Monday, January 26, 2009

I may be dumb...

but I'm not stupid.

But I'm beginning to wonder about our daughters. After about a month living together and trying to pick up some of the pieces of their lives that have been broken and move forward, they're both back in the same ol' same ol' stinking thinking modes.

At least that's what it seems like. Lies, by intentional omission as well as just plain old lying to my face, are thick, fast, and everywhere. (did I mention how much I hate lying? how much I've always hated lying?)

And they must think I'm a real dullard -- i.e., both dumb AND stupid -- because they keep telling me (or not telling me) stories that are so transparent you could read through them. And then are surprised when I call them on it. And they're just not talking to Tony, maybe because they're a little more intimidated by him than by me. (big mistake, girls....)


So we're back to boundaries, I guess, and they aren't gonna like the new ones.

We don't either.

It's tough to watch your children go through hard times. It doesn't get any easier even when they keep making the same mistakes over and over, keep going back into the same situation hoping to see different results.

Albert Einstein apparently had some experience with this kind of behavior. He said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

He also is the author of this quote: "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

And yet another, one I've heard for a long time: "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten."

It's not like the girls haven't heard us say this. Both of them grew up with such tidbits from our respective mouths. Apparently it hasn't sunk in with them. And there are days I despair of it ever doing so with either of them.

Boundaries are hard to draw when you're dealing with someone you love. But folks, this is the only life we get (far as we know anyway). I am not going to spend what I have left of my life allowing someone else to drive what I do because of their actions and dramas.

So I'm saying: I love both girls dearly. I will never stop loving them, no matter what they do. But I will not allow their choices to interfere with how I want to spend the rest of my life. I am not responsible for their choices. I am responsible and accountable for mine.

WE determine our own destiny.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


When I was in the eighth grade in Springfield, Mo., I was in the "Broadcaster" class -- a group of students who, in addition to regular science, math, history, gym, and English classes, also produced the school newspaper. It was a good group -- some of the brightest and best students of my generation were in that classroom. I was privileged to be there and learned a great deal, and inclusion very likely influenced my choice of careers.

That was the year of Nixon and Kennedy. Nixon came to Springfield. *I* was a Nixon supporter, I'm embarrassed to say, probably for no other reason than my dad was a Republican (yes, I came from a split home: my mother was a Democrat, and one of my early memories of politics is them arguing over Adlai Stevenson and Dwight Eisenhower...)

But Kennedy won. And I remember watching the inauguration at school (they brought in TVs when something historic was happening, like the space launches or the inauguration). I remember tottery Robert Frost reciting his poem The Gift Outright -- not the original poem he had written because he couldn't see past the glaring sun.

And I remember writing a poem myself, at the request of the teacher, for the newspaper (I was sort of the class's poet). I don't know that I still have the text, but it was titled After the Ball, and referenced the heavy load that the new, young, bright-shining President would assume after the balls, the festivities were over.

Today, as I watched Barack Obama take the oath of office under cold, sunny skies in Washington, I remembered Kennedy's inauguration too -- the hope, the promise, the winds of change that accompanied him into the White House. And I cried a little, and a little more when the Rev. Joseph Lowery gave his stirring benediction.

With this new president, we baby boomers have passed the torch to a new generation. For one, I am hopeful and optimistic, along with the millions and millions of people who watched today's ceremony either from the Washington mall or on streets all over the world or in the quiet of their own living rooms. The collective energy is almost palpable, even from here in my home.

For today, there is hope. There is love and courage and faith and trust. There is joy at the realization of the dreams and courage of a generation now as old and older than I.

I am reveling in this feeling today, energy boosted, connection with the world heightened. I know it will fade. I know our new president will make mistakes. I know things will not instantly improve.

But for today -- which in the end is all we ever have -- I am grateful for this feeling, for this opportunity, and I will add my voice to the collective energy of so many others who are praying for change, who are grateful for new beginnings, and who believe in the possibilities. To do otherwise is to deny the power of the universe and ourselves to turn things around.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Being where we are

Six years ago yesterday we moved into our house from the Bay Area. We left behind traffic, the SFO flight path over our condo, the sound of car doors slamming early in the morning and late at night, the click-clack of high heels on concrete that used to wake us at O-Dark-30 every day, and emergency sirens rushing down our street any time of the day or night.

We left behind hour-long commutes on Highway 101, going from just one exit to the next one -- Tony's Oracle commute (Hillsdale to Redwood Shores). Cars zipping in and out of traffic lanes any time of the day or night. Crushes of people in most stores and long waits if you wanted to go out to eat on Friday nights.

We got quiet....except for deer hooves on grass, the mournful howls of the nearby coyotes or the yip-yip-yip of the pups. The occasional whinny of a neighbor's horse, or in the early morning, the wake-up call of a rooster in the distance.

Only rarely, when the wind is in the right direction, can we hear a train sounding at the crossings in town.

Nowadays we might hear a cat yowl or hissing skirmish outside our windows -- when we first came, we had no cats.

We got sky and trees and wind and rocks and lots of red earth. We got gravel and dirt roads not far from the paved roads in town, and traffic jams that are maybe 10 cars long during what passes for "rush" hour.

We got freedom to structure our days and lives more to our liking. For more than four years we got to spend our time together, pretty much 24/7. That changed in August 2007 when Tony went back to a "butt-time" job, but it's still better.

We got friends and neighbors who we know and love. We got to be involved in community activities and develop our creativity and imagination. We traded supermarket produce, at least several months out of the year, for our own, just-picked tomatoes and spinach and green beans and lettuce and peas and more. We see stars polka-dotting the dark sky every night, and often sit out on our porch swing and watch them. We see meteor showers.

It was not an even trade, going from the Bay Area to Red Bluff.

We got so, so much more than what we left.

And we are grateful every single day.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

New chances, new beginnings

The girls moved out barely an hour after I posted the last entry: R got keys and permission to move early, and they were GONE. I took it very personally, I might add -- that they couldn't WAIT to get out and away from me. I'm over that now. mostly

Antsy McClain was the perfect antidote: funny, fun, rocking, and a packed house. I felt better when we got home....mostly

And life has gone on for us all. We are enjoying very much having our home to ourselves; the kitties are enjoying being just two and without interlopers; I'm writing more and also sleeping much better.

That said, I think we've heard from or seen the girls every day since -- either to get something they left, to do laundry, whatever. It is easier, however, not to live with their drama.

So they have new opportunities, new chances. And so do we.

I'm thinking about what I want from this new year, how I want to grow this year, what I'd like to accomplish.

(Actually, I've spent way too much time in the last couple of days looking at athletic shoes for my poor achy feet. Tried some on, but few stores have sizes that I need, and my feet have changed so much over the past couple of years that I don't know what size to ask for. And every shoe fits differently. I'm probably going to end up ordering several pairs and returning what doesn't work.)

I still feel scattered, not quite settled into the year yet, nor completely back into a routine. Maybe another couple of days will do it. It's not for lack of things to do!

And I'm praying daily for rain: while sun and temps near 70 are nice, we badly need rain. We still have some leaves clinging to our trees, ferpetesake! I want gray skies, lots of steady rain for days on end. Poor Portland and Seattle have been deluged: it needs to come a little further south.

I'm also trying to focus on blessings, on gratitude every day, because I believe that is the cornerstone to joy and a fulfilling life. We're reading little snippets about The Secret every morning along with our vitamins and breakfast, and I've been a little surprised how often I've thought about the day's message over the course of the day.

It's a new year, new beginnings, new possibilities. May it be rewarding for us -- and for you.