Monday, November 28, 2011

My Baby's Birthday

On today’s date in 1987, I received the final one of the four greatest gifts of my life. Our sweet Elizabeth was born at home on Saturday, November 28.

I was playing a card game with Jamie, then nine, when I realized I was in labor. It was around one in the afternoon. I was a week overdue as usual, and believed I had plenty of time. So I started straightening up, because my parents were coming over, my mother to stay for the birth and my father to subsequently high tail it out of there. God forbid he be exposed to a body function (he ended up killing time at the nearby mall and came home with a tiny teddy bear with sparkly pink fur for the new baby when he found out it was a girl). The boys (Ryan was ten) went down the street to play at a neighbor’s. Mary Kate was two and was going to go to my friend Louise’s until the baby was born.

I called Dennis’ office. He was a tugboat captain but the boat was in the yard for maintenance. Even though they weren’t at sea at the time, in those days before cell phones, it was still tough to get a hold of the guys on the boat. You had to call the dispatcher, they relayed the message and then whoever you needed to talk to would call you back as soon as they could get free. I wasn’t worried though, I knew I had hours. When he called me back about a half hour later, I told him things had started but there was no rush. So he went back to work.

I picked up toys, finished the dishes and was mopping the kitchen floor when I felt a pop and water gushed down my legs. Uh oh. I was a week overdue, this was my fourth baby, my water had just broken and I had just told my husband, who was three hours away, there was no hurry. This was not good.

I called my midwife who headed up. I called Louise who rushed over, finished mopping the floor (only the best of friends will do these things for you) and collected Mary Kate. Meanwhile I called Dennis back at work. The dispatcher droned he wasn’t sure where he was or if he could get him the message right away or… “I’M HAVING A BABY! FIND HIM!” I shrieked into the phone. He called back within five minutes and was on his way.

By now it was four o’clock. The contractions were coming hard and fast. And I was determined not to have this baby until its father was home.

Fianlly it was just me, Bianca, my midwife, and my mother in our quiet house. I sat as still as I could on the family room sofa, willing my labor to be slow, while Bianca and my mother sat knitting and chatting. Dennis burst through the door at 7 o’clock after a three hour trek from the far side of Brooklyn through a nightmare of traffic. I got up, changed into a nightgown, climbed into bed and had the baby at 7:25.

We were so happy it was another girl!! Bianca handed Dennis the scalpel to cut the cord and he handed it to my mother. “I cut the last one, now you can have a turn.” he said. She was so pleased. Now both of them are gone, which is incredibly sad.

The kids came filtering back along with family and friends to admire the new baby. And our life began as a family of six instead of five.

As I have said before, the happiest moments in my life have been because of my children. And Elizabeth has been no exception. She has a sweet, sensitive disposition and has always been a champion of the underdog, which makes me very proud of her. She was born with a hole in her heart, which was repaired when she was six, but her heart is her strongest attribute. We are lucky to have her.

Happy birthday, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth and her fiance Matt

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Friday, November 25, 2011


I almost never do things half way, which is a polite way to say I usually am obsessive about any task I begin.

Last weekend a friend on Facebook mentioned she had just watched an episode of the television show Hoarders. I rarely watch TV, but I have seen snippets of this series online and I have found it terrifying and tragic to see the out of control lives of the individuals profiled.

I couldn’t imagine anything more upsetting than watching this show. So, being me, I pulled up the website and I proceeded to watch 15 episodes consecutively. Fifteen hours, over a day and a half, of filth, roaches, mice, ceiling high garbage and fractured families. I felt like I needed a shower after each one. Because of my immobility, I cannot keep my bedroom the way I used to, which was pristine and orderly. I kept looking around my presently cluttered space repeating “I am not a hoarder. I am not a hoarder. I am not a hoarder.”

Right. The truth is, I could be in a heartbeat.

I reluctantly recognize I am inordinately attached to many of my belongings. I apply sentimental value to things I probably should have thrown out years ago, mostly items that are associated with my children and their early childhood, which was one of the happiest times of my life. Or things from my own childhood. My mother saved nothing from when I was little, so years ago I went on Ebay and bought some of the things that had meant the most to me, Sleeping Beauty paper dolls, Miss Cookie’s Kitchen Colorforms, the Little Red Spinning Wheel. I don’t do anything with these things. I rarely even look at them. I just like knowing I have them. I take after my grandmother, who always had an immaculate and neat home, but kept many, many things that others would have long disposed of. In their nineties, my grandparents were moving in with my aunt. One of the things discovered in cleaning out their apartment was the deed to the grave of my grandfather’s little sister, who had died in 1909. Everyone was shaking their head at the folly. I could totally relate.

I am also a fabric junkie and my craft room is overflowing, but I do utilize those things, I don’t just collect them. While I feel defensive and do have a lot of things and I do have a hard time letting go of them, I take comfort in the fact that no one will discover long dead cats buried under four feet of debris in my living room.

Anyway, inspired by my obsessive Hoarders marathon, I have begun to purge my bedroom of unnecessary items, the biggest offender being clothes that no longer fit me. In the past I would have had a great deal of difficulty with that, which would account for the fact I have about 100 t-shirts in varying sizes that I have accumulated over the years. I have kept them because they are great for pairing with shorts or sweats and then going walking. But I can’t walk anymore. And many of them are over 20 years old, so discolored and stretched out they aren’t even suitable for rags. I am very proud of the fact I am throwing them out.

But then I came to my shoes. I have never been a huge shoe person, certainly never on the par of, say, an Imelda Marcos. But I have always liked good, comfortable, high quality shoes and I have about 40 pairs all together. Practical shoes. Shoes that are pretty and maybe a little unusual. As a true aging hippie, I love all my Birkenstocks.

My shoes are an eclectic bunch, chosen depending on the occasion and the statement I want to make. Sturdy and professional for work, fun and funky for play.

This past July, my legs and feet suddenly swelled up like the Michelin Man. This has happened a few times before since I got sick, but they have always gone back to normal within a few days. Only this time they have stayed that way. Buckets of Lasix, hours of pumping away on a little foot cycle, keeping my feet elevated and daily, panting struggles with getting compression stockings on have made no impact. My left foot especially looks as though someone stuck an air hose in it and pumped just short of the skin bursting off. And my doctors cannot offer any reason for this horrifying development.

In my own research I have found that this is a common problem in people with spinal cord damage, which I have a significant amount of due to MS. So all those aforementioned shoes? They no longer fit on my feet. And when I manage to squeeze on a pair, the swelling oozes out and over the edges of the shoe, creating the ever so attractive image of marshmallow leaking out of a hot s’more.

Here’s the thing: I don’t want to throw out my shoes. It is a very real stumbling block in my organizing project. What’s worse is, I am experiencing a terrible, weepy bout of self-pity. I look at each pair and remember. They represent the life I had. Here are the ones I wore to the interview for my first job as a department director.

These are the ones I bought for my oldest son’s engagement party.

Then the ones for his wedding.  I actually danced in these.  I could still dance then.

The ones I bought for a special date. The relationship didn’t last, but the memories are fond.

And here are my walking shoes for the walks I can no longer take.

It is Thanksgiving week and with all that I am losing and have lost I am struggling with finding much gratitude. Grasping at straws, I finally decide I have to be grateful I still have feet. I am not being facetious. They are swollen and uncomfortable and pretty much useless, but they are still there, so it could be worse. I also do not have a house crawling with vermin or a pile of clutter we need to make paths through and that blocks windows and doors. And I never will, thank you Hoarders. I also have many people in my life who care about me and for me, and I will be eternally grateful for all of them.

So I give thanks for feet and floor space and light and air and a relatively clean house and friends and the one pair of shoes I can still get on. I’m not throwing out my shoes yet, because I still have some shreds of hope that things might change. And I am grateful for that little bit of hope as well.


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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Killing a Fly With a Cannon School of Thought

Bambi and friends visit UC Davis:

Thank Christ those dimwits didn't kill anyone.

For e-mail readers:


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Thursday, November 10, 2011


This is a football.

This is a little boy.

Guess which has more value in the United States?

An American football coach says he witnessed a little boy being raped in 2002 in the locker room at Penn State University. Yet, incredibly, he neither stopped the assault nor reported it to the police. He reported it instead to his footballish superiors. Who also did nothing.

Even if nothing really happened, even if there were doubts, these men were morally and legally obligated to report this suspected crime. But yesterday in State College, Pennsylvania students were rioting over the ‘unfairness’ being perpetrated on their beloved football coach. A man who turned a blind eye to a possible child rapist.

The man who allegedly committed this crime is suspected of multiple occurrences of child sexual abuse in the ensuing 9 years.




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