Contained within are samples of the myriad demented if not unorganized thoughts bouncing around inside my head (always minding the mouse traps). I expect that they will range in caliber from sappy enough to cause cavities to revealing enough to make a sailor blush. If you don't have sense of humor enough to laugh at yourself, click no further.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

week 15 theme response - last journal

Tuesday, December 7th

Wanna hear something you don’t hear every day? I got two pink lines 15 minutes ago. Talk about a last minute journal subject inspiration. I guess I didn’t want to be the only one mulling over this information all afternoon so I decided to call Bill at work and give him the news. His reaction was unexpected but I’m still trying to figure out why. He wasn’t overly excited, or scared, or… concerned. He did ask what we were going to do about the wedding, where it fell in the same month as our due date. Last I knew we only had control over one of the two dates and so asked what he thought my answer would be, that I would love to have a maternity wedding gown? Uh, no… not so much. It can wait I think. I don’t think it’s hit us yet.

Wednesday, December 8th

This morning Bill leaned over, pressed his ear against my abs and said good-bye to his “peanut” before hugging me on his way out the door. Turns out it was for show, to make me laugh and straighten out the frown on my lips. After work he asked me if I’d gone to the hospital for a blood test. When I asked him why he needed more than a total of 4 pink lines on two white sticks and his reply was, “I don’t trust piss tests. A blood test will prove it.”
My reply? Of course, “Your ‘peanut’ trusts a piss test just fine.”
“Well? What are we going to do about the wedding?”
“You say that like the choice is entirely in our hands. I can’t get married before DHS is finished helping me get my degree and by that time I’ll be huge, cranky, looking for a job and worried about having a baby soon. It can wait… would you like me to get an abortion?”
“No I do not. It’s not that I don’t want a baby it’s that I don’t necessarily want one right now. I kinda wanted to get married and settle down for a year or so before taking this step.”
“Me too, not much we can do though. I was kidding about the abortion. I don’t think we have an excuse good enough for that.”
At this point I’m trying to decided when this is going to hit him and how hard. I’m not sure that he’s entirely buying into the fact that we’re going to have a baby. There’s still that last hope that a blood test will take his side. It’s like that moment in the movie Maverick where Mel Gibson is holding out for an ace of spades to make his royal straight flush to win the poker tournament, the odds are almost impossible, yet there’s still a glimmer of hope, or maybe it’s magic… and he gets it! Yay for Mel!

Thursday, December 9th

Okay it’s starting to sink in. Today Bill suggested we tell our folks about the baby on Christmas. Sweet idea, but easy for him to say. His parents will be tickled pink. Mine, on the other hand, will probably do a good job of composing themselves and acting excited long enough to get me alone, and then offer me an abortion for New Year’s. My parents are wonderful people and fantastic grandparents, but when I broke the news to them 4 years ago that they were going to become grandparents they were less than thrilled, “What about money? What about work, and all of this talk about going back to school?”
In other words, “Are you NUTS?”
By the time I have this second baby I’ll have just gotten my Early Childhood degree and either looking for a classroom to teach in the Fall or following my mom’s advice and starting classes at UMO for my Bachelor’s in Elementary Ed.
Come to think of it… what am I going to do?”

Friday, December 10th

Holy shit teachers like to gossip! I told one person at work yesterday and now the whole damn place knows, even the kids! What, are they all wearing wires? Am I being bugged? So now comes the temporary paradoxical transition from home to work to home where Bill is talking like the baby is still an “if” that may not interfere with his wedding and honeymoon cruise while at work I’m being hugged, congratulated and told that, “Bill will come around.”
In one four hour shift I learned more about these women’s families and unmentionables than I’d cared to pick up in the last six months, “My daughter is pregnant too, having twins. Poor thing has been throwing up for weeks.”
“My niece just had a baby boy. Woo… what a delivery though. She tore so bad she took almost a hundred stitches afterward…”
“When I had my boy I never got sick at all… when I was carrying Elise though, phew! I was sick through the whole thing.”
“So what are you going to do about your wedding? I think you should just get married now and get it done. Right thing to do, ya know.”
ARGH! All of a sudden something so very private has become so very public and painfully open to opinions I didn’t ask for.

Saturday, December 11th

The ghost of my mother’s sensibilities visited me before a nap today. I had just returned home from dropping Cody off with Daddy and, having developed a headache, decided to lie down for a while and nurse it. All of a sudden I felt my chest tighten with worry over whether or not I possessed the kind of strength necessary not to drown my little family under the poverty line in choosing to keep the baby, “You can fantasize all you want to about decorating a new baby room, but the reality is, you are going to be out of work for at least 2 months and Bill cannot handle our expenses by himself, you won’t qualify for assistance from DHS until you recover enough to work and we are going to REGRET our carelessness.”
I allowed myself a 10 minute pity party during which I cried into a pillow and grieved over my bad luck and childish compulsions. Bill arrived just in time to hold me and convince me once more that we can get through this and that it’s a happy thing to be bringing his first, and probably only, child into the world. Maybe we CAN do this.

Sunday, December 12th

It was all we could do to keep our mouths shut at Bill’s parents’ house during our lunch/Patriot’s game visit today. We anticipate that Christmas day will be among the happiest days for his mother at least, who is surely going to be absolutely wild to find out she’s becoming a grandmother by her youngest child. After I’d been with Bill for 6 months I visited them with Cody so he could get to know them a bit and had to laugh when they thanked me for, “being able to tolerate him.”
I thought they were going to shit bricks when they spotted the ring on my finger during Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve gathered that Bill has sort of been looked upon by his kin as the one whose future as a family man has always been iffy at best and not worth betting money on. True, Bill has undergone a lot of changes, which I attribute primarily to time spent with my son over the past year and a half. A lot of compromises to his lifestyle and attitude have been made. Cody looks up to him in very much the same way that he seems to look at his father, and Bill has more than stepped up to the challenges of child rearing. I think he’ll make a great daddy. Here’s hopin’.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

week 14 theme response - humor

It does not serve as a good omen when you must suck in your gut and hold your breath as if you are having multiple X-rays taken simply to zip up your jeans. When this happened to me, I knew I had two choices: give up my current wardrobe or lose the excess baggage. I perused several fitness magazines I had at home and found an article about walking. "Brisk walking is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise, even for out-of-shape marshmallows like you," the article explained. "It is suitable for all ages and abilities and requires no special equipment beyond a good pair of walking shoes and a commitment not to double-dip into the cookie jar. A simple, affordable pedometer or step counter can help motivate you to a more active lifestyle."
Eureka! This is Bangor, I could walk to many stores and businesses… this plan could work for me! I jumped in the car and drove to the nearest sporting goods store to buy my pedometer. Why walk there before I knew how many calories I'd be burning in the process? Besides, no sense knocking myself out so early in the day, leaving no energy for a brisk walk later on.
I chose a fitness pedometer that would track my mileage, steps taken, and calories burned. I declined the pedometer that barked out peppy rah-rah encouragement, such as "You're doing great!" How would a pedometer know if I was struggling up a hill or just walking to the freezer to get a pint of Ben and Jerrys? The article also noted that in today's lazy society, most people walk a measly 2,000 steps on a typical day. My goal should be at least 6,000 steps, but if I wanted to see real results I had better ramp it up to 10,000.
Not surprisingly, I had trouble figuring out how to operate the damn thing, but after an hour and a half on the phone with a patient customer service representative, I was programmed for fitness!
Ready for action, I clipped the pedometer to my skirt and strode energetically to the front door to see if the mail had come. I took 23 steps and burned three calories. Borrowing a cup of flour from a friend around the corner tallied another 79 steps and 11 calories. Before long I could see that it was going to be a long way to 10,000 steps.
I refused to let my enthusiasm flag, even as I wondered how to meet my daily walking quota while also completing my regular work. Most of my "must-do" work involves sitting at a computer or tending pots on a stove. I planned to squeeze in as many steps as possible by following other advice from the article… parking my car in a shopping center a half-mile from the one where I intended to shop; taking the stairs, even if I had an appointment on the 23rd floor; going for a lunch hour stroll (the writer made no mention of when I might actually get to eat lunch); and my favorite… marching in place while I'm on the phone.
Then I hustled over to the mall for some new walking shoes -- essential to keep my spirits up. I parked in a far corner on of the parking lot where I had never parked before (my typical habit being circling for 15 minutes to find the closest spot possible). I assumed, correctly as it turned out, that I would not be able to locate my car afterwards and therefore would log at least another half mile in aimless wandering.
At the mall, I tried to remember all the article’s walking posture instructions: I kept my head up and centered between my shoulders (where else would I keep my head?), my eyes focused straight ahead (as opposed to having my eyes darting like a psychotic?), my chest lifted, swinging my arms and hands at a 90-degree angle (too bad; I much prefer an 85-degree angle). I had no idea how to do all this while also pulling my belly button in toward my spine and tucking my pelvis forward so that I could feel taller than my paltry five feet, three inches. One wonders how our ancestors managed to walk throughout history without expert advice on how to put one foot in front of the other.
My foray to the mall yielded an impressive 987 steps, 503 of which were spent finding the car. Despite this exertion, my pedometer only claimed a 62-calorie burn.
Donning my new athletic shoes, I stopped at the Brown Woods trails for a brisk walk. Upon my return home I eagerly checked the pedometer. I had gone 2.5 miles, including hills, but only burned 198 calories! How could this be? My walking article claimed that a vigorous 45-minute walk should burn up to 350 calories!
I realized the pedometer was faulty, and I called the manufacturer to complain.
"There’s something wrong with... your... pedometers," I huffed. "It’s... not... (huff huff) showing that... I... burned... enough calories."
"There’s nothing wrong with our pedometers," a surly female agent told me. "Besides, if you’re that out of breath from making a phone call, it’s no wonder you can’t walk very far."
"I’m out of... breath because... I’m jumping up and down to burn... more calories! That’s what the... article on... walking for... fitness told (huff huff) me to do!"
"Maybe you didn’t program your pedometer correctly," she asked. "Is your weight correct?"
"No, my weight is not correct!" I had stopped jumping at this point, worried that I might have an unfortunate cardiac emergency. "It is very, very wrong. It is unjust in the extreme! That’s why I bought this damn pedometer in the first place!" I realized that I was not advancing my cause by having an emotional breakdown while on the phone with this unsympathetic person. How could she possibly understand? I bet she wore a size 2.
I got no relief from my conversation, but I persevered. Five days later I had walked 19.97 miles, or 43,637 steps, burning 1,616 calories. This included walking to the bakery, where I slaked my sorrow over my lack of pedometer progress in a large cinnamon bun.
Despite this, today I did not have to hold my breath until I nearly turned blue to zip my jeans. It was a subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless. Progress was coming, one electronically measured step at a time. But I’m not kidding myself: I’ve miles to go before I’m sleek.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Week 13 theme response - vignettes

Mr. Kitty is my favorite cuddle buddy. Mem's beefy and that's always a treat for a gal, but he can't purr and he's a stubbly prickly contrast to Mr. Kitty's silky comfort. All I can think of is that little scene on Finding Nemo with Ellen Degenres' voice, "I shall call him squishy, and he shall be mine, and he shall be my squishy."
All 17 pounds of him finds comfort in the most hilarious and seemingly impossible positions. He's large enough so that his "hugs" feel like they're coming from a toddler wearing a fur coat. When those massive round yellow eyes meet with mine during a neck scratching and slowly wan down to nothing more than crescents, I feel like I've tamed a little piece of feline evolution. At that moment I get the feeling that nothing, not even a fat juicy steak, could tear him away from me. The combination of his vibrating chest against mine, silky fur on the bare skin of my arms and neck, and the almost human way he leans into a cuddle and uses his own arms to hang on make for an intoxicating display of love and trust between two species.

Monday, November 15, 2004

week eleven theme response - distancing from the reader

Today 15 Kindergarteners and 6 teachers and chaperones traveled to the Union Street Hannaford Bros. on a big yellow bus. I love my job for several reasons, one of which is the recurring opportunity to be present during those relatively insignificant but no less fascinating early childhood milestones such as the first time on a big yellow bus.

An uncomfortably well dressed woman in a second owner powder blue Accord had had a trying day at work and suddenly found herself stuck behind a big yellow bus while trying frantically to be the next one out of the Shop'n Save parking lot. The middle finger being completely inappropriate, she settled for deflating into her seat and rubbing her temple while 21 people, the majority of which under 5 years old and wearing red yarn name tags, climbed very carefully out of the bus and disappeared behind the sliding doors with wide eyed wonderment, almost as though they'd never seen a damn grocery store before.

An elderly lady cursed inwardly as she raced the pack of kids through the door and lost. She smiled congenially at the apologetic teachers as she waited more than 2 minutes for them to strip off their coats, throw them into a shopping cart and finally allow her an opening to get a cart for herself. Her initial agitation melted away in the presence of so many little people who reminded her of her grandchildren.

The pretty blonde cashier in checkout #7 giggled at the parade of children as they walked in twos past her toward the service desk to begin their "tour".

Two stray children sat down in the back row while the Kindergarteners listened intently to "what to do if you get lost in the grocery store" and offered statements like, "we got a puppy yesterday" and "my dad pays his bills here" when asked if they have any questions about what to do if you get lost in the grocery store. The owner of the pair of renegades shot a half angry half worried look in their direction as if she didn't quite know how to get them out of the tour without interrupting the riveting lecture on what to do if you get lost in the grocery store and thus seemed quite vexed at the children for putting her in this predicament.

The staff of butchers behind the meat counter, barely visible from a child's vantage, halted their tasks to smile, wave, and make goofy faces at the children. They were quite animated during the tour guide's description of refridgerated rooms and one even displayed how many layers of clothing he had on under his white bloodied apron.

The teenage couple holding hands in aisle 10 paused from their daunting chore of picking out a hamburger helper meal they could agree on to amusedly watch the procession of children bounce past toward the seafood department, "it's the grocery store. What kind of a field trip is that?"

Two very small children parked in front of the canned vegetables in a red racecar shopping cart pointed simultaneously, "Mumma! What dey doin'?"
"Well, I'm not sure... on a field trip I guess."
"What's a fewd twip?"
"Well, that's when they go somewhere with their teachers to learn someth..."

The haggard looking girl behind the fish counter brightened at the sight of the children. She eagerly pulled a monstrous whole fish out of the freezer for them to ogle at and delighted in their hesitation to touch the live lobsters she'd snatched out of the bubbling tank. She stole a moment to whisper to one of the teachers, "I love it when kids come in, they're so cute."

An elderly gentleman entering the produce section decided to have oranges when he noticed the 21 visitors arranged in front of the apple stands, calling out colors and handing around exotic fruits to run their tiny hands over.

Upon the class's arrival, the baker behind the cake display immediately grinned and handed out cookies to 15 eager outstretched hands. She proudly presented her latest elaborate cakes, cookies and cupcakes while the children, who were dangerously close to lunch time, ooh-ed and aah-ed from watering mouths.

The very punctual bus driver greeted each child as the parade finally struggled up the steps of the big yellow bus, tiny arms laden with winter coats, complimentary goody bags and infectious little grins.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

week ten theme response - irony

My life is riddled with irony right down to the very person everyone in my life thinks he or she knows. Everywhere I go people seem to seek and trust my advice, encourage me to take the lead and delegate whenever possible, admire my quick wit and creativity, entrust me with tricks of the trade deserving of being handed down in a selective manner, surrender themselves to my selflessness and maternal doting. The nickname "Mom" has followed me since long before I became one. After a three day weekend study session with Justin, a prematurely eccentric earthy character whose intelligence and complete and utter lack of naivete nearly choked me when I first met him, told me, "I've never met anyone who sees so much beauty in the world, but hates to be alive."
Now, this was a point in my life where rock bottom was in clear view and not necessarily to be compared too strongly with the present, but there still lingers a tenacious doubt. My demons haven't gone anywhere, they've backed off because they don't know what to make of the way Cody renders them powerless with a look, a coy little grin, a new word, a new accomplishment (he wrote his name last week), or his unbearably adorable idea of a hug (without dropping whatever he's holding in his hands he'll lean into me, setting his head in my shoulder with a tiny rehearsed, "awwwwww").
They still find me when they can. Over the years I've fashioned a sort of camouflage that has grown more opaque with each recital of common mannerisms and etiquette. Pleases and Thank-You's, if you don't mind's and don't take this the wrong way's, so many unnecessary words and wasted attempts at true communication. My carefully constructed facade carries me through my day while underlying that, at every turn, my appetite is lost by someone else's suffering and misfortune and at the same time loathing another's unwarranted success. Cody summons me out of bed in the morning with such refreshment that only he could get away with doing so at 6 a.m. His laugh is just as healing as his sobs, because they both depend on love. He entertains me through breakfast and escorts me to the car. We sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star all the way to school. I'm on my own from there and I sink a little... time to put my game face on. I don my practiced grin and polish my arsenal of compliments, idle chit-chat, and polite pleasantries. My obligations carry me to class, where I participate with believable enthusiasm. Work is where I attain relief. The Kindergarteners have a similar dispelling effect on demons and our genuine fun is interrupted only by parents from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. From there it's on to the grocery store, insert idle chit-chat here at check-out. I might pass a co-worker on the sidewalk, insert salutation followed by compliment here. Stop for gas, talk of the weather, that or he'll tell me, "Smile!"
Good thing I'm not as compulsive as I am obsessive or the father son pair who live next door to me would have caught a can of peas in the crotch half a dozen times by now. But I hold it together, walk tall. Sometimes I strut like a man. Other times I'm slightly more attuned to my own gender and let my hips sway. It carries me all the way to my doorstep, holds its breath while I find the right key, shifts armloads of stuff through the door as gracefully as possible and... crumble.
Want irony? I hate the average person. People who can't think for themselves, can't function without rules, can't see the reality that's right in front of their faces and own their choices and words... but I can't tolerate what I am... and I'd do anything to be average.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Theme response week nine

I feel the adrenaline rush coming on as I delve into the pile of dishes on the counter. Stack the plates together, then little plates, then bowls, all biggest to smallest. Arrange cups and glasses in front of them. Stack the pots and pans, largest to smallest, collect the silverware and neatly place them in front of the pots and pans. There, looks good... time to wash them. Wash them in a very particular order; silverware, glasses and cups, bowls, little plates, big plates, pots and pans smallest to largest. Dry them quickly before spots form. Put them away, each in it's place. The other day I dropped a glass, shattering it. It's empty space strikes a nerve. Scrub the sink, every surface, every appliance, cupboard doors, and then the floor on hands and knees. Okay, on to the living room. Tapes and DVD's in their cases, alphabetized on the shelf. Toys in their assigned and labeled cubbies. Straighten out the couch slipcover, smoothing every last wrinkle. Dump the ashtrays, change out the waste baskets. All the while the visible dust taunts me. One surface at a time it falls victim to my dust rag which leaves no survivors. Sweep the floor, moving each piece of furniture in turn. Scrub the floors, on hands and knees. *sigh* I'm done... shit... handprints on the TV. CRAP.... wires poking out from behind the computer. It's quickly remedied.
Onto the bathroom. Empty everything into the hallway, scrub the shower, the sink, the floor, and always the toilet last. Don't leave a single hair behind. Wash everything going back in, right down to the last toothbrush. Refold and arrange the towels. *sigh* Laundry...........
Bill calls it insanity, needless obsession, a ridiculous waste of time, "RELAX. Put your feet up. I know you don't see it, but the place looks great."
Until it's complete, disinfected, polished with each thing is in its place... there is no relief for me. Cleanliness equals normalcy and true concentration. It has a sedating effect that anti-anxiety pills can't touch. Finally... I can work on my homework.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

week eight theme response - starting big

Once upon a time... I was a child. My pint-sized ambitions were governed by naive curiosity. Every day held the promise of discovery and invention. Whether my brothers got more cake than I did or losing a mitten summed up the worst of my worries. My only responsibilities included making my bed and remembering my "pleases" and "thank-yous". Like most children, I was probably too curious for my own good. Much like josiejo when she was young, I used to creep down the stairs after my bedtime and peek at whatever my parents were watching on TV. One night I was especially curious because my parents had begun watching a movie while I was still up and quickly shut it off when it reached a racy scene. I remember protesting wildly, assuring them that I was not scared.
"Oh honey, this is not a scary movie, this is a grown-up movie."
These words only fanned the flame of curiosity, but I was all too familiar with the finality in my mother's tone, so I led them to believe that I was over it. After I said my "good nights" I waited for the couch to squeak twice, signaling that both parents had sat down and gotten comfortable. That was the cue to initiate my secret covert mission to find out just exactly what it was that I wasn't supposed to see, which is truly the only reason that I wanted to see it. I slowly crept down the stairs backwards on all fours, avoiding the spots that creaked, and finally settled myself on my belly. You see, our stairs made a 180 degree turn halfway up so that you wind up exactly above or below the spot where you started. From that landing halfway up the stairs you can clearly see the entire living room. And so this was the perfect spot for an amateur spy to scope out what's happening on TV when it's past her bedtime.I remember being quite appalled and confused by the sex scene in the movie, and more appalled at how much my parents seemed to be enjoying it. More than once I almost blew my cover by yelling out, "Mommy? What are they doing?"
I was eventually so grossed out by my parents' make-out session I went back to bed a very unsettled little girl. My next exposure to nudity was in a dirty magazine that my older brother had brought home. I was full of questions as we flipped through it together, but the most vital question of them all remained unanswered, "Why?"
When I turned 9 we started going to a new babysitter's house after school. Her name was Marilyn, and she had a 13 year old adopted son, Chris. I didn't like Chris very much right from the start. He was a bully that just had an intimidating air about him. But he was also very cute so I harbored a secret crush, if that makes any sense.
One day Chris sat down beside me while we were all watching cartoons while the babies slept. I didn't know what to be more shocked about, the fact that he was sitting next to me or the fact that he was being nice while he did it, "Wanna go outside and go for a walk?"
"Ummm... I thought you didn't like me."
"Why wouldn't I like you? I just have anger management problems."
Not really understanding what anger management problems were, I decided it was good enough and we snuck outside together and made for the woods.
"So Elissa, have you ever had a boyfriend?"
Flattered by where this was going I answered, "No."
"Would you like to see what boyfriends and girlfriends do together?"
Confusion... "I... guess so..."
Upon my very first look at a naked body in person, all curiosity scattered and replaced itself with fear. I'm sorry I looked at those magazines, I'll never do it again... I don't want to know... I don't want to know... I don't want to know... I'm gonna run, please God don't let him beat me up.... too late, he has your arm...
"If you ever tell anyone about this, I swear I will beat you so bloody your mom won't recognize you..."
My questions were answered that day, and then reviewed every day after that for two long years. By the time I was eleven I thought I knew better than some grown-ups what sex was about and the "whys" behind it. Although there was no one to tell me that girls are supposed to like it too.
The process of becoming the woman that I am today was a struggle, to say the least. As a teenager, rather than avoiding boys as you might think, I was actually quite forward with them. The terms "slut", "loose", and "easy" followed me around for years, although I had no way of knowing what it meant. Wasn't this what girls were supposed to do, please men, be there for their needs, offer up our bodies to them so they're happy and keep you in their company? Imagine my confusion when I began discovering my significant contrasts to other girls and their relationships. It wasn't until I was 16 years old that I held a boy's hand for the first time.
Sad? Yeah... but extremely educational. I look back on these experiences with a combination of embarrassment and relief. Relief to have finally reaped what wisdom I can from it and left it far behind me. I feel very estranged from my past, almost as though they're someone else's memories, or a dream that's slipping away as a try to recall it. They're a part of my childhood that I've always skipped over in conversation, treated as though they never happened. Is this healthy? Of course it is, it means I'm not dwelling on it. Rape happens to thousands of women, and unfortunately children, every day. It's a fact of life, probably has been since we lived in caves, probably always will be. Therapists treat people by digging up and analyzing our worst memories and forcing us to confront them. Did I have to do that to get over mine? Yep, one boyfriend and very valuable (and equally painful) lesson at a time. My head is turned toward the future and all it holds for myself and my family. Thanks to my son and the solidity and patience that Bill lends me, I look forward to what's to come and feel all the more prepared for what fate chucks at me.

Crap I don't know if this follows the theme either, sorry. At least it got revised a little though.