my big, loving, chaotic, blended family.



this is just a fraction of this side of the family - it's really not even too extended.  every person is important.  just a few key players:  blockhead on the far right is Shoes.  he just does not want his picture on the web.  in fact, he's asked me to put a slowdown on the facebook pictures.  my answer is to not tag them.  eh.  that's probably not enough.  he is working in a town that has absolutely no courtroom security for his district court docket (not even a metal detector ... so professional and comforting ...)

facing the picture, i'm to the left of shoes.  my full sister cheryl is to the left of me.  my mom is to the left of her.  my step dad is to the left of her.  my brother, Gregg, is kneeling in front of Cheryl and I.  my sister, Lizz, is kneeling dead center in the striped shirt.  our host, my niece Chantea, is on the left wearing a green shirt and glasses.  of course, in that, there are spouses, nieces, nephews, parents of partners and more family goodness.

christmas eve was 22 person, one turkey, one ham, 2 jello salads, 5 bottles of wine, one big gift exchange full.   christmas day was one smaller family visit, replete with one raucous game of "Apples to Apples".  i'm not sure i want to play with my sister Lizz anymore.  she's either a genius or has amazing luck with her cards.  my cards?  not so lucky.  they included "my love life" and "my parents house." 

that's just trouble in the making .... i didn't put those suckers down at all.

i haven't seen some of these guys in years (i haven't seen my parents since last Christmas).   so good to see their faces and get caught up.  so glad to be able to include Shoes this year. 

and because this is just how i am, so excited to move forward to the new year ...
... and I haven't stopped believing. I will always be a Believer. That's a little difficult for some to accept considering:


* my 2007 divorce
* my political stances (don't worry ~ we'll skip a detailed discussion and stop at saying it's separate from what many conservative churches ascribe to)
* my work in secular agencies.

It's ok. It's ok, because in the end, I know I'm kept close to the heart of a supremely loving, supremely forgiving, supremely big God.

Hence, this time of year is heart wrenchingly poignant for me. The birth of Jesus, yes, (well, kind of. december is as good a time as any to celebrate the birth, even though Jesus probably made his manager appearance sometime near the end of September), but more than that, the heart of God. The heart of God in that people choose this time of year to open up to others. To serve at soup kitchens. To give to toy drives. To donate coats. (I call it the heart of God. You may call it decency, good will, responsibility, love ... and I respect that you see it differently.)

Trust me, I also see the commercialism. But I choose to focus elsewhere. I also see a year long need for people to open themselves up to the needs of other human-beings, and not just at Christmas, but I choose to focus on the good that comes out of people during this season. Is it enough?

Dear hearts, trust me. It's never enough. There's an entire, shocking world of people out there who are hungry, who are homeless, who are hurting, who are confused, who are amazing, who are real and who are no different from me. It won't be enough until we all take each other seriously, but until then, it is appreciated in ways that are inherently humbling.

My very liberal Master's program often references the early church as an outstanding model of social work. Caring for the poor, the widowed, the orphaned are themes peppered throughout the Old Testament. Jesus quite literally told his followers to sell their possessions and give to the poor (Luke 12:33). (May we be forgiven for trying amongst ourselves to determine who are the worthy poor.) If Jesus said that when we take care of the widow and prisoner, we also take care of Him, why do we think these people are so different than us? We're one. I'm getting a graduate degree so I can help people on very human, interrelated levels.

I choose to celebrate that this holiday season - how we are connected and how we are extensions of each other and how we are wholly separate all at the same time. Me. You. Us.

The heart of God is this infinite universe of discovery, acceptance and love. I choose to celebrate that this holiday season.

And despite all of the very serious hurt I see daily, I choose to celebrate the resilience that lies deep within us.

May this New Year bring you peace and deep insight. May you feel it in the very core of who you are. May you breath deeply. Truly.

The best and purest of this Season's greetings to you, Dear Hearts.  Merry Christmas.

It's Sunday.

Last Tuesday I was about to begin my first full week of school vacation.  Wednesday through today loomed large.  I had planned to sneak away to the Vineyard Town, tell almost nobody, hide out, sleep, rest, watch Shoes' giant T.V. and check my email on his giant Mac.  I so needed a rest.

Super enthralling, I know.

Instead ... instead I spent time with all of my old Juvenile Justice buddies.  I'm still not sure how that happened, and it's not at all what I had planned.  It was, however, better than I had planned. Probation officers, juvenile detention officers, my kindred spirits at CASA.  Time well spent laughing, commiserating, drinking wine. 

Telling war stories.

Shoes was a trooper during the entire week.  He sees these guys all the time, but he patiently listened to my incessant chatter and escorted me to the office Christmas party.  These times in the Vineyard Town help me remember that good things happened there too.  Shoes is one of those good things.

We had to run up to Pullman to help Shoes' parents with a few things, and after that, we slept on the couches like the dead.  13 hours of sleep.  And then I drove home.  And drove through some insanely crazy snow in the dark through Hood River.  And now am ready for this coming week.  No slow down expected, but despite the pace, it's looming lovely and full.

The very best part of this last week, hands down, was my time with my old roommate, Tiffany, and her now 2 year old daughter, Madelyn.  This was my roommate before I moved to Portland to go to grad school;   Madelyn was just 7 months old when I left.  She is smart and social and talkative and mischievous.  And I miss her dearly.  Her mom, too.

Lovely and full.  This entire fall and holiday season has been lovely and full.  Christmas next week and I'm hoping to have big, big, big news for you by the end of the year.  Maybe it will happen.  Maybe it won't.  I have a few hints and a few clues and so much family support I think I could burst.  What will be, will be ... but I have a feeling this season will continue to be lovely and full ...

This IS a holiday picture - see the snowflakes hanging from the ceiling of my office?  So nice of him to stop by the Very Large Hospital I work at in Metro Portland.  I'm sure he's listening with bated breath to all of my ideas on the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the abused ...

Trust me, I'm FULL of ideas.


Shoes and I had a little pre-holiday dinner with these guys.  Surely you recognize my goddaughter, Rebekah.   She shows up here all the time.  And I may I just say that she is hilarious.  And talks a mile a minute.   And, though she tries to play coy, she is madly in love with Shoes. 

Other pre holiday bonuses:  a GSSW Swanky Holiday Party (thanks, Eliz!) of which I have no blog worthy pictures.  Lots of holiday shopping.  A trip to the Vineyard town soon to hide out and rest.

Another holiday bonus:  another semester of straight As.  Thanks, Santa!

Last day of Internship for fall term today!  I love all of the elderly people here at the continuing care community (yes, even the ones who definitely do not love me back), but I'm a little pooped.  A little worn.  A little looking forward to a couple of weeks off.

But today was Big Adventure Day here at the home.  Today, Mr. Smith (right, you guessed it - not his real name) and I had big plans to find every Christmas Tree in this place.  And this is a big, 27 acre place.  Mr. Smith is frail - exemplifying the frailest of the frail, "old-old" that we have.  With his tiny little head, his wispy white hair, and his big brown eyes, it wasn't hard - no, not at all - for him to convince me on this slow Friday that we needed to go (and he whispers this conspiratorially) "cause some trouble."  Sometimes I think if I breathe too forcefully I will knock him right out of his chair.  What he loses in mass, however, he makes up with wit.

And this social worker said, "Lead the way."

Which is all the permission Mr. Smith needed, if he needed any permission at all.  Off he zoomed (literally - I literally cannot keep up with him when he's in the mood to cause mischief) to the elevators.  "Down to 2!" he commanded, his finger held high in the air.  "Up to 4!" 

And find the trees, we did.  As we rolled up to the first, Mr. Smith craned his head carefully towards me and said, "The first thing we do, is look to see if Santa has been here yet ...."

"And if he hasn't," I countered slowly .... "does that mean we're too early ... or that we've been a little naughty?"

"It's a combination of both!" Mr. Smith explained wisely.

 On the 3rd floor, we encountered a tree decorated exclusively with blue decorations and blue lights and Mr. Smith very purposefully puckered his lips and shook his head.  "Gaudy," he declared.  "Just awful."

But we aren't just professional Christmas Tree critics.  No.  We're also employee appreciation event crashers.  We passed by the open banquet room that was set with trays and trays of food and I said, "Mr. Smith?  What's going on in here?  Should we infiltrate?"

And I was almost knocked over by the wind force of his chair rushing by.  As we were leaving, cookies in hand, several of his friends passed by and he casually, coolly told them, "We're party crashers."   As in, no biggie - We do this all the time - It's not even a party until we crash it.

We also encountered a children's choir in a separate building and crashed that too.  "That energy," Mr. Smith said.  "If we could only bottle it up."

By the time we had seen 5 trees and crashed 2 parties, Mr. Smith was starting to feel a little winded.  "Better head back," he said.  "Need to get in my comfy chair."  So we did.  And on the way, almost took out a lady with a walker, a large, plastic Rubbermaid garbage can, and a mop bucket and a custodian.  I think Mr. Smith's depth perception is a little off.  Or maybe the trouble happens because his chair is set so fast it shakes when he goes top speed.  I might need to talk to him about "turtling" it down a little. 

On the last elevator on the way back to his room, this social worker said, "Mr. Smith, how did you get so very good at causing so much good natured mischief?"

"The key," he said, raising those big brown eyes to me, "is to find a good partner in crime.  It's your free pass."

Happy Holidays, Mr. Smith.   May they be filled with all the non-blue holiday merriment you can muster.

{This encounter did not take place during session and the client's name and identifying information have been changed.  However, I cannot guarantee that it did not have some therapeutic benefit.  O, wait.  The therapeutic benefit was mine... ;)  }
because it is that time of year again.

It is.

the end.

of fall term.

Praise God.

5 terms left.  In a few weeks, I'll be halfway through the program.  It's more chaotic than normal this year -- I went over the river and through the woods (literally) (and snow) to Shoes' hometown for Thanksgiving.


 A Very Full weekend completed by a fierce shopping trip with Shoes' mom (she is a Champion), lots and lots of niece and nephew play time, and saxaphone playing.


You thought maybe I was kidding?

Shoes and I had a down night and I made him get out his saxaphone from the 8th grade and his high school year books.  Why he humors me, I'll never know.  Why we almost died laughing, I'll also never know.  You should have heard my Lisa Simpson solo.  These times when it's just us - away from work, away from school, away from stress - are amazing.  So thankful for this boy who's so, so good at long distance.

Now.  This is how these next few weeks will wrap up.  Flying out tomorrow to go to Apple Cup (I've packed my ski clothes!!).  Finish my last 2 projects.  Complete my last 3 days of internship.  Dinner with Shoes and the Magees.  A fancy schmancy Graduate School of Social Work party.  Preparing to have Christmas with my entire family (maternal) for the first time in 8 years.

Hopefully these sparse posts will pick up winter break ....  


That would be Washington State University Defense above.  (I can't say the name of the other team because it's something of an expletive around here {BCS polls be darned}).  And to think, I knew nothing about football two years ago.  Come to think of it, I still don't.  But college football is coming to a close for this year, and I have seen Shoes pace and cuss and high five his father and have watched his phone blow up so that his core group of friends {spread across a nation} can still experience the game together.  {Who am I kidding?  I love being a part of it.}

Actually, this post isn't anything about Cougar Football.  But Apple Cup (the iconic yearly Washington battle between the Huskies and the Cougars) is quickly approaching and so it's on my mind.  We're still not entirely sure where we'll be for Thanksgiving, but my plane ticket to Spokane has already been purchased so that the holiday that is Apple Cup is properly observed.  (Apple Cup is the weekend after Thanksgiving.  It is the 3rd Holiday of the Holidays.)  Don't ask me how I'm going to fit a trip in to Pullman with the close of this insanely busy term.  I'm not quite sure.

The "Defense" I'm talking about is my own defense.  This term has been filled with learning about attending, tuning in, the clinician response, empathic responses.  I have never, not even when in "divorce recovery", had to think so much about my own feelings and processes.  It's ex.haust.ing.  And I have to tell you, I think I'm a little neurotic.

And defensive.  (A ha!)  I've learned I do not like to be questioned.

In the past 3 months, I have started to realize that I feel like I have to offer an explanation for every decision I make.  Sometimes, like when I'm in field supervision and my supervisor needs to talk about my sessions with clients, that's entirely appropriate.  Sometimes, like with my friends, nobody cares.  This came to a head with my doctor last week, who had asked me to remind him why I had chosen one medical decision over another.  In true Lisa fashion, I took it too far and yammered on and on about WHY I made the decision that I did, and when his eyes started to glaze over and he started to tilt his head, I realized I was trying to JUSTIFY my decision.  I stopped, grinned and said, "You don't really care though, do you?" And my Portland doctor who's really from Eastern Oregon said, "Nope."

How liberating.  And almost embarrassing, all at the same time.  So.  If you've ever had to sit on the other side of my blah blah blah while I tried to explain something all the while trying to hide insecurity and hoped you would see me as a competent individual, apologies.

Let me know.  I'll buy you a glass of wine and we'll chat about something much more pleasant.

Or, we'll get a beer and a plate of french fries and we can talk about the Pac10 prospects for next year.   I think I'm almost ready to competently have that conversation. 

Maybe. ;)
what is it about fall - this fall - that is so deeply, wholly and fully satisfying?

I drove to work today {I usually take the bus to the Very Large Hospital} and when it was time to leave, it was dark {of course} -- sidewalks lit by dim streetlight.  And foggy.  Lightly raining.  The most perfect deciduous tree leaves falling at regularly timed intervals.

For the first time in  a long, long time, I dawdled on my way to the car.  Stopped on the sky bridge to overlook the campus and breathed the cold air in deeply.  Experienced a tidal wave of contentment.  Of peace. 

For the first time in years, I feel completely and totally at rest.  There is no other way to put it.  I'm sitting in my  very, very small studio apartment and am getting ready to start {more} {never-ending} homework.  I'm completely graduate student poor.  Busy out of my mind, most days.

But centered in a way that has eluded me for years.  Whatever is at the core of me is being fed daily.  I still don't really know what's at the core of me. Not really.  But right now?  Whatever it is, it's strong.

On Sunday I went to a children's musical with my sister, Lizz.  We didn't truly know that it was a children's musical, put on by children, for children.  But it didn't really matter.  As I was sitting there, quietly, watching this rather well performed, decently funded production, I fought tears several times.   Because, I'm a dork.  And also, because I was sitting in an utterly charming, historic theater, watching the mystical play of children on a perfect, absolutely perfect, fall day. 

So completely at peace.

I've done a perfectly inadequate job explaining any of this.  But this contentment, this quiet peace, this resting at your core ... If I could give this away, I would. 

It feels terribly selfish to keep it to myself.

just to be clear, this ethics test was not so good.
in the way that it was so tryingly detailed.
you'll be happy to know the school thinks i'm an ethical worker.
i think.
technically, we haven't received it back.
but i knew all the answers.
because i am a compulsive student.
seriously compulsive.
as in, i lost my first points ever, marring my 100% average, near the end of winter term.
last year.
i was disappointed.
i may have issues.




but i am never disappointed with the view from my house.
especially right now.
so looking forward to seeing it dusted with snow.
we'll worry about inexperienced city snow drivers later.



and i am delighted in this pumpkiny gift from this lady's father.
extended family by adoption.
it is probably time to take it down.
but i'm not ready.
so in a few weeks, it will still be halloween.
but will also be thanksgiving.
on its way to christmas.
shortly before new years.
i plan on drawing all of this out.


this boy.
in December, it will be 2 years since our first date.
he is the best part of fall.
college football obsession included.

we have now been doing "long distance"
longer than when we had lived in the same town.
he is still shockingly good at long distance.
visiting, calling, all of it.

we do not get the luxury of having a normal relationship.
time is sacred.
phone calls are sacred.
{we watched the election coverage together ... on the phone}

so looking forward to our second set of holidays together.
so grateful that we are automatically included in each other's plans.

when you get one like this, you hold on.

Happy Fall.


Confession:  I'm still trying to figure out what in the heck I'm doing at my internship. 

It's the 5th week of the term.  I've read buckets full of articles on aging.  Alzheimer's.  Continuing Care Communities.  Person Centered Models.  Mental Wellness & Aging.  Falls.  Incontinence.  Frailty. 

I make so many "friendly visits" during the two days I'm there that I begin to lose track of who I've seen.   (But this is where my obsessive need to write these things down actually appears somewhat functional ...).

These guys?  They continually surprise me.  Wisdom, insight,vulnerability, stubbornness, all of it.

Cheekiness.  Oh, Lord.  The cheekiness.  I've been told, "You're just my type"; "I use my dog to meet women - is it working?"; (to my field supervisor):  "That's some girl you sent me the other day.  You gonna do that every time?".  Who knew that sexuality would be such a major theme in aging?  Shame on me for being so close minded. Lesson duly learned.

Yesterday I had a spontaneous hallway social chat with one of the residents, who asked me about my previous work experience.  Fair enough.  If I had a (relatively) young intern sitting in front of me at his age, I'd want to know too.  So we chatted about the kids in detention, about my foster kids, about working at the women's shelter.  He quietly peered up at me and said, "That's quite an assortment."

Yes, I thought.  It is.  I could see him processing something and then he asked, "Why would you want to do something like that?"

I laughed. 

Whos' counseling whom?

{post script:  i take the confidentiality of my clients extremely seriously and will never post anything that's mentioned in session with them [individual or group].  as i did with the juveniles, i often change identifying information and post mainly about themes or how i've been affected by my interactions with clients.  some postings are composite postings that join together several conversations.   all posts involving my professional work are meant to:  illustrate the unity of people; highlight the vulnerability in all of us; bridge the differences between us; relay how social work changes me as an individual; never to shame any person.}
I spent quite a bit of time reading through the old blog and got lost in old stories.  Just like some of the elderly people I work with, I got completely tangential in my reminiscing. 

The old blog?  It's been moved to WordPress. (But I will not post there anymore - I will always post here).   Edited a little - I removed some pictures of myself and Former Husband out of respect for Shoes.  But still there.  (Because I'm still here.)  Because I'm still the person that wanted the MTE and thought I was moving overseas to teach English.  Still the person that wasn't sure I wanted to stay in social work forever.  Still the person that loves (beyond belief) kids.  In the end, it seemed better to be gentle with myself over the decision and not over think things.

Strange to think, but it was featured on MSN's "What's Your Story?"  Good grief.  As if I have any idea what my story is.

Old blog lives here now.

It's good, this being gentle with myself.

I might try it more often.
What to do?

This blog didn't always use to be this blog.  This blog started on MSN Spaces four years ago.  Life was quite a bit different then.  Four years ago I was living in the Vineyard Town, working in juvenile detention, married to former husband and on a different life track.  I had been accepted to a Masters of Teaching Education Program.  Former Husband and I were planning to move overseas and teach English as a second language.  We were trying to have a baby.  Life was different.  I was different. 

And then ... and then life happened and everything that I knew (melodramatic, yes, and also, no exaggeration) changed. Two very real, very different truths were apparent:

1)  I didn't feel like blogging on the old blog anymore.  Too weird.  I tried for a few months but it just wasn't the same.  For better or worse, I wasn't the same person.  Hence the move to blogspot.
2)  I didn't want to take it down, either.  Because, as weird and awkward as it was, it happened. Why deny that reality?

Now MSN Live Spaces is going away and would like to know if I'd like to move the old blog to Word Press or disable it altogether.

Good question.

I waffle.

Part of me would like to move it and keep it because it did happen.  And it didn't just happen for me.  It was a blog, for heaven's sake, which meant that it part of it happened for other people, too.  And trust me, I met some amazing people through that blog.

The other part of me doesn't care if I keep it around. Not that I actively don't want to ... but a small part of me doesn't care either way.  I'm happy now and it's taken me a long time to get here.  Well.  It's felt like it's taken a long time.

And then.  There's former husband to think about.   (Oh, trust me.  It has been quite a journey for me to be able to come to the point to describe this part.)  He knew about the blog.  Didn't actively read it.  But maybe he wouldn't want it up anymore.  (I won't be contacting him to find out, though.)

I know you have better things to worry about. Global warming.  Starving children.  Homeless veterans.  Blood diamonds.  You know. The important stuff.

But.  If it were you, what would you find yourself doing?

I'm curious.
Oh, last week.

Last week just refused to click together.  

A little background:  Now that school has started, I work at the Very Large Hospital 16 hours a week, am in classes for 7 hours a week, spend 16 hours a week at my internship and the rest of my time reading approximately 300 pages a week and spending however long it takes on the weekly writing assignments.

But last week was super special.  I still have that guardian ad litem case from the Vineyard Town, so the week started with a 3 hour home visit and the case notes and e correspondence that accompany it. 

Last week started with a co worker enjoying a well needed vacation, and me filling in as best as I could -- adding an extra 4 hours onto my schedule there.  Only, as  a student worker, I have no voicemail.  So while I'm answering each and every phone call that comes in, I'm also trying my best to finish sending out overdue billings and financial reports and receive walk ins.  And just when I felt as though I were truly melting down, enter mandatory fun employee appreciation event that took even more time.  (The ladies who organized it did a super job and it was a lot of work for them.  But the time, the time. Who's got the time?  Ironically, by being required to go, I did not feel appreciated as a worker.)

And a paper due for school.

And a conversation with my field supervisor in which she indicated that she wasn't comfortable with me logging the hours I spent off site working on a group I'm about to lead on my time sheet.  Her reasoning?  You don't get credit for all the time you spend working on a job in any job that you have.

Right.  I've done that - the lots of extra un-logged time.  For termination trials.  But generally, I try to leave work at work.  And.  This is not my first professional experience.  And this group has taken a massive amount of prep.  Also, I think this is field specific. The field that gets the shaft the most on this?  Teachers.

Not a teacher.

And I've had to be quite responsible and have greatly limited my socializing.  Unfortunately, this means even turning down a visit from one of my best friends who was passing through town with her daughter (I have not seen her daughter in a year.)

But here's the icing on the cake:

I managed to drop my phone in the toilet Monday night after class.  In a school restroom.  I told Shoes this, and, after a pause, he said, "So how exactly does one manage to do that?" 

By having it in the pocket of your hoodie, love.  By having it in the pocket of your hoodie. (Due to busy schedules, I have not seen Shoes for 3 weeks.)

I've disinfected in so many times and it is still disgusting when I have to use it or hold it near my head.

So here's to this week:  To dropping back down to 16 hours at the hospital.  To not having extra GAL duties.  To meeting with my SSW liaison to discuss the hours issue.  To Shoes' visit next week.

To keeping my phone safely in my bag, and not in my pocket.
First things first, baby girl who had heart surgery is finally on her way home tonight.  Of course, she and parents have turned onto Recovery Highway, and it looks a little long, but they've packed snacks and plan on taking it as it comes.

Second, my social calendar has officially closed for the year.  And by year, I mean school year.  As in, I plan to re emerge in June (but the posting will continue).  As in, my head is swimming I'm so tired.   Something is going to have to change, and it probably (definitely) isn't going to be school.

Now I will end this mostly pointless post (void baby girl news) on an equally pointless note:

Pointless note.
and i'm asking you to join me.

shoes and i have friends who are standing by (that phrase seems all at once wholly inadequate) as their infant daughter recovers from heart surgery.  she is so young.  and precious.  and perfect.  her parents are precious and perfect as well.  and while the heart surgery went well .... well, there is a baby recovering from heart surgery.

two, or three, or 10, or 15, or 30 (or more if you join us) gather together in His name. 

can we please rock this prayer? (or positive thoughts or healing energy?)
See that banner?  That beautiful, soft, more approachable banner?  So different than the text {only} that *ordered* you to have Understanding and Heart?  {Trust me, it is not in my heart to order you to do anything.}

That was made by one of my oldest, dearest friends, Jenna Hart.  She has always been artistically gifted.  And now, she is using those gifts in web design.  Jenna and I have been friends since 1993.  We were freshman.  That is all I will say.  There is a lifetime of secrets there.

We are grown up now (I am just pretending to be) and Jenna has her own web design business.  Visit her:  whysperloud.com

More construction {albeit slight} to come.
What social work grad students read ...

Mental Wellness in Aging
Doing Anti Oppressive Practice
Interviewing Skills with Individuals, Families and Groups
Interviewing in Action in a Multicultural World
Ethical Standards in Social Work
Social Work Macro Practice
{the list goes on and on and on ....  I have deposited a tidy sum of $570 for textbooks this term, which does not include the articles assigned through the electronic library ...}


When social work grad students sleep ...

?


What this social work grad student has heard so far ...
{please remember I'm interning in a counseling unit with the elderly ....}

"My!  You're an *attractive* woman!" {right.  to me.}

"When did that painting show up??" {between residents}
"It's always been there. You can't even remember that?  Good night!"

"No, no.  I don't want to visit with you today."  {right.  to me, again.}

"Can I go out on a limb here?"  {between someone who is not me and client}
"Sure.  Who's got the saw?"


What this social work grad student feels:

happy.  grateful.  hopeful.  energized.  but sometimes exhausted.   purposeful.   humbled.  overwhelmed. 

did i mention happy?
We lived in Europe until I was 9.  Magical, yes.  Also, my normal.  Also, perpetually cold and rainy.

Every Volksmarch, every field trip to a castle, every Oktoberfest - rainy, rainy, rainy. 

I drug Adam to the Oktoberfest down in Mt. Angel.  The only pictures I have are of Shoes and I, drowning in water, in front of the Harvest Monument.   And.  I almost got my eye poked out by other people's umbrellas.  And.  Some strange man made a big deal out of my wonderful, Target bargain, rusting umbrella.

Apparently, it is a magical umbrella that compliments me well.

Apparently, Shoes has magical hearing, as he immediately headed over to me to rescue me from the Umbrella Man.

I do have this picture, though:


We're here, at the Brewery Elizabeth had suggested from the very start.

It is not raining and  nobody is chasing after my rusty umbrella.

Also, there is a terrible band you cannot hear from the picture.  Actually, they were not terrible.  They were musically very talented. But it was verrrryyyyyy sllllooooowwwww and sleep inducing.

Also, this is a posting about "Superfreak."

A few days ago, Elizabeth posted a FB video of her daughter, my goddaughter, Rebekah, dancing in front of the TV.  At one point she stops, points to the man on TV, and says, "That's Shoes."

Actually.  It was Rick James.




Elizabeth tried a couple of times to tell her indeed, it is not.

I assure you, there is absolutely NO resemblance.  Sorry, Abekah. 

Fake out, this is also a posting about school, which starts next week.  Two thumbs up.  But, I also have to do new student orientation, again, because I am just starting my internship this year.  Two thumbs down.  But after new student orientation, I am driving to the Vineyard town to help Shoes move the last of his things into his house.  One thumb up, one thumb down.

I am also going to be going to my first Cougar game.  Two thumbs up.

And then driving back on Monday to go to class on Monday night.  Two thumbs up again.

Fall and I?  Best friends.
Rick James and Shoes?  Not best friends.



It started with fair ...




In a classic piece of American ritual, Goddaughter Rebekah got to see the cows.  As was happening all over America, we fawned and commented on how cute she was.  As was happening in many places all over America, she moo-ed.  Long live the State fair. 


Rebekah, cousin Aiden, and Nana and Papa took a sit at the State Fair.  (If I can figure out to make the images smaller, I'll send them to you, Jeff and Win!).  I wanted to take a sit at the State Fair, too.  Do you know how many people were there that day?

Too many.

Too, too many.



Malaika's mommy, Sarah, is having another baby.  Well.  She is not having a baby in this picture.  In this picture, Malaika is putting on makeup, because we are about to clean out the garage to get ready for Sarah's baby shower.

And we must look excellent doing it.




Sarah and Edwin are showing us how they will parent as equal co partners together.  Seriously.  They co-diapered this doll in 5 seconds flat.  Of course, the doll was plastic.  And not moving.  Or crying.  Or squirming.

Still.  These two could successfully parent any kid.

Trust me, I'm an (almost) professional.



This, dear hearts, is a slug.  I had originally uploaded a picture of Shoes examining said slug, but it showed too much of his face and I am too, too lazy on this perfect Saturday to edit the photo.  It took us 10 minutes to figure out what it was.  We ended up getting lost in the arboretum (kind of) that day.  Maybe because we were too focused on our friends with no legs.




Or maybe we got (kind of) lost because we were quieted and enthralled by pure height.  Pure loveliness.

(God is not dead.)



But God does have a sense of humor. 

(After we climbed our way out of the arboretum and headed to home.  Through downtown.)


                                 


And lastly, Rebekah shows us the glory of wearing many hats.  (Stop while you're ahead, precious.  Nobody wants to wear too many hats.)

One more picture posting in a few weeks, and then the school stories will re-introduce themselves ...
... but I don't  have the time.  I don't have the time because I have been gallivanting with Shoes and seeing movies and walking Portland neighborhoods and getting lost (!) in the arboretum and working out and cooking deliciously clean meals and setting up plans to have coffee with my sister, Lizz, and babysitting my goddaughter and just generally surrounding myself with people and things that I adore. 

I get to do this because I am 32 and young and happy and in charge.

And grateful for a God so much bigger than everything I understand.
All this time I thought the healthiest thing I could do - the most loving, the most gentle, the most respectful, and this one burns, the most Godly - was to maintain this relationshp.  All these years, I've been maintaining, by myself.  Birthdays, holidays, passing through town days, trips to your hospital room when your health failed you. These were my idea.

Forgiving you when you slipped out of touch for days, weeks,  months, years at a time.  That was my idea.  

Passing messages to other family members you had fallen out of touch with ... ok, that was your idea.  But it was my idea to chirpily keep family members up to date on where you were and what you were doing when they asked.

I'm utterly and thoroughly exhausted.  And this afternoon, while running around and around on the track, I was shocked to discover that all of this "maintenance" was the antithesis of the healthiest thing I could have done.  It has allowed you to keep me as an emotional hostage.   I am not in the 7th grade and this is not a game of "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?" 

The decisions you've made in the past week have baffled even me (your last link). You owed it to me to tell me yourself you were leaving.  You owed it to me to not pass the message through a woman I had never met.  (Didn't you owe it to her to not put her in that awkward, terrible position?). (And will you *please* stop giving my number to strange women?)  You owed it to me to not suggest that I call people I had never met for an update on how you're doing.

I will not be calling them.  I will no longer be searching for you because you are not in the places you insist are real.  The places you are, are fictional.  A  product of your own making.

I have no other way to explain it.

It's growing cooler outside daily and the energy has moved from lazy summer to charged fall - another season.   Briefly, I wonder how many seasons Orovado has.

 I did not ask to be born to you.  I cannot control that.  But I can control this:

I will let go.    This is the healthiest thing I can do.
But why am I even having to say this?  It's so common sense. But, it happened.  And.  Obviously, I'm still a little upset, but, probably for reasons bigger than the event.

There's always an undercurrent, right?

I digress.  Here's my advice.  Please don't give out the home phone numbers or personal cell phone numbers of counselors, therapists, psychologists or social workers whom you know personally and intimately (IE: friends or family members) to people you meet on the steet who are having a bad day.  It is most simply a violation of privacy and trust. With a liberal sprinkling of liability implications.

Now comes the rant.

A not so close family member (which is ironic, considering that a family member by this title would normally be very close relationship wise) whom I haven't spoken to since early April, yes, gave my phone number out to someone (whom I'm sure is quite lovely), with some very serious problems (much better served by professionals in her own local, geographical area - which is a long way away from me) and someone I've never met.

Thanks.  I sure had a fun time trying to decipher her upset message on my cell phone.  It was also super fun hearing that you had given her my number.  Glad you still have it  You haven't managed to use it to return any of my phone calls in the last 7 months. 

Meh.  (For many good, logical reasons, I purposefully chose to call family member instead of unknown lady and leave appropriate local referral information on voicemail so he could pass it over himself.  Give him some practice into appropriate service brokerage since he seems to be delving into that type of thing).

Man.

This is just like when I'd get cornered with crisis in grocery stores when I was doing social work in a rural Eastern Oregon county.  There's nothing like talking coping strategies when all you really want to do is pick out your produce, go home, love on your family members (probably not the one who's giving out your home number to anyone and everyone) and have quiet, peaceful time.  I love helping people.  I love doing it well.  I also love keeping a little bit of space carved out around my personal life.

I don't love strained family poo poo. But.  I should probably have gotten used to it already.

If there's a bright spot in this, I finally found the gumption to tell family member, calmly, that I am quite disappointed in this decision.  Gumption also allowed me to tell him that ignoring my phone calls (including this one!  it happened on his voicemail!) for seven months was also relatively inappropriate.  (We're talking 3 or 4 calls here - nothing more).

Yay me!  Boundaries!
This month's pick?  Amy Tan's "The Bonesetter's Daughter."

There is no blurb from the back (at least from my copy), but The Anniston Star says, 

"An enchanting  story of a mother and daughter, the secrets they have kept from one another, and the common ground they finally come to occupy ...  A powerful, luminously written saga in which past and present are bound together into the tangled skein of a human life."

I didn't not like this book.  It was a powerfully written story about Ruth and her mother, Lu Ling.  About their relationship.  About Lu Ling's life before she moved to America. About how we often don't give our mothers enough credit.  I didn't not like this book.

I did feel, however, like I had read this book before.  In "The Joy Luck Club". In "The Kitchen God's
Wife."  In the spirit of fairness, should I give this more thought and think about the three books individually?  Probably.  I probably won't, though.  Discussion in book club was drawn to the relationship between Ruth and Lu Ling, as well as Lu Ling's relationship with her nursemaid in China, Precious Auntie.  It also centered around how strong we are.  How very, very strong.

Thumbs up all around.  My only caveat is this:  If you've read Tan's other works, go slowly through this one and treat it like it's its own.

And now, the Book Blizzard.   Huh. You get a lot of reading done waiting for Public Transportation.

All the Names, Jose Saramago:

Yes.  Absolutely.  Dense, but worth it.  A couple of times I stopped, thought to myself, "What are you trying to tell me, Gabriel Garcia Marquez?", realized it wasn't Marquez at all, and went slowly through.  It was tough, at times, navigating through what Senhor Jose was living and what he was thinking.  But, eh.  That's how it is with so many of us.

The Road, Cormac McCarthy.

You decide.  I'm just proud I made it all the way through.  I hadn't seen the movie. I won't be seeing the movie.   I do keep wondering what's holding society together, though.

First Session With Seniors, Forrest Scogin.

I'm ready for my internship.  So ready. In so many ways. Subject of a separate posting.

Queue's updated only to remove the completed books.  I wonder how wise it would be to pile on more that I may, but probably won't, be able to get through by the time school starts.

At the same time, my dear friends Kylee and Katelyn are coming to visit in a week and a half, and I'm sure Katelyn can fill up my queue by herself ...
I have been working my tookus off this summer (pun intended!) in a massive effort to lose some of this graduate school weight.  You know ... negligence on my part, long school hours, many hours sitting at my desk at the Very Large Hospital, exhaustion and whatever food was fastest and easiest to put in my mouth.

This, of course, is on top of the comfort weight I had already put on when Shoes and I started dating.  You know that story?  The one that includes lots of dinners out, bottles of wine, movie watching.

Enter Summer Project #1:  A complete overhaul of my diet, daily cardio and lifting, and a just say no to delicious Portland beers. 

And, the introduction of extra protein in my diet.


Directly after the introduction of protein powder, the prompt introduction of gagging.

Good Lord, people.  How do you DO this??  How can something so seeming innocuous wreak such havoc?


Immediate mature thought?  Give me something to chase this with ... NOW!


And then I remembered I'm not an alcoholic, and that I had bought the Dr. Pepper for just a taste and that it would be most inappropriate to my health plan to chug it.

I settled for:


And I settled for adding a small spoonful of Honey Greek Yogurt.
But still.

That stuff is terrible. 

Still, I'm pleased with the weight loss and inches lost.  No pictures of that, sorry.  That would be most indecent. 

Now, I just have to figure out how to carry this through the school year ... the real challenge ...


Despite all of my whining, we've done things this summer ...


Elizabeth and I had an intriguing time on Hawthorne.  She purchased the lovely outfit you see here.
Just kidding.


He was asking for it. 
Still on Hawthorne.


Shoes and I ate the WORST Chinese food EVER in Hermiston, Oregon.
I thought I remembered the place from high school.
I thought it was ok.
I was wrong.
So very wrong.
Immediate illness.
And now I am the butt of many, many jokes....
This chicken wing was an authentic Chinese fossil.


And I held this baby, whom I love.
He is so cuddly,
bare tummy and chunky baby arms.
His parents are two of the most lovely people I know,
brought to my life courtesy of Shoes.


And Shoes and I visited Mt. St.Helens.
On a Sunday afternoon.
Which we will never do again as there were people everywhere.
Everywhere.
He grumbled about taking this photo;
I always ask him to contort his torso
to accommodate our feet.
What else is left for this summer?

Sarah's baby shower.
A trip to Kelso to see Ronna.
Textbook buying.
New employee orientation at the continuing care community
 for my internship.
Cooler weather.
A visit from Katelyn and Kylee.
A little bit of smushing to get everything in,
but it will work.
It always does.
.... please hurry.

Love,

Lisa

It starts on the 27th and I'm ready.  I've been ready.  O, so ready.

What I really would have been ready for is to have this be my last year, but hindsight ... (o, how I hate to love you, hindsight ...).  This fall will bring the advent of Generalist (or:  How To Become a Truly Spectacular Social Worker) which will be coupled with my year long internship.  And, it will bring Social Work with Frail Older Adults.  And it will not bring research or statistics because I am DONE with those monkeys.

I feel like I had to scrap a little for my internship. AND my elective, come to think of it. I had asked for a Hospice / Bereavement internship and was granted an interview.  I knew something was not right when my interview panel asked more questions about art projects I am capable of doing rather than my other social work skills. 

I got nothin.  Art and I?  Not friends.

Needless to say, no hospice and bereavement placement for me.   They told me, "We're looking for someone a little younger who doesn't have as much work experience as you do."  Sorry, sista'. That's what almost 10 years in the field gets you:  experience.  Did somebody say ageism? I heard it too!  Ironic, because THEN I interviewed with a counselor at a continuing care community.  She was splendid.  Geriatric psychotherapy is spendid as well.  I'm superbly, splendidly thrilled to have this placement.

And the class I had to scrap for? 

As a 2nd year, 3 year co hort, I'm not ELIGIBLE to take MANY of the electives because they're all cross referenced to a series of classes 3 year co horts don't take in their first year.  Also, because I have not taken these classes, I register a day later than the rest of the student body. I had to email, advocate, put my foot down, but I finally did get the SW with Frail, Older Adults.

I am NOT excited about plunking down $600  of my hard earned dollars for books the first term.

I AM excited about working with the elderly.

I am NOT excited about more group projects.

I AM excited about writing papers.

I am NOT excited about 2010's congressional elections.  That is the story of a different posting that will never appear on this blog but one that I will war with internally for months.

Go forth, do good, get EDUCATED about your candidates and VOTE when you have a chance.

And, love your elderly.

And, love your local graduate students.
truly, i am a champion.  i can speak on the phone with almost anyone, leak buckets and buckets of tears and have one be none the wiser.

thursday afternoon handed me a subpeona.  specifically, the vineyard town prosecuting attorney's office handed me a subpeona to testify at a contested change of placement hearing for my one remaining guardian ad litem case.  i have worked with this young man since he was 10.  he is 13 now.  they are all difficult cases - foster care cases (which affect real children).  this, however.

this is 3 1/2 years of my best social work.  my most diligent advocacy.  long days, long nights, long weekends.  long reports.  long court hearings.  long conversations with him in which i wished upon everything i am and had and have and could offer that i could do more.  that we could do more.  that he could have more.

kid, if i could, i would give you everything.

i was expecting an hour of court.  it turned into almost 4.  4 hours of surprises and a kid's attorney who became very, very assertive with a parent who was on the stand.  4 hours of three attorneys and two guardian ad litems and two parents and a total of 8 counselors.  and one judge who has had it. 

i couldn't stay for closing arguments.  (more on that in a moment).  i had to come back to portland in the early afternoon.  my close confidant and worker in the trenches called me to let me know that the judge's final ruling is that we forgo reunification and pursue permanency with relatives.

voice calm, i wept.  wept because this is exactly what my kid has been pleading for.  wept because i know, i know, he will be safe now.  wept because the system believed him.  wept because we could have gotten here much, much sooner.  wept because i'm tired. 

and when my coworker said that the judge stated on the record how much my casework meant to him, how thankful he was that i had stayed on the case for this long, and how much he appreciated my coming back for this hearing (did he forget I was subpeonaed?), i wept a little harder.

as a general rule, we don't hear thank you.

we're not done with this case yet, but this is big.  so big.

shoes plays into this story too.  i bought my car 12 years ago, and it has served me well, but it is tired, too, and no longer enjoys long car trips.  to ensure i could testify, over the course of 2 days, shoes drove 4 hours to portland, drove me 4 hours to the vineyard town, drove me 4 hours back to portland, and then left early this morning so he could go back to work, yes, 4 hours away in the vineyard town.   honestly.  really.  what would i do without him?  what would i do without somebody to decompress with?  who else would calm me down before testifying with his specific brand of attorney soothing?

who else, when i hang up the phone and weep openly, would hand me a tissue and say, "you helped make a kid's life better today"? 

i'm tired tonight.  but i have a full heart.
summer slips slowly.

too slowly.

i'm not a fantastic vacationer.  i'm working just 20 hours a week.  that's it.  other than that, i have absolutely no obligations, other than my courtesy CASA case, which takes approximately 2 hours.  a month.

sounds lovely, i know.  it's not.

book club, the minimal amount it asks from me keeps me afloat. as do my nightly conversations with Shoes. as do the periodic visits from good friends.  as does a daily hour long workout.  as does a complete diet overhaul.  as do my afternoons at the driving range.  as does ... as does ... as does ...

good lord, somebody give me *something* to sink my teeth into.  i will not even TELL you what kind of bad TV i've been watching lately.  worse than usual.  much, much worse ... (o, you jersey shore nightmares - literally - after one episode, you gave me nightmares ...)

i am really reaching here.  listless most of the time.  hungrily look to the next visitor, or visit, or the next time i'll see Shoes.

when does shool begin .... the last monday of september?

meh ....
With so many things.

Summer vacation is not one of them.  I do not like, not one bit, all of this down time.  But that's the subject of another post.  One excellent gift of summer, though, is the opportunity to catch up on my non school, non anti-oppressive practice, non counseling, non social work, non trauma reading.

And now, right now, I am in love with Jose Saramago.  {I think Shoes will give me a pass.}

Specifically, I am in love with the following gorgeous passages from "All The Names" {kudos, kudos, kudos, to the translator that took on the task of translating these beautiful words from Portugese}:

" ... I'll begin by asking you if you know how many people there are in a marriage, Two, a man and a woman, No, there are three people in a marriage, there's the woman, there's the man, and there's what I call the third person, the most important, the person who is composed of the man and woman together, I've never thought of that, For example, if one of the two commits adultery, the person who is most hurt, who receives the deepest cut, however incredible it may seem, is not the other person, but that other "other" which is the couple, not one person, but two, And can you really live with that person made up of two people ..."  (p. 48)

And this?

"... although we know it is the search that gives meaning to any find and that one often has to travel a long way in order to arrive at what is near.  The clarify of this thought, whether the former or the latter, the special thought or the habitual one, the truth that, once you've arrived, it matters little how you arrived there, was so dazzling ..." (p. 53).
{Of course, as a counselor in training, I do so whole heartedly believe that it matters greatly how you arrive at your thoughts.  Never the less, a clever little phrase indeed.}

What's it about?  I have no idea.  I'm only on page 65. But, here's the Blurb from the Back:

"Senhor Jose is a low-grade clerk in the Central Registry of an unnamed city, a department where the living and the dead share the same shelf space.  A middle-aged bachelor, he has no interest in life beyond his daily routine of issuing certificates of birth, marriage and death.  But one day, when he chances upon the records of an anonymous young woman, something happens to him.  Senhor Jose, newly obsessed, sets of to follow the thread that may lead him to the woman. But as he gets closer, he discovers more about her - and about himself - than he would ever have wished."
I do so also love stories about the soul waking up.

Also, I am a dork, and while I can cite anything - really, almost anything - in APA in my sleep, I had to return to Bedford for MLA:

Saramago, Jose.  All The Names.  San Diego:  Harcourt, Inc, 1997.

Whaaaaat?

Did you guys know the world is ending in 2012?  Where have I been?  The Mayan Calendar is ending.  The poles are going to switch.  The sun is going to implode.  (Or explode?  I'm never really sure how that one works).  Old Faithful's going to vomit dust and ash, block out the sun and freeze us all out.

I went out with the two girls at work I love most dearly, and while we were sitting in North Portland at a trendy little Mexican restaurant (it may have been a tequila bar), Amber drops the World-is-ending-in-2012 bomb on me.(Stay away from the Habanero Blueberry Sorbet by the way. Your mouth will burn for hours).

Thanks for the memo.  As if I don't have enough to accomplish in the next two years in wrapping up school and finding the job of my dreams, now I'll have to get EVERYTHING on my list accomplished.

Shoes will not be pleased by this sudden turn of events.  I am fairly sure (or absolutely confident - either one)  he does not want to have children yet.  I'm pretty sure (or absolutely confident) I need to get married first.

Good thing for me, there's been a little ring talk lately.

Nope, that's all you get.  Secrets are (mostly) secrets with me.  And unless you want to drive to Portland to have a little Lisa time (sure, I'll take you to the tequila bar, or, if tequila's not your thing, I have lots of other ideas), you may get the details.

Ok, I will say this, if only because I adore Shoes and having him as my "upgrade" is the most amazing blessing ever.  I have NO idea why this smart, smart, smart, uber witty, supremely loving man is dating me.  I'm gushing, I know, which he would hate, but it's true. 

True LOVE that is.

Back to my point: I will say that it's possible that over the 4th of July weekend when I flew up to Eastern Washington to be with Shoe's family, I MAY have gone out to lunch with Shoes' mom, who MAY have asked some pretty pointed questions about ring cut (following a conversation I had with Shoes that left him a little befuddled).  She MAY have gone back to Shoes and told him to spend 3 months salary on the ring.  (Thanks, Gretchen!!)

All of that's just icing.

The ridiculously sweet dessert (and I'm not referring to Habenero Blueberry Sorbet) is that I get to talk ring cuts, future, babies, house, suburban, dog, life with this man.

So, if the Mayans help move that along ... more power to them.

I kind of hope they're wrong, though.


There's something about sitting in a little Patesserie in North Portland, right near the section that opens to the outside with the gentle breeze, watching the prolific number of bicyclists brave rush hour traffic as only us Portlanders can do, drinking a Rosemary Mocha, eating a lemon tart, discussing these books and connecting with these women  (whom I adore)  ....

...these fill me up like few things do.

Very few.

Is it the fact that I'm working only 20 hours at a week at The Very Large Hospital completing extremely menial tasks (and am therefore, mostly, wholly unchallenged)?

Is it that I'm now living on my own again?  (I doubt it - I'm really very talented at this.)

Is it that I really only get to have adult, thought provoking conversations for 45 minutes every night when Shoes calls?  Note:  I have thought provoking conversations with all of my friends; but we're really not single 20 somethings anymore, with the time to just drop by each other's homes and visit.  I, howeve, do have this time.  At least this summer.

I digress.

Book club:  The Children of Men, PD James.  It received thumbs up all around.  Blurb from the cover:  "The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult.  Civilization itself is crumbling as suicide and despare become commonplace.  Oxford historian Theodore Faron, apathetic toward a future without a future, spends most of his time reminiscing.  Then he is approached by Julian, a bright, attractive woman who wants him to help get her an audience with his cousin, the powerful Warden of England.  She and her band of unlikely revolutionaries may just awaken his desire to live ... and they may also hold the key to survival for the human race."

Sounds pretty dark, right?  I suppose that's accurate.  While Julian and her "band of unlikely revolutionaries" have hope and passion, it appears as though the rest of the human race has lost both.  No ambition.  Nothing to look forward to.    The disscusion of our book group centered around apathy, the patterns of power and failure that humans seem to follow, and what constitutes true love.
While the blurb may make it difficult for one to believe that this book may be about romantic love, it is one of the major themes we drew out of it.  What constitutes love?  How do we choose partners?  How do relationships end?  What is family?   How do we decide to have children?

As women in our early 30s, we think about these things.  As professional, graduate students with bucket-fulls of student loans, we think about these things.

I just love these women.  Perhaps because I am narcissistic and selfish and grab at meaning in my own personal life out of the experiences of others.  Perhaps. 

Perhaps I just love the thinking and the analyzing and the freedom to draw whatever conclusions I wish from our conversations.

Book for August:  The Bonesetter's Daughter, Amy Tan.  Queue's updated.

Wishing you all a chance to get to your local North Bakery, get lost in a book and sip some tea ....

Shoes had been offering to take me to the driving range since we started dating; but, in the midst of our long distance mayhem, it was one activity that fell to the wayside.

Until a couple of weeks ago.

Shoes is an excellent golfer.  I mean, tournament winning excellent (and he would be upset to read that; however, since he doesn't read this blog ... ;)).  Right before the 4th of July, we went to the East Moreland Golf Course here in Portland so he could teach the basic of the basics.

And basically, I stunk.  So badly.  As in, I kept hitting the ball low and to the right.  And almost hitting people.  That's when I asked Shoes to trade me places.  I thought he would be more apt to forgive me for a ball injury.  Luckily, it never happened.  It awoke the terrible perfectionist in me, however, and I wanted to try again and again and again ... I think Shoes bought 3 big bucket of balls that day without questioning.  And without complaint.

Over the 4th, we went to the golf course with his dad, which consisted of me picking up my ball and walking (and continually asking why the snack cart lady had the 4th off).

On Shoes' last visit, we went back to the driving range, and it finally felt like something started to click.  Nothing spectacular - my goals are very reasonable - but I started to hit the balls in a beautiful straight line past the 75 yard mark (nothing spectacular!).  Shoes gathered a bunch of his old clubs for me, got me one of their old golf bags, loaded me up with golf balls and tees and smiled gently at all my effort.  This one?  I just adore him.

I think this is good.  I think I need a hobby like this.  My days are filled with hospital politics (gulp), my classes had titles such as "End of Life and Palliative Care" and Social Policy (I'm going to a suicide prevention training on 9/10 that I think will be excellent ..).  These are good, altruistic, fascinating things for me.  Really.

And they're also so very heavy.  And I'm a very serious person who's just now, at 32, coming to grips with the fact that I am way too serious.

So.

I took a golf lesson last week.  Remember the movie "Office Space?"  I don't remember the character's name, but there's a guy on there who is a perpetual mumbler.  The golf instructor?  That guy.  Could barely understand a word he was saying.  But he was patient.  And what he said made sense, only, it completely makes no sense when I try to follow his instructions.

But that's ok.  I'm ready to stink for a loooooong time.

Another golf story?

Shoes is playing in a Vineyard town game with a bunch of the guys from the County.  A former supervisor (of mine) from when I used to work in juvenile detention thought it would be the funniest thing to put a guy I dated for about 6 weeks on Shoes' foursome. 

This?

This is why I NEED Shoes to move here so we never, never have to return to the Vineyard Town as a couple.  I told him I would pay for him to move here to be my personal golf pro, but he declined (probably because I offered to pay him in snuggles and affirmations).  Shoes says, "Give me 700 days and I'll move there."

Oy.  These days ...

So.  I'll keep golfing and Shoes will keep helping me and at some point, I'll learn how to really follow through to get that *&;^% ball where I want it to go.