10 December 2008

What Comes Around: Karma, Version Two

"Want me to get that"?

"Um, yes. But could you start with her?" I pointed to my neighbors house.

"Sure thing". He went to work, plowing out my neighbor, then coming over and pulling me out of my drive as well as scraping it out for me, then off he went, galloping away, my knight in a shining green pick-up truck.

Gwen, my neighbor, came over with a card for me. "Why do you keep doing things for me?" She asked as I folded the $25 that was in the card back into her hand.

"I can't take your money. What I'm doing for you will come back to me someday, really. It may have already".

08 December 2008

Sunshine: The Re-Mix

I've been dealing with things, that, at times, have seemed insurmountable.

I asked my grandfather a few weeks ago, "You know how most of the time you have a sense of the future, of things to come"? He paused, hesitant to answer the wrong way. "I don't have that anymore. It seems so gray."

Then I veered onto other topics; I'm a dodger, a veer-er, an "I'm fine" type gal. It's a huge flaw, for most often it results in spectacular crashes that probably could have been avoided had I just asked for help.

I felt so overwhelmed that I thought I shouldn't even write here, because it's hard sometimes, to put to paper the reality of how I feel; and who wants to be bombarded with more heavy stuff--we all carry our crosses. I want to be the person helping to carry yours; not adding to the weight.

When I jokingly posted below about Little A's recent health scare, I wrote in jest, trying to plaster a smile over my greatest fear; I do that too; smile when inside I'm on my knees, rocking myself.

As an infant, she quit breathing frequently, due to her prematurity, and she rarely slept. There were monitors and 911 calls and breathing life into her, and me hovering around it all, an outsider looking in, shutting down pieces of myself just so that I could sustain.

I told those closest to me that I felt like possibly her reason for fighting sleep was because she knew on some level that it posed a danger to her. Something intrinsic, perhaps. They said it was my own fear-mongering. Who can blame them, I'm a first-degree worrier, too.

She's not doing well--she's been sick daily, she's sleeping erratically, she's crying when she's awake, almost all the time.

Big A turned ten, and when we were putting the candles on her cake, one of the girls laughed when just the number "1" was on there, while I looked for the "0". "Oh, Big A, are you one"? And at that moment, it was all I could do not to cry.

She was one, once upon a fairy-tale. She loved me then, because she had no idea of my flaws and imperfections. I was her world, and now, on most days, it's all I can be not to be her nemesis. I don't have the time to be the mom that I want to be to her, so I try to eek out what I can, but I know it's just not enough; it's not enough.

I want to give her cupcakes for her birthday that aren't four short for her class--who the hell just assumes that conveniently, there are 24 students, since it's the same amount of batter that you have? I want to give her homemade cookies when she walks in the door, and not sad looks when we arrive home at 7:30 and she asks, "What's for dinner"? and I tell her, "I don't know; I just got here, too". ("This isn't her fault, she's a freaking kid, act like her mother, jennifer, and feed her. Jesus Christ. Seriously, you can't even pull together dinner without feeling like you're drowning?") The person inside of me hates me. I hope she never finds me alone in a dark alley.

Some things have happened at work that I'll have to post about later, if at all. I knew that in this field, nearly all of my clients would have major issues and be in need of massive help. I wanted to do it anyway. I wanted to be the person that made a difference to them; peripherally, it looked light and breezy and lofty; in reality, it's dark and heavy.

Last week I was brutally honest with one of my clients; I told him the job market was the worst in the nation and that with his sporadic work history coupled with violent felonies, his placement could take up to a year, if his counselor approved me working with him that long. Instead of trying to deliver hope, I was purposely trying to make him not believe in what I could do for him.

"It's OK, I'm a changed person. I accept that I have to deal with my past, and I'm grateful that you're willing to work with me, not many people are." Who, in that moment, was helping whom? It wasn't I. He proceeded to leave me a voice mail yesterday, telling me that he just wanted to thank me again, and that he was really looking forward to the future. "Fan mail", joked a colleague, "but I was trying to be mean", I countered. She looked at me and rolled her eyes. "Nice try". There I was, trying to be as dark as I possibly could to him, and somehow, someway, he still felt the sun.

And your light, your compassion; it's given me hope and reminded me of things that, somehow, though I thought they were written on my heart, I forgot.

And now, the dawn, the sun, the comfort that there are hands to hold when it's dark.

And most importantly, hope.

I hope you can feel it, too.

17 November 2008

True Story

Actual conversation last night in the castle:

ME: Big A, did you eat all of the lasagna?

BIG A: Um, no.

ME: So you didn't just put an empty container back into the fridge?

BIG A: No, mom. There's some left. I'm going to have it for a snack later.

Perhaps, maybe, when she's going through her super-model phase and can only consume 20 calories per day?

10 October 2008

It's a Genetic Trait

Not much time to post, but I must tell you, I've been blogging for nearly two years now.

My Mom has never commented on any of them, via the "Comment" section.

Today I received this message from "Anonymous":

Anonymous said...

Okay, I wondered where the quilt went. What if I want it back??? I'll have to come visit to get it huh? Enjoy it while you have it girl!!!!

7:15 AM

See, people, I come by it honestly.

29 September 2008

Why Mommy Drinks

Location: The kitchen in the castle

Hour: Too damn early

Scene: Servant cooking breakfast, Big A on throne

Servant hands Big A platter, continues cooking reserve food for squirrels living in walls (another post) to gnaw on, gagging on smoke from sausage permeating the air

Big A: Actually, do you have some peppermint?

Servant: Peppermint? Like candy peppermint?

Big A (eyebrows arched, puzzled look on face): You know, pep-per-mint? Like peppermint oil?

Servant: No, fresh out of that.

Big A: Oh, because Mr. N told us that peppermint stimulates the brain.

Servant: Huh.

Big A: Is this soy milk?

Servant: Nope, that is milk straight from a poor, tortured cow on a dairy farm.

Big A: OK. This is good. (Takes another bite of waffle with whipped cream and
syrup on top)

Big A: Wait. Does this have sugar in it?

Servant (already missing the warmth from basking in Big A's compliment, warily):

Big A: Because Mr. N said that sugar actually de-stimulates the brain.

Servant: So does death.

Big A (nods head, unamused at witty, non-peppermint stimulated comment from servant): So there is sugar in it?

Scene closes, Servant noting to self that she must find subtle way to suggest less emphasis on nutrition, more emphasis on "Algebra for Idiot Servants" cheat-sheets to teacher, Mr. N., at parent-teacher conference. Oh, and buy more beer.

17 September 2008

He Wore A Suit

Last week, a counselor asked me if I had time to meet with someone and create a resume and cover letter for him; he had a deadline that needed to be met rather quickly and was without either of those items. I scheduled to meet him the next day.

When I walked into the office that day, I was dressed down. I wasn't wearing heels, but ballerina flats, with cords--not my typical attire, but he was my only client meeting that day, the rest of the day I had been planning to spend doing follow-up and applications. I glanced around the waiting area as the security guard buzzed me through and I saw a man, dressed in a full suit and tie, a battered briefcase on his lap.

"Please, don't let that be him", I thought, cursing myself for my casual approach to the day.

I settled in and went to the lobby, "Mr. X", I called, and the man in the suit arose. I was grateful for the long hall that we had to walk down--shame was burning my cheeks--all over my appearance.

I'd asked the counselor to authorize me three hours, thinking that would be plenty of time to meet with him, get his employment history, review the job description and draft the items that he needed. Of course, it wasn't that simple.

"So we're creating a resume today", I asked him. "Do you have the job description"?

He didn't. He began to tell me what was happening in regards to the job, and I could feel my blood pressure rising. The counselor and other staff members had also tried to get the job description, but still didn't have it either.

Turns out Mr. X was a state employee in the Department of Corrections for twelve years. He had been injured on the job, and was placed on long-term disability, and had been recently notified that he was no longer eligible for it. The state wouldn't give him his old job back, because he was apparently disabled enough not to be qualified to work in that capacity any longer. He'd spent his life and career working in a field where he hadn't gained much additional professional knowledge and was supposed to be applying for a job in the corrections department that was in an office setting.

Since he was trying to change career paths, he qualified for the Department of Corrections re-entry program, a program, which at face value, is excellent. It gives dedicated employees such as him accessibility and preference to openings as they try to re-establish themselves. He was given a "ticket to work" and assigned a case worker.

A case worker who, instead of sending a link to job postings sent him random e-mails with vague descriptions of jobs--no companies listed, no submission deadlines, no qualifications needed. A case worker who didn't return the numerous phone calls from his counselor and re-hab staff to get a copy of the job description. A case worker who left her voice mail box full so that you couldn't even leave a message. A case worker who finally returned my call when I got in touch with the receptionist and asked her to relay that if the case worker was too busy to return my call, I'd be happy to speak with her supervisor.

He gave me a copy of his resume that he'd tried to draft. "I guess this is what they are using now-a-day's," he said. He handed me a piece of paper with an art clip of a computer mouse at the top of it, and it got worse after that. And it was genuinely his best effort--he had no idea how to navigate the sea he'd been tossed in, but he was trying to desperately.

I smiled and took it from him, got as much information as I could and told him I'd be in touch with him that day.

When his case worker finally returned my call, I asked for the job description. She couldn't find it. I asked for the deadline. She thought it was Monday. I asked her to email me the link, she took my email, but refused to give me hers.

"So if you'll just submit his resume and cover letter, that would be great," she said.

I lost it, in a professional manner, but lost it just the same.

"Excuse me? Submit it to whom? You haven't given me any information".

"Right. Just get it to me and I'll submit it for him".

"I'll need your email."

"Just send it to him and then he can get it to me."

"I'm confused," I stammered, "I thought that you were supposed to be submitting his resume to appropriate openings for him, as his case worker, and making sure that the recipient knew that he was involved in this program and should be given greater preference".

"I do." She was short. "Just get him the resume and I'll email you the link". She hung up.

Of course, I never got the information, but drafted the best documents that I could.

Monday, his counselor asked me if I had a few minutes. Seems his case worker said that all of his employment history needed to be on there, including three month stints from when he was in college.

I shut her office door and threw the bullshit flag. Tears burned my eyes when I asked exactly who was going to help him, because we both knew it wasn't his case worker. I also reminded her that if I'd had the fucking job description, it would have helped.

"I share your outrage," she said, and I know that she did. Except that she's also mired in the state system of hierarchy and bureaucracy and sometimes, you just cannot risk pissing off the wrong people.

That's the beauty of my job. I'm not a state employee, and so I don't have to worry about the politics of the system for the most part--as long as I'm doing what the counselors pay me to do, I'm secure. Most of my clients have been on their knees so long, I don't think that they can remember how to stand, let alone stand and fight.

The new state budget starts October first.

"He was one of the people I was telling you about," his counselor told me. "When October hits, he's your client".

"Good," I said, still shaking. I apologized for the tears and vehement reaction.

She touched my shoulder, "Don't ever lose that, Jenn. Don't ever lose that."

I smiled and walked out of her office, looking desperately forward to October first. I'll be kicking ass and taking names. And I'll be doing it in a dress suit and heels.

16 September 2008

Pay Some FARK'in Attention, Please

(Huffington Post) Sad "In arguably his toughest interview yet, View co-host Joy Behar asked McCain..." You read that right. Toughest interview yet, on The View. Our news media is doomed


(CNN) Fail GOP: "Sarah Palin has foreign policy experience, after all she went to Iraq." Media: "ORLY? When?" GOP: "And by 'went to Iraq' we meant, 'could have gone if she wanted to.'"


(Huffington Post) Scary Greenspan says this is the worst economy he's seen, which is scary considering he's 400 years old


(AFP) Unlikely Bush says he is working on a way to minimize the impact of his disastrous economic policies


(Blue Ridge Now) Scary Gov. Sarah Palin once appointed a high school friend to head up the state's agricultural division. The friend's qualifications? A childhood love of cows


(Politico) Asinine McCain asserts that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong." Today. The day that two of the biggest banks on Wall Street have failed


(Washington Post) Scary So it begins: D.C. election officials blamed a defective computer memory cartridge yesterday for producing what appeared to be thousands of write-in votes that officials say did not exist


(Talking Points Memo) Fail Gibson: "VP nominee Palin, what are your thoughts on the Bush Doctrine?" Palin: "The what now?" Gibson: "The Bush Doctrine." Palin: "Ummm... Could you dumb it down a shade?"


(Salon) Scary Guess who picketed legal abortion clinics in Alaska?


(Daily Kos) Interesting Not only does Sarah Palin oppose abortion, she is also willing to block access to clinics that practice it


(Some Guy) Florida Ballots mistaken for trash and thrown out. Because it's in FL, consider this "foreshadowing"


(Yahoo) Dumbass McCain touts Palin on foreign affairs: commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard, because some of them have died in Iraq

(CNBC) Scary "The end result of the global economic slowdown may be the U.S. announcing national bankruptcy as the government cannot afford the bailouts that it promised and the market will not bail out the government"



(Are you registered to vote? Are twenty people that you know registered?)

14 September 2008

Ann Arbor, Revisited

Today I was back in the town that I called home during college. Fall is nostalgia for me, what can I say? I think it's something in the leaves, the way the air feels when it's at the perfect temperature for jeans and a sweatshirt, the remembrance of new lunch boxes and squeaky shoes that came with September.

I reminisced about the differences of what Ann Arbor meant to me today, versus what it meant to me a million years ago. Instead of a backpack slung over one shoulder, it was a diaper bag. Instead of the butterflies in my belly coming from cute football players with great eyes, or professors that had a sixth sense of who did and didn't read the assigned 70 chapters and proceeded to call on those that didn't, the butterflies today were swirling about, nervous over what one more physician was going to say about Little A.

I wasn't looking for a spot to tie up my bike, but rather a spot to park my car in the giganto-plex parking structure, I wasn't fishing for the notes that I took the last time I was in class, but rather the medical reports and insurance information and copies of this and that and things I found on the internet. (Damn you, internets).

We found our way, Little A and I. We even got there on time, no grace period needed. We sat through the endless medical history questions from the nurse, knowing I'd get to repeat them all to the doctor again in twenty minutes. "Did you not get the records that were sent"? I always ask this question, just for fun. FYI: typically, the response is a blank stare, an occasional fumble of a chart. No, they've never reviewed jack prior to walking into the room, similar to my test-taking techniques of yesteryear.

Today our physician presented a choice to me: Little A could have surgery soon, or we could wait one more year. There is a 65% chance that she could grow correctly and that in that time, with her medication, heal herself, to speak. Or I could opt to heal her medically, sooner rather than later.

After her exam, during which she screamed bloody murder and "No" while they were prodding her, I asked about ten questions, and ran my fingers through my hair, tapped my feet, and rubbed my hands along my neck. "What would you do"?, I asked. Of course, I knew he would tell me that he couldn't offer that type of advice.

"Maybe this is something to talk over with her Da-" He stopped, mid-word, glancing at the empty ring finger, his eyes then noticing the very blank portions of her records. "It's just us. This is the decision-making team. Scary, huh"? I laughed. "It's OK, we're fine". And for the very first time, I meant those words.

"What do you think, Little A?" I tilted my head to hers. "Ummmm, no." I looked at him and smiled.

"I'm going to wait. I am. I think I'm going to wait and see what happens". I said it more as a question, looking for his affirmation.

"Great, I'll write you a prescription for the next year and you can call if she regresses". He smiled warmly as he shut her folder and asked the nurse to go and get the prescription form.

"You're doing fine, you know", he said as he squeezed my hand before walking out.

And suddenly, one day in Ann Arbor, I learned more about myself than in the culmination of so many others.

And out we walked, bag banging against my shoulder, air smelling like football season, sun feeling like school bus rides, life feeling, once again, like a beginning with endless possibilities.

14 August 2008

When Stars Collide

"Honestly, Jessie, you and I both know that as blond beauties, we deserve far more than our current lifestyle at the castle."

"I agree, Little A. I mean, despite the fact that I barely have any teeth left, I'd still like a steak to gum on each day."

"Right, Jessie. Being of limited vocabulary between us and beyond insisting upon shiny bed wear and fantastic sandals and beaded dog collars, what can we do to express to the Servant exactly how much more we deserve?"

"I know Little A! At the count of three, lets give the Servant our best turn of the head with squinted eyes, hopefully conveying our utter disregard for having to linger among the common folk, when so obviously we are royalty. Perhaps if we each also tilt our chins just so and look upward as well, it will give the picture a movie-star-I'm-too-good-for-you-effect."

"Sounds good. Then I've got to dash off to my quarters and watch Dora and get my feet rubbed while they fetch me chocolate milk and adorn my cheeks with kisses and struggle to fulfill the random requests that I have just so that I might grace them with my smile. Ugh, the things I must put up with, Jessie."
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27 July 2008

A Letter, Re-written

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly a year since I wrote my first letter to a passerby.

Last week, in the midst of everything, I had the chance to re-write that message. And in the end, it wasn't I that delivered help or hope, it was a stranger.

I was traveling along the expressway on Wednesday morning when I passed by a man, his arms frantically waving a newspaper wrapped in a red tie, running alongside of his car, which was emitting smoke from the engine. 

21 July 2008

Small Truths & Bright Shining Ones

Yesterday I was conducting an intake with a new client; part of those sessions involve a brief review of their medical history.

"Is there any significant medical history within your family that should be noted"? I asked, poised, ready to note his response, already looking ahead to the next question.

"I'm not sure. I didn't know my parents. I was adopted, so I really have no idea of anything that runs in the families of them. I'm assuming diabetes, since they say the form that I have is most likely genetic".

I wasn't ready for that. I wasn't ready for the feeling in my stomach that accompanied his words, and while I always carry a picture of the Queens with me in my mind when I'm working, I wasn't ready for the picture of Little A that surfaced in that moment.

19 July 2008

Readers Beware! Danger! Protect Your Children!

There had been whispers before in the scientific world, but last night a brutal attack in our home confirmed scientists worst suspicions: the horrifying Pen Spider does, in fact, exist. It is not merely lore recited around Bunsen burners outside of tents on summer nights. Following is what I've learned in the first twelve hours since the brutal attack:

This spider is wily and brilliant, amazingly smart for having a brain the size of a spec of sand.

The first mode of his multi-faceted attack is to render the victim suspiciously quiet. He then proceeds to crawl up and down the legs of the victim, marking her with his fangs. (His fangs are not actually teeth, but rather pen, thus leaving proof of his attack with ink, not red bite marks)

After tattooing the victim, who is still apparently unable to use her voice box, he then places stickers upon her body and what is left of her hair. (Instead of having silk to weave webs, he carries stickers in that sac instead).

Apparently, the only way to end the viciousness of this spiders attack is to have someone open the bedroom door. Upon a parental figure in the doorway, this spider slips away into the night, untraceable, despite the best efforts of the Servant to find it, all the while, the poor victim chanting, over and over, "I scared. The spider scary. He got me. He got me. I no get me. The spider did."

Fortunately, I got in touch with someone from National Geographic who told me that there is an anti-dote for the spider bites, and that it must be administered within ten hours of the attack (we just made the deadline). This expert said that some substance in Powdered Sugar Doughnuts can erase all effects of the attack. (Luckily, we had some in our cupboard).

I have to go now and primp (National Geographic is on the way. I'm assuming that we'll be featured in a special on this monster, the scenes re-enacted by far better looking actors than us. I'll keep you posted as to the airing time).

I just wanted to take a few moments and warn all of you of the dangers that this creature poses to your children. Be on the look-out people. And let me know if you have any sightings, then I can send the N.G. crew your way once they are done here.

06 July 2008


Three, Little A.

Can you believe it?

To think that once upon a time, three was such a questionable number. Three minutes? Three hours? Three days? Three weeks?

And now, three years.

I should have known from the start what a fighter you were, Little A. All the odds that you've already overcome to be here now, lighting up so many worlds with the sunshine from your sweet face.

To think that sometimes now I struggle, not with prayers for your next breath, not with tears of wondering what your future holds, but with tears of joy for the moments that your smile catches me unprepared and leaves me struggling for my next breath--I'm so filled with such complete love for you that at times, I'm literally crushed.

You are my constant reminder, Little A, of how the darkest storms can create the brightest rainbow, of how the despite what common sense and logic might say, that if we listen to what our hearts are whispering to us, we can make it.

And made it, we have, haven't we, sunshine?

Everything about you: your independence, your wit, your laughter, your heart--everything about you makes me such a grateful person, each and every single day of my life.

There are so many eloquent quotes and writings denoting how much a mother gives when she gives life. Someday, possibly, I'll explain to you what life you gave to me; how, in some ways, you saved me, you re-created me.

I love you Little A, so much more that what I can tell you here, or when I'm kissing your face, or embracing you, or smoothing your hair.

I love you beyond love.

And no matter the days or years that pass, no matter the changes that will occur, that will remain as such.

17 May 2008

SOS! Urgent!

Seriously, folks?

As though the tights alone weren't an enormous enough crime against humanity?

Then to have my bootie (the same bootie that The Servant claims to need to squeeze because "it's too cute") spanked, be placed in a corner, then PHO-TO-GRAPHED while in an obvious state of torment?

Have I not suffered enough?

When is someone going to get me the number to CPS?

I am certain my caseworker will understand my need to:

1.) Empty the 80 or so pop cans out of the front closet from their containers, five minutes before the real estate agent shows up with potential sellers.

2.) Incessantly repeat, "mom, mom, mom, mom, mom", even while mom is saying, "what"?

3.) Throw items out the car window, then scream that I want them, forcing the Servant to turn around, even though we are late to Big A's game.

4.) Run from the Servant. Down a hill. At Big A's ball game. During which the Servant is supposed to be assisting with the coaching. Screaming the entire way, thereby guaranteeing all eyes are upon us, eliminating the otherwise certain spanking I'd have obtained.

5.) When caught, needing to slap the Servant in the face.

6.) Unraveling an entire roll of toilet paper, then trying to flush it down the toilet while the Servant is folding laundry.

7.) Opening nail polish (that, might I add, the Servant left out after painting my toenails), and dumping it on the floor.

8.) Stripping, then running out on the front porch naked. The Servant must learn not to leave the front door open. Ever. Even if it's just to clean up the front porch.

9.) Screaming when forced to be clothed again, kicking the Servant, throwing my milk, and tossing the bowl of cottage cheese across the floor.

Plus, the first person to provide me with the number will win a grand prize of a weekend with me.



Where are you?

Wait. I can be charming. I swear that I can.


13 May 2008

D: Up From the Ashes

I have a man on my caseload who has, quite literally, been searching for work for almost two years. He's made mistakes in his past that have adversely altered his present and future, and he's a recovering alcoholic, who has been sober for over a year.

Around February, he became my client. At our first meeting, when I said to him that he seemed agitated, could I help in any way? He said to me something to the effect that he'd been looking for work for years, that I was probably one more person he'd see for a few months, and that he was tired. Tired of trying, tired of not drinking, tired of begging.

To which I said, "I'm sorry. I wish I could change those things for you, but I can't".

To which he replied, "No shit".

He had me at hello.

About two weeks ago, I wrangled my foot through a front door that appeared closed and landed an appointment with the right person. After he complimented me on having the nerve to schedule an appointment under, lets just call it "vague" pretenses, he listened as I pitched D's case.

"He just needs a break".

I refused to let my eyes waiver from his. Ultimately, he handed me a sample test and told me to come back in a week with D.

On Thursday, D and I entered the building. D was terrified; certain he'd fail, certain this was just one more rejection in the making. Certain this was one more item that he'd put in the "reasons I should drink" portion of the list that he kept in his head. Except he sailed through the test. And the interview.

When Mr. X asked him how the hours of 7:30-3:30 sounded, D hesitantly said they sounded great. Then Mr. X told him that his benefits would begin after 90 days, and that he'd see him the following week.

D and I left the building and headed to my car.

"You doing OK, D"? I asked.


I got in, jotted a couple of notes and then rolled down my window to let D know that the door was open and he could get in.

"I just need a couple of minutes," he choked out. I was jolted by the tears streaming down his face.

When he got into the car, he apologized for crying, told me how embarrassed he was, how I must be thinking he was crazy or drunk.

I assured him that I didn't think any of those things and congratulated him on his job.

"I can't believe you got me this job," he said.

I reminded him that I didn't get it for him; that he got it for himself, that he was a person truly deserving of a new start and chance, and that he finally got those things.

"I just can't figure it out", he said.

"Figure out what"?

"What the hell you're doing in this job. You should be doing something way different, not driving around people like me who completely fucked up their lives and are out begging for help."

"We're all doing that in some aspect, D, I think. It just isn't as apparent with some of us."

"Well, you changed my life today, you know. Completely changed it. And I feel bad for thinking the things that I thought about you when I met you." He choked back a sob. "I feel really, really bad."

I smiled, only imaging what he could have thought. Who could blame him? Who wouldn't get exhausted and jaded, being bounced around in a system where red tape often seems to dangle what you want and need the most just out of your reach, where there is an infinite number of hoops to jump through, each a little more challenging than the next.

"Don't feel bad, D. You were probably mostly right about me anyway."

He laughed and wiped his tears.

"You should drop me at the bus stop. You shouldn't be driving me home, where I live. It's not exactly the best area, if you know what I mean."

"I'll hold my own", I smirked a little, wondering what he'd have thought had he seen me the day I pounded on a clients door in a far worse area of town because she didn't show for our meeting (AGAIN). I'd gotten a hold of her mother (pesky little "emergency contact" part of her sample employment application) who'd told me she knew she was home, waiting for the cable guy to come and hook her cable up.

The look on her face when she swung the door open and saw me standing there was priceless. That would be a good MasterCard commercial. But I digress.

"I just don't want anything happening to you, you're like the one good thing in my life."

It was my turn to cry. "Thank you, D. That's probably the nicest thing anyone has said to me in quite a while."

"Well, look at us, two grown adults, sitting here crying in your car. What, are we in some fucking chick flick or something?"

And we both started laughing, each of our eyes peering out the windshield into the sun, each of us seeing, despite our very different views, for maybe just one second, the exact same thing.

05 May 2008

Because It Makes Me Smile

Because it reminds me that happiness, in its truest form, lives within us, always. We just need to remember that it's there.

30 April 2008

"It's Herpes. You Get it From Sex"

I have a client that has Asperger's Syndrome. One of the symptoms of it is being unaware of social boundaries or appropriate behavior; often individuals with it simply do not know how to function socially.

In addition to this, she also has the Church Lady Syndrome. While my other clients with Asperger's are genuinely sweet souls that are simply trying to learn the skills that will allow them to fit into the world of employment, she is actually very judgmental and stubborn. Needless to say, it's difficult to coach someone that is constantly reprimanding me.

Last week when I arrived for my meeting with her, she was already there waiting in the lobby. Our appointment was at 10:00, and I arrived at 9:50. I said hello to her and told her I'd be out to get her as soon as I settled in and got the computer up. I called her back at 9:57.

As soon as she walked in and sat down, she told me that I must have gone the wrong way in traffic and that if she'd taken that route, she'd have been, "later than you."

"Our appointment was for 10:00, R, and we actually started a few minutes early."

"Well I've been here since 9:30, and you weren't".

"Right. That's great that you're early, but that doesn't mean that I was late."

"But I was sitting here, waiting for you, and you must have taken the wrong way because you weren't here when I was."

"R, our appointment was at 10:00. If we were starting after that time, I would have been considered late, but the fact is that I was on time and you were simply early."

"Well, you should always be early. You should know that if you're supposed to be teaching people how to get a job."

I stopped myself then; the woman has lost so many jobs because of her inability to function within a work environment--I knew that arguing this point was mute.

At today's appointment, the first thing that she did when she sat down was say, "I see you have a sore." The snarky woman living in my head replied, "Really? Hadn't noticed."

Instead, I told her that yes, I did and explained that I had drank lemon water and that whenever I have citrus, I end up with cold sores. To which she replied:

"Those are herpes. You get it from sex."

At that point, I was leaning over into my briefcase, pulling out her file. Initially, I told myself, "She did.not.just.say.that." I sat up ramrod straight in my chair and looked pointedly at her.

"No, R, there are many different strains of herpes and what I have is not the one associated with sex. I've had them since I was a child."

"No, it's herpes and you get it from boys." 

I tilted my head and bit my lip.

"I think I'm more familiar with my medical conditions than you, and actually, you saying that is completely inappropriate. That is not something that you'd say to a fellow employee or colleague."

"Well, whatever you say, I know how you got it." Her eyes challenged mine as I sat there for a few moments; a battle waging within my head. It was ugly.

In one scenario, I asked her if she knew how a person would get a black eye.

In another, she had a conversation with the person that referred her to me, talking about Jenn, her case worker with herpes that was always late.

In another, I just laid my head on the desk and cried.

I ended up telling her that discussing this issue was not in any way pertinent to what we were doing that day and that we needed to move along. She accepted this with a self-satisfied smile--certain that she'd just put her slutty placement specialist in her place.

When we ended our session and I handed her an appointment card, she visually flinched when she took it from me with her fingertips. 

"Well, I guess you better take care of yourself for our appointment next week."

"Thanks R. I will."

I glanced up from my case notes and she was still standing there, looking at me. For one second I thought that maybe that was her way of caring, that she was concerned for me, that despite her delivery, she was just trying to help, and there I was, judging her, thinking very unkind thoughts about her.

"So that you won't be late anymore or get anymore herpes sores". (Not even "cold sores", but "herpes sores".)

15 April 2008


Thanks for your messages; my apologies for not posting, many things to say, but having a hard time navigating the words.

Little A is recovering from her surgery and pneumonia bout. Yes, she had pneumonia while she was operated on.

What's that? You think that possibly since she had pulmonary/breathing issues she shouldn't have undergone surgery while her lungs had fluid in them? Huh. Bummer you weren't there to check them before she went under. Could have saved us a lot of worries and frustrations and hours on the phone with various hospital representatives. Serves me right for leaving that kind of technical stuff in the hands of medical professionals, I guess.

Anyone have a spare copy of "Being a Doctor" for Dummies? Her surgeon needs one.

02 April 2008

Say A Little Prayer For Me

Dear Readers,

What are you doing, reading this jazz when you should be sending good thoughts and vibes my way?

I'm getting parts of my body removed Thursday, people.

Go ahead.

I'll wait while you send out warm thoughts to the universe.

Upside: Ice cream and slushies as far as the eye can see.

Downside: The Servant might once again be able to sleep, making her less fragile.

Over and Out, (sort of like my tonsils and adenoid)
Little A

28 March 2008

What I'd Give Her

If I could give her anything, it would be this memory, untarnished and perfect, to carry with her always.

Her mother, lying on her back in the center of the state capitol, strange glances be damned, her father, holding her out above me, giving her wings to take flight, and her, (oh her), sweet and confident and the world her oyster, the sun streaming, making her view a magical scene, decorated with rainbows.

I would give it to her in a silver locket to carry upon her heart. She could open it when she stumbled upon darkness, and it would offer light. She could touch her hand to it when she felt cold, and it would offer warmth. When she felt lonely and afraid, it would gently comfort her in the knowledge that no matter where she wanders upon this earth, she is never alone.

The locket would be strung upon a silver strand, which defying logic or reason, would be made of the most fragile yet resilient material ever known. It would be flexible enough to move with her always, to be whatever she needed, and it would be strong enough to keep its own form. It would wrap itself around her shoulders and sometimes, in the quietest of moments, it would brush across her chest and whisper the secrets of my soul to her.

If I could give her anything, it would be that.

17 March 2008

And Lo, The Heavens Parted....

...And the Seventh Seal was revealed.

Cause I love you all so much, thought I'd warn you that the Apocalypse is near; you might want to start doing the stuff on your "If I Had a Week to Live" list.

My sister called me while I was laying in my bed, pretending to be sleeping.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm in bed, I've given up. I can't take anymore."

"It's 7:30."

"I know. What's up?"

"I need your recipe."

Pause. I remove the phone from my ear and pinch myself.

"This is Jennifer."

"Quit being a smart ass. I need the recipe for your oatmeal cookies."

"And I don't want to read about this on your blog."

I'll take, "She's Three Hours Away and Probably Won't Hop in Her Car to Come and Kick My Ass" for $10,000, Alex.

Get busy folks. The end is near.

14 March 2008


Even if you're just a lurker here, please de-lurk for this one; it'll take two seconds.

Are you going to Blogher?

(See, wasn't that easy?)

12 March 2008

When Blue Ruled the Sky

"Grandpa is in the hospital", said my mother.

"Grandpa X"? I asked; for a moment forgetting that, of course it would be him, my mother's father had passed one snowy New Years Eve. Once again, my mind resting in a place in time where I hadn't learned of hard things to come; once again, my mind, jolted back to reality by the present.

My childhood summers were decorated with his laughter and smiles. In order to stay involved with the family business, he drove one of the delivery trucks. I'd wait at the end of my driveway for him, then hop in, each trip ending with an ice cream cone of some sort.

My eighteenth year marked many changes for me; the official end of my childhood in more ways than one. Entering that summer, I truly felt invincible; immortal, even. Despite the fact that I'd lost people that I loved, I honestly felt like I personally would never age, could never age.

My heart didn't emerge from that year intact. It's never healed in those places, even after all these years.

That summer, my godfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was my grandfather's best friend. Rather quickly, his body was ravaged by the disease. They had waited to tell me of his diagnosis until after my graduation party, the third weekend in June. He passed in August.

In the time between, my mask of niavete shielded me from what was to be. I believed that my prayers would be answered, that he'd get well. I left for a weekend sojourn with my best friend, and when I returned that Sunday night, I had to grasp the chair in front of me to remain standing; he'd deteriorated that much.

Two days later, my prayers were no longer for his well being or recovery, or even for more time. I cannot tell you in words what it was like, in that moment, when instead of life, I prayed for death. I'd never imagined such a scenario that would bring me to my knees in that manner. I didn't leave his home the same girl that I'd walked in.

He died the next day, and at his funeral as I was reading, I looked up and saw my grandfather, a single tear streaming down his cheek. His eyes were a piercing blue, the same color as my best friends. I recall in that moment the blinding realization of what was to come: He'd lost his best friend. My best friend sat behind him. Someday, would it be I, or would it be her, sitting in the front row, wondering where the time had passed, glancing over at a coffin that held the remains of what we had held so dear?

The thought haunts me still; with this time and space between. I want to be home, holding my grandfather's hand, talking to my parents, sitting next to my grandmother. And yet, I am home. My home; with my family, my future, my wood floors creaking below my feet, my own children living the moments that will become childhood memories.

And caught up, yet again, in this thing we call life. This passing of time. This happening of events around me, this partaking in the things that adults partake in, yet this still feeling as though surely this cannot be.

Balancing what I am externally with this waiting in my mind, in my memory, waiting for the sound of a truck to come crunching around the bend, the swinging open of a door, my skinny legs climbing up to plunk down next to him, my scrawny arms rolling down a window through which my upper torso would emerge, my face smiling into a place which held only sun and blue ruled the sky.

04 March 2008


I blinked, and then Ten.

A decade, within a moment; I'd suspected the possibility, but now instead of whispering softly, hinting at its arrival, it lies sprawled within a bed, a nymph-like being, teetering between the age of child and young adult, holding onto the possibility of fairies (maybe, just maybe) while peering with trepidation at what lies just beyond the bend.

An impossibility, no longer, but instead a truth.

I try now, to remember the scared woman that I was walking into the hospital, knowing that when I walked out, I would be a mother, but not comprehending it. Perhaps, today, not comprehending it still.

I sit tonight, cupcakes to frost, with un-pink frosting. Pink, which once had been the staple of her wardrobe and bedroom, pink, the color of her dreams. Pink, the flush of her cheeks the first time my awestruck tears fell upon her. Pink, no longer the hue of her world; she sees gray now with all of the other colors that exist.

This happens when you grow, you know. You learn about rainbows, and you learn about the rain that brings them. You learn about umbrella's that even the most hopeful mommy's don't always carry with them, despite their most sincere intentions.


I swear to you, it was only a moment ago that I first saw her heart beat. It would only make sense, then, that it was a breath ago that I tried to put together all of the changes within my body and tie them to the small blurry being before me on the screen. It was impossible, then.

It remains as such today.

I sit here tonight, a post ten years; a life; in the making, and am adrift in what it has all meant, what it all means. I had assumed that night a decade ago that when she reached this age, there would be so much more that I would know; that I would be confident in my actions, that I wouldn't feel as awkward and hesitant, so unsure of my movements. It was only the first of so many times that I would be wrong when it came to this thing called Motherhood.

Oh, Big A.

What you did to my heart, that moment first I saw you.

I could feel the heart within me rip and twist in ways I'd never known, in just that first second that I peered upon you.

There was a light, so bright, so clear and so true in that moment; it was piercing in its clarity, blinding in its rapture. Everything I had learned up to that moment, unlearned. Everything I thought that I had held dear, lying neglected upon the floor of my life as I worshiped at your altar.

I couldn't sleep, because I had to keep gazing upon you, making promises to you. I remember them, my little girl, and I will keep them. I just hadn't intended on them being so long in the making.

That night, so long and snowy ago. That night, only yesterday, wasn't it, sweet child? Wasn't it then, my little thing, that you first laid within the confines of my arms? Wasn't it only a minute ago that I first caressed your cheeks?


It wasn't.

I blinked, and then Ten.

04 February 2008


Part of my employment includes helping people that have special needs or circumstances find a job; no easy task in my state right now for those who have everything going for them, let alone for some of the people that I work with.

I believe most of them are the grown versions of the children that I sometimes think don't have a chance in the world; I often find myself trying to craft them a resume while picturing their childhoods. (It's a dangerous combination when you work in the world of billable hours with an employer that wants me to bill every minute, when I feel as though there aren't enough hours in the day to give to them. It can weigh heavily upon you at times--trying to balance your checkbook and keeping your job with your conscience.)

There is one woman in particular that I cannot quit thinking about. She is 55 years old, stick straight, long brown hair, gray strands entwining themselves within what was once the type of hair that turned heads. Her face is lined; heavily. I thought with absolute certainty that she was at least a decade older when I first met her and shook her tiny hand.

During our first meeting, I took in her personal data and compiled my reports, marked her off my list, and then moved onto my next client. I met with her the following week and she caught me off guard when she sat down. "I haven't had hope for anything in a long time. I could hardly sleep I was so excited to get here today".

I'm not head-hunting a corporate position for this woman, I'm trying to find her something that pays minimum wage and will allow her to keep her rent-controlled apartment. And I was her hope? I was the reason she was excited to get out of bed in the morning? I turned off the rest of my brain and willed myself to focus upon her, and her only.

She hadn't always looked so old and worn. She brought me a photo of her in her youth. I think she carries it with her; a symbol, a reminder that once, she was young. She was smiling broadly at the camera, a hand on a very swollen belly, one of her eyes squinting against the sun in front of her.

"My husband took that picture, a few weeks before the twins were born". I looked to her ring finger. A thin gold band remained. "Is your husband still with you"? I asked.

She paused. "No. He kissed my belly two days after he took this, then headed back to Vietnam. I got a phone call thirteen days after they were born, telling me he was gone. He never did see them".

She smiled at me then, a small, sad turn upward of her lips, her eyebrows raised just a tad, and the lines in her face creased with greater intensity, and suddenly, I could see them--how the lines had gotten there. This woman, all these years, caught between a smile and a sob, missing a man she still aches for today, her eyes thinking they caught the back of his head in a crowd several times over the years, new little lines forming from each double-take.

The next week, I picked her up and drove her to an interview. She told me how she'd gone to Veteran's Services for Widows and asked them to help her with her heat bill, an eleven month old baby hoisted on each of her bony hips. She told me how they explained they couldn't help her, for furnaces were considered a luxury, not a necessity. They recommended a shelter for her, then told her they'd need to call the police if she didn't leave after she demanded they either let her talk to someone else or bring her husband back. "They acted like I really thought they could bring him back; like I didn't know he was gone. I knew he was gone; I was trying to make a point," she said. One more line upon her face.

I watched her walk through the doors for her interview; her steps in the new shoes we'd just purchased hesitant and unsure. She paused to look back at me before she opened the door, that small, sad smile gazing upon me. I gave her my brightest grin and then went into the bathroom to try to gain my composure.

I didn't think that she'd get the job, but the employer had agreed to at least give her an interview--she hadn't even had one of those in over ten years. I stared at myself in the mirror under the florescent lights, taking in the garish effect, and all I could think about was that picture of her, so young, so full of hope and promise, so excited about her tomorrows. "Can't do anything about it so get. it. together." I threatened the woman standing before me. "Now".

"How did it go"? I asked as I rose to meet her.

"I don't think it went very good," she whispered, her squinted eyes focusing not upon me, but upon an imaginary spot on the floor. A spot, perhaps, that led to some parallel place where life had happened very differently for her, a spot, perhaps, where instead of the lines upon her face being created from sorrow, they were created instead from smiling too much.

We drove to her home in near silence. I placed my hand over hers when we stopped in her drive. "It will get better, I promise. The first interview is always the hardest".

She nodded slowly and said, "I actually believe you. I can't believe that I do, but I believe that you really want to help me". She tilted her head as she waved goodbye after she shut my car door, the sun catching her just so; not so that I could see the girl from the photo, but so that I could see each line upon that once beautiful face.

When I got home, I kissed the Queens sweet, unadorned cheeks and foreheads, and when I prayed that night, I didn't ask that their faces remain always so, but instead that the lines upon their faces come from an over-abundance of sun and smiles.

And I prayed for her; my client, as I sobbed for the girl in the photo. The girl who had no idea what the future held for her; no idea what marks time would leave upon her soul and face, who had no idea that the only kiss that her husband would ever give to his children would be through her straining stomach, the girl whose face showed only a faint hint of lines as she squinted in the sun that day.