Wednesday, March 28, 2007

That meme that went around earlier in the month.

1. What time did you get up this morning? 5:30 am

2. Diamonds or Pearls? Pearls. Can't say I much like diamonds. But I do enjoy polished stones: Lapis Lazuli, Carnelian, Jade, Jasper. If you're looking for a "rock" to buy me, then it should be a garnet or a sapphire.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? The Departed

4. What is your favorite TV show? House (but they're running out of crises), Top Design, Project Runway, and Top Chef. The Actor's Studio, and any of the "Cold Case Files" true crime shows.

5. What did you have for breakfast? Coffee and a corn muffin

6. What is your middle name? Lynda.

7. What is your favorite cuisine? Indian. Or Turkish. Or Persian. Umm--I need to pick one?

8. What foods do you dislike? Cauliflower--squeeky. ::Shudder:: Various fish and seafood which doesn't have the right texture (skate leaps to mind). Cooked salmon (I keep expecting it to taste like smoked Nova Lox. Duh.) Bluefish (God we ate so much bluefish when I was a kid. Hated it then, despise it now.)

9. Your favorite Potato chip? Salt and Vinegar.

10. What cd have you been listening to lately? Ummm. Mostly the radio.

11. What kind of car do you drive? Honda Odyssey

12. Favorite sandwich? Hummus with lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and anything else that's crunchy. Shawarma with labnah, sumac zaatar and pickles. (Someone in my grandfather's family was named Zahatar--always thought that was a neat name.)

13. What characteristics do you despise? Prideful ignorance. (Stephen Colbert picks at this well. "I don't need to know anything; I can tell in my gut what should be true." Hate that.)

14. What are your favorite clothes? Large sweaters. Flannel lined jeans. Loafers with no socks. Either that or nothing on the body, but wrapped in a soft quilt.

15. If you would go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?
Right now? I think I'd take a trip back to Massachusetts. Visit the farm. Ride a horse. Anywhere in the world? Ummm. Wouldn't mind a condo on the beach in Maui--but I'd have to be by myself, thank you.

16. Favorite brand of clothing? You're kidding. BRAND? Whatever fits and is on sale.

17. Where would you want to retire? Somewhere quiet. Somewhere where it snows but it doesn't stay so cold that I get miserable. Somewhere where I can visit the ocean every once in a while, or at least drive by it. Somewhere where I can have pets (nursing homes worry me).

18. Favorite time of day? Really early in the morning, but it's hard to drag myself out of bed these days.

19. Where were you born? Love that Dirty Water, Boston, you're my home. Fruuuus-trated women! Have to be in by twelve o'clock. (Why did a band from LA ever write this song anyway?)

20. What is your favorite sport to watch? Dressage competitions (Come on, what did you THINK I was going to say?)

21. Who do you think will not send this back? NA

22. Person you expect to send it back first? NA

23. Pepsi or Coke? Coke. But really, Polar Orange Dry--but I don't get it out here. Or Moxie. (Which is why I drink Dr. Pepper--it's almost Moxie.)

24. Beavers or Ducks? Otters?

25. Are you a morning person or night owl? Night Owl

26. Pedicure or Manicure? Pedicure

27. Any new and exciting news you’d like to share? The major fundraising group for the school district has invited a circus to come to town, and I'm stuffing both hands in my mouth. Really am conflicted about them setting up here--have too many detailed questions to ask about tent security, insurance, lot management, ticket surcharges, etc.

28. What did you want to be when you were little? A teacher. A veterinarian. (My parents told me that wasn't a good enough ideal--they wanted me to become a brain surgeon. Wha?)

29. What is your best childhood memory? Having tuna salad sandwiches with my grandmother on her back lawn, pretending that we were dining at a very fawncy restaurant.

30. Ever been toilet papering? Absolutely not.

31. Been in a car accident? Yep.

32. Favorite restaurant? Umm. Doyle's Bar in Boston. Pho Pasteur in Chinatown. Cafe La Med in Berkeley.

33. Favorite flower? Really spicy or tea-scented roses.

34. Favorite ice cream? Coffee Heath Bar Crunch

35. Favorite fast food restaurant? In and Out Burger? I think? Maybe?

36. How many times did you fail your drivers test? None.

37. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? I don't shop that much. Maybe Bed Bath and Beyond? I have this thing for lots of perfectly matched towels and expensive sheet sets. But then I could go crazy in a pet supply place too. Or a bookstore, obviously.

38. Who are you most curious about their responses to this?I dunno. I lifted this from everyone else who's been doing it (Cindy, Kristie, Doug, SexKitten, etc.). I'm late to the party.

39. Last person you went to dinner with? Dear Butcher? I really don't remember, to be honest. But I'm thinking that if it were dinner then Dear Butcher was there. Lunch? Different story. A board member and the Superintendent.

40. How many tattoos do you have? None. But I wouldn't mind getting one.

41. How many people are you sending this to? Quoting Doug's response on this question: "None. Or many. Depends on your point of view."

42. What time did you finish this e-mail? 9:15 am

43. Favorite magazine? Atlantic Monthly. Harper's. Knitter's. Saveur.

44. If you could meet any famous person, who would it be? Chris Rock.

45. If you could choose another first name, what would it be? Oh dear. I kind of already did that when I started the blog, didn't I? I like Shushan (which means Lily). I like variations on Catherine and Christine too.

46. If you could change your profession right now, what would you be doing? Speech writer for a politician. Successful (HA! HA!) barn owner. (It never happens.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Law of Unintended Consequences

OK, this makes me laugh.

Conserve electricity, folks. It's vital. We'll even give you rebates and such to encourage conservation.

OOPS! You did that so well, that now we have to raise rates. Doh!
Toronto Hydro seeks rate hike as consumers cut usage
Last Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2007 | 3:49 PM ET
CBC News

The popularity of energy conservation programs is hurting Toronto Hydro's bottom line and the utility is now seeking to raise electricity rates as a result.

However, the company is urging people to continue to conserve, because otherwise there might be even larger expenses to pass on to customers. To meet extra demand, for example, it would cost more to upgrade aging infrastructure.

"It's important to the electrical grid and certainly to the province, air quality and all of that that we push this aggressively," Toronto Hydro-Electric System Ltd. spokesman Blair Peberdy said Thursday.

Toronto Hydro-Electric System Ltd. has applied for a rate increase of 6.3 per cent on May 1 to recover a $10.4-million drop in revenue.

If approved, customers using about 1,000 kilowatt hours per month would see an increase of $2.07 on their bills, the utility says.

That's about equal to the amount an average household saved thanks to conservation efforts. Peberdy says the average home cut their electricity bills by $25 a year by using less hydro.
The utility blames the revenue loss on the success of conservation programs over the past two years and the cost of buying and installing thousands of smart meters.

Peberdy said the province and regulators recognize the dilemma facing utilities: conservation is "needed desperately" but "eroding" the revenues of utilities, leaving them struggling to provide reliable electricity.

The utility says electricity loads in the city fell by 178.5 million kilowatt hours — enough to power 178,000 homes for a month — between spring 2005 and the end of 2006.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Faith Mountain

Cue the Heavenly Chorus.

I opened my package of coupons which come in the mail every week, the ones for new windows, muffler jobs, and driveway concrete colorization services, and found this flyer for a new Thomas Kinkade Collectable, Faith Mountain.

First, what the picture above does not represent is that it Lights Up. Yes, folks, it runs on 3 AA batteries (not included) or an AC adapter. Second, the breathless ad copy is just as horrific as the mountain itself.

For the first time...
Italics AND ellipses. Wow.

now the story of Christ's glorious ascension into the Kingdom of Heaven comes vividly to life in a three-dimensional masterpiece presented by the Painter of Lighttm.
Ummm. There's so many terrible ideas coming together in that one sentence.

For the first time ever the story of Christ is presented? Yeah. Never heard it before, or watched it on TV, or read about it, or saw a movie of it.

Oh. Maybe it's: for the first time the story vividly comes to life. This reminds me of the great Flanders and Swann comment about Hi-Fidelity: "This will recreate the sensation of having a full concert orchestra actually playing IN your living room. Not that I'd want a full concert orchestra actually playing IN my living room, but the concept's the thing." Do I really want the entire story of Christ's ascension brought vividly to life right here in my very own house? Ought to create some commentary from the neighbors.

Maybe the meaning is: For the first time Thomas Kinkade has taken a crack at recreating the Easter story in three dimensions. To which I can only reply, "Can't say that I much care, but I am intrigued by the use of batteries."

The website doesn't show the detail views, but on the flyer we see various closeups. Here is Jesus on his knees before a woman as he labors under the weight of the cross. Here he is riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. (But they have no palm fronds. Wha?) Here is his empty cross. And look, there he is all angeley on the top of the mountain with a light cascading over his shoulders from above. (Neat trick that, to have the mountain glow from the 3 AA batteries but also come from ABOVE the sculpture too. Oh wait, is that a studio trick? Gosh.)

I had to read the entire copy, and then I had to call my Mom to read it to her. My mother, the Ph.D., who once taught at Harvard Divinity School and is the family expert on Bible history and Biblical Archaeology. My mother who used to collect horrible cookbooks found at flea markets. (Each had to include at least one recipe for some abomination which required both Corn Flakes and Avocado to be part of the collection.) Not only can you not SEE the image of him dying on the cross, but you have to wade through this:

The Faith Mountain illuminated Masterpiece Edition is entirely hand-crafted and hand-painted featuring over thirteen meticulously detailed and dramatic scenes including 45 sculpted figurines. (Commas cost extra?) As you turn the fully sculptural Faith Mountain around, you'll see the inspiring story unfold before your eyes. (You already electrified the thing. No turntable?) From His riding into Jerusalem to His betrayal and trial to His dying on the cross and ultimately His triumph over the grave, the Hawthorne exclusive is a true testatment to Jesus' love, faith and strength. (Testatment? Mean you Testament, Khemosabi? If I knew what a "testatment" was, I might very well agree with you that this IS a true testament to all of the above.)
Members of the intelligentsia that we are, we guffawed at the schlock of the whole thing, all the while saying, "Who BUYS this crap? Why does it Light UP?"

Mom came up with the best answer.

According to her, what they are not telling you is that the light bulb is no ordinary twenty watt bulb. No, this one is imbued with Christ's healing power. If you get really close to Faith Mountain and stare right at it for a few days on end, the sculpture is guaranteed to heal Seasonal Affective Disorder. That's why it has a money-back guarantee attached.

When my Dad was a kid, the president of his boarding school told the boys that they were in for a rare treat as a renowned group of evangelists would be visiting the school that very weekend. They dressed for the occasion in their "dress pinks" and Sam Browne belts, expecting the usual morning-long sermon, hymns, and healings. (My father was personally saved by Billy Graham under similar circumstances. I think it didn't quite take hold.) When they got to the auditorium, the preachers had drawn three fluorescent crosses on the blackboard with colored chalk. My Dad remembers the center cross as being bright pink. After the boys filed in and sat down, they participated in a shared prayer. Then the preachers broke out three musical saws and started playing favorite hymns to the politely astonished group of teen aged boys, all of whom had been brought up to regard preachers with the greatest respect and dignity.

My Mom says that Faith Mountain must be the Musical Saw version of the Pieta.

Gotta go with that interpretation. After all, she has the degree.

I think we are both going straight to Hell. Do not pass Go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Believable dialogue

I love great dialogue. It flows and leaps and sparkles when it's right, and it sounds just like a Lone Ranger Radio Hour announcer when it doesn't. In romances there's a common plot device, the "Big Mis" (the Big Misunderstanding) which is so great that it a) keeps the lovers apart for most of the book and b) is ultimately very silly because if the two characters would actually T-A-L-K to one another then the Big Mis could be cleared up in a matter of moments.

I have a dream that one day I'll write a scene of dialogue where each person is telling the absolute truth and trying not to deceive the other and both parties come away from the conversation with exactly the wrong impression of what just happened. I think this comes from having been in the situation over and over again. I find myself replaying various conversations in my head, trying to figure out where I should have asked for clarification, or what I was assuming, or why I was reluctant to repeat what someone said for fear of sounding like a fool.

Case in point.

I'm talking to Dear Butcher's Mom, a woman I like to be around much more than my own mother. She visits about twice a year and takes each one of our kids for a week in Manhattan over the summer. Nice lady. When she visits she stays in our "extra bedroom" (actually my shitpile room which also houses the computer. And my Captain Jack Sparrow action figures. And the majority of the broken pieces of electronic equipment I haven't yet thrown out. Have I mentioned that I now have Three vacuum cleaners--two of which are broken? Have I mentioned that vacuum cleaners as a rule do not fit in the average garbage container? Sigh.)

So anyway, Mother in Law (what bloggy nickname can we come up with here? Favorite Grandma? Dear Butcher's Mom? Grandma E? New York Grandma? Hmm.) has had knee surgery, so she hasn't visited us. She mentions in the conversation that she's finally feeling as if she can travel.


"I was thinking of coming out with Amy when she comes." (Amy is her daughter who travels a lot on business.)

"When's she coming?"

"The 31st. Are the kids in school?"

"Yeah, but it shouldn't matter. I think they have the next week off."

"Oh, really? I thought they were out that week."

"Nah. But you know, it's OK. Come visit anyway. We'll leave two in and take one out day by day--they'd like to spend some one on one time with you anyway. Amy's staying in Oakland?"

"Yes, at her friend's house. I'll be there a week. Dear Butcher says he'll do a Seder."



OK, class. What's your impression of this conversation? Maybe that daughter is flying out on business, staying the weekend and grandma is staying the week to visit with kids? Grandma stays here and Amy stays in Oakland? Kinda? Sketchy on details, but I think this means that cleaning the shitpile room is in order.

What I found out last week: Amy isn't staying the weekend, although she is staying with her friend in Oakland. She's staying for a week, which is fine. But what No One told me is that this is her family's vacation--that's right, husband and two boys are coming too. Yeah, NOW it's a problem that my kids are in school that week. Dear Butcher is only taking the days off he needs for the Seder, and I'm left with the fricking family descending upon the house for a week of "What shall we do today?" Ugh. How did I miss that important point? What the hell do I do with my son, who's only in school one hour a day and who is going to lose his mind when his two older male cousins start roaming through "his" house? Have I mentioned how much I love holidays?

Here's another weird conversation from this week:

Last Board Meeting we had a conversation that the School Board needed to have a joint meeting with the City Council on the evening of either the 27th or the 29th. (We want to force them into a joint meeting so that they'll sign an agreement they're stalling on. We publicly announced the proposed meeting to put pressure on them to Just Do It.) So I call the Superintendent the other day.

"Any word on whether the meeting is on the 27th or the 29th? I haven't seen anything which confirms it one way or another."

"Yeah. You have to get your child care set up, don't you?'

"Yep. I sorta need to know before tomorrow evening what's going on or I can't be sure I can be there. But I'm not so sure you need me there anyway."

"Oh NO! Not at all! You are really important to this process, and we have to make sure this works for you. I heard the 29th, but I have to call again to confirm."

"OK. I'm going to be out for the afternoon; just leave a message on my machine when you hear one way or the other."

Later that day I listen to my messages:

"Hi Suisan. I just spoke to the lead negotiator for the Teacher's Association. She's saying the 29th is best. I think we're starting at nine in the morning. But if you have to leave at any time to get your son to school, you can head out whenever you want. I think they'd like to see you at the start though, if you don't mind."


Negotiations with the union?

WHAT? That's an all day meeting! Wait a minute, what did I miss here?

If I were in a book I would have dutifully clarified: "When will the Joint Meeting between the City and the School Board take place?" "Amy is coming? Oh. I did not know that. How long is she staying? Is this for business?"

But no. In real life I keep bumping into this wall of "Oh THAT'S what you were talking about!"

Not only do I need a secretary, but I also need a communications director.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

Or so they say.

My last post was on the 6th, and Gee, a few things have happened since then. Feeling the need to catch you up, here's what's been going on. (Long assed post--short version is that things are mostly good but that my son's issues are affecting me more than I'd like.)

My Brother:

My Mother finally drew a line in the sand and refused to pay his mortgage or legal bills. Which (predictably) caused him to throw a major tantrum. Emails, phone calls to other family members (but not me, thank goodness), etc. At the end of a few weeks, she remained pretty firm in her commitment, which is a new and amazing step for her. My brother has had to put his house on the market to avoid foreclosure (because, HEY, he couldn't afford it anyway). But to do that, he has to get his wife to sign off on the papers, but since his lawyer won't respond to her lawyer about their upcoming court date regarding the pending divorce, she's not going to sign off. (He already told Mom it's listed. Ha. But again, kudos to Mom: she knows he's lying.) Slight slip is that she's letting my brother store his stuff in her garage because now he has to clear out his house.

Bad thing about all this is that my Father has sunk into a depression. He's the one who's most vocal about getting my brother to take responsibility for his own actions. (Dad was raised in a Military Boarding School in Tennessee--he's got some deeply ingrained views of male responsibility.) But watching his son fight and thrash and cry out is deeply disturbing; my brother is also very good at pushing his buttons, i.e., you need to help and support me because I'm your only son. (Dad's major button: Don't abandon me. Dad was raised in a Military Boarding School in Tennessee because his his parents took him for a vacation at the age of ten, had him dress in a brown uniform one morning in the hotel, and then dropped him off at a school where he was too young to even have a room. He lived in the infirmary for the first two years. They never told him that he was staying until the end of the day. His parents lived in Brazil and he didn't see them again for three years. His father was a shit. My father stayed at that school until he was eighteen years old. His last year, his little brother came to school--parents visited the little brother every vacation and finally brought the two of them home for Christmas break for the first time in *eight* years. My Dad won't talk about what this did to him, other than to say, "It helped me become self-sufficient at a young age.")

Dad may be kind of sort of getting help, but it doesn't sound as if he's acknowledging that he's depressed. Mom is taking him to her psychiatrist together with her, but I'm still worried about him.

My Daughter:

My Eldest Daughter has been accepted to the Junior National Young Leaders' Conference this summer in Washington, DC. For six days she'll visit museums and memorials and discuss various topics relating to leadership, politics, etc. (For example, after visiting Harper's Ferry, there's a half-day conference on "Would you have followed John Brown?" Very intriguing stuff.)

Interesting difference in family cultures here. I'm so used to boarding schools and "sleep away" camps, that I think six days away from family in a structured program is Da Bomb. We're setting it up so that she'll go to my parents for a week in Boston, and then they'll deliver her to the program. At the end of the program, Dear Butcher's parents will go to DC, pick her up from the program and take her to Manhattan for a week. Upon hearing about the trip, Dear Butcher's Mom asks, "Does she need me to go along with her to the program? I can act as a chaperone."

Uh. No. Actually, this never occurred to me. Dear Butcher starts asking me about visiting Eldest Daughter while she's enrolled. You guys, I'd be mortified if my grandmother showed up while I was doing a six day thingie over the summer. (I looked through the paperwork--family chaperones are strictly forbidden. However, contact between children and parents is encouraged during the conference--if she gets into an icky situation, I'll yank her out, no problem.) But I thought it was an interesting difference in our two families.

My Son:


I'm losing my mind.

No, really. I had a panic attack at a Board Meeting this week.

I'm trying to hold it together, but I'm not doing a great job.

The District hired on a Full Inclusion Specialist, who's doing a terrific job with him. But he's spiralling further and further out of control. At this point he basically has a full blown school phobia going on. The Full Inclusion Specialist (Mrs. E.) took control of his curriculum and FINALLY put into place all the accommodations other people have been talking about since the beginning of the year. Getting his math on the computer, reworking his spelling as scrambled letters or word searches, taking the date off of worksheets so that he can focus on whatever he needs to on a particular day without feeling as if he has to do Tuesday's work on a Tuesday. THAT only took six months.

However, in the time that his curriculum was not adjusted, he's continued to have bad experiences in the classroom and in the hallway. When asked to "do work" he essentially panics. Either he tosses chairs or he leaves the building. As he gets stronger and bigger, the "interactions with furniture" are being discouraged, so he's been leaving school more and more. When Mrs. E. showed up, she saw a few of these episodes and said, "We have to completely back off of everything until he feels safe."

Which I agree with.

So he's going to school one hour a day. Mrs. E works with him in a separate room away from the other kids, focusing only on the positive. He gets rewards for coming, rewards for sitting, rewards for starting work, rewards for finishing work. Once he's happy with one hour, then we'll slowly bring him up to an hour and a half. Then we'll start bringing in two or three friends to participate in an activity he leads. Slowly and carefully we'll get him back to the idea that school is an interesting and intriguing place to be. (I think this means that he won't make it back to the classroom before the end of the year.) He's going to be enrolled in a year around program too so that he won't have the transition anxiety to deal with every August and May.

I agree with all of this, and I like her approach.

In the meantime though, I've got my son with me all the time except for an hour during my youngest's lunch period. He rages, he stomps, he cries, he's bored, he's lonely, and he's very much out of control. I've got a psychiatric consult appointment for him next week--this is to start anti-anxiety meds--he was already diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder, but that diagnosis was outside of our insurance, so we have to reconsult before we can get a prescription.

Which leads me to my panic attack.

Last Thursday, I'm sitting at a Board Meeting, essentially bored out of my mind. Budget, New Bleachers for the High School, New Textbooks for the Elementary School, Enrollment Predictions. Snore. Partway through the Textbook adoption report, who comes to the podium, but my son's first teacher from this year. The one who tormented him to the point that we had to pull him from school. The one who started this spiral. The one I fantasize about tying up to a tree in the wilderness.

And she's prattling on about how wonderful this textbook is. Ugh. In her little high pitched puppet voice. How it affords children many ways to learn the material. Why, they can use the computer! (Bitch. When did you EVER let a kid use the computer in your class?) They can engage the text using these laminated cards! (Bitch. Only when you tell them as a class to get out their laminated cards and place them squarely in the center of their desk.) She spoke for twenty minutes. Twenty. More than ten.

I was OK while she was talking, but after the presentation was over, we moved on to other topics, and I let my mind wander. Soon I found myself shaking, heart racing, sweating, and on the verge of tears. I passed a note to another Board member and left.

I made it to the parking lot before the tears started, but Kee-RISTE, that wasn't fun. I can't believe how much my son's been through this year. And me along with him.

So now I'm a member of the panic attack club. Goodie.

Once again, I'm pulling myself together and organizing more trips to doctors for my son. Get him on the right meds, take him to more therapy appointments, talk to the girls about his behavior and how it's important NOT to fight with him when he's being irrational, get through another day.

Of course, in all of this, I've also lost my main babysitter. The one who kicked her husband out when he went to jail for threatening her life? Yeah. They're in marriage counseling. The Kindergartner spent the weekend with him and "Everything went really great!" I so want to wring her neck. Ugh.

OK. More later. That'll teach me not to write anything for weeks on end. What is this, twenty paragraphs? Yeesh.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Dreaming some more

My older brother is spiralling out of control. He has been for a while, but my parents keep picking him back up again. Which is more than mildly annoying to me, the youngest in the family, because without trying too hard I can tote up about $40,000 they've given him not only this year, but for at least the past twelve years. (Before that it was about 100K per year.) That rankles after a decade or so.

I had a dream a few years ago with a prologue. Never had one of those before. There was this whole back story to the dream, which only existed IN the dream, which I became aware of as I was walking up the front steps to my parents' house. Last night I had an epilogue dream. I'm getting a little too invested in this thing!


I have a younger sister named Georgie (Completely false in real life. No sisters, just the older brother) whom my parents dote on. Georgie has broken into my house, stolen a watch, and then lost it by flushing it down a toilet while she was drunk at a party. She has called me asking for money so that she can replace my watch. When I didn't give the money to her, she called my parents to complain. They are angry at me for not giving Georgie the opportunity to make good on her bad behavior and have asked me to come to the house.


I can't find my mother in the house, so I wander into the back yard. There I see a cute Victorian cedar shingled playhouse. The trim is painted grey and yellow, and the red cedar is unweathered. It's adorable. There are bird baths and a pebbled path and a cottage garden all around this. (Very unlike my mother's backyard in real life, but representative of her over the top doll house decorating.) I go into the playhouse to discover that this is where my mother is housing her bird feeder collection (which also exists only in the dream). There are metal ones, wooden ones which look like houses, wooden ones which look like birch logs, plastic ones which look like birdhouses. It's chaos. They are all hanging in clumps and at different levels. You can't even see the back wall of the house.

As I walk further into the house, I keep turning corners and bumping into the lower half of Dutch doors. There are walls which spring up out of nowhere, and I still can't really figure out how big the room is or even how many rooms there are. It's like a garden center gone insane. I keep hearing my mother's voice; she's arguing with me about my ill treatment of Dear Georgie. Why did I lend her the watch when I knew she would lose it?

"But I didn't!! She broke into my house!"

"Why didn't you hide the watch if it meant so much to you? Poor Georgie. She's so careless. It's so like her to lose something while in the bathroom."


And I still can't find my mother to actually confront her face to face.

After I had the dream I went over it in some detail with my therapist, who was completely delighted that I had imagined a whole new sibling. A sister with a man's name (almost). She wanted to know all about how I've managed to essentially forget, over time, that I even HAVE a brother. He's such a non-issue that he's even dropped out of my dreams and needed a replacement in a drunken little sister. She loved the description of the house and wanted to know in detail what it felt like to be wandering around in my mother's chaos. It was a fruitful session.

So last night, at least six, possibly seven years after I originally dreamed this dream, I dreamt the epilogue. Or maybe a later chapter and the true epilogue is still to come.

Last night:

I go to visit my Mom and find her sitting in the garden house on the floor. The house is much smaller-- no furniture, the floor is packed and swept dirt. There are three windows and a door, no decorations, and no bird feeders. My mother is crying, "Your brother made me sell my beautiful collection! He needed the money. What will Georgie do? Those were her inheritance!"

I am in the same moment sorry for my mother as she's weeping for my brother and completely livid that her only thoughts are for how Georgie will cope. I'm the one standing here! Where's MY inheritance? Money for my brother, money for Georgie, nothing for me. I hate Georgie. I hate her so much I'm sweating with it.

When I woke up I found myself to be MOST confused. For a few minutes there I really had to convince myself that I can't hate Georgie because she doesn't even exist. Makes me ever so much less likely to rush out and buy a bird feeder though.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Oh, Happy Day!

My son has left school a number of times over the past few weeks. So to prevent that, we've set up a system whereby he can call me if he's feeling stressed.

Last week the District hired on a new staff member, a Full Inclusion Specialist for the entire District. I've had meetings with her, the teacher's had meetings with her, etc. She's got a good approach and detailed plans.

Last week, my son left school again-- this time during lunch. However, he didn't go very far, just as far as the puddle in the front walkway. When I got there, he was wet up to his knees. But then the Full Inclusion Specialist showed up and directed him gently back inside the building so he could change his clothes. He (miraculously) stayed the rest of the day. Friday, we all had another meeting.

This morning, I dropped him off, reminding him that he could call me if he needed to, but that Mrs. E was there today at school, and she would be easier to get a hold of than me. "OK, Mom."

"Hey, Dude?"


"Do me a favor?"


"Call me today when you're having a great time? Just sometime today, Okay?"

"OK, Mom."

Just got the phone call: "I told you I'd call you, and I needed to tell you I'm having a GREAT DAY!"

Excellent! Yes! And it's 2:00 pm, still about 40 minutes to go. This is the worst time of the day, so if he calls me now, then it's been a pretty good experience all around today. Huuuuuuge sigh of relief.


(In here let's just put a note that the former Case Manager, Mrs.W, who was replaced on my son's file by the new Full Inclusion Specialist, is a touch annoyed. She still thinks that calling the cops on him when he was under the table was appropriate, and she succeeded in muscling her way into our Friday meeting. After she left, I left the room for a sec with my son, and apparently Dear Butcher said to the Principal and the Full Inclusion Specialist, "I'm sure Suisan will say this in a much nicer way when she gets back, but I don't want That Witch anywhere near my son. She is not to have any contact with him at all." As they're nodding, I walk back into the room and say, "We need to touch base about Mrs. W's role in our son's learning plan." At which point most in the room started chuckling. Dear Butcher had to bring me up to speed. He's blunt, but he's effective.) I'm sure this will not last forever, but what a relief to have someone on board who IS TRAINED in dealing with kids who do not "fit in" to regular classrooms. Happy dance!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Social Anxiety

Apparently from this post, I had a strange dream last night about Megan.

I dreamt that I was in a large room of people I did not know, feeling slightly social, but slightly ill at ease. Then I saw Megan and said, "I hope your book's going well, you know, and that you can finish it quickly," and then walked away. As I'm walking away, I'm thinking, "Well, that was a little rude. I didn't even say Hi."

So I walk back across the room, broke into her conversation with three other ladies at the party and said, "I didn't mean to put pressure on you that last time about writing the book. What I meant to say was that it's OK for your character to ride double on horseback if she's sitting on his lap. If you've got her sitting behind him, then there's too much weight on the horse's back. You need to put her on his lap."

And then I walked away thinking, "I still never said, 'Hi' or 'Nice to see you' or "I don't know if you remember me, but I'm Suisan' or 'Hope you're having a good time.' The only thing I can do is jump into some conversation we almost had about horses. Non sequitor, indeed."

So I turned around and tried again, feeling mildly alarmed at this point.

"Hi!" I said. "Sorry to interrupt, I mean interrupt again, I mean, um. Hi! What I meant to say before is that I hope the writing goes well with the book and maybe you can finsih it quickly, because I know you want to, and that I'm sure the horse thing is going to be fine, because I'm really nitpicky and annoying and sort of crazy-detail-oriented, and you don't have to do anything to please me, and, um. Oh! I'm Suisan! Hi!"

At which point Megan turned around and looked at me. Complete pity was written all over her face. Pity for me, I think, that I was such an inept klutz at a party.

Only problem was, in my dream, she was Norman Mailer.

Megan, I'm really, really sorry that my subconscious did that to your lovely face.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

In like a Lion, out like a Lamb

To experience what our house sounds like:

Click here and Click Here

No. You are not in a Hollywood movie (these calls are all over the place in movies--even used as jungle noises in Tarzan films). Those are the calls of various Pacific Tree Frogs. It's spring, and those boys are deafening. Normally you hear them as you drive past certain areas of town at dusk. (Actually my son's elementary school has a group of Very Loud Frogs hanging out in the boundary of one of the playing fields. You can hear them through your closed car windows as you drive past.)

Eldest daughter has (shhhhh) some of these in her room. Four now. Horus, Maat, Osiris, and Min. We're not supposed to keep them, as they are native species, but I now know of about four families which have vivariums with these guys in the house. Thing is, these puppies are LOUD!

I'm being reminded by them just now that they haven't had crickets in a while. How do I know this?

Rawk! Rawk! Rawk! RAWK-KIK!! Rawk!