Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

From the Bliss Family...

Have a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!

May everyone have a beautiful and satisfying holiday!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


As if to smooth the non-touching wrinkle in our marriage, he brought potent creamed coffee to my classroom. I drank the large coffee in sips and slurps on and off throughout the lecture and now it's two in the morning and I'm wide awake. For hours it seemed I lay beneath thick covers unable to warm up. I started with few clothes on, a t-shirt, a pair of pajama shorts. I got up to get socks. I switched the shorts for pajama pants. I finally threw on a robe. Still the bed was cold, still my mind wouldn't stop. Last step was getting out of bed and hitting the keyboard.

Music haunts me, Mexican music. The tones have been following me, trailing my every move. A week ago or so on a Saturday night, in a similar vein of wakefulness I rose to the sound of Mexican music coming in through a cracked-open window. Near two-thirty in the morning I saw. I pushed the covers off and walked through the dark to poke my head out the sliding door of our room, listening for some minutes to the music. From next door, I realized. For the longest time I listened, so much like the musica my mother listened to when she felt homesick. The words, the meanings, I had no idea. My Spanish has never been good. I tended, I tend, to gather meaning from the tune, from the rises and dips in the melody. This...I couldn't quite read. I wasn't picking up joy. Reminded of her pain, I went to bed. The music was unusual. The music carried so far, it stayed with me until I fell asleep. I dreamt of my grandmother.

In the morning, my son came to me and said plainly, Mom, Robert is dead. Someone killed him. 23 years old. At a party. Somewhere. Around one in the morning.

Oh no, I said, oh no, his poor family. His poor parents. Their world has stopped cold. For a few weeks, for some months, their world will not be real. He was one son of five.

The music comes to me now. I wonder if they'd learned of it. If someone learned of the killing and played the music to soothe a heart in shock. Perhaps it was coincidence. Perhaps it was a dream. I won't ever know because the family is private that way - the dad waved to me during the week, a wave that screamed of normality, of business as usual. I know that's not the case.

Writing hasn't put me to sleep yet. I hear a whispered voice carrying down the hall, "Mommy." No, that's D's rhythmic snoring. A kind of choked music, a soothing, grating, familiar noise which at once can lull me to sleep and keep me wide-eyed.

Tonight I asked a student if she'd be interested in a Law and Literature class. She said yes, but hoped music would be included as part of our literature. She'd love to research rap as a statement about law in our modern society. Yes, yes, that's wonderful, I said. Music. Music.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Driving-By, Shooting the Sh...

The University where I work is a small town compared to the community college - the streets are quaint, the buildings have character, and parking is a constant thorn in the sides of faculty and administration. I find that I miss the students off the city streets back at the community college. They didn't have to apply to get in so they were often rougher in their knowledge, in their recall of the last exam they took. Even the younger students had the cynicism and pallor of working folk, burnt out on traffic and too many hours in air-conditioned discomfort.

At the university, the students are well-invested in their education. They pay a lot of money for unit hours, read their text books, and are firmly headed towards their 4-year degrees. Community college students are much less confident on what will happen in the upcoming year. They might be there, they might not. They might transfer, they might not.

In my new position, in my little, over-air-conditioned office, I find myself un-confident of where I'll be in a year. Will I make the grade? Will I transfer? Will I be able to do all I said I could do?

At home, we're even less confident. Our eldest angel is maneuvering his way through high school, a treacherous path of incompetent teachers, temptations, and unmet needs. We're happy to see that his tics are quite manageable - quite reduced. We're happy to see him swimming in a huge school, but sad to see his grades bump back and forth between an A in English and an F in math. How funny that college used to be an automatic in my life, an unquestionable goal to attain. Today, I really have no idea if he'll ever get there, much less graduate from high school. I can't see him enlisting in the service (he hates taking orders from any kind of authority). Don't think he has the passion yet to be a professional

Oh hell, it's probably too early to tell. Really.

My second son, A, has developed an interesting maturity about school. While he's still in "RSP", the modern "special ed", and he still struggles with completing "extra work", he also prides himself as being a "rule follower." He is a pleasure to have in class, his teacher assures us. He's attentive and always does his best even if it's not perfect. At home, he's just himself: liking to get under the skin of his brother and sister. He chuckles to himself, I can see, when he gets them to raise their voices. He still moves at his own speed, when he's good and ready.

The baby, M, not so baby. She's a peach at school, excited about everything, finicky about doing things correctly and in a pretty way. If she can make it sparkly, she will.

The man in my life: D. We continue in our comfortable co-existence, but I struggle with his reluctance to treat our oldest for his behavior problems. D doesn't like the label perhaps that J's problems put on him. Perhaps it's denial. I'm not sure.

Our weeks fly by, full and noisy. There's always a test to take, a class to prepare for, math facts and spelling words to memorize, a test to write. As always, I love the quiet of the house, late at night and right after I return from taking the three to school. Sassy and I walk the rooms and sip coffee and check e-mail. I'll shower before heading out to the University where there is much more to do, more meetings to attend, new classes to worry about, high-paying students to sell myself to.

M is singing now as I write, her new poem of the week, Five stinky pirates, as plump as can be... except the words grind down to a groan because she's aggravated, because she can't remember the rest. I'm hungry, she says, haughty and princess-like, while copying sentences, before reaching for the Cheez-Its. Can I do this later??

"No, M, do the sentences now. There is no later. Later there is dinner, baths and books to read. Do it now."


We miss summer, I realize.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Summer Reading

Venturing outside my normal topics of posting, I wanted to share a book with you that I'm reading called "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon. No, it's not literature in the traditional sense of the word, but neither does it qualify as "romance" or "science fiction" or "historical fiction." Rather, it's a combination of all three genres which is why it has appealed to so many fiction-readers. In fact, the entire series has been so beloved that the books have been on the national bestseller lists since "Outlander" was published in 1991. In this first book that I'm currently reading (all 640 pages or 896 depending on the format), 1945 nurse Claire Beachamp recently reunited with her husband following a separation due to World War II finds herself transported to 1743 Scotland when she touches the boulders of an ancient henge while on a walk to pick herbs. From there, her adventure starts.

Now, some of the dialogue is silly (one exchange has our heroine, Claire, saying, "Ugh!" in response to hearing some terrible incident involving her Highlander lover, Jamie Fraser, a written vocalization which never fails to stick in my craw). There is also the unreal ease with which the heroine accepts Jamie's love (thereby seeming to forget her still-living-in-another-time period husband without that much of a blink) as well as the rather ... er ... politically incorrect punishment from said husband (Jamie spanks the bejeesus out of her with his belt when she disobeys him).

All that aside, I've found myself transported right along with Claire despite my high-minded preference for more intellectual literature. I recommend "Outlander" to anyone who's looking for some fun, light, engaging summer reading.

On a related note, I've actually been reading more tradition romance novels. Rubbish to be sure, but enjoyable nonetheless. The books seem to go along with my penchant for movie and television watching. I wondered why I've abandoned writing, why I put aside my heavier reading pursuits in favor of silliness.

I wonder while I lecture J on the necessity of school, of passing classes, of not running around with hoodlums as friends, while I dole out medications to the boys and tie and re-tie M's hair in ponytails and listen to J tic because he's so stressed out over summer school. Today I meet with the principal of the school because in truth, J's needs are not being met. I've come to the conclusion that if he's unmanageable in school, it's because he's not being managed correctly. The other day he cursed me out, using...well...using my favorite F-word in the world. Yeah, THAT one. I was surprised, horrified, wanting to get a switch off the tree and mete out my own punishment, but I realized the stress over school had simply reached a boiling point. Something isn't right in Denmark, so to speak.

I don't think I need to wonder why I'm escaping into escapist fiction. When I was in law school, I used to escape the serious lifestyle of studying with video games and made-for-tv movies. Today, there's stupid fiction, hot sex between the pages, happy-ever-after endings, and ... made-for-tv movies. I'm not doing anything different than I did back then.

Last night we went to the Pomona Fairgrounds for the fireworks. The show was preceded by monster trucks and freestyle motocross. I had to laugh that in Pomona (versus the big show at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena) when the announcer asked everyone to clap and cheer for our servicemen, firefighters, and law enforcement, the crowd booed law enforcement. D and I laughed hard along with all our compadres in the crowd. I don't think any police officer wanted to stand up in that crowd! We had fun though, yelling out wildly for the Bounty Hunter who stirred up so much dirt with his wheelies that it took a full ten minutes for the air to clear. We collectively gasped when the motocross guys did no-handed flips with their motorcycles and one truck caught fire after too many donuts. And then the fireworks. We took pictures with our cell phones along with the rest of the crowd - no fancy cameras and tripods for the cheap seats! Even though J stayed home, choosing to hang out with a neighbor, A, M, D and I enjoyed ourselves despite the long and slow exit. For the evening, we escaped and forgot our usual troubles.

Well, back to "Outlander."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Summer, Summer, Summer...

"I have a runny nose, Daddy, and besides that, someone was making fun of me at school on Friday. I don't want to go to summer school today." said my dearest at 7:30 this morning when D tried to wake up J up. So he could go to school, so he could get 10 credits and thus take less classes in his first year of high school.
Last summer we thought to relieve the kids of school. This year is a different story. Both boys are in school - A is being home-schooled by D, and J is at the high school. M is also being home-schooled. With J, we thought it best to acclimate him to the routine of school, to get him used to managing his tics in a school environment. D and I worried. He did so well at home, we didn't want his good work to plummet. But the reality is, his tics ARE being well-managed, and he WILL lose out on the music programs if he stays home.
"Come on, Daddy, I really just want to stay home, just for today."
D came into my room and whispered, "He's got a really runny nose."
"Give him a cold medicine."
D tiptoed out of the room. I drifted back to sleep. At 9 or so I got up and looked in the bedroom and there was J, asleep. He slept until 11.
When he woke up, he asked, "Hey, I made plans to go skating with my buddy. Can you drive me to the elementary school? Just to the hill."
"Why NOT??!!"
"If you're too sick for summer school, you're too sick to skateboard for friends."
"It's just summer school, it doesn't matter!!"
Heavy sigh.
Yesterday was nice though - after screaming and fussing and complaining and threats to stay home, all five of us managed to get into the SUV and head out to the Orange County Marketplace (which used to be the Orange County Swapmeet) to walk around and buy a beach hat. Which we did. Bought beach hats. Afterwards, we drove to Newport Beach for an early dinner and I had a Mojito. Never did I need one so badly in my life. We all had fun, though. Lunch-dinner was the best. Classic rock playing. The ocean breeze coming in through open windows, chips and salsa, hamburgers, fun conversation. Beach hats.
I took pictures from the pier. I'd not seen that many people at the beach in years. Packed. Sardines.
Today we'll go swimming at the community pool. I'm going to learn how to make a Mojito.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all my fellow fatherly bloggers, whether by biology or love. Hope your day's been a good one, full of family, friends, or the peacefulness of a quiet day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Spectaculular Independence

I thought this picture was worth publishing. My little M woke up in a stormy mood, dramatically tossing clothes about, bemoaning her lack of desire to follow our strict time line in order to get to school on time. Since the days of my childhood, where I fought with my style-conscious mother over what I wanted to wear, I vowed never to force my own children to abide by my personal sense of dress. I'm glad to see I was successful in creating independent-minded children who see beauty in many things, in places others might skip.

Monday, June 11, 2007


My oldest child, J, is graduating from 8th grade on Wednesday. I've been disconnected from it. My brother (father to step-daughter, S) and his wife put on a graduation party on the weekend for S (who graduates also from 8th grade) and to tell you the truth, I was relieved because when they let me know about it, I realized I hadn't planned anything in celebration of the day. Why? I suppose it's because the year's been a long one with J, our battle with Tourette's, with his "couldn't-care-less" attitude towards school, my own recalled "couldn't-care-less" brush with 8th grade graduation. I suppose the disconnect was more due to D's and my narrow focus/worry on his walking onto the high school campus next week for his first class back at school rather than walking to get a diploma. All my energy has gone into fretting about high school. Will he tic there? Is the medication enough to counter the anxiety? Will he be lost there? Will he let his grades plummet there? Will he walk to get his diploma there? And what of those other kids of mine?

So, he's graduating. Congrats, my dear. Now onto the really hard work of setting yourself up for college and a career. The world is your oyster as they say. Are you going to nurture the pearl, or swallow the meat with horse radish?


The weather is beautiful now. I love the June gloom which gets burned off by a slow-to-heat noontime sun. I sit on a chair on the porch with my book and a coffee in the morning, watching the sprinklers work and the dog sniff around the perimeter of the yard. Something always new to find in the familiar, eh?

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I got the job!

And now...I worry about doing well. The angst never ends. God help my poor family, friends and loved ones.


Assistant Professor Bliss

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


As I reviewed the names of the students who were slaughtered at Virginia Tech, I wondered what the names were of the people slaughtered in Iraq on that same day. And the ones yesterday. And today. I keep wondering if the situation in the Middle East would be more "real" if we knew who these people were? If we saw their smiling faces, their dashed hopes, up front and personal?

Or would it only to serve to sadden us, to bring us all to the brink of helplessness since our voices tend to be lost in the politics of it all?


I had that job interview and now I wait. I did okay, not stellar. Sometimes in the throes of nerves, I tend to say things I wish I didn't. Can I recall anything specific? Yes...and it only gets worse in my imagination with time. So I do better not thinking about it. I'll wait for the rejection letter. As I munch on foods that are bad for me.


Only April 25? Damn it, I can't wait for summer.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!!

Happy Easter, everybody. Here at the Bliss household, we had a mini-Easter-egg hunt in the house because it's been raining. Later, we're going to host a lunch for D's sister and her husband. Nothing fancy. Lasagna from the local deli and a salad. I'm not sure we even have dessert.

The picture is from a few weeks ago - I attended a conference in San Diego and the family met me on my way home. We stopped in Carlsbad for a "dip in the sea." The kids played until their clothes were soaked. The two little ones wore clothes from my suitcase for the ride home. J sat at the edge of the sand, refusing to get his pants wet. Who could blame him? I ran behind the kids snapping away.

What's on our agenda? I've got an on-campus interview at the local university. Found out I have only one other competitor. When I first got the letter, advising me of the day-long interview, I was near tears with stress. Since then, I've let it go. I'm prepared, got a lecture ready to go, a portfolio put together, the suit's pressed, the only thing left is doing my best. Right? The terror has subsided because this is something we've been waiting for, but it's much out of my control. Either I'm a fit, or I'm not. Right? I know, to some, this is silly. They do interviews often, it's a routine. This has never been routine for me - it's always been an opportunity for Adriana Bliss, the child, to rake herself over the coals for everything that's wrong with her.

So here I am. Cannot wait for Wednesday night, after my evening class is over. So I can get on with my life.

The kids are doing well - J's vocal tics are under control at last. He still has a motor tic where he clicks his jaw, causing him real pain. But that seems to be on the mend - the times he does it is less, the ferocity is less. We're going to enroll him in our city's high school, come September. I'm hoping to work out a custom program where he can take two of his core classes at least, as independent study, or perhaps with a home teacher. He's done incredibly well this year - getting straight A's - earning A's on his exams. I hate to rock the boat by dumping back into the classrooms he's grown to hate.

April already? Tomorrow's my birthday. I'll be 43. Ouch.

I'm sorry I've let my blog go. Writing has become an exhausting task. Perhaps my energy is zapped by school, the children, keeping up the house, prepping for this interview. I'm not as free in my writing as I once was. The words don't flow like they used to. They are restrained, organized. To the point. I suppose that's good except the straightforward ideas never hit paper. Or a computer screen. They stay in my head, acting like a beach's waves. Thoughts of short stories and blog posts come and go, darkness finally arriving, so only the echo of creative thought is left as I fall asleep. The surf not seen by anyone. Maybe, maybe summer will bring new light.

I think of you. Often.

Happy Easter, my friends.

Monday, March 05, 2007

"I love you."

I'm sitting in my office, surfing the internet blindly, listening to J read a story with his home-teacher in the next room, the kitchen. The two each read sections, and at the end of the story will discuss themes, plot, character, the usual. At one point in the tale, a son leaves his mother to serve in the Civil War. The two share a brief conversation and then the son says his goodbye, marching off. J interrupts and comments, "His mom didn't say she loved him. That sucks."

I smile to myself. I suppose some habits are a good thing. Telling those you love, that in fact, you do love them, is a good thing.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

On the other hand...

Our school changed its semester system, so FINALLY, today, I'm lecturing for the first time since the beginning of December. I didn't teach a winter session course and had a really long break, therefore. A break I appreciated because as you all well know, I prefer running barefoot and NOTpregnant around the house, free of all responsibility and obligation to anyone whatsoever.

On the other hand, I'm actually sorta happy about starting tonight because if my dear husband comes home from school one more time with the comment, "Why's the house such a mess?!" I will be commit a crime.

So...tonight...I will be away while he takes care of getting kids to bed, doling out meds, fighting to get A into the shower, cleaning, sorting, organizing. Ahhhh.... When I get home after ten, the house will be quiet, quiet, other than the gentle taps and regular noises of J at the computer, other than the sound of D snoring.

I did have my telephone interview with the school I mentioned previously - not bad. I have no judgment whatsoever on how I did. I do know the interview lasted for 50 minutes, the professor did let me know that the next phase was the on-campus interview but added, "We'll keep you informed." Who knows what that meant? I figured she wouldn't have mentioned it all unless she planned on asking me back...on the other hand, the "keeping informed" part sounded purposefully evasive, unwilling to commit, which meant I didn't blow the interviewers away. Either way, I'm relieved that part is over. I was terrified, I practiced, I was ill, waiting for this thing to happen.

So yay! It's done. Whatever the result, at least for now, I've got a reprieve.

What's coming up? I'll be attending an education seminar in San Diego at the end of March. I'm looking forward to it - two days. I'll be sharing a room with an old friend of mine, a fellow professor. She's a kick, we have a lot in common, we'll laugh a lot. I might run into one of the interviewers. I'd be surprised if she didn't attend. That might be...interesting.

More doctor appointments are coming up. We've got J on a new medicine for his tics, one without any side effects. Using it for Tourette's is a bit experimental, meaning no formal study has been done on this medication. It's called "Namenda" and is normally used in patients with Alzheimer's. The drug does something to the neurons that play a role in Tourette's Syndrome, meaning the medicine should theoretically reduce the tics. We'll see. Even though he just started, I have seen a reduction in the regular tic'ing. There doesn't seem to be a change however when it comes to stress. He still grunt-yells quite a bit with his teacher (school work causes him stress). I'm patient though, this time around. After a month, if there's not a significant reduction, if he still tics as loudly and as frequently with his teacher, we're stopping the medication and waiting the requisite six months on no new medication so we can get on the UCLA study for Behavioral Modication/Habit Reversal Therapy. Basically, he'll learn to control his tics by himself. We might do it in addition to the Namenda. If he can stay on that medication for six months without a change, then we'll be eligible for the program. According to studies, Habit Reversal can reduce tics anywhere from 30% to 80%. Knowing J, we'll get the 30% which is why I'm not too keen on getting him on the program.

The other reason is that the trip to UCLA is horrible - the traffic turns what should be an hour drive into a three hour drive one way. No matter what you do, you WILL hit that traffic either going there, or coming home. Because we live in San Gabriel Valley, there's no escaping it. I don't know if I could do that twice a week, or even once a week. We've been doing it for years, going to the Jules Stein Eye Institute for J's eyes (he was born with strabismus (cross-eyed)) since he was four years old. We know that drive well.

On the other hand, if he could reduce his tics without the use of medication, that would be a lifelong skill that he could turn to whenever he needs, as opposed to medicating even during times he doesn't need to, when the tics naturally wane.

On the other hand, I've got to prepare for school, and clean up this messy house! Tomorrow, I'll think of these things.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Updating at Last

Time is short these days even though I spend hours in bed on Saturday mornings and a couple of hours a day watching television. Sounds leisurely, but that's all there is as far as kicking back. The rest of the time is spent sleeping my requisite eight hours, guiding the children in their own responsibilities, disciplining them, tending to the dog, the house, attending social gatherings and professional development classes at the college, prepping for the Spring semester, watching my weight fluctuate between 143 and 146 from week to week, housecleaning, cooking, reading, moaning about my lack of exercise, and super-marketing. The little things in my daily life feel large these days, whale-like to my Jonah-self. Blogging is somewhere down the list. Way down the list. Buried. Swallowed.

As I said once before, posts pass through me several times a day. Thoughts on marriage, children, writing, movies, friends, siblings, funerals, speeding tickets. Nothing gets written down though. Time, time keeps cutting me off.

So here's a quick listing of things that have happened that warrant rambling posts, that get cheated out of rambling posts.

1. The wife of a cousin of mine died. I met her when she was young and in love. I was a pre-teen. The memorial service was held at my great-aunt's house (the mother of my cousin). The place transported me back to my teenage years and I spent the afternoon milling in and out of a throng of relatives, looking for my parents, because certainly, they had to be there. They were there the last time I spent time in that house.

2. I spent the evening of that service at the Magic Castle, in Hollywood, California, watching card tricks and other such illusions. When I stepped out into the cool night air, as I eased my way into late-night Los Angeles traffic, I wondered the illusion of our life, of death. Wondered if I would ever learn the secret to that Great Trick.

3. J's tics disappeared, then reappeared. Our HMO has decided that we need to travel to Ontario, California, in order to see a covered neurologist. We're saving money though on the kids' medications and on sick visits to the doctor. PPO isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

4. M had the flu this past week.

5. We all had some sort of stomach flu thing that kept re-upping in our bodies over the holidays and the early part of January. Thank goodness, it's passed.

6. Television that I'm enjoying: Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, Deadwood, Prison Break, 24, the Office, 30 Rock, and the dreaded American Idol. I gave in to the craze and despite YEARS of deriding the show as the sole reason for the decline of good old fashioned dramatic series, I'm liking the delusional attempts by some at fame. I suppose I'm horrified because my GOD, I'd never do that. I wouldn't dare think such a thing possible, even if I had the talent to back it up.

7. I learned a really cool program to boost my courses that I'll be teaching in the Spring Semester (set to start the final week of February), Blackboard Academic Suite. This is basically an interactive website where I can post assignments, handouts, where I can hold discussions on discussion boards, even have chats. I'm excited. I think the students will have a greater sense of the material, and the greater sense of access to assistance. I hope I have the energy and time to truly devote to the websites for each class.

8. A's mood has been awful for the past month: he's irritable, he's sassy, and has a bad attitude. He's 9 years old. I have no idea why he's behaving this way and talking to him hasn't gotten us anywhere.

9. I have dreams of divorcing my husband. The motivation for the move changes in these dreams. One in particular was because he insisted on wearing my pink, suede, cozy boots. Does this mean I think he's gay on a subconscious level? Or maybe I feel imposed upon, that he has moved into my closet.

10. Money seems to flow out of us like blood from a cut artery which brings me to the potential full time job which will more than double my salary. I have a telephone interview with the university in two weeks. I should do okay if I can practice enough, if I can prepare well enough. Part of my problem comes from the school's desire for its professors to do scholarly writing. Because I've only been teaching for four years, because the community college has no requirement for writing, I am completely at a loss as to what the hell I would do scholarly research on. See, legal scholarship is not my love, never has been. If I do make it through the phone interview, then there will be a face-to-face as well as a teaching demonstration. You want to know the truth? I had been hoping the school would lose my resume, not because I don't feel qualified but because interviewing, being judged, scares me to death. I am filled with blood-curdling, paralyzing fear.

11. Today's a beautiful day. Tonight D and I will be out celebrating my sister's 40th birthday with wine, good dinner, fun conversation, kids with babysitters. Ahhhh....

Happy Saturday, everyone.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Slippery Slope

On Sunday morning after much planning and purchasing of the minimal snow gear, the entire Bliss clan (entire: my family, my sister's family and my brother's family) took a jaunt to Wrightwood, California, in order to tube down a slope. Yes, a very short slope with 8 different "slides." Hundreds of people lined up to buy tickets and then got in another line to slide down the slope on a plastic innertube. I'll give that the line moved fast, I'll give that as I slid down the slippery slope (yeah, I used that cliched phrase on purpose) I was slightly afraid that I'd fall off and when I went zooming up the up-slope, I shut my eyes out of slight fear. Run #2 was fast! The funny part (besides the ridiculously long line of snow bunnies waiting for the slide down the hill) was seeing everyone come up the slope via the conveyor belt. That, and the tow. People sitting on their innertubes being dragged up the slope via a tow rope. Or tow wire.
Clearly, I don't have the lingo down.
We had a fun in this radically different place, a place that hit 22 degrees near ten in the morning, especially when we pulled over and played in someone's private driveway (see picture) in order to make snow angels, yellow snow, snowballs, and collect snow for our cooler. Whoever you are, thank you for allowing us to indulge for about 15 minutes. You made the day for the little Blissians, three of whom never have been in snow, like ever.
Well, that's not true. One cold morning long ago, my mother and I took A and J, ages 3 and 5 respectively, up Mountain Avenue towards Mount Baldy, driving until we hit snow. We tumbled out of the car and joined several other families who found the same snow patch. The boys used an old cardboard box to slide down the small hill a couple of times, then they just played. After they were sufficiently wet, we got them out of their clothes and wrapped them in blankets and our jackets for the ride home. I guess we forgot how wet snow can be. My mother took pictures of the boys that day. Later, she cut the photos, cut around their angelic faces and placed them on "flowers," sticking the "flowers" in a narrow glass vase as a bouquet. The vase is still on my kitchen window sill, the photographs unfaded although they are a little water marked.
Then there is my own personal experience with snow - skiing. Yes, it's true, back in my college days I used to ski every season. Not a lot of skiing, just enough to take the intermediate runs at a good clip, without too much slowing down. I think I actually managed to swoop a little, you know, swoop, that rhythmic back and forth thing that looks so easy in the winter Olympics. I really enjoyed it - I'm thinking of taking the kids back to Wrightwood for snowboard lessons (the boys) and skiing lessons (M and myself). D says he'll wait in the lodge with hot chocolate and a book (he says when he was learning to ski, he knocked over enough people in his mad dashes down the bunny slope to last a lifetime). But...the money. Skiing is definitely a hobby for the wealthy.
And wealthy we are not. escape into that cold. Might be worth a little debt.
The change of pace was a blessing. The icy ground, the tailgating sandwiches, getting a chance to feel cold that never hits the city during daylight hours...relieving.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


We spent a windy day at Legoland on Friday – my sister, myself, and five of our six children. We had a guest, too, a cousin the same age as our kids. J didn’t go because he’s grown out of the park. In truth, I didn’t want to go either. The thought of an amusement park just rubbed me wrong. The thought of expending energy rubbed me wrong. When my sister rang me up in the early morning, all dressed and ready to hit the road, I sank deeper into the sheets, my eyes drawn to the curtains where shadows of trees swayed, behind which leaves brushed the windows. D was anxious for me to go, so he could get stuff done without the children hanging on him. He popped out of bed and got coffee going.

A kind of depression had come on. I felt sorry for myself, for J with his intense tics, tics I could hear across the house with doors closed. I’d spent the night awake, staring into the dark, tossing and turning, listening to D’s snoring. I found myself crying over J’s condition, crying in utter disappointment that the medication had quit working, that we were back to square one, where nothing worked and we were just going to have to try something else.


The drive to Carlsbad seemed interminably long, the children happy though, happy to be hanging out together. They’re easy that way. We arrived and spent a long lunch with JE, our cousin who works there. She left her son RE with us for the afternoon. Again, easy. I walked and had a coffee and chatted with Sister. Little energy had to be expended. As the sun began to go down, the temperature in the park did, too. I put gloves on, put my coat on. Huddled on a Lego-red metal chair to watch M ride the little cars while my sister entertained two-year-old Izzy nearby.

With all the other children in the group, she ran and got into a Lego-blue car. The announcer asked everyone to raise their hands if they buckled their seat belts. Like the kindergartener she is, she raised her hand. They were off. Except M’s car didn’t move. She raised her hand. An attendant ran to her and tried to get the thing moving but it still didn’t move. He pushed her to the side and got her into another car. Lego-yellow. She buckled up and began her first loop around the track.

She rode an entire thirty seconds before the announcer told everyone to stop their cars because their run was over. M made it around half the track. Everyone popped open their buckles and began running to the exit.

Except M. She fumbled with the seatbelt and when she couldn't get it off, she raised her hand high in the air like a good student. Just like the attendants told her to do.

And she sat. And sat, her arm unmoving and as high up as she could get it. Without getting a single attendant to look at her.

I began to fight the exiting kids, trying to get in through the exit, waving and calling out to A and AH who were coming out, too, “No, no, turn back! M is stuck in the car! Go get her!”

The attendants were too far away to hear me and too wrapped up in managing exiting riders to care. My poor little M continued to hold her hand in the air and no doubt was in a state of pure mortification. The attendants of course continued to be completely oblivious to the trauma that was happening across the track. I couldn’t see M’s face clearly, just her little hand in the air, waiting, waiting. But I knew her heart.

She then got the clue that she was going to have to save herself, that nobody was going to come, so she began to squirm out of the belt, just as third-grade AH arrived to save her. The tears started as the two girls walked closely together off the track, AH’s arm around M, AH flashing nasty looks to the Lego-workers.

Normally, I’d have ripped the attendants new you-know-whats but you know, I just grabbed M into my arms as she sobbed over the ridiculous humiliation of being trapped by a seatbelt.

I couldn’t help but chuckle and yet…

The wind picked up and the kids rode one last ride, the awful seatbelt nightmare forgotten by everyone but me.

From there, tiredness fell over me that I cannot describe. But first we had to have dinner with my cousin, JE. The pizza was late, didn’t get to her house until eight that evening, an entire two and a half hours after we left the park. She had ice cream sandwiches to offer, pictures to share and pictures to take. Truly a lovely hostess. We had a long ride home. By the time I got into bed, it was after midnight and all I could see in the dark was M in that car, far away from me, with her hand up and nobody coming. I couldn't sleep a wink.

D said across the bed in the lightless room, “Forget it. It was kind of funny, wasn’t it? Classic even. I mean, who can’t get out of seatbelt other than blonds and Polish people?”

“But it wasn’t funny. She was helpless. Kind of like how we are to J’s tics. Completely and utterly helpless. Mortified.”

Silence met me.

“You’re too deep for this hour of the night. Stop thinking in analogies.”

“I can’t help it, it’s what I do. I think in analogies. Constantly. My entire blogging life is made up of analogies. What would I write about if not for the analogies?”

“What would you write about?” Not a question. A statement. Sleep overtook him. I got up and watched TV. I’m going to call UCLA, I thought. I’m going to stop that lousy new medication he’s on that isn’t working. I’m going to look more seriously into dietary changes. I’m going to wiggle out of this medical seatbelt.

We are not helpless, goddamnit.