Thought for Thursday

Today is a good news / bad news kind of day.

Today is, by my reckoning (since we didn’t write it down), Toeses’ 22nd birthday.


Today is also the day that we decided that we’re going to have to give him back to the Universe sometime very soon, as in maybe tonight or tomorrow.

When I got up this morning, Poor Baby was lying on the bathroom floor next to the water dish (which is, as most cat parents can attest, a universally bad sign).  As I was getting ready for my shower, he struggled to his feet (which was painful to watch), managed to hobble into the corner between the tub and the wall and proceeded to pee.  I didn’t stop him; the box is all the way downstairs, and I’d rather he peed on the linoleum than the carpet (or hurt himself trying to get back down the stairs).  As I was cleaning it up, he struggled back to the water dish and took an excruciatingly long time to lie back down.

I carried him downstairs to his favorite spot under the windows in the family room, and that’s where he was when I returned home from work this afternoon.  He can barely stand on his own and just gives the impression of being done.

We’re going to be leaving for DC on Monday, and I can’t bear the thought of Sweet Pea, who’s agreed check on Toeses while we’re gone, having to deal with his passing.  He’s to the point now where he shouldn’t be alone for more than a couple of hours, and it’s not fair to ask Sweet Pea to give hospice care.  We’ll make him comfortable tonight (he’s got sleeping pills that I can give him) and make arrangements with the vet tomorrow.

I hate this part.

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Ruminations on Parenting

So, the other day, Bean and I decided to take advantage of the first really nice day since October to go for a walk.  She was on her way to a three-day field trip the next morning and needed some supplies to contribute to the community meals, so we grabbed the backpack and headed for the grocery store.

On our way there, we talked about a lot of things.  We talked about school (natch; hers and mine), we talked about how excited she was to take this trip (which, I’m thrilled to say, was just about everything she hoped it would be), and we talked about some of her concerns about the privacy she feels she needs but doesn’t get on account of the open-door policy at Chez Chili and the fact that she shares a room with her often overbearing sister.

That was all on the way to the store.

After our shopping was done, we made back for home.  Before we even got out of the parking lot, Bean told me that she thought I was a great mom, and that she had no idea what she would do without the relationship that we share.

Allow me to pause for a moment to say that the was, for all intents and purposes, out of the blue.  We weren’t being particularly mushy or sentimental; nothing had happened on the way to or in the store that would have prompted that from my younger child.

Once I caught my breath again, I thanked her for the reassurance.  Bean knows that I come from a very broken family and that being a good mom and making sure that none of the hell that has plagued my family for generations is passed through me into the future is my primary focus in life.  Truly; there is literally nothing more important to me than doing this mommy thing right.  Curious, though, I asked her what prompted that spontaneous bit of love, and she replied that, of all of her friends, she is only one of two or three girls who have strong, stable, and healthy relationships with their moms, “and even they don’t have a relationship like ours,” she said.

I told you that story to tell you this one.  My younger daughter is queer.  This is not a thing in our family; she is what she is and we love her just the same.  That sort of matter-of-fact acceptance (not ‘tolerance,’ mind you, but total and unquestioning acceptance) is something that her friends apparently do not enjoy.

One of her friends in particular is having a hard time with her parents.  This friend is questioning her gender identity, and her parents aren’t engaging with her process at all.  Bean has told me that this friend has said her parents have insisted that she abandon this “nonsense” immediately, that there is no such thing as “questioning” one’s gender, and has forbidden all talk on the subject in any context, both within and without their hearing.  Bean had put me on notice last summer that this girl may need to seek safe haven now and again in our home, and she mentioned on our walk the other day that we may need to up our proverbial alert level to orange.

I struggle mightily with the idea that a parent can deny their own child the support that they need for something that is so primary to that child’s very identity.  I mean, I get that gender and sexuality issues are often difficult for people to comprehend, but is it not the loving and right thing to do to figure out how to work through your own issues as a parent so that you can be there to give your child the foundation and support they need as they figure out who they really are?  I mean, isn’t that your job as a parent?

I fear that this kid is going to end up completely rejected by her family of origin – I’ve met and had exchanges with her parents, and I wouldn’t put that kind of behavior past either one of them -  and while I can – and will – provide a safe and welcoming place for her to land when and if that happens, I know that, no matter how much love and acceptance I can layer over her, I can never undo the damage that her parents’ rejection of her very personhood will cause.


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Quick Hit: DAMN

I decide to step away, and I kind of fall off a cliff, huh?

There really hasn’t been much to report lately , but here are the highlights:

•  I’m eyebrow deep in research for my independent study thesis (I’m planning an independent, democratic high school with a mission focused on meaningful academic rigor, citizenship, and social justice) and in grading (really, REALLY bad) analysis papers from my students.

• The weather broke (at least, for the moment).  It’s been above 60° for the last few days, and tomorrow’s supposed to hit 70°, but it’s going back into the 50′s for the later part of next week.

•  The Chilis are planning a trip to DC in two weeks.  I was really, really hoping to get to Florida so we could try to see Gerry again, but that fell through (the time when Mr. Chili should have been planning the trip coincided with the time we were planning and celebrating Father Chili’s memorial service).  I’m hoping to plan at least an hour or two to spend with Gerry this summer; I miss him too much.

That’s about it.  Research and grading, trying to emerge from the fog and funk of winter, and planning a trip.  What have YOU been up to?


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Nearly Wordless Wednesday

So much bad news today.

There was another shooting at Fort Hood:


Five Justices of the Supreme Court just did more to undermine our democracy than perhaps any other agent in the history of our nation.

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I’m not sure which I mourn more.


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Ten Things Tuesday

Hey, Chili!  Whatcha been up to?!

1.  I’m finishing up the second half of the semester with a composition and two critical thinking classes.  We’re working on some in-depth issue analysis papers, and the going has been a little slow.  I may drop the last paper for my comp class; I can justify the research they’re doing for this paper to count as the “research” paper they’re supposed to do to close up the semester.

2.  I’m working on a proposal for an independent, democratic, social justice oriented high school for the independent study for my post-grad certificate.  I’m neck-deep in reading research and case studies and trying to figure out how to sift through that giant pile of data to make sense for what I’m trying to do.

3.  I’m recovering from having the whole of the Chili family (minus two from England) here for almost a week for Father Chili’s memorial service.  The week went off exceedingly well, all things considered, but the disruption of routine was pretty significant.  After the last of the family returned to their respective time zones, I felt like I needed a day or two to spend on my couch in my pajamas, but alas; life beckons.

4.  We’re trying to plan a vacation (MAN, but we need a vacation!).  We were hoping to go to Florida for the week the girls have off this month, but it’s looking more and more like we’re going to be aiming at DC, instead.  I’m both thrilled (I LOVE DC and would never pass up an opportunity to spend time there) and deeply disappointed (I was hoping to be able to wrap my arms around Gerry again).

5.  We’re taking care of Mother Chili.  Well, to be fair, my husband is taking care of her, and I’m taking care of him while he takes care of her.  In this past week alone, he’s solved a computer crisis, fixed her loom (I was there to see that; Mother was in a state because it wasn’t doing something it should have been, and spent the whole time hovering over Mr. Chili, backseat driving, while he tried to get to the bottom of it.  Of course, she neglected to tell him, until about a half hour into this sideshow, that just before the thing stopped working it made a “big CLUNK” and a piece shot out from underneath it.  Oy!) AND fix the literal kitchen sink (which was NASTY; he sent me pictures.  Blech!).

6.  I’m reading – a PAPER book!  Punk handed me a YA novel that she’d just finished and said, “OHMYGOD, MOM!  READ this!” so I’m reading it.  It’s called The Vanishing Game, and it’s compelling enough that I’m still reading it.  Under that, I have the girls’ copy of Divergent, which I’m hoping to finish before we go to see the film.

7.  I’m trying, room by room, to do a full-on spring cleaning.  I managed to get the upstairs bathroom taken apart, scrubbed down, and put back together (though that was before everyone came to visit for Dad’s memorial, so you can’t really tell now).  I’m hoping to tackle the great room next.

8.  I’ve been taking good care of my car lately.  I bought her new floor mats (cheapies from Target, but still) and gave the interior an OCD-worthy cleaning on Sunday; I vacuumed the crap out of the carpets (literally and figuratively), I wiped down every surface, I emptied the trash and went through all the stuff in the door pockets and the trunk, and I spritzed everything with pretty stinkies.  She got an oil change and a new emergency brake this morning (yeah, yeah; I’m never going to live that down; even the new guy at the garage knows the story).

9.  I’m having some really interesting and challenging conversations with (and for) friends on Facebook.  My friend Rick introduced me to one of HIS friends, and he’s been an absolute joy to connect with; we’ve been trading articles (my favorite so far has been this one) and discussing issues about education, equality, and agency for weeks now.  I’ve also been my brother’s wingman in conversations about the correct use of grammar and style in comments, and how we DO have the right to discount (or dismiss) the opinions of those who can’t be bothered to express themselves in a coherent and reasonably articulate way.

10.  I’ve been jonesing in the worst way for spring.  We woke up yesterday to two inches of heavy, slushy snow (that I wasn’t expecting) and, on my way home from the gym yesterday morning, I witnessed snow, rain, AND ice on my windshield at the stop light.  WTF?!  It’s nice today – sunny and mild (that is, if you can see your way to calling 50° “mild” which, at this stage in the game, I can), and it’s supposed to stay like this for the next few days.  I’ve been fantasizing about breaking out the cute spring clothes, about planning a garden (Mr. Chili is all excited about growing our veggies hydroponically this year) and about my rhubarb, irises, hostas, and lilies coming back up.  We’re still WEEKS away from any of those things, but I’m calling a win any day that it doesn’t hurt to breathe the air.


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Easing Back

So, I’ve said a bunch of times that I’m going to quit the post a day habit, but until now I never followed through.   I’ve been finding lately, though, that feeling obliged to put up something every day is starting to stress me out, so I’m making it stick this time; I’m not giving up the blog, but I am going to give up my every day routine.

Check in now and then, wouldja?  Let me know you’re still reading.


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Quick Hit: Goodbye, Daddy

Father Chili’s memorial service was perfectly lovely.  I am certain that he would be pleased.

There was music (including a REALLY long and complex piece by Brahams; about a third of the way into it, I leaned in to Bean and said “WOW!  Come for the funeral; stay for the concert!  That choir has some stamina!”), all the “children” – Dad’s youngest children are Mr. Chili and Bruder, and they’ll be 52 this May – and most of the grandchildren spoke, and everyone made it through their pieces with aplomb.  Lovely things were said by Dad’s friends and colleagues, and we all left with happy memories of a man who lived a really good and admirable life.

It was an entirely satisfying ritual, and while I didn’t feel I needed it, I’m glad we did it.


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