April 29, 2005

Everything's Fine

I worry like crazy about The Boy. That's most likely not news to anyone who knows me. But since I have years of experience and am quite good at it, it would be a shame to waste my natural talent.

Is he getting enough to eat?
Losing too much weight?
Getting enough sleep?
Wearing clean socks?
Partying too much?
Keeping his room clean?
Getting along with his suitemates?
Keeping his grades up?
Surrounded by supportive people who care about him?
Staying dry when it rains?
Excited busy and absorbed or distracted confused and lost?
Getting laid? Relating well to others?
Having fun?
Staying healthy?
Making smart decisions?
Keeping in touch with his father?
Planning the logistics for next month?
Getting the most out of his classes?
Balancing his checkbook?
Enjoying his collegiate experience?
Taking care of business?
In over his head?
All of the above?
None of the above?

I could go on (and on and on and on), but I'll stop the list there. Some of those questions I know the answers to. Others I don't really want to know. I mean it. I really don't want to know. The rest? There is little I can do except worry. When we saw him last weekend, he was obviously stressed, but hey, it's the end of the semester and the end of the year. He's supposed to be stressed. He's got a lot going on.

When Wendy and I take road trips, we always pack a shoebox full of CDs to entertain us. We listened to one that I usually choose to accompany serious housework: Tracy Bonham "The Burdens of Being Upright". It is serious housecleaning music. I'm not even sure what it was doing in the travel box. It's not really driving-in-the-car music. Well, it can work as driving music, but it's better as housecleaning music. It is definitely not sitting-in-traffic music though.

What's that got to do with me worrying about The Boy? "Mother Mother" is the first track on the CD. It is a song about a daughter calling home, lyrics excerpted below.

Mother mother, how's the family?
I'm just calling to say hello.
How's the weather? How's my father?
Am I lonely? Heavens no!

Mother mother can you hear me?
Sure I'm sober, sure I'm sane.
Life is perfect, never better.
Still your daughter still the same.

If I tell you what you want to hear,
Will it help you to sleep well at night?
Are you sure that I'm your perfect dear?
Now just cuddle up and sleep tight.

I'm hungry
I'm dirty
I'm losing my mind

I'm freezing
I'm starving
I'm bleeding to death

I miss you.
I love you.

That song is about a child preserving illusions for their parents even as the tenuous reality of their existence seeps out. She's trying to be strong and present a brave face while inside, well inside it's not always so grand. The harsh clashes of chords with the crescendos and fades of the music paint vivid emotions to accompany those lyrics. Turn it up loud. It rocks.

I want everything to be fine.
But it's not always going to be fine and that's got to be okay too.
Worrying won't make a bit of difference either way, will it?


April 27, 2005

After All, Art Is Subjective

Sam of the Shoe Box clued me in to this interesting method of expressing displeasure with our current political administration.

The artist is a freaking genius.

I didn't think anything could make shit more unappealing.
I was wrong again!


April 26, 2005

Ashes To Ashes

I shared with the world my feelings about our dog Detail when he died last year. He was the first pet who died on my watch. He died! How rude. Or something. Death used to be so abstract. That year, Detail was part of a string of deaths adding a different dimension to the word for me.

Out here in the suburbs it is Against County Law to bury a dead pet in your backyard. Part of me puffs up my chest and stamps my foot saying “Balls to that! It’s OUR property! We shall bury our beloved dead dog on OUR property should we so choose!” But then I try to imagine digging a hole in the Virginia clay deep enough to bury anything adequately. That makes me un-puff into my typical law abiding citizen self.

Back when I was a kid, I remember digging graves for my deceased pet gerbils and even a fish or two. We never dug deep. That clay and all. Once my best-neighborhood-friend-growing-up and I had a little ceremony for an expired goldfish. We buried that fish in a shallow grave on the top of the hill in our adjoining backyards. Her cat dug it up shortly thereafter. We saw the desecrated burial plot. I don’t much like thinking about that.

We paid $150 to have Detail cremated, his ashes neatly packed into a lovely wooden box suitable for display. The process seemed a little sanitized, probably a good thing. The neatness soothed.

I am unsure of suitable etiquette for storing a beloved pet’s cindered remains. My dad has had many dogs. I asked him what he did with their ashes and he said, “They are on a shelf in the garage.” Hmm. Not what I had in mind. Even if it was, we don’t have a garage. I imagine keeping Detail’s ashes until his sister assumes the same form. I have this rather sappy idea of mixing them together and spreading them in the reservoir where they used to love to swim. Rather like The Scrapbook, it may well be something I need to do for me.

Over the ensuing months, waiting for Cosine to catch up, Detail, in his polished wooden box, moved to various perches around the living room. He spent some time on the mantel. Then a month or so on a side table by a plant and a picture of The Boy. Next he moved atop the CD tower. I liked that location pretty well. We walked by often and he’d catch our eye. Plus he had a great view out the picture window.

I suppose it may sound a bit, well, a bit odd if I share how often I stroke the top of that polished wooden box and speak a few words to Detail, Our Dearly Departed Dog. He was a good ole boy, he was.

Anyway. Whilst dusting and rearranging various decorative items that dwell in our living room, a candle came to rest atop Detail’s box. Seemed like a good place for it so I left it there.

Then The Boy came home for spring break. He rebuked, “Mom, what was that candle doing on top of Detail?! I moved it.”

I laughed, “It was keeping him company, decorating his space. He liked it.” (Me being bold enough to proclaim what our dead dog was feeling seemed entirely reasonable. I’m sure you agree.)

The Boy shook his head, “Uh uh. No way. How could he? It’s.. it’s… so disrespectful! He’s not some kind of birthday cake!” The words "birthday cake" dripped with scorn. Wendy looked bemused yet nodded in agreement.

So now there is nothing sitting atop Detail in his fancy wooden box. I still think he liked the candle. I don’t think it was disrespectful. Do you?


April 25, 2005

Freeways, Cars & Trucks

After our travel experience this weekend, one would never get even the vaguest of notions that fuel prices are at record highs. Coming home from North Carolina, Wendy and I sat in a 20 mile bumper-to-bumper backup on Interstate 95. Such joy. Such fun. Such regret for consuming that large cup of coffee.

We did, as always, stop in South Hill for gas and snacks. It's about the half-way point and the restroom is at least quasi-clean at the Racetrak gas station. While there, we paid $2.21 a gallon for gas and felt pleased.

After hearing the traffic report on WTOP about how long the backup on the Interstate was, we slipped over to Route 1 which parallels the interstate. It has a lower speed limit and traffic lights. But it moved, which is more than we can say for the highway. On that road, we saw gas for sale as low as $1.98 per gallon. We also saw an incredible amount of development in progress: homes, business parks, strip malls. The suburban sprawl is spreading quite rapidly it seems.

Fascinating useless facts from the east coast of the United States.
Now your day is complete.


April 22, 2005

I Don't Know Much, But I Know I Love You *

I'm not too proud to admit it.
I really don't know much of anything.

Just off the top of my head, however, here are a few things I do know.
  • I know I'm looking forward to visiting The Boy this weekend.

  • I know I'm so looking forward to it I may even plead with him for the privilege of doing his laundry. (Maternal feelings are raging out of control. Obviously.)

  • I know I'm looking forward to scoring some North Carolina barbeque while we're down there.

  • I know it's supposed to rain all weekend.

  • I know the dogs will bring in rainy day yard mud on their happy little toes.

  • I know, as of this morning, Cosine no longer will be fooled into eating cheese with pills hidden inside.

  • I know I'm curious in a train wreck kind of way to find out why six police cars with their lights flashing and sirens howling raced down our residential street last night.

  • I know there is a barlett pear downstairs in the kitchen, ripened to perfection and eagerly awaiting my consumption. I can already taste its juicy goodness.

  • I know that a self-proclaimed bad-ass dyke, while in Virginia or anywhere else on the planet, should never carry a lovely ultra-femme yellow silky purse on a thin dainty string. It's just not done. Or if it is done, the one carrying said purse immediately gives up the right to label themselves bad-ass anything and is henceforth and thereafter vulnerable to relentless neverending ridicule about the aforementioned purse, lovely though it may be.

  • I know when I titled this post, I was thinking of my girlfriend.

April 21, 2005

My Wild Hair

I can think of two definitions for a "wild hair."
The purest, in my opinion, is a wild hair that actually is a hair.
Your opinion may vary.

I've got a wild hair.
It's really wild.
Hold your applause.

My wild hair is singular, not plural.
Dark, not light.
Whiskery, not soft.

Fact is, it's so whiskery it does a passable impression of a real whisker. Only it can't be a real whisker. It's growing on my chin after all. Whiskers and my chin do not go together. Even the thought is too wrong for words.

So this hair-that-is-not-a-whisker crops up on my chin every now and again. To be more precise, it crops up under my chin. I usually realize it has returned while I am driving. For some reason my hand finds its way to my chin when I sit in traffic.

Hold on. Just a moment. I feel a strong need to offer up a reminder I'm talking about a single whisker wild hair. It's not like I'm growing a chinful of whiskers wild hairs. It's one whisker wild hair. Okay. Besides, I know you've got one too. At least one. It doesn't have to be a dirty little secret.

I imagine you can imagine I recently again found said wild hair on my chin, inspiring me to discuss it. I plucked it and now it is gone until it returns.

Then there is the other common definition of "wild hair." The definition that has nothing to do with whiskers. This definition is all about impulse. As in "I've got a wild hair to write about my whisker wild hair."

That's the kind that can't be plucked.


April 20, 2005

April 19, 2005

My Mom Rocks

Part of my lunch hour yesterday was spent shopping for a new journal. The book I picked out is 5"x8" with 240 pages and has an attached ribbon to mark my place. It has a nice heft and a smooth, soft black cover. Spiral bound was what I had in mind, but this one has a traditional binding. It is filled with graph paper pages instead of blank or lined. Graph paper pages are my favorite thing to write on.

I don’t get to write in it right away. It was purchased specifically for a trip I’m taking with my mother next month. My mother is taking me on a trip actually.

Shortly after this conversation, she called again.
My Mom: “Hi sweetie, have I caught you at a bad time?”

Me: (a little cranky but smiling anyway) “Hi Mom. This is as good a time as any.”

My Mom: "I have a proposition."

Me: (slightly hesitant because my mom has come up with questionable propositions in the past) "Oh?"

My Mom: "Remember I've told you about the trips Hal and I have taken with Elderhostel?"

Me: (remembering they go all over the place and take interesting classes. She's into sewing and needlework of all sorts and her husband is into woodworking. They both are very creative.) "Of course. You call it Old Folks Camp."

My Mom: "I would like you to take a vacation with me in May."

Me: (thinking a vacation with my mom? Just the two of us? Good thing I quit smoking!) “Oh?”

My Mom: (starting to sound excited) “Yes, there is an Elderhostel camp in West Virginia. One session offers a quilting class I’ve been wanting to take. There is creative writing class you could take the same week. Wanna go?”
As the idea turned over in my head it almost sounded fun. Good thing, too, because I knew I was going even if it didn’t sound like fun. There are some things I will always do for my Mom---giving her some time is the least of them. She's always given me hers.

I’ve never taken a writing class in my life, am not sure I want to, and who knows what this one will be like. I’m bound to meet some interesting people though. Worst case scenario, I'll have a week to sit and write all day long.

That's the worst case and the best case. A whole week to sit and write all day long. In the beautiful mountains of West Virginia. In late May.

My mom rocks.
Truth be told, she drives me batshit too.
It's all part of her job description.
She's good at it.

How'd I get so lucky?


April 18, 2005

Three Things Monday

  1. Great baseball this past weekend. Both the Nats and the Os swept their home series. The Os, having won series against the hated Yankees two weekend in a row, have now matched their number of wins over the Yankees for the entire last season. The Orioles are playing great baseball. They are on fire!

  2. If you have an old blind dog, it is a mean thing to re-arrange the furniture. Wendy and I did a mean thing. But we didn't mean to be mean, you know what I mean?

  3. Bette and Tina's "interlude" on last night's The L-Word episode: Now that's good television!

April 17, 2005

Second Chance

We have an eclectic collection of coffee mugs. Only a few match and the ones that do are never more than pairs. I’ve never felt the need to have all our mugs be the same. Celebration of diversity?

There’s this one mug I’ve had for a number of years. It is of whimsical design. Over the years it has been banged around quite a bit in the dishwasher. The lip of the mug is chipped. The rough edge detracts from the pleasure it used to bring. I don’t like to drink my morning coffee from it any more. That rough lip. Unpleasant. Yet I also don’t want to throw it away. It sits in the kitchen cabinet with the rest of the mugs. I wonder if it realizes it is no longer part of the inner circle.

The mug was a gift from an old neighbor. Old as in past, not old as in aged. Her name was Leslie. When she first became my neighbor, she was around seven years old. I was twenty-four or so. Yes yes, it was quite a while ago. But she didn’t give me the gift when we first met. It came later, after we became friends.

Over the eleven years we were neighbors, we got to know each other quite well. It started with her coming over to play with The Boy on occasion. She is five years older than him but hey, it must have been more appealing than hanging out with her older sister. They were always arguing, those two. Her sister was quite the bitch. So Leslie would come over and hang with me and The Boy and our dogs. We’d play board games, go hiking, swim at the community pool, solve the mysteries of the world.

Her parents were the kind of neighbors I like to have and strive to be. They took care of their property, respected mine, and were always ready to pitch in when help was needed. Once, the indoor cutoff valve for my exterior faucet was leaking. A half-dozen or so little snakes, attracted by the water, had snaked themselves around the pipe and valve. Inside my house! I fucking hate snakes. They definitely don’t belong in my house. The husband captured and removed all of those snakes and didn’t once laugh at my squeamishness. I don’t know if he remembers it, but I do. That man is my forever-snake-hero.

Over the years, we all became friends. The mother and I would chat over the fence like stereotypical suburban housewives. Mainly she’d talk and I’d listen. She seemed rather lonely, the mother. There were a few times I considered inviting her over to hang out with the kids and me, but I never did. Evidently I was too selfish. Or too shy. It was one thing to stand out by the fence and talk and quite another to invite her into our home.

Then came that day not long after Leslie graduated high school.

I remember she often dressed like a hippie. A hippie of the 1960s rather than a hippie of the 1990s. The hippies of the 1990s lacked that authentic hippie panache, in my own humble opinion. Imposters all. Imposters like me, although I was not an imposter of the hippie variety. I had outgrown hippie somewhere along the way and was a different kind of imposter: Leslie’s imposter friend.

That day The Boy and I had just arrived home. I was unloading the last of the groceries from the car. As she crossed the strip of grass separating our driveways, she called out to get my attention. I turned and watched her approach tentatively with her head down, shoulders slumped. She looked up at me and said, “Hi.”

“Well, hi there. How’s it going?” I smiled while wondering what was wrong.

“Uh. Can we talk? I have something to tell you.” She made brief eye contact and looked down again at the driveway. Her hands dug deeper into the pockets of the oversized camouflage jacket she had on. “Uh,” she looked up again. “I… um…. I kissed a girl today. I think I may be gay.”

Let’s pause here for just a moment. There is much background I have omitted. Like how my sexuality had long been neighborhood gossip fodder---I came out with a bang shortly after moving there. Like how her mother wrestled for the longest time before accepting me as a friend, for herself or her daughter, because of my “evil perverted lesbianism”---her words, not mine. But I was a good neighbor. A good person. A good mother. Leslie’s parents were good people too. They wrestled, yet they couldn’t ignore the reality of me for long. So we all grew.

Now back to the topic at hand: their daughter kissing girls.

To say her revelation caught me off guard is an understatement. To say it was my worst nightmare is closer to the truth. I immediately broke out in a cold sweat and stammered something insightful and mature like “oh… really… I… ah… gee...” as I rapidly backpedaled into the house and slammed the door in her face.

Well, I didn’t literally slam the door. But figuratively I sure did.

I try to justify my behavior. Even now. I try to justify leaving her standing there in my driveway, her eyes huge and seeking reassurance. I try to tell myself, “Suzanne, maybe you were doing her a favor by ignoring her revelation. By ignoring her confusion. By not giving her admission any acknowledgement at all you were really helping her.”

Yeah right. I know better. Because I’d been her once upon a time. At least someone much like her. With the same questions and confusions and uncertainties. I know how much it may have meant to me to have a trusted adult to talk to---any adult, gay or straight. I know how much courage it took for her to bring it up to me at all. So what did I do for her? Nothing. I did nothing. I shut down.

Thing is, to this day, I don’t know if she is into girls or not. She never brought it up again and neither did I. Shortly thereafter, The Boy and I moved away. We’ve lost touch.

I know why I behaved that way and it shames me to admit it. It was the mid-1990s. The religious right and anti-gay groups preached loudly about The Gay Agenda. How homosexuals recruit young people and lure them over to The Gay Lifestyle. I was so afraid if I discussed anything about her sexuality with this young woman, the world would point their fingers at me shouting “Evil Gay Recruiter! Right here in this suburban community! We were right! If you let your children associate with homosexuals then they too will become gay!”

I have no gay agenda. I am no recruiter. Homosexuality is not like the Army, for Pete’s sake. Being gay is not a decision. It just is. I am just a garden variety suburban lesbian searching for happiness in a fucked-up world. Well, make that a garden variety suburban lesbian who didn’t have the guts to help a friend in need. Just because Leslie kissed a girl didn’t mean she was a lesbian. She wasn’t inviting me to be her Mentor of All Things Lesbian or seeking encouragement to kiss the girl again. She just needed to talk. I wish I had been strong enough to listen.

Life is funny sometimes. The daughter of a close friend recently announced she is dating a woman. I’m getting a second chance. I’m getting a second chance not to turn my back on a young woman’s friendship because she thinks she may like girls. Whether she is gay or not is of no concern to me; I’ll be there for her either way. I don’t give a flying fuck if the world (or anyone in it) thinks my own personal sexuality is a bad influence. I know better.

This time, I’ll not let my fear keep me from listening.


April 15, 2005

My Cup Runneth Over

It's not something I usually bring up in the company of strangers. It's something I rarely bring up in the company of friends.

Bra size is rather personal after all.

Oh sure, breasts and their containers don't always make appropriate conversation material, but they are undeniably in the center of things. One doesn't have to look very far to find a pair pointing their direction.

A recent shopping trip was the catalyst for a little stroll down memory lane, beginning way back when I was only as old as my son is now. A retrospective of my bra sizes through the ages flashed through my mind.

I'd never been particularly well-endowed by any stretch of the imagination. For many years my headlights were garaged in a modest 36B. Low beams.

While I was pregnant, my chest ballooned from its usual 36B to an outrageous 44DD. No, that's not a typo. It was but the first noticeable change in my body. Suddenly I could no longer button my blouses. Then I couldn't wear my blouses. I acquired progressively larger brassieres until my new monstrosities friends maxed out.

Nursing following pregnancy precluded a rapid return to normalcy. I was so looking forward to normalcy. My old bras patiently awaited their return to duty in my lingerie drawer. They waited a long time.

Over the years since, my 36B sized bras have been replaced with 38Bs. With underwires. All hail the underwire bra. Seriously.

Recently I've gained weight since quitting smoking and the nature of my relationship with my clothing has changed. I've noticed I fill out my clothes, shall we say, more completely. Including my lingerie of course.

Last weekend, Wendy proposed going clothes shopping.
I said, "Okay. I need new bras."
Wendy said, "Let's go!"

And so it was we found ourselves in the lingerie department of a local department store. Before we left the safety of the aisle to wade into the jungle of brassieres on display, I looked around furtively over both shoulders, ahead and to the sides before leaning down and whispering in Wendy's ear, "I think I need to go up a cup size."

She made eye contact and smiled, "Oh really? And you think I hadn't noticed?" She quirked her eyebrows and gave me that twinkle of her eye that never fails to melt me where I stand.

So it is that I have entered a new age.
The age of the C cup.

And my girlfriend.
She likes it.
Lucky me.


April 13, 2005


Figero's shit smells so bad.

You may be thinking, "Well duh, Suzanne. Shit stinks. Why should Figero's be an exception to the rule?"

But I'm not talking about a mere stink. I can handle a little typical smelly cat poo. However of late, his shit truly reeks. His litterbox is in the basement and after he takes a dump it permeates the entire house in an instant. The assault on our olfactory senses is immediate, the trigger pulled on our gag reflex.

If we are home, we can race downstairs and umm... eliminate the problem. But say we're at work, which is where we usually are the majority of times Figero feels the urge to purge. Figero needs his quiet time to prepare; he is an old man after all. So if we've been at work, we return to a house smelling worse than standing downwind of the elephants at the zoo. Welcome home!

Because we are Mistresses of the Obvious Conclusion, Wendy and I have determined this new evil odiferous stench is due to a change in diet. New food, three days later, new stench.

So new food is now old food and old food is back on the plate.

More proof, as if we need it, that change is evil.
Evil, I say.


April 12, 2005

Fresh Season

I thought it would be so easy. In fact, I was so certain it would be easy I didn’t even spend any time agonizing over it. I so rarely waste an opportunity to agonize.

But I was wrong. Again. It’s not easy at all. It’s so hard I’ve already decided it’s impossible.

When it was announced that D.C. would have its own Major League Baseball team again I decided the Washington Nationals would be My Team instead of the Baltimore Orioles, the team I have been rooting for as long as I can remember.

See, the Os ticked me off big-time during the off-season. They traded away a favorite player of mine. A favorite player whose bobble head doll sits on my desk at work, right next to my miniature Gumby & Pokey and my little fuzzy armadillo. He sits there, in his Orioles uniform, bobbling his head on command. How could they trade Jerry? We love Jerry Hairston, Jr. (By the by, it sure doesn't appear Jerry's liking his new home either--0 for 8 with a walk so far this year.)

So I was done with the Orioles. Simple, right?
Uh. No. Evidently not.

In case you live in a hole somewhere or, perhaps more unfortunately, if you are not a fan, I’ll remind you that baseball season has begun. Wendy and I are big fans of baseball. Major League and otherwise. Things change at our house when the season begins.

This past weekend, Wendy and I joyously watched the Yankees get spanked by the Orioles. All our old friends were lighting up the field and the base paths. Good times indeed. I realized even without Jerry and despite Sammy, I still love the Os.

Especially when they beat the Yankees.
In New York.
Twice in one weekend.
I’m so easy.


April 11, 2005

Lesbians in Common

I've written previously how Wendy and I just don't know that many other lesbians here in our corner of suburbia. I've mentioned the one lesbian couple with whom we actually are sort of friends. But we are not particularly close to them. Exchanges like this sum up why:

Me: Do y'all read much?
She: No, not much.
Me: *silent*

Me: We are really looking forward to the start of baseball season.
She: We just don't do sports.
Me: *silent*

But there are some topics we can discuss:

Me: Last week's episode of The L-Word was pretty hot.
She: We are so glad Dana is going to hook up with Alice! But what is up with Alice's hair?!
Me: I think they all have bad hair, but I agree Dana and Alice make a cute couple! Dana has a smokin' body!"

While I value the limited relationship we have with this couple, I'd like to try having lesbian friends who have things in common with us besides just being gay.


April 8, 2005

The Scrapbook

I call the job I work three days a week my “real” job. What makes it real is it provides all the accoutrements of a full time job. Things I consider real, like insurance, vacation pay, a retirement plan and other such niceties necessities of life.

It’s a small office. Some people work from their homes. Some people come to the office five days a week. Most of our employees are men. One woman works from her home full time. Another comes into the office for a few hours a few days a week. Then there’s me.

I chat with one of the other female employees on a regular basis. She and I have a few things in common besides working for the same company. We were born in November of the same year, we each have a boy in college, we both grew up in Alexandria. That’s where the similarities end for the most part.

She has three children, all boys. One in college, one in high school and the third, well, the third isn’t old enough to start school yet. Yikes.

So while she’s enduring all the trials and tribulations of her children growing up and leaving home, she’s also re-experiencing the joys of having a toddler. He does attend some sort of preschool. My co-worker uses words like “playgroup” and “parent co-op” and “timeshare sitting”. Such terms were not in vogue--I’m not even sure they existed--when The Boy was a toddler.

She’s an avid photographer and of late has been talking about the scrapbooks she’s putting together for her children. She mentions Stamping It Up parties and says she attends to get ideas. I nod and smile. She speaks of page counts and background color choices and cropping styles. She analyzes organizational methods and scrapbook philosophies.

Inside my head, I’m all like “Scrapbook philosophies? WTF?”

But I like this woman. She has a courageous heart. So outside my head, I nod and smile.

In the spirit of conversation, I told her about the book I put together for The Boy. It’s the only scrapbook I’ve ever compiled. Oh I've started others, but never got very far. This one I made for his high school graduation party, for his friends and family to see the chronicle of his life. While some thought obviously had to go into organization, it was hardly what I'd consider philosophical.

Working on that scrapbook was part of the process of letting go, although I was unaware of it at the time. Hindsight can be quite revealing. I wonder how I miss such things as they are occurring.

My co-worker asked if I would bring the scrapbook to the office to show her. “Sure,” I said, “although it’s really just pictures in a book. It's not fancy, nothing like you’ve been talking about.”

Ever so modest, that’s me. But seriously. It’s just pictures in a book, right?

It had been almost two years since I’d looked at that scrapbook. Our photos and other family mementos had been stashed in a storage unit with many of our household possessions after we moved. When we finally brought everything home a week or so ago, that book was the first thing I looked for.

I settled down to peruse my handiwork and was caught a bit off guard by the flood of emotion. Silly me. How could it not inspire emotion? Our only child’s life from birth through high school. Family, friends, places, pets, activities---jam packed with memories, it is.

Scrapbooks are time machines, at least this one is. "Do you remember what your mom looked like in 1986? Well here she is! Oh wait, that's not your mom at all. That's your grandmother! Yes yes, she does look young, doesn't she? And so thin!"

I also included in the book a few pieces of his schoolwork that speak of him as clearly as the pictures do. One was a story he wrote in first grade on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle notepaper. (Egad, does anyone else remember those Ninja Turtles?) I can still picture him hard at work, head down, his pencil gripped firmly.

It struck me as I turned the pages, that while it will become his eventually, I didn't really put it together for him. I thought that's what I was doing at the time, but now I'm pretty sure it was for me.

My sister gave him that "bound for greatness!" sticker. It had been on his bedroom door for years. Some people say this picture looks like a mug shot but I disagree. I like it because I see the twinkle in his eye, the hint of a smile, the vulnerability just under the surface, the promise of all that is to come.

Yeah. That's my baby.
He's on his way.


April 7, 2005

Water Consumption

This boggles my simple mind.

When there were three of us living in the house, our water/sewer bill averaged $90 per quarter.

Now, with just the two of us, that same bill averages $40 per quarter.

Go figure.


April 6, 2005

New Toys

I'm laying in bed watching baseball as I post this post.
My girlfriend spoils me rotten.

Hot damn, I'm a fortunate woman indeed!


The Rest of the Story?

We had lived with that slow stairwell drain for many months. But of course, after the debacle that was our weekend, The Plumber Dude was called in posthaste.

The Plumber Dude grabbed his snake and I led him to the stairwell. He started to snake the drain then stopped. "I’m doing this the hard way," he said. "There’s an easier way to clear these outside drains. Have you got a hose? I’ll show you a little trick so you won’t have to call a plumber for this again."

I perked. I like tricks. I’d like not having to call the plumber, despite this fellow’s amiable personality. Mostly I’d like not ever having this problem again.

So I dragged over the hose. It has one of those squeezie nozzle heads on it. Squeeze the handle, high pressure water jets out of the nozzle. Release and the water stops. Plumber Dude said, "Perfect!" He wrapped a cloth around the nozzle handle and pointed it down the drain, snug up close against the opening. I turned on the water at his prompt.

He squeezed the handle and water fountained up. "Just push it down hard and keep the water pressure directed down the drain," he said as he leaned his weight into it.

Sure enough, about fifteen seconds later water was no longer fountaining, rather it was rushing down that drain like I’d never before seen water rush down that drain. He stopped squeezing, stood up and said, “That’s all there is to it.”

After he left, I turned on the water to the hose again. I squirted it into the stairwell for a few minutes just for the cheap thrill of seeing it race out faster than the hose could pump it in.

Simple pleasures indeed.


April 5, 2005

My Brain?

Your Brain is 60.00% Female, 40.00% Male
Your brain is a healthy mix of male and female

You are both sensitive and savvy

Rational and reasonable, you tend to keep level headed

But you also tend to wear your heart on your sleeve


April 3, 2005

Paw Prints

Most pet doors lead outside. Our pet door leads to our basement. It's not really a pet door because only the cat can fit through it. It's a cat door. We put it there so the dogs would no longer have access to the litter box. Too many in-between meals snacks.

This morning on my way to the kitchen to turn on the coffee and let the dogs out, I noticed a trail of kitty cat paw prints coming up the basement stairs. Wet kitty cat paw prints.

"Huh?" my fuzzy uncaffeinated sleepy brain thought.

"Oh fuck!" my suddenly wide awake brain thought.

We've experienced heavy rain here all week. The drain in our basement stairwell has been struggling to keep up with the demand. We've had to monitor it, bailing or pumping as needed. We cancelled a trip to see The Boy perform this weekend to stay home and keep an eye on it.

But silly us. We went to sleep last night. When we sleep, all four of our eyes close. Unfortunately they stayed closed. So today instead of bailing the stairwell, we bailed the basement.

I am usually an upbeat person. At times, people find my positive outlook irritating. I completely understand their position. Sometimes looking for the bright spot is just not what a person wants or needs. Sometimes we just want to wallow in our misery and whine. (We all know how much I enjoy whining, after all.)

Yet I'm not whining about our flooded basement. I'm giving myself the gift of Embracing the Positive. I am awash in the glow of the Bright Spot. I am donning my Rose Colored Helmet and Cloak of the Silver Lining. And just so my extraordinary effort and how deep I'm digging can be truly appreciated, I will share a related and quite pertinent factoid.

Our house is undergoing renovation, much of which we are doing ourselves. When we first moved in, we put a bunch of our stuff in storage to keep it out of the way. Just last weekend we brought everything home. We put some of it away immediately, but the rest was crowded into... oh I know you can guess... the basement!

So call me Little Suzi Sunshine because I'm smiling! I'm glowing! I'm ecstatic! Our basement is now sparkling shiny clean and neatly arranged, a place for everything and everything in it's place (or close enough). Don't ask about the huge pile of trash out by the curb. Don't stop to wonder if anything important or sentimental was a casualty. Little Suzi Sunshine doesn't care about any of that! She only cares about our ultra-clean, ultra-dry, ultra-neat basement!

Little Suzi Sunshine needs a beer.


April 1, 2005

The Value of 10 Minutes

Today ten minutes made a difference.
Today ten minutes was how early I was.
Today ten minutes cost me $40.


Ten minutes didn't really cost me $40.
What I did to save those ten minutes cost me $40.
Wasn't even worth it.

Evidently my brain imploded earlier in the week. That's the only reasonable explanation for the extremely tight schedule I set for myself today. So when an opportunity presented to bend a rule to gain a little time this morning, I jumped on it. Wasn't my best decision of the day.

Today I arrived ten minutes early at the parking garage at the Huntington Metro Station. The garage and adjacent parking lots typically fill up quite early with commuters who start work at regular early times. I'm not one of those.

There are many spaces in the parking garage reserved for persons who purchase monthly parking passes. Those parking passes allow them to park their cars in the spaces reserved from 2:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. I'm not one of those either.

I'm one of the ones who waits until the 10:00 a.m. restriction lifts and then I park.

Except for today.
Today I was ten minutes early.
Today my schedule was tight.
Today I chose to live on the edge.
Today I threw caution to the wind.
Today ten minutes cost me $40.

I've seen the Parking Ticket Patrol in action at the Huntington Metro station. I think the Fairfax County Police Department funds their retirement plans with the tickets written to parked cars at that lot. Once a day they circle every single car looking for expired tags, county stickers and state inspection stickers. They write a lot of tickets there.

Today I learned they also look for parking permits. Today when I got back to my car, there was a $40 ticket on the windshield. Written at 9:51 a.m.. One minute after I'd left my car so irresponsibly parked in a spot reserved until 10:00 a.m.

The funny part?
The ironic part?
The train I was on didn't leave the station until 10:08 a.m.