JOURNAL NO. 43
1989 - September 1990
Age 31 & 32
"... I'm going to have to resign myself
to the fact that from now I'm the spectator in life,
October 18, 1989
new Journal ...
"Moving Dream" came back
last night, for the first time since we've been here in the new house.
All of the usual elements were there. Ray and the kids and I had moved
out of Shannon South and into a beautiful new apartment. The new place
had a huge brick fireplace, vaulted ceilings and a penthouse view of
the city below: I was beside myself with joy. Then, without warning,
Ray announced that we could no longer "afford" the fancy new apartment,
and that we had to move again. Suddenly I found myself standing in
front of the old apartment I shared with Terry Hunt, back in the summer of
1980 ... the Glendale Apartments in Bellevue ... a tacky, seedy, moldy
hellhole if there ever was one! Peering through the open door, I could
see that our furniture and belongings had already been moved inside.
Ray and the kids were waiting for me to come inside and join them, but
I flung myself on the ground and screamed "NOOOOO! I DON'T WANT
TO LIVE HERE!!" Unseen arms tried to pry me loose and carry
me inside, but I clung to the ground, kicking and screaming ...
Am I really so insecure? I
guess so. I remember having this identical dream shortly after moving
into Shannon South, and of course many times before and since. Some
elements differ from dream to dream, but the theme remains unchanged: I
am being forced out of my home. It's all about the impermanence of
"home," and the insecure child in me who is terrified she'll have the
rug pulled out from under her again.
been here in the new house for almost three weeks now. Does it feel
like "home" to me yet? I don't know.
crazy about the place. I
love the space, the light, the layout ... I love how clean and new
everything feels ... I like to just walk around and admire everything,
from every possible angle. It fits our needs so perfectly. I could
imagine us living here for years, and I know that in time it could
become as dear to me as any place I've lived in my life. But it doesn't
feel that way to me yet. There is something holding me back from
completely falling in love with the place. It isn't simply because we
haven't been here long enough ... it's more like a fear of giving my
heart to something that isn't completely mine to love. A sad fact of
life has finally (if you'll pardon the pun) "hit home" with me: we are renters,
not owners. We will always be renters ... always
living in someone else's
house. When I was younger and more naive I believed that it didn't
matter ... that simply living somewhere automatically made it "mine"
forever ... but years of packing up and moving from one temporary
rented home to another have eroded my naivete. Now I know that simply
hanging up the Home Sweet Home sampler doesn't make borrowed space any
more "mine" than the air that we breathe.
October 20, 1989
suitcases for Kyle and
the girls. Tomorrow afternoon Peg & Don Sr. are driving down
Bellevue and taking the kids for the whole weekend. Jamie and Kacie are
"old pros" at this, of course, but this will be Kyle's very first time
away from home. How will he handle it? How will Ray and I handle it??
October 21, 1989
kids just left. Ray ended up
driving them out to his parents' house: I just watched them pull away.
Kyle looked so grown-up and sure of himself as he strode out of the
house, his blue suitcase slung over his shoulder ... I had a lump in my
throat the size of a small meatloaf. Here comes another test of
Mommyhood, I suppose: the first night Kyle and I have EVER spent apart.
totally at a loss without my baby here tonight.
on your mind besides your hat?" ~ Daffy Duck
So QUIET when we got up this morning -- no kids
around!!! Rainy day. On a whim Ray and I jumped
into the car and went shopping in Burien. Went to Value
Village, picked up a few little odds and ends; grocery-shopped at Fred
Meyer. Stopped and picked up lunch at Jack in the Box, came home to eat
and read the Sunday paper.
Peg and Barbara brought the kids home later in the
afternoon. Kyle apparently was a very good boy at his
grandparents' -- no problems at all!
-- they'll invite him again without
hesitation! Peg really likes the house
-- we showed her all around the place.
Ray barbecued a roast on the Webber.
My lethargy mysteriously continues. Dark, cold, rainy day,
and I literally spent the entire day in bed, either reading magazines
or napping. I simply COULD NOT get myself to do
anything. What is going on with me, anyway?
Headaches, no energy, sleepless nights ... I feel
like I'm falling apart physically. Maybe I need to get back
on iron supplements and try to get out of the house a little
Had to force myself to get up when the kids got home from school (Emily
again today). Nice surprise -- they got
their school pictures back! They turned out great, much
better than last year. We had Kyle's taken too, so we have a
complete set now -- all three munchkins.
Ray was home at the regular time. Jamie went home with Emily
and had dinner at the Johnson's, then went to Brownies with
them. Bought her Brownie handbook, $4.85.
Hot roast beef sandwiches and boiled new potatoes for supper.
Jamie (age 7, second grade), Kacie (age 6, first grade) and Kyle (age
4, not in school yet)
Sunny but wickedly COLD! Jackets and hats are now mandatory
apparel for the kids ...
Felt much better today. Had enough energy to get my work
done, anyway, plus I baked a few dozen chocolate chip cookies in the
October 31, 1989
morning ... ten days
since my last entry. The kids survived their trip to Peg and Don's.
More importantly, *I* surived our separation!! It was the usual case of
me making a big deal out of nothing. Gotta learn to let GO, Terri ...
"What do you fink of our new house, André?"
Kacie and Jerome just
left for school, dressed in their Hallowe'en costumes (Jamie is Super
Girl, Kacie is Cherry Merry Muffin, Jerome is Spiderman) and carrying
armloads of apples, books, pumpkins, lunchboxes. The little
I stood at the window and watched them go. "When the kids get home this
afternoon," I told Kyle and André, "it will be time to get
for trick-or-treat." This is not precisely the truth, but it helped
cheer them up: they didn't want the big kids to leave this morning.
There has been a sort of "carnival atmosphere" around here all morning.
I got up early, as soon as Ray left for work at 6:30, built a fire in
the woodstove, put a spooky Hallowe'en tape on the stereo, made a big
breakfast for everybody (scrambled egg & ham muffins, grape
The kids were just WILD. Everyone was running around the living room,
batting balloons around in the air and shrieking ... no wonder Kyle and
André were sorry to see the party end. I'm trying to settle
down now with Sesame Street and more juice, but they are still wound
up. This is a big day for them!
Jamie and Kyle (above)
Kacie with Tracy Pinkney (below)
is supposed to come over
this afternoon. We plan to take the kids trick-or-treating around
the new neighborhood, then over to the school for big Hallowe'en
party. (Kyle has a Bullwinkle costume that's too cute for words.)
Secretly, I'm hoping to have a few hours to myself this morning before
Lori shows up. She came over unexpectedly yesterday morning and stayed
for practically the entire day. Although I enjoyed her company, it's
hard to get much done when she's here. With luck it will be afternoon
before she pops in today.
I am really beginning to like the sense of
isolation and quiet I feel here in the house. My "homesickness" for the
apartments has faded. Lori is still my best friend -- the only really
close female friend I have -- but I must admit that it's something of a
relief, having a little distance between us now. I need my privacy -- my
"alone times" -- and being here in the house affords me this, in a way
that living in the apartment never could. Living at Shannon South was a
little bit like living in a college dormitory ... everybody knew what
everybody else was doing. No secrets. No privacy. Lori spent more of
her time in MY apartment than in her own. Now, however, our time
together requires more thought, more planning, more WORK ... and the
result, for me at least, is that I value our time together much more
than I did before. Lori may not feel the same way. I know she misses
having me right next door. But then I'm much more of a loner at heart,
and I need the alone-times more than she does ...
"Lori is still my best friend ..."
referring to being
"alone," as though I spent my days in complete solitude, when of course
I DO have Kyle and André here. My little companions. Now
Kacie and Jerome are in first grade and in school for the whole day
-- plus now that Kyle no longer has his choice of
playground buddies, the
way he did at the apartment -- he and André have
together much more than ever before. I've been babysitting
for over two years, of course, and he and Kyle have always more or less
gotten along, but it's pretty much been one of those omnipresent,
taking-each-other-for-granted relationships, like siblings. Kyle never
really actively sought André out to play with. A lot of the
at the apartments he flat out ignored him, preferring to play with
other, livelier children on the playground. Things are different now,
André has become Kyle's buddy: they are rarely apart.
they're climbing on the swingset in the backyard, or playing "cars" in
Kyle's bedroom, or sitting in front of the TV watching cartoons, they
are side by side, jabbering, giggling, arguing ... best buddies.
just asked me if I put the juice in his apple.)
he said "The STORE makes apples, huh?")
November 6, 1989
a week later -- a cold,
windy Monday morning in early November, coming off one of the lousiest
weekends I've had in a long time ...
Torg passed away this
weekend at University Hospital in Seattle, of coronary failure. He was
admitted to the hospital late Thursday night after suffering a major
heart attack, and he died 48 hours later. My sister called me at 2 a.m.
Saturday night/Sunday morning to say we'd lost him. Mom is obviously
very upset. She called me yesterday morning and I could hear it in her
voice. What else is there to say ... ?
thinking about the last
time we saw him, just a few weeks ago at Aunt Carol's house. That was
when he gave us the $400 for the house. He watched the football game on
TV with Ray and with Carol's husband; I sat right next to him on the
sofa. He seemed so old and thin, but he was funny and full of life. He
wanted to know all about the house we were moving into, and when he
gave me the check I hugged his arm a little and told him how much we
appreciated his help. We had the kids with us, but he couldn't remember
all of their names so I introduced them to him, one by one. He said
they were "beautiful children." He was especially taken with Kyle, I
think. Kyle was scared of Carol's big dog, so he stayed on my lap
during most of the visit, right next to Grandpa, and they kept looking
at each other and smiling. When it was time to go, I hugged him and
told him we'd see him the next time he was in town. And then we left.
to be honest with you: I
never knew this grandfather very well, and my sadness this morning is
mostly for my mother, and for the idea of her losing her father. But I
do keep returning to the last time I saw him ... the last act of
kindness he bestowed on Ray and I ... and I feel sorrow that this nice
man is gone. I only wish I'd gotten to know him better.
Grandpa Ronald Togrimson (with my mother)
Wenatchee, WA circa 1960
Grandpa Torg's death,
naturally, cast a long shadow over my family this weekend. I reacted by
retreating into a moody depression (which lingers today). I slept too
much, ate too much, and withdrew from everyone. Ray drank too much and
was horrible to the kids and I, especially on Saturday night. The girls
managed to "escape" for a couple of hours Sunday morning by going to
church, but the rest of the weekend for them was a nightmare of tension
and unpleasantness, I'm afraid. Only Kyle seems to have come through
the weekend unscathed, blessed by his innocence. The house fell
apart through inattention, and this morning it is a disheartening mess.
Ray hasn't bothered to pay any of the bills yet, including the rent, so
I am walking around in a black fog of worry today ... the phone
unplugged, the curtains drawn. Ourside, the bleak November rain beats
against the window; on the front porch, four sagging jack-o-lanterns
sit forlornly, rotted faces turned toward the sky ...
little better. Not a lot, but
a little. I've managed to restore some order around here, which always
helps. A pot of bean soup on the stove, a fire in the woodstove, Simon
& Garfunkle "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" on the stereo. This
the calm I ached for all weekend.
I continue to believe in
the "quick fix," anyway? Did I really think tht once we got out of the
apartment and into a house, BOOM, all my troubles would be over, and
everything about my life would be perfect? I always want to believe
that external changes will magically mend what is fundamentally wrong
with my life, and I'm continually disappointed when they don't.
Different house, different friends, different clothes, twenty pounds
lost, a new baby, a new car: none of it ever really fixes things. In
the end, I look in the mirror and it's still me looking
November 7, 1989
still. The storm has
lifted, internally and externally. The sun was shining when I got out
of bed this morning, and for the first time in days I actually feel
some bounce. Last night had a lot to do with it. Ray was wonderful. He
came home in an attentive, let's-get-busy mood - he paid the rent, took
Jamie to her Brownie meeting (and uncomplainingly wrote a $12 check for
her yearly dues), bought the rest of the groceries we needed, raved
about my bean soup, kept a terrific fire going in the woodstove all
evening, made his own lunch for work, and willingly watched Monday
Night Football in the kitchen, leaving me free to read my book ("The
Talisman") in peace and quiet in the living room. There were no
arguments, no unpleasant battles with the kids. Bliss. Why can't it
always be like this?? (Why can't RAY always be like this .. ??)
November 11, 1989
just left to go do some
yardwork at Grandma's. I've been up for a couple of hours but I'm
finding it difficult to get moving this morning.
accepted an invitation to
have Thanksgiving dinner at Uncle Jerry & Aunt Jody's farm this
year. Secretly, I had begun to toy with the idea of staying home for
Thanksgiving this year -- have Ray do his famous barbecued turkey, maybe
invite one or two people over to join us -- Thanksgiving dinner in our
new home. But with Grandpa's unexpected death, I feel that our place is
with Mom this year.
November 14, 1989
kids are home from school
early every day this week, due to Parent/Teacher Conferences. At least
the weather has been decent -- very sunny and cold, very
"autumn-like" -- so they can spend all their after-school
time tearing up the backyard.
Kacie and Jerome have pushed the two picnic tables together and made
themselves a "house"; I can hear a very heated argument going on over
who gets to "sleep" in the wagon they've positioned beneath one table.
Kyle, of course, is in the thick of it all. Every few minutes I hear
one of the older kids wail in exasperation over something he's done.
Currently he's lugging around a piece of firewood, brandishing it like
a sword: Jerome is threatening him with serious bodily harm if he comes
"one step closer" ...
is the only one who prefers to spend her time indoors. At the moment
she's sequestered herself at my big desk in the laundry room,
surrounded by books and papers, scribbling furiously at something. Just
like her mom.
an interesting new song on KUBE this afternoon ... a medley of old rock
& roll classics ("In The Mood," "Rock Around The Clock," etc.)
I don't know why but it really lifted my spirits.
took a picture of Kyle wearing Ray's boots.
the house in his dad's boots
November 15, 1989
next morning. Same old routine -- got the big kids off to
Kyle & André are watching Sesame Street, I'm
drinking coffee in an effort to wake up. So many things can change
within the basic structure of Terri Polen's life, and yet the morning
ritual of kids and coffee endureth forever ...
day ahead of me. I'm scheduled to meet with Jamie & Kacie's
teachers this afternoon for the yearly Parent/Teacher Conference.
Conferences went well. Both Jamie and Kacie have excellent teachers who
seem to really care about them this year. The reports I got were, for
the most part, extremely favorable:
positive attitude and interest in learning are great strengths. I feel
Jamie has potential to be quite a leader, but this has not flowered
yet. Understanding directions still a problem."
is attentive and sensitive. She's eager to do well and is easily
saddened when things don't go right for her. She has many reversals -
n, d, G, j, h, z, 3, 5, 9. Kacie knows the letter sounds but needs to
work toward faster recall. She knows most of the color words, but needs
to learn how to read the number words." Mrs.
Jamie isn't nearly as assertive at school as she's always been at home!
She'll volunteer, Ms. Weeks says, but she won't be the FIRST to
volunteer. A lot of the time she won't even be the second or third. Her
schoolwork is excellent, particularly math, writing and social studies,
she has a wonderfully creative mind, and she works independently. But
she doesn't take charge of a situation the way Ms. Weeks believes she
can. I was surprised to hear this, I must admit, but I guess that I've
always seen in Jamie what I wanted to see, and not necessarily what's
it's hard to be a good parent.
Kacie, Ms. McCall says that she needs to learn that "the world won't
come to an end if she makes a mistake or two." Kacie apparently is one
of her teacher's favorites: Ms. McCall spoke of her with tender
affection and concern for Kacie's fragile feelings and eagerness to
of the girls need more of my time and attention, I think, and I need to
WORK HARDER with them -- not only helping them with reading, but also
helping them build up their self-esteem. I take it for granted that
they know I love them; I take it for granted that they know they are
terrific kids and that I'm proud of them. Maybe this has been a
mistake. Maybe I should be reminding them of these things more often,
instead of assuming that they already know ...
of this is coming out exactly the way I want it to. My feelings for
Jamie and Kacie are so big, so intense, so deep ... whenever I try to
write something concrete about my feelings, it seems to dissolve into
mush. But I'll keep struggling through this and see if I can get
something onto paper that makes sense.
thing I'm beginning to realize about Jamie and Kacie is how different
they are ... how unique and individual. For so many years they've been
"The Girls" ... a package deal ... bookends ... almost twin-like. Gotta buy
two of everything, one for Jamie, one for Kacie. If Jamie's invited
somewhere, let's make sure Kacie can come along. Sure, we can put
both of The Girls in one bedroom: they'll enjoy being
works for one girl will work for the other. Matching bathrobes,
matching bedspreads ... matching parenting from me! Well ... now I'm
seeing that nothing could be further from the truth, and I'm in a total
muddle, wondering how to change the situation. How do I adequately
acknowledge their completely diverse personalities, abilities, desires,
needs, strengths, weaknesses? How do I help each daughter flower in her
own right, out of the shadow of the other? And what about all the
'problem areas' ... how do I deal with them? It's like walking on
eggshells. I'm going to be shifting gears all the time. How can I
filled with resolve and zeal today, but what about the days to come
when I'm tired or sick or cranky, and I just don't FEEL like Supermom
November 20, 1989
today, for instance ...?)
case of the Monday blahs. Had another rotten weekend, I'm afraid, and
rather than feeling rested and refreshed today, I feel exhausted and
headachey and my eyes are swollen from last night's tears ...
put on another of his magnificent Sunday night "performances" last
night. He opened his first beer at 9 a.m. and continued to drink
steadily throughout the day. By dinnertime he was thoroughly ripped,
feeling monumentally sorry for himself ("Nobody LOVES me")
on everyone. It was a relief when he finally went to bed and passed
out. I am beginning to dread Sunday nights. This is becoming an all-too
familiar routine. He drinks all day and makes a total horse's ass of
himself by evening.
else? Oh yes, the State of Washington has chosen this inopportune
moment to "review" Ray's garnishment schedule with the Office of
Support Enforcement -- the arrangement (in other words) to pay back my
welfare. Last week, without notifying us, they simply stepped in and
garnished 25% of Ray's paycheck, just like that, instead of the $12.50
they usually take out. Ray was livid, and I was terrified. He was able
to get a draw on his next paycheck, just enough to
cover the checks we'd already written (rent, power bill, phone bill),
but of course that means we'll be left with less in December, of all
months. (Christmas. Jamie's birthday. SHIT. This is going to be the
leanest holiday season we've ever faced.) In the meantime, though,
we've submitted an updated review of financial resources to the OSE:
Ray mailed it last night. He is making slightly more now than he was a
year ago, but on the other hand our rent has skyrocketed. So it should
come out even. I'm just praying that the paperwork goes through and a
new arrangement is reached before his next paycheck. If they garnish a
quarter of his next paycheck, we are sunk ...
would like our first Christmas in the new house to be a happy one, and
I guess it's mostly up to me to make sure that it is. We may not have
much money, but with a little resourcefulness and creativity, I think
it'll be OK. More on this later.
Thanksgiving: our plans have changed, and now we're going to Ray's
parents' house for dinner, instead of to Jerry & Jody's farm.
I'm not exactly thrilled about this, and the kids are disappointed, but
I'm not going to make a big deal out of it. I talked to Mom on Saturday
and told her that I was sorry we wouldn't be able to be with her on
Thanksgiving, that I'm under a LOT of pressure to go to Bellevue this
year instead, and she was very understanding. In
other words: my mother-in-law had ten kinds of fart attack when she
heard that we were planning to go elsewhere on Thanksgiving.
anyway ... now it's Monday morning, and I'm just sitting here trying to
make sense of the muddled mess that is my life and find something to be
thankful for, this Thanksgiving week. What am I
thankful for? My children, first and foremost. I'm thankful for the
independent daughters who got up this morning and made their own
breakfast and got themselves off to school while their weary Mom
enjoyed an extra 40 minutes of sleep. I'm thankful for my funny little
son, stomping around the backyard this morning in the new boots his
Daddy bought him. I'm thankful that Ray is going back on swingshift
next weekend: our weekends will be peaceful again. And I'm thankful,
thankful, THANKFUL for the new house.
November 21, 1989
is the last "leisurely morning" I'm likely to have for several days.
Tomorrow I'm supposed to go to the Food Bank with John & Lori
... Thursday is Thanksgiving ... then the kids
will be home Friday, Saturday
and Sunday. I'd better make good use of this brief moment of peace and
had an exciting experience last night: she lost her very first tooth!
One of the little bottom ones, right in the front. She and Jerome and
Kyle were outside playing in the garage when I suddenly heard a
terrible commotion. I thought, "Oh Lord, someone's gotten hurt." But
then the kids all came running in the back door, and Jerome shouted
"Kacie's tooth fell out!" Kacie had the tooth in her hand, and she had
blood all over her mouth and chin, but she was too ecstatic to care.
She's been waiting for so long to lose that tooth!! Tracy and Jerome
have already lost two or three apiece, and Kacie was beginning to feel
left out. I helped her clean off the blood and we put the tooth in an
old film cannister, and for the rest of the evening she walked around
clutching the container in one hand, shaking it every few minutes to
make sure the tooth was still in there. We had an unfortunate
experience last summer when Jamie accidentally dropped one of her teeth
down the bathroom drain, so we've learned to take special precautions!
Anyway, Kacie went to bed last night with the film cannister on the
floor next to the bed, and when she got up this morning she discovered
that The Tooth Fairy had rewarded her with two dollars -- the going rate
for first teeth around here. She was beside herself! Now she feels more
like one of the big kids, I think ... she has joined their ranks. Bless
her funny little heart. I love her so.
was more nearly human again last night. He apologized for being such a
boob on Sunday night. "We need to get out and DO things on Sundays," he
said ... as opposed, I guess, to sitting around the house watching him
all day. Of course I agree. There's got to be stuff we can do as a
family that doesn't cost a lot of money. Even taking the kids to a park
and letting them run around for a couple of hours. Anything would be
better than the way our Sundays have gone lately.
I guess I'd better get busy and get some stuff done around the place.
I've got to figure out what to fix for dinner (little pigs in a
blanket? bean soup?), get the bedrooms picked up and mop the floors.
an inexplicable wave of tiredness a little while ago: I literally had
to go lay down in bed and rest for half an hour. The sun is shining and
the kids are fine and safe, playing in the backyard -- the girls and
Jerome came home at noon again today, the last day of Parent-Teacher Conferences -- so
I crawled into my bed and pulled the blankets up over my head and sunk
into a brief but intense sleep. I always feel guilty about taking a nap
when I'm babysitting, though, so now I'm up and drinking coffee again,
hoping it will help snap me out of this fog ...
really is a gorgeous day. The kids are huddled in the sandbox, filling
buckets with dirt and sand. Jamie is presiding over the entire
operation, of course: I can hear her all the way from across the
backyard, barking out orders to Kacie and Jerome. (This is the kid
whose leadership ability "has not flowered yet" ... ??)
November 22, 1989
I'm actually feeling something resembling a GOOD MOOD today ... how
and Lori showed up at 9 a.m. and took me to the Food Bank in Des
Moines. The people there were so nice. I got a turkey hindquarter that
doesn't look too great, but I stuck it in the freezer and I can use it
for soup or something later. I did get some good canned stuff, though,
and some baked goods -- cake doughnuts, raisin bread, English muffins
(Kyle's favorite!), onion rolls -- things that will help fill in the
gaps around here, grocery-wise.
just called me a while ago to talk about Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.
She sounded so happy that we're going to be there. It'll just be us,
Barbara and her boyfriend J.W., and Don Jr., without his boys. A much
smaller gathering than in previous years, but that will make it more
comfortable for me, I must confess. Now that Don
Jr. and Judy have split up, I'm the only daughter-in-law. I've decided
to put on a big happy face and try to enjoy myself tomorrow. I've been
part of this family for nine years now, and it's time to quit acting
like an awkward, uncomfortable outsider. If they haven't accepted me by
now, they never will. For the kids' sake, if for no other reason, I'm
determined to relax and be myself tomorrow, and to do my part to make
it a pleasant Thanksgiving for everyone.
November 23, 1989
woke everybody up early this morning -- around 6:30 a.m. -- to get up and
see the fire trucks and emergency medical cars parked up and down our
street. Apparently there was some sort of emergency, a few doors down.
I don't think the house was on fire because it looks OK now, and no was
was carried off in the ambulance that we could see. So I have no idea
what happened. The kids enjoyed the excitement while it lasted, though.
One fire truck, lights flashing like crazy, was parked directly in
front of our house; Kyle and the girls sat on the back of the sofa and
watched it from the living room window for almost an hour. "Somebody's
not having a very good Thanksgiving," Jamie noted solemnly. This
prompted a spontaneous game of "What Are You Thankful For?" As we sat
and watched the firefighters running up and down the street, we took
turns listing the things we're thankful for this Thanksgiving. Here are
some the things that were mentioned:
Our new new house
2. Our health
3. My family
4. Being able to go to McDonald's ... (giggle, giggle) ..."
Thank you for this happy day.
2. Thankful for the love we've got.
3. Thank you for the family we had."
2. This is the new house."
Our new home.
2. The freshly-polished new boots, sitting by the woodstove, and the
three children who will wear them today.
3. My seven and a half year old daughter, who makes a mean
cup of coffee!
... after Ray woke everybody up, he crawled back into bed and went back
to sleep! The rat. Oh well ... I wanted to be up early this morning
anyhow. The fire trucks all departed a while ago, and things have
quieted down outside. I gave the kids some of the Food Bank doughnuts
and now they're watching their beloved "Ghostbusters" cartoon on
Channel 11. (Oh, wait a minute - they've just discovered a Thanksgiving
Day parade on another channel.) I took my shower and washed my hair,
and now I'm drinking some of the good coffee Jamie made for me. It is
COLD this morning: a steady rain is falling. Happy Thanksgiving.
horoscope for today: You'll become keenly aware of spiritual
values. Wish is fulfilled in connection with family, security, love.
This will be one of your most gratifying Thanksgiving holidays.
November 24, 1989
... I don't know if I would go so far as to call it my "most gratifying
Thanksgiving holiday" ever. (Staying home and cooking our own turkey
would have made it so!) But it had its moments, I guess. We
house at 12:30 and got to his parents' house fifteen minutes before
dinner was to be served (at 2:00). Just as we were pulling into Peg
& Don's driveway, Kacie got carsick all over herself and her
doll and the back seat of the car. She was horribly embarrassed, but
luckily I'd had the presence of mind to pack a change of clothes for
her in anticipation of just such an emergency, and after I helped her
clean up and change her clothes, she was fine. Dinner was very good. My
mother-in-law makes the best turkey stuffing I've ever had, and she
does this great asparagus thing with cream sauce and peanuts ...
mmmmmm. We brought home a ton of leftovers, too. We all sat at the big
table together, even the kids, and I have to admit that it was a
friendly, relaxed get-together.
November 25, 1989
interrupted yesterday -- will try to continue now.
been having an OK weekend, but it's beginning to get on my nerves
having Ray around all the time. OK, let's put it this way: RAY is
getting on my nerves. He's been home for three days straight and we've
still got two more days to go, and my endurance is giving out ...
maybe it's just me. I've been standing in a hot stuffy kitchen for an
hour and a half, cooking dinner, and I feel sweaty and exhausted and
grouchy as a Mama Bear. Not only that, but I managed to slice my thumb
with the big knife while I was chopping up green peppers for the sloppy
joes, and it hurts like hell. As soon as dinner is cooked and the kids
are fed, I'm going to take my plate into the bedroom and eat and read
Christmas magazines and go to SLEEP. In that order.
November 26, 1989
it's a little better this morning. Kyle and I just walked Kacie to
Sunday School -- Jamie's got the flu, so she's sitting this
one out -- and it felt good to be out in the cold morning
air. Ray is still
sleeping off last night's half case of beer. I'm trying to cook
breakfast and clean up the kitchen a bit, but my hands are bandaged and
sore, and I'm clumsier than usual. I even had to wear rubber gloves to
wash my face and hair this morning, so the bandages don't get wet. Was
THAT an awful experience.
November 28, 1989
this is getting ridiculous: all I've done for the last couple of pages
is scribble complaints and inanities ... BORING complaints and
inanities, at that. Stop it, stop it, stop it.
just left for his
first day of swingshift, and the kids are due home from school in half
an hour: that gives me approximately thirty minutes of (relative)
breathing room. Brilliantly sunny but cold. I've been crazy-busy all
day long, tackling all sorts of housecleaning projects ... made a fancy
little coffeecake with the leftover cranberries, and now Kyle and
André are enjoying the first two pieces of it. I think that
Ray's return to swingshift is going to be just what our marriage needs
right now. There have been too many moments lately when I've felt like
I couldn't stand to be in the same room with him ... too many dumb
fights in front of the kids ... too many "Sunday nights," empty beer
cans, unresolved conflicts, mixed signals. A change in the routine
around here might be the solution. In the past we've managed just fine
with Ray working nights. It might be a little strange tonight, being
(the only adult) in this house tonight, but I think I can handle it. I
know how to light the woodstove, so we'll be warm enough; the kids and
I can watch the TV shows of our choice; we'll enjoy a peaceful, relaxed
evening together, just the kids and I. It'll be great. I don't mean to
imply that things are awful when Ray is around ... most of the time,
anyway. Most of the time things are just fine. In spite of all the
complaining I've done lately, I consider our marriage to be on firmer
ground right now than it's probably ever been. Dour
message written scribbled in the margin:
isn't saying much." When we moved into this house
ago, I made a new committment to Ray and to the kids, to make it all
work: the marriage, our family, the house, everything. And I am
determined to honor that committment. The problem areas in our lives
right now are just that - problem areas. Little
pieces of our lives that need work. The "big picture," on the other
hand, I am optimistic about. We just need to concentrate on the weak
November 29, 1989
kids got out of school early AGAIN today. Geez! They get more time off
than Johnny Carson. They even get two whole WEEKS of Christmas vacation
"I'm in dis photo alvin!"
to the Christmas tapes this afternoon ... feeling an early, intense
infusion of holiday spirit this year, the first time I've really felt
any "Christmas spirit" in ages, and here it isn't even December yet! It
must be the house. Something about being back in a house. The kids and
Ray feel it too. Ray went out last weekend and bought Christmas lights
for outside of the house -- something he's never done before. And the
girls are already frenziedly making paper decorations for the tree and
"(Are these) chicken nuggles?"
December 5, 1989
cold. André was sick all last week, coughing and sneezing
all over everybody, so I suppose it was inevitable I would get it too.
December 6, 1989
working on the cold, a few days later, but the worst is definitely
over. I have battled it with every over-the-counter concoction known to
man: Dimetapp, Benadryl, Vicks, Tylenol, Hall's lozenges, Corafinal.
Our kitchen counter looks like the Cold Remedy aisle at Pay &
about finished my Christmas cards this week. I'm sending out
about a third as many as I used to, a few years ago. The list has been
pared right down to the bone -- Ray's relatives in Tucson, two penpals
(Kathy Bergeron & Deanne Vasiles), a few friends scattered
across the country -- that's it.
December 9, 1989
December 14, 1989
up this morning with the familiar
tickle of worry in the pit of my stomach. Yes, I do
feel "Christmasey" -- this year I feel it strongly -- but I'm still
worried. Where will the money come from? When will I get the shopping
done? How can we afford to stay on top of the bills AND provide a
bountiful Christmas for Jamie, Kacie and Kyle?
That's the first time I've written the new year: 1990. The final decade
of the twentieth century! I can hardly believe that the Eighties are
over. Such an important decade in my life. I wonder what the Nineties
hold in store for us ... ?
1989 came and went in the blink of an eye. As always, my obsessive
worries about money and gifts proved a waste of time: everything came
together at the last minute and our Christmas was unexpectedly
bountiful, warm, and full of meaning. Deb & Greg deferred
payment of the last installment of our damage deposit and only asked
for the regular rent in December, which gave us a real break. I listed
the kids with the local Food Bank's gift fund, and they each received
some beautiful brand new clothes through that. And finally, our family
ended up on a local charity fund's gift list -- the girls' school
principal submitted our names, I think -- and we got over $200 worth of
gift certificates from Safeway and Toys R Us from that. Santa Claus
himself showed up at our house on December 21st (in an antique fire
engine!) to hand-deliver the gift certificates and some toys for the
kids. Talk about a wonderful surprise for Kyle and the girls!
Santa visits Polenville!
... through careful planning, hard work, and lots of corner-cutting
here and there, we managed to have a very merry Christmas after all,
with plenty of presents under the tree and three completely satisfied
children! All three still firmly believe in Santa (only a slight
momentary wavering on Jamie's part) so there were letters to be sent to
the North Pole and cookies to be left on the table on Christmas Eve ...
speaking of cookies, this is the year I baked something like eighteen
DOZEN, as gifts! ,,, we made special "collage" Christmas cards for
grandparents, aunts and uncles ... Jamie got her Barbie Townhouse
Christmas Morning in Polenville
Terri to Ray
January 4, 1990
your potato patties in a little hot oil - pan on stove.
in VCR, push 'play.'
Kacie to Daddy
January 4, 1990
Dad: I wot you too wer this for acus I thic it wud giv gum love. An I
wot you too rot a letr bak too me that is of I haf too get. Love,
Kacie. P.S. I love you."
"Dear Dad: I want you
to wear this" (a paper necktie she made for him)"because
I think it will give you good luck. And I want you to write a letter
back to me" (the rest is indecipherable) ... "Love,
Kacie. P.S. I love you.")
Ray to Terri and Kacie
January 4, 1990
Jamie to Channel 11
January 4, 1990
wish you would put Punky Brewster back on the air! At 5:00
We relly like that show, and watch every weekday evening. We relly
relly relly wish you would put Punky Brewster back on the air.
January 18, 1980
cold winter morning. My life has taken another interesting turn since
the last time I wrote in this journal ... I'm babysitting two new kids.
Danielle is nine months old, and Richard is three. They're not related
to each other, but they almost look like they could be ... they both
have the same fine blonde hair, fair skin and blue eyes. Fortunately
they are both good-natured little people, so their transition into the
scheme of things around here has been smooth.
of this new
babysitting just sort of fell into my lap right after New Year's. I had
posted an ad on the bulletin board at Tom's Grocery several weeks ago,
but it wasn't until this month that I started getting any response. Now
I have four babysitting "regulars," and I think we'll draw the line
right there. Any more than that would be unmanageable. After 3-1/2
years of babysitting (is that ALL it's been - 3-1/2 years??), I think
I've learned what my limitations are ...
in particular, is a delight. I had reservations about bringing a baby
into this house again, but I fell in love with her the first moment I
held her, and she has continued to grow on me -- and on the rest of the
family, even Ray! -- ever since. Taking care of her satisfies those
little unspoken pangs of "baby hunger" I feel from time to time, but
the nice thing is that at the end of the day I can hand her over to her
mother ... ! All the pleasures of a baby and none of the lifetime
think about having another baby, once in a while ... in a sort of
day-dreamy, "What-if?" sort of way ... never with any real seriousness.
There are moments when the baby hunger sneaks up on me, still. The
biggest part of me considers it a closed chapter in my life; but there
are still times when I look at Jamie, Kacie and Kyle and remember how
wonderful they were as babies, and sigh at how long that seems to me
now, and I wish I could do it all over again. But then reality sets in.
Nine months of pregnancy? Doctor and hospital bills? The newborn stuff
-- the middle of the night feedings, the formula, the diapers, the
noise, the stress? I don't think I could do all that again. It's not
that I don't think I'd be up to it physically, or that I couldn't
handle it. I'm sure I could, if the need arose. It's just that I don't
think I WANT to do it all again.
this is what is delightful about having Danielle around. I can enjoy
the feeling of a baby in my arms, the sight, the sound, the nice warm
"baby smell" -- all of the tactile pleasure -- and still not have to
worry about where my next night's sleep is going to come from ...
Richard, he is a very nice little boy and has become a good playmate
for Kyle and André. Richard sort of balances things out:
Kyle isn't so quick to bully and torment André with another
little boy around, and the novelty of having a third playmate has added
a new dimension to the give-and-take around here.
is absolutely wonderful -- and absolutely horrible! -- these days. One
minute he is tyrannical, physically agressive, foul-mouthed,
ill-tempered, destructive, selfish and uncooperative -- in other words,
a typical three year old boy -- and the next minute he is this
wonderfully imaginative, verbal, spontaneously charming little person,
full of funny observations about his world, full of ardent loyalty
towards his family ...
am standing in the bathroom, dabbing foundation onto my face. Kyle
stands in the doorway watching me. "Are you puttin' on makeup so you
will be pretty?" he asks me.
"Well," he says, "I fink you
already look pretty wif NO makeup."
"That's the nicest thing anyone's said to me
week," I tell him, and he smiles.
- "Put it there, Pal!" he says, extending his
me, grinning devilishly. He's got a rubber band stretched around his
hand, with a piece of plastic popsicle-maker secured to his palm.
shake hands with him.
"BZZZZZZZZZZZ!" he shouts uproariously. "I made a
- I walk into the living room just in time to
Kyle flattening André to the ground. "HEY!" I roar at him.
"YOU GO TO YOUR ROOM RIGHT NOW, MISTER!" Indignantly fighting back
tears, Kyle stomps past me and slams his bedroom door shut, while I
remain behind and comfort a tearful André.
Three minutes later he emerges from his room
a sly grin on his face. "Look what I'm are wearing!" he says, and he
pulls up his Seahawks nightshirt to reveal two pairs of underpants, one
on top of the other. Clearly an attempt to charm himself back into my
January 31, 1990
Shanghai Flu blew into our house last week and completely flattened the
whole family, except for Jamie, for several days. We're OK now, but it
was really touch and go for a while there.
been sick quite a lot since we moved into this house. I've had a cold
and cough since early December, for instance. I wonder if it could be
the woodstove? Definitely.
I read something in a magazine recently, about how
children living in homes heated by woodstoves are more prone to upper
respiratory infections, coughs, allergies, etc. I wonder if the
woodstove it making us all sicker this winter? I feel like I'm walking
around with ten gallons of sludge in my chest ...
And the flu was AWFUL. It defied description. I literally felt like I'd
been run over by a steamroller. I'm SO GLAD it's over and done with.
another not-so-wonderful thing happened last week, besides the flu
hitting us -- I lost one of my new babysitting clients. It wasn't the
baby, thankfully -- losing her would have broken my heart -- it was the
little boy, Richard. I very honestly have no idea why they dropped me,
except maybe it was just a poor fit. I liked Richard quite a lot -- he
was a good little guy -- but his parents were cold and standoffish and
I don't think they liked me at all. I don't know
why. Just one of those things. I babysat Richard for one week, and then
the next week they simply never returned. No phone call, no
explanation, nothing. At that point they didn't owe me any money, and
it was obvious that they didn't care for my childcare style, so I
didn't pursue it any further. Was I angry? A little bit, I suppose. And
my feelings were hurt: I'd really knocked myself out for them, trying
to make Richard feel welcome. But my best apparently wasn't good
enough, and that hurts.
February 6, 1990
this up a few days later. It's snowing this morning - the only "real"
snowfall we've had this winter, and a very insubstantial
snowfall, at that - but it was enough to get the girls out of bed in a
flurry of excitement. They gulped down their oatmeal, threw their
clothes on and dashed out the door for fifteen minutes of frenzied
snowplay before school.
February 9, 1990
snow didn't stick around for long, darn it. Now it's Friday morning,
and we're back to the same old wet, cold, soggy winter weather ...
spirits have been lower than low so far this month. The flu, money
worries, losing my new babysitting client, feeling fat and lethargic
... all of this combined has left me with a whopping case of the winter
blahs. I doubt that it's permanent - these things rarely are - but
while it's here, it's a bitch to deal with. And so am I.
odds and ends of news to report:
and Kacie have both been picked to play Munchkins in their school play,
"A Trip To Oz." They were hoping for bigger parts -- actually, they
thought they were going to be the stars of the show!! -- but I've
managed to convince them that it's OK to start out small, that they're
going to have a lot of fun, and that they're going to be the world's
finest Munchkins. So now they're all excited. Rehearsals start next
week, and the play is sometime next month, I think. My mom has already
promised to come, and Ray is going to try and get the night off from
work so he can see the play. All in all, this is promising to be A Very
Big Deal around this household.
is completely obsessed with the movie "Batman," which we bought at
Christmastime. I have taken to hiding the video in the kitchen
cupboard, occasionally, because if Kyle sees it, he'll want to watch it
AGAIN ... and frankly if I have to listen to Michael Keaton grow "I'm
Batman!" one more time, I'll go stark raving bonkers. In the
morning Kyle takes an old baby blanket, ties it around his shoulders
and flies around the house wearing his "Batman cape." On Monday he wore
it ALL DAY: Ray finally had to ask him to take it off so they could go
to the grocery store. But Kyle doesn't even need his pretend-cape to
assume the identity of his hero. "Ask me who I'm are," he says to me.
"Who are you?" I say wearily. "I'm BATMAM!" he replies, in his
pitch-perfect Michael Keaton impersonation ...
other hero, by the way, is Robocop. "Robocops can't be dead," he tells
me solemnly (and CONSTANTLY).
is now taking over the household. Even on days when she's not here,
like today, her presence is still keenly felt: from the jars of Gerber
baby food in the cupboard, to the teething rings in the fridge, to the
walker sitting abandoned in the living room, to the baby powder on top
of the VCR ... to the torn pages of this journal ("NO NO!" I shrieked)
... she is here, there and everywhere. What I have found particularly
touching is how kind and gentle Ray is with her. Most of the children
I've babysat through the years have barely rated a passing glance with
February 16, 1990
decidedly unhappy at the moment ... unhappy with my mother, with the
weather, and with the Totem Girl Scout Council, to be specific. Jamie's
Brownie camp-out, scheduled for this weekend, has been cancelled at the
last minute due to the snow we've had for most of this past week. When
Jamie gets home from school this afternoon, I have to break the news to
her. She is going to be crushed.
She's been looking forward to her first big camp-out for weeks: she's
already got her duffel bag packed and her sleeping bag rolled and ready
to go. Shit. I'm so upset I can barely see straight. How in the hell do
I tell her ... ?!?
my mom. I called her at work to tell her about the trip being cancelled
(she loaned Jamie the sleeping bag), and to ask if maybe Jay could come
out to her place this weekend and spend the night - sort of as
"consolation" for missing her trip. I'll admit it: Jamie's
disappointments affect me as keenly as my own. It is my first instinct
to want to buffer her, protect her, fix things for her. The instinct to
deflect her disappointment is as much to ease my own pain as hers. At
any rate, I called Mom in a sort of blind panic, expecting/hoping her
to come to the rescue. (If I can't do it for Jamie, perhaps my mother
can do it for me?) But our phone conversation was an utter fiasco.
Instead of coming to the rescue, Mom immediately launched into this
wise and wonderful lecture about not trying to shield our children from
life's inevitable disappointments. The most irritating part of the
whole conversation is that she made perfect sense. I was so let-down by
her reaction, though, that I instantly became petulant. "I'm sorry I
bothered you!" I said, interrupting her in mid-schpiel, and I slammed
the phone down in her ear. And then I burst into tears. I felt
embarrassed, angry and horribly let-down. When am I going to grow up
and quit running to other people for help all the time?? It usually
ends in disaster: I just come off looking immature and incapable. When
am I going to start handling my own problems? And when is my mom going
to lose the power to make me feel so small? No, that's not quite what I
mean to say. When am I going to quit feeling so small around my mother
... ? She is so smart and capable and sober and in-control of
everything, and she loves me no matter how badly I screw up. Why then
do I always feel so inexplicably lacking whenever I'm around her?
this, as they say, is a whole 'nother can of worms. A headache is
beginning to tickle the sides of my skull, and I can feel the tears
starting again. Suddenly Jamie's cancelled camping trip has become this
weird multi-generational tangle of disappointment and power-to-heal,
and frankly ... I'm not in the mood. I've got to call my mother back
and apologize for hanging up on her, but first I've got to try and get
on top of this weepiness and regain at least a little self-control. Not
only that, I need to gear myself up for the inevitable heartbreaking
conversation with Jamie this afternoon.
... and I thought this was going to really be my day.
I'm feeling a little better. Mom beat me to the punch: she called and
apologized before I had a chance to dial her number. "Well, so much for
being wise and witty," she said. (Good grief!! Did she sneak over here
and read my journal while my back was turned?!?) As touched and
relieved as I was, some of my earlier peevish mood lingered. I couldn't
stop myself from saying, "Yes, well, if I'd wanted to talk to Jennifer
James, I would have called Jennifer James." It was
a snotty thing to say, and I'm sorry now that I gave in to the impulse,
but at least we cleared the air and I'm reassured (again) that my mom
loves me, in spite of me ...
just began to snow again: enormous, cotton-ball-sized flakes, streaming
down from a coal-gray afternoon sky.)
following week, and once again we've managed to survive another one of
my overblown emotional crises. Jamie shed a few tears when she came
home Friday afternoon and heard that the trip had been called off, but
frankly she handled it (in the long run) with a lot more maturity than
I would have given her credit for. In fact, I'm embarrassed now by the
fuss *I* made over the whole thing ...
snowed all weekend, which helped take up a lot of the emotional slack.
Kacie built a funny little snowman in the front yard, complete with
carrot nose, knitted scarf and a "SeaPak" cap. (Kyle knocked the
snowman's head off a couple of times, just to be mean, but somehow
Frosty always managed to get patched together again.)
and Tracy spent the night with us on Saturday. Originally it was
supposed to be a get-together with John, Lori, Ray, the kids and I,
but Ray passed out on the laundry room floor at 6 p.m. and had to be
carried to bed, and then John and Lori got into one of their famous
arguments and John left. So Lori and I sat and drank beer and watched
"Rainman" while the kids tore hell out of the house. Lori slept on the
quiet at 11:30 in the morning. Ray and Kyle have run over to Grandma
Vert's house, the big kids are in school, Danielle and André
are both napping in the living room. I turned off the TV and even went
so far as to take the phone off the hook, since quiet moments like this
are so rare and wonderful. Bone-tired today, the result of two
consecutive late-TV nights -- Tuesday night was "The Wizard of Oz," last
night were the Grammy Awards -- both nights the girls and I were up past
ten. Wondering if I dare sneak into the bedroom and attempt a nap of my
own ... ?
February 24, 1990
did take that nap. The school called, shortly after I finished writing
the above (I'd put the phone back on the hook), saying that Jamie was
sick and wanted to come home. She had a mild fever and a headache. I
said yes of course, send her home, and within half an hour I had her
tucked into my big bed with a stack of Highlights Magazines and a glass
of 7-Up. She stayed home from school yesterday, too, because the fever
was lingering and she didn't seem to have a lot of energy. I didn't
actually think it was anything serious -- maybe just the flu. So I was
in for a royal surprise when we got up this morning and discovered that
she was covered in bright red spots, from head to toe. CHICKEN POX!!
Huge, dewdrop blisters, everywhere from her hairline to the
her feet! She's even got them in her mouth and her throat and around
her "private place" (a fact which mortifies her). We are treating it
with cornstarch baths, calamine lotion, Benadryl (to kill the itch) and
Tylenol ... plus liberal internal applications of POPSICLES ...
bedded-down on the loveseat now with her Grandma Beeson's sleeping bag
(turned inside-out, so the cool slippery side is against her skin),
surrounded by coloring books, popsicle wrappers and stuffed animals;
she's watching TV very quietly. I am never more than a heartbeat from
March 5, 1990
survived the chicken pox. Funny how much "surviving" we manage to do
around this house ...
was home from school almost the entire week last week. (I relented and
allowed her to go back on Friday, so she wouldn't miss play rehearsal.)
After a couple days of initial itch and discomfort -- days she spent on
the sofa, sucking on popsicles and watching TV game shows -- she felt
well enough to get up and move around. Fortunately the weather was
unseasonably sunny and warm, so she was even able to play outside a
little. I cut off some old jeans into a pair of makeshift shorts for
her, and she kept her long hair pulled up into a Granny bun to prevent
it from rubbing against the sores on her face and neck. She looked so
funny and cute, running around in the sunshine, kicking her soccer ball
.... spots all over ...
of the other kids (Jerome, André & Danielle
included) have shown any signs of coming down with it yet, but we've
still got another couple weeks left of the incubation period. So it's a
crap shoot, waiting to see who breaks out first. At least I'll be
prepared the next time. Jamie was sort of my chicken pox 'guinea pig,'
and now I pretty much know what to expect, which medicines work the
best, etc. Frankly I would just as soon have them all get it now
& get it over with, once and for all. Erin and Andrea feel the
same way, fortunately. At first I thought they would be upset about
their kids being exposed, but they've been great - very understanding.
and Erin bought a house in Tacoma a couple of weeks ago, and they've
informed me that our babysitting arrangement will come to an end in
August. This at least will give me all spring and summer to decide what
to do next. Line up another babysitting job for fall? Quit babysitting
altogether and look for a "real" job? Jump off a bridge ... ?? One fact
is certain: we can't make it financially without me contributing income
of one sort or another. It's very much hand-to-mouth around here at the
moment, as it is. This is always a bad time of year for us, money-wise.
I've been walking around with my usual case of the
January/February/March Financial Blues ... a sort of low-grade fever of
worry. I've managed to sublimate it with bouts of manic housecleaning,
but it's always there, just beneath the surface. I worry about the rent
all the time. We've managed to make regular payments to Deb &
Greg, but we're still always "a little behind." What if they asked us
to move out?
March 13, 1990
later, and guess what? Time to break out the calamine lotion and the
popsicles again: both Kacie and Kyle have the chicken pox. (Or the
"chicken pops," as Kyle refers to them.) As a matter of fact Danielle,
the baby, has them too, but her mom stayed home with her today so I
only had my own sick little munchkins to worry about.
got sick first. She just sort of "disappeared" on Sunday afternoon,
after she and Jamie got home from church. We finally found her in her
bed, with all of her Sunday School clothes and her coat and her shoes
still on, sound asleep. I knew immediately that she was getting sick,
even though she hadn't broken out yet. I just knew. And of course I was
right. By evening, the little 'water blisters' had started to appear on
her neck and chest, and by the next day she was covered.I
am not exaggerating when I say that there is barely an inch of skin,
anywhere on her entire body, that doesn't have a blister on it. Jamie
had maybe fifty or so chicken pox, altogether, by the time the germ had
run its course with her; Kacie must have a thousand. Or more. They're
everywhere -- on her lips, in her ears, on her scalp, on
her eyelids -- and she's been absolutely miserable for the
past two days, in spite of
my best efforts to make her comfortable. All of the little tricks I
used on Jamie only seem to work half as well on poor Kacie. What is
really heartbreaking is how brave and uncomplaining she has been about
the whole thing. She just sits on the loveseat, wrapped in Grandma
Beeson's sleeping bag, and stoically colors pictures in her colorbook,
barely saying a word. If I look at her she gives me an odd little
smile, but otherwise she is uncharacteristically quiet and drawn into
herself, as though this illness is something she needs to keep private
began breaking out yesterday - a few tiny blisters, mostly on his chest
and shoulders - but so far he seems to have the mildest case of the
three. As a matter of fact he's been in a cheerful, silly, talkative
mood all day. The biggest problem with Kyle has
been getting him to settle down, although at the moment he is finally
laying on the couch, watching cartoons with the rest of the kids.
now, and a storm is brewing. Jamie is sitting here at the table with
me, grating cheese for supper: I am drinking tea in an effort to wake
up a bit. Mom stopped by this afternoon, to drop off "get-well" gifts
for Kacie and Kyle (just as she did two weeks ago when Jamie was sick):
paper dolls for Kacie, a paintbook and brushes for Kylie. She looked at
me and said "How are YOU?", and I just closed my eyes and said "Tired."
She even brought a get-well gift for me -- a card and a tiny bottle of
perfume. I guess all you have to do is look at me to see the fatigue
oozing out of every pore ...
funny thing is that I haven't even been all that busy, or overworked,
or anything else that might account for this utter exhaustion: nothing
except caring for sick kids almost constantly for the past couple of
cards came out today. Jamie brought home hers and Kacie's for me. Here
are the latest remarks from their teachers:
continues to be a delight in class! Her creativitiy, sense of humor and
ability to work with all types of people are great strengths! I am
especially proud of Jamie's work in her animal study (the beaver) and
on her writing. Jamie has developed into quite a leader! N. Weeks."
continues to work hard. She loves math and works quietly and
accurately. She lacks spelling skills, but she's able to record her
thoughts by using phonetic spelling. We are learning how to count coins
and tell time. Kacie, keep up the good work."
strongest subjects are math, art, music and "basic work habits." Her
trouble areas are spelling and language. She also has a check-minus
next to "demonstrates self confidence." Jamie has A's in language,
science and art, and an A for effort in math; B's and B+'s in
March 14, 1990
damp, colorless March morning; sitting here drinking bitter black
coffee, wondering where in the world I'll find the 'juice' to get
through another day of chicken pox ...
things are getting to me: Kyle breaking one of his new paintbrushes,
and then screaming at me because I can't fix it ...
Ray buying himself new
shoes, but forgetting the loaf of bread I asked for ...
Jamie snapping at
me because she couldn't find her boots (they were on her bed). My mom
showing up yesterday looking slim and healthy and busy. Being stuck in
this house for days on end. No shampoo. Sick kids. Kyle's plastic
harmonica. Crayons on the living room floor.
is a little better today; Kyle is worse. The light scattering of watery
blisters Kyle went to sleep with last night erupted, overnight, into a
profusion of angry red sores, all over his small body ... especially
around his crotch and on his neck. I keep telling him not to scratch,
but of course the itch is driving him crazy, and he's too little to
understand things like scarring and infection, the way his sisters can.
hasn't been an easy day, but right now things are relatively quiet and
under control. I sent Kacie and Kyle into my bedroom to watch cartoons
for a while: they're laying side by side in my big bed, sipping orange
soda and watching "The Chipmunks." Wish I had film in my camera,
because they look awfully cute together ... chicken pox and
has been a little demon all day. I gave him some Benadryl to help with
the itchiness, and it wound him up completely: he's been running around
on "Fast Forward" all afternoon. Jumping on beds, jumping on the couch,
jumping on André ...
made chicken soup and fresh bread, cleaned the house, mopped the
chicken floor. (WHOOPS! Guess I'm more tired than I thought! Mopped the
March 16, 1990
still. Kacie and Kyle are still covered in polka-dots, still itchy as
hell, but at least the fevers are gone, and they're back on their feet
and feeling more like themselves. Yesterday was a nice sunny day, so
they played outside all afternoon - I gave them Kacie's Christmas
Play-Doh and a basket of toy dishes, and they sat at the picnic table
and made Play-Doh "hot dogs" and "cookies." Kyle fell off the jungle
gym at one point, landing with a THUD on his side and bursting into
sobs. I ran (heart in mouth) to help him, but after a hug and kiss from
Mom he abruptly stopped crying and said "That's OK - I'm not hurt
anymore." And that was the end of it. Lately he's been doing that a
lot: insisting that he's not hurt, that everything's OK, even at times
when I know darned well he must be in pain. The other day, for example,
the toilet lid slammed down on him while he was going potty. At first
he screamed and flew to my arms in tears, but after
a couple minutes of comfort from Mom he suddenly pushed himself away
and announced that he was FINE, smiled cheerfully (through tears) and
hopped off my lap. There have even been times recently when, after
stubbing a toe or bumping his head or some other relatively minor
"owie" that he has brushed it off with a mystifyingly cheery "That's OK
- I like hurts." What is this? Some budding macho
instinct that little boys develop?!? I'm glad that he's no crybaby, but
on the other hand I don't want him underestimating the extent of some
injuries, or putting on this "macho" act when he's really in pain. I
swear, raising a son is so complex ...
anyway, Kyle and Kacie are a lot better today. I can't believe how
quickly their pox (compared to Jamie's) are drying up and going away.
1990, 3-1/2 years old
to his fingernails) "These are my fingerlashes."
to his eyebrows) "These are my eye-BROWNS."
don't play with those plugs cuz I don't want to get extra-cupid."
will you do me a favor?" (pulls up shirt, pushes out fat belly) "Eat
these cookies for me, cuz my tummy's FULL."
on pancakes) "I think they are radical."
March 21, 1990
March 23, 1990
week gone by. Why is it, do you suppose, that it's so difficult for me
to write anything in this journal when I am wrapped in worry ... ? You
would think that I'd automatically seek out the release of writing:
instead, I find it so much harder than usual to get anything on paper.
Why? Why do I let things get all bottled up inside of me like this,
until I reach the point where the slightest, pettiest little thing can
cause me to blow like Mt. St. Helens ... ?!
serve the kids their Friday night supper: corn dogs, potato chips and
milk. Kacie and Jamie, who like sliced cucumbers in ranch dressing,
each get a large serving; Kyle, who does not, gets celery with peanut
butter instead. I set the plates down on the table, and Jamie
immediately makes a face.
the matter now?" I ask wearily.
hate these kind of cucumbers," she pouts.
mutter a choice profanity
in her general direction and sit down in the living room.
Meanwhile, Kyle sits up
in his chair, peers at his plate and looks at me crossly.
says. "I wanted CUCUMBERS."
Kacie sits wordlessly, crunching her
cucumbers without complaint ...
for the relatively pleasant distraction of Kacie's seventh birthday on
Wednesday, this week has been spent in worry and fear. Every time the
phone rings, I jump out of my skin. Will it be the landlord again,
calling about the money we owe? We're not that far behind, but
relations between the landlords and us have been on increasingly shaky
ground lately. There was a minor dispute over how much we've paid on
the deposit and the final month's rent, and another problem over an
unpaid sewer bill. I keep begging Ray not to stir things up, and to
simply accede to their requests ... not because we should just roll
over and play dead, necessarily, but because I think Deb & Greg
right about these things and Ray is almost always wrong with his
"calculations." Ray always, ALWAYS has to dispute a bill. He's been
doing it for as long as I've known
him. It doesn't matter if it's an electricity bill, a store
receipt or a verbal discussion with the landlord; he's sure that the
calculations are "wrong," we don't really owe that much, someone's
trying to put something over on him ... it's a juvenile,
the-world-is-out-to-screw-Ray mentality which, until now, has been
merely embarrassing and irritating, but now threatens our security and
our HOME. Deb & Greg are not going to put with his feeble
arguments and excuses forever. They really seemed to like and trust us
when we first moved in, but I can sense the good feelings gradually
eroding, thanks to Ray. This terrifies me, and makes me mad as hell at
him. Over the years I've tried to remain loyal to him in spite of the
things he does - I've tried to look the other way when he embarrasses
me - but this time there is just too damn much at stake. If he fucks
this up and we lose the house, I don't know how I could ever forgive
tried talking to him this morning. I poured us both a cup of coffee and
said Can you sit down, I think we need to talk. He
instantly became defensive and agitated, perched on the edge of the
chair, refusing to meet my eyes. He brushed my concerns off with a
terse "We're FINE," and then got up and left the room while I sat there
with tears stinging my eyes ...
March 27, 1990
spring morning, and things lightened up considerably over the weekend.
Today I'm fighting those day-before-my-period cramps that I get
occasionally, but otherwise I'd say things are pretty good. Greg was
over on Sunday to pick up the rent check (plus an extra $60 for the
sewer bill) and to look at the leaky faucets, and he seemed to exude
good will and friendliness in spite of the money we still owe. Maybe
our position here is still secure, after all? Hard to tell, but I'm
determined to put my worries on a back burner for awhile. February and
March have been long, dark, emotionally-draining months, but spring is
here now, and with it (I hope) a respite from fear, illness, insomnia,
arguments, anxiety, claustrophobia, boredom, overeating, headaches,
is the girls' school play, and there is a definite air of excitement
around this house! Jamie was up before 7:00 to grab a quick bath and
wash her hair, and then I fixed everyone a nice breakfast of french
toast, oranges and milk. Ray is taking the day off from work so he can
go to the play tonight with Kyle, Lori, Tracy and I. Jamie and Kacie
have put in a lot of time and hard work on their play, this past month
and a half: tonight it all pays off.
reaction to the lambada dancers on Regis & Kathie Lee: "Wow,
she's dancin' crazy. She's shakin' her ... her ... DRESS! Wow, sexy
BOOK OF POINTLESS LISTS
TOTALLY USELESS INFORMATION!
Favorite Nicknames for Everybody:
Kyle: Booter, Ducky,
Girls Basketball, Henry
Kacie: Mouse, Missy Lou, Mouseky, KCP, "Person!," Refrigerate
Jamie: Puss, Jameroo, Pusskey, Jamantha, Jamer Oob, Polyester
Ray: Daddy, Asshole
"Shuffles" when he walks
(doesn't pick his feet up off the floor)
Jamie: Yelling in her sleep
Kacie: Tap-dancing on the kitchen floor
Mom: Sorry! Mom doesn't have any annoying habits!
Our Bathroom Medicine Cabinet, March 1990:
bottles of nail
polish, Cover Girl "Satin Mauve" and Tinkerbell "Pink-A-Boo"
- Empty trial-size bottle Pert Plus Dandruff
- Sure Anti Perspirant, "Desert Spice" scent
- Lady Mitchum solid roll-on
- Empty pink bottle
- Half-full bottle of nail hardener
- Blue clay facial mask; nearly-empty tube of
- Nail polish remover
Favorite Colors, 1990
Hot pink, teal, gray, white
Dad: "I don't know. Blue."
Jamie: "Pink and blue-green."
Kacie: "Pink and red. And blue."
Kyle: "Hey, MY color is red, too. That's MY color."
Mom Does When No One's Looking
the obituary section of
the knobs on the stereo
the Sunset Junior High
with leftover birthday
Would Be Perfect If:
paper rolls refilled
Pepsi tasted as good as
Mom Has No Luck With:
2. Checking accounts
3. Long fingernails
Paula Abdul, clothes
Kyle: Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Kacie: food, "Ramona" (on PBS)
Will Never Find In Our Household:
Will ALWAYS Find In Our Household:
a jar of picante sauce
Jamie: "Goody," "Oh cool."
Mom: "That's the whole point."
Ray: "Watch TV."
March 28, 1990
pretty morning; the
weather forecast says it will continue be like this at least until
Sunday. I find that waking to cloudless blue skies has had an enormous
healing effect on me, the past few days.
and André are
here today, both sick with chicken pox!! They stayed home
yesterday, but she can't afford any more time off from work so here
they are. I'm not thrilled to be doing this again, but at least they're
the last two kids who can possibly come down with it. Once they're
done, that's it, folks -- no more chicken pox in the Polen household,
again. This is what sustains me as I drag out the calamine lotion one
more time ...
had a wonderful time at the
school play last night. Jamie and Kacie were the cutest Munchkins
you've ever seen! They were only on stage for a couple of minutes, as
part of a crowd scene with twenty or thirty other little Munchkins, but
those were a couple of the proudest moments of my life.
April 2, 1990
is the first official day
of Spring Vacation. The girls (and Jerome) have the whole week off from
school. In addition, we're watching Jerome and André's three
year old cousin Andrea for a couple of days because - you'll never
guess why - she's got CHICKEN POX. Erin called me yesterday and asked
if it would be OK. Apparently Andrea isn't allowed to attend her
regular daycare while she's still infectious. I said OK, but only
because the extra money will come in handy next week. Still, I'm
already beginning to ponder the wisdom of my decision ... the living
room is swarming with children, noise, Matchbox cars, empty cereal
bowls and toys; my repeated admonitions to "Quiet down" are going
unheeded; it's not even 10:00 yet, and already my stomach is churning
and my head is pounding ... this will be a very long week, indeed.
keep asking Jamie to help me
out by keeping an eye on Andrea -- sort of playing "Big Sister" to the
little girl today, keeping her amused and busy -- but as usual I'm
being met with sullen resistance. Right now Jay is in her bedroom
again, listening to her infernal Paula Abdul tape, shutting out the
rest of the world. I just stuck my head in her door. She's sitting on
her bed, playing the tape recorder. I looked at her and said, "This is
how you help me out?"
gave me a look of pure
poison, snapped off
the tape recorded and stalked out to the living room, where all the
other kids are. Without so much as a glance in my direction - the cold
shoulder treatment, I guess - she began picking up newspapers and
straightening up the room.
watched her for a moment or
amused by her theatrics; then I called her over to the table where I'm
sitting. I took her by one hand, and explained to her once again that
all I really expect from her today is to watch over
Andrea. This time, the message seemed to sink in finally. Her shoulders
relaxed and she smiled a little. "Can I have a little cup of coffee to
help me wake up?" she asked, and I fixed her a cup. (A small
few minutes later, when Sesame Street was over, the kids decided they
wanted to go outside and play. It's sort of cloudy and cool this
morning, but at least it's not raining, so I said OK, fine. Jamie very
nicely helped Andrea put on her socks and shoes, and found her jacket
for her and helped her put it on, and then she warned the boys to
behave themselves and play carefully around Andrea. I thought, Gee,
Jamie is really being wonderful about this ...
Here we are, fifteen
minutes later. Andrea is outside with all the rest of the kids, and
where is Miss Jamie Polen?
in front of the TV with
her cup of
coffee, watching "The Price Is Right."
very long week, indeed.
had a pretty good weekend,
by the way. Saturday I dropped Ray off at Grandma Vert's so
put in a few hours' work -- he's refinishing her deck -- and the kids and
I went shopping. I was trying to find something to wear to the in-laws'
on Sunday. Fred Meyer had practically nothing in my size or price
range, so I just bought birthday cards and a birthday gift for my
nephew, plus some small toys for the kids. Then we went to Jack In The
Box and I picked up lunch for everybody, which we ate in the car. There
was a used records store in Boulevard Park that I'd heard about and
wanted to try and find, but after several minutes of driving around
looking for it without success, we abandoned the idea and drove back to
Burien, instead. I went into Value Village to kill some time, not
really expecting to find anything to wear, but to my surprise I found
two pairs of pants (a pair of tan slacks and some bleached jeans) and
two shirts (a brand new jade-green polo, which I love, and a
multi-colored blouse with short sleeves) for $27 altogether - about
what I would have paid for one sweater at Fred Meyer! I was very
we had to drive to
Bellevue for a birthday celebration at Don and Peg's. As family
gatherings go, this one was pretty standard. However, I was dismayed to
realize that I was the fattest person there, as both Sheryl and my
father-in-law have dropped a lot of weight. It depressed me so much
that I only had half a hamburger with nothing on it, and I skipped the
chocolate cake entirely. Even in my pretty new clothes, I felt dowdy
and disgusting-looking. More on this later, though. The birthday
celebration was a combined one, for Brendan, Kacie, Billy and Peg.
Kacie got three new summer outfits, including a multi-colored sundress
and matching visor, all in the new fluorescent colors -- also two shorts
and tops sets. Ray and the kids seemed to have a good time, but I felt
uncomfortable and bored after a while. I'm having a painful period this
month, and I just wanted to leave the in-laws', come home and snuggle
on the couch with a heating pad and a magazine.
our way home we drove
through our old neighborhood in Kirkland, on a whim. It's been 3-1/2
years since I've been there, and I was flabbergasted by how TINY our
old house seems. It's nothing more than a little shoebox!! It never
seemed that small while we were living there. How strange! Other than
that, it really doesn't look much different: it's still that icky
mustard yellow, and the cherry tree in the front yard -- my
old favorite -- is in full bloom. The rest of the
neighborhood seemed relatively
unchanged as well. What was really surprising, though, was how
unemotional I felt, seeing it all again. I always thought that the next
time I saw the Kirkland house I'd feel sad and sentimental and
teary-eyed. Intead, I just felt anxious to come home ... to the home we
live in now.
April 4, 1990
Fortunately the weather has been cooperating: today, for instance, they
say it'll reach 68 degrees. Already it's sunny and warm and it's only a
little past nine in the morning. The girls pestered me yesterday to let
them go up in the attic and get their swimsuits out of storage. Jamie
is wearing hers already, under a pink and blue romper that is miles too
short for her ... she's growing out of everything ... I can't believe
how tall she is, or how long her LEGS are!!
April 9, 1990
survived Spring Vacation.
(There we go, "surviving" again!) Today the big kids all went back to
school, so this morning I only have Kyle, André and Danielle
to watch. Danielle celebrated her first birthday last week,
incidentally. She's walking effortlessly now, and she's into
EVERYTHING. She's also trying like crazy to talk ... the house is
filled with the happy sounds of her ceaseless baby-babble. Kyle has a
cold this morning, but he's in a good mood. So am I, I think, even
though it's Monday. I did a lot of thinking this weekend. I haven't
been very happy lately with the way I look and the way I feel
(lethargic, sluggish and unhealthy), and I want to do something about
it. So today I am embarking on yet another diet. I feel very optimistic
about my chances this time, and I'm determined to stick to it. The one
thing I'm going to try and do differently this time is that I'm not
going to announce my intentions to the entire universe ... instead, I'm
keeping it very private, very internal. My family knows about it, of
course -- Ray and the kids, I mean -- but otherwise this is going to be a
quiet and unpublicized endeavor.
April 10, 1990
so far, so good ... I
managed to get through the first day of the diet without incident, and
this (given my history!) bodes well for my chances of success. This
just doesn't feel like another one of my half-hearted attempts.
April 11, 1990
... I slipped up a
little last night ... drank some wine and a couple of Ray's beers. My
diet pill practically had me tap-dancing on the ceiling all afternoon
(cleaned both of the horrible, messy kid bedrooms, hauled old clothes
down from the attic and sorted them for charity, did a massive load of
laundry, made dinner for five kids and Ray, cleaned out the fridge),
and by 6 p.m. I was panting and flushed, and a glass of cold wine went
down smooth as silk. Then another. Then a can of beer, and then another
can of beer, and THEN I forced myself to stop and I ate my diet dinner
and my diet fudgesicle and went to bed. But this morning I feel a
little ashamed -- it was only my SECOND DAY, for Pete's
sake! -- but I'm
determined to keep plugging away and to write the whole thing off as a
momentary lapse. I can see that alcohol, beer especially, will be a
stumbling block unless I make my mind up right now to adapt. I can
either attempt the impossible -- completely avoiding
alcohol altogether -- or else I can try to scale it back,
make it a weekends-only kind of
thing, drink moderately, pick light beer or wine coolers over the
regular stuff, etc. etc. The other things I'm going to have to
eliminate completely for a while (since I tend to binge on them):
& hot dogs
Me: "Uh-huh ... "
Kyle: "I know who your boy is!"
Kyle (beaming): "I'M are!"
April 12, 1990
up with my first fullblown
spring cold of the season. It comes at a rotten time, but I'm
determined not to let it interfere with my dieting efforts.
morning 9 a.m.
April 27, 1990
a week later, and yes,
I'm still plugging away at the diet ... actually, I just realized that
it's TWO weeks later ... a rainy, dark April morning, drinking my
coffee, trying (without much success) to keep Kyle, André
and Danielle quiet while Ray sleeps. He's worked a back-breaking
schedule all week: he didn't get off until 5:30 a.m. this morning, and
I know that he's exhausted. All this overtime he's been putting in will
be great for our finances, and he's been downright cheerful about the
whole business, but I worry about him anyway. Fourteen hour workdays
can't be healthy for anybody. Anyway, I've turned on Sesame Street and
I'm trying to get the three little ones to sit quietly and watch it,
but Danielle insists on walking around the living room shrieking
(happily - but noisily!), and every couple of minutes Kyle leaps off
the couch and attempts to engage André in another
ear-splitting "shoot-out." I can hear Ray snoring gently from the
bedroom, though, so maybe none of the noise is penetrating yet.
and I got into an
unpleasant argument this morning, and I'm still feeling the
reverberations from that. Today is "Clash Day" at her school, and the
kids are all supposed to wear something a little wild and wacky. The
girls and I discussed it last night, and they seemed really
enthusiastic about the idea. So when Jamie came strolling out of her
bedroom this morning looking like she'd just stepped out of a Sears
catalog -- immaculate white turtleneck tucked into
slacks, neat leather belt, gold watch pendant hanging around her neck
-- I thought maybe she'd forgotten about it being
wear two different shoes,"
she haughtily explained.
I should have had more control, I suppose --
but I couldn't
resist needling her about it a little. I mean, there was Kacie,
bouncing around the living room in purple pants, an orange and yellow
striped polo and bright green vest, her hair pulled into a braid on one
side and a pigtail on the other side -- Kacie was
BORN for Clash Day -- and then there was Jamie,
looking more like brunch at Bellevue Square
than Clash Day at Bow Lake Elementary. It was just too funny. I
suggested that she might want to change into a nice blood-red
turtleneck instead, to clash with the lavendar pants. We went to her
room to look at clothes, and that's when things turned awful. She sat
on the floor with her arms crossed and that horrid Pouty Face that I
hate, whining that she "doesn't have any clothes."
Until then I'd actually found the whole thing amusing, but her sullen
petulance and her whiney comment about not having anything to wear
-- this person has clothes coming out her wazoo,
believe me: I know
because I'm the one who picks them up off the floor every day
it pushed a button in me, and I slapped her. Not very hard, honest, but
it was a slap nonetheless. She burst into tears and I left the room.
She refused to come out, except for breakfast, which she ate in stoney
silence. Kacie was still bouncing around in her cheerfully awful
outfit, happy as a clam. I made a big fuss over her --
we even tied a
red bandana around one knee, a la Punky Brewster --
and I think that
Kacie's enthusiasm finally started to get to Jamie. As soon as
breakfast was over, she wordlessly slipped back into her bedroom and
changed into a red turtleneck. When she came out, a few minutes later,
she looked at me as if to say Is this any better? I
said yes, now she looked wonderfully terrible, and I put one of my ugly
silk scarves around her neck to complete the ensemble. Neither one of
us said anything about my slapping her, but by the time she left for
school we both seemed to have recovered from the incident. She walked
out the door smiling.
still feel badly about
slapping her (although I think the damage was more emotional than
physical). I made her a little card that said "I'm sorry." I'll
to her when she gets home from school today. I'm not saying that a card
makes up for what I did, and I'm not trying to excuse my behavior
very rarely strike my children, but even once is one time too many
-- but I think I want Jamie to understand that
everybody makes mistakes,
even (especially?) Mom, and it's important to clear the air and try to
make amends when we goof.
weekend was Ray's birthday
(35), and the weekend before that was Easter, and both weekends were
marvelously silly and fun. Now it's Friday again, and I'm wondering
what this weekend holds in store. Will it compare? Maybe not, but still
I'm looking forward to a two-day break from babysitting, and from the
old weekday routine. Danielle has been here every single day this week
(usually I only have her three days out of five), and with the gloomy
weather the kids have been mostly stuck indoors and in my hair.
"I'm gonna be two mans
when I grow up - Indiana Jones and BATMAN."
"Don't worry about me,
Mom - I'm tough."
May 8, 1990
I want lots of money.
2. I have seen a clown.
3. I got a scene in A Trip To Oz.
4. I didn't know that.
5. I'm not a morning person.
6. I'm very luck to have a nice mom.
7. We studyed the body.
8. I'll do that later.
9. I like my face.
10. I wish I was done with my spelling homework.
11. Are bodies good to us.
12. I forget what extinct means.
13. I want to go to the Atlantic Ocean.
14. I forget what migrate means.
For Kyle's fourth birthday (his first birthday in the new house),
we threw him a 'big boy' party.
Guests included several of the children I babysat (including Jessica,
Tia and Joey Bontempo
and Jerome and Andre Eagans), plus his friends Sean & Scott
from the Shannon South Apartments.
A good (if noisy/messy/rowdy) time was had by all.
was after the party was over and the guests had gone home that tragedy
Kyle, still overly cranked on sugar and excitement, took a
tumble down the
concrete steps of the front porch, busting his lip wide open.
however to the care and attention of his loving family
it didn't ruin the big day.
May 9, 1990
see, now how much time
has passed? Almost another two weeks, I guess. It's a little after 3:00
on a sunny Wednesday afternoon: the kids should be home from school
baby was here for a few
hours this morning, but her Grandma just came and picked her up. Right
before she left, she fell down the back step and cut her lip open, so
when Grandma got here Danielle was bleeding and sobbing hysterically,
in spite of my best efforts to comfort her ... oh great. I already get
the impression that Mrs. J. doesn't think that much of me (although I
also get the impression that NO babysitter would be good enough for her
precious grandbaby - it isn't just me!), so god only knows what she
thought when she walked in and found Danielle sobbing in my arms ... oh
well. I'm sure that Danielle's mom will understand that it
was an accident. Andrea is great. She's typical of most first-time
moms, a little on the overprotective side, but I think she trusts me.
We really do take good care of Danielle here. Of all the children I've
babysat through the years, Danielle is unquestionably our favorite, and
it upsets me terribly when something happens to hurt her, even
something as clearly unpreventable as this was ...
kids are home now. Jerome,
André and Kyle are playing in the backyard; Jamie and Kacie
are planted squarely in front of the TV, watching "Ghostbusters." (The
cartoon - not the movie.) Kacie brought me an "early Mother's Day
present" -- a slightly-wilted marigold in a little
planter, which I've
ceremoniously placed on the kitchen windowsill. Jerome and
André are staying for dinner tonight. I spent a couple of
hours this afternoon making potato salad, and right now I've got frozen
fried chicken in the oven. Ray brought home a flat of strawberries, so
I'll slice them up for dessert. I'm still dieting, but I get a lot of
vicarious satisfaction out of making stuff for everybody else. I don't
know whether I'm losing any weight yet or not, but I'll continue to
plug away at it anyway: maybe SOMEDAY I'll get into that green jumpsuit
I bought two years ago -- the one that's hanging
in my closet with the
price tags still attached ...
should mention a couple of
things that have happened around here since the last time I wrote.
First of all, I've taken on an enormous new babysitting commitment. One
of the moms from Jamie's Brownie troop, Janet Bontempo, called me out
of the blue a
couple of weeks ago and asked me if I'd be interested in watching her
three children, four days a week. Joey is Kyle's age, approximately;
he's here from 10:30 in the morning on. His two older sisters go to Bow
Lake with my girls: Jessica is in third grade, Tia is in second grade.
So they get here after school, around 3:30. Then all three of them are
here until at least 7:30 each night, which means I feed them dinner. I
agreed to babysit them on a trial basis to start. Last week was our
first week, and so far it hasn't been wildly intolerable ... the kids
are nice, their mom (Janet) is very nice -- I like
her a lot -- and I'm
being paid fairly well. I still don't know whether or not this is going
to be a long-term arrangement, but for the time being the extra money
is coming in very handy. More on this another time.
other thing that's happened
is that our Kyle celebrated his fourth birthday last weekend! I realize
that every time one of my kids hits another birthday I get all
sentimental and say things like I can't believe Jamie/Kacie/Kyle is
one/two/three/four/etc. ALREADY ... seems like only yesterday ... blah
blah blah. But I can't help saying it again. I
CAN'T BELIEVE THAT KYLE IS FOUR YEARS OLD ALREADY!
hands are beginning to look
their age. I noticed it last night in bed: I was reaching over to
stroke Kyle's hair (he was sleeping next to me), and all of a sudden I
realized that my hands are becoming puffy and wrinkled. Wrinkled
hands??? God. Next it'll be liver spots.
have a new song that I'm
passionate about: Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U." I just
heard it on the radio again a few minutes ago, and it gave me
goosebumps ... the first song I've really, really fallen in love with
this year (or this decade, for that matter). I do like "Don't Know
Much," the Linda Ronstadt/Aaron Neville duet that came out a couple of
months ago - when they sang it live on the Grammy Awards on Feb. 21, I
cried, it was so beautiful - but "Nothing Compares 2 U" is odd and
surreal and special, and I love it.
become a devoted "Regis
& Kathie Lee" fan this year. Watching it right now, as a matter
of fact. (9 a.m. weekdays, Channel 4.)
May 12, 1990
up this morning from a
horrible dream that Jamie had been abducted. In the dream, Kacie and I
were handing out Missing Child leaflets to passersby, when I was
suddenly overcome by grief and started screaming "JAMIE! JAMIE!" I was
thinking, God, I want
this to be a dream but it's NOT, it's real - and
that's when I woke up. I was so incredibly relieved to discover that it
was all a nightmare that I jumped out of bed, ran to the living room
where the kids were quietly watching cartoons, and threw my arms around
a visibly startled Jamie Lynn!
and her Brownie troop are
going on an outing to the Seattle Aquarium today, and the truth is that
I'm halfway paranoid about letting her go now ... "You be very careful
today," I told her ... I saw something on TV last night about a little
girl who had been abducted by her psycho babysitter -- she was returned
safely, a couple of days ago -- that was probably what prompted the
now that I'm awake and
drinking some of Jamie's good coffee to shake off the cobwebs, I feel
pretty good. It's SATURDAY, for one thing. Thank the Lord for
Saturdays. No babysitting today!! By the time Janet finally
picked up her kids at 8:00 last night (she only paid half the money she
owed me, by the way), I was more than ready for a day off.
May 14, 1990
"easier" Monday than
usual: Erin called first thing this morning to say that her whole
family is sick and the boys wouldn't be here, so the only kid I had to
babysit was Danielle. She just left. Now my kids are eating supper
(beef stew, bread and butter, doughnuts for dessert) and I'm out here
in my "office" with a cigarette and a teeny glass of wine.
leaves for Brownies in a
little while. My only plans for this evening are to watch the season
finale of "Murphy Brown" and to vegetate. I've been so tired lately. I
didn't even get out of my p.j.'s and into the shower until 11 a.m., and
although I was able to muster enough energy this afternoon to get the
kitchen cleaned up and throw the stew together, I can feel myself
beginning to fold again, now that the baby has gone home ...
was Mother's Day ...
my tenth as an "official" Mom! Kacie went to Sunday School with Tracy
(who spent the night), but Jamie came into my room while I was still in
bed and brought me my gifts. She'd made me a card at school, plus she
bought me some things at the Seattle Aquarium on Saturday: two little
soaps shaped like a whale and a seashell, a coral-pink trinket box to
add to my collection, and a beautiful green and yellow candle shaped
like a bird. (She was EXTREMELY proud of herself.) When Kacie came home
from church, she gave me an eclectic assortment of gifts she's chosen
and wrapped herself: a card, two pencils, some garage sale jewelry, a
plastic egg filled with pennies. I got dressed and put on some makeup,
and then Ray and the kids and I jumped in the car and headed to Burien.
We had lunch at Arby's -- I tried the new Country Fried Steak Sandwich,
it was pretty good -- and then we did some shopping at Pay &
Save and Fred Meyer. Jamie is adopting one of her classroom mice this
week, and we needed to pick up a few things for the cage. Janet had
already given us a big, used aquarium tank to use as a cage, so all we
needed to buy were litter, mouse food, and a little plastic exercise
wheel. I also bought myself some makeup and magazines, a new diary (and
one for Jamie), other odds and ends.
also stopped at the video
store and rented two movies, "Dominick & Eugene" and "Turner
& Hooch." When we got home from shopping it was starting to
rain, so Ray built a fire in the woodstove and I layed down on the
couch with a blanket and watched "Dominick & Eugene." It wasn't
as good as I hoped it would be, in spite of the fact that it has two of
my favorite actors in it, Tom Hulce and Ray Liotta. I was a little
disappointed. (I liked "Turner & Hooch," though.)
in the evening, Ray went
out and bought KFC for our dinner. Two fast food meals in one day: the
ultimate Mother's Day gift! (So how come when I got up this morning I
STILL had to face a sinkful of dirty dishes ... ??) I should mention
that Kyle gave me a Mother's Day gift, too! When we got home from our
shopping expedition, he and Ray mysteriously "disappeared" into the
garage for a few minutes. Shortly afterward, Kyle came into the living
room carrying a big pink envelope ... a funny Mom's Day card he'd
signed 'all by himself' (with a little help from Daddy)! I was
completely surprised! Ray must have bought the card at Pay &
Save when I wasn't looking.
May 18, 1990
has been one of those up
& down weeks ... frankly, I'm astonished that it's FRIDAY
already ... glad, but astonished ...
babysitting was really
inconsistent this week. Jerome and André stayed home sick on
Monday and Tuesday; Janet took a spontaneous day off on Tuesday, so her
kids weren't here that day (and on the days they were here, she was
either really late dropping them off or else really late picking them
up - 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, 9:30 p.m. last night); I had Danielle
unexpectedly on Wednesday, but then Andrea stayed home sick on Thursday
and kept the baby home with her. Whew. It's a good thing I keep a
careful log of arrivals and departures, or else I wouldn't have any
idea how much money anyone owes me ...
had a scare yesterday. Ray
got a certified letter from the state, demanding payment on his 1986
unemployment "overpayment." He's been paying them $60 a month for the
past couple of years, trying to get this crap taken care of, but now
all of a sudden they were saying they wanted the $2,000 balance right
now, or else they would start putting liens on everything we own ...
fortunately Ray managed to get someone on the phone and was able to get
the matter cleared up more or less to everyone's satisfaction. He'll
continue to make the $60 payments every month, and in return they won't
step in and garnish his paycheck or anything awful like that. I was
enormously relieved, of course - and so was Ray - but this close call
only served to remind me how tenuous is our hold on everything ... it
would only take one major crisis to upset the whole thing: Ray being
laid off from his job, the car dying, me being pulled over for driving
without a license. We are living in a house of cards. One gust of wind,
and the whole thing blows apart. So far we have been incredibly lucky,
but every morning when I get out of bed I can't help but wonder "Will
it be today?" Is this the day that final, awful, unexpected gust of
wind topples our house of cards ... ?
On to something a
little more pleasant - tonight is the Bow Lake School Carnival, and the
kids are so excited. It's all they've talked about for days. We'll be
walking over to the school after dinner this evening, the kids and I
plus Jessie, Tia and Joey B. Should be fun!
May 24, 1990
The next week. The Carnival was fun: the kids played games to win small
prizes (stickers, posters, coupons for free goldfish, rubber
caterpillars, candy, etc.); ate horrible blue cotton candy; had their
faces painted; and watched their favorite teachers take a dive in The
Dunk Tank, among other amusements. I enjoyed myself --
saw a lot of
people I knew -- it was a pleasant evening, all the
next day (Saturday, the
19th) was even more fun. The sun was shining, Ray was sleeping
worked straight through the night -- I had some
money in my purse and
gas in the car, so I grabbed the kids and we set off in search of
adventure! First, we finally managed to find that used records store in
Boulevard Park, the one I tried to locate a few weeks ago: it's a
little bitty shoebox of a place, wedged between a barber shop and a
Chinese restaurant. To me it was like heaven on earth ... row upon row
of albums, 45's and tapes, all in remarkable condition and prices
incredibly low. I fell in love the minute I walked through the door. I
could have browsed there for hours. The kids were antsy, though, so I
had to content myself with a quick shuffle through some of the albums.
It yielded some great "finds" -- Paul McCartney's
Mars," Neil Young's "Harvest," an Eagles "Greatest Hits," Bob Welch's
"French Kiss," among others. I plan to go back as soon as possible,
maybe without all of the kids next time, and give those boxes of 45s a
the record store, we
drove back to the Bow
Lake neighborhood and hit some garage sales. ("This is fun!" Jamie
said. "Can we do this every weekend?") I found a good purse for a
dollar, a sweatshirt for Kacie, a cute coffee mug for a quarter. On our
way home, we stopped at 7-11 for Slurpees.
has been another really
inconsistent week, babysitting-wise, but at least I've got a three-day
Memorial Day weekend ahead of me, and I can use it to catch my breath.
May 29, 1990
ha ha. "Catch my breath" ...
?? Is that what I really intended to do last weekend?? It certainly
didn't work out that way ...
grandfather passed away
on Thursday afternoon, at his home in Tucson. Ray had already left for
work when I got the call from Don Sr., so I had to call him at the
plant and break the sad news to him over the phone. Ray dearly loved
Grandpa Henry, so of course he was really upset. At first we didn't
there was any possible way for him to get down to Tucson for the
funeral -- not with the price of airfare
-- but at the last minute
Barbara offered to buy him a ticket. He left yesterday; the kids and I
took him to the airport and watched his plane take off. He'll be back
either late Thursday night or early Friday morning. (The funeral is
today, and then he wants to spend a couple of days with his Grandma and
the rest of his family.)
May 31, 1990
been strange having him
gone all week. We've been apart from each other before, of course
-- there was his fishing trip in '85, and the time
I took the girls to
visit my grandmothers for a week, not to mention our "trial
separation" in 1986 -- but this is different. This
time we are separated
by a greater distance than ever before. He's not at work, not at the
grocery store, not at my grandmother's house doing yardwork. He is
hundreds and HUNDREDS of miles away.
had a palpable lump in my
throat as I watched his plane take off on Monday morning, I must admit.
And there have been odd, unexpected moments this week when I've missed
him: putting his clean socks away, cooking dinner for the kids and
realizing I don't have to fix him a plate to heat up after swingshift
but mostly (and this should
come as no surprise to anyone who has read my diaries and journals from
years past), I have revelled in the comparative freedom and peace of
this week. Like a teenager when Mom & Dad are out of the house
for the evening! I've loved having the car, I've loved
spending my own
money and buying my own groceries, I've loved having the bed all to
myself (and not being awakened at 12:30 when he gets home from work)
... I've really loved
being in charge of everything.
tonight, though. Ray comes in at 10:35 p.m. I think I'm going to go
pick him up, although nothing has been settled 100% yet. Then the place
goes back to "normal."
well. Kyle has missed his
Daddy like crazy, and I know the feeling is mutual. When I talked to
Ray on the phone last night, I could hear it in his voice: he's lonely
for his little boy. Joined at the hip as the two of them are, it's not
surprising that they've missed each other. It'll be a big thrill for
them both when Ray gets home.
has been going on
"below the surface" of my life the past couple weeks, something I never
got around to writing about but will mention briefly ... I've been
certain I was pregnant again! I mean CERTAIN: I was already wondering
how in the world to break the news to my mom, wondering where the baby
would sleep, even thinking about names! And this of course has had me
in another "fog" of worry and distraction, so much so that I went
totally off the diet ("Why
bother?," I thought) and have probably put
on another ten pounds, just from all the bacon and egg breakfasts and
middle-of-the-night munchies ... oh well. Strangely enough, there was a
tiny part of me that was secretly thrilled at the idea of another baby.
I figured, it's too late to do anything about it now, so I might as
well just sit back and enjoy it. I can't say that I'd completely
reached a place of acceptance about it, but I was working on it. So of
course when my period started unexpectedly last night, while the kids
and I were standing in the check-out line at Safeway, I was
simultaneously elated and let down. Half of me said "Thank God!" ...
the other half said "Shucks!" ...
morning I am more relieved
than disappointed. The cold light of day, I guess. My romantic notion
of a final, blissful pregnancy and a lovely new baby seem utterly
foolish and impractical now. Allow me to emit my second heartfelt sigh
of the morning.
June 3, 1990
is safely tucked away at
Brownie camp ... she'll be home tomorrow afternoon ... tonight it's
just me, Ray, Kacie, Kyle and Joey B. (who is here for the evening
while his parents are at a wedding). We're waiting for a phone call
that may or may not come ... so far it hasn't.
"Mom, when are you gonna
be done hugging me?"
Mom (enjoying an all-too-brief moment of tenderness): "When I feel like
Kyle: "Oh." (Pause.) "Well ... I want you to feel like it NOW."
June 11, 1990
days later. Not the
Monday morning following my last entry, but the Monday morning after
that. Vaguely depressed today, in spite of the first blue sky we've
seen in weeks (practically), so I thought I would start off the day
-- and the week -- with a
scribble. Just beginning to sip the first cup of
coffee, so it might take a while for me to sound cohesive ...
kids just left for school;
Kyle and Ray are asleep in my bed; André is crying in Kyle's
room (because Jerome refused to kiss him goodbye); Danielle is sitting
on the sofa with a bottle of juice, smiling at me. None of Janet's kids
today. My day will be full enough as it is: one of the reasons for my
vague depression is the condition of this house at the moment. It's
like one enormous unmade bed. Every room is a study in chaos: the
laundry room and the girls' and Kyles bedrooms are the worst. Mostly
it's my own fault. Friday I was partying, Saturday I was hungover, and
Sunday I was running around doing stuff with Ray and the kids. No time
to keep a lid on the mess. Also, Ray finally finished building the
girls' bunkbeds this weekend (they're WONDERFUL!), and when he
installed them on Saturday he sort of turned the place upside down.
Just looking at the house this morning has me feeling disheartened. How
will I ever get it all sorted out ... ?
why is it always so darned
important to me that I have a clean house, anyway ... ??
suppose I take housework so
seriously because I consider the house to be a reflection of my life.
When my house is neat and orderly, my life feels neat and orderly ...
when things are a mess, I feel like I've lost control of every other
part of my life.
also feeling a little
anxious about summer vacation starting next week. This Friday is the
last day of school, and after that it's going to be nothing but
kidskidskids, 24 hours a day. Jerome and André will be here
every weekday from 7:30 a.m. until late afternoon; Danielle will be
here three days a week, at least, from early morning till 5:30 p.m.;
and Janet's kids, all three of them, will be there 3-4 days a week from
10:30 in the morning until 8 or 9:00 at night. And then of course there
are my own three inescapable monsters!! she said
lovingly. It's definitely going to feel
like Old Woman In The Shoe time around here this summer. Am I up to it?
Can I handle the noise, the chaos, the instrusion?
June 19, 1990
it's another week later,
and my trial by fire has begun. Summer Vacation 1990 is here.
today will be the
test: I'll have all nine of the kids here all day for the
first time. (Anxiously scanning the skies ... it'd better not RAIN
today!) Yesterday was bad enough, with just Jerome and
and the baby here: Jerome threw sand on both of the picnic tables (he
said it was his "pretend-birdseed") and tore up Ray's garage ...
someone picked all of the baby apples off the tree ... Jamie changed
clothes four times ... dirt was tracked all over the house ... and the
NOISE was incredible. What will it be like with Jessie, Tia and Joey
added to the mix?!?
and Kacie brought home
very good year-end report cards, incidentally. I was especially pleased
with Mrs. McCall's comments about Kacie:
has had a
wonderful year. She has grown both academically and socially. I have
thoroughly enjoyed watching and helping her gain new skills. She has
great determination to learn new skills. Please encourage reading,
writing and the use of number concepts throughout the summer. Have a
definitely seems more
centered and self-assured that she was at the beginning of the school
year. She and I have been very close lately, and I've been delighted
with the changes in her.
I guess I needn't have
worried about being "tested" today, after all ... Janet and her kids
pulled a no-show. We waited for them all morning, but by noon they
still hadn't arrived. No phone call, either. So I've written them off
folr the day. I don't really care. The money would have been nice,
since Janet usually pays me in the evenings when she picks her kids up,
but on the other hand the relative "peace and quiet" have been OK ...
June 20, 1990
I feel like an idiot! Janet stopped by yesterday afternoon and said
that her girls (Jessie & Tia) had "gotten onto the airplane
just fine." I'd completely forgotten that they were going to California
for two weeks!! No wonder they didn't show up yesterday! I just nodded
and smiled and pretended that I'd remembered all about it. What a dummy
we'll only have Joey (age
3-1/2) here for the next couple of weeks. I like that. In spite of my
embarrassment over forgetting about California, I am pleased with this
new development. I like the idea of "easing into" the summer and into
the business of watching so many kids. I'm actually in something
resembling a good mood this morning, as a result.
first summer in the house
... I wonder what kind of summer it'll prove to be? The kids already
miss the big Shannon South swimming pool, I'm afraid. We went over to
John & Lori's last weekend for Tracy's birthday party, and it
was funny seeing my kids splashing around so happily in the old
familiar pool ... funny and sad. It's not that I miss living in the
apartment, because I DON'T, but I do miss having such convenient
summertime entertainment for the kids, right outside my front door. I'm
not sure what we're going to do to resolve the swimming issue this
goes to Camp River Ranch
for a week next month! This is something I'm getting very excited
about: more excited than Jamie
is, frankly, although I think
that's more 'fear of the unknown' than any genuine apathy on her part.
Once she gets to camp and discovers how much fun it is, I honestly
believe she's going to adore the place. I really do!
June 27, 1990
week later. I just re-read
that last little bit of an entry, above -- the stuff about Jamie going
to camp -- and I hate the way it sounds! It makes it sound as though
I'm steamrollering her into going, whether she likes it or not, and
that's simply not the case! I just meant that, at this point, she's not
sure what to expect. Except for one Brownie overnight at the beginning
of this month, she has had no camping experience. So the whole thing is
virtually brand-new to her. She's excited, but her anticipation is
tempered by a very natural uncertainty. I went through the same thing
at her age, the first time I went off to summer camp by myself, so I
know how she feels. On the other hand, camp turned out to be one of the
happiest experiences of my childhood, once my uncertainties were
resolved, and I'm sure that this is what's going to happen for Jamie.
course, I could be wrong. I
don't always "know" Jamie as well as I think I do. Maybe she'll hate
it. Maybe she'll look back on the summer of '90 as the summer her
horrible mother sent her to that horrible camp. Maybe she'll never want
to go again. Where Jamie is concerned, I'm learning to expect the
unexpected these days!! But in this case, I'd be willing to bet a
million dollars that Jamie Lynn Polen and Camp River Ranch are a match
made in heaven.
enjoying the summer, so
far. The weather has been pleasant and the babysitting light: today, as
a matter of fact, I only have one "extra" kid hanging around -- Joey B.
(Danielle isn't here on Wednesdays, and Erin called earlier this
morning to say that Jerome & André won't be here ...
plus Jessica and Tia are still in California.) I must be a rare breed
... I actually enjoy
having my kids out of school and at home with me.
I know I say something to that effect every summer, but it's true.
Jamie and Kacie are delightful company.
just dropped Joey off on
her way to her job at the pet shop. She and I are becoming good friends
... I enjoy her quirky personality. Tonight after work, she's going to
cut and perm my hair. I'm a little nervous about it, but determined to
go through with it anyway. I'm still very unhappy about the way I look,
and I need a change.
June 28, 1990
Janet finked out on doing my hair last night, and I'm bummed. I was
really looking forward to it. She called last night at 7:00 from the
pet shop with one of her garbled, rapid-fire "explanations" ...
something about her husband being "sick and cranky." This wasn't the
first time she's let me down, and something tells me it won't be the
It isn't mentioned in the journal, but on July 1st my mom and I took
the kids to the Woodland Park Zoo for the day.
The cotton candy photo at right is my favorite Tot photo ever.
July 10, 1990
Kyle: "Hello, I am
Robo-cop ... thank you for my operation."
couple of weeks later, and
Jamie is now at camp! We drove her out on Sunday afternoon, and she'll
be there until this coming Saturday. I just finished writing her
another letter: this makes five I've written her so far, including the
one I mailed the day before she left and the little note I tucked into
her suitcase. Yes, I miss her, but it's not an obsessive, overwhelming
sort of thing ... I know where she is, I know she's in good hands, and
I'm pleased with myself for having pulled this whole thing off
successfully. As for all the letters, well ... I remember how nice it
felt to get mail from home while I was at camp, and I want to do that
for Jay. We even sent her a sort of "mini care package" yesterday,
filled with stuff like felt pens, a steno pad, toy bracelets,
magazines, etc.etc., as a special surprise.
ready to drive Jamie to Camp River Ranch
July 8, 1990
July 11, 1990
toughest part was dropping
her off on Sunday. I was just fine during the drive to Carnation --
lighthearted, happy, thoroughly enjoying a long drive in the country
with my family -- but the instant we drove into the camp, a very odd
thing happened to me. I'm not quite sure how to describe it ...
furthermore, I'm not even sure I want to try. For one thing, it will be
incredibly hard to explain: for another, it involves emotions that are
still tender to the touch at the moment, and I'm not sure I'm
comfortable writing about them. But for the sake of making some sense
of all this, I'll try.
a week before Jamie left
for camp, I had a weirdly vivid dream. I dream about my own childhood
summer camp experiences a lot ... maybe once every other month. Usually
these dreams are sweet, wistful, nostalgic, pleasurable. This dream,
though, left me feeling sad for days afterward. In the dream, I was
walking around the lake at one of my favorite old summer camps, when I
discovered -- to my dismay -- that most of the camp had been torn down
to make room for a huge shopping development. In the dream, I was
outraged. "How could they DO this??" I cried.
then, I looked
beyond a grove of trees, at the far end of the mall, and saw a cluster
of covered wagons ... the tent-covered structures we slept in at Camp
River Ranch. "That's Wagons East!" I shouted with joy. At least they'd
left one of my old units intact! I
wanted, more than anything, to run over to the wagons and get a closer
look, but for some dream-reason I wasn't "allowed" to approach them.
When the dream ended, I woke up feeling frustrated and sad.
covered wagon I slept in at Camp River Ranch
been 22 years since I'd
been to Camp River Ranch. So when we drove Jamie there on Sunday, I
expected it to be dramatically changed. I think that in some ways it
might have been easier for me if it had
been. At the entrance to the camp we were directed to drive up a steep,
heavily wooded mountain road. Right away things began to "feel"
familiar to me, in a funny, nonspecific sort of way. Jamie and I were
both getting really excited. I was enjoying the pleasant rush of
sensory memories ... Jamie and I were chattering happily ... and that's
when it happened. I glanced over to my right, through of grove of trees
... and there they were. The covered wagons! I swear to god, it was
exactly like my dream! I was hit by a tidal wave of conflicting emotion
... surprise (I honestly didn't expect them to still be there, after 22
years), pleasure, nostalgia, longing, an overwhelming desire to jump
out of the car and run over for that closer look I never got in the
dream ... and above all else, an abrupt, heart-numbing sadness. I don't
know why. This is the part that's all mixed up inside of me. I think
that part of it might have been the shock of finding the camp so
unchanged. The further we drove through River Ranch, the clearer my
memories became. (They'd even assigned Jamie to one of my old units,
Hidden Forest!) Except for a few minor cosmetic changes, it could have
been 1968 all over again.
I think that's the origin
of my sadness ... because it isn't 1968, and I'm
not ten years old, and the little girl
with the suitcase and sleeping bag isn't me, it's my daughter ... I
think that in some crazy, half-deranged way, I was (and still am)
horribly, painfully envious of Jamie!!
This is embarrassing to admit, but there it is, I guess. I'm envious
because there is still so much ahead of her ... her week at Camp River
Ranch is just a beginning ... and I don't know if anything is
ahead of me, anymore. My days of covered wagons are long gone, and
that's all there is to it.
least, that's how I felt at
that moment on Sunday.
at Camp River Ranch ~ Age 10
now I'm embarrassed because
all I've focused on, throughout all of this, is me-me-me. My feelings.
My camp. My rite of passage. The fact is, this is Jamie's big
experience, and I've been so wrapped up in my own internal garbage that
I've sort of lost sight of what's important here ...
we drove away from the
camp, Jamie was already in the capable hands of a nice counselor
("Troll"), standing in a circle of other little girls, learning her
first camp song ... and I was already in tears! I wept for most of the
drive home. Ray assumed that I was crying because we were leaving Jamie
behind, and that was part of it, but I was also crying because I wanted
desperately to be standing in that circle, singing camp songs ...
had a little "internal
dialogue" with myself during the drive home, through my tears: I vowed
that no matter what, my goofy feelings of envy and longing weren't
going to to spoil Jamie's first camp experience. I don't want her to ever
know about this -- or at least not until she's a mom herself, maybe,
and can relate to the feelings. I also sternly reminded myself that I'm
the grown-up in this situation, and it's damn well time I started
acting that way. The temptation to live vicariously through my children
will probably always be strong. But I'm going to have to resign myself
to the fact that from now I'm the spectator in life, not the
participant. A bitter pill to swallow, maybe, but the sooner I swallow
it the better for everybody. This is all tied together with the kids
getting older, me getting older, my dissatisfactions with myself and
with my life in general ... and with my overwhelming, abiding love for
told you this would be hard
to explain, but I think I've done as well as I can for tonight. More
tomorrow, maybe. It's really hot and muggy this evening, and my head
feels heavy and confused. I'm really not upset about this stuff
think about Jamie, at odd
hours of the day and night -- I wonder what she's doing, if she's
having fun, if she's remembering to change her underwear -- but it is
with feelings of love, not envy. I'm looking forward to her coming home
on Saturday, but I'm also trying to force time, by sheer force of a
mother's will, to pass as slowly as possible this week. I want her fun
to last as long as possible. As of today (Wednesday) we still
haven't gotten a letter from her, but I really didn't want or expect
her to spend her precious time at camp writing letters. (Although I do
hope we get at least one letter, to keep as a memento for her.)
and Kacie and I are
sitting here in the living room, electric fan whirring, watching
"Rescue 911," one of our favorite shows. It's after 10 p.m. but I'm not
enforcing much of a bedtime this summer, particularly on a hot night
like tonight. Kyle is sitting in the little rocking chair, wearing
nothing but a popsicle-stained Mickey Mouse T-shirt (no pants); Kacie
is laying in the usual tangled heap on the floor in front of the TV.
They've both been remarkably good thiks week. I've enjoyed watching the
two of them in indisturbed togetherness. The babysitting has been (as
it's been all summer, so far) really sporadic and light, so much of the
time it's just been Kacie and Kyle, alone together. I'm surprised and
touched by how well they get along when there are no other children or
outside distractions. Tonight, for instance. They played outside in the
backyard until well past 8:00. At one point, I stuck my head out the
back door to see how they were doing. "Hi Mom!" Kacie shouted
cheerfully. "We're playing DOCTOR, and Kyle has two broken legs and a
broken arm!" Kyle was laying in the wagon with both of his legs propped
on the seat of the swing, one arm tied to a jumprope they'd tied to the
top of the monkey bars. He was in "traction," apparently. It was a
July 12, 1990
next morning, and it's
going to be another HOT day. It's also supposed to be a busy
babysitting day: Danielle, Jerome & André are
already here, and all three of Janet's kids are due in a couple of
hours. (Experience has taught me, however, not to count on anything
where Janet is concerned. I won't actually include her kids in my plans
for the day until they are really and truly here.)
glad I wrote all that stuff
last night. I just re-read the whole thing, and although it doesn't
make a lot of sense, it felt good to get it out. I think it all boils
down to this: time is passing more quickly than I ever thought
possible, and it's taking a little getting used to. I may be 10 years
old on the inside, but the fact is that I AM getting older. It takes
something tangible -- like going back to River Ranch and realizing that
I'm the parent now, not the camper -- to wake me up to the facts. Call
it a pre-midlife crisis. Some days I deal with it better than others
... so far, today seems to be one of the "better" days.
A letter today from Jamie
How are you? I'm fiine. We are having a swimming test! And I'm swimming
in levle 2! I have a friend named Jennie. Me & Jennie are
swimming buddies. Can you please send one role of 12 pic. film. Becase
We are going on a lot of hik'es, & I want to take lots of pic.
of the swimm test. Gotta go now! Say hi to Dad, Kacie & Kyle!
Oh yea! Sniffer to!
Can you send 5
July 19, 1990
week later, and Jamie is
home, safe and sound.
her up on Saturday was
a million times easier (emotionally) than dropping her off had been,
although there was one major glitch on Satuday: we misunderstood the
pick-up time (we thought we were supposed to be there at 11:30 a.m.,
but actually it was 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.!) By the time we got to the camp
Jamie was the only little girl left waiting for her parents! And of
course she was nearly hysterical. "I thought you'd been in an
accident," she sobbed. I felt horrible about the mistake and apologized
all over the place to the counselors and to Jamie, and then we exited
the camp with VERY red faces ...
we drove out of the camp, I
said "Goodbye River Ranch! See you next year!"
who was in the
backseat of the car with my cassette player, hungrily devouring the
Paula Abdul tape she hadn't listened to all week, said something like
"I don't know about that."
thought that maybe she was
just worn out,
or still a little upset about our late arrival, but subsequent
conversations with her the past few days reveal that camp wasn't the
greatest experience of her life, after all! For one thing, she was very
homesick. For another, not knowing anybody at camp was tougher on her
than I'd anticipated. (I wish now that I could have found someone from
her Brownie troop to go to camp with her, but that's water under the
bridge at this point, isn't it?) At any rate, she did seem to enjoy
some things about camp -- she loved the swimming lessons, and she was
especially fond of her counselor, "Troll" -- but she was enormously
happy to come home. I'm sorry, and a little disappointed, that camp
wasn't more fun for her, but I didn't make a big deal out of it. I've
just chalked it up to experience: another example of me trying to
project my own feelings and experiences onto an unwilling Jamie. When
do you suppose I'll learn ... ?!?
we picked Jamie up, we
stopped at Remlinger Farms (next door to the camp) and wandered around
for an hour or so, looking at fresh fruits and vegetables, arts
& crafts, plants, etc. I bought a big bouquet of dried baby's
breath, some blue wooden hearts to hang next to my kitchen window, a
postcard, and a necklace for Kacie (Jamie said she "didn't want one").
When we finally got home, Jamie ran immediately to say hello to her
mouse, then to look at her bedroom. While she was at camp, I completely
cleaned her room -- I also put up a collage of Paula Abdul posters on
one wall! -- so everything was neat and pretty for her.
in front of the Paula Abdul shrine
in the afternoon, Ray and
I took all three of the kids over to Angle Lake for a one-hour swim,
and then the next evening we all went out to dinner at Garcia's, near
Southcenter. So it was an especially nice weekend ... a real
"homecoming" for Jamie. I'm glad to have her back.
is here in full force.
Temperatures have been in the mid-80's for over a week now, and it
shows no sign of cooling down. So far I haven't been wildly
uncomfortable ... we've got a new electric fan this year, a tall one
that oscillates, and that really helps ... I open all of the doors and
windows first thing in the morning, while it's still cool, and then I
keep the curtains drawn all day. The house stays relatively cool that
way. We bought a sprinkler for the front yard, and a few weeks ago
Danielle's parents gave us a swimming/wading pool that's too deep for
the baby to use, but is just right for my kids to play in. It's not as
good as the heated pool at Shannon South, granted, but on these
sweltering summer afternoons it serves its purpose ...
Kacie: "Snow White
and the Theodores?"
Saturday morning 6:45 a.m.
early on a sunny Saturday
morning. Jamie's at a slumber party (for Alexandra R.), but Kacie and I
couldn't sleep so we're out of bed already. Today is Waterland Festival
Day, something we've been looking forward to all summer, and who could
sleep on such a glorious day??!? For weeks we've been dropping all of
our spare change and extra dollar bills into an empty pickle jar, just
for this day. Last night we counted it: $63.30! Plus my babysitting
money. We should have enough to do anything we want at the fair.
must switch gears here for a
minute, however. Since I wrote last week, another very long shadow has
been cast over our lives, and in spite of our happy anticipation of the
fair, it is never far from my thoughts.
think I'll let this letter my
mother wrote tell the story for me:
isn't a fun
letter to write -- nor probably a fun letter to read, for those of you
who know and love Carla St. John as a friend or family member. We've
recently learned that Mom has terminal lung cancer and won't be with us
much longer. The doctor has given us a timeline of 6 months to a year,
with no real assurance that it won't be much less. Her typical energy
and endurance worked against her, allowing the disease to reach a very
advanced stage before she exhibited symptoms severe enough to prompt
the doctor to order the necessary tests. Mom's memory has become a
little foggy, but she has no trouble remembering loved ones, related
and otherwise. Her children, children-in-law and grandchildren are a
committee dedicated to making what time she has left as warm and happy
as we have the power to do so. We plan to keep her in her own home, and
entry both end here)
August 1, 1990
few days later ...
wonderfully cool and cloudy this morning, a brief respite from the 90
degree weather we had last weekend.
Waterland Festival was
great, in spite of the heat. We got there early on Saturday morning, as
the fair was still undergoing last-minute preparations (before it
actually opened) ... the kids and I killed some time by taking a walk
along the pier.
Jamie, Kacie & Kyle Polen at the Waterland Festival
Taken on the pier before the fair started
At noon, things finally began to open up around the
fairgrounds. We had the kids' picture taken at a "computer photo" booth
before we did anything else: the "picture" was digitally transferred
onto a big felt wall-hanging, which I LOVE -- it's hanging above my
desk right now. After having the picture taken, we ate some lunch --
burgers with fried onions for ray and I, pizza sandwiches for the kids,
a huge greasy basket of "curly fries" -- and then we hit the rides.
Enjoying the rides at the Waterland Festival
Kyle (left) and the girls (right)
Kyle loved the little kids' rides, the girls went on the bigger,
scarier stuff. I went on The Scrambler once with Jamie & Kacie:
it was wild and wonderful! It made me feel like a kid again. When we'd
exhausted the rides, we walked around the arcade and tried our hand at
the games. Ray had some success with the dart throw and a couple of
other games: he won a stuffed "Ninja Turtle" for Kyle, small toy whales
for the girls, a shot glass for me. Both of the girls won goldfish, as
well. They had to toss ping pong balls onto a table covered with
hundreds of plastic goldfish bowls, and if their ping pong ball landed
in a bowl, they won a goldfish. Jamie won on on her first toss: Kacie
got hers on her very last attempt. ("Thank you, God," I whispered, when
Kacie's ping pong ball finally landed in a bowl.) Unfortunately, the
goldfish died a couple of days after we brought them home.
The Polen Tots at the Waterland Festiva;
left the fair around 2:30,
after buying balloons, snow cones and cotton candy for the kids. It was
getting really hot by that point, and the fair had gotten uncomfortably
crowded. I'm glad now that we got there as early as we did. The lines
were short, and we were able to see and do everything we wanted within
three hours or so. If we go to the festival next year, I've got to try
and remember to get us there by 11:30 again. (I should also remember to
save the goldfish game for last ... I wound up walking around the
fairgrounds trying to carry a plastic goldfish bowl filled with water
all afternoon, and that was no fun!)
was horribly hot by the time
we got home, and I literally spent the rest of the day laying in front
of the fan. Ray and Kacie went out in the evening and got pizza for
everybody, so I wouldn't have to cook anything.
was another stiflingly
hot day. The kids and Ray and I went over to Shannon South to visit
John & Lori for most of the afternoon, so the kids could swim
in the big pool and so I could bring a slightly belated birthday gift
to Lori. (Saturday was her 28th birthday.) Lori and I sat by the pool
and watched the children swim for almost three hours. We had a nice,
long, gossipy visit ... something I've missed since we moved.
we left John &
Lori's, we went over to visit with Grandma St. John for a little while.
Here's where things get serious, I'm afraid. Most of the weekend had
been light-hearted and fun -- a real "family time," just Ray and the
kids and me. Grandma was always in my thoughts, of course, but I'd made
a conscious effort to keep a lid on my grief and make this weekend a
happy time for my family. I'd been dreading this visit with Grandma,
but I knew it was something we had to do, so I resolved to wear a brave
face and get it over with. I felt as though the kids (especially Jamie
& Kacie) were watching me, to see how I would handle it, and I
wanted them to see that I could be strong and adult. The visit itself
was OK. Grandma looked awful: drained, colorless, withered. I was
shocked. It took every ounce of strength within me to maintain a normal
conversation with her, although I guess I did fine. (She told Mom,
afterwards, that she "really enjoyed" our visit.) After about an hour,
I was suddenly seized by an overwhelming need to get out of that house,
almost like a panic attack. I thought, If I don't get out of here RIGHT
NOW, I'm going to lose it completely. Ray was outside, walking around
Grandma's yard, drinking his millionth beer of the afternoon, so I
excused myself for a minute and went outside and whispered to him that
I needed to leave. We went back into the house and said our goodbyes. I
put my arm around Grandma's shoulders and kissed the top of her head,
promising that we'd be back again "soon." ("Well, I HOPE so!" she said
cheerfully.) Ray promised that he'd come back in a few days and trim
her hedges for her, and the kids all hugged her, and then we got into
the car and drove away.
is where things went all
not even really sure how to
explain what happened next. Even today, three days later, I still can
hardly believe it happened. My first instinct is to rationalize it: the
heat, the strain of visiting Grandma, the wine I drank at Lori's, the
pounding headache and awful sunburn I'd gotten sitting by the pool ...
Ray drinking beer all day, and the crazed, maniacal way he drove us
home ... all of these things combined, I suppose. By the time we got
home, Ray and I were in the middle of an explosive screaming match. He
said something terrible and hurtful, about how I didn't care about my
Grandma being sick, how I just wanted her to die so I could get money
out of her. (I don't know WHERE ON EARTH he got such a twisted idea: I
think he just said it to hurt me). At that point I simply lost control.
I leapt off the sofa and slapped his face as hard as I could.
Ordinarily he probably would have just let it pass, but he was drunk
and enraged, and he threw me to the floor and beat the hell out of me
while the kids watched. So much for our "fun, light-hearted" weekend!
This little taste of hell on earth left me bruised, bloodied, and
sporting the most grotesque black eye you've ever seen ... not to
mention the damage it has probably done to Jamie, Kacie and Kyle's
little psyches. Imagine watching Mom and Dad punch each other out in
the living room, while the Waterland Festival balloons are still
dangling from the stereo ...
feel sick and ashamed about
this whole ugly incident. Ray has apologized, of course. The past
couple of days he has been this incredible Model Husband, although it's
hard for him to look me in the eye without cringing. He is ordinarily
the most pacific of men; I think this violent outburst horrified him as
much as it did the rest of us. And I don't think it would have happened
in the first place if I hadn't provoked him. I taunted and baited him,
I threw the first punch ... I wouldn't go so far as to say that I
"deserved" what I got, but it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't pushed
things as far as I did. There is enough blame to go around.
left eye was completely
swollen shut when I got out of bed Monday morning. It's open now, but
still swollen, purple and sore. My left leg and my back are sore and
bruised as well. The worst part is trying to explain it to people. I
lied outright to Andrea on Monday: I told her I'd been "hit by a
baseball" over the weekend. I doubt that she buys it, but I just can't
bring myself to tell her what really happened. Jay and Erin got a
slightly modified version of the truth: I said that I'd provoked Ray
and had slapped him, and he hit me back, once. Sort of a "lucky punch."
Janet hasn't seen me yet and I haven't decided what I'll tell her when
August 3, 1990
of course, I do worry about
the kids - about what they must have been thinking while they watched
Ray and I fighting, or what it might have done to affect their ideas
about male/female relationships ...
tried talking to them about
it a day or two later, once the smoke had cleared. Jamie was frank. "I
think you were kind of mean to Daddy," she said. I was astonished! Here
I was the one with the black eye, and she's siding with Ray?! "Well,"
she went on the explain, "he was so happy when we got home" (he wasn't
really: he was bombed) "and you said some really mean things." OK. This
is true. And I guess I'm glad that she hasn't completely soured on men
(and on Daddy in particular).
response was even more
baffling. "How did it make you feel when Mom & Dad got into
that big fight yesterday?" I asked him during a quiet moment on Monday.
A funny look crossed his face -- his brow furrowed, and the corners of
his mouth turned down, and he looked as though he were going to say
something explosive -- and then suddenly he
shrugged, expressionlessly, and said "I didn't CARE." I asked him the
same thing a couple of days later, while he was sitting on my lap
looking at my sore face, and I got EXACTLY the same response. ??? It
was almost as though he had to stop himself before he said something
disloyal to either Daddy or Mama. I'd like to think that he's just
being diplomatic, but I worry that he's suppressing his true feelings
about the whole thing ... confusion, fear, anger? And I wonder how
these suppressed emotions may manifest themselves in time ... ?
-- my most spiritual
child -- was quietly aghast by the fight, and by my injuries. All week
she has been tenderly solicitous toward Mom.
but I guess I've exhausted
this subject. The whole terrible ridiculous thing is over and done
with, and its time to put it behind us and get on with life.
"How was your new pillow?
Did you sleep good?"
Kyle: "Yeah - it was really ... comfurdal!"
(bringing me his toast):
"I think we have a problem here. I hate this part." (pointing to crust)
TUR-tles ... Teenage Ninjader TUR-tles ... "
hot HOT weather is coming
back today and due to stick around for a few days, so I got out of bed
early and am trying to get as much done, during these relatively cool
morning hours, as I can.
newscasts this morning are
filled with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, which occurred two days ago, and
I am reminded once again that the world is still a dangerous place.
Jamie is marginally aware of the trouble in the Middle East, and she is
worried. Not too long ago she asked me if the U.S. could ever be
involved in a war. I told her that it might happen "if a big country
was picking on a small country, and the U.S. tried to protect the
smaller country." This is about the extent of my
grasp on world affairs. So now that Iraq is "picking on" Kuwait, she is
afraid this means we're going to war. I would like to tell her that
such isn't the case, but frankly I'm worried about the same thing ...
But this is just another of
the "unspoken" worries that I push as far back in my mind as I can,
still halfway believing that if we ignore it, it will go away ... along
with the others: Grandma's cancer, my irretrievable childhood, our
precarious finances, the forty extra pounds I'm lugging around ...
Me with my dad at a family barbecue
August 4, 1990
early morning, racing
to beat the heat ... laundry running ... Jamie is outside, picking
flowers; Kacie is sitting on the kitchen counter with her bowl of Life
Cereal ... I'm cautiously sipping a cup of coffee, hoping it won't make
me feel overheated ... Kyle is crying in his bedroom about something or
other. Ray wanted a big breakfast this morning, but it's already so
warm in the kitchen that the idea of cooking bacon and eggs is
is the first weekend in a
long time that finds us (blissfully) without plans. Ray's mom called
last night and invited us over for hamburgers, but we politely made our
almost 9 a.m.
August 7, 1990
just called a few minutes
ago and announced that she's bringing her kids over in a couple of
hours, unexpectedly. Danielle, Jerome and André are already
here, so this means that TODAY I will finally -- after two months of
delays and interruptions -- have all nine kids here for the whole day.
SHIIIIIT ... !
catches me off-guard, I
must say. Better start making the sandwiches and Kool-Aid RIGHT NOW.
The day I've been dreading all summer is finally here.
August 9, 1990
it wasn't THAT bad ...
having all nine of the kids here, I mean. I keep finding these amazing
reserves of tolerance within myself. Some women would probably be ready
for the funny farm by now, but I find that being around the kids is
sort of energizing. Most of the time, anyhow.
maybe I'm just in a
better-than-average mood today. My eye has finally started to heal, and
I actually put on some makeup this morning. The kids are sitting on the
patio making pictures with dried beans, glued to paper plates with
Elmer's glue: my brilliant idea. An artsy-craftsy sort of thing. I wish
that we could do more of this kind of stuff - I've got tons and tons of
kids' craft ideas, stuck away in a notebook - but the truth is that
this has been another of our laid-back, totally unstructured (read
that: lazy) summers, and I'm rarely in the moodto initiate any formal
projects with the kids. Most everything we do is spontaneous ... like
the bean pictures today. Jamie was standing around in the kitchen
looking bored while I was cooking bean soup for Ray's dinner, and on a
whim I handed her the bag of mixed dried beans and a stack of paper
plates and said "Go for it." Now they're all huddled in a circle
outside, heads together, separating the beans into different colors and
arguing (naturally) and making a wonderful, gluey mess. Ten minutes
from now they'll be all finished and looking for something else to do,
but in the meantime I've bought myself a little time.
problems in the Middle East
continue. You can't even turn on the TV or open a newspaper this week
without hearing about it, and my concern continues to grow in spite of
my best efforts to wish it all away. The U.S. has sent troops
to Saudi Arabia as a demonstration of opposition and strength, and we
keep hearing about Iraq's "chemical weapons" and the possibilities of
war. Jamie has started to write a story
-- I found one of her early efforts in her
typewriter today -- it begins like this:
all started at
the end of world war two, when we dropped two bombs on the Japanes.
Some of the poisonous gas went strate up to the sun. For some reason
this only ..."
think she told me this was
going to be a sci-fi story about "evil shadows" that make people do
"bad things." Not exactly your typical 8 yr. old's type of creative
writing, is it? She has always been more sophisticated than other kids
her age, but this is awareness with a sad edge to it, I think. In a lot
of ways this summer has eroded her innocence. She finally asked about
Santa Claus the other day, for one thing, and I told her the truth: a
lie would have been insulting at that point.
-- I should backtrack
here -- the Santa thing started a couple of weeks ago, by accident.
Kacie lost a tooth one evening, and I was caught without any spare
change to play Tooth Fairy with. I wrote a note to Ray, asking him to
put some money under Kacie's pillow when he got home from work, and
Jamie accidentally found the note and read it. So that was the end of
The Tooth Fairy for her. She was very upset, but what could I do? I
held my breath, waiting for the next logical question -- is Santa a
fake, too? -- and finally, after a couple of weeks of watching her
quietly stew over the issue, she finally asked. I felt my heart fall to
the floor and shatter into a million pieces, but I attempted to keep my
cool and told her that Santa is "real" in the hearts of all people who
believe in what he stands for ... the standard guilty-parent Santa
rhetoric ... she cried, a little, and I could tell that the truth was
painful for her, but I suppose this was all inevitable. I only hope I
handled it OK. Her less-than-wonderful experience at camp this summer
was undoubtedly another small erosion of innocence. And now all this
stuff about Saddam Hussein and possible war in the Middle East,
confirming her worst fears ... oh yes, and Mom and Dad's lovely fight a
couple of weeks ago ...
Of course, there is always
the possibility that I am (as usual) reading much more into all of this
than there really is. Point in case: a few minutes ago Jamie approached
me and asked what I was writing about. Since I've always been very open
and willing to read her stuff from my journals, especially where it
pertains to her, I read aloud most of what I'd just written, about her
"loss of innocence" this summer. I expected a moment of reflection ...
perhaps a little shared melancholy ... I thought that maybe reading
this to her might initiate some meaningful dialogue ... instead, she
happily interrupted and said "Can I go get my typewriter and work on my
story some more?!" ... !
should tell you that it's
Friday evening now, hotter than HELL, and Jamie and I have spent most
of this afternoon in the cool dark garage! I'm sitting here in one
corner of the garage in Grandpa Vert's old green armchair, with a fan
trained on my sweaty face and the portable TV blaring a few feet away,
on Ray's workbench. Jamie has brought her little typewriter out to the
old kitchen table we've got set up in the middle of the garage. She's
surrounded by her New Kids on the Block notebook and her candy
cigarettes, typing happily ... utterly unconcerned with the Middle East
coverage on the 6:30 news ...
Maybe some things have
changed. Maybe some of her perceptions have been
altered this summer. Maybe a few of mine have been, too. I'm back to
viewing the world as fragile and doomed, for one thing. But sitting
here right this moment, watching Jamie -- tanned, ponytailed, lean,
lovely, engrossed in the joy of creating something written -- I see
that there is still hope. "We could be famous by the year 2000!" she
says. "I could be the next GIRL Stephen King!" She is pleased with the
story she's writing. She may never be as little, as trusting -- as
INNOCENT -- as she was once. But she is still my sweet, wonderful Puss,
and I love her right this moment with as unswercing a love as ever.
August 16, 1990
days later, and my life
is undergoing another "mini-upheaval." For one thing -- today is Jerome
and André's very last day with us! After three years, our
babysitting relationship is drawing to , an amicable (but teary!)
close. Jerome will be going to school in Tacoma next month, closer to
home, and Jay and Erin want to put André in preschool. I've
known for months that this was coming, and that this would be the last
week, but it's still hard to believe that they won't be coming to our
house anymore. Erin says she'll still need me to babysit from time to
time -- an hour here, an evening there -- but basically this is "it"
... the conclusion of the longest and most successful babysitting job
so far. It hasn't all been roses: Jerome and André have been
a handful and a half! But I think that they're good, sweet little boys,
and I'm going to miss them. I really am.
if that weren't enough,
however, Janet called this morning and announced that she won't be
needing daycare anymore ... the pet shop is going out of business!
August 21, 1990
a few days later, and I
want to finish what I was saying, about losing the two babysitting jobs
last week. Jamie misses Jessica and Tia a lot. (To console her, we
invited Jessie to spend the night last Friday night ... Kacie also had
Tracy over for the night, so it was wild and crazy around here ... but
everyone had fun.) At this point, however, I'm more worried about what
this sudden decrease in "playmate material" is going to do to Kyle, not
to Jamie. The girls, after all, will be starting school in a couple of
weeks, and they'll also have Brownies, church and (maybe) dance classes
: their social lives will pick up again. Kyle, on the other hand, has
lost all three of the little boys he's gotten used to playing with
every day -- Jerome, André and Joey. All of his "buddies."
He hasn't said much about it yet, and he seems to be perfectly
satisfied playing with his sisters and Danielle for the moment, but
what happens when the girls go back to school? Will he be a lost and
lonely little soul? No one to play Batman with ... ?
and yes, I AM worried about
the money. Funny thing is, the day before Janet quit and Jerome
& André left, I'd put up brand-new daycare notices
at a couple of the local grocery stores. This was before I knew Janet
was quitting, so it seems like especially fortuitous timing on my part.
I just hope my ads yield results -- fast. I've already had one call,
but it was a man who only needed daycare for an hour or so once in a
while; I had to politely explain to him that I'm looking for more of a
fulltime situation. Ideally, I would like to find one or two new
children -- maybe a little boy for Kyle to play with -- and at the same
time raise my rates enough to equal (or surpass) what Jay and Erin were
paying me. The truth is that they were getting by with paying
me peanuts -- $1.80 an hour for both Jerome and
André combined -- but I was probably too "nice" to complain
about it. Not so anymore. I figure that I'll probably only stay in the
daycare business for another year or two at the most. Kyle starts
kindergarten a year from now, and it might be the right time to start
exploring my options. (More on this another time: I have a lot to say
on the subject.)
the meantime, this family
can't get by without my babysitting income, paltry as it is. I've got
to start making enough at it to justify my staying home and babysitting
in the first place ... otherwise I might just as well be slinging
burgers at Jack in the Box.
been wonderfully cool and
rainy all day today. Ray just left for work, and the kids (Danielle
included) are watching Chipmunks cartoons in the living room ... I've
come back here to my little "office" in the laundry room, with a cup of
tea and a sneaky cigarette (the kids are sooooo disapproving) ...
like summer is over. It
was so cold when we got up this morning that Ray was actually talking
about making a fire in the woodstove. I've put all my shorts and tank
tops back into the summer clothes drawer: Jamie wants to go up to the
attic this evening and sort through the box of school clothes.
August 23, 1990
Kyle's room this
morning ... time for a coffee break. Don't think I ever mentioned that
Kylie finally got his own bed this summer: a nice little single bed
with bookcase headboard. It used to be Ray's bed when he was a kid. He
rescued it from his parents' garage last month and hauled it own to our
place, where he lovingly repaired and cleaned it before setting it up
in Kyle's room. Kyle had no trouble at all getting used to sleeping in
his own room (after four years, I'm embarrassed to admit, of more or
less sharing Mom & Dad's room) ... the second or third night he
woke up crying from a bad dream and ended up snuggling with me for the
rest of the night, but otherwise he seems to realize that he's a big
boy now and he heads straight for his own room in the evenings ...
will you write what I
say?" Kyle asks, peering over my shoulder. When I tell him
yes, I'll transcribe his every spoken word, he jumps up and down and
cool and cloudy day. I
woke up full of energy. My heart and head are full of worries this
week, and nothing but manic cleaning seems to keep them at bay. Period
is due tomorrow, so a lot of it is probably hormonal.
"Can I have a candy bar?"
Mom (picking her up and
her): "Sure, if you'll quit being so mean to me."
Jamie: "You're being mean to
You said I was fat."
Mom: "I didn't say you were
said you had FAT HAIR. Everybody wants to have fat hair."
Jamie (squirming in my arms
pouting): "I amTOO fat."
Mom (amused): "You're not fat.
You're skinny as a ... as a ... "
Jamie: "I AM TOO." (Serious
tears beginning to well up in her eyes)
Mom (exasperated): "Fine. Then
you're so fat, I guess I shouldn't be giving you a candy bar, should
(Jamie stops out of house in tears and spends next fifteen minutes
morosely sitting on swing, head down. Mom eats candy bar.)
August 24, 1990
what, for example, are some
of those worries "filling my heart and head" ... ?
usually goes something like
this: first, I start out by worrying about money -- always an
underlying theme -- and the fact that the babysitting has fallen off so
drastically. How will we make ends meet this fall? Today Andrea offered
me a twenty-cent/hr. "raise" for babysitting Danielle, but that's not
enough close to being enough. Then I worry about some of the
collection agency bills I've been getting in the mail lately ... my old
creditors from last year have finally managed to track me down at my
new address. Fingerhut. The gas company. Will the record club and the
cable company "find" me, too? Then I start to worry about the fact that
October is right around the corner, and that's when our lease is due to
expire. Will Deb & Greg give us another one year lease, or will
we have to move? Where in the world would we move TO? Another shitty
little apartment? Would the girls have to change schools? Would this
break their hearts? Or, if we do get to stay here in the house, will
they raise our rent? And how could we afford it, if they do ... ?
I go back to the
babysitting. Am I going to find some new clients soon? Will Kyle have
someone to play with this winter? Do I even want to
continue babysitting? What do I want to do with the rest of my life,
anyway? Go back to school? (How? With what money? Transportation? Child
care?) Will I have to get a job anyway? And who on earth would hire an
overweight, underskilled housewife who has been absent from the work
force for the past ten years ... ? Am I ever going to be thin again?
Will I ever cut my hair and get some decent clothes and look halfway
presentable again? The worries become more personal here. Why can't I
feel good about myself? Why am I so unhappy all the time? So filled
with self doubt? I worry about my health -- my rotten eating habits, my
sendentary lifestyle, my vices -- am I going to just drop dead one of
these days and leave my children without a mother? What if I don't get
to see them grow up ...
leads me to, What if they don't grow up?
The state of the world today, the trouble in the Middle East, hints of
impending war ... what if there's no world left to grow up IN? Or, on a
different track -- what if something horrible happens to one of them,
right here at home? Last week an 11 year old girl was murdered in her
own home, in a little town here in Washington: it was all over
the news. There really is nowhere "safe," is there? How do I protect
this point I've usually
worked myself into a fullblown anxiety attack, and since most of my
worrying seems to take place at night, while I'm laying in bed trying
to fall asleep, everything seems bigger and scarier and more
insurmountable than it might ordinarily. Then it starts hitting me from
all sides -- the sublime and the ridiculous -- everything from Grandma
St. John's terminal cancer to the bleach stain on the living room
carpet ... the funny mole on Jamie's foot, and the sore on Ray's nose
that refuses to heal ... spiders in the bedroom ... the American
hostages in Kuwait ... the unfinished photo albums, the unclipped
coupons on my desk, the messy kitchen drawers ... paying for Jamie and
Kacie's Brownie dues ($30) within a couple of weeks ... the
communication breakdown within my marriage ... the fight I'm having
with my father ... my shitty living room furniture ... Ray's job ...
blah blah blah, etc. etc. etc., ad infinitum ...
August 25, 1990
least there is one thing I
haven't had to worry about this year: buying school clothes for the
kids. Usually by the end of August I'm a nervous wreck over the issue,
but this year fortune smiled on us ... Peg and Don Sr. took all three
of the kids shopping last weekend (plus they got to spend the night),
and they bought them everything their little hearts desired. I mean it:
they bought the whole department store. Shoes, T-shirts, pants,
blouses, leggings, skirts, socks. The girls both got oversized New Kids
on the Block T-shirts ... Kyle got Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
underwear ... I was flabbergasted by the amount of stuff the kids
hauled into the house when they came home Sunday afternoon. The girls
are thrilled, and frankly I'm relieved behond belief.
August 27, 1990
what? We added to our
family over the weekend. Jamie has been cajoling Ray and I to let her
have a kitten for months, and we finally caved in. On Saturday
afternoon, "Tigger" joined the household. He's an eight wk. old tabby
with blue-gray eyes and beautiful, longish fur. Jamie is simply over
the moon. (I have some quiet misgivings, but I'll keep them to myself.)
August 28, 1990
worried about the
babysitting, and about whether or not our lease will be renewed ... I
seem to have zeroed in on these two as my "priority anxieties." Ray has
been tense and gruff the past few days, and I sense that financial
worries are eating at him, too. He's in the middle of painting Grandma
Vert's house for her -- she's supposed to pay him when he finishes --
and he takes as much o.t. at SeaPak as they'll give him, but without a
decent babysitting income from me, it's back to counting pennies for
that extra half-gallon of milk in the middle of the week ...
I'm still cleaning,
cleaning, cleaning. Little Mary Homemaker. Gotta make that kitchen
floor SHINE. If I work hard enough, if I can keep the place clean
enough, if I stay BUSY ENOUGH ...
August 30, 1990
up very early this morning
-- was all finished with my shower and breakfast before Andrea even
showed up with Danielle at 7:30! -- the in-laws are coming by again
today and I wanted to make sure that everything's in order. (Not too
difficult, considering my frenzied housecleaning the past couple of
weeks! The only rooms in the house that are still messy are the girls'
room and my bathroom.) Bev and Dorene are in town, and I think Peg is
bringing them over to see our "new" house -- they are also taking Kacie
to get her hair cut for school. (Jamie passed on the offer.) Yesterday
was our ninth wedding anniversary ... very low-key, as usual. Ray
brought me a bouquet of supermarket flowers and a bottle of my favorite
geez ... Peg, Dorene and
Grandma Bev came and picked up all three of the kids, visited for a
couple of minutes, and then took off! (Peg said, "It'll be sometime
after dinner when I bring them back." Kacie is the only one getting her
hair cut, but Jay and Kyle are along for the ride.) And so now, here I
sit. The house is immaculate, my hair and makeup are done, Danielle --
the only "extra" kid I've got today -- is asleep on the sofa. What do I
do NOW?!? It isn't even noon yet, and everything is done!!
September 1, 1990
was a strange day. With
the kids gone all afternoon and only Danielle to take care of, I was at
extremely loose ends ... which only intensified when the baby went home
and Ray left for work. For three or four hours, until Don Sr. brought
the kids home, I was COMPLETELY ALONE. It was a strange and wonderful
feeling ... nobody asking me "When's dinner?" ... no silly cartoons on
the TV ... no arguments to break up, no candy wrappers on the floor ...
just me, a bottle of wine, the stereo, and a soul-satisfying
thunderstorm outside. Bliss. I made phone calls, worked on my mix tapes
("Momstuff"), read my book ("The Stand") and revelled in the luxury of
my own company.
September 3, 1990
of little bits and pieces
of news to report. In no particular order:
new haircut is
adorable. She looks exactly like "Ramona," the little girl in the PBS
series we love so much.
news: Jamie's beloved mouse
"Sniffer" passed away unexpectedly on Friday. We'd been keeping the
mouse cage in Kyle's room recently, and when the girls went in to check
on him (the mouse, not Kyle), they found him dead (the MOUSE, not
Kyle). Needless to say, there was much weeping and wailing, and half an
hour later I found myself presiding over a very tearful mouse funeral.
Jamie, in particular, was very upset: she'd been extremely devoted to
story has a happy ending,
however ... Saturday afternoon Ray came home from painting at Grandma
Vert's, and he had a brand-new mousey in hand! He'd stopped off at a
pet store on his way home and bought Jamie a replacement mouse. The new
mouse, a tiny white male, has been named "M.C. Mouse" ("Mighty Cute"),
and he does seem to have gone a long way towards healing Jamie's broken
of pets: the new kitty
is doing fine. Gradually, he seems to be getting the hang of using the
litterbox, for one thing -- no more piles of kitty poop behind the
stereo. And we're all becoming fond of him, even Ray. I cooked some
chicken the other night and put the scraps in Tigger's dish, and he had
a wonderful time playing with it and spreading it all over the laundry
room. He has already picked out two or three favorite "hiding places"
-- inside the bottom of the woodstove, for one, and behind my desk in
the laundry room -- and his sleeping spot of choice appears to be the
top of the loveseat. We acquired some toys and a scratching post for
him over the weekend, but so far he shows no interest in them: he'd
rather "play" with newspapers or bite the legs of the kitchen chairs.
His "person of choice" is definitely Jamie. Fair or not, Jamie seems to
be the family's office animal keeper. I've made a great show of
explaining that Tigger is "everybody's kitty," not just Jamie's ...
that Kacie and Kyle have every right to hold him and play with him, too
... but try telling that to Jamie. (Or to Tigger.)
girls found out who their
teachers will be for the upcoming school year; the lists were posted on
Friday afternoon. Jamie has Mrs. DeGarmo for third grade, and Kacie has
-- Ms. Weeks! The same teacher Jamie had in second grade! We're all
glad, because we really like Ms. Weeks.
went out to dinner last
night (Sunday). Garcia's, down by Southcenter, has a really great deal
on Sundays -- all kids eat free -- and since Ray and I usually order
the weekend specials for about five or six bucks apiece, it's a great
cheap dinner out. We're experiencing a real money pinch this weekend,
so Garcia's seemed like a good idea. Guess what happened? There was a
mix-up with our reservation last night, and we ended up having to wait
an extra half hour to be seated: as a result, our dinner was free! I
had a big margarita and the fajita chimichanga, Ray ordered a huge
plate of something or other and a couple of beers, and the whole thing
didn't cost us a cent! I'm still smiling about it this morning.
night the kids and Ray
and I went over to John & Lori's for an impromptu get-together
and barbecue, just like old times. Good friends, fun conversation,
great steaks, nice evening. John was more well-behaved than usual: he
and Lori managed to get through an entire social evening without
breaking into one of their familiar arguments. Came home feeling happy.
saved the best for last.
When Ray was at the grocery store this weekend he unexpectedly ran into
Deb J. -- our landlord -- and she brought up the subject of renewing
our lease. According to Ray, THEY WANT US TO STAY!!! Of course this is
only Ray's version of the conversation, but I want to believe he got
the facts straight for a change. WE DON'T HAVE TO MOVE!!!! I cried when
he told me. All these weeks of worrying ...
Sept. 5, 1990
day of school. Kyle and I
just got home from taking the girls over to Bow Lake and depositing
them into their new classes. Beautiful, sunny morning; still no autumn
in the air, but nice nonetheless. Walking felt good. Jamie
and Kacie were adorable: new black leggings, clean shiny hair, big
smiles. I took a picture of them walking ahead of me, towards the
school ... such big girls. Kacie ran into her teacher from last year,
Mrs. McCall, and gave her a hug. Saw Mr. Gallagher (the girls'
kindergarten teacher) -- he is sporting a decidedly punk-looking
ponytail! -- I wonder if Kyle will have him for a teacher next year?
we left, both girls were
seated in their new classes, Kacie sitting right next to Tracy in the
first row, Jamie next to Tia B. ... Ran into a lot of people I know --
Lori, of course, and Cathy and Beth from Shannon South -- on the way
home Janet drove by, stopped to ask if she could drop Joey at my house
for a few hours, later today. (I said "Sure!")
is in the living room now,
watching "Ernest Saves Christmas" and working on a bowl of cornflakes.
Still one baby chick left in the nest! I watched him running ahead of
me as we were coming home this morning, and I realized with a sudden
'pang' that this will be our last year together before he goes off and
joins the girls in the 'real world' ... next year at this time he will
be standing at the bus stop with all the other brand-new
kindergarteners! How will I be feeling on that morning?! It seems so
far-off in the future to me now, but experience has taught me
otherwise: in a blink and a heartbeat, off he'll go ...
the meantime, we still have
this last year together. I want to make it a good one. I want to do
everything I can to make these next few months with Kyle as special and
as meaningful as I can. Specifically: I want to read with him a lot,
work with him on recognizing letters and numbers, teach him to print
his name, give him little jobs around the house (he's at that point
right now where he LOVES to help: it makes him feel important). I want
us to go for walks and go to the library and bake cookies and color
pictures together. I want to not get exasperated with his zillions of
questions: I want to be calm and helpful and funy and consistent with
him. Kyle's probably not going to consciously remember much of the next
few months, but I still want to leave something there: an imprint, a
secure loved feeling, unconscious memories of a good year spent with
mom. Something right in the middle of his little psyche, something he
can take to school with him next year.
now -- midafternoon,
getting hot. Kyle and Joey have been playing in Kyle's room most of the
day; Ray is over at Grandma's, painting; the girls won't be home for an
hour and a half. Fighting a creeping lethargy ... I didn't sleep well
last night, and I had to get up so early this morning. An auxiliary pot
of coffee isn't doing the trick: wish I could curl up somewhere and
take a nap!!
Finished "The Stand" - 2:30 p.m., 9/5/90 (second time) - wait at least
another five yrs. before you read it again
September 6, 1990
did get that nap, and
what's more, I had another bad night again last night: I barely slept
four hours, I'll bet. I don't know what it is. I'm not as tense and
worried as I was a couple of weeks ago -- ever since I found out that
our lease will be renewed, my anxiety level has gone wayyyyy down -- so
why aren't I sleeping? Too much caffeine? That's one of those 'vicious
cycle' sort of things ... I wake up exhausted in the morning and pump
myself full of caffeine to get moving, and then I don't sleep that
night because of the caffeine ... I suppose this could be what's
causing the insomnia. Guess I'll forgo that second pot today and see if
it helps. All I know is that I'm tired of waking up TIRED.
first day of school appears
to have gone well: the girls blew in yesterday afternoon all excitement
and chatter. Kacie "LOVES" Ms. Weeks, Jamie "likes" Mrs. DeGarmo, they
both "HATE" the new music teacher ... life goes back to normal now ...
... or does it? I'm still feeling those "things have gotta change"
urges ... is it because autumn is on the way? Is it because I'm 32
years old and change is sort of the natural order of things at this
point ... ?
September 10, 1990
a couple of minutes to
write this morning. The past 24 hours have been incredibly traumatic,
and I need to "get my shit together" before proceeding any further ...
had an accident
yesterday. While we were at Peg and Don's to celebrate Aunt
Dorene's birthday, Jay fell out of a tree while she was playing with
her cousins. At first we thought she'd simply sprained her arm, or --
I'm ashamed to admit this now -- that she was faking injury just for
attention, but we took her to the emergency room at Riverton Hospital
anyway, just to make sure. I am SO GLAD that we did. A quick
examination by the doctor on duty, plus x-rays, showed that she'd
broken both wrists! (The left wrist is slightly "worse" than the
right.) Right now she's got splints on both arms, but later today --
after she's gone in to see Dr. Kay -- she may end up with at least one
arm in a cast. We won't know for sure until later.
to say, school is out
for Jamie this week. She doesn't seem overly depressed about THAT, but
she IS unhappy about being completely immobilized. For the next few
days she'll need help with everything from eating to going to the
bathroom. Right now she's propped up in my bed, watching cartoons with
Kyle. She didn't sleep very well last night, and naturally neither did
I ... it's going to be a tough week for us both.
is more bad news. My mom
called late last night to tell us that Grandma St. John has taken a
turn for the worse, and as a matter of fact wasn't expected to make it
through the night last night. I laid in bed all night, waiting for the
phone to ring, but as of this morning I still haven't heard anything.
I'm oddly numb about this entire situation. Ray and Jamie both burst
into tears when they heard the news last night, but so far I haven't
been able to cry about it, and I don't know why. It's not for lack of
caring, I know that ... I love Grandma St. John very much, and I always
just called. Grandma is
still with us, but no one can say for how long.
left a few minutes ago to
take Jamie to the doctor.
life is temporarily on
day is drawing to a close,
and with it I think this journal will close, as well. I've already got
a new journal tucked away in my desk drawer; guess I'll start with that
one in the morning.
and Deb stopped by a little
while ago, as I was feeding the kids. Mom, Uncle Dick and Uncle Jerry
moved Grandma over to Highline Hospital this afternoon, and I gather
from what Mom said that everyone is hoping that this was the last move.
Her disease has progressed so far, and she is in so much pain, that it
will now be a blessing when she passes over to the other side. Mom is
exhausted: she says she is on her way home to shower and hopefully
sleep for a few hours. If Grandma goes in the night, Mom will call and
let me know; in the meantime, there is nothing to do but wait and -- as
she put it -- pray that the end is swift and peaceful.
visit with Dr. Kay went
alright. She'll be going back on Thursday morning to have a cast put on
her left arm. Until then, she must continue to take it easy and allow
me to care for her. She is in good spirits, I must say: all the
attention hasn't hurt her any! She's been deluged today with visitors
and phone calls. (Don Sr. just called, as a matter of fact, while I was
writing this: I held the phone to her ear so she could talk to him.) It
really came home to me today how narrowly we avoided catastrophe in
this situation. As heart-crunching as it may be to see her struggling
with splints on her arms, it could have been so, so much worse. What if
she'd landed on her back, for instance? She could have been paralyzed,
or even ... god forbid ...
think there must have been a
special angel watching over her yesterday. Thank you, Lord.
During This Journal:
Didn't Start The Fire" -
"Another Day In Paradise" -
"Listen To Your Heart" -
"Cold Hearted" - Paula Abdul
"I Wish It Would Rain Down" -
"Don't Know Much" - Linda
Ronstadt & Aaron Neville
"All I Want To Do Is Make Love
To You" - Heart
"Black Velvet" - Alannah Myles
"Nothing Compares 2 U" - Sinead
"One More Day" - Wilson
"Release Me" - Wilson Phillips
to throw a rock?