Sunday, November 28, 2010

Date Night #2: Playing Pool

Thanksgiving week is over and now I'm enjoying a long weekend of resting and relaxing.  Mr. C and I had a nice time with friends up in the McDowell mountains.  There was lots of good food and super nice people to spend the day with.

I'm getting ready for some DIY projects for the wedding,and hoping that they're all as simple as they appear in my head.  My plan is to get these done by January.  Some things on my list:

Make invitations
Make soy candles (about 40 of them)
Make thank-you cards
Make more olives
Sew linen table runners

So, our next date night idea was to go out and shoot pool and play darts.  So exciting!  I'm awful at pool and haven't played in a really long time, but I was looking forward to the challenge. We started the evening by making a really good dinner of sauteed vegetables with tempeh in a curry simmer sauce.  We popped open a very cheap bottle of red wine (thank you Trader Joe's for selling wine cheaper than Two-buck Chuck!) and watched a movie on TV.  From now until Christmas the only things on TV will be sad Hallmark movies or love stories.  

So how exactly do I dress for a night of playing pool?  In my mind, this is what I would have loved to look like:

But in reality, it was cold out and I ended up wearing something a bit more modest(probably to Mr. C's relief).  Click's, the local pool hall, was hopping tonight but we found a table right away.   I don't remember halls being this fancy...not only were there pool tables, but there was also a DJ and a dance floor.  We played a couple of good games - Mr. C won them all - while people around us were dancing and having a good time.  There are some serious players in the game of pool, and we were not them.  I'll have to practice alot more before I can say I'm good at this game.  For now, it's just me and Mr. C.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Date Night #1: Drive-in Movie Night

Mr. C and I have been together for a while and we love to have "date nights."  We try to go out, just the 2 of us, at least once a week.  Dinner, at least.  Every couple weeks we get our dancing shoes on and go to the nearest Blues bar and dance to the old-school R&B cover band...they're great, and we absolutely love to dance.   

The other week I had the bright idea of changing things up a bit.  Try to come up with creative things to do on our date nights.  This is a big city and I thought it would be fun to find ways to see it all...and do it all under $30.  So, Mr. C and I each had 5 sheets of blank paper to write 5 different date night ideas on it.  We put these 10 sheets in a jar and every week we would pull a sheet from the jar and plan a night based on what was written.

So, this week we went to see a a drive-in.  There are only 2 in the city, and I haven't been to a drive-in in a few years.  So, off we went.  I made popcorn at home, put a couple of drinks in my purse and headed out to see "Unstoppable."  The movie was pretty good, but we couldn't get our cuddle time in the car because they don't make bucket seats anymore.  So, we leaned back, holding hands, with the armrest/console in between us.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dusting off the old box

So I'm seeing a counselor.  It's not a bad thing, really.  I actually like to go every month to chat.  I mean, I'm a social worker and being a counselor is what I do.  So why shouldn't I have some time to be on the receiving end of things for a change?  Lately, the conversations have been about my family (actually, they're usually about my family).  But getting married brings up lots of things that I'd like to think I've resolved, put away in a nice box wrapped snuggly in pretty tissue, never to come out again.  Normally, 6 out of 7 days, the box stays put.  My life is good, healthy, happy. But now that I'm getting married I find myself dealing with my box of old family stuff.

I never pretend or claim that I have a typical, functional family.  I think most of my friends know otherwise.  So it's no surprise that I've tried to live the last 14 years of my life in the healthiest way possible.  That means finding some distance between certain members in my family.  It's not a surprise that my dad said he won't come to the wedding and that my sister has a list of all the things I should do to make things better, or my mom calls and tells if that if only I say "I'm sorry" things will be better.  Those are all the things that I knew would come up when I told them I was getting married and I wanted them to be a part of it somehow.

This week, I had a conversation with one of my sisters that went something like this:

Sister:  "So, Thanksgiving is at our house this year."
Me:  "That's great.  We'll bring a side dish to share with everyone."
Sister:  "WE?  Who's 'we'?  You're not bringing Mr. C are you?"
Me:  "Yes, of course I am.  He's my fiance.  Why wouldn't I bring him?"

Sister:  "He hasn't met our father yet.  And he's not going to meet him at my house.  Don't expect to bring him here until you get things worked out with our father."
Me:  "??? WTF???"
Sister:  "I told you so.  If you want to see your nephew and neices I told you what you needed to do."

Not exactly the definition of a loving family, is it?

I'm invited, but he isn't.  The same thing happened years ago in another time and place.  Back then, it was awful.  I remember feeling torn, not sure what to do.  I didn't understand how to be without my family.  This time, things are different.  Mr. C and I are doing our own thing, and I don't have any second doubts, I'm not looking back wondering if we're doing the right thing. 

I was raised to love my family.  To do everything for my family and with my family.  Mr. C and I are forging our new family.  We have amazing friends that love us...they are our family.  I have distant family that love and support us...they are my family.  If we decide to have and raise children I hope to teach them that family is fluid, it's made up of all those people in our lives that love and support and cherish us.

So, when I told my counselor about this newest glitch in my family tree, she asked me if I had a good cry...then told me to get over myself and get on with my life.  Not one for empathy, that's for sure. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lots and lots of olives

So I thought it would be a nice idea to make my own olives for the wedding.  It can't be that difficult and we have tons of olive trees in Phoenix.  So, a couple of weeks ago I drove around with my step ladder and 5 gallon bucket in search for the perfect olive trees.  Los Olivos park was a good start, as I had a suspicion that they had olives there.

About an hour later I walked away with my bucket almost full of juicy, ripe olives.  It turns out there are lots of ways of making olives, so figuring out which recipe was the best was difficult.  In the end, I hope these recipes worked!

Picking olives at Los Olivos Park

A whole park full of olive trees!

Separating the green from the and slicing each one.

The finished product...4 jars of Kalamatas and 5 jars of Mediterranean

Kalamata Olives - Brine
1 Gallon water
2 cups pickling salt
4 cups red wine vinegar

Put olives in jar, cover with brining solution.
Top with 1/4 inch of virgin olive oil.

Cover tightly and keep in cool, dark place for 3 months

Mediterranean Olives - Brine
1 Gallon water
2 cups pickling salt
2 cups white wine vinegar

Put olives in jar, cover with brining solution.
Add herbs...I added lemon, sprig of Rosemary,
basil and garlic.

Cover tightly and MUST be refrigerated.  Ready in 1 month.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

To Nerina, with love

Dear Nerina,

I want to take this time to tell you how much you have meant to me these past (almost) 15 years.   Knowing you has been a gift that I will cherish forever.  It seems you came into my life knowing that I needed you alongside me - guiding me, supporting me, giving me love and loyalty, showing me strength and compassion, and just being a true companion each and every day.  From the beginning, I knew we were meant to be together, and that you chose me as your life partner...

Sunday, April 14, 1996 - the eve of your arrival
I had just returned from living in Ann Arbor for 2 years, studying and living in an incredible place.  I remember being pretty depressed after finding out that I couldn't move out of my parents house and my partner decided not to follow me to Arizona.  My depression kept me in bed for days, not able to eat, with no energy.  That afternoon, I remember looking in the classified ads for puppies.  I thought that was just what I needed to distract me...a cute, cuddly dog.  Black Labs, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds.  Only problem was that these puppies in the paper weren't cheap.  Nope, this wasn't going to work for me.

Monday, April 15, 1996 - the day of your arrival
I remember this day like it was just yesterday.  After a long day of work, I was returning home, driving up 15th Avenue to the house on the hill.  What I remember most is noticing you  trot from the sidewalk onto the street...and stopping right in front of my car.  You were the cutest, smallest, furriest puppy ever, and you stopped right there on the street, sat down, and wagged your tail at my approaching car.  I stopped, pulling over to move you out of the street and get you back to your owner who was sure to miss you.  You were so cute.  As I picked you up, your tail was wagging and wagging, your tongue licked my face.  It was like you  were looking for me and finally found me!  I never meant to keep you that afternoon.  I saw a woman nearby walking her dogs and we approached her together.  "Excuse me, do you know who this puppy belongs to?"  She pointed to the house on the corner. "But I don't think she wants that one, " pointing to your little puppy cuteness.  "She had a whole litter and this is the last one.  She let's her out hoping it would disappear."  I asked "do you know what kind of dog she is?"  "Her mom is a Rottweiler and her dad is a Chow.  They were all born about 2 months ago."

I walked over to the house, knocked on the door.  I heard dogs barking inside, then from the  window a large dog jumps up barking and growling and scratching at window.  The dog was mean, trying to get at me and the puppy in my arms.  She then lunged at the window, breaking the glass...I got us out of there quickly!

So back at the car, you were sitting on my lap looking up at me lovingly.  At that moment, I knew you were coming home with me.  I couldn't leave you at that house, with that mean dog.  I put you in the passenger seat, strapped you in with the seat belt.  You easily squirmed out of it, since you were so tiny.  I remember holding you in the seat; you fit in the palm of my hand, and we headed to your new home.

The months that followed - 
Keeping you at the house wasn't easy.  I had to convince my dad  to let you stay.  I told him it was temporary until I could find you a new home.  Of course, I never looked for a new home; I just hoped that I could pull it off for a while until he let you stay.  Those months, you had to stay outside.  I snuck you in at night, and you slept near me in my room.  We got you a crate that you bit and chewed and cried until I would get you out of it.  I even tried getting in the crate with you to show you it wasn't scary, but you were so much smarter than that.  So we passed the months this way.  You learned so many things those days, but especially you stayed close to me and brought me out of my depression.  You were the light in my dark days.  

I named you Nerina after a few weeks of searching for the perfect name.  In the end, it was little black girl.  You had shiny black coat, and your tongue started changing colors.  True to your breed, you had developed a black tongue.  I remember walking down the street and heard a little boy point to you and tell this dad..."Look dad!  That lady gives her dog grape juice!"  Yes, you were my little black girl, my bundle of hope and joy.

December 3, 1996 - Our escape
Things at home went from bad to worse.  After my depression ended I was determined to find my independence from my family.  Day after day, I worked on getting strong.  Counseling, working, taking you out as often as I could.  Our family moved into a bigger house, but you were put outside, in a large dog run, and I don't think you enjoyed being there.  I'm sure I neglected you during the weeks leading up to this day, as the tension built inside the house.  But you were patient, I think you totally trusted me that we'd be ok.  When the day came that I knew I was leaving, my first thought was how I was to take you.  I knew that once I left, you would not be welcome there anymore.  You would end up at the pound, or worse, left in the desert.  

The night of December 3rd, I left home and left you there.   I devised a plan to have my sister take you early the next morning to her friends house  where I would come to get you.  It was the only thing I asked of my sister that day.  To ensure your safe escape.  She got you out safely and I visited you every day.  You couldn't come with me because I was staying with a friend and there was no room for you there.  But it was temporary.  And you trusted me.

A month later, I found a little place and I came to get you...this began the journey that has lasted to this day.

May 1997 to June 2000 - Ann Arbor years -
You're life in Ann Arbor started on a tarmac at the Detroit airport, you were drugged up and in a crate.  You were also in heat.  We took you home and you saw so many new things and had so many new experiences.  Sometimes I think those were your happiest years.  You spent your days chasing squirrels, running in Wagner park(?) and getting into things...lots and lots of things.  You loved to eat anything you could get your paws on.  You ate bananas on the counter (the whole thing including the peel); the contents of a cooler of food that included a dozen eggs, 12-pack of Kraft singles cheese (wrappers and all), a birthday cake sitting on the counter, wasabi from a night's cooking of sushi, and grease from a bbq pit at a campground.  I've had numerous x-rays of your stomach taken during these years, as I feared that your stomach would turn after gorging yourself in these delights.  I learned to always keep a bottle of peroxide nearby to help you throw up all that you digested.  I also had the vet's number memorized.  

We went camping, alot.  We visited the lakes and woods up north, and you loved it!  You always had to stay close-by because you couldn't be trusted to wander off.  I remember countless times having you find you after you went off chasing a squirrel, deer, rabbit, or anything else that moved in the forest.  You hated the water, but would get in right up to your stomach to try to get the geese in the middle of the pond.  You even tried to eat a fish recently caught and ended up with a fish-hook in your eye!

Back at home, you spent your days outside, under the Mulberry tree, chasing the squirrels that would taunt you endlessly.  I think your happiest day was when one poor squirrel lost its balance on the power line above you and fell into your paws!  You were so happy!!  I came out to see the lifeless squirrel in your mouth, you were just licking and licking it.  This same squirrel would sit on the same power line every day and tease was just out of your reach.  At night, you would investigate the critters under the bushes, and on a few occasions we would both be surprised by the awful, horrible smell of a skunk.  All over your face!  I also learned to keep a bottle of "Skunk-Off" nearby after that.

You also developed your appetite for cherry tomatoes.  Particularly, the ones growing in my garden.  It was a constant battle to keep you out of there, and to keep any plants alive.  You ate everything!  And you were happy.  And you made me very, very happy too.

July 2000 to present - the rest of your life, back in Arizona
We moved back to Arizona where you have spent the rest of your life.  Mostly, you kept me company.  The first few years for me were tough, I hated being back in the desert.  But you were a good sport.  I took you up north every month to Flagstaff to get out of the heat, and we went camping in Prescott - where you got lost for FOUR hours and we looked everywhere for you...finally finding you tangled up in a snow field cold and wet!  We camped in the Mogollon Rim where you tackled the fierce Javelina and "wild" cows...alone, because you snuck out of the tent late one night and went searching for them on your own.  I woke up to find you missing and went out looking for you before literally stumbling upon you.  You never showed any regret for your escapades, never really said you're sorry for tormenting me and making me worry all these years.  I think you did it to keep me on my toes.  To remind me that you existed and that life can be exciting and fun, and full of adventure.

Every summer you and I would load up the Volvo, and drive back to Ann Arbor.  I remember the first time doing the drive, and I was so scared driving alone.  The first night, I slept next you in the back of the kept me warm and safe.  I woke up the next morning knowing I would be ok.  We did that for 3 summers.  You saw the Canyonlands, Arches, the Badlands, the cornfields of Iowa, the small towns in Texas, the Smoky mountains.  You've been to the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific.  You've seen Lake Michigan and the mighty Lake Superior.  You've been to the UP and almost went to Mexico.  I think you have lived a full life.  I hope it has been happy.  

October 14, 2010 - Epilogue to your life
The last year I've seen you change.  You are at the end of your life and the spark you once had is now gone.  You don't greet me at the door anymore because the arthritis you have prevents you from getting up.  You have accidents inside, not able to get out in time to go to the bathroom.  Your pain meds give you seizures, and you wake up in the middle of the night pacing, in pain or in anticipation to the end of your suffering.

Nerina, your presence and your unconditional love has been the best gift you have given me.  I was never alone when you were with me.  Through all that I've been through, you went through it with me.  You sat with me when I cried, knowing that if I rubbed your ears or your head, it would remind me that I wasn't alone in this world.  You have seen many people come and go in my life...boyfriends, father, friends.  You have been the only constant.  My north star.  I knew that each day when I came home, you would greet me at the door, tail wagging.  I knew that when I messed up, neglected you, lost my temper with you, you would forgive me.  We could all learn something  from you, learn how be better people if we could follow your example.

Now that you're suffering, in pain, and need me, I feel lost.  I don't know what to do to make you better.  The last thing I want to do is let you go.  But it's the only gift that I can give you, to show you compassion.

Thank you for being my best friend the past 15 years.  Thank you for showing me what it means to have fun, and to love unconditionally.  I heard someone say that when dogs die they are reincarnated into humans. Wherever you go from here, have fun and remember me.  Remember that you were loved and you touched my life and will never be forgotten.

I'll miss you,

Friday, September 17, 2010

End of Life decisions

Nerina will turn 15 in February.  But I don't know if she'll make it to her next birthday.  The past 2 weeks have been trying for us as we've been dealing with Nerina's apparent seizures. This week, she's been having "petit mal" seizures daily, that last about 5-10 minutes each.  Her head just starts shaking and twitching as we watch helplessly.  She lays down and we hold her while she goes through this awful time.  The first time it happened, I just cried thinking she was about to die.  I thought she was having a heart attack and would die right there, in my arms.  But she didn't.  Instead when the tremors stopped, she just got up, walked over to her bed and went to sleep.  All day long, I prepared myself to call the doctor to put her out of her misery.  But later in the day she greeted me at the door, tail wagging, brushing her muzzle into my leg as though to give me a big, sloppy, wet kiss.  Not only was she not in any visible pain, she had more energy than usual. 

The next day, Mr. C called me to say she's been having seizures all morning and he thought she was about to die.  On my way home, I called the doctor for a house call and possible home-euthanization.  For 2 hours, Mr. C and I pet Nerina, fed her a delicious dinner, took her on a walk (a very, very short one) and sat waiting for the doctor to come and tell us it's time to euthanize her.  As they arrived, Nerina got up, tail wagging, and greeted them at the door.  They were surprised to find out that she was the sick dog I had called about. 

How am I supposed to make this decision?  Am I being selfish by keeping her alive?  Am I choosing to euthanize her too soon?  What if she isn't in pain?  Ughh!  Lots and lots of questions and the doctor was of little use.  A CAT scan is out of the question, could be a  million things,  he's seen worse cases/better cases.  I'm just supposed to know.  After an hour of not deciding and poor Nerina just looking at all of us, I couldn't do it!  I chickened out, hoping there was a reasonable explanation for her seizures.  The doctor took some blood and went away. 

It's been a couple of weeks now and the seizures went away.  We took her off of her pain medications...apparently, they can cause seizures!  The downside is that her arthritis is more painful.  She isn't able to walk much and falls constantly in the house.  Once outside, she can get a good grip of the ground and seems much better.  I know that my days with her are numbered, probably no longer than a month if I'm lucky.  And I wish I was a better parent to her throughout her life.  So for the remaining time we have together my only goal is to make her happy and comfortable.  And to look back at how much she has enriched my life over the past 14 years.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Foraging in the city

I'm on this kick to try and forage what I can in this city.  I live in the desert, which gives the assumption that nothing grows here and produces nothing of value.  This has been far from the truth.  In reality, Phoenix and most of Arizona has tons of fruit, veggies and other edibles right at our fingertips!  I remember growing up and my dad taking us to Los Olivos loaded with a step ladder and bucket.  He and my mom climbed the trees and harvested pounds and pounds of olives.  Then, we'd head back home and my sisters and I would help mom prepare the olives, cutting a slit into each one, then brining them.  Or, I remember when Bell Road was a 2 lane,  county road with orange and grapefruit orchards for miles around.  Again, the car is loaded with us kids and 5 gallon buckets or garbage bags.  He would pull off the side of the road, disappear into the orchard and return with buckets of juicy goodness!

Or, when we'd drive to San Diego for a weekend, and, while my sisters and I were out on the beach my parents were foraging for lumachi, snails(!!) in the shrubbery around the hotels.  Again, the 5 gallon bucket would accompany us everywhere!  We were poor back then, but my parents were very resourceful!  We ate like the rich, had a houseful of delicious smelling fruit, and a kitchen-full of marinated olives, jams, veggies, snails...

So, trying to stay true to my family ways, I'm rediscovering the bounty of goodness in the city.  I'm keeping my eyes on the olive trees, bucket and ladder ready.  The fig tree nearby is almost ready for my late-night picking.  And the prickly pears in the desert, along the roadways and around the office buildings are ready for plucking!
I picked 5 pounds of prickly pears!

Lots of spines and thorns

I removed the spines with a toothbrush, then rinsed them in cool water.

I put the fruit in boiling water for about 2 minutes to soften them up.

 then, put the fruit in a blender; cheesecloth separates the pulp from the juice.

I froze the juice...and discarded all the pulp.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wedding dreams

Last night I had a dream that we forgot to get a DJ.  I dreamt that someone found a boombox and an old tape, and we walked down the aisle to  Aerosmith's "Love in an Elevator."  I also dreamt that we forgot to order flowers, and that people got the dates mixed up and my favorite friends were not there.  Also, I dreamt that I forgot to write my vows and had no idea what I was going to say...

And, I still have 7 months to go!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Family Affairs

Last Saturday I told my father I was getting married.  This is not your usual father/daughter relationship.  My dad hasn't talked to me in four years.  On and off for 14 years.  It's a really long story, and a story that I don't really know how to begin to explain.  I don't imagine it's typical to be anxious, really anxious, to tell your family that you're going to get married.  But my family isn't exactly typical.  My parents were born and raised in Sicily, and came to the US with their ideas of how thier family should be, how the world should be.  Not much has changed in my father's mind since then.

When I first began dating my fiance, I decided that I wouldn't tell my family about him, mostly because they can be pretty judgemental and intense.  I've had past relationships end partly because of the family dynamic we have.  So, I wanted my relationship to be strong enough to withstand the inevitable barrage of criticism and off-hand comments that was sure to come.  My mother was the only one who knew about him.  She has been my only unconditional supporter.

So, when I became engaged I told my mother first, and she was so happy for me.  Probably because she didn't ever think I would do it...getting married was not high on my list of things to do in my life.  She had said many rosaries praying for this moment to come!  Then, I told my sisters.  They were less than enthusiastic.  They were hurt that they barely knew him, that they didn't realize how serious we were dating.  After the initial shock they're now as supportive as they can be.

The one thing I've been putting off and putting off was telling my dad.  I realized that I hadn't been moving forward on planning because my dad didn't know.  I didn't think I could tell my cousins, uncles, grandmother until my father was told first.  I hated the feeling that I was hiding something from them; as though I was doing something wrong!  So, after lots of contemplation, I picked a day and decided "that's when I'll tell him." 

Saturday didn't go well.  But it went exactly as I expected it would.  Everyone told me to be patient, to be gentle with him, that it'll take time for him to accept it.  Maybe.  The wedding is in 8 months, and I hope he'll come around.  But for now I'll move forward to plan this new part of my life with or without his support.

"Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, the loss of a job... And onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another - that is surely the basic instinct... Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is."      - Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Saturday, April 24th...the first time Mr. C asked me to marry him.
Wednesday, April 28th...the second time Mr. C asked me to marry him and I said yes because I realized he wasn't joking.

I've always wanted to get married.  I had a few "close calls" which, thankfully turned out to be duds.  I also had this vision of how it is supposed to happen.  What it should be like.  (I have a lot more shoulds than I'd like to admit).  Since I was a little girl, I had this idea of how the whole thing was to go down.  I worked at my aunt's bridal store and saw countless brides walking in with stories of how their wedding will look.  The bridal magazines were my Cosmo's and Elle's in high school.  Reading through the articles, looking at the glossy pictures of brides and weddings...set me up for this, this, illusion really.  So, the engagement is no different.

There are many opinions and ideas out there about engagements (some of which are pretty ridiculous).  One is the proposal.  The guy (yes, always the guy) has to get down on one knee.  He has to find a perfect place to do it (in public, over a romantic river/mountaintop/etc).  And he has to have the ring...a big, diamond-shining ring.  Then, he has to pop the question...this huge, loaded question that will change the course of our lives forever.  And I need to give him an answer, right then and there...with LOTS of drama, tears, hugs, kisses.  Then, we go and call our parents and family to share the good news.  Well, Mr. C did get down on one knee...the first time.  I thought he was joking!   Isn't that crazy?  That one of the most important conversations you're going to have with your partner needs to have a simple, immediate answer.

The other opinion is about the timing.  Mr. C and I have been dating for 10 months... I call it the pre-engaged time.  This is the time when the woman is waiting on him, and has "no control over the timing."  I've always known that I wanted to be married, but going through some tough times and almost's I wasn't so sure I could go through the anticipation of waiting for this to maybe happen.   When I met Mr. C I had created a life for myself...happily single.

Mr. C and I had been talking about marriage after dating 6 months or so.  We just needed to be emotionally ready.  And that takes a long time.  Every time he would bring up the subject of marriage, I would shut him down, saying he's not supposed to talk about it, or saying that he was going to jinx it!!! Can you believe it?  

Jinx it??  I'm so weird. 

But we both knew that we loved each other very much and we could see each other spending our lives together.  I was more comfortable having conversations about having children than getting married. He was ready to get married before I was.  For me, I needed to let go of certain fears and expectations and just be ready

So I feel a little guilty about how I handled it.  Even after talking about it for the past few months, I couldn't quite believe that it would actually happen to me/to us.  So, instead of answering him directly, I thought he was joking.

The second time happened just a few days later.  Lucky for me, Mr. C is a brave man.  Not everyone would ask again after the earlier response.  He looked me in the eyes, said he wasn't joking, and he wanted me to be his wife.  It felt right and I was ready, emotionally.   It was perfect.  And it wasn't like it's written in the books and magazines.  It was real.  Doing it any other way would have felt fake to me.  I didn't run off right away and tell my mom and sisters.  We enjoyed the moment, the joy and excitement for about a week before telling most of my family.  

There is no right way to do this, there is only illusions of what is supposed to happen.  What is real is the love and caring that people have for each other.  That is what lasts and what matters.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Needless worry

Have you ever had days when you just wanted to close the door, turn off your phone, hang your 'do not disturb' sign, pop open a glass of wine and just walk away from everything outside?  Today, I wish I could have done that.  I'm a social worker in a high school.  Drama, chaos, sadness and angst defines my population every day.  Most days I'm fine.  I can hear their sadness and feelings of loneliness and offer support, a shoulder, suggestions, advise, or just a kleenex.  

But then there are other days, like today, when all of it is just too much to hear.  I think that's when I know I haven't been taking good care of myself.  When I've been worrying about everyone else before worrying about myself.   I wish I had a button to just turn off my mind from all this worry.  I take after my mother, for sure. She thinks and over-thinks situations that have not happened yet, nor would they ever happen.  For me, I'm constantly wondering "what can I do? how can I help? why is this happening?"

Just an example of my day:  still trying to get a US citizen student a passport to visit her family in Mexico where her mother died last week while her father is in detention...a 14 year old on her own to figure this out!  Or, a young girl who's trying to understand why her alcoholic father yells and screams at her every morning while she's done nothing wrong, and she can't talk to her mother because she killed herself when she was a baby.  Or a beautiful, intelligent boy who's lonely because noone will talk to him so he sits by himself at lunch or goes to sit with other kids who "look alone"and just wants a friend.

I'm afraid there are lots of women (and men) like me...caretakers, parents, worrywarts, and solvers-of-the-worlds-problems.  If you'd like to get together sometime and chat over a glass of red wine, my door is always open.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

HATE in Arizona

This week Arizona passed the worst anti-immigrant law in the US.  I can probably go on for quite a while about how awful this is for our community and our country.

As we sat, waiting for the verdict, thoughts flew through my mind of what would become of this state if this bill became law?  How many would suffer by its racist origins? Having to show proof that you were born here, being stopped by police if there is "reasonable suspicion" that you are undocumented, making it illegal to solicit work in public (day laborers), and so on, and so on, and so on.  It was no surprise that this passed in the House, they're a bunch of idiots; but I was surprised to know that it also passed in the Senate, with no thanks to many Democratic leaders who failed to fight hard enough to oppose it.  The Hispanic Caucus is a joke...too worried about what their white neighbor might think of them.  So, in this scenario of inaction and selfishness, it passes and ends up at the Governor's desk to be signed.

And we wait.  The whole state, nation, waits as she makes up her mind on what to do.  I have to say that the wait was the most difficult part of this process.  Each day, rumors flew that she would sign now, no now, no on Saturday.  And each day, people rushed to the Capitol to hear nothing.
Finally, on Friday, with a stroke of her pen, she puts into law the harshest law against immigrants in Arizona and US history.  

For me, as an Italian-American I am safe. I may be stopped because my skin is olive enough to be confused as "illegal."  I can run home and pull out my birth certificate to prove to the police that I am worthy of being here legally by privilege of my birthplace.   That should save me a trip to the jail and a $500 fine.  Of course, if you know me, I will resist.  I'll kindly tell Mr. or Ms. Officer that I refuse to divulge my country of birth, refuse to abide by the unjust and racist law created and passed by a racist and fascist government.  But I'm safe and I can do that.

My Italian born parents, however, are not.  They are now required to carry their Citizenship papers with them at all times, just in case they're stopped by the police.  My grandmother, aunts and uncles better remember to pack their documents when they fly to visit us from Chicago.  It is now legal to profile my family because of the color of their skin, because of their beautiful accent.  

And, of course, my friends and students who are undocumented will bear the worst of this new law.  They cannot show that they are legally here - although they contribute to this society more than most of us; they work, shop, pay taxes, breathe the same air, walk the same streets, and live the same lives as the rest of us.  My undocumented students study side-by-side their "documented" peers but are not afforded the same privileges.  

So, when I get back to work on Monday I'll sit my kids down and tell them to watch out.  I have to tell them that jaywalking will get them stopped and questioned.  I have to tell them to keep their eyes low, avoid the glance by the police, stay out of any trouble, or appearance of trouble.  How can I tell my kids to learn to live in the shadows of the city they grew up in?  The only city most of them know? 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I know, I've been gone a while.  I took a small break from writing mostly because I didn't have a computer or internet at home.  I've had to do postings at work, which can be a bit difficult.  But I now have a new computer and internet (that's not "borrowed" from my neighbor), so I'm ready to get back to writing.

Last year this time I was just returning from Cascabel, AZ.  I went on a 4 day retreat/fast and returned rejuvenated and refreshed.  New beginnings.  New experiences.  New opportunities before me.  I decided that I wouldn't be in control anymore.  Quite a bit has changed since then.  I've stepped back in my work with No More Deaths; still involved and active, but finding a better balance.  I made a list of the things I wanted to grow in my life and have put my energy there.  My garden, my animals, my home, my friends, and the possibility of new relationships.  

For now, happy Spring...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

In the dead of Winter

I think my chickens are in love with me.  Real love.  They come out of their coop when I walk outside just to see me, they follow me around the yard, they stretch their necks up to get a better view of what's in my hand.  Well, not all the chickens.  Half of them.  Three to be exact.  The other 3 act like I'm about to have them for dinner.  They're almost 5 months old and are getting ready to lay eggs.  So I decided to get a head start by putting "fake eggs" in their nesting box.  Plastic easter eggs and a golf ball.  They're not the smartest animals on earth, so I think I may have successfully tricked them into thinking they should lay their eggs near these cool-looking ones that just appeared.

 The garden is looking beautiful, in it's winter glory.  I just harvest a few pounds of swiss chard.  The kale is next.  I'm working on my compost pile and hope to have the heap of food into nice black dirt by the Spring.