... first, please don't end abruptly.  i surely do hope that the Mayan's stone was just not big enough to write the entire future of the universe on.  and i hope that nothing catastrophic happens with the switching of the earth's poles.

also, this is going to be a huge year of writing my theoretical foundations paper, finishing up my internship, graduating from graduate school and getting married;  i was going to write some specific, amazing goals for you, but then realized how busy you're going to keep me.

so i'm not writing goals.  or resolutions.  instead, i'm going to concentrate on the things i know you already contain and focus instead on how to be and rest within the tasks i need to accomplish.  as in, i will be focused on being peaceful, being compassionate, and maintaining a good sense of humor.  shoes and i have many unanswered questions about this year:  no clue where we're going to live, who is going to move, what jobs we're going to have, but i trust that you contain only good things.  (we have some creative ideas, but i'm bound by small town politics to avoid talking about them prematurely.)

with all that you have revealed, you are still the year of the unknown.

i trust you anyway.

(but seriously, no abrupt, cataclysmic ending of the world, ok?  i'm pretty serious about that.)
this mini break from my adult life is doing wonders for my soul. taking this week off from counseling has had exponential benefits, and the fact that i hardly have anything to do at the hospital for my paid job isn't hurting too much either.

shoes and i had a superb Christmas.  sister Cheryl came over for Christmas Eve and the next morning we all drove out to sister Lizz' house for a tiny bit.  came back and enjoyed Christmas Dinner and then dessert with our dear friends B. and her Mr.  we drank deeply and laughed heartily and talked about all of the things we wanted for this year.

i'm asking a lot out of 2012 (to be shared later).

i used to be a better picture taker, but this year i just have one to share.  after shoes finished his dinner he laid down and said, "stair plank!"

that is code for "food coma."

sister Cheryl wonders if this is amusing or sad.

stair plank.  sheesh.
Of concentrating on merry and bright.  But in the world that Shoes and I work in, there is always a balance.  My concentration on loveliness was tempered by a family experiencing shocking darkness.  Shoes' loveliness was tempered by an autopsy he was required to attend.

How much time do we spend at work? About 8 hours?  (I'm bad at work / life balance and often do paperwork well beyond that.)  We all  have things we specialize in.  Editing.  Retail.  Community Protection.  Food Service. Auto repair.  Nursing.  Marketing.  Shoes and I just happen to specialize in "whatever goes the most wrong in society".  I wouldn't be anywhere else, but on days like today, I get home, and I am so grateful for all of the little, tiny, most insignificant things that are going well.

Turns out those things aren't so insignificant after all.

On Facebook today, my friend Candace asked, "What does the Incarnation mean to you?"  Some believe.  Some don't.  But on today, the day before Christmas Eve, when I am waiting for my Shoes to arrive and it is almost Christmas and we have so many lovely things to look forward to and I have spent an afternoon grieving with people whose Christmases aren't going to go well, I'm deeply absorbed in this question.

I offer two bits:

One:  Without the Incarnation, I do not know how to offer hope to children who are physically, mentally and sexually abused.  I do not talk about it in session; I just personally do not know how to offer hope and light without the Incarnation.  There's a little verse about truly knowing what hope and faith mean .... after you've seen the darkness.

Two:  With the Incarnation, I believe there are good things in this world for us.  I live in the land of the living.   I need to see the good now.  The whole world changes for me with the Incarnation.

And so, while all Merry and Bright has not been lost, I find myself thoughtful and pensive.

And sending out good thoughts to the families who will be searching (and may just be finding) Merry and Bright in the midst of impossible situations.  (Send them out with me?)
(That was supposed to be a ghost noise.)

Shoes has a thing for soft, frosted sugar cookies.  A big thing.  Like, on our first Valentines Day, he made dinner reservations at a lovely restaurant and on the way over to my house to pick me up, stopped by the grocery store to pick up some simple flowers.  But, on the way to flowers, he passed by the circles of deliciousness, forgot about the flowers, bought the cookies instead and showed up at my doorstep with a dozen sugar cookies.

The first Christmas we were together, I made a ton of Christmas sugar cookies, and they were a major pain in my rear. I cut them out, frosted them, destroyed my kitchen and came up with maybe 10 that were passable.  The snowmen were the worst.  The lines blurred together as the cookies cooked and they looked like big blobs of nothing.   Sister Cheryl helped me that year and we tried again the two years after that.  This year, when discussing our holiday baking day, she ever so sweetly said, "Do you think maybe we could do something this year that doesn't require frosting?"  Amen, sister.  Amen.

Still, I wrapped those cookies up and took them with me to the Vineyard Town a couple days before Christmas.

Upon seeing the plate, Shoes became EXTREMELY excited and said, "Circles of Deliciousness?  You made me circles of deliciousnes?!"  He ripped the wrapping off those cookies and then froze in silence when he saw them.

"Why did you make me Christmas ghosts?" he asked in a small voice.

I almost threw those sugar cookies outside.

When texting today about Christmas dinner, Shoes wrote, "Sounds good.  With potatoes, and Christmas ghosts??"

I initially told him we would make Christmas ghosts together on Christmas Eve day, picturing this lovely day of baking and laughter and love and light.

I revise history in the most interesting ways.

Probably better just pick them up from Fred Meyer when I pick up the prime rib.  Better to hold on to the merry and bright in the ways I know will work.
so many lovely little bits to add to my own advent season of beautiful things:

*  the holiday giving tree at the mall.  merry christmas, precious 6 - 8 year old girl.

*  super fantastic holiday parties for my internship site.  you never know what's going to happen when you get a bunch of therapists in the room!  raucous laughter, darling babies to pass around, delicious wine.  things that help remind us that the world is really a gorgeous place to be.

*  picking the absolute, 1,000% perfect recipe for stuffed mushrooms and watching them fly off the plate at said party.

*  a walk down Portland's amazing Peacock Lane with my love.

*  watching a darling young man propose to his gorgeous young girlfriend on Peacock Lane and joining with the strangers on the street in cheering in jubilation when she said yes.  (truly, truly a magical christmas moment --  there is nothing sweeter than proposals at christmas!  [unless, of course, you're proposed to at the japanese garden on july 27th.])

* and speaking of, my dear friend becca getting engaged just today!

*  finding the perfect christmas gift (possibly ever) for sister cheryl.

*  dinners with my sweet friend stacey and her amazing husband josh.  sharing my hamburger with their daughter liberty and having liberty ask me, "what's he saying??" as i cuddle liberty's infant brother, jaxon.

*  writing letters "from" santa claus and receiving letters "to" santa claus.  how sweet is it that my dear nephew Finn wants to know if santa likes green or brown cookies, or that little miss molly wants to know if santa is warm and what he eats for dinner?  getting these letters and writing back is no small joy.

*  the mischievous little imp of a girl who stole all of our hearts at the ADHD lab when she said asked santa for a poodle puppy for christmas ... one she wants to name ...  snoodle.

*  new years eve plans for the vineyard town at a fancy pants, name-on-the-list-only cool kid party ... and time to get all caught up with my old roommate and her daughter.  giddy with excitement.

*  dancing with shoes in my kitchen to potential first dance songs.  out of breath laughter when we tried, "baby, don't forget my number ..."

* knowing that very soon i will be able to say that shoes and i are getting married ... "this year."  (ditto for graduating ... "this year!")

not quite sure where the last two weeks of winter break have gone  ... the busy-ness really never let up ... but still grateful for all that's here.  still excited about all that's going to come.
ever watch Portlandia?  not such an exaggeration.

i myself have stepped in dog poop at night twice in one week.  when dog poop gets in the cracks and crevices of your shoes, it is almost impossible to get out.

i realized this during weekly formal supervision at internship.  when i could smell my shoe.  7 clorox wipes later ... my shoes still smelled like dog poop.

which is why, while on the floor building a train track with a 6 year old client, 6 year old client said, "something is stinky."

what to do?  tell him it was my shoe?  ask him how he felt about that?

i said, "i wonder what that could be."  he looked at me suspiciously and said, "it stinks like that when my teacher farts."  i said, "does your teacher fart a lot?"  (great.  now kid thought i was farting and ducking responsibility.)  kid said, "yeah, sometimes.  oh you know what?  i farted on santa's lap on saturday."

i said, "you did?"

kid said, "yeah.  i hope he still brings me toys."

me too, kid.

my shoes are still outside.

stupid portland dogs.
 I know I just posted about this.  Maybe I'm perseverating.  Maybe the more I work with kids who have been emotionally hurt, the more I long to share a childhood of games and play and love and safety.

This hat on my head?  The head of mine that was four years old?  It's a Kermit birthday hat.

I so wish I had that hat today.
I do not think there is a name for a Muppet fan.
If there was a name for a Muppet fan, I would be he.  Or she, if we're bucking gender normative language.
This isn't the only picture we have of me loving on the Muppets when I was little.  Somewhere in the archives are pictures of my darling stuffed Cookie Monster, long since passed on, and my beloved Muppet Show poster.

I watched the Muppet Show.  Weekly.  I wasn't born when the Muppets appeared on the first season of Saturday Night Live.  Sesame Street.  Often.  The Muppet Movies. All but two.  Fraggle Rock.  Not my favorite, but still lovable.  In high school I somehow managed to convince my best friend to see Muppet Treasure Island with me.  Every year at Christmas I watch the Muppet Christmas Carol.  The Labyrinth.  Not a Muppet movie, but Jim Henson puppets, indeed.

What is it about them?  I don't know.  But something about them whispers back to me about innocence and imagination and childhood.

Shoes doesn't understand.  Last night he said, "I never got what it was all about. It just felt like a bunch of Puppets shouting at me.  Why where they shouting at me? And why didn't Oscar the Grouch ever tell those kids to quit bothering him.  Didn't they know he was homeless and hungry and didn't want to count to 5 every day?"

I'm trying super hard to not make that a deal breaker.

Moving right along ... (footloose and fancy free ...)

This has been the longest introduction ever to simply let you know that Sister Cheryl and I saw the Muppet Movie on Friday and it was not fantastic.  No.  It was not fantastic, and am I just crazy, or were Fozzie's eyebrows graying just a touch?  It was not the magic I remembered from my childhood, but at 33 years old, sitting in theater, watching it on the big screen, I had a flashback to the very exciting day when my mom took me to see The Great Muppet Caper in the theater when I was 6.  (We're going to catch those crooks red-handed ... What color are their hands now?)  (Just for posterity's sake, the Great Muppet Caper was released in 1981.  I was 3.  I lived on a military base, which sometimes show movies at weird times.  Hence, I was 6.)

My own darling, accepting Muppet puppet friends, bigger than life. And with that memory came a slew of its warm memory friends, reminding me of a time where I believed in imagination and good.  It reminded me of a time when I had no reason to not believe that childhood was a time of growth and love and happiness.  And because of that, of that in and of itself, the movie, though not fantastic, was pure magic.

Sister Cheryl later said she did get choked up when they sang The Rainbow Connection.  I outright cried.  This did not surprise Shoes at all, who reminded me I cry at everything.

I do indeed.

But try to remember the first time you saw this and see if there's not something there for you ...

is it sacrilegious to include them in my own shiny, happy and bright advent season?

i have always loved Christmas break the best.

i have always worked, so it has never been a complete time of do nothing, but the absence of school makes a huge difference.

this term i turned in approximately 80 pages of written work.
completed approximately 1200 pages of assigned reading.
completed additional optional reading, research and intervention finding.
provided counseling to 4 precious families.
participated in 20 hours of supervision / evaluation.
worked approximately 200 hours at my job at the hospital.

but now it is Christmas.  now i am getting home a tad earlier.  going in to my internship a tad later.  picking up takeout.  sleeping (significantly) more.

it's not without its difficulty.  shoes and i are finding this year to be the hardest year yet to be separated and living in 2 different states.  we put up the Christmas "decorations" yesterday:

i realized i have been stringing Christmas lights around the perimeter of a room and hanging ornaments off of them (no room for a tree!) since i was 19 years old.  next year .... dreams of a house i share with shoes and a real tree and Christmas cards and Christmas cookies ...

this is also a very, very, very favorite part of my holiday season:

holiday giving trees!!  it is one of my great privileges to be able to buy toys for local kids, and as a social worker, i can absolutely, 100% assure you that your contributions do make a difference.  the need is so great.  greater than i could ever fully explain.

but, i prefer to think of it not as work or labor or a chore or an obligation.  i like to think of the kids i work with and how super happy they are when they get to play with new toys.  that happy kid innocence gets me far.

this holiday season i will continue my holiday shopping.  i will attend the brightest holiday parties.  i will bake my most favorite holiday goodies.  i will hold on to this time of happy and shiny and bright before the madness that is my last Winter term starts 1/9/12.  that's a little bit of a d-day ...

... but i have 4 glorious weeks until then ...
So this is late.  Yesterday was spent laughing with Shoes' family.  Celebrating a sister who felt well enough after Stage 4 Cancer Treatment to come out for dinner.  Celebrating a family gracious enough to cook the entire meal.  Celebrating two little boys (ages 7 and 5) who are starting to play together beautifully and entertain themselves.  (This year, they discovered they loved yams.  And couldn't figure out why we were giving them "candy potatoes".)  Celebrating that I have an extended family so supremely loving that we talked about wedding planning and chaos for the perfect amount of time yesterday.  (Thankful I am "drowning" in their support and well wishes.)

So today, this is my message of gratitude:

"I thank my God always on your behalf." -- 1 Corinthians 1:4.

So thankful for those closest to me right now.

And today, I am working feverishly on a term paper in (a partially sunny??) Seattle while Shoes naps blissfully.  I am surrounded by articles, books and handouts.  I am about to head to the coffee shop for my 2nd cup of coffee.  I will also complete my internship self-evaluation by the end of the day and will think carefully about my performance with my clients, my clinician co workers, and my learning experiences on the mezzo and macro levels.  (I didn't tell you this, but through internship I attended a very interesting roundtable discussion on my agency's finances with the Chief Financial Officer.  I was thoroughly intimidated.  And in a move completely foreign to my nature, I talked up a storm.  And then I received an email from the head of HR asking me to consider sticking around after graduation.) 

I can't shake the busy-ness.  That's not going to change for a good long while.
And I am beginning to fill my cup back up again.  Beginning to remember my skills as a therapist and social advocate.  Remembering my 4.0 graduate GPA has not come without good cause.  Remembering that I know how to sit and be with human beings.  Remembering that people can only know how to support as far as I have the gumption and wisdom to tell them.

That was a scary four weeks of extreme exhaustion empty, lonely, tapped out.

Glad to be back on the loving side of things.
Part Three Already!

*  Thankful for my amazing peppermint mocha this morning and the fact that I'm finally getting a start on my narrative therapy paper.  This is huge!  Apologies for my use of violent language, but I'm gonna' knock this sucker out.  It'll probably take 5 days, but it's finally getting started!

*  Thankful for the fact that I have internship tomorrow and I get to be "in session" with clients for most of the afternoon.  "In Session."  How awesome is that.  (That means the kids and I talk and play and draw and laugh and the parents and I grab every success that happened during the week we can.  I wish everybody could have the humbling experience of working with families.  I.  Love.  It.)

*  Thankful I get to see the nephews NEXT WEEK.  That's a whole lotta' little boy ferociousness coming my way.

*  Thankful that Eliz' Swanky Holiday Party is coming up!  Which reminds me, I should RSVP.  I love holiday parties.  More than what is probably normal.

*  Lastly, I'm thankful that my mom still calls me "sugar britches."  Um, I don't really know how to describe that, but she says it, and it's just the most ridiculous, endearing, I'd only let HER get away with it term.  Love my mom.
the alternate title of this post was a very lengthy list:

why i won't be joining the student walk out
why i did not stop by the Occupy Portland camps
why i used direct praise in session on Monday
why i don't own an I Phone

all things that would be expected of me right now.

i won't be joining the student walk out that's set to happen in 50 minutes.  i will still be at this cafe, eating my lunch.  instead of joining the subsequent march through the park blocks downtown, i will be headed to class and will be turning in my paper. i might be the only one.  i might not.  my professor will probably be there and she might be disappointed that i am there.  i will not be joining the walk out because i don't understand the goal.  as far as i can see,the purpose of the march is to voice extreme frustration for the out of control tuition hikes and the fact that you cannot get a good paying job without a college degree (some would argue at least a Master's), but it's getting harder and harder (almost impossible) to pay for said degree.  i agree with all of these points.  it's the part where somebody connects a walk out and march to effectively sending a message to our lawmakers that i myself am not connecting with.  this walk out and march are passionate and involved and i fully, 10,000% support the students' right to do this.  i certainly connect with their fury over the cost of a decent education.  but we, who are adults and in graduate school, and are counselors and attorneys (those came first to mind b/c that is the position that Shoes and I are in) and holding a fair amount of social capital, WE are the ones who should be changing the laws.  WE should be breaking down the doors of our congressmen, demanding change, withholding our votes. WE are at about the age where WE ourselves should be running for city, county and state positions.  maybe that makes me a bad social advocate.  or maybe i just choose to advocate differently.  (this, of course, would be countered by those who state we have to re-claim power, shake up the system and not do things the way we have always been doing them.  i respect that.)

i did not stop by the Occupy Portland camp.  i did not attend, as a support/spectator, the deadline of 12:01 Sunday morning for the Occupiers to leave camp.  i fully respect their passion and their willingness to camp for 5 weeks in the damp, Portland rain.  my heart aches for the homeless and mentally ill that settled in so naturally, finally having a community and a (relatively) safe place to stay.  but, again, i'm having problems connecting how a large group of people camping downtown is something Wall Street cares about.  and i am so very open to hearing more about the connection, if anybody can shed some light on it.

i used direct praise in session on Monday.  after externalizing the problem, eliciting strengths and feedback, and looking into the eyes of a still very bewildered, very exhausted parent, I said, "You're trying as hard as you can and doing the best that you can.  Good job."  i don't have the right to tell parents if they're doing a good job or not.  only they can decide that for themselves.  but in a moment where i saw total and utter confusion, i stood in the gap and told a parent (metaphorically), "now is the time to trust yourself."  conventional / theoretical wisdom gave way to being in the moment with a human being.

i do not own an I Phone.  in a time where every professional i know has one, i do not. i think i would very much like to, but i do not because i cannot afford one and am unwilling to pay for something outside of my financial means.  the phone i do have is sad, but because i can afford it, i choose to love it.  it's the underdog.  the little engine that could.  i have dropped it several times (including once in the toilet) and it still keeps on keeping on.  it's loyal.

all this to say, there are things that are expected of us.
as a woman with christian beliefs, i am expected to hold conservative political beliefs and traditional family values.  i don't.
as a gssw student at a liberal university, it is expected that i jump on board with this walk out.  i'm not jumping on board.
as a 33 year old, short of the middle class woman in contemporary culture, it is expected that i use something other than a horribly beat up samsung phone.  i'm not. and i'm also driving an old toyota hand me down that's not even mine.
all this to say, i am happy with myself for being able to see what's expected of me and still be able to make a choice about what i'm going to do.

is there something you're struggling with?  something you're expected to do?  how will you make your decision?  what do you trust most?
In the crazy that is my life, I'm finding that this process of slowing down and purposefully looking for things that I am truly grateful for is helping create a new narrative in my life ... one that is most decidedly outside the "stressed, tired, overwhelmed graduate student" narrative.

And if that sounded counsel-y ... it was. ;)

1.  Grateful for my crazy, extended, very, very, very large family, that stretches me and grows me and, truthfully guys, although sometimes I think you're crazy (and sometimes I think I'M crazy), when all is said and done, there's a lot of love and a LOT of, "We might  not know exactly what we're doing, but we've sure got a lot of stick to it-ness in us."

2.  Grateful for my soon to be new family through Shoes.  What a loving, accepting, wild lot they are.  Especially thankful for the young nieces and nephews, with their crashing, wild abandon love and positive energy.

3.  I'm thankful for the kids I'm working professionally with right now and all they are teaching me about Bravery and Forgiveness.

4.  Thankful for difficult conversations I'm having with clients right now about racism and oppression with my clients.  Thankful that I am figuring out (it'll be a long process) how to identify in session that Portland can be  a racist city and figuring out how to invite open and honest feedback on the therapeutic relationship (especially if I do or say something, as a Caucasian therapist, that feels racist or demeaning).  Thankful that the response so far from clients has been overwhelmingly positive.  I might make a longer post out of this for a later time.

5.  Thankful for the support of so many during the crazy that is planning a traditional wedding.  Thankful that so many big details have already been worked out.  Thankful I get to take my hoped-for break from the planning until Winter Break.

6.  I am especially thankful for the deliciousness that is Pirate's Booty.  O, little puffs, how I love to love you.
Me:  "I think about it all the time and it makes me so nervous.  The private sector is hiring slowly now, but the public sector is still getting hit.  BIG TIME."

Shoes:  "Didn't you tell me all of your friends who graduated in the Spring have found jobs?"

Me:  "Yeah, but, we'll have one more year of yucky economy by the time I graduate and the cuts are coming fast and hard."

Shoes:  " 'Yucky economy?'  Technical term?  I know you love the public sector, babe."

Me:  "Yeah, and I have to pay my student loans back or I'll go to PRISON."

Shoes:  "Uhhh ... "

Me:  "Will you stay married to me if I go to PRISON?"

Shoes:  "Yeah, I think so.  But you should probably concentrate first on, you know, eating dinner.  Then  maybe some sleep would be good ... "
I can be a master.  Most of the time I can be an adult and suck it up, but sometimes, as you can clearly read in my last post!, I lose it.

My dear friend has invited all to take part in Thankful Thursdays.  I know you've seen just about every variation of this there is (30 days of thankfulness, etc.).  It's just simply one of those.  I have no lofty ideas that I'll be able to get to 30 things I'm thankful for (because, as I told her, I'm scattered, sleepy and random -- not because I don't have 30 things to be thankful for), but I figured ...

... I can at least be thankful for one thing on a Thursday.  And Thursdays just happen to be my only non 14 hour day during the week.

There's a principle, as well, of specificity here.  We owe it to ourselves to be specific with ourselves and with others:  with what we want, what we need, what we dream for, what we hope for.  So as hard as things are right now for me, it's a good thing for me to get specific about the things that are going well.  Or not going well, but I see the bigger lesson.

So, here's today's:

1.  I'm thankful that it IS Thursday and I had a chance to breathe deeply on a semi Sunny, beautifully fall Portland afternoon.

2.  So thankful for my Shoes.  So, so thankful for this incredible human being who challenges me and loves unconditionally and knows, without asking any questions, exactly what type of emotion I'm feeling (he can even differentiate between different types of tears now, since I cry at everything).

3.  Afternoon texts from my friend Elizabeth.  Almost without fail, she sends me something about her day that grounds me and brings me back to the real world.  (Also thankful she's not offended if I don't text back.  She gets it.)

4.  My divorce 4 years ago.  That's kind of a funny one, right?  That was a terrible time, but I think about how much I've grown as a person and how much more I know about myself and the nature of God ... and it's a little hard for me to imagine this exponential growth happening in any other context.  I'm also thankful to be Biblically free of such a toxic relationship, and I'm thankful that I'm at the place now where I actually consciously wish good things for the former spouse.

5.  My goddaughter, Rebekah, and all of the ridiculous and funny and loving faces she makes and things she does.  Oh, how deeply I love this little girl.

And that is all I've got for right now, and I'm thankful I'm ok with that.
I just googled it.

They do.  http://www.experienceproject.com/groups/Do-Stupid-Things-When-Im-Tired/139677.

I'm doing things like leaving the milk out.   Not remembering where I put the pistachios.  Starting the Keurig without the cup underneath it.  Washing the same clothes twice.  Losing my keys when they're in my hand.  Reading an article and the next day be unable to discuss it in class because I don't remember a thing in it.

I said an internal cuss word when somebody laughed and said, "You don't know tired until you've had kids" but thankfully managed to not respond otherwise.

You don't know I don't like invalidating statements like that.

My 14 hour days and little sleep at night (because I wake up multiple times already in the process of thinking about how I can change a paper, a new intervention to try with one of my clients, an email I forgot to send ...

... and suicidal grade school children ....)

 .... these things guarantee that I do truly know what being tired is.

Yesterday my co-intern looked at me, bewildered, and said, "Why do I feel like graduate school is causing me to approach everything in my life with half the effort I would normally put forth?"

Because it is, darling.  And we are doing the best we can.  Because there is not enough in any one person to approach their partners, families, jobs, internships, classes, research (we all have these) with 100% effort.   All those things don't add up to 100%.

So I don't return phone calls.  Or texts.  Or emails.  I do homework on a sidewalk on my HP Mini if given any 15 minute time frame.  If given 10 minutes to myself, I disappear into an other-worldly zone where I stare off into space.   Taking care of myself is missing right now somewhere in the tornado of school, no sleep, work, Easy Mac and Starbuck's Coffee.

I take deep breaths.  And am thankful for the things I can control.  (Like what shoes I am going to wear that day.  Good thing my shoes don't need to be washed.)  I send gratitude out for the smallest of successes and rejoice in the loveliness that is a healing kid.  I send funny texts to Shoes about almost stepping in the pee of a urinating homeless man on the street (he was hiding the process with a blanket, for which I am thankful).  I gather support from anywhere I can take it.

I'm a bit of a support addict right now.  I went through a phase where I was bitterly disappointed that people I am close to don't ask how it's going or how school is, but then realized how much energy that was costing me and gathered my supportive people to me all the more closely (they're probably feeling suffocated right now.)   Somebody once told me that that's one of the costs of being a high performing overachiever.  You do so well people don't think you need the tender love messages that are concerns for your well being.

But listen to me ramble.  That's also part of the exhaustion.  And now, there's no more time to ramble.  I had 15 minutes; I chose to use it on this post that probably makes no sense.  Now, it is off to the ADHD lab to conduct clinical interviews with families.

Cause it doesn't stop.

It's all lovely, but it doesn't stop.

Correction:  the homeless guy's pee was not so lovely.
It is week 6 of the term ... 10 weeks total.

But this post is about the weekend The Moms came to help me look for a dress.  And because I may or may not be watching videos on Collaborative Problem Solving with children at the same time I'm drafting this, it will be mostly images.

It is fall.  We are happy in NW Portland.  And we three look exactly alike, you are correct.  I am not including any pictures of Shoes' mom in this post.  Maybe later.

I tried to talk about the use of puppets in children's therapy, but they were just too much fun to ... play with.
I don't know why Cheryl is hiding behind the pink monster.
I will have my blue monster ask.

Cheryl is a super hero in an action shot!  This, unfortunately, is not an option for the girls.
Not available in the right color.

Not the dress.  But it was a serious contender.
The real dress?
It was found.
And I am a happy, happy girl because of it.

Good weekend.  Silly.  Loving.  Joyful.

More of that would be good in my life.

... planned.  Of last weekend, when my mom and Shoes' mom both came to Portland to look at wedding dresses.  With pictures of happy and love and joy and silly.

But I don't have time to download the pictures on my computer.  I don't have time to sleep or grocery shop either.  My bills were late this month because I forgot it was time to pay them.

I have never, never been so busy in my life.  I'm confused most of the time due to lack of sleep or time to plan things out.

If you know a graduate student in your life (especially of the class/internship/work variety), do me a favor and give them a huge hug.  Or a care package. Or a little love note.  And always ... give them lots of grace if they do not return phone calls/emails/text messages.

In all of its loveliness, this is still one of the hardest things I've ever done.
Where the cuss words is the year going? Halloween already??

I spent quite a few years purposefully not observing Halloween at all, and I was ok with that.  As an adult, however, who is not purposefully not "celebrating" Halloween, I'm beginning to notice all of the fabulous costume options being marketed to me.

It's like a whole new world.  I can be a witch ... or even better, I can be a sexy witch!  I could be a nurse ... or even better, a sexy nurse!  Or a sexy policewoman!  Or a sexy pirate!

Or, I could also be .... a sexy Tootsie Roll!  What!  Nobody ever told me about this before!

Sexy Tootsie Costume

This will be so attractive on me.  You have no idea.  Totally appropriate for a children's therapist to wear (I might even wear it to the outpatient clinic on Monday!) and Oh. So. Comfortable.

And these silly people at the Huffington Post?  So uninformed.  Take a look at this crazy article.  I mean, whatever.  Just because so many costumes sold in stores are hypersexualized does not mean, in any way, that women are objectified in our society.  I mean, if I want a non sexy costume, I'll probably have to make it myself, but the absence of tamer costume options in stores doesn't mean that society thinks women should act or look a certain way.  (But who wants a non sexy costume?   I know I'm a little new to the Halloween game, but I can tell from print images how I'm supposed to look!)

And the image below?  This lady is totally NOT supposed to look like a sexualized girl scout.  No.  It is so stinking normal for the little darlings who sell you Thin Mints outside of Safeway to look like sex kittens.  That's not a confusing message at all.  And I'm sure the little darlings who are selling Thin Mints outside of Safeway aren't confused about it either!!  Silly.  They're SAVING their girl scout money so they can wear these costumes when they grow up!  (Or when they're in high school - either way!)

I sure am glad that I get to partake in Halloween this year.  Now, if I could only figure out how to make a sexy Gollum costume, I will be all set.....


... because you can make anything sexy!!
Last Sunday whirled Elizabeth and I to the bridal show at the Convention Center in N Portland.  I had incredible company, the free cake was delicious, but the vendors?  Predatory like a T Rex.  And the vendor that scared me the most?  The ladies who asked me if I had considered a little color before my big day.

Hard to take the question seriously from somebody resembling an Oompa Loompa.

I declined politely.

And oh, the week that followed. 20 hours at the Lab.  19 hours at my internship and getting assigned my first two families.  6 hours of classes.  Reading.  Writing.  Research.

Trying to find time to set up a meeting with potential wedding photographers.

Getting my business in order so I can fully spend time with the moms next weekend to look for a wedding dress.  Their first meeting, and I could not be more excited for them to get to know each other this far in advance of the wedding.  It's one of my biggest hopes that the two (or in our blended case, four) families truly feel like family the day of.

I don't know where I'm finding time to pin things to Pinterest, but would you like to take a miniature sneak peek at what I'm thinking for our big day?  (Or is that, a very expensive little party?) ...



Vintage Wedding Inspirations

All these delicious little ideas and details that get to be tucked away with joy.  Good thing I don't have to worry about how to translate theory into practice until next summer ... I'd have absolutely no idea what to do with myself!  For now, Shoes chuckles gently and says, "All right, love.  If you want to think about it now, that's fine.  Just don't stress yourself out."

This wedding?  The least of my worries.  I have the partner.  We have a venue and the food.  Everything else is just gravy.

I'll save my real worry for my paper on non directive play therapy that's due soon ....
two organizational parts to this post.
a million little parts of my being.

i have two extremely important children entering and leaving my life right now.  at the end of the month, the child for whom i've been advocating as a guardian ad litem will be finally leaving the foster care system ... 4 years later.

in a week, i will be meeting with my first child client in therapy.

a going.  a coming.

to my g.a.l. child,

when i first met you four years ago, i had no idea where your case was going.  i had no idea if you would be returned back home or if you would find a separate forever family.  i did not know if you would fall into that oh-so-scary netherworld of not going back home and not having a forever family to go to.  you were 10 when we first started visiting.  you are 14 now.  there is a lot that goes on developmentally there.  you are not the same child i first met, but you are the same person.  you were a fantastic 10 year old.  you are a fantastic 14 year old.  you know so many things now that you did not know before.  unfortunately, you now know how slow the system is and how heart breakingly long closure (if it comes) takes.  and now you know what it's like to have adults listen to you.  you know how to use your voice.  you know that you are worth believing.

you are so worth believing.

you have a long journey in front of you.  14 is old than 10, but so much younger than  anything older than 15.  my hopes are for you now. and also for your 15 year old self ... your 18 year old self ... your 30 your old self ...  your retired self.  my hope is that you find out which stories mean the most to you in your life and to pursue those whole heartedly.

again, because you are so worth it.

good luck, kid.

to my incoming therapy child,

i do not know anything about you besides the fact that you are 6.  6 is supposed to be a fun age - imaginative, sassy, figuring things out, figuring you out.  but the simple fact that somebody thinks you need to come speak to me says that something might not be going exactly well somewhere.

i am terrified of you.

i have worked with families and teens and kids and mommies and babies for 11 years, and i am terrified of our time together.  will you think that coming to see me will be helpful?  is it more your mommy or daddy's idea?  will you run out of the room screaming because you are scared or mad or tired or don't know how you feel?

i want you to know that all of those things are ok and that whatever journey we need to take together, i'm in.  i'm all in.  i hope you like playing and coloring and making art because i'm learning a  lot about those things and am excited to do those things with you ... if you want to.

because even if you are "just" 6, you know what?  we're going to be working on who you want to be and what kind of feelings you're feeling.  your six year old self is awesome.  you might not be able to tell me, at least at first, but trust me, kiddo.

i'm going to be listening very, very, very hard to all the different ways you might tell me those things.


these days i'm unable to separate out the hope and anticipation and concern i hold for the people i work with.  some days, many days, i just hold the fact that i hold all of these feelings simultaneously.  and, especially now in the  middle of school/work/internship/wedding/reading/writing/research, that is a lot to hold.
1. I have ants in my kitchen.  Little, tiny, disgusting ants crawling everywhere.  My kitchen is spotless.  I've bleached the counters several times.  I'll have nightmares about them tonight, but that might be better than the zombie nightmare I had last week.  Still ... gross.

2.  I've my hands full with theories and weekly papers including:  child centered play therapy, filial play therapy, therapy with families experiencing multi stressors, attachment, abuse and trauma, child suicide ideation (that's not a fun thing to post about, but it does give you a realistic description of what I think about on a weekly basis) ...

3.  I have multiple stressors ...

4.  I am behind on all of my wedding benchmarks.

5.  Is it Saturday or Sunday?  I think it's Sunday.

6.  I forgot to wash my hair this morning, but did put deodorant on before my shower.

7.  That wasn't exactly helpful.

8.  I have not, and will not, see Shoes for a total of 4 or 5 weeks.  That's the way we roll with our schedules sometimes.

9.  I get my first client this week at my internship.  I've worked with kids for 11 years and ...  I.  Am. Terrified.

10.  That's normal.

11.  I wrapped up my 4 year Guardian Ad Litem case yesterday.  All of my heart's good wishes to you, young man.

12.  I have no less than 6 phone calls to return to family and close friends.  Love you guys.

13.  This could rank as the most boring post ever. EVER.

14.  We will return to your regularly scheduled, non boring programming at some point in the very near future.

15.  I hope # 14 wasn't a lie.
In fact, I got it here.

In a rare moment of quiet I watched this very short, very cheesy, YouTube movie trailer and I thought, Yep. This is what we do with orphaned kids.  Somebody just has to step up and say, "I'll be your big person, half pint."

(Please don't mistake this as maternal stirrings.  We'll cross that bridge when we get there and that bridge is several hundred miles down the road.)

Gosh I sure do love this chimp.

Didn't I just post that classes were beginning and internship starting?

Now it is week two of classes with 10 weeks left in the term.

With class, internship, work at the psych lab, grad school reading/writing/research, planning the wedding and making the best attempt I can to stay in touch with family and friends, I'm beyond exhausted.  My poor little black planner is beat up, bruised, bent, and consulted nearly 15 times a day.

I have no idea where I'm supposed to be at any given moment.

And there is so, so much to love.  Like my Social Work with children, adolescents and families instructor (who is also my advanced practice instructor) who is so genuine and so authentic and so encouraging that I don't want to leave class when class is over.  Like my internship (more on that to come), where my colleague team of therapists is so loving and validating and committed to the children we serve.  Like the fact that I've found a way to snake my way from SW Portland to my internship in NE Portland completely avoiding I-5 and I-84 and saving at least 10 minutes by doing so.  Like my job in Psychiatry Research, interviewing parents and children with ADHD.  Like my friend B. in Psych, who started when I did, who is in my same graduate program, and who has quickly become my touch point when she's at the lab.

Last year you read about the ins and outs of geriatric psychotherapy and how profoundly and fundamentally changing it was for me as a counselor and human being.

This year we're going to return back to the minds and hearts of children. And the minds and hearts of children can be a foreign landscape, for which you might need your passport.  And if you don't think you have time enough to get a passport, it's ok.  Because these are kids ... and they would tell you to get out a piece of construction paper, scissors, glitter, and stickers; grab the best picture of you ever (even if it's bigger than 1" x 1") (or a picture of anything you want [mine would be of a sea turtle]) and get to work.  This landscape can also be a little heartbreaking, but that's ok.  Even in the story of big heartbreak in little bodies, there's this amazing story of resilience you can't even imagine exists.

And just as a reminder, my tiny body clients have the same rights and privileges to confidentiality and privacy as my larger bodied clients (check out legal issues above - I'm not messin' around here).  So we talk about themes.  And we use conglomerations. And more than anything, we talk about how their stories change me.

Their stories always change me.

I know they say you can’t go home again             
I just had to come back one last time
Ma’am I know you don’t know me from Adam
But these handprints on the front steps are mine

I was just a few months old when my parents moved to Germany.  I remember a brief visit back to the States when I was 3?  4?  Fleeting images of staying on the second house on my grandparent's farm.  Chasing my cousin Kara through the hay fields of my other grandparents' farm.  Eating strawberries from the garden.  I don't think we went back to the States until I was 9.  I'm a military kid.  We moved.  All of us moved.  Every peer I had moved.  Every friend I had moved and I moved away from every friend.  We switched houses.  Jobs.  Neighborhoods.  Schools.  Day care centers.  Sledding hills.  Bike riding paths.  It all changed.  Every two years, it was a new set of everything.

Up those stairs in that little back bedroom
Is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar
I bet you didn’t know under that live oak
My favorite dog is buried in the yard

England once.  Texas once.  The Philippines once.  Germany twice.  The only friend I kept in touch  with from my childhood is because of Facebook, of all things.  I'd look for my other childhood friends, but I don't remember their last names.  I barely remember their faces.  I remember some things about each place we lived, but I don't know what it's like to know the place where you live.  Every nook, every cranny, your neighborhood ... I don't get it.  So I continue to move.  Graduate undergrad school and get married?  Move to the Vineyard town.  No big deal.  I missed the former friends, but I had lived in one place for an astonishing 8 years.   Past time to move on.  Bad divorce, time for graduate school?  Move to Portland.  The healing came from somewhere else than home.

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself

If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

I don't know where my father lives.  Nevada, I hear, but anything after that's a mystery.  My mom and step-dad live in Central Oregon, in a town I think is charming, but also a town I visit rarely and have no real ties to.  When it gets bad, I don't go home.  What's home?  Sometimes I wonder, sure, what it would be like to be from somewhere.  But I'm not from somewhere.  When people ask me where I'm from, I name the last place I live.  Right now?  I moved from the Vineyard town two years ago.  What built me?  The process of moving built me.  The absence of home built me.  I'm doing ok, by the way.  Built a little differently, maybe.

Mama cut out pictures of houses for years
From Better Homes and Gardens magazine
Plans were drawn and concrete poured
Nail by nail and board by board
Daddy gave life to mama’s dream

But Shoes is from somewhere.  Shoes was born in a town nearby to where his parents lived in rural Eastern Washington because the town they lived in didn't have a hospital at the time.  He's known his oldest friends since the 1st grade.  They grew up together.  Went to high school together.  Went to college together in that same town ... and were roommates while attending college.  I don't think they know it yet, but Shoes will be asking them to be groomsmen in the wedding.  We drive around and Shoes says, "This is where we ...."  and "Chris and I rafted down this drainage ditch in January" and "I went to elementary school here and it's where I got burned by the firecracker" and "Alex's parents owned this McDonalds" and "before there were those 5 subdivisions behind my parents house, it was just wheat fields rolling out into forever."  It's like a foreign language.  It is the mighty Palouse, and the might Palouse is having a love affair with Shoes.  I have a feeling we'll move there ... one day ... at some point.  I hope I'm ready at that point, but there's a piece of me that doesn't know if I can do it.  You just stay in one place?  What if you don't like it?  What if you feel stifled?  What if the PTA hates you?  What if I can't find a big enough client base to build my counseling practice?  What if I get snowed in for a month?

You leave home and you move on and you do the best you can
I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself

But then again, maybe it's time to create a place to return back to time after time.  Maybe it's time to create an epicenter pin on my map.  Maybe, at 33, it's time for me to be open to creating space that's for settling down, digging deep and growing some roots.  Maybe there's a fulfillment there I'm missing.  Maybe there's a part of me I don't know yet exists.

Maybe I won't know until it happens.

Maybe Shoes is worth all of those questions.

Maybe that's definitely true.  Like I said before, I take the chance because I trust the person.

(Miranda Lambert, The House That Built Me, 2010).
of school tomorrow ... at least for this go round.  i haven't necessarily ruled out a Ph.D., but that, dear hearts, is a journey in and of itself.  i haven't started this school year yet, and i know, because i often rule my personal life with clarity, that i love it already.

and i will love being done.

next june will be the culmination of three years of some of my best social work work so far.  i can say with confidence i've put my whole heart and entire being into this masters degree.  but  it is just the best social work so far.  i can't even imagine the amazing things to come once i step back into the field.  i can't wait to add to my ten years of bachelor's level experience.

my school bag is ready.
my alarm clock is set.
i have my first training at my internship tomorrow (while last year was a journey into geriatric psychotherapy, this year marks a journey back into the world and hearts of children and their families).
my first class (social work with children, adolescents and families) tomorrow evening.
i may not sleep tonight.  (i get that worked up.)

it was a good, long last weekend of summer.  shoes and i successfully booked our first choice of a wedding venue -- one that we are entirely thrilled about (even shoes, even though he tries not to be).  we have a date.  the moms and i will be looking for a dress at the end of october.  the attendant list has almost been fully confirmed ... just a few more people to talk to.  my dear friend molly offered the use of her own wedding arch, and molly and i are both so, so stoked that we will both have been married under it.  much to do in the upcoming year.

it does my soul well to know shoes and i are getting married in his hometown.  maybe because i do not have a hometown.   we'll make that the topic of the next post.  hometown.  roots.  where we come from and where we're going.  for now, here's (yet another blurry one due to my amazingly slow shutter release) a picture of me in shoes' hometown.  the gorgeous wheat?  very much a part of the scenery of the venue.

makes me excited all over again.

and why not tonight?  we're all adults.  all ready for this.

seven years ago today, (September 18th, 2004) i got married.  married.  i don't even know how many people we invited, but it was a ton.  all of our family.  both of my work offices.  his education cohort at the university.  our entire church. my friends from undergraduate school. i had a stunning white gown; he looked dashing in his very formal, traditional tuxedo.  we were jubilant and ready and in love and we laughed and loved and our church came together to put it all together.  we had the happiest of ceremonies - performed with abandon and enthusiasm.

people would tell me later they had never been to a wedding that was so ... happy.

as young marrieds, we were in charge of 1st through 6th grade children's ministries.  we lead a church mission to Mexico.  we moved to the vineyard town so he could take his first job teaching english as a second language to elementary school children.

he was young and vibrant and impulsively impish.  the life of the party -- the one you could count on to be just a little bit naughty.  or a lot naughty.  you just never knew what that crazy boy was going to do next.

maybe that is why three years after we married, we were divorced.  that quick impulsiveness never went away, but morphed into something terribly and horribly heart breaking.  no thinking about consequences.  living for the here and now.  wrecked a marriage.  maybe two, but i couldn't keep track of the other marriage for too long for fear that doing so would stir up a sense of revenge within me.  it wrecked my faith in jesus for a long time.  (i remember clearly the moment when i felt i could start walking back to jesus.  it was when my counselor asked me what i thought god thought about my divorce and i blurted out, without thinking, immediately, "god HATES divorce!  and i did it anyway!" and promptly started sobbing. [nevermind that i had a biblical out.  nevermind i had consulted two pastors and my closest, most reliable friends.]  my counselor handed me the tissue box and said quietly, "god doesn't hate divorce in the context that you did something bad and you will now be punished.  god hates the effects of divorce on his children; he hates to see you hurt like this.  you didn't do anything wrong.  you're not being punished." oh, how i wish i could tell that to all of the darling daughters who are in that same spot. something really very ugly broke off of me at that point, and i was able to start standing up to people who looked down on me and said, "love hurts.  you have to love through the hurt.")

seven years later, on september 18th, i am planning a new wedding.  a new marriage.  a new life.

it's more than a bit scary.

i know now, really know, really, really know, what marriage is like.  i know how hard it is.   i know the exact, unmistakable, ear splitting sound of a heart breaking when marriage doesn't work out.  (such the understated euphemism "doesn't work out" is).  it is a risk.  it didn't feel like a risk seven years ago.  it feels like a risk right now.

and i know how amazing it is when it really works out.  when you have a partner you adore.  when you have a partner who is your true ... partner.  at its best, marriage is, perhaps, one of the greatest gifts in the world.

i tell shoes all the time that i do not think i would be doing this again if it wasn't him i was marrying.  i don't want just another marriage.  married just for the sake of being married?  no thank you.  i certainly don't want just another wedding.

it's shoes.  i want shoes in my daily life.  i want to come home and talk about work with him and walk the dog with him and adopt children with him.  i want him to forever poke gentle fun at the way i worry incessantly.  i want to forever turn around and see him standing there calmly.  i want to forever hear him chuckling the chuckle he has when he thinks he's being a little bit evil.

and so, ironically, i think i have something to thank my first husband for after all ... seven years after the wedding date and four years after the divorce. if he and i hadn't shared at least some genuine love, at some point, i think i would write marriage as an institution off ... forever.  but i remember some good times.  i remember that the experience of marriage can be amazing.  and that, in conjunction with same amazing healing from a good god, and the man that shoes is, has lead to some serious hope and possibility.

shoes know this.  he knows this because i've told him.  save nothing else, it's what i want him to know in the midst of all the wedding crazy.  i'm in it because he's in it.  and i'm all in. despite the risk.

it feels right to finally be able to say that.  funny, the places you find yourself getting to seven years later.
complete with hugs and catching up with all of the old social welfare / criminal justice crowd ... a judge officiant who showed up exactly 30 minutes late and ate a little bit of humble pie ... he always threatens to fine those who are late to his courtroom ... and none of us have ever been late to his courtroom ... 

and they are a lovely couple.  all of us were juvenile detention officers at one point.  it's where they met.  it's where Shoes and i met.  who would have known?

blurry picture ... (very slow shutter release on the camera) ... but here we are.  i do hate being the tallest girl because it truly does make me look bigger in every sense of the word (the PROOF is in the PICTURES) :-)... i left detention to run the guardian ad litem program ... the bride left detention to work at the local domestic violence victim's shelter ... and tiff (my roommate from the Vineyard Town) is still holding it down in detention...

and the baby tiff had while we were living together?  no longer a baby, but a boisterous, mischievous, live wire  2 and a half year old.

... who ate about a pound and a half of wedding favor m&m's, but we love her anyway.

happy wedding, happy weekend.
I am on my way out the door to the Vineyard town for the most lovely backyard wedding of the best kind.  For the next day or two, I will think only about snuggling in next to Shoes, drinking red wine, staying cool in the Eastern Washington heat and laughing with old friends.

I will not think about the fact that I have two days left at Research Administration in which I have to put together a meeting for Research's heaviest of heavy hitters (30 emails later and we're into late October / early November).

I will not think about the fact that a new Psychiatry mandatory bi monthly meeting has been added to my schedule that I have to work in.  Somehow.

I will not think about the fact that the university's classified employees have a very high likelihood of striking the first week of classes ... and that going to class will be considered crossing the picket line ... and that some have suggested that going to field placement will also be crossing the picket line ... I will not think about the implications this has for graduation / financial aid / me and Shoe's ultimate plan and I will try not to think about how, at the same time, they have the absolute right to strike for their rights.

I will not think about the fact that Shoes and I are struggling (but not arguing) to get our wedding guest list down to 150.  Some brutal, brutal cuts are being made.  Shoes has asked me not to think about the wedding until after I am at least done with Research Administration (next Thursday) and only have one job (Psychiatry) to worry about.  But we meet with the wedding venue on the 23rd, so time is tight ... but again, I'm not worrying about it this weekend.

Right now I'm choosing to be grateful.  That I have a Shoes to go to.  That I have a wedding of the most epic proportions to celebrate.  That my problem is I have two jobs.  That I'm almost done with graduate school (oh please, oh please, oh please let my grad. date stay intact ...).

Pictures of the K. Wedding to come ... this is the best, most fun group ... you never know what's going to happen when the social workers, police, prosecuting attorneys, probation officers get together ... outside of multi-disciplinary meetings ... (but some of you know all too well) ...
Or something.

I don't mean to be melodramatic, but this man is back, this time riding the bus late, late at night after I get off my late shift in Psychiatry up at the hospital.  What's he doing there so late?  Riding the Line 8 around in the middle of the night, nowhere to go, nobody to visit with (except the folks in the ER and the friendly Vet Guards at the V.A.).  Seeing him makes me cranky, but only in the sense that I know things aren't getting any better for him

Only in the sense that I want more than anything for things to be better for him.

It's not the first time time we've been re-introduced, and he has no idea who I am any time we meet (which doesn't deter him from sitting next to me every time [not that I mind]).  His eyes are fully jaundiced (is that the correct medical way to describe that?), he smells fully pickled, sometimes he makes sense and sometimes it's word salad.

It's getting worse, whatever he has ... the alcoholism, depression, I don't know.  I'm not his doctor; not his counselor.  He brightens when we talk and I guess that's enough.  I think he's slowly dying, in the way that untreated, getting older alcoholics always feel like they're dying.  This is not the light-hearted bus humor I usually like to share.

It's just the other thing that happens to me, with regularity, on Public Transit.   I hope he still has his apartment, hope he still has his case manager and I still hope (against hope) that something Super Big happens and he makes it.

Really makes it.

And I hope I continue to ask about his well-being with sincerity, void condescending paternalism.  But in all honesty, I feel like I'm nearing that line ... that there's a little too much sympathy and too much clucking in my voice ... that I'm losing the ability to be genuinely concerned and gaining the ability to front with him.

As if I'm the one who has it bad.

I hope the road turns for you, Randy.  Even just a little bit.  Even just slightly.  Ever so slightly.

Either way, I'll see you on the 8.

I hope you have some new jokes for me next time.

You usually do.
I had my first Pumpkin Spice Latte today (because Starbucks is how I mark my seasons) and waited at the Car Dealership Service Center for no less than 5 hours for them to replace a sensor.

Good thing I had that latte.

And also, Shoes and I went to Mt. Hood last weekend.  O, it was a funny weekend.  I wanted to ride the zip line, not realizing it was all of 500 feet and more suitable for 9 year olds.  I wanted to ride the alpine slides, before we knew that Oregon State Police was holding a fundraiser there.

So we skipped all of that, went on a gorgeous hike and lunched at Timberline Lodge instead.

Shoes' ice cream cone has a naturally occurring hole at the base of the ice cream.  Double sadness.  Holy ice cream and no zip line.

We do love this place a lot.

So close, Shoes is telling you.

I'm trying to think of the last summer things we have on our list to do, but truly, I think this is it. Cougars have their season opener tomorrow,  one Labor Day lunch with Elizabeth and family on Labor Day, we have one amazing wedding of a Stacey and Adam to attend to in the Vineyard town, and then it's full steam ahead into Fall.

Summer, you just started.  Why do you have to be such a punk and leave now?
Lentil Festival:  (noun) Pullman, Washington event that effectively succeeded in prohibiting Shoes and I meeting with our first choice of ceremony/reception venue.  On the phone, the venue secretary said, "Oh, I don't know now.  That's lentil festival.  We'll be really busy that weekend."


I, for one, ALWAYS flock to the nearest party that honors legumes.  We really didn't get to meet with the venue rep, but I drove to Pullman anyway last weekend.  I hadn't had a chance to see Shoes' mother or his father (and family) since the engagement.

And you know what?

Lentil festival is HUGE.  Blocks worth of lentil party.  Who knew?  And Shoes mocked me for my 5 minute screeching tirade about how busy I am and how I have very few chances to get to Pullman before school starts and how NOBODY will be at lentil festival.

Everybody was at lentil festival.

A picture, but not my picture - it's hyperlinked, of the big, giant huge vat of free lentil chili they cook up and serve.  I passed.   But we had fun walking around with old friends and enjoying the young energy that a university hums with right before classes start.

Also.  We were inadvertently in the Lentil Festival parade on Sunday.  Shoes marched, as a 3rd grader (I think?) in the very first Lentil Festival Parade.  They made him dress up like a packet of lentil seeds; he says he is still scarred from that experience but I doubt it.  We were trying to get up to the University, the road merged, there was regular traffic in our lane and the parade in the lane next to us.  Enter panicked noises from Shoes and "we gotta get out of this thing."

Also, I told Shoes that I wanted to see the Pullman lady cop from the show "Campus PD."  As in, the Campus PD series that's on G4.  This lady in this clip (I apologize for the title on the clip, but I can assure you nobody talks about dropping panties.  Well, kind of he does, I guess.  It's a drink.):

Shoes said, "I bet I can deliver that."    And what do you know?  He did.  She was right there at Lentil Festival.

Oh Lentil Festival.  I want to be so mad at you.

But you, in all of your small town glory, won't let me.

You know what else?, Shoes' step-mom and step-sisters squealed with excitement when they saw the engagement ring.  And the "Congratulations!"  and "We're SO HAPPY for you's" melted my heart just a little more.

Like my heart needs to be any more gooey with this family.

We also made out pilgrimage out to the Washington State University Bear Center.
In fences.
Free to see.

The very first time Shoes took me home (and I spent the entire time feeling like I was going to toss my cookies I was so nervous), we talked, in the car, about how I had never seen a live bear not in a zoo.  When we got into town, Shoes said, "I've something to show you."

And he drove me out to the Bear Center.

And he grinned.

And he said, "See, babe?  Bears.  Not bears in the wild, but still bears.  Look at what I deliver."

Photo not mine.  Click and see.  These are not the bear cubs that are out there now.  The cubs out there now are much bigger, but still young.  And I seriously adore them.  I have no idea why.  I'm such a dork, but I love to sit there and watch them play, wrestle with each other, splash into their tubs, nap.

Shoes always has to tell me it's time to leave and I always say, "Just a couple more minutes ..."

We have a meeting the Friday before school starts to talk to the wedding venue.  Shoes was the one who ended up setting it up.  Apparently, he can create magical things in the town he hails from.  And I cannot.   I wonder how long it takes for the Pullman magic to rub off ....
My good, good friend from my program, C., interned last year at a men's residential drug and alcohol treatment center.  She still floats there, sometimes, because she is patient and good and levelheaded and smartsmartsmart and the facility figured out in .009 seconds they could not let her go and that they should pay her to be patient and good and levelheaded and smartsmartsmart.

That was a good decision.

Last night as I was switching buses, C. told me on the phone how she had to take the center's cat in to get its shots.  The men, you see, had kidnapped the cat from the streets and lavished it with love and given it a place to call home.

And they threaten to kick each other's .... rear ends .... if one of them hurts it.

They named the cat Relapse.  C. and I dissolved into giggles, and then she asked me how the wedding planning was going and if I was getting excited.

And me, for all of my pratical, no nonsense, bluff of "I don't want a formal, big wedding" (and truly, I don't want those things exactly) and "we have to execute this well", did get excited.  I did.  I let myself get excited.  I let myself dream about all of our closest friends together in one place, laughing, eating, drinking, laughing, laughing, laughing.  I had a vision of the golf course in Pullman lit up by white lights in the early dusk of a warm, late summer Eastern Washington evening.  I let myself think about beautiful bridesmaids twirling around on the dance floor and handsome groomsmen lined up at the altar.  I let myself think about coming home to Shoes at the end of the day, together in one place, enjoying normal life, the (thus far nonexistant) dog between us.

And I bubbled over like a young girl.

Sometimes I forget about all of the joy and lightheartedness and free spirit that's in me.  Sometimes I forget that these Good Things are really for me.  That I can partake.  Maybe that's the real work of this upcoming busy year:  to partake in the good and to enjoy the rambunctious love and glee that's waiting.

(I never know where my posts are going to end up.)
I am getting married.


I am marrying an amazing human being and we are so very confident in who we are as individuals and the entity that is our relationship.  As Jose Saramago says, the relationship is the third being in our marriage; one must be a respecter of this 3rd entity.

With our specific marriage comes a wedding.  A wedding of traditional sorts.

With a wedding of traditional sorts, comes free advice.

Advice makes me want to puke.

On the Lisa Irate-O-Meter, it falls just below "you'll know when you have children" but somewhere above countless daily Facebook status updates from non-writer types.  Advice is different than sharing personal experience.  I like to hear personal experience, sure. Advice, as in, "you should" .... can be ... bad.  Just bad.

And ignorant.  

People have been asking about the wedding.  That is awesome.  And natural.  And I am happy to answer questions.  I'm fairly open, so when there's something that's not working out as well as I'd like it to, I name it.  Naming it, however, doesn't mean I want other people's answers.  With this wedding comes very, very, very complicated family dynamics.   And if I have to hear one more person try to  boil it down simplistically (as in, "well, you just have to talk to that person" -- like I haven't been dealing with these people for years or haven't gone over every angle in my head over and over and over and over again), I'm going to ... I"m going to .... I'm going to .... look at that person very meanly.

Well. Obviously, there's not a lot I can do (that's legal or diplomatic).  Other than just cheerfully say everything is going swimmingly and perfectly.  Which I probably will start doing.

Ok, this next part comes from my professional side.  Ready?

It is largely inappropriate to give any sort of advice after talking to casual acquaintances for 10 minutes.  Not only is the relationship quite simply not there, but there is no possible way that one can fully understand the rich dynamics of the situation at hand in 10 minutes.  Even professional counselors must be able to sit with the truth that they will never fully understand their consumers, because people are dynamic and changing.  There is always something more to be learned.

Boiling it down to, "You just need to ..." is poop.  I wish I would never have to hear that ever again in my life. (All right, that was obviously less than professional.  I don't say "poop" in session ..... unless I'm working with kids.)

Unless the person one is addressing is on Heroin.  Then one might say, "You really need to ... stop the heroin."  But even then, one shouldn't assume one understands all of the reasons WHY somebody is doing heroin or boil it down to, "You just have to stop."  But I digress.  This post is about advice giving, not Opioids.

Just LISTEN for heaven's sake.  Commiserate.  Say, "Oh my word, that's absurd!"  Say, "Oh good night.  What did you say then?"  Laugh (if appropriate!).  Ask, "What do you think you'll do?"

If people want advice, they will let others know with small, subtle hints like, "I don't know what to do.  What do you think I should do?"  I know, I know.  This can be easily missed, but listen carefully.

Similarly, it drives me absolute batty when I hear somebody say, "I'd be a GREAT counselor ... I give GREAT advice."  Or the person who says, "I'd be a GREAT counselor" never takes a breath when talking.  I once had a hair dresser who continually told me she'd be a GREAT counselor.  I didn't think so.  Mainly because I couldn't even catch a minute to say, "Hey, wait, not so much blond this time, ok?  How 'bout those low lights?"  Oy, oy, oy.  Good counselors listen, listen, listen, listen, listen, ask open ended questions and then listen some more.  If anybody's ever curious about how the helping process works, ask me.  I'll expound.  Spoiler alert:  It's not through empty advice giving.

We listen to understand. The understanding doesn't come flooding through an open mouth.  Those channels aren't connected.

Ok, I think that's enough of the Lisa Irate-O-Meter.

Time to go make zucchini apple cake and watch, "Texas Women."

Well.  We all get down time somewhere, right?