Saturday, December 31, 2005

A Very Soapy Water Christmas

It's been a while since I last blogged. I'm uncertain what to write about, as Christmas has passed, New Year's has passed, and like the headline on this week's Onion, about 75% of it has already been forgotten. No offense to the holidays or the people with whom I spent them. If I think hard enough about it, it was a really fun, great time. So, if I'm going to Holiday Blog, I better do it before the 12 days of Xmas pass us by.

The Kid had a fabulous Christmas and is still basking in its glow. All of the battery operated toys have had to have battery replacements already. Well, except for one. Every year, my uncle chooses an electronic singing Christmassy gag present to send to my mom. This year, it was a bear with a santa hat and a somewhat disturbing undulating butt that sings "Shake Your Booty." Naturally, the children in my family found it fascinating. The adults all enjoyed it throughout the week, until there was one particularly long Shake Your Booty Marathon that made sure that that song will be indelibly etched in our minds. I've been completely unable to shake it [ew. see, I didn't mean for that pun to appear]. In future years, the children of our family will be asked, "What is your favorite Christmas Carol?" And they will answer "Shake Your Booty." At that moment, the devious laugh of my Uncle Bill will be heard, like a whisper, haunting the room.
I've developed a new-found paranoia regarding Santa Claus. Perhaps it because my niece, 9, is getting all analytical on us, and I fear the time is nigh for her. Thusfar, none of her questions have even gotten to The Kid. She interrogated him one evening about the wrapping paper that Santa had used in our house. He totally remembered, which surprised me. She had received a different paper. Hmmm.
Then, on Monday, The Kid I spent the day at my mom's house. This was an unplanned, day-long visit (lucky mom!), because I woke up on Monday morning to painter dudes on my balcony. This wasn't a complete surprise, as my HOA is currently repainting my building, but a situation that was less that perfect for my day off (robe, bad cable TV, and painter dudes looking in my condo. uncomfortable). So, to mom's we went. Mom, having turned a new leaf and enacting her resolution to organize her stuff in 2006, was cleaning out her closet when we arrived. Indeed, the same closet that I hid the wrapping paper that "Santa" had used to wrap The Kid's presents. This paper roll is still in my mom's closet when The Kid finds it, yells for us, and says, "Look! Santa and Meema have the same wrapping paper!!!" Freaking out, I just look at him, waiting for him to flash back to his conversation with my niece, to connect A to B, and for all of the fun of Christmas to fall to pieces in my mom's closet. Instead, The Kid says, "Meema knows all the good places to shop! Just like Santa." Phew.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Letters

I normally write a Christmas letter every year. I usually take the Kid out somewhere and we take a special picture to put in with the letter. I've even bought the special poinsettia laser printer paper and envelopes. I would spend hours, nay, days, on the letter, the addresses, the stamping. I would muse on life, tell about vacations, events, etc.

But what do you do when your Christmas letter would more likely read like Officer Krupke than Yes, Virginia? I tried writing a letter, but it kept coming out very Eeyore.

This year was tough, which is why I think I'm having a hard time not only with a Christmas letter, but with Christmas in general this year. Christmas comes during the longest nights, shortest days, and a time when my body just wants to hibernate. I want to do nothing but sleep.

2005 is a year I will be glad to be done with. But I'm trying really hard not to concentrate on the bad. Sure, my gramma died, I spent more time in psychiatrists and psychologists offices and school meetings than ever before, The Kid was diagnosed as bipolar in 2005, but I've also confirmed and reconfirmed throughout the year how much I really love That Kid. I mean, I love him so much I just look at him and want to consume him. Like I mean I want to EAT him. Whoa, that sounds psycho, but I think parents and people in love every where say, "Yeah, I know what that means." Lovers and madmen, and all that.

I can't forget, as well, that we had a fantastic summer. My best friend and truly, my soulmate (if only I swung that way!), Jaci decided early in the summer that she was going to move home to Chicago at the end of August. The entire summer, then, was devoted to spending time with her. The Kid and her have an extremely special bond, like they just like to hang out without me around. 2005 will go down as the year in which Sunday Sundae was invented. It is also the year in which Jaci met Anton Newcombe (also look here). Ha.

There has been a lot of good times with the tough times this year. That's life. And I love it.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


In a rare move for me, I've been in a consistently bad mood for the past two days. See, I'm truly wired to be happy. But for the last two days, I've been a complete grump. Work has been terrible. My boss cannot type. Coupled with that fact, he is an attorney. Simple tasks, like e-mails, take 500 times longer when one is working with a non-typing attorney. It's not different than usual, but it's been bugging me more, especially since I have plenty of my own work to do. Also, I'm getting a cold. Then there is Christmas, and although I really love my family and there is absolutely nothing I'm dreading this year (I expect no family spats, etc), the fact that Christmas is coming just pisses me off for some reason. Everything ticks me off. EVERYTHING. It's been upsetting.

For this reason, I'm feeling the necessity of a good Festivus airing of the greivances a few days early, if for no other reason, perhaps this bloodletting with make me get over this craptastic mood I've been in.

So, here is where I let it all out:

To The Kid's Teacher: You belong in a 7th grade math class, not in Kindergarten. You are cold, bitchy and nothing my son deserves in a kindergarten teacher. I know a good number of teachers and retired teachers read this blog. You must know I hold nothing against teachers in the grand sense. Just this one. She sucks. She lacks basic people skills. Her grammar and spelling is embarrasing. She treats communication with parents like going to the dentist (that would be with a horrid sense of obligation, devoid of pleasure). In my observations of her classroom, she has almost no interactions with her students as people, and instead delegates the job of speaking directly, one-on-one, to students to her para. One of The Kid's friend's parent called me one night to ask me if I found her unfriendly. I told her absolutely that I did find her unfriendly, and more than that, I felt like she would prefer if parents were not part of her job at all. The Kid's Friend's Parent replied, "Phew. I thought I was the only one. I was starting to worry that it was a race thing." While general unfriendliness is always preferable to racism, I found this exchange very disturbing.

Today was The Kid's last day of Kindergarten for the first semester. I sent him off to school with little gifties for The Teacher, The Para and The School Psychologist. They were pretty minor gifts, note pads, magnets, matching pens. You know, 3-5 dollar gifts. But still, they are presents. I also sent him with a Memory Game, requested by The Teacher on the school's giving tree. Each teacher wrote down their wish list on little snowmen, christmas trees, snowflakes, etc, for things that they would like for their classrooms. I will add that on Tuesday, I sent him with another item from her wish list. Additionally, my mom contributed an item on The Teacher's wish list. He came home from school today with a thank you note from The Para. He said The School Psychologist loved her gift most of all. I asked him what The Teacher said when he gave her her gift. He replied, "Nothing. I don't know." I asked, did she say Thank you? He thought about it for a minute, and said, "Well, I think so. I mean, she should have, right?"

She sucks. The end. She's not going to permanently scar him or anything, but she's literally not who I had in mind for him. Like, I open-enrolled him at that school with The School's other kindergarten teacher, who is exactly who should be teaching kindergarten, in mind. Unfortunately, I wasn't the only one who open enrolled her child at The School. They had to hire another Kindergarten teacher, hence, THE Teacher.

Only one more semester left. We can only hope for a better assignment for 1st grade.


Okay, airing of the greivances is now over. Now it's time for wrestling. Where's that Kid?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Best Worst Days

My Gramma died on December 4. She was 92 years old.

My mom called me in the last two minutes of the Bronco-KC game to tell me the news. The Broncos were attempting a come-from-behind win. I couldn't find my phone, however, so the ring went unanswered (typical of me, so if you ever call and get my voicemail, I'm probably home, I just am frantically following the ring, picking up pillows and blankets trying to locate it). When I eventually found the phone, I saw that my mom called. A call during the final two minutes of any bronco game by my mother would be unlikely, but especially during THIS game, so I knew there was something wrong. I called her back, and got the immediate voice mail transfer which is the 21st century's version of the busy signal.

I knew something was wrong, but never in a million years imagined it was my Gramma. Even though she was 92, she was still mentally sharp (if not more than me on a good day). She told me once that she attributed this to her daily habit of doing word searches and crossword puzzles.

When I finally did hear from my mom, she told me that Gramma had died. Weirdly enough, we are gauging time by that Bronco's game, which she was also watching. She died during the 2nd quarter or halftime, I think. Because she also had grandchildren living in Kansas City, we are uncertain for whom she was rooting. I take comfort that she had Denver and KC on her mind as she watched the game, and so was thinking of us all. She loved watching football games, and I don't think it really mattered to her who was playing, as long as she could watch a game. It is especially fitting that this was her last (I just wish the Broncos had won, ha ha). There is a connection with football and women in my family, a tradition I never really realized was so multigenerational until my sister wrote this, much more eloquently than I ever could, here.

After I had a good private cry, I had to prepare to tell The Kid that his Great-Gramma had gone to heaven. I'm not an over thinker. I am also not a "protector" of kids from bad news. My dad died when I was twelve, and I've often thought that I grieved and understood my dad's death in a much more intuitive way, as only a child can, than my sisters (all adults by then) and mom. Children, quite simply, are amazing in their wisdom.

I knew I had to just tell him, simply. I had no idea how he'd react, as he's never seen death except in our family dog (he was only three) and a slew of pet fishes. I went to get a drink of water. He had quickly taken over the TV after the bronco game, and I told him to turn off the TV and come to the kitchen. He saw that I'd been crying, and I must say I love that my child has empathy. He knew I was upset, and in a soft voice, said, "What's wrong, mama?" I told him, Great Gramma Taylor died today, she's in heaven now.

His reaction shocked me. He gasped and started bawling. Much like I was surprisingly shocked that my Gramma had died in the first place, The Kid's emotion also surprised me. He stood by the fridge, crying. He leaned back onto the fridge and slid down by his back, into a fetal position while holding his arms out for me to hug him. We cried and hugged in the kitchen for a long time, until I moved him onto the couch, where we talked through our cries. He asked me, "Does this mean we won't see Gramma ever again?" That's right, Kid. "But I'm going to miss her." Me too.

The funeral was set for Friday, December 10th in Bethany, (North Central) Missouri. This town is both my Gramma and Grampa's birthplaces, and where my Grampa was laid to rest 11 years ago. It was strange to go to work on Monday, wanting to mourn, but not really knowing how that would be done here in Denver, and knowing that we'd leave for the funeral on Thursday. The week went by in a liminal state, until we could get to Missouri.

On Thursday, we finally set off. It's a 12 hour road trip. Not much to tell about this road trip except that The Kid and I did our own version of Homer and Bart's "are we there yet?" but ours was more like, "Are we still in Kansas?" Yes. [10 minutes pass] "Are we still in Kansas?" YES!

When we arrived in Bethany, it was late. I roomed with my sister who told me about the next day's service. She, of course, would be singing, as she is a professional singer, and as a family we do everything we can to hear her sing at every family event (Bonnie, now you know why we bought the karaoke machine... ha ha). Gramma was not a religious person, although she was by all accounts a good, faith-ful person. She didn't leave us instructions, bible verses or poems to read at her service. Everyone had been racking their brains to choose a bible verse or two, and no one really had volunteered to give a eulogy.

I tossed and turned all night thinking that no one would eulogize her from our family (of course the preacher was going to, but he had only recently met her at her brother's funeral, just a month ago). The seed of the eulogy took shape as I fell asleep, so the next morning, I volunteered. The way my family is, someone would have done it, and done it beautifully, I just volunteered first.

So, the service began at 10:30 the next morning. I remember little, as funerals always go so quickly. The preacher said nice things. Bonnie sang wonderfully. My sister Kathy read a bible verse that I still don't know what it was. My cousin Stephanie, all heart, read from Ecclesiates. Then it was my turn. I would have no idea what I said, except that I kept the pages that I wrote my notes on, but the basics were thus:

If there is one thing in my short 29 years on earth is that funerals are the ultimate bittersweet experience. Although you've lost someone that is dear to you, you have the opportunity to come together with all of your family and friends, to mourn and show your love. We get to sort through the memories and make new ones together. There is laughter through the tears.

Today we've come together to say goodbye to Gramma. The first thing that I think of when I remember Gramma is her accent. There is none out there like it, she had the most amazing affect to her voice, containing Missouri, Washington DC, Texas, Nebraska, all in one. Henry Higgins could have never placed this one.

The second thing I think of is food. Her amazing molasses cookies, hamloaf, her excessive freezing... All remnants of her generation, of waste-not-want-not, and the understanding of real need.

The third thing, is her opinions. If you knew her, you knew her thoughts on everything.

The fourth were her letters. Our Grampa's letters were weekly updates on his typewriter: long, wordy newsletters to his friends and family. [total side note and not mentioned in the eulogy, but I think my grampa would have been a blogger!] Gramma, however, wrote something more like a telegram, a real slice of the 5 minutes it took her to write you her note: "Dear So-and-so, The weather is fine. Uncle Don is out running the dogs. I'm going to make a sandwich. Love, Gramma."

The amazing thing is that most of my memories of Gramma are intermingled with everyone else in our family. I can still see my dad cleaning the picture windows of their house before Gramma and Grampa's 50th wedding anniversary. I remember Christmases in Texas, and the long road trips to and fro, and the varying degrees of drama within. I remember Gramma making breakfast while we lined up for morning hugs from Grampa. I remember talent shows at the reunions in Kansas. I remember hearing Gramma laugh at her great grandchildren at our big family reunion just this past summer in Colorado.

As I think of all of these family memories, I realize what a great gift Gramma gave us. Eachother. We are her legacy. She's given us so much to share, so much to build on, and so much to be grateful for. She gave us the gift of us, a family, together.

Thank you. And Goodbye.

I know that I didn't say all of that. I also cried very hard through much of it, so if I said it, it might not have been intelligible.

The service was really simple but beautiful, and was mostly attended by family although there were a couple of family friends who were there. There was a mouse, however, who attended the service. As he didn't sign the guest book, it is uncertain if he knew my grandmother, or if he was a funeral crasher, like Maude. At any rate, he darted around the podium/pulpit/dais (it was a non-denominational funeral home, I don't know what to call it), under the flowers, and even under the casket and gave my mom and my aunt a good case of the giggles in the middle of a prayer.

After the funeral we went for lunch at Bethany's finest eating establishment, The Toot Toot. It's an all you can eat extravaganza of farm food and Midwestern delicacies (I'm so not kidding, the food is really good. As a testimonial, as we ate, a huge family-or village?-of Amish or Mennonite folks came in for a meal. If the Amish are showing up for the farm food, you know it's good...). There is an extraordinary amount of antique-ish dolls, old signs and fantastic old photographs of local history throughout the restaurant. The chairs and tables have price tags on them. I have no idea why, but I might venture to guess that if you really over indulged at the buffet, you could just buy the chair you are sitting in and perhaps another patron could just throw you, still affixed with mashed potato and gravy epoxy to the chair, into the back of their pick up and just drop you at home. Just a possibility.

In all, it was an great experience. I feel so morbid saying this, but I really like funerals. Like I said in the eulogy, it's a chance for the family to get together, to bond, to re-cement. And I feel that right now. I've seen my entire extended family twice this year. This is, all things considered, the best thing about 2005 for me. My Gramma only got to see us one of those two times, but I am confident that she would have been pleased to see us together again.

One last note, and I'll end this very very long post. My Mom gave Gramma a "Grandmother's Journal" a couple of years ago and she filled it out. It is absolutely priceless. In it she wrote about her childhood, her parents, meeting and dating Grampa. My advice to the internet and the world: if you have a grandparent who you would be interested in knowing more about, give one of these books to them. Hopefully they will fill it out.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Procrastination of more important things...

Shannon told me to do this, and as I am having a hard time writing in complete sentences lately, I will comply.

Seven things to do before I die:

  • Make sure that every one I love knows it, and knows it well.
  • Write the post I am procrastinating right now.
  • Take The Kid back to the land where he was conceived, aka Ireland. The key to this is to take him when he's old enough to get it, be game with me while I make him cross sheep fields to show him the churches I researched in my former life, and ultimately be old enough to go to the pubs with me as well. Perhaps a college graduation present of some kind?
  • Go with my best friend to Southeast Asia, India, or Guatemala (all three would be okay with me as well)
  • Run a successful and "Meaningful, Beneficial" business with my best friend (big plans here, will write about it someday)
  • Meet Jimmy Carter, although Bill Moyers would do fine as well.
  • This is really geeky, but I'd love to go to the Oscars someday. I realize now that I will never be accepting my own award, but now I'd be happy to sit in the balcony.

Seven Things I Cannot Do:

  • Be completely rude to telemarketers. They tick me off, but I can't help but say sorry and please to them, because honestly they have one of the shittiest jobs on earth.
  • Run a marathon (because, why?)
  • Keep my house clean for more than three consecutive days. Maybe I should try for four and put it up with the things I will do before I die... There's a lofty goal.
  • Feel put upon. This is MY life, and if I'm bummed, I own that bumm-ed-ness.
  • Order magazines from those "keep kids off drugs" kids that go door to door in the ugliest pyramid scheme ever concocted.
  • Streak through a public place, like the Oscars, for instance.
  • Apathy. I just don't DO that.
Seven things that I love about The Kid:
(changed slightly to fit my purposes)

  • He's a charmer
  • He has the cutest freckles on his hand
  • He is loving, empathetic and feels deeply
  • He is earnest, and says everything with complete conviction and honesty
  • He has the most adorable swirly cowlick on his forehead
  • The way that he says the word, "waffle."
  • His creativity

Seven things I say often:

  • Yo. This is a great enhancement to the end of a sentence. It makes mundane statement just a little bit funny. It's tranformative. It turns the command, "Put your socks on!" into a more playful request of, "Put your socks on, yo."
  • Ridiculous. Because it so often fits.
  • I love you. Or at least I try.
  • These words may or may not actually come out of my mouth, but I think of them often, at least at work: jackass, fuck-wad.
  • For sure. I usually say it like the blond muppet lady in the band, like, "fer shure."
  • I've been quoting the movie Elf quite a bit lately. Even to people who've never seen the movie. Yesterday I told someone I had an idea that I was particularly psyched out of my mind about...
  • I type this into emails every day: Please let me know... Please let me know if you need any help completing XY or Z... Please let me know if this is report meets your expectations. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do... etc.

Seven books or book series I love:

  • Harry Potter
  • Lolita
  • V. (T. Pynchon)
  • Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany
  • Don Quixote (the first postmodern novel!!!)
  • The amazing amazing art historical writings of Meyer Schapiro

Seven movies I watch over and over again:

  • Elf
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • Raising Arizona
  • Parenthood
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the original, thankyouverymuch)
  • Best in Show
  • When I was about 11 or 12, I watched Gone with the Wind EVERY DAY. Not the whole movie, but I could get through the whole thing in about a week. I adored Scarlett O'Hara. I bought it out of a bargain bin a couple of years ago, and was shocked that I loved her so much, I mean, she's a wreck, a horrible person, and she makes really bad decisions. But at least she was plucky, and would never go hungry again. This is proof that you can raise a feminist while as a child she can look up to misguided women (Scarlett, Barbie, etc).

I shall not participate in the "tagging" of other bloggers, mostly because my internet community is extremely small and I don't know 7 other bloggers...

Have a fantastic day!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Fa wa wa wa

Note to self: Never forget how adorable it is to hear The Kid sing Christmas carols, especially the ones laden with the "L" sound, as The Kid now substitutes W's for L's.

"Deck the haws with boughs of hah-wee. Fa wa wa wa waaa..."

Sunday, November 27, 2005


We are very very lucky people living here in the US. Today, Nicholas Kristof wrote in the NY Times another in his series of reports from the Darfur region of Sudan. (I would link you to it, but it is one of the articles available only to "premium subscribers." If you find yourself near a newsstand today, I suggest you shell out the 2.50 and buy The Times if for no other reason than to read this article, and Frank Rich's while you're at it!!!)

In his article, Kristof linked to this blog. It is written by an aid worker living in the region, and she is telling us information that we are getting from no American news source that I've been able to see, other than Mr. Kristof. Two years ago, the president and congress passed a completely impotent resolution against the genocide in Darfur, and since, in American minds, the issue appears to have been "solved." Unfortunately, the genocide continues, and much like Rwanda in 1994, it continues unabated and with no sign of help from the US, and very little from NGO's and the UN. We can only hope that unlike in Rwanda, the aid agencies are able to stay to help the displaced people.

Why is it that people are complacent? We are talking hundreds of thousands killed because of their ethnicities. Is it because the notion of Africa comes with the a priori images of rape, civil war, AIDS and famine? Is it because they are black? Is it because the idea of helping them seems hopeless? Or is it because no one even knows about it until someone in Hollywood decides to make a movie about it?

For me, this is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night. Education is the key here, and I'm not just talking about being able to locate Sudan on a map of the world. I'm not even talking about schools. We need to educate our children and each other in the art of empathy. It's so simple. How would you feel if you were forced to go out into fields to collect grasses, certain that if the armies of your enemies find you, you will be raped, if you are female, or killed, if you are male? Did you know that the women in the camps in Darfur often do this work, get the water or the food outside of the camp, because if they are found, they will be "only" raped while their husbands would be murdered in the same scenario? Can you imagine making that choice? Beyond the simple "substitution" idea of empathy, there is then our government, that has the power to fight this kind of killing (but I suppose has never done so appropriately), but instead seems overly concerned with filling their own pockets with a corporate, oligarchical political agenda and keeping alive a single braindead woman in a coma in Florida. In my ideal world, the ideas of empathy and democracy would be one and the same.

We are so lucky to have been born here. Here is my Thanksgiving post, I suppose. For me, I am thankful to be a financially struggling single mother of a bipolar child. I still have everything that I need, and am not in danger.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Turkey's over, Bring on the Roast Beast!!!

Okay, how is it not only November, but almost December? They say that time flies when you are having fun. Clearly, the last three months have been LOADS of fun, then. My mindset is still in August. Maybe I've progressed to understand that it's September. The weather is not helping. Last week we had temps in the 70's. Damn this global warming.

I did put up my Christmas tree today. Whoa. The Kid was PSYCHED. I had told him that the chore for today was to clean the house so we could get out the Christmas stuff. Like, get out the Christmas stuff, eventually. He saw it as a one-day deal... So, like any right minded 5 year old, he woke me up at 6:30, rolled the vacuum into my room, and said, "Get up! It's time to clean!!!" Um, a little role reversal anyone?

I fought him for time. We did wake up and clean, but I was still in no way in the mood for Christmas stuff. I then remembered, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." We watched Elf, which I now have to admit is my absolute favorite Christmas movie--sorry to all my Hoosiers and Christmas Story fans, and my dad, for It's a Wonderful Life (which is not so much a Christmas movie to me but a year-round reminder of the impact of our lives and definitely one of the best tear jerkers EVER made, and so falls under a whole other category). I drank a cup of coffee, and frankly, I'm not sure which gave me the initiative more, but we then decorated. Beautifully, I might add. It's always so fun to get your Christmas decor out.

The Kid then wrote his letter to Santa:

Dear Santa,

I've been very good. I helped my mom clean and put up the decorations. Can I please have some presents now? [Oh, now I get the motivation... Kind of like cramming for the exam!!!] What I would like for Christmas is:

  • Scamps, my playful pup
  • Smoochie Pup
  • Sunshine Bear (a care bear)
  • A new remote control Velociraptor [so I guess we can't get him a used one?]
  • A sled
  • A kid RV [his only 'dream on' entry, he wants one of those mechanical cars for kids, which, dream on, yo.]
  • A Dinosaur Skeleton Puzzle
  • A new stuffed penguin w/ a Santa hat [um, what?]
  • Harry Potter stuff, especialy a Dobby toy
  • Cold-nosed pup in yellow [I was laughing at this, until I googled it, and they're way cute, although I still don't get the "cold nose" thing. Is it refridgerated? Will I have to put water in it? I'm scared...]


The Kid

All in all a pretty good list. Santa can abide. Something makes me think that The Kid likes dogs...

I still don't believe it's November. Now I need to go shopping? Huh?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

All is well

The Kid made it through his surgery just fine. I hate saying surgery because it makes it so much more of a big deal than it was. I mean, it was a big deal, but only because of the general anesthesia. The rest of it was normal dentistry.

More later, I've got a date with Harry Potter.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Jumping the Shark

Funny Kid.

He just asked me, "Is jumping sharks a sport?"

I said no, realizing he wouldn't let this issue rest until he knew what the heck shark jumping is all about. He got the idea from a cartoon, called Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, which recently aired an episode about one of the main characters rising to fame, until he jumped a shark tank, and then fell to obscurity again.

So, I began, "Once upon a time, there was a show called Happy Days..."

The Kid sat on my bed in rapt attention as I told him the story of Fonzie waterskiing over the sharks, and how the phrase "jumping the shark" has come to be a signal, a phenomenon, when a TV show becomes no good. This is how we spend our evenings. For reals.

When I finished the story, The Kid got super excited and said, "I want to see Fonzie water ski!!! That sounds so COOL!"


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Happy Birthday Meema!

Today is the birthday of The Kid and my favorite person in the world... Happy Birthday mom!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

What's the worst word in the English language? Dentist.

In March of 2004, I took The Kid to the dentist for the first time. He had just turned four. I had avoided going to the dentist mostly because I feared his lack of ability to handle the experience. In short, he's too much of a spaz for the dentist's office. Also, I had no idea that people brought their children to the dentist much earlier than four. Apparently, they do.

We went to the dentist in March of 2004 because The Kid had an extreme toothache. Because that was an "emergency" visit, they didn't clean his teeth, but instead they told me that they had to extract the offending tooth immediately because it was so badly infected. I thought I'd never felt like a worse parent at that news. That was until they put him in the straight jacket (in fairness, they call it a "papoose.") and used a mouth holder-opener car-jack-type of instrument and had four people holding him down, holding his head still until they got the tooth out, while he screamed, vomited and cried. The Kid was horrified, and he told me later that he thought they were going to kill him.

We then came back a few weeks later for a proper teeth-cleaning and dental exam. He had about 10 cavities, needed four root canals and would be given silver caps on 6 teeth.

The author of this post has never had a cavity [knocks on wood]. I do not have soda in my house except on birthdays, and I rarely even have juice. We do eat our fair share of ice cream, but don't have candy around, pretty much ever--halloween excepted. I could not get the dentist to believe me on these points (except for the ice cream part), and instead of just listening to me and talking about next steps or perhaps a stab in the dark why his enamel might be bad other than my complete and utter neglect of him, he felt it necessary to inform me that we do not feed our children gummy bears for dinner and don't have them gargle with Yoo-Hoo. Thanks, Dentist.

In order to do all of this work, and in light of the straight-jacket experience, they opted to have him put under general anesthesia in order to fix his teeth. This all went well. Done. We've been back since, again, all well.

About a month ago, The Kid started up about a toothache again.

Shit. Again, we went into the dentist's office on an emergency basis. They took an x-ray of the tooth he said hurt, but found nothing. I think this disturbed me more than had there been full-scale tooth decay. Was it psycho-somatic? The imaginary toothache?

Since then, I've just treated the toothache with small doses of motrin and tylenol. Generally, he's been okay. Last Friday, however, he started screaming at my mom's house about his pain. This began at 7pm or so. We went home, put him in the bath, tried to get him down to sleep. The whole time, he screamed and winced in pain. I gave him new doses of pain killer every two or three hours. At midnight, I gave him a full (and then some) dose of Benadryl. Still, no sleep, the pain didn't let up. At 2am, desperate and frankly freaking out, we went to the emergency room. By the time the doctor finally saw us, though, the drugs and the crying finally caught up with The Kid and he passed out. The ER doc told me to give him motrin. That was $50 and a sleepless night (next to the drunk tank and a guy having a heart attack) well spent.

We had a long standing (like, before the toothache began) check up scheduled for today. He has to get another silver cap and another root canal. And, sure enough, he does have a tooth that needs to come out. The pain he complained of on the day we went to the dentist before was on his lower teeth. The inflicted tooth is actually on the top. The dentist explained that pain can transfer because of the many nerves in the mouth, hence the confusion. Sure wish they would have thought of that before, huh?

She said she wanted to take the tooth out, that they had a "papoose" that would hug him and restrain him. I said, NO STRAIGHT JACKET. Then I said words like "Bipolar" and "ADHD" and "four people on top of him and he still wasn't still" and I got her attention. She suggested sedation, although she mentioned that sometimes it doesn't work.

Knowing our luck, I said, The Kid will be one of those to not be sedated by sedation.

In order to get the sedation, however, we'd have to wait for a month before they could see us. I told her this was impossible. The Kid is in real pain, and what would happen if we let the infection spread for another month?

I asked about going elsewhere, and she kind of played along with it for a while, until she decided to get advice from the attending physician (this dental clinic is in the Children's Hospital, and is a teaching program). Apparently, the attending agreed with me, and suggested another round of general anesthesia. This would be a two month wait. Additionally, this would take medical director's approval, and he's out golfing or vacationing or whatever doctors do when they aren't at work, until Tuesday.

Here we are, to the right of us is a rock, and to the left of us is a hard place.

Two months of slamming back shots of motrin morning and night? Doesn't sound too great. We left it that she'd get back to me Tuesday, and we'd work on it then. My brain hurt so much at that point that I agreed.

One hour later, I got a call on my cell phone. She told me that she talked to the other attending and he cleared a space in the OR for us on Tuesday, November 15. They will take care of his teeth then. I thanked her excessively.

So, I am relieved. Only 4 more days of yelping pain. At the same time, I'm stressed beyond belief. More medical bills. More time away from work. And will he need general anesthesia every time he gets a cavity filled? And will we ever be able to address why his teeth are such crap despite our brushing, flossing and lack of sugary drinks about the house?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

We had an interesting night Tuesday. The Kid got to go to his first all-ages Rock and Roll concert.

Before you go all, "No She Di-dint" on me, it was the taping of a radio show that will eventually air on NPR, so like, chill out. It was still a pretty subversive first concert, though.

Techinically, however, I must document that his first concert was a Boston Pop's Fourth of July concert in 2004 (my big sister sings with the Tanglewood Choir and we had to go see her sing in it!!!), a highpoint of that show being that Diamond David Lee Roth (yeah, that David Lee Roth)guest starred, and we later met him, but that is a story for another time.

I was slated to see a fave band of mine called Bright Eyes perform at the taping a radio show called E-Town. I was to go with my friend who, that afternoon, called to tell me that she had the stomach flu and wouldn't be able to attend.

I am not missing Bright Eyes again! I told myself. Every one of their shows this year (and in a rare move, there have been three) was sold out before I ever heard about it. And, like, it's a hobby of mine to know who's coming to town. I've just been cursed with the Bright Eyes thing. The E-Town opportunity was not to be missed. I did a little half-hearted scrambling to see if anyone else could go with me, before I thought of The Kid.

Well, the tickets say "all ages"...

I weighed the decision. Late school night/someday legend of singer-songwriters... I chose to take The Kid to his first Rock and Roll concert.

Granted, it was in Boulder, so it wouldn't be smoky, and it would be a short set because it's only an hour-long radio show. It was actually ideal, although The Kid is only 5.

So, we headed up to Boulder for the show, and arrived just in time to find 2 okay seats toward the back. The Kid suggested we go check out the balcony, perhaps we could find better seats up there... The show began with another singer-songwriter named Eliza Gilkyson. The Kid pretty much freaked out completely in the middle of her set because he changed his mind about the seating arrangement he'd chosen.

Now, during the taping of radio shows, it is generally frowned upon to have a temper tantrum. Just so you know.

The Kid FREAKED. At first, he silently suffered, wrinkling his face up, tears streaking down his face. I told him, DEAL. Then it hit the fan (oops, my bad). He hit full tantrum stride right as we made our way out of the balcony section and into the lobby of the theatre. As we sat on the stairs of the Boulder Theatre's lobby, The Kid sobbing into my arms, this grumpy usher-guy came up to me and shushed us, and said, "You need to quiet him down."

I gave him a good crusty, as I can only do when defending my kid, and said, "Working on it!" but refrained ending the sentence as I was wont to do with an "Asshole."

After a minute, I got The Kid to settle down just enough to level with him. We can't stay out here. We can't sit downstairs (it was sold out). I'm not leaving without seeing some damn Bright Eyes. Let's go back to the balcony.

Then a nice usher-woman came up and gave The Kid an E-Town sticker, and asked him what was the matter. He replied, "If *gasp* we sit *sniff* upstairs I won't *tears dropping* see Bright *wipe nose* Eyes close *snort* enough..."

The nice usher-woman winked at me and said, "Let me see what we can do." She disappeared into the house of the theatre. A moment later, she came back to say that she'd found a couple of seats up front for us, but that The Kid would have to promise to be super-duper quiet.
She led us to the front VIP section, where we could see PERFECTLY, and even had our own table. It was glorious. I wanted to give The Kid a high-five. I've pushed my way to the front at concerts, but I've never bratted my way there. This is a new strategy...

[side note for Grubmer and Boc--you think Jugs or her kid at the bronco games has a mental/nervous disorder and thus gets those good ADA seats? Not like I'd work it that way, but just wondering...]

So, the show totally rocked. Not only was the music great, but it was fun to see diminutive, bohemian Conor Oberst (lead singer/songwriter for Bright Eyes) go all 'young Bob Dylan' and alienate, mystify and not directly answer any of the questions from the middle-aged hippie host dude. The show will be broadcast sometime in December, check out the website and find out when it will be on a station near you. In Denver, it's on Sunday's on KBCO I think at 7 or 8pm.

As we left, The Kid and I went up to thank the nice usher-lady. After that was done, coincidentally as we stood right in front of the Bright Eyes merchandise table, The Kid asked loudly, "Do you think we can meet Bright Eyes now?" [After the Boston incident and meeting David Lee Roth, I think he may think you can always go meet the stars of the show afterward?] The merch guy heard The Kid say that, and immediately showed up with a Bright Eyes t-shirt for The Kid. It's one of those rediculously tiny women's t-shirts and it actually fits The Kid great, except that it's a little bit long. The Kid wore it to school today, totally proud, thinking he was too cool for school.

So, Jaci, don't feel so bad that you're gone in Chicago. Erin, don't feel bad about the stomach flu. I found myself a new concert buddy. Wonder what they'd do if I showed up at the Larimer Lounge with a 5-year old? Just kidding....

Just a little more Harry Potter

I got super frustrated trying to put all of these photos on one post the other night that I gave up completely, but I still feel a real need to share.

These three photos The Kid himself commissioned from me. He wanted to act out "being Harry Potter," and I got to document it.

Picture number one: The Kid is acting out Harry finding the snitch in his hand as he wins his first Quidditch game.

Picture number two: This is what Harry Potter looked like when he fought Voldemort.

Picture number three: This is how Harry felt when he looked into the Mirror of Erised.

I'm a sucker for The Kid's acting. He gets my personal Oscar fer sure...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Harry Potter

Blogger is driving me crazy tonight, so I'm not finding a lot of patience to make this perfect, but here are pictures of The Kid as Harry Potter.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Quick Word About My Boss

I know, I know, we've all heard about the girl who lost her job because of her blogging about work. I've seen her site (here), and it's actually very funny. Anyway, this post is in reverence of the man I call my boss, although he's technically not my boss, but I've never met my technical boss and I'm frankly kind of scared of that guy (and no fear of getting "dooced" for that one, because from the little I know of him, he'd love to know that I was scared... Like dogs and bees, he can smell it anyway, all the way from the east coast.).

As I've written before, my boss's mother had BPD, and his eldest son has it as well. My boss, however, does not. Instead, he has the most amazing ability to calm people down, is cheerful and even keeled (is that how that is spelled?). I've been in meetings with him where tempers have flared, and he has the most amazing knack at regaining focus, getting everyone to acknowledge what they are angry about without remaining angry, and moving on to the task at hand. I've been known to throw my own little temper tantrums at work, as it is a highly frustrating job, and he constantly refocuses me, calms me down, and not only points me toward the solution, but does it in a way that aids ME in finding the solution myself. This of course, is a personality of a man who spent his childhood essentially mothering his mother when she would get manic.

He's seriously one of the most amazing and kind people I've ever met... I love him like a family member, but one that, you know, you work with and would feel really weird hanging out with at a swimming pool or something.

When I told him that the forthcoming DU report was going to find bipolar disorder as a possible diagnosis for The Kid, he immediately ushered me into his office. We sat down, talked a little about what it was like for his son. Luckily, they knew that lithium worked on my boss's mother, so they pretty quickly found a dosage that worked with my boss's son as well, and since then, he's done pretty well. He's in high school now, is class president, an athlete, and scored decently on his SAT's and will probably get into a pretty good university.

During this conversation, I said, Boss, don't you get this strange sense of serendipity here? I am so lucky to know you.

He let out a gasp and started to cry, and nodded. I cannot tell you what that felt like. It was, um, cosmic. I was meant to meet him, to have him help me. I can't imagine what I'd be feeling with this diagnosis if I didn't know my boss and his son.

Do you understand now? I am blessed! If you thought that I was overly naive or optimistic with the whole "this is the best of all possible worlds" thing, do you get it now? I can't ever feel "why me?" or feel put upon, because it just all fits together so well. It feels like destiny. It feels like it's what we are meant to do.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Kid is a Genius

He's doing his homework right now. His job is to draw his favorite fairy tale character. He chose Puss in Boots. He grabbed a fairy tale anthology that I have that has a picture of Puss bowing on the cover. He is currently drawing a really shockingly accurate bold-lined contour drawing. Like, I don't think that I could do it this well. I'm seriously freaking the f*ck out right now. It's amazing.

... Ten minutes later...

He lost interest in it, and then rushed the ending. He's a genius, with attention issues...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Totally Off Topic...

But I just had to comment.

Tonight, the voters of Denver passed a referendum to make possessing an ounce of marijuana legal. They did it on a platform of "Well, if you are stoned, then you won't beat your wife." I'm totally not kidding about that.

I've been totally and completely annoyed by the entire campaign since day one. It's such a defeatist attitude... "Since you are going to get butt-ass wasted anyway, why don't you try pot? You won't get in fights this way." Dude, that is like so totally a stoner way to fight the man. Too bad you'll REALLY want to still get behind the wheel of your car to go buy Twinkies at 2 am.

But then I got to thinking, it was truly brilliant. Basically what's been done here is to decriminalize pot possession, freeing the prisons and law enforcement to investigate more serious drug issues, sellers, ect. No one in Denver would have passed it had it been promoted like that...

So, the owners of 7-11 and Taco Bell rejoice around the city. I predict Phish, Widespread Panic and Grateful Dead album sales will soar.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween Quickie

Just as an FYI, the Kid chose to be Harry Potter for halloween in the end. Just thought you'd like to know.

I'll post a picture soon!!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Ah, sense memories...

Don't ask me how it started, but The Kid and I just got done with a house-wide water-wing soccer tournament. I have no idea why, when or how the water wings found their way in to the living room. I just saw them on the floor while corralling The Kid toward the bath tub, and kicked one of them at The Kid to get his attention. He got a devilish look in his eye and kicked it back at me. Naturally, I kicked not one, but two water wings at The Kid. On my hardwood floor, those suckers can get to flying. It's kind of like they become little hovercrafts. Suddenly, a super-competitive new sport has been born. The Kid played through a stubbed toe, even, this Water Wing Soccer is not for sissies.

The best part of the whole thing? As the game made it's way back to my bath room, The Kid asked me to blow up one of the water wings more so he could take it in the bath with him. As I bit at the plastic-blower-upper-nozzle to blow some more air into the water wing, I could still totally taste the last pool we'd gone to, and for a quick second, I was transported to one week before Kindergarten started, when The Kid and I took a spur-of-the-moment vacation to the Hot Springs Pool at Glenwood Springs (if you've ever been there, you know what I mean about tasting the water, it's all sulphur-ish and mineral-y).

Last summer feels like a different age to me now. I've never been a worry wart. I've never had trouble sleeping. I've never found a gray hair. But in the last two months, I've turned into a complete wreck. My house is an embarrassing mess, I'm disgustingly behind at work, I've forgotten bills (literally, FORGOTTEN, not "forgotten" or claiming "willful blindness"). I've become wistful at the taste of sulphur on a water wing (and thus need therapy, clearly).

The Kid has gone into a spiral of violent outburts and aggression, while I can't say they weren't completely absent two months ago, but at least they didn't show up in my home. The Kid has uttered the words, "I hate school" and "Everyone hates me" and I know he means it. It's been dark, tough times.

But it all comes back to my favorite 4 letter word: DEAL. We can't go back, and can only continue on the path, complete the hard work. I subscribe devotedly (and knowingly, and tongue in cheekingly) to the idea from Candide on the view of our world:

...the old woman ventured one day to tell them:
"I would be glad to know which is worst, to be ravished a hundred times by Negro pirates, to have one buttock cut off, to run the gauntlet among the Bulgarians, to be whipped and hanged at an auto-da-fe, to be dissected, to be chained to an oar in a galley; and, in short, to experience all the miseries through which every one of us hath passed, or to remain here doing nothing?"
"This," said Candide, "is a grand question."

Indeed, this is the best of all possible worlds, because this is the one The Kid and I inhabit. Right?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Nature is ancient and surprises us all...

A little Bjork quote to title a post specifically for my mommy.

I was given a tomato plant early in the summer. I transferred it to an enormous pot and have taken good care of it all summer, but no tomatoes. This is a bummer as I was told this was an heirloom plant (THE.BEST.TOMATOES.EVER). As it's started to get cold (and has even snowed once already), I've neglected my flowers and the tomato plant, putting off cleaning up my balcony for some other weekend (why do it today, right?). Well, this weekend, after not watering, deadheading or paying any attention at all to my miniature garden for at least two weeks, I found 5 tomatoes on my plant! They are small and amorphous, but they are tomatoes. And I grew them!!!

The Kid is excited, as he is a great garden helper, although he still stated that he only eats tomatoes in ketchup form.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Psych Eval.

I can't seem to organize my thoughts from last Wednesday's meeting. I met with the DU psychologists to go over the results of The Kid's evaluation. The important things we found out boil down to the following bullet points (I get all technical when I don't know what to say):

  • The Kid is really intelligent
  • The Kid's behaviors are consistent (VERY consistent) with ADHD
  • The Kid's behaviors and non-responsiveness to ADHD meds indicate a mood disorder like bipolar disorder

I'm not particularly frightened of the bipolar diagnosis, particularly because my boss has a bipolar son who is a STAR. It's not a death sentence. What scares me is the drugs. Lithium, anyone? YIKES! I haven't had the chance to talk to the Psychiatrist yet, but she had mentioned that our next step after Adderall would be mood disorder drugs. Because I didn't know The Kid's father for a very long time (about a month), I don't know his history. I do know that he was extremely charming, had a quick mind and was very high-energy and with hindsight can see either ADHD or bipolar attributes. I don't know about either of those things in my family history, although my dad's side has a history of alcoholism (hello, IRISH!), and who knows what they were self-medicating, although being a drinker doesn't mean that you have mental disorder other than being pre-disposed to addiction.

I need to read up about bipolar in children. I was skeptical at first, when they mentioned it. The Kid doesn't get depressed, so what I know of bipolar disorder is that there are periods of mania followed by periods of depression. Apparently, it isn't that simple when it presents in children. The one website I have counted on through this whole time, NIMH, lists attributes here. On the website, they list the manic behaviors:

  • Severe changes in mood, either extremely irritable or overly silly and elated
  • Overly-inflated self-esteem; grandiosity
  • Increased energy
  • Decreased need for sleep, ability to go with very little or no sleep for days without tiring
  • Increased talking, talks too much, too fast; changes topics too quickly; cannot be interrupted
  • Distractibility, attention moves constantly from one thing to the next
  • Hypersexuality, increased sexual thoughts, feelings, or behaviors; use of explicit sexual language
  • Increased goal-directed activity or physical agitation
  • Disregard of risk, excessive involvement in risky behaviors or activities

I am not convinced. Maybe some of these things he is too young to even show (hypersexuality, for example), but I don't see the grandiosity... But yes, he gets angry. Yes, he had never been a sleeper until he passes out, and it has taken a great deal of work on my part to get bedtime down. Disregard of risk? Just ask my mom, who last year found him climbing on the outside of a third-floor balcony at a condo we had rented for a weekend-mountain getaway.

As far as the depression:

  • Persistent sad or irritable mood
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Significant change in appetite or body weight
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Physical agitation or slowing
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

I don't see these... He doesn't get sad. Irritable, I suppose, yes. I just don't know. My boss mentioned that when his son was first diagnosed, he didn't believe it. His mother had been a classic manic-depressive. My boss told me that what he hates more than anything is when furniture is moved in his house. His mom always rearranged the furniture at home when she would start on a manic kick. He knows bipolar disorder, was raised by it and is now raising it. His son is 18, has overcome considerable odds and by all accounts will be a successful adult. At any rate, my boss was skeptical that his son's behavior was being put under the same umbrella as his mother's. He described to me a few more things that his son showed early on:

  • Need for "justice" and would lose it if he felt that something was "unfair"
  • Inability to distinguish between adults and children, in realms of familiarity and in discipline (see above, it was unfair that adults could do something he couldn't)
  • Moodiness, turning into volitile tantrums
  • Upset over imperfection (beat himself up for messing up)

So, it's all very interesting. They had me fill out another behavior survey, and I suppose I'll be hearing more about their verdict as they complete the report, which I should get the week of Nov. 7th.

On a total other, and way fun, note: The Kid and I had a pumpkin extravaganza last night. I had a pie pumkin and as yesterday was relatively cool, I decided it was okay to have the oven on for a few hours. I baked the pumpkin so that I could make one of my favorite cookie recipes (yummy, cakey pumpkin cookies that are really good for breakfast!!). I looked on line to find a recipe for pumkin bread or something else I could make with pumpkin, and came across this recipe for eyeball cupcakes. I just HAD to make them, even though they have no pumpkin in them. I think they came out pretty well, although they look nothing like the pictures... The Kid and I had a blast making them and licking our fingers while icing the cupcakes! I then invented a truly amazing side dish, mashed pumpkin and potato, w/ butter, salt, pepper and real maple syrum. Oh. My. God. It was so unbelieveably delish. I really should cook with The Kid more often, we had a blast with the pumpkin, and now we get to enjoy our spoils!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2005


So, it's Thursday. Just a normal day at the office. The department nearest to me is in their annual crunchtime, so around 2pm an email went out (I get their broadcast emails) saying, "In order to pick up everyone's spirits, we're having a popcorn party! Come by Email Author's desk and pick up a bag to microwave!!!"

Okay, first, lame party.

Second, did you really just invite 40 people to microwave popcorn at the same time on the 20th floor of a closed-window highrise? Smell-o-rific!

Now, I must say that I despise the smell of microwave popcorn, especially at work. I put up with the smell; there is at least one bag of popcorn nuked (and often burnt) on my floor on a daily basis. You put up with it much like you put up with the woman who smells like she got dressed in a humidor and then transported to work via cigarette-smoke filled pneumatic tube. But when there are bags and bags and bags and bags of microwave popcorn stinking up your workspace? You. Must. Evacuate.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Breaking news, and denoument

First, Breaking News:

I found a gray hair today on my head. What a very momentous occasion. I'm not even 30 yet. One foot in the grave and The Kid is helping me shovel.

And now for something completely different:

I have settled down since my last, vitriolic post about The Kid's teacher. I realize that I am a very careful writer and reader, and not everyone is like me. I was on a academic career track until The Kid redirected my life, and now I work in a very litigious industry, and for an attorney at that. I could list epistemology, linguistics and etymology among my interests. I am a geek AND I'm self-aware. So, I am singular.

The Teacher misused the verb To Choose in the context of The Kid's behavior. I did let her know that I do not believe that The Kid is choosing to do these things, and reminded her that the behaviors she described are ADHD-symptomatic.

That was all the energy I could put into it. Choose? No, that's not the concept at play here. Okay, let's move on.

Tomorrow I meet with the DU staff to get The Kid's report. I hope it is helpful and comprehensive. I've called another IEP meeting wherein I will share these findings, and suggest the more specific IEP that I discussed a couple of weeks ago.

My attention to language mustn't get in the way of helping The Kid, although it certainly can help as well. I can't say that I've completely forgotten what The Teacher said in that email, so I am watching her closely, but she's still the professional here. Or, at least one of them...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Something in the way he moves me...

I am a music-obsessed individual. If I could spend all the money in the world, I believe a good amount of it would be spent on CD's and shows. I have never really listened to kid music around The Kid, instead opting to just play what I like, generally keeping him away from music with bad words and "adult themes" (I've failed at times, especially during last spring's "Well Whiskey" fiasco--The Kid was obsessed with that song, as was I, but I quickly stopped listening to it in his presence once I realized that he was singing along...).

One of my very favorite bands, of course, is The Beatles. The Kid took a special liking to them at about the age of 3 when I was going through a Revolver kick. On that album, of course, is Yellow Submarine. This naturally brought us to the animated film, which quickly became a favorite. After a few viewings, he decided that George was his favorite Beatle. We talked about George a lot for the better part of a year, and he even cried when I told him that George died a couple of years ago. This, of course, made me take a second look at George, and yes, The Kid helped foster some serious Harrison love in me as well. Ohm.

Tonight, The Kid and I watched A Concert For George, the concert at the Royal Albert Hall performed "one year to the day" from when he died (so, November 29th, 2002). A friend of mine lent me the DVD, and it is really incredible: Beatles/George fans must check this out. More incredible than the "rock and roll" performances (can I just say that I got such major goosebumps hearing Clapton and McCartney singing Something together?), was that The Kid was actually pretty interested in the songs that Ravi Shankar wrote for George. They are these very beautiful Indian songs, and The Kid was kind of mesmerized. So was I, honestly. We blasted the TV, and I think my neighbors might have been thinking unkind things about us (damn hippies and their sitar music, or some such thing). I kind of thought that I'd end up watching the DVD on my own, and The Kid would go off and find something else to play with. By the time Billy Preston was singing My Sweet Lord, we were singing "Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna!" together at the top of our lungs.

Are we wierd? I just am so happy to have things to share with him, things that we both enjoy. I can't help but keep going on a good thing. He gets sick of me on it eventually, but it's fun while it lasts!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Special Day With Special, with Aftermath

Every Friday, The Kid's teacher pulls a name from a hat to designate the next week's "Special Person of the Week." The special person gets to take home this huge, white teddy bear appropriately named, "Special." Friday was The Kid's lucky day, so we had a very cute teddy-bear houseguest for the weekend.

Saturday morning we had an early wake up call for soccer. Special came with us to watch the Earthquakes get rocked (ha) by some other group of 5 year olds. The poor Earthquakes, they were just no match for this team.

We left soccer humbled, but by the time we arrived at home, The Kid's mind moved quickly on to happier things. He had filled his sticker chart during the previous week, and the reward was a trip to the zoo. We got our old umbrella stroller out and stuck Special in it, and wheeled off. The Kid talked to Special the whole way, preparing him for the trip. He told him what we were going to be seeing, and that he was not allowed to climb on the gates or get into the cages (I'm just glad The Kid knows those rules!). It was a fairly uneventful trip to the zoo, all in all, but we got some good photos, saw some animals, and even got to see a gorilla eat some poo. Good stuff.

The other important thing that the Special Person of the Week has to do is to make a poster about themselves. They are to draw pictures, write words and paste pictures of things that interest them. If you have ever helped a child with ADHD/ADD/Impulse Control Issues/Insane Need for Perfection, you can only imagine what a HUGE job this was. We spent about two to three hours on it, all told. First, we looked through photographs that I was willing to part with (The Kid decided it was wrong to cut pictures out of magazines) for the purposes of a collage. He decided, actually, on a print of the adorable photo of him I posted last week, and then another random "action shot" of him playing soccer. He pasted both photos to the page, and then he and I started brainstorming about things that he liked. We got a good list going, and inspiration hit The Kid. He yelled, "I've Got It!" He grabbed a light green marker and made a long rectangle, the length of the page, and then added lines, spaced large enough for him to write in each space. He then asked me to spell out all of the things that we'd talked about him liking. In case you were wondering, he likes Halloween, Winter, Summer, Fall (apparently, The Kid doesn't like Spring, which like a true Coloradan, he really has no idea what Spring is--we don't really get spring here, just winter to summer, I'm not kidding), Dinosaurs, Soccer, Musuems, Aquariums, Meema (my mom), Cousins and Family. He wanted to write Aunts and Uncles, but chose a shorter alternative that included both. Plus, he was running out of space.

The pasting, planning and writing of these things took two hours. I'm not kidding about this, because I made a pot of coffee sometime in the middle of the seasons knowing that we had a job ahead of us. After all that writing, he decided he'd finish up all of the drawings the next morning, which he did. He drew some fall leaves, and then rainbows. He was very proud of himself, and kept talking about how he got to share it with the class.

Sunday, he stayed with his grandma while I went to the Bronco game. Perhaps I'll post my somewhat interesting and very wet Bronco game story at the Optimist Club shortly... At any rate, we finished up his Special Person obligations after the game at Meema's: Special has a journal, and each child writes what he/she did with Special on their weekend together. We printed out a bunch of the photos we'd taken at the zoo and pasted them into Special's journal, and he then wrote, "I had a great day with Special." He pretty much had a cow when the t and the h in the word "with" were touching in a way he hadn't intended them to. He cried, HARD, for about 30 minutes about it, until my mom invented white-out from a clorox stain pen (she's a real MacGuyver, that one). It was one of those moments, trying to comfort him from his upset at non-perfection that my mom and I just looked at each other like, "Yeah, this kid has a mental illness." Not judgemental mind you, but just one of those moments, as a parent, or grandparent, that you see a window into what a day at school must be like for him. And that glimpse is really heartbreaking.

We got everything into his backpack, got Special packed up, and the next day, The Kid headed off to school.

When I picked The Kid up from daycare on Monday, he immediately started in on me that I forgot to put his poster in Special's backpack. This is true, but I had put his poster in HIS backpack, and explained that to him. Again, the intense tantrum of crying. He didn't stop all night. He was devastated that he didn't get to share his poster all about him with his class. I know The Kid, and this is something he would really enjoy, and I feel for his sadness about it. I tried to calm him down, saying, Don't worry, your teacher will let you show it tomorrow.

Now, The Teacher had suggested a couple of weeks ago that she e-mail The Kid's daily behavior report. Apparently, he'd gotten upset one day when he disputed one of her sad faces, and she wanted none of that going forward. Monday night, though, I received no email. In fact, she's pretty terrible about e-mailing in general, I don't know why she thought she could write me daily about his behavior. So, considering that at 7:30 last night, The Kid was STILL crying that he hadn't gotten to share his poster, I wrote her the following e-mail. Keep in mind that I wrote in the spirit of working with her, aware that I ask a lot of teachers, but thinking that they ask a lot of parents, so it's a give and a take. Plus, I'm an involved parent, isn't that what they want? Anyway, here it is [edited slightly for personal info]:

"I just wanted to let you know that The Kid's special person poster was in his backpack today. He did bring it to school. He worked really hard on it. Also in his backpack is the confirmation page that you had sent last week regarding conferences. It has been in his backpack for about 3 school days now. I know I ask a lot of you already, but can The Kid get a little help with remembering to check his backpack for the things that he is sent from home to give you? This will clearly become a huge educational issue if we don't teach him how to remember to do this now, in Kindergarten. I tell him where everything is every day. Somewhere in the middle, he always seems to forget.

"He was heartbroken that he didn't get to share his poster today. He cried for a long time when I told him that it was in his backpack the whole time.

"I also haven't heard from you today on how he did. How can we make this easier? The daily report is really important to us. I use his daily report to model the night at home. If he has done something good, he gets rewards. Conversely, if he has done something [negative] we talk about it, and privileges are taken away. Also, we do still have the sticker chart at home, and for every 3 point entry that he gets, he puts a sticker on the chart. It loses its power when the immediacy is gone, so when he has two or three days worth of reports to put stickers on his chart, he doesn't remember what he did right to earn that sticker. We can talk about this on [at conferences], but I think we need to work out a better way for the notes home to come home every day."

Today, I received the following response [again, edited for personal info, but not for grammar, egad]:

"I am sorry that I did not send a report to you yesterday. Some days are just going to be like this. I was extremely busy all night. I can report on yesterday and today. Yesterday

[Here was pasted from Word a table with his behavior chart, but it doesn't copy and paste well from email to Blogger. All you need to know is that day one was mostly 3's, and day two was mostly 1's and 0's, inconsistent with the message below.]

I feel that much of his problem right now is he does not want to do what the class is doing. He knows what he needs to do to get a 3 bunch chooses to not participate. Most of the issues are related to this. Sometimes he even throws a fit when I don't let him do what he wants. Yesterday he cried for a long time because he couldn't play the computer game he wanted because it was in the other computer and another child was using it. He had the choice of waiting or playing another game or reading a book. He chose to cry and hit children. Today he did not hit or hurt any kids, he just was extremely compliant."

Okay? Do I have a right to be mad here? Is this a woman who has never HEARD of what a child with symptoms consistent with ADHD might act like? Does she have absolutely NO IDEA that The Kid is actually not choosing to "cry and hit children," but instead is being controled by impulses that make it really hard for him to keep control? I don't want to excuse The Kid from hitting. It's not okay. He needs a teacher that understands that he has special needs, not that he is simply a behavior problem. Is this not one of the primary misunderstandings of the disorder? She knows he's got an IEP. She knows that he's seeing a psychiatrist. She knows that he has a history of being easily overstimulated, which turns into hyperactivity and oppositional behavior. If she knows all this, how can she NOT know that it's not a matter of him choosing to behave in class the way that she would want him to. He needs help, and I fear that with an attitude like hers, help is not what he is going to get from her.

My sister found this very good little blurb from a website I've yet to truly check out (I'll link to it here, check it out with me!--although my sister did mention it is a very Christian take on the whole thing, so, just keep that in mind), but I want to share with you:

"ADHD is not the result of poor parenting. Because it is biological in nature, the analysis of the problem based on behavior is often misleading. Well-meaning individuals will often suggest that "a good, swift swat" or "firm, consistent discipline" are the answers to the problems of dealing with the ADHD child. This completely misses the point. While a diagnosis of ADHD should never be allowed to become an excuse for misbehavior, in dealing with inappropriate behavior a parent or care giver must be careful to try and determine the actual motivation for such behavior... The frustration of constantly living on the ragged edge of control breeds angry, often violent outbursts. The insecurity caused by never really being sure that they have a handle on things provokes demands for attention and reassurance that can be misinterpreted as merely selfish behavior."

So you know this, I know this, many professionals know this, but The Kid's teacher does not. I do not know where to begin to react to her. I fear that my anger will spill over.

Especially after this: When I looked through his backpack again tonight, the poster is still in his backpack. She didn't let him share it today.

I'm seeing red. Good thing I have a blog that will allow me to vent, or she'd get one hell of an email from me tonight. I might choose to yell and cry. Of course, I have that choice. I don't have ADHD.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Wonderful evening and please pray...

Tonight we had the pleasure of attending a little party. My boss's wife runs a non-profit that distributes goods made by women weavers in Guatemala. She takes their weavings and has a tailor make them into bags, wallets, all sorts of stuff. It's beautiful and amazingly well made stuff (virtually indestructable, I'm not kidding).

She got started with the non-profit (she doesn't have a website, or I'd link her here--if you are in Denver, just ask me about it, or look around for her sales at your church or community center, and she also does one HUGE sale annually in Santa Fe, NM) because her sister is a Maryknoll Sister in Guatemala, and has been down there for more than twenty years (so, do the math, and if you know anything about Central American history, she arrived in a very dangerous country for an American nun, or for anyone, especially the indigenous Mayan people with whom she worked), providing access to the women, and her sister (my boss's wife) provides access to rich Americans who can buy their products at a huge mark-up (an this stuff is still cheap!!!). My boss's wife gives all of her profits back to the women, although last year, I think she recouped her expenses (which are small) for the first time. By allowing the women to do their weaving, this allows them to be near home, raise their children and stay off of the under-paying coffee plantations (buy fair trade, please!!!) and other exploitative work sources. It also allows them to make a living off of their traditional art.

Anyway, the Maryknoll nun was here on a visit so they had a party for her. I finally got to meet this very brave woman. It was cool.

Meanwhile, Guatemala and a great swath of Central America has been decimated by Hurricane Stan. Today, there was a huge mudslide in Guatemala as a result of the rains (and the deforestation of the hillsides of Lake Atitlan. Please pray for the people down there. They have no FEMA, no flood insurance, and many now have simply nothing. We are disgusted by the poverty in this country, but by and large, our poor would be considered very rich in other parts of the world.

I can't fit this link in conversationally, but my best friend also works with women in Guatemala. She works for Friendship Bridge, a microcredit institution whose services are going to be greatly needed in Guatemala in coming months...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

New to the blogroll...

In the wake of writing about The Teacher's new plan for daily notes, I've found another special ed teacher who practices this, along with a very family-inclusive plan of home visits!!! I've added Erin's blog to my "Related Links" sidebar, but while you're here, check her out here.

1-2-3 I-E-P!!!

The Kid's official special ed staffing took place on Monday morning. The end result from that meeting is The Kid's specialized IEP, and a definite commitment from the school to provide all of the goods and services at their disposal that his IEP outlines that he needs. This, ultimately, is very good.

But I've read and re-read the document and can't help but feel that it is lacking. It is generally unfinished: it is lacking in specificity, lacking in services planned to be rendered, and lacking in focus.

I'm going to drive The Social Worker crazy. I took to the IEP like the professors that were the bane of my existence during my academic career. Everywhere in the document, I say, "define this!" and "you are contradicting yourself!" The goals and baselines are really unfocused. Goal one is: "The Kid will increase his ability to cope appropriately." Cope with what? What is appropriate coping? The objective is to have The Kid learn 3 new techniques to soothe himself. Learn, or enact? Is there a difference? I think he already knows or has learned a number of ways to soothe himself. The issue for him is to apply that knowledge. Perhaps that is too much to expect? I am not sure.

The second goal involves following adult directions. The baseline is "The Kid has many incidents of non-compliance a day." I understand the concept of non-compliance, and can imagine that it encompasses a large range of behaviors. It can go from not carefully following an instruction all the way to a violent temper tantrum in the middle of the class. What are his most severe non-compliant behaviors? I still don't think I know this, at least on a practical, "happens every day" kind of basis.

Goal three is the base of my biggest concern, however. The goal is for him to increase his ability to join classroom activities. Again, there are no specifics in the goal, baseline or objective. Just that he isn't part of the class now, and should join them in the future. I agree that this is the entire purpose of pretty much every IEP that is written in this country. The problem is that the way things currently are, this is almost an impossibility. I was told during the staffing that because he has so much trouble with transitions, that he and The Para go for "sensory walks" whenever a transition is coming up. He then comes back into the classroom after the next activity has already started. I know The Kid. This will cause one of two (if not both) reactions with him: 1) anxiety because he's missed something or 2) the need for extra effort to get him going in the new thing because he missed the directions, will need to be settled down and get going. The end result of this is that he's constantly set apart, constantly missing class, and constantly behind or not finishing his assignments. This is not the way to acheive the goal, and I am requesting that this stop.

There are some pretty glaring contradictions that may change the services plan. The Social Worker inserted the sensory and motor profile that was done inconjunction with the preschool special ed group. This analysis is outdated, and I'm hoping that our work with DU will update it, and elucidate his needs in this area better. The report from last year stated that his pencil grip was normal for his age of 4. At 5, he has an immature grip, which was noted by the Speech and Language specialist, but not included in the motor section. He needs help in this area now. Additionally, I believe that he needs more attention paid to his sensory integration issues, which will likely be coming to light in the DU report. The DU report will also give further direction on what kinds of therapies may work for him (OT, PT, etc). As it stands, he will be seeing an occupational therapist for 5-30 minutes per week. If his central issue is sensory integration, 5 minutes per week of OT is not going to cut it.

We left the meeting with the understanding that it wasn't done. They all know that we are going to be getting a report from DU in two weeks. They must also suspect that I'm going to haunt them for appropriate services because I've been at that school practically as much as I've been at work for the past few weeks.

One funny note/victory: The teacher came to the meeting with the proposal that we change the behavior chart/report yet again. This time, she proposed that she would report on each segment of the day rather than reporting on the negative behavior (NOT hitting, etc.). Can you say, I TOLD YOU SO!!! I have written a number of times that this was how I envisioned this program, and told her that this was the way I thought the chart would best be executed way back on day one. As I was annoyed with how long it took The Teacher to finally take my advice, my sister reminded me that sometimes the greatest satisfaction is to hear your own ideas repeated back to you. Yes, it is good, but it sure took her a long time to do it!

I plan to make great use of this data that we are going to collect from these new charts. We might just see a pattern emerge. This might help plan when interventions should take place in the course of the day. Perhaps they could schedule the "sensory walks" at specific times, once or twice, during the day rather than removing him whenever the class was changing activities?

Overall, the IEP is just getting started. I'm not disappointed, but I am aware that there is a lot of work I would like see done to this plan.

One other bit of news. I'm taking The Kid out of the AM session at the school. The AM session is awesome in theory (specials, spanish class, structured "academic" setting taught by paras instead of daycare for the time not spent in kindergarten, etc), but with 31 kids in the class, it is simply too much for The Kid to process, and then expect him to be present for the real thing in the PM kindergarten class. Instead, he's going to spend the mornings at the daycare, which will have 13 kids, free play with some story and circle time inserted and in general a loving atmosphere.

I am hopeful.

Monday, October 03, 2005

One more picture...

I'm never too tired to show off The Kid's good looks... Here's where you get to see the beautiful child I live with.

Ugh. Must. Post. Update...

I don't know where to begin here, or how long I will last, I'm incredibly tired and feeling honestly worn out... I guess I shall start with Wednesday.

We started The Kid's assessment at the University of Denver Neuropsychology Lab last Wednesday morning. It was a good meeting, by all accounts. The Kid went with a grad student to start a round of testing, another IQ test, but based on a different scale (and with different tasks) than the one taken at the school. While the Kid did that, I sat with the professor who went through the Kid's history. She was very thorough, we must have spent an hour alone on The Kid's behavior and infancy, all before we got to what is vexing us today. It was good to just put it all out there, that this is a pattern of behavior, and a pattern that has been there since day one.

We go again on Wednesdays for three more weeks. Results on October 17th...

Thursday we went to see the Shrink again. We haven't seen a positive effect of the Ritalin on The Kid. She was really concerned about his behavior on the drug (did I tell you about the sad day? The day when he was just sad?) and kindly scolded me for not contacting her at once after that. I'll take a scolding, at least she cares, right? And she's put him on some other drug that I really do care to know the name of but always just want to call it Allegra, which it is definitely not. Um, [racking brain] oh, Adderall XR. The XR means extended release, so the effects should last throughout the day.

I really do care very much which drug I am putting into my child's body, so please don't read that last paragraph wrong. I'm tired. It's been a long day.

The weekend was pretty darn good, where I'm going to leave off tonight. I think I've said this about 14,000,000 times above, but I'm tired. This morning was The Kid's first IEP Staffing meeting, and while it went well, I'm chewing over a lot of information right now, too much to tackle in a exhausted-post. So, I took this picture of the Earthquakes, who triumped over some other group of 5-years olds being coached, again, by some overbearing father... Grrr. Anyway, GO EARTHQUAKES!!!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A Baby is God's Opinion That The World Should Go On

Wonderful wonderful news! My dear friend Shannon has had her third child. Lily Claire joined the world today. All are doing well. With any luck, I'll get to meet Lily in person this weekend, and hug the brave Mister Lady after her third labor and delivery!

(title stolen from a Carl Sandburg quote)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Tipping the Scales

Can I just say, before I move on to more important news, that since I posted this link, I can't get my eyes off of it. The Kid saw me looking at it and made me put it as my wallpaper on my computer. Now I can just sit at my computer, doing nothing, but looking at the Last Judgement from the Abbey Church of St. Foy at Conques, in France. It may not be the most beautiful work of art or sculpture, nor is it the most didactic last judgement, but I have to say that it is one of the most scary last judgements around... Those devils!!! That dastardly devil fighting an angel over the scales where they weigh the souls, where the damned people are being literally fed to the beast, snakes slithering over their skin... And that one heaven-bound woman, looking back in fear and making eye contact with one of the minions of hell... Oooh, it's chilling. I love how the angel is taking one of the dead people out of his coffin, too. It's just so alive, and I'm feeling one of those rare moments where I look back on my former academic career with a tiny tinge of regret.

To those of you who don't know, I got pregnant while working on my masters degree in Ireland. I came home for health care and family (mostly family), and suddenly 12th century Irish romanesque churches (my thesis) meant nothing to me, and I was on to the next project, motherhood, childbirth, etc... One of my professors sent me a card after The Kid was born (after I'd not turned in my thesis which they had given me an extension to do, and had politely informed them that I didn't intend to either), and in it he wrote, "I told you you'd never look back." For the most part, I honestly haven't. A masters degree in medieval archaeology would have been great, but, meh, that's life... Now I'm close to family, now I have (some) financial freedom. Now, I have The Kid. But when I look at Conques' last judgement, I get, well, wistful.

A great deal more later on Wednesday's adventure to the start of The Kid's pyschological evaluations at the University of Denver, and right now I have to get ready to take The Kid to the Shrink, and then to school. I might actually end up finally going to work today as well, imagine that...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I have reason to believe we all will be received...

"Tigers eat antidotes, Mom." The Kid just told me that. I think he meant antelope (which, do tigers eat antelopes? Do they even live on the same continent?)... Tigers eat Antidotes. Sounds like a good band name, huh?

Speaking of bands, or at a stretch, of Rock and Roll, I think The Kid has decided to dress as Elvis Presley for Halloween this year. I have a good amount of Elvis memorabilia about the house, which The Kid has noticed and ultimately has come to love. I have some great Christmas decor w/ Elvis on it, several books, photos, magnets, stuff like that. We do have some odd tastes here in the Soapy Water household, and the Elvis Presley thing, is, well, a kind of good story (kind of). Seeing as it is a slow news day as far a progress in the whole "The Kid at School" narrative, consider this my big Elvis apologia.

I am not a huge, die-hard fan of The King (I am more of a Woody Guthrie is the roots of rock and roll type of gal, I like them RAW rock n rollers). I am, however, emotionally linked to Elvis. Like all good stories, this one starts in the middle ages...

When I was a senior at DePauw University, a hybrid Art History and Archaeology major, I took a course on Romanesque art and architecture. A great deal of the church building that took place in the 11th and 12th centuries that are considered "romanesque" in Europe were linked deeply to the popularization of religious pilgrimage from Paris to Santiago de Compostella in Spain (cool links about it here and here), and the resulting churches that were built were stations along the routes (camino). While it was a deeply religious experience (and continues to be), it was also a well-organized cash cow for the Church. See this as the advent of tourism, if you will, the churches and towns along the camino saw windfall profits. Small churches, in order to attract pilgrims, contstructed elaborately decorated churches and made up -er- were devinely gifted exotic and important relics. The art of the time exploded with enormous tympana (the decorated interior of a classic Romanesque arched doorway) carved in deep relief with reminders of man's earthly sins , the sublime possibilities of heaven, and the judgement that awaited them all.

Our final project and paper was to create either a pilgrimage church, its place in the route, its place in history, etc... We were to write a paper and then, with visual aids (most of us were art majors of some kind or another, so greatness was expected, not just toothpick-cathedrals, yo), present our paper, filling up a 1-hour time slot with our material--yikes!!! (and quite obviously the best class I ever took at DePauw...)

As I sat up one night thinking about my final project for this class, I read again what Saint Bernard of Clairvaux had said about the art of that time... That the images were profane, filled with "deformed monstrosities and monstrous deformities" and that the art was simply created for "the concupiscense of the eyes." He believed that the images were so seductive and so explosive that they would distract the pilgrims' minds from the worship and into fiery orgies of sin and decadence.

So, clearly, Romanesque art was totally rock and roll. I instantly knew what needed to be done for my final project: a pilgrimage of my own, to quite possibly the only true American reliquary shrine, Graceland. The home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, the owner of the dynamic pelvis who's movements inspired in parents (echoing the concerns of St. Bernard) the fear of the concupiscence of the eyes (not to mention minds) of American youths. Elvis resided at Graceland, the decor of which remains in tact, frozen in time with his death in 1978, giving entirely new meanings to the ideas of "deformed monstrosity" first fretted over in the 12th century...

I was bartending at the time, and started asking everyone I met or served what they thought about Elvis. I found that tiny Greencastle, Indiana, was literally filled with Elvis fans, and more than that, a large number of people who saw him as more than a man. My bar patrons loaded me up with books (my fave was a cookbook called, "Are You Hungry Tonight?"), tapestries (so very medieval!), black light velvet paintings and even a 10-pound bust that doubled as a whiskey decanter. Most of these things were loans, although I made off with a few things inadvertently, and still keep them in safe places. If there was a fire in my home, I would make a concerted effort to salvage them.

I documented my pilgrimage (which of course doubled as a full-on college road-trip) w/ super 8 film. We couldn't film at Graceland, but I taped with a voice recorder interviews with a few pilgrims there. It was spookily somber. There were people literally weeping when we walked in the front door.

One man I interviewed had come from Holland. It was his first visit to America, and had come straight from Rotterdam to Nashville, followed by Tupelo, MS and finally culminated at Graceland. The next day he flew back to Europe. He insisted that while he was a fan, he wasn't one of those "cultish freaks." As we left Elvis's gravesite, I watched the man reach over a fence, grab a pinecone and quietly put it in his pocket.

I presented my paper as a kind of Elvis-loving High Mass, extoling the virtues of the relics I'd collected from the folks around town, showing my film, playing a song, but mostly talking about the amazingly mystic bent of mind required to turn a man into a legend, and the spaces that he inhabited into shrines. I will be forever in awe of the power that this very simple Mississippi hick holds over us.

So, as I assemble The Kid's chosen costume for the season, I have to laugh. The Kid sees around our house my picture of Elvis's grave, my magnets, my books, and while I, myself, do not subscribe to his cult or am even a huge fan of his music, I've just as quietly and surreptitiously kept my relics of Elvis, only to breed a new generation into it all. How do you explain to a 5-year old your bizarre academic interest in a cultural phenomenon?

I suppose I don't, but instead closely watch as my clandestine child transforms himself on Halloween into that most wicked and ghoulish role to play: that of the American Rock Star.

Rock Star Scare, Indeed!!!