Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Living the Theory of Relativity

image from Prosperity Blogger 

Time slows down to a crawl when I'm home. I feel as if I'm zooming as I clean and cook and work in the yard; as I work on promoting my press and answering emails; as I help my daughter dress, make her bed, comb her hair, do an art project. But in actuality, time inside my home slows down as compared to the outside world. When I think only a few days have passed, I discover that in the outside world a week has flown by. I feel like I'm inside Einstein's theory of relativity and I am the twin traveling at the speed of light, in which time slows down, while my sibling ages and dies back on Earth, where time continues to flow at a somewhat-steady 365 days in a year.

For example, it is the last day of May. This afternoon I have a job interview, which I'm very excited about (and nervous! I've never been interviewed as an O and M candidate before. What are they going to ask me?). The application process requires three letters of recommendation. No problem, I thought. I'll just ask my Master Teacher and my Instructor and the woman I worked with when I was a Family Advocate... holy cow! Is it really May 26? I thought I still had three weeks to get those letters from people. Now I have two days before a holiday weekend!

Frantic calls netted me two of my letters, but my instructor is slammed with work right now and won't have time to write me a letter for several weeks. Oh well, two letters are better than no letters, and I'll be able to show the hiring committee the third letter when it arrives. I hope.

This time management problem isn't a new phenomena, it has been going on for years. I don't return phone calls when I should because I get so busy keeping up with Queen Teen and helping my husband that its evening before I realize I never made the call. This can go on for several days, which can be annoying to people. In fact, talking on the phone is difficult period. I prefer email, because an email can adapt to my own, home-time-zone while talking on the phone jars me into dealing with the speed of the outside world.

In this day of technology, why do people insist on chatting on the phone?

Time management was easier when I was in school, because I was constantly having to navigate the two time-zones that were my life. When I was interning, I discovered the only way I could get any work done was to stay away from home. Once I set foot in my house, time slowed down again and all of my attention landed squarely on my husband, child and dog. Never mind that I needed to write client notes or return a call to my master teacher. My daughter needed something and my husband wanted to chat about his work and the dog was hungry.

It doesn't help that I'm still suffering from the post-grad school fatigue I've been feeling for a month. I suppose playing video games and watching movies isn't the best way to get any work done.

When I am working, I'll need to find a way to go back and forth between "Earth" and my "rocket ship" more easily. The outside world demands focus and speed, while my home world demands the same, but at a slower pace. Speed is relative. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Article - 5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Poor

I just read this hysterical article by John Cheese on Cracked.com about the hard truths about poverty, and I laughed so hard I almost spilled my coffee all over my laptop. Everything he writes is true. The only reason this is on Cracked is because the authors uses the word "fuck" a lot and there are plenty of "bend over and be screwed." So if you're offended by things like that, skip this article. If not, read on.

Being poor is like a game of poker where if you lose, the other players get to fuck you. And if you win, the dealer fucks you.
(read more)

For example, Queen Teen receives support from Social Security because she is disabled. I am required to keep her money in a separate checking account from my own. Unfortunately, she doesn't get enough money from SSI to avoid bank fees, so our bank charges Queen Teen $10.00 every month to have an account. Those wankers are taking $10.00 from a disabled child every month!

I am looking for a new bank, but so far it seems that ALL the banks charge poor people extra money. Ass-Holes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Graduation Day

I graduated from San Francisco State University last Saturday. I needed to put a great big metaphoric exclamation point on the end of my university experience, so I walked with 2000 other graduates dressed head to toe in purple. I sat in the blazing sun listening to speech after boring speech on a jumbo-tron because the actual speaker was too far away from me to see. The stupid cap kept sliding off the back of my head and the "hood" all masters candidates wear continued to choke me, despite my heavy ring of keys I'd attached under my robes to hold it off my neck. The only one in my O and M class who decided to walk, I felt a little lonely surrounded by large groups of celebrating students from other departments. But at last I got to walk to the podium, get my bright purple envelope (they send the actual diploma in the Fall) and shake the hand of a University chancellor. For those sixty seconds, I was buoyant; I could have flown above the heads of every single person crammed into the stadium on the wings of my bright purple robes. (read more on my other blog, Medusa's Muse)

Me in front of the Visual Impairments Classroom, after the ceremony.  Nobody looks good in that hat!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sweet 16

On Thursday, May 26, my baby girl turns sixteen. Sixteen! And I have to say, so far there's nothing sweet about sixteen. For the last week and a half, she has been moody, rude, short-tempered, and ornery. She gives orders like Princess Know-it-all and seems genuinely shocked when I refuse to obey.

I like it.

She's behaving like any other typical teenaged, American girl, picking fights with her mother and believing with all her heart that the world revolves around her every whim.

The world no longer revolves around her mother (me).

I miss that little girl who used to cling to my legs with her tiny arms and giggle when I tried to walk. I miss the child who loved to sneak into my room and try on my hats. I miss the days when she and I would each wear one of her tiaras and have a tea party with her stuffed bear and Strawberry Shortcake doll. That little girl is long gone; now I live with a young woman who no longer thinks that I am a perfect symbol of womanhood and the greatest role model in the entire universe.

I'm glad. I want her to grow up, be independent, find her own path and her own identity. I want her to become her own person, separate from me. It makes me sad to feel her push me away, but I also feel excited and happy for her.

It's annoying though. Twice I've had to reprimand her for being rude: that was just today. And in the last week I've thought very seriously about packing her up and sending her to her dad's.

Why does growing up have to be so hard on the parents?

Happy birthday my darling, difficult, fabulous girl. You are wonderful.

Friday, May 20, 2011

What does one wear with a bright purple cap and gown?

Saturday is commencement and I'm walking. I'm not really sure why this has become so important to me. None of my classmates are walking; I will be the lone student from the Orientation and Mobility department walking to the podium to receive my mock-diploma. They don't even call your name during the ceremony, you just stand up in a line and one-by-one walk across the stage to shake hands with the Dean, get your picture taken, and then leave. They'll mail me my diploma in a couple of months.

this is the test shot from the photographer back in Feb, when I was still frazzled and exhausted from school.  I had just dropped off my application to graduate and thought, "Why not? I'll assume I'm graduating and get my picture taken." 

Why on Earth do I want to sit on a folding chair with 3000 strangers in the middle of Cox stadium, in the cold (mid-50's in San Fran on Saturday!), and listen to some people I don't know give speech after boring speech for two hours? It's insane. I should just have the party and skip the pomp and circumstance.

But I really, really, really, really, really want to put on that bright purple cap and gown and go to commencement. It feels like putting an exclamation point on the end of this chapter of my life. I survived grad school! I am now a Credentialed Teacher of Orientation and Mobility with a Masters degree. Against some crazy odds, and with the incredible support of my husband and my friends, I did it.

Would skipping commencement change any of those facts? Nope, but it sure will feel good sitting on that field knowing my husband and brother-in-law are out in that crowd somewhere cheering for me.

So think of me on Saturday, and raise a toast in my general direction. Life is good.

Oh, and if it is indeed doomsday, could you all wait until AFTER my graduation party? I'd like to celebrate a little before the rapture. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Certain Proof - a question of worth

Elizabeth at "A moon worn as if it had been a shell" posted the trailer to this documentary and I had to share it with you.

What strikes me about this short preview is how honest the movie seems. It isn't a pity-party or an "inspirational" story where we can all look at the cute kids in wheelchairs and feel sorry for them. Instead, it seems to show the real struggle of trying to educate children with severe disabilities and the emotional toll on the parents and the teachers. The kids need so much, but is any of it helping?

I don't know when Certain Proof - a question of worth will be released, but I'll be looking for it. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Is being a Princess contagious?

Queen Teen was in a bad mood when she got home from school.

"Mom! You forgot to put the Cinderella pen in my school bag."

"No, you forgot to put the Cinderella pen in your school bag."

"Well... I didn't even know where it was!"

"It's on the TV stand right next to your sunglasses and hat."

"How am I supposed to know?"

"Because it's sitting right there."

"Well I didn't see it!"

"You can bring it tomorrow."

"Well, you should have put it in my bag!"

I held up my hands. "Stop yelling at me."

She glared, looked away, and mumbled, "Well... she should have."

I left the room, counting quickly, "1,2,3,4..."

Two hours later, after her snack and movie, she came into the kitchen where I was preparing dinner and said, "You left my cup in the living room, Mom."

"No, I think you left your cup in the living room," I said.

She stopped and glared at me. "It doesn't go there."

"Really? I had no idea." I kept stirring my pot of pasta.

She just kept looking at me. Sarcasm is lost on her.

Then she released the breaks of her walker with a loud "snap-snap" and turned around. While she walked out of the kitchen she said, "Well, that's not where it goes."

A little while later, Queen Teen yelled from her room, "Mom!"

I walked in and saw her sitting on the floor. "Yeah?"

"I can't find my book."

"Which book?"

"The book I was reading."

"I don't know which book that was."

"The Rugrats one."

Queen Teen has thirty Rugrats books. "Which one?" I asked again.

"The one I was reading!"

"Honey, I don't know which one you were reading."

"Hmph!" She crossed her arms and turned away from me.

I sighed, and started counting again, "1,2,3,4..."

After dinner, she got ready for her bath. I was taking her hair out of the ponies, when she snapped, "Mom! We washed my hair yesterday!"

"I know. I'm pulling your hair up higher so it doesn't get wet."

"You don't have to do that!"

"Fine!" I had only one of her ponies out so I left the other one in and started the water running.

"Mom, what are you doing?"

"Starting your bath."

"But you have to fix my hair."

I took a deep breath, counted to 5, turned around and stood very close to her. "You forgot to say please."

"Well... I don't...."

"You forgot to say please," I repeated.

She looked down and  mumbled, "Please."

"What did you say?"


"OK." I took out the remaining pony-tail and then pulled her hair up into a bun.

She looked at me and smiled, "Thank you."

"You're welcome."

After her bath I helped her dress, then tucked her in for bed.

"My pillow isn't high enough."

I stood up and looked at her with my arms crossed.

"Will you please fix my pillow," she said sweetly.

Is being a Princess contagious, because since we came home from Disneyland she seems to think she should be wearing the royal jewels and giving orders. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011


"Cinderella remembered me and was happy to see me," Queen Teen said after Cinderella stopped by our table in Ariel's Grotto. The Princess helped Queen Teen stand, hugged her tightly, and then chatted for a moment. She signed Queen Teen's autograph book then moved on to the next table where more starry eyed little girls waited for her.

Cinderella is Queen Teen's favorite. From the moment she first saw the movie when she was 4,  Cinderella has been her bestest imaginary friend and personal hero. And when she actually met Cinderella at Disneyland three years ago, Queen Teen acted as if she'd had lunch with Miley Cyrus. Cinderella is real and lives in Disneyland with the other Disney Princesses, Tinker Bell and Mickey Mouse!

When do kids stop believing that Princess Jasmine and Arielle are real?

At age fifteen I suppose she should be past that stage, but she isn't. In fact, since her hearing disappeared she seems stuck at an in-between stage: too old to be a little girl, but unable to take that leap into being a teenager. She doesn't know who Justin Beiber is and couldn't care less.

When she was 3, she had an imaginary best friend named Bobby who went everywhere with her. He stayed by her side until she was in the 2nd grade, which is when she made real friends. Some girls in her class began sitting with her at lunch, playing with her at recess, and one invited Queen Teen to her birthday party. All through elementary school, she had a large group of girl friends, all of who vanished when she entered Middle School. They moved on to cell phones, spent their time chasing boys, and one began teasing Queen Teen, distancing herself from the "retarded kid." This is the same time Queen Teen's hearing declined, until by the 9th grade Queen Teen was profoundly deaf.

Her imaginary friend has returned, this time by the name of Sara. Queen Teen spends her days at home talking to Sara and Cinderella, laughing at their jokes, arguing over something Queen Teen may have done, debating the merits of good manners, and giving advice. Even at school, I've seen her turn her head and say out loud, "What did you say Sara? Oh yeah... you can say that again."

It makes a lot of sense that she'd talk to people in her head more than the people around her. It's difficult having a conversation with people in the real world. Imaginary people speak a language she can understand, and they always understand her.  Cinderella is one of her best-friends. We visit her every year at her home, Disneyland, and every year Cinderella stops at our table and gives Queen Teen a hug.

This year, Queen Teen finally met her second most favorite Disneyland person, Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins and Bert spent a long time with her, chatting and smiling. They took their time and gave Queen Teen a chance to talk, too, something most people don't have the time to do in the so-called real world.

That's the best part of our trips to Disneyland; every cast-member takes their time with her, even when they're pressed for time by the hundreds of other children waiting their turn to visit. Whoever trains them has done a fantastic job. I wish they could train us how to do it.

How does Queen Teen define reality? It seems that the world she's created inside her own head is more real than the world we all live in out here, with our hectic schedules and demands, our complicated language increasingly difficult to understand, and our too fast pace. If Justin Bieber is the real world, Queen Teen doesn't want anything to do with it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

How did it go at Disneyland?

Rick didn't embarrass Queen Teen too badly, I guess.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


We're going to Disneyland again!!!!! Hee hee hee hee hee!!!!!!!

I think I'm more excited than Queen Teen, and definitely more excited than Rick. He's calling it "Disneyhell" and is packing extra Valium in preparation for the crowds. But he's a trooper, a great dad, and is going to Disneyhell to help me and to see the look on his darling daughter's face when she sees Cinderella again.

Because that is a moment no one should miss.

Queen Teen, however, isn't so thrilled that Rick is coming. She's afraid he's going to embarrass her in front of Cinderella. What if he moons Mickey, or farts in front of Princess Aurora? She's convinced he's going to do something silly and then she'll never be able to show her face in Disneyland again.

It's traumatic when you're almost 16 and your dad takes it as a personal challenge to embarrass you.

Rick has promised to be on his best behavior, so Queen Teen has agreed that he can hang out with us, although she may make him walk five steps behind, just in case he farts or something. I told her I would personally smack him in the head if he does something rude. Rick just grinned.

I think I'll ditch them both and go ride Pirates of the Caribbean a few hundred times.

She's also not too happy about having to share me. I think she's feeling neglected because I've been so slammed with school this last year and haven't been able to spend as much time with her. That's changed now, but she still gets jealous when I spend time with Rick or friends. That girl isn't happy unless I'm glued to her side watching Sponge Bob all day. Once we get there, it will be better. I think she's going to enjoy a real family vacation for a change. I know I am. We haven't all been on a trip together since she was about 10 years old.

Cheers everyone! I'll be in Disneyland for the next few days, eating Gluten Free pizza and listening to my daughter sing while I push her traveling throne through Fantasy Land. And kicking Rick now and then. ;-)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What has changed since asking for help

Well, Ty Pennington hasn't shown up at my door yet, and I still haven't won the the lottery. We're still working our assess off to keep a roof over our head and food on the table, and my car is starting to show signs of wearing out (why do my door latches keep "clicking"?). Queen Teen struggles to make sense of an increasingly incomprehensible world while Rick and I desperately try to communicate with her. Things really haven't changed much around here...

... except me.

In December when I reached the limit of my mental endurance and yelled for help, my life felt beyond overwhelming. Here it is May, and life is whole lot easier to navigate. Of course, finishing grad school helped. What I realize is that my life is hectic without school, so how on earth did I manage to fit a graduate degree into the mix? I must have been insane.

Some of that insanity has lifted, and it isn't just graduation. What has changed is the idea that I'm some kind of super hero who can do everything all by herself with one eye closed and my feet tied together. I don't need anyone, I'm a rock. Grad school showed me how much I do need help, and that it's okay to need help. It's okay to publicly announce to my friends, family and a hundred strangers that I need HELP. And by doing that, I set myself free.

There wasn't an outpouring of tangible help, like casseroles showing up on my door step or friends asking to help with the yard work. Some people I was certain would call didn't, but many people I thought would never offer to help actually did. And more of our friends and family are learning sign language so that they too can talk to Queen Teen without having to go through me all the time. And like I said, it doesn't look like Extreme Makeover is coming to my house any time soon, so I guess Rick and I will have to fix the kitchen on our own. All of that is okay. We have wonderful support from our friends and neighbors and Queen Teen is loved by everyone. We really aren't alone, even when it feels like we are sometimes. I had to admit to human frailty and imperfection in order to see that.

By letting go of always having to be on top of everything, in charge of everything, being strong and fearless all the frickin time, I have set myself free. My life didn't change, I did. And that makes my life so much sweeter. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

A beautiful May Day

We've had another cool Spring so far, but on Sunday the weather turned warm and perfect: high 70's, soft breeze, no clouds. Every flower that had been timidly blooming in the unseasonal 50 degree temperatures sprung into life with a brilliance of color and a blast of pollen.

I've been sneezing my head off ever since, but I don't mind. It's just too beautiful around here.

Queen Teen and I harvested the mint to make room for the new garden space.

We had planted a huge patch of mint when we moved here, 8 years ago, but when we decided to expand the garden we had to dig them all up because they were hogging the sun. 

Once the harvest was finished, Rick spent all of Sunday creating the new garden area: building an 8 x 8 frame, hauling in dirt, mixing in compost, and putting down wire to keep the gophers out. Here it is, already christened with our Princess Scarecrow:

Unfortunately, the sudden warm weather woke up more than just the flowers.

Guess what this is....
Aphids, aphids everywhere and not a stem to see

After I blasted them off the rose bush with a the hose, I squirted the stems with dish soap, but I'm not sure I got them all. This is a large rose bush (more like a tree) and there must be a million aphids on it. We've had aphids before, but never like this! 

But I didn't let the aphid invasion ruin my day. Once I finished working in the yard, Queen Teen and I went for a stroll in the neighborhood and walked under this tree:

The bees were humming as we passed, and Queen Teen sang at the top of her little lungs, "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!"

Happy May Day

The conflicting emotions of this hippi chick celebrating Bin Laden's death

I know, I know... I'm not supposed to feel this way. I am supposed to be beyond blatantly celebrating the death of another human being. What is the point of all those hours reading Buddhist books about loving your enemy and even more hours meditating on compassion? I am against killing, against war, against our military fighting for the rights of corporations to control foreign governments. I fly the colors of peace and condemn all acts of aggression.

And yet here I am on this beautiful monday morning, celebrating the fact that Osama Bin Laden is dead.

Happiness isn't the word. Elation is a better description. There are butterflies in my belly and my chest feels tingly. I want to run outside and high-five a stranger on the street and giggle madly at the vision of Bin Laden being shot in the head.

Where is this blood-thristy, vengeance seeking, kick-the-terrorists-in-the-nut-sack feeling coming from? It is so not me! Right? I'm not like this... am I?

Many of my friends condemn the celebrations over Bin Laden's death, saying we should not celebrate the death of anyone. Doing so puts us at the same level of Bin Laden and his followers. And they caution us about the retribution that will surely come now that every wanna-be terrorist and actual al-Qaeda operative will seek revenge for Bin Laden. Scenes of New Yorkers dancing joyfully in the streets, reminiscent of armed militias in Afghanistan celebrating when the Twin Towers fell,  only fuels the hatred and will lead to more bloodshed. I know they're right. I know that I should not revel in another human being's death, no matter how much I may think he deserved it.

But I'm sorry, I can't help it. I am so happy that SOB is dead I want to cry.

I am glad Osama Bin Laden is dead and I am glad we killed him. There, I said it. I'll probably lose some friends over that statement and a few of you will stop following my blog, but that is honestly how I feel. I know I "shouldn't" feel this way, instead I should reflect on his death and think of the people he harmed, in the hopes that they will find some measure of peace. But I can't. I'm happy he's gone. I have no intention of flying an American Flag and praising God for Bin Laden's death, but neither will I bury my emotions and pretend I don't feel the way I do. And I imagine there are a lot of people who call themselves progressive, peace-loving, liberals who feel exactly the same way.

Bin Laden brings out the worst in people, even in death.