28 December 2007

It Matters

We got a very heavy snow tonight. The kind of snow that makes each scoop of the shovel bend under its weight. The kind of snow that makes your shoulders ache for days following its arrival on your doorstep.

When we were headed out the door, I saw my neighbor across the road finishing up her driveway.

I've only had one interaction with her so far, and it was the day she came knocking on my door with my recycle bin which I had left on my curb for two days. "I was just wondering if you needed this in the house. You know that the recycle was picked up on Monday, right"? (Don't judge, people. When you're lugging a two year old, a brief case and a diaper bag, snagging the recycle bin just doesn't cross your mind).

I've thought about her many times. Her house is never lit, I'm assuming to save on the electricity. I wonder how she makes it over there, in that big old house, on her own. I've never seen children or grandchildren there, or even another car in her drive. No wonder she kept such close track of her neighbors lack of good citizenship.

Tonight after I finished my drive, I thought about my last post, and I decided to cross over and do hers. The slush was so heavy, I couldn't stand the thought of her trying to scrape herself out. As I was just about finished, she tapped me on the back and nearly gave me a heart attack. I hadn't heard her approaching since I was listening to Gordon Lightfoot sing his warnings to the sun.

"Who are you and what are you doing", she questioned as I slipped my ear pods out.

"I'm Jenn, your neighbor over there. I just wanted to dig you out. The snow is heavy and I don't have my girls and I just figured..." My heart was pounding; I was afraid that I'd insulted her; trespassed upon her property and perhaps taken from her a chore that she enjoyed.

I looked into her eyes as she tucked a gray hair behind her ear. "I'm overwhelmed", she said, biting her lip.

"Oh, well, don't be. I think about you all the time, and tonight I didn't have my girls, so I thought I'd just fill my time this way".

"I didn't think I had a friend in the world," she stammered as the tears welling in my eyes fell from hers. (Trust me lady, I know that feeling).

"I'm overwhelmed," she said again. "What can I do to help you sometime"? I smiled and asked her to just help someone else out and think of me. "I didn't think anyone cared anymore" she said, wiping her eyes.

"Merry Christmas", I smiled at her as she said she'd let me get back to what I was doing.

And what I was doing was shoveling and sobbing. A half an hour of my time gave her something that she obviously desperately needed, something much more than a clear driveway.

And it gave me something, too. Hope. Hope that little by little, I can do it. I can make a difference.

And so can you. So can you.

27 December 2007

Let's Change the World, Shall We?

Recently, my lovely friend Jen gave birth to an idea of gigantic potential. I want to spread the word, and get all of you to register for the baby shower.

Her post reminded me of a quote from Mother Teresa: "If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one".

Often when volunteering, it is sometimes frustrating--wondering if what you are doing is really making a difference. You look next to you and see small change, maybe, you look at the world outside of you and can become crushed in all that needs change. How can it ever be done?

Let's try it anyway, people.

If you can't volunteer time, volunteer talent. If you can't volunteer money, volunteer kindness.

You don't have to register with a group, go to a shelter, belong to a church. You just have to want to change some part of this world for the better....who doesn't want that?

I volunteered to send out a couple of cards or letters each month to places where people might need them: hospices, nursing homes, shelters, etc.

What can you do?

Let us know, so that everything can get tied together and posted for the new year. Let's make it the year of the Blogger. We all talk about how wonderful this world is--let's try to make that world happen outside of our computers, too.

10 December 2007

Weeping Over Wicker

I cleaned it out and put it away over the weekend; the above bassinet.
I sobbed like the babies that have lain within it over the course of the past thirty-five years when I lifted it into my hands and put it in the corner where it will sit until it's needed again, for someone else. I suppose the day that I retrieve it, I again will cry.
I sobbed for what was, and for what won't be again. That very piece of furniture held me on the snowy night my parents brought me home, and my siblings after I. It held my cousins, and then their children. It held my babies and the babies of my sister.  It will probably hold the babies of others in my family.

I can feel the way that they will set the lives from them within it; I know that motion by heart. I know how they will rest their hands upon the sleeping beings, I know how they will stand there and hold their hearts and wonder how they will care for something so small and yet so very big.
My heart ached from the memories of first using it and the memory of the day that I knew that Little A wouldn't use it again. My hand went to my stomach, feeling the marks left permanently upon me from carrying the children that I've carried, reminders of youth passed and blessings given. Then my hand moved to my chest, and began tapping on it as I gasped for breath. 

I cried for what won't ever be again. For the babies that I won't ever carry, the flutters of first movements that I won't feel again, the kicks that won't make my shirt move, the anticipation and the wonder of what the face looks like within me, the face that I don't already and never will know.

How, how can it be that I've grown from a baby sleeping within that furniture to a woman weeping above it, wondering where the years went?

17 November 2007

Let There Be Peace on Earth (And Let it Begin in the Kingdom)

This picture was taken:

A.) Five minutes after arrival arriving home.

B.) After a night of cotton candy and a violent sugar crash

C.) Never. It was photo-shopped by an evil elf who is jealous that outbreaks such as thus never occur in the Kingdom.

In this picture, Little A is:

A.) Going for the jugular

B.) Learning the basics of CPR by testing for Big A's pulse

C.) Practicing the under-rated art form of quashing an opponent by striking a particular nerve in their neck

The most appalling part of this photo is:

A.) The Servant is genuinely laughing hysterically while watching the Queens attack each other

B.) See above

If you've ever read my blog, you should know that I'm too lazy to be creative. The correct answers are all "A".

15 November 2007

Help Wanted

Victim Volunteer-minded individual needed to help serve the charming queens shown above.

Must have the following traits, philosophies and qualifications:

  • Must value the under-appreciated art of laundry folding.
  • Must subscribe to the philosophy that yes, if you wear a shirt for one nano-second, it is dirty, and thereby must be laundered. Also, if you insist that since you collect, wash, dry, sort and fold the laundry, you shouldn't also have to take care of it, you probably aren't the person for this position.
  • Must possess a good sense of potty humor. (As in: you find humor in fishing the few valuables you have out of the toilet)
  • Must have enough social grace not to stare, mouth agape, at excellent exhibitions of temper tantrums, nor chase the offender with a wooden spoon following one of those exhibitions in which, oh, for example, chocolate milk has been spewed across freshly mopped floors. (PS: When we say "mopped", we mean, scrubbed, on your hands and knees)
  • Must be able to function at maximum capability on less than four hours of sleep.
  • Should be able to appreciate the small joys in life, such as getting to run to the bathroom every ten minutes for false potty alarms.
  • Must have the humility to admit your errors when you ignore one of the potty alarms and then have to clean up potty-ily fluids from the floor.
  • Should not insist upon getting hearing checks scheduled for the Queens just because they appear, on most occasions, not to hear you.
  • Must be able to sustain constant criticism and little positive feedback. Being able to make killer oatmeal/raisin/chocolate chip/walnut cookies can help in that department.
  • Should not be the sort to ponder where a child learns to yell, but rather the type that is grateful that your children have functioning lungs.
  • Should laugh hysterically at all farts, burps, mashed potatoes ground into the crevices of your hardwood flooring, food hidden in bedrooms, water dumped from the tub and onto the floor, despite twice daily preachings that one should not do that.
  • Additionally, when we said "volunteer minded", we specifically were referring to the wages we are willing to offer.
All interested applicants, please contact the castle IMMEDIATELY.

09 November 2007


Little A calls Big A's dad "Daddy".

"Hi Daddy", she says when he walks in to pick up Big A.
"Bye Daddy", she says when they are leaving. Sometimes she even tosses in an "I love you", when she doesn't say, "Peace out".

It was awkward, the first few times, but now it's just something we laugh off when she says it. I personally have a habit of laughing or smiling even when I feel as though my heart is being wrenched from within my chest.

Big A is happy to share, to an extent. I believe above the extent that a nine year old who has been thrust into that position would be. She'll show Little A pictures, talk about her daddy, and hug her a little tighter when they are sitting on the couch and she says, "No, Little A, he's my daddy. You don't have a daddy". I smile sweetly and get up and go into the bathroom off the kitchen and look in the mirror and say, "You will not cry" until I don't.

She's getting so much bigger and smarter now, Little A is, and I feel that as she does, I'm getting smaller and more scared.

I'm unsure of what to say to Big A when she expresses her anger at Little A's father. Her face turns to stone when she speaks of him, her eyes raging with an inferno of hurt and loss and not understanding. Mine wasn't the only heart he broke.

"Who wouldn't want to see their kid"? She'll ask, angrily. "I wish I could see him, because I'd tell him. Tell him what I think of him". Other times, she'll lay her head on my chest and cry for Little A. "What's life going to be like for her? To not even have a dad"?

"She has us", I'll say, and smile, and then Big A will tell me that I'm squeezing her hand too hard.

She's wise beyond her years, Big A, and she has a dad that is amazingly good to her. He coaches her ball teams, helps her with homework and genuinely enjoys her. I don't ever feel as though I'm a single parent to Big A. He knows her in and out, to the point that at times, I'm jealous.

They have the same demeanor and views on how life looks to them. If there are issues with Big A, I can call him at anytime of the day or night to discuss them; there is nothing more important than his child, and she knows that. I have to think that the security in that knowledge gives her things that Little A will not have, and somehow, intrinsically, Big A knows it, too.

I've been thinking of sending a letter and photos to his family, to let them know that his lack of acknowledgement of her hasn't bolted the door on their opportunity to know her, to be sure that they are aware that they are welcome in her life. I don't know what he's told them, but I cannot imagine my parents or siblings not wanting to know an extension of themselves, so it makes it hard (perhaps delusionally so) for me to envision them being that way.

I suppose I haven't sent them in fear of what they would or wouldn't respond. In fear that someday, I'll have to tell Little A that I did try, that her grandparents and aunt and uncle do know, but they didn't want to know her. I don't think I'm capable of saying those things to her.

Recently when I was cleaning out a drawer, I opened an envelope from one of my friends, expecting to find a letter from her. Instead, I found a handful of photos of Little A's dad. My intake of breath was audible and one of my hands rose to my chest, a reflex of the human body, to draw our hands to the spot that aches; to attempt to cover the wound that slowly seeps.

I wasn't sure what to do with them, those photos, for I'm in most of them as well, and we look very happy in those images. I want her to have the truth, but I don't know what the truth is. I know that the night that I told him over the phone (he was states away, snowboarding), he told me we'd get through it and that he loved me and he'd see me the next day.

I know when he left my house the next night, he said he'd be back, we'd go talk to my parents, he'd be moving in. There was no way in hell he was going to let me do this alone. I know I believed him.

I know that when I looked at those pictures, I recognized that I still don't understand. He was one of my best friends. He did love me. I have no doubt of that. Sadly, I have no doubt that if Little A were not to have existed, we would still be those friends, those people in those pictures. And that makes me angry, beyond words.

I'm angry that I spend so much time preparing for the explanation of his departure. Big A has committed to memory the events; she will undoubtedly chronicle what she witnessed to her sister one day, and the recollection won't be kind to him.

He doesn't deserve kindness; that isn't my worry. My worry is what scar his cowardice will leave upon Little A.

My worry is that someday, Little A will pick up those photos of her father, and her hand will rise to her chest, a small sob escaping her as she tries to cover the wound that lies beneath, and that I will be completely unable to help her, my own hands covering hers, frantically trying to ebb the bleeding.

08 November 2007

Bedtime at the Castle

Time: Dark. It doesn't matter what time it is, it's dark, therefore, time for bed. You don't need to look at a clock, now quit asking.

Location: The Castle

Cast: The Queens, The Servant

Setting: The upstairs quarters, cast snuggled into respective beds

Little A: (off stage) "Hi".

Cut to Servant, putting down book, mystified look on her face, thinking, "Did I just hear Little A"?

Big A: (off stage) Mom! Little A is up!

Servant: Sigh. (Puts down book, swings legs out of bed, notes to self she needs to paint her toenails)

Little A: NO!! (Sound of pattering feet running as fast as they can down the hall, door slamming)

The Servant opens Little A's door just in time to see her diving into her bed and actually pretending to be asleep.

Servant: Little A, it's time for night-night (trying to maintain straight face)

Little A: I sleeping (shuts eyes, begins to pretend snore)

Servant: It's probably a good night for all of us to sleep together.

After getting the one hundred items needed to ensure a good night's sleep for The Queens, the cast settles into the servant's bed, snuggled up and exchanging "I love you's".


This isn't a Disney movie folks, the scene ended with The Queens hitting each other and everyone back in their respective beds for the night.

But still, for one minute.....

05 November 2007


My sister is turning thirty in about a week. It's odd, and for some reason, emotional for me.

"Thirty" was always the number that as a child, I figured I'd be an adult at. I figured at thirty, I'd be my prettiest, happiest, smartest and most wise. Even as the end of my twenties ebbed slowly into my thirties, still, I feel that way--the same way that I did in my youth; waiting for the becoming of an adult.

Outwardly, yes, I suppose I am one. By all appearances children, mortgages, car payments, parent-teacher conferences--those denote the activities of an adult. It's just that when I lie down at night, I still wonder when I'll actually begin to feel like one.

Many of the insecurities of my youth are still lodged within me and speak to me. "What if they don't like me? What if they laugh? What if when I walk away, they are talking about me?" I know that many times, I'm still perceived as the snobby child, reading on the playground, too good to talk to anyone, when honestly, I'm so unsure of myself at times, I can't even begin to think of how to interact with someone else.

Of course, I know that thirty is just a number. How can I so fiercely still feel and recall my youth--as though it were just a blink away--when in reality, it becomes further removed each day?

Is this how it will be then, always? Even when wrinkles line my face and hands and there is no longer any semblance of the girl in my tattered photo albums compared to the woman before the mirror? I'll still smell and feel and live in my youth, while to everyone else, I'm old? So perhaps it's not just my imagination, the sadness I think I see behind the eyes of so many elderly?

When I recall my family, we are young. We are unbroken and innocent and laugh freely; the way that we did before we realized that sometimes, our laughter was too loud or distinct; before we began repressing it--taking for granted that we'd want to laugh that way later.

My mom recently said to my aunt, "It's scary, isn't it, coming upon sixty and still feeling like a teenager"? And I felt her then: the girl in the photo, holding the hands of the man that she'd marry, her head tilted back and happiness so obviously written upon her face. I'm not sure that I knew her before that moment, for I'd been so busy calling her "mom", I'd never devoted much time to thinking that she hadn't always answered to that name. Once upon a time, perhaps she, too, looked at thirty as a million years away and then wrestled with the passing of it when it arrived upon her doorstep when she had only closed her eyes for a moment.

Thirty, when so very clearly, I recall her "three", and her "three" feels closer in time than the celebration planned for next week. Is that possible, really, for time to pass so quickly and yet remain so still within? How is it that I'll hug an amazing woman and wish her "Happy Thirtieth" and yet still see before me a flaxen-haired child, aged around six, thirty a lifetime away?

What are these things? What do they mean? Do we ever know?

30 October 2007

Do You Know Me?

Do you know me? I believe that you think you do.

I just pulled out in front of you and you swerved around me; I bet I know what you were thinking. You didn't look over at me, but just the way you were gripping the steering wheel, staring straight ahead--been there. I swear to the Lord above I checked five times, but I guess I couldn't see you through the tears I was crying. You're not the only one that cries, lady.

Do you know me? Because you just walked by me like maybe you couldn't see me, pushing this shopping cart, asking for pop cans. I don't know how I got here, either, lady.

Can you hear me? Because I've asked you the same question about one hundred times today, mom, and most of the time, it's gone unanswered, other times, your answer, "What"? stings. It doesn't sound like the "I love you" that I usually get.

Did I offend you? Because when I came toward you and your daughter, holding out my hands, the look of terror on your face shocked me. I know I appeared tipsy, but actually, as my friend explained, just disabled. I know my words sounded frightening while calculating the pace I was coming at you, but, she was so cute, your baby. You're lucky, lady. I won't be having any babies of my own.

Did we fail you? Today you looked at us with disgust when you pinched your thighs. We've upheld you through a lot, you know. What does a little jiggle matter when we still work, hard, each day for you. And those stretch marks? Remember what your o.b. told you? How each day he saw women that would kill to be able to be pregnant and get those things? Remember that?

Dear God, please forgive me.

23 October 2007

Dear Manny Ramirez

Dear Manny Ramirez,

Tomorrow is busy, busy, busy for me since my mom and sister are going to be in town for the day, so I need to write you this letter now, before the opening game of the World Series.

Please quit being an asshole.

You've single-handedly ruined any joy that I had rooting for the Red Sox. After the Tigers, they were my team. I relished in them beating up on the Yankees and whoever else they were playing, but this last series, thanks to your theatrics and posturing (fine, and the facts that Grady Sizemore is, well, so freaking hot, and my penchant for the underdogs), I was cheering whole-heartedly for the Indians.

I'm still so annoyed with you that I don't really know who I'm cheering for tomorrow. Let's just say I'm leaning towards the Sox because: A.) A bunch of girls I know here in Blogsphere still love the Sox and B.) Curt Schilling.

Obviously, you're talented. Not many yahoo's make the starting line-up for World Series teams. Obviously, you've hit a home run or two in your day, so you don't need to stand at the plate and watch it go out, arms in the air like you've just risen the dead. Put your freaking head down and run, Manny. Show a little class, a little grace, a little (gasp) respect for your opponents. (You know you should have at least been on second with that little ball-off-the-yellow-line-of-the-wall hit)

Also, making a routine fly-ball catch isn't really worthy of theatrics. You're paid like a gazillion dollars to do so, so just do it, and maybe tap your ball-cap or something small. No hand motions or arm-pumps are necessary.

You're a super-talent on a team of your peers, and I don't see them running around acting like idiots every time they hit or field the ball. I just want to sit back and root for the Sox and the American League and feel good about it again, so please, please, quit wrecking it for me.


22 October 2007

Lottery Winnings & The Real Riches

I've been busy filling out all of the paperwork to collect my winnings from the Irish National Lottery. Thank God all of my years of praying came through and I finally got that windfall that I've been hoping for. Life will be so much easier now. All I have to do is use the equity on my house to send in a fee to get the rest of my check, but it'll be a small price pay when I have my money in hand.

So, my computer is on the blink, and by blink, I mean "nearing eternal sleep". I keep trying to convince it to stay awhile longer, but most of the time it's non-respondent. So please don't view my lack of comments to you as non-interest; quite the opposite--but when it takes 3 minutes to load the comment page....well, you know. As soon as I get my check from INL, I'm going to purchase a brand spanking new super-computer, and donate to all of your pay-pal links on your pages, OK? (And you, briar's mom? I'm your publisher).


This weekend while I was at my parent's home, Big A came running up the stairs to tell me that she'd taught herself a tune on the piano. "Great, good for you", I said as I continued washing my face and making sure Little A didn't fall off of the stool she was on while brushing her "teef".

Big A scurried out of the bathroom to go and tell her aunt B the same news. "Good for you" she said while she continued to talk to/manage our other two nieces and nephews, while half listening to Big A, who was still talking about how she taught herself "Axel F". (Yes, that "Axel F", from Beverly Hills Cop)

I almost vomited right there, reality smacking me in the face and pinning me up against the wall so that I had nowhere else to go.

That's what I do with Big A. She's easy to mollify, to appease, to pay half-attention to while I'm dealing with the other things at hand that seem so much more important, typically Little A. Because she acts like such an adult, I've let her become more of one than she should be, because when I don't give her the attention that she should have, she's happy to go and read a book or draw, and so I let her.

I went to listen to her rendition of "Axel F", patting her back and actually giving every ounce of myself to her; to that moment. I know that it cannot be like that, each minute of each day, but I've made a resolution to at least give her some undivided time each day, because I don't do that now. I'm not sure I even believe that "undivided" is real any longer, but I'm bringing it back.

She was my baby once. She was the first to break my heart with her sighs as she laid upon my chest. She taught me the first that I knew of the deepest kind of love. I owe her much more than I've given.

I brought back all of the piano books that I used as a kid, and I'm hoping to somehow get the piano from my parent's home into my home..."Axel F" is just the beginning of really bad songs that I know---my first mastering on the piano was "Making Love Out of Nothing At All".

And the neighbors thought that they hated my 80's music blaring....

I'm hoping this posts when I hit publish and doesn't crash. If it does, so good to be back, and I will remember you all when I'm collecting my funds. Go ahead and send me your mortgage statements, I'll get right on those.

10 October 2007

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do....

....But I've got to do it.

I wasn't going to blog about this, citing un-originality and the risk of coming across as holier-than-thou, because if you read my blog, you so know that I'm not.

Yep. It's Britney. I've been guilty of following the sordidness that is her life through on-line entertainment sites and the gossip magazines at the grocery store. You'd probably have to live in a cave to not hear her name at least once a day on reputable news stations. But I'm ending my affair with these sites and publications.

The latest installment which featured her swearing and waving her arms at the cameras disturbed me; it actually caused me to shift in my chair I felt so uncomfortable. And that's when I knew it was over. The sidebars and captions: "Live stream from the courthouse. We'll be there".
"She's been spotted at a parking lot. We are there".
"There are ambulances and police outside her home. We're there"

Stalking her.

Violating her.

Waiting for a new sound bite, new footage of her next insane act, lurking in the darkness that surrounds her, blocking any sunshine that might be trying to peep in.

I know how judged and crazy I feel just being around my family in Po-dunk USA for the holidays. How I cringe and murmur to myself, how I pick at my nails and avoid eye contact, how I squirm from the judgment being assessed upon me by those that I know. I don't just come across as a little off-kilter, I act that way because I feel that way. I cannot imagine what I would be like living under the microscope that she does.

In addition to that, her family called Dr. Freaking Phil to "help" her. Jesus. Like the girl didn't have enough issues and problems. If they want to help her, call some soul that has devoted their life to helping people without recognition or financial reward. Start in the non-profit sector. Some person in a state agency whose office light is on well past the time clock. Maybe then she'd stand a chance. Maybe.

I can't help but feel that girl is drowning before our eyes, and that each click of my mouse to TMZ or Perez was just one more wave pushing her down. I won't participate in it anymore, and not by just boycotting her stories, but by boycotting the sites altogether. It sucks. I'll miss them, I love me my celebrity gossip, but I don't think this is gossip; I feel like this is abuse in a grand form, and I won't be a participant to it, no matter how minuscule of a role I play by visiting their sites.

I'm going to go one step further and ask you to consider taking them off of your blog rolls as well. Most of you that I read frequently and that comment here frequently aren't people that I would believe can find any pleasure in what is happening to her.

And please, no comments on writing about worthy causes, etc. At the end of the day, she's a human being--I believe a very broken, very desperate, very lonely human being--despite the circus that surrounds her every waking moment.

I wish her peace, I really, really do.

03 October 2007


"I'm not a hero. The real heroes are the guys that don't make it--those that are killed in action".

Sgt. First Class Matthew Blaskowski, to his father, Terry, after being wounded in action, May 2005.

Please direct your comments to the post below, Of America & Heroes, which will be given to Matt's parents, Terry & Cheryl Blaskowski.

02 October 2007

Of America & Heroes

This post is being used a card for Matt's parents, Terry & Cheryl Blaskowski.
Your comments will be given to them; please post as such.

01 October 2007

Words; Thousands of Them, Unspoken

I've felt at a loss for words, of late. My mind is trying to wrap itself around many things, but moslty, no matter which turn it's taking, it keeps going back to a picture.

A picture that my sister sent me. A picture that is making me cry at stoplights. A picture of my nephews, in the arms of a soldier that they love the last time he was home.

He comes home again tomorrow. For the last time, he comes home. The route home will be the same, but everything will be different.

The cries at the airport won't be of joy. There won't be running to him, laughter and sunshine painting the way into his open arms.

The same people will be there as the last time he arrived home. They might even wear the same shirts they wore when he stepped off the plane. The shirts they made by hand, the shirts that read, "My Hero". Except instead when those same people greet him, they will be greeting a casket.

So this week, instead of words, I'm going to post you pictures.

Here are the first 1,000 words: