Posted in family, friendship, fun, kids, Life, love, parenting, People, random, relationships

The Family Dinner

family

Last weekend, I made dinner for my “little” family, (Vegetable Lasagna, in case you were curious, and YUM) which consists of my 17 year old daughter, Aisley (which we pronounce i-lee, because I wasn’t hip to Gaelic pronunciation way back when she was born, though we found out later that it is supposed to be pronounced Ashley- but at a certain point, it just isn’t realistic to change the spelling and/or pronunciation of a person’s name), my 3 year old daughter, Camryn (because it looks more feminine, that’s why) and basically, Dylan, who is Aisley’s boyfriend, but you rarely see one without the other. Thankfully, I like him, or this could potentially be a nightmare.

It was wonderful. While we ate, I thought about how nice it would be if there were people there (besides Dylan) that I didn’t actually give birth to, people that were, you know, around my age. Or at least were required to love me due to our long, complicated histories…you know- FAMILY. The main problem with this idea is that I don’t have any actual family here anymore, if you go strictly by the “Sharing DNA” rule. Thankfully, I do not subscribe to all that hooey, and have a vast number of slightly younger people to whom I have insinuated myself into their family via breeding. I know this sounds weird, but it’s basically the truth- I never married Aisley’s dad (My spell checker keeps telling me I have spelled my daughters name incorrectly, and last time I almost believed it. Damn it.), but I did marry (in my heart) his gigantic gaggle of brothers and sisters. I lived with them when I was pregnant with Aisley, and at that time, there were still six of them at home, not including the two parents. Yes, SIX. At HOME. There were actually two more that were old enough to leave, one of them being Aisley’s dad, the other being the aforementioned Andrea, with whom I am privately very competitive with.

In that crazy house lived Matthew, Meghan, Amanda, Hannah, Noah, and Zane. Their parents, who I grew to love like my own folks, were Jim and Valerie. I had spent the bulk of my growing up years in a tiny and tense family consisting of my mom, me, her insane ex husband, and my little brother. Then, when they split up, my brother was only three, and he lived with with his dad part time. Eventually, and much to my mother’s horror, he went to live with his dad full time, leaving just her and I. Of course, by the time I was 15, I was rarely home- and by rarely home, I mean, I would run away for weeks at a time, being as how I was the WORST teenager in the history of the world. Sorry mom. My point is, by the time the Davis family got me, I was totally unused to things like: Noise, chaos, yelling, massive food shortage’s, group sleeping arrangements, and families that throw up a lot. I also came to them fully able to go to the store on my own, and left there with a compulsive need to take someone with me everywhere I went. But they welcomed me into their family with open arms, and very few questions, and I was 21, scared to death, very pregnant, and alone. They were exactly what I so desperately needed. They accepted me as I was, they made me feel safe, and they came to love me. That’s not the kind of thing you just forget.

So, when I moved in, Matthew, the oldest, was a junior…maybe a sophomore in high school. Meghan was in middle school, and the rest were in elementary school, still. Zane, the baby, was only six. He towers over ALL of us now, but he is only a few years older than my oldest daughter ( how weird is that?). My point with all of this is- if that is not family, I guess I don’t know what is. These are the people who have shared years and years of my life. I have watched them grow up.

So, I invited all of them to come have dinner at my house last night. I was feeling isolated, lately, and I wanted that family connection. I posed the idea to them in our secret Facebook group, and everyone (well, lots of them) said yes. So, I went and bought a deep fryer and decided on fish tacos, and…Well. In my head, it looked slightly different. In my head, I warmly invite them into my spotless home, where dinner is totally prepped, and the taco garnishes are displayed artfully in bowls on the table, near the freshly cut flowers.

What actually happened, though, is that, for some reason (see yesterdays blog to help clear this up) I totally procrastinated until like one in the afternoon, which was four hours before dinner was set to start. I wanted to get started, I really did- mentally. Physically, I just wanted to watch TV. I think I need to get rid of my cable. But anyway, at one, I started cleaning my house in earnest, not realizing until then just exactly how filthy it really was. I managed to finish it with an hour to spare, which I spent frantically chopping up cabbage that no one really gives a shit about putting on their fish tacos anyway. Live and learn.

By the time Terry and Meghan got here, I was pretty much done. Except for the part where the fryer was still in the box. And I didn’t know how to use it. And I forgot to put on make up or comb my hair, and my clothes were covered in batter, sweat, and bits of cabbage. So Terry fried the fish for me, and I heated up tortillas old school (on the open flame of my gas stove), and pretty soon, my house was filled with Matt and Jenny, Kiera and Taj (their beautiful kids), with Meghan and Terry, and their lamp-eyed, gorgeous baby, Maverick, and then Noah came with his beautiful wife Ali (and I am not just saying that because she brought a huge platter of homemade peanut butter chocolate cookies and then LEFT THEM HERE, either.) And it was loud, and the kids were watching Frozen, and Taj, who is six, pretty much wanted to be anywhere else, but he was a good sport about it, and everyone laughed and told stories…and it was GOOD.

It was so good. And I am so grateful to be lucky enough to be part of it, to be part of their lives. I have watched them grow up, and they have loved me in spite of all of my shortcomings, and my feeble little human problems. Yep. If that is not family, I guess I don’t know what is. I LOVE you guys.

Posted in Addiction, family, Goals, inner peace, Learning, Life, Musings, random, relationships, Uncategorized

The Start of Something Beautiful

peacekey

 

The week before last, I quietly celebrated five months clean. This isn’t one of the milestones celebrated in 12 step groups, or anything I necessarily was even that excited about- although, hopefully, it IS my last time celebrating this particular anniversary…But I am watching the time tick by, and I am feeling the changes here on a very deep level.
This is not like any other time for me, so far. The very landscape of my life is changing, and for once, it is me at the helm, directing this change, not just things that are happening to me. I am working hard to become something more, and someone different, than I have been.
This has been a very introspective time for me, as well. I have not been writing for my blog at all, or anything else much, either. I have not been doing a lot of social networking, or networking of any type at all. My phone has been relatively silent. My pace has slowed down. The initial need to go out and grab life by the elbow- to DO everything, to be a whirlwind…I suppose I satisfied that need, for now. I am relishing this quieter pace, and it goes hand in hand with the work I am doing on me.
I have stopped yelling as much, and started listening more. I have learned to see the signs that I am growing impatient, and then what to do to calm myself. The world, and most importantly, the people (and animals) in my home and directly involved in my life have responded to this like I can’t believe. I am so much better at being present for my kids, listening when they speak, and participating fully in my interactions with them. An unexpected side effect of this is that I am learning how to play with my little one again when and how SHE wants to- not just on my crazy, inappropriate (usually) whim.
There is a domino effect going on here- I made the initial decision to get clean, but what I was really saying to the Universe was “I am ready to be better”, and when I continued to stick to my guns, that was my commitment to myself. Since that day, things continue to improve, although there are days where I feel like my footing is not as firm, days when I am still afraid. For the most part though, it gets better and better.
I am getting rid of the clutter around me and the clutter within me. I am getting rid of the excess. There are less things I feel I need to give my time to, and I am concentrating on the things I value most- my home, my kids, myself. I pay attention to the way things make me feel, and I let that be the deciding factor in how much time I am willing to invest in it. If it makes me feel pinched, stressed, obsessive, weird or ashamed- it gets taken off the list. If it makes me feel accomplished, proud, happy, peaceful, calm or content- it goes to the top of the list. Of course, there are always going to be things I HAVE to do that might not feel good, but I am just doing them and leaving them alone, not wasting a bunch of time worrying about it.
I am meditating every day. I am praying every day, more than once. I am not even considering being in a romantic relationship that even approaches seriousness right now- I can’t imagine complicating my life that way at this time, and feel it would be a terrible disservice to me, and to anyone I was with. I want to be with my kids, I want to go to meetings, I want to do step work, I want to enjoy what I have right now.
What I have right now is peace, quiet, calm. I feel like this is the beginning of the whole rest of my life, a life that will be something far greater than I expected, and far different. I’m sorry if I am not describing it very well- I think I haven’t yet learned the language of this experience. It feels like the start of something beautiful.

Posted in beauty, family, friendship, kids, Life, People, random

And Out of the Woodwork, They Come…

courtesy of Francesca Miller
courtesy of Francesca Miller

The bulk of my days, Monday through Friday, are spent working, or getting ready for work, or doing all of the things we have to do once work is over. When I am not doing those things, I am generally doing a short list of other important things that never seem to end, in rotation. Things like: Figure out what to make for dinner; Go to the grocery store because there is nothing to make for dinner and/or we are missing one or two vital ingredients needed to make dinner, and/or we need milk. We always need milk. Clean up the house; Try to spend some quality time with one or more of my children; Try to spend quality time with my dog. Run BACK to the store because we are out of cat food. We are always out of cat food. Try to fit exercise in there, somewhere. Wash some clothes- we are ALWAYS out of clean clothes. Go to bed.

As you can imagine, this doesn’t leave a ton of time for cultivating and sustaining friendships. At least, not the kind you want to have when you find yourself with a sick child in the hospital on a gorgeous day at the end of May. Which is exactly what happened to me the other day. See, my little child has a tendency to react in an alarming way to what would be an inconsequential bug bite on most people- she gets all puffed up and swollen in a way that her infectious disease specialist has succinctly described as “weird”. So, this time, when we went to the ER, they decided that we couldn’t go home, like we usually do. We had to stay, be admitted, get some IV antibiotics into my awesomely brave little peanut.

Which would have been fine…except- I have another child out wandering the world without her cell phone, who had no idea what was going on. Even if she did, I didn’t have anyone to come stay with her, and once I did reach her, she refused to come up and stay at the hospital with me. To make matters even more lovely, I started my period in a heinous way ( need I say more, girls?) which may or may not have contributed to my gloomy perspective on things.  Oh yeah, also, I did not have my phone charger, so my phone went dead in what seemed like a matter of minutes. Well, about five seconds after I posted something like “I am alone in the world. I hate everyone.” as my Facebook status. I know, I know- it even sounds melodramatic to ME, now. But at the moment, that was how I felt.

We were moved from the ER to an inpatient room about seven thousand years later, and we both, baby and I, fell asleep in her big old hospital bed (after she got tired of pressing all of the buttons and beeping the nurses station fifty seven thousand times- sorry about that, nurses!) about seven in the evening. When I woke up in the morning and plugged in my laptop, I was amazed at the number of people who responded to my sad-sack status.  The number of private messages from friends wanting to know what was wrong, and how they could help, was even more staggering.  By nine o’clock that morning, I had two good friends there willing to hang out with my child (who was under quarantine, no less) so that I could go grab some coffee and hide in my car for a cigarette. Before that, I had my boss there, as well as another co-worker on her break, and so many other people who were willing to come if I just said the word. And did I need anything else? Food? Baked goods that were so yummy (thank you for the chocolate banana croissant, girls) they could barely be categorized as food? Then, of course, our beloved Donna, without whom I really don’t think I could survive, came, and I got to go home, shower, grab a phone charger. And that was the other wonder of wonders- when I plugged in my phone, I had alarms alarming and alerts alerting in a way that I can only describe as “symphonic.” That phone beeped and clanged for five minutes after I hooked it up.

I went in to the hospital feeling terribly isolated and alone, and it made me really determined to work harder, to put in the time that good, strong friendships deserve. I left the hospital feeling loved and cared for, and really determined to work harder, to put in the time that good strong friendships deserve…except that now, I know it won’t be nearly as much work as I thought. It will be a great pleasure. And I know just where to put my efforts.

Thank you all so much for your kindness. Every word and gesture meant the world to me.

Posted in family, kids, Life, love, People, Uncategorized

I Don’t Know How To Write This…

candles120As a writer, the thing I know how to do when the chips are down, when something strikes me or inspires me, when something saddens me- is write. But this…this I don’t know how to write about.

I’m sure that my mind is much like your mind is, a  swirling mess of emotions, vacillating between disbelief, horror, grief, anger, shock and heartbreak. I find myself imagining what it must have been like, in that school, yesterday, then I am glad that I cannot. It’s that bad, that unthinkable, that I can’t even imagine what it must have been like. My mind has no capacity for this kind of thing. It is literally unimaginable.

What we know so far is this: A twenty year old young man killed his mother yesterday. Then, he traveled to the school where she worked and opened fire in two classrooms, killing six adults and TWENTY small children. He then killed himself. I can’t help but to say this- if only, if only, if only he had simply turned the gun on himself first…then none of this would be so, so bad. There is a very small, human part of me that registers, even in the face of all of this, that even one life lost is too many, even a very sick, very dangerous life such as his. But still, why could it not have been just him? I think we all want to know why- why ANY of this happened, what caused it, what happened to trip his switch, WHY didn’t we somehow know, see the signs? And I think that is a really important line of questions that we do need to discover answers to if we want to keep this type of tragedy from happening again. I think it is incredibly human to want to know what happened, to know why, because we need it to make some sort of sense so that we can cope. But I don’t think this will ever make sense.

I just keep thinking about the families. I keep thinking about the presents under Christmas trees for kids that are GONE. I keep thinking that, right now, some mother in Connecticut finally dozed off for five minutes and had to wake up and remember that this is REAL. That her son or daughter, her BABY, is dead. I keep having moments of unbearable sadness, crushing grief, wild despair because I imagine myself in her place. And I am so incredibly grateful that it is not me, that it is not my daughter, gone. That I can, right now, stop typing, run into the other room, and touch my daughter’s warm, sweet, sleeping face. My heart is just broken by the knowledge of all that was lost, yesterday. The lives of far more than twenty children and seven adults lost- just the tip of the iceberg, really. I don’t know how to say what I mean, but I think, if you have children or nephews and nieces, or little brothers and sisters, you know. The destruction of lives radiates out into the mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, big and little brothers and sister, grandmothers, grandfathers, neighbors, best friends.

All bets are off, now. In a few days, we will start to go on with our lives, we will begin to heal the way our resilient selves do- we are not in the midst of it, and we are so blessed. But it has marked you, somewhere, I promise. You will pay attention for a long, long time to how you say goodbye, I love you, goodnight. You will look at the people around you, the ones you love best, in real time, seeing them not just as fixtures in your life, but as they are- beautiful, precious, prized parts of your heart. It is too bad it takes something beyond comprehension to bring the truth into sharp focus- that everything we strive for and grab at and prioritize is NOTHING compared to the love we give and the love we get in return. Nothing else means anything.

God help us all.

Posted in family, kids, Life, Uncategorized

Politically Correct is Pure Crap and Common Sense is Dead, 1.

I was emailing a friend of mine today and I briefly touched on how Southerners are portrayed as well-mannered and discreet, while over here on the west coast, we are fake and politically correct. This is a sore subject for me, and I think it ties right into my observation that common sense is dead and gone, and the whole world is turning into a bunch of retarded pussies. If I haven’t offended you yet, you’ll probably be okay…

So, when I was a little girl starting kindergarten, it was 1980. I grew up in Fresno, CA. (shut up, I don’t live there now and I had no choice, I was FIVE.) which is not only NOT the friendliest town on earth, but has now evolved into, like, the murder capital of the world or some shit. But I digress- it was and probably is a city that seems to be filled primarily with people that are working, middle class of all varieties, a lot of people barely scraping by, and a lot who are just downright poverty stricken. We vacillated through most of those statuses while I was a kid there. The thing is, though, there was a rhythm to our lives- not just mine, but pretty much everyone in general. We all sat down for dinner together every night, at the table. We didn’t get up to gab on the phone mid-bite, unless we wanted to get our asses kicked. There were no cell phones, but if there had been, you wouldn’t have had one for long if you tried texting under the table. There were RULES. If we didn’t follow them, there were CONSEQUENCES.  After dinner, I did the dishes. If my mom told me to clean my room, I didn’t have the option of saying “NO.” Well, I had the option- and she had the option of slapping the shit out of me. I would not have DREAMED of calling the cops on my mom for it, either! Not unless I planned on leaving the state before she got back home, anyway.

Somewhere between 1980 and today, which isn’t all that long, really, shit has changed. And even though the changes are supposed to level the playing field and promote kindness and offend people less, as usual, it’s just completely gotten out of hand. Kids have always been bad in their way, but now they are seriously like little wild animals that no one is brave enough to train. There are no consequences for acting up anymore- unless you count the teachers who get their asses reamed for “singling out and humiliating” a child who NEEDS to be disciplined. If they have a mood, they take a pill. If they can’t or won’t pay attention or sit still, they take another pill. When they go out for sports, they all make the team, even if they suck. When they lose, they still get trophies. They won’t even really hold children back a grade when they are failing miserably in school. So what the fuck is the point of any of this stuff, then, anymore? How are these kids supposed to be prepared in any way, shape, or form for what is quite probably going to be waiting for them when they finally make it out of their parent’s home and into the real world? Easy. They never leave…OR, they get a job in Corporate America where there is just about nothing you can do to be fired, no matter how obvious it is that you ought to be.

Before I get into that, though, I want to mention one thing- I really, really believe that parents need to be able to beat their kids’ asses when necessary. I think it depends on the kid and it depends on the reason, and it depends, also, on your ability to not kill someone. Also, the age of the kid is a factor. I am not promoting abuse, not at all- but there is a difference between letting your child know that if they fuck up, they will have a welted ass before the day is through and taking out your own frustrations on an innocent kid. There is nothing wrong with your child being a little afraid of you, for the right reasons. There is something wrong if your kid flinches every time you move your arms- maybe ease up a little, mama! But if your kid would rather look like a sissy in front of his friends and NOT do something stupid, illegal or dangerous because he knows if he does and he gets caught, you will slap his face off his head, how is that BAD? That is your sole purpose as a parent- to try to turn out a human being who might possibly contribute to society someday. Trust me, you are NOT your child’s friend. Your kid does NOT tell you everything. Your kid is blowing so much smoke up your ass if you believe that, that I feel bad for you. You have to trust me on this, as I am learning the hard way- your kid is an asshole, just like you were at that age. You should stop what you are doing and go slap them right now, even if they are sleeping, just to get a feel for it. Okay, don’t do that. But look around you at the kids running around that are just spoiled brats who think everything should be handed to them on a silver platter (because it has been, duh.) and tell me honestly that the way we are doing things is working out. I have one of those kids, I know what I’m saying, man.  I did not do my job and now I’m suffering and she will probably be, too, in the years ahead.

Man, I didn’t even get to the main thing I wanted to talk about and this is already LONG. I’m going to have to make it a two parter, Sorry guys. I need to hit the sack!