Friday, August 31, 2007

Eternal Sunshine in the Spotless Home

So how many of you do this? You sit around all day (okay not all day, we do have kids after all), blogging, emailing, and for me, surfing for homes in interesting cities, and then all of a sudden you realize it's 5 o'clock and the hubby will be home in about an hour. So you jump off the computer, still bleary-eyed, and scramble to clean the place up?

I do. I scramble big time. Throw a load in the laundry, set the stuff out for dinner, throw all the toys in the kids' room, make sure all the toilets are flushed, slap a little lipstick on, slide on those cute flip flops (the ones that give your legs a slimming little length, but are still casual enough and comfortable enough that's it's conceivable that you've been wearing them all day), and do it all at about 40 miles a minute. Yes? been there?

Yeah, me too. Then my perfect husband gets to come home to his perfect home filled with his perfect wife and children and well, it's just like eternal sunshine.

Ain't no one need to know what it looked like 60 minutes ago!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Philanthropy Thursday

My good friend, Jen, over at is a genius. A sensitive, do-something-about-it, genius. She and several other bloggers are starting a thing they are calling Philanthropy Thursdays. A day a month, the last Thursday of the month, when we are all to count our blessings and give to those in need. She's selling her rock, her gorgeous rock from the early years of her marriage (her awesome hubby gave her a new, bigger one, recently) on eBay and the money is going straight to the New Orleans Habitat for Humanity. You gotta get over to her site, find the link to her sale on eBay, and catch the spirit. The giving spirit, as they say, and it ain't even Christmas.

It's got me wondering...hmm...besides bidding on Jen's ring, what can I do? What should I be doing? We all get so caught up in our own selfish existences, that we forget there is real tragedy out there. Real suffering. And real needs. Let's all put our heads together and come up with something good. Even if it's something small.

Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Part Trailer Trash?

I had a boss once, an extremely fiesty, headstrong, intelligent woman from Texas, who said that you should always be proud of where you are from.

Proud. Of. Where. You. Are. From. Well, easy for her to say, she's from Texas. Aren't they all that way there? What happens when you're not so proud? I spent years, years, not being very proud. I spent many years in denial actually. Or maybe it was avoidance? In any case, it ain't been easy. But now I'm forty. And I'm finally proud of where I'm from.

But what do you do when you finally accept that you’re part trailer trash? I mean, being from Chicago is a place you can be proud to be from. But part trailer trash? How does anyone get a handle on that? and even become proud? Hard to guess it might happen at your grandma's funeral.

I mean, I've always known that I love Velveeta, and that I’d take Miracle Whip over regular mayonnaise any day, but that doesn't make you trailer trash. Does it?

I mean, I know I grew up eating Twinkies and thinking that canned fruit cocktail in light syrup was a fruit. And I was shocked to one day in college actually taste a real pea, one that doesn’t come from a can. But that’s just food, right? It doesn’t make you trailer trash. Does it?

No, it doesn’t. But when you attend your grandma’s wake and realize that there are three, yes three, separate but still part of your own flesh and blood family members hosting tailgate parties in the parking lot of the funeral home and serving Bud Light (or Old Style or whatever) out of a can, and that most of the actual wake takes place in said parking lot? And that you love it? That you are so honestly thrilled to be part of said family that you want to leave your wholesome existence and move back?

Then yes, you can finally admit that you are part, just part, trailer trash.

And proud of it, dang it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

My Grandma Dies

So if you don’t think I’m homesick already, forget about it. I can’t stand it. Even though it costs me a fortune and I have to arrange childcare for my kids, and get my hubby to take time off work, and even though I've been home for only 2 weekends the entire summer, I drop what I’m doing and buy a ticket to Chicago. To attend the wake and funeral. To be home again. Home. Again.

And this is after last year at this same time that my mom calls me and says they’re taking my grandma off of dialysis. She’s been in a nursing home for years---like nine. And she’s got advanced Alzheimer’s. She perks up when you enter the room, but she rarely knows who anyone is. And apparently was hating---hating---the dialysis. Every time the little bus would show up at the nursing home, the little bus that drove the elderly citizens to the dialysis center, my grandma would kick and scream. Literally cry and fight with the aides, the nurse, the driver. She tried so hard not to get on that bus. She hated the dialysis. And they were making her do it three times a week. So finally, finally, my family members said, “why should we keep doing this to her? She’s 82. She’s had a good life. Let’s take her off the dialysis.” Well, the doctor gave her 7-10 days to live.

My mom tells me. 7 to 10 days. Well, we have just about 10 days left before school starts, so without hesitation, I buy three plane tickets on very short notice. Not cheap. And the girls and I fly out there. To be with my mom, for sure, (it was her mother) and also to stay long enough that we can hopefully attend the funeral. On the same dime.

We visit her every day. Every. Day. My kids turn pale pink at the thought of the nursing home. Sure, the first couple of days were fun. There’s a popcorn maker in the lobby after all and no one cares how much of it you take. But after the first couple visits, even they, the ones that don’t notice dog poop when they step in it, even they start to smell the pee of the place. (Sidebar---why is that anyway? I once did a research project in several nursing homes in Eastern Kansas and every single one---every single one---even the ones in the upper demographics, even those smelled like pee. What gives with that? Okay, sidebar over.)

So, it doesn’t happen. She doesn’t die. The girls and I go home. We were glad, very glad that we went. And then, a year later. A year. Just after we get home from spending 2 weeks in Chicago, we literally had just come home a week and a half before, my mom calls me. At five am. “Grandma passed away this morning. I’ve been waiting an hour to call you. You don’t have to come. You were just here. Besides, you came last year and visited her every day.”

After the comatose fades, I buy a ticket. Not three this time. School has already started. Plus the one cost me $650. I rent a car. I show up at the wake and the funeral. We all cry. We all reminisce. Some of these people I haven’t seen in ages. Ages. And I’m glad as hell that I went. Home. To my grandma’s funeral.

Friday, August 17, 2007

So you think your friend is having an affair....

What do you do? I mean, seriously, what do you do??

It’s an impossible situation. Really. You’ve been friends for years. You love her. You love her husband. And importantly, you love her kids.

What do you do?

Well, I can tell you what I did, what I am doing, but I don’t necessarily recommend it. I mean, I can’t decide if how I've been handling it is normal or not. It’s such a hard situation to be in! and I’m still in it.

So a friend of mine, who barely knows the friend says to me, “So, do you think she’s having an affair?” And I say, “No, of course not.” But then a few months later, another friend, this time a mutual friend of mine and the friend, says to me, “So, do you think she’s having an affair?” And again I say, “No, of course not.” But this time I’m getting a little bit more suspicious so I say, “I mean, I don’t think so. I mean, how could that be possible? I mean, why? What do you know?”

So we start to watch her. I know, I’m not proud of it. I watch how she slides on to the playground in a slinky dress while the rest of us are in our sweats and t-shirts. I watch how she casually, ever so casually, chit chats with another dad from our school out by her car. Always the same dad. I start to call the mutual friend whenever I see anything that seems suspicious. And the mutual friend calls me. We’re gossiping. I know, I’m not proud of it. Definitely. Not proud.

So then, the straw that breaks the camel’s back. A third friend. Yes, a third, says to me one day over lunch, “How are you and D doing?” And actually, we’re going through this amazing phase. I can say that after being married for 14 years and together for 19. We’re in this amazing phase. One of those phases, one of the uphills of the marriage roller coaster, when you’re meeting in the laundry room (yes, the laundry room, face it, we have two little kids) to, uhm, engage, and you’re doing it on a regular basis. Yes, an amazing phase.

Anyway, I say to my friend, “We’re doing really well. We have this friend who we’re worried is having an affair and I joke with my husband that the only reason he’s being so nice to me lately is because he’s worried that if he isn’t, I’ll have an affair.” We both start to laugh but then my friend says, the third friend says, “The Friend and Blank,” the dad from the parking lot at school. I almost fall off the picnic bench and say, “How the hell did you guess that?” I mean, I know this third friend from here and she knows I’ve lived in Tucson and Kansas City and Chicago. How does she know it’s a friend from here? and how does she know? “Well, I’m a bit psychic about these things,” she says.

So the camel’s back was broken. What to do now? Well, the way I handled it was avoidance. I know. How many times do I have to say it? Not proud. I avoided the friend like the plague. I can barely stand to look at her husband. I’m screwed! What do I do?

Well, one day, I just sucked it up, after months of avoidance, I suck it up and just ask. I tell her everything I’ve just told you---about the three friends and how the evidence was mounting. But my heart is pounding two-hundred-and forty miles a minute. I mean, I don’t want her to think I’m judging her. And I tell her that. And I don’t want her to even think she has to tell me. But I’m avoiding her and I can’t stand it. I need to clear the air.

She denies it. But I know she’s not telling the truth. I know for various reasons that she is not. telling. the truth. That’s okay. Maybe part of me doesn’t really want to know anyway. But I still can’t face her very easily. And I about sweat anytime her husband, and for dang sakes, even her kids, look at me. The situation really sucks.

What would you do?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Longing for home

I do this to myself every time. Every. Time. The girls and I visit Chicago, my childhood and early adulthood home, the place where all of our family members live, the place where D and I met and fell in love, and I just want to move back. Once we return to our current home, I spend all of my time researching the possibility of returning home. Home. I research schools. I sign up with a million different online realtors to search for homes. I plot said homes on the online map of the attendance area of the school that I’m confident would be a better school for my kids than the one they’re in now. I search for jobs for my husband. I research property taxes, and condo assessments. I refresh my memory about the crime rates, the environmental concerns that Chicago faces, the weather, the traffic. I figure out how we could make it work in a two bedroom condo (we live in a 5 bedroom house now)---as long as it has a family room and a garage space. We could sell one of the cars and D could bike to work which he would love or he could take public transit. I convince myself that it’s doable. I do.

I continue this until I’m blue in the face. Until I can’t stand it anymore. I try to remember how wonderful it is where we are now. And it is wonderful. We love it here. We do. We have a beautiful house in a beautiful neighborhood, nestled into the unbelievable beauty of our surrounding area. Our kids are in a terrific school. My husband has a terrific job. We have friends. Friends who are here for us. Who love us and support us.

I try to remember how expensive it is to move. We ought to know, we’ve done it a million times. I try to remember how much of a pain in the neck it is to move. I remind myself that the current housing market sucks and we’d have a tough time selling this house we’ve only lived in for two years and have very little equity in. I remind myself how terrific my husband’s job is here and how challenging it is for a family doc in a large city. I remind myself of the big city traffic, the big city crime. The horrible Chicago weather. The mosquitoes! I remind myself how much I enjoy it when our families come to visit and how we have bulk quality time with them every time they come. And how if we lived back home we’d only get to share them with everyone else for a few short hours here and there. I remind myself how we miss the hell out of them now, but if we lived back home maybe we’d even get sick of them now and then.

I remind myself of all of these things and I still can’t help it. I still keep plugging away on the computer for hours a day, days and days at a time. I just can’t help it.

In about six months I’ll get over it and finally start to love where I live again. Or at least like it. Or at least accept that staying put is the right course of action for us. Just in time to make another visit home and the whole cycle starts all over again. Sigh.