Monday, February 25, 2008


I have a demon, I know not it's name.
It burns from deep within, in crevasses I loathe to explore.
So deep is this demon, I fear I may never exorcise it.
Years and years of this demon have worn me down.
Weary am I from the battle.

I once kept a list of "15 rules" by author Charles Sykes - Rule number one keeps ruminating in my brain: "Life's not fair, get used to it!" He had a whole list of "rules" that I adore. However, every time I see a skinny person eating what they want, whenever they want, however much they want, I chant that little ditty in my brain.

Life's not fair,

Life's not fair,

Life's not fair!

It's not fair that I simply look at fattening food and gain weight. It's not fair that some skinny people don't have to work at being skinny no matter what they eat. I'm tired of hating my body. I'm tired of battling this demon. I'm tired of the struggle. I'm tired of hating myself every time I fall off the diet wagon.

Life's not fair! I guess I just better get used to it...and battle on...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Papa's Passion...Nonna's Nightmare!

I went to Bemidji this past weekend to help babysit Kaden while Kelsey had a 4 hour job interview to be the RA at her dorm! Kaden and I went out to Gigi and Papa's place (that's great-grandma and great-grandpa to Kaden). The weather was a balmy 38 degrees so Papa decided he wanted to take Kaden out on the 4-wheeler. Notice the boy has no boots, but I did manage to find a suitable hat and scarf (both ones that I wore as a kid - sheesh my parents never throw anything away!).

I expected Papa to take him for about 5 minutes, just down the road. Well 15 minutes went by and I was pretty worried by then - but I'm known to be a nervous nelly anyway when it comes to my offspring's safety! But, when the phone rang I knew it wasn't likely to be good.

Gigi answered the phone. I hear "stuck?" and "on the lake?!" and my mind went numb thinking of all the horrible things that could ensue. Mom hung up, called a neighbor down the street whose husband was out ice fishing, but were unable to reach him. So, we got our boots on and were determined to go on our own rescue mission. Now, mind you, my mom just had major surgery less than 2 weeks prior to this, and I am such a gimp with my hip problems that neither of us were going to be able to do what we thought needed to be done.

Then, a blessing befell us, Papa and Kaden came riding up on the 4-wheeler, safe and sound. Apparently the reason we were unable to reach the husband of the neighbor was that he was already out there helping my dad! WHEW! Crisis averted!

The rest of the weekend was great. Kaden got his first haircut - at 21 months old! The funny thing about small towns is that no matter how long you've been gone (I moved away from there in 1983) - there's always someone there that you'll bump into from your childhood. This weekend it was Alice Mason who cut Kadens hair. She was in my graduating class. I recognized her right away - she hasn't changed much - but I couldn't remember her last name until I asked her! She remembered me too. How scary is that?!

And then there was the adventure at McDonalds the morning I left. They have a wonderful little play area there that Kaden loves, but he's NEVER gone down the slide portion - until this morning. I don't know who was more excited that he actually did it - he or his mom!? I captured
it for posterity:

I can't think of a better way to spend a weekend, can you???

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Yes, Mom, I'm a virgin!!!

The darndest thing happened this morning, and I'm not sure if I should be happy or freaked out!
I was in my bathroom getting ready and in the area below me (where my daughter Kaitlyn "lives") I heard a "THUUUUUD!" I didn't think much of it, I thought it was just her slamming a door louder than normal on her way up the stairs. Well, it was her, but not in her normal state. She came into the bathroom white as a sheet, dripping in sweat, with a bloody nose and fat lip. She was crying and very upset.

Now, you have to know Kaitlyn - she's 15 and an amazing kid. I have been so blessed to be her mom, but she does have one flaw that we have openly talked about - she has a penchant for the dramatics, i.e. she can be somewhat of a hyperchondriac at times. So, when she came in the door and said she had passed out, I thought to myself: "What story am I going to hear?"

But then, I looked at her. What a sight. This was not hypochondria, this was real. She looked disheveled and battered. Here's roughly how the conversation went:

Me: Oh, honey, what happened?

Her: I passed out and hit my mouth on the floor.

Me: What caused you to pass out?

Her: I was putting a tampon in.

Me: (looking completely shocked like a toad blinking in a hailstorm) You passed out from that? Is that even possible? Never mind, don't answer that - I can see that it is. Is this the first time you've tried to use one?

Her: This is the fourth time. I got lightheaded the other three times but didn't pass out.

Me: (Cautiously laughing) Well, I guess now I know you are a virgin!

My Husband: (Laughing loudly) And I guess she'll stay that way for a long time! HA HA


Me: Yeah - and that's what Kelsey (her older sister who got pregnant at 16) told me too! But, I believe you! How could I not after that episode?

Maybe she was using the super duper giant deluxe version - like those in this picture:

So, you tell me, besides the witty repartee (or not), is this normal? She does faint any time she has to have blood drawn, and gets quesy even at a flu shot. They call it vasovagal response. Is it really possible to have vasovagal upon insertion of a tampon??? WOW! Maybe she's doomed to a life of maxi pads and celebacy? At 15, that's not looking so bad - I guess I'll take my blessings where they come!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Life lessons

After a crazy week at work and my mom being in the hospital down here at Mayo Clinic, I ended the week on an up-note. Saturday night was the night of our big Italian feast. We do it every year as a part of a fundraising event at our church - a service auction. The prep for this annual feast is a savory trip to our favorite Italian eatery and grocery store to get the best groceries we can - Cossetta's in St. Paul - a fabulous place!

I had to good fortune to use the opportunity to connect with my old friend Ahna and her family while there. Not to say she's old...nay...she's younger than I by a year or so, but looks at least 5-10 years younger. Yes, I'm jealous. I don't know how she can look so much younger than me, it's disgusting. Really. Yes, I'm jealous. BUT, it's a good jealous. You know the type - the kind of jealous where you're happy for them, and not mad at them!

I have one other secret jealousy that I must confess because its timely and on my mind, albeit a painful confession. Ahna has an amazing relationship with her brother. Their relationship is one of mutual respect and deep love. Of this I am profoundly envious, but as before, I am also profoundly happy for her. Some of you know of my non-existent relationship with my brother. It's been a difficult journey, one on which I’ve spent many hours pondering. The end result is that after my last run-in with him a couple years ago, I decided that I wanted no further relationship with him.

After years and years of his verbal abuse, I rejected his arrogant, self-righteous, condescending ways. I made the decision to have nothing further to do with him. It was a painful, yet obvious, choice. It was like a cancer that only I had the power to cure. But much like an amputee feels phantom pains, I still feel the pain of loss, the pain of my failure, and the pain of the lingering and unresolved anger toward him.

Like those phantom pains, they resurface every now and then, especially when I'm with a friend who can take such joyous pleasure in their sibling relationship. Introspectively I question why some of us can develop such deep bonds of love with our siblings, and yet others of us are doomed to failure.

It's a question I will probably never be able to answer, but an interesting string of events this weekend has helped me come to a closure, of sorts, that I didn't think I would experience. While my parents were here this last week they had me work on their laptop computer because it wasn't working well. I brought the laptop with me on the way to Cosetta's, and on the way out the door I asked my dad if I could delete some of their email (there was stuff in there from 2001!). With his permission, I was cleaning it out and happened upon an email from my brother to my parents with a subject line of "Julia's Travel Plans." Normally I wouldn't bother reading any of their emails, but I must confess that this one I did open and read.

What I read shocked me. The condescending tone that I thought was only reserved for my abuse, was right there in black and white, hurled through cyberspace right at my parents! I couldn't believe what I read, sadder yet, I couldn't believe how self-absorbed he was. As inflammatory as his note was, all I could feel was extreme sadness for his person and his spirit. This note was all about him and how he was wronged by me due to my selection of travel dates for our recent trip to Maui. I had absolutely no idea there was an issue, and yet there he was embarrassingly redressing and scolding his parents about how much it was going to cost him to attempt to reschedule his trip to Maui so as not to be on the island at the same time as me. Nothing he said was rooted in reality. It was frightening, really, to read it and realize how misguided and incorrect he truly was.

I cried. Not because the words hurt me, they didn't. He doesn't have that power over me any longer. I cried because I can't think of anything more pathetic. I was saddened at how superficial and hurtful this person I once deeply adored and loved had become.

Over the last decade I have done a lot of soul searching and growth, and my experiences with my brother are at the center of much of that growth. I know he was put in my life for me to learn from the challenges he presented. And I know I failed one of my life-lessons in that I was unable to repair my relationship with him. But from this struggle I have learned the value of relationships. I have learned to treasure those people in my life and treat them with dignity and respect. I strive for that everyday in my work life, in my personal life, in my church and community. I don't always succeed, but I always try! And as much as it's hard for me to say, I have my fractured relationship with my brother to thank for teaching me the value and fragility of our human relationships.

I have ruminated about this all weekend, and have also realized that I have failed my parents and must set it right. They never mentioned any of this to me, I'm sure to protect me. But in a heartbeat I would have stayed home and not gone to Maui if I had known the pain it would cause them for me to go. It's time for them to trust me to do the right thing and let me show them my love. I don't care about anything but my relationship with them. I don't care about their property or my inheritance, Ben can have it all. All I want is to love my parents and care for them in their last days as they cared for me in my first days on earth.

If my brother were reading this, he'd dismissively call me melodramatic. It would be his way of diminishing my introspection and my truth-seeking. I believe, however, that he is threatened by my honesty, my emotion, my quest for a more meaningful life and spiritual growth through honest self-assessment. That's ok, his antics bother me no more. I have a rich, full, and meaningful life.

So, to all of you out there who have fragile relationships - stop. Stop now and appreciate what you have. Appreciate those in your life who love you. And for those of you who already have what I have lost, revel and relish in it, and let me revel vicariously with you. Oh, and Ahna, hug that wonderful brother of yours for me on your journey to California this week and I'll feel it all the way back here in Rochester, and thank you for welcoming me into your life! I feel truly blessed by our friendship.