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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thank you, and good night.

I spent some time last night reading my blog, including many of the posts I've put into draft status after publishing. The truth is, until the last couple of years my blog was kind of fun. I posted snippets of life, talked about fun or funny things that have happened to me, included posts about my short, it was a fairly well-rounded look at my life and I was able to talk with many people, both regulars and those passing through, about serious and light-hearted events.

For quite awhile now, however, this blog has simply become a place to record my feelings when I'm overwhelmed or sad--a PTSD journal, I suppose. I don't like that and I'm guessing few people want to read it, either. Public blogs are meant to be read.

About eight months ago I put my blog feeds on partial so that anyone interested in seeing what I was saying would have to visit me and thereby be recorded in my stats. There are still quite a few visitors, but only a few say anything in comments or when we chat, which leads me to believe that this blog has lost most of its value both for me, and for anyone visiting. And I'm also beginning to feel that I don't wish to air my weaknesses and stupidity for silent strangers. I am no longer the anonymous exhibitionist.

I am very glad to have found this outlet when I first began therapy. And as I have stated before, I will forever be indebted to Ward Cleaver--another blogger who taught me the ropes and helped me understand how fellow bloggers can offer empathy, advice, and friendship even when they have never met. He disappeared after five short months of daily contact--and after nearly five years, I still miss him.

To those of you who have taken time to respond to my words in the past--I thank you. To those who have continued to respond and encourage me even now--I love you. You've helped more than you know. I've had days when one comment helped me manage a great deal of stress, simply because it felt like someone cared.

I suppose I'll continue to grow used to my life with it's embroidery of PTSD and other stress disorders left over from rape and abuse. I'll keep seeking ways to manage those. I'll keep trying to be the best parent, spouse, friend, and human being that I can be. And one day, if I learn how to be at peace with all that, I may visit here just to shout it out into the blogosphere. No one will be left to hear me, but I'll do it anyway.

If you visited me even once, I thank you. Picture me wiggling my nose and zapping to each of you long warm  days filled with flowers, blue skies, tall glasses of lemonade, and the company of the people you love--because that's what I'm wishing for you right now.

And if you find me online--I'd love to play a game of Scrabble with you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No title again

I've been thinking a lot lately--reflecting on whether or not five years of therapy have done me any good. The obvious answer is yes, but the less obvious answer is that the question is moot because I had no choice--I would not be here writing this if I had not sought help.

There is such security in living in a world of one's own creation--being a person without pain or sadness in one's past. It's easy to interact with people, knowing they have no desire to become close, to learn about who I am, and understanding they just need a place to talk. Life is well-ordered, serene, and logical. The times when I recognized that I was alone were rare. And I will be completely honest: sometimes I miss my former life rather passionately.

I believe under normal circumstances I would have been able to complete all the therapeutic tasks I set for myself without the complications I now experience. I'm fairly strong and resourceful. I'm think, though, most people would not be able to cope with the stresses I've experienced and continued therapy without developing similar insecurities and having difficulty managing stress. Therapist suggested I make a list of the less than joyful things I've experienced since I began therapy in 2006:
1. Unfortunate choice of first therapist which led me to not disclose much of what needed to be discussed. Therapy sessions ultimately became a place where I felt threatened and unsafe.
2. Acceptance of Samantha who was molested and raped (not just-a-little-bit-sexually-abused) more than once as a young girl and abused by her mother.
3. Hospitalization to help with suicidal thoughts and desires, during which time I was diagnosed with PTSD.
4. Recognition of some dissociation and subsequent integration.
5. Attempts to connect socially with people other than Darrin which, while delightful and beautiful were also frightening and stressful.
6. Lunch with my rapist.
7. Conversations with my mother, during which I learned of her desire to remain disconnected from me--ultimately letting me know of her need to have a friendship with me, but nothing closer.
8. My friend's six-year-old son was killed in a tragic accident.
9. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
10. I became pregnant and miscarried after 15 weeks.
11. Darrin lost his job.
12. My father was hospitalized with a devastating illness which became complicated and nearly killed him.
13. My mother suffered a stroke, leading doctors to discover multiple places in her brain which have become "dead spots", notably located in the places responsible for memory and logical/realistic thinking.
14. I became addicted to pain killers after developing a pinched nerve in my back--and went through serious withdrawal while weaning myself from them.
15. I became a workaholic which, previous to this time, I believed was a myth or an exaggerated term for someone very dedicated to working.

There's more--but that's long enough.

When I last talked with Therapist about this, I pointed out that my life is mostly filled with good things. He agreed, then said that most people don't experience the number of negative things I've listed within two or three years. I said I've been able to stop having flashbacks in spite of the setbacks. He said he has no idea how. I don't know either.

Therapist asked me what causes me the most stress in my life now. I said, "People."

Even now, after years of trying, I'm not sure I'm cut out to have relationships. DJ stopped by today. I miss him terribly--but I want him to enjoy being on his own and not worry about me or what's happening in our home. So I try not to spend lots of time with him. DJ told Adam later that sometimes he feels like I'm glad he moved out which was not the message I wanted to send. I'm very bad at this...whatever it is.

My siblings have accused me of becoming distant, businesslike. Lila alone, continues to communicate with me--commenting on my Facebook, sending emails and calling me on the phone. My siblings and parents are together this week. I have work commitments and couldn't join them, but I'm not sure I would if I could. It's stressful and I'm tired.

I can't quite figure out if the stress I'm feeling now is related to PTSD or if it's something different. For awhile now I've felt unable to talk about what I'm feeling to real people--only here on this blog can I say that I'm feeling overwhelmed and panic attacks are common and intense. There was a time when I would try to call people or find them online or in person. Now I just feel like I'm imposing if I even think about doing such a thing. This is my problem--no one else's.

I did try to talk with a few people in the past couple of weeks. I ended up listening instead. They have real difficulties--not imagined ones such as mine--real reasons to panic or cry--not some insane disorder which crops up when my life is slightly out of kilter. Needless to say, there wasn't really any relief to be found in those conversations.

I feel a bit lost at this point. We've had lots of clouds and rain lately. Perhaps when the sun comes out again, I'll feel better.

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Life is full of beauty. Notice it." ~Ashley Smith

Today at the gym there was a young man in his gym shorts and t-shirt...and cowboy boots. There was also a very old lady (I'm guessing 80s) who smiled the entire time she was lifting weights. It was a little bit creepy and sort of nice, too. A nice young man asked if I'd like him to spot me. That was a little weird. When I said, "No, but thank you," the very cute young lady next to me said (after Young Man's departure), "You know that's gym code for 'I'd like to get to know you a little better,' right?" I replied, "No, I didn't know that, but if that's the case, then 'No, but thank you,' is code for 'I'm married and far too busy to get to know anyone right now.'" She laughed.

These things are not common gym occurrences. In fact, I'm usually at the gym during the Exclusive Geriatric Hour, which is kind of fun, actually. Today there were quite a few younger participants in their 20s and 30s. I think I like the EGH better. No one really looks at anyone else during that time and even if they're looking, odds are their vision is poor enough that they don't really know what they're seeing.

PTSD is back. It no longer frustrates me or causes anger. I suppose I've decided to work through it, finally. However, sometimes I'm not as good at it as others. Today was awful. There are days when the panic becomes so intense that I throw up, even if I've not eaten. This was one of those days. I haven't figured out how to derail that process yet. Still, I suppose stress vomiting and shaking (I'm sure I look like I'm having a seizure) most of the day is better than flashbacks, which continue to be absent.

I think the most difficult part of days like these is the intense feeling that everything stable, every person I count on, everything I believe, is disappearing. I don't know how to combat that.

A friend asked me to lunch today. She's on the verge of a nervous breakdown, crying constantly, and feeling depressed. She said it calms her to be with me. That's sort of crazy--call the PTSD-laden friend to help you calm down? I didn't tell her what was happening inside of me, so maybe that's not even applicable. She did notice I didn't really eat, though, so I chose something innocuous looking and pretended to enjoy it, knowing full well it was not going to stay with me. Still, it's nice to know that even when I'm feeling impossibly impaired, I can help a friend through a crisis. I'm guessing it was just having a break and someone to talk to that helped calm her, but today I really need to feel like I had something to do with it, so I'm claiming credit.

I talked with Lydia today about the classes she wants me to teach at the University. We talked about what it would take for me to get my PhD. She's not sure it's necessary. I can be a lecturer without it. While I understand this (and also how fortunate I am that she hires me to teach), I know that my job there is not as secure as it would be if I had the credentials to back it up. I have three degrees, but only one is postgraduate. She said, "Sam, you're one of the most intelligent, engaging people I know. That's why I selected you to teach these classes. They're the ones I usually reserve for myself to teach--because I care about them. But you care just as much as I do, you teach more thoroughly and with a wider perspective. I trust you to teach them because you stay current, you research, and you connect with the students in ways that I can't--ways I don't want to because it takes time and right now I'm feeling too busy. I know you only have a Masters degree. It doesn't matter. Oh, and by the way, I've always felt that way about you, even when you were my student. It's one of the reasons we're friends now."

But to me, it does matter. Lydia also said she thinks if I get my PhD, I'll go elsewhere. I haven't really thought about that. I'm pretty happy right here and I'm not young enough to try to build any sort of reputation that would land me another position. It was nice, though, to hear her say those things, and very unexpected.

Also, my broken arm has completely healed. And I haven't mentioned it before because:
1. I'm embarrasses that it even happened, and I was completely responsible for the break because I forgot to remember to feel pain, the front door was stuck, I was panicking so I sort of injured myself trying to get out and that's all I want to say about the process of breaking my arm.

2. I had a brace (yay! no cast) but I couldn't wear it because I had too many performances lined up and it's impossible to play in an arm brace and I didn't want any more people telling me I was stupid and my arm would never heal--which it did. The doctor says it probably took twice as long as necessary, and was more painful that it would have been if I'd worn the brace. Then he said that probably means nothing to me since I don't really feel pain. Then he said I need to get some help because I could really injure myself and I wouldn't understand the magnitude of the injury and I got a big long lecture on the purpose of pain which I already knew.

3. I'm still not sure how the heck I was able to break my arm--and neither is my doctor--because my bone density is ridiculous. He just rolled his eyes at me and said, "You must have hit that door pretty hard." What I didn't tell him is that I broke the door, too.

So--nicely mended arm now (it was only a hairline fracture, not serious at all), and I'm trying once again to feel pain. It's not very successful yet, but I have high hopes that it will be soon. And I didn't tell the doctor at all about the knee injury I sustained last year when I had my spectacular, head-over-heels fall, followed by four more ugly spills in the subsequent weeks. I was going to if the knee wasn't better by March. But it seemed to be getting better at that point and as of the first of May, it feels completely normal. I'm all better, finally. Yay!

So--goals to talk to Therapist about when I see him in about a month:
1. Strategies to learn to feel pain--better ones that those I've been using.
2. Ideas of how to deal with being a workaholic because it's getting worse. Last week, Darrin arranged for me to have all of Saturday to myself. I ended up at my office and worked there for six hours. Then I came home and worked two more. And it's not because I didn't want to take time off, it's because when I realized I wouldn't be working that day, I had a huge panic attack and the only way I could think of to alleviate it was to go to work. So--I need help.
3. Discuss ways to better manage my eating disorder. I know all that stuff all ready, but I'm hoping Therapist can figure out why I'm failing in this particular area of my life right now--because I can't understand why I keep reverting to that lovely coping device.
4. Help me learn how to take the adult self-esteem I've developed and apply it to the integrated parts of me that are still feeling worthless. Also, help me learn to stop being afraid of people because I hate that part of me.

And that's enough. I'm not adding anything else to the list. I only have about four or five weeks to prepare for my visit, so I need to keep my list short.

Also, yesterday there were bright yellow canaries migrating through our town. They settled for a brief time in my tree, which is just barely showing leaf buds. It was filled with flashes of yellow and noisy with birdsong. I watched it for a long time.

And now I must go to sleep. It's been a very long day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wind, wind, go away...I want to run outside...without fighting you...or freezing...

If I step out my front door the air is filled with birdsong--not just a wash of sound, but distinctive, lovely notes from all the varieties of birds migrating through our small town. They pause in my yard to eat dried crab apples and rose hips still clinging to bare branches. They fascinate me.

This happens every year; the birds and the butterflies migrate in the spring and fall (and so do the wasps--which I do not love). I've seen it repeatedly but it never grows old, just as watching my flower/herb garden springing to life never seems mundane. It's a renewal of sorts, I suppose, a reminder that change is constant but some things repeat habitual patterns, and even while there is "change" within the sameness, I can count on birds visiting and plants growing each year.

There is change looming inside of me. I don't know what it means. Always, when this happens, I feel it--I'm afraid of it. I find this phenomenon affecting nearly every aspect of my life in some way. I work harder while I yearn for rest. I cycle through odd dreams (last night I dreamed of making thick steaks in a new type of microwave--I dislike steaks so very much). I find myself running more often and for longer durations--or wishing I could when I'm busy with something else. My diet deteriorates--I find myself wanting to eat only cookies--or nothing at all. I become impatient with people; they feel alternately intrusive and needy--and they are neither. I am suddenly hypercritical about odd things--like whether or not my socks match perfectly, or making sure the quilt on my bed is straight, or freaking out if a closet, cupboard, or drawer is left ajar. I don't like this state of being.

No one enjoys my company when I am like this, and I include myself in the group that dislikes being with me. I drive myself crazy.

I'm trying to stay grounded--but I'm not sure how. Everything is in flux right now. Adam and Tabitha are finishing the school year and looking for summer jobs. Adam is starting new classes at the university--applying to become a licensed EMT, trying desperately to grow up as fast as possible. I keep reminding him that it's okay to be a kid--he doesn't have to graduate early--sometimes it's okay to take life in its proscribed course. He's not listening.

Tabitha is finally in a better place, emotionally. She's learning to manage the mood dips and occasional depression. She's learning that what happens to her does not define her and she feels better about herself each day. She's been a performer since her first recital at the age of three years. That all came to an end a couple of years ago when her anxiety disorder got the best of her. This year marked a return for her--she performed a violin solo at festival, finished and performed a killer piano solo, and participated in the orchestra concerts. Her room is clean for the first time in many, many years (and she has kept it clean for more than three months--a huge record), and she's become more interested in helping me cook, doing her own laundry, and cleaning the house with me (or even doing cleaning on her own). She's healthier, happier, and very settled.

Darrin has been employed for nearly six months now. He enjoys his job. It has hours he doesn't love--he starts teaching at 7:00 a.m., which means he has to arrive at the school between 5:45 and 6:00, which means he gets up around 4:30 a.m.. Darrin is not a morning person. However, I have yet to hear him complain about the early hours. He does whine about wanting to get to bed earlier--then he putters around, preparing his clothes for the next day, playing on Facebook, watching stupid television--until 10:30 p.m., at which point he gets crabby because he didn't go to bed. But in general, he's happy. There is a great financial "catch-up" going on in our home right now (a year without a job takes a serious toll), but I'm hoping in 2012 that will ease a bit.

My performance schedule is easing. Between mid-June and mid-August I don't anticipate any rehearsals or performances. I'm looking forward to it. I have two more major concerts (one is tonight and the other is next Monday) and then most of my rehearsals and performances will be quite small and fairly effortless. I'm teaching the summer music institute at the university in a couple of weeks, which will entail a week of auditions, judging, rehearsing, teaching classes (four hours daily) and private lessons, and a major performance at the end of the session. Usually I team teach this. I was supposed to do it with Lydia this year, but her health has not been good (pneumonia recurrences for the past three months), so I may end up teaching most of it alone--which I can certainly do, it's just a great deal of work.

So--all in all, there is much that is positive in my life right now. I have no reason to feel cranky and displaced. But I feel it. I don't know why.

Darrin believes part of the "problem" is that I've not seen friends, people who have been key in my support as I've worked through past issues, for five months and I've spent a great deal less time online or talking on the phone with them. Darrin, himself, has been largely unavailable to me as he went back to work and has been adjusting to different schedules and a new job. He believes I haven't talked with anyone, really, about the emotional growth, setbacks, and frustrations I've been experiencing during that time--which is sort of true. If I encountered emotional "stuff" which involved another person I usually talked about it with them. Darrin says this doesn't count. I've been talking with Therapist nearly every month (sometimes every week) about how to manage PTSD, failures and successes within that realm, family (extended) stresses, and other small difficulties for more than five years now. Suddenly, that has stopped. Darrin says I don't discuss it with him, either. Conclusion (according to Darrin): I'm not talking anymore.

I don't know if I agree. Darrin insists he's right. He was present for a phone call I had with a friend a couple of weeks ago. He said I didn't say anything. I talked about the weather, what was happening with my jobs, and I listened and asked questions a lot. And that's true--I haven't really talked about myself a lot lately. But I'm not convinced that I need to--nor am I convinced that there exists a receptive audience listening out of interest or concern, rather than just because we're friends and that's what friends do. Darrin asked if I listen just because I feel friendship-obligated. I said he knew me better than that. I'm incapable of listening for that reason. I think it's stupid. He said probably I'm shortchanging people again.

Sigh...I don't really want to think about this. I like to believe I don't ever need to talk to people at all. I do it because I want to--and I try to talk about things I think will interest us both. Darrin says I'm avoiding things that are important.

Tabitha sat down with me a couple of weeks ago and asked me to please schedule a physical and a mammogram and a dental checkup. She said she would go with me to all of those so I wouldn't have to go by myself. I laughed. She didn't. So I committed to make those appointments in July or early August (when my schedule is much less crazy). I'm not thrilled. I know I need to do this. It's stupid to mess with my health and I don't want to go through breast cancer like my mother did a couple of years ago. But I still don't want to. And Tabitha is NOT going with me. Sometimes it's okay not to see your mom terrified out of her mind.

Also, speaking of Tabitha, my daughter emailed our landlord (who lives in Australia) and asked for an exception to the "no pets" clause in our lease agreement. She stated that she's done copious research, created an environment, and located the sugar glider of her choice, and would he please allow her to purchase and keep the animal in her room. He said yes--but she has to catch the bugs herself. Tabitha will have no problem with that--she's my daughter, after all.

So we now have a pet. It has only escaped from the cage twice, and Tabitha and DJ are the only bite recipients thus far. Darrin and Tabitha have an ongoing cage-building/remodeling project, which they are enjoying immensely and one into which I got roped last night because they were taking way too long (it was 11:00--someone gets up at 4:30 a.m.), so I helped finish one side and cleaned up their mess so they could go to bed. I suggested the next major habitat overhaul wait for the weekend.

One more thing--Blogger did some maintenance recently and some of my comments were lost (Blueyedane--yours was one of them) so if you thought you commented and you don't see it now, please blame Blogger. It wasn't me.  :-)

And now I am going to go run. It's time.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Okay--here's the thing--

Lately...people...sort of...really...bug me...

A lot.

I recognize that by saying this here I'll chase off any chance readers and never become blogfamous--because really, that was my goal in the beginning: Say millions of incredibly personal words, reveal things I wouldn't even admit to myself, and make it so whenever I meet people they think: "Oh, yeah, she's that freak from blogland who talks about everything real people hide from." Yup. Goal achieved.

However, since I really don't have a blogging goal--I just do it--I shall continue my tirade because THIS IS MY BLOG!!!

It's not like anyone's doing anything to aggravate me. And it's not like I'm being ignored, because if anyone inquired as to how I'm doing right now, I'd probably dodge the question anyway. I feel cranky and whiny.

And it's not like I've been mistreated or insulted. I'm just not comfortable around people right now.

Unfortunately, I'm one of them. I aggravate myself.

I think part of the problem is that I'm also feeling like crying more than usual--for no reason, of course. And I'm not going to do it. Crying for no reason is stupid unless you're pregnant or under ten years old.

I also think I'm having tremendous difficulty communicating my needs and/or feelings lately. And I've had more than one conversation where I've felt like I only exist so people can unload on me (which I usually don't mind a bit) and no one is hearing what I'm saying and it would be really nice to have a shoulder to cry on for no reason (even though I'm not going to do that). So I resort to humor. I'm hilarious. I say all sorts of witty and delightful things, but inside I feel like sludge.

So I will blame the weather and the time of year and hormones and tulips and daffodils and cute bunnies and graduating seniors and pop music and computer viruses and stupid television shows and brown carpet--because otherwise I have to take responsibility for this myself and quite frankly, I don't want to.

Still, it would be nice to stop feeling like a crankypants and actually enjoy people for awhile.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why I shall never become vain:

Twelve-year-old student: So, Mrs. Stevens, do you have kids?
me: Yes; I have three.
Twelve-year-old student: How old are they?
me: Old. My oldest son has graduated from high school.
Twelve-year-old student:  Really? You don't look old enough to have a son that old.
me: How old do you think I am?
Twelve-year-old student: I thought you were about the same age as my mom.
me: How old is your mom?
Twelve-year-old student: She's 49. 
me: Nope. I'm not the same age as your mom. a sixth grader I look like I'm turning 50 this year, and I've not even been able to enjoy my forties yet. Time to go shopping for orthopedic shoes and price check false teeth...

Monday, May 9, 2011


DJ started it when he brought me these for Mother's Day:

We decided to cook them on Saturday because Sunday is my only day off and I didn't plan to cook anything then, and DJ wanted us to make dinner together. For the shellfish haters (that would be Darrin--and Adam's not crazy about shellfish either) we made this:

We rounded out the dinner with caprese salad, rice, honeydew and strawberries.

Later that day, Adam brought me these:

And Darrin and Tabitha brought me these:

And on Mother's Day, not to be outdone, amid the blues and yellows already blooming, my pansies produced this:  :-)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dear Mom,

For a long time I have hated Mother's Day. It's unfair of me to hate it. It's a good tradition. Mothers are sort of essential in the human race perpetuation and some women are incredibly good mothers. You were not.

For a long time I have blamed you for many problems in my life. Some of those problems were perpetuated by you. Some of the issues I deal with daily are the result of the way you interacted with me when I lived in your home.

For a long time I have been sad because I know who I was, but you did not. You rarely saw the little girl who was bright and loving and beautiful and funny and precocious in many ways. I wish you had known her.

For a long time I have been angry because I did not deserve the treatment I received from you much of the time. I deserved to be hugged and kissed and cuddled frequently. I deserved to be respected and disciplined--not demeaned and beaten up. I deserved to be recognized as a child and treated in age appropriate ways. I deserved to be loved.

You've told me of ways I made you uncomfortable from the day I was born. As an infant I did not sleep like other babies. You would feed me, expecting that I would return to sleep--instead I lay in your arms, three days old, watching you with eyes so dark you could not discern the pupils. It made you uncomfortable. I didn't look like your child. I didn't act like a normal infant. I think, maybe, you were afraid of me.

I gave you no rest as a toddler. At three years old, I learned to read before my older sister and I wanted to learn constantly. You bought me activity books with dot-to-dots and mazes. They lasted one day and I wanted more. You took me to the library and filled my life with books. You tried to give me things to fill my mind and stop my wheedling, but you had a new baby and another child--and you were very, very sad.

I was always busy, moving, twirling in circles, climbing trees (or anything else in sight), running. I brought rocks, and bugs, and dandelions into the house. I was not always respectful, or obedient, or truthful. I didn't like the cat--it scratched me--I put it down the laundry chute. I was not an easy child to raise.

Today I am no longer angry. When I grew up, I decided to learn all I could about you, to try to understand why you acted as you did toward me. The first thing I learned was that you suffered from terrible, untreated chronic depression throughout your entire life. I think that would be devastating. I learned you were abused by your own father but that experience is such that you cannot address or even acknowledge it. I wish it could have been different. You did not deserve that.

I see in you still, the little girl who wished to dance and play music and write poetry and giggle and play with friends--but who stilled those delightful desires to please a parent who could not be pleased. Sometimes, you and I laugh together. Sometimes we talk and you share with me the things you have written. Sometimes you sing with me. I am no longer angry.

I am sometimes still sad, because I wish that you had received treatment for your depression so that you and I could have had a better relationship when I was a child. I wish that you had not felt detached and overwhelmed and angry all the time. You have expressed horror at some of the things you did during those times and begged my forgiveness. You have it. You're my mom. Life is not perfect. We're working to heal together. But sometimes I'm still a little sad.

I'm learning to place blame where it belongs. You are responsible for much of what I deal with today--but not all. And responsibility is simply a place to understand why--not a place to punish or retaliate. I did not deserve the mistreatment I received, but responding to that with vengeance simply perpetuates the mistreatment. Responding with love, with information, with kindness, stops the incorrect actions and allows us both to make the most of the time we now share. And I become more than I would otherwise be--and so do you. 

Today I honor you on Mother's Day. You have given me many unspeakable gifts. You fostered my love of reading and encouraged me always to write. You recognized my talents and made certain, in spite of the fact that we rarely had enough money, that I had the best music teachers you could find. You noticed my love of beauty and helped me recreate it in many ways. You gave me opportunities to speak and perform and teach. You made certain I had all I needed to excel intellectually. You told me I would attend and graduate from a university--it was an expectation, not a choice. You provided me with spiritual guidance, moral guidelines, and ideals which could shape me into a person of integrity and beauty. And even though you didn't say it, and I never felt it, I believe you cared for me deeply. I know you do now. 

Through you I have learned that people make mistakes--some of those mistakes are devastating to innocent people. I have learned that forgiveness can be given, changes made, and future relationships salvaged. I have learned that it's okay for me to feel angry and sad and frustrated, but still understand how very much I love you and how important you are in my life. I have learned to accept your boundaries even when I wished for more, because I respect your right to choose what is best for you. I have learned to see you as a whole person with flaws and abilities and beauty. 

I cannot have what I would have chosen in my childhood, but I will accept what you and I have built together now. 

I love you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dear Spring,

I love you. Thank you for making outside warm enough for me to go running there, and for holding off the wind until I got home today. You make the most beautiful blue skies and I'm loving the tiny wildflowers all over the prairie right now. I waited for you a very long time--and you were definitely worth the wait.

See you tomorrow!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Today's phone call

Gas Man: Hi. We need to come change out your meter.

me: Yes. You arranged to do that last month.

Gas Man: Oh! So it's been done? The paper work says it still needs to be changed.

me: No. You didn't show up.

Gas Man: Well, sorry about that. So it still needs to be changed out?

me: Yes, you made another appointment to do it on Tuesday this week.

Gas Man: So it WAS changed.

me: No. You didn't show up.

Gas Man: Ooohh...that's twice, sorry. How about we come take care of that today?

me: I don't think so. I'm having a recital in my home tonight.

Gas Man: What time?

me: Why? Did you want to come listen?

Gas Man: Uhh...not really...we just want to get in to turn off your gas so we can change the meter.

me: How long will it take?

Gas Man: Well, that depends. Sometimes it takes longer than others.

me: Well, I'm leaving in thirty minutes to go to a rehearsal. I'll be home around 2:00, and then I'll be moving furniture to make room for my guests. You're sure you don't want to come?

Gas Man: Yeah--maybe we should come a different day?

me: I think that would be best, yes.

Gas Man: How about tomorrow?

me: Fine. I should be home around 1:00 and I'll be there the rest of the afternoon.

Gas Man: Great! I'll put you down for tomorrow.

me: Don't stand me up again.

Gas Man: Huh?

me: I said, "Don't stand me up again."

Gas Man: Oh, hehehe, yeah, sorry about that. Third time's the charm, you know.

me: Well, you should know that if the first time was "the charm", rather than the third, your customer service and consumer satisfaction ratings would go way up. Perhaps you should try it.

Gas Man: Yeah, really, really sorry about that.

me: Me, too. How about, if by some amazingly remote chance you have to cancel tomorrow, you call and let me know so I don't wait for you all afternoon.

Gas Man: I'll do that.

me: Thanks! See you tomorrow.

Gas Man: Unless I decide to come to  your recital tonight.

me: Don't push it. Besides, I might take a page from your book and not show up.

(long pause)

Gas Man: How many times am I gonna need to apologize for that?

me: Well, the third time's the charm--and you've definitely apologized three times, so I suppose I'll have to let it go and accept your offer to take 10% off my gas bill.

Gas Man:'am...we can't really do that...

me (laughing): I think it's justifiable. However, as long as you don't stand me up tomorrow, I won't ask for another discount.

Gas Man: Okay.

me: Bye!

Gas Man: Bye.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Apparently I have the type of face that appeals to Junior High boys. A couple of years ago this almost brought Adam to blows with his friends and left our relationship strained and uncomfortable. He doesn't care anymore and I'm the only one left uncomfortable when, during a lag at a regional festival (I was accompanying choirs), one young man said to his friend, "Dude! I think I took piano lessons from her!" (someone needs to let Jr. High boys know that their whispers are not inaudible).

The young man and his friend walked up to me and the friend said, " you teach piano lessons?" I said yes, at which point the young man began grinning and the two rushed off laughing--thinking, I guess, that piano teachers are deaf, because the friend said, "Yep! You took lessons from her! Dude! Your piano teacher is hot!" to which the young man answered, "I know!"

Sigh...Jr. High boys are attracted to Jr. High girls...have you seen the kids in Jr. High? In our family we referred to it as the chrysalis stage. To be blunt, they're bodies are squatty or gangly, their faces suffer from acne and often look like they can't decide if they're children or adults, they're odd looking to say the least...

The only conclusion I can draw from these experiences is that my looks resemble the odd mishmash of a Jr. High student.

Still...if you're a guy between the ages of 12 and 14...I'm pretty hot...

Monday, May 2, 2011

"If a clod be washed away by the sea..."

I want to be very careful in what I say here. I do not wish my words to be misconstrued nor taken out of context. I also feel a great need to express some of what I feel about the events revealed to our country last night.

Osama Bin Laden is dead. He was a leader of people who wished death upon those who share citizenship with me in our country. Ours is not the only nation on which the death sentence was pronounced.

We suffered an unexpectedly savage attack during which unsuspecting men, women, and children were killed and for a moment, our nation was brought to its knees. Other attacks in different countries followed. There is no question that the terrorism inspired by Osama was cowardly and evil.

But Osama was simply the leader. He did not carry out the plans nor the attacks. He was the head of an organization--and no doubt, not the only one capable of taking charge and inspiring such devotion that those who followed him were willing to suffer certain death, that they might cause the deaths of many "enemies." I will not be surprised to see another take Osama's place--perhaps one more extreme, more unscrupulous, more dangerous.

That being said, in my mind Osama's death serves an important purpose. For many U.S. citizens, the country no longer seems impotent. There is a feeling that we can protect and defend ourselves from an unseen enemy. The victim mentality can be released.

I do not celebrate Osama's death. Part of me feels relief that a 10-year quest is over. Part feels gratitude that his invisibility no longer protects him and allows him to plan and assign followers to carry out senseless acts of terror. But another part feels shame that any citizen of our country feels exultant over the death of one man--for that is what he was. One can make whatever judgments one chooses about the kind of man he was--but he was still just a man. I watch the celebration and wonder what, exactly, are we celebrating?

I cannot speak to whether or not the death of Osama was necessary. It was the choice our country made--to hunt him and kill or capture him--and I am a citizen of this country and share the responsibility of that choice. I neither defend nor justify it. I simply claim it.

Still, we in the U.S. are no better than those of any other country, and there is a feeling of superiority in the mass rejoicing. As a country we are blessed with greater wealth and material possessions than those in many other nations--this does not make us better, just more indulgent. We have access to more education, higher paying jobs, comfortable homes and abundant food--this does not make us better, just incredibly blessed and probably equally ungrateful for those blessed circumstances. We are superior to no one--and yet there is a feeling that we were competing in some horribly twisted game, and with Osama's death we've somehow become the "winners."

We haven't. Terrorism is alive and well. No doubt we'll see more of it--and very soon.

Some are questioning whether or not Osama "deserves" the quiet burial allowed him. I say, yes. And to do anything but allow the dignity of laying him to rest in the manner of his beliefs would simply justify those who believe we are nothing but a nation of self-indulgent people who regard with importance only their own lives. The man is dead. He will feel no further punishment, but anything done to defile or disgrace his remains will serve only to inflame those who have followed Osama's leadership.

And so on this day of triumph, part of me weeps that such a day is necessary--that it is viewed as right and proper and normal, leaving me recognizing that "Each man's death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind." All mankind. Even the ones who wish me dead simply because I was born in the U.S.A.