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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Humbled

I have been feeling a bit Eeyorish lately.  Maybe it's the ridiculous summer heat, maybe it's the lack of Disney World in my life (seriously, it's an obsession), maybe it's the ensuing insanity of my kids.  Whatever it is, I have been feeling a little lost.  Seeing all the back to school signs and specials in the store make me long to be back at Ben Franklin Middle School in my huge classroom, teaching French to amazing kids with a really fun group of colleagues every day.  I miss that camaraderie so much.  I miss eating lunch without someone saying, "I have a great idea, Momma!  Let's share your sandwich!"  I miss planning a night out with the girls and laughing until I cry.  I miss a paycheck.  I miss feeling like a functioning member of society, someone with something to give.  Poor me, right?  Waaaaaah.

I was feeling this way until yesterday.  I had been looking for a place to donate our gently-used car seat; now that Lottie is in a booster seat, we didn't need the extra car seat.  I knew that I couldn't sell or consign the seat, and I knew there must be someone in the city who needed it.  Even with the five-year limit on it, the seat still has another good year left in it.  I found it difficult to find anyone who would even take it because there was no proof it had never been in an accident.  I totally understood that, but I hated to just throw it away.  I contacted my friend Cerise who owns Mother Nurture because I figured that anyone who is so invested in parents and their kids would know what to do.  (And as an aside, if you know anyone who is pregnant, you have to visit this store.  Not only does Cerise stock fantastic products like slings, nursing bras, cloth diapers, and breast pumps, she fosters a real community of caring for parents, mothers in particular.)  Cerise pointed me to the Catholic Action Center in town, and indeed, they were happy to have the seat.

Dallas and I went to drop the seat off before we picked Lottie up from school Tuesday afternoon.  I wasn't familiar with the area, so I input the information in the GPS in my car.  It's not in the greatest part of town; I'm not certain I have ever seen so many "Beware of Dog" signs in one neighborhood before.  I wasn't nervous, but I was a little uncomfortable.  I pulled up to a warehouse where the doors were open and stuff was piled everywhere.  There was only one man working, and he wearily asked if I needed a receipt.  I smiled and said no because I didn't want to bother him.  He was sorting through clothes, toys, household items, and who knows what else while trying to assist the people who were there to get things they needed.  I stopped and looked at everyone who was there.  Young and old, black and white, men and women - they were all there with their plastic grocery bags, filling them up with whatever they could.  And that's when it hit me.  Hard.  Some of these people probably have kids of their own, kids who may be the same age as my kids.  Kids whose main source of clothing or entertainment or even safety comes from people like me who don't need things anymore or donate things they simply just don't want.  I'm pretty sure my heart actually stopped for a moment, and my eyes filled with tears.  Who was I to complain about feeling lost or frustrated about lack of "me time" when there are people in my own city who would kill for the same problem?  I drove away in my practically brand new Ford Flex, picked up my daughter at her private preschool, and took my kids back to a home that could easily house twice as many as it does.

The whole experience has humbled me in ways I'm not even sure I can explain.  I'm glad, too, because I think everyone needs to eat some crow now and again to stay grounded.  My life is pretty great, and that's all there is to it.  Bad days happen, absolutely.  Bad weeks, bad months, bad years happen.  Everybody has a story, and we don't always know what the story is.  But I'd like to know and I'd like to help if I can.  Because that's what I have to give, and right now, that's enough.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Livin' large in the Noog

Typically, Trevor and I would spend our anniversary with a quiet dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, the Holly Hill Inn.  This year, we decided to go a different route.  Actually, we didn't have a babysitter for the weekend, so we were stuck with the children.  (I kid!  I kid.  I mean, we didn't have a sitter, but we didn't feel stuck with our offspring.  Not entirely...) We wanted to do a short weekend getaway, so we decided to head to Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Why, you may ask?  Chattanooga actually has a lot of kid-friendly activities, and it's a fairly short drive from Lexington.  Where better to celebrate our love than the Noog?  

Trevor took Friday off work, and we left around 8:30 AM.  The drive wasn't terrible; the kids listened to music for a while, and we eventually let them turn on their portable DVD players.  T and I were thrilled that they were wearing headphones because that meant we got to listen to our own music and actually talk to each other without cartoon voices blaring in our ears.  



We stopped for lunch at a McDonald’s with a play place; our kids managed to get sweaty in mere seconds.  That was great, though, because it allowed them to burn some energy before getting back into the car.  Sadly, the battery in Dallas’s DVD player went kaput, so he and Lottie shared a player for the rest of the trip.  I was proud of them for sharing so nicely, but I was pretty bummed to have to listen to Toy Story 2 in the front seat.  Ah, technology is a cruel mistress.

As soon as we arrived in the Noog, we headed straight for the zoo.  I’m used to the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Brookfield Zoo, and that’s definitely not what we got.  I wondered if we had made a mistake by making it our first stop.  The Chattanooga Zoo is small, but I was pleasantly surprised.  It was really well put-together and organized.  There weren’t any big animals like tigers and lions, but there were neat things like red pandas and a capybara, the world’s largest rodent.  (I found myself fascinated with the capybara, by the way, which is odd because I really hate rodents.  Hate them.  I would sleep in a bed full of spiders and snakes before I would look twice at a rodent.  Or birds.  Birds are rodents with wings.)  The kids enjoyed the zoo, and it was small enough that we didn’t need to bother with strollers.  As I watched the kids navigate around, I realized that although they liked the animals a lot, they seemed to really enjoy exploring all of the pathways that lead from exhibit to exhibit.  For them, it wasn’t about the destination at all: it was all about the journey.  Wow.  It’s humbling to realize that my kids tend to be smarter than I am. 



After the zoo, we checked in at our hotel, the Chattanoogan, and took a walk to find dinner.  Downtown Chattanooga is nice, but it didn’t seem to be hoppin’ on a Friday night.  We seemed to be in more of a business district, though, so maybe we didn’t see all of the action.  We had ourselves some delicious barbeque and strolled back to the hotel.  Lottie and I bunked together the first night, and Dallas bunked with his daddy.  As Lottie would say, “Girl partners!  Yay!”  I showed Lottie how to really live the high life by watching TV in bed.  We don’t have a TV in our bedroom at home, and we never will, so lying in bed and watching TV – at night to boot! - was quite the treat for her.  When it was time for sleep around 8:30 PM, I turned out the light, which should be the general clue for “go to sleep”, but Lottie didn’t get the hint.  She rolled around on her bed, talked to herself, talked to me, and even repeatedly asked me questions: “Mommy, why do you wear a sleep mask?” (Because you insist on sleeping with a light on.)  “Mommy, why did you just move your arm?”  (Because I’m more comfortable this way.)  “Mommy, what day is today?”  (It’s Friday, babe.)  “No, Mommy.  Is today the day we go to Chattanooga?”  (Yes, honey.  We’re in Chattanooga.)  “Hey, Momma, why did you just move your pillow over?”  (I don’t know.  It just feels comfortable to me.)  “Momma, should we sleep in the same bed?”  (No way, sister.)  At this point, I finally told Lottie that I was going to sleep and I suggested she do the same.  Shockingly, she did. 

The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel before heading to the Creative Discovery Museum.  If you have children and are within driving distance to Chattanooga, you need to immediately get in your vehicle and get thee to this haven of children’s fun.  Seriously, this place is AH-MAY-ZINGGGG.  I really think we could have spent two days here.  Every single thing at the museum is hands-on and just begging to be touched.  Anything your kid is into will be here: dinosaurs, bugs, art, music, water-play, climbing, and pretend-play.  While we were there, my kids climbed towers, slid down slides, sailed little boats, dug for dinosaur fossils, did art projects, and looked at a beehive.  That was all within an hour or so.  The kids were having a ball there, but we decided to head out to the aquarium after lunch.  That was probably a mistake.  The kids were exhausted and cranky because we had ripped them away from their nirvana, and they weren’t too thrilled about the fish. (Lottie did get to pet a stingray; it only took her about thirty minutes to muster up the courage to do it.)  Don’t get me wrong: the Tennessee Aquarium is HUGE.  There are two separate buildings that house exhibits and a third building with an IMAX theater. It’s a pretty stunning set-up.  When we realized that the kids didn’t want to see any more jellyfish or coral, we took them to a short movie at the IMAX.  It was a 3D movie about saving orangutans and elephants from poachers and deforestation.  The message was great, but I’m not sure how much the kids actually saw.  Neither of them wore the 3D glasses.  Sigh.  At the end, though, Dallas told me that he had a lot of fun at the movie and could we PLEASE do it again sometime.  So weird.  We ended up going back to the children’s museum for another hour or so before having dinner and calling it a night.







The second night, we swapped kids.  I don’t mean we picked new kids out from a selection in the lobby, though that might be interesting.  Dallas bunked with me, and Lottie got some time with her daddy.  Dallas was a much better roommate, in my opinion.  He didn’t talk as much as Lottie, and he contentedly played his Leapster until I told him it was time for lights-out.  He did try to work his magic, though, to sleep in the bed with me.  First he told me he thought he would just sleep in the bed with me.  When that was denied, he invited me to sleep in his bed.  I gently declined that lovely invitation as well and convinced him that we would both sleep better in our own beds.  There was one request I couldn’t overlook, though.  “Mommy, would you put a light on in the room so I can see you whenever I want to?”  C’mon.  Who’s going to say no to that?  That’s a boy who loves his momma.


We left Sunday morning after breakfast.  We had to get home in time to drop the kids off with the grandparents so T and I could really celebrate our anniversary by seeing the new and final Harry Potter flick.  The trip home was not as magical as the rest of the Noog had been.  Dallas threw a fit at Arby’s in Jellico, TN, because he couldn’t eat the French fries, Lottie cried because Dallas was crying, and I cried because they were both crying.  Trevor didn’t cry, but that’s because he bolted down his lunch and left his weepy family in a booth while he got gas.  We also realized that we had left our backpack/diaper bag in the Noog.  Damn you, Jellico.  Our life was peachy until we met the likes of you!

All in all, it was a really fun weekend.  I love watching my kids see new sights and explore new places.  They’re smart and funny and curious about everything.  What more could I ask for? Sometimes I wonder if it's worth all the drama and the hell of traveling with two little kids, especially when I invariably end up in tears.  It tends to be a lot less fun for me, but I suppose that will change and get easier.  And just about the time I start to worry and stress less will be when neither kid wants to vacation with us at all.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Love and Harry Potter, the finale


At the end of Part 2, Trevor had truly surprised me with a proposal in Vegas.  Then the wedding planning began.

Trevor and I knew we didn’t want a long engagement.  We were tired of living six hours apart, and we wanted to be married as soon as possible.  We had even considered eloping in Vegas, but that was just a split-second thought.  It would have shocked our families, and we would still have been living apart until school was done for me in June.  I knew that I wanted to get married at Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton, IN, so we needed to get that secured first.  By the time we called in late November, there were no Saturday evenings available, so we went with Friday, July 15.  Everything seemed to move quickly after the date was set.  I knew I didn't want a traditional wedding; I've never been a traditional kind of girl which is pretty ironic considering that I now play the role of June Cleaver.  So, we came up with the idea of having the wedding be like a 1950’s Prom.  And by “we”, I mean my mom and me: Trevor just wanted to know where and when to show up.  Oh, and beef brisket.  He wanted Texas beef brisket at the wedding.  I’m still puzzling over that one.  Anyhow, we decided that we wanted everyone at the wedding to have a really memorable time, so there were lots of things to plan.

The colors were pink and black with some white thrown in.  Saying “the colors are…” for a wedding always reminds me of the scene in Steel Magnolias when Julia Roberts’s character, Shelby, says her wedding colors are “Blush” and “Bashful” and her mother, played by Sally Field, retorts, “Her colors are pink and pink.”  We pretty much just stuck with pink, no fancy names for it, and black.  My dress was pink with black buttons and black trim.  The flowers, ordered from The Flower Cart in Chesterton, were different versions of pink.  Each woman attending the wedding got a pink carnation as a corsage.  Instead of a cake, we had pink frosted cupcakes from Strongbow's in Valpo.  I think I hit the beginning of the cupcake trend; yes, I’m a cupcake trendsetter.  Those cupcakes were more than delicious; they were heavenly.  Our wedding favors, scratch off lottery tickets in a nod to Vegas, were in envelopes with pink stickers that read "Lucky in Love."  Even our photographers at StudioThisIs wore pink for us.  The entire room at the club was decorated with beautiful flowers, and the ceiling was draped with gorgeous fabric.  The chairs had crisp, white covers and there were old 45 records all over the tables.  It was one of the most beautiful and just fun rooms I have ever seen.  

We had a pianist playing during the hors d’oeuvres and cocktail hour.  I was sequestered in the women’s locker room in the basement with my best friend Tiffany, and we kept sending my niece, Kate, upstairs to get us food.  Trevor got to mingle with the guests while I tried not to sweat or hyperventilate. 

Neither Trevor nor I wanted a church wedding with a long service, so we asked a friend (and father of two of my students) to act as the justice of the peace.  Our close friends and family stood up with us.  Trevor’s best man was his brother Lanson, T’s friend Rusty and my friend Mike acted as groomsmen.  Tiffany was my matron of honor (and 8 months pregnant!) and Kate was my junior bridesmaid.  Dylan, my nephew, was the ring bearer.  He carried our rings in a model pink Cadillac convertible.  My dad walked me into the room to the tune of “Love Me Tender” and down an aisle lined with pink flowers while the guests looked on from their tables.  I remember seeing Trevor waiting for me, and my heart about burst.  I had already seen him before the ceremony: we did pictures before the wedding so we wouldn’t keep the guests waiting on us to start the party.  But seeing him standing at the end of the aisle was like opening my eyes for the first time.  He looked terrified which made me smile even more.  The ceremony itself was short and sweet; seriously, I think the whole thing took three minutes, tops.  Trevor only stumbled once, and it was on the line about fidelity.  I have never let him forget that, and I probably never will.  We walked out of the room to the University of Kentucky fight song: that was one of Trevor’s surprises.  Another surprise was the big UK ice sculpture that was in the lobby.  When the entire wedding party was introduced back into the room, we walked in to the IU fight song.  That was a surprise even to me – thanks, Dad!  We had little bottles of bubbles for the kids to blow as we came into the room, but I think even the adults had fun with those as well. 

Once the business of being married was done, we got down to the business of having fun.  There was a huge buffet of a lot of different food including T’s Texas beef brisket.  I think I had a bite of three things in between speaking to everyone at all the tables.  There were very funny and heartfelt toasts from Lanson, Tiffany, my brother, Matt, and my dad.  And I accidentally might have gotten Dylan a little tipsy.  He was sitting by me, and I whispered that he could drink a sip of the champagne with the toasts.  Apparently by a sip, he thought I meant a gulp because he downed the glass in one.  I found out later that he got awfully tired and my sister-in-law took him home.  Ooops.  My bad. 

There was dancing, laughing, talking, eating, drinking, and more dancing.  The evening is a pleasant haze in my head, and I didn’t even have one drink. I know I didn’t sit down for hours; I slipped off my high heels and danced until I could barely walk.  Trevor seemed to avoid the dancing by talking to his friends about debate and basketball, but I did manage to get him on the floor a few times. We sort of swayed like kids at a middle school dance to "Overjoyed" by Stevie Wonder.  Watching my friends and family mix and talk and dance with Trevor’s friends and family felt so good and so right.   I had never been so certain about anything in my whole life. 

T and I stayed until the bitter end of the reception.  There was absolutely no way we were going to leave our own party early.  Our plan was to pack up the wedding swag, go back to the Inn at Aberdeen, and sleep.  However, as we started to drive to the inn, our plans changed.  It was after midnight, and something very exciting was happening.  Yes, we were married.  That was great and all, but the bigger news was that the sixth book in the Harry Potter book had been released, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  I told you in part 1 that we were Harry Potter geeks, and we proved it shortly after midnight on July 16.  We veered off course, drove to the Barnes and Noble in Valpo, and walked in to get our copies of the new book.  I was still in the dress, and Trevor was still in the tux.  We actually ran into some of our wedding guests – I mean you, Jody and Bruce! - As well as some of my former students.  People were agog, to say the least.  A few of my braver students came up and said, “Miss Workman, did you, like, get married or something?”  Like, yeah, totally.  A Barnes and Noble staff member even took our picture to send to the corporate office to include in the newsletter.  Fancy pants were we!  (We actually ended up reading the book aloud to each other during the drive up to Mackinac.  I don’t know if many people read books to each other on their honeymoons, but I thought it was sweet and romantic.  And geeky.  Very geeky.)

My parents, my wonderful, patient, generous, loving parents, hosted a brunch for us the next morning.  It was fun to relive the wedding through the eyes of our family and our guests.  We opened some gifts, laughed a lot, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

It was almost surreal when the whole weekend was over.  We had a mini-honeymoon on Mackinac Island to look forward to before we moved all my stuff to Lexington, but mostly, I was worn out.  I had been going full-tilt boogie in the months since the engagement.   The last few weeks before the wedding were especially hectic.  I had to write and grade final exams, clean out my room at school, co-chair the Tri-Kappa annual fundraiser, the Taste of Valparaiso, pack up and sell my house, and come to terms with the fact that I was leaving home again.  I loved living in Valpo near my family, and it was incredibly difficult to say goodbye, but my heart had been in Lexington for months. 

So, that’s our story.  I think it’s pretty good.  I mean, it’s no Hollywood movie, but it’s as close to a real-life fairy tale as I have ever known. I married my best friend, and after six years of marriage, I still can’t get enough time with him.  Someone mentioned to me on Facebook that in part 1 of my story, I called my first marriage a mistake, and I should have looked at the positive side of it.  You’re right, Dusty.  I don’t regret anything that happened because it all led me to where I am right now.  I think back to all of the decisions that I have made in life, big and small, and I realize that each one has made me who I am.  Each one brought me closer to the life I have, to the life I love.  Where I went to college, the speech class I took, living in Indianapolis, the bars I frequented there with my friends, living in Valpo, answering an email, a chip-whittling contest, taking a chance on dating again: it all brought Trevor and I together.  It brought me my sweet, clever, dramatic daughter, Lottie, and my loving, smart, stubborn son, Dallas.  Everything I have ever done has brought me this life, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. 

I know it’s a few days early, but happy anniversary, babe.  I love you, I love our family, and I love my life.  Thank you for all of it. 



To be continued...for many, many years to come  :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Love and Harry Potter, Part 2


Now, where was I? Ah, yes.  Trevor and I embarked on a total of two years of dating long distance.  I was in Valpo; he was in Lexington.  We saw each other as often as we could, and we emailed and talked on the phone constantly.  Sometimes I would drive down to Lexington after school on a Friday for the weekend, and those weekends were always too short.  Trevor had a little more flexibility to his schedule, so he would try to drive to Valpo on a Friday afternoon to see me.  Looking back on it, those were some truly great times.  We had to take it slow because we weren’t together all the time.  Talking on the phone every day was a sweet way to really get to know Trevor.  And the emails he wrote….swoon.  He’s an amazing writer, and I would read the same emails over and over just to get a rush.  He sent flowers; I sent letters.  There was a whole lot of wooing going on. 

During the first year and a half, I knew he was The One.  I just knew that we were meant to be together.  I mean, come on.  Fate had obviously brought us back into each other’s lives for a reason after ten years.  I think Trevor knew it, too, but he tends to be more cautious than me.  I’m sort of an act-now-think-later kind of gal whereas it can take T ten minutes to decide what he wants on a sandwich.  I admit that I started to get frustrated after a while wondering when he was going to finally realize that we needed to be together all the time.  24/7.  You know, like, married.  Gulp.  Everyone I knew asked me when we were going to get engaged.  Even my dentist, a man I only saw twice a year, asked me when T was going to “s&*% or get off the pot.”  That was slightly awkward.  T and I had some veiled conversations about getting engaged, but he made it clear that he wasn’t quite ready.  I was disappointed, but I was also pretty sure he would come to his senses. 

In late fall of 2004, Trevor said he wanted to take me to Las Vegas for Thanksgiving.  Some friends of his had a tradition of spending Turkey Day in Vegas, and he wanted me to meet them.  Um, Vegas?  Yes, yes, YES!  Trevor would fly to Chicago the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, meet up with me, and then we’d fly together to Vegas that evening.  As I sat in school at teacher meetings that afternoon, I couldn’t focus on the computer training I was supposed to be doing.  I was, of course, totally excited about the upcoming trip, but there were also some other factors.  At that point, I was teaching full-time at the middle school in Valpo, but I still had good friends who taught at the high school.  That morning, a student had taken a machete to school and slashed some of the other students.  It was terribly scary, and I was worried about the students and the other teachers.  I kept checking my email on the sly to get word from my friends that everything was okay.  Luckily, no one was seriously injured, but I couldn’t stop shaking.  After Columbine and all of the other school tragedies, an armed student had become my worst nightmare.  I was also keeping an eye on the sky.  Huge snowflakes had started to fall, and I was worried about making it to the airport.  You just gotta love that lake effect snow.  The afternoon seemed to stretch out longer and longer, and the snow fell faster and faster.  Finally, it was time to leave, and my fantastic, patient dad drove me to the airport.  The weather was so terrible that a trip that normally takes about an hour and a half took twice that long.  I had no idea once we got the airport if the plane would even be able to take off, but I was determined to be there no matter what.  My dad dropped me off at the curb and had to leave right away so he could make it home before the next morning: it hadn’t stopped snowing the entire time we drove.  I checked in, found my gate, and sat down on the floor to grade papers.  I had one eye on the TV – CNN was running stories about the Valpo student- and waiting for Trevor to arrive.  After a long wait, my flight was called.  No Trevor.  I waited until the very last minute to board, and finally Trevor came running down the hall.  His flight had been late due to the weather as well.  We boarded and didn’t even get to sit by each other, but at least we were on our way. 

We landed in Vegas late, and we met a couple of Trevor’s friends at the hotel/casino, the San Remo.  The San Remo was…interesting, to say the least.  (As an aside, it’s not even there anymore.  It’s a Hooters hotel/casino now.  Can you see my eyes rolling?)  We ended up having a drink and doing some gambling until the wee hours of the morning.  I was so tired that I could barely move; it had been a really, really long day.  When we woke up the next morning, it was Thanksgiving.  It was strange not to smell turkey roasting or to help my mom set the table for a family gathering.  We hung out that day and did some gambling before getting ready for a fancy dinner that evening with some other friends.  (Please note, by gambling, I mean penny and nickel slots.  We’re serious high rollers.)  I was a little nervous about dinner that night; I wanted so much to impress Trevor’s friends, and I wanted to make a good impression.  Trevor was acting weird, sort of twitchy and silent, so I thought he was anxious about introducing me to everyone.   I put on a little black dress and did my hair and makeup.  I was putting on my jewelry, and I said to Trevor, “How do I look?”   He said I looked okay.  I’m pretty sure I screeched something about not wanting to look just OKAY and what exactly did he mean by that.  As I was prattling on, he said, “Something’s missing.”  I turned around to glare at him, but he wasn’t there.  Well, he was there, but not where I expected him to be.  He was on one knee.  In a hotel room.  In the San Remo.  With a ring box.  And a ring. 

I know he said something sweet about wanting to spend the rest of his life with me and would I be his wife, but for a moment, all I could hear was the roaring in my head and my own voice saying, “Oh my God.  Oh my God.  Oh my God.”  I was shaking and laughing and crying, and it took me a couple of minutes to finally spit out a resounding YES.  The rest of an evening is a blur after that.  I know I called my parents, my brother, and Tiffany.  I know we went to the schmancy dinner, but I don’t remember where it was or what we ate.  I remember that I was so happy and also beyond exhausted.  We ended up leaving dinner, going back to the hotel, and falling into a coma-like sleep. 

We were lucky that weekend.  Not only did we get engaged, but Trevor won around $1,000.00 on a slot machine at Mandalay Bay while my ring was being sized.  Not bad, huh?  The weekend quickly sped by, and too soon, it was time to go home.  Trevor and I got to sit on the plane together on the flight back, and I watched his eyes glaze over as I pulled out the bridal magazines I had bought at the airport bookshop.  The planning had begun.

To be continued…

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Love and Harry Potter, Part 1


This week leads up to our sixth wedding anniversary.  Since our story is a pretty good one, and yes, I’m biased, that will be my topic for a few posts. 

Part 1 begins at Butler University in Indianapolis in 1990.  Trevor and I were both freshman that year, and we had a speech class together.  We had a lot of fun during that class, writing each other notes back and forth, whispering, and laughing.  Trevor was gone a lot because he traveled with the debate team, and speech class really wasn’t as fun when he was gone.  We studied together in the C-Club, though I’m sure we spent more time talking than we did studying.  I had a car, so I would drive T places if he needed a ride.  We were good friends for the two years he stayed at Butler, but after our sophomore year, he returned to Lexington to finish his undergrad studies at the University of Kentucky.  I missed him, but we wrote to each other, and even sent each other audiocassettes for a few months.  After a while, we lost touch.  I always wondered what happened to him, what he was doing, and if he was happy. 

Fast forward to the year 2001.  I was back living in Valpo.  I had stayed in Indianapolis after graduating from Butler, and I taught for four years.  After an unfortunate mistake (aka marriage #1), I moved home to heal and try to remember who I was.  It was really hard being back, having a new job, and having to make all new friends.  In the middle of everything, I got a surprising message on my school email account.  As soon as I saw it was from Trevor, I remember smiling and laughing out loud.  I was SO happy to hear from him again.  He had put my name into a search engine; apparently he had always wondered about me, too.  We emailed back and forth and talked on the phone for about a year.  In the summer of 2002, I decided to drive down to Lexington to visit Trevor.  I was nervous about seeing him only because I wondered if we would have enough to talk about after almost ten years.  I shouldn’t have worried because he was the same wonderful guy he had been in college.  We had a really fun weekend together…if you don’t count the heinously jealous girlfriend T had at the time.  She was mean, rude, and hateful to me.  Bad move, sister.  I honestly had no designs on T at the time: we were both seeing other people and I wasn’t interested in breaking up anyone’s relationship.  She spent the entire evening ignoring me, trashing me to the friends she had brought along with her, and generally being a snarky female dog.  The Hag aside, it was amazing to spend time with Trevor again and I really loved seeing Lexington and all its beauty.

Another year went by before T and I saw each other again.  We had continued to email each other throughout that year, and I was happy when he said he wanted to come see me after a wedding he was going to attend in Chicago.  I was in graduate school at the time, so I was pretty busy at night.  He was patient and waited for my class to be over one night, and then we went to a bar for a drink and something to eat.  I remember very clearly that we had homemade potato chips.  One of the chips sort of looked like a state (I don’t remember which one) and T and I started a chip-whittling contest.  We each took a chip and tried to make it into a shape just using our teeth.  I know, juvenile, right?  We had the best time trying to decipher each other’s chip shapes and we laughed late into the night.  At another point during his visit, we went to my parents’ house for a cookout.  My mom had made a chocolate mousse with a new recipe, some sort of alternative ingredient that was supposed to make the mousse healthier.  Trevor was the first to try the dessert, and he audibly yummed his way through it.  A few minutes later, my mom took a bite of the mousse and actually shouted, “Put your spoons down!  It’s terrible!!”  Curious, I took a bite, and it was pretty bad.  But Trevor hadn’t wanted to hurt my mom’s feelings, so he gamely ate the entire dish of the tainted mousse.  Score one for him!  That evening, my brother called me.  Matt has always stayed out of my romantic life, so I was surprised that the reason he called was to talk about Trevor.  Matt basically told me that I was a fool if I let T get away.  I hung up really confused.  Trevor was a friend, a good friend, but I didn’t think about him in a romantic sense, did I?  Then I started thinking about the time I spent with him, and it was like a bolt of lightning hit me in the head. Things were so easy with Trevor; I could be myself, there was no drama, and we laughed all the time.  OMG.  This was how it’s supposed to be.  All of a sudden, I started thinking maybe my brother wasn’t such a hamster brain after all. 

Trevor went back to Kentucky, and I stewed.  He was still dating The Hag, and I had to get rid of her.  In my defense, he wasn’t happy.  The only reason he hadn’t broken up with her at that point was that he was lazy; he didn’t have the momentum to do it.  And I wasn’t about to move in on him until she was history.  As we continued to email and talk on the phone, I slowly dropped subtle hints that I might be interested in dating him.  By subtle, I mean that, at one point, I said, “So, when are you going to dump The Hag?”  Uh huh.  Smooth, no?  That was the summer that the fifth book of the Harry Potter series came out.  T and I were and still are HUGE fans of the Harry Potter books, and we were both reading the book at the same time.  We would email each other throughout the day so we could talk about the book, and I was anxiously await for my dial-up connection to bring up AOL so I could hear, “You’ve got mail.”  Each time I heard that announcement, my heart would do an extra bump in my chest.  It was sweet to talk to him about the book and spar a little about our opinions of the plot and characters. 

In fairly short order, The Hag was history, and it was time to make my move.  I knew Trevor wouldn’t ever broach the subject of us being a couple, so I would have to do it on my own.  Here comes one of the insanely geeky parts: I sent him an owl via email to invite him to come back to visit for the Fourth of July.  (If you haven’t read the Harry Potter books, sending an owl is the way wizards send mail to one another.)  I even pretended the owl was from my cat, Judy, because I wasn’t quite ready to totally put myself out there yet.  What if T wasn’t interested in being more than friends?  I had gone through a string not-so-great relationships, and I wasn’t excited about throwing myself at someone who didn’t feel the same way.  Luckily, Trevor answered my owl in the affirmative, and he came up to visit that weekend.             

Trevor had broken his finger playing softball the week before, so he spent a lot of the weekend in a Lortab haze.  I often wonder if that’s why he agreed that we should start dating.  But agree, he did, and we dated long-distance for the next two years. 

To be continued…

Friday, July 8, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird 2.0

A few nights ago, Trevor and I went to see To Kill a Mockingbird as part of the Summer Classics Series at the Kentucky Theater in downtown Lexington.  I have always loved the book as well as the film.  Gregory Peck as Atticus?  Holy lawyer crush, Batman!  (Coincidence that I'm married to an attorney?  I think not.)

The first time I read To Kill a Mockingbird, I was in sixth grade.  I had my paperback copy of the book with me at school, and surprisingly my teacher had a problem with me reading it.  He called my mom, one of the only times I can remember ever really getting in trouble at school, and asked if she knew what book I was reading.  Since she had given it to me, she was fully aware of my reading material.  Apparently he thought different elements of the book were too mature for me.  He might have even suggested that my mom take the book away from me.  What he didn't know was that my mom was instrumental in whetting my appetite for the classics, both film and literature.  When I was a newborn, I had my days and nights mixed up, so my mom sat up with me in the wee hours of the morning and read Gone with the Wind out loud; it's still one of my favorite books.  She introduced me to Tasha Tudor and Laura Ingalls Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock and Edith Head.  My sixth grade teacher had no idea that my mom had never taken a book away from me, and she wasn't about to start with Harper Lee.

My copy of To Kill a Mockingbird is well worn by now; I'm sure I have re-read it dozens of times.  And I know I have also seen the movie on numerous occasions, but for some reason, watching the movie this time felt like an entirely new experience.  Seeing it on the big screen was incredible, that's for sure, but it was more than that.  I think seeing the movie for the first time as a mother really changed the message for me.  When I was a kid, I was all about Scout, Jem, Dill, and their adventures.  As a young adult, I understood more about racism and its effects on society.  This time, I found myself noticing more, questioning more, and feeling sympathy for characters that I had never felt
before. (I also wonder of Atticus and Miss Maudie were friends or friends but that's neither here nor there.)

Trevor and I had a particularly interesting discussion about Arthur "Boo" Radley and Mayella Ewell.  Boo is portrayed, in my opinion, as a sympathetic character.  There are implications that he's violent and crazy, lives under his father's thumb, and is regarded as a pitiful soul by the inhabitants of the town.  I, too, pitied Boo until I saw the film again, but I don't think he deserves pity.  I think Mr. Arthur is generally a pretty content guy.  He's not social, he's painfully shy, and he doesn't really want the company of the other townsfolk.  The people he chooses to befriend are children, and even then, there is no conversation, no true relationship, other than the gifts left in the tree, until he saves the children from Bob Ewell.  In modern times, Boo Radley would be considered a stalker.  When Scout delivers him to his porch at the end of the long night, he quietly slips in the door and is never seen again.  That's exactly why I don't feel sorry for Boo; he could have easily begun to rejoin society after saving the lives of two children, but he's content to stay at home and watch life from the fringes.  His heroic act redefined his life: he didn't have to do more because he had already done enough.  It's sort of like Harper Lee herself, who, when asked why she never wrote another book, answered, "I didn't have to."

My reaction to Mayella Ewell surprised me.  I had always seen her as a sad character and viewed her with a bit of disdain.  Now I see her as a tragic character, one who had no childhood, no life, and no chance.  She's beaten by her father, forced by him to lie, made to be a mother to her siblings, and completely cut off from any kind of social life.  She's confused by Atticus's question about her friends because she doesn't know what a friend is.  Her only contact outside of her family is Tom Robinson, and we all know how that ends up.  As a mother, it kills me to see a child who doesn't get to be a child.  A child who reaches out to the only person who has ever been kind to her for a little human touch, and she's rejected.  Mayella's whole life is about rejection.  I think I feel the worst for her because she wants to make a better life for herself, but her situation will never change.  Deep down, she knows that, and that's no way to live a life.

Being a parent changes you.  It forces you to see the world in a different way and rethink priorities and long-held beliefs.  The older I get and the older my children get, I find myself searching for kindness, acceptance, and decency in the world and in myself.   And in To Kill a Mockingbird, I can find all of it in places I never looked before.  Sometimes I think we'd all benefit by giving that a try every now and again.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's not all about me

It should be all about me.  After all, I'm pretty awesome.  But I digress.

I have been worrying a lot lately about Dallas and how he's left out of a lot of things.  He's the youngest, so he doesn't get to do as much as Lottie does.  When we have play dates, they're usually with Lottie's friends, so he's stuck with a bunch of girls.  I can't even begin to count the number of times he has been dressed up like a princess, invited to tea parties, or fed pretend baby food.  Due to his allergies to dairy and eggs, he can't eat the same snacks as a lot of other kids.  It was easier when he was younger because he didn't notice.  Now that he's getting older and much more verbal, he wants to know why he can't have pizza or ice cream, string cheese or movie popcorn.  He's still really ambivalent about swimming whereas Lottie would be in a pool 24/7 if I would allow it.  This makes summer activities difficult, and he ends up staying home while Lottie and I soak up the sun.  He's missing out on summer school because he still won't potty train.  On the days we drop Lottie off at summer camp, Dallas always says, "Is it a me day today?"  (He can't go back to preschool until he's fully potty trained.)  Picture my face crumpling every time he says that while at the same time wanting to scream, "Then ditch the diapers for the love of Jeebus!"  I don't scream that, of course, but I think it.  A lot.

Dallas also really hates loud noises.  He doesn't like the blender, the vacuum, the mower, or even if a character in a book yells.  And fireworks?  Fuggedaboudit.  We hadn't left the Magic Kingdom one night when the evening fireworks started, and let's just say that "magical" didn't describe Dallas's reaction.  With that in mind, I was worried about how we would celebrate America's birthday.  We received a fantastic invitation to join Trevor's buddy in his suite at Whitaker Bank Ballpark, home of the Lexington Legends.  I immediately told Trevor that he should take Lottie and I would stay home with Dallas.  My parents, who happened to be in town, offered to sit with Dallas so I could go to the ballgame, too.  My first instinct was to decline because I thought it was really unfair to leave Dallas out of something else.  I ended up agreeing to go, but I had misgivings.  I wasn't worried about leaving him with my parents.  I mean, they're my parents: I am fully aware of their bona fides as caregivers.  I was concerned that Dallas would cry when we left because Mommy, Daddy, and Lottie were going out without him.

Turns out I was wrong.  Wrong, wrong, super-wrong.  When I told Dal that we were going to see fireworks, he looked at me solemnly and said, "I don't like fireworks.  They is very loud."  He didn't seem concerned at all that he wasn't going to be part of the family fun.  He was thrilled, quite frankly, that he was getting some time alone with Mimi and his good buddy, Pop Pop.  And you know what?  He had an amazing time at home: he played, he had a snack, he read some books, and he went to bed.  Simple.  Good.  In the morning when he got up, there were no tears or recriminations.  He simply said, "Hi, Mommy.  Could you get me some breakfast?"  It was then that I realized that Dallas isn't necessarily the one feeling left out; I am feeling left out for him.  Most of my fears are just that: MY fears.  Dallas doesn't need a lot of pomp and circumstance to be happy.  Give that kid a dinosaur, a toy car, a book, his Leapster, or a granola bar, and you'll get a smile.  Maybe I'm just used to Lottie who believes that every day should be a party of some sort.  A play date?  Yes!  A movie?  Count her in!  A birthday party?  Heck yeah!  But my boy is a little more low-key, and that's just who he is.  And although I don't think I'll ever be able to quit feeling left out on his behalf, I can rest easier knowing that he's secure with who he is and what makes him happy.  (And if he wants Mommy to continue to be happy, he had better potty train, like, yesterday.)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Future plans

Lottie has been really adamant lately about making her own decisions.  I guess the decisions I make don't suit her.  What a surprise.  She is always talking about how things will be when she's a grown-up mommy and can do whatever she wants to do.  It's almost impossible for me not to crack up when she says that because she has no idea that mommies rarely get to do whatever we want to do.

My mom and I took Lottie to get her hair cut the other day by Justin at Alure Salon and Day Spa.  I have been going to Justin for almost six years; in fact, he was one of my first real friend in Lexington.  He's brilliant, and if you live in Lexington and need a stylist, you definitely need to see Justin Greer. And if you're looking to get a massage, you definitely need to see Marla.  She is amazing, and I swear I leave that place drooling after a massage with her.  Okay, end of ad.  Lottie has known Justin her whole life, and she really loves him.  A few months ago, after we left the salon, Lottie said she wanted to go to school to learn to do hair and then work with Justin.  Awwww.  She acts completely goofy and crazy around him, and I think that's her way of flirting with him.  I have a lot to teach her about the art of catching a man...in about twenty years or so.  During her appointment on Thursday, she told Justin some of her future plans.  When she is a grown-up, she is going to make her very own decisions and live in her very own house...next door to Trevor and me.  Justin asked if he could live with her, and this is where the bargaining began.  Lottie agreed that Justin could move in as long as he continued to work, cleaned the house, and cooked all the meals.   That will be quite a job for him considering Lottie says the house will have six hundred rooms.  I suppose they'll always be prepared for guests, though.  Lottie's job will be to take care of the babies, dogs, and cats.  Plus, I'm pretty sure she'll be in charge of bossing everyone around.  Surprisingly, Justin agreed with this arrangement with one minor change: Lottie would have to be in charge of taking out the garbage.  After a minute of thought, Lottie said she could handle that, and they shook on the deal.  Justin's cooking job should be easy, though, as Lottie wants cookies and milk for every meal.

Lottie has a lot of opinions on what kind of mother she will be.  According to her plans, she'll be pretty lax in the discipline department.  Her children can eat cake for breakfast every morning, they don't have to clean their rooms, they can scream in the house and make a lot of noise, and they don't have to bathe if they're too tired.  Hmmmm.  I'm not certain I want to live next door to her and her posse if kids are going to be grimy and swinging from the rooftop.  As a grandma, I think I would have to step in.  Maybe Trevor and I will have to travel a lot.  The funny thing is that I know deep down that Lottie will be a wonderful mother someday if she chooses to be one.  She's very kind, sweet, and empathetic most of the time.  She's also a stickler for rules, and when she makes a rule, she expects it to be followed.  Woe be to the children who don't listen to her someday.  And when they don't, I'll listen to her complain about it on the phone while Trevor and I are sitting on the beach in Hawaii, and I'll try not to remind her that goes around comes around.  Not too terribly often, that is.