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.