Monday, May 30, 2005

A different kind of Monday morning

I’m sitting on the back porch at the cabin. It’s too early for most people to be awake on a holiday but when you have dogs, you lose the luxury of waking on your own. I’m not complaining though; there’s much to witness in the early morning and it doesn't always hang around for the late wakers.

Starting with the birds. If I could identify them by their songs, I’d sprinkle this post with some telling information but I cannot. All I can reveal is that there are several different sounds of chirping and singing going on around me. There are two birds in the Oak tree, and a couple in the Willow behind me. Several are across the way in the woods. They’re all going about their morning, conversing over what, I do not know. Add the Cicadas and I’m surrounded by the voices of summer.

A storm blew threw last night in a blaze of glory, lightening, high winds, the whole show. Put me to sleep in a nice way. The ground is saturated, puddles everywhere. The Oak tree’s branches are heavy and dark. The porch is still wet and moisture clings to all the furniture and railings. It’s been a while since I’ve not had to pull out the sprinkler and water the grass and trees, but with the rains Friday and Sunday, nature is taking care of her own. This means I haven’t had to combat the ant pile beneath the hose once this weekend.

At the edge of the land, I can see the river, smooth as glass and reflecting the sky. Cheyenne ventures out, twitches her nose at the top of the stairs, circles to find just the right spot by my feet, and sighs. It's good. A summer morning, a girl, and her dog.

A perfect ten

Grad croud Grad & her friends Dad at the grad's party Decorations

What a day she had. Watching her walk across the stage, I had such awesome emotion in me. I was filled me with pride, of course. But excitement and and the sense of time passing as well. She sat in a sea of red caps and gowns, young people embarking on the futures, the group never under the same roof together again. We sat in a crowd of proud families, each hooting and clapping when their child’s name was called. The coliseum filled with smiles and the good feelings and celebration of accomplishment. I felt my father's presence in the coliseum, just over my right shoulder. I felt his pride, his smile, his raised eyebrows.

After the ceremony we had a luncheon at Ninfa's in her honor. When she called and asked where we were, I told her we were in the back dining room. She laughed and said she was in the main dining room. We hung up and I waited. Then I got a funny feeling and called her back, and asked which Ninfa’s she went to. She said Westheimer. I said, Echo Lane. Once that was sorted and she came to us, the celebrating began.

Graduates make out well, and she was showered with gifts, cards, and envelopes that revealed monetary contents that brought wide eyes and big smiles to her face. She received affection and kudos from people who have known her throughout her life and watched her get to this day. After the party, I went home. She took off into the day with her friends. The next day on the phone I asked her to rate her graduation day, one to ten. Without hesitation, she said it was a ten. As it should be.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

No Mensa candidates here

Cell phone rings and she looks at it and puts it down.

"How come you didn't answer it?"

"I didn't recognize the number."

"Oh, who was it?"

"I don't know."

And that is just about how the day has been. Mindless.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Graduation day

Today she will cross the stage. On the phone earlier, she said that it's kind of weird and kind of exciting. I think that we all feel that way about it. The work has been done, she's finished already but today is the ceremony and the celebration. She's 18 and this is the summer she's free. Highschool behind her, college and her future before her. Today she takes a big step away from dependence and towards independence. She embarks on her own decisions, her own instinct, her own discipline. Today I cannot help but look at her as the baby I held in my arms, the little girl I spun around before the birthday pinata, the young lady I drove to the concert. Today I want to open my arms and set her into flight. At the same time, I want to hang on tighter than ever before.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Imelda Marcos of lip balm, that's me

There are some big things that I picked up from my father, and there are also some little things that I picked up. This is about the little things. There are three: Chapstick, Visine, and the need to have a glass of water on my bedside table at night. Ever since highschool, these three things have been part of my life and routine, because that's when I first noticed they were part of his life and routine.

There's not a friend in my life who hasn't at one time or another commented on my chapstick usage. How I won't leave home without it, can open, apply and shut it with one hand only (such skill), am nervous if I think I've lost it, etc. Suffice to say that I'm known for it. It could easily be the deciphering clue between figuring out which Alison someone is talking about (assuming the other tell-tale identifiers, blond or champagne, weren't used).

Which Alison?

Chapstick Alison.

Oh, that Alison.

The chapstick has recently gone overboard though; and by overboard, I mean its numbers are growing as out of control as the Kudzu vine. I have three in my purse, three in the wooden bowl on my coffee table that holds the remote controls, two on my bedside table, two in my sock drawer, one in my overnight make-up kit, one on the silver tray in my bathroom, and about seven in the wooden junk bowl on my kitchen counter. That's 19 chapsticks. I like to have a back-up but it's beyond that now, isn't it?


Earlier this afternoon I felt like crying. It was a physical feeling I was aware of, more than emotional. I could feel a bubble in me - like a burp that you know is going to release itself, only it was tears wanting the release. I wasn't ready to cry though, emotionally. So, even though I should be able to connect the two, my personal history shows me that when the physical and emotional aspects of crying are not aligned, I will end up making the leap into tears over something completely meaningless. So, I wondered what would push me over the edge. Would I see a Hummer? Would I misplace my pen? The thought was interrupted by my taking a breath in a way that didn't successfully draw air into my lungs but instead my throat, and I started choking and coughing so hard I thought I would throw up. My eyes were watering, tears running down my cheeks and taking my mascara along with them, the whole bit. After what seemed like way too long to be still living, I stopped gasping and was able to successfully draw breath again. When my breathing finally took on a regular pace, I realized that I didn't feel the bubble anymore. So, I'm thinking that emotions and their symptoms, they're a slippery lot. They will get out of you by any method they please, even if they have to choke you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Stop yelling at me

This afternoon I found yet another reason why I abhor Hummers. On the drive home it was right there in front of me, the Hummer with the make in all caps. HUMMER. If it's not an acronym or abbreviation, why is it necessary? It's loud and, in electronic communication, it's yelling. I rolled my eyes and let out a frustrated sigh.

But then I started noticing other cars and realized all the makes were in caps, except for the Mazeratti, but that's more along the lines of whispering to be heard. So, I felt like a hypocrite. And then I saw yet another gas guzzling tank of a HUMMER on the road and realized the real source of my new found additional reason I hate HUMMERS. It's not the caps, it the size of the caps. I'd say those letters on the back are five inches and the ones along the side are even taller. As if we couldn't figure out what kind of tank that was by the size? At least the other cars and trucks are appropriately sized caps, off to the size of the tailgate or trunk, not front and center. Hey, Hummers, lower your voice, I can see you, I can hear you. I have no doubt who you are.

Monday, May 23, 2005

I'd trade it all tomorrow for the highway

There are myriad alloverthemap reasons why this Norah Jones song is the only one I've listened to tonight. Hitting repeat so often it reminded me of a school girl discovering the first song she could connect to, and in the euphoria of that connection, being unable to let go. But it didn't feel like that, it just reminded me of it.

What it feels like is a breeze traveling over a hill and pulling with it the scents from many camps on the other side - warm bread, lavender, wood shavings, laughter, desire and water. It feels like my heart twitching. It feels like looking through an album of photos of my life. I'm sure it feels like nothing even close to the song's meaning. It feels like my father, and my nephew. And the guy who is far away but always steps in at the right time with just the right words to connect. It feels like looking through a window. And it feels like the breeze picking up the ribbons in my hair. It feels like a memory and a vision. It feels like a dusty road beneath a starry night. It feels like the blood in my body, warm and familiar. And it feels like home and taking it with you when you leave, yet missing it when you're gone.

Long Way Home

Well I stumbled in the darkness
I'm lost and alone
Though I said I'd go before us
And show the way back home
IS there a light up ahead
I can't hold onto very long
Forgive me pretty baby
but I always take the long way home

Money's just something you throw
Off the back of a train
Got a handful of lightening
A hat full of rain
And I know that I said
I'd never do it again
And I love you pretty baby
but I always take the long way home

I put food on the table
And a roof overhead
But I'd trade it all tomorrow
For the highway instead
Watch your back if I should tell you
Loves the only thing I've ever known
One thing for sure pretty baby
I always take the long way home

You know I love you baby
More than the whole wide world
I'm your mamma
I know you are my pearl
Let's go out past the party lights
We can finally be alone
Come with me and we can take the long way home
Come with me, together we can take the long way home
Come with me, together we can take the long way home

A place of his own, for me

I wish there was a place I could go to, to visit with my father, to be in the near. It's the absence that cremation leaves, no certain place to go, no ritualistic place to go. No grave to visit. If there were one, I'd go there today, now. I'd spend some time and tend to the place. I'd breathe the air from around the place. I'd put my hand on something concrete there. I'd bring flowers and photographs, I'd bring a silver chain and an anchor. I'd bring things that rain would weather but I'd keep it clean for him, for us. Of course, he's everything and everywhere, he is me, but I want a single thing and a certain spot. I want something I can touch and breathe. I want something I can lean against. I want a place where, even though I know he won't answer back, I can talk to him all the same. Out loud, and no one will look twice at me; they'll know and they'll understand what I'm doing. Maybe this is what drives people to donate a bench or plant a tree in the park - these become their place, their remembering and go-to place.

Friday, May 20, 2005

There is no such thing as the simple truth

Below is an excerpt from The Sweet Hereafter, by Russell Banks. I stumbled across it and it cracked open my head with an illumination that was so bright that it gave me a Advil-resistant headache that I'm still carrying around four hours later.

We've all lost our children. It's like the children of America are dead to us. Just look at them, for God's sake - violent on the streets, comatose in the malls, narcotized in front of the TV. In my lifetime something terrible happened that took our children away from us. I don't know if it was the Vietnam war, or the sexual colonization of kids by industry, or drugs, or TV, or divorce, or what the hell it was; I don't know which are causes and which are effects; but the children are gone, that I know. So that trying to protect them is little more than an elaborate exercise in denial.

Exactly! And does it matter? Hardly. Causes, effects and symptoms are not braided together as easily distinguishable and manageable separate parts. Our personalities are born in our experiences; our lives are born from our choices. And still, the children. How to help them? How to get him to realize this truth: he is responsible for his life. And that truth would be a simple one, though it is not the whole truth but really just a string of words that should be true. He is not responsible for his life because we have not made him be. There are no consequences for him, just changes in the scenery. This pattern, it has to change. And it will change. Because if it doesn't, it will change us and everything about and around us. Well, except for him. He would just have a change of scenery.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

This one you were warned about, so don't blame me

Nap time Visitor's ear Visitor's leg Ski boot

She's doing very well although I fear that I stripped her of her dignity this morning. By doc's orders, she's to be in the crate when I'm not at home and, since she gnawed her stitches out the night after her surgery, she's to wear the horrific Elizabethan collar. Doc prefers that she wear it at all times but I just don't have the stomach for it. She has no experience with the collar so she holds her head down to see where she's going - of course that results in her bumping into things, say, walls, before they come into her view. It's confusing to her, and heartbreaking for me. But, truth be told, she doesn't have to wear the collar as long as I'm at home keeping an eye on her.

But when I go to work, the collar has to go on, and the crate has to come out. She hasn't been in a crate in years but didn't at all object to the reunion this morning. That is until she tried to turn around inside the crate. Since the collar is so wide, that simple action was difficult and she started turning her head back and forth in a panic and then backed out of the crate quick. I had to turn her around and back her back in and help her sit down, trying to get her calm again. Before going down the stairs, I turned back to look at her. There she was, sitting with her wrapped leg stiff and unbendable and shooting out to the left, and her head hung real low beneath the invisible weight of her missing dignity.

I cannot explain to her the necessity of the collar, so even though I know she must wear it, it hurt me to see her like that. I felt like listening to gospel music on the way to work, Swing Low Sweet Chariot or Will the Circle be Unbroken. And Cheyenne, she was likely wanting to hear the blues.

And now for something completely different

I’m asking myself, Alison, will you ever again write about anything other than your dog? Because I know that at some point, people are going to start saying that they really do not care to read another word about the dog.

So for those of you who fall into that category, let me offer up this: Stevie Nicks. She’s coming to Houston in July. I have the notion that her tour manager secretly does not like her because she’s always scheduled in our outdoor venue in the summertime. What’s up with that? Anything outdoors in Houston in July that does not involve a pool or the few moments it takes to get from your air conditioned house to your air conditioned car, or your air conditioned car to the air conditioned building that houses your job or your grocery or otherwise shopping needs, well, it’s just insane. Nonetheless, she’s going to be here so we’re going to be there. I just got the confirmation email from my friend, Carrie. It’s a birthday thing for me. Four of us are going to sit on the hill and sweat, for sure, but we’re also going to sing and dance and drink beer and rock and sway to the music. I know this because we've done it before. And as far as repeating experiences goes, this one is well worth it. Oh yeah.

Now, be warned, the next post will be about the girl. Because, seriously, she’s the most precious creature on the planet and I am all wrapped up in that. And it’s perfectly okay with me if you think I’m pathetic and you’re embarrassed for me. Perfectly okay.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Thirty stitches put her right and her Mom said, "don't say I didn't warn ya"

One plate, five screws, thirty stitches, and she's back together again. And now she's back home again. Sound asleep at the moment.

And, not to offend my little princess in any way, but how about that shave job?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The technician needs spell-check, or sumthin

There are some words I habitually cannot spell. The past, present and future of commit being good example. So, I rely on spell-check for some things and on work pieces that are externally printed, I rely on spell-check and proofreaders. I'm just of the opinion that spelling mistakes are bad business. But are they bad business for all businesses? I don't know. While driving to the office this morning, I passed a company truck with a custom paint job on the side and tailgate. Air Conditioning Technitions painted in a large blue font across the tailgate, with telephone details. Am I the only one who would not call this company due to that?

Monday, May 16, 2005

This quiet is too darn loud

This house is empty without that dog. I miss her terribly. I miss her tossing the ball onto the couch and looking at me to toss it across the room. I miss her standing in the kitchen before where her treat jar is on the counter, and looking up at it, and back at me, and back up again at the jar. I have tomorrow night to got through all this empty house fun again. Then Wednesday, we begin day one of a ten-week recovery. Bless her. I made a sling for her this evening - she'll be able to get up the stairs but not without my assistance. She's a big girl; hence, the sling. I'm not sure what to expect beyond that, but I do know I'll be very glad to have her healing and at home.

Yesterday, today, tomorrow

I remember when they were born. I was there. Yesterday was the 17th birthday of one, and last night I helped address the other’s high school graduation announcements. Not to sound like my parents, but where did the time go? Yesterday they were babies. They were shining eyes, imagination, and questions without end. They were eager and curious and their lives were known and guided and protected by us. Without resistance. Today, theirs is an age that is fearless, all-knowing, invincible as they into their futures. I remember being their age, I remember not having a care in the world, which transfers today into not having a clue. When looking at it from here, it’s an age that causes terror in my heart. They are vulnerable to the hazards, the challenges, and the temptations. They are vulnerable to what they do not know. They’ve survived quite a bit already but have they pulled the wisdom from their educations? I know the answer for both of them, and the answer is quite different. One embraces the world, one resists it. One tries, the other complains. One plays by the rules, the other argues the rules. One takes responsibility, the other shrugs. One is willing to work, the other searches for the shortcuts. They are both living a life from the same hardships and the same opportunities. They are both the results of their choices. I have no doubt in my heart that one of them is facing a bright future. I have no doubt in my heart that one of them can still have a bright future. But the fact is that the future is planted in the present. And in the present, well, it’s not very bright for that one.


At the Surgeon's office this morning, more x-rays and some motion tests proved that the girl has a partially torn ACL in her left knee. (My little athlete.) She's there now, going through pre-op stuff today. Surgery is tomorrow morning. I can retrieve her Wednesday between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Six at night? Yeah, right. Anyone who has spent more than, oh I don't know, five minutes with me, knows that I'll be there at 10:01 a.m.

The upside of this: The x-rays show she has good hips.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Miss Limpalotamus update

Limpolotamus 1 Limpolotamus 4 Limpolotamus 2
X-rays show that she's blown her knee, although that is not the name of the official diagnosis. We have an appointment with the surgeon on Monday morning. It's a consultation but her vet explained to me that, in her opinion, she will need surgery. I'm to bring her to the surgeon's on Monday prepared for that, meaning that she is to have nothing by mouth after midnight on Sunday, and that I should plan on leaving her at the surgeon's office. Her surgery will be Monday, and I can pick her up on Wednesday. Well, hold on a minute. When are visiting hours? And are they prepared for the cot I'm going to bring in so that I can spend the night there?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

In flight

  • While you don’t have to dress up for flights, it would be nice if people at least wore clothes they would wear to, say, a restaurant that is a step above fast food. Seriously, when did sleeveless tank tops on men (or women) become appropriate? Mister, I do NOT want to see all your body hair. No one does. That’s not travel wear, it’s beachwear.
  • Let’s get something clear, okay? Just because you are able to carry something onto a plane, does not mean that you should. What happened to the area by the check-in that you had to (or could) drop your carry-on bag into to see if it would fit into the overhead bins? Seriously, an over-stuffed hanging bag is not a carry-on just because you are able to drag it onto the plane. And the flight attendant? She's got your game.
  • When you're boarding a plane and you bump into somebody, it is polite to say “Excuse me.” When you bump into them so hard that you almost knock them over and you don’t stop or even pause, well, the people around the person you bumped into (me), they’re going to talk about you. And what they're saying, it’s not nice. Not nice at all.
  • Note to the man across the aisle from me: We backed away from our gate five minutes early. The Pilot told us that we would arrive in Philadelphia 23 minutes early. When he then announced that we were eighth in line for take-off, I'm curious what made you throw a fit a two-year old would be proud of and say in a voice loud enough for three rows up and back to hear, “This is ridiculous.”
  • Question: Why is it that some people think that the "all cell phones must be turned off" or "portable electronic equipment must be turned off" announcements do not apply to them? Because it makes me really nervous when you're in the seat next to me and playing with your Blackberry while we're going down the runway, AND THEN YOUR CELL PHONE RINGS. You don't know me but I'm a nervous flyer and if I weren't so sad today, that little bit of rule-breaking would have sent me over the edge.
  • All of this is to say that when flying, it would be nice if we could all agree to abide by the rules and exhibit a set of basic manners. I for one would really appreciate it.
  • This has nothing to do with anything, but I bought a People Magazine to read on the flight, and I have to say that Mary Kate and Ashley Olson always holding hands or with their arms all over each other, it just gives me the creeps.

May 10, 2005

Turning the calendar page from yesterday to today was not without some pain, some sweet melancholy memories, some layers of emotion involving the appreciation of a life. Today would have been my father's 81st birthday. Is it still his birthday even when he is no longer here? I suppose so, yes. It was his day, his date. I feel such a loss that I am not seeing him today, that I am not making my plans around him today, that I have not shopped for something to please him, or for a card to make him smile, on which I'd write a note and sign "I love you Dad" at the bottom.

These days, these "firsts" after losing him, they are raw. I awake having no idea what to expect and am more or less carried through the day rather than leading myself through it. This is similar to how I felt on Easter and my parent's anniversary. And yet, today is really all about him, not missing him on a holiday or event we shared. There's nothing to work though, no trouble to resolve. I think that I'm feeling exactly what could be called normal. It's sad and longing but it's not desperate. It's tearful but not weepy. It's all about missing someone I love. And the impossible distance of death. It's about wanting to celebrate the day that brought the entrance of someone into this world, knowing he's no longer here, and getting caught in the riptide of that emotion. It's about missing him more today than any day that's passed since losing him.

I'm traveling today. Opening the day in Houston and closing it in Philadelphia. I'm comforted by that. Comforted by spending the day with strangers who know not who I am or what this day is or what I'm feeling. It allows me to be invisible. And for today I like that.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Miss Limpalotamus

I wake up every morning with her and, unless she’s moved to the floor or downstairs to the couch during the night, she’s awake and eagerly awaiting my first stir. When I open my eyes, she greets me with perky ears, nose in my face, and tail thumping like a drumstick keeping time on the mattress. She's been waiting for me. I smile. I can’t help myself. Sometimes I gently put my hand on her head and firmly say “ssshhhh, go back to sleep” and she sighs and reluctantly flops back on her side and puts her head atop my leg. Sometimes I tackle her and throw the covers over her. That gets her pretty worked up and ready to play. And sometimes, I pat my chest and say “come here,” and she scoots toward me an inch. And I pat again and say, “come here” and she scoots another inch or so closer, and waits for me to say it again. We play this little game until her big brown head is on my chest and her gold eyes are looking at me, and her tail is drum beating. Then she’ll flip over on her back, turn her head toward me and look at me and say, Please rub my tummy. And then we start our day.


This morning was not the usual though. I had to give her a pain pill last night and she was still fairly groggy from it. If she had a snooze button, she would have pushed it more than once, I’m sure. She didn’t run and play too hard at the cabin this past weekend but the real limping started on Saturday. She's been favoring her back legs lately but it's more pronounced now. She can barely make it up the stairs. She can’t get into the car by herself, or the couch, or the bed. I’ve been calling her Limpalotamus, and I’ve been calling myself Nervous. We have an appointment at the vet tomorrow morning.

The weekend

Wind chimes Boug Sycamore Pride 2 Pretty Girl Happy Girl Sleepy Girl 2 Sleepy GirlPeek-a-boo His Chair Lone Star Dirty boy

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I hope he chalks it up to friendly Texans

My inner Pollyanna has returned! You want evidence? I just sent an email to a colleague in Australia. I've never met him, and worked about six hours today fulfilling a request of his, and closed the email with my usual "If you need anything else, just let me know and I'll be happy to take care of it for you." And followed that with my not so usual "Love, Alison"

Carry on

Okay, I admit it. I have been one overwhelmed, stressed, emotional excuse of a person lately. Where did my inner Pollyanna go? Who kicked her out when I wasn't looking? [Note to her: I'd like you to come back, okay? And soon.] I am very good at seeing the positive, at recognizing and accepting challenges. Honestly, although you'd be pressed to find it around here, I'm a silver-lining kind of gal. To a fault. Normally, it's not me who collapses beneath the load, throws in the towel, cries in her pillow, whines about the burden. I'm the one who more than one friend starts their opposing position sentence with, "I know that you like to see the good in things, but..." or, "I know you like to see the good in people, but..." And then they'll load up their argument but I typically don't buy it. So, how then, did I manage to buy it all on my very own? Not sure. But I went on my walk this morning and looked around me at all the ever-present things I so love, breathed the air and stretched my arms before the rising sun, and I saw good again. And I had hope again. And it felt great to have this reunion with who I am. All the problems and worries and what-to-dos are still there, no magic eraser swooped down and cleared that mess up, but I threw desperation down the gutter, and invited inspiration back in. The room is the same, but the company is much much better.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

My garden, my life

IMG_0103 IMG_0107 IMG_0108

My yard is about the only thing that is keeping my feet on the ground, so to speak. I've found that gardening, or any type of yard work really, helps keep my mind balanced by keeping me close to the earth. It gets me out of my head and connects me with life outside of my own, and it's good for me because I can successfully take care of my yard, whereas there is much in my life that I am struggling with taking care of. In my yard, I can see the results of my work (presently blooming and doing well). Life, on the otherhand, moves a bit slower. In my yard, weeds, antbeds, etc., while mentally symbolic of life's problems, are much easier to address and resolve. Still, working in my yard reminds me that I have some power over my troubles.

It's an obvious connection: gardens / life. What am I planting in my life? What am I planting in the lives of my loved ones? I know that my words will either plant flowers or weeds in our lives. I am trying to plant flowers, not weeds. I'm fairly good at that. I know that my actions are for the most part planting positive. What of my decisions though? Some decisions we cannot know for a long time into the future whether or not they are the right ones. Decisions like that faced me today.

We've made the decisions and while I believe they are the right ones, I do not have that accompanying feeling of, well, feeling good about it. Perhaps because even though we had to make decisions today, we really had no choice. We've been backed into a corner and that's why I don't feel good about the decisions. I don't feel good about being forced into the position of having to make them. In fact, I feel pretty sick to my stomach about that. I've had to realize that no matter how much good I've tried to plant, there are internal and external circumstances beyond my control, and also much larger and more powerful than my influence. And yet, what to do has fallen squarely in our hands because something has to be done while something can be done. And something will be done - we've made sure of that. I'm left now to hope and pray that like my little yard, the results will be positive.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

A letter


Funny to be writing you. Desperate, actually. I'm just not sure what else to do. I know without a doubt that you would be appalled by what is going on now. It's not what you wanted and I'm pretty darn sure that it's not what you ever imagined. But it's happening. And I do not know what to do. Funny, that. I've never felt that before. I thought I had, and that's amazing and shocking because when I realize that I am actually without a recourse, actually desperate, it's terrifying and I know that you could and would tell me what to do. You were here. You were. I saw it, I heard it. I listened to you and I watched you put your head in your hands without a single idea left, with only an eye to us for ideas, any ideas. Come to find out, we don't have them. And there was nothing but quiet. That's desperate. I understand that now.

You know that when we tell her she's being unreasonable, she doesn't hear us, won't listen to us. She gives us the same threats she gave you. Well, she can't divorce us but she's all piss and vinegar just the same. And she uses the same cruel words. Did you wonder if she meant it all? I wonder that. I wonder if she knows what she's doing and saying - it's so clear and so powerful it seems real. But is it? Did you wonder? Did she defeat you as she's defeating us? When you slept on the chair or in the guest room, was it about that defeat? Nevermind, I know that it was.

I can't believe that I've lived through two months without you. Two whole calendar pages without my father. I can't believe the ground I walk on is so raw and unfamiliar. I can't believe that I watch the news and think I need to call Dad so that I can understand it. How am I going to understand the world without you? How? How do I handle Mom without you? My goodness, all the times you told me that you didn't know what to do and I thought I understood. I had no idea.

I walk through your house, I look at your pictures, I smell your cologne and I hold your toothbrush. I do everything I can to put myself as close to you as possible. I look in the mirror and try to see what you saw in me. I am beautiful. I am smart. I am independent. I am clever. I am your daughter. I am so many things that I am because you saw them in me. But am I capable of taking care of what is left behind? I want to be your miracle. I'm just not sure how. I am closer to knowing you than I ever have been - and it's because I'm tasting the same pain and desperation that you did. I don't like that, but I'll take it. And I'll take it because of you, because of what you taught and lived and practiced. Watch over me, will you?

I miss you,

Just a bagel shop, nothing more

There is a bagel shop in my neighborhood, simply named Hot Bagel Shop. It's been there for years, twenty-three to be exact. Over those years, it has gone through two expansions and can still be considered a tiny place. Although there are two or three tables and one bar along the length of the window, most people go there for their bagels and take them elsewhere to eat. In one Houston publication after another, it's consistently voted as the best bagel shop in town and therefore has quite a loyal customer base. I've never been there when it wasn't packed with a long line and the three people behind the counter working at rapid pace and with good system to get the orders, get the money, and get on to the next in line. As far as I can tell, the shop has been owned and operated by one family. It's currently managed by the son, and the mother still works there. She's an older woman, I'd guess in her 70s, and a slight woman but I would never mistake her for frail. She doesn't look like she'd take crap from anyone.

This morning there was a young guy in line before me. A bit trendy, a bit full of himself. He gets the Mom. He asks if they have prosciutto. No. He asks if they have capers. No. He orders a sandwich and steps back while she goes to prepare it.

While my order is being filled, the guy asks the young girl waiting on me, "Do you take requests?"

She asks if she can help him and he says, "I'd like for you to ask the manager to get prosciutto and capers."

Mom overhears this and returns to the counter. "We are a bagel shop, not a deli. You want prosciutto or capers or chocolate chip bagels, you go uptown to one of those fancy bagel shops or you go to a deli. We're just a bagel shop here."

To which he replies, "I understand you're a traditional business but you also should keep up with the times. It's good business."

"We've been in business twenty-three years and we're doing just fine without prosciutto and capers."

"Well, maybe you can just tell the manager that I've made the request."

"I am the manager and I don't have time for you, I'm busy."

He pays for his sandwich, takes the bag, and that's it. Normally, I'd think the whole exchange to be poor business on their end. But I like her kiss-my-ass attitude. And I know this much: prosciutto and capers will never be on the menu. And the guy will be back. It is what it is.