Friday, August 27, 2010


  "Don't take classes on not being an enabler", she told me.  "You're too good at it." 

I was cooking for the woman as she said this.  My heart started beating a whole lot harder. 


Had she just said this to me?!? 

I took a few deep breaths and thought about how to approach this situation.  I didn't want to be rude, but I sure as heck wasn't going to let this one slide.  I had not come over to her house to "support her craziness"!  Yes, I am a good helper, but no, I didn't want to feel taken advantage of or to be silent and walk away pissed. 

I stopped cooking. 

It's not good to cook when you're angry. 

After a few more breaths and a little courage gathering for the one who hates conflict, I said, "I took personally what you just said to me."  "What did I say?" she wanted to know.  "That I am an enabler. I'm helping you because I want to."

She quickly explained what she meant was that my presence was motivating her to take care of some very uncomfortable tasks; things she had put off doing for a very long time.  Her meaning came from St. Paul as he spoke to the Corinthians in the Bible.  He tells them to enable each other.  To bring out the best in each other. 

I have taken a six-month cognitive therapy course to teach me how to set boundaries and embrace my emotions as valid.  To me, "enabling" means to support someones unhealthy habits.  A codependent who sweeps up the mess after the drunk spouse breaks something is an enabler.  The parent who doesn't let their children face the consequences of their own actions is an enabler. 

Her housemate sauntered into the kitchen.  We drew him into the discussion.  She asked him what his definition of an enabler was.  His matched mine.

She got frustrated and blamed the people who have "ruined" the term.



Point taken. 

My heart slowed down to normal.  My self-righteous anger abated.  My Cinderella complex sat back down in the corner to sew up someone else's ripped clothing for awhile.  I finished cooking.  It was delicious.


I first saw "Nuts", starring Barbra Streisand and Richard Dreyfuss in the theater.  It was 1987.  I was a junior in high school.  I went with my friend from school, "S", and she didn't really want to see it.  I talked her into it, and I think she hated it.  She watched with her arms crossed and she didn't want to talk about the movie afterwards.  Perhaps it was because we were "good, Christian girls" and we had just seen a movie about a high-end prostitute who was going through a competency trial to see if she were sane enough to stand trial for killing one of her clients.  Fair enough.  The movie made "S" uncomfortable.  Sorry about that, sister, but the movie changed me.  It changed my perception of what a good movie could be.  And I definitely never thought about Barbra Streisand the same way again.

I watched the movie last week.  I just finished watching it again, with Barbra's commentary overdubbed.  First of all, I love courtroom movies.  I can watch "A Few Good Men" a few times a year.  Something about the procedure and the law and the games that are played to make those laws fit each players' agendas just fascinates me. 

I didn't know Barbra had co-produced the movie.  In fact, her name wasn't in the credits for doing so, but I found out in the commentary that she had.  In fact she produced Yentl too.  She does tons of research before making a movie.  She interviews people and goes places her character has gone and reads and puts herself into their shoes the best she can. She visited mental hospitals and noticed that some of the doctors were even more spun than the patients. She talks about sexual child abuse, how prevalent it is.  Back in the 80's, the numbers were appallingly high.  She did the overdub just a few years ago.  She mentioned that the numbers have probably gone up since then.  They probably have.

"You don't believe your mother loves you?" asks the prosecuting lawyer. 
 "God, of course she loves me." replies Claudia.  "You stand up here and ask, 'Do you love your daughter?' and she says, 'Yes, I love my daughter', and you think you're asked something real?  And she thinks she said something real?  You think because you toss this word 'love' around like a Frisbee we're all gonna get warm and runny?  No.  Sometimes people love you so much . . . their love is like a goddamn gun that keeps firing straight into your head.  They love you so much you go right into a hospital.  Right, mama?"
"I didn't know", says her mother, referring to the fact that Claudia's stepfather had been molesting her for years.
"No, you didn't want to know."
"I'm a little confused.  Do you love your mother?" asks the lawyer.
"Of course I love her.  So what."

This movie is about how honesty can make people squirm.  People like to believe what makes them feel comfortable with the world around them.  We like to put people in boxes.  To really get under their skin and make them tick takes a lot of time and effort and most of us are too busy dealing with our own feelings and thoughts to dwell on what someone has gone through and why they react to life's situations like they do. 

"We're many shades of grey and we cheat ourselves with all these labels."  --Barbra Streisand

We see the person talking to themself as they walk down the street and our instinct is to walk on the other side of the street.  We blindly trust the doctors and psychiatrists and other "professionals" as being sane people who "must have" our own best interests at heart, not bothering to think that they may be filled with their own inconsistencies and fallibility. 

This link shows one of my favorite parts of the movie, when Claudia is telling the court that she won't be "nuts" for any of them.  It's a little graphic, as she talks about her profession.

Leslie Nielsen plays the client that attacks Claudia in her home.  They have finished their "appointment" and it is time for him to go.  He is not the only guy on her list for the evening and she tells him he needs to leave, but he starts to run a bath.  She tells him that he has to go.  He gets ugly.  She tries to escape.  He throws her into the wall, breaking the bathroom mirror, then starts choking her.  She gets ahold of a piece of the mirror and kills him in self-defense.  Nobody wants her to stand trial.  Her parents want her committed.  The psychiatric doctors declare her incompetent.  She speaks up again and again, pissing people off.  She gets assigned a new lawyer, Levinsky, (Richard Dreyfuss) after she breaks the nose of her first one.   Dreyfuss is so human and likeable in this movie.  He loses his temper with her.  He calls her a "pain in the ass" to the judge.  But he sniffs out the truth.  Her stepfather had been inappropriate with her for years and years and her mom looked the other way in order to keep her marriage. 

Don't think I ruined the movie by telling you a bunch of the plot.  If it sounds even mildly interesting to you, I suggest you watch it.  The human emotions are so real.  Truth is victorious.  It is one of the best, most compelling movies I have ever seen.  I thought so back in '87 and I still think so today.  Check it out.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Summer

Here we are, at the end of August.  I start work again tomorrow.  The biggest benefit of working for the school district is the summer break.  Seriously.  I have no problem with days on end to fill as I please.  Tomorrow I start work at a new site, a middle school in San Diego.  I am looking forward to getting to know new staff and kids.  Especially the kids.  I am becoming more "seasoned" as I start my 3rd school in 3 years.  I started at a Middle School (at a brand new site, with crates and crates and crates of brand new books.  Talk about heaven!), then to High School and wonderful co-workers and the creative freedom to do as I pleased (which was to promote Books, Books, Books!), and now I go back to Middle School.  When I worked at one before, I made available  voluntary book reports and the students who did them could pick from the prize jar.  I might do that again, but change up the format to make it more of a "book review" and probably have space for them to draw a picture or the cover or whatever.  I am also a bit nervous, as I only had about a 20 minute tour of the place and I'm not sure what the passwords for the computers are!  Hmmm.  I will survive and fit in.  I always do.

This summer I was able to fly (solo) to Houston, take a houseboat trip with my wonderful family, and I just got back from flying (again, solo) to San Jose, where I spent 5 days with my Aunt in a little town about 45 minutes from the city.  My Aunt is a unique person.  Without giving away any personal information about her, let's just say that if she ever writes a book about her life, it is guaranteed to be made into a movie on Lifetime.  This woman has had more dramatic events in her life than I have ever met.  Her world is like a vortex.  You just get sucked in.  We ate well.  Played a little.  Laughed and cried and talked, talked, talked.  I love her and wish her the best on her newest adventures.  Perhaps the drama will subside for awhile.  Would she know what to do with herself if it was missing?

The hardest thing for me at the end of a break from work is getting back into a "normal" sleeping pattern.  I am a night bird.  I love staying up until 2, wandering around my still and peaceful home, listening to the breathing of my guys and dog.  I watch movies, blog, do that darn farmville thingy, read, raid the fridge for chips and salsa and just enjoy myself.  I was careful not to have any caffeine this afternoon.  I have already warned my son that this week we go back to "school" sleeping hours.  (He still has a week left, but I figure it'll take at least that long to get him back in the groove.)  Wish me luck on that one.  I'll probably just suffer for a week or two, then be back to "normal". 

So, I guess that's about it for now.  Gonna take advantage of the 1 1/2 hours until I get us into bed.  Maybe I'll watch a movie close the blinds and try to trick myself into feeling sleepy.  Talk to you later!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Crazy, Happy Summer Day

Today I took 3 kids to the local beach.  They had a sleep over the night before and didn't pass out until after I did.  Not surprisingly, we didn't get on the road until after 12.  After stopping by Rite Aid to pick up a beach chair for me, we hit the road.  It's only about 30 minutes to the beach from my place, but we made the most of it.  All the windows were down.  The kids stuck their heads out the windows like happy puppies.  We had the Metallica blasting.  Jake screaming "Master, Master.  Master of Puppets is pulling your strings".  Awesome.  Sometimes I just love being the adult who can let the kids be themselves.  They're yelling?  So what!  The music's loud and it's not bugging me!  In fact, the hype is contagious and I'm singing and screaming along with them, with a big smile on my face as the cool ocean breeze fills the truck.

We took 3 boogie boards, 2 umbrellas, lunch and snacks.  And it turns out, they weren't too old for the random bag of beach toys we brought along.  I have long since ceased worrying about claiming all the toys at the end of the day.  What they find and bring home comes home.  What doesn't, makes the next kid happy.  Whatever!

Our usual parking spaces were filled. I had already given thanks for the perfect spot before we got to the beach, so I didn't stress out, just kept on driving.  (This works.  Try it sometime.)  We cruised along and discovered a section of the beach that wasn't overcrowded, was by a restroom and a lifeguard stand.  We pulled up around the block and there was a pay lot, almost empty.  See?  3 bucks later, we loaded ourselves down with the necessary gear and set off for the perfect site.  To the right of us were some huge rocks, perfect for climbing, sunning on, and creating a "house".  "I sleep in the kitchen." said Emily, as she sprawled out like a happy cat in the sunshine.  "My bed sleeps 7!" claimed Jake.  It was indeed a huge rock. 

I had the perfect day.  The waves weren't too huge.  The kids stayed in sight.  They got along almost the whole time.  (My mantra for today was "I invite Peace in my life".  I breathed it in and out mentally and was really into the happy moments, of which there were many.  I had a book to peruse while the kids were out of the water and digging or climbing.  My dad recently visited and left a copy of T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton.  I don't usually read mysteries, but I read A is for Alibi earlier this year and really dug the main character, Kinsey Milhone.  I was happy to start another, even if I had skipped 19 books in the meantime. 

A few hours into the day, E called, wondering if he should start a new job for the day, or call it quits and come join us.  I encouraged him to get his butt to the beach.  Forget that he didn't have his board shorts or surfboard, that man needed to get his feet wet and decompress at the waterside. Within the hour, he was there, with his shirt off and pockets emptied of valuables, standing knee deep and watching the kids boogie board.  Heaven.

The walk back to the truck seemed twice as long, with tired kids hauling the oh-so-heavy stuff.  True, the toys were filled with sand and the boards were probably water-logged, but mostly the were pooped from the water and sun.  Anyway, we put on some "scary" stories from my ipod and it kept them quiet and satisfied, munching cheese-itz and relaxing on the way home. 

A fabulous day.  It may be my last beach trip before going back to work.  If so, I am satisfied.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

No Sleep for the Not So Weary

So here it is, 4:10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning and I have been awake for about an hour.  I fell asleep in my son's bed, who had heard bumps in the night around midnight, and when I climbed back into my own delicious bed, I just lay there and my brain wouldn't turn off.  I decided to say a prayer but the next thing I knew, my brain was wide awake and rambling all over the place.  I gave it another few minutes, but figured online I must go.

Straight to Facebook.  Checked out the profiles of some newly added friends from my old job and other places.  Went to Farmville.  Upgraded my house and took care of some of my animals.  Back to Facebook and checked out who might be awake at this time.  Found a friend from San Diego who moved back to Germany up and online.  We IM'd a bit and got caught up, shared a little gossip and love between us. 

Then I figured I should blog a new post as it's been awhile.  Here's what's going on in my life.  Tomorrow my son's friend, S.R. will arrive to stay with us for 5 days.  Yes, 5 days.  He is a cute kid (10 years old) and I look forward to it.  He is more adventurous than my son and having them together is good for mine.  Next week I fly to N. Calif. to spend time with my Aunt.  I'm sure I will have something to share about that when I return!  She is one of the most interesting (read Dramatic) people I know.  We haven't had any girly time together in awhile.  It will be good to catch up.  When I return, I will have 1 day off (which already has a bbq penciled in) then off to my new job.  Well, my old job (Library Tech) at a new school.  Back to Middle School.  For awhile I was sad to leave my old site, but now the adventure beckons and I look forward to it.

Last Friday, my son and I watched "Where the Wild Things Are", the full-length movie.  It wasn't what I was expecting.  Well, to be honest, I didn't know what to expect.  When a movie that lasts an hour and a half is based on a 12ish page book, who knows where it will go?  My son and I gave the movie a thumbs down.  "I can't believe this is so dark!" was my 9-year-old's comment again and again.  Yes indeed, it was dark.  Now the book itself is about a little boy who is wild and hyper and gets in trouble with mom, goes to bed without supper, and dreams of sailing away to an island of "wild things" where he is proclaims himself king.  They have some rumpus's (a real word?  I think not!), then he misses home, climbs back into the boat (against the wishes of the wild ones) and sails back home to find supper waiting for him in his room.  My son never liked the book.  Maybe it was the crazy eyes of the Wild Things.  Not sure.  We kept the book around because 1) I love it and 2) my hubby has thought about getting Max and the Wild Things tattooed (with Max holding a microphone and being thrown up in the air by the crowd of adoring Wild Things).  In the movie, however, Max is a lonely, ADHD-ridden child of divorced parents.  We never find out what happened to dad.  Mom is at work all day.  Sis is a teenager and doesn't have time or compassion for her little bro.  Mom has a date over for dinner, Max acts up, they get into it.  Max bites mom, Max runs away.  He runs down to a boat and takes off.  My mom radar was in overdrive by this point.  My son can act a bit wild at times, especially in situations where I will be embarrassed by it.  Then the boy runs off???  My mama instincts wouldn't rest until he was finally home.  The Wild Things on the island were unbelievably dysfunctional.  They build and then smash things.  They are jealous of each other and any outside friendships.  They throw dirt clods at each other and ignore each other's feelings.  Wow.  At one point, Jake and I agreed that we needed something "light and happy" to watch after the movie was over.  (Spongebob did the trick!)  Finally Max returns home, after being found out as a fraud (he had said he was king for other's before getting to the island), and mom is so very relieved to see him and feeds him chocolate cake.  The soundtrack is pretty crazy.  I might have to check it out.  Lots of kids singing and screaming. 

Other movies I have seen which have been made from short, children's classics are "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and "The Polar Express" and "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas".  I will say that I found all of them to be a disappointment.  Filmmakers who want to mess with a good thing would do better than to fluff up the story with a bunch of emotionally draining or silly filler.  On a different level, but along the same lines, I just heard that there is a movie being made based on the "Battleship" game.  Really?  Seriously?  What's next?  Monopoly?  Life?  Chutes and Ladders?  Whatever.

Ok.  Done with this particular rant.  Guess I will climb back in bed and read a bit.  Or maybe I will watch a movie.  :)

Thanks for listening.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Then She Found Me

I love Helen Hunt.  I hate to limit myself to saying this or that is "my favorite", but she's at the top of my list.  I love her earnest way of looking into the face of who she's speaking to.  She's cute in a unique kind of way.  I watch "Twister" yearly.  She's great in it.  I love "As Good As It Gets".   If you haven't seen it, stop reading this and watch it now.  I was browsing through Netflix's instant view movies and when I saw she starred in and directed "Then She Found Me", I knew it was the one to watch.  I had never heard of it, but it also stars Bette Midler and Matthew Broderick.  How could I go wrong?

The movie made me laugh and cry and smile and cry a little more.  Helen plays April, a 39-year-old woman who has recently married her best friend (Broderick), who soon decides  that he doesn't want to be married to her anymore.  Her adoptive mother dies the next day.  April wants a child more than anything.  When she finds out a few months later that she is pregnant, she is resolved to see it through.  In the meantime, she has fallen in love with the father of one of her students (played by Colin Firth).  I won't spoil the rest of the happenings, but I loved the relationship between April and her new found love.  He is a little neurotic and holds a lot of anger against his ex-wife, but he sees April to the depth of her being. 

Midler plays April's kooky birth mother, whom she has never met before.  She is a tv personality and readily picks up on people's emotions.  She lies about various things and it is hard for April to trust her. 

I really identified with April's hunger for a child.  We have one.  He is lovely and keeps us busy, but.  for a few years, however, I have been hungering for another.  We discuss adoption from time to time, but never do anything about it.  What is holding us back?  Laziness?  Complacency?  Fear of the unknown?  Money?  The space in our two-bedroom-one-bath house?  Excuses, excuses.  I have written and erased this paragraph 3x already.  What emotions am I shying away from?  What truths?  Hmmmm.  Enough said for now.  Thanks for listening.