Of Dogs and Deities

•August 17, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Just got back from my evening walk with Maya.  Twilight is coming earlier already–aaack!–and I read on Accuweather (which is notoriously inaccurate) that the Upper Midwest, which envelops the Land O’ Cheese, can expect an early frost this year.  The blessed event will occur somewhere in mid-September.  You gotta be freakin’ kidding me.  We just got rid of winter in June.  Winter in this part of the country lasts way too long for this Illinois girl, so I long for a proper winter where snow falls for the first time around Thanksgiving and the daffodils are in full bloom by mid-April.  Guess I’ll have to shop for some new woolies instead.

We ran into some unusual twilight delicacies for Miss Maya tonight.  There was a small, winged and squealing creature that she felt obligated to pick up in the Bunny Field (another Poohlike name).  It took me a few pokes with a stick to be sure it was not a rabid, frothing bat, but a baby bird instead.  After another type of poo, we crossed the street to deposit the matter in the trash can by the tennis court (because it inspires them to play better I can’t stand to carry it for long).  Next Maya found the internal organs of a tennis ball, which looked as if they had been dragged through a pool of saliva, rolled in parking lot leavin’s, and aged in the sun for several days.  Maya thought it was divine.  She carried it for blocks–occasionally shoving her head between my knees to encourage me to take it and give it a try.  I declined.  In fact, I eventually made her drop it and leave it, because I didn’t want her consuming the thing at home.  I’d have to boil her mouth or something.

It was after all this that I was thinking about how our relationships with our kids and our pets are often like the relationship God has with us.  For now, I’ll deal with the doggie analogy.  I delight in her beauty and her skills, and I want to her to be in situations that put them to their best use.  Real-life agility would be perfect.  We’ll see if she’ll ever do contrived doggie obstacle courses.  She loves leaping over logs, slogging through swamps, and long-jumping over creeks.  She is pure joy when she runs free, and she stops frequently and looks back at me to check in.  She also runs to me just to get a pat or shove my hand before she runs off again.  And then…she often sticks her nose into empty cups or licks carcasses and junk food she finds in a ditch, and they sometimes make her sick.  She wades into the bluest muck she can find, and when I demand that she come out, she looks at me defiantly and plunges her head in.  (And I love her for that stubbornness and her attitude that hey, I’m beautiful, but I’m tough–but it’s a pain in the ass.)  As far as training her to walk on the leash without straining so often, I stop whenever she puts pressure on the leash and guide her back to my side, all the while looking ahead at where we are going.  When she stops trying to lead, I move ahead toward our goal with her at my side.  Does this need any further explanation?!!

Hopefully I’m a merciful deity to the little furball.  She’s grown up into such a beautiful, brave young dog.

 Maya run


Pie Wisdom

•August 11, 2013 • 1 Comment

This is a little bit of a deviation from the catching up I’d planned to do on my blog, but for you thrill-seekers, I’m keeping it brief (HAH!).  Just keep in mind that I’ve had unexpressed thoughts bouncing around in my head for months, and that I have to stay true to who I’m writing for: me.

I was making a couple pies today–one for us and one for the neighbors who brought food to my son while the rest of the family was away in Boston.  It’s a Bakewell pie, based on an English tart (and I’m guessing tart means it is a concoction that contains fruit).  The pie has a raspberry jam bottom and an almond meal sponge cake top.  I adore any combination of almond and raspberry.  A little whipped cream and a side of coffee (Irish, maybe?) and my day will be made.

Anyway, while I was cooking, I decided to “turn it all over to God.”  I’m back to wondering what comes next.  It’s clear from my latest posts that family comes first, but now I’m down to my husband and son in the house, and my son’s programming keeps him extremely busy.  The departure of my daughter left me with a lot more time on my hands, and when my son moves out again (Imminent–note that menacing capital I), I’ll have even more time.  I hope to handle it even better than I have in the past.

So, what now, God?  No exact answers as to what, but a few things came to me from my latest and past experiences.  Pardon the new-agey/flaky labels, but I had to put a name to them to help me remember them:

(1) Go into the in-between.  This means prayer (reaching out to God) and meditation (being still and letting God in).  That will be the source of the what.  Doesn’t matter what your faith is, you need to be still and present sometimes.  My yoga training is pretty apparent here.

(2) Cast your net widely.   I learned this in searching for housing for my daughter in Boston.  We contacted people about a wide range of housing in a wide range of places, let people get back to us, viewed the places, and selected from what remained.  Sharing the top of house with two other women was not at all what she had in mind, but she’s now in a lively neighborhood, in a beautiful apartment with a lot of space, with at least one roommate (the one I met) being a wonderful companion–uncannily similar to my daughter in outlook and goals.  This wouldn’t have come to us if we hadn’t put forth some effort and kept an open mind.

(3) Get your hands into it (whatever you try).  This is the Pie Crust Approach.  For a short time, I worked as a waitress in a downtown diner in northern Wisconsin, complete with country music and a polyester dress.  When the owner/head cook was gone, a real cook filled in–she’d run a restaurant in Ladysmith (love that name), Wisconsin, for years before retiring in the Rhinelander area.  Edie is one of my all-time heroes.  She could make pies and stir up soups like no one’s business, and she yodeled like a bird while she cooked.  One lazy, rainy afternoon, she took it upon herself to teach me how to make pie crust.  She explained cutting in the fat until the mix stuck together in pea-sized pieces, the importance of using ice water, and then…of sticking your hands into the dough to really get a feel for what was right.  I’ve been able to make top-notch pie crusts (and pies) ever since!  (Wish I’d picked up a few more cooking tips from Edie…)

(4) Feel gratitude.  I’m not going off on The Secret here.  I’ve heard Secret People say that “The Universe loves gratitude!” but I also think The Universe is not stupid and sees right through attempts at exploitation.  What I mean is that–again, no matter what your faith–it just never hurts anything to count your blessings, even when it’s hard.

So that’s it–a little Pie Wisdom for the day.  Winnie the Pooh would be so proud of me!

And What Exactly Were You Expecting?!!

•August 9, 2013 • 6 Comments

Still pondering the whole bouncing kids deal–you know, kids being home, leaving home, coming back home, and eventually leaving for good.  As I mentioned before, it breaks my heart every time they leave.  A part of me even wishes they’d just stay away (aside from short visits), just to save me the heartache.  But no…it’s a good heartache.  Sometimes love provides the right kind of hurt.

So what was I expecting?  Really, nothing at first.  Waaaay back in the beginning, it was more of a lust deal and a guess-the-time-is-alright-if-kids-happen deal and…probably shouldn’t go back to conception, though, right?  So we had kids, like all of you did.  Maternal hormones spun around this ambitious girl who hadn’t really considered the undertaking fully.  I’d been concerned only with continuing on with my education to get my master’s degree in psychology.  Amazingly, it appears that I got pregnant the night of my college graduation, in fact (now how would that ever happen?!!).  However, hormones are mysterious, ancient forces one should not underestimate.  By the time I was fully enjoying the nausea, I was also swearing that I was going to raise that child, and I would do it alone, and no one would take that privilege away from me!  Gawdammit.

And so I did, or we did–my husband and I had been married for around five years when our son joined us.  Twenty-three months later, the future Bostonian was born into the family as well.

And what did I expect after those fuzzy-headed babies started to grow?  Kids who would not be perfect, because my husband and I are not perfect.  How could I expect something from them that we are not?  Kids who had their own interests and goals in life, and did not exist to fulfill my dreams or my husband’s dreams.  People who would handle the joys and disappointments in life as fully and bravely as they could–it was our responsibility to guide them toward that (because life is never easy or predictable or stable for long).  People who would make the most of their one shot at life, maybe better than I have made the most of mine (*ahem* let me insert here that I’m not fricken dead yet).

And what did I get?  Kids who are fully alive and pursuing their dreams as they should.  I guess that part went well.  I comfort myself by thinking of our American ancestors who left their homelands and said goodbye forever to their parents.  That would not only break a heart, it would crush it to bits.  And today we have technology.  By the time I’m a few miles away from my kids, there are bound to be texts, which make the separation strangely more bearable.

But for now, Interstate 90 is the ribbon that binds me to her.  And from time to time, I have to send my love in a box.

Ffftt. Fwwtt.

•August 5, 2013 • 2 Comments

That’s the sound of me blowing the dust off my blog.  I had choices to make this last couple months.  Nothing earthshattering.   BOTH my children were back home, more or less temporarily.  I think I have the oldest, my son, covered in the history of my writing.  The lease was up on his apartment in May, there were no breakthroughs in his apartment search in Milwaukee, and THEN he broke up with his girlfriend and figured he just didn’t want to be alone for a while, so he moved home.  Yes, it was a thank-God sort of moment with the breakup.  Everyone passes through relationships that are educational experiences, and then you move on.  He was educated in how it is to have a girlfriend who builds up big plans and then says she’d rather stay home, who would shake her empty glass and say “you know what to do,” and who went to a concert by his favorite band, with all the most important friends in his life, and acted like a complete bitch for six straight hours.  Definitely a product of today’s MTV.  There are enough hours in that time span for a person to dig up some gratitude and set their priorities straight.  It works that way for sane people.  Well, my kid is nice, but he’s not a sucker.  And he’s no longer her boyfriend.  Smiley smiley smileys.  🙂 🙂 🙂

As for my daughter, she graduated from college in Rhode Island in mid-May.  It was bittersweet, as she enjoyed college and finally got the roommate situation right during her last year.  God knows it’s hard to get that magical combination down!  That was the bitter part.  The sweet part was that she was ready to get out of college and move on to that land of mysteries, the everchanging target of the ages, the Real World.  The real world was a little slow in coming, though.  By the time she’d graduated, she hadn’t secured the internship required for her second degree (competition is as fierce for those as it is for jobs).  She figured she’d come home and sling coffee at a Starbucks in Wisconsin for a while (transferring within the great Starbucks system).  Even that move was met with silence.  Our departure from Providence (the city, DUH) was somewhat sad and silent, considering.  However, I wasn’t allowed to be bitter for long.  Within a couple days, she got one of the internships she’d really desired, back in her beloved Boston, (being purposefully vague here) with professional sports teams.  She also got the call from the closest Starbucks in Cheeseland and ended up working 30-35 hours a week, bringing her mama some lovely caffeiney concoctions and filling the cupboards with beans.  The right kind of beans.

So what have I been doing that kept me from self-blogo-therapy (aka writing for you fine people)?  Riding bikes, mostly.  Working out at the Y (slick new weight machines last month!), walking Maya, buying professional clothing (not for myself, but for the girl who can wear a suit jacket without her skin crawling as if the devil is pinching it)…just hanging out with my girl while she was home.  These kids of mine keep bouncing back from time to time (today’s economy is a beast), but one of these times will be the last.  Now it’s time to spend time with my son, because his days at home are numbered.  This is the guy who first moved out at nineteen, and his independence is demanding his attention.  Can’t blame him–it’s what a person does in their early 20s.

So that’s the rewind and review.  Right now I’m on the road BACK from Boston.  My heartbreak, when I listen to its call, is familiar. Kids do this every time, dammit.  They come home and fill your life with joy, and then they leave and wring out your heart all over again.  BUT I allowed myself to hurt only a while this morning.  Life goes on, and you’ve gotta have goals.  Today’s goal was to buy some grape wine in the extensive grape-growing region near Lake Erie in Pennsylvania and New York.  Woo-hoo!  Mission accomplished.  Found a self-serve wine tasting and came away with three bottles of Pennsylvania’s finest.


•June 1, 2013 • 2 Comments

Yeah yeah yeah I’ve been lax in my writing but not in my life.  5K season is upon us, and my two children are, surprisingly, back home.  This is good, and it is temporary.  What a weird feeling.  I love it, but we have a very adult relationship, and they are living here for a purpose.  For a while, I wanted to post a sign that says Irony Lives Here.  Lemme explain…

My son, the programmer, moved home shortly after Easter.  I think I’ve gone down this road before…He had just broken up with his long-time girlfriend, and as we know, breakups are difficult, even if one party is a total self-serving ingrate.  Guess which one that was!  But ingrates can become a bad habit, like smoking is, and bad habits are meant to be broken (and hopefully not replaced with new bad habits, such as crack).  So the heartbroken son did not want to live alone, and also suffering from the all-too-common syndrome among the Millenials of “Just What the Hell Am I Supposed to Do With All this Freakin College Debt,” he rented a storage unit for his stuff (a.k.a. the branch office) and revamped his bedroom into an office with sleeping quarters.  (By the way, it is interesting to speculate on what would happen if all these ex-college students and/or graduates did not pay back the trillion dollars they owe…)  However, as a programmer, the anti-graduate is drowning in work and earning the big bucks.  His purpose of living at home is to pay off his college loans and become world’s free-est man, and he may succeed there.  He does brilliant work, works frequent ten-hour days, and he earns very good money. Just keep in mind that he is the ANTIgraduate, which means that he not only has no degree, he doesn’t want it.  He learned everything he uses for his work by reading manuals and taking free online courses from Stanford, which shares its knowledge in the hope of progress.  The antigraduate suffered a lot of UNlearning in college.  Yikes.

On the other hand, there is my daughter, who graduated a couple weeks ago.  It was a bittersweet experience.  She didn’t want to leave New England and return to the pastures of Cheeseland.  She had to part with the best friends she’s ever had and the best roommates she’s ever had (and if you’re like most people, you’ve experienced some pretty crappy roommate situation somewhere in your life).  For my part, I was very proud of her accomplishment and very bitter that a girl who graduated summa cum laude with two majors was jobless and could not even score an interview for an internship. Bloody hell.  What else do you want, people?!!  Leaving Providence was painful this time because I knew she hated it.  However, my bitterness was short-lived.  She got the internship she wanted (in Boston, woo-hoo!) in less than 48 hours after she arrived home (hence the need for housing in August :-))  Shortly after that, she was in touch with a nearby Starbucks, being apologetic because her transfer to their shop would be cut short by the Boston bit.  No problem!  She offered 25 to 30 hours of work a week if they wanted a fill-in.  No problem!!!  They gave her 31.  Guess she’s going to be fine and have some cash and caffeine.  Now to perform the miracle jaunt to Boston to procure before August a nondive studio or apartment in a safe and creeperfree area.  Should be fun!  HELP ME PLEASE. 

In the meantime, the second Volkswagen of laundry is parked in my basement.  It took me three weeks to get through the boy’s accumulation of clothing, and now I am working on my daughter’s.  It is a labor of love, though.  Plus my daughter hands me down/up some duds.  My latest favorite has a minion on it. 

I often feel like this

I often feel like this

As for the 5K (for which I’m a Registration Administration Coordinator HAH! can you guess that a business sponsors this race? such a fine title that could only be improved with a catchy acronym…), I inherited a new duty this year: head of the PR sub-subcommittee, composed of me.  I believe the dirty truth of the matter is that the marketing person who previously promoted the race left for another job and hasn’t been replaced.  Dirty fact number two: registration numbers were a bit down, mostly due to the lack of spring in this part of the world, and something had to be done.  So I was hand-picked by a BigWig who was probably tipped off that, hey, Holly doesn’t have as much to do this year because those registration people have got their business down.  The good part about this is that it actually gave me some opportunities, provided I don’t get fired.  The senior VP who plopped me into this position has been pretty agreeable about this game.  Marquees?  Sure.  Public service announcement?  Go for it.  TV interview?  YES!  Facebook community page?  Why not!  (Don’t let me fool you–I knew better people for the TV and radio interviews, and they were smokin’.  Glad it wasn’t me.  I just had to make the contacts and have some incredibly good luck in scheduling.  Honestly, the timing of my contact, getting the right person, and even some cancellations was unbelievable.)  As for the FB page, it was one of those brainfarts I got while mowing (when spring finally arrived).  I wasn’t having the arguments in my head that I usually have when I mow.  Instead, I thought “the 5K needs a more interactive Facebook page than an event PLUS I have a college graduate at home who studied sports and event management PLUS I have a programmer in the house who is always trying to convince me of the value of social media EQUALS voila!  A truly lovely FB community page was born, at the capable hands of my daughter, now my social media specialist (though I am in charge of the early-morning inspirational posts for oldsters like me.)  Along the way of this PR fiasco, I’ve learned a couple things.  For one, I’ve always sought out meaningful projects to put my effort toward.  For another (believe it or not in this ramble), I’ve gotten a reputation of being a pretty persuasive writer.  I’d really like to find a project to absorb my energy, and my love of the environment–a clean and healthy environment–is the first goal that comes to mind.  Or maybe, similarly, what the hell is going on in my neighborhood that only one house on each block seems NOT to have cancer in it…I feel like I live in Love Canal lately.

Moving on to other stuff so that you, if you’ve lasted this far through this thoroughly engrossing update, are completely informed, spring arrived.  Uh huh.  Maybe three weeks late, but the crab trees and the lilacs wasted no time in blooming and radically exploded in blossoms this year.  They were absolute puffballs (of which I should have taken a few pics, but I did not, because I was too busy enjoying the smell…). However, I’m gardening with a bit less gusto this year.  Last year’s earwigs, Japanese beetles, rabbits, and drought sort of drained me of some of my enthusiasm.  I’ll make regular trips to the Farmer’s Market instead.  I planted some tomatoes and herbs (which tend to be pretty pest-free), and I changed more of my landscaping to prairie grasses and evergreens.  The annuals are potted and minimal, so I chose my favorites: sweet alyssum, ivy geranium, miniature rose, petunias and lobelia. So BRING IT ON, BUGS!  My yard, at least, will survive.

I’m still running, too.  I’m also taking a “boot camp” class twice a week, in hopes of running the Warrior Dash this year.  This is the only way I could see of training for it, aside from scaling buildings, vaulting fences into farm fields to clamber over haystacks, and invading junkyards to run over wrecked cars.  If I stay injury-free, I’ll shoot for that half-marathon and may make my way to a famous run in Memphis yet.  That’s the plan, anyway.

So the few of you are not forgotten.  You are now bored to tears, I’m afraid.  This post is like a letter from your long-lost, depraved auntie.  I did start some great blog posts on our plane trip to Providence, though.  They are stewing in Google Drive.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to take cryptic notes at work, which are combined with to-do notes and grocery items, which I post to myself in e-mails.  They look like some weird prose–not the least bit suspicious, right?


There’s Always a Story

•May 7, 2013 • 10 Comments

I took the long drive back to the homeland (central Illinois) last weekend.  The Soybean Desert has its beauty even in early May, especially since winter ended in the Land of Cheese just a week ago.  However, driving south took us through a rather lovely, dry, and springlike  region from Portage, Wisconsin, to about Peoria.  From there on south is the land of drowned rats.  I knew there was trouble when I saw the swirling, muddy waters of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers on the national news.  Every once in a while the reporter would visit some river rat bar that was half underwater and I’d scream, “Hey!  We used to go to that bar for catfish (or pork tenderloin)!”   Real Illinois specialties, but don’t knock them until you’ve tried them.  The rain poured and it poured heavily and it poured lightly, but it didn’t stop for days.  Not until we were on our way home and passed that magical line somewhere south of Peoria.

My middle brother called my cellphone about halfway through our trip south.  It wasn’t good news.  One of our uncles was not doing well. He had been hospitalized a couple weeks earlier after some bad test results including kidney malfunction.  Even earlier, he’d fallen–no hip breakage, but for God’s sake, what is it with a fall that is so dooming?!!  If an older person breaks a hip, there seems to be an immediate downturn in health and attitude–like the bone that supports the soul is broken.  So my uncle didn’t break a hip, but the impact had damaged his soul.  He was afraid to get out of his reading chair, and then his kidney function also declined.

But he was on the mend!  He had regained his color and his bodily functions, and he passed another birthday on Wednesday being sassy to the nurses and cracking jokes.  As my family said, Uncle Bob was back!  Until the next day, when he told his wife, his son, and one of his nurses that he would be going to heaven on Friday.   Needless to say, they blew it off, though it was very unusual for this joking uncle of mine.  His daughter-in-law said he spent a lot of time just watching them quietly then–no more sass.

On Friday morning, he developed some difficulty in breathing.   A lung x-ray showed that he had developed severe respiratory distress syndrome (exact name forgotten, but not really necessary here), and he would need to be transported to a larger hospital in Springfield for treatment.  Ninety percent of people who develop this syndrome do not survive, and I bet the survivors are not in their mid-80s!  The ambulance attempted to deliver him to Springfield twice, but each time he passed the city limits, his heart readings became irregular and he was returned to the hometown.  Not surprising.  Dad and his four brothers are all deeply rooted in that town.  I don’t think my uncle was going to depart for heaven from any other place.

Somewhere along the line, he was intubated and put on a respirator.  This was against his wishes, but it was something that the paramedics weren’t aware of.  It was a good thing, as there was also missed communication with his wife and daughter-in-law, who waited for his arrival in Springfield for three hours.  The intubation gave them time to come back after they were finally contacted that he was in his hometown and in dangerously poor condition.  And it also gave me time, for some reason…

I had bargained with my supervisor to leave work a bit early, taking some of my books on the road to work with as my husband drove.   When we passed through Springfield, I debated checking at the hospital there (where my brother said they were moving my uncle), and dismissed it because no hospital was going to have visiting hours at 7:30 PM.  So my husband and I continued on to my dad’s house…and we arrived just in time to meet him and my brothers leaving the house to go to the hospital and say good-bye to Uncle Bob.  We put down our things and joined them.

Maybe we all reach this point at some time in our lives, but this was the first time for me.  I went to the hospital intending to act as support for my dad and my aunt.  However, my tender-hearted aunt requested that we all go say goodbye to my uncle.  Here’s world’s worst understatement: It was a vision that will stick with me the rest of my life.  Here was my crazy, joking uncle lying on his back with his mouth pried open to accommodate machinery, his soft, white cotton hair flowing back.  The respirator was brutal.  Granted this was necessary, and it allowed us all this moment of proper farewells, but I will hesitate to choose the same for my own father (his request) at his age–only for someone with a hope to live and more time to do it.  Normal breathing is graceful and bends the body in and out in an S-curve.  The respirator pumped him up like a bellows and deflated him.  From time to time, he would move his head from side to side as if he were trying to communicate something or shake off the machine.  I held his hand and told him quietly that I loved him.  I thanked him for the being my morel-hunting buddy (he always called his Lincoln the Mushrooming Car, and we had every intention of filling the trunk with morels), and for taking me and my brothers fishing at the most beautiful farm ponds when I was a little girl (wicked with my cane pole and a bobber).  I told him that his journey from here would be good.  Then there was nothing else to do but close my eyes and pray for peace for him and everyone who was in that room.  Nothing more.

My aunt told him goodbye with the strong, sweet nature wrought by her farm girl background, familiar with death even when it hurts.  Every time I talked with Uncle Bob, I swear he told me that when the two met he thought she was “the purdiest thing I’d ever seen.”  His granddaughter sang the song he used to sing for her as a little girl, “If I had a little chicken and he wouldn’t lay an egg…”  (Hoky, you’re thinking now, but this is what I was raised on, and it’s sweet!)  Soon it was time for us to leave the room, and we left my aunt, my dad and his brothers, and the close part of Uncle Bob’s family to be with him as the respirator was removed.  My dad later told me that it took only two or three minutes for him to die, and that you could tell he was dying because he steadily grew colder.

And so he moved on.  Some may dispute, but he–like all of us–had that bright spirit inside of him, which was energy and love.  Even science supports that energy and matter are not destroyed.  I dare you NOT to be spirit–just TRY.  It won’t happen.  Every one of us is built around a spirit, and it will endure.

Much love to all of you.  I’m back again!  (and there are many more stories to tell)

The Only Thing That Is Constant…

•April 14, 2013 • 6 Comments

I’m joining the legions of other bloggers with sorry excuses for NOT writing anything for a while.  The good news is that the swearing ban is off, as that was officially for Lent, and now that Easter has come and gone–and it was a damn fine day!–I’m free to be as expressive as I like.  Hey, I don’t hold anything against any of you who haven’t written regularly.  Personally, I am not a journalist here.  That’s probably painfully clear.  You know me–I’m here only to air my dirty laundry.  In a totally honest way, of course 🙂  Maybe I achieve a little clarity along the way, too.

But really, winter is lingering far too long in the Upper Midwest, the snow is still covering the ground, and we’ll be lucky to reach the mid-40s this week.  I went searching for my crocuses yesterday, because DAMMIT it’s April and those things should be dead and gone and shriveling up to make way for the daffodils.  Maybe some rodents had eaten them…I found the crocuses’ poor, frightened little stripy leaves just barely pulling themselves out of the earth for a peek at surface conditions.  They were not pleased.  Guess it sucks to be a crocus these days…

today's snow

today’s snow

Constant change has found me again (with the exception of winter weather).  My son is moving back home for a while.  I would never have expected it a month ago, but here it is.  His lease was up at his apartment in southern Wisconsin, and he was having little luck finding an apartment in Milwaukee.  Only one person returned his call after leaving twenty messages, and lots of apartment offices were closed when he went to visit the complexes.  We also have concerns about finding a safe place to live in that city any more.  (Love to visit there, but the crime rate seems to be crazy.  A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine was moving her son out of Milwaukee to come home–similar circumstances as my boy, by the way.  He stopped at an ATM in one of the safer suburbs, and a man ran up and stuck a gun six inches in front of his face and stole the boy’s wallet.  I hear way too many stories like this…)  I think I’ve also mentioned the punch in the gut that is today’s student loans.  My son was really looking forward to paying those back, and his payments start at the end of April.  Finally, the clincher was Easter, when he broke up with his girlfriend.  He’s known for quite a while that the relationship wasn’t quite healthy and that a breakup was inevitable.  However, one of the last straws for that camel’s back was when the girlfriend showed up at his place cradling her little rat of a dog to bring up to our house, and then to my nephew’s for Easter.  She never asked if it was all right, and she knows our dog isn’t even allowed in certain parts of the house, but she told my son that she just couldn’t sleep without her dog (four years of college, and now she can’t sleep without it?!!).  Anyway, it was just one of many last straws that weekend.  I’ve never seen my son so mad, but he kept his cool, drove her back to collect her things from his place and took her to her home.  So for now, he doesn’t want to live alone and is settling back in here.  We’ve all felt the pain after a breakup, even if you initiated it.  Healing takes time.  All in all, it’s a very reasonable plan.  He’s been working hard, being helpful, and with his lovely computer-world income, he’s very likely to pay off his school loans in a year.  Then he’ll be a free man, indeed!  Lucky duck.

On the other side, please help my daughter find an internship.  Please!  Yeah, say you need some well-educated chick to work for free (because that’s how they run this legal slavery ring these days) and do your event planning for the summer; I will pack her up and ship her to you.  She’s graduating summa cum laude (yay!) from one of the best schools in the hospitality field, yet she’s nearly begging for work.  Competition is fierce for slave positions as well as for those positions for free men and women.  I guess it may be just a little early for us to be anxious about this–I think some employers get back to prospective interns at the end of April or the beginning of May.  However, I’m anxious to know where we’re going to move her after we fly out to the East Coast for her graduation, and I’m anxious to figure out how we’re going to get her there.  Life is full of mysteries.  Mommyhood is full of anxieties.

Oh yeah, one new wrinkle is my efforts at freelance writing in order to earn some curtain money. Yeppers, I sometimes sell some articles, written at the fantastic pay rate of about 25 cents an hour.  I am earning a redecorated front room one curtain panel at a time.  I really do enjoy the writing, but I’m not fooling myself about the prospects of making a fortune in the writing field.  Not the freelance one, anyway.  It’s just another attempt to punch my way out of the paper bag of the corporate world.  Something’s gotta give one of these days.

So that is where I’m at in this slushy world of mine.  Still mommying, still writing, still running (with the goal of doing a longer run, like a half marathon, but this ice-on-the-trail thing keeps setting me back).  Maya the pup continues to amuse by scurrying or backing over her invisible barrier (poor brain-damaged beast), but I love my little buddy dearly.  She brings some warmth and love to the endless winter.

beautiful Maya