Monday, December 31, 2012

Adieu, 2012

I promise I am writing about the rest of my islands for tomorrow, but I figured that since today is the last day of 2012 and all, I should write something about closure and endings and those sorts of things.

2012, I can't say that I will miss you.

I know that most of this post won't make much sense to most of you reading, mostly because I go to extreme lengths to avoid actually writing about the big, huge, important things that happen in my life.

Try to stay with me. 

Incidentally, I know that it's patently unfair of me to do this to you guys.  Not really tell you the background stories, but tell you about what they've taught me.  Someday, if I can get my act together, you can read those stories in the book I'm writing.  If I can get my act together.

If I can put it on paper.

Last year this time, I was not in a good place.  At all.  

I didn't just welcome the end of the year, I urged it.  Practically begged it to be over.  There are reasons, many valid reasons, that I will forever refer to 2011 as the worst year ever.  It truly was.  

This year wasn't great, but it was better. 

The tragedies of this year were fewer and further between.  They were not of the variety like the year before, where so many things happened that rocked me to my core, stripped me down and left me shaking in a corner.  They still came, but not as often.  Not as bad.  

The worst part of all the no good terrible things that have happened in the past few years?  The part that makes all of it the most unfair and unjust?  The part that I have struggled with the most?  

None of it, not one bit of it, not a single piece of any of it, was my fault.

I couldn't have stopped it, prevented it.  I couldn't have lessened the pain for myself or anyone else.  I did all that I could to try, lord knows.  

That lesson, the hardest one I have learned this year.  What I can't do.

I can't do a single thing to change anyone else.  I can't change the past.  I can't change the choices of other people.  I can't help those who refuse it.  I can't force others out of denial.  I can't do much except live my life the best I can, temper my reactions to the curve balls life throws, and learn.

I've learned about the idea of redemption.  I rediscovered myself.  I have struggled to earn the ability to let go.  I've learned that it's far better to overcome than stay a victim.  I've learned that I need to take care of me before I can do any good for anyone else.  

I've learned to say no to the things I don't need in my life.  I've learned to let go of people that bring me down.  I've learned to forgive people for the terrible things they do.  

Last year, I survived.  That was all I could do.  It had to be enough.  

This year, I expect better from myself.  I demand it.  

And next year?  Let's do this thing.

Adieu, 2012.  

Let's raise a toast to another chance to do it right.  


Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Other Fantasy Islands

I wrote about my male island earlier, but knew from the beginning that there would be others.

I present to you, some of the rest.

All-Girl Island

1) Zooey Deschanel.  She's quirky and weird, she's gorgeous and has the brightest blue eyes ever.  She gets a ticket to the island.

2) Charlize Theron.  I kinda can't stand her personality, but you've seen the Dior commercials. Holy hotness.  I might force her into silence, but she can come.

3) Janet Jackson.  Anytime, anyplace.  Her 1993 album might just be the sexiest group of songs in the known world.  And the cover.  Oh, the cover.

4) Fiona Apple.  I've been a bad, bad girl.  Her voice alone could keep me sane.

5) Megan Fox.  Because she's Megan Fox.

My Dork Island

1) Stan Lee.  Dude rocks.

2) Lynda Carter.  We would dress up like Wonder Woman together and save the world.

3) Sheldon Cooper.  No, not Jim Parsons.  Sheldon Cooper.

4) Neil Patrick Harris.  Love me some NPH, have since he was Doogie Howser.  Love him even more now.

5) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, dressed as Batman.  Please, lord, make them make these movies.

Make Me Laugh Island

1) Jimmy Fallon.  Genius.

2) Daniel Tosh.  Only if we have an internet connection.  I'm pretty sure he's the one person who spends more time surfing Reddit than me.

3) Conan O'Brien.  I love this giant ginger.  Team Coco 4-eva.  He's bringing the jeggings.

4) Jon Stewart.  Someone has to tell me what is going on in the rest of the world.

5) Louis C.K.  Because he's flipping hilarious.

Fantasy Island

You know the drill.

Admit've so had this conversation.  You know, the one about the island with the 5 people you'd choose if such a thing ever existed.  Assuming you couldn't choose your spouse, family, children, etc.

Besides, this is a fantasy island.  Wink, wink.  

In fact, I may or may not have partaken in a conversation about the depth of the pool a few weeks ago.  Imagine a group of women, collectively realizing that this is the prime age.   We're not too old to dream about the 20-somethings, not too young to lust over the hot men rocking their 60's.

The pool will never be deeper than it is right now

Think on that for a minute.

Here's the island you are expecting from me.  (the others will come later, promise)

My Fantasy Man Island

1) Christian Slater.  I have loved this man since puberty.  Probably before.  Take me back to the days of Heathers and Gleaming the Cube.  That's the good stuff right there.  I think I will always love Pump Up The Volume the most, even if no one else in the history of time ever saw that movie.

Do you ever get the feeling that everything in
America is completely fucked up?

Yes, Happy Harry Hard-On, I do.  Talk to me.

I don't care that he became famous for his later roles in Young Guns II and Mobsters.  He was firmly seated at the top of my island list before then.  I practically peed my pants when Breaking In came out.  The opportunity to ogle this man on a weekly basis made me a happy, happy girl.  I was so sad when it was canceled earlier this year.  Sigh.  Until we meet again, my sweet.

2) Robert Downey, Jr..  Known around these parts simply as RDJ.  Good lord, I adore this man.  He's struggled with Bi-Polar Disorder and addiction, spent years in and out of rehab, and came out of it to kick Hollywood's ass.  I loved him way back in the 80's when he was harassing Gary and Wyatt in Weird Science.

What he's really saying is, "I've been waiting for you".

He's a true method actor, and can take on just about any role these days, from Iron Man to Sherlock Holmes to Sgt. Lincoln Osiris in Tropic Thunder to a journalist helping a homeless musician in The Soloist.  A friend was lamenting the plot and acting in The Avengers last night.  I told her to stare at Tony Stark and the other fine ass man candy.  RDJ could read ingredient labels and hold my interest.

3) Johnny Depp.  This man, another method actor, can be anyone you would ever want or need.  One stop man shopping.  As most girls in the 80's did, I fell in love with him on 21 Jumpstreet.  In Edward Scissorhands, he partnered up with Tim Burton for the first of many wildly successful movies.  He's known for picking roles because they interest and challenge him, not solely based on whether they will be popular.  Except at this point, he could literally make instructional videos for watching paint dry and have women swooning all over the world.

Why yes, I'll be right there Johnny.
Those eyes.  The cheekbones.  The pirate accent.  Need I say more?  I like him clean shaven, I like him hairy.  I like him in a tux, I like him dirty.  It's just all good.

4) Bradley Cooper.  Holy hell, this man is beautiful.  He's also wickedly intelligent, which means he doesn't just have to sit there and look pretty.  On top of that, he studied at the Actor's Studio, is a method actor (noticing a theme?) and can do a bajillion impersonations.  I first laid eyes on him in Wedding Crashers, and I says to myself, I likes this man.  Once he assumed the role of Phil in The Hangover, I was sold.  Hook, line and sinker.

Mr. Cooper.  We're very formal.
When I saw the first promos for Limitless, I giggled.  If you're starting out in life as Mr. Cooper, how is there even that much room for improvement, honestly???  Within three pages of 50 Shades of Grey, I found myself begging the cosmos to cast him as Christian Grey in the movie.  I hated the book, but if he plays Christian, you can bet your sweet ass I'm watching.

5) Justin Timberlake.  Not only is he adorable, he can sing, dance and act.  He can do it all.  I'll forgive him about the whole Britney thing because he brought the SexyBack.  The guy brought sexy back.  Frankly, I'm not sure where it went, but thank you lord sweet baby Jesus that J.T. brought it back.

Now, dance for me.  Sexy like.
By the time *NSync came out, I was long past my boy band phase (ain't got nothin' but love for NKOTB, New Edition and Menudo).  Plus, JT was a few years younger than me.  Back then, that made him unattractive just on the merits...but now, we can all see the value of a younger man.  Am I right???  I hope that he'll show up for a cameo every.single.week on SNL and fell completely in love with him when he assumed the role of Sean in The Social Network.  I have to adore anyone that felt up Janet Jackson on national TV.

Honorable Mentions
Adam Levine.  Words are not necessary.
I'm just gonna leave this here.
Brad Pitt, circa 1994.
What?  I like him dirty.
I have a thing for Kevin Spacey.
And this is the best movie ever.
Edward Norton.
He kinda scares me, but I like it.
Denzel has been firmly seated on the list until recently.
I blame Mr. Cooper for kicking him off.
Okay, I'm going out on a limb here, since he's like the tiniest man
since Prince to make it big, but he can sing
Locked  Out of Heaven to me and dance all damn day.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

If you want to know who I am, read these

In the last year, I've written some really hilarious stuff.  I've written some really controversial and politically charged pieces.  And I wrote these.

These are the pieces that go the furthest to explaining who I am.  What makes me tick.  What has made me the way I am.  These are the posts nearest and dearest to my heart.  Many of them brought me to tears as I wrote them, some still make me cry when I read them now.  Some compelled me to turn off the computer and walk away.

With most of them, I was terrified to hit the publish button.  Afraid of what people would think. Afraid of being judged.

I've learned a lot about myself this year.  Some of the lessons were excruciating.  I brought you with me on this journey, and I thank you for coming along.

An open book for the world to read, I am.

Mothering a child just like me.

The reason I'll always believe in the tooth fairy.

If I could write a letter to my younger self, I wouldn't. Here's why.

Why everyone needs to sit down right now and talk about dying.

I am.

If you've ever really lost yourself, you know what I mean.

It's not just a team, it's a family.

The morning of 9/11, burned into my mind. Not like you think.

Why Lance disappointed me, and it has nothing to do with the bike.

Grief is a real bitch sometimes.

Keeping my head above water.

This is just how crazy I am. Fortunately, I'm not alone.

Love and marriage are not the same.

What betrayal really feels like.

Motherhood: your time is fleeting, and you don't even notice.

A confession about my past.

The hardest thing I learned this year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Features, Guest Posts, Prompts and More!

It's been a big year around here!  In the last twelve months, I've added over 1,000 fans on my Facebook page, become addicted to Pinterest and actually figured out Twitter.

I'm not one to toot my own horn much, but I have to say that I am pretty proud of myself for the first time in a long time.

Here is a quick summary of my year in features, guest posts and more!

Dream Big - My daughters, soccer and the USWNT
A post office procrastination guide

World's Worst Moms
Thar She Blows
An Heir Raising Tale

The only time my house is clean

Guest Posts - mine and others
Fall, through my camera lens. On Grass Oil.
My Blogging Sister. On The MFP.
Rowing and the Soul, by Molly Field
Yesvember, 100 words of gratitude. On Grass Oil.
Our 2013 Wishes. On the crumb diaries.

Book Submission
I wrote a piece for this book.  Co-Creating Happiness, Stories from around the world

Subject Swaps
What I don't understand.
A fly on the wall.
My hidden talent.

Challenges and Regular Series
2nd Annual Photography Challenge
Holiday Photo Challenge
30 Days of Random Questions
Summer School of Rock - to be continued....
Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday

Upcoming Projects
I've recently become a member of the influencer circle at BlogFrog.
I've just been accepted as a contributor to Peevish Penman!
I will be starting a fiction writing challenge after the New Year.
...and I'm going to start working on my books again if it kills me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

It's my fault

Overwhelmed.  Overstimulated.  Overtired.

All of those overs and more, combined into the body of one tiny being, bursting at the seams for the last two days.  

When she can take it no more, she screams.  She cries.  She rages.  She balls her little fists up beside her and explodes.  

For now, she sleeps.  I will not wake her.  In her dreams, she is peaceful and all is right with the world.  Her waking hours are exhausting for us all right now.  

I will not wake her.  

They point fingers at me.  

All of them.

Say I made her this way.  She is my child.  So much like her mother.  

Why is it that when the absolute worst part of a child's personality shines through, everyone feels so compelled to blame someone else?

I stood in the kitchen and cried yesterday, Christmas afternoon.  

She was raging again, and it was my fault.  Because it is always my fault.  As if I didn't feel that enough already in my heart, there are those who must insist that it is.  Always.

She's never sure what she wants.  It's never enough when it's given to her.  There is always something missing.  

And it's my fault.

She swings grand on the pendulum of human emotion.  She switches on and off.  She seems almost incapable of true happiness.  

Why can't she just be happy?

I wish I knew.  

As I stood crying in the kitchen, my heart was breaking for both her and for me.  All that she is and all that she expresses to this world is so much like me.  I can't deny it.  

I've learned through my lifetime to control the rage.  To temper my anger.  To walk away.  To find the happiness.  To stuff the bad away.  To run and let it out.

When the fingers point at me, that's when I want to rage. I want to scream.  

I am NOT LIKE THAT, I want to say.  

God knows that if I was, if I didn't work so hard to control it, I would be.  

And things would be so different.  

I have more reason that most people to rage.  There are deserving targets of my anger.  There are people who've deliberately chosen to hurt me in unimaginable ways.  There are people who act only through selfishness, through hubris, through narcissism and hurt me.  Some who don't even have the capacity to realize the pain they inflict.  Over and over.  

The finger pointers.  

I could in turn point my finger at them.  Point out their flaws and their faults.  Tell them abundantly how they've failed. 

I don't.  

I won't.

The rage stays inside.  I talk it away from the ledge.  I breathe.  I find my center.  I let it go as much as I can.

She can't. 

She hasn't learned.

It's my fault.

It's my fault.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

My wish for you

This will be my last post before Christmas.  I still have a lot to get done, and am running out of time.

Isn't that always the story of the holidays?

The rushing, the worrying about getting it all done, the squeezing pennies until they bleed to make the magic happen?

Holidays are stressful.

Christmas is the worst.

And yet, when I tear up on Christmas morning drinking in the moment with my babies, it's somehow worth it.

I cry every year on Christmas.  It's just part of who I am.

Last year, for me, was full of anger and frustration.  Of questions unanswered, of wanting so desperately for things to be different.

My father was gone, my mother was lost, my husband was too, and Christmas still came.  The kids, blissfully unaware of how much my heart hurt, opened their gifts and squealed with glee, and the tears that always fell changed from tears of anger and sadness to tears of joy.

Of being just there, in the moment.

If this last year hasn't taught me anything else, it's that.

We only have this, right now.


What happened before, we cannot change. We cannot fix.  We cannot have back.  The people who are gone, are gone forever.  The moments of what if have passed. We can choose to sit in the past and stew and rage.  We can stay there and ask why.  We can hurt.  Or we can accept.

Accept that the past is the past, and that all we truly have is right now.

Live in the moment.

Take it in.

Watch others find their joy.

Appreciate what you have.

Burn those images into your mind.

We get one shot at this life.  One spin on the merry-go-round.

Do you want to be wondering when it will end, or why your stomach is queasy, or what that guy over there is doing or do you want to strap yourself to that horse, throw your hands in the air and ride?

Here's my wish for you all this year.

Join me on the couch Christmas morning.

Grab a cup of coffee and your camera.

Forget about the fight you had with your spouse a few days ago.  Forget about the kids driving you insane.  Forget about who is arguing about where to have dinner.  Forget about the family drama queen.  Forget about the disappointment you feel for the bad choices others have made.  Forget about the laundry and the dirty dishes.  Forget about it all.

Let it go, if not for good, at least for long enough to truly live in the moment.

Peace.  Joy.  Happy tears.

Merry Christmas.


Simply Irresistible

Two days ago, the Iowa State Supreme Court issued a decision in the case Nelson v. Knight.

Almost immediately, the media seized the opportunity to sensationalize the case and make it into something it is not.

As an attorney, my first reaction to case decisions is not to have a reaction.  I want to read the actual opinion, not the media's interpretation of it.  Far too often, they blow pieces of an opinion out of proportion and miss the point altogether.  I think that's what happened here.

For the sake of brevity, I'll summarize the case for you.

A dentist, who employs an all female office, hired Ms. Nelson ten years prior to the filing of the lawsuit.  She worked as a hygienist in the office, doing a good job in her field.  Approximately six months before she was fired, her and the owner, a married man, began exchanging personal non-work related text messages.  By this point, Ms. Nelson had married and had children of her own.

Ms. Nelson had developed a habit of staying at the office late with Mr. Knight after all the other employees left for the day, including Mrs. Knight who also worked there.

Mr. Knight told Ms. Nelson that her tight clothes were distracting him, and that if  a "bulge" in his pants appeared, it would be because of that.  She discussed her sex life with him, they discussed their marriages and children.  There were times she did not reply to intimate questions he sent her through text messages, but she did not tell him to stop.

After six months of this non-work related contact and texting, Mrs. Knight found the messages in her husband's phone.  Upon consulting with their pastor, Mr. Knight agreed to fire Ms. Nelson at the demands of his wife since they all determined that Ms. Nelson "posed a threat to their marriage".  Mr. Knight admitted he would probably attempt to begin a physical affair with her if she continued to work there.

She sued, alleging sexual discrimination.  Notably, she did not pursue a case on the grounds of sexual harassment.

The state supreme court was bound to interpret the facts of the case in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, because it was an appeal of a summary judgment.  Essentially, this means that they had to believe that whatever she said was true.  So, when she claimed to have no interest in the defendant, they had to believe that.  The actual facts seem a little different, but the court had to accept her version.

They ruled that his termination of her on the grounds that she was irresistible to him was not discriminatory.  She had alleged sexual discrimination from the beginning, that she would not have been fired but for the fact that she was female.

The all-male court here ruled 7-0 that she was not fired based on gender, and that she was fired because of the feelings and emotions of the defendant.  Her gender was not the reason, and the fact that all his staff members are female, including the hygienist that replaced her, prove that.

Within minutes of the ruling, the media jumped on this case as making it kosher to fire beautiful women because men can't be trusted to keep their pants on around them.

Courts in this country are charged with interpreting law, not necessarily decided what is right and wrong.  Here, they were asked to decide if what he did was discriminatory.  They said, very clearly, that it wasn't.  It may not have been the nice thing to do, but it was not illegal.

All his other employees were women, he hadn't fired anyone else before.  There was no pattern of discrimination towards women.  This was just about her.

Reality is, this man was engaged in an inappropriate relationship with his female employee.  He was attracted to her, he sent her sexual text messages, she spent a little too much time lingering around the office.  I can't say whether the relationship had ever progressed beyond emotions, but it was already an emotional affair, at least on his part, and she knew that.  The court had to assume she wasn't attracted to him, but to any outside observer it appears that she was.  In addition, the fact that she chose not to pursue sexual harassment charges (which would have had a greater chance of success here), tells me that his actions weren't unwelcome.

Either that, or she got very bad advice from her attorney.

At the end of the day, this case isn't about the fact that she was attractive or that he was a horny married guy who couldn't help himself, as much as the media may want you to believe that.    Men can work with very attractive women platonically, and men can choose to have affairs with very unattractive women.  And vice versa.  Affairs aren't about physical appearances anyway, they are about selfishness and opportunity.

Affairs are also far more common than most people realize, and frequently happen between co-workers and bosses/subordinates.

This case is about the fact that when people develop emotions for co-workers and their spouses find out, there is going to be fall-out.  People get fired every single day in this country for having inappropriate relationships, and there is nothing illegal about that.

Some would call it karma, even.

Almost all employment in this country is at-will, which means that you can be fired at any time, for any reason, legally so long as the motivation was not discriminatory.  Here, Ms. Nelson was fired for being irresistible.

Was it fair to her?  No, not really.  Life isn't fair though, even in a court of law.

Was it legal? Yes.

Just as people can be refused employment for being unattractive (and trust me when I say that this happens all the time in the real world), they can be refused employment and even fired for being too attractive.

This case isn't about gender, or women-hating, or discrimination.

It's about why you shouldn't be texting your boss on weekends about your marriage.

Friday, December 21, 2012

What a year can do

Since the world did not end as scheduled, I am sitting here this morning reflecting.


Realizing how much has changed.

On this morning last year, I dropped off the kids at school, then took my husband to work.  On the way, he received a panicked phone call from his mom.  The kind of phone call you never want to get.  The kind that leaves more questions than answers.

The baby was here.

He wasn't supposed to be here until April.

They gave him a 50/50 chance of making it.

In shock, my husband got out of the car.  I started off towards home and this song came on the radio.

I cried the whole way.

Today that little boy is celebrating his first birthday.

To me, he is hope.

He's also a sign of how much can change in a year.

So many things have changed for us.  I'm in a vastly different place than I was a year ago.  Things have happened.  Good things, bad things.  Scary things.  Life changing things.

There's a clarity I have now.  The kind that only comes with blood, sweat and tears.

I've learned the hard way that it's impossible to help someone unless they want it.

I've learned that I can't fix someone else.

I've learned to take care of myself again.

I've learned to let go of the things I can't control.

I've learned that happiness is a choice.  I choose it.

What a difference a year can make.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

If the world ends today

First of all, I'm confused.

When exactly is the world supposed to end anyway?  So many time zones, and I just can't be freaking out 24 different times. Those Mayans.....

I guess it's a good thing that we've survived the end of the world a few times already.

There was the whole Y2K thing, then all the times that the Rapture was supposed to go down.  Harold Camping is a comedian.

What if it already happened and all of us are still here because we're heathens??????

Mind. Blown.

My elf, Gollum, convinced triplets that the world was ending.
High five.
Anyway, if the world ends today, I have a few things to get off my chest.


1) I'm not cleaning today.  Fuck that.  If the world ends, no one is going to care about dust bunnies.

2) I have a plastic box in my house that belongs to the post office.  It says all over it that it is the property of the federal government, and yet here it stays.  Rebel.

3) I claimed I was done with my Christmas shopping, but I lied.  I just totally forgot someone.  GASP!

4) If we survive, I have a genius idea.  Seriously, this is how I'm going to make my millions.  Do you want to know what it is???  Okay....but you can't tell anyone....dressers for parents with small children that have a top drawer that locks.  Fucking genius.  If you can't figure out why anyone would need such a thing, give it a second.

5) I get really annoyed by stupid people.  REALLY annoyed.  Like so annoyed I want to punch them in the face.

6) I am still in my pajamas.  Because we're all gonna burn anyway.  Why get dressed?

7) New underwear kicks ass.  You should get some if we live.

8) I make my kids do the chores I hate the most.  What????  You know you do it too.  If you don't, you are now considering it.  Admit it.

9) I hate, and I mean HATE cheesy Christmas movies.  My husband made me watch White Christmas last night, and I cringed the whole way through it.  The twin beds, the bad scripts, the missing ribs to be super skinny, the stupid 50's. The ONLY thing worse than being forced to watch the movie was the GODAWFUL commercials for homeless pets that played during all the breaks.  Damn you, Sarah MacLaughlin.

10) NCAA sanctions are stupid.  I'll never understand the whole punishing the kids who were in high school when the shit went down logic.  There.  I said it.

I hope you have an evening planned that is full of debauchery and liquor.  The world's ending, live it up.

Of course, I'm pretty sure we're all just waking up hung over tomorrow.....

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the this has to stop happening edition

Rampaging Gunmen
Seriously, this has to stop.  We need to gather ourselves, grieve for the most recent tragedy, then do what we always say we will do, but never do...which is address the real reasons why things like this are happening with greater frequency.  We can't do what we've done before, which basically amounts to being sad for a designated amount of time, then arguing with each other, then throwing up our hands because we can't agree and walking away until it happens again.    

Trolls, Blameshifters and Smug People
This didn't happen because teachers aren't armed.  (Incidentally, who wants to live in that world?)  This didn't happen because prayer isn't allowed in schools.  I can promise you that those who wanted to or needed to pray were doing just that.  I refuse to buy into the idea that any God I believe in would punish innocent children because of the separation of church and state in our country.  I also refuse to put up with people telling me I am crazy for pointing this out. 

I take issue with all the people out there in the land of the internet who declared that however they were processing this event was the proper way.  We all react and respond to situations like this differently. Some of us reach out, some of us take it as a chance to do something better in our lives, some of us hole up and shut it away.  Some of us write.  Some of us paint.  Some of us write letters to our representatives.  Some of us pray.  Some of us scream and cry.  Some of us crave laughter.

And you know what???

That is okay.  Grieve how you grieve.  Process how you process.  Just don't tell me or anyone else that they are doing it wrong.

The Apocalypse
I have plans after the 21st, including two parties, and I'd like to go.  I really like parties.  Especially when they are at someone else's house and I don't have to clean mine.

There's that whole Christmas thing too, and I'm done shopping.  Seems like a waste if it all goes up in flames in a few days.  We could at least let the kids open their presents first.  Jeez.

I have something big planned for Christmas.  Really big.  Maybe someday I'll write about how big and important it is, and how I'm ridiculously nervous about it.  Maybe if we all survive to the end of the week.

Kids who sign up for shit
My son is at school enjoying a holiday brunch with half the 6th graders in his school.  Kids were encouraged to bring something to contribute.  My kids never sign up for napkins.  Never. 

He wanted to bring scrambled eggs with sausage and cheese.  He just assumed I would make all this food for him.  A pound of ground sausage, two dozen eggs and a bag of cheese later, he took the food he had so clearly signed up for to school.  

Just once, I'd like to be assigned napkins.  Just once.

Be very specific
When you ask your husband to wake you up in the morning, you should specify how you'd like to be woken up.  May even want to specify how you would NOT like to be woken up.  Just for future reference.

Don't give your wife a heart attack
While you're out doing some naughty holiday shopping, do not send your wife a text message that accidentally includes an extra 0 in the dollar amount spent.  


Monday, December 17, 2012

...and on

There is a reason that we, as parents, are charged with the task of teaching our children that life isn't fair.

It's not.

In fact, there will be times in their lives where it seems anything but fair.  I know that there have been times in my life where fairness was such a foreign notion that it hardly existed in the distance at all.  I still believed it to be there, present for someone else, though, and there is where I was wrong.  We tend to perceive that it's perhaps less fair for us than for others, when that's the biggest fallacy of them all.  The notion of fairness requires that things are indeed "fair" for someone.

Life isn't fair for any of us.

There are just times we don't see it, we don't realize it, we aren't privy to the truth or reality.  We're somehow protected from the unfairness of it all.

Until we're not.

What happened in Connecticut on Friday wasn't fair.  To those victims or their families.  Patently unfair.

What happened to my father, the fathers of my friends, the children of my friends, my friend undergoing surgery right now isn't fair.  Their bodies turned on them, cancer formed.  It's not fair.  Nothing about it is fair.

A woman was killed two nights ago at an intersection I can see from my house.  My uncle died on his way to work one morning in much the same way.  It's not fair.

A friend trying to pick up the pieces of her life this very moment, realizing that what she had hasn't been there in some time and it's gone now.  It's not fair.

Losing a baby.  Struggling with depression.  Dealing with addiction in someone you love. It's not fair.

But it is life.

And life isn't fair.

What life does, as cruel as it seems at times to those of us living the unfairness, is that it goes on.

...and on.

It urges us forward.

It forces routine.

It keeps us grounded.

It gives us meaning.

It makes us hope.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

The view from the inside

I am sharing a blog by a woman that I've never met, but that I feel like I know today.

The truth is that we all probably know someone like her.  We just may not realize it.

Someone struggling with a diagnosis for her child, overwhelmed and scared.  Afraid of what he might become, what he might be capable of.  A system, largely unable to help.  Not enough resources or funding or access.  A system failing not just these children, but all of us.

Please read this piece by Liza Long, please take it to heart, please share it.

We must do better.

Thinking the Unthinkable

Saturday, December 15, 2012


It seems like every time there is a tragedy like this, people immediately hop up on their soapboxes and start arguing.  Seize the opportunity to make their point, as if that is somehow more relevant than the lives lost.

Within five posts of scrolling through Facebook in the first moments after I found out the news, I'd seen posts  blaming all this on the lack of adequate gun control, and posts decrying any attempt to limit people's second amendment rights.

The school was still on lockdown.  The police there weren't sure if the gunman acted alone.  Children, both of whom would later die, had been taken to the hospital.  Kids were still locked in bathrooms being shushed by teachers who feared they were next.

And people had already hopped up on their soapboxes.

Speculating.  Assuming.  Laying blame in a case that was still ongoing, where no investigation had even had the chance to happen yet.

By bedtime last night, I'd heard blame placed on all of the following.

- His mother
- The fact that she was divorced
- The fact that she was a working parent
- The fact that she purchased semi-automatic weapons legally
- The laws that allowed her to purchase the weapons
- His mental conditions (which no one seems to be sure of yet)
- The fact that he was on the spectrum somewhere (this as a potential source of "blame" is a huge disservice to the community, and frankly terrifies me)
- The school for letting him in (when they are pretty sure now that he accessed the building without permission)
- The school's lax security (it's an elementary school!)
- The fact that teachers are not permitted to carry concealed weapons (this one made my head hurt)

There are probably more I am missing.

All while dead children still lay on the school floors, while parents are still holding out hope that their little one might have been hiding in a closet somewhere.

It's one thing to be passionate about finding explanations to tragedies like this. It's something else entirely to stand on a soapbox constructed of dead children who's parents haven't even been notified yet.   

Passion is great.  Without the necessary compassion for the victims, here the most innocent ones possible, though, the passion just makes you look like an heartless monster.

It's human nature to want to find something to point a finger at.  We crave a place to lay blame.  We want to have an answer so that we can tell ourselves that we don't live in a world where things like this can happen to us.

They can happen to us.  They do happen to us.  All of us.  

Until we let go of the idea that we can explain it all away and accept the fact that we are all at risk, nothing will change.

The answers that will come as to why and how will only create new questions.  The answer here isn't a simple one.  There are complicated reasons why things like this happen, and the ways to prevent them in the future are also complicated.

It's not just about gun control.

It's not just about restricting sales - which would truly only serve to create more disincentives for people who need it to seek help.

It's not just about the brokenness of the mental health system.

It's not just about HIPPA and patient rights and privacy.

It's not just about ensuring good support for single parent families.

It's not just about adequate services for children with special needs.

It's not just about how accessible schools are or whether they should have armed guards.

At the end of the day, there are uncomfortable discussions that need to take place if we are to reduce the number of times we mourn dead children.  These discussions are huge and systemic.  They are politically charged, they are fear driven.

I urge everyone to take a moment.  Take a step back.  Grieve.


Resist the urge to find reason in something that most of us will never understand.

Have the clarity to understand that we will not have a full picture of what happened for some time.

Understand that blame is not simple, that solutions aren't easy, that we are all at risk for this to happen until and unless we find pragmatic, systemic ways to fix these daunting problems.

And accept that even then, even in a world where we've actually done all that we can to prevent losses like this, even then...there is still and will always be evil in this world.

Each day is a gift, each day could be your last, and no amount of prevention can guarantee anyone's safety.

Time. Patience. Reflection. Learning.

Balance the passion with the compassion.

We owe these children at least that much.

Friday, December 14, 2012


I spent some time at school this morning after dropping off my girls and as I was heading out the door, I picked up a kindergarten registration packet.

When I got home, I saw the news.

A tragedy like this one isn't something we can process quickly or easily.  Twenty parents kissed their children goodbye this morning, never knowing it would be for the last time.

Twenty children.  Gone.


I live in a place where tragedies happen.  Colorado, the home to Columbine and a movie theater and a little girl who disappeared on the way to school.  The place where schools are designed in a world where massacres dictate building layouts.  A place where we know and understand that as much as we try, we cannot protect our children from all the evil in the world.

And yet, when things like this happen, it's impossible to accept that evil this deep and reaching exists.  Impossible.

Disbelief.  Heads shaking.

I sat in the waiting room at the county clerk's office today, waiting to pick up my son's birth certificate so I can kiss him goodbye and turn him over to a school every day, when my brother sent me a message about the President's speech.  The speech that I watched on my phone in the car.  And I cried.

Then I drove past the school twice, wanting with everything in my being to get out of the car and scoop up my babies and take them home and keep them safe.  I didn't.

I came home and twiddled my thumbs for a while.

Then, this.

This is what I do.  This is how I process.  This is how I struggle to make sense of the senseless.

At least with this most recent tragedy, there aren't people blaming the victims for watching a movie at midnight.  These were the most defenseless victims possible.  A classroom of kindergarteners.  Five year olds.  Up against a bullet-proof vest wearing masked gunman.

I wonder why when anything like this happens, people automatically start arguing about the second amendment.

This isn't the time to talk about gun control.

Today isn't the day to talk about it, but we need to.

Today is the day to mourn the loss of all those babies, the teachers, the staff members.

Today is the day to reach our arms all the way to Connecticut and hold them tight.

Today is the day to think about the birthdays and the Christmases and the milestones that will never come.

Tomorrow, we can be angry and we can argue.

Today, we are sad.

Look for the helpers.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." - Fred Rogers

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Clearly, my priorities are in the right order

I am about 13 years overdue for knee surgery.

I have this super-d-duper condition called chondramalacia that usually affects marathon runners in their 40's. I got it when I was 5, and nowhere near a marathon runner.

Because I'm wicked awesome.

Anyhow, I had surgery for it when I was 14.  Because it just made sense to jack up my entire summer, and the absolute best time to be in a full leg brace is when it's 100 degrees outside.  The recovery for it sucked my ass, and it was a year before I could confidently walk down stairs without feeling like my knee would go out and I'd fall flat on my face.  Good times.

Lord, I'm a train wreck.

Anyhow, my doc cautioned me back then that any surgery I ever had wouldn't be a permanent fix and that I'd most likely need to have it repeated every 8-10 years.  It's been 21.  And a half.

Most of the time, my knee is okay.  I mean it hurts and it swells, but when you have something like this you eventually just learn to live with it.  I had a bad habit of overdoing it in college.  I'd push it too hard at the gym and pay for it over the next week or so.

When I got married and had kids, I knew that there was no way I could have surgery.  I can't chase kids in a full leg brace.  So, I wait.  And limp from time to time.

Tick tock.

In truth, though, I don't want the surgery. I'll live with the pain, because at least it's something I am familiar with.  I know the recovery sucks and the benefits don't last all that long anyway.

I'm just annoyed because now that I'm actually in a good routine with yoga and running occasionally, my knee is pissed at me.  The last few days, it has been so bad that I'm unintentionally favoring the other leg and cursing under my breath when I have to get up.  Stairs....just fuck you.

I would like to do my sun saluations, body.

I would like to go for a run, stupid knee.

Mostly though, I have plans today that involve the 3 inch deconstructed black leather mules and dammit I want to wear them.

They are kinda like this, but cuter and higher.
If you see a fabulously dressed woman hobbling around today, it's just me.  Wearing the shoes.  In denial.   Move along.  Nothing to see.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Don't Mess With Sasquatch

I've alluded to this story a few times in the past few days, but I just knew from the beginning that it warranted it's own blog post.

I was just lamenting the fact that I don't have a picture to show you the things that I saw.  Then, I took a moment and I paused and I decided that fate wanted it this way.  I didn't want to relive this moment, and I am here to entertain you, not make you want to bleach your eyeballs.

Plus, once you see something like this, you can't un-see it.

My daughter was invited to a birthday party last weekend.  A birthday party at the rec center, with the gigantic indoor pool.

Public pools in general gross me out, but this one is the granddaddy of them all.  Most of the time, because of the small child, I have no choice but to hang out in the kiddie pool.  Also known as the pee pool.  Which is gross just on the merits.  This one is usually filled to capacity, overflowing with unshowered humanity.

On this day, though, it was relatively empty.

I hung out in the corner of the pool with the birthday boy's mom and her boyfriend (outing them in public, I am), as well as her ex who was trying way too hard to be buddies with me.  Dude, she got me in the divorce, okay?

Anyway, we were chatting about how awesome the smell of chlorine is and I glanced around the room to make sure I knew where my other kids were.

And that's when it happened.

In slow motion, I turned to the friend's boyfriend and mouthed the words OHMYFUCKINGGOD did you just see that????

I mouth words in all caps, like a silent cursing ninja.

His jaw, hanging low.  No longer attached to his face.  Eyes staring at what I'd seen, like a bad car accident.


Then he asked the most logical question to which I have no answer.

Is that what happens???

I had no answer.  No words really.  I was still trying to absorb it.

On the other side of the pool, the hairiest man I'd ever seen.  Shit you not, this guy put Robin Williams to shame.

Not only was he ridiculously hairy, he was old.  AND THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED.

Are you ready for this?  I sure as hell wasn't.

His hair had started to turn gray.  You know, the chest, back, shoulder, neck, arm hair sweater.  Started to gray.  But this was no Just for Men salt and pepper action.  Noooooooooo.

It started from the top and was working it's way down.  There was a line, about mid-abdomen.  Above it, the sweater was gray.  Below it, the sweater was dark brown, almost black.

Is this how it happens????


Why is there a line????

A few minutes later, the filter started to make a terrible noise. Then, being the jerk that I am, I suggested that maybe it was overloaded.

And that's when we got out of the pool.

As a postscript to this, I must tell you all that I love hairy men and bald men.  I even love a few women with hairy chests.  (sorry if you just snorted something up your nose)  We welcome all degrees of hairiness here.  I wrote this because of the sheer magnificence of the moment.  And also because I have no idea if this is what happens.  Please, someone, enlighten me.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Five Wishes

Normally, Tuesday is my day to vent about all the things pissing me off.

This week, though, I can't be bitchy.  I just can't.  Not after yesterday.

This happened, then it just kept going.

I owe a debt of gratitude to some friends right now, and I'm still a little giddy when I think about it.  I didn't sleep at all last night, mostly because there is a part of me that worries a bit when I pick up new fans.

I don't want to let my fans down.  I want to be funny and relevant and interesting.  I hope that I am.  I was chatting with a blogger friend, My Operation Rainbow, last night about how I think we all do this for a reason.  They're all different reasons, obviously, but there is something that drives us, that tells us to open ourselves up to other people, that says to us yes, share the crazy with the people.

Then, just as I was chatting with her, I got a message from another blogger friend, Modern Mama Dramas.  She refers to me as her online big sister, and it's a label that seems to make sense.  She tagged me in a post about wishes and urged me to play along.

Okay, fine.  Here goes.

It's a simple prompt, this one.  I am supposed to make five wishes for the holiday season, and tag five bloggers to participate.

Here are my wishes:

1. I wish for the motivation to clean.  I have been slacking lately, mostly because I know that cleaning my house is an exercise in futility with this many kids.  The OCD part of me wants to clean the house from top to bottom then forbid anyone from touching anything.  The ADD part of me lacks the focus to do it.  The mom in me just says why bother?  I need to be better about it.  Or I need to let it go.  I just need to make up my mind.

2.  I wish for discipline to write the things I should be writing.  I have four books, in various stages of process, right now.  Two I started long ago and dropped when life became chaotic.  One of them is whimsical and fun, one truly has lost it's relevance in my life entirely.  The third book, I am not sure I have the courage to write.  Someday that one will come.  Maybe.  There is such an important lesson in that story and it needs written.  With time.  The last, the one that my heart needs to write the most. The progress is agonizingly slow.  I think I need more perspective, more distance first.  I struggle with finding my voice in that one especially, with how to tell the story, with notions like fictionalized memoirs and pen names and the protection of the innocent.

3.  I wish for answers for my son.  He's in a holding pattern medically.  He shows some of the risk factors for developing Type 1 diabetes, but hasn't turned the corner.  He is occasionally hypoglycemic, he has stress induced hyperglycemia and tends to struggle with reactive hypoglycemia.  All three can be transient conditions, all three are things he could potentially outgrow, and all three could be the canary in the coal mine.  Only time will tell if he outgrows these issues or it eventually shifts into the full blown disease.  I don't wait well, but I have no choice.  Patience is something we only learn when we have no other option.

4. I wish for strength.  The past few years have been rough, to say the least.  Someday, if you're lucky, I'll write about all the stuff I don't write about here in those books I talked about up in #2.  I long ago stopped tempting fate by saying things like what else could go wrong?  Something else can always go wrong.  Story of my life lately.  You know what though?  I'm here.  My head is above water and I'm not curled up in the fetal position in the corner somewhere.  I'd love to handle less than I've been given, but that's not the deck of cards I'm playing with.  I can do this.  I've been doing it.  I wish for the strength to keep doing it.

5.  I wish for grace.  This is a tough one.  I think we all struggle with it just as a necessary part of the human condition, particularly those of us who are type A control freaks like me.  I want to help people, I want to fix things, I want to make it better.  I want to believe that I have some control, but I know that I don't.  I can only control myself and my reactions to the things that happen around me.  I have spent a lot of time working on accepting others, on letting go of the fights that aren't mine, on lifting what I can from my shoulders.  I can't do it all, and I certainly can't do it for anyone else.  It's the accepting it all that I struggle with.  I wish for faith, for forgiveness, for trust, and for the grace that makes all the rest of it possible.

Here are the bloggers I am nominating to participate.

1. It's a Dome Life

2.  The Musings of Munch

3. A Lot of Layers

4. Baking in a Tornado

5. World's Worst Moms

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Fashion Fail

Since I know that a good portion of you are here to laugh at me, I figured I would provide you all with another opportunity.

A while back, my husband was home from work recovering from his surgery.  When he's home, it means that there will be talk shows and game shows on the TV instead of PBS kids.  He really likes game shows.

Realllllly likes game shows.

Anyway, he was pretty hopped up on pain meds and I walked in to find him watching some show where they were talking about all the great deals online for things you never knew you needed until right now.

There was a wrap dress that they showed being tied 347 different ways.  One little black dress, a million options.  He decided I needed this thing.  I laughed him off, figuring he wouldn't remember since he was basically high on percocet anyway.

He ordered the dress.

They said it would be awesome. He assured me.

I haven't had many occasions to wear a LBD since he bought it, so it hung in the closet, all the straps of it dangling precariously.  It scared me a little if I'm being honest.

Sorta like this.  Well, that's what
it is supposed to look like.
There were a lot of straps.

He asked me to wear it to the holiday office party last weekend.  Deep breath.  We can do this.  We can totally do this.

Taking slight comfort in the fact that I'd lost weight and it was a black dress, I agreed.  Even though I had never even tried it on.  I don't recommend that, by the way.

Saturday, we had way too many things to do, which meant that an hour before I had to start getting ready, I was in a public swimming pool with a yeti (that's another story), and we were cutting it close on time.

For future reference, if I ever have agreed to wear something I haven't tried on and have no idea how to wear, I should give myself more than 5 minutes to figure it out.

I didn't figure it out.  Eventually, I got things wrapped and tied somehow, contorting the dress in ways that I'm not sure it was intended for.  I kept thinking there had to be an easier way to do this, or a magic hole in the seam somewhere or something.  Husband started looking for videos online because I was getting desperate.  And I was still naked.  And we had to go.  Right now.

No! I said. I got this. I totally got this. I think. I think it's on. Does this look right?

I walked over to the big mirror.

OH MY it's a boob dress.  Do you see that???

Husband nodding.  Yes.  Yes, I see that.  (as he stroked his beard all evil genius like)

I could tell he was high fiving himself in his head just then.

We headed to the party.  I walked in and realized I was grossly overdressed in my little black boob dress, but went with it.  Because I looked good and the boobs looked good and I even if I didn't figure out my dress, it was on.  Winning.

All was right with the world until about an hour later when I realized that I was a complete idiot.  There WAS indeed a magic hole in the seam that would have made the entire ordeal easier.

I spent the rest of the night obsessively tucking the wrap thing over the hole.

Don't be looking at my hole.  Pervs.

I was afraid to go to the bathroom and try to fix it, because doing so would have required me to unwrap all the straps and stuff.

Hey, did you hear that story about the girl stuck in the bathroom because she was naked and couldn't figure out her dress???  That could have been me, people.

That could have been me.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Office

It's that time of year, my friends.  Time for the office holiday parties.  For the dinners and the happy hours and the tiny gatherings and the gigantic extravaganzas.  These are some of my observations over the last 17 years of holiday partying.

It's the time to see what people wear when they don't have to appear professional.  This means that at least one person who shouldn't be shopping at Forever 21 anymore decided it was a good idea.

It's the time when all horrible Santa ties will be dusted off for their annual appearance.

It's the time to get all the subtle digs in at the people who get drunk enough that they won't remember.

It's the time when you test the waters and ask the guy you've got a crush on if his wife is his sister. For the record, this one really happened many, many years ago.

It's the time when the office lush ends up barfing in the bathroom.  Twice.

It's the time when people laugh nervously and make awkward small talk until the liquor kicks in.

It's the time when karaoke is really not a good idea.  No.  Just don't.

It's the time when it becomes painfully obvious who the easy one in the office is.

It's the time when someone can really ruin your night just by making a seating chart.

It's the time when people actually want a 6 foot tall gaudy centerpiece and will fight each other to the death for it.

It's the time when you have to stifle your laughter while people are dancing.  Especially the upper management.

It's the time when the white elephant gift exchange will make someone pee their pants.  Literally.

It's also the time when you should get rid of that Snuggie, Chia Pet, sex game or pair of Booty Pop panties that you were the recipient of at the last white elephant exchange.

It's the time when you really shouldn't try out politically incorrect jokes.

It's the time when you accidentally text the wrong person something really inappropriate.

It's the time when several people take off their shoes after a few hours.  Then there's the one that takes off her pantyhose.  You know this happens.

It's the time when some drunk woman yells at another one in the bathroom.  True story, this happened last year.  I stayed in the stall trying not to laugh while it went down.

It's the time when someone drinks their dinner and won't stop talking about how awesome they are.

It's the time when one guy tells you the same story seven times.  In a row.  Smile and nod.

It's the time when the party really starts after _________ leaves.  You fill in the blank.

It's the time when you should remember not to make too much of an ass of yourself, or you'll be doing the walk of shame Monday morning.

It's the time when you should be aware that bloggers are everywhere, and we remember stuff.  Then we write about it.  ;)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Like the dinosaur that I am...

I am taking a short break from addressing my Christmas cards.  My hand is cramping up, and I am waiting on some addresses from people that I should already have them for, but don't.

I skipped cards last year for all kinds of reasons, and was really okay with it.  Then my husband, in his infinite wisdom, decided that we should do them again this year.

And by we, I of course mean ME.

He had the idea for the pictures and all, but he's not the one designing the cards, hand addressing a bajillion envelopes, tracking people down.  He didn't have to wait in line at the post office for 30 minutes with a beast child so that the stamps would be the cute Christmas ones.

We sure are I sure am doing this again.

He is off in the garage tinkering at the moment, far away from all writing instruments and pre-pasted envelopes that need licking.  He's a smart man.

He came in at one of the worst times he could have.  I'd gone through four consecutive pages in my address book without addressing a card, and was frustrated.  Why?

1.  I didn't have the right address for someone.  Would you people stop moving all the damn time?  Seriously.  I can't keep up with this crap, especially since I took a year off from my updating.

2. It was some former friend or acquaintance that doesn't deserve a card anymore.  A few that I hate with a passion unlike anything I've ever identified in my life.

3. Those people were divorced now.

4. They were dead.

I sighed heavily as he walked in the door and told him that if anyone asked what I need or want for Christmas, I need a new address book.  This one is over ten years old and full of memories of a life I don't exactly have anymore.  Full of people who aren't here anymore, whether through the natural growing apart process, through death or through betrayal.

He laughed a little, not having any idea why I was really frustrated.  Gave me the healthy dose of the perspective I needed.

Reminded me what a crotchety old fart I am rapidly becoming.

Said I should just keep all this stuff online.

He's correct, of course, but I'm a dinosaur.  I have a love affair with paper and pens.  I crave lists that I can cross things off of.  I actually like to handwrite things.

Yes, I have a blog and a ton of online pages I support.  I do.  I am an internet presence, on the computer all the time. However, I like having an address book where I can keep all the people who matter the most to me in one tactile place.

Get off my lawn.

We've I've got a pile of cards to address.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Truth Hurts and Cancer Can Suck It

My apologies in advance if this isn't very funny.  I can't always be funny.  Sometimes I don't even try, and this post is going to be one of them.

Besides which, those who know me best know that I tend to be the funniest when things are actually not funny at all in real life.  That whole finding the ability to laugh to get you though the hell life throws at you thing...

I have a unlighted, undecorated tree sitting in the wrong place in my house.  It's a gorgeous tree, and I hope to get to moving and adorning it tonight.  I do.  Honest.

It's just that Christmas trees are one of those things for me.  Those reminders.

I shared a picture of the tree on my Facebook page and people started asking where we'd purchased such a great tree.  Sadly, my answer is Costco.  Though we live in Colorado, the trees that you can go and cut down aren't really the kind of trees you associate with the holiday.  They look more like Charlie Brown trees.   We haven't done it since we moved here.  We did when we lived in Southern California, and if that's not irony for you, I'm not sure what is.

We didn't go to a Christmas tree lot either.  Mostly because I can't do it. I drive past them and the lump shows up in my throat and the tears well up in my eyes no matter how hard I try to force them back.

Christmas tree lots belong to my Dad.

When I was a kid, he volunteered time to work at them.  Helped other families pick the perfect tree, helped other people make memories.  Offered to take their pictures beside their trees.  Wrapped them, tied them to the cars and sent them on their way.  My Dad loved Christmas.

I would beg to come with him, and if it wasn't too cold, he'd let me tag along.   I'd have to hold the saw and pull the netting around the ends.  I loved hanging out with all the guys, listening to the crazy stories they told around the fire pit.  I'm sure it was cold, but I don't remember that.

I remember the twinkle in his eye when he was out there.

For many, many years, he didn't want a real tree.  In the fall of 2009, he was diagnosed with cancer and he rode to the ER in an ambulance Christmas morning.  All he wanted was to go home. He didn't want to be in a hospital on Christmas.  He promised himself that if he made it to the next one, he was getting a real tree.

He wanted a real tree, and he wanted us to come home.

We went home, and he got that real tree again.  2010.  It was his last Christmas.

We all knew it would be. I fought back tears the entire time I was taking the ornaments off that tree.  Sweeping up the needles seemed so cathartic.  This is what he wanted, and we'd given it to him.

When you're in a moment that you already know is bittersweet, it hurts just a bit more.

So, my perfect tree sits this year.

I will move it and put the lights on and decorate it.  I will.

I will swallow the lump in my throat and fight back the tears.  I will.

Damn you, cancer.

One of my favorite shows is Parenthood, and I fall in love with it a little bit more every week even if it also rips my heart out a little each time.  If you aren't watching this show, you should be.  The preview for next week's episode shows Christina fighting for her life in the ICU on Christmas.  I'm sure there are those who will say that the show is just doing it for ratings, that they are pandering to people's emotions about the holiday.


There really are people fighting for their lives in hospitals on Christmas morning, and those of us who've been there know it.

Cancer, the evil bastard it is, doesn't care what the calendar says.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a tree to move.

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