In bad mama news: I let Javi play outside this weekend with no sun block and no bug repellant. I thought the whole windy, sunny, mild weather thing would be fine.

Nope. He's sporting a pink nose, cheeks & forehead along with pink forearms and shoulders. Poor child. The biting bugs are out in full force, so he's also bumpy.

But, I reconnected with an old friend this weekend who I've been out of touch with for almost two years. She came over with her daughters and we grilled and ate and cried and promised to not let the little things sway our dedication to each other. We were raised together, more like sisters than friends, so it feels good to be at peace with her.

Spring is most decidedly here. Growth and sun and bluest skies and friends. And spring food, of course: pineapple salsa, fresh fruit, and a crisp salad.

These are the days I dream of all winter!

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The walls

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the hate and ignorance this country breeds - the Ashcroft subpoenas, the gay marriage bans, the governmental reprioritizing of life from what we make it to what makes the rich richer.

The food industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the political industry...

It just makes me want to burrow until the walls of this country come tumbling down.

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The last brick

When we were young, my father asked my sisters and I what we thought we'd wind up with in life. He pointed out that we were poor and disrespectful and irresponsible and that we had a 'basketcase' for a mother and that no one had ever wanted to play daddy to us because we were embarrassing.

This confrontation came when he was shacked up in our mother's house after yet another crack binge left him homeless, jobless and friendless. He was angry and violent. My older sister had been going through his things - disrespectful, yet, average behavior? Yes - And found a pipe. Not just any pipe, either. It was THE pipe through which he was smoking rock in my mother's basement and with the tattoo people across the street.

So, she told my mother. And my mother told him to get out. And he came down on the three of us like an avalanche. He condemned us to lives without love and without happiness. He told us we would die bitter old women. He invoked his God on us and blasphemed us into hell.

And then my mother took him to the Greyhound station and bought him a ticket to San Francisco where our grandmother lived. But my sisters and I - 14, 13 and 9 at the time - stayed behind. Shell shocked, we each retreated to our corners: Erin to her room and the telephone, Ashley to the stereo, and me to the kitchen.

We never really talked about it again. We'd seen the fits of anger and violence from him so many times and each time we left him quiet, inwardly seething, but also questioning whether he had it right. How could we turn on him? How dare we question his behavior or motivation?

He blew a staple through a coworkers cheek over a drug deal gone wrong; he attacked my mother and choked her unconscious in front of us because she went on a date while he was in prison; he beat his ex-boss with a baseball bat when she turned over his employment records to authorities.

The list is long and complicated. It includes his years spent hiding in Saudi Arabia to avoid prison time and our days spent in the dark with curtains shut - crawling on all fours because he thought the police were looking for him and my mother couldn't scrape together the money to get him out of the state.

I spent years blaming my mother for enabling him, but I've come to an understanding with that anger. She's human and he came to her for help. He didn't live with us, but when he hit bottom it was us he turned to. And I think, silently, we all felt powerful in that. We knew he'd return to us when he had to. So even if we didn't hear from him for months or years, we knew one day he'd be back.

And now. It's been 14 years since he cursed my sisters and me to eternal unhappiness. 14 years. In that time, one sister has birthed three babies and dealt with her own drug addictions and now she is working on a nursing degree and attending her oldest son's church plays. I have attended and graduated from both an undergraduate and graduate program. I have a loving companion and a wonderful son who both loves us and is surrounded by love.

And then there's my other sister. The one who battled Cystic Fibrosis for 20 years and had to have both lungs replaced in order to survive. The one who consumes fistfuls of drugs every day to keep her body from attacking itself. The one who remembers most vividly how our father turned on her - remembers the way he punched her in the chest when she complained about pain from a hospital bed at 17, the way he spit in disgust after she asked to go back to our mother's house when she visited him, the way he called her a whore after her first date.

That one? She confessed to me once, "I don't want to die, I don't want to die like this and prove him right." So what's she doing instead? She's living and loving in a way she never has before. She - who had the hardest fight of all of us - just got the payoff. As of Friday she became the newest student of London's East 15 Acting School. With her acceptance came crashing down the last brick of fear my father built around us.

I want to say fuck him and relegate him to a life of regret, but I can't. He's still my father. In the past few years, he's cleaned up his act, had some more kids and tried to get his head straight. We'll never know him out of addict mode, but at least we're adult enough to figure out that his mind knows no other way of thinking.

But us? My sisters and I? We went to hell and bounced back - most likely because he convinced us we were nothing and deserved nothing. We fought as if our lives were on the line and maybe in a way they were. We could have laid down and accepted that we were meant from nothing in this life.

Or we could have approached it the way we did. We fought our demons and we're learning to reap the rewards. There's no way you could have told me that it'd come to this when I was sitting at the kitchen table after my father left that day. If you had said to me, "one day you will be so happy it hurts," I'd have looked at you with all the hate I could muster for mocking me, for teasing me and making another false promise.

Thinking back like this opens so many wounds - wounds with scars that reopen when I am left alone with lifetime tv or movies like Antoine Fisher that hit too close to home. But perhaps now that we can all release that last pent up breath, we'll be able to move fully forward with no hesitation and no fearful glances back.

Congratulations, little sister.

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Week's end

leave it to me to lose five pounds and then turn around and eat a muffin. after having indian buffet for lunch. i'm not flogging myself, though, cause i went to the gym everyday this week and i'm going walking today and on a hike tomorrow. dammit.

i hate being fat in the spring. in the winter i feel prepared, well stocked, powerful. the power could go out, the grocery stores close, the call come down from on high that we may not consume anything living or dead and i'd be okay. my fat stores could last me months.

however, in the spring time, i feel sluggish and clumsy. dumb. ugly. haphazard. i feel like a run-on sentence; there's too much of me and not enough stuff to contain and sort me.

so the muffin. and the iced chai lattes every morning and counter attempts of liters of water and gym haunts. and the pony tails and tank tops under cardigans. i just want to stop the see saw.

for the weekend: must pay better attention to my seeds, if i've not ruined them already. i forgot to water them for a couple days. may have to start over. must find time for the boy to paint - we've been too busy for the last few weeks, but this weekend painting has made it on to the to-do list.

may the walk make me feel better about the muffin. and may you, also, find something to do today to erase the bad stuff - temporarily, at least.

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i don't think anyone should dislike their officemate as much as i dislike mine.

it was all good before i had to move in with closet racist/homophobe/misogynist who calls himself a music snob cause he likes the beatles and deathcab and guided by voices. i call him white, privileged and sheltered, but then again - as you can tell by my assessment of his character, we aren't exactly on the same side of the political fence.

anyway, my focus lenses burn the fuck outta my eyes and the weather forecast calls for rain and snow today. it's incredibly bright and blue outside right now, but definitely colder than it has been since the last snow. did i mention i dislike snow? snow and my officemate.

though you couldn't tell it by this entry, i'm actually in a good mood. i've got some interviews lined up for today and class tonight, but nothing that i can't handle.

johnny cash on repeat helps.

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Adoption is close!

got a call from the social worker and my lawyer today. both told me the good and bad news.

bad: the bumbling idiot social worker never submitted her decision.

good news: my wonderful lawyer took care of everything.

therefore, Javi is officially mine 10 days from friday (the 5th). no more false promises. this time it'll be for real.

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Red fish

in my love-stupor yesterday i bought another pack of finger paints and a set of watercolors and brushes for the little one. he told me he was going to paint Red -- the fish, who used to be named Green until the winds changed and pluck devised a much better moniker. i said okay.

how bout i found that child dragging the kitchen stool into the living room, paint brush in hand. he literally meant paint Red. i had the urge to both beat him and help him.

luckily for the fish, i redirected him to the table and a fresh piece of paper. unluckily for me, pluck does not like the idea of a brush and so, i had to lava him to get the watercolors out of his skin.

so much for that.

this morning was glorious with full sun and blue skies. people in the south scare me, though. three days of 80 degree weather and they're dropping their kids at daycare in shorts, tank tops and sandals. uh, hello? it snowed last week.

javi looks like a little puritan in his 'soldier pants', power rangers tee and spiderman shoes. yes, he's a pacifist's nightmare today, but c'mon - it's daycare! you got to send them in something you don't mind coming home filthy.

anyway, i jetsetted to work with a pluck original in hand, stopped at world market for a frame (will become a good friend's bday gift) and then at *$ for a tall-mild-nonfat-no drip-misto (which is fucking delicious). i'm wearing a white vneck tee, olive pinstriped surf shorts and brown thong sandals*. my hair is washed and gloriously curly. i've got freshly ordered contacts in and only a half day at work.

the possibilities are endless.

*adults can dress like it's july in the beginning of march. adults who dress their children like it's july in the beginning of march are idiots.

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Guess who really is a parent?

No, not like "responsible for a kid" - i'm talking fullblown name on the birth certificate parent.

i am officially, honored by the state of north carolina and the federal government of this u.s. of a., javi's recognized court-appointed MOTHER.

excuse me while i beam.

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The office

excuse me while i lament:

i've been in this position since november but i feel like i'm still the new girl. they all frolic together and i just sit at my desk and type type type away.

it's my lack of entitlement and insecurity and my feelings of worthlessness etc etc ad nauseum. i am an extrovert, but only when comfortable. these people all know each other and they go bowling and attend baseball games and eachother's parties. they ride in together and herd out for cigarette breaks.

i feel i've no footing here. i know they won't fire me, but can't i just get comfy? can't i get it together enough to make more than one friend in an office of 30 20-30 somethings?

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Question for single parents

question for you single parents:

how would you feel if you chose a partner and they refused to ever be alone with your kid? that is, you've been in a relationship for 8 months and they still won't watch your kid for you if you need it.

would it make or break your relationship? would you feel that the person isn't 100% if they refuse to pitch in with your child?

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More drama

thanks to all of you who sent wishes and prayers for my little sister. she had a bronch yesterday and goes back for the results today.

the preliminary signs are good. her doctors say her lung capacity has not diminished and that her lungs look perfect. hopefully, the rejection was caught early enough to keep it at bay. she has lost 10 pounds in the past two months, so that's a big deal - esp considering she only weighed 100 pounds to start with. she's back to diet supplements and feeding tubes.

but! there's that silver lining and hopefully it'll turn into a whole silver layer come this afternoon.
of course, she wouldn't be my sister without bringing the drama. so, her new "death bed" wish is to have a baby. she and her boyfriend (who lives on another damned continent) are talking about her getting pregnant before the year's out.

their idea is that she'll have the baby before she's too weak to do so. however, her body - ravaged by cystic fibrosis and immunosuppressants - isn't the best incubator. so, if she can't get pregnant and sustain the fetus, she wants ME (that's right, me) to carry their child for them.

pros: it's my baby sister and she deserves to be a mother if that's what she wants. she and garreth are ready to get married and live happily ever after on that other continent (where she wouldn't have to worry about health care). she's almost as old as i was when i began this new life called motherhood, so i have to believe in her ability to make this decision.

cons: she's in chronic rejection, people. further stress on her body could cause it to shut down. she also injests about 20 different medications a day, surely one of those is dangerous in utero. she and garreth are fun-lovers - i can't imagine them tied to a crib and forced to pay babysitters or, heaven forbid, leave the pub early. she'd move to that continent - he pretty much refuses to live here and at least she could go to the doctor.

so. i don't know what level of participation i should have in this decision. if it comes down to whether i will carry their child sometime in the next 10 months, i'm leaning toward no. in the next 36 months? more likely. i think this is their way of moving forward, but it's desparate and possibly dangerous.

man alive. it's feast or famine around here.

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Crisis averted


remember that 2% chance that they misdiagnosed? well, it's a very lucky 2% because they overreacted and declared chronic rejection when it was only bronchial inflammation.

she's upping her prednisone dosage and going home. cured!

as for the baby drama - they wouldn't discuss it with her today. she's supposed to have a roundtable with her gyno and transplant team. we'll see.

anyway - my mother is already calling it a miracle. ash said mama fell to the ground and praised the baby jesus in front of god and medicine.

we're back to normal.

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Ashbug, flowerpot, anchorhead

bad news bears. my little sister - gifted thespian and prime comedian - was told on friday that she's in chronic rejection.

chronic. not accute like we've been dealing with. accute you can throw medicine at and keep on moving. accute you hook up a home IV and drink some ensure.

no, chronic is not accute. chronic says this body no longer wants these lungs in its presence and so we will begin to kill them off. slowly. and you - little girl who inhabits this body - you will die slowly too. one pound dropped at a time.

and my sister, three years post-transplant on the 15th, is so fucking brave. i can't say whether it's fair or not because she was supposed to die years ago. cheated death even by not dying on the operating table, by breathing through someone else's lungs no less than 12 hours later.

is it fair to me? i don't know. i've had my sister in my life for almost 24 years. that's damned long time when you consider she was supposed to die at 10, then at 12, then at 16, etc. her life keeps getting an extension.

i hear the word chronic and it's like all the doors and windows slam shut at the same time and i'm suffocating. my lungs are dying right along with hers. my body is disappearing just as hers is. i hear the word chronic and i'm reminded that three years ago she finally got to see life from outside the 'chronic illness' umbrella. from a window not streaked with 'terminal'.

so i'm going to be selfish and irrational. i'm going to wail and scream and hurtle objects into the atmosphere. i'm going to plead and demand that my sister's lungs stay right where they are. that modern medicine finds a way to fix this. that someone, god even, takes pity on this woman - places a hand on her chest and whispers 'life'.

and she lives.

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The hairy one

i've begun to call my son wolfgang pluck cause of his hairy back. that is all.

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Making friends

believe it or not i'm not very good at making friends.

no, really. people either like me or hate me. i'm not perky, i don't ask about your day, i don't give two flips about what your evening plans are.

i just sit back and observe. listening takes skill - talking in excess seems sloppy to me. i mean, why talk when you've got no content?

this is burdening me today because my office is restructuring. i'll be moving to another office with another officemate. not my homie kg. and this is the ONE person in this entire company i've officially labelled obnoxious.

he's awkward around me too. like everything i say is serious. like everything i say he has to consider and weigh and make a value call on. i don't care if you wanted to major in philosophy and got stuck with communications instead. i want you to see through your egg shells and be fucking normal.

and now i've got to spend 8 hours a day with him. actually, he's a chain smoker, so he spends a good 3 hours each day outside. plus he comes in at 10 and leaves at 7. i come in at 7:30 and leave at 4. not much of an overlap there.

yucky boys. so anyway. this office is on the other side of the building. you remember i'm new, right? well. i don't know smack about anyone over there so now the impetus is on me to be one of them. part of the 201 group. and i'm not good at group. or talking for the fun of it. at least not anymore.

don't get me wrong. in a nonwork environment i can talk your ear off. but, i spent two years in the hell that is the U.S. EPA where i wasn't allowed to talk to anyone for fear of losing my job. it's ingrained.

so, kiddos. what to do? smile and be perky and insincere and fake? be my normal self and risk being deemed "the loner"? we all know loners don't get promoted to upper management.

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The boy wins

i was going to update - really, i was. but then javi came in wearing nothing but hulk underwear and knee-high spiderman socks. he was yelling at me to get him dressed.

'no!no!no! nonan!' he kept screaming and pointing out the windows. apparently snow is a big deal to three year olds.

so, rather than update, i'll go put clothes over that perfect outfit and haul that little guy outside for at least 10 minutes until i can't stand the cold anymore and i use power rangers to lure him back inside.

ya gotta love winter.

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Home visit

first appointment with dss today. i just don't know why i've doled out the big bucks when they ask me the very same information as is on the adoption record. i think they're testing me.

"if she snaps at us for asking her to waste her time while paying us an arm and a leg, we'll RIP that kid out of her home so fast her head will spin!"

the fuckers.

anyway, i've been out of the loop for awhile. work, kid, work, school, work, kid ... you get the picture. this semester's students are turning out to be more fun than stupid. that's a good thing, in case you needed to ask.

i'm getting addicted to coffee again. when i slaved in the famously overpriced corporate coffee machine i became way too attached to caramel lattes. now it's spiced chai breve drip. y'all get that?

i'm on the 3rd month of my last pair of contact lenses and have to shell out too much money to my loansharks (re: fleet and citibank) to buy more. this is insanity!

i got the Get Used to Lonesome ultramix in the mail today and haven't stopped listening to it since. i do believe it may become a soundtrack. thanks you!

the child must sleep now. the mama must eat ice cream and watch the oc now. the bank must credit the mama's account with a million dollars now (just in case it works)!

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In motion

i watched this corny movie this weekend - Buying The Cow. ever seen it? it was typical and nonchallenging, but i was struck by a line of dialogue.

woman: the worst thing you can do is lose the person you love because you're afraid of commitment.
man: no, the worst thing you can do is commit to the wrong person because you're afraid of loneliness.

ain't THAT the damned truth. luckily, i know my fears come from that nasty commitment phobia and not from any hesitation about whether or not miller is the perfect fit for me. we're interlocking pieces, this i know.

however, in light of that mini-revelation, and after watching antoine fisher and crying through the entire movie, i have stumbled on my 5 year plan. it involves spitting out a biological kid next year (2005) and then fostering/adopting american kids after 2009.

cause, ya know, not enough american kids are adopted. or fostered. and i have the ability, the desire, and the resources to pitch in. is this a resolution? i hadn't really thought of that til just now, but i don't think it is. when i saw the angelina jolie interview with barbara walters and she said "i cannot consciously birth a child knowing there are so many in this world with no family," i completely agreed. that spoke to me. that has been my secret belief that i'm only now voicing.

however, i must compromise with my partner who intently wants a biological child. selfish though i think it is, i understand the biological/social urge to father and raise your offspring. but after that? i'm done with procreating.

uh. i got off track here. i suppose commitment and family and my sociopolitcal ideas are all interconnected, but i think i came here wanting to tell you that i'm up and moving and trying to use 2004 to set up the rest of my life.

i also wanted to tell you that listening to rickie lee jones and reading color lines is not the way to discourage myself.

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The problem with carpooling

I have a problem.

I let people into my life too quickly. While I don't necessarily put my guard down, I do allow them to infiltrate my precious space.

And I'm space-hungry woman.

So now I've got a ride-along who I can't stand. Who spews negativity at me for an hour each way. Who works down the hall and so could easily cause problems for me at work.

Sample conversation:

Me: "I'm so excited April is here because Pluck gets to start his swimming lessons. He loves the water."
Her: "Yeah, until he drowns!"

No really. She said that.

Sample conversation:
Me: "The mosquitos got Javi at school yesterday. I told them (daycare) to put spray on him but I guess I'll have to make sure - even if it means doing it myself."
Her: "WHAT! Of course YOU have to make sure. It's YOUR kid! I can't believe you didn't put spray on him!"

No really. She said that.

I'm just so fucking fed up with it. And, of course, I get stuck driving everywhere since we're commuting and people think that means I like to drive.

I do like to drive. Just not with someone who screams when I avoid potholes and who makes nasty comments when I stay within the speed limits and nastier comments when I exceed them and who likes to talk shit about my driving to my other passengers who don't talk shit back and who has never once said a positive thing ... about anything!

I've decided i have to end things. but how?! And why do i keep putting myself in these situations? Life is NOT a Friends episode. Things don't just work out between strangers.

And it's as much my fault as it is their's. I should understand my limitations. I should respect my sacred spaces. I should GET TO KNOW SOMEONE before encouraging them to change their lifestyle or agreeing to change my lifestyle right along with them.

I suppose this is an epiphany. It is not one sided when you feel violated. As Susan Scott would say - You get what you tolerate.

Let's hope the breakup goes well.

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