January 31, 2006

That Pain In My Hip

Anyone else have one? I used to just refer to it as That Pain In My Hip. Recently I've graduated to calling it sciatica. Labels can be useful.

Before I'd be asked, "What's wrong with your hip?"
I'd say, "Oh, it's just That Pain In My Hip."
I'd get a nod with a blankish look.
(Except from Wendy of course.
She knows all about That Pain in My Hip.)

Now I say, "Oh my sciatica is flaring up."
I get knowing sympathic nods in response.

Having a pain with a real name seems to inspire more understanding than a random pain which hasn't even achieved the status of a real label.

Saturday, That Pain In My Hip was distracting. My mother noticed. She noticed because some mothers have that instinct. I'm not sure I have it, certainly to a lesser degree than my mother. She always has a suggestion for relief. She's prepared like that although I don't think she was ever a Girl Scout. Saturday was no exception.

"Does your hip hurt?" she asked.


"Stay right there! I've got just the solution!" She raced from the kitchen and returned waving a Thermacare HeatWrap.

"Here, strap this on."

I bit back all strap-on jokes because, well, it was my mother. Instead, I did as I was told because while not always having been the most obedient child, I am a fairly obedient adult. Plus my hip really hurt. I'd try anything.

We spent the day lifting and hauling and sorting as we cleaned out one of her storage rooms. My hip didn't bother me all day. That HeatWrap worked wonders.

My family is in a transition period. The one where the roles flipflop a bit and the children take on an almost parental role as their parents age. But my mother, bless her heart, still mothers even while being mothered herself.


January 29, 2006

It Will Be So Fine to See His Face At Our Door

The Boy left for college in August 2003.

Summer 2004 was spent working in Manteo, North Carolina. He went straight there from school and had less than a week home in August before returning to school.

Summer 2005 was spent working in Bigfork, Montana. Again, straight from school and his schedule allowed no time at home before classes began again in late August.

Summer 2006 approaches. And this year? This year he surprised the hell out of us by accepting a job in Charlottesville. Virginia. That's right. Just two hours southeast of home. Add gravy: it's only a nine-week gig. Then he's coming home for over a month.

We raise our children to hopefully be independent adults. We urge them to take chances, follow their hearts, work hard, dream big. Not all of them leave the nest with enthusiasm. Ours did. That's when my split personality kicked in. And don't bother denying it, we all have split personalities. I'm told a good Southern woman is trained to hide the splits in public. But behind closed doors, all bets are off.

Fragment One cheers, "Whoo hoo! He's working hard, loving where he is and what he does!"

Fragment Two wails, "Waaaaaa! He couldn't wait to leave home and get away from us!"

Then there's Fragment One Point Five. Well no. It's closer to Fragment One Point Two Five. It resides squarely in the realm of missingness and reality. I've grown accustomed to Personality Fragment One Point Two Five. It fits.

The Boy has had logical, sound reasons for selecting each of his summer jobs. But, selfishly, this time I do not completely care what his rationale is. After the year our family has had, I am savoring the fact he will be nearby and then home for an extended period.

Equally uplifting is that he seems to be looking forward to being home.

Go figure.


January 26, 2006

Working for the Weekend

We're off to my mother's for another long weekend. Someday I may blog about what fills our time down there, outside of the obvious keeping my mom company. There is work to do. Plenty.

This evening just as I was arriving home, an old friend pulled in the driveway. She had been the Costume Lady at the high school theatre. Her daughter graduated with The Boy. I had not seen her since the kids left for college. Two and a half years ago. But news of her came to me through the gossip chain. Like I'd heard her son, two years behind her daughter, had attempted suicide. Then I heard she'd survived a bout with breast cancer. Did I ever call? Hell no. I was too absorbed in my own pathetic empty nest haze. Some friend I am, huh?

She came in, we chatted. Or rather she talked, I interjected occasionally. It was nice. Wendy arrived home and joined us. My eyes gravitated to the scar on the top of our guest's right breast. Her scoop neck blouse did not quite cover it. She joked that her new boob had recently been installed.

Wendy and I received some news tonight. Not from our visitor, but from The Boy. I'm still absorbing it. I had no idea such simple news would inspire such emotion. Completely caught off guard, I am. In a damn fine way.


January 24, 2006

Hiding from Myself

Things are pretty out of whack here in my corner of the suburbs. You may not be able to tell by looking at me, but the true state of my universe can quickly be determined by checking out the interior of our refrigerator. It's not happy place in there, oh no it's not. See what I mean?

That mess, with the exception of the pizza box, has been there since December. I haven't done any real grocery shopping this year. Ha ha ha? Yeah I know. This year is only about three weeks old. Still, it represents a long time between grocery runs. We've either been eating out or scrounging through the cabinets for a quick fix or not eating at all. Cook a complete meal? I did do that. Once this year. With Wendy's help. It was good. We should do it again sometime. Soon.

I'm hiding. I know I'm hiding.
It's how I cope when I'm really not coping.

My hiding comes in different levels. Sometimes I hide from my friends and/or family, which usually consists of not answering the phone. Other times I hide from work, which usually consists of not answering the phone. Sense a pattern?

But then there's the biggie: hiding from myself, which usually consists of answering the phone and faking my way through work while doing little else.

Me at my finest. I end up making my life harder while telling myself and others I'm peachy. Truth is, I know better. I'm a smart girl. I know what it means when I hide from myself.

Considering I'm such a creature of habit, why does it always surprise me that my routines are the first thing to break down when I'm feeling the weight of my responsibilities crushing the breath out of me like a boulder on my chest stressed? I haven't even balanced my checkbook since November. Is the earth still turning?

Thankfully even when I'm hidden, Wendy keeps my drawer well stocked with clean underwear. I mean, expired milk in the refrigerator is one thing but hiding while wearing less-than-fresh panties would just be wrong.


January 23, 2006

Suburban Slipper Sighting

I wore my slippers to poker night Saturday. I figured what the hell. My feet would be under the table most of the evening. No one would even notice. And no one did. Except for Wendy who shook her head disapprovingly, "You're wearing your house shoes?"

Hey. I was in a house. Just not our own.


January 22, 2006

Blog for Choice Day

Today is the 33rd anniversary of the pivotal Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. Today I'm Blogging for Choice.

I'm not going to discuss my personal feelings on the subject of abortion. My personal feelings are not relevant to anyone except myself.

Notice the key word there? It's personal. Personal choice. I neither need nor want my government limiting a woman's options based on some other person's moral dictates and religious beliefs. I want and need my government to support a woman's right to choose what is best for her.

I've seen a simple bumper sticker which concisely sums up my thoughts:

"Against Abortion? Then Don't Have One."


January 19, 2006

Neighborhood, Suburban Style

We attended a neighborhood citizen's association meeting last night.

Not all people are born with the Public Speaker Gene. Some of those without such a gene take the long and winding road to their point, stopping to pause and smell the flowers while singing their praises to Mother Nature along the way. Others stumble and fall headfirst over a cliff. But bless their hearts. At least they're trying.

Meetings like that are not entertaining and one has to really focus to glean relevant information. Yet I've run meetings of a similar ilk and know it's not easy. Volunteer organizations are never easy. So I'm patient. The whole thing had a surreal air about it: the people, the personalities, the presentations.

I'd say 99% of the 75 in attendance, were white. About 50% looked to be of retirement age, 20% of those elderly. That about sums up our neighborhood which, while in a racially diverse area, isn't particularly racially diverse. My gaydar indicated no other lesbians in the audience. No surprise.

So the President-fellow, a soft-spoken yet passionate elderly gentleman who strongly presents as a stereotypical gay male but who could just as well be heterosexual, stood at the podium and, as part of his presentation, named and thanked the military members of our neighborhood who have either recently returned from Iraq, are still there, or will soon be deployed.

Then a thin, reedy soprano voice hesitantly sounded in the rear of the auditorium. It slowly gained strength as a teenage girl sang "O beautiful for spacious skies..." and so on and so on, a passable albeit somewhat grating rendition of "America the Beautiful."

A carefully scripted moment but to what purpose?
Whatever the purpose, I think I liked it.


January 18, 2006

Feed Your Head

Liz of I Speak of Dreams has a another fascinating discussion on her site, this one entitled College Illiteracy. As the parent of a college student, it was an interesting read. On a broader scale, the state of higher education in America should be meaningful to every citizen.

I will confess to scurrying over to Rate My Professor to look up the university The Boy attends and scan the roster of rated professors to read what their students think of them. The students remain anonymous. Isn't that special? Reassuring because I'm shallow, the names of his professors I recognized were all rated with happy yellow smiley faces. And a few chili peppers.

But don't get me started on the grammatical correctness and, shall we say, the less than well thought out nature of some of the comments. Which takes me full circle back to the first part of her discussion: Just how educated are our college graduates?


January 17, 2006

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Perhaps, just perhaps, it is obvious what is out of place. And I'm not talking about the leaves on the ground that have not yet been raked or the pine needles needing to be swept off the roof.

She Who Shall Not Be Named, aka Mistress of Strong Winds and Creator of Extra Yard Work for Suburban Lesbians, evidently felt Wendy and I needed something more to do.

We are so blessed.


January 15, 2006

Like Mother, Like.... Me?

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig! There's no place like home. Home, home on the range. Home is where the heart is. Home, sweet home. Bet you didn't even know I was gone.

I was at my mother's, checking items off her list. Wendy was also to go, but I asked her to stay home to tend to our neurotic dogs. More about that later perhaps.

On the agenda was a Friday morning meeting with my mother's lawyer/financial advisor to discuss arrangement of her resources for maximum advantage. My mother, she worries. My mother, she needn't worry as much as she does. There's a lesson there for me, I think.

That morning, she brought me a piping hot cup of coffee before I got out of bed. My coffee karma is some powerful shiat. Somewhere, sometime, in another life I must have spent a great deal of time bringing coffee to people in bed because I'm surrounded with folks who bring me coffee in bed. Lucky me.

Showered and dressed, I joined her in the kitchen for breakfast. She burst out laughing when she saw me. I had on black slacks, a black turtle neck and a muted orange silk blouse. Nothing amusing about my attire, I thought. Is it my hair?

"I'm going to wear a jacket almost an identical shade of orange!" she chuckled. "We'll look like twins." I noticed then she also had on black slacks and a black turtleneck. Oh geez.

"Well you'll have to wear something else," I said logically. I had only packed one appropriate outfit. She had her entire wardrobe from which to choose.

"I can't," she protested. "I painted my nails to match the jacket!" She splayed her fingers out for me to see her nails. Indeed, they were a lovely muted shade of orange.

About my mother. Jewelry, make-up, clothing, shoes. She goes to great lengths to coordinate such things. Me? Not so much.

After breakfast she disappeared into her bedroom and returned carrying a rose-colored suede blazer. "Wear this instead of that blouse," she commanded. Resistance was futile as well as impractical. We're enough alike without dressing the same.

Why does that thought scare me so?


January 12, 2006

Sunrise, Sunset

One morning on our New Year's beach trip, we dragged ourselves out of bed to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean. Why? Well why not? I will confess the idea did not appeal to me at first. It's no secret I'm not a morning person. Yet when I peeked out the window early that morning and saw the amazing colors washing over the horizon, I was suddenly inspired. I poked Wendy and said, "Come on! Come on! Hurry up! Hurry up! It's time! We don't want to miss it!"

We all gathered on the dune deck bundled in our coats, sleepy time pants and slippers to drink a mimosa toast to the arrival of the new day. Oh yes, the party started quite early that day.

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a somewhat narrow strip of land between the Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The way I understand it, it's more sandbar than actual land. Along some parts a bit further north, the sound and the ocean almost touch. Where we were staying this time, the sound was not visible.

Later that evening, I captured the sun setting. It's right over the sound even though water is not apparent in this picture. You'll have to take my word for it. You can trust me. It's over there.

These photos are for Mel. She's had over 20 straight days of rain out in her part of the world. Since these photos are less than two weeks old, I thought a reminder that the sun actually does still exist would be uplifting for her. And perhaps you, too?



January 11, 2006


Here in suburbia, we have a healthy population of squirrels. I consider them entertainment, enjoying their antics as they chase each other through the treetops. Truly it is amazing how even the thinnest branches serve as their highways and byways. They build enormous nests high up in the treetops, visible only during winter when there are no leaves to obscure the view.

Pixie adores chasing them. She'll stand just outside the doggie door, poised and alert, surveying the backyard for signs of motion. Then bang! She's off! She flies across the yard in hot pursuit. That dog gets some air under her! The squirrels have no trouble evading her. They run along the top of the fence, taunting her.

Squirrels are not trained by their parents to look both ways before crossing the street. We have a neighbor who takes it upon himself to scoop up the local victims and give them a proper burial. At least that's what I tell myself: he buries them with full honors and a prayer or two. I've blocked from my mind the time I saw him unceremoniously dump a corpse right from his shovel directly into his trashcan. Yet I'm grateful he does it. Whatever it is he does.

And then there is Thomas, the cat who lives next door. Squirrels mean something different to him. Here he is perched on his own personalized stump, relaxing on a summer morning. He's a beautiful boy, yes?

Thomas is a mighty hunter, a successful one. Gifts of dead suburban wildlife are often left in strategic locations to be discovered by his owner. Birds and squirrels and mice, oh my! He's so proud.

One day as I got in my car, I noticed him crouched alertly near the base of a pine tree in our yard. As he slinked toward the tree, I spied his prey; a squirrel was huddled at the base of the tree. It was evident Thomas had already caught up with him at least once already: the squirrel had visible scratches on his back. Ack!

Now far be it from me to interfere with Mother Nature at work. Cats kill things, it's what they do. Some of them. But damned if I was going to watch it happen in our yard! I got out of my car and chased Thomas to the other side of his driveway. But by the time I got back in my car and refastened my seatbelt, he was again creeping toward the injured squirrel!

Again I lunged out of my vehicle, this time waving my arms and shouting. Stop for just a moment and envision that. Yes, I looked as ridiculous as you just imagined. That time I chased Thomas all the way across his front yard into the next neighbor's zone. All my shouting and waving got him moving pretty quick. Run, Thomas, run!

As I backed down our driveway, the squirrel was still quivering at the base of the tree. Poor thing. Yet catching a squirrel and tending to its medical needs was just not on my list of things to do that day. I om-mani-pedme-hung'd him and drove off to work. There was no sign of either Thomas or the squirrel when I returned several hours later.

So take that situation.
We know WTWD.
And we know WIWD.
So the question becomes, WWYD?


January 9, 2006

What's This?

Hey now, hey now. What's this I have here? A blog? How curious.

I have a vague memory of blogging. It's something I used to do before I became Suzanne the Glorious! Ruler of the World! Lord of the Lands! Celebrated Despot of Civilization! Master of My Domain!

Oh yes, how I have grown. Can you tell? While my friends, bloggers and otherwise, have been productive members of society, or at least communicative members of society, I have withdrawn into a fantasy world where I reign supreme. Fear me. My troops are most powerful, my culture most enviable, my cities most developed, my ruling hand fair whilst I hungrily conquer even the most distant of lands.

Civilization IV anyone? The Boy gifted me with this latest in the series of computer games we both played over the years. It is but one of many games we shared while he was growing up. He understands the obsession. Personal computers were just becoming household objects in his youth and we embraced the new technology as entertainment. Once hooked, one is never quite the same.

Soon I will extract my head out of my ass and remember there is a real world out there. But not just yet. My troops are poised on the brink of destroying the puny civilization of Catherine of Russia. From there, we will march onward to crush Julius Caesar of Rome and Genghis Khan of Mongolia! Boo-yah!

Suburban warfare at its finest.
Tributes in the form of comments are most welcome.
It's lonely at the top.


January 5, 2006

It Was But a Temporary Respite ...

So we had that fantastic trip to the beach with our friends. My slippers and I had a great time.

I managed, by day five, to push to the back of my mind the racing thoughts of what 2006 will be like for my family. Actually the thoughts were more about what 2006 will be like for me. I'm selfish that way. Those racing thoughts have been desperately spinning through my head, a big wild blob with arms and legs extended, waving and kicking frantically, grasping for my attention no matter which direction I turn. There is no escape.

I keep hearing my mother sob, "I was supposed to go first."

Within hours of arriving home, those thoughts were pummelling me yet again following a phone call to my mom. Sometimes we can get through a conversation without her breaking down, but not often. I can't say as I blame her. I'd like to do the same.

I curse my sister for living so fucking far away. I don't really mean that. I think. I just feel crushed by the unbearable burden of being me. Of being the one on whom my mother is counting on the most.

Ah, histrionics. I should keep them to myself.

How can I possibly be so selfish? Of course I'm grateful for the opportunity to be there for her. But holy shit. Can I handle the responsibility? Each time we talk, she shares with me more items added to her "list." That goddamned list. It's a honey-do list with my name on it. Wendy's name is on it too, the lucky gal. Thank god for Wendy.

Someone pour me a drink.
A stiff one.


January 3, 2006

These Shoes Were Made for Talking

Hey hey, it's Suzanne's Slippers checking in. My friends call me SS for short. Would you like to be my friend? Come on in. Sit right down. I've got some pics from our New Year's trip to share. Lord help you if you are still on a dial-up.

Aside from being stylish and functional, the Slipper Gods of Good Fortune smile brightly on me. I don't mean to brag but I perform an important role in the process Suzanne calls "rest and relaxation." I'm more inclined to call it complete and utter slothfulness but you won't hear me complain. I've got a good gig.

Yet I didn't spend the whole week propped up! We participated in group activities and pulled our weight. Yo! Alert! I think the keg needs to be re-iced.

Check out the nifty glass sitting between me on the stool. A benefactor brought one for each guest with their names engraved on little silver plates. Sweet! This group has evidently outgrown Solo cups and Sharpies. Who knew?

Man, I don't know what Suzanne is trying to prove here, but she got several other folks to try it too. They were equally as confused but good sports nonetheless. How about you? Stand right up and try it now. It'll be fun, I promise. Snicker.

We also ventured down to the beach. Here's where I will sing the praises of Suzanne's quick and agile grace. Sing! I encouraged her to walk right up to where the waves were breaking. She got us out just before the surf caught my toe. We're a good team, she and I.

I left the coolest track marks on the beach. No lie. My tracks are way cooler than any old sneaker or bare foot or dog or sandal or bird has ever left on the sand. I dare you to disagree.

Here I am all ready to get in the car and go home. We're waving our last goodbyes to the ocean. Until next time, ocean. Keep it real.