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Challenges

When I field multiple texts and telephone calls in one day from a new foster parent, I hate it, but I confess I am now reduced to considering how this looks on my bill, and what possible questions I will have to field in defense of my work.
After recent events I find myself unconsciously getting ready for the possible questions,
 
“Yes, I did have all that communication with the fosters, all in the same day.”
Yes- I think it was necessary- it calmed them down, eased their fears, enlightened them about the CPS process, court hearings and what is required.”
It is 10:42 P.M. on a Monday night, I just got off the phone with them again. It may help save this placement from breaking down, or perhaps the next one. But I hate to admit it, I wonder how the bill will be received…
 
“Yes, I did pop in unannounced. I did drive to put eyes on the child, in the home, at the school, take them for a burger in my car, feed them ice cream and lay on the floor and color and play. Because that is the way you build trust in the little people. They will not tell you the truth, they will not trust, and we cannot know what is in their hearts and minds without doing it.”
 
It is a strange world when an officer of the courts bill is challenged. Our signature on a bill is swearing that it is true. The recent events have  knocked me for a loop. It really has. After some sleepless nights, I have come to realize that to challenge the bill says so much more about the challenger than the challenged.
 
I have sworn many oaths in my life. I swore to defend this country when I joined the military. I swore another when I became an American citizen, and still another when I started law school and another when I finally passed the bar. Let us remember that to be an Officer of the Court and member of the bar means something. A great something.
And while we are remembering, let us remember her.
I will always remember my failure, and the little girl that never got to go home.
So… I will drive, and visit, and call, and if I have to, defend my bill in open court because the alternative is unthinkable; and her name was Katherine.
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Hey Texas, Don’t Get Your Knickers in a Twist

Texas your churches people’s and pastors are safe to practice their sincerely held religious beliefs.

You don’t want to preside over a marriage of two people with the same gender, then don’t.

Your Constitutional Right to practice your faith is intact.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

It is the first Amendment to the Constitution.
The very first one.
Like a sharp double-edged sword it states, ” yes… you have freedom to practice your faith,” and then cuts through the other side when it ORDERS congress not to establish any one religion.

Could you imagine if we did? Which faith… shall we choose? The Jewish Faith? Muslim? Oh …Christian. Which Christian faith would you have it be? Baptist? Methodist? Lutheran? Roman Catholic? Mormon? (Enter your particular brand of Jesus Christ Worship here)

Whose Holy tenants shall then be officially sanctioned by the Government? Would you allow the holy sacrament with only grape juice and send all those who use wine to jail? Would you fine those who’s Sabbath Day is different from yours? What about Mass on Friday? That would be a slippery slope indeed.

When our Founding Fathers and Mothers created our Country and our Constitution they knew what could and did happen when the Government recognized one faith over all others. They Chose Not to Establish a State Religion, instead they created a form of Government where it is separate from the church, all churches, all faiths.

Make no mistake, all people’s faiths, beliefs and non-beliefs are equal BECAUSE the Constitution does not play favorites to one faith.

You are free to go forth and worship your faith. Define marriage however you like.

Governor Abbott, Attorney General Paxton, I know you are both lawyers, and unlike me passed the bar exam on the first try…but listen… tone down the rhetoric, the Bible is a book. It is a Holy book of faith. What is described within its covers is between you, your GOD, your faith, and your conscience. The definition of marriage that is found in that book has nothing to do with anyones fundamental right to marry, and it is certainly not the only definition.

Your beliefs are your own, but realize that your right to freely practice your faith ends where it infringes on my Constitutional rights,  so forgive me but I don’t have to take your particular definition of any word as my gospel.

 

DO try to remember, the First Amendment ORDERS you not to establish your particular religious definition of the marriage word as law.

Let’s not cloud the issue, let’s not fear monger and attempt to scare the Texas people by saying their religious freedoms are infringed by giving others their rights. Make no mistake,  You are here by put on Notice Mr. Abbott and Mr. Paxton, Fear mongering will no longer be tolerated by rational free thinking Texans.

Can’t wait till I pass the Bar…

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June 28, 2015 · 12:10 pm

Following Your Gut

The drugs were very disappointing.

I had really hoped for something a little more….recreational.

One second I am being pushed into the OR with white cotton heated heavy cuddle-up this is almost like a spa blanket and looking into the face of a very handsome….Argentinian anesthesiologist, a dark curly-haired Polo player… bet he drives a sports car… god he is really short, but look at those dark curls… can’t see the size of his feet from my position, Damn! Wow..very handsome…the vain bitch in me wonders if he likes short pudgy middle-aged women who can make killer soup

My inner monologue never really shuts up. Even laying naked with a slit up the back please leave it open cotton gown, it will not be silenced.

The next he looks into my eyes says “Bye Bye, you might feel a little stinging…” and proceeds to take a rather large vial of a white milky substance and inject it into my IV.

My monologue continues only momentarily…

STING!…shit this crap burns like a motherfucker…and then almost simulateosly…I wonder if the is the same stuff that killed Michael Jackson?

I started to wonder if it was going to be a slow sleepy decent into oblivion, and as soon as that thought materialized. It happened.

No sleepy decent, no calm feeling, no comforting dreams, nothing. From constant contained inner chatter to nothing.
Bam.

Then I opened my eyes, the not so magic sleep of childhood ended as abruptly as it began.
I look at the clock. An hour has passed.
Past. Unsettling really.
An hour of you have been unconscious and things have happened to your body you have no memory of, totally unsettling.

Wow the last time this happened it was the ’80’s…remember?
ah no, no I don’t and I would deny it even if I did…..

The nurse hands me my four page patient instructions…complete with full color photos of the inner workings of my colon.
Nice thanks,

“Can I get you anything?”

All I want is water, one bottle down I ask for another, half way through I start looking at the instructions, the words, three 7 to 9 mm polyps resected and retrieved… pop out immediately.

Ohhhh I told you not to eat that McDonald’s cheeseburger!

I then brave the second and third pages with the proof, the full on color, complete with location guide to find the exact location place, pictures.

Wow… this is easier than a Disney World Map…

It’s then I wonder how sore I am going to be tomorrow considering each polyp seems to have had its own spot light, camera crew and removal team up my ass…
Wonderful, all this without a happy ending or a cigarette great.

I had seen other pictures, seen what a polyp looks like, the little stalks, tiny little mushroom like innocent polyps.
These don’t look like that.

Oh joy! See how the Doc. highlighted the polyps in yellow boxes and made them easier to see?

The yellow boxes make me think of the middle light in a traffic light, which depending on your world view and the cost of insurance means either speed up, slow down, or all stop….

yellow means caution,
yellow means slow down,
yellow light means hurry , hurry through or you’ll miss it?

Miss what…?
Miss everything…. you dolt.

I look again and again and again. I am amazed in a rather disconnected way.

An hour ago with no risk factors whatsoever, little  miss granola never eat anything from a package girl…was totally sure nothing was going to be found…after all no family history, unless…

Unless you count the lovely time I had in Florida watching my mother-in-law die from colon cancer, isn’t life funny? What a coincidence!

An hour ago it was, “I don’t think we are going to find anything, we are just ruling it out, if we don’t find the cause of your pain it’s off for a CT scan…”

Yea, nice coincidence.

Dr. Raja opens the curtain and takes a seat.

Shit.
Ha ha funny girl, gotta laugh, gotta admit your word choice is funny…

ah no I don’t…. And while I have your attention, please shutthefuckup.

Quiet inside and out, and I don’t like the fact that he is sitting down.

Sitting means he has more to say than maybe I want to hear.

“So we did find, three what I would call medium to large polyps…they have been sent to pathology, and I recommend another colonoscopy in three years…. you should take it easy for the rest of the day, we will let you know when the pathology report comes in, it usually takes 6-7 days. Do you have any questions?”

Please take note, for future reference, I was quiet, both inside and out.

Great 6-7 days.
Today is December 16, 2010.

Husband out of the country for the second time in less than two weeks, my eldest daughter is going to have to drive my knocked out ass home, where I will still have to wait hand and foot on a grumpy old man who really is dying and before this moment, I had considered to be the biggest pain in my ass.

Merry Christmas to me….

On the way home I am greatly irritated by the automobiles who are shoving happiness in my direction. Little stickers on the windows denoting child and activity, ya great way for the pedophiles to learn your kids names, really smart…. families of fishes, getthefuckover evolution already…and the ultimate in obnoxious, the little reindeer antlers sticking out your windows and a red pom-pom stuck to your front grill…really…like I am supposed to think your Yukon is a fucking reindeer?

I did not take it easy, to do so would have been too logical and really beyond the scope of my ability.

For the few days I made armies of gingerbread men that would break a tooth, but looked wonderful if not quite so anatomically correct…
“Mom what did you do to the frosting?”

I baked shortbread, Empire biscuits, and made more pots of soup than we could consume..

I sorted out the laundry room, scoured the washer, just how the little plastic trays that held the soap and softener get so gross is still a mystery.

I vacuumed the dryer hose to eliminate the ever-present fire hazard of lint build up, and most astonishingly finally found matches to the millions of odd socks that had accumulated atop said dryer for most of the year.

I kept busy during the day, but thoughtful most of the sleepless nights.

I did not worry about finishing law school, or bills, or house repairs or anything that really doesn’t matter.
I thought instead, that I should write, finish the stories, and laugh, a whole lot more.

I could not remember the last time, the last time I had fun…

When was the last time I went to brunch?

When was the last time the warm sun and beach was all there was on today’s schedule?

I told ya,…gotta listen to the flight attendant.
What?

The flight attendant…you know the part about the oxygen mask?
You know…how ya gotta put your own on first,
you know before you help anybody else….
you gotta have yours on first…

The call came on Sunday, the 19.
Had it only been three days?

The Adenomatous polyps were not cancerous, but were premalignant.
I was ok.

There is something to be said about following your gut.

For a long time my body was telling me something was wrong.
I had not only been in pain, but not at ease….

I finally followed my gut, and it saved my life.

But as happy as  I am just don’t look at me to stick no fucking reindeer antlers and pom-poms on my car,  ever….

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The Night of Two Christmases and the Hassle of Hogmanay

I was 9 the night of two Christmases.

Not two, gotta go to both grandma’s house Christmases. Or two open presents Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Christmases.

Two Christmases, in one place on the very same night.

It was the clocks fault.

The mantel clock with the Westminster chimes  my Nana got as a wedding present.

It sat on her mantel, then on my mothers, and now it is on mine.

It was  hurry, hurry go to sleep.

‘Cause sleep was like magic.

Magic sleep  is the kid kinda sleep.

The kind when you close your eyes for a moment, and when you open them again, its morning.

Magic sleep won’t come with wishing or squeezing your eyes closed real tight.

Not tonight.

The sooner you sleep , the sooner it comes.

When you wake, it will be Christmas.

The magic isn’t working.

I am thinking about my stocking.

Stocking are Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers in Black Cherry and Tangerine.

Stockings are Loves Baby Soft, lavender soaps, licorice whips, Life Savers books, and the little rose flavored candies that come in a metal tin so pretty you can’t ever throw them away.

Stockings are new crayons, trace the outline first then fill in the color new coloring books.

They are new tooth brushes, socks and undies.

But mostly stockings are chocolate.

Chocolate only appeared three times a year in my house.

Easter, Halloween and Christmas.

Solid chocolate Santa’s, in milk and white, gold coins and candy canes filled with M&M’s.

That was the American kind.

Then there was the other kind.

The British kind. Cadbury’s and  Fry’s Turkish Delight, Flakey Bars, Roses Assorted, and Black Magic. There was Terries All Gold with creamy orange or strawberry filling. The best part was, you could eat as much as you wanted. Chocolate for breakfast, chocolate for lunch, and chocolate for dinner. It doesn’t get any better, even now.

You could open no presents on fear of death before my mother woke up with her instamatic little light cube  flash camera.

Before parents were up,  presents were piled by recipient, mounded and counted always equal,  always.

But sorting piles and seeing stockings will not come, not until I sleep and wake.

Stop thinking about the chocolate, count things instead.

One minute my feet are seeking cold spots in the sheets and the next magic happens, and I am asleep.

Then it is jump out of bed, gotta be first, round the corner see the tree…

see the  stockings are slack and nothing is wrapped.

The clock, it says 6.  I skip a beat,  feel it stop.. sink a bit…. then start again.

I see  the yellow Caterpillar dump truck with the real shovel and bed that dumps, Baby Tender Love, Barbie dolls with the bendable knees, click click see her sit… a pile of books, crayons and coloring books, packages of undies, socks and toothbrushes…

I see and know.

Really know.

I  see then what my parents said, saw the lists and letters I wrote to Santa. The  folded letters I had thrown into the blazing fire…. that is how you reach Sanata..they said.

I see the letters  dissolve into ashes; they rise and fly up the chimney and across the world to Santa’s workshop.

Right.

No more would I wonder why Santa used the same wrapping paper as my parents, why his writing looked like the notes I took to my teachers and why Santa always seem to know exactly what I wanted.

No more.

See the wrapping paper, tape and ribbon and  just start. Start to wrap.

I know but the others should not.

I wrap and guess who get’s what until there is nothing left sit back and see, the piles and packages of the first Christmas after, knowing.

The door opened, parents laughing, next door for a drink,  they laughed at my worry laughed and shoo-fly my tears, go to sleep, back to your room, back to bed, back…but I can’t really go back , not all the way.

The kids will be up soon I say, look to the clock, it no longer says 6, but 1230 instead.

The magic sleep comes quickly the second time around.

My second Christmas I do not bound,  I do not want to be- the- first- to- see just what is underneath the Christmas tree.

I have already seen.

My second Christmas, the packages are piled, and the stockings are full the others are laughing, and counting, and the chocolate is just a little less sweet.

Christmas is here Hogmanay yet to come. My father has the giant green Hefty bag at the ready for the boxes, the wrapping he tosses into the fireplace with glee.

Hogmanay.

The time to ready,  the time to clean,  the time when the house must be, what it will be for the coming year.

Every Scottish housewife knows, the house will be,  what ever it is when the New Year comes.

If it is dirty, dirty it will be.

If it is tidy at the New Year, then tidy it will be.

New Year. Hogmanay.

The way you end the year,  will tell you how you will be in the next.

The dressers are cleaned, the clothes folded, the trash taken out.

The laundry is done, and baskets are empty. The fridge is full, the rooms are cleaned, toilets scrubbed, closets cleared, and garbage out, and no stuffing anything under the bed.

The way you enter the New Year, is the way it will be.

Hogmanay meant cleaning, and hassle and hiding out till the work was done.

When the sun went down on New Years Eve, the feast began, the friends came, the scotch flowed, and Hogmanay really happened.

It was ceilidhs…Kailey’s… dancing and  laughter.

Hogmanay was meat pies, and dark-haired first footed strangers after midnight at your door.

The darker the hair the stranger, the better the luck.

A hold over from the days of unlucky light-haired Nordic Viking blondes who raped and pillaged; the darker the stranger the better the luck.

Mom always looked for a dark-haired man enter the door first after the New Year. First foot was not to be ignored.

It meant the best of luck, the best of things to come, even  now 40 years after the year of the two Christmases, and the clock who told the wrong time, I look for a dark-haired stranger to cross my threshold at the New year, and bring the best of things; it means the best is yet to come, in the New Year.

Slainte! (Slan-ja) To your Health,  all you dark- first- footed- strangers, imaginary or not.

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Then & Now

Like a  Kurosawa film the action was in slow motion.

The windup, the letting go,  it  flies through the air, tumbling over and over until with the precision of a surgeon it hits the target.

The boy in the back row never saw it coming. The eraser hit the side of his face and a mushroom cloud of dust erupted on impact, leaving a chalky imprint in its wake.

One must pay attention if only to know when to duck.

Mr. Robertson had a deadly aim.

Taking an eraser to the head was nothing compared to getting a swat.

A swat. The go outside into the breeze way and wait for me swat.

Getting a swat was only for the particularly egregious crimes, like fighting.

The logic of hitting to prevent hitting is still lost on me.

It usually happened on the play ground. The monitors, with whistles dangling, or ever ready clenched between front teeth, would let loose a sound that any first Saturday of the month this is just a test warning siren would envy.

It was usually  Mrs. Tallman the bus driver, who was anything but tall, or Mrs. Myrick, also short but thick, mean and always had dark sunglasses on so you never knew exactly where she was looking.

It was usually one of them, women who clearly define the term, broads, one  of them would blow the whistle, everybody on the playground froze. It was red light- green light with out any green.

The offenders were called over with nothing more than a nod of the head or a pointer finger slowly repeatedly curling, there were no words.

They would sit out the rest of the recess, while another student was singled out to go to the teacher’s lounge and inform the teacher.

The teacher’s lounge. A mysterious place where it was rumored teachers would shed their fierce skins and take human form.

A single knock, was all it took. Cigarette smoke, stewed coffee  and laughter erupted when the door opened.

It was always dark, and you stood on the outside looking in hoping your eyes would adjust to the darkness before the door was closed,  but it never did.

The message delivered and the door closed.

It comes immediately after recess.

The class falls silent as the offenders exit, each  like a convict going to the chair.

Silent words swim, thank god it isn’t me, thank god it isn’t me.

The paddle hung by the door was taken down and the teacher follows outside.

It’s drilled with holes to decrease wind resistance and covered in signatures, proof of past survivors.

The quiet deepens, we wait, we wait to hear the moment when the wood lands. It echos off the concrete and brick, the snap  gunshot loud, crisp, … crack.

It was the echo that always made me jump.

Did they cry? If they did it was inside, cause we never heard.

The teacher would enter first, the offenders a little later.

Soon it was line up for lunch.

Lunch meant separate lines, boys on one side girls on the other. Walk don’t run, teacher watches, as you grab some gritty pink stuff  and give your hands a scrub. It was more like ajax  than soap,  reddened hands sought spouts continuously spraying, make sure you wash your hands! They always checked…

Through the door smell the rolls, grab a carton of milk.

The more recess, four square, tether ball, and talking to boys on the bleachers.

There was art with Mrs. Clemans, pink magenta with a metallic sheen, the paints she mixed herself  at the back of the room.

We sat in long wooden tables stained with the creative excesses of those who came before. Giant murals were painted, each an old Christmas card divided into squares, we work in teams, our efforts hung in the cafeteria for all to see.

There was a fall carnival, a cake walk, musical chairs and plastic prizes, like the soldier with the parachute who we could never throw high enough to untangle the strings.

There was Mrs. Little Page, silver bun, gravel voice and forever hocking loogies into a kleenex. Miss Lee with her huge purse filled with cough drops, combs and patience, everything a fourth grader would need. Mr. Sennet the original hippy, who rode his bike, and shed more dandruff than was humanly possible. Mr. Floyd the cool teacher I never had, Mr. Cauthen, who remembered my older sister, who he called the hawk, so I became the hawk-ling.

First day 5th grade, standing arms crossed, foot out, “My name isn’t Share-in, its SHAR-IN.”

Eyes do not have to be closed to remember now.

These were then memories, before tax brackets, and labels,

and titles and what do you do really means,

Are you  an important person or a waste of my time?

Gotta love a cocktail party.

It’s now. Time to go, time to see, will I remember them, will they remember me?

Yes.

The boy who made funny faces, had become the man who still did.

The kind girl became the kind woman.

34+ years was not enough to erase faces, all looked similar if not exactly the same. It was easiest to see them when they laughed, the boy or girl who was could not hide then.

Food was ordered and most not eaten. We were filled with laughter, hugs and stories instead.

We stayed long past closing, lingered after in the parking lot, not wanting it to end.

Until now it hadn’t really hit me.

That everyone knew my name.

Shar-in.

Now I wonder when  was it  exactly that I stopped correcting people, and just let it go.

Where had the 5th grader gone with her crossed arms, bossy manner and loud voice?

When was it exactly that I forgot my  own name?

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Phoenix

Vivid blue crayon sky.

Camelback, Praying Monk, and Squaw Peak, familiar shapes rise from the desert floor.

Lunar landscape pink Papago with worn holes through and through, the place to ride bikes watch the sun set and the stars rise.

Giant saguaros marching, stopped forever in their uphill climb, arms  ever reaching.

How could you forget such things.

In town for a reunion, driving east, new roads fast and paved in basic black,  extra wide lanes with solid bright white lines, stay on your side please

Rear view mirror,  look behind, see the sun set, it never fails to impress, only see it in pieces, and curse the luck of my direction, always going the wrong way.

Invite for pizza at a childhood friends house, meet her kids, see her mom, her brother always a huge crush.
Standing around the kitchen granite gleaming, spic and span, glass shines, so unlike my own, where I consider myself lucky to have floors the color of dirt.
It is not unusual to have some foreign unidentifiable substance stuck to your bare feet…. last time it was a gummy bear.
The patio something out of Pottery Barn, a little living room, sofa- chair-tables lamp, all complete with drapes, hold the warmth in.
Here he was, the golden-haired boy of summer, how many times did I sit in the bleachers hoping he would see me?
Stories began…
His stories were crude, his language base and biased.
Jew whore, bitch, slit..I took a breath, sat and just listened.
…. we  had lit a fire outside,
I had forgotten how cold it gets when the sun goes down in the desert.
Then they both really started talking…
their  mom used to leave them for days at a time. 10 and 8 no food, mom gone… imagine.
Mommy was off for the weekend with different boyfriends.
He remembers sitting in the back of a car with his sister while their parents were in the bar  gett’n their drink on….strangers knock on the window and
laugh….
After working with children in foster care for a decade, I knew how damaging neglect could be they don’t even care enough to beat.
I watch him, but his voice is drowned out in my mind,
Coldplay Fix you….I will try to fix you…plays instead.
No way social worker girl….this is not your problem..
His story was drugs,  38 years worth, everything you could imagine. The longer he spoke the more broken he became, splintered and scattered.
I was given tours of scars and injuries, DUI’s…
I sat and listened, as rants of political views vastly different from mine began,
I hear some Fox news one liners spouted with ease.
Only when they started on immigrants did I speak.
“I am an immigrant”
She seemed shocked.
The rant became one of foreigners serving in the military,
“I wasn’t a citizen when I was in the Navy, ” I said.
She was agape.
“But you were born here, your parents had a mortgage, how could they do that not being citizens?”
The basic civics lesson ensued….one can be a legal immigrant, tax paying with all the rights and duties except holding office and voting.
It almost stopped the ranting, having a familiar face be the unmentionable, immigrant non-citizen scapegoat for all of the country’s ills.
Almost.
They ranted on, he gesturing violently punching the air, Michele Obama the intended target.
Calling Barrack, Barry, a child chiming in, age ten looking up for approval.
I watched in two worlds, seeing the boy, hearing the man.
I realized their view comes from a place of fear, distrust, and ignorance.
Not my view, I chose another way.
Yes,  I voted for Obama, I said when asked.
Yes,  I am in Law school.
“You’re not going to work for those ACLU assholes are you, those lying un-American Civil Liberty Union pricks”
It almost turned uncivil when I showed them my ACLU membership card.
My childhood friends, different paths different world views, here they were with a Democrat in the house. Don’t think there is enough bleach in the world to clean that up…suddenly I have the image of them hosing down my chair when I left.
I let them rant, the rants only outpaced by the number of bottles of beer, I lose count.
No thanks I am driving….
He asked  me for a ride to his mother’s house.
I blink and remember we are both 48 years old.
I swallowed my judgment, smiled and nodded.
He wanted to stop and get beer, wanted me to drink  a tall boy in the parking lot, I just laughed, and said I didn’t roll like that.
What else could you do?
I pulled up to the house, he opened the door, and then paused.
He turned and looked me straight in the eye and said,
“I love you, I have always loved you, and always will.”
Then he left.
I cried all the way back to the hotel,  deep sobs, and had to calm down with hot bath and an overpriced mini bar shot of  Grey Goose.
Fix you,  still playing, this time on my ipod….they seemed so splintered, and the pieces are scattered…even social worker girl knows…
There is no way to fix that.

.

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