Friday, December 31, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
|Mom 13 Years old!|
|Mom with her Godson Peter Scanlon|
My baby was okay and I was too, and I attributed that to my mom watching out for us more than the solid build of the ‘67 Cougar. We believe what we want.
It’s not death, but time, which gives us the sorely needed perception to understand the departed. I have no illusions about my mom. I have not remade her into a person without faults or human frailties. Some of things I hated about my mom when I was fifteen I love about her now. I just needed time to understand them.
|1964 34 years old in her Roaring 20's makeup|
|Mom approx. 52|
I'm glad she is here with me now. I won't argue or be defiant. I'll try to remember the wise things she told me when my hearing was sharp but my ears heard nothing.
Monday, September 6, 2010
I realized yesterday- yep just yesterday, that the most important life lessons I have taught my son- I taught him in the kitchen. Long before the Marine Corps taught him to adapt and overcome- I had him adapting recipes to overcome our sometimes-wanting food bins.
He learned in my kitchen- my philosophy on compromise. Those of you who know me- know I take issue with compromise just for the sake of making people happy. Well- it’s the same with cooking and baking. If the recipe calls for butter- use butter. Period. Margarine should not even be in the house. If you are broke-or have a broken hip and can’t make it to the store – and you have to have mashed potatoes- and you only have margarine- well maybe you can use it then (although you will ruin your mashed potatoes). Never – never use it in cookies- unless you are making some sort of special margarine flavored cookies I don’t know about.
I taught him about the importance of generosity in our kitchen. No matter how broke I have ever been- I will have enough food for anyone that happens to come by. I can make three dinners out of one chicken breast, a little pasta and a can of peas. No peas? Corn will work, or spinach or green beans. No matter how little food we had- we always had enough to feed another person or two. I see him do the same now. He will give away his last dollar, his last cigarette, his last breath if need be.
He learned the importance of having good tools- and making due with the next best thing if those tools were not available. A sharp knife is the most important tool in the kitchen.
It’s in the kitchen that we shared the most stories and the most fun. Family recipes always have stories attached to them. Stories of survival, ingenuity, mistakes… and successes. It’s easy to talk when you are busy doing other things... it’s less intense- more casual. Even the sad tales of being broke and eating spaghetti 10 days in a row don’t seem so sad when you are cooking and telling how you perfected the sauce. For those of us who push emotions away and try to keep an even keel- talking while cooking is the answer. You can cry while chopping onions.
I think the most important thing he learned from me in the kitchen is to have passion in what you do and it will always make it better. I know I am always more animated, more alive, more fun- when I am cooking or baking. I love food- and I love to make people happy with food. There is a reason why all of our celebrations have food. It’s a peace offering, it’s love, it’s friendship, it’s sharing, it’s family. (blood and otherwise)
When Nick was born his dad and I were no longer together. We agreed though- that he (Jon) could be in charge of his left brain-because he is über smart and I could be in charge of his right brain as a default prize.
Now- I am glad it worked out that way. I realize now all the left-brain things one needs to learn in life- are taught through right brain activities. Funny how that all works out.Cooking is both a left and right brain activity- but the ingenious part, the thing that makes my cookies better than someone else's is all right brain stuff. (and butter)
Yesterday, when I went to
So many older people think young people are self-absorbed. But I saw sharing and friendship and a large dose of ingenuity in their little street feast. They taught me something in their outdoor kitchen.
Friday, August 13, 2010
In our group, my son was one of the first to get out. In October 2007, I quietly seized my magnifying glass and started watching his every move. When his three-year marriage fell apart after 6 months out of the Marine’s and he came to stay with me, my scrutiny increased. Oh, I was cool. I practice what I preach. I didn’t tell him what he should or shouldn’t do. I never said pick up your room (I didn’t need to) and his bathroom was always spotless. He smoked but respectfully, outside and away from my sensitive lungs. He drank some beers and sometimes gin. I said nothing. Well- I probably gave him some looks. Those of you who know me… know I would have to give some looks. It was great to have him around- but we both knew- it wouldn’t last long. He needed his privacy. He had been on his own a long time.
I tried not to talk about his time in Iraq. If he mentioned it, I listened. I knew of a few horrific incidents and I didn’t need to know much more than that to understand that he would need time to heal.
He signed up for classes and didn’t care about them at all. He took filler classes in order to get his GI BILL money. He moved to San Francisco to a trendy part of town where he could hang out with other people who like to read, write and solve problems. He found a bar he could go to where no one bugs him. An old people’s bar he says, where they have trivia games and good beer.
I saw some slipping and sliding. He had some bad days. He tried his hardest to be Zen. But, you know, people always mess that up. If I was trying to gauge if he needed help I asked him abstractly. “What do you think Vets need right now?” He knew what I was doing, but somehow it made it easier to talk. He told me what they needed. He said upon their exit, they should be given orders to report to their civilian job in 2 weeks, or a month… and that their civilian job should be sensitive to the needs of a Vet. (VA days, PTSD etc.) (The jobs could be mostly Gov’t jobs at civic centers, state, city, forestry or park & rec. etc. and temporary so people could rotate in/out.) They need to get normal fast.
Nick found the whole job hunting experience demeaning. His infantry training, Security Force training and leadership training didn’t mean anything to the places he thought he should apply. Borders Books didn’t even want to know about his military experience. Preferring he left those four years blank. (At his request, I did get involved in that and they ended up rewriting their applications after I battered them for a year.) “Can you run a cash register?” one of them asked. He pivoted and left. They were too stupid.
Now- August 2010. Almost three years later. I see healing. Oh, I know he may still have bad days from time to time. But a couple of weeks ago he text me to tell me that he was in a crappy mood, he didn’t want to talk to anyone, but was thinking about me, and wanted me to know that he loves me. I already know that- but the progressive part of this was he was letting me know he was going underground for a day or two- so I wouldn’t have to worry. That was good.
Tonight he called and said that he was listening to a Willie Nelson album and thinking of me. I told him I blasted Willie Nelson to him while I was pregnant with him, but he remembered it from later when I drove my old ‘78 Nova back and forth to his Dad’s to get him and bring him the 50 miles back to my house- and we listened to Willie Nelson & Leon Redbone full blast -all the time. (Maybe this is how I lost my hearing? )
He told me that got signed up for his classes at San Francisco State University. He got the classes he wanted and he sounded happy. Now happy is what I have been waiting for. I’m happy now too. He also said he was getting organized- with an actual organizer. Wow, I said. Maybe you could help me get organized.
Sometimes life is two steps forward and three back. But, I have a feeling my kid has actually turned some corner here. The only thing that will make me happier is when the rest of my friends can say- Welcome Home Marine- put your civilian clothes on and just take your time unwinding.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Here is how I see it.
1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
Social Security is socialistic (check out that name)
Disability is socialistic
Unemployment Insurance- Socialistic
The Military is a socialistic society.
I don’t see anyone giving back their SS checks, disability checks, unemployment checks or condemning the military (for that reason anyway).
I know- We need to take responsibility for our own lives... right?
Well – I work. It’s a little job that doesn’t pay enough but it’s something. I have always worked- sometimes 3 jobs. But I have had some very lean years too. The last few- have kicked my butt. If it were not for a more than generous family, I would be living in my car… no wait- I wouldn’t have a car. I would be under a bridge with my 2 dogs. I wouldn’t have Smokie- he would be dead. No money for his meds. Well Maybe I would be dead too. One cold night under the bridge- pneumonia in my already compromised lungs… no insurance. Or, maybe just so depressed I would take that big dive off the Golden Gate. Yeah- I would be dead.
Fortunately – my family has been able to help me. But if something catastrophic were to happen- no one in my family could take that on. I wouldn’t want them to.
I am 58 and single. I guess it’s my fault I’m single- and that I would not marry or live with someone just to have some financial security. I would not compromise my belief that people should get married because they are in love- not because there is a social security check or pension in the future. So yes- I guess I am responsible for that decision. I don’t think I am responsible for the economy though. The lack of jobs, the sky rocketing insurance rates, my pre-existing conditions which I have had since I was 4 years old. No- I don’t believe I am. I have paid taxes all my life too. Well except for the past couple of years since I didn’t make enough to worry about it.
Now I do not begrudge the people for whom my tax dollars paid their disability payments or their social security payments. I do not call them names or berate them for not being responsible people. Actually- I am always glad I still have my health and I can work. I am grateful for this.
What I don’t understand is the refusal of some people to actually understand what socialism is and what it isn’t. Having a government run medical reform in the United States will not make us a socialist country- just like having capitalism in China will not make them democratic.
I am not a wing nut. I am neither a liberal nor a conservative. This is not about politics for me. This is about life. The quality of life. We live in the United States of America and we can’t afford health insurance unless we get it through our job- if we are lucky enough to have them offer it. If we are lucky enough to have a job. More than 14.9 MILLION people are currently without jobs.
Harvard just released a study that says 45,000 people die in the United States a year in because they have no health insurance. I just don’t understand how that could happen in a country with our assets. This is not a 3rd world country.
Anyway. I know at least half the country is PO’d because this bill passed. But I’m okay with it. And will I still be okay when it comes time to pay some taxes? Yes- I will. I will think of it as helping some other 58-year-old woman who lives alone with her dogs and would rather not have to live under a bridge or go over one if she gets sick.
Monday, March 8, 2010
When I was very young, someone hurt me. I had nightmares for a long time. I was afraid of many things- until my people adopted me. They made me feel safe.
When I look back now I realize they had great patience with me. Sitting up at night with me while I howled from nightmares, and letting me sleep on their bed while they pet me back to sleep. It’s no wonder now how I have lived so long.
I was insane for a short time. But the patience and love they showed me helped me heal. Then later when I was depressed, my people got me my own dog-my life-long companion, Mac.
I used to be able to run like the wind. No one could catch me. Everyone tried. I ran the football field when my boy was at practice. I ran after the birds until I was so tired and hot I would lie in the mud to cool off. I could see where the ball landed no matter how far off you threw it and I could smell anyone coming a mile away. I could climb trees. My memory was outstanding. I never forgot a face, a smell or a place. If I could have driven a car- I would have known how to drive to Auntie Pound Cake’s house, or Boys’ Dad’s house, or Dr. Millers or all the way back to California. One of my favorite things was riding in the car with my lady.
My teeth were sharp and strong and I could rip meat apart or gnaw a bone for hours.I could sit in the hot sun or the snow, it didn’t matter. As long as I was with my people, I was happy.
We used to walk around a lake all the time and went to parks where I played and chased and ran after balls. People would stop my lady and say how handsome I was. And I was. My coat was black and shiny. They would ask her what she did to get it so shiny. And she would tell them, baths, olive oil, eggs. I have to admit I was the best smelling dog in the neighborhood.
When my boy went away, I was very sad. It didn’t help that everyone else was sad too. I stayed strong for my lady- but it was hard. And then when we moved I was sad. I’m ashamed to admit I whined all the way to North Carolina. And Boy’s dad was so nice to me-and stopped the car a lot so I could walk and smell things. But I guess I was afraid I wouldn’t see my boy again.
I liked our new home; it was an adventure -I will never forget. There were more squirrels than I could chase in a lifetime; possum, raccoons, deer, and every bird known to animal-kind. One raccoon tried to trespass to my territory and I killed him. Then later another came and I wounded him but my faithful friend Mac finished him off when I got tired.
Our boy came to see us. And brought a puppy and his lady. I admit I was jealous. It was petty I know. But my boy was great- he took time to be with just me. He sat on the floor and we just talked. Just like old times. I remembered his lady and was happy to see her. We all seemed happy for a few days-but I was getting sick then and didn’t have much energy.
When I got sick I tried to tell my lady- but she didn’t understand me. Under normal circumstances, she would have- but boy was in something called war and she was not thinking very clearly.
We went to see Dr. Miller and he gave me some medicine. My lady had to give me shots twice a day. I was brave though. I only whined a few times while she was learning.
Then we got another puppy. I can’t say I was happy about this although I have learned to love him. Not as much as I love Mac though.
When our boy came back from war- we all got to go back to California. Boy’s Dad came and drove with us. I have always loved him because he pets me best. He never misses a spot. And- he buys us cheese burgers.
I did not whine all the way home. It was a hard trip though. I had to be lifted in and out of the car- it was demoralizing. I was stiff and sore and I could tell my lady and Boy’s Dad were worried about me.
So now I am back in California. I see my boy often and nothing could make me happier. Well I can’t see him- but I hear him and smell him,. I am blind, but that’s okay. I get around pretty well still.
And those privileges that I have now? Well let’s just say I can do no wrong. I don’t get yelled at-no matter what. I have had some accidents- but they just say it’s okay and clean it up quick. No one is allowed to bother me including the puppy. I get to lie where I want, when I want for however long I want. I am not forced to stay outside for hours (although I never was) and I get extra blankets when it’s cold. Last week I found a tennis ball and played with it for a few minutes. I knew it belonged to the puppy but I didn’t care. I remembered when I used to run after tennis balls and loved running so much I would just keep going and not bring them back. That was the good old days.
Oh- and I still go for walks sometimes. They are short- but that is fine.
I walked to the Dr. today. I stayed there all day. I miss Dr. Miller – but they were nice to me and even gave me some treats. Then my lady picked me up in the car- and that was great. It was a short ride but a nice ride.
I’m home tonight- I’ll sleep on the floor next to my lady- like I do every night. I’m still watching over her- even though I am old and blind and can’t run- I will protect her.
If I have any advise to give you young dogs it would be this. Be patient with your people. And let them know you love them. And don't over eat- you'll be sorry for that later.
I am 82 years old. That’s very old for a German Shepherd. The Dr. said I am doing well. My medication needing adjusting but otherwise she said, “He’s pretty sharp still!
Yes I am.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
In a recent interview I was asked, “What do you do best?” And what is your worst thing? And -What is the hardest thing you have ever done?”
When I was in 2nd grade and went to my first holy communion, I made up sins… because at 6-7 years old I had yet to really have a sin- but since we were ALL SINNERS I decided I better tell them what they want to hear. Apparently, I was a quick study of human nature. So- I said I lied to my parents. I had yet to lie to my parents; I was still a good little girl then. I think I said some other “sin” too- like saying a cuss word or hating my sister or brother.
So when presented with the question now- what is my best thing- I know I have to give them an answer that will make me sound good.
My best thing: I can think of a few… and depending on the needs of the employer, I will toss one out there. I like myself a lot. I have forgiven myself almost all my faults. I know that sounds crazy but it’s true. I am 58 I have learned to love myself after all these years. It’s hard to look at myself objectively anymore and say- well my best thing is… communication. (Some folks would argue that) or my best thing is fixing whatever needs fixing. My best thing is taking the worst possible situation and finding a solution or hope. My best thing is creating teams when there is dissention. (Maybe I should join the senate or congress). My best thing is telling the truth or my best thing is being a mom, baking, cooking, or taking care of my dogs. Maybe it’s my sense of humor or writing or napping. Empathy, compassion… the Heimlich maneuver.
Then -what is my worst thing- and here is where I struggle- not because I don’t have a worst thing, I surely do. But because I hate shooting myself in the foot. So, I try to think of something that is a little bad, but not so bad a human being would hold it against me.
“I hate to file.” I say, or “my desk gets messy” Or “ I can never say no when asked to stay late.” I can’t really say my worst thing is answering stupid questions, can I? My worst things are lack of tolerance for stupidity, mostly; lack of patience sometimes. I hate the phone- I prefer email because it’s concise.
I usually just say: I’m not fond of filing. It’s a significant understatement, yet not a lie. It’s what they want to hear. They really don’t want you to say- I can’t prioritize very well. (I can)
What’s the hardest thing you have ever done as a manager?” They ask. And here is where I always tell the truth. If for no other reason maybe, just maybe they will never ask another poor soul this question.
I give them one of two answers- unless the first one didn’t seem to sink in- then they get both.
The hardest thing I ever did as a manager was at Corporate Express when I had to walk Patricia to the door- knowing her husband was on the other side and he was going to tell her their 15-year-old son had been shot and killed. That was the longest walk I ever took- and the hardest hug I ever gave an employee. My own son was 16 at the time and Patricia had been training him.
The other one was even more personal. While working at my Dad’s restaurant- when the theater crowd had just lined up halfway down the block, I received a call from my 27 year old brother’s Dr., letting me know he had pneumonia and asking me if he should treat him or not. My brother was in an irreversible coma and I was his custodian. I was 30 years old- and I was carving sandwiches for customers while the Dr. spoke.
I asked. “Will he be in pain?”
“No.” he said.
“I’ll have an open-faced
“When I hung up the phone, my eyes were burning from holding back the tears but I carved the turkey and scooped up the mashed potatoes.
“Gravy?” I asked.
I don’t remember the rest of the day after I walked Patricia to that door- or the rest of the evening after I carved that one turkey sandwich. In both cases, I know I stayed at work and did what I had to do.
I recently had 3 interviews- the one I did the best in was the one I was the most honest with. “I hate interviewing.” I told them. I liked them most because they didn’t ask me one dumb ass question. They didn’t delve into my psyche and try to figure me out. They wanted to know if I could do the job and if they could get along with me. I didn’t get the job- but I came close- and will keep bugging them- because they have what I want. And they liked me.
But all this leaves me thinking what do I do best? What is my gift?
I have no real answer for that.
I guess maybe my gift is just doing whatever needs to be done- no matter what.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
In recent days I have been pulled from the mire of my own personal woes – money and job related- into the reality of the cost of war and the loss of many young lives. People’s children are dying. Since the beginning of February, we have lost at least 25 US troops.
I signed up for the press releases from the DOD years ago- and year after year, I have watched the bad news slip into my email. I open each one- I read the name of every life lost. I think about their family and loved ones- their short life, snuffed out.
I used to reply to the condolence threads on the Marine Parents message board and then one day I realized that many of us, moms especially, had become obsessive – and living in constant fear that the condolences would be addressed to us someday. I had to stop. I continued to read the DOD releases and spend a moment in silence for the fallen and their loved ones. I know I’ll never forget- yet somehow- we move on. We have to. We have to because the living are depending on us.
In recent weeks I have read posting by parents regarding their sloppy, beer swilling, disrespectful Marines. Many of them blame the Marine Corps. I keep defending the smelly, mouthy, reprobates because they are after all-at least most of them, going to war.
They are scared and can’t really show it or they have come to terms with their possible demise and the fact that this may be their last chance to party, get lucky, get crazy- get lost in some fun. I’m not sure why they become disrespectful. Maybe it’s easier to leave your folks mad than sad. I’m also a firm believer that respect is earned- not a God given right given to parents. Generally- you get what you give. (I know there are exceptions)
So I look at all these press releases announcing the death of a Marine or soldier or sailor and I have to ask myself- how can these folks fight with their kids about anything when they are going to deploy to a war zone. A brutal warzone.
Normal parents- or parents of non-military children are also missing the point. I once wrote about a day I was missing my son terribly and I went to the Laundromat to wash my clothes. A mom came in with her two kids. She looked harried and unhappy; I imagined a fight with her husband or recent divorce. Or maybe the thought of doing 9 loads of laundry on a Sunday afternoon was the cause of her long face and tight mouth. Her older son who was probably 17, helped his mom bring her baskets of laundry in the door, and then I guess he was going to do whatever he had to do. He put his arm around her and sort of rubbed her shoulder for a minute and what just killed me is that she never acknowledged his loving gesture. It really disturbed me because I was longing to see my own son and touch his face and would have done anything to feel his bear hug – surely, I would have hugged my boy back.
My son joining the Marine Corps only exacerbated my fear that I would lose him someday. I was scared when I was pregnant, I was scared when he learned to cross the street and ride a bike and oh, the fear I felt when he went on a plane without me was crippling. When he started to drive and didn’t get home on time- I was calling the Highway Patrol and driving up and down the freeway looking for him. I don’t think I ever told him.
My great- grandmother told me the worst thing that can ever happen to a parent is to have their child die before them- and then when my brother died at 27 years old, I saw my parents disintegrate into zombie like shells of their former selves. What I really learned is – any mothers son, any father’s daughter can die anytime. Shouldn’t we love them as much as possible? Unconditionally? I have a few friends that practice this and always have. (Admittedly it’s not always easy)
I have a friend whose son is in
My point- and I know I always take the long way around… is that none of us ever know. We really need to be kind to our kids – all of our loved ones yes- but especially our kids. Even the messy, beer swilling, pot smoking, mouthy little shits would leave an irreplaceable hole in our hearts if we lost them.
Try to remember that next time you get so mad at your kid you say something you can’t take back, because guilt on top of grief is a deadly combination.
My thoughts tonight go out to the families of the past and recent troops killed in action. Their sacrifices not forgotten- their gift of perspective, I cannot repay.
And to all my friends whose loved ones are in harms way- here at home or deployed…
I can only keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Today- I was talking to some co-workers about Haiti when one of them said something about our military occupying Haiti…
“What?” I said. “Occupying?”
My blood boiled.
I know our military is not perfect- and our country isn’t perfect either. But to call a humanitarian effort an occupation- was a slap across the face, to my country- and to my son, a former Marine. It was rude- and insensitive- because she knew damn well my son had served in the Marine Corps.
Without knowing any facts, she continued to repeat what she heard on the radio about our military not letting the Doctors Without Borders people land at the airport. I heard that too but the conclusion I jumped to was that they were trying to make sure people landed safely- not that they were taking over the country.
They (US Military) have temporarily taken over the logistics of airport traffic because they are expert at logistics and because Haiti’s own people are not capable of handling such a disaster. On Haiti’s best day, they were a mess of a country.
I am going to take a leap here and assume that the President of Haiti asked the President of the United States for help. I’m just guessing, the man who is ill equipped when things are going smoothly is overwhelmed. Our President sent the Marines, the Army, the Air Force and when I got home tonight, I saw on the news we are further “occupying” by anchoring the USS Comfort off the coast of Port au Prince. The USS Comfort is a floating hospital with 12 operating rooms and 1000 hospital beds. The Navy is there too.
The American Free Press reported a few hours ago, the following:
A senior US military official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said priorities on which aircraft could land were set by the Haitian government and the United Nations, with the United States playing only an enabling role.
"There will be times when folks are unhappy, when they have things that they want to get in and need to get in," the official said. "And it's a sheer issue of physics and geometry; you just can't get them all in there."
"There are great people on the ground, working very, very hard to try and get as much in as they can as fast as they can, and try and keep everybody impressed that we are there to support them.
"But there are some people that (are) just not going to be happy because we can't get it all," the official said.
With only a 9,600 foot runway (2,926 meters), the Port-au-Prince airport has been choked with aid flights since the January 12 earthquake that caused massive death and destruction throughout much of the Haitian capital.
Some aircraft were coming in to Haiti without the proper clearances and were then diverted to other airports, according to the official.
But he said about 130 flights a day were now flowing into the airport, up from an initial 30 to 40 flights a day. (AFP)
Now I know the young lady who said these words today is basically a nice girl. She is idealistic and not very wise to the way the world works. (Although, I am sure she thinks she is). She is inclined to think along socialistic lines as long as the government is doing something for her, but not so much when the military is involved.
She didn’t understand that you can’t just go to a country like Haiti- in a catastrophic state of affairs- and hand out food. You will get trampled to death by the very people you are trying to help. Yes, they are desperate. Yes, they need food and water, but there has to be controlled issue of these articles.
She didn’t understand we will probably have troops lose their lives down there- while helping Haitians survive. It never occurred to her I might be friends with some of the parents of Marine’s or even some of the Marine’s themselves that are there to help.
She is young- and naïve and I need to get past what she said and not harbor the resentment that I still feel 8 hours later.
A good friend of mine just reminded me of my own son’s wise words to me when he first became a Marine and someone said something hurtful and ignorant. I asked him then. “What should I say to these people?”
“I do not address ignorance.” He replied.
So, I guess I’ll let it go and spend my energy doing something that fills me up instead of something that drains me. But watch out if you cross my path and mumble words of disrespect to those who serve and their families that pray for their safety. I may not heed my son's advise next time.