Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I made a dinner late this afternoon, before I left for work at 4:45 p.m. I was using a Rachel Ray cookbook, and was really hoping this would be a tasty meal. Before I could finish it, I had to leave. I left the beef simmering in its sauce and told my 18 year old to turn if off after ten minutes ( I also set a timer). I told her there was cauliflower already cooked and in a pot at the back of the stove. Then, feeling like a virtuous wife and mother who has provided quality sustenance for her husband and children, I went to work (to earn the money to buy the bacon which I then will cook up in a pan, blah, blah, blah).

About 7:30 my youngest daughter called and I asked how she liked the dinner I had cooked. She said, "Huh? What dinner?" I reminded her that she had been in the kitchen while I was cooking. She denied knowledge of me cooking or her eating anything. I asked to speak to her father.
"Did you eat?" I asked brightly, hoping for compliments on a fine meal.
"Um, yeah." he mumbled. "
"How was it?" I asked eagerly. "Was it good?
"The food I made! I cooked dinner, I left it simmering on the stove!"
"Oh. No I didn't get any of that."
"You didn't get to eat?" I asked, confused.
"Oh, don't worry about me," he said, obviously trying to reassure me that my hubby had not gone hungry. "I made myself a sandwich."

Another 2 hours in the kitchen wasted. I could have been taking a nap, or reading a book, or walking a dog in the bright autumn sunshine, instead of stuck inside my steaming kitchen, trying to read a recipe and chop vegetables and slice steak all at the same time. I could have saved the eleven dollars I spent on the steak and spent it on chocolate for myself. I could have taken a bubble bath and gone to work smelling sweet and flirty instead of greasy and meaty.

You know, I really wanted to be one of those very domestic women who cook fabulous meals, whose kitchen is always filled with the aroma of baking bread and hearty soup and brownies.
A woman whose family troops in, tired after a hard day, and is comforted and uplifted by the sight of Mom standing in the kitchen, ready to dispense hugs and plates of warm, wholesome, delicious food. But to fulfill that fantasy, and it is a lovely fantasy, I'm gonna need a new family.

PS - To be fair and honest - later that evening when I got home, I filled a plate with the meat and vegetables I had made from Rachel Ray's recipe, and I was not impressed. That was a lot of work to make, and it was boring. At least the dogs loved the gravy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

This is how my friends and I maintain our relationships:

Jodi comes into the library (where I work) to pick up her kids. Our conversation takes place in the foyer as her daughter is sulking and griping, "C'mon, you said we had to leave right away." Once we talked for 20 minutes standing outside the grocery store door, both of us heading (in opposite directions) for our cars.

Christi and I cross paths at the nursing home, where I am finishing up delivering library books to the residents and she is arriving to visit her mother. We shout our conversation toward each other as we each continue hurrying in different directions.

Carolyn comes into the library between clients and stops by the desk to see if I'm there. We carry on a quick conversation, hug included, before I have to return to the desk and help people, and she has to go to her next client.

Carol and I see each other at the school or scooting out of the post office or at the coffee house, where she and her husband have stopped off for a working break, usually with important people, who are often from another country. She talks rapidly and excitedly at me for a few minutes, throwing in ridiculous compliments before her husband's eyes drag her back to business.

Brenda ("the other Brenda") and I see each other when she comes in the library or when I stop in at the gift shop where she works, now lately we've been seeing each other at church, but church is such a social place, there's barely a chance for a close conversation.

Always, we are SO glad to see each other, always we say we wish we could actually get together.
Sadly I have already tried. I invited one of them to stop by my house in the mornings after we dropped our kids off at school - "just a half hour, coffee or tea." But she was too busy. It made me feel lousy. I tried to get a group to go to the movies with me, in the end there were just 2 of us. At least there were two of us.

Carolyn is better at it. She just grabs me in the moment and says, "Let's go!" And often I have found I can. She manages to catch me when there is nothing really required of me. Oh, I could stay home and clean the house, but I've learned in my "old" age that the house will wait, friends are rare, and an afternoon poking around in an antique shop, then going to a Chinese restaurant for lunch together is far more satisfying and memorable than a tidy living room that stays tidy for approximately 23 hours, if that.

I wish my friendships were like those of women friends on TV shows. Women characters who in spite of having jobs, husbands and kids, manage to meet friends for lunch on a daily basis, wear fabulous clothes, see their friends again in the evening at cocktail parties, and who are so close they even argue with each other. My friends and I have never managed to develop relationships so close and so strong that we could actually risk arguing with each other. Obviously, these TV characters are not real people, they are fictional, but I'll bet that there are many, many women in America who know these TV characters better than and feel closer to them than they do their own real women friends.

Hmmm...reading this over it occurs to me, maybe they just don't like me. hmmmm

Friday, October 5, 2007

I told my daughter I'd be home 30 minutes ago, but I've been trying to get my post spaced properly

This is so damn irritating...trying to write that previous post about Helen Reddy's song - do you think I could space it the way I wanted to ? Nooooooooo. So it looks all crammed together and hard to read. I am TIRED of wasting time trying to figure out how to edit on this site. My previous posts were often typed into MS word, then copied and pasted here on blogger. But even doing that didn't work. On Word, my post appears spaced the way I want it, when I transfer it, it goes all bunchy.

I have tried to use the blogger help lines, but have you seen them? The advice may be useful, but you have to wade through so much verbiage and computeriage to find the piece of advice you need. Do any of the other bloggers have, like, JOBS? Who has time for this?

Besides, nobody's reading anyway.

I enjoy writing, all I've ever really wanted to do is write. Writing is fun, writing is energizing, writing is where I am most at home, but other than that, who cares?

When and if I get a computer at my house, I will probably blog again, I love writing, I really do. But without feedback, what's the point? A blog is not a private journal, it's public and it desires companionship and conversation, a drink and a dance, and right now my blogs are wallflowers. I can keep my thoughts in my head and connect with as many people that way as I do writing three blogs. Save me a lot of time, too.

And right now, my daughter is wondering why I'm blogging instead of coming home to her.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I am woman, hear me snore...zzzzzz

Remember how we wanted to have it all? The job, the man, the kids? I should have said "career", not job, but honestly, how many of us have actual careers? Aren't most of us just working to pay the bills?

A TV commercial from my teen years: sexy woman sauntering into the house, "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, never let you forget you're a man - I'm a woman, w-o-m-a-n." I remember thinking that was a pretty cool commercial. I was, what, 16? I didn't notice back then, that the woman was doing everything - I mean, the man couldn't even remember he was male for heaven's sake, the woman had to remind him. So, she worked all day, rushed to the bank to cash her check, went to the grocery store to buy the bacon, came home, immediately got to work in the kitchen, probably cleaned up after dinner, started a load of laundry and put out the garbage, helped with homework (while folding clothes), settled an argument, bathed the kids, walked the dog, then she had to put the moves on her man, while he did....what? Watched football?

Another item from my teen years: I am woman, hear me roar. (Sung by the ever nasal Helen Reddy. You'd think the song would have been sung by someone with a strong voice, but no, Helen Reddy, I am woman hear me whine?). Although it embarrasses me to admit it now, I liked that song. I actually got tears in my eyes listening to it. (now I'm really embarrassed, I'm cringing)
Here is the first verse & chorus:

I am woman, hear me roar

In numbers too big to ignore

And I know too much to go back and pretend

'cause I've heard it all before

And I've been down there on the floor

No one's ever gonna keep me down again


Oh yes I am wise

But it's wisdom born of pain

Yes, I've paid the price

But look how much I gained

If I have to, I can do anything

I am strong (strong)

I am invincible (invincible)

I am woman

Back in the 70s these lyrics made me feel proud - women had been pushed around for a long time, now women were standing up for themselves and each other, not backing down, trying to be taken seriously in business, politics, relationships, education, money. Not that I actually knew anything about that - I was a kid, I hadn't experienced much of anything, but it was inspiring anyway.

I am no longer a kid, and I'm no longer inspired by these lyrics, in fact, I can't even figure out what they mean. Pretend what? Wise about what? I paid what price, and gained what? And who was roaring? The woman's movement was and is divisive, not that it wasn't important or necessary, but if we were roaring, we were roaring at each other, not at men or the powers that be (men).

New lyrics for a new age:

I am woman, hear me snore

in numbers too big to ignore

and I know too much to go back and pretend

'cause I've heard it all before

now I'm staying on the floor

no one's gonna interrupt my nap again!


Hey! I need help

I can't do this by myself

Hey! Off your rear,

get your engine into gear.

I shouldn't have to do everything

I am pissed off (pissed off)

I am cynical (cynical)

I am Tired.

Yep. Back in the seventies we wanted it all, we were strong and invincible, whatever that means. Now, we're just tired. I just want to rest, okay? Take a nap, or have some peace and quiet to read a book. No interruptions for say, 60 minutes. Or three days, or a week. Now that would be empowering.


And guess what else - on the website where I found the lyrics for Helen Reddy's anthem to women’s power...there is a link to videos showing Carmen Electra stripping. “I am woman hear men roar, while I grind down to the floor....”

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tripping over the light fantastic shoe

I tripped over my shoes this morning. No, I hadn't left them tumbled in the middle of the floor - I was wearing them at the time, and one of them slipped off my foot. Damn clogs. How do other women walk in these things? I've never been able to master the art of walking in backless shoes. So why did I buy them? Because everyone else was wearing them! Because my friends say, "oh, they're so comfortable!"

Actually, I bought them because I'm extremely lazy. Who wants to have to bend over or squat down and tie or buckle anything? I once heard of a young woman who complained that her shoes were tripping her up. When her friends looked at her feet, they started laughing. She had her shoes on the wrong feet, with the buckles facing each other from her inner ankles. Everytime she took a step, the buckles clashed and caught on each other.
I can relate to that. Do they still make buckle shoes? Or are they all fake buckles with velcro underneath? Never mind. I don't even like velcro - you still have to bend over and press it in place. Nope. I like slip on shoes. Slip on, slip off, slip on, slip off. (I'd also love to have a clapper - clap on, clap off, clap on, clap off.)

Unfortunately, I just may be clumsier than I am lazy. I walk into walls. I am forever bumping my head on the cupboard door I left open (does anything hurt more than that? A paper cut maybe). I slip down the stairs, I bang my hips against counters, my knees on coffee tables, my ankles knock together when I try to jog. I don't try to jog anymore.

Back to shoes. Clogs. So what do other women know about clogs that I don't? It can't possibly be just about grace or lack thereof. Can it? Do other women buy them a half size too small, so that one's feet are wedged so tightly into the shoe that it cannot possibly fall off and trip one? Is there a glue strip one wears on the sole of one's foot? I just don't get it. I was attending a conference with two of my coworkers, and we were all wearing clogs. Walking from the car to the entrance of the hotel, my 2 friends were striding masterfully, fifty yards or more ahead, while I was mincing across the parking lot like an 19th century Chinese woman with bound feet. Tell me! Tell me now!! How do you keep clogs on your feet??? I have to squinch up my toes and attempt to grip the slick insole with each step, and they still fall off, or fly ahead, or just dangle off my toes as I lift my foot to take a step. And wham! Whumpity, whumpity, there I am, arms windmilling, nose headed for a smashing, clogs tangled up under my feet.

Perhaps I could blame my lack of shoe grace on growing up in warm climates - I went barefoot an awful lot as a child. Shoes were for school and church, any other time, I was shoe-free. My toes just aren't used to being confined. Nearly the first thing I do when I get home for the night, is kick my shoes off.

But I do love shoes. Some years ago when I was still young and attempting to pass myself off as sexy, I wore high heels. I loved my shoes, my sexy, strappy little 3 inch pumps. I loved my gorgeous black leather spiky heeled boots. I dreamed about red f-me heels. But the truth was - I couldn't walk in these things, at least not far. I could get from the car door to the cocktail table or bar, but once I reached a chair or stool, I was in place, legs crossed prettily, dainty foot swinging. If asked to dance, I kicked the damn shoes off and hoped the guy thought it was sexy.

I once tried to walk four blocks in my beautiful, beloved boots. I had made it to my destination and was gamely attempting the walk back to my house. My feet were screaming at me as I staggered from tree to fence post to fire hydrant, hobbling, swaying, falling toward the next vertical object. People driving by stared as they passed me - if cell phones had existed then, I'm sure they would have been tapping out 9-1-1, "there's a disgraceful drunk woman falling down on respectable neighborhood lawns".

So what is this infatuation that women have with shoes? I've been reading a lot of chick lit lately, and half the books seem to be about shoes, designer shoes, designer shoes for babies, shoe cupboards and closets, credit cards maxed out on 1 pair of shoes, shoe sale frenzies. And the reason women find this entertaining and funny, is because we can relate to it!

When I was nine, I insisted that my mother buy me a certain pair of dark red shoes. I loved those shoes - they didn't fit right, they pinched and hurt my feet, but I wore them anyway. I didn't understand then why I had to have those shoes, and I don't understand now, why certain shoes just tickle something in our brain - it's erotic and primitive and undeniable. Is there a shoe lobe in the brain?

I have reached the age where all I really look for in a shoe is comfort, but I can be stopped dead in my tracks in front of a shoe shop window featuring a beautiful and usually high-heeled shoe. I will daydream in front of that window, and maybe even enter the store and try the shoe on (if my socks are clean and my toe nails clipped). What is it about shoes and women? What do shoes represent?
Why are shoes "sexy"? How can feet be considered sexy? I don't think feet are sexy, I think feet are damned funny looking. If you stare at a foot long enough, you just have to wonder. Except for baby feet, baby feet are excruciatingly adorable.
And feet can be really ugly and stinky too. Well, I guess that's true of other body parts, too. Clean is sexy. But then, why do we call something sexy, "dirty" ?
Now I'm confused. Feet should definitely be clean, though, I'm not confused about that.

But while I'm mulling over all this sexy feet/sexy shoe stuff, take a look at this really cool book - I love it, my kids love it (though I have to censor some pages for them!) Some of the shoes are real shoes, some are artifacts, some are designers' fanciful creations, and some are just art:

Shoes: A Celebration of Pumps, Sandals, Slippers & More
Shoes: A Celebration of Pumps, Sandals, Slippers & More by Linda O'Keeffe (Paperback - Jan 12, 1996)

Postscript: Years after I stopped going dancing and stopped wearing high heels (I almost typed high hells - ha ha Freudian slip!) - I still kept my high heels in my closet - through several moves, one half way across the country - I still kept those spiky little heels. Every once in a while I would take my strappy little pumps out of hiding and just look at them, remembering. They weren't comfortable, but I felt great wearing them, feminine, sexy, and even powerful. I will never feel that way about clogs.

See ya later, alligator! (and hey, those aren't alligator pumps you're wearing, are they?) Here's another fun book:
Alligator Shoes (Reading Rainbow)
Alligator Shoes (Reading Rainbow) by Arthur Dorros (Paperback - April 1, 1992)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Tell me about it...

My daughter stomped into my bathroom a few days ago while I was using the toilet.

"I hate this house!" she cried, "I have no privacy!"

Friday, August 3, 2007

Who are you?

My mother called and left a message on my voice mail.
My sister and I called her back.
Mother is home, but she isn't.
Where did my mother go?
Who is this woman who whines and complains and
begs and accuses and throws tantrums?
It is hard to find her voice amid all that.
I recognize her, sort of, but then, not.

A few years ago I had a conversation with my eldest daughter, Sarah,
about the power of hormones. Are our personalities so entwined with
hormones that hormones are part of our personality - does that make
sense? I denied it - I wasn't just hormones - but after reviewing some of
my behavior I had to conclude that my personality was definitely
hugely influenced by hormones. It was a scary thought. Is a person just a brain
swirling with chemicals? Are you your brain? When the hormone levels change,
or the brain tissue is damaged, where do you go? What's the real you?

Now I have to re-form my relationship with my mother - whose brain
is so damaged I can hardly recognize her. There is a person there, a
woman, and she sort of sounds like my mother, but not quite...
She has memories that are familiar, and likes and dislikes...but still...
she's a changeling

I remember when Sarah was a girl and I told her to wear her bike helmet,
because I loved her brain and wanted her to protect it. I had no idea, then, just how much I truly love her brain.

PS 10/07/07 I just came across this quote by Craig Matteson, in a review of the book This is your brain on music, by Daniel Levitin : father was taken by a brain tumor and I tried
to find material on the subject. I read "Phantoms
in the Brain" by V. S. Ramachandran and then
some articles by others in the field who claimed
the mind is simply an illusion created by brain
function, that our sense of consciousness and
choosing is simply false.

This has always seemed wrong to me, no matter
how much of our brain function occurs without our
"mind" or "consciousness" being involved in any way.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Yakkety yak - please talk back

I've been reading up on strokes, trying to learn what my mother is facing, what her prospects are, and it's given me some hope.

One book, The Invaluable Guide to Life after Stroke: an owner's maual by Arthur Josephs has been quite informative. In describing the behavior of a person who has suffered damage to the right hemisphere of the brain the author cautions that the stroke survivor may talk too much.

I think back on my mother's behavior as I sat by her hospital bed. Talk too much? She certainly talked a lot. But compared to most people, my mother always talked a lot. Maybe she was talking too much. Or not. It's a matter of opinion, isn't it? My mother loves to talk, and she has always talked a lot. How can I tell if her talking a lot is a symptom of her brain damage or an encouraging sign of normal behavior for her?

My mother and I used to talk on the phone a lot. Correct that. We used to spend a lot of time on the phone with each other. My husband and kids always knew if I was on the phone with my mother because I wasn't saying anything except, "uh-huh, oh, is that right, okay, yes, I'm still here." That last comment because eventually during her conversation my mother would stop and ask, "are you still there? You're not saying anything."

Sometimes during our phone chats I would start craving a cup of coffee or a piece of pie - and because we have an old fashioned phone with a cord, I was tethered in place. When I could tell she had started on another one of her favorite topics (Michael Jackson-who is not a pedophile, handsome politicians - she's got a crush on Al Gore, whatever horror is current in the national or world news) I would quietly set the phone down, step across the room and pour myself a cup of coffee or retrieve the pie from the fridge and cut a slice for myself, then go back to the phone and pick it up and listen - sure enough, she would still be happily chattering away, and I had my coffee and pie to tide me over for the duration.

I miss talking to my mother on the phone. I hope she gets better soon.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Our Breasts: Big Medicine's new cash cow

A copy of the letter I sent to my mother's doctors about her treatment for DCIS/breast cancer and the tragic results of that treatment.

June 24, 2007

Texas Cancer Center

Aparna Chacka Kumar

Mark Saunders

910 East Houston, Suites 100/100-C

Tyler, TX 75702

Dr. Charles Perricone

Family Medicine

511 North High

Henderson, TX 75652

To Drs. Chacka , Saunders and Perricone:

I am writing this on behalf of my mother, Sara L. Hafner. She wishes to let you know that you have caused her great harm. She feels she was treated inhumanely and discourteously. On many occasions over the years my mother has told all of her family members that she would never

agree to radiation therapy or chemotherapy for cancer treatment. When she received a diagnosis of DCIS this past winter, she told each of her children that she would not receive radiation. She decided she would have the surgery only, wait six months and see how her health was before making any further decisions about therapy. We were all shocked and dismayed when she told us that she would be undergoing radiation therapy after all. But my mother is an intelligent, strong woman who has generally made wise and informed decisions, and so we didn’t try to dissuade her.

Late in May my mother called me. She didn’t feel good, she was experiencing a lot of pain and she felt troubled and alarmed. Her body, she said, was telling her that something was seriously wrong. And the doctor’s office (your office) was harassing her, calling her and insisting she come back for more radiation treatments. “I stink,” she told me, “I smell like burnt flesh. And I have so much pain. When I tell the doctor and nurses at the clinic, they just pooh-pooh my concerns, they don’t listen, they don’t care.”

On June 4 my mother was admitted to the hospital with elevated blood pressure & dangerously fast heart rate with fibrillation. Mother told me that the doctors at the hospital told her that they suspected the radiation had reached the heart and damaged it. When she was released from the hospital she was told to take aspirin, and given an appointment to see Dr. Perricone on June 28.

Someone please explain this to me: a 79 year old woman being treated with radiation for breast cancer has an emergency admission to a hospital for heart fibrillations, and she is patted on the head and told, take some aspirin and see me in three weeks???? What the hell??

When I next talked to my mother she told me she wished she had never agreed to the radiation. She said her family doctor, Dr. Perricone, had told her he never advised his patients to have radiation therapy. I asked her why he hadn’t said this before she started radiation, and she told me she hadn’t seen him. “He’s a family doctor, not an oncologist. I was told these people were specialists in breast cancer. I thought they knew what they were talking about. But all the papers I signed said that ‘all radiation is experimental’. I wish I had never started this. And the clinic keeps calling me and leaving messages and harassing me about finishing up the radiation. They don’t care about me at all. They don’t listen to me. They don’t care that they hurt me. This whole process has been dehumanizing and brutal.”

On Friday, June 22 at 5:00 p.m., my mother suffered a massive stroke which damaged almost all of the right hemisphere of her brain. Her left side is paralyzed. She will never walk or dance or paint again. She is facing months or years of therapy. She will probably never return to her beloved home and her favorite things. She may lose her home and all her antiques and property in order to provide skilled nursing care for the rest of her life. It’s possible she will suffer another stroke which will kill her, depriving her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, husband, sisters and brothers of her love and companionship. Or she may contract pneumonia or influenza in the nursing home which may also kill her.

When she was life flighted to Mother Frances in Tyler, the doctors were astonished that she had been released from a hospital a week earlier for heart problems and not given blood thinner medication. “Just aspirin?”

When I saw her a few days after the stroke, she said, “they’ve killed me. Those doctors. That Dr. Saunders, that asshole, praying over me before the radiation. He’s a phony, he’s a jackass. I wish someone would put hookwires in his balls and radiate him. None of them ever cared about me as a person. They didn’t listen to me.”

I said, “Mama, why did you have the radiation?”

She said, “They intimidated me. They bullied me.”

I have never seen my mother intimidated in her life. She is a strong, opinionated, assertive person. My mother is usually the one doing the intimidating.

I did a little bit of research on treatment of DCIS. While radiation is standard protocol, I was interested to note that 75% of women who do NOT receive radiation after surgery do NOT have a recurrence of the cancer. My mother is 79 years old – how many extra years of life were you hoping to give her by aggressively treating a slow-moving, non-invasive precancerous condition?

By treating her with a therapy that I’m certain she told you she didn’t want?

I don’t know what you said to her to make her agree to radiation, but know this: she never wanted it. She didn’t need it. She didn’t deserve what you did to her. My mother has hardly been sick a day in her life – she was active, intelligent, interested in the world around her, and tried to take good care of herself. I fully believe that her condition now is a result of your bullying, lack of concern, and carelessness in your medical treatment of her. At the very least you need to personally and sincerely apologize to her. Not that she will accept it or forgive you, but you still need to offer it. Groveling is encouraged.

My mother told me she regretted ever getting a mammogram, ever listening to what you doctors had to say. She regretted the biopsy, which she said was like medieval torture, she regretted the surgery, more brutality, and most of all she regretted having the radiation. “Don’t you ever do it,” she told me and my sister. “We won’t, Mama,” we said. “You’ll regret it if you do,” she said.

“I already regret it, Mama,” I said, looking at her sorry state.

With all the media attention on breast cancer and mammograms, pushing, pushing, pushing women to get mammograms...this experience with my mother makes me wonder how much the medical profession genuinely cares about women. It seems our breasts have become one of Big Medicine’s great cash cows. You can bet that my sister and I will be telling every woman we know about this horrific and tragic experience.

Here are my mother’s instructions to you and your staffs:

· Treat people humanely

· Listen to your patients

· Respond appropriately to what people say (not, “oh, you’ll be fine, the side effects will go away, don’t worry about it.....”)

· Show some sincere concern

· Practice good medicine, as opposed to “this is the way we always do it (& we get paid so much more when we do it this way)”


We are also including an attractive sign for you to hang on your office wall where you can see it every day. Sorry we couldn’t afford a frame, we have to save our money for our mother’s nursing care.


Brenda G. McDonald

The sign said simply: First, do no harm.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Octopus Mom

Ever since my first baby was born I've thought that for each child a woman produced she should
grow an additional two arms & hands. All the tasks we're expected to accomplish while holding a child! (or accomplish while we are not holding a child who is instead clinging to our legs and
sobbing piteously, or in another room out of sight doing God knows what).

Now that my children are more self-sufficient - they walk (even though they'd rather be driven), they talk (back), they manipulate tiny knobs and buttons on video game controllers
(& they manipulate their parents) - the need for me to have extra hands is not so apparent.

But at lunchtime today, it all came so clearly back to me. I was frying tortillas and grating cheese for a meal, and my 11 year old daughter wordlessly backed up to me in her bathing suit, and held out a bottle of sun block. As if she couldn't see that both my hands were busy, and busy in a way that did not easily lend itself to interruptions. I looked at her and waited. She eventually looked over her shoulder back at me. I glanced at the pan of hot oil, the tortilla close to burning in it, at my fingers holding tongs, at the pile of chopped lettuce and cheese on the cutting board. She waved the bottle of sunblock in tiny circles in case I didn't grasp her meaning. I shook my head. She frowned. I shrugged. She stalked off to sulk, and I continued cooking.

In time, the meal was prepared and my daughter's shoulders and back were protected from sunburn. But it still would have been easier if I had been Octopus Mom.

P.S. A few days after I wrote this, I drove myself and my kids to Chicago to meet with my eldest daughter and her husband and their 3 month old son, Guthrie. To say that Guthrie likes to be held is a serious understatement. This little boy feels incomplete if he is not physically attached to another human body, preferably one with milk-filled boobies. (I am not criticizing, I believe that Guthrie's attitude is completely natural and I support him in his endeavors to be constantly enveloped in his mother's arms.) Over and over again during that weekend my daughter, Sarah, said, "I don't have enough hands to do everything, if only I had another pair of hands!" I just smiled and said, "yep."

PPS-a few days ago I was helping a woman at the library - her twin daughters were pestering her with requests and she finally said, "I can't! I don't have enough hands!"

Sunday, June 3, 2007

mother daughter mother daughter

I was talking to my therapist (if you read my other blog you'll know why I must see a therapist).

I have a difficult, stormy, hurtful relationship with my eighteen year old daughter, who lives with me. From conversations we have during calm moments, I think the relationship is more difficult and hurtful for me than it is for my daughter. The therapist, Kris, has seen both of us over the course of a year or two.

During the intake process Kris asked me to describe my relationship with my mother. I said, "my mother and I are good friends now, but I've had to learn over many years to not take things too personally. I know she loves me, but she's intrusive and critical, bossy and judgmental. She stomps all over me. She always gets her way."

Kris looked up and smiled at me. "Do you realize you just described your daughter, and your relationship with her?"

I couldn't answer.

Kris smiled again, and said, "If you've learned to not take things your mother says and does personally, do you think you could do the same in your relationship with your daughter?"

Saturday, May 19, 2007

But she can't find her keys...

Contents of my purse age 8:
pennies for bubble gum
a dime for the mechanical horse at the bowling alley
bubble gum
pretty rocks

Contents of my purse age 14:wallet with 50 cents for school lunch
lip gloss

Contents of my purse age 25:wallet and all it contains including
change for laundromat
driver's license
pictures of my baby(ies)
grocery list
burp rag for baby
diaper and plastic pants
diaper pins
change of clothes for baby
plastic bag with damp washcloth for baby
plastic bags for poopy diapers
receiving blanket for
breastfeeding in public
changing baby where no changing tables exist
for sticking in car window to keep sun off baby
in case baby gets cold
hat for baby
bootees for baby
sweater for baby
lotion for baby
lotion for me
bottle of juice
package of teething crackers
container of cheerios
paperback book
camera in case baby does something cute
crochet hook and yarn
small scissors
and at the bottom : my keys

Contents of my purse age 40:ditto above with these changes-
diapers are now disposable (but still use cloth at home)
no laundromat change as have own washer and dryer
add baby wipes
sunblock for me
sunblock for baby
toys my kids don't want to carry
pretty stones my kids find
water bottle for me
juice boxes for kids
snack packages for kids
and at the bottom of the purse - my keys

Contents of my purse age 52:wallet and all it contains including
driver's license
a wad of cash to pay for gasoline
pictures of my grandbaby
list of social security card numbers for everyone in my family
credit cards
health insurance card
auto insurance card

cell phone
cell phone instruction book
water bottle
lip gloss
another lip gloss ('cause I couldn't find the first one)
eye drops
hand lotion
another hand lotion ('cause I couldn't find the first one)
change of socks (?)
notebook (s) to write lists, to keep me organized
half a dozen pens, never found when I need them
change purse with 89 pennies
$5.67 in loose change
$4 in loose dollar bills
earrings (3) (not 3 pairs, just 3) (I don't have 3 ears, I have 2 ears)
tickets from theater
report cards and papers from parent teacher conferences
appointment cards
calendar (not filled out) (because can never find pens)
film that needs to be developed (from 3 Christmases ago)
packets of photographs (need to send copies to relatives and put some in albums)
checks I'm supposed to deposit
bills I'm supposed to pay
thin maxi pads (because I still get annoyed by an occasional period)
pretty stones my daughter finds
toys my daughter wants me to carry for her
rag doll I am mending for grandchild
embroidery floss
embroidery needles
Computer discs
Music CDs
Photo CDs
DVDs (to take back to the movie rental place)
library books
books on tape or CD
letters I need to respond to
To do list(s)
Grocery list(s)
band aids
an apple
beef jerky
training collar
dog biscuits
plastic bag for dog poop
plastic vial containing dog poop sample for vet (forgot to give it to him) the very keys.

What's in your purse?

Friday, May 18, 2007



Doesn't it strike you as odd that these particularly womanly events all start with the word "men"?
Shouldn't they be womenses, womenstruation and womenopause?

And then there's "hymen".
It's like a bad joke - the thin membrane of our innocence saying, "Hi, men!"

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Someone cares

On Monday I witnessed a sweet exchange between two women friends and wished I had a friendship like that.

On Tuesday I bumped into a friend from a church I used to attend. When I told her I was
planning to return, she smiled so tenderly and pressed her soft hands against my cheeks.

I walk away amazed and humbled and nearly in tears. Who is listening to my quiet thoughts,
who feels my loneliness?

There is more to this story - this is the same lady who criticized the clothes I wore to church.
( "A Sense of Style")

I feel so strongly the arms of God embracing me.

Monday, May 14, 2007


I was walking through my neighborhood and noticed a couple of women talking in a front yard. One woman reached over and framed her friend's face with her hands, then kissed her on both cheeks.

I had to turn away, I felt shy and happy and sad at the same time.
I wish I had a good friend like that.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A sense of style

I've never figured out fashion. Someone once told me that she admired my sense of style - and I just stared at her. Sense of style? My sense of style consists of wearing what is clean and doesn't need ironing, and if I'm lucky, is appropriate for both the occasion and the weather.

I envy women who actually do have a sense of style - I see women about my age still wearing the flowing fashions of our youth - the flowing hair, flowing skirts, flowing sleeves, flowing earrings - and I feel a pang of loss. I gave up fashion for comfort and convenience long ago.

And there are women who dress so smartly - the linen suits, the heels, the accessories, the perfect haircut and make up. I can't figure out how to dress like that. At age 52 I still haven't figured out how to apply makeup or comb my hair properly. I can't walk in high hells (not a typo). And linen? Are you kidding? The first thing I'd do to linen is spill my coffee on it.

There are times I do get out of my tee shirts and blue jeans. I have days in which I crave being soft & feminine - my own style of feminity is a loose dress and bare feet - those are days I feel "like a natural woman". I cook and sweep and garden and speak sweetly to my family and pets. And days I claim my feminine power - black jeans and crisp blouse or black sweater, black boots and gold hoop earrings, just a swipe of lipstick, maybe some mascara. Somehow that combination makes me feel smart, no-nonsense, in control and sexy. Makes me want to go hop on my hog and ride like the wind to the courthouse and file some papers. I have no idea why, I don't own a motorcycle, I'm not a lawyer. I guess it's just the desire to feel confident and strong, qualities I rarely possess.

I used to think I had to settle on a certain style - either I had to be true to my counterculture youth, or I had to grow up and dress like a lady, or a mother, or a churchgoer. I once had a church lady say very firmly to me, "You have to wear better clothes to church." My response, a definite "uh, ummm, uh." I was concerned about fitting in, about what other people thought of me (the world as horrified mother: "Brenda! You're not wearing that, are you??!!"). Yeah, I know, I'm a late bloomer in self-realization : it's taken me this long to figure out I can wear what I want to. And if other people don't like it, well, that's too damn bad.