Monthly Archives: November 2008

Positively Negative

I really consider myself to be a pretty positive person.  I can usually see the upside to just about anything.  The glass isn’t even half-full: it is completely full.  The glass in question probably contains some volume of a liquid (or solid), but then we must consider gas – in this case, and to put it simply, the air we breathe.   I mean, unless the glass is in a vacuum.  In that case, you have an entirely different situation.  But really, if you have a glass filled approximately half-way with water, you could put a lid on it, submerge the glass, open the lid and watch an air bubble belch to the surface… and at that point the glass would then be filled with water.

You see what I mean?  No?  I’ll give you another example: I was late to my violin lesson tonight because it took me forever to get the kids bathed and “the muffin” to bed.  I walk out the door and it’s raining and cold, which means I’m getting wet and people are driving as if it was raining canola oil instead of just plain ol’ H2O.   Now I’m really late.  I’m walking in the rain and trying to call my teacher to tell him that I’m walking up to his door & would he please buzz me in.  My phone won’t work.  I go into O’Shea’s (which is right next door) and ask my bartender friend if I could use the phone – but it’s packed because it’s burger night & it took me forever to get her attention.  Bummer, huh?  But here’s where my mind took me: I’m late, but both kids are bathed and I got to put “the muffin” to bed myself which means that the normal ritual is preserved AND I got to hear “I love you mama”.  It’s raining & people are driving frustratingly slow & strange – but maybe this is what allowed me to find the pretty decent spot kinda close to where I needed to be (always a good thing when you’re downtown at night by yourself).  My phone didn’t work, but luckily, my lesson is right by O’Sheas where “everyone knows my name”, and I got to see my “bartender friend, Laura”, however briefly.  I run into a DXP fan who insists I say hi to his friends really quickly.  This makes me even later – but makes me feel like a rock star at the same time.  I make it to my lesson & my teacher isn’t upset at my lateness, and now I know the code to get in without calling first.  Pretty darned positive, if I do say so myself.  So tell me why, during my lesson, when I’m given a compliment, I refuse to believe it.  Deep down, I know that I have improved and can hear the difference in the things I’ve been working on – but when I’m given a certain encouragement (which, incidentally, I need), do I immediately think “oh, he’s just being nice.”  My brain knows that he is paid to tell me the truth and that he really isn’t prone to (pardon me) B.S.- at all – and yet, I just can’t take the positive comment.  He made a point to tell me that I do need to trust myself more and believe in my abilities, because I am sabotaging myself – and it’s true.  I AM sabotaging myself, because it takes forever to get it through my thick skull that I could be … and I even have a hard time writing it … worth the time it takes to teach me.  Dude!  How’s that for negative??!?!?!  It’s funny, too, because I could be performing at the MCI Center – televised around the globe – and feel perfectly comfortable.  In fact, I’d have a blast, and probably play better than I ever have before – and while I’m playing I’m not even thinking about anything but the music, and at that moment, I believe in the beauty or intensity or anger or joy of the sounds I’m producing.  You take me off stage and play the recording back & I’ll tell you that I stunk.  You put me in a one-on-one lesson situation & every note that isn’t absolutely perfect has me feeling lower than low – even if there is some sense of triumph that I got through something that I previously couldn’t, it will still be tempered with the notion that it wasn’t flawlessly beautiful.  I have always been like this.  Even when I was a kid – “I got an A on that test!  … But part of the reason was because I got the extra credit & I can’t believe I got #5 wrong!… what’s the matter with me??”  I guess it boils down to this: human beings are strange creatures.  We are capable of being positive to the point of being annoying and yet self-deprecating to the point of annoyance as well.  At least we’re not boring, and I guess that keeps life interesting – jeez, there I go again!  Sorry!  😉

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Wondering…

Today I am wondering how the mothers of ages past managed.  How did the mothers of the Old West manage to not lose their minds?  They never got a break … had to make breakfast, lunch and dinner from scratch, had to make their kids clothes by hand, and had to wash out diapers … wait… where did they do that?

Saturdays are usually awesome.  Jeff is home & the parenting responsibilities are shared – plus I have adult company all day long!  Today, however, Jeff had a wedding to go to in the afternoon (which lasted until well after the “Muffin” went to bed.  I could have gone, too, but that would have meant finding a babysitter for the whole afternoon and into bedtime.  That’s a tall order, especially when we impose on our babysitters quite a bit for the gigs that we play.  Babysitters are precious, and we have to strategically schedule them so we have coverage.  Playing music is really my only “job”, and not only do I love it, I need it.  I need it the way a drowning man needs a life preserver.  It is so completely important to me.  But I digress…) Today, I felt like I was pulling a triple shift, for some reason.  The day started out good.  Everyone was reasonably well behaved.  We all had McDonald’s for breakfast, we played in the leaves, and while the “Muffin” took her naps, the “Noodle” and I worked on the invitations for his “Ghost Birthday Party”.  Yeah, I know it’s not Halloween anymore, but I asked the “Noodle” what he wanted to do for his “friend” birthday party and he said “Ghosts!!”, so there ya have it.

It was after the napping that was the problem.  The “Muffin” scribbled on my sheet music (some of it borrowed – sorry Lauralei!!!) with a green pen.  I thought that if I let her draw with the pen she stole from the pen/pencil jar next to me, I could keep her within eyeshot while I practiced & she’d be happy using the “oh so forbidden pen”.  I was wrong.  Usually, I practice downstairs in the middle of a pile of legos – which is where I realize now I will always have to be.  Speaking of Legos, we did venture downstairs after dinner to play with them.  The “muffin” refused to clean them up & instead, was dumping them out just as fast as the “noodle” and I could put them away, while trying to climb into the bin – repeatedly.  After I had to move her out, physically, several times, I gave up on the clean-up.  Somehow, though, some legos managed to make their way upstairs.  How do I know?  Well, the “noodle” tells me to look in the potty after he had pee-ed.  Seems the “muffin” had thrown 3 lego pieces in while he was trying to go to the bathroom.  Ironically, they were brown legos.  That was probably too much information … anyway, moving on, during bath time, the “muffin” dumps water out of the tub and all over my legs – and my nice warm woolen socks.  I don’t have any slippers (that I can find, anymore, anyway) and this is all I have for foot warmth.  Our house was built before they believed in insulation, so certain rooms (all the ones we’re usually in) read a temp. of around 52 before I turn the space heater on.  The basement was 48, and the office was 52 – the room with the thermostat reads a toasty 65. Her behavior around the time of the Lego incidents is partially my fault, though.  It was her bedtime.  She should have been bathed & in her PJs by that point, but I was waiting for her diapers in the dryer.  Why, you may ask, did I allow myself to cut things so closely?  Well… smell.  You see, I washed the diapers (and we only have 8, because the good cloth ones are expensive to the tune of 20.00 each), but they still had an odor, so I had to wash them again.  Yes, I know, this is not efficient.  I didn’t have time today to be efficient.  There are days when efficiency just goes right out the window, because of what I like to call “forces of nature” – those being the “noodle” & the “muffin”.  Today it was all the “muffin”.  You are probably asking yourself, why then, didn’t you just put her in a disposable & call it a night.  Well, I would have if I could have.  But, you see, the “muffin” needs the extra night time protection afforded to her by triple stuffed cloth pocket diapers.  Mere cheap disposables (the only kind we have on hand) are no match for the awesome power of the “muffin”.  I think I’ll leave this here… again, this is probably too much information.  I’m so wiped out I’m probably delirious.  Just one last thought, though: whoever said girls were easier than boys, never had a “Muffin” on their hands.

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2 kids, 1 stroller, 3 winter coats, and a hat walk into a clothing store…

Last night I was informed that a certain clothing store to which I had a sizable store credit was going out of business.  I had been saving that credit and slowly using tiny pieces of it to buy something nice for the kids here and there as needed.  I hadn’t actually been in this store since having “The Muffin”, so I was a little out of touch with what was going on.  I called the store to make sure they were still accepting “store credit” & thank goodness we were still in luck.

Now, I almost decided not to go.  I almost decided that it would be more wise to wait until tomorrow morning, when I could either leave the kids with my husband for an hour, or we could all go together & I could have help shepherding the kids around.  Also, it had started to snow and I could have taken the kids to “nature story hour” at the beautiful glass Howard P. Rowlings Conservatory on Swan Drive.  It would have been so picturesque and lovely – like something out of a movie.  The snow coming down while walking into a beautiful glass arboretum like building full of plants to enjoy story time… I can just hear the incidental movie music now: a kind of tinkling fairy tale music … a little like the Harry Potter music, but more mystic & less creepy … where was I?  Oh yes!  Why did I decide not to give my kids this beautiful memory?  Well, it’s not my fault.  I had to chase “The Muffin” down to get her shoes and coat on.  “The Noodle” took a more direct approach.  “I don’t want my shoes on!  I already told you!”  By the time everyone had their shoes, coat, hats & mittens on, (and was fully dressed complete with diaper change) the story hour was already beginning.  I had a thought that maybe we could just be late (like 20 minutes late, mind you), but then as I was locking the door & setting the alarm, “The Muffin” sat herself down on the very wet deck, and we had to go back inside and change her pants.  So much for story hour – on to the clothing store!

I knew this trip was going to be ambitious, but I didn’t realize that the “Muffin” (who I had strapped in her little umbrella stroller) at one point would bend herself most of the way out of the stroller so that her head was almost touching the ground.  She starts to cry (loudly) that she “wants out” and refuses to sit up straight.  Of course, the way she has arranged herself prevents the stroller from moving an inch & people are starting to look at me with that “well, what are you going to do about it?” kind of look, so I unstrap her – which wasn’t easy, I might add, because she still refused to sit up (and she still had her winter coat on).  Well, you would have thought I had uncaged a wild animal.  Off she goes, giggling, clear to the other end of the store.  “The Noodle” thinks this is great fun & tears after her.  There I am, with my jaw hanging to the floor as I look wildly around to see where they had gone.  Some of the other shoppers are snickering behind hangered sweaters.  Thank goodness the store is filled with older people who found my predicament “cute”!  At one point, I apologized to a lady who told me she was having fun watching us.  Good.  I’m glad someone was having fun (besides my kids).

So, my kids are everywhere, and I’m yelling – but trying not to be yelling – across the store “Muffin, Noodle!  Come back here right now!”  This goes on the entire time we’re there.  Coats that were laid over the stroller were flung off several times, as the “Noodle” (who took command of the darn thing) almost ran into countless racks of clothing and a woman in a wheelchair.   The entire store knows my kids names now, as I called to both of them at least 25 million times during our visit.  I wish I could say that was all the *ahem* “fun” we had, but that was not all – oh no, that was not all.  At one point (like 10 minutes after we got in the door), the “Noodle” tells me he has to go to the bathroom.  Luckily, the store has one, so I take him.  I could not for the life of me get the “Muffin” back into the stroller (my attempt at containment), so I kneel down & look both kids directly in the eye and say “don’t touch ANYTHING.  OK?  Got it?  Just don’t touch”.  Well, I might as well have been speaking Martian, because the “Muffin” then walks right over to the metal handicap rail and touches it (you’d have thought her finger was a magnet) .  The “Noodle” has his pants around his ankles, telling me to hurry, so I just look over at her and reiterate the “no touching” rule, and lift him onto the “potty”.  The “Muffin” then decides to unroll as much toilet paper as she can.  I grab her and say “No!  I can’t believe it!  I said don’t touch!  I’m very unhappy right now!”.  I turn around to help the “Noodle” get off, and hear “Muffin!  NO! That’s MINE!”, and look over my shoulder just in time to see her throw the “Noodle’s” hat into the bathroom trashcan.  I try to calm the “Noodle” down & get him situated, while keeping the “Muffin” from grabbing anything else.  I then have to fish the hat out of the wet, gross trashcan, turn it inside out and stuff it in my purse -then wash everyone’s hands.  The “Noodle” is demanding his hat back.  I’m trying to explain to him why it needs to be washed, and he is on the verge of tears.  I scoot everyone out of the bathroom (finally), and the “Muffin” – or should I say “Little Beastie” – runs giggling off, and decides to play hide-and-go-seek in the dressing rooms.  I was NOT having it and tell her I’m leaving, only to get back “Bye Mama! Tee hee hee hee!”.  I did have to go back in to fetch her, as it turns out, because I really couldn’t leave her in a random dressing room, and she totally refused to surrender and come out.  At one point, she ran away from me, and I really didn’t go after her & she must have thought she was lost (don’t worry, I knew where she was & she was perfectly safe), because I see a woman directing her back over my way “there she is, honey”.  The “muffin” comes running over with trembling lips.  I (foolishly) thought she was cured from running away from me… but it only lasted about 3 minutes.  It took all of those 3 minutes to get her to try on a dress (it wasn’t her size, but looked like it would fit).  This was like trying to dress an electric eel.  No, really, between the static electricity zapping us both, and her going limp on the floor – twice – it truly was like dressing an eel (if an eel had arms).

Towards the end of our excursion, I thought I had finally found the perfect place where I could try on a sweater.  (And when I say “try on a sweater”, I mean it was a cardigan and all I had to do was unbutton the top button, take it off the hanger, and put it on over my shirt).  It was a far corner of the store and had a small “clearing”, if you will.  Little damage could be done here & I would literally have them – well, cornered.  Perfect, right?  Yeah, perfect until I noticed the emergency exit.  The “muffin” goes right for it.  I catch her in time & point to the sign.  The “Noodle” and I sound out the words “E-m-e-r-g-e-n-c-y  E-x-i-t.  Alarm will sound.”  He looks at me with the biggest eyes you’ve ever seen: “What will happen if we go out that door???”  I tell him that the alarm would go off, the police will come and the person who opened the door would get in big trouble.  I tell him that policemen don’t like false alarms.  I tell him that people who make alarms go off if there isn’t a BIG emergency get in BIG trouble.  He asks me if he’d have to go to jail.  I say maybe, and see out of the corner of my eye, a woman trying to hide her laughter behind her hand.  It worked, though.  The “Noodle” then stood guard by the door & foiled all of the “Muffin’s” attempts to open it – barely.

At the check-out counter, I apologize to the sales clerks.  They were very generous.  “No, really, they had us laughing!  -I mean, I know you were having a hard time – but they were just having so much fun!”  Then the customer at the next counter tells me “You’ll miss this when you get older.”  I think I smiled and said something like “maybe”… but I’m thinking no.  I’ll miss a lot of things, but this part?  Not so much.

(These are the adventures of Friday, Nov. 21 2008)

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Lunch and now chocolate

I am completely unsatisfied with my lunch.  It was about a cup of plain left over pasta and three left over broccoli spears.  I tried to make it interesting by adding some Italian seasoning, mozzarella cheese, and balsamic vinegar, which only kinda worked.  So I will eat half of a Lindt Lindor Extra Dark chocolate bar while sipping on semi-warm coffee laden down with 2 tsp of sugar and 1/3 of a cup of 2% Lactaid milk.  (Take THAT “Eat This, Not That” author!)  “The Noodle” will demand a piece of the chocolate, since he’s sitting right next to me and bound to notice how unfair it is that “grown-ups” can just go ahead and do that sort of thing without asking.  In about an hour I will wonder why it is that he “just won’t nap”, and start to get grumpy about it.  I will then realize that I gave him extra-dark chocolate before “nap-time” and say something like “silly mommy”, shake my head and resign myself to my fate.  That is all.

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PBS Kids

Lately, I’ve been having a love/hate relationship with PBS.  “The Muffin” and “The Noodle” are definitely PBS kids.  Most of the TV shows they watch can be found channel 26, and most of the time I think this is awesome!  “The Noodle” also loves to play the computer games on the PBSKids website.  Among his favorite programs & games: “Word Girl”, “Sid the Science Kid”, “Arthur”, “Cyber Chase”,Clifford”, “Curious George” … did I mention “Word Girl“?  Sounds cute, doesn’t it?  A Super Hero 5th grader with a vocabulary that defeats the Super Villians!  Fantastic!  (And a darn cute show, if I do say so myself.)  It is pretty amazing that my 3 1/2 year old feels completely comfortable using words like emperor, intercept, society, vocabulary, vicious, defeat … uh, did I mention vicious and defeat? Yeah, that’s right.  Today I was in the basement washing out a poopy diaper (yes, we use cloth mostly – but that’s a subject for another blog) when “the Noodle” rounds the corner and with a “Condiment Gun” (yes you read that correctly) fashioned out of Lego Duplos, points it directly at me and says “Melted Butter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I just shot melted butter at you, Word Girl!  Muhahahahaha!  You’ll never get me now!  So long slippery girl! Muhahahahahaha!”  and races out of the room.  Kinda of funny.  I think I smiled to myself & said something like “Oh yeah?  You’ll never get away with this Chuck the Evil Sandwich Making Guy!”  (he’s the super villian, I gathered the “Noodle” was pretending to be.)  Then “The Noodle” (or “Chuck” – whichever you prefer), comes back with a bigger Duplo gun, points it even closer and says “maple syrup!  I just attacked you with maple syrup, Word Girl, you ‘ll never get out of here now – you’re trapped!  So long Sticky Girl!!  You can’t defeat ME!  I’m Chuck the Evil Sandwich Making Guy!!  Muhahahahahahaha!” and runs away again.  Ok, so I was right about the whole Chuck thing, and it was a nice use of the words “defeat” and “attack”, but the guns were starting to get to me (even if they were only Lego “Condiment Guns”).  I think I said something about not liking guns, even pretend ones, and went on with my scrubbing.  Then he rounds the corner AGAIN and walks close to me & deliberately and slowly pats me (with force) in a way that I knew he wanted to hit me, but didn’t want to get in trouble and he says “Salami attack!  Now I’m The Butcher and I just knocked you out with salami!”, and laughed maniacally.  Ok, you really don’t want to mess with me when I’m dealing with poopy.  I gave him a look of death & he said something like “I didn’t really hit you, but mom, I’m a bad guy and that’s what we do!”  At this, I had to laugh, and after I finished up with the diaper, I attacked him with “tickle torture”.  Still, I have found myself cursing PBS under my breath whenever I get the “ok, mom, you’re Word Girl, and I’m Chuck the Evil Sandwich Making Guy”  or “Ok, you be Dr. Two-Brains and I’m going to stop you!” or when I get condiment guns pointed in my face or random toys flung at me because he’s “Not throwing, it’s a pastrami attack!”.  Sigh.  It could be worse, and sometimes it is.  Sometimes I have to be Robin to his Batman, or the Joker, or The Riddler, or Mr. Freeze.  Then I have to ward off kicks & punches & toxic waste attacks.  Or when he he uses “Sith Force Lightning” on his sister.  Still, I guess it’s not so bad, I do get to let off a little steam when I’m the bad guy & stomp around & talk loudly & threaten to blow up the city.  Kinda fun, actually, now that I’m thinking about it… just not all the time… and not when I’m in the middle of doing something (which usually seems to be the case)…and not when his sister – or me – gets hurt when he’s punching too closely or kicking or whatever.  And it IS really funny when he wants to be Word Girl, but doesn’t want to be a girl, so says he’s “Word Car” or my personal favorite “Word Cracker” (yeah, that’s right, I said Cracker … I defeated him one day by getting my faithful sidekick to “devour” him).  I guess since the “Noodle’s” vocabulary is growing the way it seems to be, I should be thanking PBS.  Actually, I’ll go one better: Thank you Word Girl!

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Mamas and Cowboys

Mothers are funny creatures.  I can say that because I am one.  I have two wonderful children who I love more than life itself.  I would do anything for them.  I would walk through fire.  I would scale a mountain in my bare feet using only dental floss for rope.  I would jump in front of a Mack truck.  I would surrender the last cookie in the box to them – which, those of you who have lived with me know, is big stuff.

So now that I’ve established my fondness for my children, I feel that I can safely talk about how difficult my daughter was as an infant.  She was a sweet loving baby (to me), but she had a set of lungs on her that could rival any opera singer’s – and her range!  She could hit notes that would not only make the glass in our house shatter, I feel certain that if there was glass on Neptune, it would have been destroyed as well.  I am not kidding.  The scream of a banshee would have sounded like Mozart next to her wails.  The only thing that calmed her down (most of the time) was if I sung “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” . I don’t know why.  I never listened to Willie Nelson or Waylon Jennings when I was carrying her. I didn’t even know who Waylon Jennings was before I looked up the song to learn all of the lyrics!  I had, out of sheer desperation, started to sing the first thing that came into my head one day – and that was “Mamas…” – but not the Willie Nelson/Waylon Jennings version.  It was the Alvin & the Chipmunks version that I was thinking of complete with “Aaallllvvvviiiiiiiin!”  But the version playing through my mind at the time matters not, the important thing was: by Jove, it worked!  She was instantly captivated & stopped crying mid-wail.  Since learning the “Mamas” trick, I branched out & started to listen to Willie Nelson quite a bit and have added a few other songs to my “calm The Muffin down” repertoire.  I can’t tell you how many times, though, I have sung that song.  I would sing it over & over & over & OVER again for months & months & months & MONTHS until she ceased to be the fuss-pot that she was & began to be the absolute sweetheart that she is now.

Tonight, The Muffin did NOT want to go to bed.  She threw her milk.  She squirmed.  She kicked.  I had to wrestle her into her crib & she straight-up refused to lie down.  “No naps, Mama!  No!”, she said.  “Yes, Muffin, it’s time for naps.  Time for bed, ” I said.  “No!  No naps!  No lie down!  No!”, she said.  Then I remembered my secret weapon & I burst into “Mamas Don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys…” – and it still worked!!  She layed down right away & with thumb in mouth, snuggled deep into her blanket.  When the song was over, she asked for it again … and here is where the strangeness of motherhood comes in – I turn into a weepy mess, and with tears streaming down my face, barely get the notes out.  Apparently, the memory of me singing this to the “baby Muffin” (mid-song), has reduced me to this state.  I’m even teary as I write this.  But WHY??  I’ve sung that song a million times!  And the whole reason I sung it in the first place, was to avoid having my ear drums blown out.  I am so completely glad that The Muffin is not that baby any more!  I am so completely glad that she is a happy & contented 20 month old, I cannot even tell you – nor, I am sure, can the people who babysit her.  So why, does me singing that song evoke this strange “awwww, my Muffin!!!” response.  Maybe I’m just tired.  It has been a long day.  Or maybe it’s all part & parcel of the “Motherhood Packet of New Emotions” that was delivered to me the instant my first born was.  I signed on for many things (blood, vomit, poopy diapers, bandaids, school projects, laundry, family dinners, etc & so forth), but I had not counted on this.  I had not counted on instantaneous tears at the mere memory of no more than like 10-12 months ago.  No one tells you this stuff before you become a mother – but someone should.  Not that it would make any difference, because tears & all, becoming a mother is still the coolest thing I’ve ever done.  But enough of this, I have to help my son get past the Venus Fly Traps on “Lego Batman” …. not that I signed on for that either – but it’s DEFINITELY fun!

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Patriotism

The elections are right around the corner, so naturally I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking about our country.  Don’t worry, I’m not about to put my two cents in on who I think the better candidate is, tell you who I’m voting for, or even disclose my party affiliation.  I’m actually getting quite sick of partisanship and politics.  No, tonight I am considering a question somewhat casually posed by a friend of mine.  The question wasn’t directed at me or anyone in particular, but rather (I’m assuming – yeah, I know I should really stop doing that) is one that is intended to make us all stop and think: “what makes you an American Patriot”.  Seems like an easy question.  However, knowing as I do, that it comes from a Marine who has risked his life for over a decade in the service of our country …well … knowing that it makes me pause and consider my answer a bit more carefully. (Especially since I just finished looking at a friend’s honeymoon pictures and thinking to myself “why do I live in crappy ol’ Baltimore when I should be living in Curaco.” … not very patriotic, huh?)

So why do I consider myself an American Patriot?  Hmmm… well… the easy answer is that I truly am proud to be an American, I pay my taxes, exercise my right to vote, and defend others right to speak their minds (even when I completely disagree).  Doesn’t seem like much does it?  Certainly doesn’t seem like much to me when I put it like that.  Not next to a Marine fresh from Iraq.  Not next to two Grandfathers in the Air Force, a Grandmother who was a volunteer nurse during WWII, an uncle who served in the Air Force, another who served in the Navy, another in the Army Reserve, an aunt who works for NASA, an Uncle working for the DOD – I won’t even go into the cousins – and even my own sister (who I can’t really talk about what she does – not that I know, anyway).  Huh.  Hmmm… well.  On the surface, I’m not really much of a Patriot at all.  I play music in bar bands, do artwork, and stay at home with my kids.  I reap the benefits of others’ determination and self-sacrifice.  I rest easy in the comfort of (what I like to call) the Club Med of Nations, and live in a kind of security that many people will never know.

I will always remember the morning of 9/11/01 (I know what you’re thinking – “huh??  How’d we get to that topic” – just bear with me, okay?).  About the time the first tower was hit, I was sitting in the living room of my high-rise apartment eating a grapefruit.  The sunlight was warm & perfect and played through that silly little grapefruit such that it looked like some sort of jewel.  I thought to myself that I was very like a Queen having gems for breakfast.  Later that morning, when I was fully aware of what was going on & stuck in grid-lock traffic trying to come home (like everyone else), I was angry.  Not at the terrorists, ironically, but at myself because I was unprepared.  I had lived the life of that queen eating her beautiful fruits in her bathrobe.  I had made nothing of my life that would be useful in a time like that.  I was no firefighter, or soldier, or paramedic, or doctor … or even a diplomat or translator.  I remembered thinking about how as a kid I wanted to work for the CIA or FBI or design fighter jets… and here I was in traffic … totally useless – and I hated myself for it.  Well, here we are years later and I’m back to those same thoughts.  I feel less guilty, though, because I know that not everyone can be everything.  Not everyone is meant to be a soldier.  Soldiers make the sacrifices that they do so that people like me can live the carefree life that I, as an American, enjoy.  My grandfathers fought so that I would never have to.  Does this give me the right, though, to call myself a Patriot?  I think it does only because I understand the price that was paid to bring me here to this beautiful place, and keep me safe.  And only if I teach my children to thank a soldier and explain to them why it’s important.  I can say truthfully that I do that.  Right now my son only gets that soldiers “fight bad guys” and get to use guns.  He once asked a Marine that we saw outside of Trader Joe’s “you fight bad guys?”  and the Marine was taken aback, smiled & said “yeah, sometimes”.  My son said “thanks for keeping me safe” then turned to me and asked for apple juice.  For now, I think that’s enough.

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