Category Archives: Life Death & Random Musings

Death of a Maestro, Death of a Spy

DSC_1007This year has seen quite a lot of endings. Too many endings. Too many deaths. And it’s only May. I keep telling myself that the year is going to turn around, and truly wonderful things are going to start happening. Maybe they have been all along. Actually, I know they have been, because otherwise the people who have passed on since January 1, wouldn’t have made such an impact on us. Both their lives, and their passing. Like Professor Reyes. He had been Jonah’s piano teacher, and I cannot express to you how deeply we have been affected by his death. He had become like family to us, and was a friend. He passed in February, and on the very last day of April, Jonah gave the opening remarks at his memorial service. It couldn’t have been an easy thing to do, but he handled it beautifully. The whole service was beautiful. It was a large church, and it was full – as you might expect of such a teacher and musician – of people whose lives had been deeply touched by him and his music. The service was perfect; it was humble, but in an almost grand kind of way – much like the man, himself. Humble, but what he could do and what he passed on to his students was grand. Bigger than himself, and given freely and easily. One of the people who got up to speak talked of how he “cast his bread on the water”, and “look at what was returned” so many lives touched by his. During the service, Jonah’s first piano teacher, Professor Reyes’s great-niece, played Clair de Lune. It was beautiful; and it was profound, because it is the piece Jonah is learning with his new teacher. It was almost as if some sort of unspoken blessing was being given. The first piece with the new was the sending off of the former – two former, in fact.
As his ashes were carried out, someone played the National Anthem of the Philippines, which we were told was what Professor Reyes always played as an encore, and interspersed in the crowd of mourners – voices singing along. Soft. Almost sprinkled throughout. So beautiful, so honest, and so moving.

Last week, at the 5th grade Spring Concert, Jonah played the last piece he worked on with Professor Reyes. He died before they could finish working on it, and Jonah refused to introduce it to his new teacher, because “It was Professor Reyes’s, and I don’t want anyone else to ‘mess’ with it.” It was a Romance by Tchaikovsky that Professor Reyes said he played when he was a boy, and never forgot. It always “just stuck” with him. Anyway, Jonah continued to work on it on his own & decided to play it for the school concert. And he did – on an out of tune old piano whose keys sometimes wouldn’t play and you could barely hear from the audience; and with the prayer card from the memorial service tucked neatly in his shirt pocket “for luck”. And it was magical. At least for us. And another ending; heartfelt and humble.

Also this month was the memorial service for “Grandpa Walker”. He was my uncle’s father. He was a fixture in my life, and he was a-for-real-honest-to-goodness spy. There were no martinis at his service, though – shaken or stirred – no one crashed through a window, no one talking into their sleeve, and no watches with grappling hooks and saw blades. There *was* a table filled with photographs and medals, and plaques for service from the NSA and Laurel police force. There was a lot about Grandpa Walker that I didn’t know. There was a lot about Grandpa Walker that his own kids didn’t know, and there’s a lot about Grandpa Walker that no one without the proper clearance will ever know. We were assured by a couple of former co-workers that though they can’t tell us why, we should all be both proud of and extremely grateful for his service to this country, some which is still relevant today. That’s good enough for me. I did learn that during the civil unrest in the area, when race was a bigger issue than today and when he was a police officer, he was the *only* police office that was trusted by both the black and white communities. Also, that when his daughter was asked by her friend (who happened to be black) to the school dance, he personally escorted them so that no one would give them any trouble, and they could just “go and have a good time like kids are supposed to do”. I wonder how many fathers would have done that at the time. I wonder how many fathers would do that today… I also learned that he was truly a man of God and did QUITE a bit in service to his church. The hall we were sitting in was *his* vision, and he never even brought it up. But I guess spies are used to keeping quiet about things. Or maybe it was because that was just the kind of guy he was. Unassuming, and a man of integrity.

His service was attended by a much, much smaller, but equally diverse group of people. It was also humble, and honest – and though not grand, the things he accomplished in his life sure seemed to be. He also scattered his bread on the water, though much more quietly – that was his job, after all, to be quiet – and the over-all effect was the same: an out-pouring of love, because he gave of himself freely and easily.

Two very different men on the surface, and two very different services. I have been made a better person by the bread each cast, and I am so very grateful.

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Judged

I’ve debated writing this post for quite some time. In fact, I’m still not sure if I’m actually going to publish it. I’m not even sure I know quite where to begin. There are so many aspects to this topic, and so many ways to approach it that I’ve been quite paralyzed by indecision. I’ve written it and rewritten it in my head for weeks and each time I’ve done so, it takes on another meaning. This topic is, in fact, bigger than me. It’s bigger than a lot of people, and that’s why it causes so much trouble. The topic is this: addiction.

There is a man close to my heart who is struggling with it. He is strong, and smart, and brave, and gentle, and kind. He is honorable. He is the kind of man who you’d trust with your life. The kind of man you’d trust with your children’s lives, so when I was told of his current predicament, my immediate reaction was disbelief: “No, it couldn’t actually be true. There must be another side to this story.” I think my actual words to his wife were “but it’s like Bizarro Superman. It’s the complete opposite of who he is.” She agreed, but it didn’t make it any less true.
This cut me to the core. I felt for his wife. I felt for his kids. I felt for him, and I desperately wanted to talk to him. To see him. To hear it from his own mouth. To know why. I wanted to tell him I was there for him, and remind him of who he is. I wanted to give him a big ol’ bear hug and tell him it was going to be ok… right after I told him to get his sh*t together. In fact, I tried. I tried to get in touch with him, but couldn’t. And that hurt just as much as anything else. I felt like he was just … gone.
Months went by and then one day I got a message from him asking me to call – which I did immediately! It was a great phone conversation which led to a great visit. He isn’t out of the woods, but he is trying very hard to put his life back together. He has sought help. He is going to meetings – daily, I think he said. He told me everything. What it was that he thinks triggered it all, where he is now, and why he didn’t call or write me back. That was the bit that hit me like a brick. He said he was afraid he let me down. He said he was afraid I’d judge him. He said he was sorry for thinking that, but he just couldn’t stand the idea of knowing that I might. That still eats at me. It eats at me because I know exactly what he means. I would never judge him, because I am afraid of being judged. I have kept a secret from most of my loved ones for years. I have never shared it, because I am afraid of the exact same thing. It’s interesting, because I’ve thrown it out there to certain friends nonchalantly: “well, you can’t go by me on that one, because …”. Usually, the response is “really? wow”, and then they move on. None of them has judged me – or if they have, it was privately and has never interfered with my friendship with them. Not even once. But here I sit, deliberately avoiding divulging it, because I am worried that I will be judged. Worried that if I happen to look too thin or tired or if I pass up a tray of dinner rolls, I am being judged. I’m worried that my credibility will be lost. I’m worried that my loved ones will worry. Or feel guilty. And the idea of them feeling guilty makes me feel guilty. I never want to be a bother to anyone. I never want to lose the illusion that I have it all together & my life is a magical fairy tale and that absolutely nothing is wrong. Because my life is a magical fairy tale and I do have it all together (the fact that I’m in yesterday’s clothes and am usually wiping poopy or boogies off my hands notwithstanding). But I’ve been thinking about him, and thinking about how unfair it is that he has been so honest with me, and is going to be forced to be honest with everyone who cares about him, while here I sit hiding my own addiction. It is a kind of addiction …. well, maybe it’s more of an obsession. Well, here goes nothing: I struggle with anorexia.
No, I’m not trying to directly compare alcoholism to anorexia. I know they are different animals altogether. They are different, but there are a few things that they have in common. Both cause physical damage that can be lasting, and if either goes unchecked, can kill; both are life-long struggles, and both are things we don’t like exposed.
Now, you might be thinking that I must be very vain if I obsess about the way I look so much that I’d be willing to starve myself; and I’d be lying if I said that self-image wasn’t a part of it. It is part of it, but the bigger part of my experience with anorexia is obsession. Obsession and control. How long can I go without eating? How few calories can I consume and continue on? How light can I get without alarming anyone? I used to be able to make an entire meal out of 2 strawberries (and would feel guilty about eating that second one), and would eat rice individually. Yes, you read that right. I would sit there with a chopstick and pick up individual grains of rice until it grew so wearisome I’d say “forget it”, and dump the rest. I knew how many calories were in a single m & m, and could, in fact, eat only one. I would chart out how many times in a day and how many calories I’d consume – and yes the m&m counts. I even counted the diet pills I was taking for awhile , because they did, in fact, contain a calorie. I made up detailed spreadsheets, and had webpages bookmarked for quick reference. I made a science of cataloging food, an obsession of self-denial, and the lighter I got, the better I felt – both mentally and physically. I can’t explain it. There was – and is – a kind of euphoria in lightness. -and I was addicted to that feeling.
Let me also address the common misconception that anorexia is for teenagers. I can assure you that it is not. I didn’t spiral out of control until I was out of college, and I’ve struggled with it ever since. I say I still struggle with it, and I do. Often I have to talk myself into having lunch, but this does not mean that I do not have it under control. (There’s that word again: control. I really do have a thing for it.) I was exceptionally lonely and unhappy when I was at my worst, and today I am in a much better place; and even when I am feeling low, I would never want to set an unhealthy example for my kids. I have also turned my obsession with food around: instead of worrying about how much I am eating, I now worry about the quality of food I am eating and serving my family. These days I’m all about nutrition, and learning about what different foods can do for me – and my family. I might freak out a little too much when my kids are offered a non-organic apple, or find out that they had a juice box, cupcake, AND box of nerds at a party, but in the end I do know that there are worse things. And there are. And at that very same party I will probably ask for a cupcake.
Again, I’m not trying to directly compare anything he’s going through with anything I’m going through. Except, of course, that fear of being judged. It really is the root of this confession. I guess I just want those in my life to know that I am keenly aware that no one is perfect. I know how quickly an obsession, at least, can spiral out of control, and I know how hard it is to come back from that. I know what it’s like to hide what I’m going through. I know what it’s like to lie about what I was consuming, and I know what it’s like to not want to be a disappointment or worry to anyone. I know what it’s like to fear judgement from those I love the most, and I know what it is like to be ashamed. There is so much more to say on this topic. Or maybe I’ve said too much. In any case, I’m going to stop writing and hold my finger over the “publish” button and wonder if today is the day I actually press it.

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Inner Yoda vs Wounded Animal

The Noodle started Kindergarten this week, and I had a deadline that I found to be incredibly stressful.  For some reason, this has made me feel like a wounded animal.  This maybe wouldn’t have been such an issue, except that I have also acted very much like a wounded animal.  I have alternately fallen into fits of weepiness and testiness.  I have spit “Stop it!”, “you clearly don’t understand at all”, and “leave me alone!” at those with the best of intentions.  I have never felt so isolated and alone, but have no right to complain about it because I don’t want to talk about it, I avoid people, and then there’s the whole “leave me alone!” thing as I slam doors to things like the microwave.  (It does make a really satisfying sound, though, when I’m on edge.)    And as if that isn’t enough, I also lately have been breaking out like a teenager, and am unable to function very well (ok – at all) when I’m in one of my “not really holding in the tears so well, but I’m really trying to” moments.

For example: it’s the first day of school & none of the other parents seemed to be shedding one single tear, and I’m crying every other second.  During one of my moments when I was actually able to pull it together – still with my sunglasses on inside the school building – my husband was trying to introduce me to someone & I evidently turned my back on him.  I had no idea I had done this.  I had very little sense of what was going on around me except for The Muffin tugging on my dress, The Noodle sitting next to a little girl who looked terrified to be in school, and that little girl’s mom – who very kindly told me that she had cried all week & not to worry about it (being a basket case, that is).  I really & truly had no idea what was going on outside of this.  It took every ounce of strength I had to not flat out ball my eyes out the entire time.  I felt like I could barely maintain awareness of standing upright- or breathing normally & not in sobs.  I felt terrible later when Jeff told me what I had done…  Even still, I feel I should mention that when I think of that little girl in her yellow dress and her little box of plastic frogs & such that she had brought from home, I still can’t keep it together.  I cry every time.  I can’t help it.  –and then, when I replay The Noodle’s conversation with her in my mind, I’m a ridiculous mess.

Silence.

“What’s your name?”

“Lisa*.”  Silence.  “What’s your name?”

“Noah.*.”

Silence.

“These are my frogs.”

“Oh.  Great.”  Silence.   “Do you like Legos?”

Nods head “yes”.
“You do?!”

I know.  I’m ridiculous.  And the thing that really gets me is that I don’t understand it.  My brain is not sad at all.  I am actually really excited about The Noodle starting school.  Elementary school is so much fun.  I am completely excited to help with homework, and science fair projects.  I look forward to packing lunches in lunchboxes, and hearing about his day.  I love this stuff.  I was very excited for his first day, and there I was crying my eyes out.  I’ve been crying my eyes out about this since the day he was born.  I’m not kidding.  I cry and cry and am totally confused by it.  And it makes me so disappointed because I want to be Yoda.  Well … I don’t want to be a small green alien with big ears, but I do want very much to be like Yoda.  Someone who is wise and at peace with the universe, who has achieved balance, and who people come to when they need advice and direction and comfort.  Unfortunately, try though I might, I cry over little girls with plastic frogs and first days of school; and I don’t communicate except to hiss “leave me alone” or to marvel aloud about how I am” so stressed out” & “I’ve never been this stressed over probably anything ever in my life ever” and then yell “stop it!” when I get a response I don’t like.  I want to be Yoda … but I’m actually more like an untamed wounded animal.  Oh well, at least no one can accuse me of being unemotional or apathetic….right?

*note: names have been changed to protect the innocent

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Fireflies

A week ago today, I came home in the darkness & was reminded of how wondrous this world can be.  For one reason or another, when I got out of the car I stopped to look over the bridge in our backyard.  I never do this.  I give quick nervous glances before I step out of the car then high-tail it into the house – especially during mosquito season.  I must have thought I saw the neighborhood fox or caught a glimpse of a rabbit  … or maybe I thought I saw what might have been that missing dog … not that it matters, the point is that I stopped and looked out, and looked up, and saw the night completely filled with fireflies.  I don’t mean a couple of lightning bugs skimming their way among the bushes or rising from the grass – I mean countless tiny lights glittering in the very tops of the trees and flashing next to the stars.  It was breathtaking.  I felt as though I was in some sort of magical snow globe where the giant white flakes were these flashing blinking little beings.  Yes, yes, I know these “little beings” are not so innocent after all, but they sure are beautiful.  I stood there in the driveway for a while amazed and watching, feeling like a little kid seeing the summer night for the first time.

Tonight Jeff found a firefly in distress.  He had opened the garage & saw something blinking steadily and insistently under a lawn chair.  I coaxed the little guy onto my finger and he looked pale and traumatized.  Poor little thing has a handful of days to live his adult life & he must have spent all last night and all day today trapped in the garage alone, confused and flashing his little but off – quite literally.  It struck me how frantic and pale he looked.  I put him by some bushes and hoped for the best.

There is so much more to say about these past several weeks.  There is so much, but I am so tired, I’ll just have to save it for another night.  Before I go, though, I’ll leave with a Parenthood Moment from this morning:

The Muffin is crying and upset because she slept in and missed her favorite cartoon (she usually sleeps in and misses it, by the way).  “I want Martha!!!  Put it on Mommy!  Put it on!”

Me: “I can’t honey, it’s over.”

The Muffin: “Noooooooo!” (tears streaming down her face) “Put it On Demand!  Put it on a DVD!”

Me: “I can’t, sweetie, it’s TV.  It’s not on On Demand and I haven’t seen a DVD for it.  But Curious George is on now – you like Curious George, right?”

The Muffin: “Nooooooooo!   Ohhhhhh…..humpf!”

The Muffin starts getting really pretty grumpy, and The Noodle who is trying to ignore her & watch his cartoons speaks up for the first time: “Stop being so loud around me!!!! I don’t like it!”

I go into the next room to kiss Jeff good-bye and hear screaming:

“I HATE monkeys!  I like DOGGIES!”  and we both loose it.  Sometimes ya just gotta laugh (when the kids aren’t looking, of course :).

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Blame it on the Wind

My grandfather was a meteorologist who studied hurricanes & tornadoes.  There are probably only a handful of other people in this world with his appreciation of  and respect for the wind.  The rest of us give the wind a lot of crap & randomly blame things on it.  For example: branches & twigs litter our driveway.  First thing to take the blame?  Wind.   Of course, it could (and probably does) have something to do with the fact that our trees are extremely large and probably not at their healthiest AND are home to about a billion extremely active and playful squirrels.  But it’s so much more convenient somehow to sigh and mutter “darned wind” while the squirrels scamper overhead with twigs in their mouths, dropping seeds & shells all over the place.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to visit a very good friend of mine in Colorado.  We decided to drive into Wyoming to see Cheyenne.  I’m really glad we did.  Along the way I saw a few ranches for sale that I now fantasize about buying.  Anyway, I digress – while walking along the streets of downtown Cheyenne (which by the way, is either beginning a revival or smack dab in the middle of a major decline) we spot a building that looks like it was once some sort of theater (lately a gallery)- and falling apart at the seams.  The marquis was completely wrecked and on what was left, the owners had put up (in old school movie theater letters) “Wind Did It”… you know, just in case any was wondering what happened…

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My son, on the other hand gives the wind magical and mystical powers.   Probably my fault, because his favorite story to ask for is the “Wind and the Sun”.  You know, it’s that one where the Wind was boasting that it was more powerful than the Sun; and they had a contest to see who could get the coat off of a man who happened along.  Anyway, I told that story once in the car in an attempt to … huh … now I can’t remember why I launched into that one… I guess it doesn’t matter – the point is that he asks to hear it all the time & must imagine the wind to be something magical and important.  The other day, we were in a store with a very friendly sales clerk  who was about 10 years older than the Noodle’s Dzadzi.  He pulled a dime from The Noodle’s ear & asked him how he thought it must have gotten there.  He stops, thinks, then with all the confidence in the world “The wind blew it in!”

Later that night The Noodle was telling his dad about it all.  Jeff asks him if he thought it was a magic trick.  “No, Dad, it was the wind!”

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Aquariums, Trumpets, and Wonder

Yesterday was a great day.   I had gotten a membership to the Aquarium for my birthday, so my mom, the kids and I met my best friend and her daughter (who is becoming like a close cousin to “The Muffin” and “The Noodle”) by the big bubble tubes just inside.  The Muffin was completely amazed the entire time, and kept repeating: “Wanna dive, mom. Can I dive?” I thought this was just great & told her “one day – maybe we can learn together”.   She wasn’t messing around, though: at one point, by the stingrays, I had turned my back for the 2 seconds it took to get the Noodle’s attention & point to the sharks (he really wanted to see the sharks), and that’s all it took.   She had kicked off her shoes & had her pants down around her ankles: “Wanna go swimming. Ok?”    Thank goodness the wall was too high for her to climb, or I would have been in real trouble!

I think they both loved the rays best of all (the apple doesn’t fall far, after all), and the waterfalls. I could have also sat in front of the octopus all day – or the sloth, who was actually with-in arms reach and MOVING! The Aquarium staff were equally amazed and all stood around talking about how “this never happens!”   The sloth at one point had completely turned itself around, and moved its head to look at us all … almost as if to say “whoooooaaaa! What are you dudes doing here?”

Later that evening, I got to go to a friend’s trumpet recital at Peabody. I love the trumpet, and this particular friend is especially talented – so, of course, I had a wonderful time. There is something particularly magical about a concert, which (for me) surpasses almost anything else in life. Music has a power to transport me to almost anywhere, and I never feel as creative or as satisfied as when I’m playing it or listening to it being played well.  It is completely amazing to me that a human being can accomplish such an ethereal thing.  In the case of the trumpet, to be able to breathe life into sound using a series of complicated twisted tubes is a wonder so incredible it … well, it leaves me speechless (which is really something). Sitting there with a friend on either side, listening to another friend create the music weaving its way through the air, I became fully aware of how incredibly fortunate I am.   My life is so wonderful, I think I must be the luckiest girl in the whole world…and also the most odd, because as I continued to listen, I became aware of a certain piece being played. I wish I could remember which one it was, because it was the sensation/scent of bitter cold blown in on a person coming into the warmth. To be more specific, it was coming into someplace warm with marble and wood… like a church or an old house – and the smell of the cold on a wool coat coming into that place …and I love that smell.   I am completely aware of how weird this makes me, but it truly is the magic of music.  It can have a taste or a color or a smell (and no, I don’t do drugs – for those of you who may be getting suspicious).  I think most people experience this, actually – at least subconsciously…. or anyway, I am going to go with that assumption …

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Living in “Neverland”

I am Peter Pan. I swoop down from (moderately) high places with foam sword in hand, have imaginary “pie fights” with my own little lost boy, and hang out with “Tinkerbell”. I swim with mermaids and fight pirates in their jungle gym ships. … Or maybe I’m Wendy: a little girl trying very hard to be “mother” (because someone needs to be “mother”, after all) but still taken in by the wonder of it all. To parent is truly to live in “Never, Neverland”, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Today was a day of childhood magic. It began with chocolate “instant breakfasts” all around and an “Indiana Jones” sandwich (peanut butter and banana) for “The Noodle”. Then, a friend of “The Noodle” and “Muffin” came over to play for a bit, before we headed off to a birthday party at noon. The sun was shining, the air was warm, and the breeze blew in a hint of spring … and, (best yet), the party we were heading to was close enough to walk. So we headed out – “The Noodle” dressed in his Batman finest, and “The Muffin” in green dragon pants (complete with dragon feet), a pink tu-tu and a sweater – to one of the most perfect birthday parties ever.

There were blue and yellow balloons with ribbons that touched the floor, a cupcake tower, big frosted sugar cookies on lollipop sticks, and a big bowl full of bubbles ready & waiting to be taken outside and blown away by giggling little 4 year olds wielding slippery plastic wands. Friends were everywhere running about in floaty princess costumes and foam crowns. There was a feast of pizza, strawberries, and juice boxes before the happy birthday song and the devouring of the cupcakes. There was an egg hunt. There was a pinata. There was playing and chasing and laughter… and it is the middle of February and felt like mid-spring. We walked home, taking our time and examining sticks and leaves and rocks along the way. When Jeff came home, we all played with bouncy balls in the backyard until the sun was well on its way down. It was a pretty perfect day, made even more so because when I remember that I am living in Neverland, I get to dress up, blow bubbles, play tag, and ask for a cupcake, too …

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“Long Time No See”

I admit to feeling a little guilty that I haven’t written anything in … oh … almost a month.  -And so much has happened, I almost feel I don’t know where to begin.  “Begin at the beginning, and end at the end”;  I can almost hear a former English teacher of mine speak these words as he stands by my desk looking at my blank notebook.  The only problem is that I can’t seem to remember which English teacher he was…  Not that it really matters, though, because I’m not taking his advice – whoever he was… Instead, I’ll skim over a few things that happened, and get on down to the more recent events.  (I’m sure he would shudder to read this anyway, for all of the grammatical errors so far – and I’ve only just begun!  Muhahahaha!)

First things first, “The Muffin” turned two years old a few days ago.  She was very excited to have her “very own party”, as she put it “for meeeee????”, with a big smile on her face.  Before anyone gets excited, we decided to only invite standard family – without the standard “friends that have become family”.  We did this, basically, because we were exhausted, and adding in everyone makes for a 30-some-odd-number guest list.  (I know, we really are incredibly fortunate to have so many close friends, and I felt sooooo badly about not inviting everyone that my hands physically shook when I hit “send” on the “e-vite”.)  And, actually, we could have invited everyone, after-all, because for the first time ever, most of the family couldn’t make it, anyway.  Oh well.  So it was a small, lovely little party, and she had a really nice time.  I was afraid I’d have teary pangs of “my sweet Muffin is TWO!  I can’t believe it” – but, no.  I was fine.  It was great.  We went to DC on her actual b-day (the party was the day before) and walked around the Air & Space museum & it was just a great day.

I say great – it was – but it could have been better, actually, if I could chew…anything.  You see, about a week prior, I had something called “crown lengthening surgery”.  This was presented to me as “no big deal, really”.  No one said it was a cake-walk, but no one suggested it would take at least a week to recover.  No one, that is, except the periodontist.  When she looked at the x-ray, she told me “I don’t even know if I can DO this.  I’m not even sure if it’s possible!”  then after looking in my mouth, she said.  “Ok, yeah, I can – but only because the person who did your root canal was AWESOME (she used this word), and the person who did your temporary crown did an AMAZING job.”  Then she went on “Well, I hope you cleared your week.”  -And that’s when my heart sank.  She then prepared me for the kind of recovery I was looking at.  At this point I was feeling two things.

1. Near terror.

2. A little bit of aloofness.  I thought “well, my body was over getting all 4 of my wisdom teeth extracted after having them broken into teeny pieces in a couple of days!  I’m sure I’ll bounce back from this one no problem.”

Oh boy, how wrong I was.  I am actually still in pain.  I went in yesterday to have the stitches taken out of my mouth and explained to the dentist that I can’t even open my mouth wide enough to eat a banana – and I can’t chew something as brittle as a potato chip.  I am in sooo much pain that I finally had to resort to taking the heavy duty pain killer before bed – and I had been priding myself that I was only taking ibuprofin.  Well, as it turns out, it seems the muscles in my jaw have been spasming – which is what has been creating the pain.  -It also explains why I haven’t been able to practice my violin because it’s just too painful.  Hopefully this will only last a few more days … here’s hoping, anyway.  On the bright side, though, I CAN eat cake – which I have been craving… mmm…

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Resolutions and Revelations

I have not made a New Years Resolution in years. I’ve generally thought the whole idea pointless. If there’s something in your life that needs adjusting, do it when you realize it, don’t just wait for the new year to roll around. -and if you haven’t been able to successfully attack that goal in the past, there’s no real reason to believe you’ll succeed just because you’ve made it a New Year’s Resolution – again. (I can be such a Grinch sometimes!) I do admit to coming up with a Resolution or two in my day, but mostly because I felt like I should … you know, just in case I was asked…just so I wouldn’t have to rain on anyone’s parade with my personal opinion about it all … but never really with any real intent on keeping any of them. I can’t even tell you what I might have said my resolution was… or when exactly those occasions were…

Ok, moving along – this year is different. I know, I know. You’ve heard this before – and besides, didn’t I just say I don’t even make Resolutions? This is true, but timing is everything. I do make the occasional realization that changes need to be made, and this year it happens to coincide with the New Year, so I’m calling it a New Year’s Resolution. Like I said timing is everything.

So what is it? Well, I actually have two (*gasp*). One: I have decided that I should consume as much water as recommended by .. well.. everyone. My goal is 8 glasses of water a day. I have been drinking about 8 cups of coffee, but realized that is probably what “they” had in mind. Two: I will reduce my dependence on plastic baggies. Over the summer, I eliminated my need for paper towels and disposable napkins, and made the switch to reusable shopping bags. (Incredibly crunchy, I know, but it makes me happy.) So next, I tackle my over-use of zip-top bags. I have about a million plastic containers, so this shouldn’t be all that tough, right?

Now we come to the “revelation” portion of this blog.

In many small ways here and there I can see what I have genetically passed on to my children. This is never a physical trait (“The Noodle” and “The Muffin” both look like my husband), but rather, subtle little behavioral things here or a preference or two there. Tonight, I saw myself in my son, and understood what was going on with him (finally). For awhile, I have noticed him getting edgy and teary when we’d tell him he had to stop watching a particular movie, or playing a certain game. Most notably “Lego Star Wars” or the Disney/Pixar movie “Wall-E”.  Who wouldn’t get upset if their mom told him “enough Star Wars, time for bed”, or stopped a movie 3/4 of the way through? I know, I know – 3/4 of the way through a movie?! What kind of mom am I? The thing is, he has a hard time dealing with the end of the movie “Wall-E” – but he completely loves it. This movie doesn’t have a sad ending (not to spoil anything for anyone), but it is very emotional. Tonight, I told him at what point I’d have to turn it off, and when I did so, he got VERY upset with me and started to break down. This is when I realized what was going on: he is like me, in that he becomes obsessed with a certain idea, or fantasy. He would watch that movie over & over & over again all day long if I let him (tears and all), and then would dream it at night, and do it all over again the next day. I use to do the same thing when I was a kid with movies or books – or even ideas. These alternate realities were so much more compelling, and intense, and exciting than real life that I wished I was a character in them, instead of who I really was. (And I can completely relate to being obsessed with Star Wars – but then, so can about half of the world, I would guess).

Tonight I understood exactly how he was feeling and told him so; and he, (in a tone that seemed much more 12 years old than 4) replied “oh yeah, how is that?” I admit that I was taken aback, but told it like it was: “You are angry because I turned off the movie. That movie has very strong feelings in it, and you wish more than anything that you lived in there – in that movie – because it’s seems so much better than real life.” He eeked out a whispered “yeah”, then tears in eyes, curled up in my lap. We watched Wubbzy together to clear our heads of “Wall-E” at least a little bit, and silently, I told him I was sorry about a hundred million times.

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Zen and the Art of Cleaning Out the Closet

Today I undertook the mammoth task of cleaning out my closet.  My goal: to create bare spots on the shelves, coordinate by season, color, and function.  Exactly the sort of thing that a control freak like me should like to do, right?  Well … kind-of.  I actually have enormous trouble with this – for many reasons.  The first being that it is a BIG job.  Everything must be examined and tried on before being placed in its new home or placed in the “Donation Pile”.  The second being that I am pack-rat who is desperately trying not to be a pack rat, and only sort-of succeeding (and that’s mostly because Jeff abhors excess).  Then there’s the whole idea of letting go of a piece of clothing that might not have been worn in a long time, but has a familiarity to it which makes it difficult to part with.

I came across a pair of pants that I use to wear all the time.  I could see myself walking through the streets of Rome in them, feel them in my carry-on luggage.  They had the air of a time (not too terribly long ago, but still) that is no more.  I am a different person, living a slightly different life, but holding these pants in my hands transported me momentarily to London, Ghent, Tuscany, New York … my old apartment … I wore those pants everywhere -and they still fit! – but I love a low rise (I’m short-waisted – well, a little bit), and they just wouldn’t do anymore.  So, I took deep cleansing breaths, placed them in the donation pile, and moved on.

My closet was full of such articles, and cleaning it took the greater part of the day.  It was an act of … well … how to put it into words… recovering the memories that each object held, and releasing the object itself.  Lessening my dependence on physical things that were crowding my life and suffocating my closet.  Hopefully, someone else will find them and think they’re great.  Sooner or later, though, they’ll all end up in a dump somewhere … but that is now out of my hands … (pretty good, eh?  See, I’m working at it, I really am 😉

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