Thursday, December 27, 2007

My Little Patient Zero

I love having a little kid running around the house. Unfortunately, she isn't the only thing that is running.

I'm talking about her nose.

We all had a round of what I thought was a respectably nasty head-cold the second week of December. We all got it, and we all felt just terrible. We were all just starting to get over it when "A" brought home the super-bug from daycare.

Tony got sick on Saturday . "A" got sick on
Christmas Eve. With both of them coughing and hacking and nose running, I knew I was a goner.

I got the full force of it yesterday. To say I would have welcomed the Grim Reaper with open arms would not be an exaggeration. I felt like I had been hit by a cartoon steamroller. Actually, I felt like my airway was closing off and I was being choked by my own throat.

So, with "A" in tow, I went to the doctor. I got antibiotics just like Tony. Then I took "A" to the doctor, just in case. Her pediatrician remarked that she has had a growth spurt, but was otherwise just fine, and to call if she starts spiking fevers.

My little Typhoid Mary. She's weathering it better than most of us, and she can't even properly blow her own nose.

She has been so sweet the last few days. Except for the runny nose you would never know she was sick. I adore her funny little ways.

But our house is a general plague area at the moment. I'll be putting up the yellow hazard tape to keep people out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Adventures in Academia

Having survived my finals in the most lopsided fashion possible (Aced Political Science and Tanked Math), I managed to pass both of my mundane but mandatory classes this semester. As predicted, I knocked the cover off of the Political Science class with a very high "A", and struggled with even the most basic aspects of my Math class, passing the class with a lamentable "C". I usually get straight-A's, but not this time, alas.

I think I may be in one of the last generations of women who were told that boys are good at math and girls are good at "softer" subjects. I bought that one hook, line, and sinker. I loathe math and anything that looks like it. I have female friends, like the uber-brilliant Kari, who are whizzes at math. Not me. I'm some kind of liberal-arts throwback. *slaps forehead*

I called about the letter I got rejecting me from the Nursing program. It turns out it was only one of the two programs I applied to, leaving me to wait until perhaps March to find out if I am accepted to the program that commences in September. Feh. I had to turn in my application in December, and they need three months to figure out if I fit in? Grrr.

Still, I was treacle-sweet to the Admissions and Records woman when she called me back, even though I despise her. AND she called me at like 7:30 in the morning! That's a tad early, dontcha think? I thanked her for her time and seethed in private. This one woman has so much control over so many goings-on at that school that it actually scares me. She's like Santa Claus, deciding who gets the academic lumps of coal and who gets the plums. Only not jolly, or fair for that matter.

I am taking the next semester off, and while I wait (until MARCH!!?!??) for my nursing program acceptance (or not), I will contemplate my academic options. I'm going to go up to UNR after the winter break is over and see about their Anthropology program.

It seems scary and more than a little pathetic to consider changing majors at my age. I love Anthropology and research and all those musty old bones and things. I could see myself being very happy doing that. But the job market is a bit thinner for medically focused anthropologists, I would bet. At least if I get my RN, I will always have work, although my feelings when I envision being a nurse are not as rosy and romantic.

Should I change again? Is there some mental way I can do both, and get scholarships to pay for it? I feel all doldrummy (that can be a word if I make it up, right?) about my strange, fragmented career. I feel like I should have my shit together by now. I'm a late in life parent, so maybe I'm a late bloomer in other ways, too.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Stacie the Blasphemer

Just in time for the glut of Holiday Cheer (tm), I am feeling contrary. Not that I don't like Christmas; in fact I have found myself increasingly sentimental as my first Christmas with my little girl approaches. But the usual rounds of Christmas-time focus on "family values" really gets my "shan't" motor running.

I especially don't like the groups that come out with hand-wringing pronouncements (at any time of year) about what children need to be shielded from. Pretty much any time someone says to me "Think of the children!", my knee-jerk reaction is to check out whatever taboo thing I am being advised to avoid. Right now all the fuss over the movie "The Golden Compass", based on the book by Phillip Pullman, is causing such a reaction.

Catholic and other Christian groups are crying foul because of some of the books themes, notably an anti-authoritarian attitude in that fictional universe that is being decried as an Anti-Church stand in this one. Critics are saying that exposing children to such ideas are "dangerous". BIG red flag.

Mind you, these books/films are not saying literally, "God is bad and you should disobey him as soon as possible". They criticize the human power structure surrounding and controlling man's access to the divine. Why exactly is it wrong to look critically at that?

Personally, I find that assertions that the innocence of children must be protected at all costs just tend to infantalize the adults. And anyway, I wouldn't be a very good parent if one book could unhinge all of my teaching about right and wrong, regardless of whether the framework for that right and wrong is rooted in religion or not.

It is getting all to common and casual to treat athiests/agnostics/pagans/whatever as some kind of communicable disease. Honestly, if that were true, I would be thumping a bible right now, due to all the well-meaning souls who have tried to instill a sense of piety in me by any means necessary. I have been subjected to some frontier-justice prostheletyzing in my time. It just won't stick. I refuse to humbly submit to my husband/the church/anybody else's idea of what I should do with my inner life.

And as for the children, I would like a little tiny bit of credit for being a grownup who can make choices for my own family. So, will I let "A" read "The Golden Compass"? I'm going to read it myself first and decide based on my own judgment, not what some hysterical bunch of church ladies think. I don't agree with them on anything else, so I doubt I will withhold any books based on their say so.

In any case, "A" is still learning her ABC's, so I'm off the hook for a bit.

And will I see the movie? I might rent it. I heard it was only "just okay" compared to the book. So I will read the book first to prevent ruining it for myself. This approach worked well for the Narnia series. If I had seen that movie first, I doubt I would have read the books. And that would have been a dirty shame.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Stacie of the Lost Ark?

I was mentioning to someone the other day that, even after all these years, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is still my favorite movie of all time. If it is on, I will watch it. I am sorta interested in the fact that they are doing a 4th movie, but the original will always be the best one.

The Reasons:
1. Dr. Jones is one of the most amazing characters ever brought to life. He has that rugged and yet brainy thing that is totally sexy. I was so young when I first saw this movie, but I knew there was something special about him. I felt my first pangs of real sexual longing over this movie. I don't think I knew what I would do to him, but I wanted to do something.
2. Harrison Ford.
3. Non-lame female Lead: Marion could drink you under the table and then punch you in the gob. Not very good at hiding from monkeys, though.
4. Totally gross, face melting ending. Cool!
5. "Asps. Very Dangerous. You go first"

I wonder how many people my age watched that movie and then promptly decided to become archaelologists when they grew up? I wonder how many actually did it? How many grew to have an interest in artifacts and digging in the dirt with a tiny spoon and a soft bristle brush? In other words, rather than dragging from a whip from behind a truck full of Nazis, did the real life of an archaeologist actually stick?

I wonder this as I stare in amazement at the rejection letter from the nursing school I applied to. Me, with my respectably high GPA and work ethic that is fueled by a likely case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Some bullshit about not meeting program requirements? I think one of those requirements is kissing the ass of the incompetent head of Admissions and Records who has at several critical junctures given me bad advice and then denied it later. I may, very possibly, be blackballed and not even know it. Given the national nursing shortage, the fact that nursing schools are turning away students is totally lame.

Assuming of course that I pass my Math 120 final tonight, I will graduate with another AA degree from that ramshackle community college where I wanted to continue on in the nursing program. I might find myself an academic free agent. It might be time to reevaluate my academic plan.

Not that I won't keep trying to get into a nursing program. After all, I do have a scholarship already lined up for it. But if I keep hitting roadblocks like I have been, it may be more trouble than it is worth. I was only doing it because RN money is pretty good. But other things about nursing make that job look like a real pain in the ass.

Not that I am considering archaeology per se, or even swashbuckling adventure in the antiquities market. But I do love Anthroplogy, archaeology's culture-focused cousin. Medical Anthropology in particular fascinates me. So while I am taking next semester off to ponder my choices, I am also going to consider a distance-learning program at a University in Wales. I'm also going to UNR to ask them what majors I might be able to complete in the most expedient amount of time.

All I know is that I am through with the rinky-dink educational settings. I want to do something that really sets my soul on fire. Life is too short to do anything less. As for the money, I am sure I would be able to secure funding if I really need it.

Who knows, maybe someday my spunky, underage driver sidekick might tell me, "No time for love, Doctor Ferrante!"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Awake, yet dreaming

Have your fun with me, but in my dream life I am having an occasional and torrid affair with Daniel Radcliffe. Yes, that one. Not in his early Harry Potter days but much more recently. I had a dream about him last night, one of those strange dreams I have where I am friends with celebrities. Previously, I have dreamed I was friends with Sting, David Bowie, and once I dreamed I was eating a hasty dinner over the sink with Bill Clinton. We were eating tuna tacos, make of that what you will. *snicker*

I thought I didn't get a wink of sleep last night because I had one ear trained on A's room because she has a cold. I guess I drifted off a little, because I was dreaming.

I dreamed that I was walking along a boardwalk that wound through a series of high, sea-grassy sand dunes. They closely resembled the sand dunes I remember capering about on as a child during the summers in Cape Cod. But these dunes were bigger, and I was strolling hand in hand with Daniel Radcliffe.

God, does that ever sound lame when I say it out loud. But it was a really compelling and romantic dream. It wasn't expressly sexual, but the aura of familiarity between us implied intimacy. The whole thing had this hazy, soft focus, Lifetime B-movie feel to it. There was afternoon sunlight and soft ocean breeze. We were holding hands and talking and, if memory serves where modesty might demur, kissing.

How escapist for me, since it was like 28 degrees when I left the house this morning. I have had a number of similar dreams in the last year. I wonder what it means? That I miss Cape Cod? That I miss being young and lithe, or dare I say it, casually sexual? That I am behind on picking up my copy of the "Order of the Phoenix" DVD?

We may never know, since everyone knows I avoid actual couch time at almost all costs. It is a nice diversion for my overly-stressed brain, though.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dude, I feel funky...

Ok, first off to all of you dang lurkers who mentioned to me that you read my blog, where are your comments? Does the phrase "attention whore" mean nothing to you? I can't stand the echo chamber.

I have one more final to go for this semester and then I am taking a semester off school. I NEED it. Trying to get used to being a parent is hard enough without stupid math and political science crap clogging my overtaxed brain. Honestly, overwhelmed does not even cover it.

I feel corked up, though, emotionally. I spend a little of my time hiding my feelings of fear of loss from the little girl in my life. But even when I am alone I can't let it out. I have a lot going on right now and feel I would benefit from a huge crying jag, but zippo. I can't cry. Even when I give myself permission. That can't be good.

I guess this is what they mean by "adjustment disorder". But it isn't good that I am not getting any catharsis at all. I know I will be okay in the end, but I don't want it to all come out at the wrong time.

I know, I'm a control freak, scheduling my panic attacks like everything else.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Happy Birthday to me!

I have to say that this birthday snuck up on me. The last month has been one of the most amazing and agonizing I have ever had. And in my lunatic life, that is saying something. The fact that I am turning another year older seems insignificant by comparison.

By far, the wonderful gift of my new daughter has been the most transforming thing I have ever experienced. Because she is not yet legally free, becoming her parent has been bittersweet.

I feel like trying to write about the things that have been on my mind is a fool's errand. I can't comprehend it yet. I have a vague feeling that I somehow SHOULD be able to chronicle this journey a bit better, but for some reason my creativity is a bit stoppered at the moment.

Yesterday I took A to the county office for a scheduled visit with her bio-dad, only to find that he had checked in, and then inexplicably left. My heart just crushed for A. She's so little and vulnerable. And she knew we were there to see him, and he wasn't there. She cried when I put her back in the car. Thank god there are lots of Christmas lights on the houses on the drive home; it was a nice distraction for her.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Is it too soon to start the experiments?

Ok, is 2 1/2 too early to start the programming? Disturbed by A's obsession with all things pink and princessy, I would prefer it if she were more geeky.

So today we watched "Return of the Jedi". I know it is PG, but I was, you know, providing parental guidance.

She was nonplussed, but she didn't ask me to turn it off, like she does when I watch the History channel.

Is it too soon to start these psychological experiments? I think not. She is already starting to pick up little vocal mannerisms from us, why not give her some real pop culture chops to go with it?

I mean, she is too young for the Boy Wizard, but whiny Luke Skywalker must have something going on that she can relate to!

Friday, November 30, 2007

To self-censor, or, like, not

I feel strange and self conscious about that last post. Partly because I was too tired when I wrote it to give my experiences in Santa Cruz proper depth and flavor, but also because it is a strange exercise in self censorship that may have not gone far enough.

I certainly have no desire to embarrass my friends, although being friends with me has that as an inherent danger because I often put my foot in my mouth.

Were I to write a real "love note" to Santa Cruz and all that transpired there, I would hope I could do better than that bloodless, denuded post. Given the stress I am currently under, it is amazing that I post anything at all.

So now I am struggling with whether to just delete that whole post or write it off as one of my insane (and inane) ramblings and bury it under other topics and try to learn from my mistakes.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Saucy Minx Remembers

To protect the naughty, I will not say which of my occasional early lovers called me a saucy minx. I will never forget it, though. (blows kisses)

This is a photo of the lighthouse in Santa Cruz. When I was a youngster in San Jose (read:18-23 or so), I used to spend a lot of my weekends trekking in my car over the hill to see my friends that attended U.C. Santa Cruz. I was the ill-funded DeAnza student and could only dream of living dorm life, so I had to get my vicarious college thrills by driving to see them.

I had the good fortune to know a bunch of people down there, following the lame, drama-filled breakup with my then-boyfriend. I just kept going down there to hang out. There was a whole house full of guys and a couple of gals that were pretty much always up for a party of some kind. I'm not even sure I was particularly invited, but they never minded or were much surprised to find me and my gal Audrey crashing on the couch, in some phase of hangover management.

I don't mind divulging that I found a sort of love there. Not in the pulpy romantic sense, but I made a few friends, and one (I hope) lifelong boon companion. He was really tall compared to me, and had beautiful eyes and a rich, smart-ass voice. I adored hanging out and talking to him, and he always made me laugh with the kind of wit you only find in super-smart people. He indulged my occasional drunk (or sober) forays into his room at odd hours for a spoon. Often I would find myself invading his sleep, although he never complained when I slipped a half or less than half clothed body under the covers next to his. I was mad for him as much as could be expected for such a casual arrangement. My lame-ass attempts to get him to date me never damaged our friendship.

I sometimes miss those carefree days. We were all young and good-looking. We had time to do recreational drugs. We had a liquor store around the block. We had nothing to do but while away the hours. I did some of my best making out in that place, and like in some alternate universe, it didn't get weird. It wasn't some hippie free love thing or anything, but it was comfortable.

When I work out my arrangements for my afterlife, I think I will be 23 again for a while. And I'll kiss that boy while I'm at it.

Is the sippy cup half empty or half full?

Here's what I know: I am a foster mother. The whole idea that we are a flexible family is just a marketing myth propagated by Washoe County to make me their bitch. What I am is a foster parent. That is, until I am not.

A is currently making bad pretense at napping, and I am fretting. We have another visit planned with her bio-dad today, and I am dreading the fallout. After the visit on Tuesday, the first thing she did when she walked back into our house was walk right up to Tony and hit him with her tiny fist. Nice.

Her caseworker admits that the visits are not doing her any good, but even bio parents who don't work their case plans at all have rights. More rights than kids who are horribly confused by the contact. These visits are turning her world topsy turvy. She's mad, she's sad, and she doesn't have the cognitive or language skills to process it. So she cries, she screams, and she rages at any little thing that would normally roll off her back.

All I can do is watch in frustration, and accept the fact that she sometimes wants me to hold her, and sometimes doesn't want me to touch her at all, and has no way of telling me which it is. So I try to comfort her, and sometimes she curls in a ball against my body. Other times she scowls in indignation at the very idea of being offered a hug.

My tender, tender heart. Holy smokes. I already love this little girl. I'm a goner. But I am not her mother, really. She calls me mommy, and I take care of her, but I have to know my place. And right now that place is at the bottom of a legal totem pole.

Pardon me for being morose. Sleep deprivation, etc.

Maybe when she is having her visit today, I'll walk down the street and ogle my cute skater baristo and have a latte. That might cheer me up.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Writing Dilemma

The ugly truth is that I have written a bad novel. It is the result of two years of work, but it is a rambling mess with some bizarre, unmarketable plot conundrums.

I used to have hope for my deformed brain child, but I engaged the assistance of a developmental editor earlier in the year who basically told me in the end to scrap it down to the first chapter and start over, telling a totally different kind of story.

That really bruised my ego, but I think the failures of that project had more to do with a flawed premise than a lack of writing ability.

So I am going to the San Francisco Writers' Conference in February. Originally, I was going to shop my edited novel for agents and publishers. Now that that manuscript lines the bottom of my file cabinet, if not the round file, I need to finish a draft on one of my other projects to make the most of this opportunity.

Here are my options:

1. Vampire novel: It is about halfway done, but I am a little conflicted about my originally planned ending, so I feel a bit adrift.

2. Romance novella: This is a May-December erotica romance (with the older partner being a 36 year old woman, the younger an 18 year old man/boy) that I started writing for fun. It is totally inappropriate and blasphemous and socially unacceptable. It is a little more than half done, but I have a fairly good sense of where it is going, story-wise.

3. I could compile some of my best poetry and try to sell some of that.

4. Enjoy my trip to San Francisco and quit fooling myself that I could ever sell my art.

I can't do anything until I get done with finals in mid-December, but then I have until mid-February to work on things, at least while "A" is napping. I have chosen to not take any classes next semester, since I have a lot of wrangling to do with learning to be a parent. I need to not be worrying about term papers and crap.

Any thoughts? What would you like to read more of? Should I just serialize my stuff on this blog and say the hell with it?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Instant crush-just add coffee

On Sunday evening, my gal-pal E and I went to coffee at a local, non-chain java joint. We both are under tons of stress, so it seemed only fitting for us to consume more caffeine. As tired as I was, I was feeling buoyed by getting out of the house for a bit.

I went to order my coffee (the usual, a sugar-free hazelnut latte) and the boy taking my order had a riveting set of blue eyes, pale skin and dark hair. Even with the scruffy young man's beard and knit cap, he was stunning. His eyes/hair/skin tone combo is my current favorite.

So I turn to E before I can even order my drink and say out loud as I point to him. "Isn't he super cute? Don't you just want to pinch him?"

She laughed at me and replied "Pinch him where, exactly?"

I refrained from saying where I would pinch him, and he thanked me for the compliment. He had the perfect blend of embarrassment and pleasure on his face. While he made our coffees, we chatted about the fact that I am turning 39 next week, and he was only 23. He was relating how discouraged by whatever lack of progress he was making as a skateboarder, and how a guy in his forties had assured him that he still made progress in his thirties. I agreed, and told him that I had experienced a world of growth and confidence since I was 23. Mind you, I was never hotter physically than when I was 23, but that can only take you so far.

E and I went to and outside table despite the chill in the air because all the inside ones were full, and I wobbled a little on the step, sending a small dollop of foam onto the sleeve of my jacket. I went back in for a napkin. The napkins were set up next to the espresso machine. When he saw me come back in alone, he had an interesting look on his face. I have been married for a long time, but I still recognize it. It was the "oh, is she coming to give me her phone number?" look.

I got flustered and stammered. "I just need a napkin." He smiled at me, but after that he didn't meet my gaze. I kept stealing glances, though.

How lame of a cougar did I come off as? I used to make fun of my mother for being into younger men, but recently I have begun to see the appeal. Not that I would ever be so stupid to neglect my wonderful husband, but younger people are so nice to look at.

I *heart* the cute skater baristo. God, I am such a dork.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Haircut Misadventure

Ok dude, this is so messed up.

As a foster parent to "A", I am not permitted to change her hairstyle in any way without her bio-parents' permission. But they want her bangs cut, so I am obliged to keep up with regular trimming of her bangs. Mind you, I have to take parenting direction on this issue from people who can't stay out of jail long enough to parent her.

A's former foster mother, let's call her "R", used to cut her bangs herself, and reported to me that A had no problems with haircuts and held very still for them.

I know that I can't even DRAW a straight line, so the idea of cutting the bangs of a wriggly 2 1/2 year old seemed a recipe for blinding my child. I can just see that conversation with her caseworker. "Um, yeah. You know that kid you removed from a neglectful home and gave to me for safe-keeping? Yeah, funny thing. She decided she wanted to be a pirate, so I made it so she can wear an eye patch for life. Cool, huh? I'm going to go for the peg-leg and hook-hand next." Thus, I elected to take her to the haircut place where Tony (my husband) gets his haircuts.

I warned the lady that I had no idea how A would react to getting a professional haircut. As I feared, A cried and thrashed around in my lap while the hairdresser attempted to cut her bangs. While it was still damp it looked fine, so I thanked them for their patience, paid and left.

Well, when it dried, I noticed that her bangs are TOTALLY crooked! Like, OH MY GOD crooked. Like "I could have done it better myself" crooked.

We have a visit with her bio-dad tomorrow. He likes to examine her appearance thoroughly and pick me apart if her nails are too long. He is going to have a field day with her hair.

I could try to straighten the line of her bangs by trimming the other side, but I am worried I am just going to make it worse. Tony is going to try. He at least can draw a straight line. His "daddy-fu" is strong.

Still, I actually have to call her case worker and report that I was a bad mommy and obtained a bad haircut for a child in my care, as if it wasn't embarrassing enough. I can't do like other parents and just put a hat on her until it grows out. I can't even blame it on her and say she did it to herself with the safety scissors.

Oh, and who the fuck decided it was a good idea to give a sucker to a girl with long hair who has just gotten a haircut? I now have to wash out the sticky sucker-drool out of the tendrils that fall into her face every freaking time she had a lookie-loo at the sucker. When I took the sucker away in the parking lot (so she wouldn't choke on it in the car seat) she had a nice, sugar-induced tantrum that caused a guy in the next car to give me one of THOSE looks. You know the look. The one that sums up my entire parenting and finds it lacking. He doesn't know she has only been living with me for 2 weeks. He just sees the out of control 2 minutes of a toddler who he then assumes is always like that, which isn't the case. I just became the poster child for birth control, and I have never given birth.


Next stop, beauty supply for hair-cutting scissors and office supply for a protractor. Time to learn some new skills.

Welcome to my inner dialog!

I would say inner monologue, but we all know that I am too much of a multi-tasker for that.

I decided to start this blog with the dragon off of the Welsh flag. This is a nod to both my family heritage and my hopes that this little guy will watch my back while I write whatever I choose to post here. I might just use this space to get out all the cuss words I can no longer vocalize now that I am a parent.

Good, Lord. I miss saying FUCK. I miss saying it loud. I miss combining it with other cuss words in long, looping strings of profanity. Now that I have a toddler in my house (my foster-to-hopefully-adopt daughter, hereafter known as "A"), I feel like a raging hypocrite when I admonish her not to use the only cuss word she knows. She picked up the word "dammit" at her last foster home, and even says it in context when she does things like dropping her cheerios on the floor.

It is hard not to laugh, really.

It is really funny how as soon as I get her put to bed, I elect to watch the raunchiest, most violent, and most adult television I can get my hands on. The last thing I want is to become an Uber-Mommy, and so I feel I must inoculate myself against the viral earworms put forth from interminable viewings of the "Elmo's Potty Time" DVD. I get those damn
songs from the Wiggles stuck in my head, and it makes me totally mental. That shit will kill more brain cells than all the tequila I drank in my twenties.

Expect random musings here. I wouldn't dare give my blog a theme, because I know I would never be able to adhere to it.

Some likely topics:
1. My experiences with the foster care system as a new parent of a toddler.
2. The occasional artistic outburst. I write poetry and prose when I can, so I'll post that stuff sometimes, or general artistic perspectives.
3. My inappropriate crushes on various celebrities and random people in my sphere of contact.
4. The Boy Wizard, and my squee fangirl obsession with Daniel Radcliffe. See comment about inappropriateness in #3 above.
5. Random rants about shit that bugs me.

Unlikely topics:
1. Fashion: I'm hopeless
2. Celebrity gossip, unless of course it is a celebrity I have an inappropriate crush on.
3. Tech gear.
4. Car parts.
5. Politics: Well. maybe sometimes. See random rants about shit that bugs me.

I'm a total attention whore, so, like, post comments and stuff. I mean, shit.