Morning Fog


Now in my 5th year of teaching full time, I have grown accustomed to the cold. To the runny-ness, the stuffiness, and the fogginess – not to mention the coughy-ness…not to be confused with the equally pertinent coffee-ness.

I give up. I no longer just hate being sick, I loathe it with the white hot loathing a slave has for its master. And with the same degree of complacency of knowing I can’t do a damn thing about it for it is my destiny to serve.

Speaking of serving, I have been awash in testosterone, Italian made, on the home front for years. Even my daughter was a tomboy, sandwiched between two overactive brothers. Even the dog is a tomboy, as dogs tend to be.

It is probably good that I work in a school where almost all of the teachers are female. It gives my life a little balance, and reminds me that there is nothing wrong with girliness. The fact that I am expecting a grand-daughter soon – my daughter’s daughter – fuels that fire.

One thing I have noticed working in a school full of females is that it isn’t at all like working in an office full of them was in the old days. That is a roundabout way of saying how touched I was when one of my fellow teachers brought me homemade chicken soup last week. She knows that when mom gets sick, there’s nobody to take care of her. I immediately started feeling sorry for myself when I realized that nobody does look out for me or take care of me, and I don’t particularly miss that because I thrive on the caring and the looking out for others…but it does feel good to be soothed now and then. Really good. It made me miss my mom, not just in her death, but I miss having had a mom for the 15 years or so before that. The mom that disappeared in herself after her stroke. I miss the mom. I used to know. I miss having had a mom close by all these year. Independence and adulthood and motherhood and self-reliance are awesome sirens, but sometimes I would trade it all to have my mom stroke my hair and give me a hug.

Anyway, the chicken soup was delicious, and I think it did help my cold. I know it soothed my soul.

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Mad Woman

I am feeling a little more sane and a little less overwhelmed than last time even though nothing has changed.
It is now Sunday morning, and judging by the dearth of new entries in my Google Reader, week after week, most people don’t update on Sundays. I am here to change all that. Let me be your go-to-Sunday blog read. At least this week.

Sundays are busy days for me. It starts with the fact that there is football on TV, all day. And my husband has a standing appointment with the couch and the flat screen. All day. And I am expected to provide the meals for this marathon endeavor. Not an overwhelming task, but that is in the background. And then I have lots of lesson planning to do for the week. And homework to coordinate. And tests to correct. And my school website to update with (at the very least) my weekly newsletter. And then I usually have a backload of laundry to attend to. And I try to get a minimal amount of housework done – dusting and vacuuming. I need to get my nails done desperately, and I really really really need to go to the gym. And I probably need to make another trip to the grocery store, and hey, there was that dry cleaning I should have picked up yesterday, but they aren’t open today. Are they? I tried a new place.
I need to monitor what my teenager is doing and make sure that XBOXING is broken up at least occasionally with some studying. I should go to church and I am probably forgetting a few little things on top of that. By my calculations, I have about 9 – 10 hours left before I should be in bed. This is why I usually end up going to bed around 1 or 2 am on Sunday nights/Monday mornings.
While in the midst of vacuuming earlier, I tried to take a break and watch a little of the Mad Men shows that I DVR’d overnight. The DVR in the bedroom wasn’t cooperating, and the one in the Great Room was occupied. See above. I feel like stomping my feet and throwing a tantrum. But since I am an adult, I know that I will be able to postpone that particular form of gratification and watch later. It is one of the perks of being a grown up apparently. That knowledge that good things might indeed actually come to those who wait.

It has been over 7 years since I started blogging over at Diaryland. Much has changed in that time, but what struck me most as I was just now thinking about it, was that back then, I did two things everysingleday. I wrote in my online journal. And I worked out. And I often wrote about those workouts. Or at least that I was doing them, even if I didn’t go into much detail. I find it incredibly sad that two things that were recreational and that exercised my mind, my body and my soul have all but vanished from my life. And so much sadder that a little effort on my part could have easily kept them going. Or at least could have brought them back at some point.
So here we are. Apparently we have finally arrived at that point. With effort.

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Oh, I’m Stressed…

I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line, even before I pretty much stopped writing here with any regularity, I stopped expressing myself. Being honest. Not that I lied, I didn’t mean that…just not saying anything. Not that I wasn’t thinking things, but I am now overflowing with the thinking and the things.

I’m stressed. And I’m not. I have been taking so much in stride for so long now that it feels normal and I don’t know where to start, but I have come full circle to thinking that I NEED this place because I need a place to just, I don’t know, purge.

There is a lot going on, and I since I long ago drowned in my glass-half-fullness, I can’t quite separate the good from the bad anymore, or maybe it’s just that the good and bad parts have blended together like a dirty martini. And they have left me a bit foggy.

I am blessed in so many ways that it isn’t even funny. Rose colored glasses. So what is all this ahem that is clouding my thinking with the sheer volume of everything?

Okay then, a list. A list I might go back to and expand upon at a later date, but I just can’t keep it all in anymore and I really don’t care.

1. I don’t want to talk about my husband, and that is an actual thing. The not wanting to talk. The talking about him is too enormous. I don’t know why exactly, the good is that we are 28 years strong this week, maybe stronger than ever. The bad is his health, his back specifically. Did I ever write much about his back problems and his surgeries and his disability? It’s too big. I don’t think about it much because thinking about it shuts off a part of my brain. I don’t want him to get worse and so I try to just pretend he is a-ok because it is easier than dwelling on what is not a-ok. Done with that.
2. Number one son. He is living abroad. I am so proud of him. He finished his masters this past spring and gave up his nice job with a great company to pursue even higher education in Europe. So all of that is good. Even being in Europe. Except that he has to BE in EUROPE. I have to play tricks with my brain to deal with that too.
3. Number one son’s girlfriend aka: almost my daughter in law, unoffically that is. She is finishing up grad school soon and looking for a post doc overseas to be closer to him. A good thing. We want to keep her. But we would also like to keep her HERE. Damn, both are going to be so far away.
3. Only Daughter. Married four years. Husband deployed in Afghanistan. Living on the other side of the country. Pregnant. First grandchild. Clearly a good thing. But she is so far away. And her husband won’t be here for the baby’s birth. And she never finished college. But she has a great job. And he never went to college, and what the heck is he going to do when he gets out of the service? Or will he stay in? Maybe that’s better. Or is it? Good, bad, WTF why do I have to worry about this stuff?
4. Number two son. Turned 14. Started high school. My baby is now about 5’11” so that is clearly a good/bad thing right there. My baby isn’t supposed to be that much taller than me.
He wears size 12 shoes…good news is he has worn them for a year already. Perhaps the growing and the buying of new shoes will slow down now.
5. That’s the kids and the husband. There is also the job. 27 Brand New First Graders. I can’t possibly elaborate on that.
6. I still haven’t recovered from my mom’s death, although I have really. Dad is good, my brother is an…what’s worse than an asshole?
7. I can’t keep up with everything.

8. And seriously, what happens to all the brown crayons? Year after year, the kids start with full boxes of silky new crayons, and promptly lose their brown. Are there brown-crayon-snatching-aliens out there? Is that some kind of secret power source for the universe? I broke down and ordered some BROWN crayons from crayola today. I am tired of hearing kids whine that they don’t have a brown. While I was at it, I ordered some black and silver and gold. Black is the goes-with-all crayon. Silver and gold for the sheer delight.

I think that is enough for now. I also think I will try to make this a daily event because I need to vent. Daily!

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Just for the record…

Nobody faults a child who can’t wait for school to be out and for summer to begin. Does anybody fault a teacher? I hope not.
If we are jumping for joy because it is summer, it is certainly not a reflection of the level of our dedication, love for the students or commitment to education. It is just that, for me at least, I get so overwhelmed and completely consumed by the job that I totally lose myself. Were I single and childless, possibly not so bad. But with a husband and three kids (okay, only one is still at home, but that doesn’t mean that the others NEVER have any demands on my time) to have a life with, and with all the never-ending work teaching involves, I just can’t seem to carve out any time for myself. Or if I do, the other things suffer. The time off in the summer is nice, but it barely makes up for the fact that I am working 60-70 hours per week the rest of the year.
Doesn’t that seem crazy? I wish I could figure out how to make my job fit my “hours.” Technically I am supposed to be working from 7:30 – 3:30, Mon – Fri. That doesn’t sound so bad. But in reality, I do some work early in the morning, and don’t usually leave until 4 or 4:30. Or later. And then there is at least a couple of hours of work at night. And usually a good, solid day’s worth on the weekend. Vacation days are usually spent catching up on school work. If you have a lot of parent issues, or just a lot of things that need to be discussed, emails and meetings can really compound the time spend. Yadda, yadda, yadda. As a mother, you never quite feel like your job is finished, always something to do…as a teacher it is much that way, but with a couple dozen kids to fret over, not just one or two.
Even summer vacation isn’t as relaxing as it could be…you don’t think we just walk out with the kids on the last day and come back when they do, right? (Okay, some manage to get pretty close to doing that, but I haven’t figured that part out yet either…)
Maybe this will be the year I get a better handle on things and figure out how to have a family, have a life, and do a good job at school too.

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Time Warp

Well, life has been full and very busy since I last deigned to write something here. (I just looked up “deign” real quick-like to make sure I was using that right and ooh boy does that make me look like a snob. I absolutely do not look down on anyone who might end up reading this. No, I definitely look up to you. Worship you even. THANK YOU for coming to my party.)
School has been out for a month and the thing I am most struck by is how different I look to myself after being off from school from a month. The sun has bronzed my skin, the swimming has lightened my hair (so the greys show less…) and I have lost 10 pounds (a crumb off the cookie, but whatever). I am rested, and it shows. I am not stressed-out and it shows. I look in the mirror and I am starting to recognize myself once again. I just don’t know who I am during the school year. I was clearly not born to work.
Which brings me to my favorite phrase of the summer, and I am reminded each time I walk through a wine section of a store: Il dolce far niente. The sweetness of doing nothing. I own that sentiment. I can lounge in the sun like a lizard and if a catch a bit of a breeze I feel like I can fly with the birds and there is no place I would rather be, and I certainly wouldn’t want to ruin that feeling by actually doing something. It isn’t laziness, and it is something I appreciate during the summer more than any other time. I have no time to just do nothing during the school year, but I think that is going to change.
I wonder if I can get away with teaching my class about the sweetness of doing nothing. Oh wait, they are six. They still know all about it, and they could probably teach me a thing or two.


Life After Death

I seem to have survived the aftermath of my mother’s death, and I am feeling less grief-y. Some days I think I have forgotten all about it in fact, until something or someone brings it up. Other days, I am stuck in the church in my mind no matter what else is going on around me.

One thing that blinked us all back to reality was that my dad went into the hospital exactly one week after her entombment. He is okay now, and that seems like reason to celebrate. Strange juxtaposition there…celebrating the life of one when it should be a time for mourning the loss of the other. But there is life after death, and we are proving it one day at a time.

I never thought I would be morbid about this, but I was actually considering taking pictures of her in the casket, etc, and that thinking that would be a good idea. GLAD to say I have come back around to a more socially acceptable way of thinking on that one. I would say that before my mother died, my general feelings about death were all wrapped up in squeamishness. I would say that feeling temporarily left me, but it is returning. Yay squeamies.

So anyway, a week ago Friday, that was the one week anniversary when my dad went into the hospital. THAT same day, my daughter and her husband said good-bye and headed to the opposite coast to live for a yet to be determined amount of time. AND that day my son was accepted into a program in EUROPE that he wants to attend. I was feeling this very acute sense of loss and leaving…departures all around me. I am working on not letting all of that bother me, and to be thankful for what I do have in my life still…

Next time I think I will try to have come up with more interesting, and less death-centric topics, to write on.


Words Mean Something

Just when I thought that a) things couldn’t possibly feel sadder and b) I was over it and quite cavalier about my mother’s death, I had to c) sit through her funeral. It is really embarrassing to admit exactly how overcome with emotion I was. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t really all that embarrassing at the time, probably because I was so overcome with THOSE OTHER emotions.

I guess funeral talk isn’t exactly happy blog fodder, but it is just about the only thing in my brain, and its either write this stuff down or go back to making lists of ‘long e’ spelling words for Monday…

First of all, my darling daughter Sprite and her husband drove into town on Wednesday night. Thursday we piled them and 13 year-old Squirt into the car and headed up the coast. We met big brother Jolt for lunch, and then Squirt moved into his car and we all drove to Los Angeles. We got there in pretty good time, checked into the hotel, had an early “dinner” and headed across town to the church where the funeral was to be held. We got there about 6:20 for the 7:00 service. The hearse was there, and a couple of stragglers. After getting inside, chatting a bit and wondering why my dad wasn’t there yet, I called him. Well, he was stranded at home, waiting for my brother to come home, change and drive him to the church, but it was really close to show time at this point! I said I’ll come get you! Just as I said that, I saw my brother standing there, saying he had locked his keys in his car while setting up for the reception. I grabbed him and drove him home and waited while he changed. Then we headed back to the church. Late for the 7pm service naturally…but we all figured that they would wait for the immediate family to show up, and of course we were right.

Well, we were to start with a brief rosary…just 2 decades. That’s basically two groups of an Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, and a Glory be. HOWEVER, the priest somehow took that to mean two MYSTERIES. Two COMPLETE MYSTERY groups. That meant 10 groups of an Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, a Glory Be plus Fatima prayer, and a Hail Holy Queen thrown in after each Mystery was complete. If I counted right, that was 262 prayers recited aloud. Somewhere during that chanting of prayer, my mind started to wander from the prayers to my mother. And I started to get a bit choked up and a little teary.

BUT then, they opened the casket for the viewing. I hated that. I hated seeing her there. And as her friends filed by one-by-one to pay their respects, I got more and more choked up. To the point that I was choking back deep sobs, and I couldn’t open my eyes or anything. It was horrible. Horrible. I hated feeling that empty. That wracked. That completely overcome. Then the family was supposed to get up and pay respects, but I couldn’t move. I was a 5 year-old rocking in the corner, unable to respond. They were asking me to get up but I couldn’t. Then my husband offered to help me and I got up. And then just crumpled into my father’s arms and stood there at the front of the church for what seemed like forever, but I didn’t want to leave once I got there. I felt like a small child again, in a weird way. I touched her hand, and it wasn’t just still. Or stiff. Or cold. It was cold, stiff, still, hard and really just a lump of flesh-colored stone. Cold hard stone. Not my mother at all. Had it been a marble carving of my mother it couldn’t have been less my mother. I remember telling my dad that it didn’t feel like her…
It got better after that. I composed myself somewhat. My kids did readings and made me proud and smiley, but when it was my daughter’s turn, after her lovely job at the podium, she stepped backwards too far and fell off a badly-placed step and her high heels went clattering and her arms were flailing, and was all laughing at herself embarrassed, and it was a moment of levity that my mother PROBABLY CAUSED from afar just to lighten the mood and get us happier.

It worked.

Not 100%, but I haven’t sunk back down as low as I was at the casket during the viewing.
We had a nice reception afterwards. I saw a lot of people who are peers of my parents, who were parents of kids I knew in grade school…folks my parents’ age who haven’t died yet. Some of my brother’s friends were there, and a few family friends, and my contingent of kids. I met people, put faces to names I knew, saw faces I hadn’t seen in a long time, and was consoled and lifted up over and over. It was nice.


The next day we went to the cemetery. Mom went into a crypt, and not the ground. That ceremony was shorter and, as I was determined not to sob uncontrollably, less dramatic. Phew. It was still touching and painful and teary and sad. But less so than the night before.

I think that is all I can bear for now.
Oh, but one more thing.
Less morbid.

I started this out intending to express thanks. Thanks to those who read here and said sweet and comforting things. It is amazingly helpful. And a vague thank you to those in real life who have been amazingly kind and supportive. And for the people at the funeral who were the likewise strong and sensitive. Even my students who have made me cards and prayed for me. Thanks to all…I feel guilty accepting so much love and prayer and good wishes. But I must confess that everysingle kind word means a lot and helps immensely.

Go figure.

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More Words

Well, my mother is still dead, so no developments on that front. I don’t expect any soon. In related news, my dad announced that he has decided that he too might as well die one day, so he is springing for the double crypt and pre-engraved memorial with his name on it as well. I guess it is okay to talk about those things now that one of them has actually bitten the dust. passed over.

Astute readers chose the exact format we are using for the funeral/burial. The rosary/vigil/viewing and funeral mass will all be on Thursday night, with a reception afterwards. The burial entombment, will be on Friday morning.

Dad opted for a mausoleum as opposed to plots of ground. I like that idea. Watching my father-in-law’s body lowered into the ground after he died was absolutely the most heartbreaking thing I have ever witnessed, and so I have to admit that seeing my mother placed into a marble cubicle (that’s how I imagine it anyway) has got to be better. Less final. Less like she is being sent to another world and more like she’s just playing hide and seek with a really great spot on the top shelf of a cabinet.
And I say top shelf because apparently the mausoleum spots are 7 high which has got to mean the top one is about 20 feet up. And guess which one is the cheapest? (And by cheap, I mean “don’t die in LA if you want an affordable afterlife, but if you must, eye level is prime real estate and way up on top may be closer to heaven, but it is also lighter on the pocketbook.) So yeah, it looks like dad is going for the top row. It’s cheaper but really, it’s just a spot for, you know, decomposition to occur. And for loved ones to stop off and think of you. Although, being 20 feet up in the air loses some of that romantic imagery…it might be a little hard to just sit around and lay bunches of flowers by the headstone. But whatever.
I hope this isn’t too morbid for you. I feel like a new mother who thinks nothing of discussing poop and vomit with everyone because That Is Her Life.
Right now, death is mine. And for this moment that seems really normal.



I know I have written a bit here and there about my mother and her health. But considering that I haven’t written much at all the past year or two, I certainly haven’t documented her decline very well. But it doesn’t matter too much because she is gone.

Wednesday morning January 26th, 4:45 am Los Angeles time, apparently she left this world. I am not sure exactly what preceded that exact moment. She had been in the hospital since Saturday and was virtually brain dead, with less and less activity as the days wore on. At some point my dad signed the papers that indicated to not resuscitate her, and the doctors had told him that the only thing keeping her alive was the machines.

Regardless, she was released finallly.

If anyone reading this has not lost their mother yet, and you will, I can vouch for the fact that it is a gut-wrenching experience, no matter how much you expect it. Horrible no matter how much you might even have longed for it because it would be the best thing.

But just when the drama of her life ends, the drama of her death begins. Meaning that I snapped at my brother twice in 1 day. ONCE was a virtual snap via text message. The other was on the phone with my father and the pastor of their church on speaker phone. OK so I just lost my mother and I can be cut some slack. But usually I am the kind of person who would say that it is a difficult time so I need to be patient. However, I have spent many years being patient with my brother and just walking away from confrontation…especially since confrontation with him always seems to backfire on me and make me look like the bad person. And we all know that I am not the bad person here. Right.

Enoug…what do you think of this, internets?

Choice #1: Funeral director, longtime friend of family, suggests Thursday evening funeral mass with small reception for anyone, with next day burial at cemetery with just family.

Choice #2: Pastor suggests Friday night rosary/viewing, Saturday mass and burial. Not sure at what point the reception.

Choice #3: My brother wants a Saturday night rosary/viewing, Sunday evening funeral mass during the usual 5 pm mass, and then the burial on Monday. Probably also wants receptions after each event.

Which would you choose?


Sunday Night

As usual, Sunday night sees me sitting at one computer or another, getting ready for the week to come. I am almost ready to head back to school tomorrow, but I really should spruce up my class website – at least get rid of the Turkey theme and switch it to something Christmassy. Also, I need to type up this week’s homework cover sheet, but that will be pretty easy this time.

I have been off of school since November 19th – a full week plus 2 full weekends, and for the most part I really did take off. However, I did work almost all of last weekend, plus I have put in 5 or 6 hours today. La, la, la…I love my job, I love my job, I love my job…

I am pushing the publish button with my fingers crossed – crossed so that I can keep this up not just going back to work/school, but also with CHRISTMAS COMING!