catelin: (sculpture ranch)
( May. 25th, 2008 09:45 pm)
It's been an odd year so far...I have been far less communicative than I have in a long time--and it's not necessarily a bad thing--but I have simply felt the need to process much of my life internally.  I'm not so quick anymore to vomit up every feeling onto the floor before I look at it and try to figure out what it is.  It's been a rough few months in a lot of ways, full of changes and facing fears of all sorts.  I was afraid of growing older, I was afraid of being left, I was afraid of planning for things because I couldn't believe there would be a point to it, I was afraid not to plan because chaos was sure to follow.  I was afraid of how quickly my sons are growing, of how little they seem to need me anymore.  I was afraid of my animals dying, of something terrible happening to my man.

Middle-age, I think, is a stage in life where we all necessarily go through a period where we are scared shitless.  Mine lasted a while, but I am making my peace with all the changing landscapes in my life.  The landscape of my face and body continues to shift and I am at peace with it in a way that I never have been before.  Oddly enough, Madonna had a lot to do with this.  She looks strange to me now, with her ever-so-slight work.  She's still lovely, but she looks nothing like herself.  The one thing I have always chosen, even when I lived in the land of nip and tuck, was to look like myself.  I decided that I was still very happy to look exactly like myself, even if that self is my aging self.

The landscape of motherhood is shifting, but the floor of that sea remains.  My oldest is almost 13 now and hardly lets me touch him.  His favorite answer to almost anything is "whatever" and he hides his beautiful face with too much hair in his green eyes.  Still, he is the same amazing child, even with all his new bravado and tentative efforts to separate himself from me.  That's what he's supposed to be doing.  He's at an age where he's supposed to think I'm a big dork.  I still enjoy the occasional glimmer of unreserved love when he forgets to act like Mr. Cool.  His ten-year-old brother is not far behind him, but I'm ready.  They get bigger, but they are still my sons.  They have learned exactly what I set out to teach them...that they can be themselves, separate from everyone, but still always loved, safe, and connected to family.

The landscape of love and friendship in my life continues to amaze me.  I am, in the end, luckier in love than I ever thought possible, with a man who never fails me.  We are both tough and tender in many of the same ways, but we fill in our gaps with our different approaches and experiences.  Together we are a badass two-headed love monster that can deal with anything.  That's been a nice change from never being able to count on anyone to shoulder the burden with me before.  He's solid, this man of mine, and I have learned that I can count on him and believe in him without reserve.  That knowledge gives a soul a lot of breathing room, and breathing feels good.

Times have been bad and good, all at once, a swirl of life with a pace that leaves me dizzy sometimes.  I feel sometimes like if I stood in the grass and planted my feet for a few moments, I'd be able to see it all moving past--circling and changing even as it is all perceived.

My life's horizons move like oil on water.  That frightened me at first, the uncertainty of it.  There are still times when the uncharted territory of the faraway can leave me in a panic.  Then I began to see that even unfamiliar landscapes are always decorated with markers that I've crafted for myself and those I love over the years--markers that remind me of my strength, of my courage, of my joy, my laughter, everything that I have to offer and everything that I am still learning to give.
catelin: (sculpture ranch)
( Feb. 9th, 2008 10:14 am)
Today is one of those days where nothing in particular is going on, but I just woke up with a feeling that all is right with my small corner of the world. I have two beautiful children, a man I adore who adores me right back, a house that I love, and more than enough animals to drive me crazy. When I was a little kid, I used to imagine how I would be as a grown-up. It was always me, living in a big city, being oh-so-sophisticated. I think I was never sophisticated. I don't know that I ever have been, even when I lived in the big city.

My youngest son told me a few weeks ago that I am a Type 6 Hippie. I had no idea what that was, much less that he'd been classifying hippies! According to my ten-year-old son, a Type 6 hippie is a punk rock hippie. He told my man that he was a Straight Up Hippie. Now I don't know how accurate this whole classification thing is, since he seems to think that everyone who lived in the eighties was a hippie, but it still cracked me up. I'm more than happy to be a Type 6 Hippie. I'm happy to live out in the boonies. I'm happy that my most valuable monetary asset is a badass comic book collection that I would never sell. I'm happy that I have made a crazy, completely unsophisticated life for myself and my kids that has room in it for art, learning, exploring, sharing, and--most of all--plenty of laughter.

Other Hippie Classifications, for your edification:

Type 1: "People who protest the Viet Nam War after it's over"
Type 2: "Nature people, like nature conservers and stuff like that"
Type 3: "Disco and Afro Hippies"



The Hippie Expert & Mom
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28 degrees today, coldest day of the year so far. I'm driving west to meet my dad halfway for the boys' annual winter break visit. I'll drop them off with him and pick them up in a week from my mom. It's always strange to spend extended time without them, but it's worth it for the time they get to spend with their grandparents. I haven't had much of a break over the last week or so, as things have been crazy trying to get ready for the new job. It's worth it, so I don't mind at all. I've missed a lot during my hiatus and I've got tons of comments to catch up on and apologies to make to many of you for being so out of touch. I can't even really bring myself to write about what went on with me the last year or so, but at least I'm finding my words again. A new year is just around the corner. I'm ready!

Other random things that I just want to note...James Carvel is starting to scare the shit out of me with his extruded voice and that face! He is starting to look like the creepy Madame puppet that I hated when I was a kid (although Madame was much funnier and probably smarter). Potato soup is just about one of the best meals in the universe. I've stopped painting my toenails, out of laziness, and noticed that I have those weird old lady ridges on my nails...slight, but still there! Ricky Bobby. Ha! And ha!!! If I didn't know people exactly like that I'm sure it wouldn't have been so funny, but I have spent the last week telling everyone how I'm "a gonna come at 'em like a spider monkey" and I still laugh my ass off at myself every time I say it. I just came into possession of a 1964 Dodge Polara, aka The Money Pit. It's a sparkly pretty blue (not original) and needs some interior work, but it runs and will be a cool car for just goofing around in once the weather is warmer. It's neat to have a car that's the same year model as I am. We both seem to have held up surprisingly well.

Off to the great I-10 for a few hours. Happy holidaze to you all!!!!!
catelin: (pp)
( Oct. 23rd, 2005 07:51 am)
I got the lamest prank call EVER last night about one-thirty in the morning. Here's how it went:


RING RING RING followed by me waking up from a sound sleep with that weird split-second panic that middle-of-the-night phone calls bring.

Me: Hello?

Kid: Is Jack there? (He sounds maybe 15 at the most. There is a long pause....) As in Jack Mehoff?

[Even longer pause here because I am weighing my options of showing the kid what a REAL obscene phone call sounds like. You know. I'm talkin' 'bout the "Yeah, but Jack can't come to the phone right now because he's busy eatin' your mom's crusty crab-infested snatch" sort of reply. But then I decide it's too late and I'm too tired and the kid sounds just too young.]

Me: (After a long sigh.) You know, I'm sure you have better things to do than to wake people up in the middle of the night with this sort of bullshit. It's almost two o'clock in the morning. You didn't even say it right anyway. And you think that your call is blocked? Well, it's not. If you do it again, you're going to get in trouble. I'll let this one go, but don't ever call me again.

Kid: (Another pause.) Uh, ok........I'm sorry.


I laughed myself all the way into the kitchen for a glass of milk. The only thing that pissed me off about it was the fact that I couldn't get back to sleep and ended up watching "The Rookie" until almost three--one of the worst movies I've ever seen with every cop movie cliche you can imagine. Now I'm back to bed to see if I can catch up on those lost couple of hours before the kids get back home from their dad's.
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catelin: (Default)
( Jan. 6th, 2002 11:16 am)
I'm sitting here in my green fleece robe, drinking strong coffee with too much cream (as is my habit), watching the deer outside my window. I had two ten-point and one twelve-point buck before hunting season....haven't seen them, so I'm hoping they're just busy with the ladies somewhere in the woods instead of, well, dead.

The sun is incredibly bright today. It looks almost warm outside, but it's deceptive. The cold lingers, and is probably just beginning. In spite of that, I'm already thinking of spring things...planting, cleaning, getting ready to bloom. I'm still packing and sending things that were meant to go out around Christmas...don't give up on me! I can never understand how I can be so good with cards and letters, but so horrible about e-mail and packages. I've given up trying to solve that riddle.

Lucinda Williams evidently inspires both of my children to dance like Steve Martin circa the King Tut era. Too funny.

Why I love the new guy at work, whom I affectionately refer to as my manservant---Conversation at lunch and he says, in response to the completely asinine question of whether or not he'd do Faith Hill, "I've got a huge problem with the whole new country thing. I'd do Iris DeMent, but not Faith Hill." Amen. What made it even more hilarious is that no one but he and I even knew who Iris DeMent is. Cretins. ; )

Lunch with the newly adorned Russian Princess on Tuesday! Yay! Around noonish is fine, Amanda, if I didn't say that already. We can go eat stuffed potatoes at a place where the waiter wears a dress and take our mandatory trip to the Bear.

My new goals for the summer: build a pergola for my back patio, extend my deck and find a relatively cheap hot tub. Those are the three big ones.

I'm going to paint today...on a canvas, instead of walls, for a change. Then maybe my toenails...always a safe bet.
I'm celebrating the holidays in a house that belongs to me, with children that are healthy and happy as larks. I'm madly in love with a man who couldn't be any better if I'd made him up for myself. I quit smoking several months ago and haven't missed it a bit. I have wonderful friends who fill my life with all sorts of unimaginably good things. I sent a really horrible man to prison for the rest of his life, so he can't hurt anyone again. Teri thinks I look like Ava Gardner. I took in a stray dog and two stray cats. I'm writing more than ever, and liking it. The holidays are always bittersweet for me without many of the formerly grand people who used to fill my formerly small world. My family is fragmented beyond repair. I'm always reminded of that when I have Christmas dinner with a table set for three. In spite of this, I'm happier than I've ever been. While my family may be small, the tribe that consists of all the people I love has grown in leaps and bounds. And that's what it's about at the end of everything...having a place to put all your love. Happy holidays, y'all. Peace be with all of us.
It's official. I will be the new soccer coach for Max's team in the spring. His coaches last season were these awful men who would scream at a bunch of six-year-olds about how badly they were playing. It made me want to follow them to their cars and beat them to death with lead pipes. I'm certain it had to do with their complex about...ahem...well, you know. So I bitched. Then I decided that I would do more than just bitch. I decided that I would be the most double damn fun soccer coach ever!! I decided that I'd run this little wolf pack of kids around the field and laugh and play until it was time to drink juice and eat snacks! I decided that I would wear funny hats and buy myself a whistle! The name of the game will be F-U-N...and the guys with the complex about the size of their....er...well....they can just sit on the sidelines grumbling while I do my "Go Team" dance!!! So that's what I'm doing in the spring. I am still an activist. In my own small way. : )
catelin: (Default)
( Nov. 18th, 2001 10:09 am)
Thing I'm most proud of...coming up on two months of not smoking, working out, and feeling better than I have in years.

Creepiest movie I've seen...The Nanny with Bette Davis...gawd but that woman was skkkkeeeery!!!

Best advice I gave twice in one week...."No man is worth carving out pieces of your flesh to feed yourself from."

Most fun I had...making chocolate chip cookies with my kids. We made a huge mess, but boy was it ever fun!!

The thing that irritates me...that the fucking people working on my fence seem to have something against showing up for more than three hours a week.

Finally giving in...a photographer friend has been wanting me to shoot with him for ages...I told him I would.

Good deed...I fought with my boss over getting a guy into rehab instead of sending him to prison...and (I'm sooooooo much more stubborn than him) I won this round! The rest is up to the guy.

Lost things...probably put the final nail in the coffin of a friendship by being honest with his ex-girlfriend (also a very good friend) about his current living arrangements (living with some titty dancer chippie that he left her for). He's moved out, had three weeks to tell her the truth, and I'm not going to lie to her.

New projects...getting all of my holiday gift ideas in order. : ) Also working on several new short stories and doing some painting.

Reading...Speak to The Earth by Vivienne de Watteville and a biography of Rosa Luxemburg.

Best New Journal...I'm particular to Artemis and Athena, generally, but this is one of the best online journals I've seen in a while.

New addition to the menagerie...an old hard-scrabble Tom that's missing an ear...he's been hanging around and getting fed. I figure it'll be at least a couple of months before he'll even let me get close enough to touch him.

Enjoying...the leaves changing, the river's turning from deep green to stone grey, my kids getting excited about the holidays, conversations on the wire, the smells of cooking in my kitchen, life's little surprises.
I had lunch (work-related) the other day with group of people...you know, the kind who remind you of Mr. Howell and Lovey on Gilligan's Island. They were talking about a wedding that I'm not invited to--evidently a big social event, the joining of two very big political families. I don't know about elsewhere, but these kinds of "arranged" marriages do still happen here. Then came the Bridget Jones moment. One of the frilly pink ladies turned to me and said, "Well, I think we can all be safe betting that Cate won't ever marry." There was a bit of twittering laughter after that...they're like a bunch of turkeys, these people...one starts gobbling and they all have to make some kind of noise. I simply smiled demurely and said, "Why marry when you can simply take a lover?" It was perfect. Same effect as if I'd said, "Why marry when I'm busy fucking all of your husbands?" Of course, I'm not. Fucking their husbands, that is. I sat through the rest of the lunch wondering, though, have I missed something? See, I'm one of those ninnies that's holding out for Big Love. Not that I haven't had plenty of Little Love along the way. But you get married for Big Love. That I don't know what it feels like but I'll know it when I feel it Love. Even when I've wanted Little Loves to be the Big Love...I knew. Which is why I'm still holding out. And with all the talk about beaded gowns and what style of veil and who's catering, it just seemed a bit insane to me. I've watched so many of my friends get married just because they felt it was "time" or that the idea of Big Love was foolish---mostly, they just got tired of waiting to have a wedding. Shit, I find Big Love and my "wedding" can be licking our palms and giving each other a whooping high five for all I care! The eyes of these people, these frightened, lonely men and women who gave up on Big Love a long time ago, make me sad. Turkeys. Depressing.
catelin: (Default)
( Oct. 7th, 2001 11:27 pm)
I mowed the grass today, probably for the last time until the spring. The boys moved rocks in the back yard for entertainment...little boys can always find pleasure in the simple things. Went to a birthday party for a couple of boys the same age as mine. I've known both of them since they were babies. Their father was the hostest with the mostest. Evidently, when I wasn't paying attention, he and his wife divorced. I'm pretty obtuse when it comes to come ons...unless I'm really looking for one. But about half-way through the party, I figured out that this guy was slobbering all over me. Was it the straps on my clunky funky Mary Janes? Was it that I finally waxed my eyebrows this morning? Or that I actually wore a bra for a change? Was it the lipstick that, according to my best guy friend at work, screams "I give great head?" Who knows? One thing I can say is that it was nice to be the center of that sort of attention for a change...my libido's probably been wondering if there's even a body attached to it anymore. Nothing will come of it, of course...it'd just be...well, too Harper Valley PTA. My overly developed sense of loyalty, even to a pseudo-relationship, keeps my body in limbo and my sexual peak (which is supposed to be happening sometime this decade, right?) hollering "What a fucking waste!" And so it goes.

In other news---and those of you who know me best will be the most shocked by this---I actually quit smoking. I haven't said anything about it because I didn't want to jinx myself but it's been a week now and I'm the stubborn type so once I make up my mind to do it, it's done. I love to smoke. I mean, really really really LOVE to smoke...but I'm getting old, and it was starting to make me feel like shit...not like when I could smoke a pack a day and run cross-country track back in high school. Things change. I want to live to see my kids have kids...and I want to be able to breathe. I'm even thinking of taking up running again. Yes, E., I have gone insane!! ; )

Blast from the past news...seems an old (and I mean ancient!!!!) beau from way back when has tracked me down. He's from Mexico and evidently now very high up in the new Vicente Fox administration...something to do with the federal police. I spoke with a friend of his from Laredo and he should be contacting me sometime this next week. Weird. I haven't seen him in over 20 years...since I was 15. I was soooooooo in love with him back then....in that all or nothing teenage dreamy sort of way. I still have all those old letters he wrote boxed up in the attic. I think I'll read them again, just for fun.

Other messages for people I care about---sort them out amongst yourselves. You owe me an e-mail...and I'm growing hopeless right under your nose, do you not see? Thank you for making me laugh my ass off when I was in dire need of it. I will call you sometime this week...and I've been missing you like crazy for some reason the last few days. Do you think about me? The thing you and I talked about regarding that certain person I was thinking about...not going to happen...for a lot of different reasons that he has nothing to do with. You owe me a road trip!!! You owe me some direct words in the daylight instead of writing your name in my ear with your breath nights just because you know I won't remember it when I wake up. And you...well, you I just plain fucking love. Period. : )
I'm sure I'm not the only one who's overcome with this horrible feeling that nothing I write means anything anymore. I catch myself thinking, "Ok, who do I want to propose to today?" and then I think, "Why bother?" Not that I've really been thinking that, but it illustrates my point. My day-to-day life seems so ridiculous now. It seems so completely boring and small compared to the headlined news that I finally shut off but still the traces linger in my head. The goofy anecdotes, the stories, the poetry...I think, does anyone even give a rat's ass anymore? Why is it that I feel that everything I write here should now be something profound? Something so much more full of meaning than anything I wrote before? I suppose it is natural to search for words to fix things. After all, that is my business. People get hurt. I write words that fix things. I speak to jurors and judges and tell them, "This needs fixing." I wait for verdicts with white knuckles, nervous...but still always certain that things will be fixed. I've always been certain of that. Proud that I help people. Proud that I stand up for the weak and voiceless. That I roar with their stories, feeling like Clarence Darrow or Atticus Finch in a pair of heels. Knowing that my friends on other side of the room were just as committed to doing right by the Constitution...even when their clients were despicable, we all had a sense that we were doing just what we should be doing. That we were fighting the good fight...even from different perspectives. All of what's happened has made me maudlin. It's made me feel stupid and small, and worse...trivial. It's made me want to push my breath into the hollow of your neck, to lie down with you and forget anything else but flesh, to look at your eyes and know that there's still someone who really sees that I'm still here. I want to tell you about my day, and laugh about almost being thrown in jail for contempt of court by the crazy judge...you know, the one we always giggle about. To have you brush my hair back from my face and tell me yet again that my Irish temper will be the end of me. I want to tell you about the boys. How they found a clear green marble yesterday in the dirt and told me that they were sure it must be a treasure that someone had buried a long time ago. How Max told me that he was sure the treasure had some sort of magical powers, but he just had to figure out the right words to make it work. I just want to find the right words. But how do you find magical words when you feel that your voice has left you?
First day of soccer for Max. He loves it and I love watching the abandon with which he throws himself into running after this little ball. Pure joy. We're lucky. We live in a town (if you can even call it that) where everyone still remembers that the point of the game is to have fun. No one minds that I bring my dog to play with the kids, or that I show up a little late in baggy cut-off overalls and my favorite pair of old flowery Docs, or that Jacob and I comb the outskirts of the fields for herbs. I had a surprise call from Verian today at work, which put me in the best mood for the rest of the day. We talked about kids, work, writing...and of course, we dished a little...gotta have a bit of gossip. ; ) It was a golden day...one of those days when everything just seems right with the world.
Picked up the pup around fourish. I'd agreed to take it sight unseen because it sounded like it had already been bounced around way too much.

I feel like I won the lottery! She's a little tiny foot long hot dog, not quite as long as a dachshund...sort of looks like a stocky Chihuahua, but with a boxy face and floppy ears...about 12 weeks old. She's tan with a black muzzle and big brown eyes. Her name is Trixie. : )

I can't imagine why anyone would have wanted to get rid of her. They hadn't taken her to the pound yet, but said that "she barked too much." Cripes. She's a peach! She's housebroken, she plays fetch, she sits...she's smart as a whip. She loves my cats and has already taken over supervising the boys. I couldn't have imagined a better dog. Oh, and she hasn't barked a bit since I brought her home...not even at the deer. I'll put pictures up as soon as I can. She's indescribably cute!

Oh, and on a totally unrelated tangent, because I know that Cris will appreciate this...Clandestine has agreed to be the featured music/group in the Fall issue of the Atomicpetals Journal! Just got the word on that from their PR person today! So a big "THANK YOU!" to zilla girl for turning me onto them! : )
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catelin: (Default)
( Jun. 9th, 2001 09:48 am)
I'm sitting here with a tiny little wisp of smoke on my lap that arrived unexpectedly last night. A kitten, probably five weeks old, that someone left in the sun to die. My kids' father rescued her from the road and brought her home to me because he knows from experience what a sap I am. She's skin and bones--looks a little like a crusty-eyed wombat at this point. We filled her belly, gave her a warm bath and named her Zelda. She'll be just fine now.

My odds for becoming a crazy cat lady seem to be rising. I've got my three old fatcats that never go outside (they spent their lives in L.A. apartments--too old and goofy to transition now), a younger tortoise shell diva that showed up on my doorstep a couple of years ago, and now this foundling. Funny thing is, I've always been more of a dog person. Go figure.
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After four days of back-breaking 12-hour days, I'm finally moved and the old place is just a memory. The slumlord sent me several threatening letters demanding various amounts of money depending on her mood. I tolerated it for as long as I could, but finally ended up sending a nasty little missive to her on the intricacies of contract law. Haven't heard a peep from her since, other than a polite "thank you" for the balance of my last month's rent. I'm still surrounded by mountains of unpacked boxes but I'm gloriously happy and not quite convinced that this isn't some strange dream. I went back to work today, giddy and exhausted...desperately longing for the weekend.
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I'm closing on my little slice of heaven on Thursday, and moving next weekend...but the packing efforts have begun in earnest now. Yikes! My appearances (and email to some of you) will likely be sporadic over the next couple of weeks, so please be patient with me! : ) The contracts for the house list me as "a single woman" which just struck me yesterday as amazing...that I did this on my own, that I have not only survived the rocky waters of the last few years but managed to flourish in ways I could not have foreseen. Most of you reading this had a hand in shaping the wonderful place my life is these days. A heartfelt "thank you" hardly seems adequate, but I hope it will do. Thank you.
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catelin: (Default)
( Mar. 22nd, 2001 10:02 pm)


This is one of my favorite pictures taken by a friend. It's not that it's such a great picture, but it's full of the feeling of this house that I've loved and will be leaving soon. I painted a lot of pictures warmed by the old wood burning stove. I tickled my kids silly on the rugs, spent hours on the phone talking with my best girlfriend about our lives. I looked out the picture window, days and nights when I was particularly lonely, thinking that if only my vision were better I might see a companion somewhere on the horizon. This was the first place that ever felt like home...after so many nomadic years. I hope that the best parts of it are something that I will take with me when I go.
catelin: (Default)
( Mar. 21st, 2001 08:46 am)
Who says boys don't express their feelings?

Max: I love you, Jacob.
Jacob: I love you too....hammerhead.
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catelin: (Default)
( Feb. 7th, 2001 07:00 pm)
The always interesting and smartly written reive posted an entry yesterday about Gates of Fire and its answer to the question "what is the opposite of fear?" Answer: love.

I wonder if that's it---such a simple answer with so many complex shadings. Sartre said that the opposite of fear is freedom. I suppose that there is a certain freedom in loving or being loved, but I have never found love to be completely detached from fear nor completely curative of it. My greatest fear has always been that I would be abandoned, left alone. It's an odd one considering that I have actually lived much of my life left alone...by parents, lovers, friends. Self-fulfilling prophecy some might say. As for the more mundane fears of certain things (scorpions, kidnappers, serial killers, rapists, etc.), I do think that love is involved in overcoming those. Not that I would overcome them by being loved, but that I would overcome them because of my love for someone else. The best example I can think of is how I feel about my children. I would face anything for them without any hesitation at all...and that is because of love. It is love that spurs the most profound confrontations with our fears in these sorts of cases...the old "mother lifts 18-wheeler off her child" syndrome.

With most of the other more emotional fears I harbor, I have found that their opposite has always been acceptance--not the weak, cloying "oh well" sort of acceptance, but a "this is how it fucking is and I'm going to deal with it in a graceful way" acceptance. I am a Pisces, social to the point of distraction, groomed by my culture and my upbringing for the companionship of a lifelong mate...and it didn't happen, hasn't happened, may not happen. I was afraid of that, terrified actually, when I was younger. Over the years, I became brave in the face of it and I accepted my possible alone-ness without panic or despair. Why? Again, the ultimate answer...love. As I got older, I learned to love myself and to value my worth for what I thought of the person I was. Even when it's a solo endeavor, love is what redeems us. It is what allows us to accept--who we are, what we do, how we live--and to work from there. It softens our jagged edges and lets us be kind when we would otherwise indulge in all sorts of small cruelties. And even if it can't fix everything, it's the only effective balm for just about every human ill I can think of...pity it seems to be in such short supply most of the time.
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catelin: (Default)
( Feb. 3rd, 2001 05:35 pm)
It was a Sunday. The kids woke up, as usual, at the crack of dawn and came scampering into my room. We lounged in bed for a couple of hours watching cartoons, eating Pop Tarts, putting our heads under the covers and making faces at each other. I finally got up and started making a real breakfast. The boys were playing in the living room. It was one of those really beautiful mornings that make you feel cozy and content with life in general. I have these great floor to ceiling windows in a house which is partially up on stilts. We live on a hill, near a lake. Most days I can look out past the four acres of woods for miles.

I had cinnamon rolls in the oven and sat down to turn on the computer and check my e-mail. This was my morning routine on the weekends. I'd sort through junk mail, friend mail, news groups. I was thinking about getting a dog, so I'd been looking through animal rescue organizations on the net. The kids were talking to each other and playing with Leggos. Then I heard the sound. It was a soft whoosh, barely discernible above the sound of the television. I didn't know what it was, but I knew it was a sound that I shouldn't be hearing. Something was wrong. I turned around and saw Max, my oldest. He was almost four then. My little one, Jacob, was 18 months old. I quickly scanned the room for him but he wasn't there. What I did see was an open window with no screen.

I ran to the window and looked down. There was my baby, my Jacob, laying 12 feet below on his back. His eyes were closed and his head turned sideways. This all happened in a matter of seconds. I heard the thought in my head. My baby is dead. In that moment I felt like every cell in my body exploded. It was as if I could see myself standing there, with my entire being blasted into tiny shards of glass. I grabbed the phone and ran out the door, sobbing, dialing 911, trying to breathe. It only took about 10 seconds for me to reach the back of the house and there was Jacob, standing up, crying. I was giving all of my information to the operator while I looked at him, checked his ears for blood, checked his nose, the color of his gums, his arms and legs. He just kept screaming, "Mommy, Mommy" and hiding his face in my neck.

The neighbor came running and the ambulance drove up. Max was clinging to me and I was trying not to be hysterical. I kept going over and over in my head whether the window locks were fastened. I've always been so careful. My friends have always chided me that I am too cautious about things like that. I've always told them that you can never be too careful when it comes to your kids. That's the kind of mother I was. But here I was getting into the ambulance, telling Max to go with my neighbor. Telling him everything was going to be fine. While the paramedics are putting my screaming child onto a backboard, I make the call to his father. Tell him there's been an accident. Jacob fell out the window. He shrieks through the line at me, "How the FUCK did this happen?!" All I can do is cry and tell him that we're on our way to the hospital.

We live out in the country, miles from the nearest hospital. The Sheriff's Department clears the farm road that's near the house and we wait for the Medi-Vac helicopter. By this time, I'm trying to tell myself that everything is all right. Jacob's crying. That's good. Very good. I hear one EMT tell the other one to get the intubation kit ready. I lose it. I start wailing, rocking myself. I know from my job how quickly a child can die. How everything seems all right one minute and then they're gone the next. That's all I can think of. I moan to myself, "Ohhhhh, this is bad. This is very bad." They tell me that I can't go in the copter unless I calm down. I force myself to shut up. I hold Jacob's hand and they move us into the helicopter. We fly.

When we get to the hospital, a team rushes out to meet us. There's CAT scans, x-rays, tubes, wires...the works. I tell my story again and again. I tell them how I am so careful. How I have window locks. How I had just turned my back for a second. I see them looking at me. I know that they're trying to figure out whether to believe me or not. Whether to call Child Protective Services. I understand that, but I still have to stifle the urge to scream at them. You miserable fucks! How can you even think I'd ever hurt my own child? I talk to twenty different people and they eventually conclude that it was just a horrible accident. The ER doc tells me that Jacob is fine except for slightly elevated liver enzymes, which is to be expected. He tells me how lucky Jacob is and that another child who fell the week before from a lesser height was permanently brain damaged. I nod my head but don't hear much after that because I'm singing in my head, "He's fine. He's fine. He's fine."

We stayed at the hospital for two days while they kept Jacob for observation. The doctors jokingly dubbed him "Superbaby" and made funny faces at him to make him laugh. We went home and within the next few weeks got back into the rhythms our lives had before the accident. I had a carpenter come in and put rails across all the windows. Jacob still looks at the window and points to the ground. "Hey, Mom, remember? I fell," he says. He's three now. Since that day, I look at him and see two lives. The one I have with him and the one I would have had without him. Even on the happiest, brightest days I can still see that shadow hovering behind us. Several times since then, I'll see Max touch Jacob's cheek or his hair. He'll look at me and say in his very serious little old man way, "I remember when Jacob fell." I wonder if he sees the same shadow. I had always heard before that day how the worst thing in this world is for a parent to outlive a child. I never knew until I faced the possibility myself what a terrible truth that really is.
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