Thursday, December 27, 2007

For Some Reason I'm Supposed to Call This Hoopla.

I don't understand why. It's really not Hoopla. It's a Meme. And I was tagged, so shit. Let's do this thing.

Here's the rules:

1. List 12 random things about yourself that have to do with Christmas
2. Please refer to it as a ‘hoopla’ and not the dreaded ‘m’-word
3. You have to specifically tag people when you’re done. None of this “if you’re reading this, consider yourself tagged” stuff is allowed…then nobody ends up actually doing it. The number of people who you tag is really up to you — but the more, the merrier to get this ‘hoopla’ circulating through the Blog-o-sphere.
4. Please try and do it as quickly as possible. The Christmas season will be over before we know it.
Amendment: I've been told to kill this thing, which I assume means tag no one else. This is like one of those laws we pass every election day that redacts some law about the amount of sheep someone can have on a one acre parcel of land which has been developed and suburban-ized for fifty years. So, disregard rule number 3.

Here goes:

1. I am writing this as I eat peppermint ice cream. It's about 12 degrees out and it snowed about 8 inches today, and I've not opened my front door for approximately 48 hours. We've shut ourselves in for a big, messy orgy of Christmassy goodness. We have cans of soup, half a chocolate Santa, peppermint ice cream, a bottle of Jameson and a Wii. We ran out of milk today. Were it not for the milk, I think we could have survived nicely until at least next Monday.

2. About two years ago, I took The Kid to see a live nativity on Christmas Eve night. When we got to the church, we saw a little barn on a little grassy spot on the side of the church and walked over to it. As we cleared the corner, it became apparent that Mary and Joseph were nowhere to be found. All that was there was a donkey, and as we approached the manger, a plastic baby jesus lay, unswaddled, in the hay. The Kid was all, "And Mary is supposed to be the best mother of all time? What the?"

3. I've only spent one Christmas away from my family. I spent that one Christmas away skiing at Chamonix, France with this boy who was about to be my ex-boyfriend. We stayed in this very Alps-ish youth hostel filled with drunken Aussies who sang the same verse of Good King Wenceslas over and over until my eyes popped out of my head, and it was by far the most depressing Christmas I've ever lived through. The good side of the day, however, was the skiing: the mountain was so beautiful, and clouds settled in around and above and below us, so we skiied completely blind, white out inside of a cloud. It was the most disorenting thing, like floating in space, the only sensation that could be felt was the gentle gravity taking us down the trail. Boyfriend would be three feet to my left and I wouldn't see him. I couldn't even see my skiis. Luckily, we were well above treeline.

4. This is a hard one to admit: I miss, and might even prefer, Christmas without children around. I'm the baby of my family, and as I grew up, Christmas turned into my sisters coming home from college, staying up late with me watching movies and playing trivial pursuits. Those are the years I remember laughing the hardest, my teenage years before the new generation started being born, and all of their wanting and needing attention and kid stuff. This year, we had all left my mom's house by 6pm, for the various reasons of wanting to go home to play XBox360 (my nephews), needing to go to fucking sleep because of the horrible grouchiness of Christmas Eve's sleep deprivation was closing its grip upon us (The Kid's). No games, no cups of coffee, no sisters making each other laugh until they start crying. I miss that.

5. However, my favorite thing about Christmas now, is The Kid's reaction to his gifts. Anything you give him, he has a heart attack, thanks you with kisses and screams and smiles and is just the most demonstratively appreciative child I've ever seen. I can't take any credit for raising such an appreciative child, because this is fully just part of his personality: he's demonstrative, he's energetic, he's enthusiastic. Best reactions ever? Here are the top three:

  1. 2005: My sister gave him Ice Bat. As soon as that toy was out of the package, The Kid began speaking in tongues (or possibly in Ice Bat language, I have no idea), to the Ice Bat, flying him around the room with gusto, and declared undying love, for the rest of his days, to the best ever stuffed animal bat ever made for all of time.

  2. 2004: Santa brings The Kid a stuffed animal snake. As he opens it, he screams, "Santa! I've always wanted a stuffed snake for Christmas! You know me! You really really know me so well! I love you Santa!"

  3. 2006: One of the things on The Kid's Dear Santa list is a penguin wearing a santa hat (why so specific? I do not know the answer to that). My sister found a little penguin, took a santa hat off of some ornament we had and sewed it to the little penguin. When The Kid unwrapped the present, he went into immediate, hard-core, laughter. He laughed to the point of crying, he couldn't stop laughing. Because laughter is so contagious, we all began to laugh, and for about five minutes, my entire family cried with laughter, all from a five dollar fat penguin stuffed animal, with a santa hat. It was a sublime moment.

6. Catholics will identify with this one: One of my favorite memories of Christmas was finally getting to sing Christmas songs in Church. The Catholic mass does not allow for the singing Christmas carols in mass until the actual Christmas mass. You might get a Lo, How A Rose Ere Blooming here and there during advent, but no First Noel, no Adeste Fideles, no Hark, The Herald Angels Sing until Christmas... Ah, but how I would bust out with those songs with all of my little Catholic heart on Christmas...

7. Halfway there. I'm now writing this as I'm about to go to my mom's house for my nephew's birthday party. He was born on 12/27/1995. Good lordy, he's twelve now.

8. My family gets together a lot. It's admirable. We love each other a lot, and we enjoy each other's company a lot. However, I had this sinking feeling, for the first time ever, on Christmas Eve, that it was just another night where we were all together again. We're together every week. Same cast, different occassion. Just being honest. I still love them... Its just a bit possible that when you see your family all the time, it's just kind of ordinary to get together. Then again, I wouldn't trade Friday night dinners at my mom's house for anything. They cap the week, they remove an entire menu from my grocery shopping list. They give me the opportunity to talk to grown ups outside of work.

9. My mom's Christmas dinner traditional entree is this wonderful stuff called hamloaf. I realize this does not sound very appetizing, or maybe it's just me: I don't like the word loaf all that much. Loaf. Say it out loud. Loaf. Ew.
But anyway. Hamloaf. It is just want it sounds like. Ham and pork, ground, in a loaf, baked. It gets all glazy, crispy and yummy on the outside, and is soft hammy goodness inside. You eat it with horseradish. It is the best thing ever.

10. Christmas always brings up memories, strangely enough, of my uncles. My dad had two bachelor uncles, they'd come for Christmas and all the other holidays, but I always remember them at this time of year. We'd play trivial pursuits with them. Or slap jack. Or name that tune. They would get into huge screaming fights with each other over really stupid trivial shit like whether I-40 headed east-west or north-south through Gallup, New Mexico. Those dudes just should have lived a little longer, just so that they could know the satisfaction of settling a dispute like that through Google Maps. Or Snopes. Or whatever. The internet. They really needed the internet.
There's also the year we rented A Christmas Story (like, before it was on constantly, remember that?) and they laughed til they cried, as they were depression-era kids too, and really appreciated all of the small details of that movie, as they had essentially lived it.

11. Okay. Almost done. I was supposed to do this fast. Not so good at the fasties. Um.... My favorite Christmas-season treat is Harry and David Moose Munch. You are more than welcome to send me some. Thanks.

12. I'm raised Catholic but in no way practicing. However, I'm strict with the Advent through Epiphany Christmas season thing. Many people don't even know what that means. Basically, it means that it's still okay to sing Christmas carols, since the three kings didn't show up while Mary was delivering the afterbirth, but instead took 12 more days. Of course, they probably didn't show up in exactly 12 days either, but you know, it's all biblically recorded that way, and for that reason, my Christmas tree will remain up, lights on in the evening, until January 6th.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

This is all the time I can devote to blogging right now. I've got to go play Wii golf. Later.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

5 Songs of 2007

My friend Jaci and I often define years or seasons by the music we've listened to. Not like we're the only people in the world who do this, but she really got me thinking about it, as for Christmas, she sent me a CD of her songs of the year. Since I wasn't really around her more than two weekends of the year (she lives in Chicago), it was like she shared with me her moods of the year. And Jaci, the music of 2007 is not as depressing as past years. Did you notice that?

So, I got to thinking. What are my songs this year? What will I hear, years down the line, and think about 2007, or when The Kid was 7, or when I was 31? Here's 5:

1. Cat Power: The Greatest
This song is the depressing anthem of my drives to and from The Kid's hospital school days. Some of this bleeds into 2006, as he was in the hospital then too, but as I worked 5.5 hours a day, was falling apart as far as my duties there went, as I didn't appreciably clean my house for three months, as I just felt like sleeping for a good three months, this song was my anthem. What had I become? I was a shell.

2. Silversun Pickups: Lazy Eye
Same period of time, this was the alternate to The Greatest. The energy song. I have no idea what this song is actually about. But it's kind of building to angry, and has something to do with being unique, which emotionally, regardless of lyrics, hit me right on.

3. Rascal Flatts: My Wish
2007 is the year in which I stopped worrying and started to love the country music. It's The Kid's doing, actually. They listened to country music on his school bus, to and from school, and my awareness of all of this started during that bloated "Idol Gives Back" show, when Rascal Flatts performed this song, and The Kid sang every word. After the song, he turned to me and said, 'Mom, I think that's a good song for Kids to sing to their Moms. It's a good song for Moms to sing to their kids, too. It's a love song for families.' And so, it became "our" song. Cheesy? Gouda has nothing on the cheesiness of this song. Will it go down as one of my favorite songs ever? You better believe it.

4. Billy Joel: Summer, Highland Falls
Just listen to the lyrics. Bipolar theme song. Thing of beauty? Billy Joel does not get enough respect from my generation. Ben Folds, please cover this song for me. Thanks.

5. Journey: Don't Stop Believing
I became the ultimate in TV geek in 2007. I'm addicted. But also? TV has been incredible this year. I've had about 4 television-induced heart attacks this year, but no single television watching experience has ever, ever felt like watching the scene above, the first time I saw it. [Close runner up? All Along the Watchtower, Battlestar Galactica, end of season 3. I've also officially become a card-carrying geek in 2007. And I own it, yo.]

Other runners up? Impossible Germany by Wilco. Beirut, The Hold Steady and Lily Allen, my fave new bands/artists of this year. Hot Knives by Bright Eyes. Boy with a Coin by Iron and Wine.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Mr. Lady got me thinking about the food I buy for the week. Please, go over to This Post to proceed.

Soapy Water Family, Denver, USA $116.53

This, of course, is minus milk, minus the free lunches that I get through my job, and minus the random things I don't have to buy every week (like, how do you quantify the amount of mustard, ketchup, olive oil and balsamic vinegar you use in a week?), plus my shameful purchase of ingredients to make fudge, which honestly I've never done before (and then, of course, minus one major ingredient for said fudge that I somehow didn't make it home with).

But still, Damn. I spend a lot of money on food. There is also the $20 hair product I bought that I subtracted from my food total, and that without this exercise I would have never been clued in to having spent $20 on. That shit better make my hair really effing silky, that's all I'm saying.

What I really intend to say with this post: Food is an issue in this house. The Kid is incredibly involved in my choices for food. He intellectually knows what is good and what is not good for his body. His tastebuds, however, are yet to know these things. My favorite veggies, squashes, are like poison to him. He would eat cheetos for every meal if he had any choice in the matter.

When you have a kid that is healthy-food averse who also happens to have severe GERD, wonderful things happen. Lots and lots of puking. I think that the reflux is only a key in this puzzle in that the muscles needed for puking are so incredibly toned from the reflux, that the slightest gag will result in a full gastro-intestinal refusal to put certain foods into the digestive system. And so, whenever The Kid tries foods that he is grossed out by, there is often much puking.

If you wanted to create a general category of "Foods Which Make The Kid Puke" could be easily identified by the following characteristics:
1. Food is green
2. Food is naturally occurring, or at least is cultivated by humans in a natural setting and are then harvested from the earth in some form.

Ergo, getting The Kid to eat the foods that my body generally craves and that are my super favorite things in the whole world (I am so very much a vegetarian at heart), there is very little wiggle room.

It's a rough road. Over the last few months, though, I've really toed the line. I've said, Kid, you can go hungry, but tonight, we are eating ______ (insert: green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, tabbouleh, etc). This has sucked. He's been pissed at me. He has been really pissed at me. But the end result has found a number of foods he can stomach, and we can eat in peace. Among them: Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, and Peas.

I am still obsessed with beats, and I continue to try to convince The Kid that if he eats beats, his poop will turn purple. He has, as of today, remained both skeptical of my claim and has categorically refused to recognize that purple poop is in any way "cool." To this, I say, whatev. Purple is the best color, in whatever form it appears.

But seriously. I think I have some decent eating habits, myself. Except for the moose munch and godivas that are streaming into my office for the holidays, I actually prefer the healthy choice for food over the not-healthly. I've still got 15 pounds I'd prefer not to have, so whatever, I'm so imperfect. But still. I can blame at least 5 of those pounds on The Kid, right?

How to instill the good eating habits on children, though? When schools offer "Dominoes Pizza" for lunch, and your seven year old lectures you on the lameness on his ham sandwich and carrots in his lunch's inequities to "Dominoes Pizza" lunch days, how do you combat this? I say, "there are a lot of things out there that taste great, but our bodies are healthier with other things." This train of reasoning has failed for me.

At home, I struggle between time and intent. As a working mom, arriving at home, cooking, homework, QT, it's all muddled and over quick and needs to be easy. I'm pretty rocking at the quick, easy dinner, but still. Will he eat it? That's always the question.

It's funny, though, because it all became clear this weekend as I saw my sister is encountering the same problems from a different direction with her 11 year old daughter. My neice eats like a rabbit (heh, to Peggy, and anyone else who might get that joke). Friday night, she ate about three pieces of romaine lettuce and declared herself "full." Her brother teased her about being a "supermodel" eater. She feigned disgust at this claim. An hour later, dessert, a cheesecake w/ chocolate thing, was served. She started in wanting a piece of the cheesecake, when her mom usurped her and reminded her that if she was now hungry, she would be well served to eat some protein and other good things for her body before she went in for the dessert.

Basically, between my neice and The Kid, a great deal of what is wrong with American eating habits are personified. My neice is hyper conscious of eating right, but (at least on the night in question) starved herself of healthily filling, whole foods--we were having lasagne (and moderate portions as opposed to clean plates are encouraged around our tables)--but was willing to eat high-in-fat, high-in-calorie dessert, "as a treat." My son cannot abide real food, like, the food that really comes out of the ground or the farm and not a processing plant, and has a real (in my mind disgusting) preference towards high fructose corn syrup-laden, fake ass nasty ness such as ramen and chef boyardee and McDonalds.

I can't shy away from the fact that I've created my own monster here. He is my kid and I've fed him nasty nasty things that I never thought I'd eat regularly as an adult, like McDonalds, or Mac-n-Cheese, or Chicken Nuggets. But I resolved to stop ages ago. Like, more than a year ago, I stopped with the McDonalds (although I totally took him there once in the last year, but that was the day I got the Harry Potter book, so like, slip!, but also, more-uninterrupted-silent-reading-for-me!!!), I have been reading labels and have been anal about his coloric intake for a while now.

What to do? How to fix it? What did we eat? What did we not eat? I know I was always a gloriously non-picky eater. I still am. Part of me thinks I just got The Kid with every possible opposite personality trait from mine, with the picky eating and the social challenges, but part of me thinks that I have to work against a marketing machine that is so very much bigger than me. It's so big it's bigger than Ronald McDonald.

The end of this post? Will there ever be an end of this post? The beauty of blogging is that it is not professional. I do not need a conclusion. I am done talking about eating, and yet I am not. Please comment. Tell me what to do. Commiserate. Whatever. Just don't tell me that The Kid's eating of chicken nuggets is okay, because I disagree and will not listen to you anyway.

The end.

Ha. (sorry, weird mood).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Okay, Okay, I'm done being done.

Kind of. I can't promise anything.

Because I'm a corporate drone, let's update with bullet points. I've been a citizen of a corporation so long, that when I am in a hurry, I just naturally gravitate towards the bullet point. This is officially the death of the grad student inside of me. Goodbye, longwinded narrative prose. Goodbye soul.

  • Have you ever seen that Office where Michael tells the office that they are getting laid off, make fabulous plans for the future, are excited about the change, and then find out they aren't getting laid off in the end and feel totally deflated as a result? That was me last week. I still have my job. Whoopee.
  • I fully realize how whiny that statement is. A lot of people would like to have jobs.
  • My boss's last day, however, is December 31. I am incredibly sad about this fact. He is one of the few things I truly love about my job.
  • The Kid's down-titration of meds is causing some major behavior issues. Or perhaps it is the fact that he's really obsessed with Christmas and isn't sleeping.
  • The Kid's doctor is still certain that we drop meds without adding anything else. Issues will sort themselves out.
  • I very reasonably and calmly informed the school of what's going on with the meds, and although they were initially very against the dropping of meds, I've gotten them to understand the impetus to do so, and how very vital it is to the health of The Kid to do so, although they still don't see that we had periods like this with the meds too, because we all think in frameworks and cause and effect of the easiest identifiable thing.
  • We meet tomorrow afternoon to discuss how best to handle the behaviors we're seeing.
  • They assure me they are not talking about a change of placement. I realize how fucked in the head I am still from the previous school's inability to create behavior plans and follow IEP's, because I find it hard to believe that they are this professional and willing to work with me to keep The Kid in school, to keep him safe, and to get him learning instead of spending time outside of the classroom calming down from anger.

Okay, I have to go to work. It also snowed like crazy this week and remained below freezing so driving sucks right now. I really hate snow. I'm not over last winter. I am dreaming of Hawaii.

Friday, November 30, 2007


I did it.

It wasn't even that hard. Kind of. Except that one night I ate the chinese food.

Mr. Lady wrote a lovely post today about feeling invigorated by writing again, writing every day. I agree wholeheartedly. And yet, I feel as if I could do so much better.

I started this blog as a primal scream/document of The Kid's journey through school, which turned into my journey through understanding his 'mental' health and his developmental issues. This month I think I spent a lot of time writing not about The Kid, but about things that are infinitely more accessible to me, take a lot less thought for me to write about, and don't make my brain hurt.

This would be fine, except for the fact that I do want to use this blog as a perspective on parenting a child with his diagnoses, for either other moms and dads out there on journeys similar to mine, or for people skeptical that parents of kids with mental health diagnoses are not all just crackheads or overly permissive ATM machines; for teachers and for mental health workers who want to know what parents go through at home; for other parents, to realize that we kind of all go through the same stuff, diagnoses or no.

I squander my brain a lot. I don't challenge myself in my writing because it's hard.

Also? I can't make up my mind. Am I pro-medication or am I anti-medication? Do I think the bipolar diagnosis in children is bullshit or do I think it is a viable name for a diagnosable set of behaviors? Do the things I do at home, and the things the school do for The Kid help? If so, what works, what doesn't? These are the things I really want to write about.

But, let's waffle!!! If part of the purpose of this blog is to show the perspective of a mother of a child, I am more and The Kid is more than discussion of his diagnosis. We are silly, we make snowmen, The Kid likes dinosaurs and Pokemon and Karate and country music, I have a life outside of being his mom, I read books and go to movies and have friends and like to drink whiskey with them while The Kid spends the night at his grandmother's. He is a person that is infinitely more than the sum of his diagnoses. We're all of these things. I can't possibly write a blog so focused that I only write about bipolar this, autism that, IEP's and functional behavior analysis, etc... because we are whole people. And this is not a professional blog. Also, ten of you read this on a regular basis and only two of you are not related to me, so odds are you and I have already had a deep discussion of my latest views on shit anyway.

So, I guess the NaBloPoMo thing has put me back in the habit of writing more often, and I do intend to keep it up (not every day, probably, but, you know, more than once a month). I do want to make myself tackle some tougher stuff, as I'm always working through something in regards to The Kid's many facets. I want to make this site better. I guess that's enough.

Let's end the month with a haiku:

Oh, NaBloPoMo!

I'm so glad you are over.

I can sleep again.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


So, about two weeks ago The Kid gave me a VERY SPECIAL PRESENT. It is the first time that he has gone so out of his way to buy me a present, and it was such a sweet effort.

He gave me a Harry Potter poster.

And you all must know how right on the mark The Kid is as far as 'Things His Mommy Enjoys (That He Knows About).' I am one of those voracious readers of Harry Potter, and last summer I downed the Deathly Hallows in two days, while I neglected to care for him, letting him make his own damn peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. So, for anything to make me completely neglect him, it must be pretty important to me.

But the thing is, and the way The Kid is, he is so proud of picking this present out, he won't let me hang the poster in his room. It's special for ME, so it must be hung in MY room. So, at the moment, I've got this Harry Potter movie poster propped up on the back of my dresser. The Kid comes in and arranges it occasionally, makes sure it's up straight. So far, I've rebuffed his requests to hang it over my bed. But he still asks, often. The thing is, having this poster of preteens with wands and capes makes me feel, at best really geeky, and at worst, pervy. And that sucks because I've always had these very motherly feeling toward Harry, in the books and in the movies.

Oh my god I just got this vision of me with presents like these from The Kid, a room filled with Harry Potter and Battlestar Gallactica stuff. I'll be like the Thirty Year Old Virgin Mother.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Spyware Alert!

This is all the post I can handle right now. I am frayed and dismayed and I just got played. And I'm rhyming, so, there's that too... I have a spyware issue I'm dealing with right now, see, one of those, "OH FUCK I DIDN'T MEAN TO CLICK THAT" moments. McAfee is working on it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

All I want is what's coming to me, all I want is my fair share!

I generally try to avoid ever writing about my job. Mostly, I do this because it is a boring subject. Also, writing, in my field, is a scary prospect. Every email must be careful. Every letter must cover one's ass from future lawsuits (which is to say that it has to be accurate, not lying to cover one's ass, I don't do that, I just can't make wild generalizations or misreport information). I must also report any and all additional income I make to the SEC, so this would explain why I've never considered this blog here to be anything more than a hobby. But still, it's publishing content on the the internet, personal content about me, that could be generally considered unprofessional. Some of what I'm writing on this blog rails against the industry I work for. I have to be careful when I write about my work.

But it just so happens to be all I can think about tonight.

At the beginning of November, my boss met with the BIG boss, and informed him that he does not plan to remain with the company anymore. He's being cooperative, he wants to finish what he's working on right now, but does not want a new sales goal, does not want to be employed by this company for any longer than he has to. Naturally, if he goes, I have to go too. I suppose there is the odd reassignment of work, or something, but really, if my boss leaves, the company will close our office. And no, I will not get his job. I am not qualified. I do not have a penis.

So, my brain is shifting gears from having a job to looking for a new job. And I must say I'm perfectly okay with this. I'm ready for something new. I've been here for five years, and they've been excellent years. My boss is the best boss I will ever have. I've got mad skills now. I'm marketable.

But the company have yet to give us termination dates, layoffs or severance packages or stay bonuses. It's a strange place to be. What am I supposed to I tell prospective employers? Um, I'm leaving my job, but I don't know when, but I feel the strange urge to stay just in case they give me a kick ass severance, because I really want to get paid for two jobs for a few months.

The craziest thing? I have a job offer. It's with a much much smaller company. It's the kind of work I kind of rock at, but the clients would be slightly different. I have no idea what they want to pay me, we've not gotten there yet. I would also work from home. And? They are willing to wait. I'm just flattered that they want to work with me so badly, but I have yet to figure out if it will be a good move for me.

I don't know. This is the most boring post ever because I'm so paranoid about posting about work. There is so much more to this story. So, if you know me, I guess give me a call. If not, invent wild scenarios and email them to me or comment below. If you know me, you could do that too.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Love Letter to Denver

Dear Denver,

I've really only known this city. I was born here. Grew up in its perfect climate. I only left for five years, but came back to raise my family. This is my city. This is my home.

I have snapshots in my head of those days when I realize how much I love it here. Almost all sunny. Sometimes with rainbows.

There are the days, at Bronco games; sunny, warm December days, climbing the ramps to my seats, feeling a crowd of Denverites collecting to enjoy the day and our sport and some coors light. I look over the edge of the stadium, either facing west, to our mountains, or east, to our city, and just feel so lucky to be a part of this life here. We've got it good.

There are the hot summer days, the sun lasting late into the evening. I take the Kid to Liks for ice cream and then the musuem to run through the dancing fountain on the west side. This is my favorite place to see Denver from the steps of the DMNS.

There are my every day walks from my office west to the Union Station, the quick jaunt (which is never so quick) to the Tattered Cover, or the north route, insanely more interesting but arguably less safe, up to 22nd St then east toward the federal courthouse and back.

There are the nights out, I love to go out in Denver, to the dive bars on Colfax or the swanky spots in LoDo (but never, ever on Market Street, except for El Chapultepec), the neighborhood bars all over the city. I love to go out in Denver because jeans are perfectly acceptable attire for a steakhouse. I love to go out in Denver because there's always something new, but not so much new that you need entire magazines to navigate the city. It's a managable size, is all. My head wraps around Denver, and I love it.

I love that I know too much useless trivia about this place that I could never ever learn if I went somewhere else. Like, The Buckhorn is liquor license number one. The Cruise Room is number two, and is an exact replica of the bar on the Queen Mary. Or that the city's distinctive houses are all built with brick, partially because the city burned down a few times, but also because the city was run at the turn of the century by the bricklayers (or rather, the bosses of the bricklayers). I love that I know the streets and the locales and the city like the back of my hand. I can't imagine not working downtown, and if that all changes, I'll need to make special dates just to hang out down there. I wish I could live down there, but that's a different story entirely.

I love being a native of this place. Really. I love how my family made it here, between my dad's family, Paddy working on the railroad and all, or my mom, California dreaming in the sixties but just not quite being able to leave Colorado once she arrived here along the way. I also love that my family is still here (with one exception), that we're freakishly close and all love to be here for these exact reasons. The Broncos, the sun, the mountains, the sun, the history, the city, each other.

Denver is not a city with a whole lot of character of its own. It's newish, the architecture speaks to its boom and bust cycles. We like beer, we love sports, most of us like bikes and/or skiing. Apparently, a lot of us have dogs, and are skinnier than say, Indianapolis.

My love for Denver is not really about Denver. Its about my life, because it's here, in Denver, and that life is so rich, it's all love, all over.

I remember driving home from college with my sister Peggy after I graduated. I was really not looking forward to spending the summer in Denver. A lot of my friends had moved. Shannon had a baby. I had broken up with my boyfriend. I could not abide living in this cowtown, and couldn't wait for the day I left again to go to Ireland. I hemmed and hawed and I don't know how Peggy didn't shove me out of the car somewhere outside of Topeka (it's hot in Topeka, you know). I finally explained all of my resistance to the place to Peggy, and she got it, but she also funadmentally disagreed with me, because she recognized the city for what it was, namely, HOME; and so, as we made that turn on I-70, early summer and the thunderstorms that accompany it, we were treated to and explosion of sun out of the clouds, those God-rays, the shafts of light, and rainbows. Plural. I tried to be smug, but I knew, I was happy to see it again. It was my home. Always was, and always will be.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

When Writing Every Day is Getting a Little Too Hard

I'm scheduled to write a love letter to Denver tonight. Unfortunately, I had a little too much fun last night with Denver and I'm really freaking tired and I just want to go to bed. I should have written my love letter on a bar napkin last night.

We went to a few bars on Colfax last night. Started at the Cheeky Monk, a newish place specializing in affordable food and incredibly expensive belgian beers. Next, we hit the Red Room. Then the Satellite Bar. There was good, adult conversation. There were scrumptious beers. And a juke box with Metallica. I'm kind of amazed that I'm still awake right now.

So, I spent the day today watching football, trying to facilitate The Kid enjoying his last day of the five day break provided by Thanksgiving, cooking. The Kid spent a lot of the day playing with a neighbor, between our house and the neighbor's.

Also, he wrote out his Christmas wish list. It's kind of ginormous. I told him to just write down everything he could think of, and santa will surely find one or two things to bring him. I hope that The Kid understands that I really mean he's only getting one or two things on his list. No worries though, I've already got one of these hidden in the hope chest under the blankets, waiting to be set out on Christmas morning. It'll be the bestest Christmas ever.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

And we're off...

It's officially Christmas Season! Two indicators of this:

1. To truly prove that I am a Colorado Native, the majority of my friends from my lifetime here have moved elsewhere. They come home during the holidays, and for one month per year, I have a social life. That starts tonight. Maybe I'll tell you all about my crazy night out tomorrow.

2. The tree is up, and a boxful of cutesy santa and snowman stuff has replaced my normal candles and vases about the home. I'm not big into knicknacks. I clutter my house easily enough without them. During Christmas, however, I let go my issues with cutesy, and my issues with knicknacks, and decorate like the dorky suburban mommy that I am.

I was worried about the kitty getting into the tree, but my fears have been asuaged: She's found a new super stealthy spot to sleep all day.

I love this view of the tree because it makes it look enormous.

Alas, it is just The Kid who is enormous...

Happy Saturday. I'm off to drink a beer with friends. Happy happy Saturday!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sleep issues in the Soapy Water Family.

I took the best turkey drugged nap of my life today. I'm finally over being loggy, but it was so good, and I will be unable to fall asleep tonight because of it.

The Kid is already anxious for Christmas. He is not yet asleep tonight because he's too excited about Santa. Grrr.

The Cat had a visit to the vet to get her shots today. She is docile and tired. Poor kitty. But, she's the only one sleeping in our house tonight!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Simple day

I'm not feeling very reflective tonight, maybe I should have posted before I filled my tummy. We had a good holiday. No tempers, no foul words. I have a great family. The Kid was in fine form except this morning when he was convinced he could wash my car with a small saucepan and a wash cloth, even though it was 30 degrees outside. It took a while for him to accept my ABSOLUTELY YOU MAY NOT WASH MY CAR.

I am fundamentally grateful that I have a small life. I work with good people. My friends are good people. My family is my center, and we are good to each other. Apart from The Kid's drama, I have an amazingly stable life. It's simple. I know nothing else.

That's a simple, but fundamental thing to be thankful for. And I really am. It's perfect.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

haiku weds

Silenced alarm clock,
I watch the first snow falling
from my cozy bed.

Raised hand, anxious pace,
Students tease, it does not help.
He is furious.

Peppermint Forest!
Now? I'm next to Gramma Nutt.
Stupid Candyland.

Turkey, cranberry,
Stuffing, Potatoes. Oh no.
I'm such a huge pig.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

When is Tuesday like Friday?

When you close your office on Weds! I LOVE Thanksgiving. It's my total fave holiday. Five-day weekend and all.

So, in preparation for the big holiday, I thought I'd share how I get ready for a turkey day with my family:
  1. Discuss with your mom and sisters who is making what for Thanksgiving. Your sister who has recently moved back to the area will be making pies, and has totally usurped your position as pie maker.
  2. Resent her for 5 minutes.
  3. Volunteer to bring jello and salad.
  4. Search the internet for crazily good salads you can make. Find difficult and extravagant salads and home made dressings on Dream a little about candying almonds and develop a craving for beets.
  5. Because you are all about fiber, decide you must make something with spinach and beets. Beets beets beets beets.
  6. Your mom reminds you that you have picky eaters in the mix.
  7. Eat the beets on your own goddamn time. Pickle a few for mom so she will love you best.
  8. Go back to step 4. Settle on fancy thing with arugula and blue cheese and dressing made out of clementines.
  9. Go to the grocery store with everyone else in Denver on Tuesday night because the snow's a-coming tomorrow.
  10. Throw out fancy salad idea and settle on the old standby. But buy the fancy bacon, it's a holiday for cripe's sake.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Quickie News Roundup

There's been another explosion in our newspapers lately about the prevalence in ADHD in our kids. I read one staggering figure, that one in ten boys in the US is taking some kind of medication for ADHD symptoms. That's a lot of kids. That's a lot of medicine. That's a lot of money.

Anyway, I believe this was brought on by a recently released study showing the academic acheivement of children with ADHD, which is below the 'typical' child at the start of elementary school, generally catches up to the general population by 6th grade. This is interesting on so many levels, and encouraging for me on many others. Principally, it promotes the view that ADHD is not necessarily a mental illness, but a developmental delay. A maturity delay. For me, that worldview is a big deal. That the medical community is catching on to this and may change methods of treatment is exciting.

Reading around about the issue, I stumbled upon this op-ed/article in The Times out of the UK. The thesis, basically, is that we have forced our children into structure so early, that some are incapable of handling it, hence, ADHD. She comes at it from a kind of anthropologically Marxist kind of view, that as culture has become more technological, and as our culture has become an environment to excel and succeed in skyskrapers rather than as hunter-gatherers or even as farmers, we have alienated the boys of the world from access to what they need most: a good wrastle, risk-taking behaviors away from the eyes of overanxious moms, and a day spent less fearful and more exhuberant. It's an interesting way to see things, mostly because it is the antithesis of the message I get as a mom of one of these 'disturbed children' (you should be more stern with him, he needs more structure and discipline). Instead, her point of view says, boys will be boys. Let them be boys.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Love Letter to Greencastle, IN.

In my mind's eye, I can still see the approach so clearly. The exit from I-70, then west from the Cloverdale truck plaza, you pass under the highway to a briefly flat, wooded stretch of state highway, the spot I got pulled over that late night that Princess Di was killed, fully and awesomely and responsibly the designated driver from a night out in Indianapolis (no ticket, they just saw the CO license plate and knew I had to be a schnockered college student). The amalgum of memories driving 265 to Greencastle are alternately bleak, otherworldly, and beautiful. There are the cloudy, depressing, 4pm sunset drives of late February. There are the late summer night drives into the valleys of farm fields, cloaked in darkness and fog, which the descent into felt like driving into whole oblivion. There are the sunny late spring drives past the fields of corn or soybeans or whatever, the fields specked with blossoms and the leaves of trees bursting with that nubile green the likes of which I've never seen before or after.

I can drive into Greencastle in my imagination at any time, every detail crystal clear. I cannot do that with any other place I've lived, or been, ever. Pass the putting green and driving range that I never did visit. Pass the hospital that I unfortunately did (Sarah). Pass the gun shop, the liquor store, the Robe-Ann Park and then take a left into campus. Of all of the places in the world I've been, all of those American and European capitols, Greencastle is one of my favorite places to visit on Google Earth. Each corner of that town holds a memory.

But no description of Greencastle for me can ommit DePauw, my alma mater. It is where I completed my teens, and left behind a big part of my being as a kid. It is where, within the first thirty minutes of arriving as a freshman, I met two of my lifelong best friends. It is where I read Lolita, first acknowledged a propensity towards medieval art, and alternately grew my brain with a fabulous education, then killed brain cells with the best drinking buddies a girl could ever dream to have.

I miss the food, that we went to school in a town where college students could afford to eat out, what with the farm food and the farm food and the barbeque and the farm food, and the best drunken meals to be had in all of the universe (Seriously, what more do you need in life than french fries, covered in garlic salt and then doused in cheese. Okay, when you are DRUNK and it's 1 in the morning. Also, right now, in Greencastle, Indiana, two college students are hooking up for the first time with garlic and cheese breath. I love that thought, it's like a college tradition).

I have so many incredible memories from DePauw, it would be impossible to list them, and I've sat here all night trying to think up the best or the most poignant for this post. I cannot do it. Suffice it to say that the impact my college years had on me are so deep, those years have such a profound effect on what I do and say and think about to this very day. I did not just 'go to college.' I looked forward to college every single day of my life since my oldest sister left to go herself, and I made damn sure I chose the school that would provide me the best and most challenging education, because I'm a nerd like that. The gamble there, of course, was whether the people and the location of the school would be equally worth it. Turned out, I hit the jackpot.

I didn't think so at first. My freshman year, like most freshman years, I had to grow into being in college. Everyone in my class was as smart as me, and for the first time in my life, I actually had to study. And Greencastle. I had a really hard time with Greencastle. The locus of town was three miles away from town, at the Walmart. The banks closed at four. There was this truck that drove through our campus with an enormous gunrack and a confederate flag hanging on the tailgate. The student body as a whole at DePauw are notoriously more conservative than the professors. It was a jarring experience, and I actually experienced more culture shock in the move to Indiana than in my move to Dublin. My friends, Erin, Maria, then later Jaci and Mary and so many others, kept me there. Also, my professors, my honors classes, my art and art history classes, it was all so unique, I knew I would never find it elsewhere.

It took until my senior year, ten years ago right now, to truly fall in love with it. I had been away in Ireland for a year, and I had missed DePauw. I decided to get a job, tending bar. It was there, at The Duck in the Walden Inn (the link there shocked the poo out of me, they've renovated and it's clearly not the beer-soaked, dark and smoky closet I worked in anymore), that I came to know the town and the people unconnected with the university, and then my love came. It was the only time in my life I was able to walk into bars and restaurants in town and people would know me. And there are some outstanding people in that town. I think of them dearly still.

But this isn't coming out right. As a Colorado native, I am used to being blown away by the beauty of my surroundings. It's right there to the west of where I'm sitting right now, these glorious Rocky Mountains. My friend Maria and I, she's from New Mexico originally, had to really reconcile how to live in a place so plain, so flat. But we figured it out: it's hilly, but not mountainous. There are more trees there, and they are so big. There is so much to appreciate about it, but you have to retrain the eye to see it.

It's there, in the fall, the colors painted in the leaves above you, and really, autumn's colors are more vibrant against a clouded sky. It's there in the long drives to the covered bridges, these poetic red, barn structure expanses over what they call creeks but here in Colorado we would call rivers. It's there in the quiet early mornings of February, when the street lights refract in the ice-coated bare branches of trees, clinking like champagne flutes.

To call Greencastle quaint is a disservice. To call it podunk is lazy. It's just so much more than all that. I guess I can say, Greencastle was once my home, and I miss it sometimes. I think that's enough.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How is The Kid doing, anyway?

So, this is supposed to be a blog about The Kid. My Kid. Because of the persistent blogging this month, and because I'm normally getting my post done at ten til midnight every night, I've not taken the time to update on The Kid in quite a while.

First, academically. Great. His reading is on par, he's a little easily distracted, so it's slow going, but he understands everything he reads. He rocks at math. I've never really had concerns about his academics because he's just so naturally bright. If he doesn't get it today, he'll get it pretty soon.

His behavior at school is a different story. He's had a rough go of it lately. He has such a hard time in the classroom. I don't know what is going on. He gets stuck on ideas and tasks most of the time, and then the class has to move on, and he's not willing to go with them. I think that, essentially, is the deal. His reactions are all over the place. Most of the time, he gets so frustrated and angry he has to take space to calm down again. I don't think he's missing too much school time, but he has to go through this 'leave the classroom' thing about three to eight times a day. It's been rough.

I don't know how to make it better. It's school. It's kind of outside of my realm, if you know what I mean. I will help them in any way, but when it comes to how he reacts to their structures, I can't do much from work or home. Or, more than we already do, which is talk about the day, every night, and do lots of work with doctors and therapists outside of school. So, it's not like I'm doing nothing, but in the moment? It's up to The Kid.

Medically, well. Oooph. Six weeks ago he had a blood draw at the doctors office. Everything was okay, but his cholesterol levels were high. Yeah, he's seven. We've cut back on fats, for him and for me, and the food I have been preparing for both of us has been more healthy. We went again last week and his numbers are better, now on the high side of 'normal.' The doc is worried that the real culprit, however, is the weight gain and his metabolism from his meds. We are cutting back on his atypical antipsychotic, Abilify, slowly but surely until we will be done with it, hopefully by the end of the year or at the very latest, January. This is all good news to me, as I've been asking for a good justification for his taking it for about three months now. So glad to get this drug out of his system.

The Kid's therapist let a bad 'by the by' comment slip to me on Monday, however. He said he'd talked to the school, and, his words, "they are really against dropping meds." Naturally, they would be against dropping meds that worked to relieve aggressive behaviors. I would too. But these meds are not working very well against his aggression and frustration (see above, he's been on them with these cycles of anger and difficulty remaining safe in the classroom), and they are making him gain weight in a gross way (8 pounds in six weeks, on a good diet). I really wish he hadn't told me that. I really don't want to know what the school thinks about The Kid's medical info.

Of course I updated the school on the status of The Kid's meds, and now I worry that they will be pointing toward his behavior as caused by his meds being dropped. We're all keeping a close eye on him, and he is definitely going to have some difficulty while we take them out of his system. It may take the rest of the school year, in fact, to truly see a Kid without Abilify. I just can't let it go on that we feed him with this med that is not proving to work, that is pretty much definitely causing damage to his body (weight gain). It would be immoral of me.

So, in the meantime, the only real effect of lowering the dosage of the med I've seen (we've only cut the dosage back by 1/3, and it's only been five days) is difficulty falling asleep. He has been pretty much the same, easily overstimulated but incredibly funny and smart kiddo. I can live with this kiddo. He's a great kid.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Ideas for stuff to write about Friday night:

1. I drove to work with a nail sticking out of my tire today. I ended up with 4 new tires because I put off buying new ones for so long (they were almost as bald as Telly Savales)

2. The nail was sticking out of the wall of my tire though. Do you think someone vandalized my car?

3. Yesterday, my neighbor left her car running, parked on the street, to warm up while she was inside. Naturally, her car was stolen. It was a Lexus SUV. She either has no common sense, or maybe she's from Canada?

4. Wonder what ill, car-related fate will befall my neighborhood tomorrow!

5. My baby neice, Q, is about the cutest thing in the whole freaking universe.

6. I wonder how many episodes Friday Night Lights has left in it because of the writers strike.

7. My guts are in knots, people. I'm serious. I can't really blog about this, but something has got to change.

8. I figured out my food coma from yesterday? That was the first carb-laden meal I've eaten in a week. I'm thinking the restaurant didn't drug me. It was the lo mein.

9. Maybe Jenny McCarthy is on to something with the no dairy, no carbs thing. But in reference to me, not The Kid.

10. Although my behavior wasn't any better. I was still a basket case.

11. Aw, fuckit. I'm just going to bed.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

You will find me in the Castle of Aauugh!!!!

We got chinese food tonight. I think we got the sesame chicken with the extra sleeping pill sauce, I believe that was the #4 combo with eggroll. If I weren't so very very sleepy, I'd tell you about the time my family went out to eat at a chinese restaurant in Boulder and everyone ended up with numbness about the face and nose after we ate. The family that ran that drugtastic restaurant has apparently moved to my neighborhood. Instead of the numb nose, however, I am feeling some weird return of my left elbow's tendonitis, which is a not at all normal thing. And to think I had food in the fridge but we had been running around and it was already past 7 and I thought we'd try the dodgy chinese place and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wednesday is now HAIKU day!

Each week, a few thoughts.
Categories: home, school, fun

Sometimes you just need
Quiet, simple words.

Daisy, biting cat
I've just about had it with
Your razor-sharp teeth.

Struggle to keep safe.
The Kid works so hard to be
What most kids just are.

I ditched work today
To hold my baby neice, Q.
She has too much kick.

Don't cry, sweet baby Q.
I know your mom's awesome, but
She wants a shower.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I have a really amazing support system of friends, family, medical professionals, but all of that starts and ends with my mom. She is kind, and funny, and warm. She has saved my life on a number of occassions, but never so much as she has in the last year and a half. She has served as my son's second home, his afterschool neighborhood, with snacks and activities and help with homework. She's the reason I can still churn away at it all.

Today is her birthday. When I was little, I gave her a card that I made all by myself that said, did you know that if you spell MOM upside down it spells WOW?

Do you know what WOWs me now? How my relationship with my mom has been one of the cornerstones of my life. I couldn't be more grateful for her.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Did you hug/call/thank/remember a veteran today?

My Uncle Harry joined ROTC in college, around 1939. He graduated from Santa Clara University with a BA in education in 1943, and joined the Reserves as American troops were dying in droves in Europe and in the South Pacific during World War II. This was roughly less than a year after Pearl Harbor, and two years before the war would be won. My uncle had no idea what he was getting into.

I'm unsure where he completed his training, where his troops trained, but I believe it was in the South. He was shipped off to England as a First Lieutentant of the 106th Artillery Division in September of 1944. From southern England the division was sent to Belguim on December 1st, replacements for the main line in Holland, Belguim and France. My uncle's division was stationed squarely in the Ardennes forest, a lightly guarded and very quiet part of that western front, for a slow orientation into combat. On December 16th, 1944, German Panzer divisions, the very last of Hitler's army staffed by old men and children, crushed the silence in the Ardennes, lambasting the unprepared and underprotected troops. Over the next month, the Germans progressed through the American line, producing a lethal 'bulge' in their line, cutting off supplies and causing confusion. It took more than a month before the allies succeeded in surrounding the Germans, and the Battle of the Bulge was over by January 25, 1945. In all, nearly 81,000 allied troops were killed in action and over 24,000 were captured*.

Somewhere between the initial onset of the battle and Christmas, 1944, my uncle was captured. Our best guess is that he was transported to a prisoner of war camp for officers called Oflag XIII-B in Hammelburg, Germany. Transported is a kind word. Most first hand reports by veterans of Oflag XIII-B and Battle of the Bulge captured state that they were marched through the cold of Germany to reach the camp. They were fed a diet of 1200 calories a day at first, cutting back to only 1000 calories a day by the time they were liberated. Malnutrition was the cause of disease (from the most simple infections, unable to heal without proper nutrition, to the more serious, like dysentery) and of course, death.

My uncle was always very quiet about his experiences in this camp. I know that he developed an appendicitis, or at the very least an inflamed appendix, while in this camp. A guard offered the medic a butter knife, and said, operate. I know that he was very proud that his camp was personally liberated by General Patton, although it is likely, but I don't know the whole story, that he, along with almost everyone Patton's army liberated from Hammelburg, were the victims of an ill-planned liberation, and were recaptured.

He did make it home. Skinny as hell, but alive, he returned to his family home in Trinidad, Co. His first question of my dad, his kid brother, was "what are your favorite songs right now?" My dad's answer? Bing Crosby's "Don't Fence Me In."


I don't care where you stand on war or peace or Iraq or Vietnam or Right or Left, I think we do stand united on this: We are singularly in awe of men who saw the worst things a man can see, and even moreso at their ability to come back home, to reintegrate, and to live lives without the horrors. My heart goes out incredibly to the sufferers of PTSD, even for the men who suffered from it before we called it that. My wish for veterans day is that the men and women who served our country are being served now, by us. That they receive good medical care, that their war wounds, physical and psychological, are healed. And that they never, ever feel unappreciated for their sacrifice, regardless of war or cause or president.

*Just because this blows my mind: 40 days, 81,000 dead. Not that either one is 'better' or more or less brutal, or more or less morally acceptable: compared to our current war in Iraq, that is 2,000% more dead in just 2% of the time our troops have currently been in Iraq. (source for Iraq number here)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Love Letter to Dublin

Preface: I called my BFF last night to brag about a particularly fun happy hour spent with him, him and him, and how she was sorely missed in the mix there. I definitely could have used a little more girl power. Plus, we all have horrible crushes on her.

Anyway, topics of conversation moved from the bloggers I happy houred with to blogging, generally, and my moving from two posts a month to daily, and how I'm kind of out of shit to say. She didn't specifically offer advice, but mentioned that she has tricks up her sleeve, such as these love letters to cities she's lived in. She didn't offer it to me as an idea, but if NaBloPoMo has taught me nothing else, it has taught me how to steal. I am deeply ashamed. Her love letters will be better, anyway, so no big diff.

I have lived in three different places in my life. Seeing as there are three Sundays left to this national blogging extravaganza, I hereby promise to devote a post to those three places: urban, rural and suburban, respectively.

Dear Dublin,

It's always difficult to write a letter to an ex-lover. We had a on-again/off-again relationship that spanned three years. We were together for two of those years, and they were mighty fine years indeed. Then I found myself, as your people like to say, erm, up the pole, and I left you and I haven't seen you since.

During our first year, ours was a definitely one sided relationship. I definitely didn't get to know you all that well, and yet, I have fashioned myself and my identity largely from our time together. I solipsized you, Dublin. I absorbed you far more than you absorbed me, which, of course is understandable seeing our short time together in relation to your 1,000 years here on this earth. I learned about you what I could. I knew what your multiple names mean. I know a bit about who lived on your streets over the span of time that you've existed.

Oh, but we had some good times that first year, didn't we, Dublin? Remember how I bicycled through your streets on clear days and when it rained, your disgusting street water flipping up all over me so that I often wondered, were it not for the wonderful calories burned and the way I knew your short cuts, if taking the bus might have been a better option. Remember the time I met that Italian girl at the Molly Malone statue at the end of Grafton Street (you know, the one who became one of my closest friends, the one with the square glasses that taught me how to cook and drink guinness until my eyes crossed), I, standing in awe of my sweet Molly Malone, with her huge boobs and that bucket full of cockles and muscles, alive, alive-o, and she, with much hilarity, trying to sing me Molly's song.

Remember the speckled sunny days? Those long, head-clearing walks around the soccer pitches at UCD, or to see the tulips in St. Stephen's Green? Remember the mild, cool nights with the rivers of whiskey and new friends and endless possibilities, with new people, new things, places to go?

I struck off, back to my digs in the US. You taught me something that first year, that I will never, ever forget. I am an American. See, when I first went to live with you, Dublin, I identified myself as an Irish descendant. I could boast that both sides of my family came from Ireland's shores to America's, not too long ago. After your famine. Before the turn of the century. We were still new blood here, relatively speaking. But I came home and I knew that I would never be Irish. I was not nor ever would I be. I wore running shoes with my jeans and I have this bland, American newscaster accent, my identity is American. I appreciate that difference.

I returned to you a year later. This time I would know you better. I wanted to study you, your history, the history of the people who had lived in your city and your country for centuries before I had the chance to walk your fields. The first time I lived in Dublin, I lived there to live abroad, to live life abundantly, to drink and dance and be 21 years old. I came back to spend time with you, to work towards a masters degree in Archaeology, and maybe try to carve a live out for myself in your streets.

I remember being nervous. I moved to Donnybrook, a beautiful but definitely inexpensive Georgian rowhouse on Waterloo Road. We lived in the Garden Flat, with the Great Room window facing to the southwest. My flatmates and I dubbed the flat 'Waterloo Sunset,' for that Kinks song. We definitely let the wine flow and the good times happen. Over all, though, I was there for you, and I was there for Ireland. I was there for you and for Ireland more than I was there for myself. I was never convinced I'd be an academic.

And yet, I learned the names of your relics and your shrines, I made an ass of myself trying to pronounce their names. I learned the lives of your saints and the measurements of your high crosses. I chose the tympanums and cornices, decorated with heads and curlicue motifs, built by your monks a thousand years ago upon which to concentrate my studies.

I set off in April of 1999 to see in person my queries. The Nun's church at Clonmacnoise. Cormac's Chapel at the Rock of Cashel. The Abbey church at Clonfert. There was Kilronan and Cong and my very favorite: climbing over stone walls, amid braying cattle and quite frankly frightened of 100+ pink spray-painted sheep, I met the stern faces of Dysert O'Dea.

It was during this trip that I met The Kid's father. A month later, in your fair city, Dublin, I was given the greatest gift I would never have wished for. The Kid.

I left you, Dublin, to start a new life. A couple of new lives, I suppose, technically.

But my love, it is still there, although I've not tread on your sidewalks for 8 years. I love the daffodils in the spring, the way clouds race overhead at speeds I could never imagine for a calm day, the smell of chips with garlic mayonnaise, the endeavor to find the perfect pint of Guinness. I love that your history is steeped in tragedy, but has endured because of valor and that stubborn refusal to die on someone elses terms. I do not love the violence of your past, but I appreciate how the past has added to the culture a humor and genuine enjoyment of life that can only be when you have seen the real sadness.

I love your land and its stories, stumbling upon archaeological site upon site. I love that the earth of Ireland has been churned and reused for gravesite then ringfort then passage tomb then church for ten thousand years. I love that your stones have stories to tell. I love that your people have lived vibrantly along, aside and within the history for all of these years.

Remember that poem? That poem about Newgrange by Seamus Heaney? I found it, finally:

Like somebody who sees things when he's dreaming
And after the dream lives with the aftermath
Of what he felt, no other trace remaining,

So I live now, for what I saw departs
And is almost lost, although a distilled sweetness
Still drops from it into my inner heart.

It is the same with snow the sun releases,
The same as when in wind, the hurried leaves
Swirl round your ankles and the shaking hedges

That had flopped their catkin cuff-lace and green sleeves
Are sleet-whipped bare. Dawn light began stealing
Through the cold universe to County Meath,

Over weirs where the Boyne water, fulgent, darkling,
Turns its thick axle, over rick-sized stones
Millennia deep in their own unmoving

And unmoved alignment. And now the planet turns
Earth brow and templed earth, the corbelled rock
And unsunned tonsure of the burial mounds,

I stand with pilgrims, tourists, media folk
And all admitted to the wired-off hill.
Headlights of juggernauts heading for Dundalk,

Flight 104 from New York audible
As it descends on schedule into Dublin,
Boyne Valley Centre Car Park already full,

Waiting for seedling light on roof and windscreen.
And as in illo tempore people marked
The king's gold dagger when he plunged it in

To the hilt in unsown ground, to start the work
Of the world again, to speed the plough
And plant the riddled grain, we watch through murk

And overboiling cloud for the milted glow
Of sunrise, for an eastern dazzle
To send first light like share-shine in a furrow

Steadily deeper, farther available,
Creeping along the floor of the passage grave
To backstone and capstone, to hold its candle

Inside the cosmic hill. Who dares say "love"
At this cold coming? Who would not dare say it?
Is this the moved wheel that the poet spoke of,

The star pivot? Life's perseid in the ashpit
Of the dead? Like his, my speech cannot
Tell what the mind needs told: an infant tongue

Milky with breast milk would be more articulate.

No love letter to you will ever be complete. But for now,



Saturday, November 10, 2007

Poetry, by The Kid

The Cat sat on The Brat
The Brat is now all flat
Now we call her Matt
What do you think of that?

Friday, November 09, 2007

So little to talk about tonight

I'm finding the blogging for the sake of blogging thing slightly draining. ALREADY. Happy NaBloPoMo.

I should have set myself with a motif. Or a plan in anyway. But no, I'm flying by the seat of my pants.

So, are you watching Friday Night Lights? It's seriously such a good show. Please watch it. Please watch it and let NBC know you watch it, and then maybe buy one or two things from their sponsors, but throw them and email to say, I wasn't going to buy this, but I saw your add while watching FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, and then I went out to buy it.

Anyway, it contains some of the most naturalistic conversations on television. It's like Altman movies, but more relatable. The marriage between Tami and Eric Taylor, their interactions, are magical. And annoying, and spontaneous and endearing and serious and funny and everything that a marriage is. Everything.

You can buy the DVD of season one for 20 bucks. Go buy it, get caught up. It is SO worth your time.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Movie Meme

Day 8 of NaBloPoMo, and I've trolled the internet for a meme I'd like to do. Is that web-socially acceptable? I realize you are supposed to be 'tagged' and all to participate in them, but shoot, this one is easy, and a topic I can't deny.

MOVIES. Y'all know how I am about my watching of the cinema. And probably about the neglected group blog, The Cinema Firmament.

This meme works similarly to the book one that most of you have already done, either on your own blog or via email with me. I'm hoping the following list will create a common scurry of emails and cross posting and just movie knowledge sharing and stuff.

So, here's how it works. Below is listed the AFI's 100 Best Movies.

Green Indicates a Movie I've Seen and Loved.
Red Indicates a Movie I've Seen and Not Loved (don't necessarily need to hate it, just not love it, you know?)
Blue Indicates a Movie I've Not Seen, but Really Want To.

AFI Top 100 Films
1. Citizen Kane (1941)
2. The Godfather (1972) Oh, I love the gangsters. This is in my top 5. Most. Perfect. Ending. EVER.
3. Casablanca (1942)
4. Raging Bull(1980)
5. Singin’ in the Rain (1952) Also, top 5. I make more money that Calvin Coolidge! Put together!
6. Gone with the Wind (1939) This was my fave when I was in fifth grade. I've watched it since, and MAN.
7. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
8. Schindler’s List (1993)
9. Vertigo (1958)
10. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
11. City Lights (1931)
12. The Searchers (1956)
13. Star Wars (1977)
14. Psycho (1960)
15. Sunset Blvd. (1950) Quite possibly my favorite movie of all time. Until I watch The Godfather again.
16. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
17. The Graduate (1967)
18. The General (1927)
19. On the Waterfront (1954)
20. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) Okay, or maybe this is my favorite movie of all time. It's family nostalgic, and makes me cry every single time. It was my dad's favorite movie, see.
21. Chinatown (1974)
22. Some Like It Hot (1959)
23. The Grapes of Wrath (1940) I didn't hate this movie, but am I the only person that found both the book and this movie interminable?
24. E.T. The Extraterrestrial (1982)
25. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
26. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
27. High Noon (1952)
28. All About Eve (1950)
29. Double Indemnity (1944) Of course! I'm an insurance agent! Actually, someday, I want a giant movie poster of this movie hanging in my office. Wouldn't that be so cool?
30. Apocalypse Now (1979)
31. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
32. The Godfather Part II (1974)
33. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
34. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
35. Annie Hall (1977)
36. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
37. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
38. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
39. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
40. The Sound of Music (1965)
41. King Kong (1933)
42. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
43. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
44. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
45. Shane (1953)
46. It Happened One Night (1934)
47.A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
48. Rear Window (1954)
49. Intolerance (1916)
50. Lord of the Rings : The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
51. West Side Story (1961)
52. Taxi Driver(1976) I know, even I can't believe I haven't seen this movie.
53. Deer Hunter, The (1978)
54. M*A*S*H (1970)
55. North by Northwest (1959)
56. Jaws (1975)
57. Rocky (1976)
58. The Gold Rush (1925)
59. Nashville (1975)
60. Duck Soup (1933)
61. Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
62. American Graffiti (1973)
63. Cabaret (1972)
64. Network (1976) This movie so amazingly appropriate to right now, it's scary. Have you seen it yet? If not, you better. Today. Thank you.
65. The African Queen (1951)
66. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
67. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
68. Unforgiven (1992)
69. Tootsie (1982)
70. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
71. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
72. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
74. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
75. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
76. Forrest Gump (1994)
77. All the President’s Men (1976) I was a bartender in college and worked an early shift (11am to about 6pm). I found this on cable, and was alone in the bar watching for the first half of the movie. Patrons began to file in for a late liquid lunch, and I refused to serve them unless they promised not to request a change in station. By the end of the movie, I had a dozen or so bar patrons completely engrossed, and drunk. Then they drunkenly talked about Nixon and Clinton and Tom Brokaw for the remainder of my shift. I don't think I made much in tips that day, but I must say it was my best day of bartending ever.
78. Modern Times (1936) This is Buster Keaton, right? My dad and I used to watch this movie on PBS.
79. The Wild Bunch (1969)
80. The Apartment (1960)
81. Spartacus (1960)
82. Sunrise (1927)
83. Titanic (1997) Shut up, haters.
84. Easy Rider (1969)
85. A Night at the Opera (1935)
86. Platoon (1986)
87. 12 Angry Men (1957)
88. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
89. The Sixth Sense (1999) Are you seriously telling me this is a superior movie to Goodfellas?
90. Swing Time (1936)
91. Sophie’s Choice (1982)
92. Goodfellas (1990)
93. The French Connection (1971)
94. Pulp Fiction (1994)
95. The Last Picture Show (1971)
96. Do the Right Thing (1989)
97. Blade Runner (1982)
98. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
99. Toy Story (1995)
100. Ben-Hur (1959)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My Favorite Wastes of Time

I know it's hard to believe that between blogging and reading blogs and doing all of the myriad non-computer-based tasks that fill my day I still find time to waste a lot of my time on this here internet. But, no! I am superwoman! I can run a household and an office and read homework with my child and keep my cat alive AND waste loads of time while I do it. I'm awesome.

Now, the things I'm about to share with you are in no way awesome. They are just what I do and when I'm done doing them, I'm all, Dude, what did you do with the last 30 minutes?

So, with further ado, here are my top 5 time-waster activities (non-blog) on these series of tubes:

1. Pop Cap Games. I'm so freaking embarrased to tell you this, but I ROCK at Zuma. I also am probably playing MahJong while I'm talking to you on the telephone. The Kid thinks these games are interminably lame, but my video game prowess began and ended with Tetris, so I think these games are so totally radical, dude!

2. Slate. Now, I do read the articles, but I come back for the Bushisms. Sometimes what he says sounds like those grammar lessons from 7th grade where we had to circle what was grammatically wrong with a sentence (subject-tense agreement, completion of thought, etc). And occassionally, when he doesn't sound like a complete ignorant baby-talker, he says these incredibly demonic things that make my spine seize. Another reason for Slate? The daily roundup of Political Cartoons.

3. Television Without Pity. I don't know what it is that I like about watching a television show and then spending time the next day reading snarky recaps about it. I've actually started watching shows with rabid followings on TWOP (Battlestar Gallactica), because I figure they know what the frack they are talking about.

4. Movie Trailers. Apple has the awesome hi-def ones to watch. points me to countless others. It's a totally solid pastime. By trailers alone, I must see Juno (which is the kind of movie one would expect me to want to see, by my 'I like Indie-stuff' persona and all) and I Am Legend (because no one can escape the charismatic grip of Will Smith, plus, SCAREDY!).

5. Okay. This last one? You are going to change your concept of me. You think I'm tough and smart and jaded and hard core. But no. I spend a little time every week, if not every day, oogling adoptable pets at the Denver Dumb Friends League Website. I mean, come on. I'm such a wus.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

On This Awesome Conference, Finally

Okay, I've been back from this conference for about three days now, and what I hoped wouldn't happen, that I would get all sidetracked with the job and the family and the cat and the daily life stuff, has happened. I'm so sidetracked its stupid.

But, for my edification if nothing more, I need to list out the key things I learned at the PEP Conference:

  • It was not a "parenting" conference. The key assumption of this conference was that we were the experts on our own kids. We were specifically instructed in our three small group sessions (about 10 people plus a few moderators) not to 'rescue' and not to problem solve for others. We were there to enable ourselves to act within the educational system as advocates for our children. The Colorado Department of Education, who planned and hosted the conference with the help of experienced parents of children with disabilities, want us and our children to succeed within their bureaucracy. If that's not the most encouraging thing you've ever heard, well, I guess I can just say it's a very encouraging thing for me to hear.
  • I do identify The Kid as a child with a disability, at least as defined by special educational law. I know some of you who read this and know The Kid and I have trouble with that. I am so grateful that the framework of IEP's exist, that there are laws to back up the accomodations that The Kid needs to be a student, and for that reason, his identity as a child with disabilities is actually a really good thing. He is a kid that without the right supports in place, can't possibly show his potential. Thank god for the IEP.
  • Our story was rare, and bad, but not the worst. And I don't mean in his medical file, not at all. I mean in the way in which we have struggled with our school district, a little more than a year ago, to obtain reasonable special education services. I was told, "No, we can't do that" far more often than is reasonable or possibly even legal. The Kid's special educational entitlements were violated last year. I have been jaded and hurt by the general ed school that The Kid attended for Kindergarten and the first month of first grade, but now know that not only is this not normal, it is also extremely possible to counteract with specific language and specific actions on my part. I have learned what to do if I encounter the 'I won't do this for your child' response again.
  • Most IEP violations take place because of ignorance, not because of spite. I need to teach myself to believe this in the case of last year's big time bad news, just to help me get over it. But also, these laws, the ADA, the IDEA, NCLB and the Colorado-specific special ed law are so complex, and teachers simply do not know them, and this is how violations occur. This conference exists to counteract this ignorance.
  • I am worried about new things. Inclusion. The Kid will be heading from a very restrictive classroom environment to a less restrictive environment eventually. I don't believe this will happen until 2008, possibly not until the new school year, but it is going to happen. I am now scared of what happens when my highly intelligent young man goes back into a 'grade level' school, after having been in a classroom of 6, in a very fluid multi-age setting. He is behaviorally challenged, even in the classroom of 6, but he is also a leader there. He is, age-wise, in second grade. He is doing 3rd and 4th grade math and science. He is reading on grade level. He is writing like a first grader. How do you keep a kid with all of these gifts and challenges in a single-grade classroom? This is not a bad problem persay, but it is one that I had never considered until last weekend.
  • Finally, THANK GOD FOR BLOGGING. Like I said, the seminar was split up between large lectures about disability law and IEP's, with the one smaller 'choice' breakout session, I went to the one about PBS, as I wrote earlier this week, and then punctuated with a meeting of a small support group each day. At each support group, I sobbed. I am completely incapable of talking about The Kid and his education to sympathetic ears without breaking down into sobs. One on one, I'm generally capable of being articulate and not crying a great river, but get me around a group of people looking at me and caring about what I am saying and having all been in that same place as me, I will lose it. I never cried in the big group lectures, either. Just in the small groups. So, support groups are kind of out for me. I'm not productive in them. In many ways, this blog is my support group. Important people read this blog and know me and are then able to know about what I'm thinking or feeling, and I don't have to sit around and tell them about it later at a party and end up red-faced and crying. I can also write and write and write and you won't be any the wiser if I sobbed through the writing or not. I can bare it all, or organize my thoughts. I'm so lucky to have you, readers (and I think I know each and every one of you, and most of you know me personally and know The Kid personally, and that helps so much).

Thanks for being my support group.

Oh, and Diane? There's snow above timberline. I woke up every morning to the snow machines blanketing Peak 9. Beautiful, pristine skies, bluer than you can imagine during the day, and more stars than you can count at night. I love Breckenridge.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I just really want to go to bed...

...I didn't think I'd resort to this so early in the month of NaBloPoMo. Here are pictures of my cat:

Oh, and I'll throw one in of Dinger the Rockies's mascot dancing to bad Rolling Stones covers at the big You-Lost-The-World-Series-But-We-Still-Think-You-Are-All-Really-Hot,-And-I'm-Talking-To-You-Ryan-Spilborghs rally I went to last week.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Italy-Holland; PBS.

So, yesterday I posted a poem about how it feels to be yanked out of your dreams of parenting a typical child. I feel compelled to write tonight, however, just for the record, that parenting a typical child is never perfect. To extend the analogy, Italy has pick pockets, and they have bathrooms you'll run into occassionally that have the footpads on either side of a hole that you have to squat over and that's really not that glamourous. In short, parenting is hard. Full Stop. I can't pretend that I have it the worst, or that people who don't have kids with challenges worthy of medical and educational interventions don't have it hard. There are tough choices all around as a parent. That is all.

So, in that theme, and in the vein of trying to share some of the cool stuff I learned at this conference, allow me to introduce the concept of Positive Behavior Support, or PBS. You do NOT have to have a disabled child to enact this stuff. It's also so rediculously simple you might do it already. If you live in Colorado, chances are your kids have already been introduced to it at school. Odds are, this is stuff you do already when you are in the right frame of mind, but you just call it parenting. If you are like me, you do this sometimes, but not all of the time. The PBS system has you consciously using it daily.

The basic tenet of PBS is to set your child up for successes as citizens, socially and societally, with clear, easy to understand definitions and goals what what that success means. It's not enough to tell a kid that they must respect others... It is our job to teach him what respect looks like, feels likes, and how you enact it.

It so much easier to explain this with examples of daily home behavior.

What is the definition of a clean bedroom? Is a clean bedroom one with nothing on the floor but the toybox spilling over and stuff precariously stuffed into closets? I can't tell you how many times I've told The Kid, CLEAN YOUR ROOM, only to have the whole endeavor back up on me, and I end up in the room, cleaning it with him. I have felt like at seven, he should know the basics of how to clean a room because he's watched me do it enough.

Now I understand, I have to break it down for him. I tried it today. I told him, first, pick up any dirty clothes and put them in the hamper. He happily did it and came back. Next, find the toys on the floor and put them into the right cubby or toybox. Again, he ran back, completed that task, and came back. Okay, now make the bed. Scurry, bed made, scurry back. Are you ready to vacuum? Yep! All the while, he was pleased with his progress, I told him what a great job he was doing.

As I sat in the class on this subject, I sat there thinking of all of the times The Kid hasn't really understood what I asked him or needed him to do, as if just acting dissappointed it didn't get done right or me going and doing it for him in the end was going to magically make him know how to do it the next time we needed it done. As parents, we do this all the time, even if we have obedient, responsible kids. I can't wait to do this some more.

The first step they wanted us to do was to identify behaviors of our kids that drive us crazy. Next, we had to write down what we wanted them to do instead. Third, we broke down the tasks necessary to complete the over riding behavior. In action, you praise (not overly crazily so, but just let them know they pretty much rocked it) each of the smaller components of the things we work on with them. This way, even if whatever it is we want to see as the end result is not perfect, we've likely been able to say to the child that we saw five or six really awesome things to the one or two things that could use some improvement.

Here is an example that I wrote down:

Problem Behavior: Homework doesn't make it back into the backpack until the morning, usually as the school bus is driving up, and I'm the one stuffing it into the backpack as The Kid walks out the door.

What behavior do I want to see instead: The Kid, who is often awesome about the 'doing' of the homework in the first place, completes his homework and puts it right back in his backpack after he's done, and gets the back pack in position by the front door to go to school the next morning.

Components of the behavior: Start homework. Complete homework. Mom checks homework and signs it. The Kid puts homework into folder. The Kid puts folder into backpack. The Kid brings backpack to the front door. The Kid has backpack ready to go out the door as the bus arrives.

So, that's six things I can catch him being good at, when normally I'm just bitching at him in the morning that I had to put his homework in his backpack again. I do ask him to complete these tasks now, but not in such clear terms.

There's so much more to say about the subject. Check out the link above, if you are interested. Also, give it a try and get back to me. I'd like to know how this simple change in communication with kids can make big changes in the world we inhabit together.