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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Telephone is Plotting Against My Sanity

16 months ago, we had a power surge that took out our computers, the motion sensitive light at the garage, our telephones and the satellite dish receiver.  Our neighbor lost his television and electric meter - he was closer to the impact point where a 65 foot tree fell onto power lines, crossing two major lines.

The electric company was not to blame because it wasn't rooted within their "right of way".  The property owner is the state of Pennsylvania and we all know responsibility has been removed from all dictionaries used by everyone with a position of power in the state or federal government.  Local government dictionaries still contain the word, but the responsibility always seems to be that of an unknown individual without an actual working telephone.  This person never picks up his or her messages.

My homeowner's policy doesn't cover electronics.  So, we purchased 2 new computers, new phone system, and Dish Network sent us a new receiver.  Around this point in time, everyone who called me on a Verizon cell phone started to experience an echo of everything they said.  I called the phone company... my cordless phone or "something else in the house" was at fault, they said.  I've replaced, unplugged, and done a variety of other home remedies in order to make it stop.  People became angry with me because this echo annoyed them and I hadn't fixed it yet.  Well, it's a Verizon problem.  I still get treated impatiently though... as though it's MY fault their phones echo.

Four weeks ago, we had heavy rains and storms.  Suddenly, my husband and daughter get weird delays when calling me.  The phone doesn't ring right away.  They get put into voice mail limbo where they are told that my voice mail isn't set up.  Our conversations became like those on CNN with foreign correspondents - a delay after every sentence, then confusing simultaneous stutters as we try to figure out whose turn it is.  Quite annoying... and AGAIN... they are mad at ME.

Since yesterday, every time I call someone, my phone has a really weird background sound - as though I'm in a metal warehouse with no sound absorption at all.  Today I called a friend and she couldn't hear me at all.

This morning I replaced the last piece of electronic equipment that we still had since the "surge of '09" - the router / modem.  No improvement whatsoever - but 3 hours spent reconfiguring everything in the universe so that World of Warcraft would work again. 

I called the phone company repair service today.  Perfect.  Clear, normal, perfect.

The repairman called me this afternoon... perfect reception.  A miracle happened and he could find no problem whatsoever.

10 minutes later, my daughter called and I was back on foreign assignment.  It's driving me mad... or is it my FAMILY!!  Are they in it together?  Is this some sort of horrifying conspiracy?

Monday, December 27, 2010


I could write a million, well, perhaps not a million.  I could write about many topics with that same title.  It was the difference between feeling like my family was somehow inferior because it didn't look like the picture of other families and realizing that my family knows how to love, and I treasure that above a picture.  It was the difference between believing my best friend had the perfect family and I always felt like an "at risk" teenager; and seeing that she struggled with the same feelings of insecurity and defensiveness that I did.

It is the difference.

It's the difference between feeling alone in the world because you are alone in your home, and surrounding yourself with passionate people - empowered and at liberty to make a difference in the world.  It's the difference between hiding away the pictures taken of us by our young children, 15 years ago - before digital file deleting was an option, and seeing the youthfulness of that face (caught in the middle of a blink or a sneeze or was I puking on the turkey??? - what WAS that expression!?) 15 years later and thinking, "I wish I looked like that now."

It's difference between a moment of pouting that a gifted photographer is focusing on other projects and isn't taking any new portrait clients, and reading the story of her mom undergoing a double mastectomy 9 months ago - followed by months of terrifying medical events.  In October she revealed some of her work from last summer - portraits of women post-mastectomy.  These women are our sisters - sassy, strong, sexy, brave, and beautiful.

Beauty and the Breast Project


Kimberly posted a portrait of her with her mother and sister at Thanksgiving on her blog.
Today I am thankful for


Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Grown Up Christmas & What do I do with this new journal!?!?!?

This Christmas was different.  It was the first Christmas that my husband and I woke up in our home without a single other human being here.  I thought I would cry when I pictured this day years ago.  I was in love with the Folger's commercial when the son came home from college and the house was full again... I was in love with that house as well.  I don't live there.

We allowed our first daughter to open her gifts just after the big family party a week ago.  The middle daughter decided to spend Christmas Eve with her sister & family... So, we stopped and helped load up a gift that was hidden at her home to take to the house of many children on Christmas eve.  While we were there, we decided to exchange gifts with her right then and there, and I was glad because I'm fairly certain she'd have only opened one before her nephews (one in particular) opened the rest... all at once.. in less than 3 seconds.  We got the television into the back of my Jeep, (Jack felt very honored to carry actual Christmas presents this year.  She's a sentimental Jeep) and arrived to see 3 little kiddos in adorable robes and jammies, and one beautiful chubby baby in a cuddly blue striped onesie.  Gifts were exchanged...  with help from that one certain grandson, who apparently also tried to open the puzzle he gave me for Christmas because it had little strips of the label all torn off... It was adorable.

Christmas morning was beautiful.  We made breakfast together - delicious omelets - which you can never get in a restaurant as good as you can make at home, opened our gifts, watched a movie, cuddled, called our parents, waited for our kids to catch their breath and call us.  Santa was good to everyone.

I received a gift that I'm not sure what to do with, though.  My daughter gave me a handmade leather journal, with handmade paper, binding, everything.  It's beautiful.  There are a limited number of pages in it, and I would fill that thing up in less than a week with my everyday journaling... so I need to find a special use for it.  A few options presented themselves - a holiday journal (for one or all holidays to be recorded and remembered in), a blessings journal - a dated list of the things I'm most grateful for (that would fill up rather quickly too), okay... I guess just a couple options came to mind.  I could use a suggestion or two or 4.

Now, the day after Christmas I have a confession or 3...  I have to "redo" my gifts for Laney & Linda & Jeanene... because last night... my husband and I ate Laney & Linda's chocolate covered pretzels, and I have a feeling Jeanene's aren't going to make it through the day.  Penny's Christmas ornament gift is still in my kitchen.  I can't find the ice skate accessories I bought for my husband's new skates - thought they were wrapped and under the tree!!!  Somewhere in my house is a gift for my granddaughter Grace... I don't know where, nor do I remember what it was - I just know I left Wal-Mart with 2 gifts for her, and I had to reshop because at gift wrapping time.... I only had ONE!

I'd like to go buy a new tv today, because we received a surround sound system with a blue ray DVD player and our TV isn't up to those standards.  I'd also like to buy gift bags at a discount - NO PAPER, I found that I had over 30 rolls of wrapping paper stuffed in my cedar chest!

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Room

An overstuffed sofa covered in white linen with string ties at the front, just below the armrests.  Large white linen covered pillows, a vase with fresh flowers, lots of natural light and amazing prints on the wall that pull you into them, rather than allow you to view them from the safety of your own space.  A small bookshelf loaded with the next 20 books I intend to read, next to a beautiful desk where I write.  This is my room.  Not in reality.. in reality, my rooms are a combination of ideas that suit both my husband and myself.  In reality, I've lived exactly zero days all by myself in a setting that was just mine.  In reality, when I talk about it, there is a feeling of guilt, as though by loving that room in my mind I'm wishing my family away, regretting my children, resenting the compromises.  So, I don't talk about it, except to follow it up with apologetic back pedaling that emphasizes that those things aren't important and don't really mean anything to me.

In truth, they aren't important.  They are daydreams much like the wedding dress I imagined in my teenage years.  Many of my daydreams came to fruition... the dress was beautiful, the romantic and tender husband is a dream come true, and the house in the country complete with a blackberry patch is where I now wake up each day and have for the past 6 years.  I recognize that I have many many blessings that I'm incredibly grateful for... They are all grounded in reality - the dress was, in reality a prom dress, I had a practice husband first, the house didn't get started until my girls were grown and I was 40.  Life isn't a daydream for me, and I'm glad... truth be told I never wanted to be a princess - I wanted to be a teacher or a writer.

I have a sewing room - complete with 2 sewing machines, 2 sewing tables, an ironing board that is set up all the time, and shelves of fabric for projects in process as well as those that I haven't yet thought through.  It started out to be "my room", but important things became perpetual interruptions until I just let it be.  Truth is... I don't want to be a seamstress.  I want to write.  I ache to write.  I've made the hundredth start here at Pentriloquist, and while I may surprise myself with an article of quality here or there, in all honesty - I'm very rusty.  This is more a scratch pad of ideas with odd paragraphs and tentatively connected subjects.  I've had important things taking up my mind and using my creative energy.  Which is probably why I have a sewing room and not a space for writing.

I can spend an entire day on a dilemma my daughter is facing bouncing around in my brain like a bullet without enough umph to break out... just tearing up every cell of that gray matter until it resembles pie crust dough... just after you've reached that all important goal of "pea sized clumps".  (I watch my share of crime shows... I know what a .22 can do, and I've made a lot of pies in my lifetime)  Numbly I go through the motions of laundry, housecleaning, making dinner, shoveling snow, running errands and my other work - none of which requires me to concentrate too much, and I use up my creative thinking on solutions to dilemmas that are usually not my own.

Recently, my daughters and I are experiencing a little more breathing room between us.  I'd love to say this is coming as a graceful transition from one stage of parenting to complete adulthood, but in truth - it's painful.  For me and for them.  It feels uncomfortable, lonely, odd.  My husband likes the new feeling of it being "just us".  He's started unplugging our phone on weekend mornings until almost noon so we can sleep in or just have a quiet morning.  I feel like something is missing... and at other times, I feel liberated and excited to be able to have a quiet day where my phone doesn't ring with any number of catastrophes that are common to women and which I'm powerless to resist the urge to obsess over.   

I woke up this morning thinking about waking up in my house, next to my husband.  That's it!  I wasn't in turmoil as to how to help my sister make this parenting transition that I'm struggling with, or how one daughter was going to find a sitter to spend a little time on herself, or how another daughter has some need that perhaps I could help her discover so she would find her peace, or how the third daughter was going to find a new place to live.  In truth - they don't really want me to solve those problems, but I'm not a good sounding board.... I want to fix things.  Even if I hold my tongue - my mind consumes itself trying to fix things. 

I'm rearranging my sewing room next week.  I'm getting an overstuffed chair with a white linen cover, a little bookshelf and I'm painting up an old desk completely "Amy - style".