Thnks Fr Th Crcs

I have a lot of things to be thankful for. Best of all, my family. Especially after this Thanksgiving.

I had originally forgotten that our presence was required for Thanksgiving dinner at the in-laws. I was reminded the moment I awoke. Ugh. There goes my plan to visit with my family and enjoy the rest of the day in a turkey coma.

I don’t loathe my in-laws. In fact, I love my MIL and FIL. However, to be frank, with the exception of my MIL, they are my step-in-laws. That includes all of the extended family, Nana, and Aunt N. Those two are some characters. But, in Italian families, everyone is kin no matter how they came about being so.

You know Lulu. Everything happens with a certain twist.

Family gatherings are awkward without MIL. She’s the link that solidifies me as part of the family. I’m not used to Italian families, honestly. They’re very affectionate, even physically so. Scottish families are not. We wave at each other from across a great expanse and smile.

We went to my family’s dinner, which is extremely relaxed and informal. To my parents, Thanksgiving is not really a celebratory holiday for them. It’s a ritualistic yearly event encouraging gluttony. In prior years, it was actually closer to Festivus.

Immediately following that dinner, we packed up the family and headed to the in-laws. Two Thanksgiving dinners was going to be a challenge. It was like (wo)man vs. food. And I’m in no shape for a challenge like that!

There are thirteen miles between our home and my in-laws. On the way there, C.S. talked to MIL. Apparently, FIL was at Market District to buy one of those hideously expensive, pre-cooked dinners! I was in shock! What an absolute waste of money! And next, how could they possibly afford to drop over $100 on something that could be prepared for half of that when they are so hard-up?

We arrived at Nana’s and called FIL to meet us up there. He told us that he’d have dinner in the oven and it would be ready in two hours. Two hours! Unfreakin’ believable. Over $100 on a meal you actually had to cook anyway?!

And what to do in that two hours? The house is not child-proof by any means. There is no cable and no toys for T.D. I could only imagine the disaster awaiting us.

So, we waited in the car, in 40 degree weather with the heater off. T.D. was peacefully slumbering with his parka on, in the car seat. C.S. tells me that he’s going to take more pictures of Sebastian (the totalled car) from the interior for to document the damages in the lawsuit.

Forty minutes elapsed. I was absolutely freezing my everything off, tingling from the cold. My husband called FIL back. “Ohhhh,” he slurred, “I was playing with the dogs. I’ll be up in a second.” FIL time runs on quite a different clock. Ten minutes later, he pulled into the driveway.

He stumbled out of the car with armloads of packaged, partially cooked food. I tended to T.D. I met my FIL in the kitchen and he gave me a wobbly hug. He quietly admitted to me, “I don’t know what happened. I was sitting there and I just fell asleep.”

C.S. stayed in the kitchen to help. FIL stood there, silent with his head hanging. It became clear that he had fallen asleep standing up! C.S. woke him and he said, “I took some pain pills earlier. I’m going to wake up with a cigarette in the smoking room.” He was never to be scene again.

I noted Nana was nowhere to be seen as well. Apparently, she had taken another of her infamous falls and went back to bed for the day. It was T.D. and I surfing the four channels available to find something, anything, for entertainment. It came down to Maury or Judge Judy.

Once everything was in the oven, we took T.D. outside to run around the vast property. It wasn’t without shenanigans. There had to be some entertainment to make the trip remotely worthwhile.

And it will stay like this until Christmas!

After, we joined FIL in the smoking room. T.D. found his favorite shows and sat in FIL’s lap for over an hour. And eventually, FIL passed back out, his head hanging backward with his mouth completely open. It was a sight to behold. I wanted to take a photo, but I figured as hilarious as it would be, it would likely be insulting.

When T.D. got up from FIL’s lap, FIL’s jeans were soaked with urine. It turned out that my son’s diaper leaked. And yet, FIL was absolutely oblivious. It actually looked as if FIL soiled himself! He groggily asked, “What happened here?, completely unphased.

C.S. and I joked about the absolute ridiculousness of the situation. Why the hell were here? What is the whole point of having to cook our own dinner? Who exactly are we supposed to be visiting here? Everyone here is unconscious but us!

We went back up to finish dinner. C.S. asked me for assistance in the kitchen, leaving T.D. in the living room entirely unsupervised. You know, I’ve been to every major holiday at my in-laws house for the last five years, and I still don’t know where the light switch is in the bathroom. How would I know where anything is in the kitchen! Everything was in bags, tucked away in drawers!

That is when I started to notice the address labels. There was one on the refrigerator and another on the cabinet. I looked some more and found more on the stove and the cabinet above it. They were littered throughout the kitchen! I began to play Where’s Waldo!

I returned to the living room to find absolute chaos. Life alert was activated. The phone was off the hook, beeping. Cabinets hung open with their contents strewn about the floor. And T.D. stood there repeatedly pressing the button the answering machine. I couldn’t help but laugh. What destruction! I was almost proud.

I rejoined my husband in the kitchen to ready the table. I said, “I found eight, beat that!” He laughed and asked, “Did you see the one on the toilet?!”I burst into hysterical laughter and exclaimed, “No!” He smiled devilishly and said, “I took pictures!”

Property of Nana, who is afraid you're going to jack her toilet.

I looked and burst into the hardest laugh I had experienced. My legs turned to rubber and I fell to the floor. My stomach and sides ached, while I laughed so hard, I made no noise. I curled up and just shook like a Tickle Me Elmo.

Dinner was served. Nana came out of her bedroom wearing only her nightgown. Now, had I know this was casual dress, I would have stayed in my pajamas too! FIL came from downstairs and we all assembled at the tabled. Their family is extremely Catholic, so FIL mumbled through grace.

Nana doesn’t hear very well, so our conversations are very limited. This is despite the fact that I am a 5’1″ powerhouse of sound. I’ve been teased my entire life for having a loud voice. When I did solos, I did not need a microphone, even from a large auditorium. And yet, Nana cannot hear me. I looked over and FIL was practically asleep in his plate. C.S. and I exchanged hilarious glances across the table.

WTF?!?!

This why they call it a “Family Circus”..

This exercise was pointless. With one exception.

Napa Valley: 1985 - Aged 26 Years

A Happy Thanksgiving indeed!

Eleven, Eleven, Eleven

I am completely luck impaired. If I had luck as a stat like in role-playing games, it was be a -3. I swear.

But today, on the luckiest day of this millennium, I thought that I would acknowledge all of the luckiest things that have ever happened to me.

  • From what I understand, some people search their whole lives for that one special person. I met him in my teens. I became romantically involved with him, and nine months later we were married.
  • I am blessed with a wonderful son. Many women have fertility issues. Even if this surgery results in infertility, I still have T.D.
  • I was lucky enough to have a mostly uncomplicated pregnancy with T.D. and a complication free labor. He was born healthy and beautiful.
  • Through pure chance, I fell into the job of my dreams. This was the spark that started my passion for education and love of children. Some people search forever for the job they love, and I received mine by chance.
  • I am naturally gifted in many areas. I was afforded so many different chances to hone my abilities.
  • I am lucky enough to have a permanent home.
  • By chance, I have found a mental health community. Here, I find warmth, comfort, guidance, and camaraderie.
  • C.S. was lucky enough to walk away from a potentially fatal accident. I am lucky to have him alive.
  • Through absolutely random chance, I met a stranger on the bus who helped me save the big spring musical. It saved my job, gave me work over the summer, and promoted me to Music Director.
  • Once, I found $123 on a sidewalk with no one in sight.
  • And best of all, I am the luckiest gal on the planet to be surrounded with people who love me for who I am. This one goes out to you.
  • Maybe I’m not so unlucky after all. Happy 11/11/11!

Ooops, Mistaken Mistake!

Dear Diary,

Today, I got dressed to go to work on Halloween. I didn’t think of a costume until I was standing in front of my dresser.

I pulled on my knit kitty hat, buttoned up a white dress shirt, and even tied a blue and grey men’s tie for the first time. I put some raccoon-like makeup around my eyes and red gloss on my lips. For a final touch, I wore some old leather bracelets with studs and stars on them.

I didn’t know who I was.

Until I was already at work and seated at a table. A student asked me who I was for Halloween and I shrugged. My mind wandered off of it’s leash for awhile while fluorescent light poured down. And then, I knew.

I accidentally went as Ke$ha for Halloween. Except, I have a better voice and she has a better ass.

Oops.

The End.

PS: Happy Halloween!

Reminiscence of Nine Eleven

Ok, I have been dreading this and avoiding it all week.

I don’t buy into hype. ┬áSo, in late August, it dawned on me that the 10th anniversary of 9-11 was coming soon. I knew that all of America would soon be sucked into the media frenzy that always happens when someone drops those two words : Nine Eleven. Ugh.

It is not as if I was not profoundly affected by the experience. It is the day that changed America. I was moved by all of the people who, instead of fleeing from the scene, ran into the crumbling infernos. My heart aches for the families who suffered incredible losses. And I am infuriated at the injustice of it all.

Too many people have used the deeply impacting experience of 9-11 for the wrong reasons. Many have used it for personal gain. Other political leaders have used it as a scare tactic. It has totally bastardized the true nature behind this. 9-11 was the profound tragedy that woke America from it’s safe slumber.

Most of us who are blogging here today are old enough to remember the disturbing event in great detail. We have all heard the heart-breaking stories that followed. But, no one ever asked the rest of us. How did we see it? How did we feel? And on the tenth anniversary, how do we remember it?

I’ll tell my story.

I was in high school at the time. My high school had many wings. I spent my entire morning in the music wing, which was attached to the middle school. We were very isolated from the rest of the school.

I had remembered that I had forgotten to take my handful of pills that morning when I started to suffer from shortness of breath. I had terrible asthma and allergies at the time. So, I went to the nurse’s office to have her call home for them.

My mother was there in 20 minutes. She looked very upset as she walked into the office. I asked her if everything was alright. There was a brief flash where the nurse caught my mother’s eye. She simply replied, “I’m OK. I just saw something bad on the news.”

I dismissed it. Every day, she’d spout on and on about news stories that featured girls getting killed, kidnapped, and / or raped. I figured it was something like that.

In retrospect, I recall the halls being abnormally quiet. It was quite a hike from the nurse’s office in the main building to the music wing. There were usually a couple far away voices in the girls’ bathroom or a low rumble of a class in progress. Everything was just murmurs and whispers.

But, it was business as usual in my chorus class. I took my rightful place as section leader of the altos, and was lost in the music. Next period, it was more of the same. I had select chorus in the same classroom, with some of the same students. Even the ones who came from the main building had nothing unusual to report.

It wasn’t until 11:15AM, over 2 and a half hours after the first tower was hit, before I knew. I returned to the main building to have lunch. It was the heart of period break and my peers were running and screaming through the halls. We’re all going to die! They’ll kill us all! I tried to stop someone to ask, but it was complete havoc. Teachers came out into the halls, ordering us to move along.

I sat down in a booth in the lunchroom with my friends. Some sat solemnly staring at the table. Others were shaking in a frenzy. “What the hell is going on?”, I demanded.
They gave me the abbreviated version. Terrorists hijacked four planes. One hit one of the twin towers, another hit the other. One plane hit the Pentagon and one went down in Somerset County, about 93 miles southwest of our high school. It was alarmingly close, and everything was on lockdown. No one knew if there were any other planes were out there. And no one knew what the targets were.

Was Pittsburgh a target? Sure, it’s not a large city. However, we have the best hospitals and research facilities in the world here. We couldn’t know if we were safe.

It was the first time in my entire life that I felt like I could be in mortal danger far beyond my control.

Suddenly, I didn’t feel like eating.

Next period, I had Geometry. But there was no math. It was the first time I had

An unimginable choice

any imagery of what happened. CNN was on every television in every classroom. I didn’t even really hear what the reporter was saying. I watched the north tower smoldering with plumes of smoke bellowing into the air above New York City. You could hardly see the people leaping from the windows, plunging to their death.

Then, they showed the footage of the second plane smashing into the south tower as people let out blood-curdling screams in the background. I watched in horror it as if it were happening in real time. I realized the towers could fall to either side and create a domino effect. I worried that it would.

They skipped to the blazing inferno that was now a hole in the Pentagon. Then, the blazing hole in the earth too close to home in Somerset County. Again, back to the towers. With what looked to be another explosion, the north tower crumbled onto itself, floor by floor. Dust and debris covered the crash site. I thought of all of the people who lost their lives attempting to rescue others. So many brave men and women gave themselves in the line of duty now perished under the rubble.

It was like something out of a movie.

The horror wouldn’t end. For the next two and a half hours, I watched the footage repeatedly. The only reprieve was class changes. CNN announced the declaration of A State of Emergency. Another announcement stated that all air traffic would be completely halted until further notice.

The ride home from school was sullen. The roads were practically deserted and it looked like a ghost town. Pittsburgh was still on lockdown, with the exception of necessary traffic.

It didn’t end when I returned home either. My family was glued to the television, watching CNN in awestruck terror. I finally cried as I watched the people leap to their deaths. I listened intently to people’s final words to their loved ones. There was so much pain and fear. I heard the brave story of the passengers of Flight 93. And I mourned their lives when they still perished after fighting so hard to live.

It was then that it became real to me.

That’s why it was a grizzly sight when Building 7 went down later in the evening. Although the World Trade Center had long been evacuated of civilians, many rescue workers and civilian volunteers remained. How many more people have to die? There was so much uncertainty. Is this the end? Or is there more to come?

The days following were a blur of fear, sadness, and more CNN coverage than I had seen in my entire life. It was a whirlwind of press conferences with various politicians and interviews with witnesses. I don’t remember most of it, to be honest.

I do recall this moment very clearly.

Nika, my next door neighbor, and I laid in our connected yard the next day and stared at the sky. There was nowhere else to go to escape the news coverage. The sky was blue, and the air was warm and eerily silent. Our street was a main street, and yet, it was less than a rumble. We lived close enough to Pittsburgh International Airport that you could hear the air traffic overhead. It was rare that you could look upward and not see a plane. But the sky was completely empty.

“It’s too quiet.”

We heard it first before we saw it. It was definitely a plane engine. And still, in my entire life, it has been one of the most terrifying sounds in my entire life. I ran to get my dad. He came out and squinted at the sky. He said, “It’s a military plane. Probably headed to the air force base.” The long sigh that escaped me was not enough to relieve the fear. It took a long time to relieve that fear.

It’s ten years later. Here in Pittsburgh, the PAT busses have been running a 9-11-01, NEVER FORGET message for a week. But no one here is really thinking about 9-11. The Steelers played today at 1PM. Business as usual.

I’m thinking about it, though.