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Showing posts from 2017

Another summer, another hospital stay

For the fourth time in four years, Honey is in the hospital. And he has been for most of this month. Again I spent almost 30 straight hours in the ER with him waiting for answers: Lying on a window sill countertop trying to snooze, leaning on various uncomfortable chairs in various waiting rooms while he has test after test. Eating crap food from the cafeteria. Feeling helpless as I watched him in pain and frustration. Hearing a renowned specialist say he doesn't know what's causing the pain -- in the 7,000 endoscopies he's performed, he says, he's not seen a case like this -- but they're going to attack it more aggressively now. I wonder why they didn't attack it more aggressively 2 weeks ago. Why can we never get one step ahead of this illness or out from under its financial burden?
I am willing my feet to step out of his room now, to go back to my children and my life and try to be normal. I can't help wondering when I leave him here in the evening what c…

I'd have more time for writing

I’d have more time for writing* if I didn’t love the evening read-and-huggle routine with Zippy. If he didn’t smell like toothpaste and sunshine, if he didn’t curl up perfectly in the C of my body, simply a larger version of the infant he was when he came out of me. I’d have more time for writing if I didn’t know he’d only be 7 and cuddly for another blink, hands that fit perfectly inside mine, pink cheeks and long dark eyelashes. This is the only time of the day when he is still. I’d have more time for writing if I didn’t long to cuddle his big brother like this, also.

I’d have more time for writing if I didn’t cook actual food for my family -- and serve it at an actual table -- or if we didn’t hold hands when we recite the simple grace rhyme the kids learned in preschool. I’d have more time for writing if this wasn’t my favorite moment of every day, having all four of us in one spot for just 15 minutes, Zippy's hand in my left, Happy's in my right, Honey's eyes locked on…

For the love of Nacho

Just around the time I was starting to wonder if Nacho really loves me -- or if he really just uses me for food -- I read this article that confirms what I'd hoped: He really likes hanging out with me. Maybe he even loves me, and I know now I love him.

Nacho is a big fat jerkface of an orange tabby cat, with a big fat gentle heart. He often can't get out of his own way, but that makes him a good snuggle on a cold winter evening, and you know we have plenty of those around here. He may drive you nuts by sleeping on your feet so you can't roll over or move to get out of bed in the morning...but he will certainly keep you warm.

He doesn't meow or cry much. He squeaks, somewhat timidly and ridiculously for such a large cat. I only heard him truly meow for the first time this weekend when he felt pain. Nacho speaks more with his purr; his constant rhythmic rattle is what I'm missing most right now in this quiet, sleep-filled house. He has a different purr for every mess…

Look up

I walk a lot. Walking is one of the pieces of my Portland lifestyle that I value most, in fact: countless trails, parks, paths, and sidewalks that not only get me where I need to be, but also show me woods and sea and proud old homes and all sorts of loveliness. (I also walk past a lot of not-so-lovely in this town each day, but we'll save that for another post.) Sometimes when I walk through a quiet neighborhood, like the one over here along Clifton Street in Back Cove, I feel envious of single-family homes and yards and kid-friends playing together in the driveway. Other times in these same neighborhoods, I feel grateful for the ample parking and snow removal of our rental home, as well as for landscapers who cut the grass and landlords who come to fix the kitchen lights or replace the dryer when it punks out. When I walk through Evergreen Cemetery, often I feel contemplative, peaceful; its consecrated ground and hundreds of years of history soothes me. Other times I feel sad an…

"She's taller than my dad!"

"I wonder if she can slam dunk."
"That mom is gonna hit her head on the door."
"She's taller than my dad!"

These are things often overheard when I drop my kids at school. Kids don't whisper quietly. None of these comments are new, mind you. I've heard these (and worse) since I was, oh, 9 years old, when I stood next to my 4th-grade teacher and one of my classmates noticed that I was as tall as Mrs. Schneider. No, I cannot slam dunk and I've never hit my head on a door jamb, but yeah, I'm taller than most dads. (And I've only met one mom in Portland who looks me in the eye; her kids go to a different school.)

I've borne the loud-whispered tall comments my whole life. Usually they're muttered behind my back, but often to my face as well. People say silly things. Period. Words sting, even if they're not intentionally harsh or teasing, and I wish people would realize that I can hear their gasps and whispers; my ears are not s…

Winter in Maine is

They tell us it's spring now, as of Monday morning, these experts who know about seasons and time and things. There are signs of spring, of course -- the sun certainly shines brighter and longer into the evening, the birds sing more confidently, and faces I pass on the street show a glimmer of hopefulness, a new willingness to smile or say hello -- but this is Maine, and spring in Maine is not like spring in other places. We still have 5-foot piles of snow at the back of our driveway, and the 20-foot snow tower in the Target parking lot will likely be there until June. We are still wearing our Big Coats because it's wicked cold...and boots because it's wicked muddy. We won't see a daffodil or crocus for at least another month, and we won't plant seedlings in our backyard gardens until Memorial Day.

The arrival of spring, even if in name only, means we've made it through winter, officially. And that's a pretty big deal. It's a long exhale, a softening in…

So I left a note on a car...

"Hello, Tori? This is Maureen." The voice is unfamiliar, somewhat tentative; I didn't recognize the phone number. I pause, put a smile in my voice, and respond, "Hello? I'm sorry, who?"

"Maureen. You put a note on my car yesterday."

Oh no. My stomach flips. In the midst of the blizzard clean-up a couple days ago, I backed the minivan into a small car in front of my house. The street was crowded with snow plows and commuters, I was a bit frazzled trying to find a way back into my own driveway, and I just didn't even see this little gray compact. I thought I'd backed into a snow bank! I was only moving about 3 mph, so I know I didn't damage the car, but I left a note because that's what you're supposed to do, right? I had hoped, since I hadn't heard anything in over 24 hours, that I'd never hear from the car owner. Maybe snow melted on the note and smeared the digits. Maybe she swished the wipers before seeing the note an…

Glimpses of spring in winter

I'm sitting on a park bench in New York City, overlooking 42nd Street just east of Grand Central Station, waiting for the bus that will take me home from a lovely girlfriend getaway in Manhattan. Right now it's an unseasonable 62 degrees and sunny; yesterday it was windy, rainy, and just above freezing temps. Kids are playing in a nearby playground. Folks are out in t-shirts and sunglasses walking dogs. Colleagues in suits are lunching on nearby benches. Everyone seems relaxed, smiling, happy to be outside on a Wednesday in February. Like we're all sneaking one past Mother Nature; even the birds are snickering. Everything is fine and beautiful.

Then I pick up my iPhone, check Instagram -- which is usually a fairly neutral, politics-free social media space -- and I see posts about high school students walking out of class in protest, Elizabeth Warren voted into silence on the Senate floor, President Trump talking about terror attacks in Sweden that never actually happened, …

#WhyIMarch, part 2 - for my sons

A note to my sons on the night before the Women's March

Hi, guys. I've been thinking a lot about this march, as you know, this week...and last week...and the week before...and as the day gets closer, I'm feeling pretty anxious about leaving you and traveling to Washington. I know you will be safe with Dad (winter camping! how awesome), and I'm going to do everything I can to keep myself and your Aunties safe in Washington. I've been reading and preparing and talking to everyone I know who's ever been involved in a protest march, so at least I'm ready mentally. 

I wrote that long post yesterday, full of all the high-minded reasons that I'm marching. As I thought about it last night, I felt uncomfortable with that post. Like it was a re-hash of all the things other people have written. Even more, I feel like a phony-baloney. You know I'm not really an activist, or at least I haven't been. For example, I cried and cheered when the Supreme Court ruled…

#WhyIMarch

Zippy and I hiked in the woods the other day, following the icy trails around Evergreen Cemetery. The cold air stung our eyes but the sun shone warm and bright, and it felt great to breathe fresh air. As he skipped and hopped and twirled beside, in front, and around me, I felt peaceful, happy, content. Until I realized the Womens' March is in a few days, I am going, and I don't know what to expect. I've never done anything like this, except for a few years ago at Occupy Philly, which was nothing compared to the numbers they're anticipating this weekend. The Women's March will be a peaceful protest, yes, but 200,000 is an awful lot of people in highly charged city during turbulent times. I felt anxiety creeping into my chest.

"So you know I'm going away this weekend, right? To Washington, D.C. For just two sleeps. Do you know why I'm going?" I asked Zippy.
"Because you don't like Donald Trump and he's going to be the President."
&…