January 1989 - October 1989
Age 31

"A truly expert procrastinator can juggle the 'shoulds' in her life with amazing dexterity."

Tuesday a.m.
January 10, 1989

I've "stalled."

That 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 ...

I bought this notebook a month ago, right around my birthday on the 15th  --  my 31st birthday, incidentally  --  yet I am only 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 sacrificing everything else I might have accomplished this morning   --   a shower, cleaning the kitchen, making potato chips, writing to Deanne   --   because I am only capable of focusing on 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 ...

Oh 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 ...

(Kacie, hunched over a bowl of hominy grits we got from the Food Bank, sniffing suspiciously: "It smells like hice-cream."

A 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 1988

My favorite 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
Christmas 1989

The best thing about Christmas 1988 was that we were able to spend it here at home. 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 one.

Merry 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.

I felt 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 meaningful.

This was the year that:

  • 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 rotation.
  • 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 clothes.
  • 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 money.
  • 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 ...

Merry Christmas! Here's to a new year, a new decade, and another twelve months of love, cheer and togetherness!



Wednesday morning
January 18, 1989

They've yanked 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" ... ?

A lot 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.

I 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.

The 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 ...


Thursday morning
January 19, 1989

Kacie is bored 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??"

Hoping 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.

10:45 a.m.

Yahoo! Tammy just called from work - her regular sitter has recovered from her kidney infection, so the kids are with her.

Mom (hearing noises in the kitchen): "Kyle. What are you getting into?"
Kyle: "I not doin' ANY NUFFIN', Mom!"

Cold 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.


Friday morning
January 20, 1989

Inauguration 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 ... ?

Otherwise 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! pow! 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.

Why did I even bother getting out of bed this morning??


Tuesday morning
January 24, 1989

A few days 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.

Jamie 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 watched 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.

I 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.

We had an OK weekend  ...  low on money but high on "family togetherness." Things 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.  

Sunday 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.

Kacie: "How long do songs last?"

Kyle (nose running): "I need a towel-paper."

Mom (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

It's now over 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 ...

We've 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.

Later 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.

All 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

February 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.

I 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.

Got up 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, lackadasial."  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, baby ...


I've 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

OK, so 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 Big Snow Redux

March 1989

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.


Friday noon
March 3, 1989

Having another really bad day. Lately there hasn't been any other kind.



  • New jeans
  • 20 lb. weight loss - again
  • New dining table and CHAIRS
  • Some PLANTS in this apartment!!! (I'm down to one)
  • Small lamp for my bedroom
  • New brown eyeshadow
  • Small microwave oven
  • The Stephen King novels I've missed
  • Some new gold hoop earrings
  • Coffeetable
  • Wastebaskets in both bathrooms
  • Lighted makeup mirror
  • Curio cabinet for dining room wall
  • New winter boots for all three kids
  • Headboard and frame for my bed
  • Set of matching dishes
  • Kitchen clock
  • Cannister set
  • Shower curtain/bathroom rug


Saturday morning
March 11, 1989

Dateline: Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

"The 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."


Note from Ray to Terri:

"How about (making) some Mommy's breakfast? I bought some bacon - milk.


Well ... 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).

Peace, baby.

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 playground ...

Ray is 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 hacking cough.



Wednesday early
March 15, 1989

A 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 the 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 two days.

Now 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 ... ?

Some 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 day, and then the next day, and then the next ...

What 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 hand-in-hand? 

And would I want to risk it, if they do?

I 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 from within 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, anyhow??)


The 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 ...


Thursday morning
March 16, 1989

OK, so 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 radio.

Was 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 ...

So the 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.

Brief interruption:

(Can I believe that these words just came out of MY mouth:"You'd better pull that skirt down, Miss! It's TOO SHORT."  ?????)



Friday morning
March 17, 1989

Hungover, 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 we? 

How 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. 


April 10/April 13, 1989

Three 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 ...

Kacie 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 huge 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.)

My Bunny with her Bunny Cake
March 1989

Kacie 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 my three kids. Jamie is prone to sullen moods and biting sarcasm, a lot like me; Kyle is 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 the best Mama in the world" ...

I'm 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 building. He 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

That 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 ... !)  

At any rate, Spring Vacation ended at long last, and the girls were skipping back to school this week, much to my relief ... and theirs, I think ...

The 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.

Ray's 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 ...

And 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 ...

He is 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" ...


Monday morning
April 24, 1989

Jamie 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 not awake 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 Jamie's constant sulking, I was ready to pack it in by Sunday afternoon. And now, here 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 would be 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

All 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 take enormous 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 suppose.

Sunny 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' "), drinking my 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 a 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.

The life, going on as always ...  and always  ...  and always  ... 

Is 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: for all 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 bitch witch of a manager - I find the idea of leaving this apartment terrifying.


May 12, 1989
Friday afternoon

Two 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!

Life 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 of 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

Interrupted 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!

He got 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?

Kacie 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.

(Funny 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.)


June 9, 1989
Friday morning

Another 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.

Anyway. 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 information.

What 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 years of swingshift, I suppose any change is a welcome change.

Kacie 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 granddaughter. 


Kacie's Writing Focus Award Ceremony
Above: Kacie receiving her award
Below, L-to-R:  Mom, Kacie, me, Jamie


June 13, 1989

Another 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

We 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.

It 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, utterly 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. There 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.

I 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

Hey! A 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:

  • Choose 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 positive
  • Humor.

Where 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 his whereabouts.

(He was drinking beer at Trudy's Tavern with some guys from work.)

Funny 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.  On a 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


Ray 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 swimming pool.
(Kacie is second from left: Jamie in the middle.)
Summer 1989


Monday morning
June 19, 1989

Good old Monday. 

Got up 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 ...

Even 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 unnerving.

Oh 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.


Wednesday evening 9 p.m.
June 28, 1989

Ray 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.)

Conversation 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:

Kacie: "... 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!"

A moment ago:

Jamie 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.

There 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 shoulder.

"Great-Grandpa Vert loved 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 ...


Thursday morning
June 29, 1998

The 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.  

Cloudy, 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.

Their 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 summer.

Interesting 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 or 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 ... ?

Oh, 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 fascinating.

Summer 1989

Batman ... 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
Summer 1989


July 6, 1989
Thursday 6 p.m.

Pleasant summer evening. I must admit something: I do like 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 ...

Ray 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.

Kyle is a somewhat different story.


  • He 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 summer.
  • 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 like socks.
  • 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 everybody "Dude."
  • He is a monster.

July 13, 1989

A week 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 ...

I've 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 know 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 manage to establish 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.

Lori 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.

The 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 ...

But 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:

No swimming for 2 weeks;
bedtime 9 p.m.;
restricted to playground or patio ONLY."

They 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.

I just don't know what to make of all this. What is the matter with me?


August 25, 1989

Several 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.

School 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.

This 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 ... ?

What I'll Remember Most About This Summer

Jamie: "I'll remember the wedding, I bet. That's all I can think of." (Mom: "Jamie, come ON.") "Um ... I choked on a Barbie shoe?"

Kacie: "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' ... "

Mom:  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 time  

The girls (with Jerome and André) at the wedding
August 1989

August 29, 1989

Hmmmm ... there seems to be something vaguely familiar about this date ... ?!

Yes 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 one.  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.

Erin 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.

Oh well.

This was the year I surprised "Ray" by wearing his wedding suit
August 29, possibly 1988 or 1987

So now 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   ... 

Ray 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 gotten through this period of adjustment, I guess things will be OK.

And 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 it 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 ...

We 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.

6:45 p.m.

Well ... 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.

For 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 an 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 ...

The 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 is 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.


Wednesday morning
August 30, 1989

OK, so 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.


August 31, 1989

I was 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, SHIT.

It 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.

Wish us luck.


September 5, 1989

Five 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 ...

First 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 - they're 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.

School 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 brand-new dresses.

And 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.

Once I 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 ...

I was 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

School 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.

I 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 ...

I do 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 feel:

1. 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 ... ?

I'm 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 ... ?!

2. Exhilaration.  A 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 home. 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 this challenge.

3. 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 ... ?

4. DREAD. The actual physical process of moving: oh god.

5. 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

Not 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 ...

We 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

We 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 bunches.

Would 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 ...

Anyway, 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 ...

I will tell you this, though: nothing, nothing, NOTHING will keep us from moving into the house  ...  not even an ARMY of Trolls and Troll Lawyers ... we will 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 ... !

I was 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

Anyway. 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 Troll gets her very own copy, of course. :)

Now we 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 by myself!

Off 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 ...

I took 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.

Kacie's 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.

(More on this tomorrow, if time permits.)


Saturday morning
September 16, 1998

Got up 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.

This 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

Anyway. So now the wait begins ...

The 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. NOW."  I 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 ...

It 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.

Knowing 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.


Friday morning
September 22, 1998

Things 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 got 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 ...

As it 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 this moment:

1. We have until midnight Sept. 30th to move out -- next weekend. Point in our favor.

2. $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.

3. "Cleaning fees" will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $30. Oh well.

So ... 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.


Monday morning
September 25, 1989

Prayer for today:

Gentleness of spirit
Energy in the face of all the work I need to do
Sense of humor!

Hey! I just realized - this is my very last Monday morning in this apartment!

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.

Tuesday: Cleaned oven; cleared out top cupboards, packed dishes; cleaned front bathroom (tub, tiles, toilet, floor);



September 27, 1989

Ouch. 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 ... !

Naturally 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.

Friday noon

Journal ... 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 ... !

Lori 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 ...

It's 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.

Goodbye, Shannon South Apartments ... 


Shannon South Apartments
Our home from Oct. 1986 to Oct. 1989


Monday 9 a.m.
October 2, 1989

... and hello, new house!

I can hardly believe I'm saying this, finally, but we are HERE! When on earth is this going to start seeming real, anyway??

My 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.

It is 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 ...

I want to tell you a little bit about the big move. It was quite the eventful weekend.

By 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.

Saturday 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.

Late 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 ...

I 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 dreams.
(That's Kyle in the window.)
Fall 1989

October 5, 1989

Now we've been here for nearly five days, and it's time to bring this crazy journal to a close.

It's 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 need ...

But 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.

Mom 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 it does.

My impressions of the house, after a few days of getting used to it:

This 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.

Two 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?

I do.

Polenisms 1989

1/89 "Here me am!" ~ Kyle, 32 mos.

2/89 "I not stupid, you know." ~ Kyle, 33 mos.

4/89 (Putting on his shirt) "Mommy - are dese inside-backwards?" ~ Kyle, 35 mos.

5/89 "My life is ruined." ~ Kacie, 6 (upon discovering we're having chicken soup for dinner)

8/89 "What IS for dinner a'night ... ? Maybe fork-chops. I LIKE fork-chops." ~ Kyle, 3

8/89 "How many times can a person catch ammonia?" ~ Jamie, 7

8/89 "BREAKFAST, you idiots." ~ Jamie, 7

8/89 "Mom - that was a nice cream bar!" ~ Kyle, 3

9/89 "Is that Phil Cobsy?" ~ Kacie, 6, seeing a picture of Bill Cosby

Mom's most frequent saying: "That's it - I've HAD it."

Dad's most frequent saying: "Sit down and watch TV."

Favorite Songs in '89:

"As 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

Mom's Rules:

  • Never sit on Mom's lap when her legs are crossed
  • NEVER play "Marrakesh Express" when Mom is in the room
  • 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



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