Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

This morning I awoke to J ticcing again, often and loudly. Very disheartening because the medication he's been on seemed to be working really well. We thought we finally found "the one." So...I've got a headache. As I doled out the morning medications for the boys, I realized that I tend to live my life waiting for the proverbial next shoe to drop. The happy times, the peaceful times, are just moments in which we take a breath. I'm just waiting for the next bad thing to come along, you know? What's it gonna be next? A new disease, a death, a speeding ticket, job loss? A tornado? What, what, what's gonna happen NEXT?

This is an attitude I have to stop, change. And therein lies my New Year's resolution. What's yours?

Thursday, December 28, 2006


I see my last blog entry and it feels like Christmas lights on a house, long after the holidays have ended. Something new needs to be put up, the lights have to be taken down along with the Christmas tree and wrapping paper and decorations. Everything needs to be put into the old boxes and re-stuffed back into the garage. The thing is...every time I sit down to clean up here, one of the children demands something or other. Before long, I'm out of the habit. Like now.

So today's M's birthday. She woke up with a big smile, her front tooth missing after a goof-around session with A last night. "Mommy," she said, "the tooth fairy came last night! I got..."

She peeked into the plastic baggie and said, "Five dollars!"

D had put it there - we tell the kids the tooth fairy is kind and always leaves the tooth for the memory box we keep in the kitchen. I glanced at D, "Five That Tooth Fairy has become very generous."

"Increased cost of living, you know."

"What does the tooth fairy look like, M?"

"She's green and white. Green dress, green shoes, green face...and she wears a bracelet with a white tooth!"

"So beautiful."

A couple of presents came, by way of D who had already started cooking some bacon out in the kitchen. Roller skates, elbow and knee pads, a pink outfit from the Gap, and socks. All lovely. The house was warm, the boys were still sleeping, and Sassy was romping in the wrapping paper. There didn't seem anything wrong with having a post-Christmas birthday. We'd worried about that when we learned M's due date. Would she feel cheated, sad, bummed out? So good. Only time will tell.

Christmas seemed to fly by as usual. All holidays seem to do that. Every year seems to do that. Teaching has intensified the speedy feel of time because when I teach, I live lecture to lecture, test to test, assignment to assignment...focusing on the end of the semester. Poof it comes...then it goes...then the year starts up again. Very roller-coastery. When life stops, like now, during the holiday break, I feel like I just got off that crazy coaster, looking around, saying, "Whew!", dizzy, breathless, the memory dream-like. I see the children and they are so much bigger now, so...outside-the-womb.

I long to hold them again in Papa's rocking chair, rocking in the dark, feet deep in slippers.

We went to my aunt's house yesterday, spending a blustery day in Mission Viejo. At one point I turned to look at the kids outside, all the kids, cousins, second cousins, and they were running like mad against the wind, even J, looking to be swept away in that wildness. They laughed hard and I chuckled at teenage J having as good a time as nearly-5 CousinMG. We sang a birthday song for M but she couldn't bear the attention so she dipped her head down, fumbling with an errant string on her pants. At least she didn't cry. She used to cry when she was younger. At every birthday song. The moment that song started, she cried. Prescience maybe.

So yeah...Christmas is done with. The financial leak is plugged. We'll cry come January's bills, I can assure you. The Visa card was hot this month which we loathe but feel compelled to do anyway. The teachers, other kids, extended family, the selves. We tend to use Christmas as the excuse for buying what the kids need. Shoes, clothes, crayons, a new skateboard deck, a book of bass guitar tabs, books, a winter coat, socks and underwear. Then the few games and toys. The kids don't seem to notice. Thank goodness. They are the sorts where if it comes in a wrapped box, then they love it.

I got sweaters. Still need new jeans. Wish someone would have gotten me time, though. Time in a box. Maybe a trinket that slows up the clock and erases the wrinkles I see in my face. The laugh lines that no longer go away, the worry lines that don't fade with relaxation or sleep. Oh and what of all that whitish hair? You, dear readers, have no idea the greyness of my hair. I stopped coloring long ago, not able to keep up with the white roots that would shoot up only two weeks after a tint. At one point I was called, "prematurely grey." I think I'm passed the premature part, heading into forty-three. The hair seems appropriate.

Why do I feel like sighing? A sense of loss in the wake of the holidays overwhelms the moment. Some things are lost that can't be given back...some things are lost that I'll never re-attain. I think I've lost those things sooner than others lose them, sooner than I was ready.

I'll be back...I need to watch M skate in the front yard. Need to break up J and A who are battling in a back room. Damn it, I'm strapped into the seat and the attendants have called, "All clear," and the coaster is off again.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Happy holidays, everyone. May the world treat you gently, these days and always.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Everyone quiet...I'm blogging while I'm giving an exam. Yes! It's true! The students are trudging their way through a grueling legal research and analysis exam. They've got a case to read, a statute to analyze, and a page right out of Shepard's Citator. I feel all-powerful. Their futures lie in my reviewing of their exam will either make their "A" or bring them down to the "C" or the "D" or worse.

[Please, someone, hand me my sceptor..and that crown over there...thank you, oh so much you worthless subject, you.]

I kid.

Actually, this keyboard is really noisy so the flow isn't happening. I'm certain when I get home later I'll read this post and be horrified. I'll edit and re-edit and drive the Bloglines people nuts with the repeat posts (assuming that's what happens). But see, I'm compelled. I've been reading blogs lately and they all made me want to write. I'd love to slam out some fiction, or a really good memoir-type thingie. Sometimes though I think I've said it all. I talked about my mother's unbalanced ways, the lemon tree, the pine tree, the children, the husband, the marriage, the school...Tourette's, hypertension, bipolar...stiff muscles, overweightness (yeah, yeah, that's not a word) in the sink, sunlight in a dusty room...teaching, learning, crying, laughing.

There's just no more to say.

I have that trouble with photography. For the longest time I was documenting my suburban life--

[Student, that's called a true and false question. If any part of the sentence is wrong, then the whole thing is wrong. Right...if your notes indicate a different bit of must be...? So "true" is your final answer, eh? Okay on your way, you stricken student, you.]

I had oodles of pictures, plenty of beauty in my quiet urban-suburban town. Then one day I hit a wall. I'd taken a picture of that wall already. And that reflection. And that pond, and that graffitti-stained tree. And the kids. Oh the kids. They do keep changing, true. They are an ever-shifting subject...but...

I felt I'd seen it all, documented it all. I press my eye against the viewfinder and there is only familiarity.

Shhhh...the keyboard is driving me wacky. Two more hours to go. I'll edit tomorrow. No, no, I'll just write a new post.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


All right, I'm admitting it here, right now. Total confession time. Heard about Britney Spears' no-unders photos and had to look for them. I was curious...found it hard to believe, believe it or not, that she'd run around without...panties. I mean, COME ON! That's ridiculous.

I found the pictures.

I cringed.

I looked.

My mouth stretched into an "'s true..." and cringed again as I scrolled once more through the several, horrifying shots of Ms. Spears getting into a limo and then engaging in what looked like a group hug with the huggers purposefully hiking her skirt so the paparazzi could get a lower-than-low shot of...everything under the skirt.

I sent the link to all my friends and family.

I don't know...maybe I have to be a guy but I found the pictures intensely embarrassing. Then I got nostalgic. Awwww...I remember the days when I'd actually WANT someone to see my personal business. I remember the days when I could actually drink enough alcohol to not mind strangers seeing my personal business without getting a migraine headache and throwing up in the bushes. Remember those days?

Yeah, so...I'm blind now. Completely, utterly blind. I looked and lost my vision. Blackness, I see, colors blurring into black, background noise of my children demanding Christmas presents and cell phones and cards for downloading music off the internet and really expensive clothes. The noise I appreciated most though was little almost-6 M, chiming, "Mommy, can I get Snow White panties, huh, Mommy? Or maybe Ariel panties? Or...or...the Twelve Dancing Princesses panties?"

"Oh yes, M, you can have as many panties as you want! All the panties in the world!"


Once again, I offer my apologies to my loyal blog-checkers for not updating very often. Just the school and holiday blues - too busy - not enough quiet time. Blog posts rush past me every day - lengthy posts - posts about dreams and nightmares and Tourette's syndrome and then when I sit at the computer, nothing reaches my fingertips.

I'm disturbed on some level because not so long ago I imagined that just maybe I might eek out a living writing. I envisioned short stories, novels...I saw something real and plausible. Then I started teaching. And it seemed like all those ideas of mine disappeared. I started a blog as a creative outlet, as an alternative to making a living as an author. I put a lot into the blog - it was wonderful. Then the blog became an extension of my conscious and subconscious and suddenly it wasn't anonymous anymore but really me.

And then the "me" began to act just like I do at home - indulging in non-productivity. The silence of the blog is me on the couch. Wearing underwear, for those of you smarties out there. Underwear and jeans. And a top. A bra under the shirt or sweater. A well-covering sweater. With boots. Socks and boots. And beer in the hand. Or maybe a book. Or it could be no boots and socks and just slippers with M or A next to me. And the house is messy. And there is chili simmering on the stove. Bubbling chili with beans, Italian sausage, ground turkey, canned tomatoes and lots of spices. My sister's recipe that took me a week to finally pull together. Because lately, me-on-the-couch has been enjoying prepared food. BBQ pork, pineapple fish, orange-peel chicken wings, vegetable lasagna, turkey meatloaf. D and I love prepared food.

"Look, honey, I just have to stick the thing in the microwave and voila! All done!"

"Delicious. The salt will do wonders for my hypertension."

"No...that's the trick...low salt."

"Delicious. The blandness will definitely do wonders for my compulsive eating."


So...yeah...the silent Bliss Blog is Adriana on the couch. Wearing underwear.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving, Dear Bloggers!

May your day be filled with family, friends, love, and wonderful food!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Just Around the Corner

I don't know whether it's the up and down weather here in L.A. (cold in the morning and at night, hot during the day), or the high energy of impending holidays, but I've been incredibly lazy, sleepy, unwilling, when it comes to writing. Instead I work on school stuff, help the kids, kick back and watch television, read, eat. As I told someone who asked, "I'm just bobbing along," a leaf floating down a creek, a seedling in a gentle breeze. A quiet peace seems to have fallen over our house - the noise level less, the tension dissipated. I don’t know where all that “extra” stuff went, but the absence is welcomed.

A local college has an opening for a full time business law professor so of course, I applied. It took me months to do it. The ad has been sitting on the college’s website for two months. I’d look at it and my heart would skip a beat and my stomach would tighten up…not in wishful thinking but in pure stress. I felt obligated to apply because these positions are rare. The family needs the income. The hours wouldn’t be much more than now, only I’d get paid twice as much. Oh certainly there’d be a wee bit more work, networking-kind-of-work…yes, yes, but…but…

I sent out the application. Right away I got a letter in the mail. I saw the envelope and thought, “A rejection letter! So soon!” I slashed open the thing and found an optional information sheet. Something about my sex, age and race. For survey purposes. I have nothing to hide – I filled it out and off it went.

Full time work is daunting, however, especially with the children being still so young. On the other hand, the financial stresses are killing us. The stories don’t joke that money is the primary cause of marital disharmony in the suburbs. I’d go one step further and say it’s the cause of familial disharmony. The frustration leaks down from the parents to the kids to the dogs. I’m pretty sure that when Sassy runs screaming out the front door every chance she gets, it’s due to our lack of finances. (“Not enough snacks! Not enough snacks! Get me to Beverly Hills!”)

So…I don’t know. Here I am…waiting to see if they’ll interview me, hoping they won’t, desperate that they hire me, terrified they will. Truth is, I like being free of any responsibility or obligation. Raising a family though takes away that as a viable option.


The other day I saw a black cat sitting proper in between two small track homes, sitting still as an Egyptian statue. She sat on aged grass facing the street, facing me. Behind her I could see the water meter, pipes twisting into the house, and slew of tied, colored balloons, leftovers from a party. I wondered whether they belonged to one of the two houses, or whether they’d landed there from some other house, from some other gathering. The cat looked perfect. Picture perfect. Belonging to nobody. Free…like the balloons had once been. I wished for my camera.


New tics. A has developed a vocal tic – a repeated humming. His Tourette’s actually started that way but A.D.D. medication alleviated the symptoms entirely. So for two years he hadn’t made any noise at all. D and I just looked at each other tiredly when we noticed that it wasn’t going away. The thing came on as suddenly as it had disappeared. The good thing is that has a soft voice so the sound isn’t as jarring as J’s noise which means we won’t pull him out of school, not yet. I don’t know if I could handle both boys being home taught, or home schooled. The thought of the two of them at home makes me shake in my proverbial boots.

Unfortunately, A had to endure two different teachers who chastised him (one of them wrote him up for “insistent noise”) for making the sound in class. I had to go to the school and educate the teachers. What frustrated me wasn’t the substitute teacher but his regular teacher. I’d made her aware of the potential for vocal tics months ago. I had explained to her, “If he makes a noise that doesn’t stop with a warning from you, a noise that continues, a repetitive noise, it’s a tic and he can’t control it.”

My poor baby – despite his tendency to be a bull in a china shop, despite his stocky build, he’s quite passive when it comes to authority. So when his regular teacher asked him to be quiet. He really tried to be quiet. He didn’t say anything to her when she commented, “Are you copying your brother? You weren’t doing this last week so it can’t be a tic.”

She did admit that she asked him, “Can you stop doing that?”

He’d looked at her, pursed his lips, thinking, pondering the question. Then said, “No.”

And STILL she didn’t believe it was a tic. So…needless to say, she chastised him and he arrived at my car, upset and moping. I had a chat with the teacher, sorry that I hadn’t told her earlier, believing my month-ago conversation would be enough.

Epilogue: she did apologize to him personally.


J’s transformation into a full-fledged teenager continues to…captivate me. The other day he asked me to drive him to a local park to hang out with some friends of his. He grabbed his skateboard and hopped into the car. We drove to the designated park and he didn’t see his friends. He called on the cell phone, speaking in some language I could barely understand, something sprinkled with “dude” and “where you at, yeah?” Soon, about five kids emerged from the playground, all tall and lanky and swaggering. And then J rattled off an, “I love ya, Mom, bye!” before slamming the car door and making his way across the grass, a boy tallish and lanky and swaggering. As he walked away, skateboard at his side, his long-haired form blurred, he blended in with the other kids. He looked nothing like my child. He was a teenager. Worse, he was a teenager that I’d have never communicated with when I was his age. Hell no. I’d have passed him by in the halls. I’d have looked down and hugged my books to my chest and groaned with annoyance if he screamed or whooped it up (as J is wont to do). The sight makes me drive home quickly to A and M – who are home, sprawled on the couch, watching something stupid. I huddle down in between the two of them, grateful that they’re still little and kissable, that they’ve not hit that peak yet. The sight of J in the park makes me miss his babyhood intensely.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Where have I been? No, really, WHERE have I been?


Sleeping, not-sleeping. Going through the usual motions of mother-wife-teacher-flake, watching t.v. until late, following the elections, digging into Don Quixote, eating leftover candy, picking fleas off Sassy, staring at a picture of the boys when they were 3 and 1 and crawling and making an "oh" expression while in cowboy pajamas and smiling, oh smiling to the point where I want to pick them both up in my arms and never let them go, or grow, going to a shouldn't-have-happened bachelorette party out in the boonies, wondering the point, the punchline, of all THIS.


Kate and Sawyer had sex in a cage! Wheeeee! I wanna be in cage, too!


Driving home from the elementary school the other day, I see in the side-view mirror M's reflection as she leans in her booster seat, leans with her still-tiny and round face out the window. I ask her, "Honey, why do you do that, put your face outside the window like Sassy?"

Not a second passes, no time to think, she says, "I like the wind. It makes me happy."

A few days later, as usual, D comes home in the afternoon and this one day he finds me on the bed in our bedroom, stretched out, pillows behind my head. I've got the Playstation going and I'm slashing away at creatures in Final Fantasy XII and he just eyes me, shaking his head at my laziness. The younger kids are running around in the backyard and screaming like mad, the kitchen is a mess, homework isn't getting done, late sun rays are coming in through the sliding glass door, dust, dust is dancing in the lit air, and he says, "Why are you doing this when there's so much else to do?"

I smile, wiggle my toes, stretch like a cat, pause the game, "I like it, I like the tossing of work to the wind, the noise of it - it makes me happy."


Tonight, take-home exams were due. I lectured, assigned an in-class project. The students must have been anxious to go because they all sped through the assignment and the class emptied out early, near 9:30 p.m., a whole half-hour early. When I locked the doors and began the walk to my car, two young women came up to me with worn tests in their hands and a story about a car and a cell phone and a brother who'd disappeared with keys, and they were huffing and flustered and grinning hopefully, asking if I'd still accept the test. I laughed, calling them, "Lucky girls, girls born under a lucky star."

They giggled and were so thankful that they'd caught me, that I took their papers, that I gave them a break. They hustled off, huddled in the chill air, disappearing into the still-busy parking lot, into the darkness, and I climbed into my car. The radio turned on as I turned the key. Lucky, I thought, to have made someone's night.


On Saturday, I talked to a veterinarian technician. Like an expert she massaged the haunches of a once-abandoned pit bull terrier, and told me how much dogs like that. I said I’d be sure to do that to Sassy, massage those rear muscles of hers, or the shoulders. She’d love that, I said.

“Oh yeah, isn’t that good? Isn’t she just the best doggie ever?” The dog stretched and rolled over to her side, in heaven.

The tech was beautiful, long, blond, straight hair, just past the shoulders, bright brown eyes. She sat twisted, her bare feet turned up slightly, the piercing in her navel glinting in the low light of the low-ceilinged room. Music thumped in the background and women chatted away, laughing, glasses clinking against the other. A party.

“Should I give you my e-mail, so I can get the DVD?”

“Oh yeah," she said, "just put it on the evaluation.”

“Great, yeah, cool.”

“You want to dance some? You never did try those moves.”

“No, dancing on a stripper’s pole is just…not my thing. But you guys did an awesome job, especially teaching us the lap dance. The sexy, drunk walk was good, too. But the lap dance...that was really good…ooohhh…and the push-up, the dragging-your-boobs-on-the-floor-with-your-ass-in-the-air push-up. Nice! Beautiful!”


“Yes, very sexy. And I agree…slow is sexy.”

“Slow is the key…want the last penis-candy?”

“No…you keep it!”

“Love the condom!”

“Isn’t that just a kick? Ohhhh…puppy…you want another rub? I just love animals.”

"I'm sure you do," I smiled.


Strange, we’re not too far off the end of the semester. I’m anxious for the ending again. Looking forward to the long winter break. I suppose I don’t really want to work. That’s probably the truth. Raising the kids is job enough – raising myself…job enough.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Sleep brought me absurdist isolation, figuratively, dreamily. I was on a ship somewhere far – couldn’t tell if it was the ocean or space or an island or desert. I shared a bed with a woman, a co-worker. She and I were both married but we both lusted after the ship’s luscious first mate, a guy who looked like a guy from Lost, the television show, and this guy wanted us in return but was respectful of our marital states. He was supposed to look like the guy from Lost, but in reality looked like David Lee Roth of Van Halen. His face morphed through the dream, moving from Lost’s Sawyer to this aging, grey-haired David Lee Roth. The transformation put me off track – the attraction lessened. I simply couldn’t bring myself to lust after DLR. Nevertheless, he tossed a bunch of books to the side from his cart and hopped into our bed. I was concerned about the books, curious to know what books he had brought us. He kissed me, he kissed her. Over his shoulder I spied the Captain’s assistant who reminded me very much of Freddie Prinze, Jr. and it occurred to me that really, he should be the one kissing me as opposed to this Sawyer-wanna-be.

Finally, in my dream, I got up and took a shower. When I emerged from the tiny bathroom, drama had taken place. The reluctant DLR had moved away from the bed and the woman was in tears and another woman who had wanted in on the action was shaking her head. I shooed them away and I got back into bed, happy to have the space back and happy to be rid of the drama, when my cousin walked into the room and asked me, “What happened?”

“Just silly stuff. Nothing. Stupid. Don’t worry about it. Where do you want me to work today? The factory room? The bridge? Kitchen?”

“Doesn’t matter, Adriana, just keep your nose to the grindstone.”

I woke up, knowing I had oodles of papers to grade, Halloween eve to tend to, dinners to plan, exams to write, and no desire to socialize with anybody. Gotta keep to the grindstone. Gotta forget about DLR because he’s just not the same anymore, you know? I don’t think any one of us is the same.


We visited Farmer’s Market yesterday in Los Angeles. The kids were clawing at me, literally, as I sat on the couch Sunday morning, trying to watch Shirley Temple’s “The Bluebird.” My favorite movie next to the Disney’s Aristocats. The movie didn’t interest M. She stretched and made noise and complained and whined and wanted to change the channel to something dumb, something really dumb like Sponge Bob.

“They’re looking for happiness, M, how can you not like that? They go to these lands and see all kinds of things and the cat and dog turn into people and isn’t that dog just like how Sassy would be if she were a person?”

“I’m hungry!”

“What do you want to eat, then?”


“Not for breakfast…”

"Spell the words, Mommy, and I'll write them."

"You can't write here on the couch - go to the table."


She was bored, that was all. D said he wanted to shop at Kohl’s, wanted to leave the kids home with J as their babysitter and the thought of it made me want to pull hair out. “We need to go someplace…with the kids.”

He grumbled and fussed and I hopped in the shower. Made it out in ten minutes flat. We hit the road, intending on Chinatown but deciding on Farmer’s Market because it was next to the Grove and that might be fun being we’d never been. We left J at home because he wanted to skateboard with some buddies and eh…it might be better because he tends to aggravate the others.

The weather was crisp, warm, and sky-blue, as if wind had mopped up Los Angeles leaving a bright, shiny floor behind. We parked up high and spied the Hollywood sign on the green hills. The four of us marched down the stairs from the sixth floor and emerged into an outdoor mall, with the brightest, shiniest spot on the floor: the American Girl doll store. M walked through the place, determined to buy something. Anything. I promised her Emily, maybe, for Christmas or her birthday. She sighed and with a shake of her head we left, heading into the noise of Farmer’s Market. We ate hotcakes bathed in butter, Panini, hot dogs, and a slice of greasy pizza. We fantasized about fried alligator and when we got home later, we were sorry we didn’t pick up that alligator for J. Would have been fun.

Our afternoon closed with a tour of the Grove on the Trolley and a milkshake for the ride home through Los Angeles. A had rasberry ice cream - the best ever. We both agreed. We’d hit Little Ethiopia on our way in and exited through Korea and Central America, down Beverly.

For dinner we made our usual, tacos. I didn’t have any salsa, not my salsa, the stuff my mother used to make. I felt its absence, her absence. The kids were down early. Bathed, washed. Halloween is Tuesday and A, this morning, said, “Don’t you wish today was over and it was Tuesday already?”

“Definitely wish the days would move faster…I’m thinking Snickers and Buttercups…I think I’ll be myself, though. No costume.”

“Meow,” M said from the backseat.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Drive By

Perhaps it's my quirky sense of humor, perhaps it was the exalted language, but with a vision of a naked man running down the halls of a government building in my head, I found the lawyer's closing comment funny.


I received a phone call last night from one of my best friends, a former paralegal secretary, who gave me a good link to the heads of Verizon as a means to resolve my insanity. We laughed, I ranted, she suggested I get over my hopeless problem, I cried, we recalled the good old days of working in a law office and feeling powerful. In the end, I realized I should just enjoy the benefits of a good screwing and move on with my internet life. Thank god I CAN post this entry, thank goodness I'm living in a 30-day timezone with no fees for the time being. Forget battling the big guy, I will lose.

We all do, really, because of the way we've been living.

The problem I've been going on about for weeks now is our fault. "We/our" being the suburbanites. We've been sleeping our days away and when we're not sleeping, we're on the hamster wheel, running our kids to school, chasing our paycheck, paying our bills, filling up our cars with gas, chit-chatting about Tom Cruise. Voting? We vote the way our parents did, we vote for the guy who has the most money, the most ads on television, the one who pushes our false issue buttons (gay marriage, abortion, blah, blah). We've been living in a Matrix that we helped create in order to give ourselves a pain-free life...and in the meantime, our support system, our employers, the computer that keeps up the Matrix, why, they've taken over.

And we let it happen by not paying attention.

So yeah, I'll let the screwing happen like so many others - lie back and enjoy the sweat, the heat, the darkness of the room, the calories being burned away, the shivering, reluctant orgasm of internet connection, or a full tank of gas, or a good show on the television. When I get up and get my clothes on, when the big guy saunters out of my bedroom, I'll realize I've been fucked by all the big guys...Arco, Verizon, the Government...and jesus...what woman doesn't want to get fucked by a big...guy?


By accident, I erased years of saved e-mail. With one swift click, I deleted years of friendship, constructive criticism, love, high-fives, births, deaths, information. For long minutes I searched the folders, finding nothing...gone, gone, all gone.

An empty mailbox stared back at me. Clean, full of promise. Full of forgetting.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Modern Life: Part 3

God, DSL is fast. Fast, fast, fast. Faster than dial-up that’s for sure. I was scared, don’t get me wrong. When I sat at my desk, my computer on the floor, swiveled out for easy access, a flashlight at my side, I worried that the modem sent by Verizon wouldn’t work. I already knew what their technical support was like, so the last thing I wanted was a software program that would tell me, “Remote computer doesn’t respond,” or some such demonic message. I'd had my fill of inept technical support through EarthLink.

What a relief when the modem connected without any problem. When I saw the Verizon website on my screen, I got on my knees and thanked the computer/telephone-wire gods. The first thing I did was check my account on that infamous Verizon website that their automated phone service repeats like the proverbial broken record.

Hm, I thought, as I glanced at the section regarding webspace. The website stated that I got 10 MB of webspace with my account. Their advertising page said the same thing. The two agents I’d spoken to however told me 110 MB. A misunderstanding? Couldn’t be. I was very specific with the agents.

“EarthLink gave me 10 MB per screen name, making it 80 MB. How much does Verizon give me?”

“110 MB of webspace.”

“Are you sure?”

“Sure as pie. Sure as I can be.”

“Now, I don’t want Verizon unless I have the webspace. EarthLink gave me 10 MB per name.”

“110 is eleven times more space! All for $17.99 a month!”

“Can I order it now?”

“You need to cancel your other DSL service first.”

“Consider it done.”

“And I get all this for $17.99 a month.”

“Provided you agree to a one-year contract.”

“Not a problem.”

I hung up the phone and proceeded to cancel EarthLink. The cancellation/installation nightmare began. The conclusion was a clean, crisp connection. After checking my account page and seeing the 10 MB bit of information, Dennis called me to inform me that DSL was up and running.

“Yes, yes, I know that. I’m online as we speak.”


“Well, not so much. I have a problem.”

Dennis agreed, “Bad Verizon! Bad! Misrepresentation!”

“So can you get me what they said I would get?”

“Can’t do that. I’m just technical support.”

“Who can I talk to?”

“Billing. But I tell you what, I’ll do that for you and call you tomorrow.”


Next day, Dennis called but I wasn’t around so he left a message on my phone, “Okay, for $17.99 you get 10 MB. If you pay $4.95 you get 50 MB and for $9.95 you get 100 MB.”

Dennis called again and I ripped him a new one as I hitched up kindergartener paintings on the outside window of M’s classroom to dry, “Thanks for nothing, Dennis, as I can read The problem is that I relied on what the agents were telling me as I did not HAVE an internet connection. As soon as I got off the phone with the first agent, I cancelled my internet! I didn’t read I wasn’t directed at the time to check their website. They sucked me in, they made me rely on them, and I trusted the information I got not once, but twice! So were you able to resolve my situation? Get me the webspace I was promised at the rate of $17.99?”

“Can’t do that. They’ll only give you a credit of one month free-DSL.”

“But that isn’t acceptable. I was told…”

“I’m so sorry for the inconvenience. You’ll need to speak to billing yourself.”


My trouble ticket according to the Verizon website was, "closed."

I called Verizon then the next day about the 110 MB I was told my account included. They said, “No. We offer 10 MB. You must have misunderstood.”

“I didn’t misunderstand. One agent explained I’d have eleven times more webspace with my one screen name than EarthLink offered per screen name. That’s pretty specific. The second agent repeated the same information. A completely random agent.”

“They both must have misunderstood your inquiry.”

“They didn’t misunderstand. I explained I wanted more than 10 MB for the one price and they assured me that’s what I would get. Two agents on two separate occasions told me the same thing.”

“Let me transfer you to a supervisor.”

Needless to say, I got disconnected twice, sent to the same automated system, got shifted to technical support, finally landing on a non-supervisor at billing.

“Let me transfer you to a supervisor. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

“No transfer! Don’t put me on hold for a half hour like the other agent!”

She laughs, “Oh no, I wouldn’t do that.”

Forty minutes later, I hung up the phone.

The next day I tried again, finally reaching a supervisor to discuss the “situation.” Ms. Frances was speaking to me. I explained the situation. I told her the misrepresentation.

“All I can offer you is one month free of DSL service.”

“But that’s not acceptable.”

“I apologize but it’s all I can offer you. Do you accept?”

“I want to speak to your supervisor.”

“She’s not available.”

“You make her available. I have a problem and you’re not helping.”

“I’m making an offer. Do you accept?”

“Let me talk to your legal department.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Give me the address for your legal department, physical, e-mail, phone, whatever.”

“Do you want the $29.99 credit for one month free of service?”

“Why can’t I speak to your supervisor?”

“I am the person handling your problem and my supervisor is unavailable to speak with you.”

After ranting a bit, I finally relented and said I would accept a credit as a temporary fix. I'd be calling the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission next. The matter online, the "escalations" matter, was deemed, “closed.”

That’s when it hit me. $29.99? No question, I do have a tendency sometimes to be a bit slow on the uptake. So, wait. $29.99? My credit should have been for $17.99. I e-mailed Verizon.

"Can you confirm the cost of my DSL connection?”

Here’s the e-mail I got back:

Thank you for contacting the Verizon eCenter. My name is Paul, and I will be handling your request today.

This message is in response to your email dated October 9, 2006. You inquired about your current DSL rate. I will be happy to assist you.

I understand how important it is to manage your Verizon account. We currently have a request in place to credit your account for a month of DSL service at $29.99 per month. That should appear on your statement in 2 billing cycles.

Your DSL account is still currently set up on the $29.99 3.0Mbps/768Kbps package. I can process a request to change your DSL to the $17.99 plan. I need to share some information regarding that package first.

The $17.99 per month Verizon Online DSL service is available to you when you sign up for the One-Year Commitment Plan. Under this plan, a $79.00 termination fee is applied if you cancel the DSL service between the second and twelfth month of the service agreement. At the end of the one-year commitment period, your rate will remain $17.99 on a month-to-month basis.

You may want to carefully consider your decision as the $17.99 Verizon Online DSL Service is provisioned at a lower connection speed of up to 768K/128K. You currently have a connection speed up to 3.0Mbps/768Kbps.

If you would like us to enroll you in the $17.99 one year commitment plan, please respond to this email and I will be glad to assist you.

Although additional follow-up is needed, it has been my goal today to address your concerns related to your Verizon Online billing rates. I hope I have succeeded in meeting that goal. In the meantime, if you have any other questions, please let us know. We look forward to serving you.

Slow DSL? SLOW DSL? What SLOW DSL? I'm not even going to get into the "two billing cycles" crap. Why should it take two months for a credit to go through? Anyway, nobody mentioned anything about the $17.99 being associated with a slower rate of DSL. Look, I’m just a regular gal, not a computer know-it-all. DSL is DSL as far as I was concerned. I had no idea that DSL came in different flavors and Verizon never attempted to explain that to me on the telephone when I placed my order. I never mentioned the rate of transfer, I never asked about it, they never spoke of it. EarthLink also never indicated there was a speed issue (they had one rate and what that is, I have no idea), so as far as I knew, when Verizon said DSL was being offered for $17.99 if I agreed to a one-year contract, I assumed they were talking about…whatever speed DSL was offered at. They DID mention the higher cost but that was only if I didn’t agree to a one-year contract.

When looking at the Verizon general website, not my own account page, Verizon hints in the fine print that here are different rates of transfer, but they don’t specify what speed the $17.99 brings you as they only offer a $14.99 deal for ordering DSL online and THAT apparently brings a "slower DSL" I am familiar with. Prior to that, the language would have been Greek to me.

Yeah. So I e-mail back, basically saying, WTF? Give me a physical address of Verizon DSL so I can complain. And who can I talk to from the legal department? To which I get a response.

Thank you for contacting the Verizon eCenter. My name is Paul, and I will be handling your request today.

This message is in response to your email dated October 10, 2006. You inquired about contact information regarding your DSL service. I will be happy to assist you.

Our corporate headquarters address is:

Verizon Corporation
140 West Street
New York, NY 10007

The department to which we have referred you will be able to assist you. If you have any additional questions, please let us know. We look forward to serving you.

Thank you for using Verizon. We appreciate your business.

Verizon eCenter

“The department to which we have referred you?”


Not exactly that, but pretty close to. I'm still waiting for their response. Maybe I should have asked, "What freaking department?!"

Ahh…modern life. What do I anticipate will happen now? I fully anticipate a morning full of sunny skies, birds singing, and a cancelled account. I’m pretty certain Verizon will offer me a cancellation as a remedy to their alleged false advertising…no, no, their “misinformation or miscommunication.” Oh and the vodka. Did I mention the vodka? Yes, yes, I anticipate a few shots will take care of the migraine I have.

In the end, I’m to blame really. I figured if Verizon owned my phone lines, they’d be able to handle the DSL aspect the best of all of them. Why use another company who’d only have to access Verizon’s wires? Cut out the middle man.

The only thing getting cut here is my last nerve.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

General Thoughts on Sunday

Typing away on an old novel of mine - words coming easily. I listen to the house. I hear a television. I hear the dog barking outside. Cars driving past. The front yard is decorated with stuck-in-the-grass signs, pumpkins with our names on them, witches, black, arched cats, spiders, Boo! Halloween hasn't hit the inside of our house fully yet. I hear the neighbors laughing.

What I don't hear are J's tics. He's not done a single one all day and it's been days now of quiet. The final say will be when he sees his teacher. If he's quiet then, and quiet for a week, he'll be in a position to go back to school.

I'm torn about sending him back right away. He likes being at home. He likes not having to comply with dull, mindless rules, getting to bypass the tedium of running from class to class to be on time, standing on numbers for roll, tying shoes, acting in accordance with a vague standard of proper conduct. He doesn't have to sit in a seat for designated time periods without doing anything "productive". Doesn't have to do the work specifically when told to do so during the day.

He sleeps until eight in the morning. Drums a little, runs a little. Comes in and works on some homework unless he'd been ambitious and decided to do it all the night before. We'll talk throughout the day. He'll get on the computer and play with music. He'll read for a half hour and write in his notebook some thoughts on the reading. He'll skateboard. We'll have lunch. Sometimes he and I will go to the doctor or visit my grandmother or my sister. We'll pick up the siblings. He'll wait for the teacher by doing chores around the house. He'll drum for a longer while. He'll meet with the teacher and then go out and skateboard, sometimes with friends.

Am I cheating him by keeping him out of the system longer than necessary? He's gotten A's and B's on his exams - I think when he goes back, we'll see once again the low grades and the failed responsibilities. This works. That doesn't. Should I work harder at indoctrinating him to the ways of Verizon? Or should I bite the bullet and try home-schooling which does scare the hell out of me? I don't know. I really don't.

I think of new words to describe a world run by machines with no heart, no brain. Verizonous. Verizoniac. Verizonish. We're being trained to function in such a world and the first place we learn that is in our schools, public and private alike. But is that such a bad thing?

M cried on Friday when I had to leave her classroom. She does it every time but it doesn't stop me from volunteering in her class every Friday morning. I love it - her tears though make me weep. I won't stop though. I won't stop to save the extra pain. I didn't get to do volunteer with the boys (other than in A's second grade class) because I always had to take care of a baby. So this is wonderful. A special opportunity. Our special time. The mornings there are sweet. I sit at a table and help the kids paint pictures with the smooth, drippy yellows, reds, blues and blacks. The children all have to paint a picture following the picture the teacher drew - not a lot of creativity necessarily, but it does help them. They don't struggle with the how-to. I do notice though with each attempt, the paint strokes differ, the sizes, the exact shapes. Everyone is different, yet the same. They're identifying themselves within the sea of sameness.

They sing songs together. They march in place together. They do everything as a group. Obviously it makes for organized education of a large number of children. Any less than that opens the door for unfathomable chaos.

I love the independence within the system. When the children are all listening to the teacher talk about body parts, their skull, spine and falanges, Mary sticks her hands in her back pockets and shouts with complete delight, "My hands are on my butt!"

The whole class laughs and the teacher does too, commenting that her hands are on her glutteous maximus. There is a lot of joy in the class and I suck it in. Yes, they're learning a sense of sameness and yet they rebel against it constantly. They don't just retreat to a corner to read when they're done, they chat and lie on their bellies and backs as they flip through the pages of various books. Each child that comes to me to do their painting tells me something about themselves.

"I cut myself, look."

"My cat is red."

"Yesterday, my daddy came over and stayed while Mommy went to work."

"I like spiders."

"I threw up on my birthday."

"You're M's mommy."

"I like to paint."

M cries when I leave and I hold her. She's got to follow the rules and buck up. I kiss her and assure her I'll be right back. She'll be just fine. And she is. She will be. But it's hard to walk away from her. I often feel like just grabbing her up and taking her with me, except I can't.

It's against the rules. This is something she's learning early.

Short Fiction: Insanity

She must be crazy, I think, as I pass her by in my car, my silvery, rolled-up-window car, with the heater hot and airy and the music loud enough to drown out sirens and the back and forth swish of windshield wipers. Her powdered-white face despite brown arms, neck and legs, and a short satin skirt in the rain make no sense, umbrella or no. Trudging up the steep street in tall shoes guarantees a spill. She has to be crazy. I wait at a stop light and she stands on the corner, her face blank, unblinking, as she stares at me through the misty window. Why does she wear such thick and unyielding white makeup, red lipstick a prickled pear fallen in a snowy desert? She’d look like a geisha in another time, with more care, with grace and silk and cultural intention. I press the gas, and zoom away. She stares at me still with her masked face as she crosses on the yellow, disappearing from my view.

She must be crazy, a mental patient wandering, I think, as I scream songs within the car’s walls and worry about my gas mileage, driving past the newspaper fronts showing death in desert markets as innocents buy food and toothpaste and nod to their neighbors before blowing sky high.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Up and Running

A miracle of miracles. I received the DSL kit yesterday and this morning I received a phone call that I could connect, that my account was going to be billed right away. Isn't that rich?

Now, now...I was worried about connecting because after all, EarthLink said most likely my problem was in my house, a DSL killer in my own home, so I figured I'd get the modem up and wouldn't be able to actually connect. I anticipated more hours with technical support.

It's so nice when my pessimism loses out.

Got the filters on, got the modem connected, got the software up and running, and a crisp, operable connection. No problem, no sweat. Which made me glad as hell to have quit EarthLink because they were truly incompetent.

I'll give Verizon credit where due - they got it up and running a day before the date I wrenched out of them, a full six days before the date they initially set. I will give "Dennis" credit for calling me several mornings in a row to update me on the progress.

I'll slam Verizon still for their uber-lousy telephone system and terrorist-cell departments. When I checked online for the status, I learned that my account only offered 10 MB of webspace. However, when I ordered DSL, two different agents told me I'd have 110 MB. When I called this morning to ask, "WTF?" I was told it was 50 MB by one agent, 10 MB by another, and still another put me on hold for twenty minutes before cutting me off.

I'm reserving my question then for "Dennis." We'll see how he does with THIS new problem.

SO...I'm back, still building my favorites links, still recovering from the Great August Computer Crash.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Watching Water

The tentative date for DSL installation is October 5, which has turned into a day of dread actually being that it might mean another two weeks of technological support hell to figure out why it won't work on my phone line since that's why I called Eart-Link in the first place. A failed DSL.

Today, however, I have dial-up service through Verizon. At first I thought Charlotte at the billing department was just being a nice girl when she promised I wouldn't have to pay for the first 30 days considering all the trouble I went through, and she did that without ever putting me on hold, but then I realized that was just Verizon policy - you don't pay for the first 30 days. Not bad policy, but still. I'd been hoping for more personalized Princess treatment. You'd think they do SOMETHING for me, right? But why would they? Considering I'm a blip in their system, not even a blip, less than a blip. I'm a dot. Just a dot in a series of billions of black or grey dots on a blank white page, or on a tray of emptiness. Anonymous without the beauty or mystery of billions of lighted dots in a night sky.

We are far less than the breathtaking vision of infinity.


Where have I been? I've missed my fellow bloggers. One peek at one website and I learn life changes have taken place for some. I’m standing in the middle of a stream, feet sinking into a rocky sand-bottom, life’s water rushing past me.


Last night a friend of A’s called, near seven at night. The friend was bored, wanting someone to play with, and called A, his best friend. Since J was out and the house was quiet and D and I were feeling relaxed, easy, we said sure, go on over. Play video games a couple of hours. We’ll get you at ten.

We’d never been to the father’s house before but we’ve known the dad a long time, having seen him at open-houses over the years, having met him when picked up his son at our house from parties and play dates. The mom doesn’t speak well of him but we knew that was politics. He’s a homeowner and doesn’t pay child support, but he does support his son. They are all rather…rough around the edges. Feeling relaxed, we said, sure, go on.

Later, A called, asking to spend the night, and he sounded happy and I said fine, sure. Then I talked to the dad and he said the boys were having a blast, playing video games and all was well until the dad said in his inimitable way, “Well if they start acting up, I’ll just tell them to shut up. I’ll just tune ‘em up a little.”

I’d already said yes. All my comfort and relaxation fizzled away into a blast of paranoid conceptualizations. Swallowing hard, I countered, “Hahaha…I’m sure they’ll be fine.”

When I hung up the phone, I stood in front of D, chewing my nails like some the freak I just knew the dad to be, “What have I done?”

“They’re fine, honey. The guy’s a mechanic from the underside of Irwindale – of course he’s going to say odd things. Not everyone is as fortunate as you to be born to a U.S.C. professor and self-educated mother. He’s not a child killer.”

“You must drive there now. You must drive by his house and be sure that everything is copasetic.”

“You want me to drive by.”

“Drive by, park, and peek into his windows to make sure he’s not molesting and killing my child.”

“It’s ten-thirty.”


With a sigh, D dragged himself off the couch and got into the car. I stood at the open door of my house as Sassy dashed past me onto the dark street, running like a greyhound. I screamed, “God DAMNIT,” and ran, too.

Things were fine. Certainly, D had to duck and avoid a police car driving slowly with a spotlight shining into the bushes, but things were good.

“They’re playing video games and are happy and loud. Things are fine.”

Needless to say, sleep was rocky, transient, dark dreams rolling within, scraping my insides. There in the silence of the house, as I half-slept in my bed, my mother came to me, laughing open-mouthed from the floor of a mountain creek. She wore leopard underwear and lay in the chilled water, grass and vines and trees hanging low, close to her. Water cascaded over grey and brown rocks and she was delighted with her circumstances, alone in springtime, her long legs kicking the water, her body rising and falling with the current. She looked at me and said, “Mija, come in, how cool the water is! How exciting!”

I said, no, standing as I always did during her life, waiting on the shore, waiting for her to get out and watching for poisonous snakes in the bushes.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hook me up, baby!

“Welcome to Verizon Online. If you are calling about home DSL service, press 1.”

I was so excited. I just cancelled my EarthLink account. I cancelled after spending two weeks on the phone with their off-shore technical service because my DSL connection had ceased. No, wait, “off-shore” is too nearby. Let’s get accurate here. I had spent two weeks on the phone with their eleventh circle of Hell technical service. Better, much better. So yes, I cancelled EarthLink.

I shouted, “I cancel you! I cancel you! I cancel you!” Slam, slam, slam the phone down hard in its shivering cradle. Three times is the charm, as they say. Three times to divorce, three times to cancel.

“Welcome to Verizon Online. Please listen carefully to our menu options as they have changed. For orders, press 1. For billing, press 2. To cancel, press 3.”

Eager as a beaver, I pressed 1 again. A long message ensued, telling me the virtual history of Verizon, the origins of man, the fact that I’d dialed the wrong number if I didn’t have a Verizon phone line. Since Verizon owned my phone line, I stayed on the line. I continued to hang on even though ten minutes had already elapsed because I was so excited to get my brand spankin’ new DSL service.

“Hello this is Karen at Verizon DSL, how may I help you?”

“I’d like to order Verizon DSL! Hook me up, baby!”

“May I have your phone number?”

I give it. She asks, “What’s your name?”

“Adriana Bliss! That’s me! Adriana B as in boy, L as is lion-hearted, I as in I’m hooked on DSL, S as in super-Callafrajalistic, S as in super-excited-to-get-DSL!”

“I’m sorry, I have no record of you. Who is your telephone provider?”


“And your name is?”

“I just gave it to you.”

“Whose name is on the account?”

“My husband.”

“His name is…”

I gave it, knowing there’d be issues being that I still use my maiden name. “Look, Bliss is my appointed name. D is my husband.”

“Do you give us permission to look at your records?”

“Yes, by golly.”

“Would you like us to review your records to see if you have the best deal for your telephone service?”

“Not really, I just want to order Verizon DSL. Hook me up, baby!”

“I do need to look at your records as far as your order is concerned.”

”Fine, whatever it takes.”

“I see that you’re paying a little more than you should. For $44 per month you can have all these features and more, plus we can bind your regular service bill with your Verizon Wireless service. Would you like to do that right now?”

”Not now…just want the DSL, that good old-fashioned DSL.”

“Sorry for the inconvenience. Do you give us permission to look at your wireless records?”

“NO!!! Just give me the freaking DSL!”

“You don’t need to use that language with me, m’am.”

“I think I do, considering you refuse to take my order for DSL.”

“Well, why didn’t you say that in the first place?”

I said nothing, choosing instead to yank a thick lock of hair out of my head and rake fingernails down my chest. She then proceeded to spend the next thirty minutes taking down information. You know, the basics, my name and address. She entered it, then lost it, entered it again, lost it. Entered it a last time.

“Sorry for the inconvenience.”

We finally got to the section about equipment. “For $49.99 you can have the Gateway combination router and modem. How’s that sound?”

“Ohhhh…that sounds lovely. Yes, hook me up, baby!”

“Oh. Hm.”


“Can’t do it.”

“Why not?!”

“Computer won’t let me.”

“Well, override it!”

“Can’t do it. Hm. Never seen this before.” She whispers to someone other than me, “Get me a supervisor.” Returns to me. “Sorry. Can’t do it. I’ll look into it.”

“Great,” I said, knowing the problem would die on the vine like a sad fungus-ridden tomato.

“We’ll just send you the regular modem for $29.99. Would you like that in one payment or three?”

“Oh hell, make it three.”

The kids by this time are mewing for food at my feet, licking my legs and kicking the hell out of each other, so I pushed hard to conclude our deal. She promised nothing, letting me know Verizon will be in touch as to the installation date. Within hours, I got an e-mail (because EarthLink hasn’t disconnected me yet) saying there was a problem.

A delay.

Next day I called because I couldn’t bear to spend any time immediately with any sort of agent of anything…and as soon as I dialed the toll-free number, a computer responds to me with my very own telephone number, asking if I’m calling from that number, which is strange because I have a blocked number. How can the computer know my number if my number is specifically blocked? Strange indeed. Anyway, I listened to a message that said, “You’re scheduled for installation on the 26th. This information is the most updated information any agent or I can give you,” meaning I don’t get to talk to anybody. There is no prompt to speak with a live person, just sends me to the main menu where if respond accurately, I’ll get to the same message again. I tried again. This time I’m clever and deny that the number I’m calling from is actually the number, deny that I’m calling about my DSL order, deny that I’m even interested in Verizon…finally reaching a live agent who shoves me off to her supervisor who informs me that my order has been cancelled.

Yes, you read that correctly. I was cancelled before I even got started.

“EarthLink has to release the line before we can check to see whether you can get DSL or not.”

“But I have DSL.”

“We need to check that.”

“I’ve been paying an ungodly amount of money for over two years for fast-as-fire DSL. So obviously I have DSL.”

“We need to verify that.”

“I’m verifying it for you!”

“My superiors in provisioning need to confirm that. So anyway, as soon as EarthLink releases the line, then we can check this and then we’ll get you started again. You’ll need to re-order.”


“Yes, re-order the day after EarthLink releases the line. Provided we can verify that EarthLink has released the line.”

My screaming had the man hanging the phone up delicately, saying, “Sorry for the inconvenience.”

I called EarthLink, demanding that they release the line. They said it would take ten to fifteen days. Sometime in mid-October. I tore into the agent who sent me to a supervisor, laughing as she did so, saying there wasn’t anything she could do, that I was in line, in a queue, to be released along with all the other people who were canceling EarthLink like the lemmings we are.

She transferred me to a supervisor, but not before keeping me on hold for ten minutes. After ten minutes she returned to inform me that the supervisors were very busy.

“And what am I? NOT busy?”

“I’m so sorry for the inconvenience,” she said before putting on the elevator music.

The EarthLink supervisor finally picked up and reiterated what the agent said, that it would take ten to fifteen days. Please be assured that I told them how absurd that was, how downright criminal that was to keep my line tied up after I cancelled them. He was silent. I did notice however that when I got off the phone and attempted to dial in that I no longer had dial-up internet access. EarthLink may not have released the line, but they certainly cut off my internet access.

I called Verizon and after fooling the computer into thinking my number wasn’t my number and I wasn’t calling about DSL or anything remotely related to the internet or even planet earth, I landed with technical support. The Verizon agent advised me that there was good news, that EarthLink was releasing the line on the 25th of September. Once the 25th passed, Verizon could check DSL and if I passed the check, they could install DSL on the 27th.

“Cool, so you’ll send me the equipment now? This way I’ll have equipment to hook up on the 27th, right?”

“Sorry. Can’t do that.”


“We can’t send you anything until we know you can get DSL.”


“Would you like to speak to my supervisor?”

“You bet your sweet bippy, I do!”

“Here you go.”

Dial tone. She disconnected me. I dialed again, working like a snake, winding my way around the automated system which would otherwise send me to the recording that repeated my blocked telephone number and assured me that my installation date of the 26th was, “the most updated information any agent or I can give you. Thank you for using Verizon. If you have any further questions, please visit our website at”

Now…how can I visit their website if I don’t have any internet access?!

Well, I’m sure they’re speaking about people who have Verizon dial-up access. But what about for those who are just getting DSL, who don’t have any internet access at home? They offer the same information at their technical support prompt, the support for people who have trouble with their internet access, and are put on hold. While on hold, I sat through a repeating message about visiting their website. Sort of like rubbing my nose in it, mocking my complete lack of internet access. I hung up on technical support. I decide to call the sales department since my first call before I cancelled EarthLink had been so successful, my fishing call, the information call. The gentleman had been kind and knowledgeable. He seemed like a real person. So human.

“Wow, that’s quite a mess,” the sales guy said to me after hearing my sob story. “Unfortunately I can’t help you at all because we’re a third party vendor.”

Meaning the sales department for Verizon DSL isn’t actually Verizon. Which makes me think the technical support isn’t Verizon and neither is the billing department or the provisioning department or the installation department or the access department. Which makes me wonder, “What is Verizon?”

“It’s PEOPLE!”

Or some terrorist cell organization. One cell can’t know what the other cell is doing otherwise their push to take over the world will be sabotaged. Or perhaps it’s run by aliens. Or maybe the computer has finally taken over. There are no people behind Verizon. Instead, it’s one main computer gone amok.

I call the technical support number again. Lie to the computer. Technical support sends me to shipping. Shipping says I don’t exist and sends me back to technical support which sends me to a supervisor. I demand they send me the equipment but they refuse even though I begged them to please, PLEASE just put a modem in a box and send it to me so that when DSL gets installed I’ll have the equipment in place, all ready to go.

“We need to verify that you have DSL capability first. That’s how we do things here, that’s how the disintegrating memo we received last week told us to do it. That and the buzzing chip that was implanted into my brain sometime in the night when I first got hired on here at Verizon Pluto…I mean, Verizon. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

The 26th rolled around. I called Verizon. I said, “Today’s the 26th, hook me up, baby!”

The technical support agent that I reached after lying to the computer about my blocked phone number spends about ten minutes saying, “Hmm,” and “Mm hmm.”

She says to me, “I need to transfer you to sales.”

“Sales can’t do anything for me because it’s not Verizon.”

There’s no argument. She says, “Hmm.” Then transfers me to the toll free number. After I lie to the computer, I land in technical support once again. New agent. Not a supervisor.

She asks, “Can I have your number?”

“You know it, the computer knows it, I know it, and they know it.”

“Can I have your number?”

“Why am I here? Another technical support transferred me to you – I don’t want you – I want someone—”

“Can I have your number?”

Because it’s clearly a battle I cannot win, I capitulate. I give my number and demand to speak to a supervisor. She transfers me after putting me on hold for ten minutes.

I get one named Dennis.

“Welcome to Verizon where the customer is king!”

“Where’s my DSL equipment and when will my DSL be installed?”

“Ah yes…and you are?”

“Adriana Bliss.”

“But you don’t hold the account.”


“What’s the address – just confirm it for me please.”

I do and we begin the dance again where I tell him what I want and he avoids answering like one avoids the plague.

“We have to wait for the go ahead before we can install.”

“And who gives the go-ahead?”

“The access department.”

“Who can I speak to there?”

“Well, they’re not really the deciders. They’re waiting for the provisioning department to give them the final okay.”

“Who can I talk to there?”

“Well, they’re not in charge of the actual line. The engineering department is.”

“Who can I talk to there?”

“Nobody ever talks to them.”

“Oh…my…god. So it’s like the Dark Brotherhood in Oblivion.”

“In what?”

“Never mind…so the engineering department, the group who actually checks the wire and gives the okay cannot be reached by anybody, you included?”

“That’s right. We wait for the go-ahead. And updating the consumer records with the go-ahead will take forty-eight hours.”

“Forty-eight hours for the engineering department to tell the provisioning department to tell the provisioning department to update the consumer records so that you can THEN tell me to order Verizon which will THEN allow you to mail out the equipment which will take five business days.”

“Five to ten business days.”

“So I won’t have a working internet until sometime before Christmas.”

He chuckles, “Oh I’m sure we’ll get it up before Thanksgiving.”

I slam the phone down, “I cancel you! I cancel you! I cancel you!”

The Yellow Pages must offer some other DSL options, no? Our country has not been eaten up entirely by Verizon. I call Adelphia for cable. They tell me it will be near $50 and will take ten working days to get someone to my house. I call DirectTV for the satellite option. After listening to the automated system and elevator music for ten minutes, I go into seizure and am forced to stop. I call a couple of numbers. One takes me to an adult entertainment outfit and another is residential number.

“Is this Freebie DSL Service?”

He sighs. “No, this is a residential number.”

“Oh, is this 555-7676?”

“Yes, but it’s my personal number.”

“You’re in the Yellow Pages, you know.”

“Yup, I know.”

“So sorry for the inconvenience.”

So here I sit, waiting for EarthLink to formally disconnect, Verizon to assure I have/had DSL, and then…to hook me up. And then…to wait for the equipment to get here. And you know, I don’t even know that DSL will work because…after all…the failed DSL is why I was calling EarthLink for technical support in the first place.

I laugh now. I laugh and laugh and laugh as I take a huge dose of Vicodin (thanks, Patrick!) and a shot of vodka to wash down those bitter pills. Then I straighten myself out at the podium for my lecture on Constitutional Law to my eager evening students. I end up ranting about EarthLink and Verizon. The overhead then fails. No connection, no signal, the computer tells me. I think about the shows TiVo is recording, thankful that something technological actually works. Besides my phone…my working Verizon phone that’s run by people-eating, alien terrorist-cell organizers.

See you next week, folks, the next time I can get access to some computer somewhere with an internet that works!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Going Off Line

Well, well...Earthlink finally disconnected me after a "conversation" I had with a supervisor. BUT Verizon won't be up and running (let's all pray!) until next week. So...offline. I'll be internetless for a while other than logging on at school.

See you then. Thanks everyone for the comments...LOL. Eleventh circle of hell, I tell ya'!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Dialing In

The good thing about dial-up internet, for me, is that I tend to not dial up at all which has been fantastic for my computer video game skills. A and I have shot up in the Oblivion ranks since the Sunday before last – bring on the buying of houses and unlocking of very hard locks and the big, powerful weaponry. Now, if only I could use that weaponry in a dark, medieval alley while facing Earthlink technical support gurus.


Here’s a story for you. So one sunny day, the Sunday before last, after checking e-mail using the same connection, the same modem, everything the same, that I’d been using for nigh onto three years, I left the house to finally purchase a new computer. Bought a Gateway. Brought it home, hooked it up. Copied over old files from my backup drive.

Good to go.

Next step was the internet. Hooked up the modem that mere hours before I’d been using with my laptop. Tried to set up the connection myself.

Didn’t work. No DSL. No connection.

Called Earthlink, that down-home Pasadena company that grew from a little nothing into a big noth— okay, big company. Now, dialing Earthlink is no easy task. Really, it’s comparable to any far-reaching task on a medieval video game. I have to push buttons, wait, perform magic tricks, wait, dance the two-step, wait, and wait some more. After many sweat-provoking minutes, I finally reached the comforting, smart-sounding lilt of a Bombay accent. Technical support walked me through two steps before deciding to send me to the “level 2” technical support since the modem wouldn’t connect.

“I am so sorry for the inconvenience.”

Then they disconnected me.

I dialed Earthlink again, waiting, waiting, waiting. Got technical support. “Hello, this is Sarna, how can I help you today?”

“I just got disconnected.”

“I am so sorry for the inconvenience.”

“No, you’re not.”

“No, yes, yes, no, I am so sorry. Welcome to Eart-link, the little engine that koood.”


“Yes, koood. Can I have your Eart-link address?”

“I already gave it to the other guy.”

“There is no other guy, there is only me. I am your last salbation.”


“Yes, salbation. Can I confirm your name?”

“Fine, fine…Adriana Bliss.”

“I have no record of that name, vaya con dios. Please allow me the transfer to the sales department where you can get Eart-link at a discounted rate for new customers for six months. T-ank you.”

“No transfer!! My modem doesn’t work! Fix it!”

“Can I have your e-mail address?”

“Yes, fine, ABliss at Earthlink dot net.”

“APlist at Eart-link dot net?”

“No, A-B-L-I-S-S at Earthlink dot net.”

“That is A as in apple, P as in Paul—”

“No, B as in Brown.”

“Okay, Adriana at ABliss at Eart-link dot net. Let me pull up the notes. I see, your modem does not connect. You need a level 2 technical support.”

“Please don’t disconnect me.”

“I will make sure there is no disconnection. Thank you for using Eart-link technical support.”

I heard the music of two keys being punched in and then the nightmare of the dial tone. I’d been disconnected again.

I tried yet again, and got disconnected again.

I tried one more time (please note, by this last time, I’d downed two shots of Vodka and was laughing loudly, the lilt of my very own Bombay accent bouncing off the walls, through my darkened home), except this last time, the technical support advised me that there was no way level 2 would ever answer as they were closed and would not reopen until the next morning.


The next day, Monday, Earthlink advised me through a level 2 technical support lady in India that most likely my modem died and thus for the low price of $25.00 they would ship me the latest in technology. I should get the new modem by Friday.

Friday came. I plugged in the modem. I tried to connect and it failed.

“Error: Remote computer doesn’t answer.”

I rang up Earthlink. Waited, danced, performed the magical tricks, etc. After getting disconnected only once, the support tech in India said, “We need to have Verizon check the line. This will take three days.”

I slammed the phone down, like five times, sending children and a husband to my side. I fainted. They put cold towels on my head and M cried by my side. When I reawakened, my husband handed me a shot of ice-cold vodka. Smiled. Said, sorry for the inconvenience.

Verizon came out while I was at a soccer game on Saturday, surprising the hell out of me. My husband called in a panic, “I don’t know what to say! Where do I send them?! What’s a modem?! What’s a DSL?!”

“Lemme talk to him,” I said, “lemme at him!”

“Hello this is Vernon from Verizon DSL. DSL works fine. Must be the internal wiring in your house.”

“Can you check that for me?”

“Can’t do it. You don’t have Verizon DSL which you could have for only $17.99 a month with a twelve-month commitment.”

“No, I have Eart-link.”

“Well, call them and tell them they have to check the inside wiring.”

“They say they’re not responsible.”

“Who owns your phone?”


He checked with his boss. “So sorry, but there’s no record of you at Verizon.”

“So how does Earthlink think I’m getting DSL?”

“Whatever it is, it’s not Verizon DSL. Call Earthlink. They’re responsible for the connection from the outside of your house to your computer.”

A ball flew past me, hitting a small child. Blood splattered, parents panicked, grass flattened, I cried.

I called Earthlink, sitting through that outrageous voice mail system and talked to a technical support.

“Verizon said they’re not responsible for the internal wiring, you are.”

“Who owns your phone?”


“Call Verizon.”

“I DID!! There’s no record of me!”

“I am so sorry for the inconvenience.”

“Wait…wait…tell me this what does your computer say as to how I’m receiving DSL? Wait, wait…how would you know how American phone systems work?”

“I took a class. Let me explain to you.” After some gibberish, he assured me that I needed to contact my local Verizon and/or a private company. “Homeowners are responsible for their internal wiring and phone jacks.”

When I got home, I called the local Verizon which said they could check the inside wiring with regard to the regular phone but not for DSL. They referred me to some other company, a private company in San Fernando Valley. I pulled out my Yellow pages. Reached Jesse at a local telephone/DSL/computer/networking/communications company. He said he could be here Monday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

He got to my house at 6:00 p.m.

After fiddling with some multi-colored wires and hanging on the side of my house, he then advised me that my modem did not work (no shit!!), that the DSL was not working even when they hooked my modem directly to the end of the Verizon wire.

“But Verizon said it worked.”

“You have Verizon DSL?”

“No, Eart-link.”

“Geez…why don’t you have Verizon DSL? It’s like $17.99 a month. How much you pay?”


He shook his head, “I’ll talk to Verizon, but your modem doesn’t work. Call Earthlink. Okay, my visit was $45.”

I wrote a check. Then I called Earthlink.

Jason from Bombay answered and after pulling up notes said, “Your modem doesn’t work because it’s the latest technology. Your Verizon wire however is the oldest DSL technology. It needs to be changed from frame rate to ATM. Once we change, your modem will work.”

“How long will that take? And why on God’s green earth didn’t anyone notice this a week ago when you sent me the latest technology modem?!”

“I am so sorry for the inconvenience. Changing the transfer will take two to three weeks.”

I slammed the phone down. Several times. I banged my head against the desk. I cried. Yelped. Sassy pooped in my office.

The next day…no, yesterday, I called Earthlink and cancelled my account. I contacted Verizon DSL and am currently waiting for new home installation kit. Of course, there are delays.

See, I have to get Earthlink to disconnect me first. Then it will take Verizon five days or so to process and get DSL turned on…

Wheeeeeee!!! Where’s the crack pipe when I need it?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hurry, hurry...update...wait...wait some more...

So in addition to my computer crash woes, my DSL modem died. Hahahaha...yes, life just gets better by the day! Out of desperation I plugged my brand-spankin' new 'puter to the phone line.

And here I am.

Nothing but school is happening at the Bliss household, school for me, school for D, school for the kids. J's doing a little better with the tics but he's still not where he has to be in order to get back into the classroom. He's off the Keppra - too much medication with nearly no alleviation. So we're down to Zoloft and a mood stabilizer. Oh and the clonidine patch. I like having him at home, in truth. It's fun to pick up lunch for him after my class. I like having him near me, so I can keep an eye on him. He battles schoolwork, but he does manage to get through the assignments without breaking much of a sweat. Not to sound like him, but I do think he'll be back at school before the semester is over. I have a feeling he'll not be thrilled. He REALLY likes not having to wake up at seven in the morning. Nine works for him just fine.

M has had a delayed reaction to attending kindergarten. Cried on Monday morning. Begging for me to work in the classroom a few days. Really, in truth, she'd rather me pick her up at recess. Morning recess.

A has flown into the routine of school with his usual agonizing misery. Homework hell has officially started. It's to the point where we're going to have to hire a tutor, an older student, to do his homework with him. For some reason he just feels too comfortable fighting D and I as "teachers."

Mmm...well, I'm beat. Just thought to check in. Let you all know I'm alive.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Thirteenth Birthday Party

I've invited over family, and J's invited a few friends to celebrate his teenagehood. The middle-schoolers will hang out, we'll eat, the little ones will play. D and I debated over the entertainment, deciding in the end to just go traditional. Let the kids entertain themselves. Maybe we'll throw in a Sponge Bob jumper just for kicks.

The other night I found an IM left up on my screen - J was asking a buddy if he wanted to come to the party and as enticement, he said, "There's going to be a big fucking bouncy house."

If that doesn't represent someone in between worlds, I don't what does.

Happy Saturday, everyone.

Friday, September 08, 2006

"What a woman!" Updated

That's one of my favorite quotes and it comes from Disney's "The Aristocats". a woman! An over-50 nurse strangling a bad, bad intruder with her bare hands. Even the BTK killer found choking as a means of death difficult to do because of the strength needed. I keep trying to imagine the event and find myself sort of chuckling, rather darkly I know, at what had to be pure shock on the part of the intruder. "This can't be happening, this CANNOT possibly be happening. I have a hammer AND a penis! Why meeeeeee?!"


Hectic week - getting up early every morning to get the two younger kids to school by eight o'clock, coming home to get J set up for his morning with breakfast and his assignments from the home teacher, then jamming to the college to teach my morning class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Wednesdays and Thursdays are tough because on those nights I've got late classes to teach - the school shortened the semester and decided to tack on additional minutes of teaching to the class hours so they want us to hold the students twenty more minutes than we had to last year. I now don't get home until after 10:30. And I never can go to sleep right away - I always find myself awake beyond midnight. Stress can push it to two. Makes getting up the next day for the kids doubly hard.

M decided to entertain D last night while I was at class by jumping off a little puffy chair and spraining her ankle badly. Yeah. She got to experience her first sick day and got us a lovely afternoon at the doctor's office and radiology department. Fun, fun, fun! Wait, wait, wait!


Sassy took off out the door AGAIN, after her visit to the groomers that revealed her mad itching wasn't caused by bad skin but by fleas.


J loved his iPod. I've had to fight him for computer time, as he works to transfer his favorite cd's over.


Lost the internet a couple of days thanks to my modem going wonky, forcing me to use the college's computer to check on e-mail.


My desktop's hard drive is kaput. The money I spent for after-warranty customer service and "recovery disks" was a complete waste. I'm pulling the last dollars of my inheritance money to buy a spiffy new computer, the rest of which is still paying for J's and A's doctor. Who's been billing me lately every time we have a phone session that he set up to monitor J's progress on the Zoloft. I appreciate the attention (the neurologist hates dealing with us because J's not responding so well to the treatment, and don't doctors hate that?), but not the charges which our Blue Cross won't pay for.


Problem with kaput computer is I will have lost all of July's and August's pictures due to my being lazy and not backing up since late June. And to think that right before the Great Crash, the night before, I had said to myself, "Self, you better back up the drive."

Ahhh...hindsight's a beautiful thing.

At least I hadn't spent the summer finally completing the Great American Novel that was sure to win the Pulitzer.


I'm at a creative low.


M's hopping all over the house, avoiding putting weight on her injured ankle, and she's quite proud of her skill. I have to say, I don't hop. If I injured my ankle, I'd take the crawling option, probably settling for the lying-down option. Oh, oh...I feel it, I sense it, the sleepiness is coming back, the wish to sleep through my life rather than engage.


Lately, whenever I post on the blog, I publish, then republish, then republish again. The bloglines folks must think I'm nuts. Or unsettled. Or uncommitted. Or scatter-brained. Or fluid.

Update: Another tale of a woman taking care of business.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

School's in Session! Updated (spoiler!)

Took the babies to school today, the first day back. A off to fourth grade, M off to kindergarten. Beaming faces, neat outfits, clean shoes. Ran home and got J set up for some preliminary lessons - a little Algebra, a little English. Something to do while I taught my day class. 1:30 and 2:00 came much too soon - time just to catch my breath, to snack, in time to arrive at the a flat tire in 105 degree heat. D to the rescue, with AAA. Took the babies home to corral them while the home teacher spent an hour with J.

Soon? Bass lesson, dinner, baths, bed, preparation for my own class tomorrow night. Trip, stumble, get back up...skip, skip, skip. My it's hot these days.

Update: Since I'm writing a saga about the newly-intensified Tourette's of J, I thought to mention our little...incident this past weekend. We'd been at a party at my brother's place, a little USC football celebration (whooo we won!) that ran until ten o'clock or so with lots of swimming, drinking, eating, and socializing. When we all hobbled in through the door, we played our messages. Lo and behold, some children thought it would be funny to call our machine and leave a message imitating J's vocal tics. A prank call in the truest sense of the word. A very painful prank. We handled it as best as we could, after telling J that his desire to beat up the message-leaver wasn't the best move. We said the kids probably thought it was just something funny to do, that J is so cool with his TS, that they maybe really didn't think he'd mind. It was the best we could do to alleviate such a humiliating and disturbing moment. We finished by saying, "Kids are mean, and dumb. They do things without thinking of the consequences. We're so sorry that happened."

The next night, as I was watching a movie, as J was heading to bed, I overheard him tell D, "I think the noise is going to fade away tonight. I bet you I wake up in the morning and all I'll have is an eye thing, or a bit of a shake. I really think so, dad."

I couldn't sleep after that. All I could think about was how I wanted that, too, when my father had cancer and my mother got ill. "Tomorrow morning, this whole nightmare is going to go away. Tomorrow I'm going to wake up and everything will be just like it was before, better."

Tomorrow's his birthday. I bought him an Ipod. I asked the girl at the shop, "Which one do all the kids buy? Which one would a 13 year old boy buy? Black or white? The one with the screen, right?" I didn't want to make a mistake. Didn't want to buy the wrong one. I put it on our credit card. Went into debt because I can't fix anything for him, because every time I put a pill into his mouth, nothing changes. But I can buy him something fun, modern, all the rage. That and telling him a story at night, telling him I love him. Listening to him, watching him skateboard and drum, when he wants me to watch.

Tonight we saw "House" and J emerged from the office right at the end when the doctor sticks a paralyzed guy with one shot and cures him. The guy stands up and voila! The family cries and all is good. J laughed and said, "That doesn't happen in real life, does it?"

"No, honey, it's pure fiction."

"You mean, pure bullshit!"

"Yeah, that's the word."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day

Thirteen years ago, around...oh...say, 1:04 p.m. I gave birth to J, a beautiful (really, truly, the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen in my entire life! No, no, no, really!) bouncing (not too bouncy, after all he was only 6 pounds), baby boy. We were thrilled. My father was so excited, he could barely stand. My sister was in the room and at the emergence of J, swore on her life that she'd never have children...oh ever.

"No, no, no!!! Not going through that!!! That is an act against all decency and basic physics!!! I'm off to a frat party now! Have fun with your baby!! And that gigantic episiotomy that stretches from your nose down and up to the back of your neck!!"

My mother stayed all afternoon, my brother, friends and in-laws. For the next week our house was Grand Central Station, with every cousin, friend, and co-worker dropping in for a great amount of ooh'ing and ahh'ing. We had so many people that when my second son was born, dearest A, truly bouncing at 7.5 pounds, D chased everyone away and we were more akin to recluses who gave birth to an alien as opposed to a child. We ended up rather lonely at that time.

So tonight, even though we're not exactly on his birthday, we're having ribs, beer, and corn (well, I'm having the beer...a few of the end of the night, the children will be traumatized and dragging their drunken, singing mother off the couch to the shower...okay, that won't happen, I promise. I've seen the cautionary Lifetime Movies!). We'll tell tales of the birth, of the manic drive to the hospital, of Papa in the room at 10:00 saying, "In just a couple of hours we're going to have a baby!", and of all the first baby lessons parents learn (such as never leave a jaundiced baby near a window on a sunny day lest the puppy think he's a chew toy!). No that last thing never happened. Just kidding.

Oh yeah...I'm giddy with recall. Oh those days. Those lovely days before two more children came along, when D and I were in love and we had our little house and everything was bright and rosy.

Happy Almost Birthday, J.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Bubbling Up

Computer's still on the blink. I'm working from my aged laptop with the slow processor that I didn't notice was slow until I hooked up to the internet. We're talking molasses slow, curse-causing slow. Why oh why did I not spend the extra $200 for a faster thingamabob?

Attended M's kindergarten orientation this morning. Watched her sit in the circle with her new teacher and hang to the side of the playground when I picked her up after the parent meeting. Something in the way she stood at the fence reminded me of J when I dropped him off at a new preschool. Later, D drove by to check up on him and there was our J, crying at the fence. Three years old. A most horrible memory for my husband - I'm glad I only heard about it. That memory slid into another, one of me as a preschooler that never went to school. I have this vision of being in a treehouse of some sort. Girls in a group at the sandbox. A fancy doll in my lap. My mother told me she tried to get me to play with the girls, that they tried to talk to me. She said I refused to speak - I held my doll, ran and hid in the treehouse. Watching them from afar.

Today, I was part of the "been there, done that," group. The parents who've already put one or more children through kindgarten. We didn't ask many questions, we filled out the information sheet quickly, we didn't have cameras. Tuesday I will. I'll snap the shot of M by the door with her teacher. I'll sign up for the field trip to the zoo. I'll offer to staple papers or cut shapes at home. I already checked with Mrs. SuzieQ to arrange for M's birthday cupcakes in January instead of December (her birthday falls between Christmas and New Year's Day). After is better than before. I don't want her birthday to be lost in the craziness of public school Christmas break preparations.

I'll miss M being at home - I miss her already. Funny though because J will be home. We've confirmed the home teaching - a teacher will be here every day in the afternoon for an hour. This takes a little pressure off of us. Sure, we'll have to make sure he studies and does the projects, but this way, he'll be keeping up with his class at school. This way, he'll be able to slide into place when the tics are under control. Funnier, J seems happy. He says he doesn't feel angry anymore. He thinks the tiny green pill is doing the trick. Last night he asked me to tell him a story before when he was younger, before things changed, "Come on, Mom, tell me about Sam and Jam. Tell me about how Jam's a skateboarder and Sam's a drummer."

I laughed. My J, talking from the top bunk. I launched into something silly, something short. He giggled, but didn't stick with the story, asking something off-topic, talking about his birthday party. When I said goodnight and walked away, I heard him tic a little, a short, violent burst of a hum. In the darkness, I knew just where he was, lying on his side, facing the door. A shout of presence, of being.

Don't forget me.

When he was in kindergarten, I worked in my own law office, a sole practice. I have no memory of how or when I picked him from school at 11:00 every day. A whole year went by and I cannot remember what I did, not clearly. I think we had him in daycare after school a couple of times a week. I think maybe he sat in the office with the secretary until D picked him up. I picked him up maybe and took him to my mother's place, where we'd have lunch, after which we'd drive home, me, J, and A. I went to the zoo with him, his big field trip. I didn't help the class much. I was glad when he went to second grade because I didn't have to worry about the early pick-up. By then A was in pre-school a few times a week. The years are blurry. The greyness blows up with my mother's death. Clarity comes. M leaves her infancy. Our days are clear in my head, exact. Years of M and me.

J shouts now. I can here him across the house, one end to another. I always know where he is - the bedroom, outside skateboarding, in the office on the computer. I always hear him. He's shouting for me, a constant reminder of my barely-there-ness. I listen, thinking on how to fix it, thinking on the goodness of it.

How funny when M goes to kindergarten, the beginning of her independence, J is home with me. How strangely ironic, how noisy, how bright.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Blogging My Life

[Hysterical laughter is heard.]

My desktop computer crashed.



[She quietly goes to the bathroom with a noose and a Bud Light.]


Have I bared too much of myself in this blog? I think so. The blog has become a judge in my life, a mother having listened to my exposed truths - so many eyes, so many opinions, dangerous holders of power over my tentative groundedness, my fragile sense of control.

When I was a teenager and in love, I complained to my mother of the faults of this lover. I said, "He was mean to me, he did this and he did that." Then when he left me, I cried to her, I said, "He hurt me, he cut me right through the core of me." Then when my lover and I made up and I was giddy, my mother stood with her arms crossed and forbade me to see him again. "He hurt you," she said without regard to my passions, "he's a danger to you." She would not forget what I said about him, about his misdeeds. She would not let me forget what I said.

I felt something like that last night. All chaos broke loose, leaving me a shred of a woman. D and I stood firm on a decision regarding J and he lost control. When he was done, D and I collapsed on the couch, collapsed into one another. Drained. We talked late into the night - insomnia gripping me. I found myself caught up in the words of a drive-by poster whose comments I chose to delete because I didn't want that sort of meanness, "objective" meanness, in my "home" of a blog, but there I was wondering if what she said was true. Maybe our chaotic household is my fault, our fault. Perhaps everything I have on my hands is karmic justice. Yes, that person would say. Of course it is. everything would be fine, but for you.

I'm questioning all our choices with the boys - perhaps we should dump all the medications and start from scratch, perhaps we should pick up and move to another state, another town, get a fresh start, perhaps...perhaps...perhaps. Guilt pulls me down, deep under. Sadness, agonizing self-pity. Why is this happening to me? To my family? Why isn't our path one of sweetness, one of bliss? What will become of my beautiful boy? Of all three of my beautiful, energetic, non-academic children? Where did I read recently a quote, who said it? Tell me who said it? "When they least deserve your love, they need it the most."

Lord give me the strength to love an angry, burdened child. Let me be strong the way I'm supposed to be, and not weepy the way can be. Let me be part of what he needs to be upright, not a further weight that crushes him.

I should cut posts. I should slash away at all the exposure. Delete, delete, delete. Don't look, all. Just...don't fucking look. Pass me by, pass the mad lady at the side of the road, talking to herself and waving at demons and cursing the sky and the dusty ground she walks upon. Don't hand her anything, don't talk to her.

I find myself afraid of the very next moment. Paranoid. I cover that up. The kids battle each other now - I turn to them and ask that they get dressed. Choose a book and read quietly. I'm make a big lunch, feed them through their stomachs since I'm coming up short on the emotional food.

This morning, dreams haunted me. My mother was too busy for me. She moved from activity to activity throughout the cabin and I could not corner her to talk to her, to get comfort from her. She finally left and I was in tears. My father's second wife stood next to me and said, "I told you I'd always be here for you." A lie. My sister believes the dream was only a reflection of our reality - in fact, the second wife lives and in fact my mother does not. I woke up crying, feeling the pain of her loss and then just as suddenly as it had come on, I stopped. The mourning passed.

D had already left for work and when he called I was still in bed. Breathe, I tell J, breathe through the tics. Breathe, D tells me. Breathe through the fear. Believe. Be confident.

"Okay, honey."