-to-be.  To me, this is what the holiday is all about - birth, love, family, children and love.

Happy Happy Joy Joy!

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Wishes for You

Shining lights reflecting the love in someone's eyes.

Twinkling lights illuminating ornaments hung with care.

Fragrant smells that evoke G'ma's kitchen.

Sweet treats made with you in mind.

Smiles and laughter and love.

Peace on earth and in your heart.

Kind words and warm thoughts directed your way.

Whatever you are celebrating, I wish you love and joy and gladness.

Fondly,
Ashleigh








Thursday, December 22, 2011

Good Folks

It must be the holiday spirit.  I cannot seem to find an unpleasant employee or an unresponsive business today. 

The lower rack of our dishwasher has the most inefficient set of wheels in existence today.  Held on by puny plastic clips, they tilt and swivel and collapse and fall off with alarming regularity.  They are found in the cavity of the machine as often as they are found sitting upright on their posts on the rack.  TBG is not amused.  Since he has taken over the chore of filling the machine and emptying the machine he has daily interactions with this damn rack.  It has begun to annoy.

Finding myself with a spare moment and needing to be at home to meet the window washer and the HVAC guy, I called GE.  Voicemail hell sent me to Monica.  Monica did not ask me to repeat anything I had already punched into the keypad.  Monica did not read from a prepared script.  Monica was there to help me.  She really was. 

Unfortunately, her good intentions and amazing investigative skills were not backed up by the authority to solve my problem.  She had to send me along to Customer Service, armed with the fact that I had an extended warranty.  Of course, that warranty, like all good warranties, seemed to have expired last month.  Wishing me luck, she transferred the call.

Sharon answered and was even better than Monica.  She agreed with me.  She understood me.  She was surprised and intrigued and annoyed with exactly the same things with which I was surprised and intrigued and annoyed.  She laughed with me about the broken-just-as-the-warranty-expires nature of my call, and wondered aloud why the wheels weren't attached to the new rack she was going to send to me.  We knew that my rack was functional; we are hoping that an entirely new assembly will somehow solve the problem.  The rack cost about $150 retail, $90 wholesale, $68 through their discounted promotion, but Sharon is sending it to me for free.  She's also sending clips and wheels.  She's not even asking me to pay for the shipping. 

She is authorized to be good to customers who deserve it.  It felt good to be included in that cohort, a fact which I mentioned on her supervisor's voice mail as I left a complimentary message.  Notice should be taken.

I need t-shirts for the Stroll and Roll and Jenn at CrossFit Now sent me to Starbuck Design .  They helped her last year when she created a fun run in 11 days.  They are doing the same for me, even reassuring me that I have plenty of time between now and January 7th.  In fact, Andrew thanked me for placing an order during their slowest time of the year.  After thanking me, he then agreed to comp some of the design costs.  He doesn't need all the information until next Friday, giving me the gift of time and the opportunity to solicit more major supporters.  He told me yellow is the most transparent of colors and the hardest to work with in printing but that if we added black around the edges.... well, you get the picture.  I just had to tell him my ideas and he's going to do all the rest.

He helped me with quantities and sizes and gave me a go-cup on my way out.... in my favorite color.  There was no attitude, no sense of being too busy to help, no intimation that my requests were more than he could handle.  He just kept smiling and saying "Okay."

I was in and out of his shop in thirty minutes, with a gift and a plan and no worries.  It was simply amazing.

I dropped brownies off at G'ma's gerontology office and the women behind the desk were as warm and effusive as ever.  We shared January 8th stories and G'ma stories and sure, we'll ask the docs if they will suppor the Stroll and Roll and then it was off to the grocery store where the stock clerk reached the box on the top shelf for me and the deli lady took me to the cold case to show me exactly which products she thought were better than the ones she had spied in my cart while creating my order. 

I got home to a phone call from Little Cuter, wondering why MOTG had received 2 bouquets of Christmas flowers, each bearing the identical note, each sent with love from me.  I opened my email to follow the trail and found a note offering 20% off on my next order because they had made a mistake.  A phone call brought me to Tom, who was certain that he could help me, even if I couldn't bring up the order amidst the chaos that was my inbox.  It seems that someone entered the wrong sku number and FedEx had noticed the discrepancy and alerted ProFlowers where another employee sent the correct bouquet on its way.

It's no wonder that MOTG and family were confused.  But Tom and I had the same advice - re-gift the tulips or put one bouquet in another room and feel the love that came with solving a problem before we even knew that one existed.

I was 5-for-5 and, if I add in the charming HVAC mechanic and Ernie and his fellow window washers I'm 7-for-7 in the perfect business department.  It's a lovely way to spend a day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ellfing


Elfing

I have no classes this week. Rome has fallen and Consciousness has been explored and the next month is filled with free time and the reading of novels.

Ah, would that that were true.

I arose this morning with the sun, checked emails and spoke to Little Cuter to ask about her comment on Tuesday's post. By 9 I was going full steam ahead, damning the torpedoes of aches and stiffness to power through the last of my elfing tasks. The tree is decorated and the detritus of that job is stowed in the third bay of the garage, awaiting the refilling and shelf stacking which will come all too soon. The Hanukah box is located and has been evaluated and the menorahs will be atop the counters come sunset. I have just enough candles to get the three of us through tonight's blessings, each with our own Hanukiah (the real name for the candelabra Jews light for the eponymous holiday).

There were dozens of brownies in snack bags awaiting their packaging and addressing. There were boxes awaiting shipping labels. There was cash to be gotten for the cleaning lady and laundry to be done to cover the boys' nakedness, but those tasks didn't fall under “Holiday Chores” and so were easily pushed aside. I was in full elf mode, and I was loving it.

I packed. I wrapped, I wrote. I padded and moved styrofoam peanuts from one box to another. Big Cuter was sleeping so I kept the holiday music to a dull roar, but Santa and Rudolph and the Little Drummer Boy kept me company as I worked.... albeit more softly than I would have liked. Little Cuter and SIR had another box of goodies to be shipped; I was less than creative with the gift tags this year. I hope they understand.

I usually amuse myself by carrying towers of flat rate USPS boxes from the kitchen to the desk where I create the mailing labels on the computer. I try to carry a taller stack with each trip, giggling as I teeter and the boxes totter as we cross the living room and turn the corner to the library. This year, sadly, my treks were constrained by my disability. Balancing boxes came after balancing myself.... and balancing myself was no mean feat.

Tree trimming and gift wrapping and house decorating have taken their toll. My hip is alive with the sound of crackling and creaking. Bending is more challenging and toting weight is becoming impossible. By 10 o'clock even reaching to the other side of the table for the packing tape elicited an expressive display of displeasure.

Still, I carried on.

The notes were already written and all the supplies were there. It was the assembly that was taking its toll. Twelve boxes and envelopes later, twelve printed shipping labels afterward, twelve stacked packages were ready to be delivered. I put the ones to be mailed into the big red bag and off I went.

I drove across Skyline and left goodies with Nancy's sister, then continued further east to Colonel Bill and Sallie. We hugged and chatted and I saw his trophies and medals and read the kind words which those who honored his heroism had written on plaques and in articles. There was laughing and story telling and many many hugs and then off I went, back to my Schnozz-sleigh. There was more to drop off.

Heading north on Oracle to Rancho Vistoso, I followed the they-all-look-the-same streets to Judy's house. There, we commiserated. Neither one of us is as healthy or fit as we were last year at this time, and that is really too bad. She's being treated and I am engaged in therapies and we both hope for the best but are aware of the worst, lurking in the distance. Neither of us can understand why others think we are remarkable; what else can we do but go on? I listened to her stories of administrative incompetence and oversights and she heard me out on family and friends. We would usually have these conversations on the hiking trail; it was a little sad to be doing it seated in her living room instead.

After inviting her to the Pity Party JannyLou and I host for those who need to whine about the unfairness of life but don't want to burden their loved ones, I hit the road again. Further west on Tangerine to a Meritage development and Donna and Ron's house. He's been ill and she went from caring for me to caring for him. I was looking forward to complimenting him on his recovery and to sharing brownies with her but, alas and alack, there was no one at home when the UPS guy and I arrived at their driveway. I left the bag of goodies inside their security gate and sighed.

I wonder if Santa feels the same way when he leaves the gifts but doesn't get to see the joy on the faces of the recipients. Poor Santa.

Then it was south on Thornydale to the post office at Magee. Unlike last Friday, when the line was out the door for both the counter and the Automated Postal Center, the scene was relatively serene. Parking wasn't an issue and other patrons held the door for me and my gigantic sack and even bigger box as we struggled through the door and into the lobby. An employee was assisting with the APC, but Randy, a fellow January 8th shootee, was there and flummoxed so I was his personal elf, explaining the screen and the prompts and ushering him through the experience in a flash.

We adjourned to the parking lot where we shared interview stories for a while and wondered when the interest in our intersection with bullets would subside. I invited him to the Stroll and Roll and agreed that January 9th cannot come soon enough and then we hugged and went our separate ways.

I should have gone to the used bookstore and the grocery store and I ought to get up and walk to the mailbox and see who sent us some more love. I should and I ought but I'm not. My gifts are mailed. My brownies are delivered. Family presents still must be wrapped, but that's a joy and not a chore. I'm going to sit here on the couch and listen to seasonal music thoughtfully provided by Comcast on my television set. I'm going to watch the sun cross the sky and remember that 11 months ago this day would have been impossible. I'm going to bask in the love I shared and received today. I'm going to smile at my son and let him rub my arm and tell me he loves me. I'm going to share dinner with my boys and not worry about a thing.

It's the holidays and I am ready to enjoy them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Praise or Dollars

Back in 1981,  TBG and I received our evaluations and raises on the same day.  He, working at Goldman Sachs (when it was an admirable place of employment), earned 10 times what I did at the hospital as a social worker.  We explained it thusly - HE was greed; I was social conscience.  It made for a perfectly lovely lifestyle.  We had enough to live on and extra to give away.  Good causes and dear friends and family were the beneficiaries of our munificence, and we smiled and expected nothing except the same in return.  It worked for us.

I always expected to live modestly.  Growing up, I knew no one who had more than anyone else.  My town was solidly middle-class, and while some had less no one had lots.  My dad owned his own business, so I never heard discussions of evaluations or compensation reviews or bonuses denied or delivered.  As long as people were buying his wedding dresses we had food on the table.  When they stopped, the business folded, but I was in college at that time so I missed the conversations about being an employee as he found other ways to support 3 kids and a wife.  I went into review season in 1981 without preparation.

I'd been disappointed before in the matter of raises; my first job out of graduate school was with an agency headed by a man who ended up in prison for embezzlement.  His assurance that my 1% raise was what my colleagues had received was shown to be a lie by lunchtime - his secretary revealed that her raise was 3% and that the assistant director's salary bump was 7%.  Of course, he was sleeping with the AD, so that may have entered into it. I was planning to leave the job a few months later, so I didn't complain.  The annoyance remained.

In 1981, though, I was working for a well-respected institution which had resources adequate to compensate its employees fairly.  Or so I thought.  Clearly, Goldman, Sachs & Co. had no restrictions on the number of dollars they were free to dispense to their favored employees, of whom my dear husband was one.  We were looking forward to a wonderful holiday season, financed by our employers.

We arrived home from work at the same time.  Zanner, our old friend, was waiting for us in our living room.  We were frowning when we walked through the doors.

Why?  He'd gotten a 30% raise on an already enormous salary, but no one had said a word about his performance.  The money spoke for the firm.  I had gotten a 3% raise on a miniscule salary, but I had heard glowing words and high praise from my supervisor.  I was poor but knew I'd been doing good work.  He was rich but knew not what his superiors thought.  We were both uncomfortable.
I felt under-valued.  He did too.  The words I heard, while thoughtful and kind, did not make up for the fact that I could not live the life-style I loved without my husband's contribution.  Sure, we had a joint bank account and all our money was considered our money, but most of me wanted to be an equal contributor.  A smaller piece of me was happy to spend what he earned, don't get me wrong.  But most of me knew that the inherent inequality of our incomes was bothersome.

He was delighted to have enough to pay down some of our mortgage and take a great vacation and help out his sister while feeling unloved and disrespected at the same time.  He wondered if anyone noticed the changes he'd implemented and the good hires he'd made.  He didn't know if his work was valued or if he, himself, was, either. 

And so, sitting at the dinner table, he looked at me and said, "I'd have taken less money and more commentary. You are so lucky! You know you are doing well."

I could only smile.  I think that I would've been very happy to have received a 30% increase. I would have managed to convince myself that they loved me because they were paying me what they thought I deserved.  My supervisor had assured me that if more money had been available I would have received it..... but I knew he wasn't talking about 30% more money.
When I hear about the discrepancies between the pay of CEO's and those on the line, when I listen to NPR recounting the bonus amounts dispensed on Wall Street, when I think about the salaries our teachers and our fire fighters draw, I go back to my dining room table on that wintry day 30 some years ago.

Some things never change.

What to do?  The only thing we can do.  Take some time this holiday season to write and tell a teacher or a social worker or a nurse or a police officer just how important she is to you.  Hug a crossing guard as you thank him for keeping your kids safe as they cross the street.  Remind the school secretary that her cheery greeting makes your morning more complete. 

It's not much, but it's something.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Snippets from Sunday

Brownies cannot be created without unsweetened chocolate squares so it was off to Wally-World for me today.  The drizzle hadn't started, I was finished in the gym, and it was too early for lunch.  The parking lot was empty; I parked right in front of the door.

I found milk for $1.57 a gallon and I smiled in the baking aisle as a mom showed her son how to comparison shop.  Someone recognized me and complimented me on my gait. We commiserated about cold and rainy weather's effect on old and achy bodies as I handed out cards for the Stroll and Roll and promised them pictures if they came over and said "Hi!"  The tree fit nicely in my trunk and Big Cuter attached the stand, carried it in, and straightened it up before snuggling back down into the corner of the couch, sharing football and brownies with his father.

It's a lovely lovely day.

When I'm asked for a status update I'm going to put this memory out there like this
I am back to having a normal life.
Of course, my normal life now includes chatty phone calls with NBC national news producers.
*****
JannyLou and Fast Eddie  packed up my decorations last year, as I was otherwise indisposed.  It's been a delightful adventure to open the boxes, carefully labeled and brimming with pink popcorn, to find what they thought should sleep with what over the intervening months.
*****
I'm toying with the idea of a themed tree.  My ornament collection is trending towards Santas, which is appropriately heathen for my tastes.  Little Cuter assures me that she still believes, and, because we've always defined Santa as love and joy and wonder and surprise, I do not doubt her word.

Big Cuter, on the other hand, figured out the scientific impossibility of delivering toys to all the little girls and all the little boys when he was in the first grade.  After carefully and quietly confiding the facts to me, he leaned in and whispered this admonition: "But don't tell The Little Cuter... she still believes and we shouldn't spoil it for her."


The look of love on his face was coupled with the emptiness reality had left in the wake of his belief.
*****
I tried to open a jar of nail polish this morning.  I used my hands.  I used a wrench.  I used the jar opening tool.  I failed.  My son's strong hands made short work of the task.

I knew there was a reason.I had children.
*****
I wouldn't say that I was scampering up and down the step-stool as I adorned the tree with strings of colored lights but the fact that I was going up and down unaided was cause for celebration.  After all, it wasn't that many months ago that lifting my knee off the couch pillows was a stunning occurrence.  The next time I'm recuperating I'm going to take more detailed notes on my physical progress over time.
*****

Friday, December 16, 2011

Snowbirds... Snowbirds.. Fly Away Home

I know, I know, I know.  I'm supposed to think of the good they do for the economy.  I'm supposed to focus on the fabulous restaurants which have developed to entertain them.  I'm supposed to smile at the tax revenues and civic good will and I'm trying, denizens, I'm really trying, but it's getting harder with each and every year.

We moved to Tucson in July.  No one is in Tucson in July.  There's a family member requiring a visit or a business trip which must be taken or a road trip that conveniently falls in the middle of the summer.  The roads are empty.  I wrote a post card that summer to a friend commenting on the fact that the infrastructure is there though the people are not. 

I was often the only car on a four-lanes-in-one-direction through street.  There was no need to speed; the road was my own personal property and I could tool along, enjoying the scenery, trying to figure out where I was.  No one cut me off.  No one drove 35 in the left lane in a 45 zone.  No one sat at a stop light admiring the green arrow but not turning as it requested.  No one was there to annoy me.

Come Thanksgiving, though, it's another story entirely.  My cousin Amanda warned me about "the tarantulas, the scorpions, the javelina and the elderly" when she heard we were moving to Tucson.  She was so right.  Just because you have existed on the planet for 9 decades, just because you can barely see through the steering wheel (forget about seeing over the steering wheel), just because you decide that it's your turn to go...... just because doesn't mean you'll be safe, or that I won't be screaming as I travel behind you.

I ask you, denizens - is it necessary to come to a full and complete stop before making a right turn on a green arrow at an intersection where the only other cars are behind you?  Apparently, those who sport Minnesota license plates think that it is a requirement.  It happened to me twice this afternoon.

I drove 56 miles picking up CTG butterflies for the caregivers at G'ma's pod-castle, dropping off checks and order forms for onion sets to plant in my raised bed next spring, being interviewed by the Associated Press and spending quality time with other January 8th'ers, spending an hour at pilates, pushing the world's heaviest cart through Costco, picking up prescriptions and garlic bread and taking the scenic route home.  I had the opportunity to see a lot of Tucson- the Foothills, midtown, the far east side.  I noted that our streets are in need of repaving and that our traffic cameras are quite annoying (I wonder if I was the one who was "flashed" at Grant and Kolb today) and that no one understands that slower traffic should move to the right. 

I know I am a dstractable driver.  I try to use the phone when I am not behind the wheel.  I spent today traveling behind others who would benefit from adopting a similar perspective.  If you are holding the phone with one hand and gesticulating with the other how are you steering your vehicle?

And then there was the woman with the phone in one hand and some kind of take-out food in the other.  No one is that busy. 

The construction in my neighborhood continues unabated.  Ashton Construction has left and a new company has taken their place.  Pavement seems to be optional as they rip up and re-direct generally make it impossible for me to do what I want to do when I want to do it without driving 5 blocks out of the way. The fact that the snowbirds have landed and are stupefied by the barricades and the flashing lights and the Keep Right Keep Left signs just make it more impossible to leave home.

Big Cuter arrives tomorrow.  My last Humanities Seminar is tomorrow.  I have one more round of packages that have to go to the post office but that is it.  I think that after that, I am staying in my house until after the new year arrives.  It's just too scary out there.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

His Gal Friday

My phone does not stop ringing.  My inbox is filled with requests and thank you's and more requests.  Everyone, it seems, is interested in me all over again.... that is, if the media is to be believed. 
Jewish tradition delays the unveiling of a headstone for a year... or 11 months... or after 30 days of mourning.... the point is that there is some precedent for commemorating anniversaries within my heritage.  Our family tradition was 11 months later, it seems to me.  The ceremonies were more private than the funerals; most of the mourners had moved on.
I, however, am in the center of a maelstrom of media madness because these people have not moved on.  That is to say, they are convinced that the rest of you are as fascinated with this story as they are, because at this point the beginning of January is shaping up to be a pretty boring news period and the Tragedy in Tucson headline draws viewers like moths to a flame.

I will say that the only ones who still call me are the ones who were polite.  I think I scared the rest of them off.
But "your friend, Amanda, from the AP" and I spent an hour on the phone today; the first 30 minutes just weren't enough for us.  Amanda embodies what I mean when I tell people that rather than being intrusive, good reporters are good therapists.  They ask the right questions and force you to think. 

Each caller has a different style, an unexpected perspective, an interesting take on an old question that stops me in my tracks.  I enjoy watching them work, trying to keep the connection on a professional-nearly-personal-but-not-friendly basis.  I like the experience of the interview itself.  I think of you, denizens, when I'm there.  I wonder how I can translate my astonishment that the managing editor of our NBC affiliate is delighted to make my acquaintance.  I mean, I know I'm special, but this is ridiculous.

Except that it's not.  It is real.  I spent the better part of an hour with our local NBC anchor today. The mother of two, she totally gets the Christina-Taylor piece of the story and I love listening to her ask the usual questions with real interest, as if she's never asked them before.  I want to give her a good answer and she wants me to succeed.  But my favorite part of the interview happened while the cameraman was shooting the B-roll, the shots that run behind the voice-over.  Before we turned the corner and entered the shot, she reached over and straightened my necklace. It was like hanging out with my girlfriends.

The good reporters make the connection without invading your space.

NPR fulfilled a dream by airing my voice on a segment of All Things Considered.  Though we spent a great deal of time asking and answering questions, most of what you heard was what I thought of as  throw-away comments.  He used the patter of my life instead of the formal pieces.  I think that's why I love the interview so much.  I sound like myself.  I recognize myself.

The Arizona Republic has been extraordinarily gracious in its coverage; did you know that I am an inspirational woman?  Imelda and I are dangerously close to bridging the gap between professionalism and friendship; she even has a blogonym.  But talking to her is like talking to Yoda - she really really listens.

I think that's what I get out of sharing my story with all and sundry.  People are listening.  I hear myself explaining the inexplicable, noticing that they are as interested in the silences as in the words.  Some things cannot be answered... not now, maybe never. The good reporters know that.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Genuine Hero

Apparently, one of the side-effects of being shot is the ability to judge children's photographs.  At least that's what Linda Solomon tried to sell me when we spoke last February. 
It's as odd to me now as it was then.  Yet, somehow, without my quite knowing exactly what was happening as it was happening, I found myself agreeing to meet her at an elementary school the following Tuesday afternoon.  This is a woman to whom it is impossible to say "No."

Getting there was no mean feat.  It required a driver on each end, prophyllactic pain control, dressing comfortably yet tv-apropriately, and finding footwear that would support but not burden me.  It required rearranging my nap schedule (do not laugh - naps are very healing) and insuring that someone would be home to accept our daily dinner donation.  I had to gather strength to hop with my walker all the way from the parking lot through through the front lobby and into the first conference room on the right.  At the time, that was an excursion requiring a nap in and of itself.

(Note to self re: healing plan - congratulate yourself on the fact that you can now circumnavigate the perimiter of the school, in the dark, without an assistive device, as proven while trying to leave after the Winter Fiesta last week.)

That story has already been told.  The photographs were made into greeting cards, the kids went on to other adventures, and Linda and I have kept in touch.  She flies in for a week or a weekend and sometimes there's a chance for lunch or dinner and one day I know we'll get to meet her husband, too. 

She loves Tucson as much as we do, and she's doing something about it.  Last month she was back in town doing a similar project for New Beginnings for Women and Children and last night she was smiling out of the tv at me, surrounded by grinning children.
Diane Sawyer was a natural for the lead-in to the piece on Linda, her camera, her smile and her love.  She got right to the heart of the matter - these kids, these homeles youngsters with fractured lives, want furniture and to go to college and to have a healthy mom.  But they also hope to make a difference and hope to give someone hope.  Diamond hopes to make my mm proud and Taeisha wants to get all good grades. 

And then there was the girl who took a picture of the University of California at San Diego, captioning it with her hope to go to college.  Linda got it in front of the campus's president and he was so touched, and she is so special, that the photographer has been guaranteed a 4-year scholarship to UCSD when she's old enough to attend. 

That only happened because of Linda Solomon.

The next time someone tells you that one person cannot make a big difference, send them here to read this.
She gave an otherwise unattainable treasure to a young person.  The ripple effects make me shiver to consider.  The college president can feel good about himself and his school.  The mother's delight as she hugged her daughter while murmuring "You can go to college. You are going to college," is an image I'll hold onto for a long long time.  That student will carry with her the knowledge that someone thought she was worthy.  And I can bask in the glow of knowing someone special.
That would be Linda Solomon.  She is my hero.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Late Afternoon Blues

When Big Cuter was 4 months old we signed up for a Mommy and Me class.  It was self-preservation on my part; the class was held from 3:30-5pm.  Appropriately, it was named The Witching Hour Class.
 
Unless I'm on a beach surrounded by those I love, late afternoons are my sorriest time of day.  I can rev up again around dinner time, but you really don't want to be around me as the day is winding down. 

It's winter-time here in the desert southwest, which means I have 6 weeks to wear all my woolens and all my jackets and all my sweaters before teh temperatures wend their way back up to the 70's by February.  It was in the 50's this afternoon; I wore pants, fleece lined boots, a flannel long sleeved shirt and a polar fleece jacket.  I seriously considered bringing my gloves and my hat.

The rain filled the garbage can as it stood, lid flapping helplessly, banging against the container, as the storm went on and on.  The recycling can had been blown over by the wind; I really do need two good legs to right a heavy, unweildly item. I did it, but it wasn't easy.

In junior high and high school, the 4-6pm time slot would find me next door, on the floor, in front of the tv with my 2-years-older-cousin, watching Million Dollar Movie and observing her careful perusal of the latest shades of nailpolish displayed on the inside cover of Seventeen Magazine.  Nobody argued in her house.  Nobody had any expectations of me.  It was as close to peaceful in the late afternoon as I ever remember feeling. 

For a while I filled the time with exercise classes.  I remember Jacquie telling me to smile, that my grin would make the time fly by.  I still noticed every one of the 60 minutes of aerobic flailing, but I looked like I was having a good time.  It was a charade.

Working full-time, often til 6pm, the late afternoon was generally a time to clean up my desk and prepare for the evening's entertainment.  Lately, I have been trying to avoid my 5 o'clock blues by opting for a similar regimen.  The lady who organized my desk reluctantly agreed to a square inbox to collect bills and other items which must be dealt with but which will take more than 2 minutes to file/pay/fill out/mail/read.

I am trying to spend this part of the day working through its contents.

Of course, the cocktail to the right is a big help.

The next time my kids give me grief for being so cheery early in the morning, I'll remind them of my grumpy late afternoon self.  It's all a matter of perspective, I think.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Plan- Too Bad

I do better when I have a plan.  I like to know where I'm going and how I'm going to get there.  Change my plan and watch the steam come out of my ears..... unless I'm crying and my tears distract you.  I love the anticipation, living the plan,  almost more than I love the actual event - no matter what the event might be.

I've spent the past 11 months expecting to be limp-less on January 8.  Really, it was more of a firm belief than an actual plan.  I just knew that after a year I'd be recovered..... fine..... moving on...... unstuck.

Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men ......

I'm definitely the mouse in that equation.

After 11 months of physical therapy, weight training, stationary cycling, acupuncture, massage and pilates, the only thing I know for certain is that my right leg is shorter than my left leg.  It took me 10 months to accept that fact, 10 months to decide to have the cobbler put lifts in my cowboy boots because velcro-and-the-movable- lift didn't work and my leg wasn't getting any longer.

As the cobbler reminded me, I can always have him take it out.  Until then, leg length won't be the reason I'm listing and lurching.  Reluctant as I was to admit that some of the damage might be permanent, acting on the facts was bizarrely relaxing.  Of course, a piece of that might be the fact that wearing my boots always makes me happy.

But the undeniable, unequivocal, absolutely without a doubt fact of the matter is that when there's a wedge under my right heel my hips rest more evenly, approximating a parallel line to the ground beneath me.  This was not the plan.  Nope, definitely not the plan. It's been hard to absorb.

I was assured that my legs would be of equal length after the hip surgery.  I don't remember much from those early days in the hospital, but I have a clear memory of discussing this issue with the surgeon.  I told him that I did not want to lurch like my father did, that I did not want to have lifts put in all my shoes, that I wanted my legs to be the same length.  He heard me and said I needn't worry. He held to that ideal until my 6 month check up when he measured them, sighed, and agreed that there is a half inch differential.

I know that medicine is more of an art than a science.  I'm not angry with the doctor.  I know that this was not his plan, either.  He's an extraordinarily precise man.  I know he did his best.

All that knowledge did not keep me from slipping down the slippery slope of my recovery, landing me harshly and painfully at the intersection of despair and disgust. I was shorter.  I hurt.  I had no stamina.  I was still limping.  This was not my plan.

I had told everyone I met that I would get better, that I would heal, that their sympathy was better directed to those who lost loved ones.  That would never get better.  I expected that by now, 3 weeks away from the one year anniversary of my encounter with weaponry, 300plus days of recuperation later, by now I would be fine.  I'm not fine.

My plan has been blown up.

Too bad, kiddo. 

That's what I've come to....resigned myself to....reluctantly accepted.... NO!  It is too bad that this is still going on.  It is too bad that I limp.  It is too bad that my recovery requires constant vigilance and will never truly end.  But too bad is the reality and it's not really that bad at all.

My children have their mother.  My husband has his wife.  Yesterday, Elizabeth sounded just like the Cuters as she shhh'ed me and hustled me out the door of a store where I was, apparently, behaving in an embarrassing manner.  I smiled to myself, and was consciously grateful that I could walk and talk and humiliate a teenager with my personality and my words, all of which flowed freely.

I'm a lucky girl, even if it's too bad that I'm not perfectly healed by now.

So, denizens, I have formed a new plan.  At TBG's suggestion, I am no longer announcing that I will be limp-free on January 8th.  It may take me a few more weeks, or months, but I will get there.  And if I don't get there, if arthritis interferes, if I need a bigger lift or a cane to keep me even, well then, I'll adjust to that, too.

My plan?
My lot in life is not bad; it is too bad.
I will accept the "too" and embrace it.     
Too bad equates to a fixable state.
I am here to make a plan.  That, in and of itself, is something that has begun to dawn on me as a truly remarkable thing.  Ever since that drive down Ina Road when I said aloud "I've been shot" and felt the reality course through my body like a living thing, ever since then I have marveled at the fact of my existence.

And it occurs to me that the rest of the world might be feeling the same way, too.  As I've noted before, this story has legs.  It does not go away.  People care, no matter if I think they should or not.  They do and that's a fact.

In the beginning, I welcomed the warmth and the attention.  Lately, it's been feeling intrusive.  That's counter-productive.  My plan also includes the following reminder to myself:
Allow myself to accept the love.... to be healed by the love.
That's my plan and I'm stickin' to it.
 
 

Friday, December 9, 2011

GRINNING at Prince's Winter Fiesta

In the aftermath of January 8th, I created a non-profit.  Of course, since it takes up to 9 months to process the paperwork to become a 501c-3, right now all I really have is a group of wonderful volunteers, a name, and a website
Kathleen,  Wonderful Volunteer
We were helping out at a Winter Festival, and we were properly attired.... blinking necklaces included.
Martha & Sherry, Wonderful Volunteers
We were staffing the craft table, making peppermint candy bows with painted hand prints.
Roseanne & Larry & Sherry (again), more W.V.'s
A/B agreeing to be photographed.
Some of us were more enthusiastic than others. 
Notice the little dance step.

We were having a really good time.
The third graders were exactly the right age for this
project
.

Younger ones needed more assistance.
Let us help
Do I really have to do this?
Sometimes they needed Larry and Mom and Dad and Dad.

Some didn't want any help at all.
It seemed to run in the family.
Some just wanted to watch mom coloring.
And so, she colored, back and forth, left to right, staying within the lines.
And while she colored she told how she colored like this when she was in the third grade.
There was a lot more than crafting going on.

There was pure joy.

There were doting big brothers who were willing to color right next to you.

There was time for chit chat.

Someone asked the face painters to immortalize her love for her music teacher.

And someone was bored by the whole thing.

Grandparents in Residence was designed to foster inter-generational mentoring.
I'm thinking this might be my poster.

What we do is serious work.... just look.

It's also filled with quietly wonderful moments like these.

Look at that smile.
I find it impossible to be sad when I am in the presence of such precision.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Healing 101: Hanging with the Boys

With 5 different family caregivers unavailable, my presence was required after school today.  There's nothing that could have pleased me more.

I've been grumpy and limping and not sleeping well at all.  Friends and professionals and professionals who are friends have all been reminding me that anniversaries are hard. They reassure me that the feelings are natural and that I shouldn't be surprised by their intensity.  I suppose that should help.  It doesn't.

As the months passed, getting shot felt further and further away.  Suddenly, it feels like yesterday.  I don't know why.

Is it that the last time I put out the holiday decorations I was lifting heavy boxes from the top shelf of the cabinet in the garage? Is it that there's snow on the mountain and last year at this time my 6am alarm would have sent me to the Pima Canyon trailhead to see how close to the flakes I could get?  Is it driving past the Reid Park Zoo this morning, thinking back to the Cornell Club outing last Fall with the Crayola kids, CTG hiding inside the dinosaur egg, feeling invisible and giggling at the foolishness of it all?

Or is it that this year I am struggling to move the poinsettia from one side of the living room?  Is it that my alarm got me up for a planning meeting and an acupuncture appointment and that hiking is impossible right now?  Is it that Christina won't be joining her brother and me when the Cornell Club takes us to see the new elephant exhibit this year?

Could it be that the calls from Channel 9 and the Arizona Star and the Arizona Republic and NBC must be returned?  Could it be sitting on a director's chair, talking to a blank camera, unresponsive and cold looking back at me, as the producer's instruction to "just say what happened that morning" was stuck in my throat?

Why do the opportunities, the invitations, the requests feel ghoulish now?  Eleven months ago the answers were news. News...  something new. Today, there are no new facts to reveal.  Today, there are still 6 dead and 13 wounded.  Today, our recovery is of interest only to ourselves...... or so I'd hoped.

Those reporters and producers?  They all start with the same general statement: they cannot believe that this story still has legs.  One went so far as to ask me if I thought that she should use the story. All I could tell her was that she was not the only person who was asking.

As Mark Kelly describes Gabby's recovery moving to weekly rather than daily changes, I feel reassured.  The pace has slowed down here, too.  It's comforting to know that I'm not alone.  On that level, injured human to injured human, I'm glad the question was asked and the answer televised.  It helped me.  What unnerves me is the lack of acknowledgement that the question is intrusive.

Healing in public is often supportive.  Strangers take delight in my progress.  Smiles greet me as I open the door for myself.  I am my own harshest critic, and my limp betrays me.  Rehab is hard and it hurts and the progress is slow and painful and success is not guaranteed.  How am I?  I really don't know.  I am wondering where I've gone. Where are you? is probably the better question.

So this afternoon, when Mr. 8 rode his plastic pedi-car into my leg and laughed as he oops-ed and rode away without any thought to the fact that bullets had gone through the appendage he was using to play bumper cars, this afternoon when I was nothing more than myself, when I was the grown-up and thus all powerful, when being damaged wasn't in anyone's consciousness but my own, this afternoon I felt just fine.

No one wondered how I was feeling.  No one wondered where I was.  They knew the answer without being asked - I was their Suzi and I was helping them make dinner.

How am I?  I think I'm getting back to normal.  Just ask the boys.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why I Stayed at Home

Mark Kelly is in town tonight.  He'll be talking about his book, and selling the book, and signing the book. He's being interviewed by Ted Robbins, my friend from NPR, the one who put me on All Things Considered.  It's being held at Centennial Hall, on the UofA campus, and the tickets are free. 

I'm staying home.

Several friends invited me to join them, and were gracious when I declined.  Tickets were held for me and I turned them back.  Home delivery was offered and still I said "No."  I'm taking care of myself tonight.

As TBG reminded me, I'd asked him to record Diane Sawyer's interview with the Kelly's last month. They were inspiring at a time when I needed a bit of a push.  Now, weeks later, I still haven't seen it.  .

Yet I'm carrying the image of Gabby's smile in my heart each and every day. When I resist getting up from the  couch, preferring to moan and ask for help, I think of Mark encouraging Gabby and I get up and get my own damn drink.  I don't like it, but I do it.  It's the right thing to do.  Both of our husbands tell us so.  We're lucky to have them, although it doesn't always feel like the blessing that it is.

Every once in a while it's nice to be able to whine.  I have the words to do that.  Gabby doesn't.  I cannot imagine what that must be like.  Typing to you, talking to my friends, reassuring my family,.. I am an active participant in all of it.  Hearing myself say it aloud, whatever it may be, takes the edge off... just a little... enough to make it bearable when it feels like my head is going to explode.

Sometimes the tears just don't stop coming.

I was worried that  knew that listening to Mark would be hard.  Hearing him talk about flying to Gabby's side, describing  his pride in her accomplishments, his rueful smile when he tells the audience that Gabby used to do most of the talking in their house and that now..... well, denizens, tears would be the least of it for me.  When I heard him say it on tv last month I was gasping for air.

I'm just not ready to do that in public.  I don't know if I ever will be ready to do that in public.  There are certain pieces of this event which can be typed to you, who choose to be here, who've watched this unfold, who know me.  I can't put it out for the world to see.

There is no way on God's green earth that I could be within 100' of  Mark Kelly tonight and not begin to cry.  He sat with me in my hospital room.  He hugged my husband and I watched them draw strength from one another.  He and My True Friend discussed space travel at more than a casual level.  When I think of that I return to my damaged self, in bed and en-pillowed and drugged, surrounded by love in the first few days after my brush with violence, aching in my body and my soul, feeling such loss and such devotion .....

I'm typing through a veil of tears. It's misty, not drippy, kind of blurry and definitely the cusp of something much bigger and deeper.  If I'm going to let it out, it's not going to happen in front of 3000 people and an astronaut.

I'm doing just fine, snuggled next to TBG on Douglas, typing to you.

That's why I stayed at home.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Decorating Has Begun

I went with the big white poinsettias from Costco this year.  
They were at the top of the rolling shelf and I got them down myself.
That alone makes them gorgeous in my eyes.
I took your advice and repurposed the ice bucket with the smashed lid into a plant holder.
This amaryllis is from last year. 
It has been living on the edge of the bathtub since the bloom faded last February.
Just a little bit of water perked it right up.  

The Santas are at the table, wondering where the food is.

This see-saw Santa's left most of his reindeer behind.... just ask any 4 year old.

I seem to be developing a small but significant collection of ugly reindeer

I'm noticing a Santa theme this year.
I'm feeling smug about buying a dozen red tapers at the grocery store when they were on sale for $1 each.
It was lovely to have brand-new-just-what-I-needed-when-I-needed-it.

As Santa's hangin' out above the big screen, I wish you


this year and always.

Monday, December 5, 2011

How I Feel About Sundays

The girl in the commercial was outraged - a boyfriend had the audacity to tell her that Sundays are for football.

My kids reacted predictably.  Big Cuter's "Damn right!" came just before his sister's dismissal of the woman's entire premise.  Ignoring the fact pattern, she went to the heart of the matter. "She knew that about him and she's still with him? Whose issue is that??"


There, in a nutshell, is how I feel about Sundays.

I totally get it - the NFL garb and the special snack/seat on the couch/lucky towel clutched feverishly as the game does or does not go your way.  The decibel level is the same, whether they're winning or losing.  Only the intonations vary. Everything is analyzed, reviewed, considered and filed away in the brain-box which holds the other crucial pieces of a game played by others decorated with laundry that appeals to you.  You care about it and I can respect passion.

Just don't ask me to share it.  I learned enough to be a pleasant companion on the couch.  I understand the basics and have some valid opinions every once in a while.  But I really don't care.  I loved the Bears in the early 1980's
 
but they were winning and delightfully naughty (remember when bad behavior meant wearing an unapproved head band?) and fun.  I can usually cheer for the home team, but we've moved so much and I care so little that my enthusiasm is somewhat less than full-throated.

I like being able to straddle the divide.  Sitting next to rabid fans is the perfect combination of being with the ones I love while not being disturbed by the ones I love.  In my chair, typing to you, feeling their energy but only as background to the conversation you and I are having - it's pure heaven for me.  Everyone is happy.  

Hiking on Sundays in Marin, leaving after yoga from the World Gym parking lot, tooling up Mt. Tam with Ms. Nancy, I knew that the 49'ers were in good hands with my guys watching their every move.  Right now, TBG is on the edge of his seat, clenching and unclenching his hands, willing the ball into the receiver's hands. I'm smiling at him, thinking loving thoughts, and he's totally oblivious of my delight.

And then the ball is tossed and caught and the runner escapes tackle after tackle, picks up his defenders, cuts left, nearly falls and then scampers the rest of the 52 yards to cross the goal line and fall flat on his face in the end zone.  I sensed the extra energy and looked up in time to see almost the whole thing and by the end both of us were yelling and waving our arms in the air.

And now I'm back with you.  

Compromise.  A willingness to learn enough to be amused.  Respect for the other's point of view.  It works in our house.  

(Should I be obvious and extend the analogy to Congress?)  

Friday, December 2, 2011

Newt-mentum

Newt Gingrich is the bachelor party; Mitt Romney is the wedding.   
Thus saith CNN.  
Perry lost on ability not personality,
the Republican strategist continued.  There was also some mention of back surgery gone awry and implanted stem cells which didn't alleviate the discomfort but I wasn't paying that much attention to the words because I was stuck on the image of a potential President of the United States of America being likened to a bachelor party.

What have we come to?

I don't care if he buys his wife nice jewelry or if he takes lavish vacations; living well is the best revenge, after all. What worries me is his moral character.  The Washington Post debunked the deathbed divorce papers story, saying the discussion was no surprise to either party and that
Gingrich’s marriage to Battley had been troubled for many years before it dissolved 31 years ago, both parties have said.
So, she was neither hurt nor dead.  That was good news.  The bad news is the rest of the paragraph:
Battley, who is seven years older than Gingrich, had been Gingrich’s high school math teacher in Columbus, Ga. They began dating after he graduated and were married in 1962, when Gingrich was 19 and a freshman at Emory University in Atlanta ...
I wonder what his parents thought about that.

Thrice married and financially profligate - these are only the pieces that are reported.  Say what you will about President Obama's failure to fulfill the dreams of the left within an hour and a half of being elected, no one questions his character.   He rolls his eyes at the Kardashians and his children don't have Facebook pages.  He's married to an extraordinarily impressive woman and he knows how lucky he is to have her.  He has dinner with his family every night that he's in town.  He respects his mother-in-law.

I have no doubt that Speaker Gingrich is an intelligent man.  He has a professorial air and great hair.  

That's not enough for me.  
********
I could go on and on about Newt, but I'm watching pictures of Hilary Clinton and Aung San Suu Kyi and I can't stop smiling.  Mrs. Clinton can't seem to let go of  her hand... I can feel the admiration.... it's a much nicer place to be than contemplating the Republican presidential field.

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