Saturday, June 29, 2002

Sleeping with the Angels

"Some flowers they never bloom,
and some flowers they just bloom dead."
--Jakob Dylan/the Wallflowers

You will recall a couple of days ago when I posted the email from Steve. To refresh memory, Ryan was born on June 16 and three days later stopped breathing.

He died Wednesday after so much effort. He made it all of ten days, following CPR, hospitalization and surgeries to help him.

The funeral is out in the Pittsburgh area, where Steve & Vicky live. My in-laws called last night to let us know they'd seen the obituary in the paper.

I feel so far away ... we haven't seen them in nine years, but kept in contact through holidays. He is a friend of Doug's, but like with all friends of my spouse I make friends with them easily and feel closer than I really should... I barely know these folks, but feel like I have known them my whole life, like Smitty or CJK. I am not so attached and glomming on them that I would jump in the car and rush out to be with, they've got a close core of college friends that they are tight with... so I know they're inundated, cushioned, hugged, loved.

And there is no way on earth I'd be picking up the phone right now to ask "what the hell happened?" But I would like to know the cause... were they able to figure it out? Was there a heart defect? SIDS? Anything? Anyone?

It isn't easy for me thinking about this. I miscarried a baby once, and that was heart wrenching enough. Imagining what it must be like to have held a healthy looking lovely baby boy, only to have him suddenly die on me. I can't even begin to fathom.

I know a lot of people who are pregnant right now... some due in a month or two, others not until winter or right after the new year. All I can say is, I look at them differently, with a little more fear. I feel like I did five years ago when Sheri and Steve lost their baby to HLHS, and there is this hopeless and empty feeling in the base of my stomach that makes me want to crawl back in bed and just sleep.

Children's hospital in Pittsburgh has set up a memorial fund for him. We contributed to the American Heart Association when Sheri's boy passed, and we'll be making another contribution for another friend here now.

And in all this, I look at my son. He is a pain in the ass, a live wire. A freak. A tornado in a trailer park. He exhausts me. He frustrates me. But I have him here to do just that. I have the best ten year old girl in history. I am the luckiest mom around.

I am more aware of my blessings and the responsibility of them.

Overwhelmed by the sense of them, the fact of them. I feel amazed that Geoff made it through being premature, and all the possibilities involved there for what his life would have been like if he'd been born November 22, 1996 instead of his birthday. I'm just so sad and so lucky all at the same time. I am shamed that when I was pregnant with Jessie it never ever crossed my mind that something like this could/would happen to me. I sailed through, had a baby, nonchalant, with ease. I got mad at her when she cried at night. It never dawned on me that she might stop crying, or sleep through a morning with me lounging in my new mother role saying 'hurrah, she's quiet, I can sleep in.'

We are on a geocache hold for today. Jessie is at a pool party, Geoff is spraying the hose. Doug is working on a list of stuff we need to secure for our trip to Maine. That's about it for today. Can't think of anything else to write

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

It's all about Not Giving Up.

I slept late this morning. It felt great. My legs hurt, I was exhausted... but I woke refreshed. I had a phone meeting with the Theatre professor that I'm working with this summer, that took about an hour... and afterward Doug says, "I figured out what we did wrong yesterday at Parker River. There are blah blah blah..." coordinates styles, decimal points vs. colons... in short, he knows what to do now."

So we went back to the scene of our first geocache, armed with better knowledge and support email from the cache owner who encouraged us that we shouldn't have been in the marsh at all...

And we found it. Hot Damn.

We also got our very first travel bug, which is a trinket that has a trackable number, and you take it out of a cache and put it into another one. I have a feeling it is going to Maine with us. There are 3 Geocaches on MDI, and so far it looks as if all these tags are from Massachusetts, so let's travel this bug to another zone!

Nothing more really to tell. Doug's chefin' up some supper. It's getting on to 7pm. It is hot as a bahstid (Boston Accent, 'bastard') round heah, and I sure could use a beer. Mmmmmmmm. Beeeeeer.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Geocaching!

Today we went Geocaching for the first time. We tried two. We didn't find either cache.Which was somewhat of a total drag.

On the first cache, we spent 90 minutes hanging out, hiking, climbing, searching, looking in Newbury right along the Parker River, with Masconomet High School off in the distance. It was loads of fun. We got tons of bugbites, Geoff almost took a header into the river, due to his insistence that the water wasn't deep and he could swim (neither of which were true at all. the water WAS very deep, Kinger couldn't get himself out and I had to rescue him, and Geoff sort of can swim when his feet touch the bottom).

I was incredibly bummed not to have found the cache box, but you know, I had a wicked fun time. Wicked being something New Englanders say for "good" or "excellent."

Doug has a stick in one hand (for poking and whacking snakes, if need be), a GPS in the other, and his feet in the marsh. Where the hell is this cache!

Geoff looks like he's about to jump in, but in reality he's about 20 feet away from the edge of the rocks

The second cache I didn't even want to GO on, being totally exhausted from the first, but Doug, being persuasive and joyous, said "this one looks so easy. The reviews said "found in 17 minutes from my car..." etc.

So we went.

Ugh. It was horrid. We parked on the wrong side of where we should have been and walked hard, steep terrain for two hours. If it had been the only cache hunt of the day, we would have found it and not been so wiped out. But we turned back about 3/10 of a mile from our goal. The bugs were coming out, and we had a babysitter coming to the house and left no note for her to expect us to be late... so we bailed.

We're 0-2 on geocaching. Meh!

By the way, I'll be building up a site for Doug, since he is the master of the GPS, under his area outlining all our upcoming geocaching attempts.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Puppy Update....

Let's see how much I can get written this morning. I put Jackie back in her kennel because I didn't want to leave her unattended with Geoff. Not because I fear Geoff hurting her like the guinea pig... but because she puts a good scratch on, and bites, and Geoff is afraid to hurt her so he doesn't push her off and tell her no. I've had to break up a couple crying scraps between them... mostly Geoff crying.

He's watching Pokemon and eating breakfast. Everyone else is asleep. Jackie kenneled from 11pm to 6:30am, so we all got a good night's sleep.

She's a crap machine though. Damn! But I won't get into the particulars of her business. We took her to Petco yesterday afternoon, with Kinger. Met a 1 year old St. Bernard who was as tall as Geoff eye to eye. Jackie was a great big hit and garnered us a lot of attention. Puppies are chick magnets, it is true. Men, if you're looking for some babes -- or babes if you're lookin' for some babes, getcherself a puppy!

All the Petco people loved Jackie and got down to play with her. I felt bad for Kinger, but he got to meet cool dogs and peed on stuff and I pretended not to see. "Cleanup in Aisle Two..."

We bought her a ton of chew toys so she'll chew less on Geoffrey and our brand new sandals. She hates walking on the leash unless she sees Kinger in front of her.

All told, there isn't much to report generally in life, because we're puppycentric at this time. We've got to get work started on the ceiling this week, but Doug's new GPS for geocaching should arrive today and damn if he isn't like some freak little kid or something. I doubt we'll get any ceiling work done this week. There is a possibility this afternoon I may have to go down to the college to work with one of my project professors. So today could be bust all around for ceiling work. Sigh.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

the good news, and the sad news

Good News
The first Jackie night went well. We put her in the kennel at 11pm, and she cried until... oh, midnight. I had forgotten how heartbreaking kennel training a new puppy is. We trained Missy in the kennel, and she cried a lot the first couple nights, but eventually got to the point where "go in your place" was a welcome suggestion.

Jackie woke up every two hours, like a baby. How funny is that? Well, she totally is -- a baby used to one situation who now finds herself in another one entirely. Cuddled in a puppy pile with brothers and sisters in a shared cage, she now finds herself alone.

At 2am we ignored her, she pushed the partition down between the front and back, and went back to sleep. At 4 she woke up and sounded frantic, so I went out to discover she'd pooped in the kennel. I took her outside with Kinger so he'd mark the pee places fresh for her... brought them back in, cleaned the kennel... encouraged her back in quietly. She cried for about a half hour, then fell asleep until about 6:15.

The morning has gone incredibly well. She went right out and peed and pooped outside, played ball, ran around with me, came back in, played with Geoff for a while and passed out snoring on the couch. I put her in her kennel, to show her that's where sleeping should happen, and after an hour Doug got up to find her sitting politely and quietly inside, with her tail banging on the inner walls as she recognized him.

I slept until about 10, thank God. I was exhausted! When she got up at 4, I was pretty much awake until almost 5:30. Sometimes I can't just fall back to sleep when I am woken up. She played and played outside with Doug and Geoff, chasing tennis ball, and playing with the chew toys we had in the house. Kinger has mostly just stayed near, paying attention to her and doing his usual thing... happy as usual and not at all irritated or jealous. Relief.

She took a good long nap from 11 to 12, out cold solid by my feet here at the computer. I put her in her kennel again, and she slept some more. She's asleep now again... the kids are eating so I don't want her interfering.

I think we made a good choice.


Bad News
We got email from a friend of Doug's from back in the day named Steve. Doug and Steve were in cub scouts together, and he was one of the first people Doug introduced me to when I went out to western PA for the very first time. Steve and his wife Vicky welcomed a new baby into their lives, but there's been a snafu.

Here's the email:

This may be the toughest email I've ever written. Many of you were aware that Vicky was pregnant and due this June. She gave birth to our son Ryan at 9:05pm on June 16.

He was born a perfectly healthy baby and did fine for the first two days in the hospital. We took him home Tuesday night and were delighted to spend our first night as a family together.

On Wednesday morning Ryan stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. He was given CPR by me and then the paramedics before being rushed to a local hospital. After working there for two hours he was Life-Flighted to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh.

After several hours of surgery he was succesfully placed on a heart-lung bypass machine and has been stabilized. He is in very weak condition but has showed some improvement physically. He was without oxygen for a very long time, though.

The prognosis isn't good but it is not hopeless. We have been praying for him constantly and are thankful that he has survived this long - there were many times Wednesday when we thought he would not.

Please keep Ryan in your thoughts and prayers. He is a strong baby but we would still love a miracle!

Any new parent's nightmare I must say.

This was all too fresh for me... having a friend whose son died at 8 days of age in 1997 due to Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. I remember so much from the day of his funeral, and so much sadness. I never want another friend to go through that at all, ever. No matter what the cause. I forwarded Steve's email to my friend, Sheri, who is now the director of the Massachusetts Heart Coalition, and even with five years distance between her son's death and today, she's still touched by other families dealing with this sort of thing.

Steve asks for prayers -- well. Pray. Please. He's a super guy, flies airplanes for traffic patrol in Pittsburgh. She's a lovely woman. Their wedding is one of the finest memories I have... they deserve a slim chance at a miracle, and as much as I believe that God's plan for them may be different, I'd like to ask him to just make sure that it is that Ryan will be their baby, survive, teach them, grow with them, and not die. Sometimes surviving is worse than death when a child has been through such a trauma at first... brain damage, CP, all sorts of learning disabilities... there is a lot of negative to making it past death's threshold. All the effort though -- all the hope. I want him to make it. I hope that God sees eye to eye with his people.

Alright. That's a downer. Let's finish up.


I forgot to give the website of the Sterling shelter, for anyone interested in learning more about what they do, or giving them support. They've got an interesting program... they are at Sterlingshelter.org so go check 'em out. Send people you know who are puppy seeking...

Friday, June 21, 2002

Meet Jackie

Meet Jackie. The name is something we settled on... We have a King...er. We didn't want a Queen...ie. So we named her Jack...ie.

It wasn't exactly a planned event today. I took Jess for a haircut and got myself one too (goodbye Ozzy hair... hello... something I can't quite label) and when I got home Doug showed me he'd located a kennel near Worcester that deals specifically with rescued puppies from Virginia. He said they were open until 6pm. They were one hour away. It was 4pm right then. We got in the car. We brought Kinger, so he could meet the new dog. If there was going to be a new dog.

Folks, let me tell you. These people... good people. We had to show we were either a home owner or that we had permission from the landlord, so we showed our mortgage payment book. No one quizzed us on our at home schedule, demanded a home visit. No one gave us any shit. They said "We've got puppies. Meet the trainer if you have questions, integrate the dog with your family for a while... and pay us 200 bucks. It's yours."

That's my kinda kennel.

They had two dozen puppies there who were all freshly spayed and neutered yesterday by a vet in town. Doug zoomed in on the Australian Shepherd/Lab mixes, of which there were four. A male and three females. He took one out, and we spent some time introducing her to Kinger and getting to know her.

This was the first dog. She cozied right up to Doug, and we took her to the pen to meet with her. She was skittish, and afraid of Geoff, which we instantly knew off the bat wasn't good.

Unfortunately, Geoff really liked this first dog, so it was hard convincing him that she wasn't the dog for us. She didn't want to be around us, didn't want to see Kinger. She also had a spotted tongue, which the trainer said may mean she has some Chow in her somewhere down the line. The minute Doug heard Chow, he wanted to see another dog... so he scoped out the two females together who were sisters. So spending time with the next dog, we knew she was the dog for us.






Geoff still wasn't quite sure of her... he really liked that first dog...



We got the kennel out, cleaned it up... I have to cut a piece of cardboard for it because it's for a fullsized big assed dog... and she's a teeny dog and we don't want to encourage her sleeping in the front and peeing in the back. She isn't housebroken, pee'd in Jessie's room once already... so we're going to have to really work with her. But we're all home this summer. Everyone is willing. We had no problems training Missy... so hopefully this'll go okay. She's really cute. You're welcome to come meet her anytime.

And because I'm a total pet whore... I found a cat to take a picture of for all you cat pals out there.


I love how the sun glints off the car top right in the center, how the cat's reflection is so clear... and how he/she/it looks like he/she/it belongs up there. King/Queen/Eunuch of the castle.

Okay. That's the muppet update for tonight. It's 10pm already. I still have to fold some laundry and get the cardboard partition in the kennel. So I'm outta here. I'm sure I'll bore the shit out of you in the next few days with all the puppy stories... suffice to say, I'm happy to do it. It's my journal. It's my puppy. Shuttapa you face if you don't like.

Have a great weekend and HAPPY SOLSTICE to all my Alaskan friends who now have sunlight 90 hours in a day. It's all downhill from here kids. Happy Solstice to any of the Pagan types who may be reading -- I have no idea the extent of my audience, so I hope this Midsummers Night is good for you. Cheers!

Thursday, June 20, 2002

The Puppy Hunt

I met with the college professor I'm working with this summer for about 90 minutes today, and then I met Doug and the kids at an animal shelter in Salem, MA, so we could look at dogs.

Yes. I'm thinking it's time to get another dog to be part of our family.

I'm looking for a female, mixed breed as long as she isn't a rottie/dobie/pit bull mix, and under a year. I'm looking for something that won't be say over 70-80lbs full grown.

There are a lot of dogs out there, few in our actual scope or desired specs. We went to two shelters. We met one or two dogs that might fit. One was a husky/lab mix, husky coloring but lab eyes. Which was weird. Brown eyes on a husky is just so weird.

We didn't pick out a dog, but filled out two applications and asked to be called if someone came in who fit our desired profile. It's like a personal ad. It's like ... applying for colleges. What fits. What works.

They had a gorgeous full bred rottie female, age 11 months. She sat in the kennel and just looked at us with soft eyes, didn't wag her stubbie. Didn't get her hopes up. Her sign said her name is Zoe. She hates umbrellas, and wouldn't be good with kids under 12 or other dogs.

Not that she'd come home with us, but she was lovely to look at.

For anyone who hates rotties, I have no idea how you could. Just their eyes can melt a heart, and their tiny stubbies wagging when they see you coming. Sigh.

Geoff saw Zoe and gasped, and said 'It's Missy. I've been looking for her. Here's where you've been.'

I almost burst into tears, but Doug explained how it wasn't Missy and Geoff seemed to understand.

So we now have four applications out there with shelters. One shelter had this God Awful Application, it went on for four pages. Wanted to know EVERYthing about us. What food we plan on giving the dog. What our street is like. What our kids do. What we do all day. They require a home visit.

The application was harder than any application I've viewed for anything in recent years. They are begging on their website for people to come adopt a dog, but the application process is just shy of requiring a blood sample, pound of flesh and swearing on a stack of bibles that you'll feed poochie Science Diet all the days of her life.

Criminy. I would think adopting a baby might not be this damn hard!

They also suck at getting back to people.

We called and their answering machine said that on no uncertain circumstances do they do work by phone, that we are to fax or email things to them. We emailed a request for the application, got it 3 days later. We sent it back on... Sunday? Monday?

They are begging for people to adopt dogs. Can't they call us? Say "Hey, thanks! Got your application. Let's talk!" No. We haven't heard a word.

And there's the website, freshly updated weekly with all new dogs. Begging people to adopt them. Begging anyone to take them home to a "forever family."

Call me! I'm willing. Seek ye no further. Here I am!

There is a trio of three females from the same litter, collie/retriever mixes. They are lovely. They are 19 weeks old. Hello? Earth to shelter manager? Earth to someone... We'll definitely come see them, you can come "home visit" our house. We're here. Helloooooooo???? Buehler? Anyone?

Sigh.

Why do I want a second dog. I mean honestly. Why? The professor I'm working with asked me that today.

I have no idea. I love to see dogs swim and play together. I like to know that Kinger isn't here in the house crying cause he's lonely. He is so good when he's with Gonzo, but Gonzo lives in Maine. I miss my Missy, but no one will be able to take her place, ever. I don't know what other reasons...



We've been playing a lot of Sega lately and I am admitting here and now that I have an addictive personality. Sonic the hedgehog is ruling my life. I cannot get out of the third world in the second stage, Marble World or what ever it is. I'm doomed.

Mom, when you come up in July. Feel free to bring the hand me down playstation. We may as well give in... we're part of the video game cult. The kids, I can limit their play. Me... I'm going to need a 12 step program.


Today I took Jessie to Kohls to go shopping. It was our first time there. I normally don't buy clothes for the kids anywhere other than Walmart or on consignment, but Jessie is grownup sized with grownup tastes, and Walmart and Target have shit clothing for women.

No lie. I hate 90% of what they have there.

Target thinks that girls should all be dressed like Britney or any other blonde du jour. Walmart thinks that Kathie Lee knows fat lady fashion. I personally like to shop at Lands End or LL Bean... because the clothing style is conservative.

Girls' shorts shouldn't all be the same length even if the waist size is larger. Seriously. Have you looked at popular trendy girl shorts lately? Go to the store right now and take a look at the rack.

Size 2 shorts and size 14 Britney style shorts ARE THE SAME LENGTH down the thigh for most of what they sell nowadays. Three inch long shorts on a girl who is about 150 lbs are NOT as attractive as that on a girl who is 90lbs. Sorry. Someone get a ruler, add a couple inches lengthwise as the shorts grow widthwise.

Plus, She is 10. Not 16. I don't want her ass cheeks hanging out the bottom of a pair of daisy dukes at age 10. Regardless of her weight.

So, they had a section of girl clothes like that, with these retarded motherfucking Tshirts that said things like "Dump Him," "I'm Stealing Your Boyfriend," "Your Boyfriend Loves Me In This T-shirt" crap on them... and a whole section of Columbia sportswear, Champion Sportswear, Lee Jeans Shorts, Sonoma Jeans, and other "normal" non-TRL style clothes.

Who wears "Your Boyfriend Loves Me In This T-shirt" Shirts anyway? Who is the bitch who puts that shit on. Slap her ass. And if I was the mom.... Holy Flerkin' Schnit! I'd freak the fuck out if my daughter wore a shirt like that!

Anyway, the great thing about this store is they had the bullshit trampy clothes section, and the normal human being clothes section, complete with Levis, Lee, Sonoma, Nike and Columbia Sportswear clothes. Whew!

I had no problem finding 10 pairs of shorts for her, from nice denims to Nike athletic running shorts which will be great when we're camping and sweating and running around. I can throw them with her in them in a lake and they'll come out nice.

And let me just say that I'm relieved to find someplace that sells decent clothing that isn't in the Mall, where life is insane, and I can be happy dressing my kids in the clothes I find there.

I bought myself 2 Hawaiian shirts by the way. Stylie!

On to shoes... She wanted sandals. She wanted flip flops.

I told her no friggin way. Remembering my sister trying to jump over a fence in a pair of flip flops at one of my cousin Debbie's softball games, catching her super long monkey-toe in the chain, and falling on her face.

That'd be Jessica. 25 years later... doing just that this summer.

Monkey toes. That's not good for flip flops. She'd be dead. She wears a size 8 shoe. HA! No. Sorry.

So I bought her a really ass kicking pair of Columbia Sandals, for hiking, swimming, wading, fishing, living. They are gorgeous. I bought me a pair of Ocean Pacific Sandals, I wanted them for Jessie but they didn't have her size in stock. I bought Geoff a pair of really nice Nike sandals. They rock, and he loves them.

I got both of us Sponge Bob Tshirts. Yes. I now have a Sponge Bob Tshirt. I am too damn retarded.

All told, we didn't get a dog, we have elbow cramps from playing Sonic, and our feet are stylie. I'm a happy girl today. Alright. I hear Sonic and a beer calling my name. Marble World Ho!!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

My Quest for a Walk West -- Geocaching


My Quest for A Walk West
I have gotten no less than 10 emails in regard to my request for
a copy of Peter Jenkins' sequel to "A Walk Across America." All of them pointing me to used bookstores online... and one even telling me that her grandmother just bought the book in a local used bookery the other day for two bucks.

Much obliged, people. Much obliged. I had found it on Amazon myself... but there something doesn't sit right with me when it comes to used books in cyberspace.

I buy a lot of books online, usually because most of the bookstore chains sell "popular" books, and reserve stocks of the weirder crap for the online people, because they have one warehouse for the stuff and surfing to it is easier than having the less popular stuff shipped off to 1,000,000 bookstores across the country.

Used books though, they have a history, a look and feel, that begs they be paroused in person in a musty old bookstore someplace, where you can sit in an old dusty chair and glance through while making a decision.

I am a big fan of the old used bookstore scene. And I like supporting that. When Doug and I were driving cross country to come home from Oregon, we stayed a couple days in Phoenix with our traveling companion Matt's family. His sister and her husband and kids were living in Phoenix, and gleefully welcomed us in. We spent a few days goofing around and found a run down, nasty looking old bookstore in the heart of a rather Native American neighborhood. We went inside and found great buys on good conditioned used books, including several copies of "The River Why." I couldn't fathom why someone would send that book to a used bookstore, it should sit on your shelf next to your bible and your copy of Ray Bradbury's "Dandilion Wine." It should never leave your home, once you own it and have read it.

Someone else's mistake, my gain. I bought a few copies to loan to friends. I've only gotten two of them back.

Spending time in a used bookstore is something Doug and I used to do when we were dating. Hours of time spent alone, together, looking through the strange and sometimes arcane literature, finding something that we'd never heard of that caught our eye or ear... and bringing it home to become a part of our collection.

We take stuff to used bookstores too. We've recently gone through and pulled out things that we've outgrown, and a ton of stuff that Clay left behind at our house that doesn't mesh with our personal reading tastes. Mostly sci-fi. We'll be hauling stuff up to Portsmouth sometime in the next week to profit from our loss, and buy more books.

I will check for the book there, and if I don't find it my friend Tanager has offered to buy it for me from half.com... I'll take her up on that if I don't see what I want in Portsmouth.


Locks Of Limp
Today I was thinking of a hair cut.

My hair is the longest it has been in quite some time, and it is almost all one length for the first time since third grade I think. A long time ago I decided that I wanted to grow my hair all one length, and it took me quite some time to get it that way. Not sure why other people's bangs (or fringe as they say in the UK) grow out faster, but mine seem to take forever. Now that I have it the way I wanted it, but ...

I hate the way it looks.

Honestly. I hate it. Singer Christine Lavin has a wonderful song where she whines "What was I thinking?" after seeing herself in a bad dress she hurriedly buys but doesn't get to see herself in until the intermission of a concert, gets a bad perm... other social mishaps (even adds an ode in a verse to Monica Lewinsky).

I sometimes sing the song when I look at my hair. It took me two years to get this mess on top of my head?

It is supposed to be low maintenance to have nice long all-one-length hair. Like Angie Harmon on "Law and Order..." her hair is gorgeous. I watch her nightly on the TNT reruns and shake my head in disgust. And her football hunk of a husband proposed to her on the Tonight Show. Pfth. Me, I look like spaghetti mop Ozzy Osbourne, sans the little blue glasses...

So I was thinking of getting it all cut. Layered again. Doug suggested I get a perm, because it always does look nice after the first month, which it does. But I'll be honest -- I can think of better uses for 100 plus bucks. (I think he probably thinks perms are 30 bucks max or something. For hair my length, we're looking at a major chunk of change). And I don't want to go through the perming thing again. I just want a no-effort nice look. Is that so wrong?

I got a perm right before we went to Oregon in 1988. In years past, my aunt Carole gave me perms in her kitchen. Or, I'd get one at a nice salon once in a while. But this time, I was short of cash and short of time so I had a girl from college do it. She was an award winning beauty pageant contestant. She always looked nice. She told me that she'd given tons of perms before, and that she'd do it, no prob. I figured, hey. She has to know what she's doing, so I decided to have her do it.

Well, she did it alright.

It looked like complete shit. She rolled the curlers the wrong direction on my head, she put too much hair in some curlers on one side of my head, and didn't put the same amount in curlers on the other side of my head. It looked as if someone had brillo scrubbed my head, with the hair standing up on one side, and it looked like death.

And, it was permanent.

I was leaving for Oregon in a couple days. She said "Gee, your hair didn't come out right. You must have weird or damaged hair or something. Oh well. Bye!" and she left me there contemplating going to a salon to shave my head right down to the scalp. I'd be going to live among the granola people of the great Northwest, surely they'd seen something this weird...

But I didn't. I went to Oregon with a lot of hair barrettes and bandanas. I looked like a gork. The very end of the semester came and one of the girls in the cabin next door to me offered to cut my hair, because it had grown out rather nicely by that point. I was not exactly trusting her, seeing as I'd been burned badly by a novice just a few months earlier... but I figured it was hair. I would definately shave it all off if it didn't come out good.

It came out wonderfully. She did a great job, and what was left of the perm blowdried nicely into soft fluffiness when I styled it. Huzzah. I should have had her cut it right when I got there.

When I was a freshman in college my roommate Laurel cut my bangs for me one hot day. You saw the before picture back a few entries ago when I wrote about her and Bonnie. I liked my hair, but my bangs were too long, so... Laurie cut them from ear to ear. Not across my forehead, but seriously, ear to ear.

I went home to New York and immediately went to a salon in town where the hair dresser just about dropped his metaphorical shit when I took my Red Sox hat off.

When we were on our way to a wedding a few years ago, I couldn't get my hair to do anything right. I cut my bangs while Doug was sitting in the car. Lucky for me, they came out right.

When I was pregnant with Jessica I went to Supercuts one afternoon before picking Doug up at the train. I wanted my hair cut to my shoulders, and she cut it to my chin line. I don't know whether or not the girl was retarded or not. It was a nice hair cut, but it was seriously two feet too short. Doug almost dropped HIS metaphorical shit when he got in the car at the trainstation that afternoon and did his usual pull my hair out of my winter coat move that he would do... only to discover my hair wasn't in my coat.

That haircut worked out well, because two months later when I had Jessie, there wasn't a mile of spaghetti in my face as I was trying to birth her. And it looked really cute. I liked that hair cut.

I have trimmed my bangs myself a few times in the past couple of years, even had Doug cut the back of my hair straight across in the back once because it was quick and easy. But from hair on in I intend to have it done by a professional, even if it is Supercuts.

Jessie needs a haircut. Her very light and fine hair is so long and thick. When she wakes up in the morning one could swear that the squirrels that dance out on our roof in the morning have taken up overnight residence between her scalp and pillow. It's nightmarish to deal with. So we may both go. Get it over with.

That's a lot about my hair, eh? More than you wanted to know, I bet.


Geocaching, Letterboxing, and Treasure Hunting
Wil Wheaton does it. I'd read about it on his site and one other blog. Geocaching or Letterboxing are two examples of one of the latest outdoor crazes to hit the technology world. Using a GPS you find treasure "caches" in the woods all over the planet. It's pretty cool sounding, and after reading about it in Wil's journal I thought I might suggest it to Doug. But I thought he'd poo poo it.

Well, he came to bed the other night and said "I found my new hobby."

"What, Geocaching?" I asked.

"How'd you know about that."

Hrumph. I am somewhat hip. So he was talking all about how cool it was and how he wanted to do it, so he started shopping for a GPS.

Looks like we have a summer hobby here kids. I'll keep you posted. I think this will be fun, Jessica groaned when I told her about it... But I think it'll be good. And Aaron and Michelle are up in Maine, where there is bound to be some good geocaching-ability, so we'll look into that at Acadia and MDI when we're there next.

Alright. It's a gorgeous day. Sunny. Bright. Cool. Gonna go soak some of it in. Carrie, I hope you read this whole entry and it kept you busy for your afternoon conference call. Have a super day.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Wanderlust

We are coming up on a year since our trip to the Southwest.

I was watching TV the other night only to have the desire to travel well up inside once again. You all know how I enjoy the open road, the trip with my sister to Florida, our constant jaunts to Maine, and the adventures we had by car in Arizona and Utah... I've been all over the place in the last 12 months. And now that spring is in full bloom, the sky is sometimes blue, the air is sometimes warm... I'm ready to go again.

KCPT.org, which I presume is Kansas City Public TV, has a show they run called "Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations." Which recently found its way onto the more hip Boston PBS Station (Boston has two public television stations. The first is the old school WGBH, Channel 2. It is all about snooty art and crappy documentaries which pale in comparison to stuff they do on Discovery channel, and the other is a more progressive PTV, Channel 44, WGBX. The X is for Xciting! They show concerts, britcoms, fun crap... and now they are showing Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations.)

The premise is these two midwestern aged hippie types and their Midwestern aged hippie type narrator/cameraman (who is just a tad too hokey Arlo Guthrie meets Tom Beaudette for my liking) drive all over the midwest and search for cool stuff. Mostly Art. Folk Art. Real... art. Stuff people put in their backyards. Major showcases for art, such as unique and fun museums. Weird crap, like the hippie memorial. It's a fun show.

So a show like Rare Visions came on our local PBS just in time to remind me what a friggin riot this country is, and how many coolass things there are to see when you don't fly everywhere.

It also reminded me of a magazine that I used to read once in a while back in college. Doug had learned about it from a friend -- Monk Magazine. I was very happy to find their site online but am sad to see it isn't current, hasn't been updated since 2000.

Their deal is they are two guys, Mike and Jim, who sold all their stuff and jumped into a '72 Ford Van to drive around the country and write. They published the first mobile magazine, and their motto is "Simple. Mobile. True." They had great adventures, and met a lot of people your average American Citizen wouldn't go meet. They wrote about it. It was clever, artsy, but folky and down to earth as well. I need to go through the site and read what they did last. I wish I'd kept up with their doings over time. I enjoyed them.

I also just finished a very good (not great, super, fantastic) book called "A Walk Across America" by Peter Jenkins.

Peter was a disillusioned college graduate living in Alfred NY in the early 70s... He and his wife split up (they never should have married, but whattayagonnado?) and he decided one day that he was going to walk across the country. Simple as that.

He trained with his dog, Cooper Half Malamute and set out one fall day from Alfred to walk to Washington DC and meet with National Geographic to see if he could get a camera and tell his story when he got back. They gave him a camera, some film and lenses and sent him off.

He ended up living with a black family in North Carolina for quite some time while he worked to raise money for himself to continue the trip, had his mind changed about southerners being backwards, got creeped out by hippies in a farming cult in Tennessee, found God at a revival tent meeting in Mobile Alabama, met Homer on his mountain and was offered the place by the old man... it was an amazing journey. The book ends in New Orleans, where he met a girl who he wanted to marry... of course. Romance always gets in the way of great adventure. I took from the epilogue that she ended up coming with him. The epilogue was written from Colorado, with her. And his website answers what happened to their relationship. He's had a long road to walk since the early 70s.

He saw a great deal of this country that wasn't artistic or beautiful, but very real, and saw it at a time when being a bearded hiker through the heart of Alabama was a very dangerous thing. Seeing it from the safety of a car is one thing. Walking through it with a pack on your back and a dog by your side is another. I envy him his journey, but not the emotional pain that he's had to suffer, from his dog to his second wife and the constant questions he has had to endure regarding them. I'm too old and fat and encumbered by responsibility to just grab a dog and go. And I like having the husband I have... so sticking around to live and last in this relationship is what I believe is right.

Next best thing though...

With this desire for travel burning a hole in my soul, and these TV, website and book locations pointing to such abandon, we're thinking of a trip west this summer. But not all the way west. More north and west.

In August after I teach my class at the college we're setting out to see Scott in Chicago (and Mrs. Scott in Chicago) and are starting to get that planning, excitement, joyful feeling. We'll drive through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana on the way out, swing up through Wisconsin (to go to Green Bay, of course... I'm a freak) and then through Canada and NY State to come home.

We aren't the Monk brothers, nor are we funded by public television. And Kinger won't be joining us and our shoes won't wear out like Peter Jenkins, but we're going. God bless this country and the ability we have to just say "Hey, I'm taking a trip." Gotta love

Monday, June 10, 2002

Happy 10th Birthday Jessica


.Ten years ago tomorrow at about 8pm I gave birth to my first child. I was 25, Doug was 23. The world is a lot different here in the little universe that is our family than it was on that sunny day, and it is also different out in the greater universe as well. But on this day, a decade ago, it was all about us. And her.

She was due ten years ago today, so I can go ahead and write this entry. This would have been her birthday, possibly.

She didn't come on the 10th, but the next morning she started her entry to the world very early. Mostly due to physics. My downstairs neighbors were fighting at 7 am. They were total losers who would sit at home all day cooped up in the apartment collecting SSI and smoking pot. They were into it tooth and nail, and I sat up in bed (rather forcefully and with vim and vigor) so I could go down there and kick their asses. And I broke water.

Like a cannon, I broke water. All over the cat at the foot of the bed. All over the wall. I was shocked. I didn't think that was possible but there it was. A shrieking cat, fighting neighbors, and my poor husband who had gotten home from work at 4am trying his best to sleep through it all.

"Honey," I shook him tentatively, "Honey wake up. I broke water."

"gmfrphgph."

"Honey seriously, I think it's time to have the baby."

"Are you sure you broke water?" He hadn't even rolled over to look at me. The poor thing was one tired puppy.

Uh, ask the cat. "Yeah, I'm sure." So he rolls over and sees the mess, sees the cat, sees me and says "Okay then," with a slight excitement but more of a stunned awareness.

Actual labor with her didn't start until 2pm. She was born at 7:57pm. "Just in time for the Simpsons!" I said to Doug as they handed her to me. I never knew that 10 years later she'd be a certified expert in Simpsons lore.

So that's how she came here.

It was all pretty shocking, but with time I got used to being a mommy. And I enjoyed her being a baby. I enjoy her now being a big girl, with her sardonic wit and her crazy laugh that just won't stop even when I say "Okay, we get it. Time to stop laughing like a freak."

Back then though, she wasn't yet the talented writer and watercolor artist, the tallest girl in her class, the expert in the kitchen and big fan of Alton Brown. She was a baby. A little tiny baby. And she was all ours. June 11, 1992 was a day that changed my life forever.

What can I say about the person who singlehandedly changed my life, my outlook, my body and my soul?

What can I give her when I have no money to buy her the horse she wants, or take her to the movies to see every movie she wants?

How can I raise her so she'll be kind to others, not care about what others think of her, and always do the right thing, no matter what?

She made me want to have more, and she makes me never regret for one minute the fact that I have her. Sometimes she wears me out. Sometimes she is downright cruel to her brother. Othertimes, I'm amazed at the depth of understanding and genius she exhibits. She shocks me, she stuns me, she makes me proud. She overwhelms me, and she makes me laugh my ass off. She's the best.

One of the things I like to do to her is take her to the grocery store, and then dance in the aisle around her to whatever crap song they are playing on the muzak. She feigns embarassment, and laughs at me. The one thing I can say that I still can do is make her laugh.

Sometimes she dances with me, and I know that she's my offspring. A freak. A happy freak.

I will look back on that with immense joy when I'm old and in a home.

And she's payin' the bill.

Today I look back on a decade. One where my husband and I packed on the weight, the debt, the work experience, assumed ownership of property, added dogs and another kid to our clan.

I look at political changes, turmoil, scandals, tragedies, national emergencies and once in a while great sporting events.

I put the day to day happenings into perspective by looking at my daughter and realizing that history happens while our children grow. Sometimes we pay closer attention to current events or sitcoms than we do our kids. But I try really hard to look at them as growing with our country, developing like we did through the 70s and 80s.

Jessie will hopefully be survive the bad fashion, horrible pop music ensembles, and perhaps come into their own and make an impact on history in a positive way. Then, she will have her own kids and be able to watch them evolve with the times, help them grow through it. I can only hope we do a great job.

Some would say that the first ten years of her life we can show that we have done a great job. She's a great kid. Has her flaws, but hell it's her birthday so let's over look those. She certainly is the most unique 10 year old I know. And hopefully will remain a good friend to me for the decades to come.

But now comes the hard part -- the next ten years of her life. The teen years. Eventually, college. Cross your fingers. Pray for us. Wish us luck.

People tell you when you're going to have a baby that it's going to change your life, RUIN your life. You're never going to have fun again. You'll never be able to go out. They'll wreck all your stuff. You'll be in debt until you die exhausted and grey of hair at an early age.

Usually these people don't have kids. Keep that in mind when they offer you advice. They just know what they THINK, not what is true.

They see it as the end of your youth, the end of what's important.

What they don't know due to their total lack of perspective, and what people who already have kids don't tell you (they keep quiet because they know the secret) is that the kid thing WILL change your life.

It will make you different. It will make you stronger. It will make you wiser, more aware. Less of an asshole. Less shallow. Less selfish. You have to be. Someone relies on you. Someone NEEDS you for everything. And you are ABLE. You are not prepared, but you learn.

And these little people come into your life and rip your heart out when they cry, when they get hurt. They make you brave, they make you stand up for them because they need an advocate. They become your reason, your purpose. And you love them more than anything you ever imagined possible.

They change your life alright. They ruin it sometimes, for a minute or two, perhaps for a lifetime if things don't turn out perfect. But when they are born, they are yours and a blank slate, and you are a creator. A teacher, a guide, an artist and a mad scientist. You form them, shape them, guide them and protect them. You are a police officer and a guidance counselor. You are a hero and a bane to their existence.

You are a parent, and you are new and different from that minute forward.

I love this girl.

Sunday, June 09, 2002

Birthday, Ice Cream, Graduation Party

A Sunday entry. How bizarre is that. I normally don't get to do this, but Doug is learning about extra terrestrial involvement in the pyramids, the kids are at the neighbors, and I've got some time to myself while the laundry launders.

We had a busy weekend. Here's what went down.

Maine
Geoff and I went to Maine to get the Natster. Geoff had fun playing with Peteman and Mary, and I got to spend time with Marcia, which I always enjoy. Found out they're expecting Kid Four in February. Much to their surprise. But they've got the house for it, and the life for it, it all works for them and I wish them the best. They have wicked cool kids. Hopefully number four will be just as wicked cool.

Here are a couple pics from our Maine Visit.

Geoff told me he was a beaver, building a dam, "And this is how beavers get their trees," he said, grabbing a young tree to munch. I stopped him before he actually COULD cut the tree down with his teeth. He told me he wasn't REALLY going to chew up the tree, but just show me how it is done... right. Likely. But I did snap this picture right before I yelled at him to quit chewing nature.

Geoff and Mary enjoying a swing on the hammock. Geoff got it swinging pretty good there with his foot on the outside edge, and they had a nice time together.

Geoff looks kinda lonely without Mary. I changed the orientation of this picture from horizontal to vertical because I thought it looked cooler.

They have this cool double swing out front, but Pete was taking a nap so Geoff couldn't swing with.

We left Maine and came home to find Jessie, A and her friend T whose parents had not RSVPed intention to send her over for the movie thing... I guess they called while I was in Maine and Doug talked to them after he got home. It was weird mixing Natalie in with 10 year olds, seeing as she's 7... but she did well and got along all right. The girls had the bond of Jessie, and horses. And we went to see Spirit.

My Review, Our Adventures
I hated this movie. No exaggeration.
It was PAINFUL at best. There were far too many scenes of horses talking to each other in horsey scream and whinny language with human facial expressions to give us non-native horse language speakers the gist of the discussion. The Calvary guys were of course brutal, western expansionism was evil, the Indian guy was the cool guy and "understood" the horse ... horse falls madly in love with girl horse, they spend hours playing and romping. Sigh. Happy. Love. Kiss kiss. Meh meh. Puke puke.

And in the end, yes I WILL give it a way so avert thine eyes if you don't want to know, horse and Indian guy escape the bad cavalry guys and the wicked worst of them all gives them the nod of approval and "acceptance," and they go off and live happily ever after. Yeuch. It was tripe.

The animation was impressive but there were scenes where it screamed "computer! computer animation! too perfect! too exact!" and that bothered me.

And the icing on the hate cake for me was the fact that it was all a BIG music video for Bryan Adams.

Bryan friggin' Adams, who hasn't had a hit since like 1985, is the songwriter, singer, STAR of the movie. All the songs were written around the plot of the movie, and there were intensely long stretches of time where Bryan Adams' song was telling the story while you watch horses leap and play, or fight bad guys, or work hard. It made my stomach hurt. Bryan Adams. Who the hell calls Bryan Adams and says 'hey, we've got this horse movie, wanna write the soundtrack?'

Please. Puh-lease! Stop. Bryan Adams. I laughed and laughed for the first 10 minutes. A great big Bryan Adams music video is all this was. And it was pure, unadulterated crapola.

But the girls didn't see it that way. They loved it. As we went out for icecream after the movie I said "what was your favorite part of the movie?" and they talked about it and how wonderful it was. I tried not to puke and was successful. Barely.

Geoff liked the movie too, but I don't think a movie about being bad and fighting back wicked hard (even if the horse was right) was a good thing for him to see right now. As defiant as he is. Because the message of the film really is just that -- fight. Fight because you are right. Which isn't a BAD message, don't get me wrong. I'm all for standing up against injustice... but I don't know that it is something that a five year old needs to learn just yet. Perhaps, learn to get along with your immediate because they are good and right and THEN when the need arises to stand up and fight, do so.

Sigh.

Anyway... he hasn't talked much about the movie other than he liked the horses and likes the "Get off of my back" song that good ole Bryan Adams sings for us.

Bryan Adams... I'm still laughing.

In short, I don't recommend the movie. Don't waste your money. But if you have a 10 year old girl who loves horses, well then okay... she'll love it. Take her. Otherwise, rent Shrek or something else if you want to see a good kid's movie.

Congrats, Melissa!!!
We went to the deep south of Massachusetts yesterday afternoon for my cousin Mike's daughter's high school graduation. I remember when she was born. I have pictures of her holding Jessica, pictures of her from my wedding 11 years ago, and she was little.

Now she's all grown up. So weird.... She's going to get a nursing degree, live at home to save money, and I think she'll do super.

I don't get to spend much time with this angle of the family even though we're in the same state. Seems like Boston is some sort of physical barrier between me and those down south... but I always have a wicked good time.

Anyway... that was our adventurous weekend. It wasn't supposed to rain, but it sure as hell is right now. We were going to go pick strawberries or something, but it looks like once I get off the PC the kids will get on to watch Jessie's "Harry Potter" DVD (thanks to me). Coming this week is another edition of Blogger Insider, Jessie's REAL birthday (with cake) and whatever other wacky adventures we can get ourselves into! Stay tuned for further developments.