This Bird Does It

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Summer Salad

I should write about back to school. I should tell you all about the start of 4th and 5th grades. Eh, it will be more fun to tell you about that when the First Day of School photos stop showing up on Facebook.

Back to a little food blogging. I fell away from the paleo thing over the summer, and it’s time to get back at it. No 30 challenge at this time, maybe when we get further into fall, but I am turning back to a more paleo-esque diet. I felt better and dropped weight. Plus there are plenty of dishes I really like and totally satisfy.

20140826_121608Today, for lunch, I’m eating something really similar to my favorite summer salad recipe from mom’s kitchen. The original recipe is pretty simple. Wedged tomatoes, sliced onions, striped and sliced cucumbers, all marinated in cider vinegar, vegetable oil, and sugar. Topped with a dash of celery seed for good measure. It’s delicious after an hour in the fridge, but amazing the next day. As a kid I remember taking a spoon to the leftover dressing in the bottom of my bowl. So tart and sweet, tasted like summer itself to me.

I wanted to make it a little more paleo friendly. For me, one of the most important things about paleo is the processed sugar. There are a few paleo-certified sweeteners, and technically agave nectar is only paleo-friendly, but it’s still my sweetener of choice. Hey, I said paleo-ESQUE! The vinegar was fine, though I switched to unfiltered, raw cider vinegar. And the switch to olive oil was just common sense. To get it all to mix, I used an immersion blender, which might not be strictly necessary, but I liked it. I’d say I used equal parts agave and oil, to twice as much cider. Dumped it over the tomatoes, onions, and cukes, topped it with a few shakes of celery seed, and set it in the fridge for an hour or two before lunch yesterday. Success! It was delicious. And of course, today’s lunch is even better.

Too bad I ate it all. It would have been an ideal thing to take to the pool this evening. The kids will be enjoying the last cheap hotdog night at the local pool. Guess I’ll just whip up some shrimp something after they are in bed.

 


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#SocialMedia and #deaths #oversharing

So, before social media, how many people did you have in your life on a daily basis? Social media has come into prominence since I had children, so I’ve never been a SAHM with three kids and all their schedules without social media. I never planned playdates by phone alone. I never have gathered with other parents because I got something in the mailbox. But I can imagine it. And in my imagination, I probably interact with three or four other adults that I’d call friends on any given day. Maybe there would be a classroom activity for one of the kids and I’d see eight or ten other parents that I consider friends. On Sunday, I’d go to church and see more friends. Moving out to the “acquaintance circle,” maybe I’d interact with 15 or 20 on a typical day. Once in a while death would touch our lives. But the last two weeks have been different.

I am immersed in social media. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it’s not. That’s a post for another day. I am, and I like it, most of the time. But over the last two weeks I have been struck by the many deaths that have touched my life. Some of them were people close to acquaintances that I only interacted with periodically, but still caused me some measure of sadness. I certainly took a little time to say a prayer, at least. A college acquaintance died. A childhood friend lost her husband suddenly. A high school friend lost a child. Two other friends lost parents, and one a grandparent. A member of our church passed away. All of those deaths in the last two weeks.

I actually started this blog entry last week. I’d been pondering how social media increases my exposure to death and dying all week. It increases my exposure to joyful things, too, and that’s why I stay at it, but the death. So many unrelated deaths in a such short period! Then on Sunday I picked up the tablet and read that a close college friend had died.

I haven’t seen David in almost 20 years. We’d chatted on Facebook over the years, but I wouldn’t say we had a relationship of any kind anymore. But it still felt like a kick in the gut. Here’s a death I would likely have only heard about much later in the days before social media.

Our relationship was so extreme. Aren’t all relationships entered into by 19 year olds extreme? We were young and stupid and passionate. We engaged in emotional gymnastics and drove each other mad. There are some really wonderful memories that would swirl up when we would chat. But there was real ugliness, too. Pain caused by our own youth, stupidity, and passion.

And it wasn’t just us. We drug those around us into our drama, just as we participated in theirs. And we bonded with those others over all that drama, too. Good Lord, college aged kids can cook up some drama. Some of it was thrust on us, some of it we concocted on our own. But all of it was just drama. Heightened emotions that caused the kind of bonding that is much more rare after your mid-twenties or so.

I met my husband at 27. I was still pretty young, and certainly still stupid. And with him definitely still passionate, but not in the reckless way I’d been with David. This time was different. Better, yes, but mostly just different. It was a few years before I understood how all that silly drama and “emotional gymnastics” had formed me. They’d made me know for sure what I would accept in a relationship and what I could not tolerate. That relationship taught me how to be a productive half of a team, who demands as well as provides. I’m not here to tell you how a good relationship works, but everything that is right and healthy in my marriage is at least a little bit because of this one goofy, drama-filled relationship of my late teens and early twenties.

I was able to travel to his home state for the funeral this weekend. There was no actual funeral, no service anyway. Just a gathering of friends and family at the funeral home. I stayed with old college friends, I saw more old college friends at the funeral home and over the rest of the weekend. I caught up with some other close friends of David’s who I’d only met briefly many years ago. I hugged his mother, who seemed genuinely glad to see me there when I was surprised that she even remembered me. I mourned an old friend and the fact that I’d never get to really thank him and tie up those few loose threads. It doesn’t matter much. My life is so full and complete, I’ve written often of how much I feel blessed. But it feels wrong that I didn’t really share how grateful I am for having known him.

I had wished him so much happiness. He had a daughter he adored, but I don’t think he ever experienced the kind of peace and happiness that a happy family can bring. A friend who’d known him longer than I, says he was doing well, and it’s even more upsetting that he might have found it someday but never had the chance.

So, I’ll put this out on the internet and hope that’s as wrapped up as I can get it. Maybe I’m “oversharing” again, but that’s who I am, I guess. Goodbye, David.


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So what if they’re comfortable with TBDBITL’s “hostile” atmosphere?

I want to write about the situation with the OSU Marching Band. I want to share my rather strong opinion. I might. I’ve been trying all day to distill my thoughts into something manageable, something succinct. Right now, though, I just want to know what I missed. How are there all these women up in arms because Jon Waters was fired? How are all these women, particularly the alumnae of the band, defending him?

You’re going to answer that with the “Letter to President Drake” by Alex Clark, AKA “Joobs,” aren’t you? Or maybe you want to point me to a gay alumnus and his feeling that the atmosphere was not unsafe for himself or the women he shared the field with. Or maybe just another mommy blogger like myself who was happy to be a band member in the 80s and thinks this has all been blown out of proportion.

I’ve read all of these blogs/articles/letters and several others as well. I’ve read the entire report of the investigation. I’ve argued with my mother and random strangers while browsing the OSU merchandise at the State Fair this week. I’ve wrestled with my own thoughts and even prayed about it. But I keep coming to the same conclusions. Nobody seems to get it. Nobody seems to be able to accept that Waters had to go because he allowed a climate where someone MIGHT (and likely would have been) harassed, not because any one witness or named member WAS harassed.article-2471386-18E62AA400000578-406_634x286

I’m sorry, Alex Clark. It simply doesn’t matter that you don’t feel sexualized by a nickname that combines your religious heritage with the size of your chest. The nickname is inappropriate and crass at best, lewd and harassing at least. Just because you liked it, just because YOU (or your parents, for that matter) were comfortable with it does not in any way make it okay. I’m not telling you how to feel. You get to feel how you want, and frankly your feelings about it are irrelevant. You don’t feel harassed or sexualized? Fine. But you cannot speak for every “Rookie” that heard your nickname and wondered what hers would be. You can’t say those nicknames didn’t feed a certain atmosphere that MIGHT have ALLOWED sexual harassment. And that is enough for the person in charge to lose his job. It just is.

Maybe I’m talking in absolutes. Maybe that’s the problem here? Maybe I should accept that sexual harassment can be acceptable if the person likes it? REALLY? REALLY!! I should accept some minimal level of sexual harassment because that’s what kids DO? Sorry, folks, can’t go there.

So let me make sure I cover all the arguments:

1. The named student didn’t feel harassed and always felt they could easily have opted out of activities like “Midnight Ramp” with no repercussions. Um, no. Just no. The fact that names referring to body parts EXIST, the fact that ANYONE is marching in their underwear, creates a hostile environment for SOMEONE. The “final” test, shown as Exhibit A with the investigation report, included a question asking the rookie to rank other band members by the size of their genitals. This does not go on, unchecked, in a vacuum. None of you will convince me that the very EXISTENCE of this question didn’t make anyone uncomfortable. Ever?

2. This is just what kids, particularly college kids, do to “blow off steam.” This sounds dangerously like “boys will be boys.” It is not some sort of huge leap to say that this kind of thinking is EXACTLY why rape culture still exists. It may be true that this is the sort of behavior that kids engage in regularly, and have forever, but that doesn’t mean the institution, or even the group leader, accepts it. And this bit about the culture change being a “process” is crap, too. Yeah, it’s a change that takes time, but we don’t have to be gentle about it. There’s nothing in the report about Waters making a blanket statement that these practices would be unacceptable moving forward. At no time did Waters ask for HELP in changing the culture. His loyalty was to the kids engaging in the inappropriate behavior not to the institution signing his paycheck, or putting their reputation in his hands, or to the SAFETY and welfare of those same kids.

3. Waters is a scapegoat. Others were involved and should also be reprimanded or fired. It’s entirely possible that others should be punished. It’s true that others knew and didn’t report these behaviors or work to change them. It’s true that the students involved should be punished. But none of these statements back the idea that Waters should be reinstated or shouldn’t have been fired. He’s not a scapegoat. He was in charge of a HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT. He had to go.

4. This has been going on for generations. Do I really have to reply to this one? “We’ve always done it this way” just never flies.

 

The first paragraph of “Analysis” in the report sums it perfectly for me.

 

Each of the allegations about the Marching Band’s culture discussed above implicates university
policy and federal prohibitions on sexual harassment. While some of the students may have engaged
in such behavior and gave no indication that they objected, the interviews highlighted multiple
situations in which students did not welcome this misconduct. In a culture so sexualized for so long,
students’ acquiescence and failure to complain cannot be taken as evidence that the range of this
misconduct was welcome.


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Summer love

I wish I could paint you a picture of my backyard, but I’m not sure my powers of description are up to it.

It’s very green. It’s July and the driest part of the summer hasn’t arrived, yet. Our yard has it’s share of weeds, but we tamed quite a few in the grass this summer. The “flower bed” that lines the back of the property, however, is hip high in things that weren’t intended to grow there. The four foot wide section that lines the edge of the patio and then around the corner of the house could be a flower bed, but it’s all ivy. Ivy and weeds, but my husband yanked most of those before the holiday weekend. I mean to dig it all out at some point and put in a garden. I want to grow tomatoes, and peppers. and squash, and maybe some herbs. It’s the only section of the yard that has any chance of getting enough sun during the day.

There’s a pretty large pin oak that dominates the yard. It provides a lovely shade this time of year and along with the sweet gum in in the front yard, allows us to keep the air off on days where the highs top out in the low 80s and the nightly lows dip into the 60s. To the other side is a gorgeous royal maple that’s just large enough for its branches to barely touch those of the pin oak. Now that we’ve removed the overgrown burning bushes next to the patio, I enjoy watching it’s strangely lovely purple leaves in the sunset these long summer evenings.

The deck I’m sitting on is pretty old. In a few years, we’ll have to tear it out and see about the retrograde situation back here. I don’t know what we’ll put in later, but for now, this old deck is wonderful. I love the old boards. The feel of a deck that’s been here for 30 years or so is different than a new one. There’s a pergola roof with warped slats that will probably have to come down before the deck, but it lends a certain character to the whole thing, too.

For the holiday weekend, I hung some cheap strands of Christmas light style Chinese lanterns. They are too cheap to leave up long term, but they make me smile on these perfect summer days. As it’s getting dark, they make the whole place feel comfortable.

In the yard there are about a million twinkling lightening bugs right now. The flutter up to the deck and twinkle out at the fence line. It’s like looking out on a fairyland. I can hear the traffic of the major highway that runs across the top of our city just north of us, but it seems a lot further away from my suburban backyard. I know there is a mall, and a grocery store, a gas station, and about six banks all within site of my roof and I can see the chain hotel just two backyards away. Still, it’s an oasis here. The darker it gets, the more the fireflies show.

I’m not a summer girl. Summer may actually be my least favorite season. Tonight, though, is different. Tonight I am all about summer. Summer in Ohio. Summer on my own back deck. Summer with only the most basic responsibilities. Summer as its meant to be.

Give me another week or two and I’ll be ready for fall. :)20140709_211812


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Heroin happens. Why we HAVE to keep talking about it!

So, here I sit in the middle of my not-so-clean house, not cleaning it. Yesterday was the final deadline for my summer class, it had been extended from last Friday. I really hate when the finish line gets moved, but there you go. I’ve been hanging on for this class to be over so I could get on with summer and all my grand summer plans, and this morning all I feel motivated to do is sit here. Gave each kid a bowl of oatmeal and now I’m just wallowing in the idea that I don’t HAVE to do anything. It will pass in a minute and I’ll get up and get on with my to-do list for the day. Wash the shower curtain in our bathroom, strip and wash the kids’ beds, scrub the upstairs bathrooms, go the grocery and pick up graduation gift for the last grad party of the season. Think about the fun the kids and I can have next week with no homework hanging over my head.

Life is good. My life is good. I am so aware of my blessings today.

Last week’s post about heroin lurking just on the edge of our world got a lot of hits. I am glad that folks are reading. I got feedback on Facebook, through emails, and even a comment here, about personal experiences of parents. My friend who wrote the piece I posted has written a bit more to share with you. I hope you will read it, too, and keep the conversation going. I can’t tell you how important I think it is to have this conversation. So many of us as parents are hanging on the idea that we can all somehow find the perfect book/blog/philosophy/guide/support group/whatever and we’ll be able to do this job perfectly. Or at least well enough that our children will be spared any pain, or bad decisions, or any of the pitfalls of life. I want to make the point again, with the help of my friend, that we’re all making mistakes and some of our children will get themselves into really bad places, whether it’s drugs, or something else. What I’m NOT saying is that it isn’t worth the struggle. I’m not saying that we should just accept the fact that some of our kids will turn into junkies and all we can do is hope it isn’t ours. I believe that talking about it will do two things. First, it will help remove the stigma felt by these kids who are trying to recover, and by their parents. Less judgement, more love, is always beneficial in healing. Second, it will increase awareness by those of us who don’t have a lot of experience with these things. A head in the sand never solved anything. Ever.

So, here is the next installment of a conversation I hope will continue.

 

How Did You Know?

How did you know? I’m not sure I did.

Why did you go looking? My gut told me to.

You invaded his privacy? I saved his life. For now…

Heroin is seductive; it lures you in and makes you its slave. It does not discriminate and invades families of all socioeconomic backgrounds, races and cultures. Heroin provides an almost immediate emotional and physical pain free escape from reality. It is as instantaneous as social media. RAPID RESULTS. Something our young people have become accustom too.

Statistics are showing that there is a terrifying trend. More people under the age of 21 are trying heroin. In fact, there has been a sharp increase in first time heroin use in the 12-17 age group. #Staggering

How did this happen? Ohio waged war and shut down illegal pill factories. Unfortunately, they created a climate that was ripe and ready for a heroin epidemic. Pills became less available and costly. Think $80 for a single pill. My son, since rehab, has shared with me that similar to his experience, most of the heroin addicts he knows, started on pills. For my son, his dealer struggled to get pills, so his dealer turned him on to heroin. Here is a

FAST FACT: Did you know heroin costs about $5 a hit. That is cheaper than pot and way cheaper than pills.

Guess what else? Heroin is more accessible and easier to obtain than not only pills, but pot.

The tiny blackish-brown square of black tar heroin, wrapped in foil, placed in a sandwich bag costs about $5. The physical and psychological relief this little mistress provides is reportedly amazing. Euphoric. It gives instant relief to anxiety, depression, mania, physical pain and everything else. You just don’t feel.

Regular use changes brain chemistry. Not only does your tolerance increase, so more is the only thing you desire, but your brain chemistry changes so you think being high is normal. And you will continue to use more, so you avoid any withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms include, goose bumps, watery eyes and runny nose, excessive yawning, loss of appetite, tremors, panic attacks, chills, nausea, muscle cramps, insomnia, stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, shaking, chills and profuse sweating and irritability.

So first, let me state, I am no expert, I am a mom. And my sons addiction, although I know it is not all on me, it feels like an exceptional parenting fail. So please, no need for you to judge me, I am judging myself daily. So there is no perfect science in how to tell if your loved one is using.

What I know is that my son was dealing with some pretty challenging personal SHIT just before his heroin addiction. I could see he was spiraling and he did not want our advice or help. I also knew he was not coping well with his stress. There was excessive pot smoking. I discovered he was drinking my booze. And although there were fights and consequences, I know he could have cared less and I felt helpless.

Then I noticed a couple times some seriously glassy eyes. It was weird and it was a look I had not seen before. I don’t remember the puddley looking eyes with the tiny pupils. I thought to myself, whoa, he looks messed up. So I would ask if he was okay. How do you think he responded? He’s 20 and he would become volatile if I pressed, so I didn’t.

He was also pulling away from us. Isolating himself, spending time with his personal shit problem girlfriend and became more private and more withdrawn.

In my gut something was horribly wrong, I knew it, I felt it and people around me would talk me out of

it. So I gave it time. I gave it about five minutes.

Then I did it. I invaded his privacy. I went in to my 20-year-old sons room and searched. It didn’t take much searching; I saw the baggie, syringe (sans needle), a small piece of foil, a spoon and a lighter sitting out on a chair. It was right out in the open.

(By the way, what this taught me was that there is no privacy in my house. If I suspect my child is in trouble or doing something troubling, I will search their things and be unapologetic because it could be life or death. It is not a betrayal, it is my house and my rules – I can search and I will search.)\So what were the signs? The signs sucked, I relied on my gut and his behavior. Did my gut tell me he was using heroin? No, but I knew something was happening.

What should you do? Every situation is different. Not every addict presents the same. There are some similarities though. They lie and they get really good at covering their addiction. They may bargain and make promises that heroin never intends for them to keep. They stop caring about everything, except heroin.

BE PRESENT, OBSERVANT AND TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.

What should you look for:

Pin Point pupils

Droopy appearance like every limb, including their head is heavy

Dry mouth and extreme thirst

Behavior changes

Appearance lacks care altogether

Withdraws or other behavior changes

Baggies and foil laying about or in trash

Missing tablespoons

Understand that addiction is a disease. It is complex and your loved one will struggle. Relapse is part of this struggle.

Understand the difference between support, enabling and meddling. This is tough, so rely on help from professionals and friends.

TALK ABOUT IT – tell trusted friends and talk about it. This hardship is too much of a burden for you to carry alone. Go to a meeting like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.

Remember, there is no such thing as recreational heroin use, get them to rehab. Find a program. If they have a family component, go to every meeting, rearrange your life for your family. This is important. Embrace taking things one day at a time. You need to live during this time too. Live and find joy in every day. Look hard for it, because it is there, even if it is to be grateful your loved one is safe and in a facility.

 


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Heroin happens, even here

I really should be working on my last week of class stuff, but as I’d hoped, once I started writing, I can’t stop. And this morning, someone sent me something I want to share. But first, some other thoughts, and some background.

We bought this house in May 2009. Though both my husband and I were drawn to a bit more urban setting, the best schools we could afford, with the most house, were here in Worthington. And since our oldest child would be starting kindergarten in the fall, we were thrilled to find a house in our price range with some of the upgrades it needed, walking distance from shopping and restaurants, not to mention the elementary school, with wonderful neighbors and mature trees. I had never had the experience of moving into a home that I loved with no expiration date on my stay. We would live here for an indeterminate period, a long period. The kids would grow up here. I remember joking that I would never move again. We probably will, but that’s a post for another day.

We were so happy. We loved this place. The spot, the schools, the neighborhood, all of it. We thought it was the perfect American dream we were living. Then one morning in September we looked out the window and saw several police cars parked across the street and many officers in bullet-proof vests and Kevlar helmets. There didn’t seem to be a high degree of alarm among the officers, so we watched. Eventually they left and we didn’t find out what was going on until we watched the evening news. In the morning, the Columbus Dispatch ran the story with the headline: “13 caught in heroin sweep.” One of those kids lived across the street from us.

Bubble POPPED!

Reality!

There is HEROIN IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD! And not just “in our neighborhood” like out there, somewhere, close, but vague. It’s ACROSS THE STREET!

I didn’t panic. I really didn’t. I mean, this kid was out of high school. There was no reason for this incident to affect my children. After all, it wasn’t like they found it in the elementary school, right? But it’s awful damned close to home. I could see into the bedroom window of someone who was doing, possibly distributing, heroin. Now, let’s be clear, it’s not like I’ve never been exposed to people doing heroin. It’s not like I have no experience with drugs and the people who use them. But not like this, not since I became a mother. This is different. No part of me felt sorry for the kid who got busted. No part of me thought, “What a shame they got caught” like I might have 15 years earlier if I’d read about someone caught with a joint. No way. This time all I could think about were this kid’s parents.

I am a fact finder by nature, I guess. Some might call it stalker, but we quibble about language. I wanted to find out about these folks. I hadn’t met them, yet, despite living across the street for four months by then. I looked them up on the tax auditor’s website and found out that they’d lived there for over a decade. They’d probably moved here to put their kids into the good schools we’d moved here for. They’re just parents. How heartbroken they must have been that this was happening. What did they feel like?

I lost some sleep worrying about these parents. I kept imagining myself in their position. I don’t know how you get there, but I knew that despite my best efforts and hours of praying, it could happen. I could find myself in just the same position. I was absolutely sure that at no time had those parents across the street thought to themselves, “Oh, we’ll just let this one thing go and if it leads our kid to get involved in heroin, it will probably be okay.”

But after a while, when there were no more news stories about heroin in our specific neighborhood, just vague rumors about it’s existence in the city, the whole thing got pushed to the back of my mind. Not forgotten. Never forgotten. It’s such a frightening thought, too frightening to really dwell on all the time. So we got back to the business of raising kids who would hopefully avoid such a thing. Kids who would be properly scared of the prospect. Kids who would be smart and strong and capable of pushing back against such evils. But we were not under any illusion that such evils were far away, that they don’t still lurk way too close for comfort.

Then a few months ago a friend “introduced” me to another mom on Facebook. I’d seen her also commenting on our mutual friend’s posts, but didn’t think much of it. One day this mutual friend just posted and tagged us both and said something like, “Here, you two should be friends. You are the same brand of cool.” Well, this particular friend’s opinion is good enough for me, so I had a new friend. You know how you just click with someone right away? Well, that’s how it was with this friend. After a few months, we decided to meet in person for coffee.

When we met, we ended up talking for a few hours, and only because we both had other places to be did the conversation end. But most of the conversation was around the things she told me that were not posted on Facebook. There are lots of blogs and such out there about how we all use Facebook differently, but most of us don’t put our worst stuff up there. We don’t put the stuff that makes us too vulnerable to judgement, to others seeing that life isn’t at least sometimes Pinterest-worthy. Her son was recovering from using heroin.

I was floored. She seemed so, I don’t know, so normal. Like me. So much like a mom making all the same decisions I would make. Like she’d probably approached the subject of drugs with her kids in much the same way that I was. But there it was. A mom whose kid was using heroin. She’d found it in his bedroom. She’d FOUND it! It’s not like she suspected and ignored her own red flag. She’d FOUND it.

Again I found myself realizing that it wasn’t just about making the right parenting choices, whatever those might be. Raising kids is anything but an exact science. Despite all the best intentions, and informed decisions, it had happen to this mother’s son. It could happen to mine.

So, I listened to her tale, and I made many mental notes. I was in awe of the strength she showed in the way she’d handled it and in the way she told her story. Later I went home and digested it all further. I prayed that if it were ever my kid, I would do many of the same things she’d done. First of all, she didn’t bust him, accept his apology with a promise that it would never happen again, and then forget about it. She got his butt into treatment RIGHT THEN. She went through several months of advocating for her kid because there is no good system in place to take care of him. I’m sure it was no picnic for the kid, but I still can’t see it from his perspective. I can only see it from his mother’s eyes.

In the months since, my new friend and I have met again and we’ve continued to communicate regularly. I have encouraged her to start the blog she talks about, but she isn’t ready to do it, yet. But this morning she sent me something she’d written. She’s not ready to out her son, nor does she want to tell his story. This is what she felt and I want to share some of her feelings. I’m betting there are other parents out there who have thought about these things. So, I share this as a bit of hope. Yes, she’s just like me, and many other moms and dads out there. Middle class, good family, involved parent who “kept open the lines of communication.” But it still happened. And here’s how she felt.

Six months.

I am six months out from a day I thought I would not live through. It was the day we found heroin in our son’s room and had to confront him. This day was terrifying, sad, frustrating and a new beginning.

So how does a seemingly normal family respond when you find a substance like heroin in your child’s room? Well:

It makes you question everything you believed in.

It makes you doubt any remote possibility that you were a good parent, because at this point, you pretty much know it was an epic parenting fail.

You long for the days when your child was an infant or toddler and you wish you would have enjoyed them more.

You learn how to live with the terrifying realization that heroin takes many lives and your child’s could be one of them.

You wonder every time your child leaves the house if you will see them alive again. You learn that this struggle is their struggle and you need to focus on you.

You realize you must try to rely on a relationship with a higher power that you now completely wonder if there really is such a thing.

You are also angry because you know this should not be happening but you can’t change or stop it. The pain you know your child is living with, is almost unbearable for you to feel or think about.

You are scared.

You realize your child, whom you have loved with all your heart, is in for a life long struggle and challenge that seems insurmountable to you.

You become keenly aware of every heroin death and it sits like a cinder block on your chest. It is not the life you planned or wanted, but it is now your life.

Come on NEW BEGINNING!! My life came to a halt December 6, 2013. I was afraid. I felt like a failure. But as things evolved, I dug deep and my strength kept our family afloat. As the dust settled, my strength was not needed and I was not sure what to do, but I thought I was okay: I wasn’t. I became sick. Sick with fear, sick with worry.

A friend gave me a gift. She stopped me and took a chance that I could hear her truth. She told me to stop. Stop being paralyzed by my fear. She told me to stop being afraid, afraid to live and afraid to make decisions.

You see, my fear for a long time has been my guide. It was making my decisions for me. I was not in control of my own destiny and I was unable to be myself. The heroin and the fear was defining a new me. I was becoming someone I did not want to be.

Everything felt bad. I took her truth and I am working every day to let go of the fear, turn it over to my higher power and live: live life and be grateful. Live life and stop being afraid and letting the fear guide me into despair. I am grateful for my new friend who took that chance on me and told me to let go of my fear. This is my new beginning.

My son, he has a new beginning too: six months clean. But, that is his story to tell. What I can share is that he is working hard every day and he is happy – and for this, I am incredibly grateful.


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Jumping back in…

More than two months have passed since I’ve found the time to sit down and write a full length post. I’ve got a few drafts sitting neglected and growing more stale by the day. I’m sitting down with a blank page now and thinking about all the things I’ve meant to write about this spring. I am all over the place. I have thoughts to share on politics and current events, the graduations in my circle of friends and family, end of life issues as I watch the last of my children’s great grandparents live out their lives, food and diet thoughts, observations on my children and the wrap up of their school year, even a few insights on library school and all the great experience I’m gaining volunteering at the seminary. And the weather.

But it’s too much. I am having trouble boiling it down. Not an uncommon problem for me. And this time, I’ve let it snowball to a problem so big, I’m truly unable to figure out where to begin. I think the best solution is to just start writing and see how it goes. Tonight I’ll start with school stuff. Not because it’s biggest in my mind, or because there’s the most to talk about, but because I hope I’m wrapping it up for a few weeks.

I finished the rare book class and got my grades for that and the special library class. A and A-, respectively. I was so upset about the first A-, but I guess it hurts less the more you get. I’m thrilled to have not gotten a B, yet. That rare books class was such an amazing ride. It’s the longest class I’ve taken so far in the MLIS program, and it was by far the most intense. I learned an amazing amount. I fell more deeply in love with books, as objects. At the same time, I became even more ready to accept whatever path this career is going to take, whether I actually get to work with old books or archives, or end up doing something completely different. As long as I’m working with helping people somewhere find answers, I think I’ll be okay. Surprisingly, I found out more about my ability to do research in that rare book class than I had anticipated. Perhaps that is because the professor wasn’t just looking to teach us about old books, but how to find answers. I got into this field because I am that person, that know-nothing know-it-all who loves to find the answer for you. I’m thrilled when I can give you real answers to whatever question you have. It took me until I was forty to find out that there is actually a field for that, and that it’s not about being right because I’m not wrong, rather because I really truly found the answer and I’m right!

So, that class ended on the Friday before Mother’s Day. The next class started on the Tuesday after. In effect, I’ve been in school with no break since right after Christmas. Not so tough, I guess, if school is the main event in your life, but it was wearing thin for me. There’s still a week to go in this class, but then I’m done for the summer. A couple pass/fail workshops, but I think the pressure is off until fall. I need the break. I need the break bad. The kids need the break. The HOUSE needs the break. Oh, good Lord, my house is a wreck.

summer21We’ve got big plans for the summer around here. I’m gonna get this house clean for real. Stop laughing, it could happen. We’re going to spend lots of time at the pool and I’m going to read. For FUN! We’re going to go to the zoo. It’s gonna be a good summer, I think. The kids are playing ball, and going to a couple Vacation Bible School weeks, but that’s about it. The big kids can ride bikes to a few friends in the neighborhood and the park. The little one can swim more independently in the kiddie pool. The three of them can be way more mobile than they have been in summers past. I am hoping that they can experience some of the extra freedom and unstructured time that marked summers of most childhood for most of my generation. Wish me luck.

So, maybe tomorrow I can tell you more about all that other crap going on in my head. Today, I guess that’s enough. It’s something, anyway.

 


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Miss me?

I have a lot of things I’ve been thinking about writing. I have five or six separate posts I want to get into writing, and it probably just isn’t going to happen. One, in particular is languishing. Some friends in the neighborhood have a foster son they would love to adopt, and there’s all sorts of nastiness in their story highlighting how broken our system is, and I’d love to tell you all about that, and maybe even get some support going for them to try and reverse the most likely outcome of their situation. I won’t, though, because I won’t take the chance that anything I write, or share, or post, or tweet, or whatever, could put the tiniest chance they have of winning for the side of GOOD at risk. That’s a tough position to be in. Not as tough as this little boy’s situation and that of the foster family that loves him dearly, but tough. I’ll share their story when it’s resolved, and in the meantime, let’s all pray that it has a happy ending.

In other, happier news, I finished my ten week course this semester. Final grade looks like an A minus. Still an A, but not a four point A. I’m disappointed because I lost a couple points for some careless mistakes. I can’t believe I’m beating myself up over an A minus, but I am. A little. Just a little, just for a minute. Now I can focus on the sixteen week course I’m taking in Rare Books. I’m having such a great time with this class, even though I’ve fallen behind finishing the other class. This week was “Spring Break” which just means I didn’t have any NEW work for that class. I’d meant to spend most of the week catching up, but it didn’t work out quite that well. It will be a busy weekend. I’m not terribly worried. I have a lot to do, but I’m confident that I can get it done.

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Photo by dbking, flickr

This class is so engaging and so fascinating to me. I’m working on a virtual exhibit of Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass. On Wednesday, I went out to the Rare Books room at OSU to see a first impression, published in 1855. It was a little thrilling to just be able to sign in and then HOLD the book. I could handle it, and read it, and smell it, and examine it. I could not, however, photograph it, but that’s okay. I pulled up the The Walt Whitman Archives and compared the book in front of me to the digitized version of a first impression that they have online. Wow, that was awesome. Those two books might have come off the presses RIGHT next to each other. There were only 795 copies of this edition printed, and even fewer with that lovely green cloth cover. And this one is in wonderful shape. It was such a privilege to play with it, and it ramped up my love of the rare books and archives part of this profession. I wish I could count on finding a job in that particular area, but it seems unlikely. Nonetheless, I will be looking for more opportunities to volunteer in the field, even if just for the fun of it.

Speaking of volunteering, I’m thrilled to be starting my first official volunteer gig with Hamma Library at Trinity Seminary next week. I will likely just be doing some general helping out and shadowing, but I’m excited to be spending some time in a library as something other than a patron! I interviewed the director of Hamma for my Special Library class that just finished up, and everyone there was wonderfully helpful and lovely. I’m looking forward to spending more time with them and to gathering some experience from them.

20140328_072828MIDDLE BIRD IS NINE! My second kid is NINE YEARS OLD! Somehow, I’m feeling like the capital letter scream is just not conveying how knocked out I am by this. My oldest turned ten in January and I celebrated a decade of motherhood, but somehow, this kid’s ninth birthday is heavier! Perhaps it’s that he’s the kid requiring the most attention and general parenting challenge acceptance lately, but I just can’t believe he’s halfway to eighteen! He’s such a wonderful, amazing, sweet, brilliant, thoroughly infuriating kid! I’m so proud of him, so in love with him, and so blown away with how fast he’s growing up. He has challenged everything I thought I knew about parenting and little boys. He’s fighting every day to be the person God created him to be. Even when it doesn’t look much like he’s fighting, I know he’s struggling, and I’m proud of him for sticking with it even when I’m exhausted with frustration. This kid was a total surprise, as much as that third kid four years later. When he was born, there was a true knot in his umbilical chord. Though of the three kids, his birth was by far the easiest for me, I will never forget hearing Dr. D’s first words after, “It’s a BOY!” He said, “Whoa, you don’t usually see that with a live birth!” Jarring, but there he was, screaming his little heart out, announcing his giant presence with all the gusto he still brings to each day of his life. Oh, he’s a live birth, alright. Maybe more alive than the rest of us. He is a challenge to parent, but I pray every day that his dad and I can be up to the task, because that giant presence will serve him well someday. I’m certain that he has work to do on this planet. We all do, but he has something special to accomplish, and I’m so excited to watch him do it. Happy Birthday, buddy.

 

 


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Perfection. It doesn’t exist, but the story DOES!

364_29718079747_5941_nIn 1978 I started second grade at William H. Blount Elementary School on Princess Place Drive in Wilmington, N.C. I liked school. I liked books. I liked the library. I remember being in the space with lots of short stacks and paint-stirrer sticks used to mark the spot on the shelf where you removed a book. I remember going into the library for storytime. I don’t know how often we students were herded into the library and seated on the pea soup colored carpet to listen to a teacher or librarian read a story, but I remember one particular story so clearly.

Do you remember any of the stories you were read in the second grade? How about any of the stories that you never heard again? I mean, sure I remember the Dr. Suess stories. I remember the Madeline stories. I remember Eloise and Curious George. I’ve been reading those, or hearing about them, or watching them be turned into children’s programs, since I was a child. We read those at home and read them over and over. But this one time, this one story, that I would not hear again for 36 years, I remembered. And I spoke of it sometimes to friends. We would laugh about how ridiculous it was. Who tells kids a story like that? I often wondered over the years if I had made it up in my own memory. Or perhaps I just remembered it differently.364_29718084747_6150_n

The story, as I remembered it, was about a perfect little girl and the devil. The devil was, of course, unhappy that a little girl could be so perfect and began trying to get her to be angry. If she were to get angry, he reasoned, she wouldn’t be perfect. So he gave her the chicken pox, but she didn’t scratch or complain. He had a cow step on her favorite doll, but (and I always used this exact phrase in retelling the story) she forgave the cow. He tried all sorts of other tricks that didn’t work, but in the end he did win. He let her have her perfect life, a perfect husband, and a perfect house. And a less than perfect child.

When I started thinking again about becoming a librarian, this story kept coming back to my mind. I knew that I had to find it. I had to find out if it was even real. It seemed like an excellent wannabe librarian challenge. I Googled and Googled, and eventually, I figured out that it was a real story and it appeared in The Devil’s Storybook, by Natalie Babbitt, first published in 1974. At the time, that was fine, I only needed to know that some story about a perfect little girl and the devil was real. I probably twisted it around in my head anyway. I probably didn’t remember the story just right. I’d only been seven, after all, and I have never heard the story since.

364_29718094747_6354_nThis week I happened across an article about my old elementary school. It doesn’t matter much what it was about, so I’ll spare you, but it made me remember those storytimes when I was little. I decided I needed to get hold of a copy of The Devil’s Storybook. It was time that I actually READ the story and compared it to my memory. It only took a couple days for my library’s consortium to get it delivered to my local branch. It’s a really short story, so bare with me while I share the whole thing.

“Perfection,” by Natalie Babbitt

There was a little girl once called Angela who always did everything right. In fact, she was perfect. She had better manners than anyone, and not only that, but she hung up her clothes and never forgot to feed the chickens. And not only that, but her hair was always combed and she never bit her fingernails. A lot of people, all of them fair-to-middling, disliked her very much because of this, but Angela didn’t care. She just went right on being perfect and let things go as they would. 

Now, when the Devil heard about Angela, he was revolted. “Not,” he explained to himself, “that I give a hang about children as a rule, but this one! Imagine what shell be like when she grows up–a woman whose only fault is that she has no faults!” And the very thought of it made him cross as crabs. So he wrote up a list of things to do that he hoped would make Angela edgy and, if all went well, even make her lose her temper. “Once she loses her temper a few times,” said the Devil, “she’ll never be perfect again.”20140307_073628

However, this proved harder to do than the Devil had expected. He sent her chicken pox, then poison ivy, and then a lot of mosquito bites, but she never scratched and didn’t even seem to itch. He arranged for a cow to step on her favorite doll, but she never shed a tear. Instead, she forgave the cow at once, in public, and said it didn’t matter. Next the Devil fixed is that for weeks on end her cocoa was always too hot and her oatmeal too cold, but this, too, failed to make her angry. In fact, it seemed that the worse things were, the better Angela liked it, since it gave her a chance to show just how perfect she was.

Years went by. The Devil used up every idea on his list but one, and Angela still had her temper, and her manners were still better than anyone’s. “Well, anyway,” said the evil to himself, “my last idea can’t miss. That much is certain.” And he waited patiently for the proper moment.

When that moment came, the Devil’s last idea worked like anything. In fact, it was perfect. As soon as he made it happen, Angela lost her temper once a day at least, and sometimes oftener, and after a while she had lost it so often that she was never quite so perfect again.

And how did he do it? Simple. He merely saw that she got a perfect husband and a perfect house, and then–he sent her a fair-to-middling child.

I was stunned at how perfectly I’d remembered the details of the story, but at the same time, how different the story really was. It was essentially the same story I’d remembered, but in Ms. Babbitt’s words, now it was about the concept of “perfection”  and the idea of perceptions, and parenthood, and life. Now, with my 42 year old, mother’s sensibilities, I read this story and cried. Not because I’d ever, EVER been perfect, or even aspired to perfection. Not because my husband, or my house, or any other aspect of my life, is perfect. Not because I have any fair-to-middling children. 364_29718099747_6555_n

My mind is still wrapping itself around this little story. I don’t suppose there are a lot of K-12 librarians reading it to school children these days. Why did I remember it so well? I wonder why it made such an impact on my seven-year-old mind. Regardless, I feel so satisfied in having tracked it down and found out that I DID remember it correctly. I feel so vindicated.


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A Year In Birdland

Today is day 365 of blogging for me. I’ve kept this thing going for a full year. Not sure that it’s any more entertaining today than it was on March 6, 2013, but it’s still here, and that’s saying something, right?

It’s also Ash Wednesday. Lent, Easter, and all the associated dates are so variable, that it’s hard to measure the years by those dates. Middle Bird’s birthday is March 28 and he celebrated his first birthday before he got to his first Easter.

The Girlie Bird’s first trip to church was on Ash Wednesday, that year it was back in February, and she pulled one of those baby power blows just as we stepped to the alter for the imposition of ashes. Yeah, you parents out there know what I’m talking about. When you’re holding your sweet newborn, and she’s sleeping so peacefully, then for just a second she screws up her tiny face for just a second, and there’s a rumbling that’s so deep and so foreboding that it doesn’t occur to you it might be coming from that bundle in your arms, then BAM, the explosion! And I just slipped out quietly hoping there hadn’t been a containment error.

Baby Bird was baptized on Easter Vigil. Actually, all three of the kids were baptized on changeable dates, the other two were Mothers and Fathers Days.

Babbling? Well, yeah, a little. But hey, that’s life. I just wanted to pop in and say it’s been a year. A full year of blogging, and that happens to end on Ash Wednesday, which is, of course, the beginning of Lent. I’m not sure what adventures Lent will bring this year. I don’t know what spring will bring. We’re not to spring, yet, but Lent is surely a good sign that we’re moving that direction!

 

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