Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Health Effects of Teen Alcohol Use

I have been thinking a lot this morning about the damage inflicted upon my husband by his father. Primarily, the alcoholic damage - because there is a lot of damage I could talk about. It seems to be never-ending.

If you cause an accident which causes brain damage or any other damage to a person physically or emotionally, typically you are sued and forced to pay for that damage.

When you give a child alcohol at the age of 12, and reinforce alcoholic and dysfunctional behavior their entire childhood - you promote a pattern that is difficult to escape.

When you provide alcohol to a teenager, when their brain is developing at its most critical stage, the brain never fully develops or recovers.

I have been thinking this morning about all the ways that my husband never seems to be able to fully get things together. The way it takes him over an hour to get ready in the morning. How we are always waiting for him (when we live together). He can not seem to make simple choices. In his career, how he always seems just shy of making it. And now we blame that on ADD - but I really wonder what connection that has to drinking as a child - and if his "ADD" is either caused by or simply the result of his father's negligence.

And quite frankly, it outrages me. I think all children of alcoholics should be entitled to damages. Damages for growing up in a fucked up environment. Damages, in my husband's case for the harm caused by drinking alcohol at such a young age. Because I can tell you this, most children do not make that choice. I was never given alcohol as a child. I don't know many people who were (other than perhaps a sip of something). But when you give a child beer or other alcohol, you should be prepared to face the consequences - for the rest of your life. Because the repercussions from that irresponsible action will follow that child for the rest of theirs.

Here is just one article I found, but the body of evidence is enormous, and something I am going to start paying more attention to.

The Health Effects of Teen Alcohol Use

There has been many studies conducted on the health effects of both short-term and long-term use of alcohol among adults. Long-term risks inlcude liver damage, pancreatitis, certain cancers, and literal shrinkage of the brain. Alcohol use is the second leading cause of dementia; one simple ages quicker on alcohol. (3) But professionals today are worried about a steady increase in teen alcohol abuse and the possible negative health effects. According to an article published by the British Medical Association (BMA) entitled: “Alcohol and Young People”, “…there was a general rise in the proportion of 11 to 15 year-olds who drink alcohol regularly, but also there is an increase in the amount they are drinking on each occasion.”

Adolescence is a transition time when the body is undergoing many significant changes, such as hormonal alterations and brain development. It is also a time when young people start to associate more with friends and associates beyond their childhood contacts. They feel an increased pressure to ‘fit in’ or ‘go along with the crowd’ in order to be accepted socially. These new circumstances can be confusing and difficult for the youth to understand and deal with. Often their ability to make correct or safe decisions is also at a stage of immaturity. Exposing the brain to alcohol during this period may interrupt key processes of brain development, possibly leading to mild cognitive impairment as well as to a further escalation of drinking.

Alcohol is absorbed very rapidly into the blood stream from the stomach lining, in as short a time as 5 to 10 minutes and it’s effects last for several hours depending on the amount ingested and how quickly it was consumed. Females absorb alcohol faster than males because their bodies contain less water. The water dilutes the alcohol and so the same amount of alcohol will produce a higher concentration in the blood. After consuming only 2 to 3 normal strength beers, or 4 or 5 standard glasses of wine, most people will feel less inhibited and more relaxed. Anything consumed after this amount most people slur their speech and become less coordinated and clumsy. Some people have increased emotional reactions. More alcohol could result in staggering, double vision, and loss of balance, nausea, vomiting and an impression of the room spinning.

According to information issued from the U. S. government publication entitled Prevention Alert, teen alcohol abuse showed many negative side effects. “Subtle alcohol-induced adolescent learning impairments could affect academic and occupational achievement. In one study……short-term memory skills were evaluated in alcohol-dependent and nondependent adolescents ages 15 and 16. The alcohol-dependent youth had greater difficulty remembering words and simple geometric designs after a 10-minute interval. In this and similar studies memory problems were most common among adolescents in treatment who had experienced alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The emergence of withdrawal symptoms generally indicates an established pattern of heavy drinking. Their appearance at a young age underscores the need for early intervention to prevent and treat underage drinking. Early alcohol use may have long lasting consequences. People who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence at some time in their lives compared with those who have their first drink at age 20 or older. It is not clear whether starting to drink at an early age actually causes alcoholism. Environmental factors may also be involved, especially in alcoholic families, where children may start drinking earlier because of easier access to alcohol in the home, family acceptance of drinking and lack of parental monitoring.

Aside from the fact that underage drinking is illegal, it poses a high risk to both the individual and society. We will discuss some of the consequences of teen alcohol abuse.

Drinking and Driving
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 20. The rate of fatal crashes among alcohol-involved drivers between 16 and 20 years old is more than twice the rate for alcohol-involved drivers 21 and older.

Alcohol use interacts with conditions such as depression and stress to contribute to suicide, the third leading cause of death among people between the ages of 14 and 25. In one study, 37 percent of eighth grade females who drank heavily reported attempting suicide, compared with 11 percent who did not drink.

Sexual Assault
Sexual assault, including rape, occurs most commonly among women in late adolescence and early adulthood, usually within the context of a date. In one survey, approximately 10 percent of female high school students reported having been raped. Research suggests that alcohol use by the offender, the victim or both, increase the likelihood of sexual assault by a male acquaintance.

High-Risk Sex
Research has associated adolescent alcohol use with high-risk sex, for instance, multiple partners or unprotected sex. The consequences of high-risk sex also are common in this age group, particularly unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. According to a recent study, the link between high-risk sex and drinking is affected by the quantity of alcohol consumed. The probability of sexual intercourse is increased by drinking amounts of alcohol sufficient to impair judgment, but decreased by drinking heavier amounts that result in feelings of nausea, passing out, or mental confusion. Binge Drinking. Though most college drinkers would deny it, young people do die solely from drinking. In 1995, 318 people ages 15 to 24 died from alcohol poisoning alone, man of them after a night binge at college. At the University of Virginia, a tradition that has seniors drinking a fifth of hard liquor at the final game of the football season (so-called “Fourth-year Fifth”) has killed 18 students since 1990. (3)

Works Cited

British Medical Association BMA, article Alcohol and Young People, Health 1999
(2) Prevention Alert, Vol. 5 Number 6 May 10, 2002,

(3) Author: Kattie Payne, RN, PhD Last updated September 9, 2002, copyright 1995-2004, Healthwise, Incorporated, P. O. Box 1989, Boise, ID 83701.

Taken from

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I saw this on a church board on my way to my son's school this morning.

"Uncontrolled anger is like throwing a rock into a wasp's nest."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story

I thought this was a great interview - I'm a huge fan of Michael Moore - and this is also a great column that Vanity Fair does weekly on their website. There's a link on the site that shows you a preview to the movie too!

The One Percent
Q&A: Michael Moore Says Being Rich Doesn't Necessarily Make You Evil
by Jamie Johnson September 30, 2009, 1:14 PM

Every week on, filmmaker Jamie Johnson offers a glimpse into the secret lives of the super-rich.

Celebrity provocateur and documentary filmmaker Michael Moore returns to movie screens this week with the release of his new film, Capitalism: A Love Story. I first met Moore at a Tribeca Film Festival screening of a documentary I directed called The One Percent, which focuses on how the very richest Americans have attempted to shape the economy around their interests. Moore’s new film covers related topics from a very different perspective, examining with his inimitable style the effect concentrated wealth and power have on the working class. Earlier this week, I spoke to Moore about the film and about his perception of American capitalism's inherent flaws. Here's how it went:

Jamie Johnson: Your new film is called Capitalism: A Love Story. But it’s clear that you don’t love capitalism, so what do you love?

Michael Moore: Who said it has anything to do with me? I called it that because it’s not whether I love it or not, it’s whether the wealthy love it, and the wealthy do. They love their money and they’re not content with loving just their money. They love our money too, and they want it.

As far as what I do love, I love birds, I love lavender.

I know a lot of rich people. I come from an affluent background. Most of the rich hate you. Why do you think that is?

Most of the rich do what?

Most of the rich hate you.

I’ve gotten that feeling over the years, and it isn’t just because of this movie. I’m one of those, those, ah, peasants who somehow found my way out of the woodwork, and I started talking about the things that I saw that were happening to people who come from the class I come from, and suddenly I had a wide audience. That really wasn’t supposed to happen, because my politics are pretty much supposed to consign me to the church of the left, and I’m supposed to be preaching to the choir. So, the fact that I have this audience that goes beyond the church of the left is somewhat disconcerting to those who have money and who know that I am here to upend the system that has benefitted them.

Are you familiar with Vanity Fair’s New Establishment list?

I’m familiar with it.

Every year the magazine ranks the 100 most powerful members of the establishment.

The media establishment or just The Establishment?

The Establishment.

The man.


O.K., yes, I’m familiar with it.

Well, what do you feel The Establishment needs to hear right now?

What do they need to hear? Well, what will they listen to? They need to know that across the country there are millions of people with an anger that is simmering just beneath the surface, and they would be wise to address the reasons why people are feeling such angry despair because nobody wants anger to boil over. You’re seeing early signs of it, you know, the tea baggers and the town hallers and all of that.

Do you think it’s possible that the anger will lead to physical conflict?

Sadly, yes.

On what level, armed rebellion?

I don’t know. I just know that you can’t throw millions of people out on the curb and not expect a reaction. You’re living in some kind of fantasy world if you think that’s just going to go without any reaction or response. There’s a foreclosure filing in this country once every 7 1/2 seconds. You know, I would hope that those people who make up The Establishment would behave in a moral way, with the values that they were raised with about how to treat people, that they are their brother’s keeper, that they’ll be judged by how they treat the least among us. And, I wish they would ask the question, is this for the common good when they make their decisions.

What questions do you think they are asking before they make decisions?

Is this good for the bottom line? How does this affect me? Can I make more money? I don’t have enough.

On any level can you relate to feelings that you don’t have enough and that you need more money?


Most documentary filmmakers say that all the important work on documentaries is done in the edit room. Can you take us into your edit room by describing the atmosphere and how decisions are made? What is it like?

You don’t want to know. First of all, it reeks of men. Over the years, I’ve put a couple of signs up in the edit room. One says, When In Doubt Cut Me Out. Another one says, Remember People Want To Go Home And Have Sex After They Watch This Movie.

That’s a good one.

Don’t bum them out to the extent that they won’t be able to enjoy the rest of the date.

Generally, people are frightened by controversy, but it’s something you seem to relish. What’s going through your mind when you’re out in the field with your camera crew and you’re marching head on into a public confrontation? Are you ever scared?


What are you frightened of?

I don’t want to be hurt. I don’t want to be arrested. I don’t want to do anything that violates my own personal code of ethics and morals.

Then what propels you to try and gain access to the headquarters of General Motors against the wishes of the company and the company security guards?

Well, in this current film, it’s because I’m a part owner of the company. I’m a citizen of this country. I have some ideas that I thought might help them survive. And I thought that, at least this time, they would call my bluff and invite me in, and I was looking forward to that.

Is there anything you can tell me about scenes that got left on the cutting room floor that you wanted to include, but ultimately couldn’t?

I had a section on how capitalism has killed our daily newspapers, and it got too large. It almost requires its own movie.

Well, thanks for your time. I enjoyed watching the film.

Thank you very much for saying that. Let me just say something about the affluence that you up grew up in. There’s nothing inherently or patently wrong with anybody who does well, works hard, earns a living, betters themselves. I’m not against any of these things. It’s about how you make that money, and then what you do with it. Did you exploit people in the making of that money? And once you made it, did you give back? Are you taxed properly? Is society better off?

I’ll give you just a quick example, when the new bankruptcy laws were being rewritten during the Bush administration to make it more difficult for working people to file for bankruptcy. It was a bill the banks really wanted passed, and it was passed. And it was interesting looking at the Democratic Senators who voted for and against it. People like Hillary Clinton voted for it, or the Senator from my state, Michigan, Debbie Stabenow, voted for it. These are women who did not grow up with money, and these are women who belong to a gender who is hurt more by this than the gender you and I belong to. If you look at the people who voted against the banks, against the new bankruptcy legislation, you see the names Rockefeller, Kennedy, Kerry, Dayton, from the Dayton Hudson family in Minnesota. Those who came from money, who were millionaires, voted on the side of the people. It was a reminder to me that just because someone has money does not in and of itself make them a bad person. And, in fact, this country was founded by a bunch of wealthy land owners, Jefferson, Adams, Washington. I’m sure at the time reporters must have said to them, “You know, you guys have done very well by the King’s system. What’s your complaint? What are you whining about?” It was actually more impressive that they were willing to risk everything they had to for this country when they could have gone the easy route, which was to control the wealth that they had.

Monday, October 26, 2009

In a Funk

I have been in sort of a funk. I tried to get out of it by going to a special seminar at church on Thursday night, but I'm not sure that helped either. It was called Relationships as a Spiritual Practice, and our interim pastor brought in someone from the outside, who is more of a new age-type than something you would normally see at church. Sounded like my kind of thing, but I didn't get all that enthused at the time. In fact, I ended up leaving before he even finished talking, because it was after 9 and I was tired.

But he did say some good stuff, and that has sort of been in my head over the past few days.

He talked about how our most important relationship is the relationship we have with our self - and that is the one that we mostly overlook. And that if we don't take care of this relationship, we will not be able to have positive relationships with other people. He said if you think you can change someone, you can't - you have to change yourself. We did a lot of different energy work and meditations, but that's sort of where he lost me. I'm not someone that needs to be sold on that stuff - I already know it works. But for whatever reason, I don't utilize it much.

I spent most of the weekend with a migraine. Yesterday I became completely enraged when my husband asked me *again* about his dad and the fourth wife seeing the kids.

I gave in and let my son see him for 5 minutes the other day to say goodbye before they went to the desert for the winter. But my son is nearly 7 now and a very smart cookie. He is more able to sort out some of the BS that might come his way. I am even less excited about exposing my 3-year-old daughter to either of them for any amount of time.

I told my husband when his dad makes amends to her and to me for telling him to skip out on her 3rd birthday party, then we can talk about him seeing his granddaughter.

I am still pissed about that. I don't know if I will ever get over it actually.

But I also realize that I am the one stuck with all my anger and my father-in-law and the fourth wife could give a shit less. I'm trying to figure out a way that I can live my life without having my blood pressure rise every time I hear either one of their names.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Islamic Feminism

I met with the head of our local Muslim school yesterday, who I have known for over 10 years. I have been involved with the school for many years, but not as much as I would have liked after the birth of my children. I am going to be taking on a more active role now and I am very excited about that.

I had a very good talk with my friend, not only about the school and my son's school, which have a wonderful alliance, but also about life.

We talked a lot about my marriage and about my father-in-law. He was very surprised that my father-in-law had not been more supportive of both me and my marriage. He was also very surprised that my father-in-law did not work more closely with my husband. He said in Yemen, when a father is successful, it makes him proud to bring his son up in that same tradition.

I remember the same thing from my former father-in-law. Although he was not wealthy, he did own quite a bit of land. He was so proud of the fact that some day he would give all of that to his sons. (Women receive their inheritance when they marry as a way of insuring their financial control within the marriage. The money is theirs to keep. If the marriage goes south, they are not stuck.)

When I was leaving, my friend showed me the new library at the school, which he was very proud of. I noticed a women's studies section and in particular a book about Islamic Feminism, which I also have at home. I told him that we need to make sure that the girls graduate as Muslim feminists! Then I stopped myself, and we both agreed that Islam is a feminist religion that empowers women. I don't think very many people think of Islam in that way, but at it's root, that is what Islam set out to do. In many ways, that is what Islam has done for me.

Islam empowered me in a way that no other religion has. And, in going back to work, no other segment of my client base has been more supportive of me than my Muslim base.

I also was reflecting with my husband that it is so interesting that people stereotype Arab and Muslim men as holding back strong women, but my American father-in-law seems to have the problem with me, whereas my Arab and Muslim brothers seem to be very proud of my strength. My previous father-in-law is so proud of me. And yet all I feel from my current father-in-law is disgust.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bishop Spong's Manifesto of Inclusion

Yesterday, a friend of mind posted this and decided to post it here too. All of these things are connected to me. It comes down to one thing: treating people poorly is unacceptable, for any reason, and should not be tolerated on any level.

Bishop Spong's Manifesto of Inclusion
A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant." I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement. I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.

In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude. I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population. I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.

I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church. "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces. We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women? The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a "mobocracy," which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.

I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.

The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.

Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth." I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.

This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.

– John Shelby Spong

Dinner with the Ex

I have been reflecting a lot on my previous marriage, and all that has transpired since then. I married very young to a Lebanese Shia Muslim, coming from a sheltered conservative Christian background. I often wonder if that alone didn't ruin us. But there were a lot of obstacles. His temper. My youth. Working too hard to get ahead.

In any case, I now count H as one of my dearest friends. His wife is also extremely close to me and I adore his children. He married his current wife when she was very young, and for a long time I was careful not to say anything that might make her jealous. But much time has passed, and we are all in a very good spot now where we have freedom to speak our mind, and even to joke about things, past and present. And I think what has come out of all of this has truly been remarkable in every way.

I know that not everyone chooses to remain close to their ex. Especially when there are no children and there is no need to. But I feel that H will forever remain a part of me, and that I owe him so much for who I have become. Not to say that it did not take work, but it was worth it for the relationship that all of us have today.

Last night, I joined them at their home for dinner. I brought a cake that my daughter and I made for his wife. She recently had her appendix out and while she was sitting in the hospital she said she was craving this cake that I make, and asked me if I would make her one.

So we decided to cook Lebanese food together, which is something we both enjoy. We decided earlier this year that we both cook better together than apart. I think part of it is that we just enjoy each other's company so much.

So I arrived late in the afternoon with my kids and we let them play, while we opened a bottle of wine and started cooking and talking about life. H came in and out of the room, and joined us later for the meal.

We talked about how when we were younger, we were both more jealous, but as we have grown up we have become less so. We talked about our marriages, and in-laws and our children.

They said that they both had noticed when they saw me last week that I have been happier and lighter lately than I have been for a while. I told them that I had decided that no matter what, I am going to laugh and be happy, because whether things work out or they don't, or I have money, or anything else, I have to get through my days, and I may as well laugh.

We talked about how when you have children with someone, you are forever bound to that person, whether you are married or not - so you may as well make the most of it and try to get along. Her parents and I had a similar conversation earlier in the day at my office. They are jokesters and have 5 children, so they both said that is what had happened to them, that they were stuck with each other because of the children!

Interestingly, H also has a very difficult struggle with his in-laws, for different reasons. We talked about that a little bit too. I can see why he has the struggle, but I also see them different because they are not my in-laws and I deal with them on a different level. It's funny how you relate to people different depending on how you have to relate to them. I'm sure some people can get along fine with my father-in-law - so long as the relationship does not depend on his need to control their life.

One thing that I have always felt as I have moved on in my life is that I could have made my first marriage work, if I had given it some time. I don't have regrets over that now. It is what it is, and I don't think things could have worked out more beautifully than they have. But it does make me approach my current marriage different than perhaps someone else from the outside might.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Rings

I had left my rings for sale with our trusted jeweler L. I have always adored L. He has a very sweet and genuine spirit. He is a small Jewish man, who seems to work hard but also really care about people.

I remember once my husband was hell-bent on buying me a Rolex watch for Christmas, which L sells at his store. But I don't like Rolex watches for women. I wanted another brand, which he does not carry. My husband couldn't understand why I wouldn't want a Rolex, which I suppose was the best in his mind. He was shopping all over town, and most places were hard selling what they had on hand. L just told him, flat out, you should buy her the watch she wants. He did, and that is the watch I still wear every day.

L is not in the resale business, but he told me he would sell my rings for me and make sure I got a good price for me, because they are very nice rings, and it would be difficult to get a decent price right now. He didn't ask much about my reasons. He just asked about how old the kids were now. Then he sort of stammered, and said, Ah, jeez, I'm sorry.

I hadn't heard much from him, but I trusted him to do the right thing. He had given me a quote to repair the rings, and I have him to go-ahead for that work even though it was costly. I knew the rings should be in tip-top shape to sell them.

It turns out, L, did all the repair work, put the rings in his safe, and started praying.

He prayed for my marriage to work out.

When we went to pick up them up, the rings look better than brand new. He told us to take them at no charge.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Seasons of Life

My first husband sent this to me this morning on a powerpoint presentation, which actually shows it better, but I still liked it, so I wanted to post it here. I've actually been meaning to do a post on him anyway, but I haven't had time, so more on that later.

There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.

The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall.

When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen. The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son said no it was covered with green buds and full of promise.

The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but only one season in the tree's life.

He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up.

If you give up when it's winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, fulfillment of your fall.


Don't let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest.
Don't judge life by one difficult season.
Persevere through the difficult patches and better times are sure to come at some later time.

The bottom of his said, you have been an important season of my life.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Sneaky Bastard

It became apparent late yesterday that my father-in-law had stopped paying my husband through one of his companies after we filed for divorce in June. I believe this is an obvious attempt to lessen any child support and alimony I am due.

He says that the life insurance policy that this money was paying towards was suddenly paid at that time (according to my husband). But when I said I needed a paystub for our loan, he said he could suddenly start paying him again.

Sounds fishy to me.

If I had to guess, I would say he just started paying the brother all the money to pay the policy now. Either way, if we go that route, a forensic accountant can figure out all of that.

It just always amazes me how low he is willing to stoup.

I always feel like I am dealing with someone on Dallas or Dynasty and not a father-in-law, let alone someone who has been in AA for 25 years and is supposed to be a mentor to other men.

It brings to mind when my husband's mother died and my father-in-law wanted to stop paying her alimony. She lived out of state, so my husband had to get her death certificate so he could stop paying it. My husband relapsed at that time and was pisssed at this father. So he got the death certificate, but didn't tell his dad and let him continue paying the alimony - for a year.

I was the one who finally told his dad that he had the death certificate. He was confused - why would he do that??

Because he is angry with you, I told him, exhasperated. He truly seemed to have no clue.

I still don't think he does.

You reap what you sow.

Malcolm X said it better than anyone when he talked about chickens coming home to roost, even though I know this was an unpopular quote at the time. (The clip below is worth watching - I had never heard him explain himself.)

I really like this quote, which is the end of the clip.

"If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, that's not progress. If you pull it all the way out, that's not progress. The progress comes from healing the wound that the blow made. They haven't even begun to pull the knife out. They won't even admit the knife is there.
- Malcolm X

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Own who you are but know that who you are can always change. "

-Lesson from Julia Child by Julie Powell. Julie and Julia

I saw this in one of the magazines I read (can't remember which one - I read a lot of them!) but I liked it a lot. I enjoy cooking a lot too, so perhaps I will put this on my want to read list. (Which is also probably way too long!!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thoughts Circling in my Head

I feel like I need to clear my head.

A lot has happened and I have not had the time or desire to write about it here.

My husband seems to have gotten his act together for the time being.

I say that somewhat, but not entirely hopefully, because he has done this before, although not to this extent.

He has become a father to the kids in a more active role than he ever has before.

He is sober, obviously sober.

He is working his program.

He is helping me.

He is bringing dinner when I am tired.

He is washing the dishes.

He is doing the laundry.

He is actively engaged with both of the children.

He is bringing me roses.

He is being thoughtful and considerate.

He is paying our children's tuition (on time).

He is giving me money when I need it.

But I am still tired and I am still hesitant to trust anything.

He continues to say he does not want a divorce, and I have continued to say that too much damage has been done. He says he wants to repair it. I say some things can not be repaired. He thinks anything can. I say, look at Katrina.

What impresses me about my husband is that he does not give up.

In any case, there have been a lot of things circling through my mind.

First of all, being divorced or separated from someone you have kids with is really not a whole lot different than being with that person. I still see him nearly every day. I still talk to him constantly. He just goes home to his place and sleeps there. There is still a relationship. It's just a lot more responsibility for me and a whole lot less money.

It is very exhausting being a single parent. I know I have said that before and I don't want to constantly complain about it, but I don't think it is a one-person job. I think I am very lucky to have my mom, and now, a husband that is helping quite a bit. But I am still quite tired all the time. I really think that there should be more help offered to people who are doing this on their own. That was one thing that really impressed me at the memorial service for Dick the other day - how many single mothers and children he had helped over the years. To me, that is making a difference.

At the end of the day, it is a very lonely and alienating job. Raising children is a big job period, but doing it alone is just a lot.

But that being said, there is also the nagging thought I have of, what if he relapses again? I can not put my kids or myself through that, again.

And I have said to him even, you are better off starting fresh with someone else, because I have given you so many fresh starts, and there will be no fresh start this time. He says he does not want a fresh start - he wants his family.

It seems that everyone has their opinions and dislikes of my husband. A lot of people want to see him suffer. But in the end, it is me that is suffering mostly because I am carrying the workload.

I am angry about a lot of things and a lot of those will take perhaps a lifetime to get over. I am mostly angry at my father-in-law though because I truly believe he set my husband up to fail in nearly every way.

My husband has failed me in so many ways, and that has been painful. Very painful. But I have to think that had he been raised differently, he would have made different choices.

When I look the children my father-in-law "raised", I see three things:
He raised the eldest to be "mentally unfit" and then left him to rot in a state home.
He raised my husband to be a dependent addict.
And he raised the youngest to believe he was stupid and incompetent.

Perhaps that is harsh, but that is how I see things.

What I believe about children is that you set them up to win. You give them wings to fly, not strings to hold them back.

Nothing has to be, or will be, decided today, or anytime soon for that matter. But these are my thoughts today.

Monday, October 12, 2009


The Memorial Service turned out to be more of a blessing than I could have hoped for. The family wanted everyone to wear Hawaiian attire. I was fixated on being sad and sat on my bed for a long time trying to figure out something I could wear. Nothing seemed right. Then, I started laughing, as I remembered the big floppy hat we bought in Maui when I was pregnant with my daughter. My friend T had also just sent me a beautiful dress that would also be lovely. It wasn't at all what I would normally wear to a funeral, but it was airy and bright, and I enjoyed getting ready.

I picked up my grandmother and enjoyed our ride together. Normally, I hate driving. But we had a nice visit. She told me some stories about Dick and my grandfather that I had not heard before.

The music at the service was beautiful, but the stories were just amazing. I had always sort of seen Dick as sort of this goofy, but helpful guy at church. I had written up something to give to his family, which I will share in a minute, but the stories I heard about him during his service blew me away.

First of all, I had no idea he was a PhD. Secondly, he had adopted 2 girls as babies and raised them. One was later killed in an accident, as was his wife, I believe. He was a high school counselor and took in what looked to be about 10 other high school kids, making sure that each of them finished school. Several of them spoke. One said this, "There have been only three people I could count on and believe in in my life: God. My grandmother. And Dick." She went on to say that Dick had been the only father she had ever known in her life.

Another story that caught my attention was about him helping a single mother who I know in our church. When she moved from Hawaii, her daughter had trouble with the lack of diversity in the school where they lived. So he drove all the way from his house to theirs every morning (about 15-20 minutes) and then back to his school (at least half an hour) - EVERY MORNING - FOR A YEAR - until she graduated from high school. That really humbled me, given all my grumbling lately about driving my own children.

His dedication to children and to education really inspired me, and I was really, really glad, that I made it to his service.

And now, for what I wrote beforehand, about what he had contributed to my life.

The first time I remember seeing Dick, he was singing at a funeral. It was Wind beneath your Wings and he was rather off key. I was a teenager at a funeral for one of my grandparents friends with my family. My sister and I sat next to each other and giggled a little bit.

Growing up around a perfectionist musician father was in some ways excruciating for me. I never felt I was good enough, but I was also very hard on other people. Every single note stuck out to me, even when a professional sang.

But Dick did not seem to mind a bit. In fact, he sang out strongly and vibrantly. And in the years I later heard him sing, what I later came to appreciate was his total enjoyment of singing and his willingness to always step forward to do it.

In everything I had tried to do in my life, I had tried to do it perfectly. In fact, I didn't really think I sang good enough anymore so I had given it up almost completely in college. But my life seemed to not be working anymore and I went back to the church my grandparents had gone to for over 30 years.

At first it was hard. I could barely walk into the sanctuary without tearing up. I'm not sure why I had such an emotional response. But one thing that always made my journey back easier was Dick. I was often alone, or rather without a man, which is what I was brought up to consider being alone. And, I had two young children with me who were always rather restless. But every Sunday that we made it, Dick always made it a point to come over and say hello and bring some sort of joy to the morning. I don't think he had any idea how lonely or sad I felt in that church, but I was always very happy to see him.

I was very sad to hear of Dicks illness. It seemed too soon for such a vibrant man to go. But the Sparkling Cidar toast and Hawaiian shirt celebration of life service seemed like a perfect way to send off a man who always seemed so full of life and happiness.

I never had a chance to tell Dick what he had meant to me over the years. But I no longer want to try to do everything perfectly. In fact, I might even try to sing again, someday. But I really do feel happy to have known Dick and I smile whenever I think of him.

What I really learned from him was that it's time to give up the idea of perfection and time to embrace living - and living is about the people you touch with your life.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


It seems like everything lately is taking me a lot of effort. I have very little energy. I'm not sure if it is my fall, and my body just needs to heal, or if I am just slightly depressed and I need time to heal from my situation. Perhaps it is a bit of both.

Either way, I just feel very sluggish and tired. I am going to a funeral this morning. I really don't feel like going. I always feel like you should go to all weddings and funerals because you honor life and the important commitments we make to each other. But this morning it just seems like an extra effort that I don't want to make. Besides that, I have to go out of my way to pick up my 92-year-old grandmother, who I love dearly, but who can also be a bit much. She's just one of those people who it is just never enough. And I'm already feeling that, so facing her this morning just feels like a lot. Facing a lot of sadness feels like a lot too. And driving even one mile sounds like hell.

I was thinking that I used to wake up at 8. Now, but 8 I have already woke up, got myself ready, got two children ready for school, fed them, packed lunch, drove across town to get my son to school and am on my way to my daughter's school. I am already tired before I get to work.

My son is excelling in his new school. He loves it, and it is wonderful to see him thrive there. I have done my best to become involved there. I go to lunch there when I can and have signed up for as much volunteering as I can with my work schedule. He truly loves it there, and has thanked me for sending him there. I am very glad that he is grateful and I do feel like he appreciates it. I remind myself of that when I feel tired or overwhelmed. Someday, all of this will be worth it. Someday, we will live closer to the school. Someday, both kids will be old enough to go there. Someday, we will be out of all the mess we are in now.

I am still very resentful of my father-in-law for backing out of paying for the school. It would have been no sweat off his back. I am trying to get over it, but it is hard when every day I just feel worn out. My husband keeps telling me he wants to make amends to me, and I jokingly told him yesterday, yeah, this is his amends. I started imitating his dad. "Hi there...I'm really sorry and I want to make this up to you. So here's what I'm gonna do for you..." I slowly pull up my middle finger and start laughing.

But today, I just feel really tired. I think I will go for a walk and try to get some hope back.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Very Sad

One of the dearest loves of my life has passed. My friend called me shortly before and placed the phone to his ear so I could say my last goodbye. Over the last 10+ years, Paul has been the quiet strength in my life.

Every major occasion in my life, whether it be buying my first house, my MBA graduation, breakups, my wedding, the birth of my children, baby showers, my birthdays, my children's birthday's, the various name it...Paul has been there, cheering me on.

Few words were ever needed to express our love and friendship. He was a dear and gentle man. When he spoke, his words were measured and educated. He had no pretense. He was very smart, but he never felt the need to be right, or to argue. I never saw him angry. I never saw him mistreat anyone. If I needed advice, or someone to listen, he had some of the best ears around. He never judged anyone, but at the same time he would tell me not to put up with abuse or mistreatment, from anyone.

He lived a simple life and came off as a simple man, but he was much more than he appeared.

Gentleness is highly undervalued in my opinion.

I have never met anyone quite like Paul and I think I will miss him for the rest of my life.

Someday, I hope, boys, like my son, will learn that it is more than your pocketbook and the color of your skin and "what you do for a living" and the particular direction that you are inclined sexually that make you a man.

It is your promises, your word. It is saying you will be there, and being there. It is listening. It is your strength and your gentleness combined - not your force. It is work-ethic and resolve. Not just for the sake of building an empire, but for building a life you can be proud of. It is kindness, integrity and compassion. It is all the things that were my beloved Paul.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Things We Miss

I have not had much time to write. Frankly I have been exhausted and overwhelmed with being a single working mom. I don't think it is a one-person job, especially when you are working hard and worrying about paying the bills.

I have been subsisting (again) on up to 10 Excederines a day to keep going during the day. My headaches have come back in full-force and I am back on my daily migraine meds. I don't have the money or the time for all the treatments I used to get to keep my headaches and other stuff at bay, and stress accelerates all of that.

On Friday night, I could not sleep. My kids sleep with me. We decided to start sleeping in my bed because it is bigger and we were running out of space in my daughters bed. The kids always fight over who gets to sleep next to me, so oftentimes I rotate. I started off next to my son, but then I decided I was on the "wrong" side, ie, not my usual side, so I decided to move and get more comfortable.

I moved over, but then my daughter had hogged that side. I had already moved around so much that I didn't want to wake her. So I decided I would sort of roll off. Instead, I landed really hard on my wooden bedframe, that extends about 3-4 inches past my mattress, and then onto the floor.

I screamed, and then I started laughing at myself. Neither kid woke up, but then I stayed up most of the night. It hurt like hell. I have a horrible deep-purple bruise that takes up most of the left side of my ass.

I didn't want to get pain killers, so I just waited for my chiropracter to open on Monday. I have been going and getting treatments there this week. My whole body is out of wack.

I think I knocked something out of myself because I have continued to laugh my ass off all week. I am still in a lot of pain, but everything just seems hysterically funny to me this week. I guess I have decided that my situation is what it is, so I may as well have fun and laugh.

That being said, I still think it is bull shit.

My daughter had her ears peirced a few months ago. She took one out just to be weird, and has been walking around with only one earring for a while. She finally decided she wanted to get the other ear peirced, so we rushed her over to the mall. Then we discovered her ear was infected. I don't know how I missed that. Well, actually I do. I'm too busy working, running kids around, keeping a house up, cooking, and doing everything else.

Then, the other night, I took my daughter out of the bath and noticed that her ear had completely puffed up with puss in the back. Not only had I missed it once, I had missed it twice. That never would have happened before. The front looked fine, but the back was horrible.

It was the end of a long, exhausting day, and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed. But I called the doctor, and they wanted me to bring her right in. So I put hats on the kids wet hair, and we all drove into the doctors office in our pajamas. (To my husband's credit, he met us there.)

It is those little things that really matter and little mistakes can end up being big mistakes.

My husband just keeps saying that he wants to be together again, but I don't want to be treated the way he has treated me. I don't want to go through all the same stuff again. I don't want to be in this situation that I am in right now either, but that's all I've got.

My mom has always told me, "This too shall pass." And that give me a lot of comfort. I just hope that nothing too bad happens in the mean time.