Not what I had planned


Though it never is, is it?

My dad passed away late Friday night.

In an odd turn of events, he died on the same day my mom did, albeit three years later. It was a heart attack, we found out today. I joked, “Mom stole his heart…..again.”

So, in the middle of my move, I’m writing an obituary, fielding phone calls from friends and family, and planning a trip to Idaho.

In a fit of grim humor, I remind myself, this is the last time I’ll have to do this. I’m free after this round.

Free. Yet still so tangled up in them sometimes I find it hard to breathe.


Moving on down

October has proven itself a bit of a sadist this year.

I was optimistic in the beginning, so much so, I accepted an additional 7 hour/week work assignment at the school. I’ve been feeling better, taking my adrenal pills and b vitamins and doing generally better.

The need for a second car has been growing, I didn’t want to spend too much but wanted a reliable car. I heard about a place about an hour away that sold Hail damaged cars at a discount and I found an incredible steal! Of course I’d never dealt with a salvaged title or trying to get a loan on one or anything like that but I persevered and made the deal.

Can you see the $6000 worth of damage?

On an interesting side note that only those who were kids in the 70’s will appreciate, a scant two miles from the car dealership was this little gem…two miles of dirt roads to a most tranquil, quiet little spot.

Lawrence Welk Homestead


My son turned 18 this month. That was pretty fun. We did a Trapped room and didn’t quite escape but we were on the last puzzle. He’s a little bemused by the hub bub over turning 18  versus the reality of how his life has changed….err, not at all. It’s been pretty funny.60419-jacob2b20002b06

I had a five-day weekend due to teachers training and that’s when everything went to hell. Okay, not really to hell, I got a great deal but the amount of work is just…hell. Our downstairs neighbors have never like us. Not since the day we moved in. Over the past seven years, they’ve complained, I don’t know, once a year. Usually around a holiday when I’m pretty sure the girls have resorted to jumping on beds as a form of entertainment. I don’t think we’re that bad, then again, I don’t live below us. All I know is for seven years I’ve told my kids, no running, no jumping, be quiet, in an endless loop. Over that last five day weekend we located the straw that broke the camel’s back. I did a batch of laundry after 10.

The manager called me in, waved off my apologies and begged me to consider moving to the first floor. She had an apartment in the next building over, completely updated and renovated, ten dollars more a month, don’t worry about a thing, deposit will transfer, no rush on the cleaning as the old apartment will be renovated before it’s re-rented.

HELL yes I’ll move!!

And there goes the last two weeks of October and probably the first two of November before all is said and done….


A Little Less Laughter


I remember wiping my eyes, and telling myself not to get too attached. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I can’t remember the last time I’d laughed so hard. Having grown up in a house with two Koreans, a Mexican, a Filipino, and some of the whitest, bleached by old time religion white people you could ever know, Ralphie May touched the white center of my painstakingly refined and exquisitely disciplined soul.

I’ve hated the f—-ing Russians since they killed Patrick Swayze in Red Dawn in 1984. (crowd goes wild) Word! I don’t forget! Wolverines!

Asians – We all know Asians can’t drive, now here comes all this shit with Malaysian Airlines…Zero mastery of transportation. Zero Mastery.

Why are they shocked that a rich old white man who owns a team of black men and trades them, might be racists? Read a book!!

It’s important to follow the money…see where the bullshit is.

Everybody’s racist in traffic.

She sucks your dick, f—ing dents in your head.

When he sings the old religion…..  Lord, Lord, Lord,, …………. rowing those men with their one suitcase to married land.

I’d chug a dick to save my family. Not my brother. F–K Winston May, he’s a dick.

Ladies you don’t have a penis so you don’t know how unbecoming it is to drag a tooth upon one.

I love you, you can’t do anything about it!

No tard has ever been offended by the word retard, because they’re retarded. If they have been, then they aren’t that retarded. It’s the people around them that are offended and come up shit like Mentally Challenged American. That’s way more offensive than retarded, that a word most retarded people can’t even pronounce!

He’s retarded, I’m Methodist. Same thing. I didn’t know!

I ain’t gonna lie to you.


I miss him.

(Part 2…in case you’re still laughing)

Shame, a worthless endeavor?

For the sake of clarity, I was raised in a small Idaho town, population less than 8,300. I had a mom and a dad, four brothers and three sisters, lived on eight rural acres of property, never went without food, did my fair share of raising my younger siblings, and have yet to run out of things to complain about.

Enter Shameless.

For those of you who haven’t met the Gallaghers, the show is about five children struggling to survive in inner city Chicago. Emmy Rossum leads as oldest sister, high school drop out, make everything work Fiona. She takes turns keeping her younger siblings fed, clothed, and going to school. Fiona, I understand. It’s Frank, her father, that makes my skin crawl. He’s a drunk, drug addicted, self-pitying piece of trash of a father. When he isn’t stealing food and money from his own kids, he’s breaking the law in every manner possible and blaming everyone else for it. He’s an obviously intelligent man, broken by addiction and selfishness. He could have been so much more. Perhaps it is the point of the show, but it makes me uncomfortable. I think it’s written and acted very well, it’s just the subject matter that comes at me and mixes my emotions to the boiling point.

Shame is difficult for me. I’ve spent a lifetime being ashamed of just about everything I’ve touched. None of which could be termed nearly interesting enough for this show, by the way. Shame has shaped decades of my life, twisted events that should have been life affirming and learning experiences into heinous crimes against respectability. Shame has flogged me on in forcing myself to do the right thing, what I was raised to do, what I should do. And then I watch this show and see this family doing whatever they want irregardless of law or sense, because they want to, or feel they must. They are scavengers, rabid children willing to beg, borrow or steal to live another day. They have no time for shame, there is only survival. shameless

This hit me time and again as I struggled through seven seasons of episodes, the total lack of shame. I can easily forgive the children for running about like wild animals, I’ve seen their parents. Watching these two adults deconstruct their children one greedy, narcissistic act at a time, I started to wonder is this fiction or the re-telling of a horrible reality?

I’ve seen the news stories, parents and grandparents passed out on the school run. Are feral children becoming more the law than the exception? Do these parent’s really have no shame?

How is it that being raised in a stable home, out in the country with both parents can produce a child so ashamed of herself that she readily gives pieces away for kernels of approval? And if you can answer that, then how does a reckless man unable to care for his children, unwilling to stop drinking or lighting up enough to stop, end up feeling Shameless?






The Bathtub, A Cautionary Tale

It started simply enough, my lifelong love of water. Water in any form, rain, snow, ice, steam, droplets, torrents, falls, even puddles give me a little thrill. I love how it looks, how it smells, and the curl it gives my hair.

Rainstorms were few and far between, growing up in Idaho, but when they hit I’d run into the deepest parts of the tree farm and get lost in the rain until the last drop moved on in its Easterly direction. I’d arrive back on my front doorstep and find myself hurried into the bathroom for a warm bath. A perfect day.

Fast forward to me as a responsible adult.


The fourth time I didn’t, technically, drop my phone in the tub, just kind of dipped the top of its head in. Turns out that pissed it off far more than the three previous baptisms. By then I knew exactly what to do and was scrambling to shut it down. It was like watching my life flash before my eyes. The screen flashed pictures, websites, album covers and memes at me in lightning speed. Mocking my slippery fingers, it defied my attempts to shut it down until it was good and finished. Then in that glorious moment when I saw the shut down banner, when I thought I could save it one last time, it committed suicide. Right there in my own hand. It was heartbreaking.

I waited overnight, then tried a litte more CPR in the morning, but it wasn’t to be. Now, I realize that this is probably not much more than an annoyance for most people. They’d run across town to the (enter favorite cell phone company here) store and have their phone replaced. Well, I got my phone when I lived in Pittsburgh, and I’ve never changed carriers. My carrier doesn’t have a store in North Dakota. But guess what, that’s ok! I’ve waited three days for a new phone before, and I can do it again. I got online and looked longingly at that flashy red phone then ordered the refurbished silver phone like the responsible adult I am.

Two days later I checked on my phone which had been shipped according to the website, only to find that the new shipping date was Aug. 25-Sept. 8. WHAT?!? I checked the calendar, yes it was still Aug 14th. No, no way was this going to work. I made a desperate call to my carrier, but in the end all they could do was cancel my order. The phones are shipped by the phone company.

“Jeff, I can’t go without a phone till September!” I exclaimed again, as if just saying it a certain number of times, plus remembering the operator’s name would be the magical combination to instant gratification. It wasn’t. I fumed about it a day or two longer, looking at the website trying to find something that would work but knowing only one thing would do.


Some of you might be surprised I didn’t send out announcements celebrating the arrival of my new phone. I thought about it. He really is the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever owned. I went without a phone for almost three weeks while I saved my pennies to splurge.

In those three weeks I learned a thing or two about myself.

  • I can wait for something I want bad enough
  • I like not being at everyone’s beck and call
  • I can drive across town without a phone and live
  • It’s amazing how many people sit together and just look at their phones. Amazing.
  •  I sleep so much better with no phone in my room
  • I missed my phone more than I miss a lot of people
  • I spend a lot of time on my phone, reading, playing, spying, stressing, banking, perving…you name it, I do it with my phone.
  • I can live without my phone

I CAN live without a cell phone but I don’t want to.

It’s better now.

Trust me.

The Ideal Life

Two years ago when I stepped my newly determined foot on the pathway to the cure, I kept reading this phrase, it will get worse before it gets better.

At the time, I was feeling great. I had just started a detox program with my chiropractor, I was doing Pilates 3 or 4 times a week, and seeing amazing results. I was amazed and probably said something like, this is so easy, or, I’ve finally got a handle on it! Because all of a sudden the other shoe dropped.

A job was lost. Money dried up. After a few amazing months I had to stop everything, and try to control what I could at home. The anxiety that had become my constant companion was winning the day. I couldn’t run fast enough. The stone was crumbling beneath my feet. Despite the fact I never want to do that again, it was not the first time it had happened and I fear it won’t be the last.

You see, few things silence Carly more completely than stress. I can feel it even now, riding between my shoulder blades, gnawing on my spine. The weight of it presses me down so, that it’s all I can do to get through a day, and crawl to my bed. When I sit at the computer it whispers evil truths into my ear and binds the happy stream of words with the chains of my own idealism. Anxiety slithers along the back of my neck leaving shocking kisses that stop my heart. All of that is just distraction, it’s the first delicate tendrils of misgiving threading their way through my vision of tomorrow that do the most damage. I understand now, why she apologized when she call me an Idealist.


I’m so dang tired!

You’re probably thinking I’m going to dish on something straight out of your Facebook feed.

Nope. I’d be crazy to weigh in on any of that crap.

I mean, I am tired. All the time. It started towards the end of April, my student reading her book out loud to me. I knew something was off when she opened to the first page and looked up over the rim of her pink glasses, “Don’t fall asleep!” She told me.  We both laughed, but she shook her finger and said, “I’m not kidding! Listen!” Two seconds later I jerked my head upright just in time to get another look over bubblegum pink glasses.

I wrote it off to stress, to work, to worry and declared I’d think about it tomorrow. Here it is August and I’m still dealing with it. GRRR You’d think I’d just pick up the phone, call the Doc and head in for some blood work. Well, I did. They can’t get me in till December 6th. Now I’m staring down four months of kindergarteners and I’m already exhausted. What is a woman to do? I’ll tell you. You pull out the voodoo, just like mom taught me, back in the day. I did some muscle testing. It’s my Adrenal Glands, my muscles tell me. I’ve ordered some pills and I’ll let you know in September how well my muscles know me.

See, now you’re judging. How do I know? I did it every day of my life when someone would call on the phone asking mom to test for them. Yes, she was well-known for her, um, ability. The most people know about me is that I don’t love doctors. I went the rounds with a few of them in Pittsburgh. I kept going in with, I acknowledge, vague symptoms and every single visit I head the same thing. “We can’t find a thing wrong with you. Would you like some anti-depressants?”


Louise! If I had a dollar for every time I heard that. It took years of fruitless appointments for me to start asking myself, “What the hell’s wrong with you?” I’ve said that everyday this summer as I’ve sat down at my keyboard, only to be woken up a few moments later by the sound of my own allergies rattling in my throat. It’s beyond annoying, and I’ll think I’ve got a handle on it and the next week I’m back to square one. It’s made writing just hellish this summer.

The only upside, I’ve spent hours and hours in that vague place between almost asleep and totally asleep. I’ve some killer story ideas in my notebook, and as life pushes back up into Drive, I wait impatiently for the day my adrenals are ready to get off the bench and keep me awake at my keyboard.