Soul Doubt

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Isn't It Bizarre How They Just Seem To KNOW When It's Not Deer Season?

Not that I'm a bigtime Bambi enemy stalker, more like a grown woman with vague memories of sitting in blinds with my father and uncles as a child, shivering and smelly from all that magic crap they think will attract their backstrap on legs. Then, later (and beings as though I was usually the only sober one in the bunch), plus the fact that I was a stubborn, staunch, dyed in the wool tomboy- maybe from being the only girl in a family of eight kids? Yep, I was always awarded the joy of skinning, gutting and sectioning the dang carcass, under the not-so-sober gaze of my dad and company. I guess the first time it was grossly fascinating for about the first five minutes- until my hands were frozen and aching and several dozen scrubs with soap away from cleanliness...
But I digress.
You know the saying, "I'm a lover, not a fighter?" Well, truth be told I'm a rambler AND a writer. To the impatient, a bad combo.

Eh? What's that? The point of this little post?

Wellll.... I think this white-tailed chunk of venison would've gotten exactly what he deserved had he gotten permanently stuck while on his little joyride.

I mean, c'mon, is your average ungulate really that spunky, even out in the boonies on a homemade rope swing? This deer was nuts! And maybe a bit anthropomorphous, to boot.
Besides, spunky spontaneous swing-riding is one thing- in fact, IMHumbleO, an admirable and perhaps cool trait for those statistical 70-some percent of humans per capita in our fine state who are either chunkybutts or those of us simply (yawn) staid, sedentary humans who sit on their somewhat skinnier butts and post endless nonsense on flatscreened communication devices ALL freakin day to emulate ... but last I checked, one's swing-sitting rear end (even if it happens to be cervid) belongs on the plank seat- not the antlers entangled hopelessly and the rest of the panicked Papa Deer just a'swangin' in the breeze...

I do wonder what eventually happened after this vid was shot- do you s'pose there was another shot shortly thereafter, one a tad more harmful to the deer than the embarrassment of being filmed?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have you ever seen one of those cheesy commercials that say, "Depression Hurts. Where do you want to go? Nowhere. Who do you want to see? No one. What do you want to do? Nothing"

And then it goes on to say that not only does depression hurt you, but everyone around you. Or shoot, I don't know, maybe I'm mixing up a couple of the different anti-depressant commercials up and combining them to fit my own perceptions.

All I know is that for the last SIX MONTHS at least, I have been a shell of my former self. Of course I go through the motions, taking care of my son, keeping my house semi-clean (although nowhere near as spotless as I used to- I'm your typical Virgoan clean freak), making din-din for the hubby, perusing the paper and whatnot.... but mainly, my retreat from reality? My way of coping?

Books. Endless, uncountable books. I check out a dozen or so thousand-pagers from the library at a time, and actually wade through them all before the return date. In fact, I'm usually a week or two early. A novel a day is about my speed. And I don't even REALLY care what genre, although I have certain anti-preferences: no hardcore sci-fi, absolutely no romance or romantic suspense, rarely an actual western- although I do like Larry McMurtry just fine. No, for the aforementioned six months, I have lost myself in untold worlds of words, almost LIVING the books, pretending (yes, I know it's a bit childish) I'm either the hero or heroine, or perhaps at least another highly intelligent and interesting character, usually one who either dies for some noble cause or saves the day with grievous wounds to oneself...

It's sort of sick, really. Have I simply exchanged one addiction for another? Or is this a semi "safe" coping mechanism for utter hopelessness and emptiness? I honestly don't know, and I suppose it's a moot point anyway.

One thing I do know, is that these last few weeks have been far happier than ever. Maybe because school is right around the corner (I'm SO excited, I LOVE to learn), maybe because after I'm in class for ten days I'll be cut a check for a bit over four grand- not to blow all at once, mind you- that there's our living expenses for the next semester, and my duckets for a new notebook and printer. Maybe because we've begun to attend church again- welcomed back with open arms, of course- and I've laid off the books except at night when I can't sleep.

Buuut... here's the real test to see if the depression is gone for good, or just biding it's time to come back so bad that I freak out and off myself out of sheer frustration (joke- I've never actually been suicidal during this time, just miserable). See, I just found out my license is suspended in Maryland, where I haven't lived for 12 years, yet somehow through all the years of Idaho license renewals, court cases, getting pulled over and being released with a clean bill of vehicular and license health, having to get duplicate copies of my license at the DMV when my purse was stolen or when I got married, etc.- never ONCE did it come up as being suspended, in Maryland or any other state. Only Monday, when I went to reinstate it- Quick backstory: a few months ago I made a dumb choice of "forgetting" to pay a ticket, mainly cuz I was so broke, then the inevitable came in the mail: a suspension, replete with 165.00 fine, a 65.00 reinstatement fee, and then of course the cost of replacing my seized license. Did manage to take care of all that, actually, requesting from all my family members and husband the money to handle the whole deal.

So when, after just paying off all those fines and stuff over here, then not even being able to get my license which I was so excited over having back (lemme tell you, it's a bitch to see your car in the driveway and not be able to drive it) I was incensed, to say the least. I was SURE it was some sort of mistake, a glitch in the system. So, I called Maryland, argued with a seeming intentionally obtuse woman about the ticket, which was from May of '97- I said I paid it, she said I did not and with the interest accrued, it was now a hair over five hundred bucks to pay. Now I'm barely hanging on to my newfound optimism and non-depression, as I have a court date on the 6th for driving without privileges (yes, I was pulled over in the interim of not paying that dang fine before I wised up and quit driving). I was planning on showing up, smiling my fool head off and saying, yes, Your Honor, lookee here: proof of my paying that nasty fine, proof of my reinstatement, and here's my shiny new license. Now, however, I can't do that. No way in HELL am I gonna be able to come up with 520 bucks before the sixth. If only I could postpone my court date... if it were after the 21st, I'd be rolling in dough. Sort of. But another idea, popping into my head like magic, which I've contemplated obsessively ever since, is borrowing the money until I get MY dough, but unfortunately all my rich friends seem to be, well, nonexistent. Sigh.

So this is my other plan: Lemme bounce it off you few blog followers of SoulDoubt. What if I were to show up in court, say the same shiny happy things, show off all the docs proving my paying off the crap, and just omit the last part; saying maybe, Your Honor, I was just too broke to get an actual hard copy of a license... perhaps on the 21st when I get my money I will purchase one. Or on the 15th when my husband gets paid. (Maybe my pleading poverty might also cause him to go easy on whatever fine(s) he might be planning to inflict, I mean impart.)

Of course that would be dishonest, but what is that saying of the ends justifying the means? I just DO NOT WANT TO GO BACK TO JAIL!!!!! I've been too good for too long, I am just now shaking off this horrible awful lack of will to really live, and now this? I obsessively read the Kootenai County sentencings for DWS, DWP, etc. None of the offenders get off TOO lightly, usually a fat fine, and if not a couple days jail time (most likely because they were arrested at the time of the offense, unlike myself who was luckily only ticketed) they get Sheriff's Labor Program or some other community service. Plus license suspension for up to six months.

I was hoping to avoid the severe penalties by my glowing report of progress and humility at the knowledge of my wrongdoing- I mean, I've even been composing a short speech to read to the Judge. But now, I just don't know.... ideas? Epiphanies? I am begging for one, but any advice from one of you would be ever so welcome too.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Face in My Plate- Happy Friggin' Thanksgiving.

Well, me foine blob (as Marmitoasty might say), here we are again. I've sworn to stay regular I don't know how many times (and no, I'm not talking about my bathroom habits) but I just can't seem to check in here and scribble down any noteworthy thoughts but every month or two- sometimes three. And now that I'm going to be a (...drumroll....) college student again, I'm going to need to sharpen my writing skills, honing them to a fine point, have I any hopes to make the Dean's List and obtain any merit scholarships. And in the state of perpetual poverty our little family has recently sunk to, I'll be needing all the help I can get. Pell grants only go so far, and even if one of the many, many, MANY essays and other lottery-style scholarships I've applied to pan out, I'll still need a bit more butter for my bread. Or is it the other way around?

Sigh. I almost feel as though I'm at this massive anticlimactic crossroads, staring bleakly down one route, suspiciously down another, and longingly back behind me. Which is totally senseless- I have everything in the world to look forward to- I've just been screwing up ever so slightly as of late, which noticeably came to a head this Thanksgiving, and it's made me a bit hesitant of my abilities to carry on.

See, being in "recovery" is not like a sweet, green grassy plateau; no, rather it's a series of peaks and valleys, twists and turns, with brief respites of bliss here and there. And it's oh so easy to slip, no matter how many safeguards you think you've installed. I'm here to confess one of those slips. Maybe that'll get this nagging weight off my chest, this feeling of guilt slash shame slash defiance.

Because, see, I can rationalize it to the point where I say, "I didn't really slip- after all, those were prescribed medications!" But I know, and Lord knows everyone who witnessed the debacle knew, it was a full-blown relapse.

It all came about like this. I've been treated for depression and anxiety for most of this last year, plus been on a low dose of Methadone for just about forever. My doc is hesitant to take me off the Methadone before the depression gets stabilized, and I suppose I can see her point- if I'm in a danger zone of depression, I'd be more prone to doing something REALLY stupid. But anyway, after trying multiple SSRI's and SRNI's and tri-cyclic antidepressants-none of which did anything except deplete our bank account, this new one came out that my doc was really hot to trot on. Pristiq. Since I've only been on it a week now, I can't really tell you if it's the magic pill all the physicians are lauding it as, but what I can tell you is that there is one helluva interaction when taken at the same time as my regular dose of Methadone, plus a handful of Valium for nervousness. Oh boy.

See, the deal was to travel down to see the in-laws down in Boise- whom, by the way, I adore... in the seven or so years Tony and I have been together, we've never had any sort of problems. But, me being who I am, I want to be absolutely perfect- smooth-spoken, witty, urbane... you know. Plus, the perfect mother to the perfect two-year-old son. So out of my desire to be ultra-cool, calm and collected, I wolfed down a few Valium ten mg's along with the other two prescriptions. That's about the last thing I remember.

Apparently I slurred my words, trailed off in the middle of sentences, and staggered around like a drunken sailor. I literally had to be yelled at twice to pull my head up off my Thanksgiving dinner plate (that part, unfortunately, I remember). More company arrived- by that time I had been stuck in the corner of the sofa with a blanket over me- and they stared at me curiously, probably thinking I had just had too much to drink. All in all, it was a total humiliation that I wish I could just rewind time and undo.

It was so bad Tony's sister actually called my mother and my aunt and asked if this was an ongoing thing- worried, of course, about my ability to care for Jameson. They assured her it was not, that I was a fabulous mother, but there would definitely be a major intervention asap.

We all sat down Sunday morning and talked about the whole deal. I explained how surprised I was to have gotten to be in that bad of shape that easily- after all, back in the day I'd chug hydros by the dozen, snort oxy 40's or 80's, and pop a few Xanax just to make sure I'd really feel it. But of course my body's tolerance is way different now, and besides that, things became even a bit more clear after we hopped on and used their interactions checker for those three meds- BIG exclamation points next to all. Warnings of hypotension, slowed breathing and bradicardia (slowed heartbeat?), and all kinds of other symptoms I fit to a tee.

So I called my doctor's office the next day, and after explaining the situation, was advised to toss my Valium out (which was practically a full bottle before the Thanksgiving trip- it was supposed to be only in cases of emergency panic attacks) and take my Pristiq right before bed, my Methadone first thing in the morning. I've followed those instructions, and things have been fine ever since. On that level, anyway.

That is besides the destruction of trust in my family. My husband. My in-laws. The strange sour blend of feelings I myself am experiencing every five minutes or so... I mean, talk about dwelling on something- I can't seem to get those expressions of mixed disgust and empathy on my in-laws' faces out of my mind. Or the utter silence in the car on the ride back up. Or the fact that my husband now decided he wants to handle our bank account, and I can handle our Quest card (yeah, we're that broke.), when for the last five years, it's always been my job to pay the bills and balance the checkbook. I can count on one hand the amount of times it's gotten overdrawn in the last couple years, but boy, Tony can not only remember how many times, but also remembers the dates, the amounts and the fact that it was "all my fault".

But, as it always does, life goes on. I still go to church. I have a cool older lady who's sort of my mentor there, and I bawled on her shoulder for awhile last Sunday. I've been so geared up about getting INTO school, that now that I'm in, with my classes picked out and my award letter getting modified to put me at fulltime, I have nothing to do now on that angle except wait. Tony and I will straighten out our differences and probably end up having fabulous makeup sex sometime this week. My family will always love me, and my in-laws at least say they do... and I'm pretty sure I believe them. Trust can and will be rebuilt. So, as I said, life goes on.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Plaigarism in Action

I've been wrestling with an ethical dilemma lately, and after weighing out the pros and cons of confession in such a public venue, am opting to get this anvil off my chest and damn the consequences- after all, who am I kidding? It's not like the entire world reads this little corner of the blogosphere, after all. I'm sure unburdening my secret here will cause very few ripples on the pond of interlife.

So in summary: a dear friend, one of the few I've known and stayed in touch with since grade school days, is now attending a college which shall remain unnamed. She's been struggling of late, more so at the time of my helping her. This was mainly because she was in the last trimester of a difficult pregnancy... and of course, bearing the joys of trying to run a household consisting of three other children and an unemployed husband. They'd just moved, as well, to a tiny little shitsplat of a town forty-odd miles outside Spokane- far enough away from civilization that I actually feared for her and the baby come delivery time.

I suppose that's neither here nor there... not the gist of my problem, anyhow...and by the way, all went splendidly with the delivery of the child. The real reason I'm posting this is that I've been troubled these last few weeks by my acquiescence to her request that I assist her with some of her schoolwork. Translation: write a paper for her. This was weeks ago- I mean, she's now had her baby and is slowly but surely catching up at school- all on her own now, thank you-, plus I felt great at the time for saving her butt when she was already on academic probation, the assistance I rendered went over flawlessly with no one the wiser (according to her)... so why do I still feel so rotten?

Is the shameful little twinge I feel simply conscience? Or, when I ruthlessly examine my most recurring thoughts: is it because I know I'll be attending the same school myself come January and I'm afraid one of my teachers-to-be in that relatively small institution of learning might just be the one to whom my friend turned in an essay that was purportedly hers, but in reality was a creation of my own imaginings? Might said teacher even perhaps recognize the writing style? After all, I've read other pieces of my friend's writing- and not that she is illiterate, nor even untalented- but her style is far, far different from my own. A discerning teacher in a small class would surely pick such dissimilarities out with ease. In fact, I pleaded with my friend, in the email in which I attached the piece, to rewrite it- keeping the gist of it if she wanted, but in order to NOT get caught, revise some of the language and whatnot to more closely resemble her own writing. However, being as pressed as time as she was, I seriously doubt that she took my advice, and probably just forwarded the entire thing as is (as was?). So in my cynical, pessimistic mind, I have to think her teacher's eyebrows were at least raised a bit when my friend's essay was submitted, an essay quite dissimilar to her other works thus far.

Now I'm left with this sour taste in my mouth, be it guilt or fear of being caught, the end result is the same... and although I've resolved to never "help" in such a way again, I still have to wonder if my poor choice is going to have any other repercussions. And do you want to know the most ironic part of the whole deal? I am PROUD of that essay! I think it's one of the best pieces of writing I've done all year, maybe ever! I'm not sure how those four thousand words flowed out of me so effortlessly, turning out the most marvelous first draft I've ever written, but they did. Isn't that a bitch? Not being able to revel in- or publish- something one is itching to, all because of the deceit in the piece to begin with? Perhaps that's the justice fate (or God, this does seem His style) has meted out to me: suffer in silence while "her" essay wins some award, unable to claim credit, only the shame of dishonesty. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Turning Over a New Leaf on that Old Worn-out Plant of my Life

So, reading over my last couple posts as I usually do when I summon up the courage and/or inspiration to spew out some verbiage on this blog, I even got a bit choked up at all the depressive negativity oozing out of the stuff.

Yeah, it might've been decent writing- heart-wrenching at least. But jeez, how many people wanna read crap like that repeatedly? I can't even stand to write it anymore, which explains my latest hiatus from blogging here.

Lots been going on though. I'm slowly but surely disassociating myself so closely with my church; not sure if that's a good thing or not but it is what it is. It started with signing up for a study or two, then finding reasons not to show. We stopped going to our small group, giving the perfectly valid excuse that Tony's work didn't allow him to make the night in question. Of course, we could've found another group, I could've gone alone, but it was just too easy to just blow it off. Next was missing a Sunday service here and there; no biggie, just on days that we slept in or had other stuff going on... but now, let's see- I think it's been 3 weeks since I've even stepped foot in His Place, when I used to show up two or three days a week for one volunteer position, study group, service or another. Oh yeah, dropped Nursery Volunteer duty too. Ask me why? I have no idea. I just can't seem to summon the energy to show up at 8:30 in the morning to watch a roomful of toddlers, smile determinedly fixed on my face, when inside I'm wondering just what the hell I'm doing there when I'm having serious issues with my faith.

And that right there's the root of it. I've gone back and forth on this, especially on those nights when I can't quite fall asleep and so run conversations and doubts and fears and memories through my mind until I'm about to go mad. What it's coming down to, is after reading through my Bible several times over the last couple years, I have issues. Issues that my pastor (brilliant and well-meaning man that he is) cannot answer- just gives me that stock answer: take the leap of faith. Well, faith is what I'm lacking at this point. So until I have a recharge on my God batteries, I think I'm going to keep flaking on my church attendance, not answering calls from well-meaning members, and trying not to drown in my sour-tasting cynicism.

Okay- on to brighter topics. Didn't I just vow not to drone on and on regarding sad and despairing issues in life?

I'm in counseling. I'm on an antidepressant that actually seems to work (maybe- maybe I'm just so sick of trying different ones that I've settled for an older, cheaper pill that I can pretend is making a difference so I don't have to keep spending fifty to seventy-five bucks every time my shrink suggests a new one. Of course I'm too broke to be insured, so all this guinea-pigging is costing a pretty penny. Some of the new ones are flat out ridiculous, and then when they don't do a damn thing 12 weeks later I'm out several hundred bucks- not even counting the doctor visits! But I've been on Trazodone for a couple of months now, and at least I have the wherewithal to get out of bed, get dressed for the day, care for my son and work. So maybe it's working, maybe not- maybe I've just plumbed an unknown inner resource I didn't know I had but am now utilizing for the better.

My job(s) suck. I clean high-end residents who seem to thrive on finding bizarre tasks for us peons to complete: "Dear, would you mind bleaching the grout on the patio this week? I seem to see a bit of browning... thanks, doll." Like that. Plus, scrubbing other people's toilets, no matter how rich they are or how massive their mansion is, is just flat-out disgusting. And for some reason, all these rich bastards seem to love to have multiple pets, many of which are poorly housebroken and behaved. Perhaps if I did a poll, the numbers would support my theory, but I swear the richer the homeowner, the lousier the pet(s).

But, it's money, which we sorely need these days- my doctor bills, Jameson's dental check-ups and well-baby visits/immunizations... all these things add up. And since Tony's killer-paying job he'd had for almost five years went out of business, he was forced to take a position at the warehouse the former company was supplied by, at almost half the pay. Sigh.

I do want to state that getting out of the house again and earning an income, however pitiful, is gratifying. Not only for my mental health, but as a woman in her 30's who has ALWAYS supported herself somehow or another (some of these ways we won't mention here!) the three months I laid around unemployed feeling sorry for myself were totally dreadful. So that's one thing high on my gratitude list- in today's economy, it's not so easy to find work, especially one that fits in with my schedule of free babysitting here and there from my parents and stepdaughter. I was lucky enough to respond first to an ad in the Nickel's Worth, then another on craigslist, and between the two I suppose I'm making a respectable contribution to our finances. Sure wish I could be using my brain instead of my brawn, though!

Which brings me to the best news of all: I'm officially enrolled in NIC for late-start Fall semester! And will be full time come Spring. I applied for my FAFSA on a whim, but once I was approved, I realized this was my chance to actually go back to college and complete my education- and end up with a freakin' CAREER instead of some grunt job!

Don't know if I've mentioned this in former posts, but when I was in prison, I worked in the Education Center helping female convicted felons get their GED's or at least make progress in more remedial areas. It was one of the most enriching, fulfilling vocations I've ever had- I absolutely thrived on it. From that point on, getting my BA in Education was my dream. Lately, I've considered Social Work as well, beings as though if anyone has the experience to speak with troubled youth/institutionalized individuals, etc.- that'd be me.

Lo and behold, after speaking with Financial Aid, I have nearly a full-ride Pell, with a pending academic scholarship as well. And it will be no problem to double major in Ed and Social Work. Cool, huh?

I'm excited about something (well, besides my son) for the first time in I can't remember how long. I have something to look forward to- I'm meeting my advisor next week to choose my first classes- many will be online- and I'm already dreaming about becoming Dean's List sweetheart, maybe getting more assistance because of my felony status (Vocational Rehab adores people like me wanting to make something of myself)... and you know, although I felt a twinge of guilt for taking advantage of all these programs at first? Now I feel like I'm merely taking a loan from Uncle Sam and whatever other foundations are out there: I will be giving something back once I have my degrees under my belt and am out there helping people- people who might have been like the former me or would end up like that me without hope, without help, without an education being taught by someone who speaks their language.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Warm and Free. But What About Us?

After watching a former shadow of my grandmother fade faster and faster, as the hospital stays became more frequent and of longer length, she finally was granted her last wish- to be released from KMC and their endless pokings, proddings, inside lines and CT scans; catheters and brochoscopies... to be released. And not just from the hospital.

See, she was just too ill in too many areas, not the big C, no, but renal failure coupled with two strokes, neither of which she could quite recover from. Diabetes, extreme edema and dysphasia toward the end. And all she wanted was to go home. To die, yes, she knew that. But at least away from the bright lights and endless visits from the sharpest of the many-initialed specialists down to the lowliest of aides and housekeepers. All she wanted was us- her family. Around her, loving her, keeping her comfortable, kissing her wasted cheeks and trying our hardest not to cry around her.

So that's what we did. Thanks to a wonderful Hospice administrator, he pulled some strings and in one whirlwind of an afternoon, got her de-IV'ed, signed out of what she considered a neverending nightmare (no offense, KMC- of the many hours I spent there by her side, I considered everyone to be at the very least competent, and most very compassionate as well) and sent home. Equipment magically appeared in her living room- a special hospital bed to ease her pressure ulcers, nurses available 24-7 by merely picking up the phone, and just the right amount of comfort measures for her to still recognize us but not be in pain.

The nurses were awesome, the aides cheerful, the Social Service worker empathetic and obviously capable. I'm sure had Grandma had need for a longer relationship with them, we would have been just as grateful as we were for the short time they assisted.

She passed away yesterday morning, at 5:20 am. I was holding her hand at the time, as she was unable to speak by that point. She had been home almost two full days, and we had time to assemble a full platoon of her descendants, siblings and of course her husband. My mother, aunt and I took the night shift, all sprawled out on various couches and me on the recliner (being the youngest, and assumedly the most spry). As I was a medical tech in the military- although it seems like ages ago- my family seems to rely on me for most of the translation of medical jargon, opinions on sudden symptoms, etc. It was my mom who shook me awake a bit after 5, saying Grandma didn't seem to be breathing anymore, labored and raspy as it had been. I rubbed my eyes, stumbled over to Grandma's hospital bed, and spoke first quietly, trying to get a response, then louder, shaking her, even tried to get a response by the hand squeezing method we had worked out the night before. Nothing. Then I checked her pulse, which was weak, thready but existent. Not like mine, which was racing and causing my head to throb. I had Mom immediately call the emergency Hospice line, from whence a nurse was summoned, and laid my head on her chest, trying to feel the lift and fall of breath. I felt a couple breaths, then nothing. The pulse had ceased as well.

Funny, no, ironic I suppose would be a more fitting term, at that point everything for me got very calm. Whereas before the days and nights had been full of tears and emotionalism, this time I just felt myself grow numb. I knew she was gone, I knew what had to be done, so I just gave her hand a last squeeze and got to it. Woke up Grandpa. Told him his companion of over twenty years was gone. Called next door to my dearest, sweetest aunt; the daughter of this woman who'd just passed away, who was her caregiver, champion and even the toughie when she'd had to be. That was the most difficult call to make, because I knew she would take it the hardest. Mom and my other aunt were both crying softly, Grandpa W. more rackingly. Downstairs, my cousin and his wife stuttered up the stairs, knowing somehow already and leaning on one another for strength. Thankfully their toddler slept through it.

My auntie arrived, panicked- all I'd said is come now. She saw it in my eyes and simply collapsed. It was one of the most heartwrenching things I've ever seen. All of us gathered together in that little upstairs living room, red carpet matted with their elderly Husky's dog hair, dawn just creeping in... it was unreal. I'm crying now while writing this, but it's a cleansing sort of cry; at that point it just didn't feel quite real. Grandma was still so warm, dammit! She was pale, but I could feel sweat at her temples when I stroked back her hair. How could life, even a bare approximation of one, be so there at one moment and gone the next?

When the nurse arrived, she was only able to confirm what we already knew, which started a whole new round of sobbing and everyone talking above everyone else. I tried to distance myself from it, feeling too empty to participate. So what did I do? Made a pot of coffee. Peed. Brushed my teeth. Called my husband and told him the news. Mundane fucking things that just didn't seem fair in the face of such of an enormity of sorrow.

Once reentering the room, the nurse took me aside and quietly asked if I would help her clear the room for a moment and if I could assist her in repositioning and cleaning up the "body" (me thinking, this is my grandmother, you heartless bitch! Not a body!), but outwardly smiling slightly and agreeing, yes, that would be a good thing- don't think anyone else would be up to the task. And of course she would rather me wash her gently down and put fresh jammies on her than some stranger struggle with it alone.
So I herded the others out on the deck, most of them furiously smoking cigarettes and sucking down coffee between sobs at that point, and did what needed to be done. Afterward, I actually felt some of the numbness secede; Grandma looked so much more peaceful with her pretty blue-striped pajamas on, the angel pin I had bought her at the hospital pinned to the lapel- she could have been sleeping peacefully.

The nurse thanked me profusely, made what phone calls she had to make, collected the unused medication and left.

For some odd reason, I felt compelled to pull out my little pocket Bible and stand over her and read Psalm 139. It had always been one of my favorites, and for some reason just seemed to be the right thing to do, although in my own ears, the words were ringing hollowly. While I did so, everyone sort of filed back in and listened, then we all just stood in silence after I'd finished. I felt like a fraud, or at the very least an actor in a bad movie, and sort of slunk away to where my backpack and purse were shoved under the kitchen table. No one noticed as I headed out, but I just didn't feel like I could handle it another minute, the air was oppressive and I was maybe a little more out of my mind than I thought at the time.

Ironically (yet again) my husband and son were pulling up right as I was getting into my car. I hadn't asked him to come, in fact, expressly forbade his bringing Jameson. But perhaps by some sort of spousal telepathy, he showed up exactly at the right moment- just in time to escort me home, where I held my son and cried into his hair until he squirmed to get down, confused at his mommy's bizarre actions.

Tony tucked me into bed, where I blissfully, dreamlessly slept most the day away, waking ravenous and groggy around three-ish. Fortified by donut holes and coffee, I determinedly set upon acting as "normal" as possible, only failing when an errant thought would send me back into the memories of the unrealities of that morning.

Am I grieving correctly? Is there a way to do so? Scores of books and articles are available on the subject, pages of shrinks in phone books rubbing their sweaty palms together in breathless anticipation of my call.

I think it's cheaper and more suited to my warped personality to just spew it out here, on my aptly named little blog. And let time and experience take care of the rest. I've been touched by death often, but never like this, sober, with a loved one growing cold under my touch. I'm forcing myself to think of her in Heaven, warm and free.

I love you, Grandma. Goodbye.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Be Careful What You Pray For?


Looking at the date of my last post on here, I was stunned to realize it had been a solid three months since I'd even plopped one little nugget of wackiness or wisdom on here- a site I swore to myself I would use faithfully to purge my overactive brain of its most pressing and/or interesting (at least to me) thoughts, fears, doubts or plain ole pontifications. Shit, I've had New Year's resolutions that were more successful than this has been lately.

What a Grade-A flake I've turned into. Not only here, either, in just about every aspect of my life except taking care of my little boy. At least some vestige of motherly instinct has overridden this oppressive case of the blues which has turned my oh-so-blessed life to crap. Which brings to mind the age old chicken/egg question: did I stop posting due to my depression? Or did my ceasing of not only online activity, but everything else in my life remotely recreational- hiking trips, church group activities, visiting friends and relatives- lead to the depression? Hell, at one point I didn't answer my phone for three days, didn't leave the house for nine, and refused to even step foot in my office (A month ago I was put on a "leave of absence", which I fear is p.c. for gently being replaced by someone who can do the job I had- actually, most likely it's taken several people to replace me... before my 'breakdown', I was working sixty and seventy hour weeks, and since I was being paid salary, this was just considered part of the job- some months were easy, the last couple were absolute hell).

Come to think of it, that might've been one of the catalysts for the "I can't take it any more" mantra I finally muttered to her... trying to juggle a multitude of home office duties, run a household while my husband works out of town Monday thru Friday, and care for an extremely active and energetic two-year-old I suppose pushed me to the breaking point. I have this problem, see- whenever my boss would ask me if I could tackle yet another project on top of the myriad other duties I was working on, I found myself incapable of admitting that no, I could not. I'd tell her, "Boss, I thrive under pressure!" and grit my teeth, put Jameson to bed and burn the midnight oil til it was done. Finally, I started slipping, though- boxes for food expos and demos weren't making it on time, I was forgetting to check the phone and internet inquiries from confused Celiac groups, cookbooks were getting mailed to the wrong addresses... I was losing it. And cumulatively, it was enough to have my boss send over her husband to pick up all the files, Pitney-Bowes mailstation, cases and cases of product, and all the other miscellany that I'd acquired over the last almost two years of my Namaste Foods employment. Employment that, unfortunately, was on a 1099 basis so I can't even collect unemployment. Haven't talked to her since, either, although her husband hinted at the possibility of my resuming partial or full employment once my mental state was back to its former (relative) stability. Being a fairly perceptive sort, however, that little aside, with the accompanying obligatory shoulder pat, registered pretty high on my bullshit meter. Bottom line, I'd become more of a liability than an asset, and no matter how much we all liked each other as people, our working relationship was kaput. I still greatly admire my former boss- she's one hell of a lady and I will never forget her belief in me when I was fighting my case so publicly- belief strong enough in my intellect and ethic that she hired me straight after of the end of the whole mess. And I think overall, I proved her right- I just got overwhelmed there at the end. If you're reading this- sorry, D.

Moving on...
See, now, the thing is, although I have been going a bit nuts from an entire month of doing nothing except tend to my son, clean my house to an almost ridiculous state of sterility and organization, and other borderline OCD activities I won't bore you with by listing, I'm not so sure I WANT to go back to working from home. My son is extremely demanding of my time when I'm here- it was a challenge to fend him off while attending to my work duties. Couldn't just ignore the little guy for eight hours straight, so multi-tasking took on a whole new definition. Plus- and anyone whose ever worked on a self-created schedule can attest to- it takes some serious discipline some days to force oneself into a home office to slog through the day's duties, rather than say, read a good book or sleep in just because you know you CAN.
So, working from home I think was a good idea on paper- and was wonderful when my son was still a little thing that would gurgle happily on a blankie on the office floor while I worked- it's no longer feasible for me, even once my mental faculties are all relatively stable again.
'Cause they're not, you know. I still sleep waaaay too much- when Tonydaddy's home, and can look after the boy, I will sleep 15 or 16 hours at a stretch, no problem. And wake up grumpy because I want yet more. My eating habits suck: I cook meals for my family, but pick at my own plate, when I even bother making one for myself. Usually I just subsist on cinnamon sugared donut holes from Super 1, endless cups of coffee liberally doused with French Vanilla creamer, and when I start worrying about scurvy, I'll steam up an entire broccoli floret and salt and butter the heck out of it and eat that for a meal. Not exactly a stellar food pyramid, I know.
So. I've regurgitated my symptoms for the blogosphere to hopefully just absorb with equanimity, as I do NOT want your pity. God knows, I don't deserve it. If anything, pity my family for having to put up with this senseless form of entropy I've lapsed into... for NO FREAKING REASON!
Yes, I was working too hard. Okay, no more job. Depression gone? Hell no, worse than ever. Now, I mope around the house, read an average of nine crappy novels a week (I go for the 500 page plus ones- they're at least lengthier so I can escape reality a bit longer) and do my best to fake smiles for my son who shouldn't have to see his mommy like this.


So, to touch on the relativity of the title of this post, I should explain the events of the last two weeks. If anyone recalls, there was another post from last year where I detailed my maternal grandmother's failing health: a couple of strokes, a fall which the resulting broken rib caused pneumonia, general weakness and malaise... to put it succinctly, she is a very, very sick woman.
Week before last, Saturday, she was so ill the ambulance rushed her to the hospital for a blood transfusion and some other life-saving measures due to her renal failure. Since at that point, her symptoms were about as stable as one could expect, they discharged her with the hopes that she would rally better at home, since her only statement (slurred, due to the post-stroke aphasia) she would make, repeatedly, was, "I want to go home. I want to go home."

This was a big mistake. She is also diabetic, normally non-insulin dependent, but her blood sugar began testing out in the 400's. At one point it was too high for the reader to give an answer: it simply flashed "HIGH- HIGH- HIGH". At that point, we again rushed her to the ER, where she was placed on multiple machines- respirators, cardiac monitors, an IV administering blood thinners, steroids to help her lung function, fluids to help her dehydration. An entire team of specialists was assembled, and even after a solid four days of working on her, when I cornered each one of them individually (I can be confrontational when it comes to those I love!) and asked them, "What is wrong with my grandmother and what are her chances of getting through this?" my only answers- with very little variation from each- was "Your grandmother is a very sick woman- we are basically at a loss as to what could be causing the multiple organ involvement and shutdown; of course, we are doing every test we can think of and treating each crisis as it arises, but there is no way we can answer whether she will get through this or not at this point."

Surprise, surprise. Doctorspeak for "we don't know what the hell is going on". Because of my recent unemployment and therefore having the most flexible schedule of the family, I've been spending the most time at the hospital; spending nights with her (man, those benches are uncomfortable!) and translating her slurred speech to the nurses and CNA's as needed. Basically, just being there for her- I think her greatest fear is being left alone to die; either at a hospital or at a "care center" (PC for nursing home these days). Yes, there are some good ones, but we as a family are determined to respect our loved ones wishes and just want to get her home to pass on in dignity, surrounded by those who love her. As skilled as the nurses, doctors and other caregivers in those facilities and hospitals may be, none of them love her like we do, therefore, none of them can or will go the extra mile to make her as comfortable and happy as possible during her journey to Heaven. And after some one-on-one time I had with her the other night, I do feel like she has accepted Jesus back into her heart and will be reunited with Him upon her passing. I was actually pretty worried about that- my Grandma has led one helluva hard-drinking, hard-living, well-traveled life, and fell away from her childhood Lutheran faith a looong time ago. So I hope the little bit of Scripture I read her and the conversation we had after has made the difference- if anything, I know it made ME feel way better.

I guess that's what Part Two of this blog post is really about- with my grandma being sick, I've felt better than I have in weeks. I know it's because I've been too busy dealing with her, organizing family shifts of who's staying when with her, translating the more confusing medical terms for the rest of the family, and all that... but is that really solving my depression? or just putting a Band-Aid on it, if you will?

I am under the care of a doctor- she's tried four different antidepressants on me to date and none of them have worked worth a damn. So the next step, besides counseling at Genesis as soon as this crisis with Grandma has passed, is an eval with a psychiatrist, who'll hopefully be able to rule out something more serious like manic depression or something of the like.

But what if that doesn't work either? Should I search out other people's problems to focus on rather than my own? Will that "solve" this super-funk I've slipped into? Or is it just a result of extended sobriety: actually all the way clean of chemicals that for most of my life have numbed all the negative feelings I've encountered.

Any comments or advice would be very welcome. Thanks for listening, blogosphere.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Corruption? Collusion? Just Plain Crap?

The media *coughCd'APresscough* has remained mysteriously silent on something I find quite disturbing... Dave Williams, a probation officer who'd been with the department around 9 or 10 years, was fired after some sordid allegations by a gal named Wanda Arrington, one of the dozens of probationers under his supervision, happening, unfortunately for Dave, to be one of the female ones. In her complaint to the authorities, she claimed he called at late hours, asking questions about her boyfriend, her state of dress/undress, and other questions with sexual undertones.

Some of his actions she was complaining about were legit- P.O.'s are allowed to call whenever they darn well please- how else are they to know if you're keeping curfew rules? and are perfectly within their rights to ask about the probationer's company they're keeping. The other alleged questions, if true, are of course way out of line. Yet odd, as well, considering Ms. Arrington is not exactly filling society's mold of what's "attractive". It'd have to be a mighty big mold, if so. No offense against the many overweight women out there, but you'd think if a probation officer was taking a gigantic risk by "hitting on" one of his supervisees (is that a word?) he'd pick one of the young, sultry meth-induced big-eyed skinnies with which his caseload I'm sure abounded. Instead, according to Wanda, he picked instead: an older alcoholic with a mouth as big as the rest of her.

But hey, perhaps Dave's tastes now run that direction- who knows? His ex-wife was quite a looker, but after their extremely messy (and, unfortunately for him, public) breakup, perhaps he swore off pretty women forever.

So... the thing that really struck me as curious is that the Press never once bothered to inform the public in their articles denouncing Mr. Williams that the prosecution's star witness, Ms. Arrington, was incarcerated shortly after these charges against Officer Williams- by a different (presumably neutral) P.O.- for multiple infractions of her supervision: the probation violations will usually almost certainly land her back in prison. The other charge, "spitting on the sidewalk", I have no idea what the sentencing guidelines on that bad boy is. What conclusion I can draw from the fact that it's even listed on there as a charge is that she musta really ticked the arresting officer off for him to even charge her with such a petty offense. Drunk again? Or maybe she just had a bad taste in her mouth...

Wonder if some sort of deal is in the process of being cut...?

The only reason I found out about her current residence was by idly scanning the names on the jail roster one day while bored (one can learn some amazing facts about our Public Safety Building's overcrowded inmates' charges: we have an astounding amount of sex offenders, for one thing. (blech!) Disturbingly high for what it should be per capita.), and I came across the name Wanda Arrington, with a long list of charges below it. She'd been in there quite some time, it seemed.

What sort of witness is this? One with extremely valid ulterior motives, if you ask me. Shed doubt on the integrity of the probation officer and whatever he's accusing the woman of, and all of a sudden it holds much less water than it would coming from a lily-white source.

Unfortunately, what muddied the water further, was the fact that months/years? earlier, Mr. Williams had gone through some personal problems with his then wife, resulting on him being placed on paid leave for a time while the whole mess got straightened out. Stalking charges stemming from a messy breakup was what the gist of it seemed to be. How this affects his credibility on his professional life that much later I'm not sure. Supposedly he agreed to a plea-bargain which, after he completed a series of counseling sessions and passed a test deeming him fit for active duty again, it was all good and behind him. Ha. Those of us who've been involved with these types of things know they're NEVER behind us, not when something comes up that gives the opposing side opportunity to drag the dirty laundry out all over again!

Did Ms. Arrington know about this blot on her supervising officer's record? Perhaps while he was consoling her about her rocky relationship with her boyfriend, he looked to establish some form of rapport by confessing some past problems of his own? We'll never know.

So I said to myself, "Self, does the Press know about this? If so, did they intentionally omit it from their unflattering article about Dave Williams' inglorious departure from IDOC? or was it an innocent oversight?

Hmmm. I would like to think it was mere ignorance (not an uncommon trait in many of the Press' journalists) that was responsible for the omission of Wanda's current residence- plus why she's there- but at the same time, little ole Coeur d'Alene is not immune to the good old boy network that plays many a part in what gets published when and who gets blamed for what.

I just hope that Mr. Williams, a great guy who took his job very seriously from all accounts- and I did speak to many of his former and current (at that time) probationers before reaching the decision that I did- has no problem bouncing back from this grievous attack on his character and that black spot on his resume. Maybe law enforcement isn't an option for him anymore, but I am keeping my fingers crossed and including him in my prayers hoping that perfect job will come along and snap him up, so his talents and honest desire to help people will not go to waste.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cut-n-Paste Kendra

Here's some particularly juicy fodder for conspiracy theorists that on a whim I decided to post paste on my poor neglected blog. Since I'm not feeling particularly inspired to write anything original, unfortunately, yet I don't want the darn thing to wither up and blow away.
Anyhow, I came across this in cyberspace and thought that in light of all the "assassination" nonsense already being hyped up in the media for our new President-Elect, I'd post it.

Okay, this starts out as just a bit coincidental:

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.
Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.
Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.
Both wives lost their children while living in the White House.
Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
Both Presidents were shot in the head.

Now a little weirder....

Lincoln's secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy's secretary was named Lincoln.
Both were assassinated by Southerners.
Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.
Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln , was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.
John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.
Both assassins were known by their three names.
Both names are composed of fifteen letters. (whatever)

Now, some irony:

Lincoln was shot at the theater named 'Ford.'
Kennedy was shot in a car called 'Lincoln' made by 'Ford.'
Lincoln was shot in a theater and his assassin ran and hid in a warehouse.
Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin ran and hid in a theater.
Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.

And irony at its finest...

A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe, Maryland.
A week before Kennedy was shot, he was in Marilyn Monroe.

Funny, huh?


So, although I am reduced to borrowing a method from Sholeh "Cut-n-Paste" Patrick at our city's nepotistic paper (she's the editor's wife), it's not as though there's nothing interesting going on in my life- in fact, it's the exact opposite: I'm so insanely busy with work, raising my son, coordinating Angel Tree Children's Ministry by Prison Fellowship at our church (a program that provides prisoners' children with Christmas presents), struggling to cut corners and save money for Christmas and Tony's birthday on Dec. 11th (which of course I always go all out for)... I feel like that lady in the Mirena commercial on TV, the one who doesn't have time to "finish a book, finish a sentence!"; or in my case, start OR finish a post on my blog.

Ah well, I see a New Year's resolution in the works... and perhaps reserving a half-hour or so every morning for writing would do wonders for my stress level? We'll see.

Friday, October 3, 2008

My First Ever- and Likely Last- Political Commentary here on SoulDoubt

Okay, this about sums up how I feel about the clownish claptrap circulating via forums, blogs, mainstream media, all those silly ads... it's all a bunch of sound-bites (bytes?) that the thinking American- admittedly the minority- could give two shits and a damn about. Unfortunately, the other end of the spectrum are going to be brought around (if, in fact, they even bother to vote) by what their buddies/spouses/bosses think; by which candidate has the coolest hair, the most exciting scandal of which they're adroitly dodging (or even milking it for all it's worth), or by being black or having a female veep: who's ventured forth with the most daring break of stereotypicism (Firefox just underlined that in red, alerting me to it not being a word, but if it's not, it should be. I'm keeping it up there.)

I am so sick of hearing CHANGE...MAVERICK...MUSLIM...-GATE of any sort...MAIN STREET...EARMARKS... the list is neverending. Whether I hear it in McCain's stentorian timbres, Obama's thoughtfully rich alto, Palin's abrasive Fargo-esque whine, or Biden's I'm-about-to-lose-my-temper-but-am-modulating-my-tones-through-sheer-willpower rumble, I am so sick of all the pre-scripted, newspeak drivel (no, it's not Orwell's 1984, but I do sense similarities to Animal Farm). Scary? You betcha.

These days when the breath of rabid political commentators from both sides, reeking unabashedly of excremental fanaticism, begins to waft through the air, I take shallow, anti-gag reflex calming breaths, then attempt to make a low-key escape- preferably without being forced to give an opinion on the race. In other words, I use my short stature to my advantage and sneak out quickly, staying under the average bugged out yet beady eye level.

If cornered, my standard riposte: I am a felon, remember? Since my country has assumed that with committing of a crime in one's past there's all of a sudden an inane innate inability to choose one's nation's leaders, I refuse to involve myself intellectually or emotionally in this election: which, since my vote will most certainly NOT count- why bother getting embroiled in heated partisan squabbles? I witness them daily, not only on political forums and/or blogs, but in living rooms and church foyers. In line at the grocery store. At the bank. In fact, I think the only time I haven't heard a word (heated, openly critical, racist/sexist sometimes, or otherwise) about the upcoming election and its various candidates was when I took that last trip into Probation & Parole to get my discharge papers! Oh, the ignorant bliss of the great unwashed...

(And hey, being a former member of that stereotype, I feel fully justified in making such a derogatory comment- after all, for many months I rubbed shoulders with everyone from drug addicts to stockbrokers to child molesters, all reduced to zero status in that pit of lawbreaking humanity; but oh Lordy, LOTS of them could've benefited greatly from a bath and a set of clean clothes. Not to mention a few dozen IQ points... but I digress.)

Anyway, this is how I- and I would be willing to bet, were I a betting man (wait, I'm not a man. But that would screw up the whole cliche were I to substitute "woman" for "man", don't you think? The familiar ring would be gone. I'm leaving it as is. Feminazis, screw you.) Anyway, were I a betting man -doesn't that just sound like a sweet slice of Americana?- I would wager that MOST Americans condense the endless poli-babble they hear on Faux, on CNN, MSNBC, or even online from the various incarnations of news which is that easy to swallow pill for your comfort and convenience, of course... and this is what they hear:

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Nothin' Else I Need to Do but Dance

Got a phone call the other day. I'd been expecting it for a while, but it was still pure joy and relief which coursed through my veins when I realized what it was about.

"Hello?" says I.

"Kendra?" the female voice on the other end said, a voice which although not instantly familiar, rang a dim bell of recognition in my brain.


"Kendra Martinez? Formerly known as Kendra Goodrick, but not anymore, because the Idaho Department of Correction is releasing her from supervised probation?" there was a singsong, smiling tone to the voice, and I finally recognized it as Tammy Douglas, who up to that point had been my probation officer.
"We got your discharge papers back from the judge, and I'm going to be leaving them at the front desk here for you to pick up, okay?"

I babbled something nonsensical with a relived laugh and got out a promise to be there shortly. I managed to thank her for this past year, for being such a nice lady. She responded in kind, saying something about how she wished all her caseloads were so easy. We laughed about her telling Kevin Kempf that no, he did not need to alert the media, my fifteen minutes of fame were long done, and thankfully so. Then I hung up the phone and let out a whoop, startling my son and probably the neighbors, as loud as it was.

Then I danced manically around the house, singing a song I made up on the spot- I can't quite remember it now, but there were lots of "Oh yeah"s and "Freedom!"s in it. I probably looked a bit like this:

Except, of course, I don't own any moon boots.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Another Year Bites The Dust

On August 28th, I officially crept another year toward my fourth decade of existence. And boy, what a year it has been! Another stint of supervised probation (which was actually a breeze and will be over any day now, just waiting on paperwork); an awesome job that has allowed me to work from home while I raise my son, who, speaking of which, has grown into a delightful little boy (although I'm pretty sure he's only part human- the rest is either Tasmanian Devil or some bizarre alien life-form with boundless energy and enthusiasm for destruction); a year of huge spiritual growth and transformation for both myself and my husband; financial struggles, triumphs, and sacrifices- most notably, Tony quitting his well-paying job which he'd held for years because of the toll it was taking on our little family when he was out of town all week, every week- and many, many more landmark events and days of laughter and tears, those memorable moments which mark the passing of time.

My actual birthDAY was a fairly low-key event- I think I'm well past the stage where I'd demand a big to-do, with the requisite keg and fifty or sixty people which I just HAD to invite. Instead, I was simply awoken with a kiss and a "Happy birthday, sweetheart," then handed a cup of coffee and a squirming toddler in need of a diaper change. So after seeing my husband off to work, the little guy and I settled into our normal weekday routine:

Mom reads the paper while Son does his best to distract her with unceasing chatter in Toddlerese, as well as frequent pounces onto her lap in order to crumple and rip the pages of something which dares divert any attention away from him.
Mom eventually gives up, pops Son into highchair and tries to get more cereal IN him than ON him, a daunting but not impossible task, and highly entertaining to Son.
When finished, Son gets stripped, wiped down, and dressed in the first of a series of outfits which will by necessity get changed throughout the day when he splatters and soaks himself with a variety of substances.
Mom then manages to attract Son's attention with one of his singing, wiggling, flashing, battery-operated playthings, then sneakily pops the baby gate on the door of his room so she can get some work done.
This cycle, with a few variations, repeats throughout the day.

After all, Jameson didn't know the day was any different from any other. And I think his idea of a present is an extra-full diaper (with corn!). I did get a few phone calls and emails from co-workers, family and friends, wishing me well or asking me to stop by and pick up my gifts, since there was to be no formal get-together. So that afternoon I loaded up the boy and made the rounds of my grandma's, auntie's, and "BFF"'s, collecting goodies and cards at every stop. What a great family I have, really. What they lack in polish they make up for in love. Raw, unconditional love and acceptance- a gift in itself.

Tony came home late that afternoon bearing red roses and a sweetly mushy card- I think the punch line was something like, "I'll kiss you once for every year of your life- and pretend you're much older"- and he was determined to live up to its promise. The big sweetie. Then we were off to dinner at my mom's house, or, "the farm", as we affectionately call it, which was a smashing success. Yummy cornish game hens, decadent pudding cake with super creamy frosting (I can't stand that sugary fluffy stuff) and banana split ice cream. Along with more gifts, of course. One of them was another baby gate, one that I've been bitching about needing for weeks- Jameson for some reason adores the master bathroom, and although we've babyproofed it as much as possible, even installing a lock on the toilet lid and locks on all the cupboard doors, he now climbs into the bathtub, scales the ledge in the corner up to the counter, and wreaks havoc up there. I first discovered this new proclivity of his when I heard a sudden wail of pain from that side of the house; I rushed in there only to find Jameson standing in one of the sinks, both hands bracing himself against the mirror, with the hot water tap on full force... he was stuck, scalding his little feet and utterly perplexed as to how to escape. But the scary part was that after I rescued him, scolding him and comforting him simultaneously (anyone with young children masters this art), I took a closer look at the plethora of dangerous and/or potential mess-making items up there on the bathroom counter: Tony's razor and shaving cream, my jewelry box, lotions and potions and all kinds of accidents waiting to happen!
So yeah, I needed a baby gate wide enough to fit our doorless master bathroom. And was totally stoked to receive such a practical, thoughtful gift. Other cool stuff was of course my guitar (early present, but a lavish one to be sure), cash (one can never go wrong with the cold hard duckets), and a gift certificate for Music City, where I can prowl the aisles for guitar strings, picks, and maybe a practice amp. All in all, a fantastic haul. I mean, even our bank sent me a birthday card. So what if they do that for everybody- it sure made my day!

And at the end of the night, the boy was in his crib, dreaming about future adventures involving large quantities of mud, I'm sure- and his daddy and I got the chance to snuggle and discuss the life we have these days... how we have reason to celebrate- not just birthdays, but all those days that fall in between them.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Bright Black Cherry Burst Quilt Spot in an Otherwise Dark Week

If you're wondering what the heck that post title could possibly mean, I should first explain that the situation with my stepdaughter has NOT gotten better at all- if anything, it's deteriorating rapidly. Her drug use, cigarette smoking and whatever other vices she's dangerously indulging in, I've now found out have been permitted- if not necessarily condoned- by her father, my husband, of course without my knowledge. Behind my back, in fact. Apparently he's trying so hard to be her buddy, he's forgotten his role as her father. He's also seemingly forgotten that part of being in a marriage is presenting a united front, especially towards one's children. Dissension among the ranks should be behind closed doors, not after the stepmom finds out about crap that the other two have been lying about and hiding. To make it even worse, things have also come up missing around the house. I've been forced to put a password on my computer, purchase a small lockbox, and hide certain items I'm afraid may grow legs and hop into J's hot little hands. Can you sense some resentment here? I sure hope so; I think I can even feel it oozing off my fingertips onto the keys.

Anyway, we are (or at least I am) taking steps to rectify these completely unacceptable activities, attitudes, and atrocities taking place in the former sanctity of our home. There is an elder at our church who owns a Christian counseling service, Genesis Associates; I yanked the poor guy to the side after services last Sunday and poured the whole sorry story out on him; he was gracious enough to offer to start us out with a mediation session between just Tony and myself (communication at this point has almost entirely broken down, reduced to epithets and personal attacks on both sides), then possibly lead into a moderate number of sessions necessary to relieve some of the communication issues and animosity. We may even bring J into it at some point, if she lasts in our household that long, or is amenable to such bullshit (to use her terminology). We'll see.

I was at a family function last Saturday- the 50th wedding anniversary of some semi-distant relatives. It was fun, but the highlight of the event was a short little jam session with my uncle Gary, which made me realize just how sharply I miss playing guitar.. I didn't realize how rewarding making music can be when one's soul is aching- music is a wonderful conduit for all of life's ills and injustices. Case in point: the blues.

Musical talent runs in my family- my dad used to be quite well-known in the area back in the late 70's/early 80's. He- Zane Goodrick- played a combination of good ol' boy country, Southern rock, and classic rock (Stones; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; John Prine- all faves as far as I can recall, along with hundreds upon hundreds of others). My pops was that breed of musician that was mainly in it for the song in it's entirety- something I inherited- he eschewed the fancy leads and exact chord changes for the basic feel of the song... one that everyone in the audience can recognize with joy, sing along to at the top of their lungs, and just generally enjoy as a package deal.

I learned from my dad at the age of around 12 or 13; didn't get serious til my late teens, but then really became devoted once I discovered the wonders of Jimi Hendrix. At first it discouraged me from continuing playing- I mean, why bother? The guy had already done all that was to be done, I could never even hope to wash his sandals, to borrow a line from J the B. But then I looked at the flip side, and decided that instead of him being my inspiration and someone to try to emulate, I would rather just idolize him while sticking to what I did best- just plain playing songs. Any songs. Songs off the radio (I can usually pick 'em up by ear and fake my way through), songs listeners request- like "Hotel California" or "House of the Rising Sun"- I must've played each of those about a billion times apiece! Or as of late, praise and worship songs which I've scavenged tabs and lyrics for off the internet; most of them are pretty simple.

But one major thing which has kept me from pursuing this avocation (besides the demands of my job, son, and other real life concerns), this something which used to be a ha-huge part of my life, is the fact that I've nothing but a beater little pawn shop acoustic, plastered with stickers and with action so miserable one's fingers are complaining after the first barre chord or two; not to mention tinny, twangy tone and zero resonation, it being a 3/4 size no-name dreadnought to begin with. Embarrassing to take out in public, a pain in the ass to play in private, and generally just a dust collector these last couple months- after seeing and savoring the feel of a quality guitar neck under my now uncalloused fingers I was determined to kick that p.o.s. to the curb and treat myself to a real instrument, one that I could play the heck out of anytime, anywhere, just for the sheer joy of it.

So we went directly from the party in the Spokane Valley to Pawn1 in Post Falls, and lo and behold: there was an absolutely breathtaking guitar on display there right in the place of honor. I knew enough about the make and model to be in utter awe -not to mention feeling serious trepidation about the price tag- an Ovation Celebrity acoustic/electric with all the bells and whistles (built in all-new OP20 preamp which features three eq bands and a Pre-Shape circuit for killer tonal flexibility, chromatic tuner that's easy to use and keeps perfectly in-tune even when using open or non-standard tunings), not to mention the gorgeous finish on the maple body face: black cherryburst quilt, high-gloss; the signature curved mid-depth Ovation back seemed form fitted for little ol' me, too. All this just HAD to be too good to be true! Or at least too expensive!

Well, wonders upon wonders, some idiot pawned this beauty and Pawn1 was silly enough to list it at the ridiculously low price of $350.00. Being fairly loyal purchasers of electronics and jewelry at their shop we don't pawn- just take advantage of other peoples' idiocy for practically giving away their stuff to loan sharks in respectable fronts of buildings... we were even able to talk 'em down to 300, case included. I swear when I walked out of that building my feet didn't even touch the ground. I was so elated, I couldn't wait to get better acquainted with my new sweetie.

Haven't named her yet- any suggestions would be much appreciated. Maybe I'll be like Phil or JB3ll3 and hold a contest- the prize could be one serenade of the winner's choice. Like I said, I can play or at least b.s. my way through just about anything, so be it old or new, country, classic rock, alternative, blues, oldies, Christian contemporary, very little punk/metal/grunge (mainly from their strange tunings and my lack of interest in the music itself. Mainly I play for the love of it, the love of expressing my feelings through song, be it joyous or sad, the love of seeing faces of those who are listening light up with recognition or love for the song. I love it when they sing along, or jump in with a guitar or other instrument of their own (Herb, why don't you break out that banjo and lets cut loose with some bluegrass? I know "Big Midnight Special"... but that's about it, unfortunately. You should school me, old guy! I love learning from more experienced players than I.) And Stickman, do you play? What about anyone else?

My Uncle Gary runs a homeless assistance center called Fresh Start on Coeur d'Alene Ave in C'dA, actual address 418 Coeur d’Alene Ave. He does wonderful things there, mainly helping the mentally ill and those with legal/criminal issues have a safe place to vent, find resources, shower, etc. He also holds jam sessions, any and all welcome, every Saturday morning from 10 to around noon. This week, for the first time, I'm going. And I'm going with pride in my new guitar, hopes that I will be able to release some stress from playing- it used to work, why wouldn't it now? and especially just spend some time with another family member who really cards about me and while I was stuck in the dope scene, I shut him and many others out of my life. It's time to start repairing those bridges, and I'm looking forward to this.

Let's see if the photos turn out (they won't do this marvelous instrument justice, but at least they can give you a general idea of this thing of beauty I am so in love with!

Here's another one, unfortunately the high gloss reflects the glare a bit too much.

What do you musicians (or nonmusicians for that matter think? Is this not the most beautiful hand crafted work of art expressly made for birthing beautous music?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

One Guilt Trip, All Expenses Paid

I've been mulling this over for days, wondering if I'm being selfish and petty, or merely looking out for our little family's best interests- and always end up right back where I started. Trying to discuss it with my husband is even more pointless: he's firmly convinced I'm being the former (selfish, heartless, petty, etc.) rather than the latter, and every time it gets brought up, a measured exchange of views quickly escalates into a full-blown fight.

And you know, I'm not even sure if this is appropriate blog fodder, hitting as close to home as it does; when the story involves personal details of people besides myself, I usually shy away from airing the laundry here. Be it dirty or sparkling Clorox white. But I've long ago gotten full clearance from Tonydaddy to share the goriest details of our lives in whichever forums I may choose, so I'm going to exercise that option now, in hopes that transcribing the situation may even help my thoughts fall into line a bit more clearly and eventually lead to some sort of resolution. That often does happen with me- I'm much more of a writer than a debater.

So here's the scoop. Tony and I have been together around 6 years, and in the beginning one of the reasons he became so enamored of me was because of the way his two daughters and I hit it off. Apparently, after his divorce, there had been quite the parade of women through his life, none of whom his girls were willing to share their daddy with. I was an exception, and to have finally found someone whom they liked, Tony was overjoyed to say the least.

The odd thing was that once we both went through the whole bloody process of end-stage drug addiction/sales, multiple arrests, drying out and cleaning up while incarcerated, managing to struggle our way through outpatient treatment, 12-step meetings, probation and the like- somehow Tony and I got closer, but the girls and my relationship became more and more strained.

Looking back, I think there were a few different factors involved. For one, changes having little or nothing to do with their father or I: J, the younger daughter, had evolved from a sweet little single-digit tomboy into a rebellious, sullen teenager. B, an awkward and shy adolescent to begin with, morphed into a dark, angst-ridden highschooler with multiple piercings and an attitude toward everybody. So it's not like I'm part of some exclusive club.

I think that they may have also blamed me in part, even if it were subconsciously, for the eventual downfall of their dad. See, when we first hooked up, we were living pretty high on the hog because of drug sales: lots of cool toys, cars and trucks with bumping stereo systems, a well-stocked garage in a home Tony still owned... and of course much of this ill-gotten wealth spilled over into J and B's lives as well. When they stayed with us, they were spoiled rotten. And every effort was made to shield them from the sordid realities of dealing huge quantities of dope. Oh, I'm sure they had an inkling- after all, we rarely slept; fed them but didn't eat much ourselves; dropped them off at Skate Plaza, Triple Play or the mall with wads of cash waaay too often, so we could "take care of grown-up business" and pick them up hours later.
So when the house of cards all came crashing down, it was Tony who got arrested first. I liquidated much of our "holdings" to bail him out on a $90,000 bond, only for him to be arrested again, on new charges, the next day. That's how demented our lives had become, and how well-acquainted the law had become with us. It was a relief, really, when the cycle repeated itself with me a few months later- I got arrested, bailed out, and was rearrested a few weeks later; both times with large quantities of drugs and paraphernalia.

So there we sat, in the crossbar hotel, probably within 50 yards of one another but of course unable to communicate except through collect phone calls to my mother, who would pass on messages, albeit reluctantly. She, at this point, was every bit as disgusted with us as everyone else in the straight world was- and NOBODY held any hope for Tony and I to stay together. After all, we were both facing long prison sentences, had basically lost everything (I had put everything in storage after the house was foreclosed on, but after being incarcerated myself, there was no one to make the payments), and it was common knowledge that toward the end we fought like banshees almost daily... so what future could a relationship possibly hold between two such idiots?

I'm sure the girls had picked up on much of this- after all, they're neither blind nor stupid; they knew Dad had been arrested for drug dealing and that Mom blamed his demise on Dad's trashy new girlfriend. And in their family, at that point, it was most certainly NOT fashionable to stick up for me, regardless of what buddies the girls and I had been before. As S.E. Hinton titled her book, That was Then, This is Now.

So for the next year or so, things were in limbo as Tony and I reaped the rewards of our short-lived drug-dealing career. What a career, really- sure, the short-term benefit package was alright; but the retirement package truly sucked. Somehow, we got through it and made a fresh start from scratch upon release. Not much of one, though- Tony was living at a halfway house, I in my mother's attic. Both of us were under the strictest supervision, something which Tony handled well but I chafed at, eventually exploding under the pressure and violating probation. I had managed to get a little apartment and a decent job, both of which I lost as I was sentenced to my full time in prison- four solid years before eligible for parole, a potential of fourteen total (in the lingo: four fixed, ten indeterminate). I was devastated, to say the least, but I also knew this was all of my own doing, and I think at that point the inner change began to take place... actually, I'm sure it did: I've been clean ever since.

Of course, I didn't bother telling anybody else this- why would they believe me? I'd just let a whole lot of people down with my relapse and recidivism- no one was gonna believe I had all of a sudden finally decided to take my recovery seriously! The exception to this was Tony. Amazingly enough, he believed me- he believed in me, too. And he stood by me. He visited. He wrote almost daily. He stayed faithful and kept me convinced I was worth staying faithful to. It was remarkable, how solid this guy was. And while the months dragged by for me, Tony meanwhile was reestablishing a relationship with his daughters, trying to salvage the wreck it had become. He was still living at the halfway house while saving up money, so the girls couldn't stay overnight or anything, but they did start spending a lot more time together. And at this point, neither one of them could understand why their dad was wasting his time and money on a loser jailbird like me who obviously couldn't stay off the dope. Whatever friendship they and I had once had was totally kaput, try as Tony may to play peacemaker.

A miracle occurred: Judge Mitchell signed off on a "Rule 35", a loophole granting me alternative sentencing. Instead of rotting away in a state hold, I was given another chance at the Idaho Retained Jurisdiction program: 120 days in a minimum security prison which was heavy on the treatment programs and transitioning for release. I aced the program, something fairly rare. People were starting to wonder if I maybe was serious. I no longer had to wonder about how successful I'd be upon release: I knew. Something had shifted inside of me, and from that point on I was determined to do whatever it took to stay clean and out of jail.

. . . . . . . .

Fast-forward a few years. After a huge scare from the Idaho Court of Appeals- no fault of mine, it was due to the Judge's procedural error- and a brief period of newsworthiness, I escaped fairly unscathed: a scant month of incarceration, this time fully supported by friends, family and the community at large; a happy ending and reunion with my now-husband and newborn son. Heady stuff, to be sure. The silver lining to the cloud?
1) A great job- Daphne Taylor, owner of Namaste Foods, hired me on salary to work from home doing promotional mailings and some light online duties for her company. I've since been promoted, gotten the hang of things in the allergen-free market, and adore being able to work from home while raising my son.
2) A great church- His Place, where Tony and I have grown closer by including God in our marriage and every other part of our lives.
3) This blog- as well as HBO, some online buddies and real-world relationships which all came about as a result of my notoriety.

So, all this and more has transpired over the last I don't know how long, but to travel back to the issue which inspired this post: J and B are now both somewhat troubled girls, J in particular, and their relationship with their mom is strained to the point where B is living in the Seattle area with a friend of the family (at 18 years of age, something she is entitled to do) and J, while still technically residing with her mom, is rebelling so viciously that if something isn't done, their relationship may be damaged to the point where the law is forced to step in. Yeah, it's that bad.

B lived with us for a short time last year, attending school in this district for maybe a semester, before deciding her uncle's house was much more fun- after all, we were out in the middle of nowhere, led staid, boring lives, and a kid brother wasn't as fun to live with as he was to visit. And heaven forbid she would be asked to do some chores around the house, maybe wash a dish or clean her room from time to time!
Bottom line was, it didn't work. There was a mild clash of personalities, and although there are no hard feelings now, I doubt she'll ask to stay here again.

J, on the other hand, has only had the joys of staying with Daddy and family over the weekends in the last couple years since we've lived here- which entails pizza, staying up all night on MySpace, movies, her friends staying over with her to keep her company, all that jazz. No reality check whatsoever. So of course, to her this seems like paradise compared with her mean old mom. Especially due to the fact that Tony is by no means a disciplinarian in any way, shape or form, and in pretty much everyone's opinion who knows her, J is in sore need of some discipline right now. And I concur, having been a 14 year old girl myself at one point- one very similar to J, as a matter of fact. I too was smoking pot and drinking at parties, cussing like a truck driver, and enamored of guys in leather jackets way too old for me. I can also relate to hating my mom at that stage in life, and sympathize with J's desire to escape her.

This is where the quandary comes in- on one hand, I want to help this child. She really is a sweet girl, despite the tough front and potty mouth. Her dad adores the ground she walks on, and is able to laugh off the school suspensions, drug use, and fighting. She shows a tender side to her little brother, and when asked to do the dishes or whatnot, only drags her feet I think for show. And again, the situation with her mom has just about reached the boiling point. I will feel extremely guilty if J ends up in juvie because I forbade her to move in with us.

Hell, I feel guilty already. Guilty for not just welcoming her with wide open arms, guilty for trying to talk this through with Tony, guilty for bringing up questions like: where is she going to sleep and keep all her stuff? we don't have a spare room. What if we go through all the trouble to get her in school and get her moved in, only to have her do what her sister did, change her mind a couple months down the road? Or worse, what if the problems escalate and next thing you know, we have the law knocking on our doors again? Are we really doing her any favors by bringing her into our home, when we both know full well Tony's not cut out to be a hard-ass? And don't even try to make me assume that role, that wouldn't even be fair.

But right now, J is staying with us. Sort of. I guess she's been dividing her time between here and her aunt's house- her and her cousin are really close: same age, same problems, etc., and of course it's much funner for her to be in town rather than out in the boonies where we live.
But things are still very much in limbo. Nothing has been promised, nothing has been laid out in the way of plans or rules or anything, and I think both her and Tony are halfway hoping things will just sort of fall into place without any big "talk" or any of that uncomfortable nonsense. And maybe they will, I don't know. Maybe the longer J sticks around, the more I'll warm to the idea of her living here with us. Maybe I'm just being unreasonable and cynical. Perhaps I should give her a chance, the way so many others have given me chances throughout the years. And even though at her age I personally was just getting started in my career of disappointing and breaking the hearts of those who cared for me, it could be that she is just going through a brief phase of it, one that could be cured if her and her dad would just give her a fresh start here at our house.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to give her this chance, but I'm not nearly as sure that all will work out for the best. And there lies the rub.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

O Happy Day!

Well, it's been a long, rocky road, but I've gotten word that all my hard work has finally paid off. What am I referring to, might you ask? PROBATION!!!

I just got off the phone with my probation officer. She had submitted a request to my judge (The Honorable John T. Mitchell, for those who are interested) to waive my community service, and I've been waiting- with bated breath, to be sure- to hear back. See, the community service office had lost my records (see previous rant, I mean post), including the verification of 100 HOURS I had completed, and I was getting to the point where I was willing to do the entire damn thing over again to have it off my chest. I mean, I did all that months ago, slaving away for free at thrift stores and the Humane Society; nowadays, I don't keep track of my volunteering, but I would sure start if required.

I'm not even sure what happened- I remember turning in my card to the office at the courthouse and getting the little paper saying I was all done, turning it in to my P.O., and generally being relieved to have leaped another hurdle on the track of supervised probation. Then the whole mess with the Supreme Court overturning my judge's ruling came up, and I had much weightier matters on my mind.

When that was all cleared up, lo and behold, I was on probation again, and my new supervising officer was confused: why was there a record of my completing it in her files, but not in the courts'?

At her suggestion, I went down there, self-righteous and indignant, only to find that there were all new people at the courthouse- no one remembered me, and of course "computers never lie". Ha. Ever heard of operator error?

So then I was on a mission. It had been 18 months or so since I'd worked at the various places, but I made the rounds, asking the ladies who had signed my card back then to sign a paper saying they remembered me, or perhaps they still had records verifying my hours?

Struck out almost everywhere, but thank heavens for the Humane Society. They keep their records for four years, apparently to come to the rescue- not just to the poor kitties and puppies- but to reformed criminals such as myself! So I was able to Xerox verification of 36 of the lost 100 hours, which apparently was enough to convince my P.O. I wasn't full of B.S. (which, BTW, I wanted to do ASAP). And really, other than that, I didn't have a single blemish on my record anyhow, so she forwarded a request to the judge to waive the requirement, submitting the evidence- such as it was- that I had completed it and shouldn't be penalized for the community service office's error.

The great news, however, was that Judge Mitchell went even further- he recommended me for early discharge from probation. All I have to do is complete this year under supervision, which will be up in August. Then, apparently, he intends to sign off on my case completely. According to my probation officer, he thinks it's a waste of the taxpayers' money to continue to have me on their caseload. My sentiments exactly!

So... a scant two months under the thumb of the Man to go. The funny thing is, as I told my soon to be former P.O., it's almost anticlimactic at this point. I'm not rearing and chomping at the bit to be set free anymore- I don't do anything I'm trying to hide, you know? So really, it'll just be a relief to not have to shell out the fifty bucks a month they charge to "supervise" me (a process which entails my checking in every other month or so).

But, I suppose this is another milestone I was bound to hit, being on the path of the straight and narrow. I do find a sort of self-satisfied "weight off my shoulders" feeling, if I'm to be completely honest. And really, it's about damn time!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Coincidence? I Think Not...

I've been a pretty erratic poster as of late, mainly because of the small, sticky tornado named Jameson- of whom being the mother of is an extremely demanding and exhausting, albeit exhilarating, full-time job in itself. I still have the responsibilities that my actual paying job entails, too- and let me tell you, just because I work from home does not mean there's any less to do! Between trying to print out FedEx labels, pack up boxes for events I've coordinated in far-off places and get them mailed in time- and feed, clothe, entertain, rescue, soothe, holler at, clean, chase, change, and finally! put to bed a one-year-old... it's a wonder I get anything else done.

There's been a few things I've been itching to blog about- like our Memorial Day trip to Atlanta, ID (yes, there's an Atlanta in Idaho- it's a tiny little rundown mining town tucked away in the mountains north of Boise) and maybe I'll eventually get around to doing that; after all, I took almost 400 pictures and laughed my butt off all four days, so there ought to be a decent story there. But of course on the rare occasion I have more than five minutes to myself, the only leisure activity I have any desire to pursue involves closing ones eyes to snatch a blessed bit of sleep.

But this little story I'm about to impart is good enough for me to make time to type it out, and is the kind of thing I'm sure will be passed around our family for years. It's also the sort of thing that makes me cherish my faith, a faith that in part because of events such as this, is growing stronger and more secure.

Yesterday morning, I got a frantic call from my aunt- her son and his wife have a small child, a girl who is about five months younger than my son. We look forward to the cousins playing with one another just as my cousin and I used to, and since my little one is hitting the milestones first, they frequently call and ask for advice.
Anyway, my aunt asked me to come over with some baby Tylenol and give my opinion on what could be wrong with little Zoe. My cousin was at work, and his wife (who is very young and inexperienced) was home alone with the baby. She was pretty panicky, saying Zoe had choked on something early that morning, and although not in respiratory distress, she still seemed not quite herself.

We all examined the baby, and I honestly didn't really think anything was all that wrong- sure, she was crying and sounded a little raspy, but that could've been nothing. And yes, the baby didn't want to eat, but that could've been because she just wasn't feeling good. So I tried to reassure Trisha, the young mom, that the best thing to do would be just wait it out and call the pediatrician if things got worse. I told her that I could certainly relate with feeling helpless about a sick baby, but since her symptoms weren't drastically bad, Trish should just try to stay calm and give Zoe lots of love.

Well, several hours later, Zoe started bleeding from the mouth and nose. Trisha raced down to the emergency room, and the hospital couldn't find anything wrong- they x-rayed her stomach and lungs, did an exam, and told the frantic parents that Zoe probably just gave herself a nosebleed from crying too hard.

I should say that at this point, the whole family- including myself- thought Trisha was blowing things out of proportion, and that maybe the child just had a really sore throat or was coming down with something. But still, at my Bible study that afternoon, I brought it up to the other ladies and we joined in a spur of the moment prayer for little Zoe. This was at 4:15 in the afternoon.

On the other side of town, Trisha and my cousin- Brad- had taken Zoe to their pediatrician, where she was given yet another x-ray and exam. They were being shown the door at 4:00, the doctor saying, "Sorry folks, but we just can't find anything wrong with your baby." At this point Trisha broke down into tears, begging the doctor to just please, please look again- there HAS to be something, she choked on something and hasn't been the same since! Reluctantly, the doctor agreed- probably to just make them happy.

So at a bit after four o'clock, Zoe was again strapped to the x-ray table, and this time the technician took films of her mouth and throat as well.
At 4:15, the doctor again met with the little family, and his demeanor was completely different. Because the latest set of x-rays showed evidence of a sharp metal object lodged in Zoe's throat, where it was partially obstructing her airway and probably causing the poor little girl a lot of pain. Zoe was immediately taken to KMC, where surgeons ended up removing a small piece of aluminum foil with a thin wire attached to it that had pierced her esophagus.

I visited them there in the hospital last night, and after apologizing for not taking them seriously enough earlier, told them I had joined in an impromptu prayer for Zoe with around a dozen other women at our church- at 4:15 pm. Stunned, Brad and Trisha stared at each other for a moment, then revealed that that was the exact time the doctor had found the metal piece... finally. We all broke down and cried, and although Brad and Trish are professed agnostics, this moved them to the point where I got a call from my cousin this morning- sharing the good news that Zoe had been discharged, along with a HUGE apology from the E.R.- and he asked me, a little hesitantly, if he and Trisha could join us this Sunday for church.

They could've just passed off the time thing as coincidence, or said something like, "Thanks for praying, it's great to have a Christian in the family," but instead, it seems like it was a catalyst in their becoming willing to investigate this faith thing a little closer. Brad said that he in particular had been quietly watching my own transformation over the last few years, privately envious of how happy I seemed these days, and that, along with the small miracle of yesterday afternoon, had made him call with the request to come to His Place with Tony and I. And Trisha had apparently done some "bargaining" with God during the crisis, and since in her eyes God certainly came through, she's determined to hold up her end of the deal.

All in all, I think the whole thing turned out wonderfully- and if my cousin and his wife end up believers because of it, that'll be the best part of all.