Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thoroughly Jostled

Yes, I'm back. I am willing to own up to the selfishness of journaling. But in the overall sweep of Kate's selfishness, it's small potatoes. And, as Nikki commented, everyone who blogs understands the need for this selfishness. Others selfishly watch TV or prune their Bonsais. I selfishly blog.

Check out the dark circles under this kid's eyes! The Girl Scout snowshoe weekend at Camp Trefoil was cancelled because we had a snowstorm. (I know! We wouldn't want any little girls to get...what? Snowed on?) The troop leader called to tell me that she was going to have the girls sleep over at her house in an attempt to salvage the weekend. Sara did not sleep at all. Here is what she told me after she get home, tearful and overtired, snapped at her brother and collapsed, sobbing, onto her bed:

"Shannon snored all night, and Caitlin wouldn't stop texting, and Mo was being meeeeeeaaaaan [sob-surge]! And I couldn't stand the snoring and neither could Jessie so we went to sleep in Mo's room but there are too many stuffed animals and Jessie kicks and Mo's parakeets were making little noises and Caitlin had her period and she wanted to go home and..."

HOW many days ago was I extolling the virtues of the twelve-year-old girl?

Before the meltdown though, the girls, temporarily recharged by pancakes, walked over to Bywater Park for some sledding. The troop leader called me and I tossed our sleds in the truck and went over to join them.

This was the main attraction: entertainment provided by watching others go down it and going down it 0urselves ("UHuhUHuhUHuhUHuhUHuhUH..."). Well, I was the only grown-up who did it (remember Dad's credo: DAZZLE the children!), and I had a great time, but I was reminded an hour or so later that I still have a deep-tissue booty bruise going. My booty would like to be treated with a little more respect.

This picture shows Sara going down on her tummy, which I did not do. I have been trying to ignore the fact that Leftie has been bugging me for a couple of weeks. Blah. I haven't been to see Dr. Perfect for about nine months. Now that the days of stitch-picking and scissors-wielding are over, I rather look forward to seeing him. At least before the appointment, Dr. Perfect always makes me think about sex. Ladies, if you saw him, you would understand this. The fantasy continues as he breezes in with his blinding smile and drawls, "HelLO there, Mizz Kate!" Then he always glances at my feet. I am a "hands" person; he seems to be a "feet" person. Invariably, he will comment on my cute boots in the winter; my toenail color in the summer. But just as I'm musing, "I wonder if he has a foot-feti..." I am jarred from my reverie.

Doc: [rubbing hands together to warm them] OK, let's have a feel over here. [ramming three not-that-warm fingers into my armpit and digging around energetically]

Kate: Erk! Ack!

Doc, pausing in his excavations: Does that hurt?

Kate: You're jabbing your fingers into my armpit. It's just a little disconcerting. This is my disconcerted "erk".

Doc laughs and rams his thumb up between Leftie and my rib cage, poking as he goes.

Kate: Aigh!

Doc: Was that your disconcerted "aigh"?

Kate: [high, breathy] No, that hurts.

By the time he has finished and breezed back out again, I am disillusioned about our romantic/erotic potential. Who wants a guy who can't even get past second base? I'll be good for another nine months.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

So says Carson McCullers: her words, not mine.

Last night, I felt strong. Which is good, huh? In the absence of other resources, I sometimes think that you can move forward if you can just keep your chin out and your hands on your hips. I spent some time mentoring a volunteer; then went over to Moira and Robert's for a late-night gin and tonic. I drove home fully in possession of my super-powers, singing along loudly with Nanci Griffith:

You know the poets say I'm lonely/
There's still this woman here inside.
And I've never been a fool/
When my heart was on the line.

I remembered how often this has been true in the past . There have been numerous times when I made decisions based on feelings, and they have nearly always sent me straight. My friends or my family would say, "You're going to WHAT?!?" And I did. And they threw up their hands in dismay. And I came out shiny and clean.

So, I just need to check in with Heart. "Heart? Heart! Oh, Heeeeeaaaaarrt...! HEART! God dammit!" Shit, oh dear. My heart is a bad dog, which wandered off some time ago and is now roaming the back alleys of Cottonwood Heights. Hold on, that doesn't work. Cottonwood Heights doesn't have back alleys. My heart is either running semi-feral through the foothills stealing sack lunches from snow-shoers; or it's hanging out behind Little Caesar's, waiting to see what's in the trash. Beats me. I'll tell you where it isn't, though. It's not here with me, and the hole in my chest is an empty flutter. How much longer will the ache persist? Very good question. That damn dog will not come home.

This morning I went in the bathroom (warmest room in the house!) to get dressed. But I sat on the rim of the tub and my head dropped between my knees. I didn't cry (I'm so far past crying), but I gasped for breath for a few minutes until the worst of the pain passed; then I mused at my toes and wondered how long a person can keep going. Pointless to wonder this: [dramatic whisper] I know the answer. For-EV-ah. People live with broken hearts forever. Holy shit. I will fuel my body with Cheerios and run and work and read and fold laundry and deliver Girl Scout cookies and ... Will it turn me into a grump? Will it exhaust me? Does it burn extra calories to live like this?

It's hard to believe that I can emerge shiny and clean. The pressures are enormous. I feint to the right and the left, trying to dodge adjectives. The sociolinguist in me is passing fascinated with the use of language in such a situation; but even the sociolinguist has ducked behind the kitchen island for the moment.

Selfish. Self-obsessed. Narcissistic. Self-centered. My blog is held up as evidence. Exhibit A: Self-obsessed bitch. Writing about myself and my feelings. It's all about me. Well, I have to own that. Journaling IS self-centered. In fact, any kind of introspection is self centered. I'm hearing that this is bad, and that I am bad to the point that it becomes my truth. Did you know that my own mother doesn't like me because I'm such a selfish bitch? So I hear.

It's so hard to stay off the path of least resistance. I have been bludgeoned with adjectives until I just want to roll over and say, "Uncle". But, that's what I've been doing for years. Gotta remember, "Sticks and stones..." This time, I want to stay the course.

Kate's version: "Sticks and stones will break my bones. But tones will just confuse me." [Sarcastic, but carefully executed to sound loving and sincere] Were you aware that I DESERVE happiness?? I do! After all, isn't it right there in the Declaration of Independence? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? It's the American birthright. In fact, it's admirable. Others would, perhaps lack the guts to destroy everything they have earned and saved. Would cower in the face of their children's poverty and disappointment. Would balk at being a lonely, solitary, unloved and unlovable pariah. But not me. Heroic, really.

I hunch my shoulders and I think: if I ever needed to convince myself that I'm doing the right thing? Here's the proof.

But I still feel like a pointy-tailed she-demon.

Who blogs. I think I may close my blog, because it really is an indulgence. Now when I write, I just think, "selfish, narcissistic bitch". What is the fucking point?

Catching Up With Me

I guess even I reach the point at which I can't stay awake for another minute.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Timing is Everything

Well, 10:10 PM; so my work day is over.

It was liberally sprinkled with hectic-ness this evening. (I'm a linguist, so I get to make up words whenever I want. It's a perk.) There was a moment in which I was filling in attendance rolls that Mark needed right away, and 1) a driver showed up to tell me he was delivering the giant Utah Partners for Health Mobile Clinic and he couldn't get into the packed parking lot. "Where do you want me to put the clinic, ma'am?" 2) The computer lab assistant sauntered in, plopped into a chair and began to describe the fatal error message she got when she tried to log students into Rosetta Stone. "Kate, I'm staring at you. I'm staring at you because we're having a really BIG problem." 3) Some people came to tell me that they wanted to sign up for the diabetes management class we're holding in March. I had to hold up fingers. "OK. You're problem number 1. You're problem number 2. You're problem number 3." Triage.

I'm used to this, but I must admit that my timing has been a bit off all day. Simon is not around, and I'm adjusting to the differences. I had the kids ready when it was time for Si to drive the chorus-mobile; but after I had taken care of all their needs and done my chores, I was pinched for running time. By the time I got to the rec, I was able to run for ten minutes; then it was time to go to my appointment with Dr. Derma, so he could admire my belly-splotches. I'll get used to the new routine eventually... except when I need a jar opened. Believe me, I'm not feeling at all sorry for myself.

Many things happened today that made me smile.

Hermila C. showed progress on her literacy post-test. She is in her late fifties and is non-literate in her native language because her parents didn't think she needed to learn to read. Last time she took it, she just stared at the test paper and couldn't do anything. This time she was able to write her name and address. That may not seem like much, but it's huge. Slowly, slowly.

I ate a spectacular apple for lunch. It reminded me of the ones we used to buy from Pieper's Orchard when I was a kid.

The rash on my belly is no big deal and will go away when my life calms down. Dr. Derma gave me some stuff to put on it as well. I only go to the Derma maybe once every five years, but I enjoy these visits. He owned the cabin next door when we lived at the old place, but it was his vacation place and he didn't get up there very much. We looked after it for him a little, and he would let us use it as a guest house when we had a lot of company. He told me today that I seem to look younger every year! I need to go to the Derma more often.

Sara and I had the following conversation at the store:
Sara: Mom, that lady just yelled at her son cuz he tried to buy a bread bowl.
Me: Why would he try to buy a bread bowl, and why would she care?
Sara: I don't know. But she told him to put it back. Then she turned to her friend and said, "I've heard they cause cancer."
Me: BREAD BOWLS cause cancer?!? What a load of malarkey!
Sara: Mom! Not BREAD bowl. RED bowl.
Me: She thinks red bowls cause cancer? Why would a red bowl be any different from any other color? That's crazy.
Sara: Mom! Red! Bull!

Raichle is back from her weekend retreat at Lava. She has a new attitude and an amethyst crystal. She is purged of her pain and no longer cares about her creep-ass boyfriend who dumped her after eight months. By e-mail. On Thanksgiving Day. She brought in this book titled, It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken. Hilarious! I was flipping through it and laughing my ass off. Did you know that you can buy custom ring tones at You can set them to ring when your ex calls, and a voice will proclaim:
1. "Really? You're gonna answer it? Is that what we're doing now? Backsliding? Really, we're just gonna toss our self-esteem out the window?" Or...
2. "Let it go to voice mail. Let it go to voice mail. You are too busy getting on with your life. Let it go to voice mail."
I love working with younger women.

Oh, and a new joke from my student Victor M. Don't get too excited. Victor is a kindly Peruvian gentleman in his late fifties. By day, a presser at a dry cleaner. By night, teller of some of the worst jokes ever thought of. Victor and I love each other. I always get lots of hugs and kisses; big, grippy handshakes. Victor is very hard of hearing and has ginormous hearing aids. When he laughs at his own jokes, the hearing aids squeal loudly. At any rate, this was the one he told me tonight.

OK, Teacher.
Act One: 50 Argentines in the moon. ("on the moon", says Kate)
Act Two: 100 Russians in the moon. ("on the moon", says Kate)
Act Three: 1,000 Germans....on... the moon. ("Good," says Kate)

Three acts. What is the name of the movie?

50 Argentines, 100 Russians, 1,000 Germans. "Full Moon".

Don't blame me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lost Language

From an emotional standpoint, I'm washed up. To quote Mana, "bien tostada" ("completely toasted"). I was listening to a very interesting segment on NPR yesterday about metaphor and cliche. A discussion on how much metaphor we use unconsciously ("I see what you mean!") and how the great metaphors are quickly reduced to cliche (the Iron Curtain) The speaker's premise was that the re-use of metaphors shows lack of originality and that we should seek the new metaphor in our writing. What a very lovely sentiment. I'll get started with that. Tomorrow, OK? In the meantime, I plan to wander lonely as a cloud; to kick my can a little farther down the road; to keep my nose to the grindstone.

This weekend, I have lost my language; well, at least the better bits of it. I am so drained that I can feel the way each one of my joints is strung. My tummy has freaky red splotches on it. It's sadness again, but a different kind. February has been a long month. An endless month. How many more days of February do we have? OK, I remember the plan: work, service, fun, friends, change your life.

I think that, for today, I"ll give "change your life" a rest. It has been well-served this weekend.

Friends? I wanna talk, but I don't wanna talk. I would love it if one of my friends would call me with a problem. I'm tired of my problems.

Fun? Service? Work? Play is over for a while. Work is going to have to be my solace today. Nothing like conquering a hefty to-do list when life is a bummer:

1. Housework;
2. Guadalupe paperwork;
3. Finish painting Sara's room, replace all the curtain rods, etc... and get her moved back in.
4. Nate needs to fashion a "time capsule" shaped like an old wooden bucket, for a school book report;
5. Need to run 5 miles;
6. Menu for this week, grocery shopping;
7. Supervise birthday thank you notes;
8. One last laundry load, since Nate got a massive nose-bleed last night.
9. Find my language. Huh. Maybe it's in my purse?

A Day in the LIfe

I haven't done a "day in the life" photo journal in a long time.
Wake up Sara Bear-a. The boys can sleep in, but we have Girl Scouts. Oh, my gosh! Still in bed?! Don't make me have to drag you out by your heels! You can see that she hates that idea.
Much as I'd like to spend the whole weekend in my dad's old sweater, I have to try a little harder today. Maybe a nicer shirt, but I'll still wear my wrinkly old garden pants because I like them.
Quick breakfast, cup of tea, newspaper. Ewww. One glance at the front page and I was sputtering in my Cheerios.

This may or may not be the only time Sara rides her rip-stick with a bindi on her forehead and three pounds (well, seems like) hanging from each ear.
We were attending the annual World Association of Girl Scouts' Thinking Day. Eight troops met at St. Thomas More to teach each other about challenges faced by women and girls in other countries. And dress up and eat, of course. Sara's troop studied the effects of the long civil war in Sri Lanka.

I pinned girls into (ahem) saris, and then tried to keep them from the broad gestures that tend to fuck up dainty costuming.

Here's a few, ready for their presentation.

Along with my presence, the presence of my blender was also requested, so we could make mango lassi for all the other troops. I couldn't help contrasting the pristine kitchen at St. Thomas More with our less-than-ideal kitchen at Guadalupe. All this space! And I'll bet they don't have roaches, either....
Mass quantities were consumed.

Home again to scale Mt. Washload. We only do laundry once a week, so it's usually a pile big enough to require switchbacks.

Then, errands. I paid a visit to the New Balance store in Sugar House. They are providing all the shoes for the Title I girls in Girls on the Run, and discounts for the volunteers. I need new running shoes really badly. The New Balance store is a fancier establishment than I usually frequent. I found it disconcerting that a salesperson actually unlaced the shoe and put it on my foot for me, a la Cinderella. They didn't have the one I wanted in my size, but Salesdude has ordered it from Denver. "Don't worry about coming to pick them up," the salesman told me. "I'll just deliver them to Guadalupe when we drop off the order for the girls." Wow! Nice! He was also adamant that I pick out a color. "Oh, I'm really not bothered. Anything's fine." "Aw, c'mon! We have pink! Do you want me to order the pi-" "Green! I love green! Let's get green."

Then I went to Hansen Company Jewelers. I'm finally ready to replace my stolen Wasatch bracelet. I thought I would stop missing it, but my wrist still looks funny without it. Fate was working against me, though.

Got Sara moved into Nathan's room for a couple of days. Kind of a cozy, summer-camp atmosphere. Sara's friend Jessie came over to play. So harmonious... for now.

I need Sara cleared out so I can (finally) paint her room. Today I got all the wall prep and masking done.

Dug the spackle out from under my fingernails and made a mad dash to go out on a dinner date with some new friends. Thanks, Sara. This picture shows just how seriously I take the task of showing my hair who's boss. If I prevailed, it was only temporary.

Now Nate: Nine

This was the easiest "friend" party ever! They are WAY too cool for me - my job is to stay in the background. All the boys wanted to do was talk about Pokemon ("What power is Teledaptor?"), play foosball and watch a European Premier League match. When the kids arrived, they stood in the front hall and shouted about soccer. Then they went in Nate's room and did something that made the walls shake (I didn't look. I was making meat balls and figured it was better not to know too much.) I lured them out with spaghetti, but even then, it isn't easy to get their attention. I have learned with groups of young boys to say everything three times. "Ben, bring me your plate. Ben, bring me your plate. Ben, bring me your pate." I just sort of chant it like a mantra. On the third try, it registers than an adult is talking to them. I amused myself at supper by asking for the stories of the most they have ever bled. That's all I had to say: "Hey, Bryce, what's the most blood you ever got?" Then I just sat back, ate garlic bread and let them tell blood stories. The cake was easy, too. It always is with Nate, because he only ever wants a chocolate ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins. It's his tradition; all I do is stick the candles in it.

Happy Birthday Nate! And thanks for not being SO cool that you didn't come and give me a very noisy, sloppy kiss after your guests left. You can still be my baby sometimes - I won't tell the guys.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cereal Killer

I adore cereal and would eat it at every meal if I didn't have such iron will-power.

NOT! Despite the fact that I am pledged to taking better care of myself as part of the sadness mitigation plan, some things worked against me today. Guadalupe got a huge donation of slightly stale Cocoa Crispies, and I found a box on the staff-room table. Now, I am too much of a health nut to put the Cocoa Crispies in a bowl with milk and eat them with a spoon. Because that would be... premeditated somehow. It would be legitimizing the act. Instead, I just pour some into my hand. Several times. And then pour some into a cup, and use the cup to pour them into my mouth. See, that's spontaneous, so the devil made me do it. Or hormones made me do it.

It wasn't a great day today. I'm starting to lose my little burst of strength and happiness. That's not surprising, though: I knew it would fade. I'll slip, but hopefully not all the way to where I was. My proactivity plan has slowed a bit: Girls on the Run doesn't start until the 28th; the work I'm doing on changing my life is waiting on some necessary information that I'm getting tomorrow. Friends, I had; fun, not so much. I only have lousy days at work maybe once a year, but I occasionally have days that are...ho-hum. The evidence:
  1. I forgot that my hand lotion is very runny and dripped it all over my keyboard, requiring me to pry some keys off to clean it up.
  2. June H., one of my most precious tutors, called me to tell me that college is killing her and that she can't volunteer anymore.
  3. Mel discovered that, when you hold the "shift" key down for 8 seconds, it makes a very amusing noise. It also really fucks up all of the "shift" functionality. All I can say is, better her computer than mine...
  4. Raichle took the night off work so she could head to Lava for a long weekend. I loooooove Lava; and I ache all over. My butt hurts from my ill-considered hockey stop last night. The rest of me aches from the weights routine I did yesterday. There is nothing I would love more than to go check in to the lava Hot Springs Inn and have a good long soak. No, wait! First, I want to go to the Wagon Wheel and have a double Jack Daniels with the bikers; THEN I want a good long soak.
  5. My keyboard tray remains loose despite my many tightenings. I stabilize it with my knee, which I get to proper level by resting one foot on top of the other. Which also makes me want to go to Lava for a soak.
  6. Gail, my most prickly tutor, was especially prickly today.
  7. I gave away my pencil holder with the small holes in it. The holes were perfect for holding all of my many keys in a way that I could find the one I wanted at a glance. Now they are rattling around in a dice cup again, and I have to pour them all out on the desk to find the one I need. Yahtzee.
  8. I had be a firm boss today. Our average daily attendance has dropped this month, and I have been noticing teachers sitting in the office doing paper work when I want them to be spending time with their tutors and students. I had to tell them, "Please no hanging out in the office." I don't like to have to tell them. We're professionals.
  9. I guess I left the garage door open this morning. I remember shutting it, but maybe I bumped the opener as I was putting it down or something. Sara called me at 5:00 and said, "Mom, did you know you left the garage door open?" "I did? I remember closing it! Whoops." "Yeah, Dad is really mad at you. You're going to get yelled at." [I exhale.] "Was anything stolen from the garage?" "No, but Dad says it's more by luck than by judgement. And he says anyone could force the laundry room door and get in the house that way, too. He says to tell you we're lucky we didn't get robbed blind!"

Oh, yuck. Let's see.... Go home and get a scolding? Or stay here at the office and write in my blog?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sara is Twelve Today

"Twelve" is awesome. The best! This particular twelve-year-old still plays with her American Girl dolls; but she designs racy, biker-chick outfits for them out of duct tape. She is serious about art and will spend hours perfecting a horse-drawing. She will also use the oil pastel crayons to streak her hair. She has a collection of piggy banks, all of them empty, because she can't hang on to money to save her life. She drops into the Gad Chutes at Snowbird, but cannot seem to navigate her laundry pile. There is nothing she loves more than playing practical jokes on me and having me get even. She is going to be an archaeologist - this has been the plan since she was five. But mummies freak her out. Shipwrecks, yes; mummies, no.

She still wants to crawl in bed with me on a Saturday to have a snuggle and read poetry. She comes back from birthday parties freaked out because there were kissing games. She and her friends go up to the school parking lot to ride their rip-sticks for hours at a time. She is afraid of the old dolls in the basement. For how much longer do I get to enjoy these little contradictions?

She doesn't get a "friend" party this year. It's her turn for a "family" party. She gets to decide what that means.
For her, that means tuna melts on English muffins. Partly because she loves tuna; partly because she knows Nate hates tuna.
No birthday cake. She wants chocolate fondue. Suits me fine; but it is hard to stick 12 candles into a plate of cut-up stuff.
Shit! It looks like a conflagration! By the way, I have a wonderful camera, but take most of my blog photos with my phone. That's because loading nice photos onto Blogger takes forever! Does that bug anyone else?

Then, off to Classic Skate! My friend Moira came to meet up with us; partly to skate, and also to hear me dish the dirt about how I'm doing. I filled her in on 83% of the gory details of my messed up life, and I was amazed to find her... supportive! When we talked a little last week, I thought she took a different position. Mostly, though, we skated. I don't recall that I have ever roller skated before - maybe once? But ice skating helps. I got faster and faster, and I could skate backwards. But I couldn't switch from backward to forward rapidly, like I can on ice skates. And I can't pick up my foot to do a cross-over. If I really want to be able to play roller derby, I need to be able to do that. Moira wants to practice! Maybe we'll go a few more times! Classic Skate is great, if you wait until just before they close. At 7 PM, the place is packed. Look out for:
  1. Little bittie children on little bittie scooters, darting among the adults like minnows;
  2. People who are really, really good;
  3. People who are really, really bad;
  4. Polygamous sister-wives, holding hands as they skate four abreast and two deep. In long skirts;.
  5. The 14-year old boy, six-foot-four and all flailing limbs, windmilling all over the track. In sunglasses;
  6. The jump ramp, which seems to be ever-moving, ever-shifting. You never know where it will be next and whether you will be forced to go over it.
  7. Strollers.
  8. Tricycles.
  9. Anyone who comes barrelling up behind you, screaming things like, "Cowabunga!", "Oh, my God! Look out!" "AH! AAAAAH! PEOPLE!" or "SORRY! SORRY!"
  10. Ego. I was getting pretty zippy and thought I would cleverly hockey stop to show off for Moira, which sent my flying onto my ass. I am going to have the biggest fucking bruise. Luckily my backside is the kind that...well...absorbs shock. I would be fine if I hadn't landed on my phone. As it is, I think my run tomorrow is going to be interesting.

Unless I forget to mention it, we played laser tag, which made me think of nothing so much as being a really free-spirited Costco checker.

Happy birthday, Sara! Can you stay twelve forever?

[I was strong again today! I know now; regardless of how my problems are resolved, I will be OK. I suspect there are some more sad days coming before I'm through this pickle one way or the other. BUT. I can accept whatever comes because I have super friends, good Scotch, upbeat music and dark chocolate.]

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

And the Clouds Parted

An AWESOME day today! No misery all day long! I know why this is: I was able to talk to a friend today, and it helped a bunch. No problems solved; no end to the limbo. But I have better understanding of what is going on. I was shown that I had some wrong ideas. This was a huge relief. You know how that can happen? Thank God for amazing friends who can spend a little time talking and listening. I appreciate it.

Sooooo.... I'm smokin' hot today! Motivated! Focused! I had better enjoy it while it lasts. I may be able to get a couple more days off this pick-me-up. In the spirit of a lighter soul, how about "Five Fine Things"?
  1. Grandpa Mario met me at the door this morning and rolled my cart full of paperwork into my office for me. Hugs! Kisses! Candy! And he called me (in Spanish) "my queen". I like being a queen.
  2. I harassed the third grade girls while they were lined up in the hall. "Hey! Who's gonna do Girls on the Run?!? Look at the cool t-shirts we get! Did you guys get your shoes, yet? " This is a little bit naughty, because they are supposed to be silent when they are lined up. I caused disturbance and got them all riled up. You know those uncles who come over an hour before bed-time and get the kids agitated when you want them to calm down? That was me.
  3. My boss Vicki has a bad cold and feels that banana cream pie from Marie Callender's will cure what ails her. All of us at Executive Staff meeting benefited from this treatment.
  4. Becca gave me an enormous bear-hug this morning, using the embrace as an opportunity to steal my screaming monkey. I didn't realize until it slammed into the back of my head at high speed an hour or so later.
  5. Herminda R. came to the office tonight to tell me how much she loves coming to school.

Oh! And a bonus thing: The guitar books I ordered for Sara's birthday arrived today, in the nick of time. I just have to get her the fancy colored duct tape that she loves so much, and some green paint. I'm going to do her room this weekend, provided she can get her floor cleared off enough that I can get to the walls! Off to Home Depot right now! I will be lucky to make it before they close.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Up To Three

It's a cult: I'm convinced, now.

OK, this all started last summer, when I found a Cabbage Patch head on the front lawn at Butler Middle School. Pink yarn hair, piggy eyes, icky face. Sara pushed it with her toe and said, "That is so wrong." I left her at soccer practice, snuck back and picked up the head. She had no idea, and when she found it under her pillow that night, loud was the screaming... One of my better moments. I definitely buffed my nails over that one.

A few weeks ago, Sara reported that she had found another head (pink yarn hair, again) across the street from her school. Getting this one involved cat-burglary: I had to hoist her over a fence onto private property. Lots of hysterical whisper screams on her part: "MOM! WHAT IF SOMEONE COMES AND SHOOTS ME!?" "If anyone confronts you, throw the head over the fence to me and try to look casual."

She rigged that head so it would fall into the shower when I pulled the curtain shut. I made sure it was still soaking wet and really cold when I put it in bed with her the next morning.

And again, today. I was driving toward Cottonwood Cyclery and a flash of pink yarn caught my eye. I pulled a squealing U-turn (Better hurry! Don't want anyone to beat me to it!) and retrieved the lovely specimen above. When I came home after my run, I hunkered down low in the cab of the truck. She came out to see why I wasn't coming into the house, and when she got nice and close I screamed and thrust it out the truck window at her. It has been run over by a car, so it's head is seriously fractured. It is so creepy, according to Sara, that she won't keep it in her room.

All disembodied... all with pink yarn hair... all within a half-mile radius of each other. Someone is using them for occult purposes.

[PS. I controlled the heartbreak monster reasonably well today. I would say five out of ten. I would have done better if I had gone to work, but the kids were off school. There were some very rough moments, but I was functional. Still focused on making the changes I need to make to get my groove back.]

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Girls on the Run

Yesterday was bearable. We went out with some new friends last night, which was a little bit of a distraction. (Although they sometimes innocently said things that made me want to scream - they had no idea.) (I felt like my smile was glued on for much of the time.) I napped in the warmth of a sunbeam for a little while in the afternoon, curled like a dormouse in the bottom of an armchair. I'm small: I can do that. I lay there, drowsing: hearing but not listening to the drone of Simon's long conversation with his parents in England. The washer was swishing away in a hypnotic manner, and I felt relaxed for a minute. Pain free and accepting. After I woke up, I lay there for a while longer, holding still to see if I could maintain the (lack of) feeling. It was a good moment, because I thought, "Ah-hah! You are doing better because you have moved into your proactivity plan and are embarking on a new service project."

Let's talk about the Girl Box. I didn't know this phenomenon had a name, but I was confounded by it when Sara started fifth grade. Up until then, the kids went out to recess and they played: ran around, pretended stuff, played soccer. Every night at supper, I would ask, "Who did you play with today? What did you play?" (This is where it all happens at school - on the playground.)

On the first day of fifth grade, Sara rolled her eyes in disgust and said, "We don't do anything at recess anymore! We just walk around, and sit on the stairs and talk."

"Oh. Well, is that fun?"

"No: everyone just gossips; and the groups just say mean stuff about the other groups."

"The boys, too?" (I got a look like, what kind of question is that? )

"No, Mom [in a long-suffering tone]. The boys are playing soccer."

"Well, go play soccer."

"None of the other girls will play!"

"Then go play with the boys."

It took a couple of weeks, during which she sat on the stairs but cast longing looks at the play field; but then she went out and asked to play with the boys. And they let her. After a while, some of the other girls joined in as well. We are halfway through sixth grade now, and they are still playing soccer.

I am not an experienced parent (poor Sara is my trial-and-error child), so I thought this was just something happening in Sara's class. Turns out it happens all over the place. Girls on the Run aims to get girls in third, fourth and fifth grade out of the Girl Box and re-focus on what they can do, rather than how they look or whether they are sufficiently conformed. The girls have a running club that meets twice a week and trains for a culminating 5k in late May.

I don't usually do volunteer work involving kids. What do I know about kids!? But I thought I would do this because Guadalupe School is going to participate and most of the teachers in the childhood programs are tired and fed up of little kids by the end of the work day. Plus a lot of them are in grad school and have to go up to the U. when school is done. Grad school has receded into my past. And I like to run. And I'm a girl.

I also teach the parents of some of these kids, and I know that the adults are concerned about high rates of diabetes and obesity; that many parents work multiple jobs and don't have a lot of time to be active as a family. Plus, the Girl Box thing irritates me. Now that I'm old and feisty, I think, "HEY! Who gets to flip a switch and kill my playfulness? Spare me." I suck at conformity. That's why I was never part of the in-crowd.

Those are all good reasons. Plus at the training yesterday, I recalled that running has been pretty helpful to me. I remember that, when I was sick a couple years ago, going back to the track at the rec center for the first time was not fun. I was dizzy from the exertion of getting from the car to the track. I sat on the bench, gasping like a fish. Walked ONE TIME around the track, gripping the rail. Then I went home and slept for about three hours. I wrote on my blog about how life was going to suck forever more! Woe is me! (I know, it was dumb.) Next day, two times around the track, holding the rail. Walking, then running gave me something to focus on and a fixed point to refer to when I thought I wasn't progressing. Now I hardly ever think about it, so when I was filling out a questionnaire yesterday and it asked, "Have you had experiences in which running was helpful to you?" I thought, "No not really. I just like it." Then I remembered: hell yeah! Not only the gradual progress at the track but the words of the people who ran there. I remember that, on one of my first days back I was staggering along, clutching the rail, and this old guy who's there a lot said,

"Well, what's up with you, Speedy Gonzalez? Rough night last night?"

"Yeah, something like that."

Generally, people don't talk much at the gym. But the regulars would occasionally pause to say, "How many laps did you manage today?" or "Pretty soon I'm going to have to get out of your way again."

I had forgotten about all that. [reproachfully intoned] How soon we forget and take it all for granted. Yeah, whatever.

At each session, we'll talk about issues that are troublesome to girls this age; then we train. There are units on friends, gossip, etc; units on self-care and nutrition; they need to come up with a community service project that we will carry out in May; then we finish with the race. It's a fund-raiser, so all you local blog-readers should cough up your $25, come to Sugar House Park and run in it!

As a bonus, the other volunteer scoaches (who are assigned to Guadalupe from outside the school community) seem cool and we had a lot of fun together. And the t-shirts are green! I hate pink girl-shit, and green is my favorite color. Portentous.

Today sucks again. I woke up absolutely miserable. But I need to stick with my plan. For today, that means a) Guadalupe administrative work; b) planning a skate night with Moira, seeing if Diane can come over on Friday, seeing if Blanks can join us for supper on Sunday; c) start the quiet phase of changing the things that I need to change. For about a week, that'll just be working through some things on my second blog and doing some research. Step by step... What else today? Everyone else is skiing. I have laundry; curried chicken pot pie; my traditional Valentine's strawberry trifle (we don't really celebrate Valentine's Day, but this boozy, lovely trifle always makes an appearance); Home Depot for the paint to finally paint Sara's room; long run. Step by step...

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Gyno Got it in One (Day 14)

Today SUCKED! Easily one of the worst days I have had. That is SO not fair! I wonder if Fridays are worse because they are so quiet at the office. Trying to drink from a fire hose is pretty distracting.

I went to a new gyno today. All the usual stuff: peed in the cup; got my finger stuck; donned the gown; asked if she routinely refrigerated her lube....

Why is it that doctors seem to have no way to share medical records? I had to fill out a massive new set of history forms for the scrutiny of the new doc. She raised her eyebrows at my uh, "impressive" medical history. Oy! I prefer to impress in other ways. I am super-healthy, actually. My entire health history can be neatly encapsulated within the year 2009.

Who is my oncologist? (I refrained from rolling my eyes. Well, there may have been a mini-roll in there, before I got control of it.) No oncologist. No oncologist? [Omygawd!] Am I not being treated? I told her that I was refusing what I know to be over-treatment and that I felt confident about that decision. My prognosis is fabulous: I am cancer-free. She was a rather school-marmish looking lady, and she has perfected the purse-lipped look of disapproval.

She did like my heart though. Again, the eyebrows while listening. "Are you an athlete?" "Well, just a runner." She nodded. "You sure are! Your heart is barely awake!"

I thought, "How right you are."

After the appointment, I paused on the stairwell landing and leaned against the wall for a moment. Have you ever noticed that stairwells are excellent places to pause and think? No one ever uses them. Sometimes a door slams above or below; but it's always remote. I have a couple of students who like to meet with me on the stairs at Guadalupe. Today I tipped my head back and looked at the ceiling.

This witch of doom and gloom is not who I am. Here's my theory, for which I expect an honorary doctorate in dime-psychology: waiting for the abatement of sadness is a passive thing. Like waiting to heal from an injury. And I'm on the "sad" treadmill 'cause I'm passively avoiding the larger issue: there are things I need to change about myself and my life; and I have been procrastinating. It's time to go in pursuit of my better, stronger self. Which way... Which way...

Heartache and pain? Soooo.... I should takethe route that addresses the loss of confidence in my capacity to love and be loved. In fact, allowing that capacity to become diminished by circumstance is chicken-shit. Under it all, there is a lovable and loving girl. I think I'll go retrieve her.

How? Through service. Through friends. Through fun. Also through a bit of reflection and an injection of extra courage.

For a few days last week, I had another blog, which I deleted; and then another with a very similar name, also deleted. The language was just flowing out of me. I was shocked at my virtuosity. But it was so...what? Revealing. Tender. I was disgusted and deleted the damn blog entirely. Twice! I have been getting a lot of mileage for the last year or so by channeling my inner hedgehog. I think I will try again and overlay a little privacy; I need to write difficult shit in a way that my cousins, my colleagues or my mother-in-law wouldn't appreciate. Then I'll retire it when it has served its purpose.

And I'm done counting the days.

A New Stage

Ranting! Now, my ranting fluency level is very high. So much verbiage to howl at the moon! I love to rant about politics! About education! About the environment! About beef! About Burma! About immigration! It's so fun.

Ranting in solitude to the mirror about what an idiot I am? Alone in the house, pacing the sunporch? While making Nathan's bed? Hands clamped on either side of the laptop? Declaring my anger at myself to the contents of the deep freeze? Ah, yes. The frozen marinara knows how to keep its secrets.

To a fly on the wall, I'm sure I am hilarious. Does it help? No. I really only like to rant for amusement.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Don't See THAT Every Day! (Long March, Day 13)

Between all of us on this multicultural staff, we know a lot of alphabets; but not this one... Mark thinks they're runes. Anybody out there know for sure? A piece of chiffon with runes on it is a rather unusual thing to find in a bag of donated stuff. The fact that it was wrapped around $550 makes it even more interesting. Luckily, I know where all this stuff came from, so I can easily find the (retired, LDS) couple that gave it to me. (Gasp! She's secretly Wiccan! That must be it!) I'll tell them that they can have the money if they hand over the story.

So, Day 13 was not as good as Day 12, for some reason. I am trying to figure out what was good about yesterday, so I can replicate it. I had a positive, strong e-mail message from a friend in the morning... I attended an interesting, animated meeting... Could either of those things change the composition of the day? Maybe the e-mail did it.

I should remember that a week ago I was much sadder than I am today. I'm working through it. I'm just impatient, as usual. Patience is a huge part of this process - no wonder I'm being so tiresome. Somebody just smack me.

OK, so let's focus on the positive. I'll make a list of things that made me happy today.

  1. A little chit-chat with the other track-users at the gym this morning. One of the ladies who is often there when I'm there has a cute haircut.

  2. I brought a grapefruit for my supper that was super sweet and yummy. I peeled it and ate it like an orange, picking the tough skin off each section.

  3. A square of chocolate: dark, espresso, truffle. Who knew you could get all those qualities to come together for one mouthful? I was at a loss for any more wonderful adjectives to describe chocolate.

  4. Surprising Julia, the Adult Education kitchen helper, with a little present for her birthday.

  5. My earrings, which are pretty.

  6. Seeing my old colleague, Dorothea. We worked together for 16 years before she retired; she comes in to substitute for an absent teacher once in a while. She came to work tonight with a plate of her special cornbread in one hand (you know, food is emerging as a pattern, here...) and a white jeans-jacket in the other. She's tired of it, and she knows I've always liked it. This is how I acquire most of my clothes! Luck.

  7. The fact that this evening's class was kind of disastrous. That may seem counter-intuitive; but I was proud of how the staff handled it. We had TWELVE volunteers who did not come in tonight. Everybody snapped to it, worked together, combined study groups, shared tutors and made the evening run smoothly. We didn't have to send any students home. Nice work, teachers!

  8. Loud shrieking. When the twelfth tutor, Richard C. called in, he told me, "I'm at the garage. They told me my car would be ready at 6:00, but it's 6:45 and they're no where close to finished. How would you feel if I didn't make it in tonight?" I held out the phone to the office full of scrambling teachers and said, "Hey, guys! How would we feel if Richard C. didn't come in tonight?" As one, the entire office full of women screamed at tops of their lungs. Then we laughed hysterically.

So, yeah; some good in the day, in spite of heartache.

Well, Shit

Yesterday WAS a one-off. So unfair!

So I guess there will be no cutting switchbacks on this hike.

Today, I'm doing great as long as I can hide out for a few minutes every couple hours and put my head between my knees and gouge my fingernails into the back of my neck.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Letter to the Universe

[First, some business. Lurkers who don't comment - I can see you on my traffic widget. I love you and I don't care if you don't comment. Not a problem at all. But my attention has been directed to a possible blog stalker. There is no way to prevent this; but for a little while, I'd like to ask that anyone who comments on my blog as "Anonymous" includes at least a first name. Or a nick-name. Or a city. Or something reassuring. "Anonymous" postings without some sort of name will be deleted. Sorry! I feel bad about it. Hopefully it's no big deal.]
I am handling my sadness a lot better today. The morning was very rough, but I did not give in. And after work, for some reason. I was at a traffic light and all the sudden I felt miserable. My hands dropped right off the wheel like they weighed a ton. I put them back. I suspect I'm not done yet, but I'll take the good days as the respite that they are. They will get more frequent, I hope. Today was a day with no special news, so I'll send one of my letters to the universe.
Dear Dad, Edie, Ronnie, and all the rest of you gone people,
I am sitting here listening to Mana, singing "Tengo Que Volar", bundled as always against the chill in this drafty fucking house. Today I focused on small things - it helps.
I was virtuous at the gym this morning. Ran a little, lifted weights, then ran some more until an hour had elapsed. I'm in week 2 of training for the Salt Lake Half, so I have to pull myself together and be serious. Plus those Girls on the Run kids are going to run me ragged. I have to bring my A-game!
Drum roll! I have found a new floor manager! Mark will be so relieved. Here he is:
This photo was taken right after I said, "One of the main components of this job is to keep me happy." I wonder if we can share clothes.
At the office, I caught up with Silvia and asked her how many people came to the Sex Health talk on Tuesday. It was a great idea: separate talks for men and women, facilitated by the Latino Medical Students' Association. In attendance? Five women. No men. [Pffffffffuuuuh...] Our students are very conservative. Silvia told me that the ladies who attended got a lot out of it - loads of questions answered. There's a lot of interest among young married couples who want to know about birth control, but they're embarrassed. I asked Silvia if we could try again. I'll make the rounds of all the study groups and apply a little persuasion. Then they can say, "I had to go! Bossy told me to."
Saw my little namesake today: already four years old. The Alvarengas have moved out of the area, so I don't see them very often any more. Kate Alvarenga? I'm flattered, but I privately think it sounds really strange. The first and last names don't match. I told her mother, Alba, that really, my name is Katherine. What about Catarina Alvarenga? Nope. Just Kate. Not short for anything. Oh, well. I tried. She had the most robust laugh when she was a baby. We used to set her up in a playpen near her mom and try to get her going. She would unfailingly laugh this huge laugh. We kept wandering back in there all evening to make her do it again. Diane really cracked her up. I think she liked that cloud of curly hair on Diane. Diane, if you read this, do you remember her? So damn cute.
Public Relations Committee meeting today. These have been pretty interesting, because we are re-branding. (And I got fed! One of the board members brought in lunch. Beats Pop Tarts...) No more Guadalupe Schools. It's Guadalupe School: one school, five programs. Riffing off the "hand with five fingers" analogy I like to use. My program is no longer called VIP, either. No more acronyms. We're just calling it Adult Education. Hey, got anything better? Lay it on me. We'll have a new promo video in time for our "friendraising" lunch next month. A new web site. Here's our new logo:

I drew the stem on! It was included in the original mock-up, and I liked it, 'cause it gave me a sense of growth, movement, change.... It got jettisoned, though. Hmph. Do you see that the flower has a petal for each of the five programs? And that the petals are people viewed from above? Each holding a book? Just like the Adult Education study groups. I am enchanted. I was ragging on Vicki about how we need press-on tattoos, and the board chair of the committee loved the idea. We just need to order them. In time for me to wear one for the luncheon? Not on my tummy though.

I was asked to update the Committee on legislative stuff that could be of interest. In all honesty, I have been distracted from immigration issues by news coming out of Educational Appropriations Subcommittee about budget. Proposed cuts this year include total removal of adult education from the budget. I don't apply for state funding 'cause my program is not part of the public school system. BUT. The money I do apply for (federal) is allocated based on a match from the state. No state money, no federal money. Oh, pickle. The scuttlebutt from the feds is that Congress is looking at a 12% cut for the federal money, anyway. We did a letter-writing campaign in class. The students who were able wrote letters to their senators and representative. I pretended that there was anybody in the Utah congressional delegation at the moment who gives a shit about adult education. Hatch used to, believe it or not; but I see that he sold his soul to the Tea Party today. Pandering asshole. I need to get board members to write letters to the lions of state educational funding: Howard (don't-believe-in-second-chances)Stephenson, Chris Buttars...

OH! And SB 138 made it out of committee 4-1. This would rescind that law that requires undocumented people to carry a "Driver Privilege" rather than a driver's license. If this bill is passed, folks without papers won't be able to have any license at all. This is a good idea because...?

What else did I do today? One of my students was having trouble with her bank, so I helped her call them and get it straighten out. Voice activated phone tree. The student was amused watching me say, "CHECKING. CHECKING. NO. CHECKING. FUCK. NO! I mean CHECKING!"

Got a few basic guitar books. Sara wants to learn to play as well, and asked for guitar books for her birthday. We can share them. She called me today to tell me that one of her frienemies had spilled/poured/dumped chocolate milk all over her at lunch and she was SO EMBARRASSED. It looked like she WET HER PANTS! OMG.

We had to go to Justice so she could shop for birthday presents for a bunch of her friends. Is it mean of me to wish that Justin Bieber would turn to anti-matter? Seems like half the school is born in February, including both of my kids. This part of Cottonwood is sort of a ski resort company town. All the February births fuel speculation on how everyone celebrates the end of the season each year.

Sara is gearing up for the Canyon View Etiquette Tea. Asked for a dress. She NEVER wears dresses. This is the kid who colors her hair in hot pink streaks using a pastel crayon. OK, dress it is. Today she asked if she could wear makeup. No. Oh, Mom just a little. No.

She has been hilarious about this tea. Now, I do work with her on her table manners, but she is far from exemplary. The other night, just as I asked her to take her elbows off the table, she picked up her bread and pulled the soft inside out, leaving an "O" of crust behind. Then she took morsels of the soft part, rolled them into balls, dipped them into the butter on her plate and tossed them into her mouth. I pointed out that she was not going to pass muster in this respect, and she solemnly told me that this was the right way to eat bread. Break off small pieces, Mom! Butter each, one at a time. Uh...Hmmm...

OK, off to paint my toes bright blue and concentrate on not being sad. It's turning into a hobby. Whatever works.

Love, Kate

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


OK. Shazam lasted for part of the day. Then my super-powers were again compromised. Just gotta figure out what gave me that burst. Try it again tomorrow.

I have had heartache before. I should be grateful. My heart is a wild little creature, but it is still not jaded, even after all these years. So, I bury my face in a towel and scream my head off until is passes. I know how to handle heartache.

I have doubted myself before. I should be grateful. I know I don't have all the answers. So I confide in my special friends. I know how to manage doubt.

I have had wild misadventures before. I should be grateful. I still think life has the capacity to surprise me. I write about them. I know how to wrangle wild misadventures.

I have forgotten my lunch and my supper before. I should be grateful. How else would I have the opportunity to subsist on rancid sandwich cookies, grape pop-tarts and garlic-soy-roasted Chinese broad beans? I know how to find food.


Wow. OK, I'm back. Got my super-suit back from the cleaners. I know, I know... What happened to sad? It's very strange. I have no idea. I suspect it may come back later. But today? I blasted around the track on my run; I am totally organized; I am looking forward to my incredibly busy day.

I feel very calm, very positive. I am not mad at all. I don't get mad. But I am...focused.

Now, off to direct my formidable superpowers at my day. And just in case anyone thinks that I am efficiency personified, let me confess that I have forgotten my lunch and my supper. But I used to do that before I was a selfish, unlovable, bad woman, wife and mother. I have always been a lousy food-rememberer. There are some pseudo Oreos here, but they are beyond even what I can eat. Rancid filling. I looked for the expiration date out of curiosity. Can't find one, although the package does assert that these Austin-brand cookies have been around since 1932.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I'd Call Myself "Guera de la Guerra"

Look, Ma! A piercing AND a tattoo! Kidding! It's a press-on; and Mom never comes on my blog. I'm not sure she knows about it. Good thing too, or she would have been calling me up over this past week with her own special brand of support in hard times. That would be: "The women in this family do not give in to pain. Get off your butt and get to work." Be sure to say it in a very hard tone. Seethe a little. She does hate my piercing. On my rare visits home, I was in the habit of flashing it at her, just to make her say, "Katherine! For heaven's sake!"

I had several tattoos last night, as well as my frayed jeans, my army shirt and various "bad girl" accessories, 'cause it was Roller Derby night. Flat track, at the Salt Palace. Black Diamond Divas taking on the Hot Wheelers. Awesome alter egos such as "Medusa Damage"( that was my favorite), "Pandora Doom", "Smack & Deckher", etc..

It was a lot less violent than I thought it would be. In fact, I have to say that I would be interested in giving this a try... I have not roller skated much, but I'm a fairly good ice skater. (Until you got a drivers' license, there was nothing else to do in Markesan, Wisconsin in the winter. The city flooded a rink, The Kiwaunis Club ran the warming shack, all the boys were there.) Sara wants to go to Classic Skate for her birthday treat next week, so I will check myself for hidden talent. In Wasatch Roller Derby, you don't form teams or try to join a team. It's a league and everyone practices together, then they form up their teams on the night of the derby. I know, I know... It's just a little too friendly... My friend Vicki Pineiro (who got me interested in roller derby in the first place) was there. When I expressed interest in trying it, she said that all you have to do is show up on a practice night and they'd give you a try. Don't need to know the rules (Good. They're complicated) - you can learn as you go. Looking at the girls, I can see that would EASILY be the oldest participant. By about 15 years. I can also see that the alter-egos, the costumes, the makeup, the playacting of it would be right up my alley.

Sooooo.. the daily question: did it help?

[sadly] No! If press on tattoos won't cheer a girl up, what will?! To be honest, better company would have helped. We went with a couple that we are acquainted with. Si likes them a lot; they are OK to hang around with, but they (sorry, but it's true...) bore me a little; and just now I'm craving fun company. Still, I wore my game face and flashed my tummy. Can't be a grumpy old slag.

Today was Day 9 on the Long March. If you check out my hike plan, you will see that the second leg is the "hurts most of the time with occasional moments of relief" stage. That's my goal. Nine days and I'm still not to it?!? Geeze. I am getting an eerie feeling that this is going to take longer than I anticipated. What if it takes a REALLY FUCKING LONG TIME?

OK, let's not panic. I did manage some things today. A list- Things Kate Managed:
  1. A few basic household chores: beds, dishes, etc...;
  2. A few loads of laundry;
  3. I successfully prepared my sun-dried tomato, provolone and basil meatloaf.
  4. I successfully prepared black-bottom banana cream pie.
  5. I was able to put together a menu for next week that is not an embarrassment. Last week I did stuff like decide on a meal, write it on to the menu, then not check the ingredients or shop for the ingredients...dinner time rolled around and I was like, "Huh? Cauliflower sweet potato curry?" Worse yet, I had already planned it for a night earlier in the week and made it then.
  6. I also read a few chapters of my book. I had hoped for escape, but the story in the book reminded me too much of my present difficulties; so I burrowed my head into the cushions on the sun-porch sofa and wished that I was Puxatawney Phil.
MESSAGE TO THE UNIVERSE: I am not a sad-sack. I am not a baby. I have always been a model of resilience. I will get that all back again. I think the reason that I am suffering this badly is that my situation is in limbo. I don't limbo well. It's that whole bend-over-backward thing. I would slap the situation into shape, but it isn't all mine to slap. Control of the situation? NOT! Any idea of the outcome? NOT! Possibility that there will never be a resolution? 'Fraid so.

I need to bring out the BIG GUNS. When I start feeling sorry for myself, I should remember to get out and find people who need help. Girls on the Run doesn't start for three more weeks. I'm thinking about volunteering in long-term care or hospice. I'm good at that. And I need to get my focus back on Guadalupe. For a while, I was thinking that I should learn to take a little time off, spoil myself, delegate a bit. Pffft. The road to hell... Immersion would bring oblivion, which would bring relief.

Tomorrow is a new day, and I will try again.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I Need a Thicker Skin

Thanks, Becca, for lending me your guitar! I had a guitar once. When I was in grad school I lent it to my friend Diane Morrill (Diane, if you ever Google yourself and find yourself looking at this blog entry? I want my guitar back. You've had it since 1994...). So, yeah; she took a bunk with my guitar!

I was never good. I took lessons when I was in middle school, which was pretty fun until my eighth grade meltdown. Now, I am kind of a ham and don't mind getting up in front of people. I used to sing in front of lots of people, but I'm more comfortable usign my own vocal mechanism than playing an instrument. It's not my own body; it's this object I pick up, you know? But I was enjoying guitar lessons and when Mr. Paskey asked Alan Johnson and me to play Silent Night at the middle school Christmas concert, I was down with it. I took the melody; he took the arpeggio. Alan's mom was a music teacher and made sure we kept practicing.

I vividly remember this incident. I sang with the choir; I played my cornet in the band; but all the while I was getting nervous about the guitar thing. When it was time to play it, I had my first and only attack of REAL stage fright. I have been nervous since, but this was a dig-in-the-heels, no-way-Jose moment. I saw these two metal folding chairs out there on the gym floor. And microphones. Whooooo, boy. I recall walking up to Mr. Paskey as he was about to introduce us (imagine me tugging at his sleeve) and saying, "We're canceling this. I'm not doing it. There's no way." He handed me my guitar and said, "You'll be fine!" Nonononononono! It really was not fine. Alan was already perched on his folding chair, ready to go, looking at me like I had lost my mind. Which I had. I wish I could tell you that I pulled it off. But... Ididn't. Imagine two eighth graders playing Silent Night really badly. Now, imagine them playing so badly it's laughable. Aaaaaand dial it to one notch worse. There you are! I think we even finished at different times.

Afterward in the music room, Alan said, "Sit down." We played it perfectly. His mom stopped by my house later that evening with a chocolate eclair. I think this my have been my expereince as a user. Chocolate as a drug.

After that, I was content to strum away in my college dorm. we are again. I remember some things. I can still tune, using the 5th fret system.

A basic arpeggio, a hootenanny strum.
A few chords. I have some music books that include chords. I need a basic book, though. I'll go get one next week.
And the big question. Did it help? Briefly. While I was actually playing, I was concentrating, and it helped. If only I could just sit and practice all day. But my finger tips are swollen and sore. In this, as in most things, callouses would be very helpful.

Wool Gathering (Long March, Day 7)

Didn't know I was a shepherdess, huh? Where the hell did I put my crook?

I'm working on on the sadness all the time. I have made progress, I think. Yesterday was better. I was really busy; and I had helpful conversations with people. Thank you by the way, local blog-readers; for being concerned, reaching out and checking on me. I have a lot of really nice friends. I am getting drunk with people I don't usually get drunk with! On weeknights.

Today the goal is to get through the day without crying. It's 1:45 PM, and I have managed so far. Several times my throat tightened but I fought it. As Sara likes to say, "Yay, me."

I also managed a regular workout today. On the previous days I had to cut it short because I was just too...lead-limbed.

Next, I have to get my sleep back under control. It's getting ridiculous, even for me.
Then, I must conquer food. The goal is to double the amount of food that I'm eating. That's harder, though, because sadness is like a stomach stapling for me. Food? Nah... Plus, I kinda like the way I look when I'm at my thin end. As long as I don't drop below 112 pounds, I'm good.

First, sleep. Then food.

And through it all, I have GOT to stop the wool gathering. I am lost in thought all the fucking time, and I'm getting mad at myself. I mean, what is so interesting in my head that I need to keep scrolling it all day? Nothing is worth this many reruns. So I went on an active battle plan against it today, and really paid attention to times when I want to slip into a reverie. The Wool Gathering Awareness Initiative. I started staring out the window after breakfast and caught myself. Good for me! While I was tying my running shoes... caught myself and made myself stop. I also resisted while stretching at the gym (Before, I had been doing my hamstrings for, like, 10 minutes while my mind wandered away). If I keep this up, the custodians are going to try to dust me. And I did not succumb while resting between sets in the weight room, either.

I'm struggling more as the day goes on, though. I slipped into thought in the parking lot after arriving at school. I think that part of the blame should be allocated to the nice warm truck though, and the fact that it's cold outside. I was cozy! I was searching for a number in the phone book just now, but kept sliding my finger right over it while I rolled my problems around and around. That's why I'm taking a second for a quick write - I'm rebooting.

I was so focused before, too! Happy Kate was quite the juggler. Well, she'll be back one of these days. Day 8 will be better. Now, off to the distraction of staff meeting, where I will be entertained by the business manager scolding us for improper laminating. Don't ask. But I'll just say, it wasn't me!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Letter to Edie

Hi, Edie-

I haven't written since last spring, but I think of you a lot. I really, reeeeeaaaaaally need you right now. I could always count on you to listen to my shit. I never even had to ask - you knew when when there was something up with me, and you'd NAIL me! You never turned a hair, never judged. And you were capable of TOUGH LOVE! Diane has taken on the role of listener (poor Diane!). She is very nice though, and does not slap me up side the head nearly as much as you did.

Today, I was rock-bottom sad. (Day 4. I'm lovin' this hike. Are we there, yet? Are we there, yet? Are we there, yet? Tomorrow HAS to be better. That is the good thing about rock bottom.) Sadness is generally not permitted at school: my sanctuary of noise, need, chaos, laughter. I was standing at the copier this evening, getting ready for class when Mark bopped through the room. I was facing away from him but maybe something in the set of my shoulders stopped him. Yeah, I know - he has known me WAY too long, huh?

"SOOOOOOOO...... How's everything in Kate's world tonight?"
"Uh, OK. Good."

He came up to me and put his hand on the back of my neck.

"Oh, yeah? You don't feel quite right."

Touching me was the WRONG thing to do. To my horror, my throat closed and I felt tears welling up in my eyes. Now, I have issues about crying. I desperately hate it and like to be all emotionally controlled. A couple of teachers who know me well tease me about how I NEVER cry, even when I ought to. I had to stand stock still for a long time before I was able to tell him, "I miss Edie."

He sighed a very long sigh. "Oh, Darlin', me too." We wrapped our arms around each other for a minute while the copier chugged through its job. He told me about how he struggles with things at home and how much he misses your no-nonsense attitude when dealing with your son Mike. I just stood very still and let his words and his pain wash over me.

You always said that Mark and I were two peas in a pod, as far as temperament goes. We both used to roll our eyes at your brassy assuredness, at your Absolute fucking Certainty; but we relied upon your rock-solid presence. You are very much missed.