Monday, May 30, 2005

Baby steps.

okay, my blogging friends. I'm wading back into the pool of writers after a lonnnggggg absence. A line from Kien about Harry Halitosis threw a spark my way, and this is what came out. Some critisim, but please make it of the KIND AND CONTRUCTIVE strain, would be appreciated.
Love, APj

Fragilistic, the fragile mystic
Alone again, on the side of the road
Less traveled, (she’s been told)
Feeling so old, so cold
Craving the warmth of the Inn,
And those feelings begin.
Dare she try again? Amen?
Or remain,
Unclaimed (but safe),
on the side of the road.

Fragilistic, the fragile mystic
Her talents widely famed
rarely tamed
Futures and fortunes, before: unnamed
Now unmasked and attained
By the masses, but alasses, not for her.

And oh they come in droves
Bearing treasure troves,
fishes and loaves
inquiring minds, want to know
“is love so?”
and Fragilistic tells them
yes or no.

Ahh, with a sigh
And time gone bye
she remembers the Inn
and time that had been
with him.
Time that had sped, fled, bled
Her dry,
And so, unable to cry,
She turned inside,
Only to converse with her
fragile bones,

Fragilistic, the fragile mystic
Rises from her abode
On the side of the road.
Steps at first, petulant,
Then only hesitant,
she crosses to the Inn,
Ready, at last, to begin,

Monday, May 23, 2005

Erynn, age six (oh so long ago!)

A Tale of Two Friends

the following was my first attempt at writing anything after a long (10+years) time. It was a story I had told to Erynn, and then to my students, who decided I should write it down.
This story couldn't begin with "Once upon a time," because it's not about a time long ago, but a time of "now." This is the story about Erynn and Emily: two inseparable friends.
They met in Nebraska, when Erynn was three. Each summer Erynn went to Nebraska to visit her Grandma. Erynn and Emily would spend hours coloring, cutting and playing make-believe. One day they were princesses, searching for dragons, the next day they would be dragons, looking for friendly princesses! Emily loved to pretend to be the baby dragon, and have "Princess Erynn" find her.
Each year it was always so sad when it was time for Erynn to come back to California. She would hug Emily, tears welling in her eyes. Even though they would see each other again, it seemed like forever.
One Christmas, when Erynn was six, she got the most wonderful present ever. For reasons never quite understood but always appreciated, Emily was sent to live with Erynn and her family. Erynn was so excited! Now, not only would Erynn and Emily be Best Friends, they would be sisters! And Emily would never be a bratty or bossy sister. They would be like twin sisters: inseparable.
And inseparable they were! They ate breakfast together. They ate dinner together. They watched Saturday morning cartoons together. In fact, the only time they weren't together was when Erynn was in school. Emily couldn't go to school because they didn't have programs for "special" people like her, so she did "home school." Many times Erynn begged to stay home with Emily, but her Mom (and Emily too) told her that school was best for Erynn, and Home school was best for Emily.
Grade school and make-believe gave way to junior high and real adventures. The summer after eighth-grade, Erynn and Emily went to New York city. They gazed out from the crown atop the Statue of Liberty. They stood awestruck on top of the World Trade Center. Erynn even found a way to sneak Emily into a Broadway show! They sat in the darkened theatre and watched "The Lion King."
Junior High is a rocky time for all teens, including Erynn and Emily. Perhaps Emily felt Erynn didn't care, or maybe it was an accident, but one day Emily disappeared. They had been at a "sleepover," and when morning broke, Emily was nowhere to be found! Although the authorities were notified, six sleepless nights followed before the phone call came: Emily was found hiding at the sleepover house. Numerous apologies, tears and hugs eventually convinced Emily that she was a valued member of the family and she returned home with Erynn.
Few childhood friendships survive junior high, but rarer still are the friendships which survive high school. Although many of Erynn's school friends ribbed and teased her about her strange and different friend Emily, most of them came to at least accept Emily's involvement. Many became enchanted by her vulnerability and charm.
As the end of her senior year approached, Erynn began to consider colleges. Erynn wasn't sure that college was the beset choice for Emily. Perhaps Emily should remain at home with the family...
"Emily," explained Erynn, "college is for adults, and maybe you're just not ready yet. But I promise I'll come back at Thanksgiving to see you."
Emily didn't say a word, she just stared forlornly with her head tilted at Erynn.
"Besides," continued Erynn, "what if some of the college kids tease you? You wouldn't want that, would you?"
Emily still didn't answer, she just continued to look at Erynn. But Erynn knew what she was thinking.
"Yeah," snickered Erynn, "You're right. I wouldn't let them tease you.... Do you want to go to college?"
Emily's answer came not out loud, but from the look she gave to Erynn. At that point, Erynn knew that she and Emily would be together, forever, just as they had been since kindergarten.
...Ever since that Christmas when Emily arrived on their doorstep, with the note around her neck that said, "Take care of my special friend."

It is hard to tell from the old picture, but Emily is a brontosaurus. Emily and Erynn are currently sophmores at Cal State - Northridge, where Erynn is studying art, and Emily is just...well just being Emily.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Homemade Budding Beauty Vanity

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Not so sugar and spice et al

Oh dear…
Reading over my blogs, I’m sounding like a very nice person…..which I’m not…..
And to prove to you what a wretched, awful, self-centered person I truly am, let me share the first celebration I remember, of Christmas--which in my family has been renamed (after this event) to, “It’s not Christmas unless Jayne cries…”
It was Christmas, 19s-- oh not going to tell you that. Suffice to say, that all I wanted for Christmas was The Budding Beauty Vanity. Remember how you’d make a list of everything you wanted? How the list would go on, page after page? How if you totaled it, the total was somehow always equal to the Annual Gross Profit of a small country? Well, at the age of 6, my list was short. The only thing on it was…The Budding Beauty Vanity.
Perhaps some of you remember it: Wonderful, shiny French Provincial high quality plastic. The mirrors lit up, so you could see your beautiful face. You could store all those beauty products that every six-year old had to have in the drawers. There was even a hidden compartment in the button-tufted Styrofoam seat that came with the vanity.
So week after week, it was the only thing on my list. Trip after trip to Santa, it was all I asked for. Letter after letter—well, you get the idea. I figured if there was only one thing on my list—
Now, let me interrupt to explain that I’m from a rather large family. I am one of six children, my father was in the military, and my mother was a stay-at-home-and-work-harder-than-you-should-have-to-Mom. Money was often short. My folks did the best they could, but Christmas was often creatively done. My parents were both very handy.
So for weeks, after we children went to bed, my dad spent hours down in the workshop, making vanities for my sister JoJo and I. Jo’s would be a sweet jewelry version that sat on a dresser or such. But mine, well mine would be the Budding Beauty version, according to my Dad. He measured, cut, watched the commercial, and looked at the picture so that he could get it just right. He decided to make it out of maple, because he thought it would look the best. He finished them on Christmas Eve, and placed both vanities under the tree.
I think my Father was as excited as I was that Christmas morning. I had come down early—and spied the box! Oh my goodness, could it be? I could hardly stand sitting through breakfast and the opening of stockings. “Please, please, please, hurry,” kept repeating in my head. Finally, it was my turn. I tore off the paper…..and began to cry. No, not tears of joy…instead they were the tears of a disappointed 6 year old.
“What’s wrong, Missy?” my father asked.
“It’s,” sniff “not” sniff “the right” sob “one,” I responded, and then proceeded to bawl. “I wanted the Budding Beauty Vanity! Not a homemade one!”
“Oh but honey,” my mom said, “look how nice the one your Dad made. And look sweetie, it has a stool—“
“But there’s no hidden compartment! And….it’s brown!”
How my father (and my mother, for that fact), kept from beating me that day, I do not know. I don’t even remember the rest of that Christmas day. I do remember that my friend got the Budding Beauty Vanity…..and her brother used the secret compartment as a toilet…..I remember the legs breaking off her vanity shortly thereafter when she leaned her elbows to heavily on it…..I began to slowly appreciate my homemade version.
But my Father did get his revenge. Over the years, he made sure the vanity always moved with us (a daunting feat as many times as we moved). It was always carefully oiled and refinished when needed.
All in preparation for the Christmas I was pregnant with Erynn…….a package arrived from my parents in Nebraska…….a rather large package…….containing my homemade Budding Beauty Vanity……

Christmas 1984, was again “Christmas,” because “Jayne cried.”

Monday, May 09, 2005

That's the breaks

It makes a whooshy sound, and then I have to take a breath. The breath feels too big, like it’s going to break my ribs. But if I don’t take the breath, the alarm goes off. How do I know this? Because I thought I’d “skip” a breath, just one…
Those are the words I wrote in shakey-hand print, trying to explain what the ventilator felt like, trying to explain why there was fear in my eyes, trying to explain why I was afraid to go to sleep.
How did I end up here? Oh yeah, I remember…
I was preparing for landing – worrying a bit about some power lines, but not wanting to make any turns low to the ground. “Remain focused” I said to myself.
“Turn Right!” screamed Don.
Instinctively, I pulled my right toggle down. Oops, wrong move, too low to the ground. But too low to pull out of the turn – if I had let up on the steering toggle, I would have landed on my face. “Oh shit” I thought to myself, “Prepare for the hardest landing of your—“
They estimated my impact at approximately 50 miles per hour, give or take. Unfortunately, my femur did not agree with the give and take, and it broke, probably on my first of three impacts with Mother Nature.
I sat up, pulled my ‘chute underneath me. Moved right arm, check. Moved left arm, check. Moved left leg, check. Moved right leg….move right leg? Aww, what’s that pokey thing trying to poke thru my leg? Aww shit, that’s my bone! No wonder it hurts like a
A quick ride to Fresno via ambulance, although I made ‘em turn on lights and siren, since I was paying for the ride. Thru a comedy of errors, none of which was funny, I ended up at VMC – which I referred to as “Very Many Cokeheads.” (Please do not defend the place…unless you have stayed there, I will not listen to you)
“Well Ms. Day, you have a compound fracture to your femur.”
Duh” I thought silently, but said, “Oh, really? What needs to be done?”
“Well, we can put you in traction for 5-15 days, followed by a cast. Or we can do this new surgery: we’ll insert a steel rod down the middle of your femur. No cast, and you’ll be home in 3-4days.”
“I’ll take surgery for two, thanks Alex.”
Three days later found me being rushed down a hallway. Seems they had done the surgery too quickly, sending globules (their word, swear) of that stuff in the middle of my femur into my lungs, heading for my heart. In technical terms: an embolism.
I watch episodes of ER, fascinated with the process of “intubating.” The patient is always asleep or knocked out. The doctors usually get it on the first try, never more than the second try. Doesn’t look hard or painful. In the show that was my reality, I was awake, wide awake. The tube went down three times, feeling like it was shredding and tearing my throat, and three times it came back up. The fourth time one of the doctors said to the other to get ready, because they might have to do a trach on me. The fourth time (not the third time) was a charm. I was hooked up.
It makes a whooshy sound, and then I have to take a breath. The breath feels too big, like it’s going to break my ribs. But if I don’t take the breath, the alarm goes off. How do I know this? Because I thought I’d “skip” a breath, just one…
The doctors come in, stand around my bed and whisper. They check my heart, my blood pressure, the machines. They whisper more. They shake their heads. One finally looks at me and says, “Do you have any next of kin you’d like us to notify?”
Next of kin?” I thought panickedly, “What do you mean? Am I gonna—“
I reached for the pen and paper that had become my sole means of communication. Frantically I scrawled my boss’ number. He would help. He would call my folks. He would help. He would—
Mr. G arrived within 30 minutes. He sat on the edge of the bed. “How do you feel Jayne?”
Am I gonna die? I wrote.
“The doctors say it doesn’t look good. But how do you feel?”
The doctors are assholes. They’re wrong, I wrote.
Mr. G sat with me for awhile, told me to be strong, and said he’d pray for me, and call my mom. He stood to leave, and told me he’d see me in the morning.
So there I was: in an ICU room at VMC, alone and afraid. Afraid to go to sleep. Afraid that if I fell asleep, I would die. So, in the wisdom of youth and terror, I decided that if I didn’t go to sleep, I couldn’t die. (That’s when I discovered that alarm thing on skipping the breath. Momentary moment of Pythonesque humor involving doctors and nurses screaming at me to breath, and me frozen in terror at the alarms, buzzers and screaming...)
So the whole “staying awake and not dying thing” worked…until somewhere around 2:00 AM. I found myself alone (still), and exhausted. I found myself no longer afraid to die, but sad. Sad that my Mom was hundreds of miles away, thinking it was only a broken leg (because that’s what I had told her) and there was nothing to worry about until she got the call today from the hospital and Mr. G. Sad that I hadn’t been able to talk to her one more time. Sad that I couldn’t see her one more time. Sad that I couldn’t tell her how much I loved her. Sad…but more exhausted. Too exhausted to keep breathing like this. Too exhausted to keep on.
“Okay, God,” I prayed, “I guess it is YOUR WIIL, not mine. Whatever YOU want. I’m just sorry that I can’t see my Mom…..” And I faded off….
I remember that I heard noise. “Noise,” I thought, “Noise could be a good thing….noise could also be a bad thing. Not feeling hot flames….that could be good…..Maybe I’ll sneak a peak…..Please be white, not red, please be white, not red, please—“
When I opened my eyes, I was still in ICU at VMC….not heaven…not hell (although close). Guess God had more plans for me.
My accident happened on my 15th jump, I went on to make approximately 150 more jumps. Trust me, #16 was the hardest jump I ever made. I tell people that skydiving is not a dangerous sport, but it is also not a forgiving sport. Most people don’t live to get a second chance; I did. Of course, because the handymen at VMC believed in a “measure once and cut once” practice, I have one leg that is shorter than the other, set 30 degrees off, and a hole in my hip…. J
It also gave me a unique view on life, etc. I truly believe that if my Mom had been with me, I would have felt okay to leave, and that it was my need for her, and God’s plan for me, that kept me “earthbound.” Family, friends, and faith remain the most important aspects of my life, and not a day/week goes by without me telling at least one of them how important they are to me and to the world.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


So, I guess it all started Christmas of 2003. Erynn and I went to spend the holidays with my “baby” sister and her family in Virginia. I say “baby” with quotes, because even though she is younger then me, somehow she has found ways to kinda take care of me, especially the last few years.
“So Jay-ne, we’re thinking about going to China to adopt a baby.”
“Well, I would like to have another child, there are a lot of unwanted baby girls there, we can afford to do this, and I feel like it something I’m being called to do.”
“Marc’s folks are planning to go with us. Primarily to see the relatives that still live there, but also because his mom speaks Cantonese and his dad speaks Mandarin.
“Well,” I offered, “if ya’ need someone to go to China with you, just let me know…”
Flash forward one year. (Yes, I know, it should not take that long, but the paperwork required is daunting, to say the least.)
Brnnnggg! Brnnnnggg!
“Hey Jay-ne” chirps my sister, “Ya’ still want to go to China?”
Seems that Marc’s dad had delayed surgery on his knee once too often and had to have it fixed once and for all. Marc’s mom would have to stay to help him. That left Julie and Marc taking their two small children to China, where they would be picking up my new niece, Corrinne. Julie is an uber-mom, but even she knew that was beyond her abilities….
“Aw, Julie,” I stammered, “You know I’d love to…but geez, the money. How soon—“
“Oh no, Jay-ne,” she cut me off, “Marc and I are taking you to China. We need you.”
Yes, my friends, a free trip to China. Well, kinda free, since I was the “Super Nanny.” We were one of 13 families flying to mainland China to adopt Chinese infant girls. Arrived in Hong Kong on Martin Luther King Day (Jan.17), flew to Hefei the next morning, got Corrinne that afternoon. Spent the next 10 days finalizing adoption and U.S. citizenship in Hefei and GuangZhou before returning to Hong Kong, where Marc’s relatives threw three gi-NOR-mous parties.
As much as my government and country can drive me nuts, we truly are blessed to live with as much opportunity and freedoms as we do. The city of Hefei is very large, very polluted (coal is it’s main heat supply), and very poor. We were told that the average annual income is between $300-$600. Corrinne was considered a “special needs” baby because she was cross-eyed. Simple surgery here in the states has rectified this condition, but if it had been delayed she might have lost use of at least one of her eyes. The orphanage was staffed by people who truly loved and cared for the children, but were overwhelmed: 100 infants and toddlers, 8x10 rooms containing 6 cribs, two infants to a crib.
On the bright side, the people were very friendly. Some were very curious about my niece and nephew: it was obvious to them that they were half Chinese. They would come up, pointing at me saying, “Mother, yes?” “No, only Auntie.” Shortly thereafter, the other 12 families, the staff at the hotel, and the people at the market were calling me, “Auntie Jay-ne.”