Monday, September 29, 2008


I saw a lot of old cars this weekend. As a former owner of a 1958 Oldsmobile 88 and a 1965 silver Ford Thunderbird, I have a weakness for antique vehicles.

After I dropped the girls off for ballet on Friday afternoon, I met Mikel at the Burlington Northern offices in Fort Worth. A coworker had told him about a car show the employees were having there. There were some beauties, and some of them were in original condition. My favorite was the '40s vintage Morgan. British racing green with wooden running boards and leather strap over the bonnet.

I would have taken pictures, but my digital camera was stolen out of my car a couple of months ago. Along with the storage card full of dance recital pictures.

The girls danced with their company at the Azle Sting Fling Saturday afternoon. It was pretty hot, but not as terrible as it was last year. They were amazing. You'll just have to take my word for it. No pics.

We got some snow cones and let the girls sit in the truck to eat them while we strolled amongst the entries of the car show. I fell in love with the 1956 Inca Gold T-bird. The man and woman who owned it have been married longer than this car has been in existence. They were real enthusiasts, happy to tell the stories that accompanied their labor of love.

Did I mention my camera got stolen? Dang it.....

I miss my old T-bird. I have a two-year-old GMC Envoy now. I bought it new. It is already having problems. Just like the last General Motors car I owned. And the one before that. I guess it's true that they just don't make 'em like they used to.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I have very little respect for medical providers. I go to doctors, I pay my fees, I do what they tell me to do, but I do not respect them. I do not respect them because they clearly do not respect me.

About six weeks ago I went in for a routine eye exam. I was having no problems with my vision, it was just time to go. Everything went as expected, and I walked out with a new prescription for contact lenses.

Within a week I noticed that the left lens wasn't working for me, so I went back for a recheck. They sent me home with a different left lens. That one didn't work. Another recheck, another left lens. The optometrist commented that some people "my age" can't wear contact lenses anymore.

Right about that time I noticed that I had a growth, a bump, on my left eyelid. I also noticed that the vision in my left eye was significantly changed. I was experiencing double vision and it felt like I was looking through Vaseline. Even my glasses were not working for me anymore.

Back for another recheck. No one would listen to me. The assistant wouldn't let me tell her what I was experiencing. The optometrist fixated on the fact that the bump might be keeping the contact lens from seating properly. He completely disregarded the fact that I couldn't even see with my glasses. He refused to recheck my vision and told me to go to an ophthalmologist to have the growth removed. He refused to answer my inquiries, and he failed to give me any instructions.

I resorted to poking around on the internet to try to understand what was happening to my eye. Turns out I have something called a chalazion.

Two weeks passed before I could get into the specialist's office. Two weeks of not being able to read, two weeks of not being able to drive at night, two weeks of eye strain and headaches.

I went to my appointment yesterday. I sat in the waiting room for two hours. When I was finally taken back to the exam room, the assistant asked a few rapid-fire questions, said it didn't look too bad to her, and ran out of the room before I had a chance to ask any questions.

The second assistant asked what I had been doing to treat the problem. I told her I had been given no instructions. She frowned and informed me that I was supposed to be treating this and that removal was a last resort. She, too, ran out of the room before I could speak.

Thirty minutes later the ophthalmologist came in. He told me I had a chalazion (no s**t, Sherlock), that I needed to apply hot compresses 5 times a day and put this ointment in my eye every night. He said that if it wasn't gone in a month, he will lance it. He grunted something when I remarked that I could have taken care of this myself.

I forced him to confirm that the chalazion is the reason I couldn't see. He seemed mildly surprised that I had been given no information, and he was clearly annoyed that I had wasted his time. He showed absolutely no concern for the fact that I had waited for him for over two hours or that I had dealing with poor vision for a month. And he had no recommendations regarding how I was supposed to get around in the upcoming month.

Did I mention that every one of these visits cost me and my insurance company an exorbitant amount of money? The money is not the issue, however. I just wanted to shout, "Would you please just shut up and listen to me? If you would close your mouth, I will give you everything you need to make an informed diagnosis."

I'm pissed. I still can't see. I still have a headache. I still have to be driven after dark. I've wasted lots of money and time due to someone else's lack of communication skills. I feel devalued and disrespected. I can't wear eye makeup for yet another month. And... I have no idea how to evoke change in a system that is fatally flawed.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fifteen Years

Today is my 15th wedding anniversary. Sometimes it seems as if the time has flown by, and other times it feels as if I have been married forever.

What is the secret to our success, you may ask? Well, I don't know if "success" is the right word. Mikel and I are normal people, with normal concerns, normal disagreements, and normal desires. Neither of us is a villian, and neither of us is a martyr. We are just people.

We do the best we can with what we have to work with. With the tools life has handed us. And we pick up new tools along the way.

We've learned that not every thought that pops into one's head must necessarily be given a voice. In other words, we've learned when it is prudent to shut up.

We've learned that sometimes things sound good in theory but don't work out so well in real time. We go back to the proverbial drawing board again and again.

We are still learning when and how to express a need. And how to forgive - each other and ourselves.

Our greatest success seems to be reflected in the wonderful young women our daughters are becoming. And I hope that when they are grown and gone we have other things to be proud of, things that are not all about the children.

Thank you, Mikel, for fifteen years, two terrific children, and one fascinating journey.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Would Tell Them

My daughters are a little young yet for deep, life-changing conversations. They still listen to Radio Disney and play with WebKinz. And I am thankful for that.

Sometimes, though, I am overcome with an urgency to tell them things. Things that perhaps will protect them from the hurt of the world. Things that will keep them safe.

How much do you think kids really hear when we talk to them about strangers and danger? Some studies suggest that no matter how many times you have the "stranger danger" discussion, kids still go help people find lost puppies.

There are some things I would tell them, if I could.

I would tell them not to grow up too quickly. You will be a grown up before you know it. You will have responsibilities. You will have to work. And you will never get to be a kid again. It will be gone. Take your time, for Pete's sake.

I would tell them to think before they speak. Every thought that pops into your head does not necessarily need to be spoken. Ask yourself, "Is what I'm about to say helpful or hurtful?" If it will keep you from harm, then SHOUT it. If it will harm another, whisper it - to yourself.

I would tell them that most of the time it is better to be kind than to be right. Pointing out other people's errors does nothing but build walls between you. It embarrasses them and makes you look mean-spirited. Those walls are hard to bring down.

I would tell them to tell the truth. And I would tell them that there are lots of ways to tell the truth - rude ways, mean ways, cruel ways, tender ways, gentle ways, compassionate ways... I would beg them to practice the tender, gentle, compassionate ways.

I would tell them that when they take that huge leap into sexuality, that I hope it is totally consensual and that they have put some thought behind the decision. I hope that the object of their affection loves them and cherishes them and respects them and puts them first. I hope that they are treated like the princesses they are, that they are placed on pedestals.

I would tell them that women and men are vastly different creatures when it comes to relationships. I would remind them that women have a difficult time separating what they feel physically from what they feel emotionally. Not so with all men. It takes a special man to understand that.

I would tell them - I DO tell them - that no one has ever loved them the way that I love them. And I would tell them that if I could, I would wrap myself around them and form a force field between them and the world. I would.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Anyone Want a Nine-Year-Old?

Mom: What do you want for breakfast?

Little One: Ice cream.

Mom: You can't have ice cream for breakfast.

Little One: Why not? You asked what I wanted. I answered. I want ice cream.

Mom (fingers making depressions in counter top): Well, you can't have ice cream for breakfast. There's very little nutrition in ice cream.

Little One: Then put it in one of those waffle cones.


Not-So-Little-One (feeding her new betta fish): Isn't he pretty? I named him Nick Jonas.

Mom: Yeah, he's pretty, I guess. For a fish. I'm not so sure Nick would want a fish named after him. He looks plenty healthy - swimming around and eating and stuff. I haven't seen him do a back flip yet, though...

Not-So-Little-One: We're working on that.


Not-So-Little-One: Thank you, Daddy, for working so hard so we can dance. We know it costs a lot of money. And thank you for driving us everywhere.

Dad: You're welcome. I know it's important to you.

Little One: And thank you both for... for... you know... so we could be born.


Not-So-Little-One: Look, Mommy! This woman on the front of this magazine looks just like you!

Mom: Oh, thank you honey, you're very sweet, but she is much prettier. She's famous and everything. She gets paid tons of money just for having her picture taken.

Not-So-Little-One: No, really, Mommy. She looks just like you.

(The cover model: Salma Hayek)


Note to self - increase Not-So-Little-One's allowance

New note to self - sell Little One to the highest bidder

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Shameless Plug

It's that dreaded time of year. The time when coworkers close their office doors when they see you coming. The time when parents remind their children how much they sacrifice for their happiness.

It's fundraising time.

First installment - I have an order form for ready-to-bake Otis Spunkmeyer cookies in my office. Several different flavors. $15 a box (makes 4 dozen cookies).

In all fairness to Otis, these are pretty tasty cookies. Come see me if you have a cookie fetish.

And if you're using that old "I'm on a diet" excuse, don't you worry. I have yet another child...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Did You Know?

Did you know that if you fill every spare moment of every single day with some sort of important, meaningful activity, you can shut out the demons in your head? And that the more selfless the activity, the quieter the voices?

And did you know that if you move fast enough - car, boat, go kart, roller coaster, motorcycle, legs, mouth, hands, whatever - you can outrun memories?

And did you know that if you surround yourself with other people and keep them close to you, wearing them like some sort of talisman, you can avoid facing yourself and your own inadequacies and insecurity?

Well... you can. For a while.

Be still, and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Things I Didn't Need to See

Here are some things I did not need to see on my way to work today:
  • the sticker in the back glass of the monster pick up truck that reads slapaho
  • all of those other stickers in the back windows of all of those other trucks that depict Calvin peeing on something
  • the pack of boys walking beside the road holding on to their "parts" while their baggy shorts hung below their backsides
  • the boxer shorts being worn by that same pack of boys
  • the fourth grader wearing eye shadow and mascara
  • the middle-schooler with the cigarette hanging out of his mouth
  • the sixteen-year-olds in my neighborhood driving nicer cars than I own
  • the beer billboard that featured the headless upper torso of a young woman in a cut off t-shirt, allowing a peek at the underside of her breasts
  • the "gentlemen's" clubs billboards that suggest that men can have a better time gazing at strangers than spending time with their own partners
  • the huge, faded, rusty billboard on the side of the freeway with an arrow pointing the way to Plastic Surgery

These things can all be summed up in one word - tasteless.

Monday, September 1, 2008


There is a God. And He is awesome. And He is merciful, even when we make stupid mistakes and forget to take care of the things He has placed in our charge.

This morning, at 5:00 am, I stood in the shower, breathing in blessed steam, stretching my neck, relaxing my shoulders, trying to overcome the tension that had already begun to build. In two hours I would be standing in front of hundreds of athletes, folks who take their passion seriously, to offer a sample of my own passion. I had promised to sing the National Anthem for the Fort Worth Runners Club Labor Day race.

Two days ago I lost my head. Forgot to take care of my instrument. Worse than that, I outright abused it, screaming my bloody head off on the Titan at Six Flags. I allowed my love of speed to overshadow my judgment. I knew I would be singing, and I chose to blow out my vocal chords anyway. Stupid.

I also knew I had a solo at church yesterday. Turned out okay because it was pitched below my break. As of last night, I had nothing above the break. On the way to the event, I was still struggling.

So, there I stood this morning at the start line, breathing deeply, worrying, chastising myself for my foolishness. And when I opened my mouth, there were no surprises. It was not a flawless performance, but I believe it blessed those who gathered.

And I never chalk these successful performances up to chance or luck. I know why I manage to pull them off. I know that He hears my prayers. I can no longer count the number of times I have bowed my head in prayer before a performance, asking my God to help me overcome some vocal problem so that the gift that I am about to present will be clear, pure, and a blessing to those who will hear it.

Because it is never about me. The gift is not for me. It is always for the audience. Once it leaves my body, I no longer own it. Maybe I never did to begin with. Few things are as unsettling as sitting through a poor performance. It is my responsibility to put the listener at ease. And it is never the listener's fault if I choose to abuse my instrument.

So I humble myself before Him, and I ask for help. He always comes through. I ask Him to get me through the performance, and that is precisely what He grants me. It is the same every time - I can barely sing a note right up to the moment, I manage a pretty good offering at the mic, and then I find I can't sing much of anything afterwards.

God is real. God is good.