Friday, December 28, 2007

Music Minute #6 - Into My Arms

I was turned on to this song by pure random happenstance. Since hearing it for the first time about a week or so ago, I've listened to other music by the artist, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. He has some great stuff but most if it isn't really my style. This song is certainly not new, but it's new to me. It's intensity and intonation permeates every cell of my body and reaches like a romance partner's swaying dance toward the depths of my soul where only secrets are playing...

I don't believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you
Not to touch a hair on your head
To leave you as you are
And if He felt He had to direct you
Then direct you into my arms
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms
And I don't believe in the existence of angels
But looking at you I wonder if that's true
But if I did I would summon them together
And ask them to watch over you
To each burn a candle for you
To make bright and clear your path
And to walk, like Christ, in grace and love
And guide you into my arms
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms
And I believe in Love
And I know that you do too
And I believe in some kind of path
That we can walk down, me and you
So keep your candle burning
And make her journey bright and pure
That she will keep returning
Always and evermore
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms

Monday, December 24, 2007

Unopened Gifts and Other Christmas Ramblings


I am just fresh from Midnight Mass and a lot of thought was provoked. Just at random, here are a few flashes of hmmm moments I experienced....


1. The cruicifix I look at each week is Jesus, of course, who is a grown man -- an adult. Today, Christmas, my Christian bretheren recall that that grown man was at one time was but a mere babe. Jesus was a baby! He was dependent and vulnerable. He had needs in order to survive.


2. With #1 being said, I spend a lot of my year (both calendar and liturgical) thinking about sacrifice and suffering, fear and anxiety, peace and serenity through the death that God offered me so that I may have life. I rarely, and I mean rarely, reflect on the very fact that he was even born. How interesting...why don't I do that? I think I'll try harder this year to do that.


3. I love my church! The church was dimly lit, mostly by candle light. Red pointsettias glared their hellos from the altar. The choir is phenomenal. During communion, they sang my favorite Christmas song: O Holy Night. As I savored Christ in my mouth and through my body, I was still and my soul was quiet; listening to the song and it's lullaby and drama wrapped in one beautiful melody: fall on your knees! Oh hear the angel voices! Oh night divine....oh night divine.


4. This Christmas has been hollow for me. I'm floating through the season with minimal effort. I'm kind of going through the motions. I'm not looking for a "oh, poor baby". What I need is a better year in 2008. I need better health, financial stability, harmony in the families. I was thinking how my brain is always one part here, and one part there anymore. And how sad that makes me. I'm sad about that because I'm not fully in one moment and what if I miss something? What if I miss something that I should be seeing and I never will get that moment back again? I worry about that a lot.


5. And tonight, during Mass, Monsignor hit the home run. The two things we have interfere most in our lives are fear and anxiety. And what is the one thing God tells us most? DO NOT BE AFRAID. Do Not Worry. Don't Have ANXIETY.


Yes, Lord.


I hear You.


6. The other message that just smacked me in the face.... Monsignor had just spoken of Christ's Presence. It was eloquent. He talked about how Jesus had a gift of His Presence and anyone who was in It was healed if they so desired (which most did!). Then Monsignor reminded us of the the alternate Presents -- this is the season of giving gifts to one another. How hard would it be...how frustrating would it be....how disappointing would it be to have worked on creating a gift and giving it to someone, and that someone didn't open the gift? And here we have God giving us gifts all the time, yet we don't open them. How frustrating that must be for someone who loves me unconditionally (God) to have me basically ingore or reject His Gifts. What a beautiful analogy Monsignor gave, huh?


Merry Christmas my friends and family....may you always see and open the Gifts of God. I know I have a few to open....

Sunday, December 23, 2007

December 23rd Goings-On

A rather nonsensical (nonsensicle?) post, really....

Tonight, I spent 4 hours wrapping gifts. Wrapping the gifts is actually my favorite part of all the to-do's at Christmas. I enjoy matching the bows to the paper, the tissue to the bag...you get the idea. You usually won't find me using those cheap bows that you just peel the thingie off the back and stick it on the paper. Nope. I'd rather get the wire kind of ribbon and make bows, tie them around the box delicately and fluff it up. I like using different accessories instead of bows, too.

Another thing I did today is prepared three whole meals for my family. That just doesn't happen!

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, biscuits and bacon with orange juice

Lunch: pre-made pizzas that I bought from my cousin's granddaughter who had a fundraiser

Dinner: Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches (on Jewish rye!) and banana chips

Not glamorous, I know. But a good effort!

While I was wrapping gifts, I enjoyed a glass or two of Llano's Sweet Red. It's pretty much the only red wine I like. I prefer it chilled, but can drink it at room temperature, too. I ate cheezits too..... Here is a picture for ya:

So, as I raise my glass tonight, I'm toasting Y O U.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Pop Update and More

Yesterday, good news arrived: Pop no longer needs his back brace!
The only restrictions are no heavy lifting and no twisting. Should be very easy to do considering he can't even bring himself into a sitting or standing position without assistance yet. Once he's sitting, he's able to do so for about an hour to an hour and a half. He can stand for about fifteen minutes. His blood pressure ends up going goofy and he gets faint, so he's got to work in baby steps.
Today, Pop is being transferred from one rehab hospital to another. This new one has goals of getting him out of there in four to six weeks (yay!). Getting him out of there = HOME (which is going to be my house).
Pop has been eating some soft foods, but is still on a feeding tube. Some foods he's been able to eat are bananas, pudding and applesauce. He's got a good grasp of time now, and speaks with a slight slur. Still no prognosis has been rendered, so we are very much day-by-day.
On to my Mother In Law....
She's still at our house enjoying the grandkids. She says they are her medicine. Cute. My mom has been a blessing because she's taking care of both my kids and my mother in law. Anyway, Pop's wife still has a broken bone that is just going to take a long time to heal. Also, the area on her leg where she was pinned in the accident turned necrotic. Behind the necrosis was a bunch of poison that has since been drained and now there is a gaping wound about the size of a Dorito and as deep as a slice of sandwich bread that gets tended to daily. A wound care nurse comes to our house and changes the bandages. My mother in law has to wear a vac that suctions the nasty stuff off the wound and it makes a little sound that we all giggle at because it sounds like a "pootie" (as we call them in our family). My Eldest calls the vac "The Pootie Machine".
Overall, it bodes to be a Christmas to remember. One filled with thanksgiving and an honest reflection of what Christmas truly means. However, it's a pretty sad state of affairs in my house since I am not much in the Christmas spirit. I haven't mailed out cards yet, didn't take a picture of the kids for the cards. There aren't but maybe five decorations hanging around my house. The tree has no lights and it's the little four foot tree we had from our apartment days (which is actually very sentimentally special and cute because My Eldest and My Little One decorated it with EVERY ornament we own!! And, most of them are one 'side' of the tree, so it leans to one side. It's cute in spite of it being less than what we usually have. The kids had a good time decorating it and that's what it's all about.)
Jesus Christ is born!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Forward, Onward, Progress

I'm all about moving forward. I'm all about constant learning. I'm all about self-knowledge and self-discovery. I'm all about fighting the good fight unless there is no choice but to lay down and surrender. Sometimes surrender is not defeat. Sometimes it is success. Sometimes it is progress.
I surrender.
Today, I am tired.
Today, I am weak.
Today, I surrender.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Music Minute #5 - Do What You Have to Do

Oft of late, the desires, the restlessness, the longings of my soul have eloquently been portrayed as fire and rain. Think about what each physically and metaphorically represent. Change is indeed one of those characteristics that result from rain or fire. Being shaped is, too. Cleansing another.
Look at this quote from John Ruskin and marinate in all that it could possibly be suggesting:
Sunshine is delicious,
rain is refreshing,
wind braces us up,
snow is exhilarating;
there is really no such thing as bad weather,
only different kinds of good weather.
I find myself magnetized to songs that seem to be melodically cauterizing the (my) Human Spirit Metamorphosis by describing it as "burning embers", or being "washed in rain", and so on. The images I feel -- yes, feel -- enraptures me. The words have to be married with a certain mood of a song. You won't find me listening to say, Motley Crue or Linkin Park. No. It'll be soulful, slow, haunting, lingering intonations. Sarah McLachlan's, "Do What You Have to Do" is one example.....for today, anyway.
I love the opening lyrics of the song. It's so poetic and speaks volumes! This song, despite it's slow, quiet ease, is absolutely screaming to me. Although the words suggest a message that you might interpret as, "Jackie is missing someone", 'tis not the truth. But the glow....the burning...at the end of the song which is transforming a soul....that is what's happening to me these days.

What ravages of spirit
conjured this temptuous rage
created you a monster
broken by the rules of love
and fate has lead you through it
you do what you have to do
and fate has led you through it
you do what you have to do ...

and I have the sense to recognize that
I don't know how to let you go
every moment marked
with apparitions of your soul
I'm ever swiftly moving
trying to escape this desire
the yearning to be near you
I do what I have to do
the yearning to be near you
I do what I have to do
but I have the sense to recognize
that I don't know how
to let you go
I don't know how
to let you go

a glowing ember
burning hot
burning slow
deep within I'm shaken by the violence
of existing for only you
I know I can't be with you
I do what I have to do
I know I can't be with you
I do what I have to do
and I have sense to recognize but

I don't know how to let you go

I don't know how to let you go

I don't know how to let you go

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Annual Santa Picture


I took the kids to a local Santa's Village kind of thing we have here in my neck o' the woods. It's quaint and surprisingly popular. It has all kinds of miniature houses, music floats in the air. You can ride a reindeer (not a real one). Lights galore sparkle and illuminate the area of town where it's built. It's pretty and it's magical and for a few moments in time, you forget you're a part of Reality.


We stood in line just shy of an hour on Thursday night to get a free polaroid picture of my kids with Santa. An elf-clown entertained us all as we stepped ever closer to Santa's House. My Eldest was particularly intrigued by all the tricks he could do, and giggled madly at his sheer silliness. Juggling, funny faces and goofy ways to fall down, he hammed it up big-time. He sat on a chair that would collapse and make the kiddos laugh as if it was the funniest thing they'd ever seen. He made balloon animals and flowers, even a bow and arrow set.


The real reason I wanted to post this blog was to post the picture!


Firstly, look at the quality and color of it. It has this 1970's feel to it, doesn't it? It's got that brownish tinge that suggests "I am an old picture". I like to think of it as matching the feel of the Village itself. It's kind of Old World or just kind of tacky. I like to think of it as the former.


Next, I love how My Little One looks. Who doesn't have one of these pictures of a kid crying on Santa's lap? Not only is she crying...she looks like she's running from terror! The reaction to sitting on his lap conversely bespeaks that excitement which she giddily displayed prior to entering Santa's House. This is, after all, the first Christmas she is aware of Christmas and all the Wonder That It Is!


My Little One wore reindeer slippers with her Santa dress. And she had a hat that matched her dress but took it off just as we approached the threshold to Santa's crib. I planned well enough ahead to at least adorn her hair with a Christmas-themed accessory. Rare for me, but still a brilliant moment that I'll gladly claim.


The other thing I appreciate about this photo is My Eldest. Her sweet expression actually matches her age! She doesn't look ten! She looks SEVEN. There is a God! And look how she knows how to work the camera? She is such a ham!


Finally... This. Is. S A N T A! Look how jolly and seasoned at this he is. He's smiling so perfectly and calmly. He cracked me up because as soon as My Little One began her protest, he said in true grandfatherly fashion, 'ohhh. You'll be fine.' *smile* *click* and DONE! On to the next batch of kids.


On a side note, related/not related. Related to the theme of Christmas but not the particular subject of the Santa picture...

My Husband and I attended his company Holiday party. Let me sum it like this: There's nothing more entertaining than to watch a Viet Namese band sing Feliz Navidad.

:)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Music Minute #3 - Hold Back The Rain

I needed something little more upbeat, but something that still used some of the natural elements of nature to describe some inner ruminations.


Duran Duran's Hold Back The Rain

Monday, December 03, 2007

Cowboys Cut The Cheese

If you don't already know, I am undeniably, fevershily, crazily an avid fan of NFL football. My favorite team (no secret, I'm sure) is the Dallas Cowboys. I have also since the early 90's rooted for the Green Bay Packers. It is a life goal to witness a Packers game in January at Lambeau Field (hint, hint for any of you willing to spring for my birthday gift ~ hehe). When I was a young girl, one way I could connect with my father was memorizing all the quarterbacks to each of the teams. I did it every year for a good long stretch of my childhood. Playing fantasy football these days has broadened my understanding of the game. I'm no expert, but I do appreciate good football. I'm also still a Cowboys fan even though many people abandon ship when Jerry fired Tom.

Ever have one of those moments in life where you close your eyes and think, "This is a perfect moment. This is sheer perfection."? You know. The planets and the moon and stars are all aligned so that you may have this gift. And you revel in it. You dance in it. You're high-energy but suddenly time moves sooooo slowly, almost stops. You have heightened sensory awareness. Sounds, smells, feels, moods, are all burned onto your soul. And you look to the heavens, take in a deep breath and thank God for the abundance. THAT is the kind of night November 29th, 2007 was for me.

Back in February or so, My Husband's friend (who knows I love football) has season tickets to the Cowboys (I'm jealous), and he asked me to pick a game - any game - and he'd treat me to it. WOW! Later, when the schedule was released, he sent it to me and again invited me to pick a game. I review the list of games. Lots of good ones. Great rivalries like the Eagles and the Redskins (although the 'skins not so much anymore). The Jets were coming to town. Then....the shiny rock. New England!

Me: OMG -- New England is coming to town! I can GO SEE New England. I could see Tom Brady! LIVE! Yesssssss!
Myself: Keep looking. Don't let that dapper hunk o man distract you from other potential
games.
I: Both of you shut up!

I keep perusing. Green Bay!

Me: OMG -- Green Bay is coming to town, too!! I can GO SEE Brett Favre. I can see the team which embodies NFL football! I can see a living legend in MY HOUSE!
Myself: OMG -- Favre. Brett. Brett Favre. No need to look anymore
I: Good idea. Let's go see Green Bay!

I tell My Husband's Friend that I'd like to see Green Bay. He thinks my rationale is silly, but I care not. You asked me to pick a game. THAT'S the game I want, baby.

So.....fast foward to now. Four whole days have passed since I got to see Brett Favre and the Packers. I was starry-eyed and giddy. I couldn't concentrate at work. I bragged all day about it to everyone -- anyone who would listen, really. I posted it all over my myspace page and all. So obnoxious. Why? Because it became the Game of the Year! Ten and one versus ten and one in the NFC. It was the fight for home field advantage. It was two long-standing teams with rich football traditions, battling out the lead.

I listen to sports talk radio most of the day. This game was HUGE. The Dallas media was distributing all kinds of minutae about players, where they came from. Predictions galore being made, experts rendering opinion and all kinds of speculation. Most sports figures around here agreed that Dallas was a better team (and they are, and proved it!).

One thing that was discussed just once out of all the spewing sports stuff was the halftime show. THE halftime show was a sight to behold, especially if you are a fan of the Cowboys. If you have an appreciation of the 70's teams and the 90's dynasty, THIS halftime show was designed for YOU (me). The 1977 Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl team was being honored, as well as the 15th anneversary of the 1992 Super Bowl Cowboys team. So legends such as Bill Bates, Tony Hill, Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Preston Pearson, Hollywood Henderson, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Drew Pearson were there. Also were The Triplets: Troy Aikman (dreamy sigh), Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, along with Jay Novacek, Nate Newton, Daryl "Moose" Johnston, Coach Joe Avezzano, among other greats. They all huddled in the middle of the field on the star with their hands in the air. It was so cool. I was surrounded by so much legendary greatness!! Life could not have gotten any better.

So, here are a couple of pictures from my night at the game. Cowboys won 37-27. Brett Favre, sadly, got injured and missed most of the game. Watching his face on the jumbo screen was sad because it was painfully obvious how much he was cringing by not being in The Game of The Year.


GO 'BOYS!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Movie Review: Enchanted

I *highly* recommend this movie!!

It's a very cute family movie.


My Eldest and I ventured into the sunny Sunday afternoon, laughter leading us, hand in hand we waltz into the movie theater. We had been trying to see this movie for a week or so now and something kept coming up. Something more important. Something that led to disappointment after disappointment in My Eldest's face each time I said "we'll go. I promise, okay?"


We finally went. And boy was it F U N!


You can read the summaries of this movie online or in your local paper, so I'll spare you that process. But, I do give it thumbs up. Need a little daddy/daughter time? A little mommy/daughter bonding? A sweet movie to see as a family? This is the one!


Side note: my favorite part is when....well, I guess I shouldn't tell you just yet. Contact me after you see the movie and we can exchange giddiness about it.


Oh! And did I tell you the BEST part? McDreamy is in it. I think I feel my hormones swooning.....


Long live Giselle!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lice

...SUCKS

Now *I* have it.
This makes time number three that I've been infested with lice.
Twice as a young child .... and once now.

*sigh*



I want to cuss sooooooo bad right now......

Music Minute #2

Damien Rice - The Blowers Daughter
I dance in the dream of someone saying to me...
I can't take my eyes off you

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cake Topper

Did I mention that My Eldest has head lice?

I don't think today could've gotten any worse.....

A Loss and A Victory

He's passed.....

Last night.

Candle Lighting Ceremony

Happy Birthday Dad....where ever you are. xo


As for my other Dad (Pop), he's making good progress. His short term memory is sticking better and better. He played a couple of hands of Canasta with his oldest daughter. He's ready for some real food. He's able to sit for about five minutes with his brace on before getting dizzy and needing to lay down again. Emotionally, he'll be extremely happy and the next breath, tearful and so sad. Physical therapy occurs regularly. Dr. Pepper is his drink of choice so his doctor gave him some in a sippy cup to try to stimulate the swallowing muscles again. We are hoping that he's able to again recieve the Eucharist starting this week. My Husband visited yesterday with the social worker who indicated there has been no timeframe on when Pop will be released, but Pop has expressed a desire to be released on a day pass for Christmas. He seems more determined to sit up for a longer time and gain strength. He gets daily visitors and I believe that's helping him gain strength emotionally and physically. The silly man has episodes of being inappropriate, of course. Recently he asked one of the CNAs if she was "gonna kiss my ass when I get outta here"? My mouth dropped, and I reminded him to be nice to the people that are helping him heal.

Anyway, I'm lighting vigil candles and birthday candles today.....

Make a wish!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wandering in a Storm a.k.a. Jackie is Going Crazy Post

November is drawing to an end and that means some pretty heavy lifting for me. Tomorrow is my dad's birthday. His memory tends to weigh heavily on my mind especially so on his birthday. That's all I'll say about that today....


Thanksgiving has just passed. Thanksgiving has historically been one of my favorite holidays. Growing up, it was the only day all four members of my family would eat together at a table (before the Cowboys game, of course) face-to-face in the disposition of having actual familial interaction at the same point in time. As awkward as it was, it meant something to me in the end. Nowadays, I've tried as a mother, to make sure my family eats together at the same table with no interruption. It's been hard at times, but we do make an effort and we do it fairly regularly. These days, it's been especially hard and I've found I really do miss it. I am not a fan of families being tangential.


Sadly, this year, it really didn't feel like Thanksgiving. On the outside it did. All the accoutrements accounted for: turkey and all the fixins, some family about the house, the Cowboy game (duh). We even had a cold snap weather-wise. On the inside, I did indeed feel quite grateful. I refrained from too much reflection for I knew I'd unravel. I acknowledged that which needed to be, and that which I wanted, but the scope of All is overwhelming to be honest. It's also bittersweet. Aside from gratitude, tears would uncontrollably fall for shame, sadness, madness and even J-O-Y. Best to avoid the 'uncontrollable' at a happy occasion. (If I could cry like Demi Moore's character did in Ghost -- all pretty and non-blubbery -- I'd be more willing to get 'uncontrollable'.)


Today, I am adrift in the storm of my own self-discovering. It's dark here, shaky, even tumultuous, but I feel warmth. Light must be somewhere. But is it where I think it's from? Probably not. That's God's work, I suppose. That's where my faith comes in (maybe?). It's a weird feeling to feel alone and loved. I assure you -- trust that I am not lonely. No, I do not feel lonely. If I did, surely I'd be A Lost Soul. I'm thankful because all of you who know me love me and keep me company. (Even if you don't know me 'in person', you know 'of' me on here....and I appreciate that extra [ego?] bolstering.....)


Today, I'm not sure where I fit in anymore but am serving when called. I'm trying to be in the moment but am I'm failing miserably because so often, I'm not enjoying the moment to it's fullest.

Recently, one thing I'm wondering is how do I stand up for my convictions* and not be percieved as selfish or bitchy? I'm not sure that's even possible, is it? I mean, by standing up for what *I* think is right is bound to leave some casualties by it's very nature, right? Of course, what *I* think is right might not be what is truthfully "right" as definied by Oxford or some such literary reference. Is there even a black and white "right"? Or is "right" contextual? Or is being in the "right" contextually merely being "justifiable"?


Now, smash the Current State of Jackie against the madness of The Holidays and see what mess is left from the fallout. I'm seriously worried that I won't be able to cope with the stress of it all, yet through the aforementioned faith, I know I'll survive.


Is life is just about surviving? My Chrisitianity teaches me that there is no entitlement to happiness here on Earth. My *true* happiness lies in the Afterlife. Living this Earthly life is the suffering part. I am reminded suddenly of one of my beliefs: without pain, there is no growth. The concept of that belief is being stretched and a new facet is being discovered. Admittedly, I wonder if there is something for me in the Afterlife and is it going to be the greatness it's promised to be? Ultimately, I believe it so, and I was not brainwashed into my belief. I arrived on my own to it, and wear it proudly. Doesn't mean I can't change my mind, right? If I arrived on my own, certainly I possess the vehicle in which to depart it. But not today. I'm not leaving just yet. I am however, learning. Analyzing. Surviving.


I got to thinking over the weekend (did you feel the Earth move?) about the concept and practice of heightened self-awareness. Also thought about what it means to understand. Both are double-edged swords, really. Wouldn't you agree? I mean, the more you know yourself....and the more you understand yourself in the context of life in general or certain situations....you are more full and fulfilled, yet more accountable and more searching and more guessing. The more you understand, the more questions without answers there are, and thus, the constant PUSH to know more -- to understand MORE. More! More! MORE! A vicious cycle really. One from which I'll never graduate. If I'm lucky and humble, I'll see the rewards along the way. Ignorance is bliss. Is it? Or is it just.....Ignorance is..... less effort? hahahaha


I'm not ready for Cold December to come. Even though I know Advent reminds me of the birth of My Savior and all the promise He holds, I still am human, dealing with the societal trappings of The Holidays which means I will be - at least in some of my thoughts - nasty, rude, ungrateful, bitchy, whiny, mean, and inflexible (among other not-so-nice things). I stay embedded in the Warmth of The Promise, but sometimes knowing My God loves me and that I am perfect in His eyes, isn't validating enough. Sometimes I need validation in more tangible places, from everyday people. I do not like that vulnerability about me, yet am trying to embrace it. It hurts to hold it. It hurts to say: I'm vulnerable.


Timing is everything.


*Convictions: I went on a hunt on myspace recently. I was hunting Panthers. Panthers with whom I attended high school. I found a guy that I dated very briefly. The story of he and me is quite special and I've always treasured it...treasured him. One thing I remember most about him is that he wrote poetry. He wrote poetry to me. How incredibly romantic is that?! It wasn't the cheezy kind, either. It was filled with imagery and words that conveyed grown-up romance, human feelings. I'd say he was a man ahead of his time. I've often thought I should apologize to him for mistreating his feelings, mishandling them -- hurting him. How does that adage go? I wish I knew then what I know now. In any case, The Poet and I are myspace friends, and I'm very flattered that he's messaged me a time or two. Maybe now I'll get a chance to offer that apology.


I bring this up because The Poet has two blogs posted on his page. One specifically lept out at me. It's entitled "Beliefs". It's quite a delicious itemization of that which he believes in...his convictions....his opinions. I loved it and was inspired by it. Funny thing is, I haven't done mine yet because I'm afraid to! Hahaha!! I am afraid because if I say: Women should grow hair under their armpits, and then I go and shave mine because I've had a change of heart (1) I'd have to make a new list {and I'm not a listmaker anyway; plus that's a lot of extra effort and maintenance to relist my redefinition -- didjya follow that? God help you if you did....}, and (2) the aforementioned notion of casualties. As I type this, though, I'm wondering (more Earth shaking?): Do I choose not to make a list because that means I'd be something limited instead of something dynamic. I sort of think that... how can I describe it....?.... the dynamic of my relationship with any given person...sort of...breathes. It inhales and exhales, expanding and contracting, keeping life intact. Of course, if I had these rigid beliefs then people might understand me better and say, 'oh, that's just how Jackie is'. And then I'd be defined and know myself and not make apologies and all that jazz.


With that being said, I'll draft a list of convictions/beliefs/Jackie-isms and maybe, just maybe, someday I'll make them public. Two have been made very public (I think one in this very post): pain is growth and the other isn't as few words. The other is... People are put in my life for a reason. They are either pebbles of sand on the beach washed away and replaced, or they are solid boulders. Both are important because it's a divine crossing of teach or be taught (might even be both!).


Now for some levity: Duran Duran is promoting their new album, Red Carpet Massacre, and they are coming in concert to Dallas!! I'll have to find a way to get there.....

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Drowning Tonight

My family has been in slumber for about 3 hours now.


I have been alone.

In a quiet house.

Feeling....well...let's say just *feeling*.....


A rarity for me.


One which I am enjoying....a whole bottle of "good for my soul tonight", otherwise known as:



There is but one pour left to fill my crystal tonight. I think I'll not feel regretful about it....about drinking a whole bottle of wine alone tonight.

I've earned it, after all.

Whoosh!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Breathing

Heavy.

Life is very heavy right now.

These days, there is a lot to do . The hours in the day are not enough. I know that there will come a day that the days will stretch their weary arms and slow down, sip soup then sleep; but those days are not today.

Today is rushed.

My mind works fast. I can multi-task with the best of 'em. I can keep up with lots of stimulation.

In midst of prepping children for their day, being breadwinner, commuting, shuffling papers, meals, juggling schedules and the daily hustle and bustle, sweet gifts are delivered to me. In unlikely, unexpected times, I am reminded of how very lucky I am. When these particular moments come, I put on the brakes and breathe.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Hold.

Exhale.

Keep breathing.....

Thank you to all of you who give me life, bestow gifts and remind me to slow down.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Visuals

I've blogged about this accident that my in-laws were in. I thought I'd give you a couple of sobering images to view....

In-laws hunkametal


Offending hunkametal

Nice, huh?

POP UPDATE: Pop got his trachea tube removed and is flirting with nurses.

Yeah.

He's back.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pop Update

We call him Pop.
My Eldest named him. She is the first grandchild on my husband's side, so she got the privilege of naming the grandparents. When she was born, my husband said we all got promoted. Me from Jackie to Mommy, him to Daddy, my mom to Nan, my brother to Uncle, his sisters to Aunts...you get the idea, right?
So...Pop it is. My father in law is affectionately referred to as Pop by just about every family member, including non-grandkids. My Eldest and Pop have a special connection. Their bond runs very deep. I treasure their relationship. Watching them makes me long for a grandparent relationship of my own sometimes. My mom's parents died before I was born. My dad's parents were divorced. I saw my grandma more often that my grandpa, but being in the military, visits with them were always abbreviated and whirlwind. I digress...
This is my Pop Update.
I'm happy to report he's still alive (nothing short of a miracle). He's endured over two weeks in the ICU. He has been transferred to a long-term rehabilitiation hospital where he remains in their ICU because of a blood infection. He wears a trachea tube, and still has a feeding tube. He's off the ventillator. He is ready to talk, but the trachea tube prohibits it. He's been sitting up on the side of his bed with the help of physical therapists. No walking or anything like that. He's atrophied signficantly. Speech therapy is supposed to evaluate his ability to swallow soon so that he can have the feeding tube removed and hopefully he can start receiving the Eucharist along with Thanksgiving Dinner!!
He lays in a bed, restrained often, in a brace around his chest and abdomen. His broken sternum, broken ribs and spinal fractures will take weeks to heal. He has all kinds of machines around his bed, and it's a little overwhelming for the non-medical person. Thank God my husband is an R.N. He's been a beacon in the night to so many people who have that deer-in-the-headlights look about his dad.
For the first time since the accident, my husband and I took Our Girls over to see their Pop. We talked to Our Eldest a lot about him, what he'll look like, etc. I tried to soften the shock by saying Pop might resemble a robot, and My Eldest got a good giggle out of that. I wasn't sure how My Little One would react. She's pretty young, but oh-so-intuitive. That baby intuition is a phenomenon unlike any other. Thankfully since my husband and I both have some medical background, and we talk a lot about medical procedures, medicines, and various other facets of medicine, Our Eldest is amazingly well-equipped to handle seeing Pop in this state of non-Pop-ness.
When we enter his room, my husband walks to the far side of the bed, and I'm carrying My Little One. My Eldest is off to my side and slightly behind me. I could feel her hesitation. I turn and check with her, "you sure you want to do this?" She bites her lips with a coy smile and those big brown eyes and nods, "yes".
Pop raises his hands as high as he can when walk in. He opens his writhered fingers and motions for us to sit next to him on the bed. Immediately I take his hand in mine and love on him. I find a way to work My Little One's hand in between our hands and he squeezes hard. Then My Eldest peeks 'round to his view.
I wish you could've seen it. It was a frozen moment in time. As soon as his eyes found her, she locked her eyes on him and smiled so big! His face contorted and twisted and he cried. He cried so hard and reached out to hold her. He kept signing the I Love You sign and inviting her closer. Tears welled up in her eyes, but not a one spilled onto her cheek. The smile she wore was gleaming and joyous. She still didn't walk closer to touch him. She studied him through that smile. It was a very mixed-signal moment. Her body language was saying "I'm scared. He looks different. Should I really go over there?" yet her verbal language was "I'm so happy! I'm so happy to see my Pop!"
The visit was GREAT! He was very aware, alert, active. He signed "OK" when appropriate. He is beginning to realize the magnitude of the situation. My husband has visited him daily and filled in details of what happened. Now, he's sad. So sad. He's mouthed, "I'm dying" and wrote almost illegibly on a dry-erase board, "my days are numbered". Naturally, we all encourage him and remind him what a gift he is.
I had a blessed moment alone with him that night.
He mouthed, "I'm sad." I cried and curled his forearm into my embrace. I moved closely into him and said very matter-of-factly, "I know you are. We all are. It's hard, isn't it?" He nods in agreement. I continue, "Pop. We have to trust that this is happening for a reason. God chose you because he loves you. You believe that, right?" He again nods in agreement....through tears. I go on, "Good. Now, we have to trust Him. Because this is perfect. God is working through you, me, all of us to teach and mold us. It's his love for us. You believe that, too, don't you?" His face is deep with wrinkles, a twisted mouth, eyes shut fighting tears. A desperate nod 'yes' tells me he understands and does trust.
I'm so thankful I had that moment with him. I pray that it's sinking in to him. I pray that he knows it all the time. Because I can only imagine what laying in a hospital bed thinking during the waking hours -- one can really get inside their own head and that's when all kinds of irrational thoughts can manifest in weird ways. I've been humbled watching this family flock together and do what needs to get done. They have their differences in opinions and they talk openly, respectfully and fruitfully together. I love watching the process. Of course, I've had my own struggles with it -- had my share of breakdowns and feelings of selfishness. Overall, it's right. It's good. It's what needs to be done.
Thanks to you who have prayed, hoped, wished, wondered. Thanks to you who may or may not know me or my family directly -- for all you do. We wouldn't be who we are without that Great Wonder Out There.
~Whoosh!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I Noticed I Have A Lot of Short or One-Word Titles, So I'm Making This One Extra Long and Action-Packed

LOOK! Er -- LISTEN! Errr....you know what I mean.....

I added music to my blog! ~~~~>

Jewel's "Break Me". An appropriate song for my current stage o'life....

Signed,
Waiting to be Broken

Monday, November 05, 2007

Inadequacies

Lately, I've felt my berrings pretty loose.
Sure, there's a justification, but, still....
I am feeling rather inadquate as a mother. I'm frustrated because Me Eldest gets so much less time from me than My Little One. It's not fair. I wonder how My Eldest feels? What does she think about the disproportionate amount of time I spend with the two of them? Does she even notice?
Yes. Of course she notices!
But even the little time My Eldest and I *do* share -- I'm not interested in what she wants to talk about. I get yet more frustrated because I ask a question and she doesn't answer it. She instead causes me to have shiny rock syndrome and quickly diverts my attention to another random subject (Hannah Montana, Radio Disney, or Webkinz). I want to share with her subjects that include her Brownies, school, our current life situation. She gets the glossy-eye stare.
Not a friggin' thing in common right now.
I suppose every parent-child relationship shares this experience. I'm certain that I'm not describing anything that any of us hasn't gone through either as a parent or a kid. I reckon it's okay....and normal....but, still.....
I feel inadequate.
I miss her.
A LOT.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What A Concept!

Being a fan of Wonder Woman, I get made fun of, sent jokes, stories, etc. Everyone once in a while, a gem lands in my lap (fun!) and today, it's a big ole rock of a diamond!

I have a high school friend who sent me this fabby website. I absconded this pic from that site and decided to forever enshrine it in my blog. There are several wonderful giggles on the site, however, this one not only made me laugh, but it also made me think.....

What a concept!

Grown-down Land. *wheels a-turnin'*

You'll have to read it to get the best concept description, but here's a fun display of it:


'Tis a bit naughty isn't it? It's funny, eye-catching. I love the vintage-ness of it. And the wink! THE WINK!

There is much more to be said and explored. Have fun!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Trust Fund Baby Dream#3: Sisterhood

Solitude. Charity. Obedience.

My soul is compelled to go there.


There are a lot of things left to learn about this faith I've chosen to practice. Realistically, in my lifetime, if I had 24-7 to read for the rest of my days, I still would not know everything. In retrospect, I know I was called to conversion into the Roman Catholic faith. It was that or Judiaism. I considered the Jewish faith long before I ever dreamt of being Roman Catholic.


One aspect of Catholism that I have always been intrigued by and attracted to is the idea of the convent.


I want to be a nun.



I want to be the bride of the Church; the Bride of God.


Sometimes. More and more.


When my best friend in Virginia was married in 1995, she was visiting with a Sister. I am embarrassed to say that I don't know why the two of them had a friendship. However, I remember going with my friend to the convent to visit this nun.


The convent was serene. Quiet. A calm I've never known before then, nor experienced since. The season was Spring when first I travelled there. The meadow around the property was abloom with lavish flowers, tall grass. Butterflies, birds and a lull of a breeze were some of the naturistic gifts I recall from that day. Sister was not dressed in the stereotypical black and white. She did wear the head-dress and a skirt as I recall. Her face, old yet friendly, full and smiley. I remained in awe of the convent from that moment.


That moment, I was agnostic.


I was searching.


I wanted to believe, but I didn't....not yet.


Years go by. I am in Dallas now, a whole new and different life have I. When times are especially crazy, I find myself yearning to go to a convent to find balance. I sometimes see the nuns at Mass. I watch them obsessively. They are such a distraction to me! If anything were to happen to my family, there is no question that I'd look into entering into the convent.


Tonight, I re-read some notes I keep about potential blogs, specifically about my Trust Fund Baby series (is it a series yet??). I haven't blogged lately and have been wanting to, but most of the stuff that's jumped out at me to type about is mostly about my father in law. I'll update that situation later....

Then I went to fetch a picture on Google images of a cloistered nun. I ran across this fun blog.
So... I were a trust fund baby, I'd donate the fund to my home church and enter monastic life. In reading that nun blog, I have already learned so much! I am anxious to learn more about it. For example, I want to know what constitues orders and how does one decide which order they enter? Or does The Church assign you an order? I wish there was a book of visual pictures of all the different orders of monks and nuns and their vestments that I could use as a reference. I have so many questions about it. You know what I like most? NO MAKEUP! You know what I like least? NO SEX!

Being a nun is important work. It's a way that a woman who is subtly empowered can move mountains. For all those critics of Catholicism who say that the Church undermines women do not understand how untrue that rhetoric is. Just because there are no female priests does not mean that women are not influential. This is true today. It's been true since biblical times (i.e. Mary, Mary Magdalene, Ruth, Esther). One way that's so very true is monastic life.


Would you walk away from your trust fund, or even your house, if you were tapped on the shoulder and asked to leave it all behind like Peter did?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rain

It's raining in Dallas today.

For me, I'm glad.

It suits my mood. It suits my phase of life. It suits my general affect.

The temperature has dropped, too. We've been experiencing unusually high temperatures -- mostly in the high 80's and even the low 90's sometimes. In October! It is one of the things I love about Texas....unpredictable weather.

Yesterday, we had a 90 degree day. Today, we'll be lucky to get out of the 50's.

I'm wearing a powder blue sweater, and charcoal grey pants. It feels weird to wear closed-toe shoes.

I'd love to check into a hotel room, keep the room cold and dark and burrow into the plush, pillowy bed.

I'd surely be missed. And that's a good thing. :)

Rain rhymes with pain.
Pain equals growth.
No medicine, please.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Signs

Tonight, my FIL signed this universal sign to his youngest daughter.
He remains in a medically-induced coma, healing and strengthening.
He is responsive when spoken to, yet, he seems so trapped. I wonder constantly what his mind is doing. I daydream about what the brain is doing while in this extreme condition.
Since October 12th, we've started (dare I say it??) to overcome the shock.
My husband's family has been discussing all the differently levels of life their father/husband might have if/when he comes out of his .... whatever this is. They discuss the possibility of death....and the levels of death. Will he have any dimished capacities? Will he want to be like that? How do you measure quality of life? And during surgery, if his heart stops, does the medical team DNR or R?
But tonight -- a glimmer of hope that might -- maybe, just mayyyybeeee -- take that decision away from my husband and his mother and sisters. Maybe, just mayyyybeee, my father in law will make the decision for himself after all.
And by the blessing and miracle of him rousing enough to sign "I LOVE YOU" to his baby girl....well, the cup is overflowing with gratitude.
I speak on behalf of my husband's family, and of course, directly from myself when I write: thank you ever so much for your love, your support, your meals, your kind words of compassion, your quiet times of tears, your profound prayers and all the love that you show each and every one of us.
I'll keep you updated.....

Monday, October 15, 2007

Thirty Seven

This day, thirty seven years ago, my parents got married.
awwwwww!
Mom had a beehive 'do. She wore a light aqua green dress, with a white sequin design up the middle of the dress. The hem was about mid-thigh, and it was a rather form fitting dress. The year was 1970, so that gives you a clear picture of fashion and how she looked. I'll see if I can dig up and post a picture of their wedding day later....
My mom was six months pregnant with me when my folks got married.
shhhhhhhhhhh!
They lived in Alaska.
brrrrrrrrrrrrr!
My (half) brother was about two years old. My dad was playing pool at a family bar that was along the walk home Mom used to make after doing laundry. Mom and Brother stepped into the bar. Brother ventured over to watch the soldier men play pool. Dad propped Brother up on the edge of the billiard table and said, "Boy, where's your momma?" And that's how my parents met.
At the age of thirty, my mom had already been married and divorced twice. My father, thirty-one, married and divorced once before (no kids), was on his way to war. She mentioned to him that she was pregnant but she didn't expect anything from him -- just wanted him to know he'd have a kid out in the world. So Dad says, "Well, hell! I am not such a bad guy to live with. Let's get married." Mom, "okay".
True love! *sigh*
They were married at Santa Claus's house in the North Pole.
I am not kidding you.
Good story, huh?
Happy Wedding Anniversary Mom and Dad....I love you both.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Zeta H

Apparently a victim with an unknown identity at a crash site is assigned a greek alphabetical name as they enter the hospital. (I hope I'm articulating that correctly -- if you are emergency personnel, please feel free to post a correction or clarification.)
An aside: I typically post fun, amusing and hopeful stories on my blog. Sometimes they are serious (e.g. the posts about my dad). I haven't blogged about the more trying times that I've endured this year; suffice it to say, 2007 has been one of the roughest of my life. Today's blog is beyond "trying" and "serious". As always, I appreciate you for you reading my blog.
Back to the story....
My father-in-law was Zeta H for a brief time on Friday.
Friday was a bad, bad day.
It, quite honestly, still feels like Friday.....
Without getting into too much greusome detail, my in-laws were in a horrific car accident on Friday. They were slowing down due to an accident on the highway ahead of them. Then, they were rear-ended by an SUV going no less than 100 mph on a major highway. The wrecker service said there were no skid marks at the accident scene.
Horror.
My mother-in-law is expected to be discharged from the trauma hospital tomorrow. She has a broken arm and radial nerve damage. She'll be living in my house for an undetermined amount of time.
My father-in-law, who was driving, thankfully also survived the car accident. However, his condition is critical. Most of his trauma is abdominal. The shakiest physical condition is an aortic aneurysm. It's going to require surgery, however, it's so delicate at this point. He remains in a medically-induced coma and we are all hopeful he's going to pull through. There have been miracles along the way that defy medicine. Blessings and light. God is indeed GOOD, even in bad times.

My requests today:
Please wear your seatbelts!
Go the speed limit!
Pray for my family -- lift them up to the Lord and pray for God's will.

~~Thank you for being my light.~~

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Seven Nineteen

So my kids hit milestones this week. My Eldest is an Official Seven Year Old and My Little One is an Official Nineteen Month Old.

Okay, so nineteen months isn't much of a milestone in terms of how we are used to having them: one year, 18 months, 2 years.... But I'm making it a milestone dammit!

And, true, seven isn't exactly a milestone either, but is moreso than nineteen months!

My Eldest had a jam-packed day on Monday. No school because of Fair Day, I took the day off and we trekked to the State Fair of Texas (I typoed that as Taxes -- uh oh). The Jonas Brothers were playing in concert. She loves all those Disney musicians right now. The girls got their faces painted and we packed our bellies with Fletcher's corny dogs, frito pie, pink cotton candy, 7up, Blue Bell ice cream, catfish and fries. I'm sure I left something out. We also endured the most humid, hot Texas day in the blazing sun. Around 6:30, the sun surrendered to some rain clouds and thankfully the temperature dropped. It eventually rained on us and we were wet rats with smeared face pain running down our skins. Yes, I got slimed by glitter paint at some point in the rain. *sigh* Anyway, we had birthday presents before the Fair and cake after the Fair. All in all, I'd say she had a pretty fair day. Pun intended.





So My Little One, whom I blog-neglect (sorry Monkey!), hit nineteen months just today. She's so little and sweet. She's so blonde, still and I can't believe it. She says things to us in sign language and spoken words. She maneuvers her body in ways I've never seen a baby do -- much like Tony Romo avoiding a sack. She loves her Mommy and follows me around every step of the way. When I leave the living room to go to the kitchen, she fusses at me. When I carry her to the bathroom and put her down so I can undress and sit (sorry for the visual), she fusses at me. We are inseparable almost. To watch her curl up in a ball and stick her butt in the air at bedtime is so cute. She worms her way to the corner of the crib and gets in sleep position. "Music" she softly asks. I turn on Raffi's Rise and Shine (odd for bedtime, don't you think?), and she's off to Dreamland. Sometimes she'll smack her lips asking me for a kissie. I ooze with flattery and oblige effervescently. I sweetly smack her all over her face with my kisses.




So, here's to milestones!

*Smack*

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Tree of Life


I spent most of my childhood planting shallow roots.



My father was in the Army. We moved from time to time. We settled in West Texas....a dusty border town called El Paso. Fort Bliss to be exact.



When I was 21, my parents empty nested. That is the last time I lived in the same town as either of my parents. They moved to Hawaii for my dad's final station, and I stayed in El Paso to learn and live life on my own.


I planted deep roots in El Paso. Lots of firsts: boyfriend, job, marriage #1, checking account, credit card. Good friends, lifelong memories all sprinkled with the border culture. My tree is part Mexican (explains my love of tortillas con manzanilla y chile).

In the mid-90's, Dad retired. He and Mom planted their roots in West Central Texas. A town called San Angelo. Dad grew up there and died there. Mom stayed there after he passed away, but has original roots in Oklahoma and California. In (as we call it in Texan) Angelo, she sprouted a new life. I was not at all surprised to see her stay in Angelo even though my brother has his family in Georgia, and I have mine here in The Big Bad City.

With her amazing green thumb, she parted the dry desert-like Earth. She provided loving nourishment resulting in her new roots strengthening. Lo and behold, a tree was born with a mighty trunk of fortitude.

Mom's widowed life evolved into bowling on five leagues, frequenting a lil bar in town, and watching a heckuvalotta TV. She got a dog affectionately named Wild Z. Chihuahua. ("Z" for short.) I never worried about her surviving after my dad died. I imagined two scenarios. One: Mom would have to leave because she is no longer able to care for herself, and the practical reason to move would be for medical necessity (and she'd leave kicking and screaming the whole way!), or two: she'd die out there on that little slice of God's Earth to which she tenderly attends.

Ten years ago, I stretched my own roots from far West Texas to Northeast Texas, specifically the Dallas area. Corporate job, new friends, marriage #2 (there aren't any more of those to report. hahaha), two new saplings (kiddos), a mortgage, yadda yadda yadda. I feel solidly planted here, but admit to feeling very much like a leaf in the wind, fluttering in the wind and breezes, trusting it will take me on adventures.

Today, a new adventure.
Today, a new tree being planted....or rather, roots aspread.
Today, change.
Today, a new life for me.
Today, a new life for Mom.
Our family tree continues to be sinuously writhing through Texas.

Mom has made the decision to move to The Big Bad City. We've spent the last week getting her an apartment. It's just up the street from me. My husband and kids drove four or so hours last night to Angelo, spent all day today packing and loading a UHAUL, then drove back to Dallas. Drove Mom HOME. It was about a six hour trip. UHAUL, Mom's packed car, and my packed minivan convoying HOME. Together. All. Of. Us.

Tomorrow, we unload the big orange truck. And it will be done. The Tree of Life lives on.

Everyone in my house is sleeping right now and I'm enjoying the quiet. I'm soaking in all of the goings-on, and trying to digest the events. Truthfully, it's overwhelming.

Y'know, this is a *big* move for Mom. I can't describe the magnitude. For a 68 year old fiercely independent woman, this is a concession almost. I wonder if she feels as if it's a surrender? I wonder if she feels defeated by aging? I wonder if she thinks about this the same way I do?

It's a big move for me, too. I have not been particularly close to Mom most of my life -- geographically or emotionally. I don't have that deep friendship with her that so many mothers and daughters have, although as she and I have both aged, we have fewer defenses and more commonalities. I'm trying to keep the "no expectations" rule in place, but I admit to feeling very nervous and worried. I worry that we'll have to endure a "boundaries" growing pain.

Metaphorically, trees symbolize strength, longevity and life-giving. They rarely know boundaries. Or do they? City trees do. Mom is now a city tree.

I am more hope-filled than fear-filled. My hope is that our roots are intertwined in harmony so that our family tree is always giving life to others around us, recieving life from those same others, and mostly creating longevity, strength, and a shady picnic spot accompanied by musical wind-played leaves to those who need it.

Photo credit: me. Taken on my wine-tasting trip to NY and PA on September 7, 2007.


Friday, October 05, 2007

About A Boy....

I have never met him, but I know his father. I know his father very well. His father is my first ever boyfriend.
I wasn't allowed to date until I was sixteen. I turned sixteen in January. By March of my sixteeth year, I had a boyfriend.
This boyfriend was a football player. A big one. He was (and still is) a good bowler. We met at a teen bowling league. He was a year ahead of me in school, and attended a different school than me. Socially I benefitted by that circumstance because I attended *two* proms, *two* homecomings and all that jazz. I dated him for two years. Half way through my senior year, I broke up with him, mostly because he was the jealous type. I didn't (and still don't) tolerate insecurity. So we split.
We attempted to be friends in the coming months, and that summer of 1989, he moved to California. He got married and had a babygirl the next year. We fell out of touch.
In 1995, his sister got married. She and I have been friends as long as I have known him. (She is my age.) By the time her wedding rolled around, her whole family was living in Washington state. She asked me to be a bridesmaid, and I accepted the honor.
When I arrived for the wedding, a lot of attention was on me. My first boyfriend's wife wasn't too keen on me. I walked into a cauldron of emotional danger. I hadn't seen or talked to the ex in about five years, and was really nervous. I did my best to keep to myself but was naturally curious about his life. It was a complicated visit -- tense, strained, heavy. The wedding came and went, as did I.
I kept in close touch with his sister for many years, but now we rarely speak. Perhaps once or twice a year she and I will exchange a phone call. It'll be a long one, and it's like time has not passed. I would ask about him from time to time, keeping up with him peripherally.
I remain amazed at the divine intervention that drew he and I back together -- in a new level of relationship. Friendship. God weaves such a perfect fabric in life.
Back in February, my mother was having surgery and I was in the waiting room. On my road trip to Mom's, I called his sister since it had been quite a while since we last spoke -- just catching up. She wasn't home, so I left a message. She called me back as I was waiting for Mom's doctor to finish surgery and come give me a report. The first thing she tells me is to call her brother because his youngest son, who is only nine, has cancer -- an aggressive, rare cancer.
She relates: He almost died at Christmas, Jackie. We all went and said good bye to him, and the doctors started doing some treatments and he's stilll iffy, but he made it through that initial scare.
Me: How is your brother doing with all of this? It's got to be so hard.
I half-way listen to her answer because I'm imagining how hard it must be for their family, and I'm praying thanksgiving that mine is healthy.
Me: Well, I think about your brother often; you know that. Just let him know that I understand to some degree what he must be going through and that I'm praying for him.
Her: Why don't you call him youself?
Me: (hard swallow) I can't. You know how his wife feels about me, and I don't want to cause any extra stress. No.
Her: She's grown up a lot. I think it would do my brother good to hear from you.
Me: I can't...that would be so weird. Just tell him I'm praying for him, okay?
Her: No, Jackie. This is his number.
I jot down the number.
Her: Call him.
Me: I'll think about it....
We hang up. I look at the clock and wonder about my mom. My heart raced and I slightly panicked at the notion of me possessing his phone number.
Wits gathered, I decided to give him a call. After all, this isn't about all that teenage stuff; this is about a human reaching out to another human.
He answered the phone and I was a mess, but kept it cool. The relief I felt just hearing his voice was incredible. I was so excited and nervous.
He was shocked to hear from me....and elated.
We spent the next 30 or so minutes on the phone. He explained to me the complications and the events how they've played out. I shared my private story of how my dad died of cancer, and all the impact it had on me. I sympathize with his situation. We also do quite a bit of catching up: How is your brother? What's he doing now? How old are your daughters? You get the idea... As we spoke, he was sitting next to his wife and in his son's hospital room.
I cannot tell you how despondent I felt during that phone call, in spite of my joy. It's not right that *anyone* should outlive their kids. And it's all the more horrific that I have an intimate history with man who is experiencing the death of their child. My heart cringes just typing this out.
Since that February day, my first ever boyfriend and I have kept in fairly close touch. We talk to each other about twice a month. While I went on vacation last month, I got a call from him.
Him: Amazing news, Jackie! It's gone. The cancer is gone! They've run all the tests, and it's gone!
Me: (crying) What a miracle! Oh My God.
I spread the news. I remain in awe.
It had been a couple weeks and I hadn't heard from my first-ever boyfriend. My mind became heavy with thoughts and my heart began to worry. Something is wrong. I sense it. In the depths of my being, I felt the reason I hadn't heard from first ever boyfriend is because the cancer isn't really gone. It's back. And first ever boyfriend is coping with something sad. It was a hunch that turned out to be true.
Yesterday, he called. I didn't even say hello when I answered.....
Me: I'm so glad you called! I'm worried. Your son has been on my mind. Is everything okay?
Him: Huh? What? Oh! It's back. The cancer is back, Jackie. He's gonna...pass away.
Me: Oh no. Oh no. ohnoohnoohno What are the doctors saying?
Him: They can't tell me when it's going to happen, but they confirm they can't do anything. It's all in his head. Tumors all over his brain. It's in his liver and in his bones. He's had a seizure, and he'll probably have more. We have a pharmacy of medicine at home!
He and I talk about the medical facts and he relates the family decisions that've been made. He also chokes up and of course, I am crying.
His son is at home. They checked him out of the hospital and took him home to die. Hospice has been arranged, and now it's just about comforting him in pain, sickness. It's about helping him cross the Threshhold to Heaven.
I am crying and grieving for a boy who I have never met. I will never meet him. I've never even seen his picture. And I'm sad about that. I'm sad that my first ever boyfriend and his wife and two daughters have to endure this nightmarish fact of life. It doesn't seem fair. Of course, turning to my faith, I *know* that death is a part of life, and that there is a life lesson being taught/learned. I will rely on my faith in the coming months as I pray no behalf of this family, and for God's mercy to take the little nine year old quickly, with minimal pain.
The first-ever boyfriend doesn't think his son will make it till Christmas. If that turns out to be the timeframe, it marks a year of fighting the Good Fight. A year that that little boy has pulled people together in amazing ways. A year of pain, of laughter, of making peace in places that peace didn't know before. A year of growth. A year of God's amazing work.
I am imagining wrapping the sick yet blessed child in the Perfect Blanket woven by the Fabric and Hand of God.
Godspeed, little boy. Godspeed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It's a Jungle Out There

My Eldest states that, and I quote:

Mommy! First grade is a JUNGLE.

She didn't exactly go into to details, but she did say that she had a great day and she really liked her class and her school.

Prayers answered.

Thank you, God.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Falconry

Plaid.
Hunter Green and Navy Blue.
Thin Red and Yellow stripes cut through the dark colors.

A matching headband.

Pressed white shirt with a peter pan collar.

New white shoes and white ruffly socks.

A backpack (re-used).

A Wonder Woman lunchbox in tow (re-used).

A young girl bravely goes into the home of the Fightin' Falcons.

Today, My Eldest started First Grade, where you "get your very own crossing guard". *chuckle* The things she gets excited about never cease to amaze me....

NO! I didn't cry. Almost I did, but I didn't. I refused to. I figure she's a big girl, so am I. We have to be big girls together in this thing called LIFE and grow up no matter how much we don't want to. *pout*

For the first time in her life, she got herself ready AND on time. I think now that the world is supposed to end, so be weary. You had warning.

Backpack firmly afixed to her shoulders and back, she kept bugging me as I was prepping for work: chop, chop, Mama. Are you ready yet? How about now? We're going to be late. Mama, c'mon!

(Somehow the roles had reversed. Yet another sign to the End of the World.)

I kept answering: I am! Almost! Not yet...I just have to fix my hair! No we aren't going to be late, silly girl. Are you excited, Love?

Smiles galore all morning and all along the drive to the school.

We listened to Jack Johnston (love him!)...the soundtrack to Curious George. On it is a song called, "We Will Be Friends" and it's about the first day of school. Very appropriate selection by her -- all on her own. No help from Mama.

So we get to school and I'm snapping photos of her in front of the school, in front of her locker then next to the sign on her classroom door that colorfully says "Welcome to First Grade". The teacher is frantic with parents and kids demanding her attention, so My Eldest and I sneak behind her and find My Eldest's desk.

My Eldest is totally stoked that you get your own locker and desks at this school, by the way.

Sitting cautiously, My Eldest looks around. She has one of those scared smiles on her face. And her already big, brown eyes are even bigger. They are screaming, WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING HERE?!

I take one picture. "Smile." I sweetly tell her. *snap*

I take a second picture. "Sugar, SMILE. A real smile, honey." She has a shit-eating grin on her face and her eyes are darting all around. It's very obvious she is nervous. And scared. And uncertain. And uncomfortable. And wondering how she got to this place called First Grade.

She tries her hardest to smile sincerely and I figure it's time for me to jet. So, I go around and hug and kiss her goodbye, then ask, "You going to be okay, Love?"

Gritting her teeth, averting my eyes and feigning a smile, she moves only her mouth and responds, "I think so".

I giggle....inside.

I smile at her, kiss the top of her head and say, "you'll be fine. See you later, okay, baby?" And off I go without looking back.

I do hope she's made some friends today.....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Offshore Excursion - Part 2 of 2

I ate a hearty continental breakfast and headed excitedly to the office. I was plain giddy, for today, I was not going to have an ordinary work day; it was going to be an extraordinary work day.

I met Charles at the office and we left within an hour of my arrival. We had to drive about 1.5 hours to Rockport, Texas.

We arrived at the tiny airport to find ourselves stepping over bodies sleeping, curled up and trying to rest. The people were out front, all around the back, and swarming the inside. Hurricane Dean caused some evacuations, so this day was a clear day which meant the crews return to their posts. The helicopter companies were making a killing that day!! It took all day long to get people back offshore.

The platform we were going to was what is referred to as "shut-in". That means it isn't currently working; no oil or gas is being produced. I was told that in the well file, there were only schematics and notes about why the well was shut-in, so our mission today was to take as many pictures as we could for the file. Between the new pictures and the notes, the operations folks could make decisions on how to proceed with getting the well up and running again, keeping in mind all of the regulatory considerations, the safety compliances, geographic and seismic data, etc.

Charles and I have the best conversations on our way down to Rockport. He lives in Louisiana and he was making light fun of people who don't know much about the energy industry and folks who don't know much about agriculture. We passed by some cotton fields and he said, "I just tell investors that's sugar cane. Hell, they don't know the difference." I quipped, "So, are those sugar cubes growing on those stalks?" Charles laughed and asked if he could use that line.

We get there and sign in. Ugh. Signing in gave me stress because they asked my weight. It makes sense, but how embarrassing. I was asked that not only once, but TWICE. Ugh.

I get briefed in Helicopters 101 and slip on a lifejacket, get buckled in and get some pictures taken. I was given the honor of riding up front with the pilot. On the return trip, I rode in the back (with a hottie 20-something who was a real gentleman).

The pilot gives me another crash course on helicopters, and we lift off. Very cool!! I felt my adrenaline rush and I found myself smiling, enjoying the adventure.

The bottom of the helicopter was see-through. I learned they call the front of the fuselage the "bubble". I understand why now. I was hypnotised by the scenery all around me.

We fly 53.3 miles to the platform. It's very windy, and the sea is a bit choppy. The further we fly out, the more clear and blue the water becomes. The pilot does a stellar job landing the heli on the helipad.

The helipad is nasty. It's covered in seagull crap. It smells rank. There is a rectangular opening where stairs lead downward. The helipad is about 100 feet from the surface of the ocean water. The stairs lead to a level that is 60 feet from the ocean's surface. Charles and Hottie head down the stairs without hesitation. Me, however, I look at that hole and there is no reailing to hold on to. I didn't want to sit in the shit. The pilot watched me then offered his hand to help me get started. (What a gent!) I take the first few steps holding his hand until I can grab hold of the railing that starts underneath the helipad. Once I get down those first few stairs, I'm home-free.

I start walking everywhere, taking pictures, soaking it all in. I snap pictures of the lifeboats, solar panels, gauges, a crane, shackles, a toolshed, and all kinds of other stuff. I ask a few questions here and there. The next level down is 10 feet from sea surface, then the lowest level is 6 feet above sea surface. Some waves were swallowing the 6 foot level this day.

I catch the pilot cat napping and snap a picture of him. I got the biggest giggle out of him because he wore his steel toe shoes without socks. Ew. I later learned that he is originally from British Columbia, and spent many years in Seattle. He most recently was flying helicopters fighting wildfires in Minnesota. He had been in Texas one week exactly, and he had been offshore as a passenger only a few times in that week. The excursion I took with him as our pilot was his FIRST one by himself! Glad I found that out later....

Just before takeoff, I pull out my cell phone. It's my wedding anniversary and I really wanted to share the moment with My Husband. I called him but got voicemail. In any case, we were on that platform together and it was fun!

We load back into the helicopter, and head to shore. The pilot circles around the platform a few times so that Charles can take some arials. That was pretty cool to feel the helicopter kind of sideways. The two of them chatted away and were men. The Hottie turned on his speaker and said, "hey y'all! Didjya forget there's a lady here?". I didn't mind the cussing, but I was verrrrrry flattered by Hottie's awareness and chivalry. *sigh* It's nice to know that some gentlemanliness exists in the younger generation....

We arrive back onshore, go to lunch and then Charles and I head back to the office. We get there right at 5:00 and said our goodbyes. I order a pizza, watch "Cash" and veg in the hotel that night.

I learned a lot and am very honored to have been given the chance to do this. I realize it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do it and not many people get to, so, thanks to that Ops Manager for allowing me to go! And thanks to all those special guys who treated me so nicely along the way.

Below are just a few pictures I took.




~WHOOSH~

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Offshore Excursion, Part 1

I am employed by a private mid-sized oil and gas upstream company. I love the company for which I work. They are family-oriented, promote from within, and we play equally as hard as we work. We also are a fairly young company in terms of employee ages. I'd guess that the average of age is approximately 30-35. I'm a little bored with my day to day tasks, but I really have a good situation, so I don't complain. I've worked there six years and have had tremendous opportunities both professional and personal come my way. This last week was no exception.

A few years ago, we acquired some properties offshore. We've slowly built up our offshore portfolio. As a result, we have a few field offices in the Gulf of Mexico region. From Tuesday through Thursday, I flew to South Texas to train some new employees.

First day, the operations manager takes me to lunch. We B.S. about the company and swap some stories. Laugh.

Ops Mgr: So this is the first time you've EVER been allowed to travel to a field office??
Me: *nods yes*
Ops Mgr: *shakes head side to side and rolls his eyes*
Me: I did bring my boots though in case you were going to let me go out and see a well! *smile and giggle*
Ops Mgr: You did?! You've never even been on a field trip??
Me: Nope. Never.

We eat a little bit as it's quiet for a short time.

Ops Mgr: Do your boots have steel toes in 'em?
Me: *laughs* No! No...they don't. *laughs again*

We continue with our meal and just talk amongst each other. Once lunch is done, we drive back to the office so I can continue to train the new hires. About an hour later, the operations manger escorts one of the other company employees and introduces me to Charles.

Charles and I exchange handshakes and pleasantries.

Ops Mgr: Go to Academy tonight, Jackie. You're going offshore with Charles tomorrow.
Me: *holding back extreme glee* WHAT???!!!!
Ops Mgr: You need steel toes to be safety compliant. This is work related so you can expense them, too.

I'm smiling like a cheshire cat. I am doing all I can to contain my excitement and be cool.

Me: Well, COOL! How FUN! Thank you SO MUCH!!

We all go our separate ways and my mind begins to spin. Did I bring the right clothes? Tomorrow is my wedding anneversary....I hope I don't die.

As the day draws to a close, Ops Mgr invites me and Charles to his house to meet his wife and daughter. Charles and I oblige. Later we go eat at local joint that makes chicken fried steaks, pork chops, etc. I opt for salmon. Ops Mgr's wife gets a rock in her salad. And the waitress in a high-pitched mousy voice says (as she's walking away...), "Oh! I'm so sorry. Sorry 'bout that".

Hmmm....

I digress.

Charles, Ops Mgr and I discuss anything I might need to know about FLYING IN A HELICOPTER and the platform itself. Of course, safety is the first topic of conversation. Dinner wraps up and Charles and I drive to Academy to buy my steel toed shoes (which were kind of fashionable considering what they are... I mean, how fasionable can steel toes work shoes *be*??) I buy some socks because in my infitinite wisdom to pack boots in the first place, I had a hiccup in the brain and didn't bring socks. Duh.

I digress.

Back at the hotel, I prep my overnight bag for "just in case".

Rewind: In the car on the way to Academy, I ask Charles, "is there anything I need to know about tomorrow?" He explains a few things, one being, that I should pack a very light overnight bag "just in case".

Me: Just in case what??
C: In case you have to stay overnight. It's unpredictable out there. Anything could happen. It's not likely, but it's still possible.

(play foreshadowing music here)

Me: *gulp*
C: So gitchyer toothbrush and that kinda thang and you'll be jes fine.
Me: *nods*

Fast Forward (I always misspell forward. I always spell it foward instead of forward. Every time I have to backspace and retype it. Sheesh. I digress.) back to the hotel.

I've been given safety glasses, hardhat and now I have my shoes. I feel official.

I have a hard time sleeping because I'm so excited.

Part One is ending now. I'm sleepy. And hungry. And if I don't go to sleep now, I'll eat. And I don't want to eat.

Nite, nite.