1989 - October 1989
"A truly expert
procrastinator can juggle the 'shoulds' in
her life with
January 10, 1989
good, anticipatory, energized feeling I often get at the beginning of a
new year is nowhere to be found this year. I don't seem to be making
any progress anywhere: every single facet of my life is in disarray. I
have lost my momentum. Heck of a way to start out the New Year, huh ...
? I don't even feel like making any resolutions -
not so much because I know I won't keep any of them (although that's
true), but rather because the actual process of coming up with four or
five resolutions is too damn much WORK ...
bought this notebook a month ago, right around my birthday on the 15th
-- my 31st birthday, incidentally
-- yet I am
now getting around to writing anything in it. For four or five weeks
the notebook has been lying on top of my typewriter (which is gathering
dust as well) ... the blank untouched pages mutely accusing. (Slaggard!
Procrastinator!) Nearly every
day I've looked at the notebook
and thought "Today I will write something." But I never do. Writing,
like thinking, is just so much effort. If I do try and make the effort
like I am on this dark January morning -- it means
else I might have accomplished this morning -- a
shower, cleaning the kitchen, making potato chips, writing to
Deanne -- because I am only capable of
one thing at a time anymore. I'll still be here writing and drinking
coffee at noon, still in my bathrobe, unshowered, last night's dinner
dishes still piled in the sink ...
well. If this is fated to be a "bathrobe day" ...
so be it. At least the
apartment is warm this morning, and the coffee is hot, and I don't have
too many kids to watch today. (At the moment it's only Kyle, Jerome and
André. They're in the living room playing "cars" and
watching Sesame Street. Oh wait - Kacie just got
up, and she's coming straight to me for hugs. Just a sec.) There is
nothing pressing that needs to be done today. The dishes, the ironing,
the bathrooms ... all that stuff can wait. Deanne
would probably drop dead from shock if she actually got a letter from
me so soon after the holidays. I can make potato chips this afternoon.
A truly expert procrastinator can juggle the "shoulds" in her life with
amazing dexterity ...
hunched over a bowl of hominy grits we got from the Food Bank, sniffing
suspiciously: "It smells like
brief synopsis of Christmas 1988, I guess. As holidays go, this one was
fine. A couple of years ago I stopped measuring the success or failure
of this family's Christmases in terms of my own level of "holiday
spirit" ... mainly because I rarely seem to HAVE any, anymore ... and
now I simply take it as it comes, good or bad. If the kids are happy
and excited, if we have enough money, if things basically go
alright ... then it's a "successful"
Christmas. As long as the "essentials" are there -
music, candles, presents under the tree, turkey, cards in the mail,
George C. Scott - then I'm satisfied. And they were
all there this year. I did a slapdash job of Christmas shopping, and
unfortunately some of my choices were real stinkeroos
- umbrellas and raincoats for Jamie & Kacie
(although I still
maintain that it was a great idea!), the cheapo watch for Ray, nothing
but a card for my sister - but others seemed to hit
the mark - Barbie stuff for the girls, framed
pictures of the kids for the grandparents, Kyle's big yellow dumptruck.
Ray gave me a brass "banker's lamp" with a green glass shade, which I
love; my dad gave me a nice big wind-up alarm clock.
I STILL think the umbrellas
were a good idea.
Christmas Eve present was from my mom: a set of small framed photos of
my kids. Still hanging on my
bedroom wall, nearly twenty years later.
Grandma Vert gave each of the girls a beautiful, old-fashioned
porcelain doll, and Jerry & Jody gave all three of the kids (a
gift for all three to share) the old children's rocking chair that my
little sister used to have in her room, only now it's been refinished
and re-upholstered and it looks lovely sitting in our living room,
holding the two porcelain dolls.
Kyle tries out the Family Rocking Chair
best thing about Christmas 1988 was that we were able to spend it here
Ray's folks were in Tucson for the
holidays, so once again it was Ray barbecuing a turkey on the Webber,
the kids and I spending Christmas Day rummaging through piles of
presents, me sipping champagne and cranberry juice, a quick trip (the
kids and I) to Grandma Vert's, and a wonderful, sumptuous dinner eaten
at leisure in front of the tube. No exhausting freeway drives to
Bellevue and back, no family tensions, NO IN-LAWS. Heaven.
The annual Christmas Letter:
There was no
Christmas letter written in 1988, so we've jumped ahead two years instead of
Christmas to you in 1990! Hope that your holidays are proving to be as pleasantly
memorable as 1989's were ... our first Christmas back in a HOUSE! After three
years in the cramped, noisy TicTac apartment, Christmas 1989 found our family
with space, privacy and quiet ... sheer bliss! A huge, beautiful tree in the
living room ... a blazing fire in the woodstove (when the burning ban wasn't in
effect) ... the entire house decked in all the old familiar holiday decorations
(and a few new ones, courtesy of Grandma Vert). It was my dream come true.
especially close to my little family this year, filled with more genuine holiday
"spirit" than I can remember feeling in a long, long time. Christmas '89 should
go down in our memory as being especially warm, bountiful and
This was the
- Santa Claus arrived at our house in a fire truck on the 21st -- lights
flashing and sirens blaring -- bearing candy canes, gift certificates and Toys
for our Tots.
- Ray and Terri went crazy at Toys R Us with $150 worth of gift certificates -
then stopped at the Ulysses lounge and got blotto on screwdrivers.
- The Christmas cards taped to the walls went clear into the kitchen and
hallway and Mom and Dad's bedroom: a whole roll of masking tape!
- I baked 14 dozen cookies to give away as gifts ... and made Christmas
collages for everybody else.
- "Through The Wire" (Nona Hendryx) and "Coldhearted" (the ubiquitous Ms.
Abdul) were the two songs you heard most frequently around our household; the
Tot's version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" (Kyle: "You better
WATCH OUT!!"), tape-recorded last year, was also in heavy play-list
- The Barbie
population in this house increased by five; Barbie acquired a three story
townhouse, an ice cream shop, a set of bedroom furniture and the requisite new
- We missed George C. Scott's version of "A Christmas Carol," but Bill
Murray's "Scrooged" was a wonderful new find ...
- ... And we did get to hear Clarice sing "There's Always Tomorrow"
this year, on my birthday, no less.
- I wound up with two great new sweaters in my favorite colors, blue-green and
hot pink - and the girls showered me with jewelry, purchased with their very own
- Tad and Dixie got married (today) on AMC; Jane Pauley left The Today Show
(today); our friends John and Lori got custody of John's daughter, Jeanetta; my
mother's divorce was final; my baby sister turned 21 (tomorrow); and Kacie lost
her bottom teeth ...
Christmas! Here's to a new year, a new decade, and another twelve months of
love, cheer and togetherness!
January 18, 1989
the rent up on us again. As of next month, it's going to cost us $400 a
month to live in this hell-hole. As the memo so delightfully put it, "The
value of (our) rental property has increased in proportion."
Uh-huh. The rental property with the three-foot hole in the master
bathroom ceiling, the two leaky toilets, the doors and windows that
don't lock, the moldy living room carpet, the broken gas stove and the
rotting insulation? This
is the rental property that has increased in "value" ... ?
of things have changed since the new management bought the place last
year, but not all of it has been for the better. The new owners don't
give a shit about children, for one thing. The first thing they did was
fence off the playground and replace the nice soft sawdust with pea
gravel. Then they re-sodded (sp?) the lawn areas and made up a
bunch of new rules: no playing on the grass, no riding bikes on the
sidewalks. So now the only place the kids are allowed to play is on
this dinky, cramped playground, big kids and little kids alike, and the
bikes the girls got for Christmas '87 stand forlornly rusting on the
patio. It really stinks.
don't see how we can ever afford to move into a house. It's beginning
to seem more and more like The Impossible Dream. Every Sunday I go
through the classifieds with a fine tooth comb, and the rents are just
so outrageous. There doesn't seem to be any way we can swing it. I've
stopped dreaming about extra bedrooms and bigger kitchens and
fireplaces and backyards for the kids to play in, because it seems
cruel to dream about something so far out of reach.
neighbors in the apartment across the courtyard from us (D-4) are
moving out this morning. I'm glad to see them go: the two teenage girls
(SuSu & Nony) got a lot of pleasure out of picking on Jamie. I
also suspect them of repeatedly taking my babysitting ads off of the
mailroom bulletin board. They were so mean-spirited, so old and
dried-up at such a young age. I wanted to feel sorry for them, but
could never seem to manage it. Mostly they just make me wonder how they
ended up the way they did, and what I can do to prevent it from
happening to my own two sweet, innocent, pure-hearted little daughters
January 19, 1989
this morning. By 9:30 she was already completely dressed for school
(blue "first day of school" dress, red button-front cardigan, white
knee socks, pink boots, yellow plastic headband), asking if she could
go next door to Tracy's. It amazes me how much she loves school! I
always thought Jamie would be gung-ho about school and Kacie would be
the one I'd have to drag out of bed in the morning ... but as it turns
out, things are totally the opposite. Jamie still maintains that first
grade is terrible and that her teacher, Mrs. R., is out to get her. And
Kacie loves, breathes, eats, sleeps and EXISTS for kindergarten. "How
many hours till we go to school?" is practically the first thing out of
her mouth every morning. "How many minutes??"
Tammy doesn't drop her kids off here this morning. Terry has evolved
into a three-year-old terror, and Julie, the baby, takes up every ounce
of my attention and energy. Nothing else ever gets done, as a result.
Plus I don't even get paid for the long hours I put in babysitting
them: the fact is that I owe Tammy & Terry almost $200 (for
some advance payments they made last fall). So there is no financial
reward at the end of the drudgery.
Tammy just called from work - her regular sitter has recovered from her
kidney infection, so the kids are with her.
(hearing noises in the kitchen): "Kyle. What are you getting into?"
Kyle: "I not doin' ANY NUFFIN', Mom!"
and chilly late afternoon. The kids (except André) are out
on the playground. I stand at the living room window and watch them.
Jamie is hanging upside-down from the bars, her long hair fluttering in
the breeze; Kyle is laying tummy-down on a swing, gently rocking back
and forth; Kacie is trying to jump rope, thwarted somewhat by her big
klunky boots, and by the stupid pea gravel covering the playground.
January 20, 1989
Day. (More importantly: "Hat Day" at Bow Lake Elementary School!) Got
up early this morning to watch the hoopla on TV. George Herbert Walker
Bush has just become our 41st President. I didn't vote for him, but in
spite of myself I've been caught up in all the pomp and ceremony this
morning. I actually had a lump in my throat when President &
Mrs. Reagan got onto the helicopter outside the White House and flew
off the California. It's going to seem very strange to say "President
Bush" after eight years of saying "President Reagan." He has been the
President for as long as I've been married
- for as long as my children have been alive -
I guess that this is truly the end of an era. And the
beginning of a new one ... ?
I'm not having the greatest day in the world. I woke up with a
brand-new cold, and all the coffee I've been drinking this morning has
been making me slightly nauseous. The place is a mess, and I have no
vacuum cleaner again (for about the fourth time in my marriage: this
time, it was a penny that blew the motor apart). People have
been bombarding me all morning with weird requests, everything from
asking me to bake cookies at the last minute for Jerome's
class ... to looking for Maryanne S.'s
lost cat ... to helping Kacie dress her
Barbie for Show & Tell. Ray is still laying in bed like a lump,
both Kyle and André have poopy diapers (I think), Jerome is
making these incredibly noisy "pow!
noises in the living room, and I'm not getting paid much for
babysitting this afternoon ... about forty bucks less than usual. I
just had an argument over the phone with Grandma Vert. I have no
deodorant. It's drizzly and cold.
did I even bother getting out of bed this morning??
January 24, 1989
later. Just turned on the radio and heard the news that Ted Bundy was
executed this morning in Florida. The newspapers have been filled with
speculation for two weeks: would he win another last-minute appeal?
Even Jamie & Kacie have become familiar with the case. "I'm
happy that he's dead," Jamie said flatly this morning. I'm not thrilled
to hear her say something like that - I guess I wish she were still
safely cocooned in innocence - but I know it's a sentiment echoed
across the country this morning. I've lived with an awareness of "Ted"
for so many years, since the young women first started disappearing
from Lake Sammamish Park, back in '74. I suppose I never thought they
would actually ever get around to executing him ... that he would sit
moldering in some prison forever. So hearing that he's dead is, well -
pardon the atrocious pun - a shock. It's finally over. The story has an
end. I can't even begin to imagine how the families of all the murdered
girls must be feeling this morning.
and I watched "The Day After" on TV last night. This is the infamous
1983 Made-For-TV Movie about nuclear war ...
the movie that caused such an uproar (and upset me so
profoundly) when it first aired, six years ago. ("I
with tears in my eyes," I wrote
in my journal, Nov. 1983.)
Somewhat to my surprise, though, watching it last night was hardly a
big deal at all. Why? Is it because it was the second time I'd seen it?
Or is it because I'm becoming so desensitized to things like nuclear
war movies (and serial killers) that they've lost their power to rattle
me ... ? Jamie picks up a lot of her cues from me, and she watched the
movie as unflinchingly as I did. I suppose if I'd been really
upset, she would have been, too.
don't know if ANY of this is good or bad. I'm going to have to try and
sort it out. I don't want my children to live in constant fear, but on
the other hand I don't think it's good for them to assume that we're
invincible. There is a balance to be achieved, I know there must be,
but I'll be damned if I can figure it out.
an OK weekend ... low on money but high on "family
are slow at SeaPak this time of year, so Ray was home all weekend,
including Friday evening. Remember the "old days" when he was
never home, especially on weekends? Those days seem to be gone forever.
There are actually moments now when I wish he WOULD find himself a nice
local tavern and spend his free time there: by the end of a long
weekend with him underfoot, I am ready to scream.
was the Super Bowl. Our next door neighbors, John & Lori
(Tracy's mom and her boyfriend) came over and watched the game with us.
We drank beer, barbecued steaks and salmon, had a good time. John
& Lori have become good friends the past few months ... the
only other couple with whom Ray and I socialize. We're marginally
friendly with several other neighbors, but John & Lori are the
only ones I personally would consider to be "friends." At any rate, we
spent all day Sunday together, and it was a raucous, silly,
good-natured afternoon all the way around.
long do songs last?"
(nose running): "I need a towel-paper."
(to Kyle): "Eat your cereal, honey. It's got 'nanas in it."
Kyle (solemnly): "I can't. It's got ITCHES in it."
February 9, 1989
two weeks later. Much has happened, and my heart is full of things to
say. Please, please, PLEASE let me have the discipline (and the
opportunity) to get it all written ...
just lived through The Great Freeze of 1989, first of all. On February
1st we were hit with an honest-to-god blizzard.
I've never seen anything like it: the "big snows" of January 1980 and
November 1985 were peanuts compared to this one. We had eight inches of
snow on the ground (some of it still lingers today) and nearly a week
of sub-zero nights. Naturally the kids were out of school for a few
days, and Ray missed work the first night. It was so cold that all of
our windows and our patio door were frozen shut ...
we all wore heavy sweats to bed every night
... the kids were only allowed to play outside for 15 minutes
at a time. I took them out on the playground the first morning
(Wednesday), while it was still coming down like gangbusters. The kids
were bundled up like fat Eskimo babies, even Kyle, and they ran around
in the snow (knee-high!) with pure, gleeful abandon. It was so dry and
powdery that it wouldn't pack into a decent snowball, but they had fun
clomping around in it and throwing it at each other. Kyle seemed to
really enjoy it for a while, but it was REALLY cold, and his mittens
kept falling off and the wind was blowing snow directly into his face,
so he wanted me to take him inside.
in the afternoon, while it was still coming down - a little more
softly, by this point, and the wind had let up a bit - I took
Jamie and Kacie for a walk around the apartment complex. It was
wonderful. We walked all around the buildings, through the parking lot,
over to the Adult Section and back ... I wanted to just keep going on
and on, forever ... it was so spectacularly beautiful, so peaceful and
serene, so nice being with my girls, I felt so ALIVE ... I'll never
forget it. I hope the girls don't forget it, either. Like a dummy I had
no film in my camera so there will be no pictures to look at in later
years, but maybe this will be one of those memories that remain so
clearly and permanently lodged in your heart, you don't need a
photograph to bring it back. That
afternoon walk in the
snow remains one of my favorite memories of all time.
good things must come to an end, though. The sun returned this week,
and with it the warmer temperatures, and there's barely a trace
remaining of last week's wonderful reprieve from reality ...
February 24, 1989
has been a tough month for all of us. The big snow during the first
week of the month was a lovely, spirit-lifting surprise, but it was all
strictly downhill after that.
haven't exactly been a barrel of laughs to live with. Although I made a
conscious effort (I thought) to keep my personal problems on a back
burner and proceed with life as usual, it all seemed to manifest itself
in other ways. Weekends were OK: I kept myself uncomfortably numb most
of the time with of my favorite (legal/illegal) substances. Funny how
easy it is to talk about my troubles on a Saturday night. During the
rest of the week, though, this particular escape valve disappears, and
things seem almost unspeakably bleak. February has pretty much been
like scraping bottom. Financially, things are crappy
... I'm sick to death
of being cooped up in this apartment (but too demoralized to go much of
anywhere) ... I am SICK TO DEATH of babysitting other
peoples' children ... and - worst of
all - my own wonderful kids have been on the receiving end of Mom's
unhappiness. It is finally, after thirty-one years, beginning to dawn
on me that I'm nothing very special, after all.
Wednesday 10:30 a.m.
March 1, 1989
Déjà vu time.
this morning, flipped the calendar from February to March, opened the
kitchen curtains, and - voila - SNOW. Not just a few
last-minute, half-assed flakes, either. I wrote something once about
the difference between the first snow of the season and the last. The
first snow, I wrote, is "Clean,
new, exciting" ...
while the last is "sad, dirty,
So far this morning, however, there has been nothing dirty or
lackadasial about it: the flakes are coming down with precision and
energy, blanketing our apartment complex with a quite respectable
covering of winter white. It shows no sign of letting up anytime soon.
I am curled here on the sofa now, still in sweats and bathrobe, sipping
coffee and listening to the radio (and to the kids, who are coloring in
the kitchen), watching this tiny final snowstorm from my living room
window. There IS something a little sad about it, though. Knowing it's
the last snow of the season, I suppose ... feeling another season
drawing to a close ... me getting older, the kids getting older, things
changing ... "memento mori," that unbidden reminder of mortality, the
ol' clock is ticking,
been feeling pensive the past couple of days, and this final snowfall
of the season - simply by virtue of its very 'finalness' - is the
perfect backdrop for my mood. It will probably all be gone by
nightfall, but for right now it is the best kind of distraction.
Thursday 4 p.m.
March 2, 1989
I was wrong: it wasn't "gone by nightfall." Would you believe - seven
goddamn inches?? In MARCH?? And every single crummy inch of it has
stuck fast and remains today. The entire astonished city has more or
less come to a standstill for the second time in a month. No school for
any of the kids, so we've all been stuck inside this apartment together
(Jerome, André and Chris included) since very early this
morning. I took a picture of my three standing in front of the
apartment - yes, this time I had film in the camera - and then I let
them all play outside in it for most of the morning and again for a
while this afternoon.
The difference between this snowfall and the one we had a month ago is
that it isn't nearly as cold this time, so the kids were able to
tolerate being out in it for longer than 15 minutes at a stretch. The
snow is wetter, too ... more easily molded into snowballs and snowmen
... therefore, more fun.
March 3, 1989
another really bad day. Lately there hasn't been any other kind.
BEDS FOR JAMIE & KACIE
lb. weight loss - again
dining table and CHAIRS
PLANTS in this apartment!!! (I'm down to one)
lamp for my bedroom
Stephen King novels I've missed
new gold hoop earrings
in both bathrooms
cabinet for dining room wall
winter boots for all three kids
and frame for my bed
of matching dishes
March 11, 1989
ARE LOOKING UP THIS WEEKEND"
Dateline: Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune
rare celestial configuration specified in the lyrics of "Hair" occurs
today at 9:36 p.m. when the moon will be in the seventh house of the
zodiac, Libra, and Jupiter will conjunct with Mars. The lyrics of the
60's rock musical, written by James Rado, Gerome Ragni and Galt
McDermott, foretell of an age of 'harmony and understanding ... mystic
crystal revelations and the mind's true liberation.' The moon enters
the seventh house daily and Jupiter aligns with Mars every 12 years,
explained astrologer Barbara Schermer. But, she explained, Jupiter
aligning with Mars conjuncting at zero degrees Gemini (in the seventh
house) happens only once every 360 years. For the astrologically
attuned, this weekend's planetary alignment 'may be a new impetus, a
first sign of spring, a good time to begin new projects,' she says."
from Ray to Terri:
about (making) some Mommy's breakfast? I bought some bacon - milk.
... isn't this funny. The Flower-Child-Wanna-Be -
the kid who just missed the Sixties (and has spent the past twenty
years trying to make up for it) is spending her Age of Aquarius frying
bacon and eggs, laundering her two year old's training pants, and
blowing her nose (instead of her mind).
Noonish. Woke this morning to sunshine, but now the air is heavy with a
pre-storm tension ... angry black clouds rolling in from the west, the
wind growing brisker by the minute, kids scampering home from the
cleaning out the refrigerator, the kids are watching "Throw Momma From
The Train" on Showtime. The rain has begun. I have kept myself quietly
busy all day, doing things of little or no importance: cleaning the
kitchen, giving myself a manicure, fighting a losing battle with a
March 15, 1989
couple of days later. The weekend was hellish. We had no money: a woman
I babysat for last month never stopped by with the money she owes me,
and it left us flat broke. (We still are.) It rained all weekend, so
girls couldn't go outside and jump rope. I got coerced into watching
Little Terry & Julie on Saturday night -
naturally I wasn't paid for that,
either. And I woke up on Sunday morning with a fullblown case of the
flu ... not a wimpy cold, not a hangover, but an honest-to-god,
steamroller-over-your-guts flu. I literally couldn't get out of bed for
it's the middle of the week already and I'm finally back on my feet,
although the usual financial worries and stress from my "job" continue
to daunt me. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm ever going to feel happy
again. I don't mean less worried or less stressed-out or better rested,
I mean HAPPY ... without qualification, without chemical assistance,
just an all-around hopefulness and sense of well-being ... a pleasure
in simply being alive
days are better than others, of course, but the most I can ever seem to
manage anymore is a temporary cessation of worry sometimes, usually
when the bills are paid. Otherwise it's just a lot of muddling through.
Mostly I'm just trying to make it through this
and then the next
day, and then the next
is strangest of all about this is that I'm not UNhappy. I mean, my chin
isn't dragging on the floor ALL of the time. I do usually succeed at
"muddling through," I make it through to the next day, and a lot of
mornings I wake up and actually feel something resembling hope. I guess
what I mean to say is that there may not be many highs, but on the
other hand there aren't usually many lows, either. Perhaps I'm missing
the point entirely: should I be grateful for the lack of emotional
extremes in my life? Does being happier automatically mean that you're
going to be unhappier,
at times? Do the two go
would I want to risk it, if they do?
don't know. I suppose I'm not making sense, as usual. All I know is
that I'm tired of feeling tense all the time, and worried about money,
and like nothing I do today is going to count for anything tomorrow. I
want to take pleasure in my children again: to watch the girls skipping
rope outside the window without my stomach tying itself in knows over
the new shoes they both need ... or to pick up my son and hug him,
without feeling guilty about giving him Food Bank bean soup AGAIN for
dinner. I want things to look forward to. I want a belly laugh. I want
somebody to look at me and say "My
God! You look great!",
and to know
that's it's nothing I've done outwardly, that it's something emanating
me. I want little miracles, fresh starts, energy, ideas,
room to breathe ... every day. Or if not every day, then at least often
enough to make the rest of the days bearable. Is this too much to ask?
(And what makes me think that merely asking is going to make it happen,
kids just came in from school. It's been raining on and off all
afternoon - right now it's more "on" than "off"
- and their faces are rosy from the cold. Our
apartment is warm, the windows slightly foggy from condensation, the
place filled with good cooking smells. I'm standing at the stove,
stirring a pot of bean and sausage soup for tonight's supper: a final
batch of cinnamon-sugar cookies are in the oven. "Mmmm, it smells good
in here!" Christopher says, as he dashes to the bathroom to change into
his play clothes. I smile indulgently. I'm dressed in clean sweatshirt
and jeans, carefully made up, bare feet, cup of instant coffee cooling
on the counter beside the stove. The place is much neater than usual;
I've put in a good day's work already. Maryann (Christopher's mom) paid
me $40 this morning - that's less than she actually owes me, but it's
good enough for now - so Ray went out and bought a few much-needed
groceries. I have potatoes and eggs and oranges and Pepsi again,
anyway, plus a few other little odds and ends that will help fill in
the gaps until Saturday. The rest of the kids help themselves to the
plate of fresh cookies sitting on the kitchen table, and then I sit in
the armchair and look at their schoolwork as they chatter happily about
their day ...
March 16, 1989
the question now is: was that happiness
I was feeling yesterday, standing at the stove, stirring my soup? Or
was it something else ... resignation, maybe? Fated
to spend my life in front of a stove, (so I) might as well
make the best of it? Or was it play-acting? Outwardly it was this
wonderfully homey, domestic tableau: rosy-cheeked children coming in
from the rain, Mom baking cookies in the kitchen ...
all that was missing were the ruffled apron and Perry Como on the
it all just a pose? I do take such pleasure in manipulating my
environment: it's my favorite part of being an adult. Lights on or off?
Blinds open or shut? TV or stereo in the background? Which cooking
smells emanating from my kitchen? What sort of atmosphere: laid-back
and relaxed, briskly efficient, rock-and-roll Saturday? I consciously
and carefully laid out all the elements of yesterday's "domestic
tableau" before the kids even walked through the door. We
come home from our day at school,
I wanted them to think, from
our walk in the rain, and there's Mom in the kitchen looking pretty and
maternal and perfect, and the place smells like fresh-baked cookies,
and life is very, very good ...
question shifts to: is manufactured happiness the same thing as spontaneous
happiness? I did feel good at that moment, standing there with spoon in
hand. I was pleased with the picture I was presenting to the kids, and
to the world, all the right buttons had been pushed, the stage was set
to my satisfaction ... and I felt happy. There, yes, I'll admit it. I
was happy. Leave it to me to examine all the juice right out of it, but
yes, "manufactured happiness" is a perfectly acceptable stand-in for
the spontaneous kind. "Happiness is a perception of our mind, not a
reflection of our situation." (J. James.) I'll settle for synthetic
happiness until the real thing comes along, I guess.
believe that these words just came out of MY mouth:"You'd better pull that
down, Miss! It's TOO SHORT."
March 17, 1989
a little. Lori and I drank some beer and watched TV with the kids last
night (Ray and John were conveniently off at work), and it's a little
rough going this morning, as a result. Drizzly, cold, still coughing,
nothing much on my mind yet. All this crap I've been writing the past
page or two is getting old, so let's move on to something else, shall
about the other subject I like to beat to death: money. I'm having all
kinds of trouble collecting my $69 from Mindy. I babysat for her
briefly last month, twelve hours a day for three days running. Ray and
I keep leaving notes on her door, passing messages to her through Val,
the apartment manager (Mindy is a "friend" of Val's), but nothing is
working and we're getting really frustrated.
10/April 13, 1989
weeks later: spring has sprung. Hard to believe that little more than a
month ago we were battling snowstorms ... suddenly
the world has blossomed, one 70 degree day follows another, the girls
have begun dipping into the "summer clothes box," this apartment
complex is coming to life again after months of silence ...
celebrated her sixth birthday a couple of weeks ago. We had a little
after-school party for her, the usual stuff. Jamie and I made a
paper banner that said HAPPY BIRTHDAY KACIE, which we hung in the
kitchen. I decorated the dining area with balloons, and baked her a
coconut cake shaped like a bunny. (That's my new nickname for her, by
the way: "Bunny.") Ray had to work that afternoon, but his folks drove
down for the celebration, as did my mom and Grandma St. John. Jerome,
André and Chris were here too, of course, as well as Tracy,
John & Lori. So the apartment was full. Ray and I gave Kacie a
new Barbie doll (just what she needs!) and some other little odds and
ends, pens and a notebook and stuff like that; in addition, I made her
a cassette tape of all her favorite music (Heart, The Bangles, "Judy In
Disguise," etc.) She got clothes from her grandparents - including a
beautiful navy plaid schooldress from my mother - and a deluxe arts
& crafts kit from John and Lori. It was a high-spirited
afternoon. After the relatives and the kids I babysit had all gone
home, John had some pizza delivered and he and Lori and I sat up until
late, drinking rum & Coke and listening to music.)
with her Bunny Cake
is growing into a delightful, charming, wonderful
little girl. (I've noticed that both of her grandmothers seem to feel a
special connection to her. Is it because they are all born in Aries?)
She is far and away the most affectionate and optimistic of
kids. Jamie is prone to sullen moods and biting sarcasm, a lot like me;
aggressive, boisterous and ALL BOY. But Kacie is like a freckled
sunbeam, a blithe spirit, a pigtailed gypsy with BandAids on her knees
and a perpetual grin on her face ... so quick to say "I love you Mama,"
so generous with hugs and smiles and candy bars, always ready to drop
everything and help Mom cook dinner, or to climb on my lap in the
evening, lean her head against me and say "You're
Mama in the world" ...
feeling a little better these days, by the way. Some of the fog is
beginning to lift. I suppose that spring has something to do with it.
I'll be sick to death of sunshine and warm weather in another few weeks
or so, but for the moment it is a welcome change - it rained nonstop
for weeks after the snow disappeared, and the kids and I had cabin
fever like crazy - at least now they can spend nearly all of their free
time outdoors. Kyle goes outside in the morning and spends practically
his entire day there, scooping up rocks on the playground or
riding his Big Wheel up and down the sidewalk in front of our
never leaves the complex, so I can generally let him play without my
constant supervision: a lovely new development. With him out of diapers
and exercising all of his newfound independence - he dresses himself
every morning now, for instance - my load has been lightened
considerably. Anyway, the girls love to ride their bikes (the apartment
manager appears to have lifted the ban on bicycles), climb on the
monkey bars and jump rope, and with all of this nice weather lately
they've been having a grand time every day after school.
He spent his days riding his Big Wheel up
and down the sidewalk
reminds me - Spring Vacation. Ugggh. I barely survived it this year. It
ran from April 3rd through the 7th, plus weekends, and it was one long
endurance contest for Mom ... continual rain, whiney kids and dumb
arguments with Ray ... the only real highlight of the week is that
Jamie & Kacie got to spend a couple of days with Peg &
Don Sr. in Bellevue. It was a much-needed break for ALL of us. The
girls were pampered and spoiled for three days, Kyle enjoyed my
undivided attention, and Ray and I got a break from the "she
did it/no, SHE did it" crap. It
was nice. (I missed them, of
course, but the days of weeping over the little red tricycle are gone
any rate, Spring Vacation ended at long last, and the girls were
skipping back to school this week, much to my relief ... and theirs,
financial crunch we felt right after the holidays has eased up a bit;
it's "breathing room" time again. Is this stuff cyclical? Do things
always get better moneywise in the spring? I'm beginning to think so.
It seems like I'm always depressed about money in January and February
... understandably so, I guess, since it's right after the holidays ...
and then things gradually start to improve by the time the birthdays
begin to roll around.
birthday is tomorrow, by the way. (It's Wednesday, April 19th now.)
He'll be 34. He's sitting in the armchair right now, fresh out of bed
... tousled hair, blue jeans, bare feet, cup of coffee cooling on the
table next to him, leafing through a flyer from an auto parts store ...
he woke up grumpy again ...
then in another two weeks it'll be Kyle's third birthday. The age he is
right now - the developmental stage he's at - is at once the most
exasperating and the most endearing. How can that be?!? One minute I'm
ready to string him up by his thumbs ... the next
minute he's in my arms
saying "I fink you the best MOM," and I'm melting like butter again ...
so darned CUTE these days, whether he's out in front of the apartment
playing ball with his Daddy ... sitting on the kitchen stool rummaging
through my junk drawer (a favorite pastime) ... prancing around the
living room in his Ray Charles "shades" and a toy guitar, singing "Help
me Rhon-iss" ...
April 24, 1989
has an earache this morning. I woke up tired (after another night on
the living room sofa) and found her standing next to me with tears in
her eyes, her face pink and flushed. "My ear hurts," she whimpered. My
first grumpy/ sleepy/ Monday-morning-impulse was "I'm
for five seconds and it's starting already."
The kids have
been unusually demanding and difficult this past weekend: between
Kyle's constant mischieviousness, Kacie's constant screeching and
constant sulking, I was ready to pack it in by Sunday afternoon. And
we go again ... sick kid, grumpy
exhausted Mom, disrupted routine. But that was only my FIRST impulse,
due more to a shitty night's sleep than any true irritation towards
Jamie. The Mommy track kicked in immediately, and within minutes she
was tucked into a bed on the sofa, I was on the phone borrowing Tylenol
from Joe upstairs, the cartoons were on the tube, Jamie was munching
toast and o.j. I just called the school and told them she
staying home today. "Was that Mrs. Smith?" Jamie asked, and I told her
yes, that was the office lady at school, everything has been taken care
of. Now she's laying on the couch
in worn lavendar sweats, watching "Family Feud" and clutching the
remote control, happy as a clam ...
April 27, 1989
better. Jamie wound up taking two days off from school, then went back
yesterday feeling just fine. I pampered her outrageously while she was
home - meals on a tray, her choice of TV game shows, two
days off from bedroom-cleaning and other chores - she layed on the the
sofa like Queen Victoria, luxuriating in all of the deluxe treatment.
"I wouldn't want to go back to school, either!" Ray teased me, when he
saw the way I was catering to Jay's every whim. (To Jamie he said "You
big FAKER!" She just grinned.) Oh well. For some reason I
pleasure in doing the Florence Nightingale routine. I love taking care
of Ray and the kids when they're feeling under the weather ... I guess
it makes me feel needed. The only time I don't like it, in fact, is
when I'm feeling crappy myself: then I long for the tables to turn, and
for somebody to take care of me,
for a change.
But when I'm healthy and one of my family is sick, I get a real charge
out of hovering and soothing and nurturing. The Grandma Vert in me, I
morning. Jamie and Chris left for school an hour ago: the other kids
(Kacie, Kyle, Jerome & André) are out on the
playground, shouting at each other and climbing on the teeter-totters.
Ray is asleep. I'm sitting here in front of the open patio door,
listening to the portable stereo on the kitchen counter ("Sunshine
go away today/I don't feel much like dancin' "),
third cup of coffee. John poked his head through the door a minute ago,
asking if I had any margarine and toilet paper: he swapped me for half
bag of coffee. Erin called: she accidentally left her wallet in the
boys' bag. Lori is sick, so I might have to walk over to the school
this afternoon and pick up the kids - usually her job. I've got a ton
of ironing to do. Kyle just came stomping into the apartment and
proudly announced that he and André "went potty outside!"
Talked to Erin again - she forgot to mention that André has
been using the "F" word - did he pick that up at my house? (I cringe
inwardly. My own vocabulary has been a bit on the salty side lately: a
bad habit I must make an effort to curb.) Breakfast dishes in the sink.
New gold cross necklace hanging around my neck. Airplanes in the
distance, neighbors talking next door. Kacie comes in for a kiss, and
to wash her hands. "In The Year 2525" on the stereo.
life, going on as always ... and always ...
and always ...
this a 'quiet period' in my life? I was thinking about this yesterday.
1986 was a year of tumult and change: Kyle's birth, Ray losing his job
and our subsequent separation, moving out of the Kirkland house and
into the SeaTac apartment, my dumb fling with Tony, buying the Malibu,
going on welfare, starting my babysitting "career." 1987 was fun and
exciting but somewhat less unsettled. 1988 was a quiet and relatively
uneventful year, and so far 1989 has been, too. Is this going to be
remembered as a calm time in our lives? A time when things just moved
along at their own speed - no major highs or lows, no shake-ups, just a
lot of day-to-day stuff ...? I guess so. I hope
so. It's funny:
the complaining I do about my life having no peaks and valleys right
now, I suspect that underneath it all I'm perfectly satisfied with
monotony. The thought of any major change right now scares me silly. Is
this why I'm so hesitant about moving? Nice as a house would be - nice
as it would be to get away from Val, our
a manager - I find the idea of leaving this apartment terrifying.
weeks later. I misplaced this journal somehow, and have spent a frantic
few days tearing the apartment apart, looking for it. Finally found it
this afternoon, mistakenly stashed between a couple of cookbooks on top
of the fridge. What a relief!
is moving along at an orderly pace. Since I last wrote, we celebrated
Kyle's third birthday ... he is now the proud owner of his first pair
cowboy boots, brown leather, size 8 ... his birthday gift from Ray and
I. Actually, the original pair we bought turned out to be too small and
Ray had to exchange them, but it was a minor glitch in what was
otherwise a very nice birthday celebration. Since his birthday fell on
a Thursday this year - a work night for Ray - we postponed the party
till Saturday. Ray's folks made the drive down to join us, and my mom
and Debi were here as well. (And naturally Lori & Tracy were
here for most of the day, too.) I baked a chocolate chip cake, and Lori
and I decorated the kitchen with balloons and streamers and the
customary hand-lettered birthday sign (HAPPY BIRTHDAY KYLE!) Kyle got
some nice presents: besides the cowboy boots, Ray and I also gave him a
squirt gun and some "G.I. Joe" sunglasses; Lori and John gave him a set
of cowboy guns and holster; Mom gave him two tank tops and two pairs of
shorts. (I was especially glad about that - he had virtually no decent
summer clothes.) I suppose that the piece de resistance, though - at
least in Kyle's mind - was the Little Tykes wheelbarrow from Peg
& Don Sr., and the set of little plastic gardening tools that
goes with it. He looks so cute wheeling it around the playground.
My sweet baby boy on his third birthday
May 4, 1989
again - it's two weeks later now - Thursday, May 25. Where was I,
anyway? Oh - Kyle. My brand new three year old. If you ask him how old
he is, he holds up his fingers in a lopsided "OK" sign - that's three
fingers up, the only way he can manage it right now - and he pipes up
with "DIS many!" He's very secure about who he is, too. Ask him what
his name is and he automatically says "I Kydo Chrisuffa PODEN." No
doubt about it!
a hair cut last week - very short, again, now that the hot weather is
on the horizon - and it has somehow changed the whole texture and color,
even, of his hair. I was rubbing his head this morning while he was
sitting on my lap and I was astonished by how wiry and blond it is now.
It doesn't look bad, though. He looks like an honest-to-goodness little
BOY, especially when he's wearing the cowboy boots and lugging his
baseball bat around the apartment. This is his new love, incidentally -
baseball. Ray bought him a plastic bat and ball set, and Kyle loves
going outside on the grass in front of our apartment to "play ball"
with Daddy. Funnily enough, Kyle is pretty darned good at it! He can
hit and throw the ball with amazing accuracy for someone as little as
he is. A future Mariner, perhaps?
has her first big field trip tomorrow. Her kindergarten class is going
to the Pacific Science Center for the whole day. I think she is more
excited by the prospect of walking to school in the morning with "the
big kids" (Jamie and Chris) than by the actual field trip
itself, but I know she'll love the Science Center. I wish I could go
with her, just to watch her reactions to everything. Kacie has really
surprised me this year. I just never expected her to take to school the
way she has. I don't know why. I had no doubts about her intelligence
or her abilities; I suppose I feared she would feel confined, that she
would be too restless to get much out of it. She's always been such an
on-the-go kid. Sitting in one spot and paying attention to one thing
for any length of time seemed a little beyond her. I underestimated
her, clearly. In the past nine months I've seen her become this
self-assured, attentive, cooperative kid who ADORES school. The baby
talk and most of the fidgetiness have vanished, she actually listens
and follows instructions, she has great confidence, and school is a
source of joy and purpose for her. It's wonderful. Mr. Gallagher is a
rare and special teacher, and I credit him for much of her
transformation. Just as Jamie did last year, Kacie loves Mr. Gallagher
ferociously. His word is gospel.
moment from this morning: Kacie, Kyle and I dancing around the kitchen
to Chubby Checker's "The Twist." Kyle does this weird little Elvis
Presley leg-wobble that is hilarious.)
two weeks. Kacie loved her field trip - they got to see live wolves,
watched a movie about beavers (appropriate, since she's a Bow Lake
Beaver!) and played on a playground "with a twirling slide" (whatever
the heck that means). Kacie also said she liked "holding the starfish,
crabs and baby chicks." Other than that, I had to sort of drag the
details out of her. But then she's always been like that, especially
about school. I think that may be one reason I mistakenly believed she
wasn't enjoying school, at first - she never seems to offer up a lot of
information about what goes on there, or about what happens during her
day - but I've finally figured out that this is simply how she is. It
has nothing to do with liking or disliking school. You have to ask her
about things because she's usually not going to volunteer anything.
Next week is Jamie's turn - her class is going to the Woodland Park Zoo
on Wednesday, June 14th. She took her permission slip to school this
morning and she's VERY excited. It's getting so late in the school year
(the last day is the 22nd) that she was afraid she wasn't going to have
a field trip at all, which would've been the icing on the cake of her
school year. First grade hasn't been the year of her dreams, I'm
afraid. But now she's going to the zoo, and it seems to be making up
for some of the disappointments she claims she's felt this year. And as
far as "volunteering information" (about school) is concerned, Jamie
& Kacie are like night and day. For someone who dislikes first
grade as much as Jamie says she does, she certainly talks
about the place a lot. She's very generous with details and
else is new? Ray has been put on the graveyard shift at SeaPak for a
few weeks. As with any change in his schedule, I had my usual
trepidations at first, but it's been a week now and I like it a LOT.
He's here with us in the afternoons and evenings (until he leaves at 11
p.m.); the kids get to see a lot more of him - for most of the school
year Jamie has only seen her Daddy on weekends; I have more access to
the car; AND I have the bed all to myself at night. No more sleeping on
the couch! Ray seems to like the new hours, too. After two
swingshift, I suppose any change is a welcome change.
was given an enormous honor this month: she was chosen as the Highline
School District's only kindergarten-level "Writing Focus" award winner.
One student was chosen from each grade (K-6) to receive the honor, and
Kacie was it for the kindergarten category. The award was for something
she wrote in class last month, a letter to her Mom & Dad about
ways to maintain good health. It was adorable. I've been looking for it
this morning so I could copy it into my journal, but so far I've been
able to locate it. I know it's in this apartment somewhere. Anyway, on
Wednesday night (June 7th) Kacie was invited to attend the School Board
meeting in Burien and receive her award from the Superintendent of
Schools, Dr. Kent Mathison. Jamie, Mom and I went with her and watched
her receive her certificate in front of the entire School Board ... the
proudest moment of her small life. (Her beloved Mr. Gallagher was there
too, I should add, taking pictures ... also Mrs. Wagner, the principal
of her school.) When the meeting called a recess, my mother took us
around and introduced us to some of the Board members and other people
from the school district that she works with. We even got to meet Dr.
Mathison. Most of them had no idea that Kacie was her
Kacie's Writing Focus Award Ceremony
Above: Kacie receiving her award
Below, L-to-R: Mom, Kacie, me, Jamie
June 13, 1989
recent development I forgot to mention - the swimming pool opened
Memorial Day weekend, and it's virtually the only thing the girls think
about, talk about or ask about. It's only been a couple of weeks and
already I'm so tired of hearing about SWIMMING that I could scream.
Fortunately it's been overcast and drizzly most of the week, so I've
enjoyed a temporary reprieve. Besides that, the girls have been told
that there will be no swimming this summer when their bedroom is a
mess, and at the moment it is unspeakably awful. So even if it were 103
degrees this afternoon, they'd still be up shit creek without a
"floater" ... :(
June 15, 1989
took the crib down and hauled it out to the dumpster this week. No one
sleeps in it anymore, and it was just taking up room, so I asked Ray to
get rid of it. While he was dismanteling it, though, I suddenly got
very sad and misty-eyed, and I had to go next door to Lori's for awhile
so I wouldn't see the crib being hauled away. It was much harder than
I'd expected! ("It's like a door is closing," I told Lori.) The Baby
Years are over for real, aren't they? It's finally beginning to sink
in. No more babies. No more pregnancies. I've got my children, our
family is complete, end of story. The big empty spot in my bedroom
where the crib used to stand serves as a reminder that the days of
diapers and Enfamil are gone forever, and while the freedom is
intoxicating, there is still a little part of me in mourning ...
But I'm gonna knock this stuff off. Taking down the crib was
tough. I'm fine now, though. The fact is that I'm thrilled
with the children I've got, and I meant it when I said I couldn't start
all over again with a newborn, not at this stage of the game. I
celebrate the three remarkable, unique, precious, delightful children
we have. They are enough for me, and I am completely blessed.
isn't all hearts and flowers around here, though. I wanted to spend
some time this morning writing about my firstborn ... or should I say,
the changeling who seems suddenly to have taken Jamie's place these
past few months. Who IS this cynical, moody, pessimistic,
self-involved little person masquerading as my oldest daughter,
anyway?? There are times I feel I don't even know her anymore. Nothing
I do or say seems to please her. The chicken I cook is "icky," the
clothes I suggest for her to wear are all wrong, my jokes are dumb, and
getting her to help out around the place is out of the question. She
complains about everything, she sits around looking morose all the
time, and she picks fights with everybody.
isn't a day that goes by that we don't clash over something - usually
ten or twenty times a day. It's exhausting and infuriating and a little
frightening: how long will this go on? Forever? For as long as we know
each other?? God, I hope not. I HOPE that it's just another phase,
something we'll eventually grow out of together, and that with time and
patience she'll go back to being my sweet, happy, helpful Puss.
still love her as fiercely as I ever have. Nothing she could ever do or
say can change that. As I wrote in a letter recently to my pen pal
Deanne, "Jamie and I have a
'thread' running between us. Is
it because she's my firstborn, or is it because she's this little
mirror image of me?? It's almost a psychic thing - finishing sentences
for each other, conversing in a sort of 'verbal shorthand' that only we
understand, knowing what the other is thinking or how the other is
feeling without having to ask ... (a) mental/verbal/emotional
connectedness ... there's good and there's bad in that. Already I can
feel her trying to pull away from it sometimes ... "
June 16, 1989
light at the end of the tunnel, maybe. I was reading a book this
morning, "When Your Child Drives You Crazy" by Eda LeShan, and I
stumbled across a chapter that seems to fit Jamie perfectly. I won't
spend much time writing about it here - too much to do this morning,
ironing, making cookies, cleaning my room and the bathrooms, etc. - but
the gist of it is that her behavior is pretty much normal. It is an
irritating but healthy sign of independence. Ms. LeShan calls it
"empancipation acrobatics" - Jamie's way of testing herself against
parental authority. Her advice for dealing with it:
your battles. Decide what is most important and don't try to win every
argument. In Jamie's case, I guess this means I insist that she help
out around the place, but I let her wear whatever she wants to school,
regardless of how bizarre ... ?
- Respect her
"work." Ask about her day, her
schoolwork, her relationships with her friends, etc.
- Accentuate the
is RAY? It's 10 a.m. and he's two hours late getting home from work.
Did he stop to bank his paycheck? Or run over to Grandma Vert's to put
in a couple of hours of yardwork? So strange for him to be late ...
remember the Kirkland days, when it was "so strange" for him not
to be late?? I suppose he'll be along in a minute or two, but in the
meantime it is decidedly weird - deja vu time - to be speculating about
was drinking beer at Trudy's Tavern with some guys from work.)
scene from our evening last night. It was about 7:00 and the kids and I
were watching TV in the living room. Ray had been running back and
forth doing laundry for a couple of hours, so no one really paid any
attention when he quietly ducked out the patio door in his swim shorts.
A few minutes later, I noticed that he hadn't come back yet.
hunch, I looked out the window and checked the swimming pool
and sure enough, there he was bobbing around in the water. Very coolly
and casually, I said (to no one in particular), "Oh gee, there's Daddy
in the pool." Instant mayhem.
All three kids went FLYING out the door
in their nightgowns and p.j.'s - Kyle was laughing, Jamie sulking,
Kacie screaming at the top of her lungs. "WE WANNA SWIM!" she screamed.
"Sorry, Kacie," Ray said. "You haven't cleaned your bedroom yet."
You'll recall that this is the new rule, and so far this week they
haven't even begun to pick up. The girls turned to me at that point,
desperate for reprieve, but I just shrugged and said "Sorry, folks." At
this, Kacie came completely unglued. She stood on the lawn between our
apartment and the pool and just howled.
and I just looked at each other and grinned ... sort of "Well?
Do we let them off the hook or not?"
Finally he shrugged and held three fingers up in the air. I said "OK -
swim tonight, clean bedroom TOMORROW." So they got a 45-minute swim
after all. But Kacie just looked so funny and sad, standing on the lawn
in her nightgown, howling ...
The universe revolved around the Shannon South
(Kacie is second from left: Jamie in the middle.)
June 19, 1989
a few minutes ago (7:45 a.m.) and discovered that all three of the
"extra" kids were here already and sitting in the living room with
Jamie, watching TV. So much for "getting up before everyone else" and
having some quiet time to myself. Guess I'll have to start setting the
alarm if I want a few no-kids moments at the start of my day.
June 20, 1989
No - I
mean it. I MISS MY MORNINGS. I miss my privacy, my quiet cups of
coffee, my undisturbed journal writing. I don't get ANY of that
anymore. This morning when I got up, Jerome, André, Chris
and RAY were were all sitting in the living room watching Pink Panther
cartoons - a full house at 8:15 a.m. - and there's me in my old
sweatpants with the holes in the butt, mascara smeared all over my face
... trying to make my coffee while four sets of eyes follow me around
the room ...
now, as I sit here at the kitchen table trying to write this,
André is sitting two feet in front of me, making slurping
noises as he works his slowly through a bowl of oatmeal. Every time I
look up at him, his eyes are glued on my face. It's positively
well. At least I've had my shower, Ray has gone to bed for a couple of
hours, Jamie and Chris have gone to school, and Kyle & Kacie
are watching TV (semi-quietly) in my bedroom. So I'm down to just
André and Jerome now. I would really like to be in a
civilized mood today, and I'm trying, but several things are working
against it. First of all, I'm dieting again
(no-this-time-I-really-mean-it), as of this week, and that raises the
bitch factor considerably. Also, my period is due. Ray's new hours are
beginning to get on my nerves, a little. The kids only have 2-1/2 days
of school left, and then they'll ALL be here, ALL DAY, ALL THE TIME.
Arrgh. Summer vacation looms ahead long, hot and nerve-wracking.
Finally, I had a crappy night's sleep - Kyle woke up around midnight
and threw up all over my bed.
evening 9 p.m.
June 28, 1989
and Kyle are asleep - the girls and I are sitting in the living room,
watching TV. (I have to wake Ray at 10:30 p.m. and send him to work, so
I've gotta stay up till then.)
I overheard a few minutes ago: Jamie & Kacie are standing in
front of the refrigerator, fixing themselves a drink of KoolAid: Kacie
is talking to Jamie, who isn't paying much attention:
"... everybody says I don't know how to read, and I KNOW how to read, I
read my nursery rhymes book, and everybody says I don't know how to
swim, and I DO know how ..."
Jamie: "Kacie, I GOT you a cup already."
Kacie: "I want to pour it MYSELF!"
was sitting in the green armchair, the one that used to belong to my
Grandpa, when she accidentally spilled her cup of cherry Kool-Aid onto
her lap and onto the chair.
was this look of stunned panic that came over her face, and for a full
ten seconds she seemed to be frozen in place - she couldn't move, she
just LOOKED at me. I didn't say much ... just took
the seat cushion into
the kitchen and began scrubbing it with soap and water and an old
toothbrush. Jamie stood in the hallway watching me. I heard her sniffle
at one point, and when I turned to look at her there were big fat tears
sliding down her cheeks. She truly seemed to feel she'd done something
unforgivable. I knelt down in front of her and took her in my arms. She
resisted my hug for a moment, standing there woodenly with her arms at
her sides, but then I told her it was OK, I wasn't mad, and she
finally returned my hug with one of her own, crying on my
little girls," I told her. "I
don't think he would mind a little cherry Kool-Aid on his chair." That
cheered her up a bit, and a few minutes later she was laughing and
joking again ...
June 29, 1998
next morning. Ray got off to work just fine last night, and he got home
this morning at 8 a.m., and now he's back in bed again! We are like the
proverbial two ships.
cool, drizzly. The girls and I are sitting at the table, all three of
us scribbling in notebooks. I have my big cup of black coffee, and they
both have little cups of (heavily milk-and-sugared) coffee. Jamie is
writing "pomes," and Kacie is drawing a picture of Gumby. This is a
very nice, companionable moment: I'm enjoying it. School has been out
for a week now, and I'll be the first to admit that I LIKE having my
girls around! They are good company, and they help out a lot
around the place (albeit not always completely WILLINGLY). Plus Kyle
seems to be happy to have his sisters to play with all day.
report cards, incidentally, were wonderful: all A's and B's, with great
comments from their teachers. Mr. Gallagher said that Kacie has been
"an outstanding student," with "strengths in most areas"; Jamie's
teacher, the hated Mrs. R., called her "a very capable and nice young
lady" and reminded her to practice her reading and spelling over the
new development in the Jamie P. "Emancipation Acrobatics" Department -
she has suddenly begun carrying her dolls around again (Christabel and
good old Maggie)! She doesn't take them outside or in the car
anything like that, but when we're here in the apartment, they are
usually either in her arms or else within reach. While I find this
unexpected developmental-reversal to be cute and touching, I wonder
what has prompted it? (And, although she would rather die than admit
this to her peers, she still sleeps with her orange security blanky,
the one she used to call "Liddle Diddle" a hundred years ago or so ...
also the orange dragon she got for her fourth birthday, "Lollipop." The
blanket and the dragon have been constant companions all along, but the
return of the dolls is something new.) I'm treating the whole thing as
casually as possible. I know that I played with my dolls well into
third or fourth grade, maybe longer, but I don't think there is
anything wrong with that. It's just strange that after having
"abandoned" her dolls (in favor of the more sophisticated
Barbie, plus friends, school, etc.) for so long, she suddenly
feels need of them again. No, not "strange." Just unexpected. And
sweet. I simply hope she isn't motivated by some unspoken fear or new
insecurity, something she feels she can't talk about. Maybe she's
worried about second grade in the fall, for instance? Or maybe she's
had enough of "pulling away" from me and wants to take a break for
awhile, be a little girl again, touch base with the things that make
her feel good and secure and loved ... ?
who knows. There I go again, analyzing everything. Poor Jamie is
probably fated to a lifetime of me analyzing her every move. I can't
help it: from the moment of her birth, I have found her endlessly
... Arsenio Hall ... Tom Petty ... "Totally Hidden Video" ... the
grocery strike ... Allied Bond & Collection ... green apples
and Diet Cherry Coke ... KXRX-FM ...
Kacie, Kyle and Jamie Polen
Thursday 6 p.m.
summer evening. I must admit something: I do
summer evenings ... especially evenings like this one, when a
breeze picks up
and the sun is thinking about setting and the apartment complex quiets
down a bit; the neighbors light up their barbecue grills and the air is
filled with the smells of cooking and chlorine and newmown grass ...
and the kids are in the pool. Erin and Jay came to pick up their boys a
few minutes ago, and I am temporarily (and blissfully) alone. Dinner is
on the stove, and I am sitting here in front of my fan with a Diet
Squirt and a cigarette, savoring this time to myself. So far, summer
vacation hasn't been all that bad. As I said before, I like
having the girls around, not only because they can help with the
housework and with the boys (Kyle, Jerome, André, Ray) -
although that IS nice - but also because they are such fine little
companions, particularly in the evenings. I love talking to them, I
love listening to their conversations with each other, I love how smart
and funny and
entertaining they can be. We have our bad moments - plenty of them.
Jamie is still kind of sulky sometimes, and Kacie is so hyperactive
that it makes me nuts sometimes. But most of the time they are my
"ladies" ... my sweet, unique, priceless ladies.
is a somewhat different story.
ABOUT KYLE THIS SUMMER:
will only sleep in my bed ... BETWEEN Ray and I.
- He knows - and
USES - every obscene word in the
book, sometimes in public. (To my acute embarrassment.)
- He will usually
only eat hot dogs, peanut butter
sandwiches, toothpaste, bubblegum, root beer and chocolate milk.
- He is afraid to
get into the swimming pool this
- His favorite TV
shows are "Full House" and
"PeeWee's Playhouse" and "The Wonder Years."
- He is a monster.
- He wears his
underpants backwards, and he doesn't
- Everything in
this apartment belongs to him.
- He has to be the
first person through any door.
- He likes to spit
on the porch, throw rocks at
André and fiddle with electrical cords. He also enjoys
squirting toothpaste into the toilet.
- He is a monster.
- No one can bring
in the evening newspaper but Kyle.
- His favorite
songs are "Help Me Rhonda" and "Twist
& Shout." He also likes Elvis Presley and Bruce Springsteen
when they come on the radio.
- He calls
- He is a monster.
July 13, 1989
later, and feeling down. Not sure why. This feeling has persisted most
of the week: the feeling that I'm not a very good person, that no one
around the apartment complex likes me very much, that I am on the
outside of the world, looking in ...
been on this stupid diet for 2-1/2 weeks now. Why does no weight loss
register on my bathroom scale? Why am I firmly stuck at 162? I look in
the mirror and my face looks bloated and grotesque. I look like hell
this summer, and it is very dispiriting.
I'm not imagining the very cold "vibes" I'm getting from a lot of my
neighbors. As always, my shyness and poor self-esteem are being
mistaken for aloofness. I would love to break into the social circle
here, and to be well-liked, but the fact is that I'm so fucking
uncomfortable around other women that even if I do
contact, maintaining any sort of friendship is agony for me. Most of
the time I would just as soon be alone: it is so much easier.
is the exception. She is the first true girlfriend I've had in years.
(I'm not really counting the "friendship" I had with Stephanie a couple
of years back, because that was mainly a business relationship - me
babysitting Courtney - and when it came right down to it, we had very
little in common. I was always on edge around her, trying to be
whatever she wanted me to be. I don't think that qualifies as genuine
friendship.) What makes Lori different, or rather what makes our
friendship different, is how comfortable I feel with her, and how much
we have in common, and how much I can just be myself around her. We've
been friends for about a year now - next-door neighbors for longer than
that, but it took a while to get to know each other - and so far I've
managed to avoid doing anything to fuck it up. Amazing.
thing I like the most about Lori, thogh, isn't what we have in common -
circumstances, attitudes, a slightly skewed view of the world - but the
things that are different
about us. She is as
natural and likeable and comfortable with people as I secretly aspire
to be. I guess I'm hoping that if I hang out with her long enough, some
of her natural affability will rub off on me ...
back to my moaning and groaning. I've had a crummy week, and things
over all don't look particularly heartening. My reactions to minor
problems have been completely inappropriate and overblown. I'm yelling
ALL THE TIME. Jamie and Kacie were caught writing on the buildings the
other day - the manager caught them, and made a big stink about it -
and I flew into a rage. I spanked them both, and then I made this big
sign and posted it on the fridge:
swimming for 2
playground or patio ONLY."
sat in their bedroom and cried, and I sat at the kitchen table and
smoked a cigarette and cried, and everybody felt terrible for the rest
of the afternoon. As always, I felt I'd handled the situation very
badly. I was embarrassed that the manager had caught them, and furious
at the girls for doing something so stupid. And then of
course I had to make the situation even worse by being inconsistent
about their punishment: that night they stayed up until 10 p.m.,
yesterday Ray took them swimming, and today they're going to the movies
with my mother! ("Honey I Shrunk The Kids.") So much for effective
discipline. As a matter of fact, I think I'm just as disgusted with
myself for my inconsistency as I am for my initial overblown reaction.
I screw up no matter which way I go.
don't know what to make of all this. What is the matter
August 25, 1989
weeks have passed: summer is on the wane. I have been unusually tense
for days, worrying about school clothes for the girls. Where will the
money come from? It has sort of put a damper on these last few days of
summer vacation, for me at least, but the girls seem unaware of my
anxiety. I am terrified that we'll go into a store and they'll want
every designer label in sight.
clothes shopping has always been such a hot button with me anyway. To
this day I still have dreams that I'm back in high school and I'm in a
panic because I don't have any money for clothes. Or else I dream that
I'm shopping for clothes at Southcenter, but I can't find the store I
want, or I get stuck in the elevator and can't get to the juniors
department, or I get to the store and all they've got hanging
on the racks are swimsuits and bathrobes. I wake up in
tears. These days I project those anxieties onto
shopping for the girls, I guess.
hasn't been the most memorable summer on record, but it has had its
pleasant moments. What will Jamie & Kacie remember about Summer
1989, I wonder? Going to the movies with Grandma? The swimming pool?
The weekend we all went to The Waterland Festival with John, Lori and
Tracy? Renting movies from our new video store? (And last week's
Stephen King "festival" - "Carrie" and "The Shining," both in one
night?) Daddy barbecuing on the porch? Erin and Jay's wedding tomorrow
night ... ?
I'll Remember Most About This Summer
"I'll remember the wedding, I bet. That's all I can think of." (Mom: "Jamie,
come ON.") "Um ... I choked on a
"Uh, SWIMMING ... sun-tannin' ... when we did our play (Roxanne and
Jamie and Tracy and me) ... and, uh, playin' ball ... the Water
Fedsible" (Waterland Festival) ... "the WEDDIN' ... "
What I'll probably remember most about this summer is the way it looked
from the INSIDE of this apartment ... since that's where I spent all my
The girls (with
Jerome and André) at the wedding
August 29, 1989
... there seems to be something vaguely familiar about this date ... ?!
folks, it's my eight year wedding anniversary -- I mean, OUR eight year
wedding anniversary -- although I don't think Ray has remembered it yet
today. I have cautioned the girls and Lori not to say a word to him
about it: I want to see if he remembers without being prompted.
Something tells me he won't. We've both been distracted and pulled
apart from each other emotionally, the past few days -- not mad at each
other, just absorbed in problems and concerns of our own -- and I don't
think he has any idea that today is our anniversary. I haven't bothered
dropping any hints this year. The most I've ever gotten from him is a
card once in a while, anyway, and that's only when I've REQUESTED
Somehow it's just not the same as having him do something special of
his own volition. Frankly, I've quit hoping that that will ever happen.
And as for me doing something special for HIM ... hey, I've done
that, year after year ... special dinners, handmade cards, funny
banners on the door when he walks in, even surprising him one year by
dressing up in HIS wedding suit, just to be funny ... this year I don't
even feel like trying.
and Jay's wedding on Saturday night was so romantic, so lavish, so
special ... there's been this little, gnawing feeling of envy inside of
me, ever since. Really nice weddings do that to me. I guess maybe
that's why I'm so down in the dumps about our anniversary today: I feel
overlooked, somehow, and unappreciated.
This was the year I surprised "Ray" by wearing his wedding suit
August 29, possibly 1988 or 1987
Erin and Jay are honeymooning in Hawaii this week, and somehow I got
roped into babysitting Jerome and André until they get back,
this coming weekend. Originally the boys were scheduled to stay with
their grandparents all week, but those plans fell through. They got
here Sunday afternoon, and I'll have them until Friday night or
Saturday morning. So far it hasn't been all that bad, and we can
certainly use the extra $200 I'm earning. I just feel a bit overwhelmed
at having so many kids in the apartment all day and all night.
(Christopher is back, incidentally, so he is here all day too. Six kids
total!) I've just barely finished cleaning up the breakfast mess when
all of a sudden it's time to make LUNCH. We're going through 3/4 of a
gallon of milk a day, an entire loaf of bread, two quarts of Kool-Aid,
whole packages of hot dogs, two jumbo rolls of toilet paper ... toys are
strewn all over the apartment, the laundry is reaching the ceiling
again, and the NOISE ... god, the noise ...
has finally gone back on dayshift at work, as of a week ago, so once
again we are all trying to adjust to his new schedule. He leaves very
early in the morning, before any of us are up, and he's home by 4:00 in
the afternoon usually. We are having minor conflicts in the evening
-- what to watch on TV, what to cook for dinner, who has
the final "say"
in matters regarding the kids, etc. etc. -- but once we've
through this period of adjustment, I guess things will be OK.
now for the really big news. I am very nervous writing about this -- I'm
afraid of jinxing myself -- so I'm just going to give you the basics for
now. If things turn out the way I hope they do, I'll write more about
it soon. For the moment, let me just say that there is a house we're
interested in -- a perfect, marvelous, once-in-a-lifetime house -- a
house that I want so badly, I can taste it. Ray is less enthusiastic
about it than I am, primarily because of the rent ($735), but I am
practically sick with longing and positive that we could make a go of
if we're careful with our money. I have thought of little else for two
days. All of my fears about moving have miraculously vanished ... at
least, if we take THIS house. It's only a couple of blocks from the
girls' school ... it is the right size, the interior is beautiful, the
yard is fenced ... there are all sorts of little architectural bonuses,
like shelved closets and a built-in laundry hamper and a desk area in
the laundry room. It is
my dream house. It is the house I have
visualized and longed for and waited for all my life. Please, God. I
will do anything. We'll change our ways, stop squandering our money,
become more responsible about things. I'll go back to work, if
necessary. Anything. It's just got to be THIS house ...
went and looked at it Sunday night, and at the time Ray seemed just as
enthusiastic and excited as I was: maybe even more so. But then
yesterday he hardly said a word about it, except to grumble about the
rent. I purposely avoided the subject for the rest of the evening. When
he gets home today, though, I know we'll have to confront the issue,
and I am terrified. I just know he's going to try and back out. Or else
we'll both agree to go for it, but then the owners will decide not to
rent to us. Something will go wrong. You just wait and see.
... my "wait and see" plan has yielded both expected and unexpected
results today. I am sitting here at the kitchen table, quivering: life
is beginning to heat up again.
one thing, Ray did
forget about our
anniversary. Not exactly the surprise of the century, but there was
still this tiny part of me that hopped he would waltz through the door
bearing hearts and flowers ... I admit it. It was 4:15 when he got
home, and I was sitting out by the pool watching the kids go for a
swim. I was wearing dark glasses so he couldn't read the expression in
my eyes. He came over and stood by the fence and went on and
on for a couple of minutes about all the work he had to do at
Grandma Vert's. Finally noticing my silence, he asked if anything was
wrong. I had promised myself I wouldn't make a scene, but I started to
cry anyway, and I looked at him and blubbered "It's our ANNIVERSARY."
The stunned expression on his face was priceless! Actually, except for
the fact that I really would have liked
unsolicited card or a bottle of champagne - even a cheapo bouquet of
Safeway carnations - the look on his face was a gift in and of
itself. Anyway, he stammered something about how he
thought our anniversary was "later in the week," and that he was sorry
he forgot. I guess he really meant it. Then he had
to leave for Grandma's, and he said he'd be home by 7:30 with a "wine
cooler" or something, and that was pretty much it. Another
less-than-noteworthy anniversary in the mediocre marriage of Ray
& Terri. He's not back from Grandma's yet, but I'm just getting
on with my evening and doing my best not to feel overly sorry for
myself. John came over from next door and sang "Happy Anniversary to
yoo-oo!" a few minutes ago, and the girls gave me some elaborately
decorated cards they made for us both. (Jamie's card says "Happy
Anavrcary - GOOD LUCK MOM.") LOL.
And who knows what Ray will show up with
house has been on my mind all day again today, but there is a new
development to report. At 6:00, Deb J., one of the owners, gave me a
call. The gist of the conversation was this: if we want it, the house
ours. I am in a state of shock, I think. After I hung up the phone, I
hopped up and down in front of Jerome and Jamie for a couple of
minutes, shrieking. I think they thought I'd lost my mind. I knew that
our initial meeting with Deb & Greg on Sunday had gone
extremely well. Deb and I enjoyed an instant rapport. (Our daughters
have been in the same class for the past two years; Deb knows my
mother; we kept discovering other things we have in common.) But all
along I've had this fear that they would turn us down anyway, because
of our lack of credit history or else because our monthly income isn't
enough. But apparently they talked it over after we left, agreed that
they both liked us and that they're interested in renting to us ("We
just enjoyed your VISIT," she said on the phone), and now we are in a
whole new position. Now the decision is 100%, completely, totally ours
to make. If we make the right decision and things work out, we'll have
ourselves to congratulate: on the other hand, if we goof and things
fall apart, we'll only have ourselves to blame.
August 30, 1989
where was I? The Anniversary From Hell. Ray got home sometime around
8:00 last night, while the kids and I were sitting in the living room
watching TV. He handed me a small paper bag with two bottles of wine
cooler and an envelope: my anniversary card. He signed it "Love you,
happy 8 yrs., Ray." At that point I officially forgave him. Later, he
went out and got us a frozen pizza for a late supper, and then John
& Lori came over with a gift (a nice cut-glass vase) and a
couple of glasses of Cold Duck. So I went to sleep feeling somewhat
less overlooked ...
and I woke up just as obsessed with the house as ever. When Ray got
home last night, he said "Well - did you call them?" (the owners), and
I grinned and said "Nope - they called ME." He was surprised by that.
All along I've been trying to convince him that the J.'s want to rent
us the house -- I've known that from our first meeting, I think - but
he didn't really believe it, I don't think, until now.
interrupted. Now it's Thursday morning, and I'm a nervous wreck. I was
wrong about one very fundamental fact: the decision is NOT "100%
completely totally" ours to make after all. The decision is actually
now in the hands of Grandma Vert.
Shit, shit, SHIT.
will cost us over a thousand dollars to move into the house. $1,470, to
be precise. After that it will be $910 a month for the next two months.
This is first, last and a $350 deposit, combined. The way it figures
out on paper is that we're $500 short. This afternoon Ray and I are
going to go over to Grandma's and ask for yet another "small loan." I
am not optimistic about our chances. She has made it clear recently
that she won't help us with money anymore. But we have no other
recourse. Without her help, we'll have to turn the house down.
September 5, 1989
days have passed since that last tense entry, and things have settled
down considerably since then. From this vantage point of relative calm,
I can now bring you up to date ...
things first. School was supposed to have started today, but
last-minute negotiations within the Highline School District (in a
successful attempt to avert a teacher's strike) have pushed the first
day back to September 6th. The girls were a little disappointed -
beginning to get antsy about school starting - but in a way I'm glad
for the extra day. Jamie's hair still needs to be trimmed, the girls'
room is a mess (again), I want to bake some cookies for lunches, etc.
etc. So this added day of "vacation" gives me a little breathing room.
clothes shopping turned out just fine. I bought each of them a new pair
of shoes - we went to Value Village for (secondhand) jeans &
shirts - and Grandma Vert bought each of them two
now about the house. I ended up going over to Grandma's by
myself last Thursday night - well, actually, Jamie came with me: I
meant, Ray didn't come along - to
ask for the $500. She turned me down flat. She said she didn't have the
money to give us, but I think it was more a case of her not wanting to
float us another loan. I know she's been feeling taken advantage of
lately, and frankly I don't blame her ...
she's already helped us out so much, the past couple of
years. I was devastated, but I managed to leave her house with a big
phony smile on my face, my pride more or less intact.
got in the car, though, I fell apart. When we got back to the apartment
I cried for a solid hour. Ray and Lori and the kids did their best to
console me, but I was SO disappointed. "We'll be living in this dump
forever," I moaned ...
just about to pick up the phone and call the J.'s to tell them our
financing had fallen through and we couldn't take the house - after I'd
already told them we were "99.9% sure" we were going to go for it -
when the phone rang. It was Grandma, calling to say she'd reconsidered,
and she would give us the money!
The house is ours!
First day of school, Sept. 1989
Back row, L-to-R: Tracy, Roxanne (neighbor child), Jerome, Kacie
Front row, L-to-R: Jamie, Christopher, Kyle
September 7, 1989
started yesterday. Lori and I walked all the kids (Jamie, Kacie, Tracy,
Christopher, Jerome, Roxanne, and - along for the "ride" - Kyle and
André) over to Bow Lake and got them settled comfortably
into their new classrooms. Jamie got the second grade teacher she'd
been hoping for all summer, Ms. Weeks. (I pray that second grade is
more enjoyable for her than first grade was.) And Kacie is happy with
her new first grade teacher, Mrs. McCall. Best of all, Tracy &
Roxanne are in the same class with Kacie, so they're all together. This
will make it easier when we move next month: Kacie won't be living next
door to Tracy anymore, but they'll still see each other every day at
school. Not a minor consideration at all.
actually felt somewhat at loose ends yesterday, with all of the older
children at school and only Kyle & André around! I
wound up doing a lot of meaningless housework and running next door to
Lori's every few minutes to chat. It occurs to me that I'm going to be
pretty isolated next month in the new house: no more Lori right next
door to borrow sugar from, and work crossword puzzles with, and compare
notes with on our soap opera ... no more Shannon South neighbors
walking past my open door all day long ... no more armies of kids after
school, cutting across my patio ...
need to write a bit about the house today. Now that the wheels are
actually turning and the big move is drawing closer, I'm finding myself
with mixed emotions. Perhaps now is the time to get some of them on
paper. It may take me a couple of days to get it all written,
considering interruptions and such, but I think it's important that I
get some of this out in the open and deal with it before the time comes
to move. I don't want to go into the new place with anything left
unresolved. Randomly, then - as they occur to me - some of the things I
FEAR! I am
terrified of the monstrous
financial committment this represents. Even after we manage to pay off
the first, last and deposit and we settle into paying our monthly rent,
it's still going to be over $300 more per month than we're paying now.
I'm scared that we're getting in over our heads. Then what will we do??
I'm scared that Erin and Jay may not need me as a babysitter after the
first of next year - a possibility they have mentioned - and then
there'll go my only source of income. Will I have to go back to work?
And who would hire me, with my antiquated office skills and lack of job
experience the past ten years? What would we do about daycare for
Kyle? Or transportation for me ... ?
just afraid that I've made a big mistake, grabbing the first house to
come along and committing my family to enforced poverty for the next
few months. How will we eat? How will we pay the enormous electric
bills this winter? What about Christmas? How are we going to be able to
manage ... ?!
HOUSE. Oh my god.
We're going to be living in a house again! I recall how
broken-up I was
about leaving the Kirkland house three years ago: the thought of living
in an apartment seemed so unappealing. And although it's true, yes,
that I did eventually become fond of this apartment, there is still a
part of me that will always prefer living in a house. No more upstairs
neighbors clomping around at midnight. No more inconvenient back and
forth trips to the laundry room. No more feeling boxed-in. We're going
to have privacy, room, our own yard, individuality, quiet, SPACE ...
and I'm exhilarated by the challenge of turning this new house into our
Decorating it as I please, hanging my
pictures in new places, getting to know our neighbors, helping my
family feel comfortable in new surroundings. I was growing complacent
again: I need
Sadness. It's going to be
hard to leave this apartment.
In fact, I'm amazed by how hard it will be, and by how sentimental I
feel about the place all of a sudden. We have invested three years of
our lives as a family here. A lot has happened to us here. It's going
to be tough to say goodbye to the familar, especially (I think) for
Kyle and I - this is the only home he's ever really known, after all -
I'm worried about how lonely he's going to be at first, with only
André to play with all day. He's used to running around the
big playground with JoJo and Sean and Scott and all of his other
buddies. How is he going to feel, cooped up in a fenced yard with only
André for company? I don't know ... maybe he'll be just
fine. Maybe I'm just projecting my own fears onto him. Maybe it's me
I'm really worried about. After all, I was so isolated when we
lived in Kirkland. When we moved here, I was sort of forced to
socialize with other people, and now I'm going to be isolated again.
Maybe I'm worried that I'm going to turn into a friendless recluse
again, that I'm going to be bored and lonely and unhappy once we've
settled into the house ... ?
DREAD. The actual physical
process of moving:
Hope. This is a new start
for us. Perhaps this is a new
start for us. Perhaps being locked into an extremely tight financial
situation is going to force Ray and I to change in ways that need to be
changed. No more foolish and extravagant weekend binges. A complete
realignment of priorities. The motivation to improve the quality of our
lives ... and our childrens' lives. Is this the beginning of the best
time of all? I fervently, sincerely hope so.
September 10, 1989
exactly having the weekend of my dreams. It's hotter than hell, I've
got a vodka-and-cigarette hangover, some little brat has been standing
outside of my apartment howling all afternoon, and Ray and I got into a
horrible, name-calling/shit-throwing argument earlier, some of the
tension from which still lingers. I am feeling distinctly UNsentimental
about the Shannon South Apartments at the moment. The noise, the
constant parade of people in front of my patio, the general feeling of
being in some sort of human zoo ...
went and saw the house again yesterday. It was Kacie's and Kyle's first
look at it. I got to walk around a little and poke my nose into
closets, bathrooms, the garage, etc. Now I think I have a more
realistic picture of exactly what's there and what we've got to work
with, and I'm more anxious than ever to get in and get started turning
it into a home for us.
September 13, 1989
have hit a glitch ... or should I say, a glitch has hit US? ... right
over the head. How did I know this whole moving business couldn't
possibly go smoothly?? Fate always seems to deal me my problems in
you believe: the apartment management is now suing to evict
us! I shit you not. We turned in our notice of intent to vacate right
on time, on the 10th, and made a verbal agreement with the rental agent
to pay our final month's rent this Friday. We were already late by that
point, but they KNEW we were moving, they KNEW we planned to pay them
on Friday, we've been here for THREE YEARS for god's sake ... you'd
think they'd give us an inch or two of leeway. But no. I guess that
fucking troll Val just couldn't resist one final opportunity to kick us
in the pants ...
I was served with papers on Monday night, and now have until the 19th
to respond in writing to The Troll's lawyer. Beyond that, I don't
really know what happens. I've never been evicted before. I've never
been SUED before! This whole crappy business has me so mad and
embarrassed I can hardly stand it ... not to mention the havoc it plays
with our balanced-but-shaky financial structure. All these stupid legal
fees threaten to topple the whole thing like so many dominoes ...
tell you this, though: nothing, nothing, NOTHING will keep us from
moving into the house ... not even an ARMY of
Trolls and Troll Lawyers ...
find a way to afford everything, we will
find a way to get
everybody off our backs and get moved in, and once we're moved in I
will breathe such an enormous sigh of relief, it will rustle the leaves
on trees in Topeka, Kansas ... !
so mad on Monday morning, after an unpleasant phone conversation with
The Troll (and this was before the eviction summons was served, even)
that I went around the apartment and began stripping the walls of
pictures, throwing everything into boxes. Then I emptied both the
bathrooms and packed up all the stuff from them, then my room, then all
of the knick-knacks and cookbooks and other things from the kitchen.
The apartment looks really bare now, and there are these huge boxes of
stuff sitting around all over the place. In a way, the process of
packing has helped me during these past couple of horrific days: it
gives me a feeling of distancing myself from this place, of purging and
cleansing, of control over at least portion of my life.
September 15, 1998
Things are better today. I wrote a really great letter to The Troll's
attorney, full of typical Terri better-not-mess-with-me bullshit - at
once deferential and subliminally insulting - and sent copies to the
building management company and the Seattle Tenants Union. And Val The
her very own copy, of course. :)
wait and see what the next move will be. Will they try to get us out of
here next weekend? Fantastic. We'll just about have all the
money by then anyway. I wrote a letter earlier this week to Grandpa
Torg in Wenatchee, and politely (but beseechingly!) asked for some
financial help with the house and the legal fees and stuff. This was a
very brave thing for me to do. We barely know each other, and except
for our yearly exchange of Christmas cards we have almost no contact
with each other at all. But he called my mom last night and told her to
tell me he's glad to help, and he's writing us a check, and as a matter
of fact he'll be in town this weekend. So anyway, with his added help,
it will be perfectly feasible for us to move into the house next
weekend, provided that Greg & Deb are finished with the
painting and repairs. I'd say I'm about 2/3 packed at the moment. I'm
waiting until the last minute to do the towels and dishes and things
like that, and I still have the girls' room to do - that will be a
monstrous job - but I've managed to get quite a lot done this week. All
the subject of the house for a moment. It's hard for me to think about
much else right now, but I'll try! Life does go on, after
all, even at
these "in-between" times ... the regular, day-to-day stuff doesn't stop
just because we're going through big changes ...
Jamie to her first Brownie meeting last night and signed her up. I
figured that she's old enough to get something out of it, and that
maybe it might be something special she and I could share this year. So
far she's not overly thrilled with the idea - she was a lot more
interested in sliding around the gymnasium floor in her socks than in
hearing about try-its and Brownie pins - but I know my Puss, I know how
neat the whole Brownie experience is, and I'm willing to wager she'll
be smitten by her second meeting.
nose is a little bit out of joint over this. "I want to be a Brow-nee!"
she wailed, when Jamie and I got home from the meeting. I almost caved
in at that point, but the truth is I honestly don't think Kacie is
ready. I don't think she's emotionally mature enough to handle the
element of competition in Brownies, for one thing - earning merit
badges (or try-its, as I guess they're called now at the Brownie level)
or competing in cookie sales. Kacie takes it too hard if she doesn't
come out on top at everything she tries.
on this tomorrow, if time permits.)
September 16, 1998
early this morning, before anyone else ... made a big pot of coffee,
turned on the Saturday morning cartoons, made French toast &
bacon ... Jamie and Kacie came wandering down the hallway a few minutes
ago, in nightgowns and tousled hair, faces sleepy. "I woke up smelling
BACON," Jamie said. Now the two of them are sitting in front of the TV
eating enormous platefuls of breakfast, watching some new cartoon with
the voice of John Candy in it. Kyle and Ray are still asleep.
is the first cool and cloudy day we've had in almost two weeks: maybe
that's why I feel so much better (more energetic) this morning. This
"Indian Summer" crap was beginning to get on my nerves. 85 degrees in
September ... I hate it. Now maybe autumn is really on the way. I
haven't felt so much as a touch of it so far, but maybe now that this
last blast of summer is over, fall won't be far behind. I haven't
permitted myself to get too excited about autumn's arrival this year,
anyway ... as a matter of fact I haven't allowed myself to enjoy much
of anything for weeks now. I've been so tied up in knots over this
whole HOUSE business that there hasn't been room for anything else. The
worst part is not knowing WHEN we'll be moving. If I at least had a
firm date I could hang onto, it would make things so much easier. It's
this uncertainty that's killing me.
September 20, 1998
So now the wait begins ...
lawyer should have gotten my letter this morning. I mailed it (and the
other copies) from the Riverton Post Office on Saturday morning. So
that should've been in plenty of time. I tried calling his office a
couple of times yesterday, just to verify that my letter had been
received, but after two stints on terminal hold (an intimidation
tactic?) I gave up in disgust, crossed my fingers and just hoped that
the letter got there before the deadline. Now I just sit here and wait
to see what happens next. I have this recurring vision of the King
County Sheriff's Department knocking on my door and saying "Get out.
can just see me standing in the parking lot amidst all my belongings,
holding a screaming Kyle in my arms, while Val and Sandy and Razor and
Tammy C. and all the other people who hate me point and laugh ...
can't happen that fast, can it? I mean, they can't just come to my door
and kick us out that very moment, can they?? I'm hoping that we get
something like a ten-day notice to vacate or something. That would at
least give us a chance to finish packing and to move without panic. I
talked to Deb J. on the phone the other day, and the house still isn't
ready. They're still painting the bathroom and cleaning the carpets.
For obvious reasons, we don't want Deb and Greg to know about our new
legal problems, so I can't exactly come out and say "Pleeeease let us
move in early!" We just have to ride this one out and see what happens,
excruciating though that may be.
that all of this shit will be over and done with in two weeks doesn't
really help, either. Each day in this apartment is simply prolonging
the agony. The only time I feel at all sentimental about this place
anymore is at night, when everybody is in bed and I'm alone in the
living room. Then I look around the apartment and remember all of the
things that have happened here in the past three years ... the kids
opening presents on Christmas mornings, Kyle and Courtney learing to
walk together, the birthday parties, the wild and crazy Saturday
nights, the kids going swimming in the summer, making friends with
Lori, the good times we've had
... that's when I feel a little misty and sentimental. During the
daytime, though - like right now - I feel something more akin to
loathing. I won't miss the moldy carpeting, or the dripping faucets, or
Joe's stereo upstairs, or the pea gravel on the playground. I won't
miss the lawnmower at 9 a.m. Monday mornings. I won't miss the gossip,
and the noise, and the long trips to the dumpster and the laundry room.
And I definitely WON'T MISS THE TROLL.
September 22, 1998
took another turn for the worse - briefly - on Wednesday morning,
shortly after I wrote my last entry in this journal. I guess that my
no-nonsense, "don't-mess-with-me" letter really
everyone's attention! Ray and I were "summoned" to appear in The
Troll's office that afternoon at 4:00. I spent the entire day in a cold
sweat, wondering what on earth they would be throwing at us next. In
spite of my confident, righteously indignant demeanor, deep down inside
I am terrified of these people, and terrified of their power to
completely torpedo our plans ... but I don't want THEM to know that!! I
would completely lose all advantage if they knew how much they
intimidate me, beneath all my bluster and bravado ...
turned out, though, the meeting with The Troll (and with Michael, the
rental agent) resolved a number of things and actually worked to our
advantage. So what if my heart was pounding, my palms were sweating,
the corners of my mouth were twitching uncontrollably?? On the outside
I was calm and polite and articulate, asking questions, defending our
position, attempting a false but convincing solicitude. I conceded a
point or two, and The Troll conceded a point or two, and in the end we
managed to strike a tentative accord. Here is where things are, as of
have until midnight Sept. 30th to move out -- next weekend. Point in
$400 worth of legal fees (originally threatened) has been knocked down
to $65. This supposedly covers the cost of having those papers served
on us last week. I'd say that's another point for us.
"Cleaning fees" will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $30. Oh well.
now I finally know WHEN we'll be moving ... a week from tomorrow. Does
it really make a difference? HELL yes!! It makes all the difference in
the universe. I can move forward now with certainty and organization.
There is a light at the end of the Shannon South tunnel.
September 25, 1989
Gentleness of spirit
Energy in the face of all the work I need to do
Sense of humor!
just realized - this is my very last Monday morning in this apartment!
Monday: Defrosted and cleaned
refrigerator; cleaned floor
around fridge; cleaned exterior of stove/oven; cleaned lower kitchen
cabinets (exteriors); packed canned food items; Ray moved four boxes to
house. Took Jamie to first Brownie meeting.
cleared out top cupboards, packed
dishes; cleaned front bathroom (tub, tiles, toilet, floor);
September 27, 1989
My hands are so stiff, sore, scratched, burned and bruised from days of
relentless cleaning, it is agony trying to hold this pen and write ...
this week is crawling by slower than Heinz Ketchup ... I try to stay
really busy all day, cleaning and packing ... but the house still feels
as far-off and unattainable to me as it did four weeks ago. I don't
feel impatient, exactly; just sort of numb and disbelieving, as though
we're never REALLY going to leave this apartment. It doesn't seem real
to me yet, I suppose. Ray is the one who's getting really excited about
it now. He came home last night and said "I want to move RIGHT NOW!"
He's been moving a carload or two of boxes every night this week and
storing them in the garage at the new house.
... this is probably my last entry here at the apartment! And I only
have a minute or two to scribble something quick; next time I write,
I'll be sitting in our brand-new home ... !
and I walked the kids to school this morning, for the last time ever.
This was "Picture Day" - the kids got their class photos taken today -
and we took Kyle and André to the school to have their
pictures taken, too. It was slightly foggy, a little cool, a definite
feeling of "autumn" in the air. It seems like I always move in the
fall, doesn't it? I'm sitting here now, among mountains of boxes,
waiting for my chicken pot pie to cook ... waiting for Lori to come
back and watch the boys while I clean my bathroom ... waiting for Ray
and John to come home from work and move the furniture ... waiting,
waiting, waiting ...
really happening, isn't it? This is it. We're moving tomorrow. It still
doesn't seem real to me. I'm excited, nervous, sad, happy, tired,
energized, hundreds of different emotions at once. This apartment is
filled with ghosts today. Soon it will be filled with strangers. I hope
that whoever lives here after we move has as many good times and happy
moments as we did. It's not the greatest apartment in the world, but
for three years it has been our home, and I'll never forget it.
Shannon South Apartments ...
Shannon South Apartments
Our home from Oct. 1986 to Oct. 1989
October 2, 1989
and hello, new house!
hardly believe I'm saying this, finally, but we are HERE! When on earth
is this going to start seeming real,
first Monday morning in the new place, and here I am, just like always,
sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee and writing in my journal.
It's comforting, somehow, to know some things will never change! Jamie,
Kacie and Jerome left for school a little while ago, and now Kyle and
André are tearing around the house like a couple of wild
Indians. Kyle is so excited about having his own bedroom. The moment
Jerome & André showed up this morning, he dragged
them both down the hallway to see it. "This is MY ROOM!" he said
proudly. "And this is MY BED!" It's a new experience for him: except
for a couple of months in Kirkland, right after he was born, he has
never had a room of his very own. We don't have enough beds to go
around yet, so for the moment we've split the girls' bed in half -- the
mattress is in their bedroom, and Kyle sleeps on the boxsprings. It
looks terrible, but it'll have to do for now, and Kyle doesn't care
anyway ... he'd probably sleep on the floor just as happily.
a beautiful, sunny October morning, and yes, now I can finally say it -
it feels like autumn. From my spot here at the table I can see our
backyard. It's green and leafy and fenced and private and lovely. Greg
& Deb were nice enough to leave their swingset/jungle gym, and
there is a small sandbox built into one corner that is already filled
with Kyle's Tonka trucks. Our backyard overlooks some sort of private
preschool/daycare center with an enormous playground of its own. There
were about a zillion kids running around out there earlier this
morning, so things aren't quite as "peaceful" as I'd imagined they
would be ... but after three years at noisy Shannon South, I've
actually grown accustomed to playground noise. It doesn't bother me as
much as it might bother someone else. We have neighbors on either side
of us, and there are several houses across the street - maybe 10 or 15
houses altogether on this dead-end street, all together - but except
for one guy mowing his lawn, directly across the street from us, I
haven't seen or met any of my neighbors yet. I must confess to a
distinctly odd sense of isolation! No Lori right next door. Unsociable
loner though I may be, I am missing Lori! I haven't seen her since
Saturday morning, and it feels awful not to just walk next door with my
cup of coffee and chat. Maybe it'll be easier when she gets a
telephone. In the meantime, I keep expecting to see her face peering
through my open door ...
to tell you a little bit about the big move. It was quite the eventful
Friday afternoon we were almost completely packed. Ray borrowed a
station wagon from one of Grandma's neighbors, and he and John spent
most of the evening moving the bigger pieces of furniture and the rest
of the boxes over to the house, while Lori and I stayed behind at the
apartment, drinking beer and cleaning. Around 9:00 the guys were
finished for the night, so Lori and I hopped into the car and drove
over here for a quick look around the place. It was the first time
she'd seen the inside, and the first time I'd been here alone --
without the owners here, I mean -- so we went around and looked at
everything with giggly abandon. Then we sat on the floor of the dining
room and drank a Rainier "toast" to the new house. I was really tired,
though, and all the beer was starting to catch up with me, so we went
back to the apartment, cooked a pizza, ate and went to bed early.
morning dawned cold and drizzly. Ray woke up with a terrible head cold,
and I had a hangover, but it was moving day and we had no choice but to
get up and get going. At 10:00 my Dad and stepmom showed up with their
big truck, and while I finished the final cleaning and vacuuming of the
apartment, Dad and Ray moved the rest of the furniture. We had a steady
stream of visitors all day -- Lori was over a couple of times, a bunch
of kids from around the complex stopped by, Maryanne S. stayed for a
long time and watched me clean. Frankly, I just wanted to be alone, so
I could finish my work and "reflect" in privacy, but it couldn't be
helped. After Dad finished helping Ray with the furniture, he and
Valerie went home. Almost immediately afterward, Mom showed up to help.
She loaded up the Samarai with a couple of boxes of stuff and moved
them over to the house, and then she and Jamie disappeared for the rest
of the afternoon. Kacie stayed behind at the apartment and played with
some of her friends, and Kyle just sort of followed Ray around, so the
kids were out of my hair for pretty much the rest of the day.
in the afternoon, the apartment was almost completely empty. Ray seemed
to sense that I needed some time alone, so he grabbed Kyle and Kacie
and took them over to the house. I spent the final hour in my apartment
all by myself. Lori and John had gone somewhere, so I sat in my empty
kitchen and wrote Lori a goodbye note. This kind of pushed me over the
edge emotionally, I'm afraid! I realized that this was "it" - my last
moment in the apartment that had been our home for three years - and it
was a sad, sentimental hour. I wandered around from room to room and
said "goodbye" to all the memories, with tears in my eyes. Jamie had
inadvertently left behind a little toy on the bedroom floor - a small
plastic star - and I tucked it behind the water heater in the hall
closet, hidden from view, just to leave some small piece of our family
behind. Lori still wasn't home by that point, so I left my note with
Jim (a roommate); then I swept off the patio; then Ray came back, and
it was time to go ...
cried on the way to the house. Ray noticed, and he was sympathetic, but
I knew I had to pull myself together before we got to the new place.
There was still so much work to do, for one thing ... and for another
thing, I didn't want to upset the kids by showing up in tears. When we
pulled into the driveway, I could hear the girls shouting "MOM'S HOME!"
That made me feel better right away. My welcoming committee! And what
waited for me inside the house made me feel even better. I had been
expecting total chaos - boxes all over the place, kids running wild,
baskets of dirty laundry, unmade beds, mountains of fresh work to
tackle - but instead the living room furniture was already in place,
the lights were on, the place was warm and inviting. My mom was
standing in the utility room, folding the laundry she'd done for us.
The beds were all made. There were new groceries in the fridge and the
kitchen cupboards - hamburger, Cheerios, cheese, a pound of coffee,
some canned goods. There was even a bouquet of carnations on the
kitchen table. Unbeknownst to me, my mom and Jamie had spent the entire
afternoon getting everything ready for us. I have never been so
relieved and surprised and grateful about anything ... !
The house of my
Kyle in the window.)
October 5, 1989
we've been here for nearly five days, and it's time to bring this crazy
journal to a close.
been a week of unpacking, assimilating, meditating, planning for the
future and trying to help my family feel comfortable in our new
surroundings. There is still a great deal that needs to be done - I
won't be completely unpacked and settled for weeks yet - but the work
is pleasant and time-consuming, and I'm enjoying myself. Money is the
only real sore spot. I'm trying not to let worry consume me, but it
does detract somewhat from the pleasure I'd like to take in the new
house. I'm worried about the bills we've left behind, the bills we face
in the weeks ahead, the shoes that all three of the kids desperately
otherwise, things have been fine this week. My dad sent over several
bags of groceries on Monday night, and Ray was able to do some work for
Grandma and buy a few things with the money she paid him, so our
cupboards are full. Grandma also gave us a big lamp for the living
room, and a smaller one for our bedroom. I've set up my "office" in the
utility room, and I love it. It's not completely finished yet, but once
it is, it'll be MY spot ... my place to write and think and dream.
stopped by unexpectedly after work on Monday, just to see how we're
doing, and Lori came over on Tuesday afternoon - we went to the
school's Open House that evening together. It was great to see her.
Only time will tell if our friendship withstands the move: I pray that
impressions of the house, after a few days of getting used to it:
is far and away the nicest place we've ever lived, at least in terms of
space and cleanliness and location. Everything here feels so clean and
light and roomy, and it smells of fresh paint and new carpets and
woodsmoke. My furniture looks shabby in comparison, but maybe we'll be
able to pick up a few new things next year. The important thing is that
we're HERE. The rest can come later. I hope.
opposing feelings are at war within me: one, an eerie sense of being
"home" already - of always having lived here, of belonging here in this
house ... and two, the feeling that this house belongs to someone else,
that we are intruders, that the place will never
completely be "home." I never know when one feeling or the other will
rise up inside of me. I was standing in the kitchen the other night,
with most of the lights turned off, just looking around at everything,
and all of a sudden I was gripped by a weird, overwhelming feeling of
recognition - deja vu, maybe? - as though the outlines and contours of
that kitchen had been burned into my subconscious years and years ago.
This is one of the feelings in me. The other, more negative feeling, is
that we are merely "borrowing" someone else's home, because we're
renting not buying, and that I'd better not get too attached to it
because it could be snatched away from me at any time. On a realistic
level, this is completely true. But as far as I'm concerned, I never
want to move again ... or at least not for several years. This house
meets our needs, and I'd be perfectly content to stay here
indefinitely. I'm just a little insecure, I suppose, and it's difficult
for me to relax and trust and have faith that things will work out. And
it's hard to think of this house as being "ours." I just don't want to
have my heart broken again, I guess. I've had my roots ripped out from
beneath me one time too many, and it terrifies me to think it could
happen again ...
But for now, I'm going to attempt optimism. Every time I start thinking
that all of my beginnings are behind me - that at age 31, I've had all
the fresh starts I'm likely to get - life sneaks up from behind, throws
its arms around me and says "GOTCHA." Here I am again at one of those
memorable points in my life, one of those
"Someday-I'll-look- back-on-all-this-with-nostalgia" points - and a
whole new world of possibilities are suddenly open to me. On Sunday
night, after my mom had gone home and Ray and the kids and I were
eating our makeshift dinner of hamburger sandwiches and pan-fried
potatoes, Ray said
"Here we are in our new house, and we have Mom to thank for it." I was
the one who found the house, put together the money for it, pushed
everyone and everything to make it happen .... I helped make this dream
come true, and I'm proud of myself. Now it's up to me to maintain the
dream. It is an awesome responsibility. Do you think I'm up to it?
"Here me am!" ~ Kyle, 32 mos.
"I not stupid, you know." ~ Kyle, 33 mos.
(Putting on his shirt) "Mommy - are dese inside-backwards?" ~ Kyle, 35
"My life is ruined." ~ Kacie, 6 (upon discovering we're having chicken
soup for dinner)
"What IS for dinner a'night ... ? Maybe fork-chops. I LIKE fork-chops."
~ Kyle, 3
"How many times can a person catch ammonia?" ~ Jamie, 7
"BREAKFAST, you idiots." ~ Jamie, 7
"Mom - that was a nice cream bar!" ~ Kyle, 3
"Is that Phil Cobsy?" ~ Kacie, 6, seeing a picture of Bill Cosby
most frequent saying: "That's it - I've HAD it."
most frequent saying: "Sit down and watch TV."
Songs in '89:
Long As You Follow" - Fleetwood Mac
"In Your Room" - The Bangles
"Straight Up" - Paula Abdul
"The Look" - Roxette
"Let The Day Begin" - The Call
"Runnin' Down A Dream" - Tom Petty
"Zombie Zoo" - Tom Petty
"Free Fallin' " - Tom Petty
"I Want It All" - Queen
"So Alive" - Love & Rockets
"The House Is Rockin' " - Stevie Ray Vaughn
"Whole Lotta Trouble" - Stevie Nicks
"The End of the Innocence" - Don Henley
sit on Mom's lap when her legs are crossed
- NEVER play
"Marrakesh Express" when Mom is in the
- Mom doesn't look
for missing shoes
- Mom doesn't look
for missing keys
- Mom doesn't wipe
up YOUR spill
- These things are
sacred to Mom: The Wizard of Oz,
baby books, the camphor chest, Christmas
to throw a rock?