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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Seattle Prattle

My trip to Seattle for a visit with my daughter was exquisite! I live far-enough away from my kids, and have spent so much of my life away from any of my family, that I treasure any time that I get to spend with them.

Thanksgiving was especially meaningful for me this year. My biological father drove up from California, and my brother (who also lives in Seattle), was there, too. It was the first time in nearly 30 years that were in the same room. I walked through my daughter's door to hugs all around...and just in time to make the gravy. Friends came for dessert and we had a fantastic evening of eating, games, music, and dancing to the likes of War, Relax, and Twilight Zone on YouTube! Happiness, for me, truly is in the little things.

My son-in-law is a Jazz trumpeter. He didn't have any gigs while I was there, but did sit in with Flexicon at The New Orleans, which we adults enjoyed Friday night before Jo left on Saturday. During my entire visit we only went to two 'tourist-y' places: Pike Place Market and the the Space Needle. I got to see a couple of fish thrown at the Pike Place Fish Market and, of course, went to the gum walls outside the Market Theater in Post Alley, which is below Pike Place. The Space Needle was exceptional as, in addition to the views, Santa was there with his Space Sled. My grandsons were thrilled at the opportunity to tell him what they want for Christmas. We went to the parks, coffee shops, and bakery that Janet and hers most-often frequent, and I got to see the boys' schools.

We spent most of the week just hanging out with each other. We went to Caffe Ladro in Fremont (another daughter's home-away-from-home while she moved 'back home' last Feb.), looked at houses in Capitol Hill, looked out over Lake Union at Gas Works and Golden Gardens parks, and capped the day with a visit to the Fremont Troll. It was wonderful going to the places where my loves have enjoyed spending so much time while they've lived in there.

Of course, the most wonderful thing about Seattle was spending so much time with my baby and her babies. The week just flew past. If my daughter was going to be staying there, I would be making plans for a Seattle-bound move within the next two years. As it is, though, she and her family are preparing to move to New York City at the end of this month, and I don't think I'm ready to move to where I have no kids within half a country!

Three years ago I spent Thanksgiving with Janet's family in Newport, RI. I plan to continue the tradition and spend Thanksgiving 2011 with them in New York City. I suppose I'll be ready to move there after a week, too. ;-)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Diving Bells or Butterfies?

Most of the movies coming up in my Netflix queue right now are foreign films. Yesterday, I was so excited when I pulled the movie from my mailbox, as I always am. "What do I get to watch tonight?", I wondered. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Eh. I didn't recall what it was about, so wasn't totally enthused. I wasn't in the mood for a 'classic', so-to-speak. I glanced at the year the film was made in, which was 2007. OK, at least it wasn't old.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is the story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, author and then editor of Elle magazine, who had a stroke in 1995 that rendered him completely paralyzed. The film is based on Bauby's autobiography...which he dictated by blinking his left eye. Literally. Blinking his left eye, the only part of his body that Bauby had any control over, was the only means that Bauby had of communicating. The movie is the story of Bauby's life from the moment that he comes out of the coma that his stroke left him in. The film is extraordinary, and has had a profound impact on me.

When I look back on my life, I have to wonder: was I so busy living day-to-day life 20 years ago that I didn't take time to truly appreciate where I was at then? I know that I was a good mother, but there are so many things that I would do differently now that I'm, well...more mature. When we're thirty we think we're grown-up, that people who are 50 are old, and that people who are 70 are ancient. Now that I'm just about 50, I realize that when I was 30 I wasn't as grown-up as I thought I was, and I certainly didn't know as much as I thought I did.

The trick, I realize now, is to live in appreciation of exactly where we're at in life always, whether the times are good or bad; with regard to our children, our significant-others, our parents, our selves. The key to true happiness is not to enjoy each day, but to slow our minds down and to appreciate each minute of where we are in our lives, for to do so is the only way to conscientiously choose our path for the next minute. This is critical to happiness because we don't get a do-over.

The beauty is that, however much time has passed for each of us, and regardless of where we are at in our lives, it's never too late to be completely happy from this moment forward.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Coffee Flavored Coffee...


Coffee tastes so good when you haven't had any for two days. I ran out of my regular coffee a couple of weeks ago. At home, my coffee is almost always Sumatra; it's wonderfully rich and bold, and is never bitter. My ground coffee comes (almost) exclusively from Michelle's, in "historic downtown Sioux Falls". The only time that I brew something other than Sumatra is when Michelle's is out of Sumatra (and I'm desperate), or if someone generously left a bag of something else at my house and I've had to pull it out of my Emergency Back-up Stash. Well, the past two weeks were Emergency Mode around here. In fact, over the weekend I even depleted my Emergency Stash.

Saturday morning I trekked with Zöe to Caribou Coffee, since they're the closest coffee shop to my home. I've been to Caribou several times, and I have to say that the only time that I've liked what I got there was when they happened to have Sumatra brewed. I didn't particularly care for what I got on Saturday. Consequently, on Sunday Zöe and I trekked the other direction, to Starbucks (Michelle's is closed on Sunday). Not only did I get a better cup of joe, I also got a pumpkin scone - and they are delicious!

I've figured for some time that it's good to detox from our vices on occasion. Sometimes when I brush my teeth I'll see an absolutely brown tongue in the face looking back at me. On top of being a nasty color for a tongue, my entire esophagus probably looks the same. ince I was out of coffee, and out of money, I decided that it would be good for me to go without coffee for a few days. I made it to Monday night, at which point it was time for creative economics. I grabbed my lovely Zöe's leash, she went nuts (as she always does when it's time for a walk), and we both trekked past Starbuck's and on down to Michelle's to buy a pound of Sumatra. Today, I am a happy woman.

P.S. - I can not write about coffee ever, to any degree, without thinking of Denis Leary's stand-up routine about coffee. You can check it out on YouTube here. It will be the best 8 minutes of your day...if you're a coffee snob deserving of the title.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Trapped?

So much life to look back over. How can so much of it be behind me, and yet I still have so much to learn; so much to grow. I used to say that my mental age is 27, and I'll be that forever. I believed it then, as I do still, but I had no idea...I had no idea. The lucky ones are the old souls, who are born into infancy, their bodies catching up with their soul from that point on. The young souls' bodies reach the soul's age before the soul even knows what its age is. The body grows, and ages...and ages...and the soul stays inside, trapped at an earlier place in time that no one on the outside can see anymore. The saddest is a young soul who didn't realize its age until the body was long past it; the soul spends the rest of the body's time longing to break free of the shackles the world clamps on us all, the expectations that come with age. Society doesn't accept the behavior of youth from an old body.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Catch Up

Yeah, one post every six weeks is not way to develop a following, is it? I can blame my lack of attention on the fact that I have a new grand-baby (and first granddaughter), who was in NICU for a week, or on the fact that it's been spring and the garden needed to be put in and the bike needed to be ridden. All would be accurate and legitimate excuses...but in the end would still just be excuses. The real reason that I haven't been posting is because, well, I'm Catherine. Will have to work on an improved version...and we all know that improvements take time and patience, don't we?

So, yes...I have a beautiful grand-daughter named Scarlett Ava. She got a bit of a rough start, being born with an infection that kept her on IV antibiotics for a week, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I am fortunate to live only four blocks from the hospital where Scarlett was born. To say the least, Rachel wasn't able to sleep much there, so as soon as I got done with work I would run up there and Rachel would come to my house to nap for a few hours. I was privileged to have many, many hours cooing in Scarlett's ears during her precious first days. The result is that Scarlett has known my voice since and responds to me like, well, like a Nana who's as close as one can get to second-mama. You can only imagine how elated I am with that! Rachel lives an hour away, so I can nuzzle Scarlett as often as I can afford the gas for driving back-and-forth...which is, of course, not often enough.

With all the focus on Scarlett and a lot of rain, I got a very late start at both my bicycling and gardening, and I've been working hard for the past couple of weeks to catch-up.

Back in April, I got diligent about getting in shape. I realized that I was putting food in my mouth basically from the time I got up in the morning until the time I went to bed at night...which occurs both very early and quite late. I wasn't eating only crap, although there was plenty of that, but I was waaay over-eating. I dropped 15 lbs just by knocking out the constant nibbling. Three weeks ago I got on my bike for the first time this year, and hit the pavement with a vengeance. I took 4 days off last week, instead of 2, to get the garden done. My riding schedule is 21 miles Saturday through Wednesday (5 on; two off). The work is paying off and I'm getting strong fast. I rode Saturday this week, but worked on the garden all day Sunday. I had a child arrive in-crisis late that afternoon for a couple days' stay, and didn't ride Sunday or Monday. That's life, and people have to come first. Diligence from now on.

My garden is looking stupendous. It's about 40'x8'. I put in 30 tomato plants and 18 bell pepper plants (of different colors - chocolate, purple, mandarin, etc.). I had the seeds and am (obviously) late planting them, but went ahead with a couple of rows each of peas and beans. We'll see how much of a crop I get from those. I'll be happy to even have enough to nibble on for a few weeks. I still have a few pumpkin, broccoli, and acorn squash plants to put in, which means digging out more sod and more tilling. Will one more day's wait in planting them make a great difference in their produce? I'm hoping not, because I'm going riding and mowing tonight instead of gardening.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Constipated Brain

I wonder why it is that I stagnate my mind. Is this common? Is it a trait among...among who? Who am I? What category do I fall into? Ahh, among 'under-achievers'. Is self-stagnation a common trait among under-achievers? Just re-reading that sentence makes me feel stupid to have even asked it, and the answer must undoubtedly be "Duh....obviously yes".

I have so many interests and all of them really are steeped in art. I love sewing, gardening, writing, decorating, music, cooking, baking, and the list goes on and on. I love the creation aspect of those things...yet I never seem to get past the thinking-about-it stage of anything creative that I think about.

I am blocked. I am so totally locked up inside myself; how could I ever truly accomplish anything? It's no wonder that I've been on anti-depressants in the past...and benefited from them greatly. I realized at one point that I spent so much time going in circles in my head, dwelling constantly on an issue over, and over, and over, yet never coming to any resolution. I would just incessantly think about...whatever.

I went on a medication that didn't seem to do much but I felt a bit better, so opted to stay on that particular drug...until I learned the price. I went immediately back to my doctor and asked for something generic. I started Prozac and noticed a profound difference in a matter of days. My thinking became clearer and I was far more functional, actually getting something done during the day. Or, so it seemed. I lost my job and was so close to being on the streets, and was thankful to already be on the medication at that time. But slowly things started looking up, and I went off the meds about six months later. That was over a year ago and I've been fine without them. Until relatively recently.

I've begun to notice that I'm falling back into that pattern of thinking in endless circles again. The more time I spend in that place in my mind, the less productive I am at home. I have all sorts of projects, really creative and great ideas, that I'm not working on. The piles in my upstairs are getting bigger and bigger. I have an opportunity to write articles that I'm not taking advantage of, even though it's what I want to do almost more than anything else. I spend all of my 'free' time sitting in front of the computer (facebook, email, and Craigslist) watching movies, or reading fluff. I've recognized that I'm in that rut, but recognizing is as much as I've done about it. Until today.

My daughter gave me a book several years ago, titled "The Artist's Way". She said that she'd always viewed me as an artist and thought maybe I'd enjoy the book. I was so honored that she thought of me that way. I promptly read the tenth-anniversary introduction, thought that it sounded good and might be beneficial...and that was it. I never picked it up again. I came across the book again the other day, and today I re-read that introduction. I've had an epiphany.

The author of "The Artist's Way", Julia Cameron, talks in the main introduction of how the book is a course; a tool for helping people free, or 'unblock', their creativity. Just in reading the two introductions, I've realized what my problem is. I don't need medications. I simply need to unblock my creativity so that what is going in circles in my head can get out of my head. My brain's just been constipated. Ha! NOW I'm excited!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Perspective, or perception?

Ten years ago I would have been disgusted at the way that I look now. How is it that we slowly become comfortable with what once was extremely un-comfortable? I have realized that I eat out of boredom. I started paying attention and found that I was shoveling food of all sorts into my mouth from the time that I got up until the time that I went to bed. I stopped doing that, and have lost 10 pounds so far. I have not been rigidly watching my fat or calorie intake, either. However, I'm still 30 pounds above where I want to be, even for a maximum weight.

The other day I was looking at photos of stars who made drastic weight changes for film roles. One example was Beyonce, who reportedly lost 20 lbs. in two weeks on some concoction of lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper...and I had to know exactly what it was! I started researching, and found the Master Cleanse. It turns out that it's not a diet at all, but a detoxification regimen that will also result in weight loss. This sounds like exactly what I need. I can only imagine the crud that is built up in my intestinal tract from 49 years of not eating right. In addition, a fasting period will help me to break the bad eating habits that I have established. I ordered the book from Barnes and Noble today.

I'm trying to focus on a healthy lifestyle. Although, I wasn't very successful this weekend. A friend took me to dinner Friday evening. We went to HuHot, which has tasty food, but it's cooked with a lot of oil. From there we went to shoot pool, which I hadn't done in some time. I drank way too much, leaving me worthless and totally unproductive on Saturday...which was exactly what I did not want to have occur. I really do wish that I'd insisted on just going to a movie, instead of to the bar.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

EVERY day?

My daughter told me that I should be writing in my blog every day, without fail. Every day? EVERY single day??? Isn't it amazing that someone who's been told all their life that they talk too much is stressing over what to write on a daily basis? Well, I missed last week, and am already a day late this week, so I think I'd better stick to weekly at this point.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

So...yesterday afternoon the scene in the movie was a hotel room. Harvey was in London for his daughter's wedding. Her mother rented a house for everyone to stay at which, of course, did not include her ex-husband, Harvey. As I watched I thought, "I would never...I will never...do that to my ex-husband." I almost wanted to call him and tell him so. And then I realized that I would be the one alone at the hotel. I wouldn't have the money to do the house-renting, my ex-husband would, and I would be the one left out. My heart ached as I looked at the expression on Dustin Hoffman's face, as Harvey sat forlornly on the foot of the bed. I've worn that expression.

My middle daughter got married out-of-state. The wedding happened to be on my ex-husband's weekend with the children, so the younger two traveled with him. I was in a relationship with a man who went with me. My ex's girlfriend and mother were with him, as well as our younger two, so he naturally had the large cabin and I had one of the smaller cabins. My ex graciously invited us for breakfast the morning after our arrival, which went smoothly. But that just isn't the same as staying with everyone.

My daughter hadn't wanted a big wedding. She hadn't really wanted a wedding at all, it turned out. I think she was worried about how the family situation, the Mom-and-Dad situation, would work out and she had just wanted to avoid it all.

Working only part-time for $8/hr, I couldn't afford to take any time off of work, and my boyfriend had a work commitment on Sunday afternoon. We left home after he got off work, drove 11 hours out Friday night, and left immediately after supper on Saturday to return home, staying the night half-way back. We'd arrived late on Friday, and left directly after the dinner that followed the wedding. I was never introduced properly to my son-in-law's family...who thought that my ex's girlfriend was my daughter's mother. I felt very much left-out at both the ceremony and reception dinner. I think I handled it well, but that ache...that sadness deep in one's heart. I know that pain.

My point in that description of the weekend is that so many things - even family events - come down to money; the 'haves and have nots'. I always seem to be the have-not, and am struggling to figure out how to change that.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Woman's Best Friend


I've said for years that, although I love dogs, I'll take a cat any day. You can leave a cat with a bowls full of water and food and a clean litter pan and take off for a week...and you don't have to walk them. So, I don't know what I was thinking (or if I even was) when I answered an add on Craigslist for a give-away Siberian Husky.

My son bought a 10-wk-old white and tan Husky that he brought for a visit and, naturally, I fell in love in love with it. My son's working on enlisting in the Navy, so I told him that if he went in, I'd keep his pup for him until he returned. I believe that offer set me on the path to being a dog-owner. A couple of my daughters extended my son the same offer...and I started paying more attention to pet classified ads.

I am now the proud owner of a 1½-yr-old, pure white, female Siberian Husky who I've named Zöe. She'd been rescued by the guy I got her from and terribly neglected by the first owner. I was so happy the day I looked out my window and realized that I could no longer see her ribs.

Zöe is absolutely the best-natured dog you can imagine. She is a Husky, though, which means that she likes to RUN...and if she gets away unknowingly she won't be sticking around the yard. She's escaped the confines of the yard three times. Let me tell you, a free dog can get expensive real fast, and I haven't been extravagant. She's chewed through a canvas collar, canvas leash, and a harness so far, and now has a chain tether in the yard.

Zöe is a wonderful companion. She is calm and mellow when inside or outside on her own, but loves to run and play, too. If I want to go away on an excursion that I can't include her in, kenneling costs will just have to be a part of the trip budget. All-in-all, I'm very happy with my decision to adopt her.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Four Legs Are More Sturdy Than Three.

Back in 1987, after being fired from a bookkeeping position that I really wasn't qualified for and wasn't good at, I decided that I needed to get an education. I enrolled at South Dakota State University; my youngest daughter was born during finals my first semester. I started out with the intention of becoming a teacher because they have the best work schedules for mothers, and I love kids. A year or so later I decided that I really should do what I want to do for me, and switched to pre-law. Time passed, I had my son, separated from and divorced my husband. Along the way I decided that I should do what I love, and changed my major to theater. One semester of that was more than enough of the politics involved in the theater department and I was back to being lost.

One evening I heard the campus radio station call for DJs. I couldn't make the meeting, so called the number given. I was given three CDs to proof for profanity. I trained one night on a Blues show and the next week was given the show permanently. I was really good at being a DJ and felt that I'd found my calling. I changed my major to Mass Communications. I held that show for five-and-a-half years and developed a devout following, but never marketed myself and eventually just fell away from the position. I still believe that I will 'make my fortune' doing what I've been told all my life I do too much of: talking.

Some semesters I attended full-time, some I worked part-time and went to school part-time, some I just worked. My study habits never really improved over high school and I was a poor student, never finishing my degree. One of my biggest issues was that I was always torn between being a mother or having a career. I always wanted deeply to focus exclusively on both. Yes, I realize the contradiction of that statement, but it's totally accurate...and that's my problem.

In the end of 1995, my ex-husband sued me for custody of our four children (I had no legal rights to the oldest, who lived mostly with him). I retained custody, but as a result of the battle I realized that I would be in Brookings until my children were grown. I wasn't about to have latch-key kids for barely over minimum wage, which is what I'd have made in commercial radio in Brookings. I had a good friend who was a daycare provider, I'd babysat in my home before, and it was at that point that I decided to start a daycare in my home.

In 2003 I returned to the work-world in preparation for my eventual 'emancipation' once my youngest graduated. Actually, though, I was tired of being a three-year-old all day and needed more intellectual stimulation. Being a single parent, I had kids who needed me at home in the evenings and daycare was pretty isolating for me. OK, in all honesty I had every Wednesday night and every-other weekend to myself while the kids were with their dad. But I spent that time in the bar shooting pool ("She was pretty good, too" - to quote Morphine, my favorite band.

To be completely honest, I could have become involved civicaly while the kids were at home. I just had no interest in Brookings civicaly. Plus, I was one hot chic, even though I was thirty-something. Despite having had four kids, I had a knock-out figure and I enjoyed the reaction that I got from the young men at the bar. I also liked kicking ass at the pool tables.

So, I worked a few different jobs and finally transitioned to Sioux Falls just after my baby boy finished school. After two years, I started a daycare in my home again, which I'm very happy with. I've learned to treat my daycare as a business, which I was not doing before (when I pretty much shot myself in the foot, as I've done many times, in many respects). Although I don't plan to do daycare forever (and have many dreams, as you'll see) it works well for now and the next several years. And I still love kids.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Background - Third Leg (and a long one)

The city where I lived in Upstate New York, Elmira, then had a population of about 40,000, although it's down to 30,000 in 2000). Elmira is a river city located about ½ way across the long southern New York State/Pennsylvania border. Geographically, the area is spectacular. located in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. When kids wanted to joy-ride, we went to places like Harris Hill, the self-proclaimed glider soaring-capital of the world.

We arrived in South Dakota to the small upper-Midwest town of White (1970 population: about 800), where we stayed with Jay, my biological father. You want to talk about a culture shock. I moved from lovely mountain foothills to farm fields as far as the eye can see. White is about 14 miles from Brookings, and you can literally see one city's water tower from the other city. The biggest hill between the two being the bridge over Interstate 29. After 2 weeks, we moved to Brookings (population: 16,000). I was ecstatic...but not for long.

We arrived in South Dakota only two weeks prior to the start of the school-year. My older brother, Jimmy, had decided that he wouldn't be returning to high school and started looking for a job. I soon learned that most of the kids in Brookings had attended school together since kindergarten. At first, this was wonderful, as I got lots of attention as The New Girl from New York. But it wasn't long before the novelty of me wore off and I was just plain lost. The kids who I met were nice enough, but I didn't really know anyone (in school or out), and I was miserable. After two weeks, I decided that I, too, would work to support the family instead of going to school, and my mother didn't object. I got a job as a waitress...and after three months decided school wasn't so bad, after all.

This time around at the high school I met a whole different crowd of kids. Coming in half-way through the school year, the first kids I met were the ones sitting outside the office; no wonder I fell in with the party crowd. I had no direction or guidance, had no idea what it was I was desperate for, lived for the weekend parties, and continued to care little about academia. I wasn't very assertive as an adolescent and so just stumbled along, eventually dropping out of school just before semester exams in my senior year.

I got a job at a local factory testing electronic components for pop machines. You can imagine how stimulating that was. This was my first job outside of babysitting, and I hated it. I sat for eight hours each day manually adjusting the four metal prongs on relay devices. One day, on my lunch break, I walked to the near-by park, sat on the little foot-bridge, and cried. I never went back. I remember getting yelled at for 'not doing anything' but sleep all day after that; I was lazy and wasting my life. Looking back, I'm sure I was suffering from a pattern of depression that would stay with me for years,if not decades.

My mother was suffering from her own demons at that time. My younger brothers and sister were sent to live with Dad in Missouri. At 18, being sent away was not a consideration for me, so I was put out with my older brother. We rented a sparsely furnished one bedroom apartment. There's a big part of me that would love to be able to go back to that time and place. Oh, the changes I would make to my life. Famous last words, ay? A friend tipped me off to a secretary position open at the local gravel pit, which I applied for and was given. About a month later I moved in with the mechanic, who became my husband a year after that.

Now you know my path to adulthood. The next fourteen years was more of the same stumbling along. My ex-husband had a daughter when I met him. We had two more daughters in the next four years, a daughter four years later, and a son shortly after that. I was with my husband for fourteen years. We separated in 1990, continued the back-and-forth on-again-off-again trends of our marriage for another three years, divorcing late in 1991 and ultimately severing our relationship permanently in June of 1993. I think I'm safe in saying that we both hope we haven't scarred our children too deeply.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 2...A Little More Background

I was conceived, I'm told (by my mother, and we women sometimes know these things), in Spirit Lake, Iowa. My parents were moving from Troy, NY, where my father had just finished a degree, to LA, where my father would attend UCLA. They were driving cross-country with my brother, a teething 8-month-old. They made it as far as Spirit Lake where it was mutually decided that the baby wasn't going another mile in the car except to an airport. My mother was not pregnant when they left New York, and was by the time she got to L.A. I was born the next March, 1961.

My parents divorced when I was six months old. Mother moved the children back to Long Island where she married her high school sweetheart who, when I was 4, legally adopted my brother and I. He has been Dad to me since. Mom and Dad gave us a brother and sister and, after a move Upstate, another brother. In 1973 Mom and Dad divorced.

Back in California, my biological father also remarried, had two more sons, and redivorced. As it turned out, he had always regretted the decision to give up his first two children (as had his wife). He and two friends made a trip east in the summer of '73 and Jo had decided to look up his children. He learned of Mom and Dad's divorce from Dad's brother. Before contacting us, he called Dad for permission. And so it was that one quiet afternoon in October of 1973 I answered a call for my mother from "an old friend, Jack, from California" (Weren't all Johns nick-named Jack in the 60s?). Once Mom and Dad divorced, I was no longer forbidden from discussing my parentage and knew exactly who Jack was. I've had two fathers since.

By 1977, Dad had left New York for a job in Missouri. Mom, who had always been a stay-at-home mother, was tired of living on public assistance and could only see one way out. She sold everything that we had, bought an old station wagon, had a huge box built and bracketed to the top of the car for the few possessions we kept, packed the car with the five kids, two dogs, a cat, and five kittens, and hit the road back to California, where you don't have to pay heat bills or buy winter coats. After two days on the road and a day of being stranded on the side of the Interstate just outside Chicago, Mom realized that she didn't have the money it would take to get to California. Knowing someone in Brookings, South Dakota (a friend, 'Jack', from California), Mom decided to go there. Brookings is a mere 3 hours drive from Spirit Lake, Iowa. Thus, I was conceived in Spirit Lake, IA, born in L.A., raised in New York, and wound up stuck a stone's throw from where I first started.

Brookings is a pretty little "Tree-City, USA" city...but we couldn't have got a more opposite climate from Southern California's. Instead of no winter coats or heat bills, we learned what wind-chills and sun-dogs are. Instead of picturesque, gentle snowfalls, we were introduced to the horizontal snow of three-day-blizzards and sub-zero temperatures; instead of no school when it gets all the way down to 17º, we learned of 'plug-ins' for your car's engine and "winter survival kits" for your car's trunk.

To be continued...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 1...A Little Background

We spend our childhoods with others trying to mold and shape us into what they want us to be, and their intentions are for the best for us. Our lives for ourselves, as we live them with our own purpose, essentially begins when we leave the nest. Some of us are pushed out of the nest way to early, and some of us really drag our feet over ever leaving the nest.

Our lives for ourselves, though, really begin as soon as we're out of the nest that our parents feathered. Most of us don't give this a lot of consideration at that time because we're too busy chewing through the tether our parents have been restraining us with. I didn't go through adolescence gracefully. I was a lost child who 'slipped' between the cracks of the educational system and I slipped through the cracks at home, as well. I married right out of high school, the child bride incarnate. Fourteen years and five children later, I became a single-mother of five children. And there I remained.

Nearly twenty years later my own nest emptied. When I started raising children I would say that we all get about twenty years to ourselves to do with as we please, and I would be getting those on the back end of child-rearing. I would say that I'd be young yet when my children were grown, and I could have my adventures then.

Well, then is now. My own nest has been empty now for nine months, and a couple of weeks ago I had an epiphany: I am, essentially, just like that new graduate who has the rest of their life ahead of them. I've never remarried, so have no one to consider other than myself. I can do anything that I want and go anywhere that I want. I just have to figure out what that is, where that is...and how to get there from here. I am entering that summer after graduation that I never got because I started a family at 18. I spent the first phase of my adulthood raising five beautiful children into beautiful adults. Now begins Phase Two.