Thursday, December 27, 2007

8 days and no food in the house

Whew. Its been a week! Last Wednesday I picked up the boys from daycare and came home to find the police parked in my driveway...they ended up cluttering my lawn for several hours, as my neighbor's 12 year old daughter was missing. In the end, we found out that Little Miss M. was holed up at a friend's house, and she was in trouble, BIG TIME. In the mean time we joined our new friends across the street for their regular potluck. Of course the weekend was full of last minute holiday preparations and of course...more snow. We bagged on church on Sunday as the boys were both a little under the weather. A big surprise to me on Monday was that Elyas didn't have daycare available (note to self: read the small print on the signs at daycare) so he went to work with Mom for the morning and charmed himself into the hearts of several. Christmas was magical and wonderful and surprisingly peaceful and calm. Wednesday night I was too beat to cook, so we ate out - forgetting that I had scheduled us to be at the first Single Parents Meetup at Chuck E. Cheese's tonight. So needless to say, despite the holiday, I haven't been on my schedule too much. I've had to stop at (blushing madly) the convenience store the last two days to have a lunch to send with Elyas to daycare, and sadly will have to do the same tomorrow because I haven't carved out an extra 20 minutes to go buy those crazy items you need to pack lunch - things like bread.

I've kept busier than ever in the last week plus a day, but I'm thinking there are a few things I need to do if I'm going to continue on this path.

a) groceries. Hello unprepared girl!

b) Buy more socks for the boys. If I'm not going to get laundry done during the week, I need spare sets because those crazy things seem to slink off and hide in places that I haven't discovered as of this point in the new house.

c) Ask for more. It is interesting how much you get when you ask for it. My life has been blossoming since I just decided to find people to spend time with!

Peace and love to you my friends!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Road signs?

Life is a strange journey. I've often told people that I really don't believe in fate, but do kind of think that there is a "preferred path" and that life throws you road signs sometimes. I often find myself whizzing down my own personal interstate yelling "Hey did anyone see what that sign said? That semi was blocking my view and..." Well, I don't know maybe I need to slow down, or get on a quieter path, or stop talking to imaginary backseat passengers. Because it is a pain in the ass to have to get off at the next intersection, turn all the way around and drive back to find out the sign said the next exit was your junction. Humph.

About two weeks ago I got an email from our DRE at church asking me to sub for the Kindergarten class at church. I was happy to oblige, the kindergarten class has one of my favorite offspring in it not to mention a bunch of other Happy Shiny People. What could be more fun than an hour and a half with a bunch of five year old kids?
Well, it wasn't quite the picnic I'd dreamt up, my own child was goofy and out of control, which was an interesting combination with being glued to my body. The three stooges, as I've come to think of them, are three little boys a bit younger than my Elyas who all entered the church at about the same time, who all attended the same preschool and whose mothers all hang out together. They used to be ever so sweet as a little gang. These days they are just ever so loud, and raucous. And did I mention loud? There are some very charming little girls in the class who seemed to have a bad case of being bulldozed by the one regular teacher's daughter. And they all cried at the drop of a hat. Except for one little girl who was dressed in a lovely christmasy red dress with velvet sleeves and a satin skirt and all kinds of sparkles. She took one look at Elyas perched on my lap and decided that perhaps that is where she needed to be as well. So they squirmed happily next to each other through the story and discussion, and if Elyas whispered a comment in one ear, she was sure to come up with another. And then, something kind of surprising happened. Like I said, I decided to make my teaching commitment as a substitute this year, making sure that there is coverage when other teachers want to have a life or something. So I don't know all the kids names. As it happened when this little princess decided she needed to do a dance recital for me rather than do the craft project I still didn't know her name. I was really surprised when the other teacher said, "That was really very nice, Aria, lets sit down at the table now." If I'd been drinking something I might have done a spit take. I've only heard the name Aria once (actually spelled differently) in my life and it belongs to another amazing person who happens to be a very close friend and neighbor of my friend Cyndi. I met her when I visited Arizona in February. I found it kind of amazing because despite the geographic, age, and yes even racial differences between the two, there are some specific personality similarities. The phrase "spitfire" comes to mind. I had a moment of thinking maybe this was a sign, but I passed it off as interesting coincidence. Aria's mom picked her up after class and I congratulated her on raising such an affectionate kid and awe inspiring dancer, and that, was that.


So that leads us to this weekend. I did my normal weekend without the kids stuff, shopping (note to self, when your kid wants one of the most popular toys on the market for Christmas, waiting until the last minute is really stupid...really...), cleaning, web surfing, church, crafting. etc. But it is really getting hard sometimes - the solitude of it all. I spent a lot of time thinking how much I'd like to have some more friends. I even looked at some dating sites again, which made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. But the truth of the matter is I've been on my own for about 20 months and my circle hasn't really grown. I've recently joined a single parents meetup, but nothing has really happened with that yet. And I'm feeling pretty isolated.
That's really where I've been for several days. I woke up feeling kind of blah, but decided to start my day with a flourish and try to shake off the sad feelings. My car had become a pit of crap the kids had drug into it, so I decided to clean it out before heading out to work early. I grabbed a trash bag and opened up the car from the passenger side and began shoveling crap out. It was cold...I don't know the exact temperature, so let's just call it STINKIN' cold. And when it is STINKIN' cold, you know it takes a few minutes for your car to warm up, so I decided to start the car while I finished this job up, I put my purse and stuff down in the driver seat and put the key in the ignition and started it up. I filled up the bag and turned to take it to the garbage can. As the door swung shut behind me I remembered that my car automatically locks the doors when the ignition is engaged. I was locked out - of my car - of my house. My cell phone was in the car. And remember, it was STINKIN' cold. I tried to figure out how to break the car or the house for about ten minutes. Then I tried knocking on the landlord's door. I think, I'm not sure, that they might have moved into one of the other rentals across town. At any rate they weren't answering the door at 7:15 am. Nor were the neighbors on the south of the house. My neighbors in the duplex were home, but their phones (a cell only family) were not. I looked starkly up and down the block. I really know no one around here. How horrifying to have to walk up to a stranger's house and beg for help. And yet, what else was I going to do?

I remembered our first weekend here, the neighbor across the street had come up to express his concern about the boys playing too close to the street, he'd seemed nice, so I decided, well, I'd start there. I took a deep breath and rang the bell. At first I thought they were not home...quiet then a dog, not really barking but kind of grumbling. Footsteps and the door swung open, I started delivering the speech to a pair of bare feet and the bottom of a grey terry bathrobe.

"I'm so sorry to bother you so early, I'm your neighbor across the street and..." as my eyes traveled up I saw the beagle pacing behind her and I met her eyes. It was Aria's mother! I nearly fainted. We had a big "it's a small, small world" moment and then she slipped on a pair of uggs and grabbed a wire coat hanger. She stood out in the STINKIN' cold for about 20 minutes trying to work her magic on my car (she is no stranger to locking her keys in the car she assures me) and when she couldn't she invited me in to call a locksmith. We chatted for nearly 45 minutes while she puttered around in varying stages of getting ready for her own day. She invited me to dinner on Wednesday. "We do a potluck with friends every Wednesday. I tend to tell people when we aren't going to do it rather than when we are, it's just easier." I confided in her that Elyas is rather partial to tea parties which she was thrilled about. "Aria needs a tea party partner!" And as it happens, Aria is rather partial to trains, so that's kind of nice too.

Maybe I didn't miss the exit after all, but I needed a big flashing neon sign to get to it. Maybe.

Or maybe it just really is a small small world. Whatever. Kind of a good story, I thought.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Things that confuse me

I get those moments once in awhile when I find myself obsessing over something that just makes me batty. I don't want to do this, necessarily (although, maybe I do and I just don't know it) so I think maybe writing these "Things that make you go 'Hmmm?'" things out would help me get them out of my head and maybe you'd have ideas about them...or even just find them entertaining.

Here lately, it's home decor choices. Now I'm all for freedom of expression...or even lack of desire to express anything at all, but sometimes you just have to wonder WHY people do what they do. I'm very able to freely admit that my family had basically nothing while I was growing up...we spent a good part of my youth in a 10 x 60 trailer house (you do the math on had two bedrooms the size of postage stamps), so I spent my youth dreaming of getting OUT of rooms covered in horrible pressed wood paneling covered in what would have been photocopy wood, had there been color photocopiers back then. I see the stuff now and I have a visceral makes me want to run away screaming and play Barbies all at the same time. But I've always kind of thought, oh well, it was a stamp of our poverty, that's all. No one really chooses to live in that.

But you know, I'm either a very bad judge of about the amount of money some people make or there are some crazy people out there. I'm not saying that I know lots of people who have the exact stuff that was on the walls of our trailer. But my friend Barb recently posted pictures of a house she's buying soon, with strong disclaimers that she's REMOVING the wallpaper, so try to have some imagination! I look at these pictures and I keep thinking about who in the world chooses to take the same ugly little reprinted picture and cover an entire room in it? The house she is buying is neither old (although I'm not sure I give any more credit to someone who did it thirty years ago than I would to someone who did it last summer), nor is it a cheapie one size fits all kind of house, slapped together by someone who didn't give a rat's pa-toot about who might actually have to look at this stuff daily. In fact, as much wallpaper as there is in this joint, it would appear to be a personal preference! Color me...dismayed. Really? This little man chopping wood with his blotchy handlebar moustache is an image you want to look at not only on a daily basis, but in kaleidoscope effect while you are curling your hair and brushing your teeth?

Really. Wow.

Maybe I'm just a bitch, or completely uninformed about the joys of wallpaper, but I really don't understand what would drive a perfectly logical person to go out and spend perfectly good money, time, energy and effort on such a thing. Particularly when Debbie Travis is out there leading the crusade for paint. Listen to Debbie my friends. She knows her stuff.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Love Saturday

Ah screw the rules. Today made me all warm and fuzzy in the middle of yet another snow storm, so I'd better share. It isn't Thursday, so I'm sure the earth is going to spin off it's axis. The sacrifices I'm willing to make for my kids!

Today was Elyas's first basket ball game. Can I just share a secret with you? If you are sad, bored, depressed, angry, lonely or questioning if there is a reason to go on, find out where the four and five year old kids in your town are playing basket ball, or hockey, or soccer, or whatever and get yourself there. Go particularly if it is the first time they've ever played. My son, in particular took the cry of "DEFENSE!" so seriously, hands up, dancing around like he was doing drills for a football practice. The problem of course is he had no idea why he was doing this and would watch his opponents run right by him with the ball and shoot. He never stopped dancing. LOL. One little boy (actually the littlest boy, so cute!) was told at one point to guard the basket, the coach positioned him right under the basket, and he refused to move for the rest of the game. His coach had to pick him up and carry him to the huddle after they finished. Players routinely left the court in the middle of the game to hug their mommies, or even better their preschool teachers that they haven't seen for four or five months. The lone little girl on the league was sure to cry foul when she got benched, stomping her feet and telling her mother it was sexism (totally not making that up!)

On the last play of the game Elyas got the ball and he was running with it (apparently traveling is not a problem in the under six version of basketball). The three other times he'd had the ball during the game another member of his own team had stolen it from him while he was TRYING to dribble and so this time he wrapped his arms around it and barrelled into the crowd and ran straight for the little boy anchored under the basket. As the buzzer sounded his dad shouted "Shoot Elyas!" And wouldn't you know it, he tossed it and it landed - somewhere near the locker room.

As I was walking to my car I heard one little boy explaining to his mom why he thought maybe it would be more fun to play basket ball with knee pads and a helmet. I wondered if Elyas had anything to do with that request.

I haven't laughed so much in months.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My first theological discussion with Elyas

It also happens to be the most convoluted theological discussion I've ever had. Follow me inside the mind of Elyas, but stay close we wouldn't want to get separated...

"Mom, why do people say grace?"

"Well some people say grace because they believe in God and they think -"


"Well no, not really, but some people do and they think it is important to thank him for the good things they have in life. The reason WE say grace is -"

"Does Dad believe in God?"

"Maybe you should ask him about that."

"But black people don't believe in God!"

"Really, that's what you think?"



"Black people just don't. Only white people."

" honey I think that all kinds of people black or white or whatever believe - "

"And tan people? Like me and Devereaux?"

"Yes, and tan people too...believe in God and all kinds of people also don't believe in God or believe in other kinds of things."

"But do they wear underwear?"

"Huh? Yeah. What?"

"Why do we have to wear underwear anyway? It's just stupid. And socks! Why do we have to wear socks? Mom, where are you going?"

Friday, December 07, 2007

Where ever you go, there you are.

Not too long ago, I started entertaining the notion of taking up the fight with the ex-husband that would undoubtedly ensue by moving my little family away from here, away from him and the pain of our divorce and into the loving arms of my family and/or friends in other states. I had conjured up images of long sunny days frolicking in the yard with cousins and kinda-cousins, sharing drinks with my sisters or my girls and giggling. Maybe I'd even find myself a nice man who lived in my circles and settle down again. My mama and I could bond, my kids would know my family and community values.


As I reflected it became apparent to me that I was perpetuating a tradition of idealizing the dead. It is, I suppose a coping mechanism that we humans have to remember the dead fondly, we tend to blot out their very human traits that irritated or even harmed us. It hurts us to know that someone will remember our own transgressions, so I suppose in forgiving theirs, we forgive our own. Nevertheless...sooner or later I had to recognize that not only was my own very dead past just as buried in the dust as any saintly gone-by relative, but that it had just as many of its own ugly tales buried under the rosy glow of my wishful memories. What would small town Nebraska have to offer me in the way of support or even after-school care for my behaviorally challenged special needs kid? How about my family? How would they deal with his condition when faced with the sometimes hard realities of it? How about my hippy dippy approach to spirituality? I actually spent sometime thinking about all the reasons I've left all the places that I've left. And I became pretty despondent.

Why do I not find the peace I'm looking for? What is missing? I wrote a blog, when I first started blogging about the old Marcel Proust quote, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." I've tried to have new eyes, but the same old ones seem to be there every day when I wake up. I find myself more recently remembering another quote, that I can't quite recall verbatim and can't seem to even google up, but it was from a recovering alcoholic (is that the proper term these days?) who laments that the problem with getting sober is that you have to deal with the person that started drinking in the first place. That strikes some serious chords in this whole battle about where to call home. I think I've been running from place to place, and dragging the problems right along with me, because I never stuck around long enough to quite get "sober." These days I'm sober. I'm not running. I'm dealing. But facing the person who started running in the first place, it isn't easy.

Taking it slow. Practicing forgiveness. Have you been there?

True Believer

Until I became a Unitarian Universalist, I thought I was a pretty weird duck. Well, if we are being honest, I am a pretty weird duck, but you know, I've found out there are others. It seems less weird when you have company.

A big "for instance" always comes up this time of year when moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas and various and sundry others who think they need to weigh in on our parenting choices all begin the debate about,"Is Santa a cherished holiday rite of childhood, or a ridiculous lie that destroys children's trust in their parents?" And I struggle with not getting snarky, because, while I'm pretty much an atheist (humanist, I suppose, but I see that title as issue avoidance) I firmly believe in Santa Claus. Confused? But SANTA CLAUS, you must be thinking, "C'mon Ei that one is easy to prove. There is a paper trail that leads directly back to your parents, right?" But you are wrong.

I was really late in figuring it out as a kid, I think maybe 12. I like to think that this was not because I was stupid so much as hopeful. And my discovery was rather hurtful because I was a temperamental kid (much like an eight year old who sleeps at my house) and my mom was rather blunt in her delivery...and it all kind of sucked. The end result was, "Hey kid, Christmas magic is over. Welcome to adulthood." It ruined my holidays for several years to come. Everything about the holiday took on a hollowness. Decorating the tree wasn't as much fun, baking cookies, buying gifts - it was like someone took a vacuum to the season and sucked all the color out of it. My favorite holiday in my teens was sitting with my grandmother in the nursing home, listening to her and my mom tell stories about days when I didn't even exist.

Not blaming the event in question, perhaps it was just a theme in my life, but life in general seemed to go that direction in my teens and early adulthood. By the time I was 20 it was pretty much at critical mass. I don't remember anyone talking much about clinical depression at that time, but I know I had it (still do) and this added with the daily trials and trauma of being 20 and being a college student with poor social skills were taking its toll. The many friends I'd made my freshman year were all busy with new mini-soap operas and I was just too sad to get involved. I couldn't make ends meet and I was lonely. I lived in a trailer by myself surrounded by other college students whose lives seemed to be non-stop dating and parties. I became addicted to MTV and skipping class. I took very poor care of myself (I won't even go into the food that I ate at this time...if you've lived through college, you probably have a story or two yourself). I had an old boyfriend show up at my doorstep one evening and he spent the night...just long enough to give me and STD and to crush my self esteem into the ugly shag carpet.

As we rolled around to finals in December, I was hanging by a thread. I woke up the morning before my final in history (that I knew I would fail) and tried to decide if I would go in and face the music or kill myself. Honestly. I laid there trying to decide which would be the most painful, and which embarrassment would be worse for my family, the high school honor student, Board of Trustees Scholarship recipient flunking out of college, or just killing herself because she was so pathetic?

I don't know why exactly but I decided to take the test. Maybe to give myself proof that the other option was the best choice. Maybe because I was afraid that if there WAS an afterlife, I'd have to witness how little anyone cared about my life. But I got dressed, put my hair in a ponytail and went out to start my car. I remember it was really snowy and I was afraid it wouldn't start. But it did. Once it did start I reached for my cigarettes and realized I'd left them in the house, so I quickly pulled the keys out of the ignition and ran inside to get them.

When I climbed back into the car I reached to push the lighter in as I started the car and knocked something to the floor, I peered at it. It was a little blue foil wrapped Christmas candy, with a picture of Santa stamped on the front. Someone had slipped in my car and set it there where I would find it when I'd run in the house. It wasn't frozen, so I knew it had only been there moments. I looked all around but could see no one. My neighbors all seemed to be gone. I couldn't even think of a person in the world who might have wanted to do something nice for me, much less have done it in secret.

I didn't take my history exam that day, nor did I kill myself (well, okay, duh). I did sit holding that little piece of chocolate for about three hours, crying. It became the day I call upon when I think about Christmas, and very much so Santa, who undoubtedly delivered that chocolate to me, via traditional Santa magic, which is moving hearts with kindness and love. Santa saved my life that day, probably. And if he didn't, he certainly saved my faith in mankind.

My kids know Santa much the way I knew him. And one day I hope I can help them find the colors of the TRUE Santa story in a much gentler way than I found them. But I'm so glad he's there and I'm so glad to share him with my children.

Yes, I did.

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