Sunday, May 30, 2004

Niagara


We're back! What a great trip...I highly recommend a trip to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Ya know, it's funny...I never knew there were more than one set of "falls" up there. I feel kinda stupid! I thought it was all one big "fall". In the movies I guess I only ever noticed the big rush of water and not the actual layout of the area. That big rush is MIGHTY DISTRACTING. Anyway - all went well. We just had a couple restless nights in the hotel when noisy neighbors moved in next-door. First was the Hispanic couple who played their Mexican radio station at FULL VOLUME to drown out the sounds of their...erm...love-making? Nothing like jerking out of a sound sleep to screams of ecstasy and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass playing "Tequila" (any Pee Wee Herman fans remember his dance to this tune?) Vaguely disturbing, really. Then there was the Jacuzzi lovers...3:30 AM wake to sounds of energetic splashing, giggling, hum of Jacuzzi, and other interesting noises. *yawn* They didn't wake Tyler at all. Thank the heavens for small favors. Vacation photos can be seen here. I did manage to whittle them down from 214 to 129. Don't feel obligated to view them all. But there ARE some great ones towards the end to entice you. ;-) Now I need a nap... (Oh! And more pics to come later...gotta get my underwater camera's shots developed.)

Here are a few nice info-links about the attractions we saw in Niagara:
Zooz
Niagara Parks
Marine Land
Everything Else

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Restlessness

Well, I have good news to share (I think)! My hubby got a job offer this week that he accepted. Woohoo! It will be nice to have at least one income in the house again. I was really enjoying having him here at home all the time...I am going to miss him. It was nice having a full time parenting partner. Left me with loads of free time so I could get deep into my new online journaling hobby. I guess this new job is more bitter-sweet for me. Money=good Loneliness=bad
Since we have some money left over from his severance and the tax returns and are currently debt free (imagine that!?), we are going ahead with plans to remodel the downstairs. I am sure I will be posting progress shots of that little project in the near future. I hope to con him into getting rid of all the icky moss green carpet in the living & dining rooms and replacing it with hardwood or wood laminate flooring (moss green is a pretty color, but BAD idea with 2 cats and a toddler...it's just gross now).

I'm a little depressed that we aren't relocating. I was really looking forward to moving someplace new. This is the longest I have ever lived in one place! Side effect of the Military lifestyle...it's made me restless. I think it would be much easier to move now, before Tyler is old enough to miss friends or be uprooted from school. Maybe I can talk John into going further south, closer to the shore, in a year or so. He is most concerned about his frequent commutes into NYC. I can understand that. Maybe I should just get over this itchy twitchy feeling and settle in for a change; accept the fact that THIS is home...........naaaah!

In celebration of the new job and our last week of freedom, we are taking off to Niagara Falls for a few days. This will be a great photo safari for me! I haven't been someplace new and unique in quite a while. (Shhh...plus there is a casino there! Can I hear another WOOHOO?!) So if anyone has any recommendations on things to do in Niagara, let me know! And try not to miss my journal posts too much for the next few days. ;-) I have my mother-in-law coming to care for the plants and my pet sitter, Jenn, coming to care for the critters. I think all bases are covered. Now I just need to locate my swimsuit!!!

Parting Shot:


Isn't his facial expression priceless??? I discretely edited the photo to move the peepee guard to "cover" him. I have the original, un-doctored work to show his future girlfriends, however. [insert evil Mommy laugh] We are just starting the potty-training. He loves his Bob The Builder underoos...but he soaked all 3 pairs in under 2 hours. I need to stock up on more.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Friends

This is a hard topic for me. We moved so often when I was a kid and I have a looooong memory (yes I do, indeed, remember each and every friend I have ever had). I've lost touch with pretty much all my friends prior to college. My best friend when I was a fun-loving toddler/preschooler living in Okinawa, Japan was Todd. He was a few months younger than me but since we were the ONLY American/English speaking kids in the neighborhood, we had very little room to be choosy. He liked to come over and use my swing set, eat bologna straight from the fridge, and my mother's Kraft mac 'n cheese. His last name is lost to history (and my mother's addled brain). Then my Dad was transferred stateside to NM. Bye-bye Todd.

My best friend in kindergarten at Immaculate Heart of Mary school in Las Cruses, NM was Maria. We lasted through part of first grade but I went on a sleep-over to her house and we almost burned her bedroom up playing with matches under her bed (the carpet was good and scorched by the time her mom found us and forbid me to come over ever again). Bye-bye Maria.
I was content then to play with the little boy, Taj, from across the street and his bossy sister, Tara. (He was my first experience playing "doctor" with a boy. Shhh!) Then we moved to FL. Bye-bye Taj.

Second grade was a bit of a blur. We were living in Florida and all I can remember was the excitement of riding on a school bus for the first time ever. The summer before third grade found me in yet another new state - Dad was transferred to MA. My first friend was my next door neighbor, Jane G. We had a falling out when Pam L. moved into the next house down. She was from California and seemed more exciting than Jane. Then we were ALL friends and now included Sarah & Laura C. from down the street. My new posse and I all took the bus together to Nathanial Page School in Bedford, MA where I befriended a couple more girls, Becky E. and Barb K. Becky and Barb were tight, but seemed interested in the newcomers (me and Pam). Pam moved away before the start of fourth grade, and since I saw more of the other girls on my own street during that summer, I seemed to lose ground with Becky and Barb. They ended up becoming to me as Lex Luthor is to Superman. My arch-nemeses. I'll have to post about them at length another time. Ah the scars of childhood. Bye-Bye Pam L.

Jane, Sarah/Laura (they were like a sister unit, never one without the other), and I had on again/off again friendships until sixth grade...sometimes all of us got on well, sometimes just me and Jane, sometimes just me and the sisters, and often it was just me against them. I spent sixth grade pretty much friendless except for this girl I had met in 4th grade at CCD class (Sunday school) who I occasionally saw. She lived on Hanscom AFB and since we lived off-base, I only got to see her on hot days at the base pool or when I could con my Mom into giving me a ride. Seventh grade saw me at yet another new school - John Glenn Jr. High. Jane's family had moved to NH and Sarah/Laura went to live with relatives in England to finish out their education. Bye-Bye Jane, Sarah & Laura.

I was still at war with Becky/Barb. So I sat alone on the school bus each day until part way through the year when Jean arrived. She was a child of divorce and had been living with her Dad, but he had a new woman and foisted Jean off on her Mom (who was living with a boyfriend as his home at the time). Ugly scene. Her Mom and the boyfriend were drunks and her older brothers were druggy dropouts. But Jean was the nicest person I had ever met yet. She had a club foot, wore special shoes and was instantly a target (like I had become). We bonded. Two peas in a pod...until I made the mistake of telling my Mom about the older brother who grew marijuana under plant lights in his closet and the fact that Jean's Mom wasn't married to the man they were living with. It all seemed too sordid for her taste and I was promptly forbidden to go to Jean's house anymore. I snuck over there every chance I got, but eventually Jean's Dad realized the error of his ways and took her back to live with him. Bye-bye Jean.

Then there was Valerie B. We were in the orchestra together. Second violins. Through her I met several other music and theater geeks and I had a new posse for eighth grade. I'd had enough of the constant mental torture inflicted by my peers to know I didn't want to go to the public high school that next year. So bye-bye everyone!

I passed the entrance exam and was admitted to Arlington Catholic High School. What a relief. A brand new start! As freshman year progressed I lost touch with Valerie and the old posse. They moved on. I soon met my all time best friend EVER to date whilst taking public transportation to and from high school. My father had since retired from the military and I was resigned to a fate of living the rest of my school days in Massachusetts (oh the horror). Kathleen sat next to me on the "T" one day, plop, as if by magic. We started talking and didn't stop until I lost her at much too young an age years later (see my very first journal post). Bye-bye Kath.

When high school started, my "base" friend, Pam C. had moved to upstate NY. We kept in touch all along through letters and since she lived close to some of my relatives, I got to see her now and then too. Of all my childhood friends, she is the ONLY one I am still in contact with to this day. So just for sheer persistence and not losing touch with me after all those years, she kinda became my current defacto best friend. We don't have much in common. She lives far away in western VA. We see each other, at most, once a year and often lose touch for months (and once, YEARS) at a time. But we always reconnect via phone and chat for hours as though no time has passed. Our only commonality is our shared military brat experience and the fact that we met way back when. So, for having the unique distinction of being my oldest living friend...here, in a place of honor in my journal, is my best friend from forth grade (and still my friend to this day):

Camera

Funny what you remember at odd moments. I was reading another blog and as I was leaving a comment, I remembered having my first camera at my first "field day" in my first "public" elementary school... There were a lot of firsts that year. First year living in yet another new state (thanks to the U.S.A.F.), first year with glasses (thanks Mrs. Stidworthy for noticing I couldn't see the blackboard), and, yes, my first CAMERA! This was a huge big deal for me. The start of my borderline obsession with taking pictures of everything.

I got it for my birthday and I brought my new camera to school especially for Field Day that day. It was a Kodak Pocket Instamatic. It used 110mm size film - this weird narrow cartridge - and the flash was a four-sided cube that sat on top of this tall, black, stalk-like attachment. It was fixed focus and manual advance. I still have the photos from that day. Funny what you remember. It was also the first time I won a ribbon for anything...a pretty red second place ribbon for tug-a-war, and a bunch of white "participant" ribbons. No blue ribbons, but I was still pretty pleased with myself.

Weird things I took pictures of on that first roll of film:
1. My parents' console TV - off.
2. My Barbie dolls lined up in all their finery on the sofa.
3. My dog taking a pee on the deck (no no Buffy! no!)
4. Attempted to take pics of my favorite TV shows (in the hopes of claiming I met and got a picture of someone famous so I could brag to my friends)

Weird things my little brother took pictures of:
1. One of my Barbies, nude and headless, sitting on the coffee table
2. His hand.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Adopted

My brother and I were both adopted as infants. I was adopted at 3 weeks old back in 1966 in Topeka, KS. I often wonder where I was for the first 3 weeks of my life. Was I with my birthmother while she tried to work out some way of keeping me? Or she figured out in that timeframe that being a mother was not for her? Or perhaps I was just placed in foster care until arrangements could be made with an adoptive family. My adoptive Mom (henceforth to be referred to as just Mom) has no idea. The agency didn't give them those details, or so she says. The agency really didn't provide them with much detail AT ALL. I have almost no health history (just a sketchy comment from the social worker that there was a case of diabetes in the "family history".) My mother always told me they were given almost no biographical data on my birthmother and nothing whatsoever on my birthfather. All I was told was she was a "student", age 19 or 20, 5'7" and brown hair. That was it. Not a lot to go on.

I am afraid I fit the stereotype you often hear about in an adoptee...low self-esteem, lack of self-identity, troubled teen, feelings of self-loathing, being misunderstood and wondering where you "fit in" in the world, yadda yadda yadda. Much of that was written off as typical teen angst by my parents, but I know there was more to it. I always suspected that my parents knew more about my birthmother than they were telling. It was never exactly a secret when I was growing up that I was adopted. They were always forthright about that to me. But when I would tell my friends or other outsiders that I was adopted, my mother would act like I had done something wrong. See, it was OK that *I* knew I was adopted...it was NOT OK if anyone ELSE knew it. My mother was so obsessed with having children back in the day that she would rather people assumed that my brother and I were "hers" in every way. Don't get me wrong, my parents did a pretty good job of making me feel "wanted" and not like I was second best or something. The only person in our family that made me feel second best...or even not a "real" family member was my Father's Mother. She was a harsh woman and always favored her "real" grandchildren over us. Like "blood" is so gosh darned important anyway...honestly.

I found out a couple years ago that my parents were keeping a secret. They had in their possession an envelope that had been handed to them at the time they picked me up at the agency. It contained a single copy of the court surrender, but they didn't know that at the time. My birth-mother's name and address was blacked out...but what WASN'T blacked out spoke volumes to me. "Baby Girl Dorland" was peppered throughout the text of this legal document. That was ME! My mother apologized when she finally shared it with me. She hadn't opened the envelope for years after I was born. She was afraid of what was inside...maybe a letter from my birthmother or pictures or who knows what. All she knew is she didn't want to even THINK about this other woman. I was HER baby now and this other woman no longer mattered. She had been through too much heartache and now that she had her baby girl, she wanted to push all the ugliness of infertility behind her. Curiosity overcame her at one point when we moved and they changed safety deposit boxes. She had that envelope back in her hands after so many years of not thinking about it. She opened it, saw what it was, read it once, and put it back in the safety deposit box...angry that she had even looked. Now my birthmother had a name. That made her "real". She and my father made the decision not to tell me this new information so as not to "confuse" me. Of course they were lying to themselves. They just didn't want any new uncomfortable questions coming from me. Nor did they want to give me any clue to my background for fear that it would make me want to go looking for this woman someday.

My Mom asked many many times over the years, "Do you think about her? Does it make you sad? You don't ever want to go looking for her...do you?" I always said no to all of those questions, because I knew they didn't want to know the truth. I knew that me reuniting with my birthmother was one of my Mom's deepest fears. I really don't know why. I honestly think she feared she would be replaced. That I would like this virtual stranger more than her. Crazy, no? So I waited...as a teen I had a deep ache inside, "who am I? where do I come from? is there anyone else in this world that looks like me? why did my mother give me up? what is her life like now? does she ever think of me?" I wanted desperately to know but I couldn't let my parents know how I felt. I didn't want to make them angry or make them feel bad. So I waited...finally I was out living on my own. I thought NOW I can look. I have the freedom, privacy and time. But I hesitated. I finally had a long talk with my mother one day because I realized that even though I COULD go looking and they would never be the wiser, I felt I couldn't proceed unless I had her blessing. It meant too much to the both of us for entirely different reasons. She cried and asked why it was so important to me. I did my best to explain but only made things worse. She wondered why they weren't "enough" for me. Why I was being so "ungrateful". I finally convinced her that I had no intention of having a mother/daughter relationship with this woman. The best I hoped for was friendship...the worst, just one conversation to ask my questions and then never speak again. This was when she confessed her little secret about the document in the safe deposit box. It took her two more years to finally retrieve and give it too me. I would remind her about every six months. I didn't want to seem too eager.

During the time I had moved out, screwed up the courage to speak to Mom about my search, and then finally had that document in my hands a long time had passed. I was married and trying to have a child of my own. Another of my deepest desires was having children so I would finally have that sense of connectedness that was always lacking. I would at last look a my own child and see "me" reflected back. I could pass on my best traits...my musical ability, my artistic nature, my gift of imagination and writing. People would know "so THAT is where he/she gets it from..." My adoptive parents have no musical ability, are not artistic in any fashion and are lacking in spontaneity, creativity and imagination in a most glaring way. I always felt so out of place in my family. My mother would call me "odd ball", "non-conformist", and "weird". Now I could have that sense of "belonging" I always craved with my own children. But in the cruelest of ironies, I found out I was unable to give birth myself. My own hopes and dreams were dashed to pieces. We struggled for years with my infertility issues. My search almost ended just as it was begun. I did just enough research to realize that I could have requested a copy of my uncensored adoption records from the time I turned 18, according to Kansas law. I even knew which form to fill out and how much the filing fee was. All of that was placed on the back burner as I started researching modern adoption options for US. Domestic vs. International...Domestic semi-open, open, or closed...International from which country? All while going through painful rounds of IVF in a last ditch effort to conceive.

Now my son is two years old and I am again ready to turn my thoughts back to my search. But where to begin. I guess I will start by requesting a copy of my records. A person's address in 1966 may not give me much to go on. I already did a directory listing for Dorland's in the Topeka area...but who knows if any of them will turn out to be family. Or even if my birthmother told anyone of her predicament. I have never been comfortable calling strangers, so just imagine how THIS phone call would go. "Hi, my name is Becky. Do you know of any member of your family who may have given a baby up for adoption in Topeka in March of 1966?" Yikes. I need to befriend someone VERY bold who would enjoy making calls like that for me, I think. LOL I guess I will go find those internet links for the State of Kansas vital statistics office and send in my form. I'll keep my journal readers posted on my progress. I hope things will get very interesting from this point forward.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Artsy


Tyler had his very first brush with fame today. Let me tell you a little background info first. My father-in-law was raised in Hawaii, growing up on the island of Maui. His best friend, growing up, was his cousin Wally - they were the same age and went to the same schools up until college. Fresh out of the Army in WWII, Haruo (My FIL) completed his college education and settled in NYC in a tiny apartment on 110th street. It was the early 1950s. In the same building was another island boy - a fellow by the name of Tadashi Sato. He also lived in a tiny apartment with his wife and daughter one floor up. Haru and Sato became friendly. Somewhere along the way Tadashi moved his family back to Hawaii where he was good friends with cousin Wally. This part of the story is sketchy to me...but I'd like to think that Haru told Tadashi to lookup his cousin when he got back to the islands. Hard to say. Those island boys all seemed to know each other. Maui is a small island. Heck, Haru's mother (My DH's Great-Grandmother) was the island midwife - everyone knew her and she delivered most of the babies on Maui back in the day. Wally spent some time living in NYC also, after the war. Fast forward 40 years...

We were invited to spend the day at my Mother-in-Law's house today, company was coming over! Turns out after 40 years, Wally and Tadashi decided to visit their old stomping grounds in NYC...and pay their respects to the widow of their friend Haru (we lost my FIL to cancer a few years ago). Now why is this little family reunion a "brush with fame" in my book? The name Tadashi Sato doesn't ring any bells? Yeah, I am just being a sassy-pants. Unless you are a fan of modern Asian art, you would probably have no clue who Tadashi is. This was not the first time my husband and I were meeting him. We met him on a previous visit to Hawaii. It's a REALLY great thing having tons of family in Hawaii. Dont'cha just hate me now? LOL

Anyway, we got to hear straight from the horse's mouth how Tadashi got "discovered". Before he told that story, however, he just mentioned in passing his friend Burgess Meredith. DH and my ears perked up..."The Penguin??" Yep! Tadashi's best friend was Burgess Meredith! So we had to ask..."How did you meet Burgess?" And hence the story of discovery begins...

Tadashi was a struggling artist in the early 50s, working nights as a guard at MoMA. He befriended a struggling writer who lived down the street in the Village...Tadashi calls him "the little Korean fellow". I guess his name is lost to history. Tadashi used to slip him some food now and then, to the chagrin of his wife (Yes, the term "starving artist" is VERY accurate). The Sato's were struggling to get by as well. Through some friends, Tadashi got the little Korean fellow a job at a local theater on Broadway. One night at a cast party in the Village, the little Korean fellow crashed a gathering featuring the venerable Charles Laughton and a pack of hangers-on. He overheard Mr. Laughton (perhaps best remembered as Captain Bligh in the original film production of Mutiny on the Bounty) speaking about a recent art acquisition and couldn't help but blurt out "You haven't seen painting until you've seen a Sato!" The gathering laughed at his presumptuousness, but Mr. Laughton saw something in this little Korean fellow's earnestness and shushed the crowd. He took Mr. Sato's name, address and phone number and indicated that he just might call.

Sure enough, Mr. Laughton called Tadashi and made arrangements to come over to the little apartment on 110th street to view some paintings. Tadashi was thrilled and more than a tad nervous. The apartment was so small, there was no way to display all his work, so he leaned the canvases in careful stacks against the wall facing the sofa with what he considered his "best" work on top. He answered the knock at his door and ushered in not only Mr. Charles Laughton,but also Burgess Meredith and Cornelia Skinner! The three famous guests sat on the little sofa while Mrs. Sato nervously served them pastries and coffee. Tadashi stood to one side and waited for Mr. Laughton to ask to see the next painting in the stack. Mr. Laughton carefully studied the first canvas and sipped his coffee. Silence fell over the room as time passed and the collected company waited to hear what Mr. Laughton would say. Tadashi grew more nervous and began to think Mr. Laughton hated his work and didn't want to see any more. Finally, Mr. Laughton carefully set his coffee cup down and looked around the room at Tadashi's wife. Tadashi held his breath as Mr. Laughton slowly said, "Mrs. Sato? This is wonderful coffee." Burgess and Cornelia gave small snorts of laughter. By the end of the evening Mr. Laughton had purchased 3 of Tadashi's paintings, Burgess 2 and Cornelia 2...those 7 paintings sold for enough money to pay the Sato's rent for 6 months. Mr. Laughton told Tadashi he would be hearing from his friend, and gallery owner Marion Willard, owner/founder of the prestigious Willard Gallery in NYC. Tadashi called his boss at MoMA and quit. The rest is art history!

The painting pictured here hangs in my MIL's house (sorry for the crappy quality, it's under glass and the the lighting is baaaaad). Take a look here to see more of Sato's work. Now Tyler can say he played with and hugged a famous artist. LOL One last thought...Mr. Sato was also chatting today about some of his more recent works. Something the art world is unaware of? Resting Mynah is kind of an inside joke. You see...anyone who knows Mynah birds knows they don't "rest". So this painting can only be of a dead bird. Yep...road kill. Now aren't you glad you kept reading? LOL

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Siblings

I've been thinking about my baby brother for a few days now (not so "baby" anymore since he's 33). Apparently he and his wife have pulled a vanishing act again. They do this periodically. The phone gets disconnected for non-payment of bills, they don't respond to messages left on their cell phones, they just drop off the face of the earth for months at a time. They usually resurface about the time they need something (money, typically) from my parents. Most of the time they vanish to avoid bill collectors, but the rest of the time it's to avoid my parents. My sister-in-law (SIL) looses her cool very easily (hot Brazilian temper) and my Mom is just the one to push her buttons. This last disappearance was precipitated by my parents' refusal to allow my SIL to use their credit card to charge some vacation wear on the internet. You see, their credit cards are all maxed out...or they may have declared bankruptcy by this point. Not entirely sure on that one. At any rate, no one has heard from them since Christmas. They have been known to hold a grudge for as long as 2 years. Uh huh.

I wonder sometimes if my brother's inability to manage money and other screwy problems might, in part, be due to childhood trauma suffered at the hands of yours truly. I really do feel badly for taking such advantage of a toddler's devotion to his big sister. I recall paying him a penny to be my ottoman as I watched TV, paying him another penny to go change the channel for me, and yet another penny to fetch me a slice of cheese from the fridge. Something about a free market economy and slave wages is haunting my subconscious there. As we got older, he went from devoted slave to frequent pain in the shins. In retaliation, on "date night" my parents would leave me in charge of the little booger and I would, through the course of the evening, pretend to call the boogey man to come and get him when he was sleeping...or I would feign sudden illness and "die" on the sofa in a most dramatic fashion (tongue hanging out, eyes rolled up into my skull so only the whites were showing) leaving the little pest sobbing uncontrollably while he shook my limp form gasping, "Rebecca stop it...sto-snork hic sniffle-p it...please cut it ooooout...come on...Stop it!" Then there was the dreaded fear of exposure...I could tell his little friends at ANY TIME that he was a bed wetter until he was 10. Harsh.

I should tell him I am sorry one of these days. If he ever gets his phone turned back on. The little booger.

Just a few funny stories about my brother:

1. He was diagnosed with ADD in 3rd grade and was put on Ritalin. His 4th grade teacher took a strong dislike to some of his antics in class. In retaliation, he brought in a ziploc full of dog poop and emptied it into her desk drawer. She accused him (without proof) and had him expelled. He swore up and down that he was NOT responsible and my parent fought the school to get him readmitted. The school agreed as long as he would submit to counseling. It was only this past Christmas that I got him to own up to the truth, over turkey dinner. My parents were stunned. Little booger.

2. He was 14 and one fine day went with my mother to the mall. She was getting her hair done, he was bored. He asked for the car keys to go get his school books out of the car so he could do his "homework". Fast forward...I get a call at home later that afternoon. "Is this Mrs. R? No? Well, we have Michael in custody at the Waltham police department. I'm afraid there has been an accident..." Yep. He stole our Mom's car and drove 6 towns away to pick up a buddy to go joy riding. It began to rain, he lost control and plowed into some poor soul's front yard. Thank goodness for the big oak tree out front or this guy would have needed some serious remodeling to his living room. My Mom calls in the mean time, "Rebecca? I am at the mall and I can't find your brother...tell your Dad..." "Mom? Mike has been arrested. He stole your car. He's at the police station in Waltham..." "That's not funny Rebecca." Oh hell YES it was.

3. He was caught and arrested for B&E (that's Breaking and Entering for all you non-Law and Order fans). His excuse to the judge? "My friend told me it was HIS house and he lost his key. I had no idea it wasn't his house." He actually got off with a warning.

4. He was arrested for grand theft of a motorcycle. His excuse to the judge? "My friend told me about this buddy of his who was selling his motorcycle. I went over for a test drive. The buddy wasn't there, no key, so my friend suggested we hotwire the bike. His buddy wouldn't mind. He was eager to sell it." Riiiiight. Once again he was let off with only probation. Little booger.

5. Last one...my brother experimented a lot more than I did in high school. Drinking, recreational drug use...if my parents only knew. I tried to tell them once, they didn't believe me. I had moved into my own apartment and who shows up on my doorstep late one night? Yep...booger and his buddies. "Come out with us and buy us booze..." "Sorry little bro, I have to go to work in the morning. I am IN for the night." "Well...do you have anything here we can take?? You gotta have SOMETHING...!" "Um...wait. Yeah, I have a bottle of something a friend gave me as a house warming present." I pull out a jumbo sized bottle of Glenfiddich - 15 year old scotch whiskey. I knew I was never going to drink it. I didn't appreciate top shelf liquor back then. Mike says, "OK cool, we can mix it with coke or something." And the yack-factor on Glenfiddich and coke? Very, very high. [insert evil sister laugh here]

Little booger.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Photography


I have really been enjoying clicking through many of the photo-blogs. I am tempted to start my own. For now I think I will just share my favorite pictures in HERE, periodically. I love photography. :-)

Here are some of my all time favorites: My Favorite Photos

Skiing

I am sitting here at 4am (eeek) watching one of my all time favorite films, Better Off Dead, and the big "ski race" scene has made me think about the first time I went skiing. My friend Kathleen had been trying to get me to go with her for ages. I have an EXTREME fear of falling, so I was naturally hesitant. She twisted my arm hard one weekend and we took off in my car to New Hampshire. I can't recall the name of the resort anymore, but I know they changed names a while back.

She had her own ski equipment and was ready for action the moment we arrived. I needed time to get fitted with rental equipment and signed up for a free newbie ski lesson. She waved gleefully at me as she lowered her goggles and swooshed off toward the ski lifts. We had made arrangements to meet up after my hour long lesson on the bunny slope. I stood unsteadily in a line with other beginners as the cute instructor told us how to snow plow, get up from a fall using our poles, walk up hill by side stepping and all those other vital things a beginner needs to know.

We all practiced our lessons dutifully and I wasn't at all embarrassed by the fact that I was the oldest member of the class. Sure, I had lived in Massachusetts for going on 10 years and the only winter time sport I had bothered to learn was ice skating...at least I was making an attempt. By the end of the lesson I was snow plowing my way down the bunny slope like an old pro. I even managed to keep my skis in the well worn tracks and stay upright as the rope tow pulled me back up to the top of the bunny slope.

My friend found me mid-way into my 4th run down the bunny slope and was literally skiing circles around me. No easy trick skiing up hill, let me tell you! She had a map of the ski trails in hand and convinced me that I was ready for a regular beginner trail. I made it to the bottom of that run in one piece and without falling...this gave me a wildly over-inflated self-confidence level. I grabbed the map and squealed "Let's go for an intermediate slope!" So off we went!

This time we needed to use the actual ski lift. That was tricky! I didn't make the first hop into the chair and was bright pink with embarrassment when the lift operator had to stop the whole shebang and hoist me into the seat. Kathleen couldn't stop laughing all the way up in the chair. Hey! At least I still hadn't fallen down. We got to the top and I was able to get OUT of the chair with almost no problem (I almost slid right down the slope before I could stop myself).

We consulted the map again to make sure we took the correct trail and set off. This slope was steeper and I was having a hard time turning (we didn't spend much time on "turns" during the lesson). About half way down the hill I had managed to slow down and stop in the softer snow on the side of the trail. I noticed a narrow path through the trees and waved to my friend to follow me. I had no idea where the trail went but I was feeling adventurous (plus the path was less steep and a prettier route to follow).

The trees thinned suddenly and the path dumped us out onto a VERY steep slope. Snow plowing wasn't doing a DAMN thing at this point. I was unable to turn, unable to slow down, unable to stop! I just kept picking up speed. With my heart in my throat I began to pray..."Please don't let me fall...please don't let me fall...please..." Suddenly, around a slight curve, there were moguls. Since I didn't know how to turn, I hit them at full speed and straight on. I was airborne about every 15-20 seconds for about 2-3 seconds at a time (thank goodness they were not overly HIGH moguls). Ihad lost all track of my friend. I was too busy trying to keep from wiping out and breaking every bone in my body. The moguls ceased but a new problem was rapidly approaching. The end of the trail! There was a loooooong line of people at the bottom of the slope waiting for one of the 2 ski lifts - one to lodge level and one to the top of the mountain. Behind the people was a dense line of trees. End of the line!

I threw every ounce of strength I had left into leaning into a turn...I managed to turn enough to ski, still at full speed, next to the people standing in line. I heard a few yells of "slow down" and "watch out"...I was running out of runway! There was a chain link fence surrounding some lift machinery rapidly approaching. I began praying to myself again. "Slow down...please let me slow down...SLOW DOWN!!!!" At the last possible second I decided I would "fall". I turned my body, leaned to the side to plant my skis sideways into the snow and, in theory, fall on my side. Instead, I kicked up a huge arc of snow and came to a complete stop at the end of the line. Still standing! I heard a couple whistles and some clapping. They must have thought I was showing off.

I was gasping for air...my entire body was shaking. I felt like I would faint and had black spots before my eyes. I suddenly realized someone was talking to me...yelling at me actually. "Beck! Hey! Are you ok?? That was unbelievable!" My friend Kathleen had finally caught up to me. She had me by the shoulders and was shaking me. I looked at her in a glazed way and asked "Am I alive?" She burst out laughing and said, "Congratulations...you just went down a black diamond slope."

Lessons learned:
1. Skiing sucks.
2. Avoid pretty looking unmarked trails through the woods.
3. A healthy fear of falling may actually keep you from FALLING.
4. Don't let your friend's voice override your inner voice that tells you to just STAY HOME.

LOL. I don't ski.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Religion

This post could probably be considered a corollary to my earlier post on faith. My friend Joanne sent me a link from BeliefNet with a cool test to determine what religion I should be. I have been looking for something like this! Distill my fundamental beliefs into a quiz and TELL me what faith I should be. LOL
Belief-O-Matic -- A personality quiz about your religious beliefs and spiritual beliefs - a quiz answering What Religion Am I..

The results were a major surprise! I would have expected the second choice they gave to be the first choice (through my own research I have determined that this faith may be the closest one out there that mirrors my own beliefs).

Your Results: The top score on the list below represents the faith that Belief-O-Matic, in its less than infinite wisdom, thinks most closely matches your beliefs. However, even a score of 100% does not mean that your views are all shared by this faith, or vice versa.Belief-O-Matic then lists another 26 faiths in order of how much they have in common with your professed beliefs. The higher a faith appears on this list, the more closely it aligns with your thinking.
1. Neo-Pagan (100%)
2. Unitarian Universalism (96%)
3. Liberal Quakers (88%)
4. Mahayana Buddhism (84%)
5. New Age (83%)
6. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (81%)
7. Reform Judaism (78%)
8. Bahá'í Faith (75%)
9. Secular Humanism (74%)
10. Theravada Buddhism (69%)
11. Sikhism (67%)
12. New Thought (66%)
13. Hinduism (65%)
14. Jainism (64%)
15. Orthodox Quaker (62%)
16. Scientology (60%)
17. Orthodox Judaism (57%)
18. Taoism (54%)
19. Islam (52%)
20. Nontheist (50%)
21. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (45%)
22. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints(Mormons) (41%)
23. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (37%)
24. Eastern Orthodox (33%)
25. Roman Catholic (33%)
26. Seventh Day Adventist (32%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (22%)

Neo-Paganism...wow! I didn't see that coming. Reading the description of the faiths that fall under this umbrella, I guess I could go Wiccan very easily. I think I will check out my local Unitarian church first, before I go looking for a coven. ;-)

Monday, May 10, 2004

Wedding

I could smack my friend Norman. A wedding at 6:15 PM on a Sunday?! And Mother's Day, no less. Well, we managed to have a great time despite only knowing the groom and his parents. This has to be the nicest, most posh affair I have ever attended.With about 250 guests, when all were invited onto the dance floor to join the new bride and groom in their first dance, I overheard a fellow next to us mumble "This is like a mosh pit, only in slow motion." That cracked us up. It was VERY crowded out there.

The evening started with some champagne (with raspberries in each glass) while we waited to be invited into the grand ballroom where the wedding ceremony was to take place - a nice Jewish wedding. After the wedding we were ushered back into the bar for a cocktail hour. There were carving stations, chafing dishes and wait staff circulating trays of hot hors d'oeuvres. As I excused myself to go to the ladies room, I got a peek back into the grand ballroom where the ceremony had taken place only moments before and I was STUNNED to see that the staff had already taken down the chuppah, set up tables (complete with linens, silverware and centerpieces), and set up the band stand (complete with instruments). Amazing!

After some nibbles (and a Cosmo for me from the bar), we sat at our table for dinner. The center pieces were impressive! Three foot tall silver candelabra with a large floral arrangement in the center of the 4 tapers. Total height must have been over four feet tall. To our dismay, and scattered nervous grins around the table, the centerpieces would SWAY at the slightest jostle of the table. This became the main topic of conversation over dinner...whether our table would be the one to go up in flames and become the most memorable event on the wedding video.

We had a nice selection of entrees too. Prime Rib, Roast Capon with apple walnut stuffing, peppercorn encrusted grilled yellow fin tuna, or a vegetarian plate. Cutting the prime rib was nerve racking...the center piece was swaying, swaying, swaying and the candle flames were sputtering and dancing way too close to the flowers. Oh my!

My favorite speech of the night was from the father of the bride. It was revealed that my friend Norman had chased his bride for quite some time. She turned down his date requests no less than 3 times before finally being worn down and relenting. This brought back funny memories from my days working with Norman and the way he would hit on the single female clients as he was fixing their computers. I didn't think his obvious tactics would ever WORK in wearing down a girl into dating him. I guess persistance really DOES pay off.

The dessert was the highlight of the evening for me. Individual Toll House Cookie pies plated on swirls of white and milk chocolate syrup, topped with milk chocolate ice cream, white chocolate drizzles and a lacey trefoil of dark chocolate inserted in the top of the ice cream scoop. Pretty, elegant and YUM!

My final thought about the wedding (besides the fact that Norman is my last single friend and I probably won't attend another wedding until my son Tyler gets married in another 22 years or so) is - Jewish weddings are WAY more fun than Catholic ones. LOL I love that Mazel Tov dance...everyone going around in concentric circles while the bride and groom are lifted up overhead in separate chairs with only a handkerchief bridging the gap between them. Fun stuff! Especially when they nearly drop the bride!

Update: Here is a link to the Shutterfly album with the best of the wedding pics, for those who are interested. Shutterfly Shared pictures

Friday, May 07, 2004

Cleaning

My hair is hanging in sweaty ringlets, my back is aching, my knees could give way at any moment, my sinuses are screaming in agony from inhaling weeks of accumulated dust bunnies...I could go on and on. I despise cleaning house!

What is even more pathetic than my current condition is...I don't have to be this way! My husband told me long ago I could call in reinforcements. Merry Maids! I have a coupon magnetized to my refrigerator. It's probably expired now. What is preventing me from taking advantage of this most generous offer? I can't get this freakin' house organized enough for a professional to get it cleaned!!! I have so much clutter! I need to have a yard sale, call the Salvation Army, call for a dumpster!

I recall the cleaners my Mother used to have come in once a week when I was a kid. She would have ME clean the house from top to bottom the day before their arrival. Why?!? "I can't let people see my house in this condition." Insane? Yes. Who ever heard of cleaning for the cleaning people? But she would sternly remind me that the cleaning people would not pick up things to clean under them. They would just go around them. Was she right? Am I doomed to repeat the same psychotic cycle? Do I really have too much "stuff" in the way?

Maybe I will just call Merry Maids next week and inquire. Maybe.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Weapons


I'd like to think that the 5 years we struggled with infertility, and the years prior where we postponed starting a family until we were more financially stable, ultimately made us more mature and better parents. Certainly better prepared than some of my young friends who were surprised by pregnancy prior to marriage - heck, prior to them having a life outside school/their parent's home. More patient, better prepared, and less resentful of the time and commitment having a child entails. And the research!

I am a reader anyway, but once we decided to have a child my book pile on my night table changed drastically. From pregnancy books to Dr. Sears to Attachment Parenting...it was a very big pile. By the time I knew Tyler was on his way, I had a well developed idea of what I was going to "do" as a Mom. I would be a no-spank, borderline Attachment Parenting, non-gender biased, violence free Mom. Not a total Earthy-Crunchy Mom, but as natural and peace-loving as I could be while still using disposable diapers.

Let's just say my convictions and parenting theories now change on an almost daily basis. The "terrible twos" will do that to a Mom. :-} BUT! One of my hard and fast rules has always been "no play weapons of any kind". No swords, guns, bow/arrow, sling shots, yadda yadda...until today. We were cruising through the local Bed, Bath and Beyond and there it was, the "Gazillion Bubble Gun". Tyler's face lit up like a solar flare..."I want THAT Mommy! THAT!! THAT!!!!" He pointed frantically from his perch in the shopping cart. I did my usual routine and pointed to various other items around the "gun" and said "This? This?" all to a more and more frustrated chorus of "No! THAT!!! The green one!!! THAT THAT THAAAAAAT!!" I rolled my eyes and picked up the package. Hmm. "Drip-less, battery operated, endless bubbles at the push of a button...er...trigger."

I have always loved bubbles and Tyler is a huge fan of them too. But dipping that wand and dripping slimy soap solution all over my family room floor or my lap, arms, feet had long since lost it's appeal. Ty always insists on holding the wand and blowing HIMSELF now. Messy, messy, messy! I caved! I bought him the bubble gun. I tried to convince myself that it didn't really LOOK like a real gun - it's more a space alien looking device. I have been so proud of the care I take in what he watches (no violence) and the games he plays. He doesn't even KNOW the word gun. But I was in for the shock of my parenting life today.

My peace-loving, non-violent son took to that gun like a ninja to throwing stars. It started with "Mommy! I shoot you!" and degenerated to him stalking squirrels in the yard and hiding behind a tree out front so he could leap out and surprise cars passing by - all to gleeful screams of "I got you! I got you!" I guess even the California freeway sniper was a toddler once.

Inventive

*WARNING* This is a link for adults only - do not click if you are easily offended:

Make Your Own Dildo - Adult Sex Toy

A friend sent this too me. I supposed if you feel uncomfortable using one made from a mold of a famous porn star, or if your husband feels threatened by Ron Jeremy (and what man wouldn't)...this is the perfect solution.

A less obvious thought occurred to me, however. I think this kit could be a wonderful way to preserve your man in his "prime"...for those golden years. Ya know? When my husband is 80, I can whip it out and say "Hey Honey! Remember when..." It could come in handy. Or am I just crazy. Probably.

Oh! And since I mentioned Ron Jeremy, that brings to mind another favorite link (Thanks Joanne - I aced this quiz - what does that say about me???): Blogjam quiz: Saddam Hussein presents 'Despot or Sexpot?'

Monday, May 03, 2004

Motivation

Where oh where has my motivation gone!? The house is a mess, my kitchen is a wreck, I have no clean sheets for the guest room...and company is coming on Friday. I know I agreed with my husband that Tyler should have a relationship with his grandparents. But I find it hard to get excited that they are coming down to visit. In fact, I am really dreading it. They will be watching Ty on their own on Sunday when we go to my friend Norman's wedding. This will be the first time Tyler has been with "sitters" at night for more than an hour.

I think it's nice that my parents volunteered to come down and watch him so we could go to the wedding...but I don't have any confidence that they can handle him alone. Plus, I don't know what I am wearing, I don't feeling like cleaning, I don't want them here...I just want to stay home. Whine, whine, bitch, bitch. OK. I am done now.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Vanity

My husband hasn't had much luck in his job search. He has been looking for a new job ever since HP laid him off the end of last July. He was told by several different sources that a person at his level of salary and technical expertise would need at least a year to find a new job. My husband has his own theories on why he hasn't been hired yet.

One of those theories is he looks "too old". [insert wry grin here] He is NOT old. But high tech is a youth dominated field. He feels his gray hair is aging him. To remedy this, we combed the racks of hair color choices at our last visit to the supermarket and selected an appropriate shade and level of gray coverage. Natural Instincts. I just left him in the bathroom, reading National Geographic, with his hair coated with dark brown goop. The timer is ticking.

Hopes are high that this experiment will take 10 years off his appearance. [insert another wry grin here]

Music

Continuing on the theme from yesterday, I thought about what should fill the "void" that is left when the TV is turned off. Music is an obvious choice. But what kind of music? I am a very patient person, but many types of "kids" music drive me up a wall (such as the Wiggles). I found a couple music collections that I actually ENJOY listening too and, of course, I must share them.

Number 1 choice: Laurie Berkner! I recently spent some of our dwindling savings on ALL of her albums. Tyler is enjoying them thoroughly. Amazon.com: Music: Whaddaya Think of That? Interesting factoid: Laurie has played private parties for Madonna's and Sting's kids.

Number 2 choice: Amazon.com: Music: Choo Choo Boogaloo This one may give you a clue that my taste in music is varied and odd. I love Zydeco music and Tyler just boogies his heart out when we play this.

Number 3 choice: Amazon.com: Music: Golden Slumbers: A Father's Lullaby For those who have babies or toddlers who have a hard time settling down at night - I love this lite jazz collection. Tranquil and a nice listen.

The rest of what I play consists of random collections of toddler hits and MP3s copied from various sources. I am a big fan of vintage Sesame Street hits and copies of big name stars and the re-done versions of their number 1 hits for guest appearances on Sesame Street (The Goo Goo Dolls have a GREAT one with Elmo, but my all time favorite is the REM tune "Furry, Happy Monsters" to the tune of Shiney Happy People).

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Television

As the mother of a toddler, I spend a lot of time worrying and wondering about the various influences in my son's daily life. TV is a big part of that. So is music. I could talk about the recent study that linked early childhood television watching to the development of ADD (BabyCenter News - Archive). But I really want to keep thinking it's a load of bunk.

I was raised on TV (to my mother's endless exasperation). So was my brother. He was exposed at a much earlier age than I was and he DID develop ADD...so it's hard for me to argue against that study. I didn't develop ADD, but I do wonder if I have an adult form of ADHD since I seem to have so much trouble getting anything accomplished each day and I am easily distracted. Maybe that is just a side-effect of sleep deprivation and mothering. (Uh oh, I got off on a tangent again, didn't I.)

No hateful emails or comments please, but the TV goes on here first thing in the morning and stays on pretty much all day. During the day the TV is on Noggin (100% commercial free toddler programming, for those that are unfamiliar N O G G I N) for the most part. All my adult life, if I was at home the TV was on. It has been impossible to break that habit. But at least I am aware and careful about the types of programming my son watches. But this study has me worried. If ANY kind of TV exposure leads to an increased risk of developing ADD, I should turn the idiot box off, right? So why can't I do it?

I will leave the TV on even during the most insipid of shows (such as the show I am being assaulted with now - the Tweenies). When I can't stand it another minute, I will switch to PBS (eeeeek Barney, Teletubbies and Boo Bah!) Or I will switch to Nick Jr. (eeeeek Rubba Dubbers!) There are lots of choices. Can they all be evil? Funny thing is, Tyler has his own tastes. It's very clear which shows he likes and which he is indifferent to. I should probably cut back and only turn the on the TV when there is a show on he wants to see. But how to fill the silent void that fills the house once the TV turns off...