Friday, January 29, 2010

The Have and Have Nots

I was scanning the local newspaper last night. Sean and I were unwinding from our days with a glass of wine. His days spent fighting The Suits and managing a staff feeling the despair of January and pep talking them into wrangling every penny out there to maintain every one's jobs. It really does come down to that. Budgets have to be met and exceeded. Everyone is being pushed harder and harder to squeeze what blood is left under that stone. My days are spent managing the home. Kids, cleaning, errands, groceries, cooking, finances, the usual Goddess stuff.

We're enjoying our second glass of Malbec as I turn the newspaper page. "Apple unveils iPad tablet-for $499!!!!!! The 3G models will sell upward to $829!!!!!! Who the hell would shell out that kind of money?????? Lots of people I guess. Supply and demand maybe? There are those that love these types of toys. Is it a must for a tech geek? A must for a busy professional? I love gadgets, but honestly don't even know my own cell phone number. I've not even bothered to learn how to set up my voice mail.

Adjacent to that story "Food aid falling short in Haiti." There was an AP photo of a woman in Port-au-Prince making round swirl patterns in the mud on a brick sidewalk. The photo was beautiful. A shadow of a woman falling over these repetitive concentric designs. In the corner of the photo was a skeletal dog sniffing the ground. I read the caption "Made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening, these cookies were already one of very few options for the poorest in Haiti even before the earthquake." COOKIES? I looked at the photo again. This woman was baking cookies on the hot road. Cookies made of dirt!!!!!!!

My friend and I were discussing tragedy, earthquakes, floods, famine. We were sharing the idea that it's almost heartless to go about your daily business knowing so many suffer around you. Sean and I were wondering where to go for holiday this summer with the kids. We thought of a Disney cruise or maybe Club Med in the Dominican Republic. For the four of us with airfare...about 6-7 thousand dollars.

How do I balance all that I have when there is such a gap between the have and have nots? I sent money to the Haiti relief. It wasn't much, but I had to do something. We're thinking seriously about fostering a Haitian child and we've made some contacts. Some days it's too much for me to bear, watching CNN and seeing those children wandering the streets with a dead look in their eyes. If it is too much for me, how must it be for those trapped, homeless, orphaned, destroyed, torn apart?

So much of this misery happens here, in the States everyday, happens in our neighborhoods, on our own streets. We've decided not to do a big expensive vacation this year. We are going to visit Sean's brother in Maryland and spend time at the beach, getting too much sun, laughing lots, eating great food and sharing ourselves with family.

The most I can do is give to others when I can. Donate food to local pantries, hold the door for someone coming out of the gym, let someone go ahead of me in the grocery store line, not get pissed off when I let a car out in front of me and they don't wave a thank you. I need to remember to pray more, to count my blessings, to love my husband and kids more and more, to have patience, to just slow down and take each day as it comes, as it's meant to be....a gift.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Horse Walks Into A Bar...

I received a letter today from a former friend. I recognized the handwriting immediately. I've been thinking about her and how our relationship ended. She must have read my mind. She and I used to do that frequently, ending each other's sentences, saying something completely loony, out of the ball park as the other was thinking it. A kind of Johnny Carson, Carnac the Magnificent...but we were always on the same page, always.

We met at work. I immediately liked her. She had this head down, mop of hair in the eyes demeanor. She liked me too, which made me adore her even more. I had heard stories about her before she was hired. A manager had known her for 20 years and they were friends. I heard about her horrific childhood and how she became a ward of the state. I heard about the foster homes she had been in, and the abuse physical and mental she endured. She ran away often and had an alcohol problem. I almost felt cheated of a true friendship in those early stages. I knew so much about her, before she had a chance to tell her own story, in her own words.

From the moment I met her, drama was her second skin. Her mother was a pill popping, wisp of a woman who always needed money or her electric would be shut off. She had various doctors who "pitied" her and would in kind write prescriptions on a whim. Her mom phoned the store saying she had run over a garbage can on her way to the liquor store. At least she thought it was a garbage can. Her side view mirror was missing. I can't remember if the police were involved, but we all were.

She was so eager to be loved and to love. A double edged sword. She chose women to date. Over the past decade I knew her, she had three loves of her life, "this is the one" experiences. The first girlfriend I was introduced to was a tall brunette maybe 8 years older than Lee. They had been together for several years and already had a tumultuous "can't live without you or I'll die" union. Another story relayed to me, was the girlfriend was so angry at someone that she literally shit on that person's front porch. If I remember, there were accusations the girlfriend was cheating, and always had.

The second girlfriend was friends with some of Lee's other friends. They moved fast and furious and had an apartment together with in a few weeks. I had them over for dinner to get to know Barb. She clung onto Lee in a possessive, dog pissing on territory kind of way that made me uncomfortable. She was sullen and guarded during the dinner. Lee told me Barb didn't like me and was jealous of our friendship. There were so many warning signs, red flags we all saw. We would console her, give her advice, shake our heads and whisper.

Why do we choose the friends we choose? Usually we make friends with people we work with, an almost forced social situation. You learn to like, admire, or not tolerate certain people. It's a romance, a falling in love period. It's sharing intimate details and secrets. It's letting those know what makes you tick. It's being your most vulnerable, naked to that person.

My hesitation is letting someone know all of me. Maybe I don't want them to know my secrets, my quirks, my hangups? I don't want to reveal all of myself. Maybe this is why I don't have lots of friends. It is such hard work and I am quite selfish and greedy.

I ended my friendship with Lee because she let me down when I needed her most. I won't go into the gory details other than to say I was discriminated against at my former job and took my employer to court. She promised me she would go to bat for me. She had vital information and offered her full support. I dared not ask her, she offered, and I greatly wanted and needed her deposition.

As my lawyer and I were readying our paperwork, Lee panicked and backed out. She phoned me and with lots of pregnant pauses in our conversation could not bring herself to say she was scared. I was the one that said "You're not going to help me are you?" She asked if I was mad at her. I said no, just disappointed. That was over three years ago. I often think of her and her dogs, and the haphazard way she lived her life. I won my case, but lost my job and people I thought were my friends.

My husband asked "Well, do you want her back in your life again?" I'm not sure how to answer that question. I don't miss the sadness in her life. I don't miss the drama and the people who used her up and wanted more and more. I do have a handful of fun, carefree, wheezy laughter moments but maybe not enough to flesh out what I thought was our friendship.

I have yet to reply to her letter.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Michelle Has Left the Building

I'm back. I can't explain why I've been away. I feel pulled in so many directions as of late. Remember the Sit 'N Spin toy? The round saucer base with the middle wheel and you climbed on and spun yourself around and around. Used to be fun. That's how I feel, but without that giddy kid "WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" at the end.

Maybe it's the post, now the holidays are over blues. The tree has been down and the new toys are upstairs in the kid's rooms. January feels well, like flavorless, stale, dirty snow January. I'm not sure why I'm booo hoooing. Let's make a list of crappy and not so crappy things lolling around in my upper hemisphere...

1. Every day passed is another day closer to Spring!

2. Every day passed is another day I've not scrubbed out the tub. Sure, I squeegee the walls down then follow with a spritz of vinegar and a good scrub. Yes I coat the tub liberally with Lysol's Scrubbing Bubbles, like readying a bake pan eagerly anticipating chocolate batter. It's that I can't commit to getting on my knees and really scrubbing with a brush! I will admit, some days it's just easier to close the door.

3. OK I'm bored with this numerical list, so I am going to just free form.

We all know about Haiti. The devastation is immense and overwhelming to me. I can't bear to watch CNN coverage anymore or see those children's faces. I contacted our adoption agency who became like family to us when we adopted Gibson. Sean and I talked about taking in a Haitian child, just to foster for however long we could. From what I've learned it's practically impossible to just get a child out of the country. There is no infrastructure, and an impossible single strip runway. There's the paperwork and legality behind fostering one of these children too. Many of the families won't be accounted for for weeks, months. In their culture, if possible, the children are then taken into relatives care. It seems like such a simple idea, send us an orphaned child and we will care for them as long as needed.

I then thought of the American families who were in the process of adoption before the earthquake. All the paperwork gone, lost. There are families so in love with these children already and may never see their families completed. Sadly, these children may not have survived. Pray Pray Pray.

Life continues, HAS to continue here. With all the loss and sorrow I still think about MYSELF!!! I've put on a few pounds over the past several months. It's pathetic I know, but a crushing blow to my self esteem and wardrobe. I'm a sniveling mess wrapped in brie and bacon. The pathetic meter is on overload!!

I just ordered Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I've always been a Julia fan, watching the show with my mom. Yes, I saw Julie and Julia. Meryl Streep genius in the role. Amy Adams, not a big fan. What the movie did do, and has done for many is put a flame to the pan for love of french cuisine. It really is a gorgeous book and many of the recipes I eagerly savor. I am a happy house wife when I'm all Zen like in my kitchen.

I've gone back to the Y. I've joined the masses of New Year Enthusiasts with their virginal squeaky sneakers and Rah Rah attitude. Thank God for iPods. I do like exercising and with it the sweating. Besides aching abdominals I get a sense of accomplishment. I then reward myself with a lovely basket of fish and chips drowned in malt vinegar.

Lately I'm feeling overwhelmed with parenting. I snap a bit too frequently at my kids and when they duck, my husband's head ends up on the platter. I need a hobby, better yet, I need to work again! I dreamt last night I opened up my own catering business and made mountains and mountains of Chicken Marsala with Marscapone cheese, Dijon mustard and mushrooms. I was just adding the fresh thyme when I heard Gibson cry in his sleep.

I really have nothing to complain about. My kids are fantastic, loving little beings who want the simplest of things from me; my attention. I'm able bodied, strong in mind and heart. I think I'll make my husband a fantastic meal of lamb chops in browned sage butter, mixed greens and butternut squash soup tonight. At the end of the day I'm truly happy we're together, the four of us. Pretty simple, as it should be.