Friday, May 23, 2008

Sleeping Octopus, Hidden Tentacle

If you've ever walked around with an octopus stuck to your face, you may be able to grasp the concept of how frustrating it is for me to fly with my nearly 2-year-old son. After just one flight with him, I'm physically altered. Aside from wearing both my coffee and his cloudy, backwashed cup of water on my pants, I also have blurred vision and teeth gnashed down to the nub. He doesn't scream, cry or make such a pest of himself that other's are inspired to double up on their birth control, its just that he glaums on to me and grasps every single object he can or can barely reach ... just when I get him in a tolerable position, like perched along the cliff of my knees, I'll catch one of his body parts covertly stretching out to make contact with things that are just slightly out of reach. Even if it means the perfect stranger next to us who's all... "Maybe if I concentrate really hard on this book, I can ignore your son's outstretched big toe stroking my wrist hair." At one point, Squigglepuss managed to balance somewhere up near my clavicle, slump over my head, and inform that same gentleman next to me that we were On. The. AIRPLANE! AIRPLANE! AIRPLANE!

Now I'm sleepless in Seattle. I should be getting some rest because I 'm catching a flight to Alaska in just two itty- bitty hours, but I simply can't stop the celebration of being the sole occupant of my personal bubble. A celebration that can only happen because finally, Finally, FINALLY, the baby and his tentacles have slipped into a jet-lagged coma.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Home at Last

Unbelievably, it has been 100 hours since my husband's release from the land of confinement. Our day didn't go exactly as planned (imagine that!) mostly because a blanket of fog threw itself on our little town and held my flight hostage. Instead of greeting him at the prison as he walked out, I had to wait a few extra hours for him to fly home. Our reunion took place exactly where I didn't want it to: in the tiny airport of our hometown; the hometown that's served as the stage and backdrop for all our recent family drama and where the members of our small community at once seem to play the role of audience, judge and critic.

Our day was filled mostly with work as our clients arrived only a few hours later. We had a "to-do" list a mile long, but we were trying to be thankful that we could at least tackle it together. As soon as we were hand in hand, shouldering the world seemed like more of a grand adventure than an obligatory burden. I felt complete for the first time in a long time. As for our first night together, it was all at once new and old, familiar and unfamiliar; it was a sweet evening marking both the beginning and the end.

Because of the conditions of my husband's probation, there are a lot of new boundaries to navigate through. First of all, his probation officer is playing God. A role I hear many of them feel compelled to play. My prayers are that this man takes a closer look at the sentencing report and realizes that his interpretation of it is completely off the mark. If he does not come to this conclusion on his own, then we'll be happy to watch him answer to a judge in a hearing. But truly, I'm praying God sends a lightening bolt down from the sky, zaps the probation officer on the head, and tells him to humbly remember his place. I'm trying to give this all to God, but I keep wrangling it out of his hands into mine like I can actually do something about it. I keep telling myself to be anxious about nothing... be anxious about nothing...

When I visited my husband in prison, I was shocked at how he was treated. It was difficult watching the guards give him commands like he was mere poodle. On the outside, it is more of the same. He was to report to his probation officer at 8:00am on the first business morning after his release. Of course, he set aside the urgent task of training in some key staff members that were currently walking around in a daze, wasting our time and money, so he could make the appointment. When he arrived, the probation officer was out of town and his little helper made my husband fill out the same paperwork he filled out twice before. Little Helper then rescheduled my husband at a time where he will have to put more staff training aside. When he asked if the probation officer was out of town often, the response was, "why do you want to know?" Another suspicious government worker assuming that because a person is an ex-con, they are inherently evil and will suck the blood from their polyester-clad body only to be left in a decapitated pile of skin on the floor if they are civil enough to offer a straight answer or, heaven forbid, a little respect.

After two days in our home together, I had to come back down to see our kids through the end of the school year while he single-handedly runs the business. Now there is not only air, but a big old ocean and thousands of miles that distance us. My sheets are once again cold, and I can never seem to get as comfy on my pillow as I do on his arm.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


In just hours, I get to watch my husband walk away from the world of cold metal toilet seats and communal underwear. I'm sure it will be a humbling lesson in gratitude as I watch him discover and appreciate all the little things freedom has to offer. I'm so giddy, I must be glowing. The butterflies in my stomach must've gotten a hold of some speed because these things are getting wilder by the minute.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why, Yes, that IS an Ice Pick in my Backseat.

The fantasy: I drive up to the prison, run up to my husband, wrap my legs around his waist in a gigantic, borderline obscene hug... the camera circles around us as to capture the moment from every angle while the music swells beneath us. Those around us begin their applause as their eyes overflow with tears of joy... they watch us with a tinge of jealousy as the most inspiring inmate they've ever met walks off into a new and improved life with his beautiful, young, supermodel wife. Maybe the guards are moved enough to throw their hats into the air like proud Harvard Grads.

The reality: I'll drive through two gates wrapped in razor wire while the guards rush me around so I can wait in the designated get-away area. Carrying a plastic garbage bag filled with whatever kitch he accumulated while in there, my husboda will slink over to the car in his last act of expected submission. I'll sweetly follow all I'm instructed to do- look forward, keep my hands on the wheel at 10:00 and 2:00, and stay in the car as I'll be forbidden to get out. Just for fun, I think I'll fill the backseat up with lots of sharp objects. Nail clippers with the files in tact (gasp!), box cutters, real forks. I'll figure out a way to put them to use while I wait. Yes, that will be me. Picking breakfast out of my teeth with a butcher knife until my newly commissioned "ex-con" husband makes his way to freedom. I might just pull over in the prison parking lot, wrap my ankles around his neck and hold him hostage by his cuticles.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My Debutante Ball

I’ve had this site designed for months now, but have been scared witless of the blank screen & practically paralyzed by the performance pressure of my debut. And, truth be told, I wanted to post anonymously but because I was SHIMMERING with excitement as I developed my little piece of the internet world, I blabbed about it to all of the people closest to me. Now, I’m more exposed than a shaved cat.

After today, the blank screen isn’t as intimidating as before. Today’s one of those days that has left a greasy smudge on the timeline of my life. I deserve to hang a flag half mast and declare today a national day of mourning but because the president hasn’t returned my calls, I’ll commemorate it with my very own “coming out” post. Welcome to my debutante ball. And if you’ve ever been around the Irish, you know we see a party as an opportunity to “hang crepe”. Don’t mind if I do.

My husband has 11 days left of an 8 month prison term. Turning in his crime has created a mess that overwhelms me. Aside from the general train wreck my life resembles, I’ve been single-handedly raising our four children, running our family business, dealing with legal matters, and acting to most of the people I know as if I really can do it all. And then there was this week. I’ve had the balls drop in every single area of my life in the last few days. I sent my oldest daughters half way across the country as they decided to grow horns and vampire teeth to match their raging teenage hormones. Grandma and Grandpa are earthly angels for offering their support. I’ve also faced what I call frENEMY fire which resulted in having to say goodbye to a key person in our business. Since our business is a seasonal fishing charter service and this person was a captain, I’ve had to find a worthy replacement at the last minute. And, while I count down the 11 days until my husband is released and can help, 11 days also marks the first day of the season. Let me translate: In the next 11 days, I will be running my Neddy off. It seems trivial to mention the two-year molars working their way through my toddler’s gums, but the sleepless nights and cranky-pussness of it all really puts the icing on the cake.

Thankfully, in all this mess, God is still sustaining me with all that I need… He provided a safe place for the girls, an enthusiastic replacement captain at just the right time, and He has somehow kept checks from bouncing all over the planet. He has provided me with a sense of humor and the ability to be optimistic in dark times. When it seems I’m standing under a torrential waterfall with my life crashing down on my shoulders and pooling around my ankles, out of nowhere, I can still grasp on to hope. Lately, that hope takes a little longer to find, and it feels like I waver in my convictions, but inexplicably, hope still shows up. Truly, I’m wrestling with a God I’ve always believed in and relied on. I’ve cried out to Him with my face flat on the floor. I’ve been on a long, miserable journey and my strength is nearly gone. I sometimes forget to give all my burdens to God & I naively think that muscling through this dark time on my own ability by outrunning, dodging and evading my present circumstances will actually bring results rather than just make me weary. It’s this forgetfulness that finds me flat on the bathroom floor with my face buried in the rug. But if I lay there long enough in a tearful, spent surrender, I begin to hear God’s whispers.

It was in one of these dark, fetal position moments that God recharged me by turning my tears into laughter. While I was crying and carrying on about the possibility of losing everything, I was struck with this thought: Hey! Even without the shirt on my back, at least I’m still waterproof. I ended up with an unexpected fit of giggles while thanking God for the gift of skin!

So here it is, my debut post- consider this my strut down the grand staircase of my very own debutante ball in nothing but my waterproof suit!