Friday, February 29, 2008

At Home

Rudi, sitting on the corner of my bed, watching (for the first time in his life, thank you very much) the snow gently falling outside my bedroom window.

New Title

Okay, the winners of the new-title-suggestion contest are — ta-da — my old IBM buddy JW and my college piano duet partner, the PianoLady, a.k.a. Cheryl.

JW suggested "Amazing Adventurer", but you know I'm not one to blow my own horn, so I amended it to "Amazing Adventures". And Cheryl suggested a number of renaissance themes, including "Move Over, Da Vinci", which made me laugh. "Tales from a mid-life renaissance" won my vote. And it's related to the reason Tyler and Jaci and I have all ended up back here in Youngstown—the move to bring Youngstown back from the dead, of which Tyler blogs.

If you're a new reader and wonder what the title was before this week, it was "Living Single in the Desert: So Many Men, So Little Time."

Thanks to JW and Cheryl and all who responded.

Travelogue - Goin' Home

Yesterday morning I rolled out of bed before six to shower, eat a little breakfast with Mother and pack.

Mother was, at her tallest, 5'5". She's now probably 5'2". In her 40s and early 50s, she wore a size 16. Then she wised up and took the weight off and has been a size 12 for my teen years and all my adult life. Until the past two years, she walked at least a mile every day. There is an excellent gym next door to Fletcher Park Inn, where she lives, and residents have automatic membership. She used to go over and take water aerobics classes, but now she does nothing. She used to rise at 5:30 or 6:00 and go to bed at 9:00. Now she wakes about seven, but sometimes lies in bed until eleven. She naps after lunch and goes to bed at 8:15. For years she took care of my aunt (her next younger sister - Mother is the oldest of four children, all girls), who lived next door, and who was a bit daft. Aunt Helen died three or four years ago, and since then Mother's motivation has been lessening.

Up until that point, I would talk to her once a week. After Aunt Helen died, my brothers and sister-in-law and I agreed that we needed to step up our contact. So I call Mother every day. In Tucson, I would call her on my morning commute to work. I was always a little relieved when she didn't answer, because I could say I called but I didn't have to talk to her.

She has been very emotionally abusive to me in my life, but I feel very strongly that this was a result of her own abusive father and was done out of ignorance, not out of malice. So there's no reason for me to cut her off. She made a lot of sacrifices for me—the schlepping to piano lessons and recitals, the recital dresses sewn, and so on. I am grateful for the opportunities that I realized as a result of being adopted by Mother and Daddy. And Daddy—Daddy was wonderful. Daddy gets glowing marks for his parenting skills, although he simply wasn't around much because of his medical practice.

So whenever I'm around Mother, as I was for 36 hours this week, I am painfully aware that I don't measure up, that I can never measure up, that I'll never be good enough. (Is this why I love the pig in "Babe" so much, why I melt inside when the farmer says, "That'll do, Pig. That'll do."?) I was relieved to drive away yesterday, to feel less inadequate with each mile that slipped under my tires.

Back to Mother's size: she eats breakfast when she gets up, then goes to "dinner" at 11:45. From all appearances, she (with her tablemates egging her on) ends every dinner with a bowl of ice cream. Then she goes back to her apartment and naps. And eats a little something for supper. From my sister-in-law's reports, there are lots of carbs that go into Mother's diet. And no exercise.

I look at her and see an apple. When I hear medical personnel on talk shows talk about "apple or pear" and look in a mirror, I can't decide if I'm an apple or a pear. I'm much rounder than I was ten years ago. In my younger years, I could turn sideways and basically disappear. I was very flat from front to back, and very wide in the hips. In my 30s, my measurements were 36-27-38. But no more. And when I look at Mother, it's absolutely clear that she's an apple. She wears only elastic waist pants and they come to a rest just under her bra. And she is constantly short of breath, for which the doctors can give no medical cause. When she walks up the stairs to her second-floor apartment, she has to stop midway up and catch her breath. And her lower back hurts, which she attributes to arthritis, but I would suggest (with no medical background, so it's just my opinion) that her back is tired from supporting that enormous stomach.

I made her promise she'll start walking the halls at least once a day. I don't have any confidence that she'll do so, but at least I called it to her attention. She's more stubborn than I am, so there's the distinct possibility that all this harping on her health from Jerry and Jim and Molly and me will only make her eat a second bowl of ice cream after dinner. But she'll be 95 in May and she takes no medications. It would be a horrible shame to watch her have to take blood pressure meds or insulin or some other logical outcome of this weight she's accumulated.

We walked up to my Aunt Louise's house (who is virtually bedridden with Parkinson's). As we walked back down the hill, Mother said, "I don't know how long I'll be around." Several times she told me things about the furnishings in her apartment—she has specified that I am to inherit everything in her apartment. I don't care about that. I do care about not being saddled with taking care of her if she continues this eating-and-not-exercising behavior.

When Molly and I talked on Wednesday night, I said, "I don't want to be 95." Molly responded with, "It's better than the alternative." Umm, in my mind it isn't. I want to do lots of good right now, help all my kids out, and then be gone before they start to have the worries about me that I have about my mother. I want to be a helper, not a burden.

(Caption: But it's a dry snow.) So, with great relief, I drove away from Fletcher at 8:00 yesterday morning. My goal was to stay ahead of the weather that was forecast to set in today—a mixture of snow and rain and ice. As I drove up the mountains north of Asheville, the tires of the vehicles around me were kicking up mud from the road onto my windshield.

The two scariest times on this trip were: 1) realizing I couldn't see through the windshield and that my windshield washers weren't working; and 2) seeing the dark clouds to the north and knowing they held some amount of snow.

And to counteract that, one of the happiest moments was pushing the correct buttons on my navigation system and realizing there was an Acura dealer just a few hundred yards off the interstate in Johnson City, TN. I pulled in and the nice young service manager told me I had a blown fuse. He replaced it and topped off the fluid for free.

The rest of the trip was easy. I drove most of the day through snow flurries, but the landscape around me was incredible. Rolling hills and mountains that, under a thin blanket of snow, looked just like the yards of freshly-painted still-wet silk that I scrunch on a counter to dry so the paint will rise to the ridges. Incredible vistas.

Around 3:00 I pinged Tyler that my ETA was 6:00. He then called to check the logistics and said he had a rehearsal at 6:30 and Jaci would be at a meeting at the Youngstown Business Incubator. I realized Grandma's babysitting was needed exactly at 6:00, so I was a woman with a mission. I dawdled not! I rolled into their driveway at 6:05 and got a quick kiss from Tyler as he dashed out the door for rehearsal.

A little later, in my new bedroom with Boston, Ridley and Rudi, Boston said, "Grandma, can you come back when Santa is here?" I replied, "Boston, I live here now. I'm not going away." His sweet response? "Yea!"

Rudi has been in my room since arrival. Later on today we'll introduce all the animals. (If you haven't been following along, that's two big dogs, two cats and a rat.) But so far, so good.

Thanks to Kris and the PianoLady for the cards that were waiting when I arrived. Thanks to all of you for your thoughts and wishes and prayers and interest as I drove.

I'm home now!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

We're Home

Rudi and I arrive at our new home at 6:00 EST this evening. I'm exhausted and will report tomorrow. G'night!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Staying Ahead of the Weather

I had planned to stay with Mother until Friday, but the weather forecast looks risky, I will lv Friday

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lozenge, Anyone?

I'm with Mother in Hendersonville now. And my voice is already tired from projecting so she can hear.

Places I Don't Want To Live

Whenever I travel, I imagine what it would be like to live in that city. Many areas have gotten the thumbs-up from me, especially areas in New England and throughout Europe.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama, gets the thumbs-down! Just an hour of watching the morning news and flipping through the channels on the television tells you a lot about an area.

I don't think I've ever seen so many religious channels on one cable system! And the commercials. The one I just saw was a slight man sitting a horse. "Hello. I'm attorney Joe Blow and this is my horse." Did he just do that so he could write off the care and feeding of his horse?

Travelogue note: bad storm overnight and I'll be driving in rain this morning. But it's not ice and it's not snow. The weather report on the Today Show right now is the storm in Cleveland, so it's affirming my choice not to take the northern route. The weather report is making me glad I drove as far east as I did yesterday. I have 394 miles to drive today, but I won't be able to make the speed I have thus far.

Rudi was up and meowing much of the night, which is unusual for him. I did not get a good night's sleep and will be crashing as soon as I get to Mother's.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Travelogue - Night 3

I have now driven 1600 miles and I'm tired of driving. I have no insightful comments or clever anecdotes today. I left Dallas around 9:30 this morning and am now in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I've stopped for gas twice, had both a morning snack and lunch at McDonald's, and a bag of white cheddar popcorn for dinner. You want my life, don't you?

There have been two unique facets to today: Rudi rode for a while on the top of the crate and there's no Residence Inn in Tuscaloosa. I had called ahead to the La Quinta, remembering past good experiences at that chain. But when I drove up to the La Quinta along I-20, it looked way to dive-y to want to stay there. So it's Ramada Inn tonight — only $75 for the room and $25 cleaning fee for allowing the cat in the room. He immediately went for the highest point in the room, and is happily grooming himself and chilling out.

Tomorrow I will see my mother in the afternoon. I made these plans willingly, right? Oh well.

What's My Line? - Part Deux

My dear friend of many years, who mails his comments in rather than commenting on this blog, suggests "Amazing Adventurer". To that title I would add a subtitle of "starting over yet again" or "starting over again by choice" or "Life is for the living" or . . . . Your suggestions?

No, Barbara, "Ogling in Ohio" didn't get it!

Rudi and I are heading east again as soon as I get into and out of the shower. Maybe Birmingham, AL, as tonight's destination.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Trav'ling in Style

When I saw Maureen on Friday night on my way out of Tucson, she said I looked like an Okie. Here are the pics. Judge for yourself. ;-)

The Longaberger basket on top of Rudi's crate holds two small stuffed animals that Boston gave me two visits ago, along with "J.R.'s Kitty", a cat Beanie Baby that John's daughter gave him when he started getting ill and who has stayed with me ever since.

We've got this traveling thing figured out. He'll come out of the crate for five minutes and snuggles in my lap, then he goes back into the crate, lies down on my jacket and naps. So long as the door to the crate stays open, he's content. The meowing is at a minimum.

Jaci and Tyler and I define as happy animal as a cross-pawed animal. Case in point.

Rudi can't wait for me to finish in the shower each morning so he can go in and lick the fresh water off the floor. And he's not going to let a strange shower deter him from his appointed rounds.

What's My Line?

My cyber-soon-to-be-real friend Barbara suggested it was time to change the title of my blog from "Living Single in the Desert". She sent me a list of suggested titles, none of which really resonated with me (and none of which I can find right now to share with you).

Yesterday as I was driving, I came up with "Pushing Sixty: Random musings of a middle-aged Southern Belle." But does that work? Can I still be a Southern Belle if I'm living in Ohio? Am I a Midwestern Belle? But then I looked up the definition of Midwest, and it's west of the Ohio River which, technically, Youngstown is not.

(Remember how Frank always says we intelligent women overthink things?)

I'll be 58 in June. Do I want to admit to pushing sixty? Or does that simply imply that I move at the speed of light? Mr. Match always said our relationship had moved at the speed of heat. "Life at the Speed of Light"? "Life at the Speed of Heat"?

I watched my beloved CBS Sunday Morning this morning for the first time in about three months. (Yea to having TV access again.) In this Oscar-focused episode, they interviewed Jessica Lange, who will be 59 in April. Does she look old or do I look young? Did/does she smoke? Could that account for all the wrinkles and folds in her face? I drink lots of water, have never smoked, try to eat fairly healthfully, and guard against the sun. One of the only things I know about my birthmother is that she looked younger than her age, so I guess I've got good genes. (Those are random thoughts on pushing 60!)

Am I aging rather than middle-aged? My birthmother lived to be 85, which would make middle-age 40-60? If so, am I then "elderly" at 61? Nah.

So I'm throwing this topic open to discussion. Tell me what you think the title and subtitle of this blog should be. I will use the one I like best, or come up with my own if they all stink. The prize? Your suggested title featured on my blog. Woo hoo. Who could ask for anything more?!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Travelogue - Night 2

10:00am, MST, depart Residence Inn, El Paso, TX
9:00pm, CST, arrive Residence Inn, Lewisville, TX

Okay, to catch up on activities since yesterday morning:

I woke up about 5:00am on Friday. Forced myself out of bed around 5:30 and quickly showered and dressed, then ran to Safeway to get a travel litter box for the car.

Back home, stripped the bed, ran a load or two of laundry, kept packing things I want with me for the next ten days. A few minutes after 8:00, the packers arrived. Around 9:00 the two guys who were contracted to construct a crate for "The King and The Queen of the Prom" arrived and set to work. Around 9:30, my new best friend, Phil, arrived. Phil has the job to deliver my piano (and all other possessions) safely to Youngstown.

I've decided I have Attention Deficit Disorder. That could explain why I vacuum a room and then forget where I left the vacuum, right? Oh, or stress. I guess stress could also explain that.

The art craters finished around noon. My contact at Horizon had mis-measured "The King and The Queen" and so the cost that had been communicated to me was incorrect. It was going to cost about $300 more to crate it than I had been told. The poor guy who had to communicate this to me was quaking in his boots. I imagine he was sure I was going to explode when he told me of the added cost. Of course I didn't. I told him, "You've got to do what you've got to do. It's only money."

Phil and Frank and Jesus and I worked tirelessly all day. I got to the point where I was saying, "Just put it in a box. I don't care." I have possessions that I will never find until I buy a house again a year or so from now.

At around 3:45 we finished at the house. I gave Rudi a tranquilizer and loaded him into the car. We all drove in caravan to the storage unit at Prince and 1st. The guys were able to empty the storage unit and load everything into the moving van in less than half an hour. I had remembered to bring the valuations of my clocks, chandeliers and piano that were done before my move to Tucson in 1999. I made copies of those pages, crossed the items that Phil didn't have on the truck, gave those pages to Phil and signed my name about 25 times, and we were done. Phil drove west on Prince to head for Phoenix and a load that's got to be delivered to Cleveland, and I headed east to catch up with Maureen at Le Buzz for a last quick goodbye. I turned from Houghton onto I-10 at 6:00 p.m.

An hour later I realized I had forgotten to run by Rio Café to say good-bye to Richard and Eduardo.

An hour or so into the trip, I called ahead and made a reservation at the Residence Inn El Paso. About half an hour before arriving there, I was falling asleep and had to stop at a rest stop to walk around and wake up. I don't enjoy driving at night, and was really proud of myself that I made it all the way to El Paso, making today's arrival in Dallas doable.

This morning I left El Paso at 10:00. After several hours I was falling asleep, and pulled into a "picnic area", where I actually napped for a little while. That's the first time in my life I've napped like that along the road.

I want to tell you that Texas is long. I-20 is a very long road, miles and miles of miles and miles. I saw tumbleweed rolling across the highway. I drove through flurries of red dust where visibility was extremely limited. I saw rest stops along I-20 in the middle of nowhere with "Wireless Internet" signs out front. I saw oil rigs pumping and pumping. I saw wind turbines spinning and spinning. I saw parts of the country I had only heard of before. But I'll tell you what I didn't see for tens and hundreds of miles: no fast food restaurants. Those west Texans must all pack their lunches at home every morning. There was just nothing.

When I finally found a Wendy's sign, I ended up driving six miles out of my way to get my usual single-with-only-lettuce-and-tomato.

The worst part of today's drive was the final hour. I almost had a wreck next D/FW airport when the car in front of me stopped quickly. And there's been all sorts of construction at 121 and I-35E, so my GPS didn't know how to direct me to my hotel. I spent four years of my life in Fort Worth and Dallas, so kinda know my way around the area and was able to easily find my hotel. As I write, Rudi is sleeping on top of the refrigerator.

Trip anecdotes:

I keep two infant receiving blankets folded in quarters and stacked on my dresser as a bed for Rudi. I sent one of them to Jaci last week for her animals to get used to Rudi's smell. I intended to put the other one in his crate to keep him comfortable and acclimated. Alas, when I went to grab the blanket to put in the crate, it had been packed somewhere.

This morning I pulled my favorite jeans out of the suitcase. I had another pair of jeans that I decided to throw away earlier this week, as they don't fit me well. When I pulled the jeans out of the suitcase this morning, I realized I had packed the jeans I mean to throw away and thrown away the favorite jeans!

The Thursday packed packed all my bras and shoes, so I have only the bra and shoes I was wearing on Thursday. Good excuse to go shopping, dontcha think?

Had several in transit conversations with friends today, and again appreciated the technology that makes cell phones possible.

Rudi was the perfect companion today. Once I got his crate settled back in the car and was ready to go, I opened his crate door. He came out for a while and slept in my lap, then went back into the crate. So long as the crate door is open, he spends most of the day lounging in the crate. He's quiet, so long as he's not trapped by that door!

So many more stories, but my eyes are closing. More tomorrow.

Road Tunes

No Billy Joel?! How could I have packed all my CDs without loading some Billy Joel onto my computer? I can't drive without Billy Joel! Guess I'm going to have to run over to the iTunes store and spend ten bucks before setting out this morning.


Rudi, Residence Inn, El Paso

Drive First, Write Later

I promise to tell you about yesterday, but that post will have to wait until tonight. It will probably take me an hour to recount the day, and I want to get on the road. So you'll just have to patiently wait.

I'm Livin' and Lovin' Technology

Yesterday, an hour east of Tucson, I reached over to the touch screen on my GPS and asked to search for hotels. After determining there was not a Residence Inn in Deming or Las Cruces, I searched El Paso and got a hit.

The listing on my GPS screen for the hotel included the phone number, so I picked up my phone from my lap, dialed the number on the screen, and spoke into my Bluetooth earpiece, reserving a room in El Paso.

The other cool technology piece is a new device for my iPod. I used to have the old-fashioned device that you insert into the cassette player. The wire that hangs down from the cassette player is then inserted into the earpiece outlet on the iPod and you can hear the output on your car stereo. Ah, but technology keeps marching.

Earlier this week at the Apple store I bought a device that plugs into the car power outlet (formerly the cigarette lighter). You plug the other end into the iPod, then select an FM band that is unused on your radio and tune the device to that frequency. Voila! You can hear your iPod outlet AND the iPod is being charged as it plays, rather than being drained. Way cool!

Travelogue - Night 1

I'm in El Paso, and so tired I could hardly walk from the car into the hotel.

I gave Rudi a sedative about a half hour before I left the house. He didn't sleep, but the volume of his meowing was much lower than his normal car-riding meowing.

I'll tell you more about today when I wake in the morning.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Warming the Cockles of My Heart

Yesterday I called Jaci to check on some logistics, and briefly spoke with the babies.

I told Boston that today I would start driving towards Ohio. His response: "Yea. Yea. Yea. Yea. Yea. Yea. Yea." About fifteen times "yea". We think this little boy is happy that his grandma is coming to stay.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


There's only so much stress a cat can take—running away from the packer, dodging falling bubble wrap, trying in vain to find a quiet corner—before he has to curl up on my pillow and sleep.

And I stopped by the vet's office today to hug her goodbye and get Rudi's records and some sedatives to help him stay this calm on the trip.

Sample Exchanges with Jackaei*

*Jackaei: noun, plural of jackass

Last night at dinner with Todd:

She: Do you like chocolate?
He: What did you say?
She: Do you like chocolate?
He: Do I like chocolate? Are you kidding?
She: No, do you like chocolate? Eduardo makes a great chocolate mousse.
She, thinking: (You jackass. It's been three years since we dated. Just answer the freakin' question!)

I'm Just a Girl Who Cain't Say No

My social week continues. To recap: On Sunday I had brunch with Lee and dinner with David and LaVerne; Monday was breakfast with Maggie, a working Pi Phi dinner with Klaire, Maureen and Judith, and a late drink with Eric, during which he sorted through and relieved me of old choral scores. Yea, less to pack and move. Tuesday was lunch with fiber cyberfriend Ginny and a working Pi Phi database dinner with Judith. Yesterday I had breakfast with my beloved Jill, lunch with best guy Frank, fifteen minutes of sitting quietly, chatting with Donna, and dinner with Todd. Today is lunch with Taralu and dinner with Gail. And then the party's over.

I was working around the house around 12:30 yesterday afternoon when the doorbell rang. I thought it would be Donna, come to pick up a couple of pieces of furniture she was buying. When I opened the door, there stood Frank with his characteristic smile on his face. Tears came to my eyes immediately. I will miss him horribly.

He helped me move some things around and took two lamps off my hands. Then he let me take him to Rio Café for lunch. I was delighted to be able to spend a couple of hours with this man who has been such an important part of my life for the past eighteen months. Frank is one of the easiest guys to get along with I've ever known. Both conversation and quietude flow easily with him. He and I were together when we discovered Rio Café and have spent many pleasureable hours there together, so it was quite fitting that our Last Lunch be celebrated there, sitting at the bar, chatting with Eduardo whenever he could take a break from his kitchen duties.

Todd, the real estate investor/retired attorney whom I dated for four months in 2004/05, had e-mailed me several weeks ago saying he'd like to take me to dinner before I left town. He was traveling to the Bay Area to pick up a car from his 18yo son, but would be back before I left and suggested we go to dinner at Fiorito's, the site of our first date. I didn't really want to, but am horrible at saying "no." So I pixeled it into my calendar.

When I was lunching with Frank yesterday, I told him I hoped Todd had been drinking when he asked me to dinner and would have forgotten it. Alas, that's the problem with dates made via e-mail rather than by phone: the conversation trail is right there in your inbox. One quick search will bring up all the details, including time and place. Yesterday I had an exchange of one-line e-mails with Todd that went like this:

He: You still here?
Me: I'm here.
He: Call me.

I picked up the phone and called him, asking if he had lost my number. Of course he hadn't, although he said he had. He was just too damned lazy to pick up the phone and scroll down to my number. Maybe he forgot my name. Oh, I can hope, can't I? He said he was just back from California and had spent so much money taking care of things for his kids that he couldn't afford to take me out to dinner. Thinking the subject would be dropped right there, I silently breathed a sigh of relief. But no. He followed that statement by saying he could bring a box of wine over and we could share a couple of glasses. Um, do I look like the kind of girl who drinks wine from boxes? I don't care what the Wall Street Journal wine critic says about wine in boxes, I ain't goin' there.

So, knowing this man wasn't going to be deterred in his desire to see me once more before I left town, I suggested that I take him out to dinner at Rio Café. Amazingly, he agreed. (That was sarcasm, okay. Read back about how I had to drive everywhere when we were dating.) We agreed that he'd come to my house at 6:30. At 6:30, rather than hearing my doorbell ring, I heard my phone ring. I answered and he said, "I'm here." WHAT?! You come to pick me up for dinner, you pull into my driveway, and you CALL me on the phone for me to come out. That's only one step better than honking the horn for me to come out. WTF is wrong with these men??!!!

I grabbed my keys and walked out to meet him. He got out of his car and hugged me hello, reeking of liquor. I asked whether he wanted to drive or if he wanted me to drive. He said something about he always wanted me to drive. Of course. There's the classic story, which I thought I had chronicled in this blog but cannot now find, about my suggesting to Todd once that he could drive to my house instead of my picking him up and dropping him off every time we spent time together. His response? "I don't want to put the miles on my car." Za-zing! It was on my retelling of that statement that my darling Jaci said, "Jan, he's just not that into you."

Anyway, I took him to dinner with the sole purpose of my having a salad and his seeing Rio and meeting the owners and, just maybe, throwing some business their way in the future. If he can find other people to take him to dinner.

The food was, as always, wonderful. I was able to keep the conversation going. Anytime it lapsed, we could just look at the television. He kept looking at me and saying, "You're so cute. You're so beautiful. I'm going to miss you." Trust me, I may be pretty, but that, my friends, was the alcohol talking.

After dinner I promised Richard and Eduardo that I'd come see them again before I drove off into the eastern sky. I drove back to my house and poured Todd back into his messy car, breathing a sigh of relief.

Note to self: Learn to say "no." Quit worrying about hurting people's feelings. Just Say No!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Panic Attack

May I just sit and sob? Please? Would you all say, en masse, "Janny, Darling, you're justified. Sob all you want."

I'm going to meet my precious friend Jill for breakfast. I'm the only person for whom Jill will get up extra early so we can meet for breakfast. I'm in tears that I won't see her again after this. Yesterday I stopped by to see my best-Tucson-friend Millie. The moment I laid eyes on her, my eyes welled up with tears. As the Lucy character says in You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, "I can't stand it." (Okay, so she turns "stand" into a triphthong. You'd have to hear her inflection to know how great a phrase that is.)

My stuff is everywhere. I don't know how I'm going to find what I need. I don't know how to keep aside things to live on for the week or so until the moving van arrives. I don't know how I'm going to find anything I want without moving and sorting through 73 boxes in the storage unit. I'm overwhelmed.

I'm putting my lovely dresser in storage. I picked this dresser out at DeWitt Designs after the Steve debacle. I picked it out myself. I love this dresser. This is my adult dresser. And I'm moving into a bedroom with cast-off furniture from the babies' nurseries. I'm scared. I feel like I'll be just floating, levitating, above everything in the Youngstown house. I'm scared that, not having my "things" around, I'll lose myself, lose my identity.

This is the right thing to do. Is this the right thing to do?

My family loves me. I have two houses and four mortgages. My family is helping me and I'm helping them. Am I losing my identity?

I just want to sit and cry.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Drive Fast

I just made my reservations for the Residence Inn two miles from Scott/TJ's apartment for Saturday and Sunday nights this week. The room is only $80 per night, but there's a $100 non-refundable pet deposit. Ouch. I think I'm going to be driving as fast as possible to avoid too many of these non-refundable deposits.

Oh, well. It's only money, right?

My Guy, Rudi

Now tell me, truthfully: have you ever seen such a sweet cat? Being home during the day gives me a new perspective on how Rudi spends his days. At least now I can understand why there's always so much cat hair on my quilt!

The Benefit of Experience

This morning I had my semi-annual dental appointment. Because they were fitting me in, I didn't get to see my normal hygienist and, instead, saw this sweet young thing who has been out of school, maybe, six weeks. Ouch. No, literally, OUCH!

She was quite aggressive in her probing and scraping. Now let's make it clear that I floss and brush morning and evening and sometimes in between (unlike certain men in my past!). She said, "your gums are sensitive." No, Honey, my gums are not sensitive. Your dog must have bitten you as you walked out the door this morning and you're taking it out on me.

Did I complain to the girls at the front desk as I left, after getting a hug and well-wishes from my dentist? No. What's the point? I'm not going back. Someone who's got to go back and see this pick-wielding fiend can complain. I'm walking out the door with my angel-patient label intact.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sharing Old Stuff

I'm a packin' fool today, trying to see how far I can get in a several-hour span, between a fabulous brunch at Hacienda del Sol with the Traveler this morning and dinner at Applebee's with my dear friends and former neighbors, David and LaVerne, tonight.

I came across a cartoon from the early John years that was particularly meaningful to us, the grasshopper and the ant, the geek and the wished-he-could-be-a-geek.

Next is a photo from Tyler's early years in Youngstown. This photo was taken at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport. Scott had come up to see one of Tyler's productions at the Youngstown Playhouse. I believe he had flown up from Dallas and I had driven from Washington. I think this was the fall or winter of 1995. On the back of the photo I have written that Scott was 22 and Tyler was 20. Scott will have to add a comment here if he remembers what the play was. I'm fairly certain this was taken post-marriage #3 (notice my smile) and as John and I were getting back together prior to our marriage (oh, maybe that's the real reason for the smile!).

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Whirlwind Grandma

I raced to San Diego this weekend. Literally, raced. I took a noon flight yesterday, landing in San Diego at 12:05 Pacific time. I drove up to La Jolla for lunch with a good friend from my Design Outside the Lines seminars. Her life is exploding with sunflowers right now: on the 29th, she will marry a beautiful man she's known for 30 years. I am thrilled for her and was so happy to hear about all the goodness in her life.

From La Jolla I drove down Mission Boulevard, past Mission Bay, where Chris took John and me to watch hydroplane races on our first visit to San Diego twenty years ago. I made my way across the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge to the Coronado Island Marriott Resort. True to Marriott form, my room was upgraded to give me the beautiful view of downtown San Diego that you see above. After relaxing in the tub to finish eradicating the headache with which I awoke at 3:30 a.m., I received a call from Chris and jumped into the car to have dinner with him and Michele.

Chris is John's son, the younger of his two children. I believe Chris will be 44 this year. I first met him shortly after I met John, about two months prior to Chris's graduation from the University of Maryland with a business degree. He and I lost touch following John's death. The dissolution of his marriage was occuring as his father was dying, and I think it was a very traumatic time in his life, although he is not one to divulge such very personal information. I choose to believe that this trauma in his life contributed to our losing touch.

But I'm thankful that we reestablished contact about eighteen months ago, and now I have two more grandchildren. Elise is three-and-a-half and Lee is sixteen months. These are beautiful, well-loved, happy children and Chris wanted the chance to introduce them to me before I moved back east.

Chris fixed a wonderful dinner last night, grilled sea bass and au gratin potatoes. His mother's mother had passed away a week ago and he and Michele and the babies were just off the plane returning from Colorado. I suggested we forego dinner to give them a chance to get settled back at home, but he wouldn't hear of it. We put the babies to bed and visited for an hour or so. Michele never met John, so Chris and I told classic John-the-bon-vivant tales to contribute to her education. When we were too tired to continue, I retired back to my beautiful hotel room.

This morning I checked out of the hotel at 8:00 and drove to Chris's, where Chris and Lee and I hopped into the car to go to Lee's "My Gym" class. I was instantly transported back to the Gymboree classes Boston and I attended when he was the age Lee is now. What a delight to watch this quiet, sweet little boy explore his world.

After Lee's class, we met Michele and Elise at the Starbucks across the street and Michele and I compared our mocha ordering styles. Then Michele and Elise went to "My Gym" for Elise's class, and Chris and Lee and I went back to the house to prepare brunch. After more visiting and baby-hugging, I left for the airport, 24 hours after arrival.

I like Michele greatly, and the babies are absolutely darling. Chris and Michele are wonderful parents and doing an excellent job of raising these beautiful children. I am honored to be allowed into their lives, and I'm so glad I was offered and took advantage of the opportunity to meet Michele and the babies.

My regret? That I let so much time pass before trying to reconnect with Chris, and that I didn't get out here earlier to meet Michele and the babies.

Our lives are way too busy. I must determine, as I craft my new life in Ohio, to keep mine freer, to make more time for myself.

In a few minutes I'll get on the plane and go straight to the Pi Beta Phi alum club Valentine's cocktail party, Beaux & Arrows. This party gives me an opportunity in a single evening to say goodbye to many dear friends. I must fill my pockets with tissues before walking into tonight's party.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It feels like rai-aindrops, Falling from my eye-eyes

Who among these readers remembers the old Dee Clark song, "Raindrops"? That's what it feels like today.

The impossible has become reality. And yet, throughout the past year, I kept hoping something could be arranged, worked out, that would enable me to stay in this job and work from Ohio. Everyone on the various teams I'm a part of was hopeful, by all indications. Donna tried and tried and tried to work something out. But at every twist and turn, she was blocked by a manager who has his own agenda and seems to care only for his personal and financial advancement, not for the good of the organization.

It makes me mad; it makes me sad. I feel like the proverbial sacrificial lamb. I feel used and abused. And sad. I guess that most of all I feel sad.

I'm going to a much better place. Donna and I spoke several times yesterday and last night. My new job includes better salary and better benefits. But at the same time it includes learning new names and faces and idiosyncracies and learning styles. And tasks. An enormous learning curve to start over again, at age almost-58.

I'll be so happy to be together with Ty and Jaci and the babies again. But as I walk through this day, tears keep welling up in my eyes.

And life goes on.

Happy Valentine's Day

I don't have a Valentine this year.

Oh, wait. I have two Valentines, aged six and four.

No, wait. I have hundreds of Valentines. First, Boston and Ridley. Next, TJ and Kathryn and Tyler and Jaci. I sent flowers to my mother, so I guess I need to count her. But that handful is followed by all the wonderful friends I've made in Tucson, who are all frantically trying to catch up with me and dine with me and talk to me before I leave town. I am blessed.

My boss (I'm dining this evening with her and her husband) called me yesterday to say how much she appreciated me and how I have elevated the art of what our team does with the IBM System Storage Web site. She told me if I get to Akron and find this new job doesn't suit me, I am to call her and she will find a position in IBM for me. She envisions lots of departments in which I could be useful and treasured, once I'm out from under this self-serving, control-freak manager.

I've never had so many friends in my life as I do right now. And thanks to the power and breadth of the Internet, I'll never lose them.

I leave you, this Valentine's day, with favorite poems from earlier times in my life. I hope someone tells you today how much they treasure you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's Not All About You

I take everything personally. But give me a couple of points, please for knowing I take everything personally.

Last week my officemate told me her friend who accompanied her to pick up a couple of pieces of furniture from me was a realtor. Friend-realtor called her client and said, "You really need to look at this beautiful house." Friend-realtor's Client clicked over to and put "Chula Vista" in the street name field and hit search. Oops, only one picture. And when Friend-realtor described the house to Client and told her I was offering a carpet allowance, Client basically said the house must be a dive because I've admitted the carpet is crap and there's only one photo.

(Hot dawg. I just checked again and my realtor posted the pics I sent him yesterday.)

Give me a great big freaking break! I'm dancing as fast as I can. This is the first week without rehearsals and performances. My houseguest just left yesterday. Finally my realtor can come today and take a few interior photos. I worked until 10:00 last night clearing things out and packing more boxes and generally trying to make the living area presentable for the photos. As soon as I finish this post, I'm hopping into the shower, then making my bedroom presentable. It takes a damned lot of work.

At first knee-jerk reaction, I get very defensive. I feel the need to explain my busy life to whomever is criticizing me. Then I have to step back and realize I'm not being criticized. My officemate doesn't know me well enough to understand how I personalize every comment into a criticism. She's only trying to be helpful. I want to run up to Client (thank God I don't know who she is!) and shout, "You don't deserve this beautiful house."

Then I step back. I realize I am the Maladjusted Adopted Child of the Most Critical Mother Ever Born. (Ratz. I thought maybe that would come out in a pronounceable acronym.) And I say to self: Breathe. Chill. Relax. It's not all about you.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Future of Youngstown

They're called "Boomerangers", these young people who grew up or went to school in Youngstown, went elsewhere, and then were drawn back to Youngstown by its charm and the desire to revitalize the area.

Tyler and Jaci were recently interviewed about their return. The video interview appears in today's Vindicator.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Girls' Night Out

On the list of farewell events was brunch at Kris Thompson's with my Girls' Night Out group. Jill, Mary, Susan and I met when we all worked at the Tucson Symphony together. Oh, let me restate. We survived working at the TSO.

By Kris's pool with the Catalina Mountains in the background: Back row - Jan, Jill, Debra, Mary; Front row, Susan, Kris and Bailey.

Debra is getting married in June to a man she met online. She gives me credit for this engagement after I suggested to her posting a profile on

Kris and Debra were their friends from the old days working at the University of Arizona. They adopted me into their group, and we have shared many enjoyable Friday nights over drinks while Jill's husband played poker.

Kris hosted brunch at her lovely Foothills home. Kris and Susan and Mary scrambled and cut and baked and served fabulous food. I couldn't stop eating the chocolate chip mini-muffins. And Kris wisely placed a pack of tissues at every place.

These women have been wonderful, supportive friends since we met in December of 2003. I will miss them enormously. I am thankful for the Internet and e-mail.

My Cup Runneth Over With Friendship

The Traveler called me yesterday morning around 7:00, after determining that I had updated my blog and was, therefore, awake. He said, "I want to take you to dinner before you leave." "Sorry," I replied, "you're too late. There are no dinner slots remaining."

Last night at the concert, dear friend Maggie Kosinski said, "We must get together before you leave." I e-mailed her the three remaining breakfast-or-coffee possibilities.

Someone said to me, "Look how loved you are." And again, as I type those words, my eyes well up with tears.

The lovefest began with lunch yesterday. Laurence, an absolute teddy bear with an enormous heart and a sense of humor to match, is one of my favorite people in the entire world. We worked closely in Washington in the mid-80s on two different IBM projects. He moved to Tucson with IBM in the early 90s and we lost touch, only finding each other again in Tucson when I started this job in 2006. He pinged me last week to ask if I could have lunch before I left. He works remotely several days each week (Of course. As do most IBMers, she said sarcastically.) and said for me to pick the day and he'd be onsite, and pick the place. Anywhere I wanted to go.

We have a voluminous announcement on Tuesday, so my time at work is extremely precious. I asked if he minded just going to the cafeteria rather than going offsite to a restaurant. His response humbled me: "spending time with you transcends the place it's spent at."

For someone who was so convinced, to the core of her soul, as a child (brainwashed? hoodwinked?) that she was unlikeable, unloveable, almost intolerable, this outpouring of love from friends is like a long bubble bath with the lushest of fragrances. Soothing, comforting, rejuvenating.

I've worked hard to make friends since moving to Tucson. I came here eight years and one month ago, knowing no one, accompanying a fiancé who essentially made me his personal assistant and then emotionally disappeared. (Oh my God, that's the first time I've recognized that. He didn't want a lover. He wanted a personal assistant and gave me a big diamond ring rather than a salary. Damn. I got the short end of that deal!)

I joined the Tucson Alumnae of Pi Beta Phi and made wonderful friends there. I took classes in stained glass, mosaics, fused and slumped glass, lampworking, pottery. In every class I made friends. I began singing with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus and then began working at the TSO and made wonderful friends, friends who will remain so across the miles and years ahead. I have more and closer friends in Tucson than I ever had in Washington, where I lived for 16 years. I'm sure part of that is the small-town nature of Tucson.

(My two years back at IBM has given me several wonderful friends who will remain so across the miles, but it's also given me professional recognition that I don't believe I've ever had before. I'm in meetings daily with people all across North America, and, as I prepare to leave next week, I'm hearing outpourings of acknowledgement and appreciation, coupled with outrage and despair at my having to find another job rather than just work remotely from my new home. IBM vice presidents are being copied on e-mails saying how much I'll be missed.)

But I've just been myself. I don't think my personality is any different here than it has been at any other time in my life.

When I was in my mid-30s and Tyler was about nine years old, I started noticing him as he was running around and just being a kid. I recognized so much of myself in him—the first time, as an adopted child, that I had seen any bit of myself anywhere in the universe. He was darling. It was as if I were looking in a mirror. Suddenly it hit me: maybe I hadn't been such a horrible child after all.

Likewise, this outpouring of friendship has made me rethink the fifty years prior to coming to Tucson. I'm thinking Mother got it all wrong. All that criticism, all those negative comments to me so deeply ingrained. Maybe they were all hogwash.

Hey, maturity ain't so bad after all!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Road … Traveled

As February 23rd draws closer, I'm visiting the Triple-A site more and more frequently, trying to decide what route to travel.

There are three options, as I see it.

1) The "Northern Route" goes east on I-10, then north on I-25 to Albuquerque, then east and north on I-40 through Amarillo and Oklahoma City, picking up I-70 through St. Louis, Indianapolis and Columbus, finally hopping onto I-79 up through Akron, within five miles of my new office and into Youngstown on I-80. Distance: 2140.4 miles. Time: 30 hrs., 59 mins. (But the way I drive, it will be much less than 31 hours.)

2) The "TJ Route" (a.k.a. "You Haven't Gotten Many Good Mother Points From Your Older Son Lately) : I-10 through El Paso, then I-20 to Lewisville, TX, to see my older son and meet his lovely Kathryn, about whom I've heard so much. From Dallas, I-57 to just east of St. Louis, then I-70 to Indianapolis and Columbus and I-79/I-80 into Ytown. Distance: 2218.3 miles. Time: 32 hrs. 39 mins.

3) The "Stock Up On Good Daughter Points Route": Triple-A tells me to take I-30 out of Dallas through Little Rock and Memphis, then I-40 through Nashville and Knoxville down past Asheville to Hendersonville, then backtrack up I-40 and grab I-77 into Pittsburgh and PA/OH Turnpike and I-279 into Ytown. Distance: 2493.7 miles. Time: 37 hrs., 35 mins.

Not to act like I know more than Triple-A, but I'd prefer taking I-20 out of Dallas through Atlanta, then I-85 through Greenville-Spartanburg and up I-40 to Mother's. That's 2507 miles and 38 hrs., 18 minutes.

The portion from Mother's apartment in Hendersonville to Ytown is 555.9 miles and 8 hrs., 40 minutes. If I don't drive that extra five hours from Dallas to Hendersonville on this trip, then in a few weeks I'm going to have to take a Friday off and drive 9 hours down there and 9 hours back on Sunday afternoon. Five hours now or 16 hours later?

Seeing TJ and Kathryn adds an hour-and-a-half to the basic trip. Adding Mother into the equation adds a day to the basic trip. She is, after all, going to be 95 in May, and every day is a gift or an added bonus or some such platitude.

Part of the challenge is not knowing how long the movers are going to take on Saturday and, thus, what time I'll be able to leave and start driving. I don't believe I can get all the way to Dallas in one day, so if I'm going to see TJ and Kathryn on Sunday evening, I believe I need to start driving on Saturday afternoon. And I don't like to drive much at night, so the later on Saturday I leave, the farther away from Dallas my Saturday night hotel.

I guess I could change the movers to Friday. Part of my consideration involves arriving in Ytown on Friday the 29th to see Tyler in Forever Plaid (click on the link to Tyler's blog on the side of this page) and having sufficient time to unwind and find my clothes before I start work on Monday.

And as I write this and work through all these logistics, my hat is off to the Traveler, who puts 6,000 miles on his bike and his butt every May to do the Run for the Wall and Rolling Thunder. At least I'm not traveling with the wind whipping over my helmet, although Rudi might find that interesting.

If you have an opinion on this trip, I'd love for you to add a comment, below. I told my beloved boss yesterday that the thing I miss most right now is having a partner to bounce things off of.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Bindy's Booth

If you're in Tucson and want to see and buy Bindy's fabulous beads, she's at the Best Bead Show on Ajo at Kino Veteran's Center. This is a free show, open to the public (you don't need a tax ID to get in).

When you walk in the main front door of Kino Vets, instead of going straight ahead into the huge main room, turn to the right and walk down the short hallway. Then jog either left or right to go into a smaller room with about 20 vendors. She's in the center island in that room, with a corner table.

While you're in that room, check out Penny Michelle's beads. Oh, and Tucsonan Margaret Zinser, who is also a friend of mine, has a booth outside to your left as you're coming in the main door.

Other faves at this show are Ellie Mac (in the big room) and Sharon Peters (in the big room) who makes the most hilarious animal and person beads you can ever hope to see.

(Oh, Bindy said if you introduce yourself and tell her you're a friend of mine, she'll give you a discount on any purchases you make.)

Bouquets of Sharpened Crayons

I love the movie "You've Got Mail." Just simply love it. Watch it over and over. It fosters my hope that someday I'll find another wonderful man to enhance my life.

In one of the early e-mail exchanges between Joe (Tom Hanks) and Kathleen (Meg Ryan), Joe writes, "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."

Today I received a virtual bouquet of sharpened crayons. One of my cyberfriends on my "Design Outside the Lines" listserve wrote me that she lives in Cleveland and she can't wait to meet me and have fiber playdates.

And here I was worried about how I was going to make new friends and replace my Tucson friends and activities.

I won't arrive in Ohio for another three-and-a-half weeks, and already I'm making connections.

Color me smiling.

Perfect Houseguests

I have the perfect houseguest this week. Her name is Bindy Lambell and she's a wonderfully creative lampwork beadmaker and beading teacher, as well as being, simply, a sweetheart.

This is the second year Bindy has stayed with me rather than in a hotel when she comes for the Best Bead Show. There are two reasons she stays with me. One is that the greedy hoteliers in Tucson triple (at least triple!) their prices for the Gem & Mineral Show crowd, so that a room that's really worth about $35 per night suddenly costs $120 a night, and a small vendor such as Bindy has much of her show profit eaten up by her housing costs. The second reason? We enjoy each other's company so much. Bindy and I met back in 2001. I was trying to learn to do lampworking and I joined the International Society of Glass Beadmakers and had a big party while they were all in town for the shows. Bindy and I hit it off instantly and have developed a lovely long-distance friendship between Tucson and Huntington Beach. It's the kind of thing where either party can say what she needs to say and get instant support.

Bindy as a houseguest? Made in heaven! I mail her a key, she arrives, lets herself in, unloads all her stuff, and sets to work preparing for the show. She brings her own food (lucky for her!), runs the dishwasher, throws away trash, pets Rudi, takes me to dinner one night as a thank you gift, and on and on. When I get home from rehearsals or performances, she tells me about her day with crazy customers and I tell her about my evenings with adrenalin-sped conductors. And when she leaves at the end of her visit, she even gives me a bead or two. Sheer heaven!

The greatest gift, which she gave me last year, was to teach me bead crochet. I have become passionate about bead crochet. I make beaded ropes on planes and during meetings. You'll remember that's what I was doing before dinner on New Year's Eve when my date indicated I was being rude.

I will be sad when Bindy leaves next Monday, as I won't be living in Tucson next year and won't get this week-long slumber party with a dear friend. And I wish for each of you that your next houseguest is as wonderful as Bindy.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


If you didn't already know this, I'll tell you now: I'm a terrific musician.

I started playing the piano by ear when I was three-and-a-half years old. I don't remember the momentous event, but my mother has told me the story a number of times:

My brothers, aged eight and ten at that time, were taking piano lessons. Evidently they didn't love the process, although Jerry still sits down and plays "Ridin' On a Mule" whenever he's around a piano. One day Mother was in the kitchen preparing dinner and she heard the boys' lessons being practiced. She was thrilled that she hadn't had to coax them to practice. Then she glanced out the kitchen window and saw them playing outside. Curious, she walked into the living room and saw me sitting on the piano bench, feet dangling, playing the simple pieces Jim and Jerry were supposed to be learning.

For Christmas that year, Mother and Daddy gave me a toy accordian they saw in a catalog. I mastered it so quickly that they got me a real accordian and enrolled me in lessons at the music school on Colonial Drive. The next year I started some sort of rhythm lessons (music theory for babies) and, at age five, began piano lessons with the minister's wife. After she taught me for about two years, she told Mother she couldn't teach me any more and Mother enrolled me in the Creative Arts division of Rollins College. I took piano and theory every week, started playing piano duets when I was about nine, began playing for my school's choir when I was ten, took clarinet lessons and played in the band in fourth grade, took up oboe in fifth grade and played that through the end of high school. I took organ lessons in second grade and again my sophomore year of high school, but never could master the registrations. I began singing in the church choir when I was in second grade and accompanied the choir from about age ten on for a number of years.

When I was auditioning for the church choir, the choir director played something and told me what to sing. I asked, "Do you mean the 'A'?" He looked at me and told me to stand behind the piano. He began playing single notes, then intervals, then triads, then blobs of notes, asking me to name the notes. I hit them all perfectly. He said, "You have perfect pitch." I had never even heard of perfect pitch before that moment.

In an ear test that the high school band director administered, she pronounced that my ear was the closest she had ever seen in any of her students—I scored the highest she had ever seen on the test.

When I enrolled in Florida Technological University (now University of Central Florida) as a music major, I had to take voice lessons from Dr. Schoenbomm (whom we disrespectfully called "Dr. Noi Noi" for the voical warmups he had us do in choir). I was lost. Truly lost.

Sit me at a piano keyboard and I'm home. I know where everything is, how to get the sound I want, how to—really—make magical sounds waft from the inside of that instrument. But tell me to place my voice here or there and I'm totally lost. Wanting-to-sob lost. Scared-of-failing lost.

I always think I get into choruses on the strength of my ear. As I said good-bye last night to the alto who has sat next to me this season in Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus, she said, "but what will I do when I lose the note?" She loved having my perfect pitch to help her.

I try to match my tone to the people around me whose voices I like. I rarely have confidence that what I'm doing is right, but occasionally I'll hear good sounds coming from my mouth and I try to remember what I'm doing when I hear them, hoping to reproduce that sound.

This week forty of us are singing six of the Brahms Liebeslieder Walzer (Love Song Waltzes) with the Symphony. Instead of altos together, sopranos together, and so on, we have been placed into couples, then into quartets. We will stand across the front of the stage Tenor-Soprano, Bass-Alto. It's so much fun hearing all the other parts all around me rather than hearing the basses at a distance. Lupe, my big Hispanic gay partner who is a real sweetheart, belts his bass into my right ear, and Paul lofts his lovely tenor sounds into my left ear.

As we concluded last night's rehearsal, Paul turned to me and said, "I love your voice." I could have died and melted into a pool of liquid gold at that moment. I always think "I don't have a voice; I have an ear." Paul's saying that to me made my day, my week, my month.

Paul's statement might even give me the courage to try voice lessons again so I can understand what I'm doing and how to produce the sound I want.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Grammar Girl

I have just discovered and am in love with a podcast from "Grammar Girl". To spend about five minutes a day polishing my grammar—that's a pretty sweet podcast!

Some of Grammar Girl's followers send her photos that illustrate poor grammar. After sharing this podcast with Tyler on Friday, he sent me this link to a photo. I laughed and laughed. (Be sure to read the comment.)

It's Only Money (Reprise)

I met with a representative of Horizon Movers/United Van Lines yesterday. Despite downsizing and offloading and tossing, the move will cost me $6,000.

It's all those books. Boxes and boxes of books. On topics as disparate as dyeing fabric with berries and writing a computer application in Javascript. Books about sewing and quilting and beading and stained glass and mosaics and art and adoption and Gloucester and all sorts of computer languages. Books from law school that I want to open again to reread a favorite case. Every book by John Grisham and Scott Turow and Tom Clancy. A few cookbooks just to dream over, to wish I had the cooking gene. Oh, and magazines. Every issue of Threads since the summer of 1994. Some favorite issues of Bead & Button and Beadwork. A few issues of Vogue Pattern Magazine that contain articles I want to read when I have time.

There are people who say one should not keep books, should not have a personal library. Those people say you can go to the library to get the books you want to read, then take them back when you're done. But I write in the margins and in the flyleaf. In my programming books, I paperclip the pages that have information I'll need to refer back to. And as I sit and stare at my bookshelf, I see a book I haven't touched in a long time and I remember the joy of reading that book, remember what I learned or what I felt.

The most vivid example to me of that statement is "An Adopted Woman" by Katrina Maxtone-Graham. Before I happened across that book (in a library, as I recall), I thought I was crazy. I thought there was something wrong with me, to have the feeling of disattachment. "Disattachment" is my word, I guess. I can't think of any other word to accurately describe the feeling of not belonging anywhere, of not being connected to anyone, of not belonging in the universe. When I read "An Adopted Woman" and realized that there was at least one other person in the world who felt like she didn't belong, I cried. I cried for the years of feeling out of place. I cried for thinking there was one ounce of my being that was 'normal', whatever that is. I cried for being one of those unfortunate adoptees who was dealt a mother who didn't know how to offer what an adoptee needed—unconditional love. And I cried for my sons, whose scarred mother had not been able to deliver unconditional love to them.

Tyler and I had this book discussion a year ago as he was packing to move to Youngstown. He said he likes to think that a person walking into his home knows him a little better by seeing the books that are on his bookshelf. That's probably why I have the librarything application on my blog and why so many people add a similar application to their Facebook profiles. My eclectic collection of books mirrors my eclectic collection of interests.

Get rid of all my books? I'd rather pay $6,000 dollars to move a large piano and a large stack of book boxes than get rid of these treasured friends.

Time Wasted

I'm in the middle of two crazily busy weeks. From January 21, when I returned from my Ohio interview trip, to February 8, I've had only two evenings that weren't filled with either a rehearsal or a performance. During that time I've continued to juggle painters and plumbers (oooh, that's a mental image!). I met with the realtor, signed the listing agreement, and had to put the house back together after the painter finished. I've packed boxes and taken them to a storage unit to declutter the house, given away unused items to friends and strangers (love craigslist!), and started having anxiety dreams about the move. (Driving across the country and Rudi got out of the car and I couldn't catch him to get him back in the car.) Yesterday the house was shown twice, and I specified to the realtors who called that I needed their clients to understand that I was packing to move to Ohio. (Everyone always wants to know why!)

My friend Maureen has been the beneficiary of some regifting, items that will go into her church's auction in March. Maureen and George, with whom I spent Christmas, have this house with a trillion-dollar view of Tucson. We were trying to figure out how we would get together to exchange these goods. (You can't have a great view without being a ways out of town!) She invited me to come up for supper after my Friday evening Mozart dress rehearsal.

I had such a fabulous time. Both Maureen and George come from D.C., so we shared lots of stories about life in our beloved Washington—stories of slug lines and quiet Metro rides and backyard woods. Stories only those who have lived in Our Nation's Capital can really appreciate. And a supper that was simple to her was gourmet cuisine to this non-cook.

Over the past couple of years, working as co-presidents of the Tucson Pi Phi alum club, working together on the winter newsletter and on preparations for Founders Day, Maureen has grown to be a very dear friend. I miss her in the summer when she's learning and growing at Chatauqua and has minimal access to e-mail. I learn and grow from knowing her.

Maureen is a writer, a fellow word nerd. True, there's a higher chance that you've read her books than that you've read mine. But we are equally enamored of words and how to best assemble them.

As I left their home on Friday night to drive back down into the valley, I wished I had gotten to know her better when I first arrived in Tucson so we would have had eight years of this wonderful friendship instead of just a couple. That's the "time wasted" element of this post, an admonishment to not let opportunities slip by you.

The upside is this: in my new home in Youngstown I'll only be about three hours away from Chatauqua, so I can run up for weekends in the summer and get together with Maureen and George again.