May 31, 2005

Home, Glorious Home

Oh yes yes yes, I'm back.

I return triumphant, covered head to toe in "World's Best Daughter" stickers. The only visible part of me is a few stray locks of my gray curly hair. They glow in the dark. I mean the stickers glow, not the stray locks of my gray curly hair. I feel incredibly special and, more importantly, my mom does too.

Oh the tales I will tell. Tales not only of bonding with my maternal unit, but also tales of odd itchy rashes, a Memorial Day barbeque, 900 pounds of demolished porch detritus, good books, interesting people and coming home to my girlfriend. Not necessarily in that order.

But I won't be telling tales tonight because I'm busy pushing paper catching up with work I should have done last week but instead will do this week.

For tales you'll have to wait, 'enry 'iggins, just you wait.


May 22, 2005

Mothers & Daughters

I'm off to bond with my mother.
Be back in a week.

Try not to miss me too much.


May 19, 2005

Moving to Montana Soon

The Boy has called me six times in the past two days.

Six times. That's five more times than he called me during the whole of last month. He wasn't even asking for money. He needed minor problem solving help and to report his progress.

He had his last exam Saturday. His sophomore year is over. He's cleared out of the dorm, stashing the stuff he's not taking with him for the summer at a friend's house. His bags are packed in preparation to board a big ole jet airliner for Montana in two days.

He's also been scouring furnishings abandoned by students who will not be returning next year. He and his buddy will need things to furnish their off-campus apartment next fall. That's right. An apartment. Off-campus, but within walking distance. My baby has signed his first lease. I think that makes him an adult.

I don't know what is more depressing: him moving all the way across the country for the summer or him being old enough to have his own apartment.

What is really depressing is my prolonged inability to get past my "empty nest" issues. I mean geez. Do I think I'd be happier if he was wrapped around me like a piece of saran wrap, unable or unwilling to make decisions on his own? Or how about if he was making bad decisions? Would that make me happier?

Well duh. Of course not.
I just miss him, I guess.

So I say, "Self? Self! Enough already!"

Not surprisingly, Self isn't paying attention.
She's such a stubborn biddy.


May 18, 2005

Stuck in the Middle

Not for the first time, I recently found myself playing the role of mediator between The Boy and his father. They were having communication issues, leaving his dad feeling unappreciated and The Boy feeling defensive.

Neither of them hesitate to bitch to talk to me about their relationship with the other. I suppose it makes sense since I know them both well. Part of me welcomes it because I feel somewhat responsible for the quality of their relationship.

After all, if it wasn't for our marriage splitting up because I'm a lesbian, The Boy and his dad would have lived in the same house while he grew up. Surely that would have promoted a closer personal relationship and better on-going communication between them. Every family that remains together in a traditional familial unit produces wonderfully adjusted children and parents who all communicate honestly and openly, never a cross word or a hurt feeling between them.

That is the way it works, isn't it?

Yeah well. That's not really the way it works but I still feel responsible for their communication difficulties. Guilt and I go way back, oh yes yes we do.

Thankfully there's Wendy to chastise me for giving any real life to that premise. She reminds me how hard we worked to ensure The Boy and his father maintained close contact. It wasn't just us working hard. The entire family on both sides pitched in. Here is where I again give thanks for my family, immediate and extended. Our lives would be so much different without having had their support.

What's interesting now is to see how alike the two of them are, father and son. I think it may actually complicate communication because they respond the same way to injury, perceived or actual. They are both sensitive caring individuals yet oh so male.

I like watching them together. The Boy towers over his dad, having gotten his height from my side of the family. He has my eyes, but his broad shoulders and wide feet reflect his father. The blonde in his hair is mine, but it grows on his chest in the same pattern as his dad's does. They look like bookends sitting next to one another playing guitar, the same set to their jaw and tilt of their head. Their gestures, speech patterns, sense of humor; there is just no mistaking the similarities. Oh and their handwriting! Their illegible scribbles are interchangeable. Genes are powerfully persuasive.

They so want to relate to each other better. I hear the frustration in both their voices. So I listen. And gently prod. I remind his dad to think back to when we were nineteen and of how different, how much more together, our boy is from who we were at that age. We talk about his own father and how the two of them related back then.

I advise The Boy to be honest, to share his feelings, that his dad will listen and understand. Then I cross my fingers, despite knowing that yes, his father will understand. A little insurance never hurts!

I feel like a therapist, while wishing I had one myself. But still. I'll be there for either of them if they need me and be grateful for the chance to be there at all. Some things are just worth the effort.


May 16, 2005

In Lieu of Content...

... I give you a little something I call "Step Stool Under Ladder".


May 14, 2005

Friday Night in the 'Burbs

Scene: Friday evening, 10:17 pm. Our living room. Wendy stretched out on the couch with her head in Suzanne's lap. Dudley cuddled along her side. Cosine curled up on the doggie bed. Figero huddled on the kitchen counter. SK seated at the table, painting. The TV tuned to a re-run of Law and Order: Trial by Jury.

Into the living room walked Nikita, juggling something white in her mouth. She dropped it on the floor. She scooped it back up again, her soft mouth gently cupping her prize.

"Hey!" Suzanne said, pointing at the dog. "Hey, Nikki's eating something. SK, what has Nikki got in her mouth?"

SK peered at Nikita. "Oh that's just a tissue. She loves getting into the bathroom trash."

Suzanne made a face as she thought back to little shreds of tissue scattered around the house. She knew all about dogs who snatched tissues from the bathroom trashcan.

Then SK said, "Sometimes I blow my nose and just hand the tissue right to Nikki."

I love my sister.


May 12, 2005

Nikita: Indian Princess

This is one of Sherab Khandro's dogs. She's visiting us too. She was a pound puppy and is a mutt. She is sleek and soft, with wonderfully expressive eyes. In this photo, she is attired in her Indian Princess garb. Indian Princess garb? Whatever could I possibly mean by that? Well if you look closely you may be able to see the dot painted on her head. My sister dots her occasionally when Nikki wanders by while she is painting. (No disrespect intended to Indians or any others who wear a dot on their forehead. This is actually Nikita's way of celebrating multiculturalism. Let's all try honoring others, shall we?)

Nikki also has an African American persona which does not involve a dot on her forehead. It's all in the name: Nikita NooDELL. I just don't know what to say about that one. When the dog is her plain old self, we call her plain old Nikki. Or Noodle. Or Nikki Noodle. Or whatever feels right at the time.

Nikki has an annoying habit of pawing at people with her dainty little feet. She doesn't much care if she gets you from the front or from behind. A person will be standing there minding their own business and wham! She plants one of her cute little feet high up on a tender thigh and rakes it downward. The victim object of her attention usually yelps and jumps. Nikki's tail wags and her soft little tongue laps their hand.

These tender ministrations of hers leave behind interesting bruises of varying shapes and sizes. My thighs look as if someone has been beating me. (I'd post a picture, but you'd never again be able to gaze upon a thigh without thinking, "Well, that thigh may be nice but it surely doesn't compare with the lovely thigh belonging to Suzanne the Suburban Lesbian." I suppose the bruises I am wearing right now may mitigate any lasting effect seeing my thigh could have on your psyche, but still. I'd hate to take the chance.)

Despite her habit of desecrating thighs, Nikki is really quite sweet. When surprised, she startles gracefully like a deer and darts off a short distance only to lope back a moment later. Dudley is enjoying having someone to play with; they race around the backyard chasing squirrels and playing tag with Bonnie, who races back and forth on her side of the fence. They all pause briefly from time to time to touch noses through the chain links and share a bit of barked conversation.

Cosine is rather unaware of Nikita. But she's rather unaware of most things unless they are smack dab in front of her nose and even then I wonder. Figero, on the other hand, is one pissed off cat. Nikki doesn't know any other cats and is quite curious. Figero's attempts to teach her manners with his sharp claws have been futile. The Noodle is nothing if not persistent.

So for the next few weeks, we are once again a household of three people and three dogs. And the cat. Yes it's a freaking zoo, but I'm liking it.


May 11, 2005

We've got a Buddhist Ani painting Buddhist images in the pointillistic style onto a leather jacket in our living room. Can anyone else say the same? I thought not.

Meet my sister, Sherab Khandro, Professional Fine Artist.*
She's one of a kind.

* In order to gain permission to post her photo, contractual commitment requires me to include her title. Go figure. Henceforth and hereinafter, I shall refer to her as Sherab Khandro, Professional Fine Artist. Yes, I'm serious. Hop on the bandwagon with me!


May 9, 2005

Weekend Highlight: Travel

Friday evening, just prior to bedtime, the Travel General (me) stood before the Travel Cadets (Wendy and my sister SK) to review the details of the Travel Plan.

"Cadets," said I, "Cadets, be prepared for departure no later than 9:44 am. Have your bags in the car and your bodies in the seats. We'll be rolling down the driveway at 9:45 am. Anyone not strapped in the vehicle by that time will be tongue-lashed unmercifully for non-compliance with the Travel Plan. The complete itinerary for the trip has been neatly typed, a copy thoughtfully provided for your reference."

The General paced back and forth, sipping her evening beer thoughtfully, then continued. "After departure, the traditional Hearty Travel Breakfast will be secured at Checkpoint A, the Golden Arches, at approximately 9:53 am. From there, we will head south on the freeway until our scheduled Potty Break at Checkpoint B, South Hill. Our southward trajectory will be maintained and our path will intersect with those of Our Maternal Unit and The Boy at approximately 3:00 pm. After they recover from their shock and joy at the presence of Cadet SK, we will all enjoy a comraderie-filled meal as we revel in the euphoria of being together as a Family Squadron. Following the meal, The Boy will head back to campus for his 7:00 call. We will adjourn to the hotel to dress for the evening's performance, then hie to the theatre en masse to see The Boy light up the stage."

The Travel Cadets smiled and nodded agreeably. The General pretended not to notice the smirk on the face of Cadet Wendy and the sly wink Cadet SK flashed at her.

I freely acknowledge I am a compulsive planner. There. I said it. It's not always a bad thing, you know. The Plan crafted for this weekend was masterful, oh yes it was. A thing of beauty. Complex and multi-faceted while retaining a modicum of flexibility. Turns out we had to flex it for all it was worth.

The Travel General awoke the next morning with the first beep of the alarm. Before her eyes cracked open, she knew something was dreadfully amiss. The sensation of pointy steely sharp knives attempting to break through her skull was the obvious clue. Her first thought was "Oh no! This is going to royally fuck up the Travel Plan!" She quickly realized such thoughts were increasing her discomfort so she banished them to the netherworld.

A bit of background: for the past year or so, every now and again, I awaken with a debilitating headache. No, not a hangover. I will reluctantly apply the label of migraine, as all the requisite characteristics are present. My head throbs and pounds relentlessly which in turn causes my stomach to roil. So I get up and puke. I go back to bed and lay there in complete and utter abject misery until I get up to puke again. The only effective remedy we've found is for me to stay in bed and doze and puke and puke and doze until eventually my stomach settles enough for me to keep a pill down long enough for it to relieve my headache. Then I spend the rest of the day feeling like a wrung out washrag. Delightful. Indeed.

The Travel General was quite distressed to find herself in such condition. When Travel Cadet Wendy awoke and realized the situation, she rose to the occasion in fine form. She nursed the General, offering medication, an ice pack, soothing words of comfort. There was much scurrying and whispering between the Cadets as travel preparations continued.

The General puked and moaned. She curled up in the fetal position, cradling her head and wishing only for the mattress to swallow her up and end the torment. A grunt was all she could muster in response to Cadet Wendy's periodic inquiries about her status. The clock was the enemy; as the minutes ticked by she sobbed in frustration.

By the time the General recovered enough to travel, the scheduled departure time had long since passed. The Travel Plan was but a shell of its former self. As it turned out, circumstance would shred the plan even further before the traveling trio joined the others in North Carolina. Smooth was not the word of the day, oh no it was not.

So oh well. Shit happens. Even the best laid plans go awry. The travel mattered not in the end. It was the being there that counted. The way The Boy stepped up and entertained his grandmother until we arrived. The joyous disbelief on his face as he caught sight of his aunt then enveloped her in a crushing embrace. My mom's repeated delightful questioning, "Y'all did this for me?" My complete enjoyment in having the group assembled, talking, laughing, sharing.

Those things put my puny little headache and my rigid travel plan in perspective.

What mattered happened anyway.
Gotta love it.


May 7, 2005

She's Here!

Regarding our secret.
It's like this.
It's not just like this.
It is this.

My sister lives far away in Sedona.
Sedona, Arizona.
That's more than half way across the country.
Two thousand two hundred twenty two miles, give or take a few.
(Far too far to pop by for an afternoon cup of coffee.)

The Boy is in school in North Carolina.
Three hundred miles, give or take a few.
(Still far too far to pop by for an afternoon cup of coffee.)

Our mother lives in Virginia, not all that far from us.
One hundred thirty six miles, give or take a few.
(Still just a bit too far to pop by for an afternoon cup of coffee.)

As you may be aware, this weekend is Mother's Day.
Many mothers enjoy spending Mother's Day with their children.
Shocking, I know. Mothers are funny like that.
My mother is no exception.
Neither are Wendy and I.
(Wen's mother is no exception either. Unfortunately we won't see her until next month. Wendy has to make do with mine until then.)

My sister arrived at our house from Sedona last night.
Saturday, we three will pile into the car and drive to North Carolina.
My mother will also be in her car heading to North Carolina.
There we will converge upon The Boy.

The Boy knows we are coming.
Wendy, my mom and me, that is.
But neither my mother nor The Boy are aware that my sister is coming.
That's been our little secret.
We've been keeping it for months.
It hasn't been easy.

My mother will be quite pleased with her Mother's Day surprise.
So will The Boy. He hasn't seen his aunt since his high school graduation.

Wendy and I are already pleased.
SK is here!

Happy Mother's Day, people.


May 5, 2005

Shhhh.... Be Very Very Quiet....

I've been keeping a secret.
Wendy and I have been keeping a secret.
My sister, Wendy and I have been keeping a secret.
We have all been keeping the same secret.

It isn't always easy keeping secrets, is it?
But that's okay.
Because our secret is about to burst out and become our un-secret.

And all the world will smile.
Well maybe not all the world.
But our little corner will.


May 4, 2005

Vacations are supposed to be relaxing.

I therefore find it completely irritating that preparing to take a vacation is completely exhausting.

I don't mean preparation as in packing and such. I mean preparation as in making sure my work commitments are covered. There is nothing quite like squeezing four weeks worth of work into three weeks.

It's only the fourth of the month and already I'm stressing about the week I'm taking off.

Bah. Get out those tiny little violins and play me a tune, will ya?


May 3, 2005

When A Tree Is More Than A Tree

Let me share a piece of my commute with you. I work in Old Town Alexandria, my office is just about smack dab in the middle of the city. It is a relatively small city, therefore usually a quick and fairly painless drive down side streets has me sailing freely down the George Washington Memorial Parkway toward home. I am blessed with a very soft commute.

Last evening I was on my side road of choice, Columbus Street, making my way south. I was first in line at a red light. The cross street, a one-way main thoroughfare heading for the Beltway, had heavy traffic as usual.

Posted at this intersection are humongous signs. Very, very large signs. Those bold colorful signs indicate how wrong it is to make a right turn at that particular corner. Three of them say the same thing. "Verboten!" the signs state graphically in no uncertain terms. "Forbidden! Don't even THINK about turning right at this light. It is Against The Law." Those signs are so big they could well be flashing neon. They scream "Look at me! See me! Obey me!" There is absolutely no way any driver approaching the intersection could not be aware of the prohibited nature of turning right at the light. Unless they're blind, of course, in which case they really shouldn't be driving at all, should they?

I'm not blind. I look. I see. I obey. Going forward through that intersection is what will get me closer to home anyway. But often there are people who insist on turning right at that light despite those signs. Do they not see them? Do they not care? Do they think those signs apply to everyone else except them? Apparently so, because cars turn right there with alarming regularity. It's almost as if those signs don't even exist.

Yesterday as I sat in my car waiting for the light to turn green, movement by a tree across the street caught my eye. There was a man standing there. A policeman. A policeman who seemed to be hiding behind the tree. Every so often his head would tilt sideways as he peeked out toward the intersection. Not that the tree trunk really hid his body, oh no. It was a skinny tree. It was not a skinny cop. But the weather was overcast. On such a gray afternoon, it did not take a far stretch of the imagination for the chubby cop to blend into and become one with the tree trunk.

A silver Mercedes convertible pulled up next to me. On my right. The driver, a woman. Blonde, perfectly coifed. Yuppie. Long immaculate fingernails painted bright glossy red tipped the fingers curled around her steering wheel. She looked like she had bitch potential but was probably a perfectly nice person. She was about to make that illegal right turn onto the busy thoroughfare. On a day the police were waiting for folks just like her to do just what she was about to do.

"Ack!" I thought, "What should I do? Should I honk and wave at the driver? Should I roll down my window and try to get her attention? Should I save her from herself? Should I just observe as fate takes its course?"

The cop across the street spied her car and blended even further into the tree trunk. Now, instead of tipping his head out to look around, he just barely bared one eye to one side. I watched, fascinated. He was obviously in full stealth mode.

I shook my head and thought "Dude, if she doesn't see those gigantic signs indicating she shouldn't be doing what she's obviously about to do, you don't have to worry about her seeing little ole you!"

Then she did it. She made that right hand turn despite all those signs screaming at her not to do it. The policeman stepped out from behind the tree and pointed at the car. He smiled. His partner, who had been standing unseen on the opposite side of the street, waved her over to the curb. We all know what happened next, don't we?

The light turned green and I proceeded through the intersection.


May 2, 2005

Something in the Air?

I'm feeling odd today.

So odd, I eschewed the crosswalk and jaywalked across a busy intersection during my lunch hour.

So odd, while prepping for a job tomorrow, I performed the bank reconciliations in the exact reverse of the way I've done them for the past twelve years.

So odd, I wore brown socks to work with my black jeans and didn't even care (not that anyone noticed).

So odd, I ate the hot and sour soup that Wendy so kindly had delivered for dinner with a cereal spoon. Soup with a cereal spoon!

Yes, I know.
I'm one step away from a padded cell.

Be afraid.
Be very very afraid.


May 1, 2005

The First of May

I worked for this one particular man for about eleven years. Every year on the first day of May, he'd bop into my office and announce the same thing year after year after year. Without fail. Then he'd chuckle. I would too. Chuckle that is.

I don't work for him any longer and I miss his traditional May announcement. So this one is for Jim. Because I remember him fondly.

"Hooray hooray, the first of May.
Outdoor screwing begins today!"

So what are you doing inside anyway?
Don't you know what day it is?