Sunday, April 20, 2008


I had dinner at the home of my friend and fellow blogger Erin the other night. We have known each other for over twenty years now. Finding and reading Erin's blog, The Why Behind, was the thing that pushed me to begin my own blog. We had a nice simple meal of pasta and salad, eaten in the shade of her backyard patio. Erin has started a vegetable garden and some of her plants are starting to sprout up. She has a wonderful relaxing space that will make a great refuse from the heat this summer. The conversation we had lasted for hours and moved easily from work, marriage, divorce, relationships, kids, wants, desires, and anything else. Before I knew it, it was almost 11pm.

We hadn't kept up with each other to well over the years and I find myself sorry for my part in that. Erin is the kind of friend that you can be real with. The kind of person who will allow you to be open about your heart and mind, your fears and disappointments. Those friends are rare. During this time of unemployment, I have often found myself feeling isolated from others. Our individual priorities taking us in different directions. So how do we maintain relationships with friends and loved ones when life throws us curve balls that send us scattering into the weeds to seek them out and toss them back?

I think about the paths that each of us chooses to follow, sometimes not knowing that in taking that path, we may lose touch with friends we cherish. I realize that I probably haven't been that good of a friend to some people as I am guilty of allowing other things to get in the way. I have been graced with the opportunity of renewing this friendship with Erin and I hope that I remember this moment, this lesson, that if I want friends in my life, I need to make sure that I am a friend and pay attention to what needs to happen to maintain it. To nurture it the way Erin will be nurturing her garden this summer.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Bitter Clinging: It's All I Have

That's right I'm bitter and I'm clinging. I'm clinging to my Faith and my traditions because that's just about all I have left! In the Democratic Debate tonight in Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton said that she doesn't think people are clinging to their faith or their traditions when they feel that Washington isn't listening to them.

Well Hillary, YOU aren't listening to me. I've been unemployed since October, my unemployment has run out and I'm clinging to my faith and my traditions because those are the two things that can't be taken away.

Granted when your husband was in office, I did better, but not as well as I think I should have. Working for non-profit agencies that serve the most under-served populations, (homeless, drug addicted and mentally ill) it was Bill Clinton that ensured there was more money available to do the work. But the problems remained, they weren't solved.

Now under this administration, there is even less money available at a time when the need is greatest, shelters are being asked to serve more homeless on less money. The end result is warehousing people. I could be doing something about that. I could be contributing, if there was money available to hire program workers like me. Instead,I've been laid off twice in the past three years. I'm just like those other people that Barack Obama speaks of. I'm sitting at the kitchen table wondering how I'm going to pay the bills at the end of the month.

Under your proposals, I'm looking at working even more years before retirement and not being able to make enough money to really put enough money away for that time. I'll still worried about the car breaking down, I'll still worry about my future, I'll still be stuck at the bottom of the income ladder.

If you were talking to people like ME Hillary, then you would know that we are bitter, we are clinging to our faith and our traditions. But most of all, We are clinging to the HOPE that Barack Obama becomes our president so that we can get back to work and then get to work on fixing the problems here at home.


A Little Shameless Self Promotion

I need a job! There, I said it. I've been back in school part time at OSU and am taking classes in the morning. So I've been looking for work in the afternoons and evening. I'm not to proud. This unemployment gig is getting annoying and the last thing I want to do is wallow in self pity about it.

If you know of someone who is hiring in Columbus, let me know.

Do you know some one who could use a part time office assistant? Even temporarily? Send them a link to my page. Data entry? I'm your gal. Need some one at your sales counter? Me!

If you don't know of anyone, then how about just saying a little prayer for me? That usually works.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sometimes It takes Another's Perspective

A couple of months ago, I was helping my youngest son, Vincent, replace a door handle on his wife's car. As usual we get to just talking about things and the conversation turned to when he and his brother were small and we were broke all the time. For a short time after my divorce, I drove a 68 Firebird. Now before you get all excited, the car was a regular blues mobile. Every time I turned around, it was giving me the blues.

I knew nothing about cars at the time outside of it starts, it stops, it rolls down the road with all four wheels turning in the same general direction. I sold that car to a young man who I am sure turned it into a sweet ride. Then got myself a Pinto. Yep, that's what I said. When it started having problems, I was living on the west side of town away from family and friends who could readily help me out. The throttle kept sticking shut on it and was sometimes hard to start. I solved that problem by keeping a long machine screw with a wing nut threaded onto it in my glove box. When I couldn't get the car to start, I'd take off the air cleaner and prop that wing nut under the butterfly in the throttle and crank the car.

During the fix it project with my son, he told me that he used to think I was a wizard because I did that. As a boy, he thought I could fix anything. I was stunned. Until that moment, I had preferred to not dwell on those times. I remember thinking myself a failure as a mother for not being able to give my boys a better life. Whenever I drove out to the west side for years after that time, my stomach would knot up with the reminders of hard times.

My sons don't see it that way. They have a different perspective on it. When I hear them telling stories of their childhood, it's the funny stories they tell. They don't dwell on hard times, if they think of them as hard times at all. My son revealing that he thought I was a wizard, gives me something to feel proud off. Suddenly, I don't feel so much like a failure anymore. Now that's magic!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Legalizing Drugs: Discussion In Class

We had a discussion in my psychology class today about legalizing drugs. I like sitting back and listening to open discussions where young people are free to speak their mind. It helps me take the pulse of young people.

I was quite impressed with some of the comments that were made and a little dismayed by others. I get dismayed by sweeping generalizations and remarks containing phrases like "alcoholic bums." Not all alcoholics are bums and just who are bums anyway? Some see alcoholism or drug addiction as a choice. It's not that easy. I subscribe to a biopsychosocial model for alcoholism and drug addiction. Meaning there are biological, psychological factors and social factors that all play into alcoholism and drug addiction. What contributes to addiction in one person may be quite different for others. Treating addiction requires treating each person on an individual basis and addressing their personal issues that contributed to their addiction.

Here are some of my thoughts on how the conversation needs to go. Each drug should be carefully considered on an individual basis. Marijuana is a far cry from methamphetamine so decisions about legalizing either should be considered separately. Marijuana has been shown to have clinical uses and we need to quit futzing around about not only legalizing it but putting it to use for many who are suffering ill effects of chemotherapy and can obtain relief with marijuana.

We need to take a new look at the laws regarding possession of certain drugs and offer something better than prison in response. Prisons are costing us a lot of money and really aren't providing any benefit to society with regards to men and women whose crime is possession. It's costing us to much money, tying up our courts and law enforcement officers who have better things to do.

As for other drugs, I would prefer that there be some real services and treatment in place if we are to have any discussion about legalizing other drugs. It would behoove us to investigate how other countries regulate drug use once it is legalized. If it were to become legal, money from the sale of drugs should go directly for harm reduction programs, treatment programs and real education on the effects of drug use and abuse.

In addition, if we are to look at legalizing drugs, it needs to go hand in hand with improving the quality of life for our citizens. The social issues around drug abuse and addiction are the real problem. Poverty, poor education, affordable housing, improved social services, address these and drug addiction with all it's secondary woes will drop automatically. Quality drug and alcohol treatment will dry up a drug market easier and more cheaply than criminalization and prison time.

That's my two cents worth.

Kudos to Dr. Mike Torello for allowing the discussion with out judgment. Kudos to the class members who contributed to the discussion and added more background information. I wish I knew your names so I could acknowledge you.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Reflections on traditions

When my sons were younger, we had a few birthday traditions. Lasagna for dinner and carrot cake with cream cheese icing for dessert. I don't quite remember how they became traditions, but they did. Funny how I had forgotten them since both of my sons moved away from home. Funnier still, they remember them. At my recent birthday party, the food included three large pans of lasagna and three birthday cakes (baked by Vincent) of course they were carrot cake with cream cheese icing.

I was thinking about family traditions last night. How they give us a sense of history and belonging. Not just the birthday ones but others as well. When I was still married, my ex would have to travel sometimes. On his first night away from home, my sons and I would head off to our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner. It started just because I wanted a break from cooking and after a few of these nights, my boys would come up to me and say "Tradition dictates we eat Mexican tonight." It was cute.

We had other traditions as well. April 15th was a favorite. We wouldn't mail our taxes until the deadline. At the time, the main post office downtown set staff outside to collect envelopes from last minute filers as they drove by. Not wanting to be left out of a group ritual, we went to be among our fellow procrastinators. Before leaving for the post office, we would leave a message on the answering machine that went something like this:

You have reach the head quarters for procrastinators anonymous, we can't take your call right now because it's April 15th and you guessed it, we're taken the trip to the post office. Leave a message and we'll get back to you when we get around to it.

Then, of course we would go eat Mexican. The message would stay on the answering machine for about a month just to play into the procrastinator thing a little longer.

I love all these memories but my favorite comes from when my sons were really young and I was so broke it wasn't funny. I had a 78 Ford Pinto that ran mostly on prayers. I couldn't afford to spend a lot of money on weekend entertainment for the boys so the Pinto was our means of fun. On sunny weekends, I'd gas up the car and we would take off to play a game we called Get Lost. I would drive out to the country somewhere and let the boys tell me where to turn. We would drive for hours enjoying the scenery. Then, When it was time to head home, I had to figure out where we were and get us back. It was an interesting challenge that has served me well over the years. Every time I lose my way, I think of that game. Spending time with my kids just talking about anything, singing along to the radio, those are my fond memories of tradition. What are yours?

My son Vincent and his wife Theresa

My son Jay and his wife Laura

Me with my two sons at my 50th Birthday party