What a difference a lot of years make

We’ve been a family for a good long while now. It doesn’t really seem like that long, but a look at A says otherwise. She looks more grownup than she really is. She thinks she’s more grownup than she is, but you know. Teenagers.

For a long time, we never heard from A’s other mother on her birthday. Understandable, to be sure. The reasons why aren’t for me to find out. Anyway.

This year was different.

M had just moved into a new place with a new, better job that she had just started. We went to visit and dropped A off for the afternoon. They were going to the movies and to hang out. K and I went home.

We didn’t do much. Stopped at a sub shop to pick up lunch, drove a little slower than normal and marvel at how much the area had changed since we moved there a long time ago. We didn’t really talk about what we were thinking, but we both knew everything would be okay. A was, after all, spending the afternoon with her other mom.

A and M said they had a great time. M gave her a couple of books to “borrow” and read later. We all said goodbye and left.

A long time ago, we became a family. I always wanted to have a family of my own, and that family became bigger and more…weird isn’t the word I want, but different. Yes, different. Despite what certain politicians would like us all to believe, different is pretty damn good.



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Taking another dip into the deep side of the pool

Last year, I joined a professional organization affiliated with the new career I’ve chosen/am trying to get into. I went to a few meetings before I took a certification test – which I passed the first time – and kind of enjoyed it. Well, as much as I enjoy any situation when I’m in a room with a bunch of strangers for 2 hours. For the next 3 months, circumstances kept me from going back. A had her honor band rehearsals, a concert, and there was a meeting for the high school in there somewhere.

This week, unfortunately, I didn’t have an excuse. I didn’t really want to go, but I felt like I had to go. Social anxiety and I are old friends, and it was kicking in in a major way. But I really did need to be out and around people. So I took a deep breath, got into the car, and headed into town.

The drive up there has always been a little weird, for personal reasons. About 6 years ago now, I think, I went to the hospital for an outpatient program (essentially treatment at a mental health hospital without staying overnight). The same hospital where I go for business meetings now, as well as where I went for my certification exam. Yep, even down to the same floor. The first time I went, I found myself making the turn at the elevator when I should have been walking in the other direction.

The meeting was interesting. The best class I’ve ever had has been anatomy and physiology, and some of the talk showed a procedure that’s being used on Parkinson’s patients (including some of the surgery and radiology/MRI scans). It was really great, and I realized that I missed going there. Just the feeling like I was a “professional”, the same as everybody else in the room, was pretty powerful, no matter how wrong that might be in reality.

When I was driving home, it was pretty clear to me how much I’ve changed since I went to the hospital for the first time. I am a much different person now than I was then. Not always doing well – certainly not the past few months – but much different. Instead of reaching for somebody to help me out of the giant black hole, I can figure out ways to pull myself out. Not right away sometimes, but it’s better.

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An Open Letter to Cam Newton

This is in response to seeing Cam Newton’s disappointment and hurt over losing in yesterday’s Super Bowl. For the record, I am a fan of both teams and it was still hard to watch.

Dear Mr. Newton,

First off, I’m really sorry about the way the game turned out. The Panthers have the #1 offense in the NFL (still, as far as I’m concerned). You did, however, meet the #1 defense who made 52 sacks in the regular season this year. Defenses, as they say, win championships. That was not your fault.

I know it hurts when everybody expects your team to win, and they don’t. If you get to speak to Peyton Manning again before he retires (and I expect him to announce that sometime in the next couple of weeks), ask him how he felt when they played the Seattle Seahawks two years ago. Lots of fans here like to pretend that game didn’t happen. The Broncos were expected to win, but they didn’t. They didn’t by a lot. Manning was fairly well humiliated in that game by the Seahawk defense. Sound familiar? And yes, that was the team you crushed on your way to the Super Bowl. For both a Panthers and a Broncos fan, that was spectacular to watch.

It’s easy to be gracious in victory, but not so much in defeat. Especially when there are so many people seemingly gloating over your loss. Yeah, I saw the press conference too, and I understand why you left. From what I remember, Manning had a hell of a time being gracious when the Broncos had the crap beaten out of them in SB48. But he did. Certainly, he had much more experience having to suck it up and be polite after a loss.

Lastly, I hope you get used to the SuperBowlWeek Circus, because you will be back. Probably sooner than later.

See you at Super Bowl 51,


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What I Did Today

Hey. It’s been a while, I know. There’s not been much to write about lately; I’ve been finishing school, took two exams for professional certification in a field that’s a 180 flip from where I have been, and have been hunting for a job.

(I did get one, and it lasted about a week. So I’m out looking again.)

There have been a couple of possibilities, including one that’s the sort of work I’d like to eventually do in an environment where I’d like to be for at least the next 15 years or so. Today I went for a volunteer interview.

It’s a dream job for a well-respected clinic, and it might lead to better things if I can be patient and work hard. The interview was the hardest I’ve had yet.

The building was on the opposite side of town, in an area I’ve only been to once. When I finally found the building, my next challenge was to find the entrance. It’s deliberately hard to find. I finally recognized it by the placards lining the 10 foot high iron fence. Can’t recall the exact words, but I know I was relieved that there weren’t people next to those cards. Yet.

The interview was pretty straightforward. A group interview, with a wide variety of fellow volunteers; everybody from a vet school student to a retiree to a couple of other people beginning new careers. Except for the retiree, they were all younger than me. We talked about why we wanted to volunteer, how we could be of use to the clinics, and what jobs we could see ourselves doing.

I had a bit of bad news about the clinic where I’d prefer to work, but I am a patient person and I don’t mind waiting a few more weeks or so to start. Then we left to go home.

On the way out, I heard a voice from across the cedar-lined fence. “What a shame. It’s a death camp in there.” No, girl, they said non-engagement. You can’t say what you feel. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, someone with pamphlets in his hands tried to walk in front of the car. He stepped aside once it became apparent I wasn’t stopping and I really wasn’t in the mood for a game of chicken.

I took the long way home instead of heading for the highway. It was good to have some time to think about what happened. The streets became familiar the further away I drove.

This is something I want to do. It’s important. Even with my limited range of skills, I could still help somebody. Plus it’s experience, which is desperately lacking in my resume. We’ll see what happens.


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Long Time Coming – and a Long Way to Go

Once upon a time, I almost married a woman.  Not when that was any more than a symbolic ceremony, or even a distant dream.  Things didn’t work out for us, and I wound up marrying a man, almost 27 years ago now.  As of today, my ex can now marry her long-time sweetheart, officially, and have that marriage recognized everywhere.  That, frankly, is awesome.  It’s a really good day.

There will be better days coming.  One day, in every state, people won’t be afraid to put a picture of their same-sex spouse on their desk (and risk possibly losing their job or rental apartment – yes, that is legal in some states).  One day, people won’t have to worry about coming out as trans* and risking many other things, including their lives.  One day, being on the LGBTQ spectrum won’t matter; in my opinion, that’s the way it should be in every state in America.  But it’s not that way today.

This fight is not over.  Let’s not pretend that it is.  I’ve got a lot of other feelings on this subject, but this is justthisside of turning into a giant, incoherent rant.  Celebrating today is great.  About damn time, too.  But let’s not give up fighting for more again tomorrow.

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Writing, Day 19: Word Vomit

It’s less elegantly put than Writing 101 did, but yeah. Like this:

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.

So here goes.

I love summer. Usually. I’ve loved summer a lot more, oddly, since becoming a parent. Trying to figure out what to do in these long, hot days (at least they are here in the Great Southwest), planning trips, begging to go on trips, picnics, hiking, doctor’s appointments for furry and not-so-furry children…Honestly? I enjoy it. This summer, however, has been a little different.

I’m taking classes this year for one of my goals: to be gainfully employed doing something that doesn’t entail driving very long distances twice a day every day. My dream job in this particular field would only be a drive of less than 30 minutes. So for the past 3 weeks since A has been out of school, I’ve been learning more than any human not going to med school should know about the body. So this summer is different.

My mornings start out about the same way they had been during A’s school year. Except that I have a little more studying time in the mornings than I had. Which is good, because both of these classes are normally 15 weeks. Condensed into 10. Whee. A is a late riser most mornings; I have to get both her and Mr. Goth up, not a lot different than the rest of the year. When I’m not studying, writing papers or, um, here – which explains my absence – we’ve been going out and doing things.

Like hiking. A came up with that idea on her own. She asked where we could go hiking this summer. There are a lot of places near our house; several really nice trails, two state parks and a major hiking destination trail.

That one is one of the easier ones, as well as one with the most weekday parking. So we’ve been going there twice a week. On Monday we only made it about a mile, to the first meet-up with the river, and had to turn around. When we got home, A fell on the couch and didn’t really get up much for the next couple of days. But we did it, and she was only disappointed she didn’t go farther.

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Mrs. Pauley: Writing 101, Day 18

There’s nothing going on today. Just sitting on the steps, being bored. Watching the house across the street where old Mrs. Pauley lives. Old, crazy as hell, and mean Mrs. Pauley.

She used to have a husband, I hear she had kids too. Got none of that now. Her boys are gone, I hear. Mr. Pauley too, almost 6 months now. Well, her boys aren’t dead dead. But they might as well be. Yep, there she is.

Let me go get some popcorn.

She used to let us sit on the stairs by her brownstone all the time after school. Now she just chases us away. And here comes the landlord down those stairs, with her flying behind after him. “I told you I’d have the money after my baby boy comes home! Just one more month! Now get out!”

Whoa. The cops are driving up. Looks like the landlord was ready for her. If I bend my head down while I’m writing this, they won’t see me. Cops seeing you never turns out good.

The hell? Was that a gunshot?

3 armed cops against one old lady. Good job, man. She’s hella scary. Or she was.

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Writing 101: Happy Birthday Dinner

Sorry I’ve been out for a while. There were 2 exams and other things that got in the way. Anyhow, today’s assignment is this:

Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

When I was a kid, my sister and I celebrated our birthdays together. When you’re born 4 years and 2 days apart, that happens. We did get a separate birthday dinner on our actual birthdays, even though the cake and “family party” happened on the in-between day.

My dinner was always lasagna.

There was always the choice between getting it from the local pizzeria/Italian restaurant and making it at home. Making it at home was normally an all-afternoon project. Boiling the noodles, making the meat sauce, grating cheese and putting it all together (the spinach and tofu ricotta didn’t happen until much later). That was a big part of the attraction for me; just family time spent making dinner. Eating it was pretty good too, but making it was the most fun. I don’t even remember what my mom’s lasagna tasted like, or even what it looked like coming out of the oven; just how it felt to be doing something together. That was the best.

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Writing 101: Be Brief

“I like you. But just as a friend.”

My heart broke for both of them. I set it on the bench at the park – there was no name, nobody to send it to.

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Losing a Baby, Gaining a Teenager

Last night was A’s 6th grade continuation. Some schools make a big deal out of it, some don’t. Ours went all out, pretty much like everything else they’ve done.

For the past three days, it’s been busy. A make-up Field Day, a trip to the middle/Jr. High school where most of them will go, a trip to an indoor amusement park. Really, really busy. A was pretty excited. Then we went to continuation.

Our school held it in a mega-church, and it wasn’t hard to see why. It was the largest no-cost space that they could find. The place was full. At the beginning of the evening, all the 6th graders walked into the main room in a processional.

At the end of the evening, they were 7th graders. Going on and further away from home, and another step closer to becoming a teenager.

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