Tuesday, December 25, 2007

No Poop

Every year we get together with the Wall family for Christmas. The
Wall's home and our home stand back to back to one another in
Wakefield. Maureen and Jen are the children of the Wall family.
Maureen is two years older than me and Jen is about six years older
than me. We have known them since they moved there in 1980. There is a
stone walkway connecting the back doors of the two homes. Throughout
the years, there have been countless walks through the backyard to
each other's homes for various holiday or birthday celebrations.

They are my extended family.

Every year, we get together for Christmas dinner. This year, for
scheduling reasons, we did things a little differently. We went Jen's
home in Peabody where she now lives with her husband Pat and their two
little ones Lilly, 7, and Owen, 1. It was a wonderful evening of
perfect food and company. And lovely gift exchanging, too.

Towards the end of the evening, Lilly sat at the dinning room table,
writing a note to leave for Santa. After she went to bed, Jen told me
about last year's note to Santa. Apparently, when Lilly began to come
downstairs while Jen and Pat were still setting up on Christmas
morning two years ago, Pat did some fast thinking to stop her. The
reindeer had pooped all over the living room and they had to clean it
up before she could come down!

The following year, she left a note for Santa, which read something like this...

Dear Santa,
 I have been a good girl this year. Owen is a good brother and he has
been a good boy, too. I have left you some cookies.
Merry Christmas!
No Poop!!
XOXO Lilly

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Eventful Morning

Oliver was attacked by the neighbor's dog this morning.

I was getting ready to take him to the vet for his Bordatella
treatment. I went outside to check to make sure the upstairs neighbor,
who's afraid of Oliver, wasn't in the yard or doing laundry or
anything. The yard was clear so I let Oliver wander while I
collected-up the newspaper. I heard the dogs fighting and rushed
around to the backyard. The dog, which is a pit lab mix of some kind,
has Oliver by the neck. His owner was there before me and ran right in
there and grabbed his dog. When he lifted his dog into the air, Oliver
went with him, dangling from the teeth of the bigger dog.  "Let Go!"
yelled the neighbor in a panic.

He let go and the neighbor rushed inside with his dog.

Oliver was shaken up but looked fine. As I checked-him out some more,
I found a small cut in his neck. The neighbor came out, understandably
feeling really terrible about it. I told him not to worry, that I was
just on my way to the vet anyway and I'll have them check him. The
poor neighbor felt terrible.

He will probably feel worse when I politely go back to him,
eventually, and ask him to pay for whatever the insurance won't cover
of the $317 vet visit.

At the vet they found multiple punctures on him. The vet said he was
lucky. Oliver could have been killed because pitt's often won't let
go. The also found a few punctures in his ear, which fortunately
didn't go all the way through.

So, it's more antibiotics for pooch over here for a while.  He seems
fine though. I bought him a harness so his collar wasn't irritating
where he's healing.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Sweet Little Girl

I haven't been blogging much these days. If you care, sorry about
that. I told my Dad the other day that I try to avoid blogging if all
that's going to be typed is negative or some sort of complaining.
That's not interesting to read. Annoying, yes, but not interesting.

A few days ago I was sent to photograph a little event for some local
Headstart program kids. The children, between 3 and 5 generally, were
bused in with their classmates to a local country club where
representatives from a local charity had filled a room with toys and
plopped Santa and Mrs. Claus (Mrs. Claus my foot - that Mistress Claus
had clearly come straight from the Sexy Claus Costume Emporium) in the
middle. I've shot this event before and it's always stressful. It's
like herding cats and then trying to get their names. Did I mention
the spastic over-excited cats are all wearing matching school
t-shirts? This makes remembering who's who very tricky. Precise note
taking, like "cross-eyed, leg warmers, missing three fingers on right
hand" is essential.

This thing is like a smash and grab event. The kids come streaming in,
they pick a toy for themselves, slap Santa a high-five and hit the
road before the next class comes pouring in.

There are toys of all kinds here and some of them aren't really toys.
The Rudolf Red Nosed Reindeer classic made for TV movie action figures
for example - those are really for 30-year-old kids who like to
collect nostalgic stuff. Who doesn't want a collection of figurines
from the Land of Misfit Toys? There were weird things too. I think my
favorite was the little baby doll in a box with the words "It's Just
Baby Fat!" right on there underneath the little cellophane window out
from which the fat ass baby stares at you, begging for a cheeseburger.

The kids are allowed only one gift each. When the staff noticed a
little one holding a bath kit with soaps and shampoos and lotions and
whatnot in a basket, they asked her why she chose it, "It's for my
Mom" she told them.  They suggested she pick out a toy, but she
refused. She wanted her one item to be something she could give to her
Mommy. They had to convince her that they were permitting her to take
a toy for herself in addition to the bath kit, because she was so set
on not giving up the gift for her mom.

She beamed proudly as she left with a Barbie under one arm and a gift
for mom under the other.

I love my job.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

There's a Difference Between Listening and Hearing

I was listening to the radio while driving today when The Carpenters'
' Merry Christmas, Darlin' came on the radio.
What's with this line? -

The logs on the fire
Fill me with desire.

Monday, December 3, 2007

I Feel Boring

May I write about my friend, Debby, and her adventures in Asia?
OK, thanks, I will.

Debby is my hero. She is currently touring various countries in Asia
with her brother Michael. Check them out here. I check their blog
frequently and am taken aback by the busyness of their schedule. We're
not talking about Hey, we checked out this market today. These two
have done a myriad of things including, running a 10K in Cambodia,
volunteering at an Elephant Refuge, sending lamps skyward in a
memorial festival, harvesting rice, and more.

While I am jealous, I must admit contentment in living vicariously
through these two on this one. My jealousy is not in the fact that
they are visiting the places they are visiting but rather, in the fact
that I am not compelled to do the same. I think it's the idea of
traveling somewhere where bugs are a delicacy. I know I'm a snob but I
like food I can identify, or can be identified to me. When I visit her
in San Francisco in January, maybe then she can tell me whether the
stereotype of funky foods true of false!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Golf Club

This morning, I opened the door to let Ollie out. During the day, I
often come out before him to ensure the gates in the yard are closed
and that no one else is in the yard at the moment. I do this because
Oliver will bark and run at anyone in the yard, friend or foe. This
morning I heard the laundry running, so I went out ahead of Oliver and
sure enough, the neighbor who is most scared of Oliver is in the
laundry room. I stay outside in hopes of easing the neighbor's fears.

He seems me and pulls the laundry door to him a bit. The dog then sees
him and charges. The neighbor slams the door shut (before it shuts - I
notice a GOLF CLUB in his hand).  I call the dog over to me a few
yards away and ask him to sit. He does. I tell the neighbor "I'm sorry
but if you act scared to a dog they will come at you."  And I do feel
really bad. I understand it's not this man's responsibility for having
to deal with my dog.

"I know, but I think it's just something about me. My roommate thinks
it's something about me because whenever I come home he barks at me
through the window".

Maybe it's because you still haven't returned my garbage disposal tool
to me after I loaned it to you weeks ago.

I stand next to the dog and ask him if he wants to come out and meet
the dog. He refuses.

Sometimes people will come into the yard after I've checked-it. I will
hear Oliver barking and come running to call him off. My one neighbor
just keeps on walking, doesn't make eye contact. I apologize profusely
and she says "Don't worry about it. It's fine"

Nellie, who was 84 when she lived here, used to get barked at all the
time. He'd charge at her too. And she'd just say, "Oh, Oliver, you're
such a tough guy!" and keep on walking, all the while the dog is
barking his head off. Both of these folks are dog owners. Over and
over I would try and train Oliver to not run at people in the yard. He
just won't not do it. Nellie, too, would tell me not to worry about
it, that it's just Ollie's thing.

I don't want someone to feel they can't use their own yard because of
a dog. I hate that someone would feel afraid. But, I also don't want
my dog hit with a golf club from someone who refuses to listen to my
recommendation on how to deal with a dog coming at him.

I guess from now on I will just have to avoid them meeting entirely
(rather than coming out with the dog when I know someone's in the
laundry room in hopes that the person will feel better with me there).

Anyone have any brilliant ideas? I often feel my perspective is off
because I'm the dog owner.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh, The Things I Could Have Said

Hindsight, stairway wit, 20/20 vision, looking back, Monday morning
quarterbacking; these are the terms that come to mind after
encountering a rude bitch in a packed supermarket (well, admittedly,
not all these terms come to mind. Some come to my mind, but others
come from the thesaurus).
After taking Ollie for a walk on Palm Beach (where I overheard a water
taxi tour guide tell his party of two that the homes along the water
there have a $349,000 yearly tax on them), we went by Publix, our
grocery store, to pick-up some pie makin' goodies for Turkey Day (or,
maybe it will be Tofurkey day considering a vegetarian friend is
hosting me this year).

I had to wait for a parking space and many people just left their cars
in illegal areas, it was so busy. Once inside, I found what I needed
and got in line. The lines were also very busy, as you can imagine.
When the Check-Out Girl told the woman ahead of me that she didn't
have $5-worth of quarters at the moment, bitchy woman with the fancy
headband sneered at her, "Oh, you've gotta be kidding me!"

Checkout Girl apologized and sent someone to get Ms. Bitchy Quarters
some change. While she waited, she started checking me out (my
groceries, I mean). Although I hate it when others do this to me, I
had to crowd Ms. Bitchy Quarters to swipe my card because she was
still standing there, being very busy and important waiting for her
quarters to appear. "Excuse me" I said politely, to get the swiping
machine, you know, because now it's my turn?

"You don't mind if I finish here, first"  said Ms. Bitchy Quarters, annoyed

"Oh, no. I don't even mind that you're holding up a very long line of
people in a very busy grocery store two days before a major holiday.
What I do mind is you sneering at Check-Out Girl, who is working very
hard tonight, and snotting out, 'Oh, you've got to be kidding me!',
when she doesn't immediately have a ridiculous amount of quarters to
help support your tacky slots machine addiction.  THAT, I mind." and
then I smile cheerily after thanking Check-Out Girl, take my bag and
turn to Ms. Bitchy Quarters and say in a sugary sweet tone while
crinkling my nose ever so slightly, "Happy Holidays!".  This leaves
her appalled but also thinking about her behavior, which leads her to
apologize to Check-Out Girl after I've left, not to mention re-think
how she treats telemarketers who, while they are completely
undesirable, are people just trying to pay their bills (types the girl
who screens all her calls to avoid said telemarketers).

That's what would have happened if I had the guts, and the hindsight
at the moment.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Green Hoodie Has a Home

This evening I went to Target to exchange some white t-shirts because
they are not quite the right size for the order my godmother put in
from my etsy site.  As I entered the store, a light from the clouds
beamed down on a pair of pants. Dark teale velvet pants.  I think I
may have audibly blurted out in Schatner-ish "I     must     have
them!" as I B-lined it to the rack. While wandering the clothing
department, it was clear... a shipment of new stuff had come in.

I found a green cable knit-like hoodie and snatched-up that badboy, too.

I own a green hoodie but it's falling apart. Really, I should have
just gone ahead and named the thing Linus. I've been wanting to
replace it, but I have never met it's equal. Until now. I had to
giggle at myself as I tried on the new green hoodie and gently clasped
my hands on front of me, gazing at the sweater as if I were a proud
mama watching their kid take a bow on their on their elementary school
stage and sighed, "Awe, you're coming home with me".

I shall love you and hug you and call you Linus II.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I was waiting to talk with Gwyn, our office manager, while our
21-year-old intern tried to explain to her why he had trashed some
photos he'd taken, rather than archive them (I think anyway, I walked
up half way through the chat). He umed and welled his way to getting
nowhere in an explanation until he got "distracted" by something on
her counter and looked at it, interested. After watching him hem and
haw his way down Avoidance Avenue while eating a giant piece of guilt
pie, I got annoyed, "Dude, spit it out, I have to talk to Gwyn." I

He finished his thought and Gwyn and I started our conversation.

Now, I will point out right here that it was not a case where I
interrupted their conversation to have my own with Gwyn. I know when I
do this, I notice it the minute I do it, and generally, I halt myself
while squeaking out an embarrassed "sorry".

I'm writing about it though, because it brought me back. When I was
21, if someone had blurted out what I blurted out this afternoon to
our intern puppy, I probably would have cried behind closed doors. Or,
at least would have spent the rest of my internship thinking that
person making the comment must not like me. They think about me and
think about how much I suck. How lame I am  (of course, I'm completely
unaware that they have better things to do than think about me at

Just when I think I've come along way in the area of not letting what
others think of me effect me, I'm curt with (or really, just rude) to
someone else. Not that intern puppy is crying himself to sleep right
now, I'm sure far from it, but he will be getting a little "sorry I
was bitchy at you" email from me once I complete this entry.

Just in case he is a crybaby.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Prime Minister Bhutto

I took a photo for The Palm Beach Post in the winter of 2003.
Former Prime Minister Bhutto was speaking at the Society of The Four
Arts on Palm Beach. I knew her title, knew I was honored to be
photographing her, but I didn't get the weight of it at the time. I
knew I had about five minutes to take her picture and I couldn't go
anywhere with her. When I placed her for a photo initially, she said,
"Isn't that bad feng shui - being by the mirror like that?"  She
repositioned herself and I took the picture with the largest man (her
bodyguard) I have ever seen in my entire life standing by.

When I saw on the news that she was returning to her home after eight
years away, I was happy. I was proud. Not because I had taken her
photograph, but because she is a woman and she is who she is. To have
such strength is awe-inspiring to me. To be so passionate about
something that you aren't afraid to fight for it. We're not talking
about picket signs or writing a strongly worded letter, we're talking
about returning to a homeland where there will likely be countless
attempts on your life. Others will die because they believe in you.

Then, when she did return home, there were thousands there to welcome
her. Thousands who maybe thought to themselves Finally, she is home
and we will have democracy. We will fight for democracy. We have our
leader back. What must it be like to be her? To know all the people
have such faith in you that they will rally for you outside your home
despite the fact that hundreds died days ago when a bomb went off at
your homecoming parade.

When you know there are people who want you dead and
who-knows-how-many who are willing to die to kill you, do you just get
used to that idea? Furthermore, as one of her supporters, or even a
citizen of a country in unrest, do you get used to the idea that you
could die at any time from a bombing. Does it just become second
nature to you or are you the hairs on the back of your neck always

We hear about death in other countries. One hundred thirty people were
killed when Bhutto's parade was attacked. It's just a number to us. We
are not connected to the people and it is so physically far away that
it doesn't seem to effect us personally in the US. Maybe as humans
it's necessary to separate. Otherwise, you would be terminally
depressed if you really put some thought into the fact that countless
people, people who are standing-up for what they believe in, or people
who were simply going to the local market, die every day. The idea of
dying while picking-up your groceries is completely foreign to us.

I think we have just accepted that people die. We've accepted that
that's just the way it is. Well, that's just the way it is in other
countries. That would never happen to us. Because if it was something
that was happening to us, we would never stand for it. But, the
numbers we see now, those numbers of people dying so far away, they
are only a brief mention during the commercial break before the start
of your favorite violent forensics show.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I recently got the third season of Felicity on DVD. I have been
watching a lot of Felicity. It was put aside for a bit to watch a few
episodes of Life Goes On, but since I've run out of crackers and wine
to go along with that show's cheese, I am now back to Felicity. At
least until My So Called Life shows up from Netflix tomorrow.

I just finished watching an episode in which Felicity and Noel, who
are extremely close friends, have a huge falling-out because she's
in-love with her boyfriend and Noel, who is not her boyfriend, is
in-love with her. They have a fight - him saying that he needs to take
his post-graduation job in Seattle to get away from her, and that he's
haunted by the idea that he will never get over her.

This got me thinking about my college life and life beyond.  I have
had a (very) few relationships where we simply grew too important to
one another. It's the only explanation for me as to why they end in
weight-loss inducing blazes of glory.

In college, I became dependently close with my best friend at the
time. We lived together with a slew of others our junior year. He and
I hung out all the time, stressing about our futures. We would stay up
till all hours of the night shooting the shit about everything and
anything, while listening to the Indigo Girls (yes, how very college)
sharing our dark and, again, oh-so-collegiate, deep moods. In the
winter, his mother got very sick and died within a few weeks. I west
home with him to Delaware for the funeral. I didn't cry. I remember
feeling this responsibility to keep it together for him. On the drive
home, back to school, it got dark as we got closer to "home". Indigo
Girls were on the stereo, of course, and the song "Virginia Wolf"

"...and the voice at the other end comes like a long lost friend
so I know I'm all right
life will come and life will go
still I feel it's all right
cause I just got a letter to my soul
and when my whole life is on the tip of my tongue
empty pages for the no longer young
the apathy of time laughs in my face
you say each life has its place"

Each life has its place.  I lost it at that point, and he questioned
why it had taken me so long.

A few months later, I was hospitalized and diagnosed.

My college years had quite a few made-for-movies moments like the
one's listed above. Kind of like Felicity without the fantastic
lighting. Or the hot boyfriends. Or the abnormally large apartments.
Aside from the death of a loved one, I wouldn't change any of it if I
could. Looking back on them now as an adult, they are a bit eye
rolling, but in reality, those moments have become sort-of a freckle
on my DNA.

I do wonder sometimes, what the point of such close relationships are.
The kind of relationships where their opinion means so much to you and
it's almost as though you can't pick out a fucking t-shirt without
getting their thoughts on the color. The kind of close relationships
that, when the shit hits the fan, you block the person out and don't
speak to them again until you run into each other at a wedding four
years later.  Being diagnosed is a piece of cake (mmm, cake) when
compared to those post-extraction recoveries.

One time, when I extracted myself from this type of situation, it was
as though I'd lost a limb. Another time, I didn't miss the person at
all. I kept expecting it to creep up on me, but to this day, I don't
miss them.  When I befriend people, I don't ever wonder to myself how
it will end. I don't wonder - will they be a lost limb? Or will they
be un-missed?

I remember my friend Meg and I talking years ago (she too lived in
that house) about things we learn in school but don't feel are going
to be used in the real world. I remember telling her that all the
filler we were learning was to expand our brain. Work the brain, which
is supposedly a muscle, so we can figure out other shit in the future
that will hit us like a ton of bricks because they forgot to teach it
in a 101 class.  That combination of the calculus and philosophy 101
would somehow help strengthen the part of the brain that would help us
figure out how to get our taxes done while building those shelves that
HAVE to go up this week-end. Or, something like that (that's a crap
example, but I'm just a pretend writer so it's ok).

Point is, I never wondered why about my relationships. I mean, I'd
wonder about a person's actions or behavior like any other perfectly
healthy overanylitical freak, but I'd never wonder in the overall
picture, why did I have this relationship and why am I not still close
with them? I think it's the same premise as the brain theory, in a
way. Not to be all After School Special but I suppose our hearts - or
a combo or heart and brain - need the experiences of the past to help
us grow as a person. Thanks to the Felicity episodes of my past, I can
spot the future ones from, like, a mile away. Lesson learned. Next
quasi-crisis averted.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Oliver's NonBirthday

Today is supposedly Oliver's birthday. Except it's not. Today is the
day the previous owners' vet claimed to be his birthday. Or at least,
today's the day the owner's claimed to be his birthday and the vet
confirmed it. After his age-related eye injury taught us that he's
actually more like (insert whisper here) eight or nine, we now know
the original date to be inaccurate.

Looking at his old and extensive vet records, it's interesting to see
what his life was like before he came to me. Some notes written on
them, "Called owner and gave him lab results. He said he'll have teeth
cleaned when he drops them off for boarding".

"Them". When he drops "them" off. Ollie used to have another dog
around him. He also had all the same issues he has now, minus the eye

Much like I wonder what breed he actually is, I wonder how old my dog
is? Maybe I wouldn't care if birthdays weren't such a big deal in my
family. But, they are, and now I'm a bit peeved that I could turn to
my dog and say "Happy Birthday" on the wrong day because no one
freaking wrote it down right. I suppose it's like that doggie costume
party - more for the owner than the dog.

I could claim his birthday to be June 6 since that's the day I got
him, but, it would be weird. June 6 would come around and I knew I'd
be celebrating a false date (keeping in mind, "celebrating" means
turning to him, saying "Happy Birthday!" and him sitting quickly for a
treat, a treat that I will give him. That would be the extent of it).

This makes me think of my dear friend Rachel, whose birthday was
declared to be the day her parents adopted her form Korea at age nine.
Of course, she KNEW when her real birthday was, so she was all what
the hell? My birthday was nine months ago! Far more of an egregious
error than Oliver's I realize. I always think of Rachel in January,
even though her "birthday" is September 28.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I woke from a dream this morning in which I lost control of my car and
it went off a bridge, plummeting into a large body of water. When I
woke, I found myself in that not-quite-awake state, thinking about the
dream. Suddenly, I was visualizing the car going into water. How would
I deal with it? I'd learned on TV that your should break your window.
But, the challenge comes from the fact that you are supposed to wait
for the car to completely fill up so the water pressure inside the car
is equal to the pressure outside of the car, making it possible to
swim out. Still, I put myself in this scenario and can feel mild panic
in my chest as I visualize the various ways I could deal with it.

Then, the dog is with me in the car and I am now trying to figure out
how to get the dog out. Will I be able to get him in by arms before we
hit the water so I can try to stop him from slamming into the
windshield? Will he breathe in the minute I allow the water to rise
above his head? Will he know to swim up if he is smart enough to hold
his breath? What do I do if he panics and won't let me drag him out of
the car under the water?

I run this scenario over and over in my head, slightly different each
time, until finally, Oliver's head pops up over the edge of my bed,
pulls me from this un-reality and I am completely relieved when I pull
myself out of it completely.

When the hell am I likely to drive off a bridge anyway?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Pain in my Arm and a Weight Off My Shoulders

I swung through Target this afternoon and came across their flu shot
clinic. I got there ten minutes before it was to end and to my shock
there was no line. There was only a small sign on the front of the
building letting people know it was happening, but I was so stoked! I
get one every year and usually it's a real pain in the ass finding
someplace that has them.  It's like this nagging chore floating in the
back of my head.

I signed up. How much for the shot, I asked the lady. Free if you have
Aetna, she answered. Waaah-hoooo! My lucky day. Free shots for me!
And they give me a little care package with vitamins, anti-bacterial
gel and tissues after you get the poke. Nice to get it done and out of
the way!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Some Clothes

Last night while driving on the highway a motorcycle went zooming by
me, on it a man and a scantily clad woman. She had a helmet on but I
couldn't help but think she'll wish she didn't bother with a helmet if
they wreck - she'll wish she were dead because her entire body would
get shredded up thanks to her lack of cover.

This morning I saw another helmet-related incident. This one much more
benign. I was driving around horse country in Wellington, along a back
road when I slowly passed by a mom and her daughter. The girl was
maybe four and had clearly just been riding a bike or something; She
had on sneakers, kneepads, elbow pads, a helmet, and underpants.  And
that's all.

Yes, you read that right, underpants.

I can see her in the morning getting reading, "OK, kneepads? Check!
Elbow pads? Check! Sneakers? Check! Helmet? Check!  Alright, I've got
my underpants on, I'm ready to go!

The world would be a lot more interesting if we wore the same outfits
we picked-out for ourselves when we were four.

Pulitzer Winner

Last night I went down to Delray to the Palm Beach Photographic
Center. This year's Pulitzer Prize winner in feature photography,
Renee Byer from the Sacramento Bee was going to speak and show her

Byer spent eighteen months with Cyndie and her son, Derek. Derek, who
was eleven, was diagnosed with and dying from neuroblastoma. The
family invited Byer to tell their story from beginning to end, with
hopes that it would get the word out about this leading cause of
childhood death.

I asked her how she handled the experience emotionally. Did she have
other photo assignments while working on this one and did it help?
Yes, she said. She also had an understanding husband who is also a
shooter. This led her to tell a story about her husband's birthday.
She was with Derek, and as 7pm approached, she went to Derek to let
him know she had to leave. It was her husband's birthday, she told
him. Derek, who Byer had thought to be a bit out of it at the time,
perked-up, "Birthday! Does he like Jamba Juice?" he asked her.

"Well, yes, he does," she answered.

"Where's my wallet? Where's my wallet?" Derek riffled around himself,
finally finding it. He pulled out a Jamba Juice card, something he had
received from the Make-a-Wish Foundation, or something similar. He
gave it to Byer to give to her husband. A kid basically on his
deathbed still thinking about others. It was impressive and heart
wrenching simultaneously.

I was grateful she shared that story with us.

The other interesting thing she said, was "Never ask a person how many
children they have other than the one that died. Just because a child
is dead, doesn't mean they are not still with their Mother".

It was a very interesting point.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Believe Me

Every week, I download This American Life and burn a CD (no ipod yet)
and listen to it while driving around for work. This week discussed
how to talk to kids. Talking about sex, asking good questions in
general (did you know kids are totally sick of being asked "How's
school?"). One was about a substitute teacher in a German class. One
of his students was being a pain in the ass and he went up to the kid
and whispered, "Cut the shit..." etc.  Well, the kid went to the
principal and the teacher was called into the office. In a knowing
way, the principal asked the teacher if he'd said what he was accused
of saying. He asked about it in a you-won't-get-busted-if-you-just-lie
kind of way, knowing the kid probably deserved an earful when being a
little brat in the classroom.  So, the teacher said he hadn't spoken
those harsh words and the student protested. The principal told the
student "There must have been some misunderstanding". And sent the
student on his way.

This brings me back to my childhood and makes some things clear to me.
There was a time or two when I was told that I must have misunderstood
something and that I was wrong. Now I know the adults were being
little people.

Somewhere between six and eight years old, I stole some toys from a
neighborhood friend. I knew it was wrong and I apparently wasn't very
good at it. One day, dad came into my room, where in the middle sat a
(in my memory) large brown paper bag filled with my accumulated booty.

The jig was up. I was busted.

Looking back, I'm sure Cindy Ward, my best friend Andy's mom, had
called to tell my parents I'd been lifting stuff from their house.  I
only remember stealing one thing. I mean, I know there was lots, but I
have the actually memory in my head of stealing a little hard rubber
Easter bunny from their windowsill in the kitchen. He was holding a
big colored egg or pushing a wheelbarrow with eggs in it. Something
like that. He was slightly larger than a smurf. Seems I had a thing
for holiday decorations.

So Dad sees this bag in my room, probably after he's been alerted that
his kid's a criminal, and he asks me what it is. I think I mumbled
something about "...my toys..."  The next thing I recall is Dad
walking me back down to Andy's house where I apologized though giant,
spasming, hiccupping, humiliated sobs, for stealing their stuff.

I do remember that. I felt physically very small standing there.

I don't know why I stole the things, it's not like I was lacking in
stuff. I do know I never stole again.

The reason the radio show made me think of this was the aftermath I
experienced after my short run-in with the law. Everyone in the
neighborhood heard about it, and I think all the parents kept an eye
on me as a result. I remember wondering why. I knew I was never going
to do it again. Why didn't they believe me when I told them the toy I
was holding while playing with their kid was a toy I had brought over
from my house. A toy that belonged to me.  One time, Kathleen Rich's
mom actually made me give her kid MY toy, because she didn't believe
me when I said it was mine.

You suck, Mrs. Rich.

Listening as an adult, I'm sure that bratty kid in the German class
deserved his harsh talking to, but I couldn't help but feel torn when
the adults passed their knowing glance and called the kid a liar.