Entries in Family (276)


The Certainty of Uncertainty

Mrs. G. sat down six hours ago to write a long overdue update of her life in the margins. September was a trying, uphill month for a number of reasons she is incapable of explaining with any clarity. And should she? Of course she should, because who wants to miss a minute of her ongoing, continually unfolding Lifetime drama: Stout Middle-Aged Woman Searching for Meaning in the Walgreens Candy Aisle

That's right. Mrs. G. lives at the corner of happy and healthy. Just not in September.

It all started with Algebra, hours and hours of tackling it head on, day after day. Mrs. G. couldn't get it because she never got it. Her last required math class was in high school, taught by a man, Dan Hedgeman, who was counting the months until he was eligible for retirement, Mr. Hedgeman smelled like old coffee and anguish. He frequently referenced ships that didn't come in and warned his students to "Just wait, you'll see."

Mrs. G. finally saw...she needed a tutor. The battle continues. Mrs. G. is winning.

Algebra was followed by family visits and a stomach issue that required consistent vomiting for a couple of weeks. She'll spare you the details but Mrs. G. feels the need to share that her visit to a gastroenterologist further compromised her lifelong commitment to the sanctity of her ass. When she called Mr. G. to report the security breach, he told her Sanctity of My Ass should be the title of her first novel. She hung up on him. He called her back and asked her if she had just hung up on him. She assured him she hadn't, that he must not have heard her say goodbye. It's these kinds of games that keep their love alive.

In between throwing up and solving for x, Mrs. G. would sit down and try to write, but she kept coming up empty, so empty she started to question her ability to write, to even discern good writing. She felt like a fraud. She was embarrassed. Rather than pouring a glass of ginger ale and calling it a day, Mrs. G. shut her laptop and didn't open it up until yesterday when her daughter called and told Mrs. G. that someone had contacted her to see if everything was ok.

Everything is ok. Thank you for asking. Mrs. G. just needed to take a break...a long ass break. Her laptop sat on the dining room table, untouched, for nearly thirty days. This is odd to admit but Mrs. G. was wary of it. She would walk by and avoid looking at it. There was a peculiar stand off that Mrs. G. is unable to clearly explain. Like her, the whole deal was weird. Particularly since September is typically her favorite month of the year. October, though, is looking a-ok.

There you have it in 521 words. Mrs. G. intended to just quietly slide back in with no fanfare because she hates writing slushy accounts of her good, little, typical life. There are so many bigger fish to fry. Truly.

Fair is fair. How was your September?


just a little update

Mrs. G. just returned home from Los Angeles. She spent several days there helping Miss G. move into her first apartment without a roommate. There are so many advantages to living alone, but Mrs. G. thinks we can all agree that pants and bra optional are right at the top of the list of sensational and the old razzle-dazzle.

Mrs. G's apartment is sweet and girly. Pink quilt, lavendar sheets, twinkling lights and artwork done by the children she works with.


Mrs. G. wants to take a moment and (once again) brag about Miss G. She interviewed for a new job at 7:00pm on a Thursday night and was offered the job by 4:00pm the next day. It is such a gift to have such profound respect for your daughter and her choices. Quite simply, Mrs. G. admires her daughter greatly. She is a good egg.

Also, Miss G. is wild about sloths. Wild. She always has been.

The only bad news to report is that Miss G. called Mrs. G. tonight and said she saw a small roach in her pristine cabinet. Miss G. is terrified of roaches so Mrs. G. gave her the only advice she could think of: Move! Of course she was just joking, so she went on Amazon and told Miss G. which roach bait to buy. She also suggested breathing in a paper bag so Miss G. wouldn't pass out. The fear. It is real.

Another great thing that happened in L.A., Mrs. G. had lunch with Heidi of Smalltown Me. They had a wonderful visit and once again confirmed the joy of meeting derfs in person.

Let's not talk about Mrs. G's hair because during a dark night of the soul, she cut it herself. It's just hair, right? 

Two weeks ago, Mrs. G. started a teaching program that will certify her to teach science to 5th through 9th graders. Science? Right brained Mrs G.? Yep. There is a shortage of science teachers here in Washington and Mrs. G. is excited to challenge herself. She feels certain she's a good enough teacher to make any subject interesting. Pardon her ego, but this is her talent. To take what's eh and make it aaaah! The program will take a year and a half, plus six months of student teaching.

She plans to keep on blogging though things will occasionally be light around here as she digs into cellular chemistry and calculus. Don't worry, she will do her best to not leave you hanging.

One thing she would like to reiterate is that it's never too late to start over. Even if you're scared and, yes, Mrs. G. is scared. In many respects she is starting her professional life over again...from square one. But this path, Derfs, it feels right.

More later.

And just because...


In conclusion, a cellular chemisty haiku...

pH scale is used

indicates the acidity

or the basicity









The Women's Colony

It has come to Mrs. G's attention that many new readers (this was published nearly seven years ago) have not read this post. Mrs. G. felt compelled to repeat it because you can't truly understand her (or this blog and much of its lingo) without knowing about the Colony, a concept that when exercised daily is likely as effective as any antidepressant on the market. Mrs. G. texted her son a few days ago asking him to bring home some milk, toilet paper and Fanta. Autocorrect morphed Fanta into fantasy. Mrs. G's son called her and said, "Mom, I can buy you a lot of things, but fantasies aren't one of them. QFC doesn't sell the Women's Colony." He brought home grape Fanta, which on the right day can fulfill a fantasy, but it just doesn't have the staying power. Mrs. G. has a dream...and this is it.

P.S. Mrs. G. is currently writing a novel with this plot so if you steal the idea, she will hunt you down and kill you. It just so happens she knows a few women who would help her move and hide the body. You've been warned.


The Women's Colony

Many years ago, Mrs. G. and her beloved friend Faye showed up at the same mom's group. They connected instantly, and it didn't take them long to ditch the group (as Mrs. G. recalls many in the group were overly invested in and vocal about just how important they were prior to having children) in favor of a more intimate connection. Mrs. G's three-year-old-daughter adored Faye's three-year-old son, and Mrs. G. grooved on Faye -- the years they spent together are some of Mrs. G's most cherished. While Mrs. G. is lucky to have made many dear friends since she and Faye moved to opposite ends of the country, there has never been another friend who Mrs. G. has truly felt got her the way Faye did. And even though Mrs. G. hasn't seen Faye in ten years, she holds Faye in the nook of her heart that she reserves for those rare people who offer unconditional friendship, unconditional love. In other words, if Faye ever flipped her lid and accidentally committed a premeditated murder, Mrs. G. would not only help her move the body, but store it in her freezer until the coast was clear.

During their many days and months of hard core mothering, birthing of additional babies, sapped marriages and overall weariness, they would frequently talk about the Women's Colony they would retire to when the kids were grown, and the husbands were gone. Just exactly how the husbands would be gone wasn't examined at any length. The fantasy was more about the sanctity of a female refuge for older, tired women who needed some sort of estrogen infused utopia. When times were tough, they would simply utter Women's Colony and nerves would ebb, hope would rally, dinner would make it to the table, children would be bathed, bedtime stories would be read, and, finally, wine bottles would be drained.

The Women's Colony would be in some out of the way place, some little slice of paradise that was off the grid and extremely difficult to access. Men would find it particularly difficult to locate because, without a doubt, they would be required to stop and ask for directions. Like that's going to happen.



It would be a place where women could come to spend their post mothering/wifing/working woman years to live completely as themselves. The selfish pursuit of individual desire and authenticity would be encouraged and allowed -- guilt free and without any emotional cost. No scales, no mirrors, fat asses, cellulite, age spots, chin hairs, crows feet and bras optional. For those reluctant to cut all ties with their heterosexual needs, husbands and boy toys gentleman friends could be bussed in on Thursdays and Sundays for conversation and such. Appreciative children, grandchildren and emotionally stable relatives could come to visit every other Saturday and all major holidays.

This Women's Colony would not be any sort of Hee-Haw existence. No one would have to live on a school bus or make hemp hammocks to support her diet of quinoa and tempeh.


Each woman would have an entire floor of a house like this...


or this...


or this.


Faye and Mrs. G. felt strongly that there should be a row of connected rocking chairs on the front porches of the various houses, and each evening, it would be one woman's responsibility to do the rocking. The rest of the women would just sit there and sip cosmos chill.

There would need to be a butler to overlook the running of the house and the division of labor that would not involve any of the women.


After years of full calendars and the juggling the lives of others, every woman's to do list would basically be nothing, nothing and nothing. For those with a need to be productive, they would be free do whatever the hell they wanted. There would be no pairing of socks or locating anything for anybody.


In the Women's Colony, bathrooms would be sanctuaries of solace and joy. No bathtub or toilet scrubbing or dealing with hairs whose origins are too disturbing to contemplate.


There would be creative spaces for each woman: writing and pottery studios and crafting spaces and dark rooms.


Communal dinners would be optional.

But this guy would be the Colony's personal chef. We'll get to the maid and dishwasher momentarily. Bourdain doesn't do dishes.

Fresh organic vegetables,fruits and herbs would be grown right on the property


And, of course, a full-time gardener would be on site.


Oh, and there would be flowers...fields and fields of flowers.


Despite the Colony not having an in-ground pool, a pool boy would be available for serving cocktails, rubbing in sunscreen and gratuitous eye candy.


There would be no no pool, because the ocean would be just a stone's throw away from everyone's houses.


As mentioned earlier, members of the Women's Colony would have no mandatory chores. Those would be completed by the Colony's full-time maid.


Yes, another pristine girl's bathroom. Mrs. G. is willing to admit that the concept of a man-free bathroom was the cornerstone of her Women's Colony fantasy.


Despite the Colony's rural setting, regular house calls would be made by a prominent physician.


And this would be Susan Carlin's personal art studio. Mrs. G. will be disappointed if Susan, her daughter, Professor J, and their dogs don't plan on becoming charter members.

There would be a music room with a roaring fireplace.


And a yoga/meditation space amongst the luscious trees.


And, of course, a library overflowing with books and flanked by overstuffed chairs.


Please forgive Mrs. G's obsessive need to keep returning to the clean bathroom.


In recognition that men need to pee too, an outhouse would be provided. Toilet paper at no extra charge.

All animals welcome.


No shortage of spaces to be alone and spy on the gardener read a good book.


Mrs. G. would assume the responsibility of taking care of the laundry, so it wouldn't take too long before clothing became optional.


Rocking chairs, gardens, beach front property, no chores, clean bathrooms, gourmet food, conjugal visits, hot servants...paradise, people. Female paradise. And in the meantime, when the boss is bitching, the kids are mouthy, the spouse is cranky, the relatives keep reminding you of all the things you could do better, take a deep breath and exhale Women's Colony...Women's Colony.

But with better hair. Who's in?



Balance by Anonymous

I haven't been writing on my blog consistently over the past couple years. The thing that stopped me from writing has been difficult to articulate. It's a thing so big that the thought of stopping to write about it trivializes the magnitude of it's impact on my son's and my life.

I've had time to write, plenty of time. But instead of writing, I've been immersing myself in coping strategies: going to therapy, knitting, reading, walking my dog in the woods, doing countless sudoku puzzles. I've worked my job and volunteered for worthy causes and have tried (and likely failed) to connect with my friends and family.

I've tried.

As I start a new year, I'm finding myself wanting to roar a little bit because the quiet (and not so quiet) battle that's been waged in my home every day for the past 18 mos is the stuff of miracles. I know I can't do it justice, but perhaps I can write a little with the hope that other folks going through this won't feel so alone.

This big Thing I'm trying to write about it mental illness. My only child, a high school senior, experiences symptoms of bipolar disorder every day. Even though we're fairly open about it, the stigma around mental illness manages to slap us in the face constantly. I spend some time with NAMI and other advocacy groups to get support for myself and my family. I know that when I'm no longer in the thick of it, I will move on to advocacy more publicly. But for now, while my son is symptomatic and still in my care, I do what I can in my quiet way.

For the past several years, symptoms have been creeping into our household. They show up as cast of characters, all with personalities of their own - unwelcome in my quiet life - yet they barge into my home with little to no warning. 

Mania usually shows up when the seasons change. Mania is outwardly goofy and silly, has amazingly complex views on the world and is outrageously creative. Mania is pissed off at people who can't think as fast as he can and swears at folk with such brilliance that it would be awesomely funny if it didn't cut so badly. Mania doesn't need to sleep, has to move all the time, and can sometimes walk for 20+ miles before realizing how far he's gone. Mania recently lost over 20 pounds in a month's time (he's not that hungry). Sometimes Mania's mom calls to check in and he finds himself three towns away near no recognizable landmarks. Mania sometimes makes wild and dangerous plans, packs his bags in the middle of the night, and simply disappears. Mania (and his pal Depression below) often turns off his cellphone after he leaves the house so no one will bother him. 

Mania is a jerk, but is sometimes so fluidly brilliant it's like being in the presence of a the most inspiring motivational speaker you've ever seen. Mania has dancing eyes, paces a lot, and talks super fast. He's kind of a rockstar, if he weren't so sick.

But, Mania often self-medicates and sometimes ends up in the ER. Every so often, Mania needs the police to come calm him down, and rarely (but still too often) Mania needs to go hang out in a hospital for a few days to get back on track.

Once, in 2012, Mania brought his friends Paranoia and Psychosis. I can't even type about those guys. They're terrible and frightening. They convinced my boy that the people who loved him were conspiring with the government to control his brain. Angels from places I didn't even know about swooped in and got those symptoms under control. I got my boy back two weeks later, beat up and scarred, but alive.

People who don't see these symptoms everyday really can't comprehend how the staying alive part is such a miracle. Most people who throw around words like psychotic and paranoid truly don't understand the pathology of those words, and they should consider themselves blessed that they don't ever have to see the close up.

When Mania is around, I often pine away for the calmer cold days of winter, until I remember the unwelcome guest in Depression. Depression usually shows up during the shorter darker days. He is also a jerk and sometimes hangs out with Hypomania - who is just chronically pissed off. Many of us think we know Depression, and foolishly encourage him to load up on Family Guy  episodes or a dose of John Stewart. Some people pshaw at the melancholy and don't understand how he can't appreciate all the gifts he has in this world. Depression laughs at this shit. He's a pretty powerful guy and even though it looks like his regular routine is sleeping a lot and sighing heavily, he's often behind the scenes, insidiously convincing my boy that it's too hard, that this planet sucks, and leaving is the best possible choice.

Again, the staying alive part? Miracle.

My child is in there. He beats the shit out of all of these symptoms on a regular basis. He throws a routine at them, a good sleep schedule, medications, solid friendships and family relationships and an amazing school full of folks who get it. He gets up and goes to school every day even when he doesn't want to.  Though my son is brilliant and was on a college prep track years ago, my silent mantra during his high school career has been "alive and graduated...alive and graduated." (psst: he's set to graduate in a few short months - if you're the prayerful type - remember us.)

His will to survive is awe inspiring, even when his mom doesn't feel inspired when a random f-word gets thrown her way. (During symptomatic episodes, a one f-word day is a good day.) I've had to seek my own therapy to stay balanced enough to support my boy, and when I joke and say I have PTSD due to all we've been through, my therapist reminds me that it's no joke. 

Every day in our house we scrape and swear and peer through the fog reaching for rungs on the stability ladder, but it's still a battle. NAMI teaches a course called Family-to-Family that helps family members support their loved ones with mental illness. That class likens the onset of symptoms to a bomb going off and the rest of the family experiencing collateral damage. The shrapnel in my family is everywhere. Cleaning up after an episode is nearly as exhausting as getting my son through a manic or depressive phase. As I begin this new year, I find myself with an almost stable child, cleaning up an excessive (excessive, I tell you) debris field.

I wanted to write here anonymously because, well, I need to protect my son's privacy - it's his decision to disclose his disease. That's a tough call for me because I don't want to contribute to the culture of mental health stigma, but I know I'll be out there one of these days. 

I know many Derfs are on their own journey and even though I don't participate much here, I felt inspired to write in this safe community. 

Be grateful for your mental health and the balanced brains in your family, Derfs, and if you or any of your people need help - get it.



six reasons why mrs. g. would never make it as a saleswoman


When Mrs. G. was in fourth grade, Blessed Sacrament School had a fundraiser selling See's candy bars. They came in a cardboard carton of ten and were five bucks a bar, we're talking highfalutin, pricy candy. Mrs. G. was ambitious and highly motivated when it came to homework and school activities, but she was tentative about walking up to strangers' doors and trying to hook them up with chocolate.

Click to read more ...


Simone and Enrique


As far back as Mrs. G. can remember, her grandparents never had a visitor stay over night unless they were family, and since that only included about ten people, there was rarely a backlog of guestroom solicitations. Until one summer day when a distant cousin named Simone called Mrs. G's grandmother and asked if she could stay over a couple of days while she was in town attending a conference in Memphis.

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Sweater Weather (by Rainbow Motel)


NOW is usually my favorite time of year. The beginning hurdles of the new school year have been somewhat successfully cleared and the cool weather is settling in nicely. Today I took down all the overtly Halloween-ish decor, turned all the jack-o-lanterns around so as to enjoy another festive month of pumpkins with their visual punctuations of orange, and brought out the turkeys made by little boy hands in pre-school art class all those years ago. The happy echo of Trick-or-Treaters still lingers faintly on the breeze and the end caps on grocery store aisles are now laden with pie filling, shelled pecans, and brown sugar as Thanksgiving looms. Christmas seems--thankfully--far enough away to avoid a panic attack over card sending and gift buying. It's a good in-between place to be.

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A Mrs. G. Social Inquiry

If you enjoy a peaceful Thanksgiving dinner with your open-minded, amiable family, bow down and be grateful. For those of us who find our opinionated families a challenge on this holiday, pour yourself a big mug of wine, and if you live in Washington or Colorado, do not mention the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes (PARDON ME, BUT ADVIL WORKS JUST FINE MISSY) or, Lord have mercy, recreational use. Just don't.

Thanksgiving rarely passes when a comment isn't made about Mrs. G's baggy jeans lacking a belt or her sub par greenbean casserole.


Just out of curiosity, what subject repeatedly comes up your Thanksgiving table?