Thursday, September 28, 2006

Picking on Julie (a quasi-Da Count)

when you're the oldest girl, you pick on your little sisters. When my baby sister, Julie, broke her arm while jumping from the Stereo stand to the couch --
--hey, I don't know why we thought it was so much fun -- we just did...
--we made her promise to not tell Mom that we had all been doing it. Poor thing -- there she lay --in agony-- while we made her promise to face the music alone....

And then there was the time when it was my turn to get to go shopping with Mom (hey, with six kids, an outing alone with Mom was rare), and Julie wanted to go. I said no. She said she was going. She tried to beat me to the car. I arrived at the car, dove in, and slammed the door. The door of a VW Bus. The door of a VW Bus on her hand -- or more succinctly -- two of the fingers on her left hand. Which left her with wrinkly fingernails for the rest of her life. Which, of course, she pointed out when she got married. Geez -- some people never let things go....

In most families, this ceases when you become an adult. Not so in my family. Poor Julie.......

When we were kids, sister JoJo had a 24" doll named Francesca. Francesca had beautiful brown ringlet curls, and wore a kind of Victorian Wedding(ish) gown. JoJo and I loved her. Julie thought she was evil. And would lock her in the closet every chance she had. Eventually, Francesca was relegated to the attic -- and forgotten. For many years. Decades even.

Until one year, when we all ventured home to Nebraska for a family visit. Julie's daughter, Madi, was around a year old. Julie had left JoJo and I babysitting while she and her husband went out. I don't remember who thought of it first -- I actually think we both had the thought at the same time -- and we scampered up to the attic -- screaming to Mom, "Where's Francesca!?!?!?" A few boxes later - eureka! Mission accomplished! Francesca was brought downstairs, and all was made ready for Julie's return.

JoJo and I waited, wiggly and giggly, until we heard the front door open. Julie and Marc came into the living room. Marc smiled and said, "How cute!"

Julie, silver bullets zipping from her eyes, glared and said, "Why is that evil thing reading a book to my innocent daughter?!?!?!?!"

Julie -- I love you sweetie. As horrible as I was to you (in child and adult-hood), I can't believe you got me through my divorce and took me to China! Oh, and thanks for not leaving me stranded in China.....

**FINAL NOTE Edited on 10/1/06**
::manical laugh::
Years later, Julie saw that old episode of Twilight Zone (or the other one?) with the doll that walks around the house killing the family. She said that doll and Francesca were evil sisters.....silly, silly, girl.....
Francesca always said she was an only child...

Monday, September 25, 2006

My Mom - Part Duex

--or "part doo" - as what the shit?!?!?!? If my Mom finds out that I made her sound the saint, I might be in I thought I'd share some of the errrrrr less stellar but still shiny memories of me mum:

1. My mom never said no. Before you get your hopes or hackles (whichever the case) - that's not to say she let us do whatever. No, she never said no. She sang it. Sang it!?!?!?
Mom: APj! Time to come inside!
Me: Mom, can I just stay outside a little longer?
Mom: No. It's too late.
Me: Aw, pleasepleaseplease can I just stay outside a little bit longer? ________(insert current bestfriend's name) 's mom always lets her--
Mom: (a sing-songy tune) "No, no, --"
Me: (running to the house, trying to stop her from finishing) Ahhhhhhhh! Mom!!!!! Stop--Mom
Mom: "-- a thousand times no. I'd rather die than say yes."
Me: Geez, thanks Mom. Now we gotta move again.

2. I was the straw that inevitably broke the camels back. Hey, with six kids, it was bound to happen, but it seemed to happen to me more often than the rest of the clan. What do I mean, "break the camel's back?"
Upon arriving home from track practice, I hurriedly sat down to eat.
Mom: What kind of milk would you like?
Me (thinking to self): Choice? That means we have chocolate milk!!!! Special Day, yeah!!!
Me(aloud): Chocolate, please.
Mom proceeds to fix me a plate of food, and brings me a glass of milk. White Milk. As in the non-chocolate variety.
Me: Hey, I asked for chocolate milk.
Everything switches to slow-mo as
a. Mom tosses the milk in my face (really) ,
b. a look of shock and tears mixes with the milk on my face.
c. a look of horror comes over my Mom's face.
d. we both burst into tears in the kitchen.

3. And, my all time favorite. Growing up, I noticed that there weren't a lot of baby pics of me. Unlike my two older brothers, my pics seemed to start around 6months to one year old. Oh sure, there's a picture of a bald baby in a crib that they SAID was me, but really......So, of course, I grew up thinking that I was adopted. Whenever I felt my mom was being unfair, (please refer to #1 and #2 above), I would scream -- err--suggest to my mother, "Why don't you just tell me the truth! You know I'm adopted."
One day, in which I was (according to my mother) being unusually hateful, as opposed to my normally hateful self (again, according to me mum), I spewed -- err--suggested the above to my mother. My Mother was (and still is) the queen of the one-line zingers. Hey, now you know where I get my wit. To which my mother responded, "What makes you think we'd pick you?"
::rimshot:: "thankyou, thankyou very much"

Sunday, September 24, 2006


So Lecram got me hooked on this image story generator.
"What are you putting in there, APj?"
"Nothing.... but I wish there was a way to save the stories--"
"There is! Just--"
And the Wizard proceeds to hook me up with a screen capture program. Which is, of course, free (which is just the way Lecram likes it -- free!!!!)

So here are some of my favorite stories (so far):

I know, I KNOW!!!! Stop now.....while you still can......

Back from the Wedding!

So -- I've just returned from Paso Robles. NO -- not my wedding --wedding of my priest's daughter. I met her (almost) 10 years ago. Her dad, the "brand new priest" called and wanted to know if I could toss his daughter from a plane. Seriously. She was turning 18 and wanted to "jump from a perfectly good airplane." I said, "Sure!" and set it in motion. Of course, on the way to the airport I thought, "WTF!?!?!? What if something bad happens!?!?!?!? I'll have to find a new church!! What are the consequences for killing priest's offspring?" Thankfully, nothing bad happened. But Em and I remained close -- even after she moved to Germany!
The wedding was a wonderful, family only event held at the Meridian Winery in Paso Robles. I was nervous on my way over -- hate weddings now that I'm the "divorced woman." You know, the one that throws the balance off at the table (whatever are we to do with the extra seat!?!?). Lecram shored me up via the phone ("Hey! You might get lucky!") No such luck -- but really, I wasn't looking.....

Got up early this morning and drove over to Morro Bay. Saw a this big rock, and walked over to it.

Yup -- big rock.

These two birds followed me most of the way over. Don't know why...

Friday, September 22, 2006

My Mom

I've shared stories about my daughter Erynn. I've regaled you with tales of my (evil) brother, Pastor Jeff, and other siblings. I've even told you of my Dad. The only one I've left out is my Mom.
No.....not because she is the least of them....but because she is the MOST. How can I begin to describe my Mom? The words escape me....yes, me -- who (seemingly) can always find something (whether appropriate or inapprop) to say.
Mom was one of the first female animal husbandry majors at the University of Nebraska. She says that part of the reason she picked that major was so she could wear pants (not a skirt), to school. She was very active in the Tack and Bridle Club (horsey stuff) --so active in fact, that at one point they wanted to elect her President. Which, of course, wasn't allowed by the by-laws (no women in office). She was an excellent swimmer. Still is to this day! She swims laps at the YWCA twice a week.
My niece Madison has had the priveledge of growing up in the same town as my Mom -- and has reaped rewards that my daughter is sometimes envious of. My mother took a "mommy and me" dancing class with Madison when Madison was 3. The image of my Mother (then in her late sixties) fairy and flower dancing brings a smile to my face. Mom would go on field trips with her daycare -- where there would soon be a dozen kids all calling her, "Grandma!" To which Madison would reply, "Not YOUR Nama, MY Nama!" My mother volunteers in Madison's school library.
Of course, Erynn and Grandma share their own bond: Erynn is in the same college sorority that my Mom was in, and proudly wears Grandma's pin -- of which her sorority sisters are envious.

Growing up, I could talk to my Mom about anything. Uh-huh...anything. I remember staying up until the wee hours of the night talking about friends, enemies, choices, faith, God. In fact, I told my Mom that I was going to have sex......a week before I HAD sex! I summoned her to my room, and calmly told her my plans. She told me she disagreed with my reasons, but that she was glad I told her. Anything! My friends all loved her -- and told me how lucky I was.

Through all my choices - bad and good -- my mother has always been in my corner. Even when she hasn't agreed with me -- she has supported me. I think I'm a pretty good mom myself, but I pale in comparison to her.

I do not think I would be where or what or who I am today if it hadn't been for my Mom.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

So, once again I found myself on blogthings....taking mindless quizes.....which, perhaps aren't so mindless....
It is amazing what I learn about myself -- especially when I reflect on the answers.
--As usual -- my reflections are in red....

Your Five Factor Personality Profile


You have high extroversion.
You are outgoing and engaging, with both strangers and friends.
You truly enjoy being with people and bring energy into any situation.
Enthusiastic and fun, you're the first to say "let's go!"

It surprises many when I tell people that I'm really shy. Inside me is a scared little girl who wants nothing more than to curl up in a ball. But, thanks to my "airforce brat" upbringing, (complete with many moves) and my discovery of theater at a young(ish) age -- I found a way of dealing with it.

Though I still find myself (often) wanting to just play turtle. (which, before someone snidely asks, is NOT a couples game......)

You have high conscientiousness.
Intelligent and reliable, you tend to succeed in life.
Most things in your life are organized and planned well.
But you borderline on being a total perfectionist.

I never thought of myself as organized or a perfectionist -- until I got divorced! Finding the rug pulled out from beneath my feet (in more ways than one), made me realize that I'm okay with being spontaneous -- as long as I've got "spontaneous event" scheduled in....


You have medium agreeableness.
You're generally a friendly and trusting person.
But you also have a healthy dose of cynicism.
You get along well with others, as long as they play fair.

Only MEDIUM agreeableness!?!?!?!? And what, pray tell, would an unhealthy dose of cynicism look like!?!?!? Play Fair? How the hell do you expect to win if you play fair.

--stupid quiz.....stupid answer....

You have low neuroticism.
You are very emotionally stable and mentally together.
Only the greatest setbacks upset you, and you bounce back quickly.
Overall, you are typically calm and relaxed - making others feel secure.

Err....okay, strike that tirade above....don't want to have to change to High Neuroticism....I do bounce back quick (even a bounce from an airplane) - but I fear many of you would disagree with the "mentally together" bit.

Are you feeling secure? good....

Openness to experience:

Your openness to new experiences is high.
In life, you tend to be an early adopter of all new things and ideas.
You'll try almost anything interesting, and you're constantly pushing your own limits.
A great connoisseir of art and beauty, you can find the positive side of almost anything.

Smartest thing so far! Duh! Open to MOST new experiences -- although I have had some dating issues.

I will try almost anything -- and think that I have tried almost everything....

and yes, I do always try to find the positive. I think too many people waste too much time on the negative crap. Like I always say, " That baggage you're carrying could sink the Titanic! throw it out of the boat!"

Thanks for letting me take this self-absorbed journey.

Monday, September 11, 2006

There Comes a Reckoning Every So Often in History.

"Where were you on this day?"
Many of my students asked me this today, and I shared the last entry with them (from my actual journal). A tiny bug of inspiration bit me, and as today passed, I realized a pattern in our country: each generation has an event that marks and defines them.

Dear Diary,
It has been a hard winter, and spring is not looking any better. Ever since the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929. “Black Tuesday” they call it. Dad tried to keep the house and farm, but the weather turned against us. Now we’ve got nothing. We’ve been driving for weeks now – headed to California. There’s eight of us left. Grandpa died last night. It made me sad, but Momma said he was smiling and talking to angels. He was talking about mashed potatoes and gravy. That made me so hungry. Most towns we go through are real nice – they’ve got soup lines set up, and they don’t mind feeding us, as we’re on our way to California.

We read this headline as we went through Chicago:

Dear Diary,
I am still in shock. We all sat, glued to the radio, as President Roosevelt declared that the day would “live on in infamy.” How did this happen? Why did the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor? I still cry when I see the pictures that were in the newspaper. All those poor men that were still sleeping on the U.S.S. Arizonia…..I wonder if they woke up? I wonder if they just died in their sleep. Momma says I shouldn’t speak like that, but I can’t help it. Frankie went and signed up for the army. He said he just felt like he had to do it. Katie left yesterday for San Francisco. She’s gonna be a Rosey Riveter – she’s gonna help build battleships! Can you believe it? A girl building battleships!

Dear Diary,
He was so young. We thought of him, a King (a young and handsome one), and of D.C., Camelot. Our royalty. Our future – the “New Frontier.” And now, our frontier has been striped – shot dead in Dallas. I remember seeing him and Jackie in that limo, smiling and waving…… I am so sad, it’s hard to move…..but I found comfort in Earl Warren’s eulogy:
It has been said that the only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn. But surely we can learn if we have the will to do so. Surely there is a lesson to be learned from this tragic event.
If we really love this country, if we truly love justice aqd mercy, if we fervently want to make this Nation better for those who are to follow us, we can at least abjure the hatred that consumes people, the false accusations that divide us, and the bitterness that begets violence. Is it too much to hope that the martyrdom of our beloved President might even soften the hearts of those who would themselves recoil from assassination, but who do not shrink from spreading the venom which kindles thoughts of it in others?

Dear Diary,
I remember being on top of the World Trade Center. Erynn and I went to New York in 1999, and one our highlights was the trip to the top. We laughed as our ears popped on the way up in the elevator. We stood on the roof – looking out at clouds and the city. The kids’ jaws dropped when the tour guide told them that a dropped penny (from that height) would put a hole a foot deep in the sidewalk. The wind sounded like jump run – calling me to leap from the edge and fly. . I remember standing near the edge, and thinking, “What a base jump this would be!” I could fly high above these clouds – like a bird….like an angel.
And a mere sixteen months later, here I am -- numb most of the day. I stared at the TV, dumbfounded as the second plane flew into the tower, thinking that it had to be an instant replay – surely it wasn’t a second plane. I watched things falling from the sky, feeling faint as I realized that they were people – unable to fly, only fall. I tried to tune it out – but the day grew bleaker with each passing minute: a crash into the Pentagon, a Philadelphia field of tragic heroes, the towering giants seemingly imploding to the ground, sending cascading, billowing caustic clouds across the city.
I close my eyes, resting for a moment – but no rest is found as I continually find myself on top of that tower, wind calling me to leap and fly, and feeling the giant rumble beneath me as he starts to collapse, jarring me awake. And now the TV is showing people. People lining up to give blood. People wanting to know where to send donations. People wanting to help.

History teaches us nothing, except maybe that we often learn the same lesson over and over and over again. As I look at these events – these generational mile-markers, I’m touched by the devastating effect each had on their generation – and yet in hindsight, we, as a nation, we’re made stronger, wiser, by it.
--Yes, yes, mistakes were made by many during all these times – but that is not my focus, or my intent –

I just found it interesting…..and wanted to share it with you.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Okay -- put your hankies away. Sorry I got all ya'll all misty-eyed about my Dad. Hmmmm....if that got ya', wait til I tell you about my MUM!!!!!!!!

And now.....for something completely different....and yet, totally predictable coming from APj....

I-T-S Q-U-I-Z T-I-M-E !!!!!

Once again....with my commentaries in red......

You Don't Need a Man, but You Want One!

You like having a guy in your life, and overall, you prefer not to be single.

I would like, no strike that, I would LOVE to have a guy in my life...overall, underall, besideall -- position is not all that critical.

You won't go out with a guy out of desperation..

Yes, I do have my rules. And don't you dare throw rules-schmules at me! Desperation is for housewives, and let us remember: I AM no wife...

you rather be alone.

Remember all ya'll, I've got three things in my I'm not really TECHNICALLY alone....

However, when you're single, you do tend to obsess a little over dating.

ME!?!?!?!? Obsess!?!?!?!?!? Never........And just WTF is Overdating? I mean, hel-LO!!!! I'm SO-O-O-O-O UNDERdating. it time for Sanka again?

Because no matter how good your single life is, it's better with a great guy around.

-or under, or over, or next to, or in front of.....

Do You Need a Man?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Daddy's Girl

Sorry to all who’ve missed me – life’s a bit nuts right now: I was given one class of 6th graders this week – please note, I usually teach 7th grade, so now I’m…err…..inventing a curriculum to use with my 6th graders that is “not-too-different-from-what-the-7th-graders-are-doing-so-that-I-don’t-go-crazy-making-lesson-plans.” Sigh.

My dad is back in the hospital – which also adds to my frenzy. His emphysema is not much worse, but his brain is a bit fuzzed. He’s often confused, and doesn’t remember if he took pills, needs to take them, etc – even though my Mom has them all organized on a schedule and has a great system. So, he’s back in the hospital – primarily to take him off all his meds, and try to get a handle on that.

So – that got me thinking about my Dad. I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite Dad stories……

1973 – 12 years old, Merced, California.
Who would’ve have thought that blowing your nose was dangerous? Got Boogers? Blow!!!! And yet, there I was, thirty minutes later, still trying to get my nose to stop bleeding. After another thirty minutes dragged by, my Mom and Dad decided that it was time to go to the hospital. I made it to the car – but felt very woozy, and the wooziness grew during the twenty minute drive to Castle AFB. I tried to get out of the car, but my legs collapsed from underneath me. My father scooped me up and carried me into the hospital. “Hold on, Missy,” he whispered, “I’ve got you.” I knew I would be fine – ‘cause my Daddy had me.

(postscript for those of ya’ who gotta know: I’d blown a hole in the artery in my nose –and lost over 2 pints of blood. Artery was cauterized (big ouch), and nose was packed with 3,000 miles (slight exxageration) of yellow stinky (no exxageration) gauze.

1979 – Lincoln, Nebraska

If you think being “stuck in Lodi, again” is bad, try Kearney, Nebraska. Sure, fun place to party (for Nebraska), but definitely not a place to stay. But there I was, on a Sunday afternoon with a broken car. And, of course, this was way before the invention of credit cards… least in my families existence!
“Missy, what is the car doing?”
“Daddy! That pipe thing in front of the muffler is broken. I took it to a gas station – but they said they can’t do anything until tomorrow! And they said it will cost a couple hundred dollars!!!! Daddy!!! What should I do?”
“Missy, I’m not there. What kind of sound is the car making?”
“Well, it just sounds really loud. Kinda like a muscle car – is it okay to drive? Can I fix it with something? Should I wait ‘til tomorrow?”
“Missy, I’m not there, so I can’t tell you what to do…but take a look at it and see what you think.”
So – under the car I went to take a look. And then I got all MacGyver on it. Uh-huh—that’s Missy MacGyver to you. I pushed that broken pipe as close to the muffler as I could, and took a wire hanger and made a big U-shaped support underneath it. Then I wrapped the whole think in duct tape….just in case. And then….I drove home…..130 miles…….2 hours…….across Nebraska……..and, just to remind you – IN THE DAYS BEFORE CELL PHONES!!!!
I pulled into the driveway – and there was my dad. Waiting. As I got out of the car, he didn’t say a word – he just crawled under the car – and then crawled back out.
“Is that okay, Daddy?”
But he didn’t answer – he just went inside. “Shit!” I thought to myself, “I screwed it up! I knew I shou—“
He was back again, crawling under the car. And crawled back out – with a polaroid of my repair, and a big grin!
“Wait ‘til Darrel (the mechanic) sees this!””Is it okay, Daddy? I didn’t mess it up too bad, did I?”
“Missy, you did good.”

2002 - Fresno, California
“Missy, I’m worried about you.”
“Daddy, I’m okay. A little shocked, but okay.”
“Missy, I can’t believe he left you.”
“Me either, Daddy. Me either.”
“I’ve got you Missy, you’ll be okay.”
“I know, Daddy. I’m just scared. What did I do wrong?”
“Missy, you did good. This is his problem, not yours.”
“Thanks Daddy….”

Thanks Daddy. Thanks for always thinking that I could do anything. Thanks for believing in me, and helping me believe in myself.