Thursday, December 30, 2010

Rules of the Road

Very simply stated - when you are driving on a highway where there are two lanes on each side, the inside lane is for passing.  Period. It is not the lane for cruising.

It's the law.


I know. I've looked it up.

State by State - it's the same thing.

Why am I bringing this up?

Because I just finished a road trip and the majority of people out there have no fricken' clue as to the rules of the road.

What drives me nuts? Willful stupidity.  Selfishness. The assumption that everything is created for "you." That "they" owe "you" something.

No. The inside lane is not made for you. No. Just because you are driving speed limit does not authorized you to drive in the inside lane.  No. Just because you are young, old, black, white, brown, rich, poor, - no one owes you squat. There is nothing that allows you to be an ass on the road. Nothing.

So - get the hell out of the inside lane. If you are driving faster than those in the "slow lane" then - and only then - can you go into the "fast lane" to do just fast. Then when you pass the slower vehicle, pull back into the right lane. That way, when you are driving slower than another person, they have the advantage of going around you.

It's simple.

It's polite.

It's the law.

Monday, December 20, 2010

College Road Trip 101 - Adventure at Reed College

So how did we wind up at a Faculty Christmas party at Reed College in Portland, Oregon?

It wasn't our intent - nor did I budget time for this festive occasion...but obviously the best laid plans are made so they can be changed by forces beyond ones' control.

And so it was as our adventure at Reed College was coming to an end.  We had a wonderful time meeting some of the staff - getting the lowdown on College life in Portland and taking a whirlwind tour of the campus.  We said our goodbyes to the most excellent staff and entered back into the light rain to become one again with our little red Kia.

Stop.  You cannot enter the parking lot.  Some "distraught individual has taken refuge on the campus."  and oh by the way...he has a loaded weapon.

Nice. Distraught and loaded weapon.  What a wonderful combination.

We could see our car.  It was right there. I could almost reach out and touch it. But no. That would have crossed into the "no can be here" zone, so back we went.

The building that we ended back up in at Reed is a long Gothic-looking building with wonderful stone work, bearded face carvings and ivy filling the nooks and crannies of the mortared bricks.  The trees that caress the sides are a combination of oak and redwoods with moss clinging to the bark and some with a feathering of ferns growing from the crooks of branches.  The buildings are celebrating their 100th year of existence with beauty and grace...and a madman somewhere on the east side with a gun.

And there we set.  In a small room with comfy leather chairs sipping tea and cider while munching pretzels and oreos waiting for sanity to prevail.  One by one, the staff donned coats and left the building in pairs until only a handful remained.

Then. The call came.

Join us! We are having our staff Christmas party and, well, since you are stuck here you may as well come enjoy some food and live music...


A Party.

A Distraught Individual.

A loaded gun.

Don't these people read the papers? Shouldn't we be worried? Shouldn't we take cover?  Shouldn't we drop and roll?


So we moved to the West side of campus...away from the "activity" and proceeded to meet and greet the Dean and other assorted tenured staff.

We sat at a table with lovely people who really didn't take much of an interest in us until I mentioned that we were REALLY from Alaska.  And as always - the very mention of Alaska opened up an active conversation.  We discussed Moose, fishing, poor hotel choices, and the school districts between Anchorage, Eagle River, Wasilla and Talkeetna.  My usual shyness evaporated and I came alive.

Then - the situation holding our car hostage was lifted.  Just like that. No more concern over loaded weapons. No more despondent male over the holiday season. Joy was restored in Whoville and we departed the campus as if we had just been through a typical college interview.

No harm. No foul. No bloodshed. No bullet holes. No worse for wear.

We were free to go...and somehow, Reed has moved into the #1 position of college choices...

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Sometimes, you just have to get it out.

Sometimes, you can't tell those who are annoying you to stop, or to see your side of it.  Sometimes, if you do then it only makes things worse.

This is one of those times.

I have a vacation planned for December 17 - January 2.  Yes...that is a tad bit more than 2 weeks away from work.  I need it.  I can work on average 60 hours a week.  Sometimes I have worked over a month straight...and yes that includes Saturdays and Sundays.  Now before you get all excited about overtime, etc - understand that I am salary.  I don't get overtime.

I just work.

Rarely, do I take time off.  I can't.  My job just will not allow for it.  I am at the whim of the Government.

I write proposals.  So...when the Government (specifically the military) decides they have a job to be performed on a base somewhere around the world (specifically Operations/Maintenance/Support/Housekeeping/etc) then the company I work for will bid for that job.  It's how we keep afloat.  It's what allows me to actually HAVE a job.  So...I write proposals.

When I started, there were about six of us in my department.  This was 3 years ago.  Now there are 2.  And we do it all.

It is the most stressful job I have ever had in my life.

It is also the highest paying job I've ever had.

As a single mom, this is vital.  I need to live. I need to support myself and my son.  I need, I need, I need.

And so I work.  Constantly.

My last vacation was in 2008.  Prior to that, it was when I quit my job in Alaska and drove to Texas.  I was off work for 3 weeks.

This is my first REAL time off in years.  And I need. Desperately.  I feel as if my ability to hold it together is slipping...and I know I need a break.  If I don't get away, I will snap.  It's inevitable.'s the issue.  We just had 3 major solicitations hit.  All are due within 7 days of each other between January 7 & the 14.  One is HUGE.

And now they are threatening to pull my vacation.

Did I mention I'm in Texas?  Yeah.  They can do that in Texas.  There is no State law governing vacations.  If Texas had it's way, no one would ever take a vacation.  If I push for my time off, they can fire me.  And even though it is not to their advantage to do so...they would probably play that card.

So here I am.


I already will be - at the very least - working on my vacation.  Though, finding the time will be interesting as it is a major roadtrip.  I will be driving 70% of the time.

And's one of the last (and possibly the last) vacation I take with my son before he leaves for college in 2012.  I can try for another...but financially, that isn't always an option.

So - this is the big one.

And it may not happen.

And there is really nothing I can do about it.

Sometimes...Life just sucks no matter how hard you try to make it all alright and find time for yourself and your family.

Sometimes, I wish I wasn't a single mom.

Sometimes, I just wish....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

you and me against the world...

I don't know when it became the two of us. Though...if I think about it, it's been since the very beginning of time.

I remember finding out I was pregnant with Sean.  It was a lifetime ago...and I was so scared.

We'd been trying forever to have a baby.  When I first discovered I was pregnant...the first time...I was over the moon with joy.  My world was complete. I did what every expectant parent is not supposed to do - I told EVERYONE.  We were going to have a baby. We were going to be a family.

Wrong.  I lost the baby Christmas day, 1992.  I had been pregnant less than 8 weeks.  But I already had a baby ornament for the tree.  I still have that ornament...and once a year, I look at it and think about the baby I lost - my first baby - and I mourn what never will be.

So...when Sean came along the following May, I was scared.  More scared than I thought was humanly possible.  I didn't believe the pregnancy tests.  I made the doctor do a blood test - then prove to me why it was correct.  My first ultrasound?  The same thing.  I made her explain everything she saw in the ultrasound that proved I was indeed pregnant and the little peanut shape she was showing me baby.

Sean was peanut before he was Sean.

As I got comfortable in my pregnancy, the fear started to subside.  After three months, we finally told everyone... cautiously.  I still wasn't sure.  But as time moved forward, I got less scared.

Until November.  Pre-Eclampsia. And I was down on bedrest from my birthday until Sean was delivered January 29, 1994.  Between were almost daily visits by nurses, technicians, and the weekly hospital visit.  They had me terrified that if I moved wrong, I would lose my baby.  Even the delivery severely threatened both our lives.

But we survived.  And I became more protective in life than I ever was during the womb days.

Was this the beginning of Sean and I?  Well, probably.  But I tried to be three.  I really did.  And for a while it worked.

I can't blame Mike.  He tried as best as any new dad could.  But Sean was as close to me as I was to him.  He was always in my arms, or around my legs, or nestled up beside me.  We were almost as inseparable as we were when I was pregnant.  Even trips taken outside to visit family - it was just Sean and I traveling. I don't remember Mike ever joining us on a vacation.

So when it came out that Mike was an alcoholic and we started to fight that horrible demon, Mike retreated into a shell of tequila and gin bottles, while Sean and I gathered together as one.

It was natural.

And it's how we got to where we are today.

Just the two of us.  Who have been through everything together: illnesses, broken bones, emergency room visits, learning to read, learning to ride a bike, death of grandparents, the hell of alcoholism, divorce, and growing into a man.

No matter who has been around - no matter what our family situations - no matter what state we've lived in - it's always been the two of us, hand in hand.

Unconditional love at it's finest.

And the truth is...I need to learn to let go.

My peanut is not mine to hold onto forever.  He is mine to love...but he belongs to himself.  He is the best of unconditional love, but as is true with the finest of loves...they are not meant to last forever.

In a very short year and a half - he will move onto the next chapter in his life...and I will need to move on too.

I love you Peanut.

You and me against the world

It feels like you and me against the world
And for all the times we've cried
I've always felt that God was on our side
And when one of us is gone
And one is left alone to carry on
Then remembering will have to do
Memories alone will get us through
Think about the days of me and you
You and me against the world