Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Half the Family's Sick, Half the Family's Dying

I believe I have written before about the phenomena of Septembering (or Octobering or Novembering).  My friend Lynn came up with the term.  Fall is a favorite time of year for many, many people, but Lynn and I face it each year with a little fear and trepidation.  You see bad stuff happens in the fall, if you are going to have a rough time, it will usually be in one of those months.  Each year Lynn and I would compare notes, do you think this is it?  Do you think there will be more?  Each year we would reach Hanukkah/Christmas with great relief.  The season of suffering was over.  This year I glibly slid through that season, with just one child's broken foot to show for it.  Little did I know what the universe had in store for me in the new year!

Just try to say Februarying!

That's when it started, I think it was the day after my mom's birthday (2/15).  She called to say that Pak was rushing her to the hospital because she had had a collapse of some sort and her BP was 70/45.  We will not get into the discussion of why she was rushed by her very upset husband versus the ambulance, but you can imagine my dismay.  As the day/night went on they began talking about surgery because her bowels were shutting down. So I hopped on a plane and spent the next two days hanging out in her (very nice) hospital room.  It had the added benefit of getting to see my dad who had fallen and hit his head a few days before Christmas, suffering a fairly serious concussion--to the point he didn't remember Christmas (so yes technically it did start before Christmas, but wait there's more!)

Shortly after my birthday I got a call from my step mother telling me my dad had fallen again, had bleeding on the brain and by the way, he'd been in the hospital for a week.  She put him on the phone he had no idea who he was talking to and I'm not sure he was even familiar with the phone itself.  I was leaving that weekend to go on a college visit and then going to Puerto Rico for spring break.  But Taj was very reassuring and there was really nothing I could do more--he was not at risk for dying, so poor Taj had to handle it all.  Well two days before leaving for PR they decide to release him but after care planner (I won't call her a social worker because she sucked) "could not" find a private place for him.  Well I put my social worker hat back on and found him a bed in the rehab at Westminster Canterbury where my mom lives--hee hee his worst nightmare.  Left for PR with great relief he was in a good place and he had his wife and ex-wife to keep him straight.  I did end up flying down there to see him and go to the neurosurgeon with them.  We were told that short term memory may or may not come back.

THEN, my step father is rushed to the hospital because he's bleeding internally.  Gets better, goes home, collapses, almost dies, rushed back to hospital, mended again and well now all sorts of complications keep him in the hospital still as I write.  Oh and he quit breathing one night and was on a ventilator for 4 days - 2 of them conscious (the stuff of nightmares if you ask me).

THEN, my mother in law was diagnosed with colon cancer during a routine colonoscopy and operated on a week later.  Got the tumor, but found cancer in 7 of 23 lymph nodes so will start treatment as soon as the biopsy the spot on her lung this Friday and get a port in (that is if the spot is not lung cancer).

While she was in the hospital, I stayed behind the scenes because I had a cold.  On the floor below her was our Cousin Thea who has been fighting cancer for at least four years now.  The chemo had done so much damage to her body that she had broken her leg.  They operated on her and she was trying to recover enough to go home - to die.  She was terrified of dying in the hospital.  She did get to go home and was there with hospice for a little over a week.  She died yesterday 5/19 at 4:30 in the afternoon.  Weirdly, Friday night I had felt her presence and thought maybe she was gone.  Know nurturing Thea, she spread some of herself to all of us before leaving the physical earth.

About a year and a half ago, she began introducing many of her friends.  She wanted us to know each other at her funeral.  She would say, I want you all to be friends after I'm gone.  She match-made us.  And she was awesome at it.  She introduced us to her friends and by the end of the evening it was as though we'd known each other for years.  And while we all had other/different friends, we all wanted to spend more time together, when can we get together, where, and Thea was our glue.  I hope that she and the memory of her will continue to be our glue.

Thea is probably the coolest Reis of all.  Thea was hip her whole life.  Whenever we would come visit Cincinnati, Thea was part of the tour.  We would always go to "the office" to see Thea.  She would tell us about this cool place and that cool thing, but even in our single days we missed out--we had a full schedule with Frisch's, Skyline, Graeters, and the Blind Lemon.  Plus we knew she was cool but we didn't realize how cool.

Once we moved here we kind of lost touch.  Which is weird.  But true.  I'm so glad that we reconnected a couple years ago.  Glad and sad.  I'm glad that my kids could see what a vital woman she was.  I'm glad that they got to see a vital woman with cancer and how she embraced life and lived it to the fullest.  How she did not get defeated or down.  Sure she got down, but every moment she could, she went for it.  She wore make up, and pretty clothes and awesome shoes.  She cooked fabulous meals and drank fabulous wine.  Certainly she had down and sad times, times she didn't wear fabulous clothes or make up.  Times she couldn't eat.  Times the wig itched or the hat just made her angry.  But she always had her peeps and her pups to comfort her.

I hope that memories of this larger than life woman will soon fill the giant hole left in her absence.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Cliff's Notes Version

I realized in talking to my fellow disciples that while writing these vignettes is great, I need to give an overview, so here it is.

I was born in 1965 to Bill and Sylvia Old.  We lived on Old Drive in Chesapeake Virginia.  I was part of the 5th generation to live on the land where we lived.  My grandmother (Dad's mom) lived next door and yes I called her "Grandmother."  Her name was Anne and she was born in 1899 right on the property where we lived. We had a cocker spaniel named Princess.  Four and a half years later my brother Billie was born on September 11, 1969.  My mom's parents were Janie and John Hester and they lived about 4 hours away in Roxboro, NC.  We had lots of family on my mom's side, but not so much on my dad's (but many many close family friends whose family's had been friends with my family forever).

I went to church at St. Thomas and I went to nursery school there as well.  It was a block from my house.  In first grade I started at Great Bridge Elementary--where my father had gone and my grandmother before him--back then it was a one room schoolhouse.  Mrs. Sewell, who was my math teacher, was also my dad's teacher.

In fourth grade I started going to private school in Norfolk, VA "in town" at Norfolk Collegiate.  My mom thought there were too many kids in my classes in public school.  It was a rough transition.  I missed my friends from the neighborhood and didn't quite fit in with the kids there.  It wasn't until 7th grade when I lost 10 pounds, grew 2 inches and got braces that I started to really have friends.  I'll never forget when one girl looked at me with a blank look and I realized she had no idea who I was.

I had my first boyfriend in 8th grade, Tommy.  My friends wouldn't believe at first that Tommy had actually asked me "to go with"him.  I was very involved with the youth group at St. Thomas (called EYC back then).  The Church of the Good Shepherd in Norfolk though was where I really wanted to be because that's where Tommy and all my friends were.  I did get to go on the Good Shepherd ski trip with Tommy and my friends.  But Tommy didn't save the seat by me for him.  I was about to have to go get on the other bus with--as memory serves--people I didn't know.  My friend Anne Douglas pushed me into the bathroom and there I rode until we were on the road and I could go sit with Tommy.

Eventually though I found my lifelong friends in Kimberlee, Laura, Renee, Terrie and Caroline.  I see Kimberlee, Terrie and Caroline every summer at the beach and our kids play together.  So even though I live in Ohio I, and my kids, have a VA Beach connection.   As tough as it was until 8th grade, from then on I never looked back and had the time of my life in high school.

I traded back and forth with Kirk as number 5 and number 6 in our class rankings.  I think he ended up 5, either way, he ended up as a cardiac surgeon which is a tiny bit more impressive than social worker and EMT.

So I graduated in May 1983 and started attending Duke that fall.  I had applied to Duke, UVA, Wake Forest and Randolph Macon Women's College and got into all of them (12 people from my class of 69 went to UVA, I think twice that many got in).  Wake Forest had not been coed for that long and they told me I would not get in (it was my first acceptance letter).  I had to work really hard to get into Duke.  RMWC wanted me.  I really liked RMWC too.  But when I got into Duke, my parents (and well everyone) said you have to go there because it's the best.

I'm so glad I did.  But Duke is hundreds of stories--some I will write down and most I won't :)  I will say while at Duke I did some cool stuff.  I went to ASU for a summer because I thought I was going to fail Calculus, I went to the Soviet Union and studied Russian and Russian Culture, I lived at Virginia Beach in an apartment with three other girls, I did an internship at the American Film Institute.  Not necessarily in that order.

After Duke I got a job working for CBS News Election and Survey Unit selecting precincts to report on election night for our randomly selected sample (1988 Presidential Election).  We were interviewed and hired from Seacaucus, NJ and then our liaison flew to meet us where we were working to train us.  So we never met most of the staff we worked with, nor did we ever go to the office before we started working there.  Some of us remembered each other from the interview/training session (which was like 3 days long).  I traveled to all the county seats in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, DC, Pittsburg and Philadelphia (when they asked me to do all of PA I just could not stand to be on the road by myself 24/7--though actually most weekends I drove or flew somewhere).

I was dating a boy who lived outside NYC in Westport, CT.  I went to visit him and we went into the City one day.  I think he was going to some actors' workshop so I went to renew my passport and then visited the CBS office and met all the people I'd been working with the last 6 months.  They offered me a job.  So I moved to NYC with three of my cohorts from the road in what was technically a 1 bedroom apartment.  It had two levels but only one actual bedroom.  There was a rap recording studio next door. I went back to visit and found out that the Asian prostitutes down the hall had been freebasing and blew up that end of the hallway after we left.

Working a CBS and living in this overcrowded apartment was so much fun!  It was kind of like a continuation of college.  I think also it was so nice to be around people after spending so much time on the road along.

Well the election came and went and it was time for me to find another job.  I still had no real idea what I wanted to do with my life.  So I took a job at the Census Bureau.

......to be continued

Monday, March 11, 2013

Life Lessons

Do you have moments from your life that haunt you?  A moment of regret?  Something you wish you hadn't done or said and that you cannot take back ever with no amount of forgiveness?

I have one.  I probably have many more but as I was quietly listening this morning for inspiration of what to write, I heard Amy Weston.  I can see the moment in time when I said it, where I was, what I was doing.  And now I think I might see God's hand in it.

When I was, let's say, 8 years old, my best friend was Amy Weston.  My mom, for some reason, looked down at the Westons.  I'm sure she made comments that make me think this.  I thought the Westons were the coolest family ever.  Amy was an only child and she was showered with love.  They had a baby blue VW bug convertible and we would drive to the beach for the day in it.  I loved the feel of the wind in my hair and the towel flapping in the breeze.  Oh how I loved Amy and her family!

During the winter, Amy and I took an art class together at the local community college.  I remember melting crayons to make pictures--fire and melted wax--it doesn't get much better than that!  Then we took an acting class.  I can't imagine that I loved it but she was in it and so was Linda F.  When it was time to resign up, my mom said that Amy couldn't do both because her family couldn't afford to do both.

Saturday morning came and Amy and I were helping my mom with the Altar Guild (I was an expert at dressing the chalice).  I can see me walking down the aisle toward the front of the church where my mom was decorating with greens (must have been Advent :).  I said, "Amy my mom says that you can't take art class and acting class because your parents can't afford it.  Isn't that stupid?"

I cringe to this day.  My mom made some comment about how that's not what she meant, she meant everyone can't do everything.  Needless to say I did not get to do acting again!  Amy poor thing was dumbfounded.  I know what I said must have hurt her feelings and I never really found a way to apologize.  I can't help but think that I said what I said to be hurtful.  I think I was angry with my mom and wanted her to be humiliated and in the end I hurt my friend instead.

Amy moved to Richmond a couple years later.  I was devastated.  We wrote letters back and forth for a couple years, but we lost touch.

And I still feel really badly about that.  I can never change that it happened.

And I think that in some way it changed my path that day.  I think that many of the things I am today can be traced to that moment and moments like that--throughout my life.  I became a little more thoughtful, a little more humble, and hopefully a little more unselfish that day.

I wonder if Amy remembers that moment?

Monday, March 4, 2013

In the beginning......

I think that I posted that I am working on a life map for my Discipleship group.  The purpose of the life map is to look at your life and your journey.  What were milestones?  Where did you change courses?  Where did you run into roadblocks and how did you get around them?  And where and how did you encounter God?

Certainly I can look back and immediately name some milestones and even some times when I knew God was with me.  Moments of my life.  So in a stream of consciousness kind of way, here I go......

I was born in 1965 in Norfolk, VA.  After years of trying my mother Bill and Sylvia were thrilled.  My early memories are happy.  My parents were very close with Porter and Mary Lewis and they had Amy who was just enough older than I that I thought she hung the moon (and was my big sister).  September 1969 my world changed.

In late August I went to stay at Mema and Grandaddy's (Janie and John).  I remember my Aunt going to school--it was her senior year of high school.

Sidebar:  My mother had two brothers, Richard and Jimmy.  When they were 10 & 12 they drowned in a farm pond accident and my grandfather very nearly drowned trying to save them.  My Auntie Beth was about 18 months old when this happened and my mom was 14.  My mom says my Aunt saved them all because they had no choice but to take care of this little baby.  My grandparents rarely spoke of them.

So my aunt was 14 when I was born.  She is right in the middle of my mom and me and I am much much more like her.  I remember one Thanksgiving Beth and I came downstairs to help get dinner on the table.  My mom looked at me and said, "are you going to leave your shirt untucked like that?" and my Mema looked at Beth and said, "are you going to wear that washer woman dress to dinner?"

Back to my stay at Mema and Grandaddy's...Each morning I would see Beth off to catch the bus to high school and then who knows what all they did to keep me entertained.  I was 4 1/2 at the time.  They may have sent me to nursery school at their church.  Then the big day came.  Now I have had enough therapy to know that some of these are memories and some of these are fantasies, but we are going to accept them as my reality and thus my memory even though I can hear my psychotherapy teacher saying, "do you hear the fantasy in that?  Hester there is no way that happened that way."  Love and miss her.  Oh and before you accuse me of ADD or something inability to carry on one train of thought--this is for me, I'm happy for you to ready it, but I'm sorry you will just have to abide my tangential thinking.

The BIG DAY,  I remember I must have gotten back from NC a little early because I was at my Grandmother Old's house.  Grandmother (yes that's what I called her) lived next door to us.  Bille and I were the fifth generation to live on that land--our house was built on a bit of the property and thus next door to her house.

I have a clear picture in my head of when I met Billie.  We were sitting in Grandmother’s living room and he was wearing a gown and wrapped in a beautiful white blanket.  I literally felt as though my parents had brought me a living doll.

I have another clear memory of sneaking into his room because I wanted to give him a bottle.  I had mixed up some Tang and fed that to him (not as bad as it would be today since he was probably eating minced veal by that point).  I know that it happened. Though I can’t really think about it without “hear the fantasy in that, your mother would never have let that happen.”  Billie didn’t sleep a lot so I’m guessing when he did she was immersed in something that would have kept her from noticing.

My mom didn’t work, but she was gone a lot.  Beatrice took care of us and cleaned our house.  Beatrice raised me and when Beatrice went to take care of some other babies, her daughter Joyce came to take care of us.  Beatrice’s husband Columbus took care of my Grandmother.  Columbus ran the Great Bridge bridge—he was the person who would run the controls that put down the arms and made the bells ring and then open the bridge.  I loved to ride my bike down and see Columbus when he was on duty.  Depending on what shift he was working he would stop by my grandmothers and check on “Miss Anne.” 

My grandmother was a widow at a very young age.  She was born in 1899.  My grandfather Livius must have died when she was in her 50’s.  She had two best friends from growing up—actually three.  All sisters—Evelyn, Auntie Maude and Cabbie.  Evelyn was widowed at and even younger age and her son Bob also died.  Cabbie died when is was little.  Auntie Maude moved in with Evie.  They were like my extra grandmothers.   I would go to Evie’s house all the time.  She would give me Wink and we’d have saltines dipped in French Onion Dip or Bugles.  Evie lived two houses down from me and I could cut through the Gammon’s back yard so I could go visit Evie and Grandmother pretty much anytime I wanted to.  On Sundays Evie, Auntie Maude and Grandmother would get together to have dinner.  I guess when you live alone, Sundays are the longest day.  So they would cut through our yard (we lived in between them) to walk to each others’ houses for their Sunday supper.  At some point they discovered that they were getting too drunk so they decided that each would bring their own liquor.  I think someone was drinking more than their fair share so they decided this rule, but that’s just speculation.  So on Sunday afternoons they would cut through with now a jar (peanut butter, jelly, mason) full of bourbon.  My mom called them “the girls.”

Dr. Woodley was our family doctor and his wife was his nurse.  I can remember his house because I thought it was so cool.  They had like a rock garden with a fountain in it and his office was connected to his house.  Whenever something happened—24/7 we would run to Dr. Woodley’s house (unless he came to ours as he often did).  One day our dog Princess (oh how I loved her) bit me.  I don’t think she meant to.  Off to Dr. Woodley’s house we went and I got my first stitches.  Billie had a febrile seizure one night and I remember being woken up and packed into the car to run to Dr. Woodley’s house.

I used to get strep throat all the time.  I remember Billie had some health issues—a hernia he was born with and he had his tonsils out.  He was in the hospital twice.  One of the times I was quite sick with strep throat.  I think it was Grandmother (but might have been Evie) gave me a get well card.  I was so tickled because I was lying sick on Grandmother’s green sofa while Billie was in the hospital and both my parents were with him.

I grew up a sort of combination of Episcopalian and Methodist.  I still haven’t figured out the difference except for the prayer book.  We attended St. Thomas which was just down the street from our house (it is one of the things that drew me to St. Thomas here in TP—my kids could grow up going to church at St. Thomas.)  We went to church every Sunday.  My dad was an usher and my mom was on the altar guild.  I helped with the altar guild from a very young age.  My Mema needle pointed all of the cushions used in the church.

Mema and Granddaddy when to Lea’s Chapel Methodist church, just down from their house in rural Roxboro, NC.  I loved going to church with them because the church was filled with all sorts of aunts, uncles and cousins.   From little little I loved going to Sunday School there too.  Miss Edna was my Sunday School teacher.  I remember being a tad confused because the service was different, there was no prayer book and no organ.  They played a piano to go with the choir.  Oh and the choir had robes like you see on TV, not the black and white ones like we had at St. Thomas. 

I loved going to Mema and Granddaddy’s farm.  There was always something new to discover.  There would invariably be a new puppy or kitten (it took a while until I recognized the pattern of why there were constantly new puppies and kittens).  There would be piglets and cows and calfs.  There was a pond.  Granddaddy would show me cool things like how to make hopper grass houses or crush up ink berries and then write with them.  They had a gas tank there on the farm where you could fill up well mostly the tractor, but after a while our go cart too.

I went to nursery school and kindergarten at St. Thomas.  I can remember Beatrice walking me up there with Billie riding in his big pram.  I can remember many of the kids clearly.  David—who would crawl around under the table and say things like “great underwear show.”  Jimmy—whom I was going to marry because I liked his last name (it was farmyard).  My best friends were Susan, Linda, Shawn, Dara and Amy.  I remember I had a really good friend named Jill whose dad was a POW in the Viet Nam war.  I had no idea what that meant at the time, just that her dad was gone and couldn’t come home and he might be dead.

First – third grade I went to Great Bridge Elementary.  It was much like TPE though we couldn’t come home for lunch.  My first grade teacher Mrs. Seaborn was a really tall lady with white white hair who had been taught piano by my grandmother.  Then there was Mrs. Sewell who taught my dad also!  Her son was somehow Australian (or had just taken on that affectation).  He called on my grandmother every time he came to town.

I was chosen to be in a PSA about stopping for the school bus.  There were 3-4 of us chosen.  One was little Willie.  Rumor had it Little Willie was 10 and had failed the first grade four times.  Anyway, they had us go to the lost and found to get lunch boxes.  I was devastated because I had to choose last and got the Flying Nun lunch box!!!!

By third grade I finally got to ride my bike to school.  I think I also got to be a crossing guard.  I’m pretty sure our school only went up to 4th grade.  I remember a boy died in one of the other grades and for a long time we had to wash our hands religiously so we too wouldn’t die.  Yes they told us he died from not washing his hands.  Made no more sense to me then as it does now.  In third grade I was informed that in fourth grade I’d be going to a another school.  Devastated does not begin to describe how I felt.

While I lived in a neighborhood, it was considered the boonies by folks “in town.”  So fourth grade I started going to a private school in town.  There were 40 kids in my second grade reading class and in the third grade I had tested out of all the English so while the other kids were doing English, I had to read the SRA and do comprehension stuff.  I did not understand why I had to move to this new school in  town where we would have to commute 30 minutes every day.  I was even more confused when my parents informed me that most of the kids there were going to be richer than I, so get used to not being able to have whatever they have.

My Mema made a lot of my clothes.  For my first day of school I chose a pink dress with pink ribbon trim.  I still remember that dress and how much I loved it.  Strike three against this new school, I walked in the first day in my cute pink homemade dress and everyone else was wearing the same exact thing—uniforms!  New kid, from the country, homemade dress, and most of them not only knew each other but lived near one another  and had gone to school together since nursery school at Ghent Presbyterian.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The perks of being a wall flower

Mixed tapes.  Remember mixed tapes?  Our kids will never have mixed tapes.  Songs picked out by your friend, boy friend, girl friend, songs put in a certain order by them that you couldn't just "click" over, you had to either listen to or shrrrrrrrrrrrr  shrrrrrrrrr fast forward rrrrrrrrrr rrrrrrrrrr rewind because you went too far.  Or you couldn't find the song because you didn't know the ones before and after.

I remember a boy I dated who made me mixed tapes.  It must have been during college.  He kept making me mixed tapes--of Bruce Springstein.  I don't like Bruce Springstein.  But he wouldn't give up.  He thought if I just heard the right song I'd like him.  Yeah it didn't work out for either one of them.

One of the many things I fell for in Anthony was his mixed tapes.  He has a gift.  To this day.  Now he makes playlists, but I swear there was something to that whole mixed tape thing--the order.  There are still songs I hear today and expect the next song to be the one that came right after that one on a mixed tape.

Mollie and I watched The Perks of Being a Wall Flower.  WOW!  Watch it.  I might watch it again.  Right now.  Or I might get the book.  Back to high school.  Mixed tapes.  Angst.  Liking someone.  Them not liking you back.  Special friendships.  Intense friendships.  Friends you want to help.  Friends you can't.  Suicide.  Suicide attempts.

On the map of my life there is a big way station--high school.  It's almost like a neighborhood because it has so many intersections there.  Things that formed me.  Moments that formed me.  In general I have a happy warm feeling about high school, but a movie like that can really take me back and remember that there were some very low days and nights.  Nights I was home alone, "out in the country," feeling very far away from my friends in town.  Feeling sorry for myself.  Boys I liked, who didn't like me, or no longer liked me.  Feeling like a misfits.  Finding the misfits who felt like me.  

The Mac Sisters.  I had two friends Renee and Laura.  We together with our brother Karl, were the Mac Sisters.  Laura Mac, Renee Mac, Mr. Williams our fave teacher--Johnny Mac, me--Ho Ho Mac.  I'm pretty sure Laura came up with the idea.  I'm pretty sure Karl was one of the characters in the movie.  Renee and Laura were good friends.  Laura had scoliosis in 8th grade and had to go to Boston Children's to get a rod put in her back and then wore a body cast through much of 8th grade (or was it 7th?)  Laura had big lips and had had the nick name Laura Lippa.  Since it was deHegh who gave it to her, she took it as a sign of affection.  Big lips were not necessarily the fashion statement they are today.  Renee lived in Portsmouth (outside town) and was probably the first person I knew with divorced parents.  Laura lived like 1/2 a mile from school--in the heart of it all.  Once I could drive, we used to go to her house after school and eat Krafft Mac n Cheese and Nacho Cheese Doritos with French Onion Dip and watch General Hospital, which we called Gen Ho.  Anyway, Karl's dad was an Admiral in the Navy and probably not all that tolerant of sweet sensitive Karl who I think was considerably younger that his next sibling.  I never saw nor met either of his parents.  He had this little yellow car (in my head it's a mini cooper but we didn't have those) and he would unhook the odometer when his parents went out of town so they wouldn't know how much he'd driven.  Only problem with that is that the speedometer also doesn't work!  So the Mac Sisters had many adventures.  Some I'm comfortable writing about, some not so much.  

Eventually Renee and her mom moved to Ghent, so she too was in the heart of it all and I was still in the country.  Then we would go to her house after school.  We'd stop at Burger King and get double cheeseburgers on the way.

Renee had an older sister and Renee got her drivers' license.  Though there was a Tinee Giant we could go to where they had no idea how old we were and would sell us beer.  I mean we were 16 and the drinking age was 18 so it was a little different than it is now.

By senior year Renee's drivers' license said she was 21.  For our senior ski trip we went to the ABC store and picked up all the supplies that were needed for most of our friends.  We put them in my car with the back seat down so you couldn't see it.  It was March 2nd, I know because it was the day after my 18th birthday.  I was driving home and "Come On Eileen" came on the radio.  I was happily singing and hitting the dips a little too fast on the road I cut through to get to the interstate.  And oops going about 10 over the speed limit.  I thought, "crap 18 for a day and I'm already going to jail!"  Fortunately I think the cop was about my age and just gave me a ticket and didn't search my car.

OK I've really got to go to the basement and pull out pictures because these stories will be way better with photographs.

Friday, February 15, 2013

High School--the time of your life or not?

I started this post a long time ago, but since it's relative to my Moments in Life them, I dug it back up.

I was watching Glee the other night. Mr. Shue was talking to Coach Beast, asking her to please stay. He said something to the effect of, people like you and me, we had a terrible time in high school and yet we return to that place every day.

Lately, I've been hearing what a horrible place high school is. The story line of the Glee was quite timely and relevant to part of the reason I've been hearing about it--the bullying of openly and not so openly gay kids. It's horrible. There shouldn't be bullying. I just read The Wave by Todd Strasser. It took me about 4 hours no kidding. It's about a high school history teacher teaching his kids about the Nazis. The kids are appalled and asked how people could let that happen. How could they join a movement like that? How could they turn a blind eye to death camps? The teacher was stumped, he said we don't really know. But upon further thought, he did know, it's just very very difficult to verbalize--unless you experience it. So he starts a movement in his senior history class called The Wave. They have a special salute, special symbol, motto, etc. I won't ruin all the details, but once he starts the experiment he realizes that he can't just say, OK no more. The kids have to realize the danger of this movement and stop it.

Bottom line though the kids who liked the movement the most were the ones who weren't popular or were bullied. Think about it. 

The kids. That's the key. We can preach and give experiential programs and read books, but the kids have to stop it. Our job is to give them the tools.  I don't know exactly what those tools are and how you empower the kids to use them.  I am very interested in the recent bullying seminars they have put on at all levels of the Mariemont Schools.  They talk about bullying not so much as stealing lunch money or pushing and shoving.  It's more about exclusion and leaving kids out, maybe a little name calling.  And now they can't get away from it--you didn't get invited to a party, well here it is in full living color--pictures of the people you thought were, you want to be, your friends.  Someone have a sleepover and not invite you, oh look here's a picture of them all having a pillow fight, and here they are having pancakes for breakfast.  It seems to be much harder for girls than it is for boys, or maybe it's that my girl talks about how hard it is and my boy either doesn't care (I hope because he's happy in his own skin) or keeps it inside (which scares the shit out of me).

But I digress (shocker). So apart from the gay bullying which is so serious I can't even address it (and if it went on in my high school, I was blind to it), was high school such a bad place?

I loved high school. It was some of the best years of my life.  I think my sophomore and junior years were the best of the best.  I loved my school, I loved my friends, I loved my boy friend, I loved my teachers.  Sure I cried myself to sleep more than once, sure "the love of my life" broke up with me the summer after sophomore year (oh it was so so sad), sure I didn't win Homecoming Princess or Homecoming Queen (it was an honor just to be nominated, except for the fact that Jody Mersel campaigned against me because she was pissed I got nominated and she didn't), and yes I basically took a total stranger to senior prom because no one asked me (he was cute but behaved rather rudely at the end of the night and had to be sent home).

Some snapshots:

Latin class--I loved Latin Class.  Robin, Beth, Robert, David, Kimberlee and of course Mrs Freeman.  Who else?  May have to get the old year book out and look.

to be continued

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Today I got braces

Under the theory that life is lived in moments, here is one.  My teeth have been slowly migrating back to their very sad state of crooked before I had braces.  So for Christmas I asked for Invisalign.  Of course Anthony did not think this a very romantic Christmas present, but when I told him how much they cost he said they would make a fine Christmas present (and birthday and possibly anniversary too).  And yesterday I got them.  Damn, I do not remember braces hurting this much.

I got my original braces the summer before 7th grade.  Dr. Walker was my ortho.  He was about 100 and I think that's about how old the technology was he used on my teeth.  On my teeth.  Did you ever see the Simpsons where Lisa got braces from the discount brace place?  That's what mine looked like, no literally, that's what my braces looked like.  Still my teeth were so bad it was a huge improvement.  First of all I had buck teeth that defined the word (Parker got the same ones but his were at least straight).  One of them was sideways--pretty much literally.  In my 6th grade picture I look like I'm either pretending to be a fish or trying to kiss someone because DeHegh Lille was trying to make me smile and I didn't want to show my teeth and that's the face that is frozen in time.  Secondly, my nickname (my Girl Scout leader gave me (was Chunky Meatball).  The summer before 7th grade was one of transformation for me.  I went to Camp Seafarer for 6 weeks where I grew two inches and lost 10 pounds.  That and the addition of braces and a cute hair cut and actually there were several people who did not recognize me when we went back to school.

So I remember the day I got braces--I don't know the month, I could figure out the year.  It must have been after camp and before we went to the beach.  I do remember putting on a two piece bathing suit for the first time--pretty much ever.  My mother would not let me wear one before that because I was too fat.  We won't go there right now.

That was a truly transformative summer in so many ways.  I can literally go back to that very moment, standing on the deck of the beach cottage in Anne Moss' hand me down bikini and feeling good, really good.  I'm not sure that I actually wore it down to the beach, but that feeling of accomplishment and sort of peace with my body image if I think about it can come back to my mind's eye.

So much for the birth of Anne Hester Old story, maybe tomorrow.  Or maybe someday.......

Monday, February 11, 2013

We do not remember days, we remember moments

As part of my discipleship group, we are making a life map.  I started on my life map but really could not come up a plan, a format, a vision.  I started just writing stuff down which was a good start.  I got all the way to 4th grade.  It was a good start and it made me think about pictures in time, moments.  We really do not remember days, we remember moments.

So then as I was looking at journals on Amazon, I remembered I had this blog that I apparently have neglected for well over a year.  Actually interestingly I've thought about it several times over the last week.  I think this is where I am meant to take this journey.  So I think this is where I will create my life map.

But alas, not tonight, for tonight I must go and read for my class and I have put it off until 10:30 which is really much too late.

I'll start tomorrow.

The birth Anne Hester Old.