Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A friend's post about parking lot brawls in Gresham, reminded me that, one new year's eve, in the mid 1990's a lady, a big, strapping, tough, tall, lady, in plaid (she may have been a lady lumberjack, now that I think of it!) once punched me right in the face, in the parking lot of the Blockbuster Video Store, on NW Burnside. 

She was very angry, because she felt that I parked in a parking space that should have been hers.

There was an identical parking space right next to the one I parked in, so at the time I thought nothing of it. 

I just parked. 

When I stepped out of my car, WHAM!

Right in the kisser, as they say. 

More like in the cheek.

I sort of crumpled and sat down, next to the car.

I thought about saying something to her, but my mouth had gotten me into trouble in the past, and since I had already been struck, rather soundly, I thought better of mouthing off further. 

Who knows what she might have in her?


Is what she said, as she walked away without offering me a hand up.

My mother had warned me more than once that running my mouth would get me into trouble, but who knew that parking would lead to such violence? 

I went home without getting a movie. 

Rolf saw my face and said "what happened to YOU."

Monday, December 22, 2014

I was offered a job.

A big, real job.

Instead of feeling excited, I felt a little sad, and unclear, because I have a tiny, beautiful job right now. 

The big, real job could also be beautiful and the realness and the money would be good for my future

I have done a poor job with making my life about my future. 

I mostly make my life about my present. 

I care a great deal about whether things are good, ethical and nice, which doesn't always fit with a future plan.

My mother said "I don't think you should take it.  It's not you, to be concerned with a career." 

Which felt a little hurtful, because I feel like my work with children has been a career, but I know what she meant, I had not, in my life been very concerned with keeping up with the Jones. 

That much is certainly true.

"Mom, I am going to be eating cat food, if I'm not more mindful about laying the groundwork for the future."

"You can live with me, I don't eat cat food, besides, I'm going to die soon, you can have everything that's mine." 

My mother is not what anyone would call gentle, or sentimental. 

She was a teen mom, a single mom, that worked very hard for her numerous successes.

When I was a child she was in the Army reserves and would go on active duty from time to time, always telling me cheerfully, as she walked out the door, "you make them bury me, if something happens! Don't spend a dime of our money!"

I knew my duties well as a child; keep my brother in line, keep the house together. 
Don't be a schnook. 
Don't get taken.
Don't be anyone's fool.
Act as good as you look.
Look good so no one will think you are trashy.

My mother grew up with farm people, with self made parents, that worked sun up to sundown, and  the notion self expression or self esteem was foreign. 

I was always my grandmother's pet.  Allowed to be inside when the other children had to play outside and stay out from underfoot.  Allowed to be sentimental and gentle and pampered a tiny bit.

My grandparents cared for special needs foster children, all through my mother's childhood and mine.

Cared for them like they were their own. 

There was always a heavy burden similar to noblesse oblige  that permeated our family, and while I feel like my work path has followed, my mother would characterize me as very self directed. 

My grandparents were utterly horrified and perplexed by my career choices, by my liberal arts education.

"All that money, to wind up wiping butts!" My grandmother would say, and shake her head. 

I chatted a bit online recently with an old boyfriend, and we both agreed that the most significant thing in our adult lives, is that we have a nice family.

Money, smoney!

He wrote in praise of his wife and children. 

I feel lifted up when someone understands my perspective in that way.

"I think you will be FANTASTIC, in this role", the lady that offered me the job said. 

I think I will be fantastic in this role too. 

I think I will be driven and passionate and fantastic and a little different from the usual person that usually does the job. 

I will feel a deep sense of duty and purpose to do a good job, I will avoid cat food.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Santa loves little baby Jesus

A friend posted on Facebook around the quandary of what to tell her four year old about why Santa only brings one gift in their family and the rest are from them. 

From Mom and Dad.

This is the type of parenting question that I would never in a million years ask. 

I would never ask, because I believe to my very core that each family has a right to create whatever tradition they need or want to make their thing work. 

I'm not picking on this family. 



Holiday season.

I hear a variation on this theme from alternative parents. 

I might be confident, or perhaps delusional, but I have never wondered such a thing. 

My kid will believe what I tell them.  I am his universe and outing Santa and explaining in painstaking detail why we do what we do is not going to make a young child feel more or less good.  That kind of explanation is for adults, not for children. 

Getting their loot, and eating something special, whatever that looks like, will make them feel good.

If you opt out of the gift scene, your child will not notice (much, or for long) until he is older than preschool age. 

He may invent some personal narrative to go along with the stories of candy canes and Barbie the other children are sharing in preschool.

In my opinion the best thing you can do is believe in whatever thing you are doing.

When I was 20 I had a Jewish lover. 

A man more than twice my age. 

Older than either of my parents.

I loved him insanely much, an admired him even more because he was a single parent. 

He parented his children with a fierceness and defined confidence that was totally foreign to me.

When Christmas rolled around I wondered if I could have a tree.

He laughed at me.

Of course you can have a tree, you can have a whole god damned forest, you can have whatever you want to have.

 My extended family are all very religious people.

Sincere  and deep believers.

We always had the manger and the angels and  and Mary and Joseph, the tax collector, the  


I always had to be the angel, with a tinsel halo, that stood behind the holy family, because I was a sort of second string player in the nativity play, being the granddaughter of a parishioner. 

There are photos of me in my white bed-sheet angel costume, with my cousins and my brother in bathrobes, as shepherds. 

And we always had Santa, even at my paternal grandparents house.

My grandfather was a Baptist minister and he never spoiled Santa for us. 

I guess I don't understand the people that feel that this is deceiving their child.

My mother grew up poor and her parents were foster parents to a gaggle of special needs kids.  In their family, my grandfather would come home from the dairy  on Christmas eve, and clean up and they whole group would walk to the top of the driveway and look for Santa, and by golly, every time they got back to the house, my grandmother would report that they had just missed him and there would be a present for everyone, plus new underpants and socks.  On Christmas day they would go to church.  I grew up going to their house on Christmas eve with cousins and extended family.  Everyone had fun.  No one required a lengthy theological explanation.  No one was duped by the notion of Santa.

In my family we opened our presents on Christmas morning, with my mother and went to my father's on Christmas day.  His mother would make dinner and my grandfather would make some kind of dip out of liver sausage, which I love.  He would put green food coloring in it and my grandmother would say

"oh Dan!"

My brother and I would give him a giant peppermint stick and give our father a package of white handkerchiefs.  We would have a Santa gift, something fun, and something we "ordered" from our grandmother, something special.  When I was an adult and she was an old lady, I would order snicker-doodles. 

I am not a religious person, but I have tried to teach my children to respect all people's beliefs and to be considerate.  I hope that they don't grow up and wonder if they need therapy because their mother "lied" to them about Santa.