A Door Unopened

A Door Unopened
Knock, knock...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

College Apps and All That

November 30th--the deadline for entering college freshmen to submit applications for the 2011 fall school year. ::Play Jaws shark music.:: Many of you out there have been there and done that. Your kids are through the "getting into college" shtick and no doubt you are so glad those days are over. SO glad. Some of you still have this tortuous event to look forward to. And to you I say, Good luck my friends! No doubt you'll be glad to see it pass. And for those of you who didn't go the kid route, here's another data point to put on your "pro" list of reasons not to have kids. You've spared yourself some grey hairs, antacid swilling and restless nights.

My one and only got his applications filed Sunday--a day when apparently multitudes of college freshmen hopefuls were also filing their applications. Many of the school websites weren't processing information quickly or were unavailable on the last Sunday of Thanksgiving vacation when every self-respecting, king or queen of procrastination, college-wannabe was sending in their pleas for admissions. And all I have to say is, Hallelujah, Lord! It's done. Now we do a combination of waiting, hoping, breathing evenly, staying on track and waiting until--is it April?--when the decisions are mailed.

With one acceptance in his back pocket (Montana State--a place where he could both ski and major in biology--dream come true, right?) my son's California line-up is: CSU Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, Cal Poly SLO, and Humbolt and UC Davis and Santa Cruz. UC Merced was a realistic option but as I told him, there's no sense applying if you know you don't want to go there and he really doesn't want to go there despite the fact that he'd likely be accepted.

Every CSU application is 55$ and every UC application is 60$. Zoiks! It adds up quickly! This would be somewhat more palatable if I were currently employed but I am currently, most definitely not employed. No worries about boredom, but the lack of cash is extremely, uh...disconcerting? Yes. It's that. Disconcerting in extremis. As my credit card number flew far and wide over the internet I tried to remain calm. As much as his father, no longer my husband, doesn't enjoy hearing from me, I'll have to let him know he's on the hook for half the tab. Fair's fair, right? HE actually IS working.

I've been asking about my son about his personal essay--the thing that's supposed to accompany his applications--for literal months. I read one version of it in the summer--which needed some pretty ::cough, cough:: serious work--and never saw the final product. It's not that I didn't ask, it just never materialized. It's like that when your kid is half the time between the 'rents. He's here, he's there, he's bobbing and weaving as Mom tries (not hard enough) to get a bead on things. At least that's what I tell myself.  Then I chide myself that I should nag harder, louder and longer. But then I think--if I have to nag so hard maybe he doesn't want it that badly. Or should I push, muscle, propel, impel and proxy my concern onto him? Sadly, that's just not me. At some point, we'll find out if he appreciates me for that or resents me for it. My money's on the latter. Sigh.

Anyway, it's done. The applications are in. Theo's future weighs precariously and momentously in the balance. More grey hairs, antacids and restless nights to come. But let's be real, that goes with the territory--kids, or no kids.

I've got my fingers crossed and my hopes high. He is after all--my one and only baby.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Letter to Michael Vick on Thanksgiving Eve

I apologize. I cannot start this letter with "Dear Mr. Vick". The "Dear" part of the greeting would be completely disingenous.

Happy Thanksgiving, Michael! You certainly have a LOT to be thankful for, don't you?

Let's see...
You've served your time. (Isn't plea bargaining a wonderful thing? It got you out in less than two years.) You've admitted your guilt--some of it, not all of it. (Again, plea bargaining. It's like they invented it just for you.)
You've apologized--again, for some but not all of your crimes.
On your journey you say you've found Jesus.
You're talking the talk and walking the walk.
And you're in back in action, QB-ing for the Eagles, and looking great on the field.
Lots of folks are rooting for you.

I want to root for you too. But here's what's stopping me: that stuff you did.

It wasn't widely publicized (That the NFL managed to muzzle the media is yet another thing you can be thankful for.) and the excruciating details were largely omitted. The truth is you were involved in the execution and TORTURE of the dogs you exploited and abused for fighting. I've promised my husband not to divulge the gruesome specifics because it's horrendous to think about and it's not something most of us care to dwell upon. But I've read some accounts. You did unthinkable, unspeakable things to those dogs--things that I've tried to block out of my mind but the images persist. What you did to those dogs makes me think you are NOT OK. Anyone who could do what you did is fucked up in a way that is likely unfixable.

What happened to you, Michael, that allowed you to do such monstrous things? Did you feel anything when you slowly, deliberately, tortured the life out of these animals? Did you enjoy it while they whimpered, cried and howled in agony? Did seeing them bleed and suffer excite you? It must have. Why else would you have taken the time and creative thought to devise such horrific ways to kill them? Really what I want to know is this: How could you? How could you stand what you did? How can you stand yourself now?

Have you read the book about your dogs? (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2010/09/michael-vicks-lost-dogs.html)
Like you, they've received a second chance--most of them. A few had to be put down because there was no hope for rehabilition. If you read the book now, after your big redemption, would you feel shocked and horrified at the things you did?

I know that forgiveness is an essential part of being an evolved human--something I aspire to be on most days. And no doubt it means nothing to you if I do or don't forgive you. But here's the thing--I want to forgive you. I want to trust that regardless of future circumstances you would  never do anything like that again. But the truth is I'm worried that if something happens that shortens your career or further embitters you against the world, you would again take it out on other living creatures. Michael, how can you be trusted?

I know you won't read this. Even if you did your response would be, "I owe you nothing, bitch. NOTHING!" True. But as a human being you owe this much to everyone: To do your best in spite of the bad that's happened in your life. To act as a good world citizen. We all owe everybody that. We all make choices every day about how we're going to live our lives. We all have opportunities screw it up or do the right thing. I hope your turn around is permanent. For the sake of dogs everywhere, please let it be a lasting change.

I'm offering a deal:  Live your life like you deserve all the adoration being showered upon you, now and in the future, no matter what happens.While you're doing that, I'll work on forgiving you.

Michael, enjoy your Thanksgiving. You're a twisted, sadistic, sociopathic criminal who's had the rare privilege to turn football superstar. Let's be honest. You should be the most thankful person on earth.

Most sincerely,
Lyn Nave

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Blogging the Globe/Globbing the Bloge

I'm going to be brutally honest and admit it. Blogging is a supremely onanistic pursuit. My goal is to engage, connect and here or there impart a kernel of truth or, if I'm lucky, something that might loosely be construed as wisdom. But I can't deny there's a buzz I get from seeing how many page views I receive when I post a new entry. Even more endorphin-producing, I can see from where in the world people are accessing my blog. Unfortunately, within the US, I don't get a breakdown by state, but I can see where people log in by country. And this is where my imagination starts to jingle.

Marin country, Novato California. My town.
 Some of the countries checking in make sense. In Italy and New Zealand we have family and friends. (These are in-laws living in such covetous destinations. My own family is quite domestic.) And we have a few friends and acquaintances in Austraila. Thank you for stopping by family and friends! Some countries have appeared on the audience list when friends have traveled and logged on. I know for a fact that Mozambique and Argentina hit the list thanks to Kim C. and Sergio P. Thanks guys! In some countries I assume I know the folks accessing but am merely guessing that from Denmark, Amelia R. and from Belgium, Tom B. are checking my blogress. If I'm right, thanks so much for taking an interest!

Novato gets smaller and smaller as we pull back.

But there are a number of countries on my audience list where I know no one. Imagine. Perfect strangers from Russia, Canada, UK, Germany, Israel, and Romania have all checked in to read my blog. True, Romania only connected once, but the other countries have visited more than twice. This means to me that I have written something interesting/entertaining enough to get a repeat visit OR other folks from the same country have accessed the blog.

And smaller...

I think this is incredibly cool. I wonder if someone is sitting down to tea and marmite sandwiches in the UK while checking out The Girl Can't Help It thinking, "Bloody Yank. She's right balmy, that one!" Is a reader in Germany drinking beer and munching pretzels while he or she reads about my experiences living in an all male--except for me--household? Does the Russian reader scoff at my introspective clap trap while knocking back a vodka shot and think this American bimbo has too much time on her hands? Are there Israelis slapping their foreheads and exclaiming "Oy vey!" while reading my weak attempts at poetry? Has the Canadian reader had enough of my self indulgence and vowed never to stumble upon my blog again? Or maybe they're thinking they like it enough that they should tell a friend. (That would be lovely.) And what happened with that one reader in Romania? What did they encounter that made them never log on again? (My money's on the Dirty Trimes. Although, via email I know that entry has a few fans, only one of them left a supportive comment. Thank you, Jeff K.)

On a global scale Novato becomes comparatively microscopic.

It's fascinating to ponder. And while it's fun to parse through the possiblities, it would be even more fun and enlightening if people left comments so I'd know what they thought and from whence they hailed. But really, I'm just happy that anyone's taking the time to read. Thank you. Thank you very much. (That was my Elvis impersonation. Whadya think?) And Romania, if you're still checking in, I promise no more Dirty Trimes unless specifically requested. As mentioned, there was certain fan base. They know who they are.

This week The Girl Can't Help It broke 1000 page views. I know it's not exactly a record for a bit over two months but it made me happy. Thank you so much if you're still reading.  It means so much to me and I'm so grateful that you've given me your time. And, hey! If you know anyone in Romania, please let them know I'd like to get better acquainted.

Did I offend someone in Transylvania with my True Blood posting?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Passport Picture

Yesterday I had a passport photo taken. My old passport has expired and the Huzby wants me to be ready to be whisked away to foreign destinations at a moment's notice. Romantic, no? But don't get carried away. This is the same guy who is having conniptions over me being in the house as an unemployed while he works from his home study. It's not the unemployed part that's bothering him, it's the fact that he can only handle sharing the house with the dogs while he's working. So I ambled over to Costco after having spent the past four days in an intensive writing workshop with Tom Jenks--the iconic oracle of literature, editor-in-chief and founder of Narrative magazine--and 11 other workshop warriors (worriers?).

A snap. A flash. An outlay of 5.44$. I came back 45 minutes later to see the result.

It must be in a rule book somewhere. There is an edict that reads: All passport photos must make the bearer look criminal, downtrodden or significantly worse than they do in real life.

The face staring back at me looks haggard. As the lens captures her, this woman whom I sadly identify as myself, should be thinking of trips to Italy. She should be daydreaming of white sand beaches and azure seas, or traveling to Tanzania to photograph exotic creatures, or diving in the Maldives and seeing the wonders under the warm water, or hiking in British Columbia and watching grizzlies scoop salmon out of streams. She should be imagining sipping Malbec in Buenos Aires while watching a couple dance a smoldering tango in the heat of December. She should be envisioning making love to her travel addicted husband on a sun drenched bed with the curtains open wide as the ocean flips and flails in the vista, mirroring their own gymnastics.

But she doesn't seem to be thinking any of those things. What she's thinking is that she's tired and she'd like to take a nap. She's wondering if she'll ever succeed, really succeed, at story telling. This bothers her quite a bit because it's something she really wants to achieve. She knows there's a certain amount of belief in one's self that's required but there's also a certain amount of natural talent needed as well. She wonders if she has either thing going for her on this Monday because she's had four consecutive days of up and down, back and forth, moments of epiphany and moments of density--her own thick skull. She's also wondering when she's going to find gainful employment again and how she will survive the irritation and surliness her husband is flogging her with in the interim.

On the up side, here's what she doesn't look: beaten. She hasn't given up. She has hope; she'll keep going and working in what she believes is a forward path. But she needs to rest and absorb, to allow Jenks' judgements to trickle down, percolate and intercollate. And she needs to find a job so her husband can sink back into his normal level of grumpiness and ditch the testy truculence that has lately been steamrolling her.

For the coming decade, I'll have this picture on my passport to remind me of how it feels to be on the brink. Understanding it is one thing, successfully executing as a result of understanding is another thing all together. Half of me is hopeful while the other half despairs. In a sense, I'm a human pushmi-pullyu. But regardless of my success or lack thereof at creative writing, I'm thinking a job can't be too far off in the future. Right?

For more information on Tom Jenks' most excellent workshops:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review of Sonoma Chicken Coop

In March the Huzby and I attended a little soiree for my sis-in-law, Amy, at the Sonoma Chicken Coop. I did a Yelp write-up to which the owner replied in full agreement. The place is a sociological wonder.

If you're interested in reading more reviews you can find me by clicking on this link to Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid=VrVBC9Sni1JluW9FlrAERA&ref=fb&post_type=review&ref=nf

Sonoma Chicken Coop  

Category: American (New)
Food ~ 3 stars
Beer ~ 4 stars
Atmosphere on a Saturday night ~ 5 twinkling lights...or perhaps they were disco balls.

Mr. Grumpy and I were the token oldies-but-goodies attending my sister-in-law's birthday this weekend at the Campbell Sonoma Chicken Coop.

There is no better way to get a sense for how old and out of it you really are than hanging with a crowd about 20 years your junior. Carousing with youngsters is an excellent reality check. No doubt you're as young as you feel so long as you have no one young with whom to compare yourself. Luckily, the lighting was dim. Also luckily, everyone in our party was drinking fairly heavily.  We may have passed as being only a decade past the freshness date stamped on the dewy faces at our table. Regardless, we had a great time despite our soon-to-be-hardened arteries.

The people watching was most superb. Talk about a cross section of humanity! It was generally a more or less thirties kind of crowd but there also seemed to be some high school class of 70-something-or-others there as well. The cover band, Redwood, was fun and dance-inspiring allowing unsurpassed wildlife viewing. While the cougars danced with each other, the wolf pack watched and waited for a drunk or overly exerted feline to cull from the crush. Oh! And there was a bear there just coming to from his long hibernation. You may be familiar with this subspecies: Ursus Urbanus. They are prone to  effusive inebriation and inappropriate maulings of the glutteus maximus (si, il culo de mia). Was I outraged? No. Given said bear was not quite thirty, I chose to take a more humorous view of the groping. Good Lord. Does that cub realize I'm old enough to be his mother?

Basically the night was a Campbell version of Wild Kingdom meets The Dating Game. Great stuff and powerful story fodder.

Happy birthday Amy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Where They Come From

My son, Theo, was seven when he requested a sibling. Specifically, he requested a brother, but I think he'd have been happy either way. He was only three when the baby I was carrying suffered fetal demise at 32 weeks along. He'd been primed to expect a brother because we knew what was coming--a boy we'd named Connor. After the fact, we discussed the baby's death, his ashes and their home in a planter with a statue of a baby in our backyard, white letters memorializing: Connor Jules Garrett and the date. Theo, only three, had  questions and we did our best to answer them. In my grief, I'm not sure how helpful I was but I did my best.

Four years after losing his brother, plus enduring his parents' divorce, Theo decided the time had come. A sibling is a reasonable expectation and Theo was always a reasonable child. However, I had nothing planned on that front. My main priority was figuring out how best to negotiate single, part-time motherhood and not be too depressed about it.

One night after dinner, and perhaps hoping to stall the homework brigade, Theo asked--"Can I have a brother?" It seemed somewhat random. We hadn't talked about brothers, sisters or babies in years and it caught me off guard. I countered with: "Well, Honey. I can't have a baby. I'm not married right now."
He parried with: "Mom.You don't need to be married to have a baby!" (You never know what they know until they're flogging you with it. I couldn't argue since he was right.)
Me: "OK. You're right. How about this: There's no one I want to have a baby with right now."
Theo: "Oh Mom! Why don't you just get it over with and kiss Daddy?"
Me: "Kiss Daddy? Is that how you think you make a baby?"
Theo: "Yeah. You know, it has to be a tongue kiss."
Me: "Well, that's not how it works."
Theo: Hesitant silence. He had no questions because he thought he knew the answers.

I paused to ask myself: Do I really want to do this? I took some calm breaths while I went through the mental calisthenics: Seven years old was not too young to know. Boys are more circumspect than girls and I'd never get the direct question: "Where do babies come from?" It wasn't going to happen or it would have by now. He was already under the misguided notion of "French kiss procreation"--it could get only worse, I speculated, with playground propaganda. I decided to seize the moment.
Me:  "Do you want to know how a baby gets made?"
Theo: "Yeah."

The poor kid. Let's face it--tongue kissing doesn't even begin to do it justice. I started the discussion with something he already knew about--what happens in the morning to boys and their apparatus--and went from there. I did not go into potentially scary and confusing detail but got the basic points across in short order. In fact, I knew he knew exactly what was involved when he had this reaction:
"Ewwww! That's digusting!"
About 30 seconds went by before he added:
"I'm never getting married, and if I do, not to a girl!"

I didn't laugh. At seven, it's a perfectly lucid sentiment. I told him I understood why he felt that way but made the point that there was something beyond the gross-out factor that made people want to engage. I told him that people did it because it felt good. Of course I worried this might be send him even deeper into shock but somehow, it seemed like an important thing to include along with the obligatory "It should only happen between two people who are really in love." I also made it clear that ours was a very private and personal conversation that he should probably not have with his friends at school. It should be something their parents talked to them about. Given his reaction, I had no fear that he'd be itching to get into school the next day and tell everyone. He just wanted to forget I ever told him. The horror!

It's now ten years later. The past decade included no more broaching of the question of brothers or sisters. A few years back we advanced our topics to include birth control, safe sex (I'm an advocate of condoms and oral contraceptives for burgeoning, lustful Romeos and Juliettes) and the squalling, money-sucking, life-altering consequences of being lackadaisical. As much as I look forward to being a grandmother, I'm hoping that joyful event is at least another decade from now. Theo has kept to his habit of not asking questions and acting as if he knows everything already. In spite of this, I try to offer information wherever it seems appropriate. In my now middle-aged-ness, I'm not sure how helpful I've been but I'm still doing my best.

Timing is everything. Children can be a blessing or a comeuppance and the circumstances surrounding their conception all too often dictate the outcome. I'm too young to be a grandma and he's too young to be a dad. So far it's something we both agree upon. When the time comes I'm hoping for a blessing.

My blessing and I.